Pies, pints and the smell of the sea air near Padstow
I take a trip to The Pickwick Inn to see what all the fuss is about.
I’m often asked what it’s like to live in Cornwall, my first response is usually less of a reply and more of a whimsical smile. I’ve been here for decades now and to say that ‘I’ve grown accustomed’ to my environment would be a bit of an understatement. I believe quite firmly that Cornwall is the perfect place for men of a certain age to retire to.
After all, it has pretty much everything that men aged 40+ need to sustain a base level of happiness:
- Mildly exerting country walks
- Plenty of benches to stop along the way
- An abundance of pubs serving ale and pie
Some may argue that men of a certain age would be better off with the following:
- A stable, well paid job
- A home with a good mortgage
- A loving family to care for
But those who have made this argument are liable to already have been saddled with kids and are therefore excluded from having an opinion.
With my schedule blissfully free of any responsibilities last weekend (as is the case with pretty much every weekend, as a matter of fact) I decided to take a little drive out of Truro to a corner of Cornwall that I’m very much fond of.
The Pickwick Inn is one of those fancy well-to-do pubs that men like me usually scoff at initially. We look at the faux-worn tables, the Laura Ashley textiles and exposed brickwork, and then sigh audibly. ‘Why don’t they make pubs like they used to?’, we usually say. But then we tuck into a hand-made gourmet pie and take a sip of a carefully kept local ale – suddenly all of our doubts disintegrate.
Although I can vouch for the useful anonymity that the gloom of a dark dingy pub offers a solitary drinker, there’s something very liberating about taking this habit out into the bright white light of a middle-class paradise as verdant as the Pickwick Inn. Whilst you’re unlikely to strike up a dour conversation with any drunken miscreants here (yes – that’s something that I actually look forward to doing) there is a very winning wholesomeness that envelopes you as soon as you arrive here.
It’s worth warning the casual drinker that the Pickwick is more of an uber-holiday complex than a simple boozer. As you approach it you’ll see that a bulky extension offers a bed for the night (for those that book ahead, not those who drink too much) and there are even tennis courts for happy campers too. The proximity to the seaside, ample outside seating and abundance of families breathes life into this otherwise utilitarian building making it an ideal spot to unwind in for a few hours.
Be prepared to dig deep into your pockets if you wish to sit down for a full three-courser here. Starters can cost up to £13, their 8oz Fillet Steak is an eye-watering £30 and puddings, although uniformly lovely, are a standard £8 per portion – Wetherspoons this ain’t. However, should you wish to simply pop in for a pie and a pint you’ll only have to part with £20; well worth it, when you consider the quality that’s on offer.