• 16th February 2019

Getting lost in the Gardens of Heligan and Finding Nemo at the National Marine Aquarium

Lost Gardens of Heligan

Welcome back! If you missed part one, ‘Our weekend escape to The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate’, go back and read it to find out what we did with the first part of our weekend in St Austell!

We’ve always wanted to explore The Lost Gardens of Heligan and with our hotel only being 20 minutes down the road, now was the perfect time to go! A genuine secret garden, Heligan had been lost under a tangle of weeds after World War I broke out and much of the estates workforce sadly died in the trenches. Unlike many other grand estates, the gardens and land at Heligan were never sold or developed. Fast forward to 1990, and the discovery of a little door amongst the gardens captured the team’s imagination and the restoration of these beautiful gardens began.

As we were visiting in February, we didn’t expect to see glorious flowers and the bright colours of summer but the gardens were still beautiful non-the-less. You can easily spend a day here as the estate covers over 200 acres. After paying the entry fee, we headed straight for the famous ‘Jungle’. Home to one of the longest Burmese Rope Bridges in Britain, the Jungle is like entering a completely different world. We loved walking down the winding paths, in and out of the amazing trees and exotic planting. It truly did feel like we were on an exotic island as the clouds cleared, leaving a glorious blue sky. With plenty of little bridges to cross and of course the amazing rope bridge, we felt like we could completely escape from the real world.

Lost Gardens of Heligan Rope Bridge
Lost Gardens of Heligan Rope Bridge
Gardens of Heligan

From the Jungle, we took a walk along a woodland path that brought us out onto the farmland where you can meet the estate’s pigs, cattle, horses and (massive!) turkeys. We then explored the beautiful gardens where we discovered gorgeous flowers, trees, mini waterfalls and a greenhouse filled with summer plants that were being kept warm.

Giant at Heligan
Turkeys at Heligan
Greenhouse at Heligan
Sleeping goddess at Heligan

After exploring the estate, we sat down to have lunch in the Heligan Kitchen. All the food in here is locally-sourced, using home reared meat and fresh Heligan produce. As it was a Sunday, you could opt for a Sunday Roast which looked delicious. However, we decided to go for the quiche and salad, which was only about £8.50! You could choose any slice of quiche you wanted and then help yourself too salad too. I went for a Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Quiche with potato salad, coleslaw salad and a bit of beetroot and lentil salad. It was so delicious and you could tell the ingredients were all of a high quality and really fresh. Would definitely recommend.

Returning to our hotel, we went off to the spa to relax after all the exploring we did at Heligan. As it was our last night, we decided to book a table in The Cornwall’s restaurant, The Elephant Bar & Brasserie, praying that the service wouldn’t be as bad as the Afternoon Tea we had the day before! As soon as we walked into the restaurant, it was a completely different vibe to our previous experience. The waiter was so friendly, showing us to our table, pulling our chairs out and explaining the menu to us. I opted for the French Onion Soup to start and the Open Fish Pie for my main course. The soup was served as it should be with little bits of cheesy toast on the top. It was so smooth and full of flavour – just what was needed on a cold winter’s night! Then for the main… oh my goodness, it was incredible. It’s been a long time since I have tasted fish that has been cooked so well and this was cooked to perfection. The cod was so soft, flaking away in my mouth, and had been flavoured really well with rock salt. The pie also contained leek, mussels, clams, prawns, warm tartar sauce, Parmesan, winter greens and truffle salt mashed potato. A big thumbs up from me. Sadly, I didn’t have enough room for pudding! We did retire to the bar area though where I had a warming cappuccino and Ollie had some kind of whisky cocktail! It was really lovely sat in there actually as it was so cosy and they had some good music playing in the background. The perfect place to wind down before getting into our super soft bed.

Onion Soup
Open Fish Pie at The Cornwall
The Bar at The Cornwall

On the Monday, our time at The Cornwall had come to an end. After we said goodbye to the hotel, we decided to drop in on the National Marine Aquarium as we pretty much travel right past it on the way home. I haven’t been here since I was little so I was really excited to see how much of it I could remember and how much has changed.

I love places like this as I feel like I learn so much! Like a Killer Whale is actually a species of dolphin (whaaaaaaat) 😲 and that their Atlantic Ocean Exhibit, home to Friday the Green Turtle 🐢, is the largest tank in the UK. As an adult, you can probably do the whole aquarium in a couple of hours as it’s not massive but it was still a fab afternoon. My favourite’s were Friday the turtle, Neptune the Giant Pacific Octopus and of course, all the characters from Finding Nemo! For those who don’t know, I absolutely adore the Finding Nemo films. I can watch them again and again. Fun fact – Finding Nemo used to be my hangover film. Every morning after a night out I used to watch it. For some reason, it used to make me feel loads better!

Ray at Aquarium
Lobster thing
Fish at Plymouth Aquarium
Clown Fish at Plymouth Aquarium
Shark at Aquarium
Green Turtle in Plymouth
Diver at Plymouth Aquarium

I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading about our long weekend away! We had so much fun, ticking off things on our To Do list that have been on their for ages, and it was just so special being able to celebrate three years together with a relaxing holiday.

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