This spring I discovered a whole new way of holidaying, but this was no innovation to my fellow guests, most of whom had enjoyed the experience before.
I am talking about taking a break with a holiday club who take care of everything for you, and even provide you with a group of friendly like-minded companions to add to the experience. Whether you go as a couple, with a friend or on your own, you will not be left out.
I was invited by HF Holidays to take part in a Writers and Artist tour of Cornwall so I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in culture in this most beautiful county. However many times you may have been to this last western outcrop of the Country, there will always be more to see. From the idyllic villages and beaches to the wild expanses of blasted heath and granite moors, Cornwall offers far more than pasties and pirates.
We were accommodated in HF’s own country house hotel in St Ives and all was more than provided for. The facilities were all of a high standard and immaculately clean but it was the view that was breathtaking. From our elevated position, we could see across to the picturesque bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
From the moment we were greeted at reception and offered a cream tea, to our departure a week later, we could not have felt more welcome. Talking to the other guests it became apparent that I was unusual in that I had never been on a HF holiday before. One lady who I sat next to at the first night’s dinner, revealed that she had just booked her thirty seventh trip and always travelled alone knowing that she would make friends on each holiday.
The companionship that developed within our group added to the pleasure of each excursion as we boarded our little coach for our literary and artistic visits, including Graham, the coach driver, who contributed titbits of local information is his soft Cornish drawl. There was a real mix of ancient and modern in the excursions: contemporary art in the Tate in St Ives, but more traditional collections in Penzance and Falmouth. As for the literature, we learned a lot about the writers who were inspired by the landscapes, such as Daphne Du Maurier, Virginia Woolf and DH Lawrence. But there was also the added spice of seeing where many of the Poldark scenes were filmed for the recent BBC drama, but unfortunately no sight of actor Aidan Turner.
Our guide, Jane Bingham, was as knowledgeable as she was charming and her group bonded over pottery, poetry and paintings. There were other interest led groups in the hotel, mainly walkers both hardy hikers and more gentle strollers, but we decided our group had the most fun.
After dinner we retired to the well-stocked bar (have you tried Cornish gin?) where we were offered a variety of entertainment: talks, slide shows, music, or quizzes. Every day was packed with trips to various towns, museums, gardens, exhibitions, and historic sites. We went to a tin mine, where we all looked splendid in our hard hats, a working pottery, a ferry trip across to St Michaels Mount, wandered around Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture gardens and listened to tales of mermaids.
I can thoroughly recommend the concept of this holiday fellowship (the original name of HF) as, was proved by our companions, you can happily travel alone knowing that you will be mixing with others and enjoying first class food while making friends in especially picked locations.
With 19 houses around the UK there is plenty of choice. All are based in stunning locations and offer the same excellent quality of service and comfort.
HF Holidays have been creating walking and activity holidays for people of all abilities since 1913. They are the UKs only co-operative holiday provider and, as they are owned by members, all profits are invested back into their holidays.
They offer a whole new world of adventure. Take it easy or push your limits on a short break or a journey of a lifetime. Whether you explore the UK & Ireland, discover the best of Europe or walk the world, you will create new and lasting memories with HF Holidays.
For more information or to request a brochure go to www.hfholidays.co.uk or ring
0345 470 7558
By Tina Foster