August 08 2011
In St Mawes I sleep in a room with an extraordinary view – and so do all the guests at Tresanton, the small hotel that I restored at the end of 1990s.
It is a superb spot looking out over St Mawes harbour and Falmouth Bay towards the The Lizard Peninsula and America beyond. What I love about it is that it changes every minute. Not only do boats scud or trundle across the water, but the clouds and light above it are in constant motion.
You can see rain rushing across the bay from the Helford River, and you can see the sun that is about to follow it. In the autumn and winter the changes are even wilder and more dramatic. I love the empty season here.
But this weekend is full on. It’s the beginning of Falmouth Week Regatta, one of the best in the summer after Cowes. The first race is always the Classic, in which fine old boats with lovely lines take part. Tresanton has a beautiful classic racer, Pinuccia, built in 1938 – in Italy of course – and I was peering through my binoculars to see how she was doing.
It’s also carnival weekend in St. Mawes. That’s always a lot of fun, though not so much as it used to be. I used to love to take part in the raft race with my children and stepchildren. First build your rafter with any old rubbish, and then paddle it as fast as you can. It was terrific. But the dreaded health and safety has stopped all that and much more.
At least there is still a swimming race across the harbour and our chef Paul led a team from Tresanton which also ran round the village and took part in a very taxing quiz at the sailing club. I am pleased to report that Tresanton won the cup.
On Sunday we had the usual summer barbecue, which is always heavily oversubscribed. Jonathan, the restaurant manager, in his enthusiasm and desire to please the regulars, had gone a bit over the top and taken 160 bookings.
That’s just about do-able on the terrace when the weather is fine, but yesterday the skies opened not once but four or five times. Staff desperately cleared spaces under cover and people rushed in and out rather like a Feydeau farce – or Fawlty Towers. I was amazed at the good humour of the British on their summer holidays. Everyone laughed and joked as they rushed around with dripping plates and dripping clothes.
Oysters on the barbecue are scoffed at once – not surprising because they are fresh, succulent and come at no extra cost.
After lunch we drive to Endsleigh, my other little West Country hotel. It’s a Grade 1 listed cottage orné built by Wyatt and surrounded with gardens by Repton. No noise or light pollution – almost as the Bedford family built as their summer escape from Woburn in the 1820s.
Helen, the manager, has improved the place immensely since she took it on and we talk about plans for the winter. At reception there are a pile of copies of Santa Montefiore’s new book, The Mermaid Garden, which is set at Endsleigh. I really enjoyed the book and I hope it does for Endsleigh what Eloise did for the Plaza.
Back on the train to London and back to reality with Rocco Forte Hotels. Monday I have a big meeting on Cairo where we are doing up the famous The Shepheard Hotel. Tuesday, to the Hotel de Rome in Berlin, which I find almost as invigorating as New York with its young artists and extraordinary museums.
All exciting – but last night I dreamt I went to Tresanton again…