A holiday to Padstow during covid-19

We go to Padstow every single year and I wasn’t going to let a global pandemic stop us from going this year. I talked last time about the changes to self-catering accommodation during covid-19, but what about the changes to Padstow itself? (I’m sure the changes to Padstow will be just like the changes to any other UK holiday towns, in case you are wondering whether to go away.)

Padstow is a very popular Cornish holiday destination. It gets very busy in the town centre and it was still busy during covid-19. I wouldn’t say it was busier than usual, but it wasn’t noticeably less busy either. There are quieter times of day in the town centre, but it is busy most of the time. Can you keep two metres away from other people? No. Can you keep a metre away? Most of the time. You just have to ‘stay alert’. Some people are wearing masks around the harbour and the shopping streets, but most aren’t.

When you are walking around the streets, you can actually forget for a few minutes that you in the midst of a global pandemic. And that is not a bad thing. We’ve spent months with it clouding every thought and, while I still respect the rules and respect the virus itself, it was nice to have a break from it.

The shops are a different matter. Of course you have to wear face coverings. And there are strict rules on numbers inside the shop, so you usually have to queue to get in. This takes away a lot of the joy of browsing the shops on holiday – you are unlikely to go into one unless you intend to buy something. There is usually some flexibility around families – so shops may say for example only two families in at a time. So clearly if you’ve got small children with you, nobody is going to force you to leave them outside. But if there are two parents, it’s best if you don’t both go in there with your three kids if at all possible. Shops all have hand sanitiser just inside the door and some will insist you use it, while others just have it there as an option.

My husband likes nothing more than a trip to the pub on holiday. We only usually have one or two drinks (he’s the only drinking alcohol, although my 16 year old son can’t wait until he is allowed a beer in a pub), but we do usually go four or five days out of seven. My husband generally loves the whole experience of being in a pub and coronavirus has just taken all of that away. There is no spontaneity at all. It’s totally understandable why these procedures are in place and huge credit to the staff directing customers and keeping their sense of humour (although some of the staff in shops were grumpy, verging on rude).

First, you have to give your contact details on arrival for track and trace of course, which is perfectly understandable. Then you are given an allocated table. There is a one-way system – so technically you should even go outside and in again if you go to the toilet, otherwise you are going against the one-way system. Drinks are by table service, but most pubs want you to download an app to order. By the time you’ve logged onto the slow wifi and downloaded the app, then worked out how it works, you’ve lost the will to live. We only went to the pub for a drink once.

You can usually just turn up to some of our favourite visitor attractions in Cornwall, like Adrenalin Quarry and karting at St Eval, but all attractions now have to be booked online in advance. This of course keeps queueing to a minimum and prevents overcrowding. It just means you have to plan your holiday a bit more carefully, which plenty of people are happy to do anyway.

crazy golf, son, daughter, Padstow, Cornwall

At crazy golf, we were told to wear the plastic gloves they provided, as they claimed they didn’t have time to clean the equipment. The gloves were horribly uncomfortable and sweaty. I’m pretty sure they could have cleaned the equipment if they tried – we saw the bike hire companies cleaning the bikes. I could see a lot of people refusing to wear the gloves, no doubt forgetting that they were to protect other people, not just themselves.

Since lockdown restrictions have eased, I’ve found public toilets in general to be immaculately clean. That was not the case in Padstow. They were as dirty as ever and included some fairly complicated rules on using them – this was the most complicated one I saw. Due to problems with social distancing, two of the three town centre toilet blocks had also been closed down, which wasn’t ideal. We were lucky that our holiday house was close enough to the town centre that we generally didn’t need to use them.

Toilets, Public toilets, Padstow, Holiday

We always get the ferry across from Padstow to the beach at Rock. As this is public transport, of course everyone was required to wear a face covering. Numbers were recduced slightly, but it still felt pretty crowded. Paper tickets are normally issued by an employee walking around the boat and taking cash. He is now inside a perspex box and payment is by card only.

Looking at other activities, like speed boats and the sealife safari, the boats looked as crowded as ever. I know that they are outdoors, but social distancing couldn’t have been possible. People were also wearing damp, borrowed life jackets, which didn’t seem particularly hygienic. It is strange that shops, pubs and restaurants have such tight restrictions, but for things like speed boats you would have no idea you were living through a pandemic.

Our holiday to Padstow this year was still the much-needed break we wanted, but it was definitely a bit different. I do hope that at some point we can ease out of the ‘new normal’ back into an old normal without face coverings and one-way systems around pubs, but I know that is still some way off.

Padstow, Cornwall, Holiday, Boats, Coronavirus, Covid-19

Author: Sarah Mummy

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10 Comments

  1. This was so interesting to read, about how different places are doing things.
    Pubs are such a faff now but it is to keep everyone safe. Wearing the gloves for crazy golf do sound uncomfortable. It des seem a little lazy of them not to clean the equipment.
    Oh dear! The instructions to use the toilets are very complicated. x

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    • I don’t think anyone was following those toilet instructions! People were sticking with having one person in at a time, but not to putting the chain across the door! It’s good that pubs have all the procedures in place, but I think only people who really love pubs will bother going at the moment.

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  2. It is amazing how much things have changed. I really don’t get people who leave rubbish and clean up after themselves. Not sure about the gloves for golf though. x

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    • The gloves for golf were really uncomfortable as it was a very hot day and we were really sweating inside them! It is good that all these places are taking things so seriously at the moment though. X

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  3. TBH the pub sounds like a usual trip to Spoons apart from the one way system, I always stay sitting with my mates and ordering on the app. I turn off the poor wifi and use the 4g.My friend can never get it to work and I usually get her drinks in that pub.

    I don’t like the sound of having to plan activities for the holiday – it’s the one time we relax from being organised. I especially don’t like the sound of the gloves at golf either!

    I am surprised that more wasn’t being done on the safari – like even having spaces between the passengers.

    I am glad you all had a good time despite all the changes.

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    • I wouldn’t know what a trip to Wetherspoons is like – I don’t think I’ve been there in the evening since before I had kids! I’ve probably been no more than four or five times in the daytime since I’ve had them!
      The gloves at the golf were really horrible, especially as we went on the hottest day.
      We found we were able to book for Adrenalin Quarry on the day, so it wasn’t too bad.
      We definitely still enjoyed our holiday and I’m very glad we went.

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  4. I completely agree with a lot of what you have written here. I didn’t use a public toilet and probably would do my best to avoid it at all times anyway! The pub situation was a bind and yes, people in shops were often incredibly grumpy and rude. We queued up for ice creams a couple of times and one lady was so rude it was like she didn’t want the business! It did change things a bit from our usual holidays but compared to what we’ve been through in lockdown, it was a breath of fresh air – literall!

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    • Yes! That is so true. It might have been more hassle than a holiday usually is, but still so good to just get away from home, do something different and look at some different scenery!

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  5. I’m so glad that you managed to get your Padstow break as I know it means a lot to you. IT must have been strange with all of the changes and I know from our visits to Wales, social distancing seriously doesn’t happen in many areas but I’m glad that you managed to have a great time

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    • I was so glad to get away, thanks very much. Even though it was a bit strange, it was so nice to get that break. I’m not surprised social distancing was lacking in Wales too. We just did our best to not linger in the really crowded parts!

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