Travel

Our Cornwall Vacation

Cornwall family vacation

Growing up, we spent almost every summer visiting my grandparents in Cornwall, England, and it was easily the most magical part of our childhoods. (The beaches! The boats! The pirate lore!) Now, as adults, we try to take our own children every couple years, and it makes my heart burst. Here are a few photos from our trip last week…

Polruan view of Fowey

We stayed at my grandmother’s house in Polruan, a tiny fishing village, overlooking the harbor.

Cousins

The cousins — aged 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8!

Polruan

Every morning, and many afternoons, my grandmother would sit in her garden and work on her embroidered pillows. She busts out one a month, and my aunt says they don’t know what to do with them all! Here she’s working on a Klimt pattern, as she says “the complicated ones are rather fun.”

Polruan boat ride

Alex and Joanna

During the day, we’d often go on a boat ride into the ocean…

Cornwall family vacation

Other times the kids would go crabbing. (They caught zero crabs, but the attempts were valiant!)

Cornwall family vacation

Cornwall family vacation

And one afternoon, we went on an adventure to Sam’s on the Beach, a restaurant a couple towns over. My great uncle Donald ordered bottles of rosé, and we ate seafood pasta and fish and chips…

Cornwall family vacation

…while the kids played in the sand.

Joanna, Toby and Anton

Cornwall family vacation

Then, most evenings, around 6 p.m. (or “drinks o’clock,” as my cousins say), we’d come together in the garden for snacks and wine before dinner. The kids would run around or watch cartoons, and we’d relax after the day.

Cornwall family vacation

Somehow Alex ends up dressing like another person on every vacation. (Exhibit A, exhibit B.) Here he’s twinning with my cousin, Olivia. Makes me laugh so much.

Cornwall family vacation

We felt so lucky to stay with my grandmother, and I snapped this photo of her bedroom. How beautiful are the purple walls?

English dollhouse

Right next door, in the room where we were sleeping, Anton was playing with the dollhouse my grandfather built decades ago. My grandfather was passionate about every detail, including a grand piano, a miniature cheese plate, and tiny lamps that actually turned on (!).

English dollhouse

Doesn’t it look right out of a house tour?

Polruan ridge

At the end of the week, we flew home to New York, and I got the sweetest email from my aunt: “Now you have all left, the silence is deafening. I’ve been sweeping up sand and the odd lost toy and sock, sticky marmalade patches on the floor, the stinky crab line — and loads of empty wine bottles. The machinery is humming and the dryer buzzer keeps going off. I definitely feel miserable to have the place boringly cleaner and tidier. Sadly it all goes back. We all go back.” Truer words. I’ve been so homesick this week and miss the salty air and soundtrack of seagulls. Please don’t forget about us, Cornwall. We’ll see you in two years! xoxo

P.S. Our past four England trips — Toby and Anton are so teeny.

  1. Anna says...

    I adore your Cornwall posts. My mother was born there and I’ve never been to visit! Her family moved to Australia when she was young and now we visit my family there every few years. Those laid back family trips where you spend every day on the beach are such the best!

  2. Miruska says...

    I love that Anton always strikes a pose: hand on a hip, head to the side with a sly smile. Such a dude. The pictures are amazing and your aunt’s message brought me to tears. Time passes so fast.

  3. Kirsten says...

    What a beautiful vacation! We’re heading to London and Scotland at the end of September to visit my husband’s great-granny and explore the highlands with our 3.5 year old! Any tips for managing the jet lag for kids? Would very much appreciate it!

  4. Every time you visit Cornwall it makes me homesick (I grew up in the Truro/ Falmouth area). Love seeing your photos and that you share all the wonderful and very authentic things about being and living in Cornwall. It really is a magical place.

  5. MariaE. says...

    I love it all about this posting. It has really cheered me up today and has brought more happiness to me as I was very close to my grandmothers and I love to read stories about grandmas. I hope you feature your grandma soon as I want to know everything about her. Family is very important and I am glad you share all your experiences with us. You certainly inspire us. You make us feel alive, normal and you encourage us to look for new adventures, try new things, see the world while keeping everything, and specially us, down to earth. Thank you for being like a beacon where we can head towards when we need it most. Thanks for all the empathy you show in every single posting! Empathy is what might save the world if people can start applying it every single day!

  6. sasha l says...

    Your aunt’s sweet note brought tears to my eyes. How lucky you all are to have each other. Thanks for sharing the job with us.

  7. Bunny says...

    What a great trip! Cornwall looks like a beautiful place. What special memories with your family.

  8. MA says...

    What a lovely trip – thank you for sharing. And how lucky to spend time with your extended family, especially grandmother. Your aunt’s words are so touching. We are off to visit my grandmother who at 93 lives by herself in northern Maine. She is amazing and loves to squeeze my kids, feed us way too much (blueberry cake!), and tell us stories. We are all so sad when we leave. Time passes so quickly, these visits mean so much to all of us.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds incredible, ma!!

  9. Elizabeth says...

    A comment and a question:
    Comment: I see from your grandmother’s bedroom where you get your great style, Joanna!
    Question: My husband is addicted to “The Coroner” and we both liked “Doc Martin,” both of which are situated in towns with beautiful coastal harbors. But he always asks: are they just lucky with the weather? Because we assume that it must be wet and rainy most of the time. Were you just lucky with the weather this trip, or is the end of June/first weeks of July the time to go? Or is the weather often sunny, mild and beautiful?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we were VERY lucky with the weather. england is having a historic sun/heat wave right now, so that was amazing. as my friend gemma said to me, “cornwall really put its makeup on for you this year” :) also, there was 1 rainy day during our 6 days there, but we just didn’t take photos on that day, haha.

  10. On trips with my husband’s family, we have a “cracker party” every evening before dinner–wine, cheese, crackers, etc.! It’s an especially nice task for the older kids to take on: put out the cheese and crackers, play waiter and grab adults a beer, etc. One of my favorite parts of every trip!

  11. Karen says...

    Joanna, could you share how you and Alex decide and coordinate whose family and in-laws are visited and how you go about making a big family reunion happen with all siblings involved? With my two siblings, a husband (with a sibling) and our toddler it feels like we are getting pulled into different directions by family who all want to see our son and I suspect it will only get more complicated as my siblings start families of their own! Your own experiences/insight would be appreciated :)

    • Silver says...

      Such a great question. And then I also think that with a young child now, my husband and I often want to forge our own traditions especially aorund Christmas and not have to travel all the time – is it ok to say “no, we’re spending Christmas at home” – we always say “next year we will” but we’re always to scared of the fall out.

    • Laura says...

      Silver: Do it. Dealing with “fall out” is so much easier than regret. Childhood is so short and prescious. I claimed back Christmas this year and it was utterly blissful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      for sure! we go every two years, so it’s not very often, and we plan WAY ahead. we pick the days in february or earlier each year, and we understand that it’s inevitable that not every person will be able to make it. for example, my sister wasn’t going to come until the last minute, so that was very lucky for us! and my other cousins — jeremy, oliver and will — weren’t able to make it with their families. and my beloved aunt janey and uncle hamish couldn’t make it either. so you know it will be a section of the people, but it’s always wonderful to see who you DO see! sometimes a smaller group is nice, too, because you can really focus on the people there and have deeper conversations than in a wild larger group. hope this helps a little! curious to hear what other people say, too. xoxoxo

  12. Sammy says...

    My advice to you is, don’t go back in 2 years. Go back next year.

    Also, I would like to see close-ups of every single doll house room!

    • Darcy Altemose says...

      YES to this comment!

      That dollhouse is everything my little girl dreams were made of!

      What a lovely post and what a lovely time it looks like you had — magical, indeed!!!

  13. Jillian says...

    We are holidaying in Polkerris in just over a week – cannot wait. All I can think about is Sam’s On The Beach!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!!! i would recommend the halloumi!!!!

  14. Claire says...

    How wonderful! so many gifts to be thankful for!
    Also I am appreciating your grandmother’s room, full of quiet color – lavender walls and the beautiful blanket.

  15. Amber J says...

    This is so lovely. Thank you for sharing these trips with us. (Don’t stop!) Also – your England trips are markers for ME of my time loving Cup of Jo. I remember when you went on your LAST trip — has it really been two years?! I’ve been following for two or more years?! Seems like just a handful of months. But then I remember, yes, the winters that jumping onto CoJ and digesting beauty from you carried me through! The frustrating springs where my circumstances did not match the life blooming around me – and there was always kindness, light, beauty here to encourage. The Divine touches this place. I love you guys so much.
    xoxo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, amber. i just read your comment out loud to our team. i’m tearing up. thank you so much. xoxoxo

    • Amber K says...

      Oh I’m so glad. Sending love! <3

  16. f says...

    Where the best memories are made… so lucky! Your aunt is so eloquent. And that dollhouse, amazing, should be in a museum!

  17. Angella says...

    @Joanna – where can I find those fabulous looking olive green pants you’re wearing in the photo with the kids? Looks like they’d be super comfy to travel in.

  18. Christy says...

    What are the odds – I just fell in love with Cornwall last night while watching the movie “About Time” for the first time. I think a Girl’s Trip is definitely in order….

    • Lisa says...

      Oh goodness that movie made me cry giant, heaving sobs. I lost my dad a few months before I watched it for the first time. What a beautiful movie. Not sure I will ever be able to watch it again though.

  19. Caroline says...

    Just take TWO summer vacations for a few years, Joanna. As others have said, time flies, and soon those little boys won’t be little, and Grandmother may not be here forever, as much as you wish she would be!

  20. your aunt’s note: heartbreak! so glad you guys had a great trip. xoxo

  21. Rachel says...

    Johanna, you need to read The Lake House by Kate Morton! It takes place in London and Cornwall and is a cozy mystery that is set in the 30s and present day. It’s such beautiful, dreamy writing. Makes me want to book a trip to Cornwall right now!

  22. Caitlin says...

    That dollhouse is my childhood (and adult) dream!

  23. Kate says...

    I definitely understand how your aunt feels. I live in New York with my husband and two boys (3&1) and we’re visiting our home coutry, South Korea, this September. It’s been 5 years since I last visited and it’ll be the first trip to Korea for my kids. I’m so excited but my parents and parents in law are much much more excited. My dad isn’t that type of person but my mom told me that he’s making a list of things to do and searching for places to take his grandkids for fun already. It melt my heart. and I know that we aren’t even there yet but the last goodbye at the airport at the end of the trip and how grandparents would feel after we leave come to my mind sometimes. But as your aunt says it all goes back, we all go back and the memories will stay in our hearts.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, so sweet, kate. your dad sounds like a gem. xoxo

  24. Is Alex is getting more handsome? Are you getting more beautiful? Are those boys of yours getting cuter? Also, is Alex is getting more handsome?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahhahahahaa he’s going to be so flattered, jen ;)

  25. Em says...

    I spent my honeymoon in Port Isaac (a surprise destination–I let my husband plan everything and he didn’t tell me where we were going till we were on the way to the airport) (we watched Doc Martin for a time while dating, hence the idea) and your post brought back so many sweet memories: the sea air, the fresh mussels, the rambles along jagged cliffs. Your “drinks o’clock” sounds fabulous (we never got on the right eating schedule and always missed lunch and then weren’t hungry at dinner). Thank you! I hope we get to go back with our family now that we have a child of our own–the place leaves an indelible mark.

  26. Caitlin Scott says...

    I’m a sap! Your aunt’s words summoned my tears.

  27. Dee says...

    I love how so many of us feel like we know you and your family; relish the times with your amazing kiddos! I’m so glad that you are taking time for yourself. Keep fighting the good fight – but also keep taking time to breathe and enjoy your beautiful life.

  28. Louisa says...

    My husband grew up spending summers at his family cabin in Northern Minnesota (no running water, no electricity – just the glow of gas lights and a pump to get water). I grew up spending endless days at our family house on the Outer Banks (I’d go outside at 9 am and come in at sunset). We now live far from home, and a family cabin isn’t in our finances, and it’s hard to imagine childhood without one.

  29. Maureen says...

    Looks and sounds so lovely, what wonderful memories for you and your children. Do you watch Poldark? It takes place in Cornwall and the photos reminded me of the show. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. I need to start a happy hour with my husband! “Drinks o’clock” indeed!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i haven’t seen it, but my aunt loves it! i want to watch it now :)

  30. Oh my–look how adorable Cady is!

  31. Mara says...

    Wonderful post. Is the littlest girl, the 4-year-old, Paul and Lucy’s daughter?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes she is! i have to say, she’s a wonderful, funny, smart, energetic little person. we adore her. :)

  32. Gaylen Blankenship says...

    I hope you’re following Poldark!

  33. Annie Ramsay says...

    Life is short, Ms Goddard. Go back next year.

    • Emily says...

      Never truer words. I often wish I had one more day with my sweet grandmother.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i think you’re right, annie. alex usually wants to mix up our summer vacation and do something different every other year, but i don’t think i can bear it!

    • Mara says...

      I was thinking the same thing! How wonderful for you to still have your sweet grandmother, and for the boys to get to know their great-grandmother.

    • Claire says...

      Yes, I agree. Time passes. As years go by I become more and more aware that the people we love are the deepest and best of what life brings us. And all my life I wished for a grandmother. Your family is so lucky to have those people and relationships to enjoy. Brings richness to life.

  34. Fran says...

    Everything about the trip is precious! Have you guys ever considered moving there for a few years? And if I promise to drag sand into the house & lose a sock or two would your aunt & grandmother mind if I visited with them next year since you won’t be?!?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      awww, fran, i’m sure they would LOVE to have you. they are the ultimate “the more the merrier” people! we’ve talked before about moving to england, but it’s hard with jobs and schools and all of those things. i’ve lived in NYC my entire adult life, and moving seems so huge. but i know many people move a lot and maybe we should just bite the bullet one of these days!

    • Lynn says...

      Do it! NYC is wonderful, full of diversity and buzz but living abroad changes you and gives you such amazing perspective. I grew up in the burbs of Philly my whole life and was always envious of friends I met at university who lived abroad as children. They were just a tad more wiser. If you do, do it before they turn teenagers and it’s still easy for them to adjust at school.

  35. Carrie says...

    Could your life be any more charmed, for reals? This is amazing.

  36. Laura C. says...

    Oh I have a question, I love your cousin Olivia’s shoes. Could she tell you where are they from? And why don’t you feature her for a beauty uniform? She looks lovely.

    • Betsy says...

      Yes, must know where her shoes are from. Love them so much!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ll ask her!! i loved those shoes, too. a beauty uniform would be fun! fwiw, i know she uses clinique cleanser and lotion and clinique happy perfume.

    • Anna says...

      Did Olivia ever reply with her shoe brand and style? Yes, (grin), I’m still checking this thread for the answer!

  37. Sasha says...

    Wow, that dollhouse is amazing! Looks like a great family vacation.

  38. molly says...

    the hoist/rope above where your grandmother sleeps made my day/week. i needed one of those last summer when i was 9 months pregnant in mid-august :)

    • Amanda says...

      I was wondering what that was for, and this was my first guess! What a handy trick :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! it’s a relic from when my grandfather was alive. the little cousins use it as a swing! :)

  39. Aw I love this. You’re so lucky to have grandparents around in your 30s! I miss mine.

  40. Andrea says...

    I saw a great idea for upholstery where you see embroidery together and use that to cover a couch or chair. It might be a great way to use the embroidery to create pieces for her or her family.

    • Andrea says...

      Sew!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh wow, that’s amazing!

  41. JoeG says...

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics and recaps. Pass along to your Gma that she has a lot of fans! I adore her after just one picture!

    • summer says...

      Yeeeees! Let’s get an interview – she’s darling!

  42. shopgirl, eu says...

    Aaah, this is so…. divine! The photos, scenery, location, landscape, atmosphere..that life!! This are real vacations.
    And I love your eye for details!!

  43. Jeannie says...

    I love your grandmother’s bedroom! What is hanging from the ceiling??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      when my sweet grandfather was alive, he needed it to help pull himself up in the mornings. it’s still there, and makes me miss him xoxo

    • Jeannie says...

      Oh that’s very very sweet. Thanks for sharing!!!

  44. Heidi says...

    My daughter would go absolutely bananas over that dollhouse! The details!
    So glad you had a lovely time.

  45. Lauren E. says...

    I didn’t even take this trip and I am weeping. Such beautiful words from your aunt! Thank you for sharing.

  46. Your aunt’s message was wonderful. I can picture it so clearly – like a much brighter scene from “To the Lighthouse.” Glad you had such lovely memories to bring home, and thanks for bringing US along for the ride.

  47. Sarah says...

    I tried to “like” so many of these pictures.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      awwwww :)

    • Lindsay says...

      Me too haha with grandmother’s bedroom and cross stitching outside

  48. g says...

    This post was so beautiful. Especially that last little note. Your boys are growing so fast! Time waits for no one. Way to enjoy the moment together. So special <3

  49. Can I buy one of your grandmother’s pillows? I’m serious. Also, the dollhouse is my dream. Hours of fun!

  50. Maggie says...

    The email from your aunt reads like a Dorothy Parker poem. So beautiful. Looked like a lovely time!

  51. Caitlin Close Howard says...

    Your aunts words made me tear up! I’m a step/bonus mom to my husbands three little ones. The children split their time between our home and their mothers. My husband and I often feel the same way when they head back to their moms and leave us with a house to ourselves. We’ll spend time cleaning up the random bits and sticky messes and while the house is a bit tidier it’s certainly quieter. There is peace in the stillness but it takes a little while to get there. What a joy family is!

    • Laura says...

      I feel you girl – I’m also a stepmom, and definitely felt a pang after our girl went back to her mom’s after we got to take her on a vacation for the 4th for a week. In some ways it’s nice to get our couple time back but it’s an adjustment for sure. xoxo!

    • Kay says...

      I’ve never heard the term “bonus mom” — it is lovely!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that, caitlin and laura. you sound like such loving and wonderful stepparents.

  52. Jenn says...

    Incredible. Your boys will treasure those Cornwall memories just as you do.

  53. Amanda says...

    Thanks for sharing! This post made me want more info on how I can get into embroidering pillows (Googling now!), a beauty uniform (or week of outfits) from Olivia, and an interview with your awesome grandmother (but I just love speaking with older people about their lives, so that may just be me)! Looks like a great trip!

    • Robin says...

      Not just you :) Seconding the call for a grandma interview!

    • Laura says...

      Ooh yes I second all of this!

    • Marci says...

      I would love those pillows! The colors are gorgeous. Your grandmother should start her own Etsy shop – I’d buy a few of her creations.

    • Caitlin Scott says...

      Grand-ma interview! Grand-ma interview!!

    • Monica says...

      Thirding or N’ing the call for a grandmum interview. I live in India and my summers spent with my grandparents in their lovely village farm, was just magical. Best of all, I remember so much of the wisdom/ experiences/ phrases my grandmum would dispense and it all makes so much sense, now in my late 30’s. I ferociously miss them. Even today.

  54. Steph says...

    Alex matching your cousin, hahaha! That happens to me and my husband more often than I would like to admit. We’ll get dressed at separate times and show up matching. I guess this is what happens after 11 years of marriage? So this makes me giggle.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahah that is so cute, steph!

  55. VJ says...

    Joanna, how is your sister doing? I was so excited to see the little girl I *think* is Cady looking so grown up!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for asking. lucy and cady are doing really well! we loved spending a week with them.

  56. Rachael says...

    Have you read any of Rosamund Pilcher’s novels? All set in Cornwall and absolutely delightful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i haven’t! now off to check them out…. xoxo

  57. Kristin says...

    Because of all of the horrible things going on in the world, I have been rereading my comfort books by Rosamunde Pilcher. So many of them take place in Cornwall, and I want to visit so badly. Thanks for sharing your trip so that I could feel a bit like I’m there. It’s wonderful that you manage to do this every few years!!

  58. Wow! wonderful.. I think you would have a great enjoy during this vacation….. I also went with my family on vacation in Italy… Those moments are unforgettable for whole life.

  59. Margaret Master says...

    Lovely post… the dollhouse – the paintings in your grandmother’s bedroom. I lament my kids may not have that sort of place in their lives that feels so magic. I want to be that grandmother…. better start now.

  60. Lisa says...

    Grandma vacations are the best! As my grandparents all lived far away and my parents didn’t have much money, we only ever went on holiday to visit family. Now I’m so glad we did as it was always a chance to spend time with family and just be a kid – lying on the hammock in granny’s back garden, all the cake (I once went to visit her on my own for a few days and she made 8 full sized cakes. For two people), playing in her garden. It was wonderful!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “I once went to visit her on my own for a few days and she made 8 full sized cakes. For two people” – my heart!!!

    • Lisa says...

      Her justification (I’m from South Africa but live in the UK) was “your mother tells me the flour in England is no good” so she needed to make sure I ate cake made with good flour. Grannies are the best

  61. Lane says...

    The email line at the end strikes so true that it just might need to find its way into a frame in my house.
    And your grandmother needs to do a sponsored post with Cup of Jo – I bet we’d all be interested in purchasing a (Klimt!!) pillow! ?

  62. Lori H says...

    Wonderful! I love all the photos and now Cornwall is on my travel bucket list. Your grandmother needs an Etsy shop for all her pillows!

  63. Jade says...

    Love the pictures, but as the daughter of a pediatrician, I’ve learned a few things are more dangerous than they seem. One of these is burying in the sand, which seems like fun play but is not. Please do not allow your kids to bury in sand up to neck. Encourage them to make a sandcastle and make an no sand burying policy.

    https://thestir.cafemom.com/tweens_teens/120127/being_buried_to_the_neck

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh what a scary story! in this case, we were just covering up her body with a thin layer of sand, versus digging a 4″ hole to bury her vertically. but that’s terrifying! i’ll keep that in mind. xoxo

  64. Veronika says...

    Send those pillows over here no problem :-) this is looks pretty cool!

  65. Lana says...

    “Somehow Alex ends up dressing like another person on every vacation” – haha, made my day!

  66. Kathy T says...

    Oh! …tell your grandfather that the dollhouse is amazing! Love the family pics too. Thank you!!

  67. Looks like the most beautiful trip. The low-key ones with those you love are always the best.

  68. Alice says...

    I love seeing your Cornwall posts. I grew up in Devon and adore the whole of the south west, and I find it so interesting to see it from an American perspective! I live in London now, and it takes me a good six hours door-to-door to get home, and it’s just too far to go often… you’ve made me homesick now too!

  69. Hannah says...

    We just got back from visiting my family in Cornwall (St Ives) last night! How lucky we all were with the weather… It’s beautiful and was a wonderful place to grow up. Your grandmother’s house couldn’t possibly be in a more perfect spot!

    After reading your blog for 10 years or so, I think it would have made my head spin if we’d seen you there!

    Hope the return trip went okay and the boys had some pasties.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it would have been so much fun to run into each other!!! i’ve always wanted to go to st ives, it looks so beautiful.

      PS and yes to the pasties! cheese and onion FTW!

  70. Rachael says...

    We spent the first two nights of our honeymoon in Polruan, such a magical place. It has a special place in my heart. I was so tempted to put my CV through the letterbox of the doctors surgery on the harbour and just never leave!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!

  71. Lily Shaw says...

    Is that the married couple, Toby and Bo, with their swapped pajamas? :D

    • Lesley says...

      Wondering the same thing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!! haha, over the years they have planned to get married at the south pole and have 11 children in a mini van lol.

  72. How lucky you were with the weather this trip! Cornwall is idyllic in the sun, there’s no better place to be, and your sons will have amazing memories. I’m off now to browse for holiday cottages for the autumn, keeping fingers crossed for more sunshine ☀️

  73. Laura C. says...

    This is a lovely trip, a lovely experience. I have always loved places like that, towns by the English seaside; I think I was there in a past life or something because I really feel homesick when I see places like that.
    I like how easy you take it. I would not be able to enjoy a snack while my kids are getting dirt on the sand. That’s my level of anxiety right now!
    You look so relaxed among your family, simply enjoying life, in Alex’s arms, and looking your children living and building loving memories.
    Don’t skip this trips to Cornwall, and if you can manage to go back sooner, do it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  74. Miriam says...

    Loving the kettle on your grandmother’s bedside table. So british! x

  75. Soph says...

    Cornwall has my heart. My grandparents lived there for 30+ years and I too woul’d visit every summer as a child. Next time you are there I recommend Trebarwith Strand beach, in the north, and the Port William pub on the cliff beside it. There is also a wonderful vineyard – Camel Wines – that is worth a visit (and a glass).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!!!

  76. carla says...

    What a beautiful family tradition! We’re Anglophile Californians and try to go somewhere in the UK every year. This year we chose Polruan on a whim. Well, I thought it was on a whim, but after booking our stay I realized I had indeed read of Polruan for years, through your very blog! My subconscious must have remembered. :) We dream of going back soon — it was just that magical there, and everyone was so kind to our family. What an amazing place to spend your childhood summers!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so glad to hear that, carla!!!!

  77. Jeannie says...

    These photos and stories are SO heartwarming!! How wonderful to have that precious time spent with family! I wish you could see them more often, I’m certain the novelty would never wear off. <3 You gotta wait two whole years now!?!

  78. Sarah says...

    I immediately thought, I need to Google how to make a dollhouse! How awesome!
    We go to South Korea every couple years to see family and this makes me want to go sooner. If only plane tickets weren’t so expensive! Arghh…

    I’m always a little bummed after spending time with lots of family. It’s chaotic but lively. Thanks for sharing!

  79. Capucine says...

    Norwegian Air! Go every year, go every six months, rent a place next door so it’s easy on elder energy.

    My husband’s ninety year old mother is French, and a wonderful human being. We visited her last August for five weeks, working from there, and then again this Easter because tickets were cheap…and she had a stroke while we cooked in her kitchen together the first day. Now, two months later, she has passed away. We cannot make more stories, she no longer needs her kitchen tools and scarves and coupons, and nobody knows who the guy is in the hall photo.

    The magic of a woman rooted in a place, if she’s a good one, is pretty rare in America. Just go. And record her answering your questions about her childhood schooling, her twenties, her advice for money and men or whatever she’ll willingly talk about.

    Just go, if love is there. (If she’s not terribly lovely, then two years is good!)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a beautiful and inspiring comment, capucine. i’m so sorry for your loss. thank you.

  80. Sara says...

    What is hanging from the ceiling in your grandmother’s bedroom?? I can’t figure it out!

    • Kate says...

      It looks a bit like a pull-up bar installed to maybe help her grandmother sit up in bed to get out – that can get harder as we get older and it helps to have something to grab!

  81. Matilda says...

    Sounds like such a lovely family vacation. I love bringing our three boys to visit my family in the midwest, but Cornwall sounds like a dream! Maybe some day!

  82. Steph says...

    That is such a lovely note from your aunt and her words are so true and really catch that melancholy feeling after guests leave.

  83. Katherine says...

    Oh my goodness that doll house is EVERYTHING my childhood dreams are made of. Let’s be real, it’s what my current 32 year old dreams are made of because I’d totally make a sacred space for that treasure if I had the honor of owning it. Also, that note from your aunt, she got me good with all the feels. I’m expecting my first kiddo in November and I’m so looking forward to the noise and stickiness. Thanks for sharing your trip, your family seems like they’re the salt of the earth.

  84. camille says...

    your aunt’s note was so beautiful.

  85. Natasha says...

    Love all of this….might be getting the courage to take our little ones on a road trip to visit the small towns and family I did every summer as a kid….but first…is that a shirtdress you’re wearing in the boat with Alex? Plaid? Looks darling….who makes it?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, natasha! it’s isabel marant etoile from a few years ago. i found it at the store Bird in brooklyn.

  86. Debbie says...

    That dollhouse your grandfather built! So wonderful. I noticed all the detail- the moulding around the floor and the ship painting over the sofa. He was an artist for sure. I have never been to England but it has been a lifelong dream of mine. Your photos make Cornwall look so peaceful and inviting! Maybe someday. Thank you so much for sharing.

  87. I have cousins who have a gorgeous home there, Blanches Home and Cottage (available to rent). We visited them last August and it was magical. I carry it with me like a dream. The night our son caught crabs at Polruan was the best night of his seven years of life.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      your son sounds like such a doll!

  88. Sarah says...

    Oh, and can I just add that it is so lovely to read about your Grandmother doing something that she loves, that brings her joy and satisfaction every day. This really hit home for me, what a wonderful way to live. I’m going to try it, too.

  89. Sarah says...

    I would gladly and very excitedly buy a cushion from your Grandmother! The colours and detail look amazing and have got me heading off to google “embroidery cushion kit” right now… thanks for the inspiration!

  90. Karina says...

    These photos bring a smile to my face. I’m visiting my family in Surrey this year for the first time in five years! I don’t make it to the U.K. very often, but there is always a part of me that feels at home there. Cornwall is definitely one of my favorite parts, and I have to say that I am very jealous seeing those Cornish ice cream cones. :)

  91. Lesley says...

    Beautiful family!

  92. Allison says...

    I laughed out loud at the Alex photo and am heartbroken with your aunt. Is it weird I can recall the sense of dread leaving my favorite place – when I am not going until the end of the month?

  93. Shena says...

    Lovely post! Gosh the doll house is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  94. Katie says...

    What a lovely vacation! And I love that wall colour for a bedroom.

  95. beautiful Joanna! I love that you make the time and effort to travel back. The doll house is AMAZING. Also, what is hanging from your grandmother’s ceiling? Is it a handle to get up easier? Was curious! Hope settling in goes okay. I dearly want to go back to Pakistan to visit my grandparents very soon! There is nothing better than the scent of childhood in the air in your grandparents’ home.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! it’s a handle that my late grandfather used to pull himself out of bed in the morning. very handy! i hope you get back to pakistan soon, i’m sure your grandparents are hoping for a visit, too :) xoxoxo

  96. This looks so beautiful. Definitely a dream vacation. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  97. shannon says...

    What is the item hanging from the ceiling over the bed in the purple bedroom?? I’m so curious!

    Thanks for sharing. International vacations where you stay with infrequently-seen relatives are magic.

    • Alexan says...

      I came down to ask the same question!

    • Christina says...

      I assume it’s a handle to help Grandma get out of bed. It can be harder for older people to sit up so having something to hold onto and pull up on can be a big help.

  98. Rae says...

    The dollhouse!!! Your grandfather was clearly a talented and patient man : )

  99. This is so beautiful it made my heart yearn…in a good way. Thank you for sharing your Grandmother – you are so luck to still have her!

  100. This is all so magical! What a dream!! Thank you for sharing. And that doll house!!

  101. Kristen says...

    Your aunt’s email gave me a lump in my throat. My mom always describes the quiet when we leave visiting them too. So fun to travel to family and so hard to leave. ❤️

  102. Amy says...

    The final picture reminds me of your deer bed photo and the one of grass from Lucy’s apartment tour. No wonder you’re both drawn to those images. Just beautiful.

  103. gabe says...

    omg those pajamas STINKIN CUTE

  104. Bianca says...

    So idyllic. Is that adorable little girl Cady.? She’s so grown up!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! she’s such a spunky little sweetheart.

  105. How fortunate you and you kids are to still have your grandmother!
    I never took my kids to see my grandfather (a country away, they were too young, we were too busy, excuses excuses) and it is by far the biggest regret of my life.

  106. Laura says...

    I am jealous of your entire trip, but I am perhaps most jealous of that dollhouse! That is exactly what I wanted (but never had) when I was a little girl–and apparently am not over it 30 years later!

  107. Susan says...

    So quaint and beautiful! Your grandmother sounds like a doll, and the cousins are adorable. I spy some Jacob’s cream crackers on that snack plate! ?

    • Deb says...

      And would that be a bottle of New Zealand Oyster Bay wine on the table too?

      You are creating some fabulous holiday memories for your boys Joanna, so lovely all the generations get to hang out together for a summer break!

  108. Shilo says...

    Love her comment at the end.. beauty is in fact in the bustle of family around…

    Kids playing games, gathering around pizza, sipping wine, separating sibling feuds … oh the glorious long, hard days of parenthood.. bliss ?

  109. Julie says...

    Lovely description of a great vacation. Toby may be old enough for the Dark is Rising series – I believe these great books about brave kids are set in Cornwall.

  110. Stephanie says...

    Wow. How can you not live there? I’ve never been, but now it feels a bit like home to me too.

  111. Annie says...

    Love this so so much. Have been missing the summer vacation rhythms we had when our kids were little. What a wonderful treat.

  112. Kim says...

    Alex is wearing the same outfit in every picture, so I’d say that everyone copies HIM! By this point everyone should expect Alex to wear a blue top and weather-appropriate bottoms :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahaha

  113. Catharine says...

    Your aunt’s words…they hit me. Currently my husband and I are deep in thought considering a third child and this, this is the essense of family.

  114. Ingrid says...

    I think you have it wrong: Other people twin Alex. He basically has on the same outfit every time. Ha! (And he always looks good in it!)

    • Sadie says...

      On Sunday, I was in the Green Park tube station in London, when I saw a bearded guy wearing a blue shirt and shorts. I thought, “That guy is dressed just like Alex from Cup of Jo.” Then I realized he was with two children and saw that it WAS Alex. Hahaha.

      I have to laugh because my husband also has a signiture outfit/look. Maybe all dudes do?

    • Sadie says...

      Oops. Wrote Sunday, but it was Saturday.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, i’m laughing so much right now! going to email this thread to alex, haha.

  115. Emily says...

    What a sweet sentiment from your Aunt! My husband and I both grew up on the Florida panhandle and this time of year we long for the water. We recently spent a week on Dog Island with our boys and when we returned to our posh, inland house, I whispered to him, as we were lying in bed, that I desperately missed the sand in the sheets. xx

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the sand in the sheets. <3 that is so sweet, emily.

  116. Jennifer says...

    It’s my favorite part of England too. It’s like a dream. Gorgeous photos ☀️??

  117. Tracy says...

    How does Toby always look so effortlessly cool in every pic? Love him in that first picture. What wonderful memories!

  118. Jess says...

    Aw thank you for sharing! We go on a family trip to England every year but still need to get over to Cornwall- and these photos only increase the desire. Looks quintessentially English seaside and like a wonderful family gathering.
    Also, surely your aunt should start an Etsy shop for your grandma ;)

  119. Patricia says...

    Looks so lovely! There is nothing better than family vacations, all piling in and picking right up where you left off. We used to camp for two weeks every summer at the beach with my family and my mom’s sister’s family. Then at the end of the summer, we would pile in our giant van and drive 12 hours to visit my dad’s sister’s family in NY. I am still close with all of my cousins because of these special trips. I am one of twelve children and now that I am a parent, I marvel at my own parents (and my aunt for hosting us!). If you’ve never read the book “the Relatives Came” by Cynthia Rylant, you must. Makes me tear up every time I read it because I can so relate.

  120. jill c. says...

    this sounds so lovely! the photos! the moments you shared! and that beautiful email from your aunt! thank you for sharing!

  121. Josephine says...

    I’m now homesick for Cornwall and i’ve Never been ?
    Thanks for sharing, Joanna – special times, indeed.

  122. Nikki says...

    I love these pics! England looks so charming in the summer. Question… where did you get your brown leather flats? They’re so cute and I’ve been hunting for a pair for weeks, and have yet to find some I love.

  123. Amy says...

    Looks lovely! Did Lucy and John go with you?? I think that is Cady in the picture! I hope this doesn’t sound creepy. I’m just really rooting for them. I loved Nina and Paul

  124. Paige says...

    Oh my gosh! How can I go to Cornwall and stay with your grandmother, too? What a magical trip. And what a magical place!

  125. Julie says...

    I love your grandma’s hat (and wish I had one just like it)!!!! She is so stylish!

  126. shahnnen elizabeth-head says...

    omg, Anton’s face in the crabbing picture cracks (heh, sorry had to) me up!

  127. Gabriele says...

    Looks bucolic. So picturesque. Reminds me of Doc Marten’s Portwenn. What a glorious summer vacation. So happy for you and your family. And your grandma!

  128. Cynthia says...

    So glad you had a wonderful time. American crabs like stinky fish or chicken necks if you can even buy them any more. We have crab pots where we go camping and I have eaten more crab this past weekend than I have eaten in years! I love the dollhouse, as I’ve always loved miniatures. I have a doll house I need to decorate. I have the dolls and the furnishings, just need to paint, wallpaper, and move the family in. Mine looks like a chalet.

  129. Escondista says...

    So beautiful. After binging Poldark, Cornwall is on my bucket list.
    Hope you brooded on the edge of a cliff if just for a moment!

  130. That dollhouse is INCREDIBLE!! Oh my gosh. Not a doll person myself- I probably would’ve made it a home for little bunnies who wear clothes, or something. :) But my goodness. How incredibly gorgeous. You never see dollhouses like that anymore, it’s like it’s out of an old movie!

  131. Sounds like the perfect family vacation! Your grandma looks like such a cool person! I always love hearing stories from grandparents… they’ve seen so much! What about some post featuring your grandma?

    On another note… I booked tickets in August to go visit my family in Peru with my hubby and 1 year old. I was really looking forward to my little guy meeting my grandpa, who I grew up with, but he passed away last week, a little too soon at 102 years old. It won’t be the same going to visit knowing he is not there :(

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so sorry for your loss, ximena. that’s really sad to hear. i’m sure your son will love to hear stories about him as he grows older.

  132. Lindsay says...

    Looove!!! It all looks like a storybook. Ahhh, vacations…isn’t that what life is all about? The enjoyment, the laughter, the lingering.

    So glad you enjoyed your time there. How amazing you still have your grandmother in your life. That’s a treasure. The scenery, the family fun, the dollhouse.

    Thank u for sharing!

  133. Jordan says...

    This is something out of my wildest dreams! I cannot imagine a lovelier vacation!

    And I second the idea of buying a pillow from your grandmother. Set up an Etsy shop for her!

  134. Rachel says...

    Oh my! What a lovely trip. The backdrop reminds me of the show Doc Martin on the BBC. Have you seen it?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i haven’t! now i’m curious!

  135. Christina says...

    ahem. Other people manage to dress like Alex every time. Clearly his uniform of chambray/blue shirt and chinos/shorts hasn’t changed. ;)

  136. Christine Schwalm Design says...

    Let’s get your grandmother an Etsy shop! The catch is that people have to write her a note about what they love about one of her pillows before she’ll sell it to them. The request to buy has to come with a good story. Think of how entertaining!

    • Cynthia says...

      Oh Christine, you are so clever! This is a GREAT IDEA and would be wonderful fodder for another COJ series!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that idea!

  137. Michelle says...

    I can relate to this post so much! I spent each childhood summer in Israel with my father’s family and try to travel there with my children every 2-3 years. We just spent 2 weeks there this month and I’m already homesick for its salty beaches, open air markets and sidewalk cafes. Oh and my family, of course :) Cheers to you for passing on your treasured childhood memories to your little ones. Your pictures are precious!

  138. Jovana says...

    Looks dreamy :) Question: why don’t you all go once a year? :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so far, we’ve gone to polruan every two years, and then the other year, we’ll try a new place (fire island, vermont, etc.) but now i’m thinking maybe we’ll have to go back next year. i don’t think i can wait two years!

  139. Debora says...

    So many blessings. Beautiful trip!

    Speaking of Cornwall – do you watch BBC One’s Poldark?! So good :)

    • Carter says...

      Haha! I always wonder the same thing when she mentions Cornwall!!

    • Katie Larissa says...

      Debora, I’m trying to love Poldark because of so many friends who do, but so far I’m really meh about it. Does it get better past the first 3 episodes or so?

    • Julia says...

      I was about to ask the same! I adore that show. Poldark riding back and forth along the cliffs of Cornwall is beautiful because of the scenery and the urgency. So many places to get to, so little time for Ross Poldark.

    • D says...

      Poldark gets very, very good. Do stick with it!

  140. Pip says...

    I’m visiting friends and family in the UK ( I live in Melbourne now) and how lucky were we with the amazing weather. I was inDevin just Kearns you and it was like a summer you remember from childhood – too good to be true! Bittersweet to be returning home but so grateful we get the chance to do this. Thank you for sharing your photos of the boys, such sweethearts!

  141. Ramona Mindiola says...

    I would be honored to purchase an embroidered pillow from your grandmother. She is a talented artist. Such dedication! (I have the same color geraniums in a large crock by my front door!) Looks like you had a wonderful visit! Great family memories! I’m pretty sure your boys and their cousins will continue the tradition!

    • Jennifer says...

      I’d take a pillow as well- they sound beautiful and unique.

    • Nora B says...

      Ditto, Ramona! How amazing it would be if, somehow, Johanna or your grandmother could sell some surplus and donate a portion of the funds to RAICES or another organization working to help reunite and assist asylum seekers. Just a thought….I’d definitely be on board with purchasing a gorgeous, unique, and handmade piece if art from your lovely grandmother either way. Thanks for making this such a loving, real, and happy piece of community. Big hugs to you, Joanna, and the COJ team.

    • I had the same thought about the pillows; I’d love to buy one! (I also grow geraniums.) These photos are wonderful and Cornwall looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

    • Olivia says...

      Sorry to drop in on this conversation late! I sew clothes and do some needlepoint and often get really sweet comments like these from friends – unfortunately, there are copyright laws that get in the way of selling handcrafts in many instances. I recognize the company that produced the needlepoint canvas in the photo, and sadly it would be against the law to sell a product created from one of these kits. If Joanna’s grandmother were to design her own pillows, that would be a totally different story! However, I find needlepoint relaxing because the kits tell you exactly where to stitch each color, and personally I would find the design decisions overwhelming. Hope I’m not a party pooper here – just wanted to share that perspective.

  142. Lindsey says...

    This is so sweet. My parents took my brothers and I to Canada every summer, and having a special place that we always went back to together as a family is a big part of why my brothers and I are close to this day. How special that your boys are growing up with all of those memories together!

  143. Sofia says...

    Looks like a lovely time, Joanna. It’s easy to see how it all holds such a special place in your heart. And that note from your aunt was just so beautiful! Thank you for sharing ;)

  144. Lina says...

    Beautiful! Your aunt’s comments brought a tear to my eye! I live in Montreal now but spent similar summers hanging out with my cousins and grandparents on the beaches in Devon. Happy memories!

  145. Lisa says...

    Love the pictures, but especially love your Aunt’s words. How touching.

    Inquiring minds want to know: how did the inflatable footrests work on the plane?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for asking! they were okay. they were light and easy to carry, and they blew up easily with the fan over the seats (you just put the nozzle up to the fan). but they were a little too small, though. they didn’t fill up the entire foot area so they would wobble a bit. still, they helped and every little bit counts on a redeye! so i guess i’d halfheartedly recommend them :)

    • Kate says...

      I wondered about this too. Joanna, do I remember you saying that you were in economy plus? Do you think that is why they were too big? If you were just in standard coach, do you think they would be better? Taking the kids on their first international, overnight flight this spring and looking for any ideas! Thanks!

    • Lisa says...

      I was wondering about them as well. I just did a flight with a toddler and he really struggled to sleep as he kept falling off the seat. My friend got something for her daughter which hooks over the seat and the tray table and is kind of like a hammock (so their feet can be up). We’re doing a long haul overnight flight next year and I want to get something so he can sleep (so I can sleep)

    • B says...

      We just used them on our flight to Italy. We were in regular coach and they worked wonderfully. Our 2 and 4 year old were very happy to stretch out. I would definitely recommend them.

    • Lucy says...

      We just did basically the same trip (Cornwall, London to visit family) and used the Wap Wap seats (for sale on Amazon). I don’t recall the post about which brand Joanna used, but ours worked well for economy on Virgin Atlantic. In fact, we deflated them a bit to squeeze them in, so maybe they would have been a good fit in economy plus when fully inflated. The kids used them not only for the night flight but also during the day, so they could put their feet up while watching movies, coloring, etc.

    • lisa says...

      My friend said they work best in regular coach, which is where we will be. Thanks for the feedback!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we were in regular coach/economy — i wonder if our brand was slightly smaller than others? they still sort of worked, but were just wobbly. i’m curious to hear about other brands!

  146. Lindsay Somers says...

    I just love time with extended family. It feels so special. I have family on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. It was my Mom’s most favourite place in the world. It feels special to have a connection deeply rooted in a land far away.

  147. AJ says...

    Oh, this is so wonderful. I can feel the happiness radiating from your words. Such special times! (And I want to be breathing that salty sea air too, it’s the best!)

  148. Janet Higgs says...

    Looks like the most beautiful family vacation. Your photos are wonderful. Thank you for sharing with us. Who wouldn’t love to be part of this group?!

  149. Lynne says...

    Awwww…I always love reading about your trips back to Cornwall! Looks like you guys had a blast. What great adventures you are giving your kids. I live in Canada but all of my family live in Scotland and we’d alternate years with us going over, or various family members coming to us. Those times with my grandparents in particular, or my same-age cousin (slash sister;) are treasured memories. Don’t you feel like you can breathe so much easier when you go back to Cornwall? Your Grandma sounds like a real gem btw.

  150. Janet says...

    Cornish crabs love bacon! For your next trip.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!!!!!