A carefully curated souvenir collection is the hallmark of the well-travelled (or boastful, depending on how you look at it). However, not all travel treasures are created equal: for every bespoke hand-woven rug sourced in a remote Berber village, or hand-sealed bottle of first-pressing wine from a bijou vineyard, there’s a fridge magnet emblazoned with crying eagles or a Michelangelo’s David apron.
To help you sort the neat from the naff, we’ve put together a guide to the souvenirs you should make space for in your suitcase and those you should leave behind, starting with the keepsakes and castaways of St Mawes and Falmouth in Cornwall…
For the knick-knack lover The Cornish Store
Souvenir Poldark pillows.The rugged good looks of Cornish-period-piece star Aiden Turner, as Ross Poldark, will make your sofa (or bedroom, ladies…) seem a touch more windswept and rogue-ish. Comes in brooding or imperious. Swoon.
Souve-no-no Pasty peeps. Look away Pixar – the only kind of heart-warming a Cornish pasty offers is an uncomfortable slow burn after you’ve consumed 10 of them. Giving it a beret or pigtails doesn’t make us want to clasp this greasy meat pastry to our chest, and its sweetly trusting smile and pleading eyes make us feel monstrous for feasting on their brethren.
For the homebody Willow & Stone
Souvenir There’s lots to love in this shop filled with vintage and locally designed wares, but we’re rather taken with this St Mawes’ sky-evoking cloud chart and these potentially life-saving (for the French) signs.
Souve-no-no This unnecessary use for a shoe last – we didn’t think it was possible, but hipsters have ruined toilets for us.
For the connoisseur of cute SeaSalt
Souvenir Falmouth residents like a little coastal chic – breton-stripes abound, and boats and anchors appear more often on clothing than at sea. This yellow anorak is cute as a toggle, plus practical and stylish, and this informative tea towel shows that anthropomorphised pastys needn’t look nightmarish.
Souve-no-no We love marbled chocolate and beautifully designed retro packaging, but this chocolate bar, which pays homage to one of the worst British seaside experiences – beyond sand in your shoes or seaweed caressing your bare skin – only makes us want to duck and cover.
For the foodie Deli-Cious
Souvenir A real Cornish pasty. This unassuming little deli in an arcade by The Idle Rocks hotel is renowned for fresh crab sandwiches and beefy pastys; packing some of the former will end badly, but the latter travel surprisingly well – as long as your journey’s no more than six hours.
Souve-no-no Chocolate Cornish pasty. This is an affront to Cornish culture on a par with piping Phil Collins’ greatest hits straight into a piskie nest – it makes us want to cry tears as salty as the Celtic Sea.
For the history buff St Mawes Castle
Souvenir The English are synonymous with fine summer strawberries and drinking, so this potent (14.5 per cent) bottle of refreshing strawberry wine is the quintessential take-home gift. Sip it from this handsome pewter goblet, or perhaps this lidded mediaeval-style tankard if you’re feeling particularly merry.
Souve-no-no Great British knobs – are you an adolescent boy? No? Then, no.