A reader writes:
I see yellow number plates and the special kind of blue that indicates the Med. I also see a beach in the middle of a town on a peninsula. I may be crazy but I also see a bit of land on the other side so I am going with the southern tip of Gibraltar, just south of the rock on Mount Rd. looking south across to Africa.
Malibu, California? I drove along this part of the West Coast last year, and those houses right along the beach look familiar. It doesn't get much better than Highway 1.
This looks like a view of Barcelona from the Collserola hills. From the angle it needs to be a tallish building, which suggests La Florida, the only ritzy hotel on the hillside. I spent a lot of time at the nearby Tibidabo amusement park when we lived in Barcelona seven years ago and my kids were little, but we never visited La Florida, so even if this happens to be right can’t suggest a floor, let alone a room number.
The yellow, Euro-shaped license plates rule out the Americas and most of the coastal countries in Europe. Nothing about the terrain says England, and everyone in Australia and New Zealand uses white plates except Western Australia and New South Wales, where there are tons of possibilities that match the terrain. That small beach at the bottom of the hill with a park on the shoreline behind it suggest Tamarama, just south of Sydney. I'm guessing that the park is Marks Park and the beach is the Gaerloch Reserve. The attached picture is a closeup of the beach from Tamarama Marine Drive:
Just taking a stab in the dark at one of these contests for once because there was at least the clue of the cars going on the left side of the road. Based on the vegetation in the picture I decided it was a Caribbean territory of British heritage (screw you U.S. Virgin Islands). Based on the topography of the picture I decided it was more on the hilly side than the mountainous side and this pointed me toward Barbados and Bridgetown seemed like it had some hills overlooking more developed parts. And to pin down my guess with a little more specificity I'm going with Government Hill, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Another gets on the right island:
I’m gonna guess New Quay, Wales. The rooftops are right. The license plates are right. The photo would have been taken from on top of the bluffs looking out over the Irish sea:
Last summer around this same time I had a chance to hike for about three days along England's Jurassic Coast, which runs along England's Southwestern coastline, primarily within the county of Devon(shire). This area is absolutely stunning (it's a World Heritage Site) and is definitely worth the time and effort to get there and see it. As to this week's photo, it really reminds me of the area I hiked between Exmouth and Seaton. Based on the geography and the size of the town in the photo, I think the two likeliest options are either Sidmouth or Budleigh Salterton (what a rediculously British name!). However, given the size of the town I'll go with the larger of the two, Sidmouth.
Another zeroes in on the right town:
With cars parked on the left hand side, and having yellow license plates, it strongly suggests that this week’s view is somewhere in the UK. There are probably not that many locations in the UK that have a modest sized town on a small peninsula. So, I started in Cornwall and first had a look at Penzance. Then I noticed the small town of St Ives, just to the north, and everything fell into place. This week’s view is from the Tregenna Castle Hotel in St Ives, Cornwall. The view is looking north from the hotel towards the town and its harbor.
Another sends an aerial shot of St Ives:
In the distance you can see the chapel of St Nicholas on the Island; to the left, the breakers at Porthmeor Beach. In front of the chapel is another sandy beach and St Ives Harbor at what looks like low tide.
Another's memory is jogged:
Ten years old, the infamous hot, dry summer of '76, down-market bed-and-breakfast in St. Ives, and a nasty case of chickenpox. The stuff of unforgettable family vacations.
Way back in 1990, my wife and I (living in New Jersey) visited a friend who was working near London. He mentioned we might enjoy a driving trip out of the city and suggested St Ives. We thought it was a good idea, and ventured out for our first big stretch of driving on the "wrong side" of the road. We made it, but by the time we pulled into St Ives we were totally frazzled from the experience, and didn't drive again until we left two days later. But our stay was fantastic. We dipped our toes into the Atlantic Ocean from the other side, and shopped by the beach (wonderful art shops). We returned in 1993, with our 1-year-old son, and in 2000, with our then 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. Particularly, our daughter remembers a seagull stealing her Cornish ice cream right off the cone in her hand as we walked along the beach shops.
There is an absolutely wonderful Barbara Hepworth museum there and the Tate St Ives is awesome. I've only been once and it was when I was performing at the Minack theatre in nearby Penzance with the Cambridge University G&S society … it's a dreamy part of England. The Minack is especially fantastic. It's on the cliff side and as the first half of a show ends (as far as I remember), the sun sets and as the second half starts the moon rises. It was built by one woman and continues her legacy of allowing largely amateur theatrical performances at what must be one of the most unique and inspring performance spaces in the world. I live in DC now, so thanks for making a fellow British expat extremely nostalgic for home!
Another gets back to the sleuthing:
I'm pretty sure this week's VFYW is taken from the Tregenna Hotel, St. Ives, Cornwall, UK. I've never been there, and the hotel's web site is not giving me that detailed a map, so although I can tell physically, what part of the hotel it seems to be in, I couldn't say what room number. It appears to be either the Bay View self-catering apartment, or one of the two "single room sea view" rooms. I think it's about here on the map:
I recently spent a summer living in the UK, and started searching there based on the combination of the architecture and mix of cars shown in the picture. From there, it was fairly easy to recognize the distinctive promontory shown in the picture, and then to narrow down the view as from Tregenna Castle in St. Ives. No Google Streetview in front of the hotel though! So now I have to guess. Based on the tops of the palm trees at the very bottom of the picture, it looks like the view is from the second floor (or first floor, as this is in UK), and based on the angle of the view, maybe the second window from the left, circled in the picture:
The headland in the distance is quite distinctive – it's known as The Island, although it's connected to the mainland. The building on the top is a chapel. Following the angle of the terraced houses in the centre of the photo you soon arrive at the Treganna Castle Hotel. A quick search through Tripadvisor produced quite a similar photo taken from Room 120. I think the window we're looking for must be near that room, on the (UK) 1st floor, judging the view of the parked cars and the treetops in the immediate foreground. It looks like the room may be just in the West Wing of the building but maybe one or two rooms closer to the main part of the building than Room 120.
So very close. Our winner nails the exact room:
Having looked plaintively at the VFYW pictures for the past year at last one I can identify! The view is of St Ives, a fantastic town in Cornwall in the very south west of the UK. A bit of research shows that the picture has been taken from the Tregenna Castle Hotel which overlooks the town. I am sure that an exact window is going to be needed here – a bit of interpolation suggests Room 118 as the most likely candidate.
St Ives is a wonderful place and includes possibly my favourite spot in the world – the Barbara Hepworth sculpture gardens which includes a large number of her fantastic sculptures in the tranquil back garden of what was her home/studio.
From the submitter:
The exact location is Tregenna Castle (now a hotel) which overlooks St Ives, Cornwall (which I think is the least English looking seaside village in the country) and postcode here TR26 2DE. The room number was 118.
I was there because my best friend is Cornish and we were visiting his family for the annual "feast" day in his ancient and tiny home village of St Day. It's a centuries-old Cornish carnival type affair, very surreal and English which brings the whole community together in a day of parades and marching bands and folk dancing. It was great fun and a reminder of an older and often forgotten England.
We couldn’t stay at his parent’s house, so we stayed in this hotel for a couple of days, as it’s a half-hour drive from his parents. The hotel has a fantastic location in great grounds, with the amazing view you can see above, and we spent a lot of time exploring all the arts galleries of St Ives, and the Barbara Hepworth museum (for my money one of the greatest single locations in the world, a fantastic and beautiful garden filled with her extraordinary sculptures – it was actually her working space, and where she tragically died in a fire). One day we came back to the hotel to find that a seagull had somehow sneaked under a tiny gap in the window shown in the picture, and pecked its way through all our free biscuits, leaving a hell of a mess!
One more email:
As you do with these things, once I worked out the answer (which felt pretty cool when you’re sat 5000 miles away) I started googling St. Ives, and found the famous riddle:
As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Every wife had seven sacks
Every sack had seven cats
Every cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives.
How many were going to St Ives?
The answer is of course 1. Unless you are Wikipedia, in which case the answer is either 0, 1, 2, 7, 9, 2752, 2800 or 2802. But not 2753, even though that makes as much sense.
Update from a reader:
It’s a fun riddle, but it’s not about the St. Ives in Cornwall. Rather, it relates to the somewhat less picturesque town I grew up in, St. Ives in Cambridgeshire. The person going to St. Ives was probably on his way to the weekly market or to the annual Michaelmas Fair, which have been held every week for the last 902 years. Or he may have simply stopped off at the Severn Wives pub on Ramsey Road (though, for any intrepid Dishers heading that way, I’d recommend the Nelson’s Head on Maryland instead).
My favourite quote about St. Ives (Cambs.) comes from a more recent source: Rupert Brooke, who wrote in his 1912 poem, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester,
"Strong men have blanched, and shot their wives,
Rather than send them to St Ives"
Says it all really.