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Hercules Storm Sennen

Hercules Storm Sennen

I’ve messed around with wave pics before but some events call for the professionals – and the Herculean storm that battered Cornish shores this January was one of them. So it is a treat to feature the work of PZ photographer and pasties & cream friend Mike Newman during these brine-soaked days. These two pictures also made their way to the Guardian, the Times and Telegraph.

Here’s what Mike had to say about the experience. “Shooting the Hercules storm was an amazing but busy day for me as a photographer. The hype surrounding its approach was as large as the predicted waves and my photographic anticipation was further increased by my interest as a surfer. Howling winds and heavy seas meant Porthleven was a misty, windy, apocalyptic spectacle when I arrived, somehow reminiscent of a film set dotted with photographers and storm watchers, under a watery half-light and scurrying clouds.

The ground was shaking at the top of the cliff as solid waves hit the shore, always preceded by an ominously heavy ‘crump’ as they unfolded onto the beach. I’ve seen bigger waves but these ones were so thick, they carried a massive amount of power, sending huge plumes of spray over the houses on top of the cliff.  And over expensive camera equipment if you didn’t get covered up in time.

Later, a mile offshore at Land’s End, waves were also breaking over the top of Longships Lighthouse. Reaching the cliffs at Pedn Men Dhu which protect Sennen Cove from the Atlantic, they still had enough power to cascade up to the top, about 230 feet above sea level.  The amount of spray in the air was phenomenal, there was only a short window of opportunity to get a shot after cleaning my lens before it got wet again, all the time battling the gale force winds which were rattling the stability of both me, and my tripod.”

mikenewmanphotography.co.uk; Mike also ‘raves and rants’ about Penzance life at http://ocean-image.blogspot.co.uk.

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The Yacht Inn Swim is an ever-growing annual sea swim from Newlyn to the Jubilee Pool (next to the Yacht Inn, hence the name). It is traditional for me to talk about doing the swim every year yet never quite manage to train or make it to the start line. But it’s a classic Penzance event even for spectators and a stirring display of (other people’s) human endeavour – Penzancers of all ages can be found crossing the finish line.

I saw these pictures on flickr and loved their black and white realism, so I asked the author, Julian De Courcy, if he’d allow me to post them on pasties & cream. He kindly said yes; if you like what you see, you can view the full 2013 set here.

I enjoyed the unedited expressions on people’s dripping wet faces – smiles, grimaces, relief, exhaustion – and the refreshing lack of Cornish ‘colour’.

“I do approach this type of subject as documentary,” says the photographer, “I love the old photographs of a gone age – with as much reality as photography allows.”

http://juliandecourcy.weebly.com

Click here to see my video of the 2010 swim.

seagullparking

… and I shit on it!

After listening to me rant on last weekend about Cornwall Council’s parking charges – the stranglehold they have on towns and on local residents’ ability to make an impromptu trip to their local beach – a visiting friend took this picture for me in Marazion. August in Cornwall seems to bring out the rant in me: next up, when I can bear to, the monster Sainsbury’s currently rising from the heliport.

fat hen foraging

In an ideal world, this is how I like my foraged food to look. Spot the candied alexanders stem, carrageen-set panna cotta and wild fennel shortbread in this composition.

It is said to the point of cliche, but nonetheless true, that there is something about foraging for food that seems to tap into our most primitive instincts. Just the simple action of plucking a leaf from a tangled Cornish hedge and finding it tastes like wasabi or watercress or coconut – in short, something you would normally pay for – is unfailingly thrilling.

That probably says a lot about how darkly far we’ve come from the origins of our food. Still, there’s no need to go getting too primitive about these things, and that’s what I particularly like about Caroline Davey of St Buryan wild food school Fat Hen. On her courses, it’s not just about whether the plant is edible, it’s about whether it tastes good… and not just good, but Read the rest of this entry »

little wonder - 16little wonder - 14

Hurrah, the little vintage caravan on the prom lives on, this year with new owners (one of which is none other than knitted freak lady Katie Lennon of Heyday) and under a cute new name, Little Wonder.

As well as the arrival of Starry-Gazy Cupcakes on the menu, the other news is that it’s not waiting till the official ‘season’ to trundle on to the prom – it’s open weekends from now. Yes, that’s correct, it is February and there is no cover – just how I like it. A hot cup of tea and a chill in the air… makes me feel like I’m camping.

Views across Mount’s Bay, yours for £1.50 for a cuppa, £3 with cupcake. Naturally, I dream about them serving wine… We so badly need somewhere nice outdoors for a sundowner* in this town.

*amongst other things

It also sells cards by the wonderful local design & print studio Pirrip Press.

Visit the website or follow Little Wonder on FB or Twitter for opening dates & times, events etc.

More pics here Read the rest of this entry »

Out of season weekend sunshine. Sweet (Cornish) dreams are made of this.

PS Anyone know what that structure is on the headland? Never noticed it before.

Since I was berating smugly photographed cookery books last week, I’ve been having a little email debate with my good friend and prolific blogger Emma Balch over at Doble M Design in Hay-on-Wye about the value of the “lifestyle cookbook”. She said she begs to differ and loves a good lifestyle cookbook with inspiring photography. And actually, when I came to think about it again, I often do too – as long as a) I believe the lifestyle in question is real (ie not when chef is standing in chinos and brogues pretending to have landed a huge fish) and/or b) I am interested in attaining the lifestyle in question.

Today’s lifestyle cookbook definitely falls into the latter category. It is roughly two parts lifestyle to one part recipes but I don’t seem to mind nearly as much because ultimately I am into the lifestyle it paints: living and eating outdoors on the British coast (with accompanying checked wool blanket and wild flowers).

The book is Martin Dorey’s Camper Van Coast. I am something of a canvas camping purist tbh, so even though I get the appeal of the VW porn, it isn’t the main lure for me – it’s all about the 100 recipes designed for cooking on a two-ring stove, something I intend to be doing again before long in my camp kitchen, y’know just as soon as the central heating goes off for the season.

I’m basically never happier than under canvas, fiddling about making tricky cups of tea on a Pocket Rocket stove and planning camp desserts such as bonfire-baked banana with dulce de leche. I am outraged to see that Martin Dorey has upstaged this dish by adding marshmallows and digestives and called it Rocky Road – these luxury-chasing campervanners, eh?

Out now, published by Saltyard Books, priced £16.99. www.martindorey.com

The church on the beach at Gunwalloe on the Lizard – a beautiful, little-visited spot on the Lizard.

I’ve just realised that I don’t have a picture of the church itself set against the sandy beach, so this post will have to serve as an incentive to visit for the full scenic effect. It is just down the road from the Barefoot Kitchen, subject of my last gushing post.

Any radio programme that starts with a line like that is going to hook me in straight away. Thanks go to my friend Jan Fuscoe for sending me the link to this engaging, 30-minute portrait by Anna Chen for Radio 4 of everyone’s favourite seaside town. The programme – only available online for another three days – is all about what draws people inexorably in, the light, energy, bohemian lifestyle…

There may no longer be a working potter on every corner, and the appearance of Musto and Pizza Express do rather diminish the boho credentials, but St Ives is still a very special, individual, free-thinking kind of place. It’s where I go on the train on a rainy February day to perk myself up – it’s always summer in St Ives.

Among many who have fallen under its spell, one escape artist interviewed on the programme says, ‘We were terrified of the drudgery of a conformist life – we came to St Ives to avoid having our wings clipped.’ I think there’s something of that sentiment in many an escape to Cornwall.

You can listen to the programme for the next THREE days online here. 30 mins long.

The daffs might be out at Eden, but make no mistake – things have turned pretty dark in the west. As predicted, squally showers and raging seas this morning, here taken at Long Rock carpark, which has the advantage of allowing you to be ten metres from the sea while cranking the car heater up.

Newlyn Harbour like a pane of glass this morning, and a very large pile of seaweed dumped on Wherrytown Beach by the considerable ‘weather’ that rolled in last week…

Well, it might not be lovely in the strictest sense of the word but it’s as lovely as it’s going to get.

I walked past the poster for the annual Yacht Inn Swim this morning and thought I’d post the details. It takes place this evening – if you’re spectating then be sure to get there for the main race at 7.30pm, as the fastest swimmers reach Battery Rocks  in 16 minutes.

If you’re participating, well, what can say? As you become achy of arm and leaden of leg about 100 metres in, take comfort in the fact that ‘wild swimming’ (er, otherwise known as ‘swimming‘) is totally on trend right now.

I took some pics and video last year, click here to take a look.

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It’s a strange coincidence that I was going to write a post today about my very un-Newquay holiday near Newquay last week when into my inbox landed an email about a new video promoting a more positive image of the much-maligned seaside town. Fair enough – but ‘the British California’!? Come on, let’s not get carried away. Well, perhaps, but only through lack of other contenders.

Think of Newquay and we all think: surf, first, then projectile vomiting, stag dos and vile clubs. At night, it’s a war zone.

But the thing about NQY that no one can take away is that it Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing as it’s scorchio outside and I’m feeling more deckchairy than bloggy, I’m going to be brief and post some pictures of sunset from the Porthmeor Beach Cafe at the weekend – all in all, a pretty smug-making Read the rest of this entry »

shell_cornwall book

As surely as night becomes day, we all turn into our parents while we’re not watching. And so it is written in the genes that I shall collect old, obscure books on Cornwall. One of my recent acquisitions is the sweetest little book on shell collecting in Cornwall – published by Tor Mark Press in the 1970s.

I’ve always had a soft spot for shell collecting, unable to resist any vaguely good-looking treasure on the shoreline – and I know enough to feel lucky if I find a cowrie. But I don’t really do identification, much less labelled display cases. This book is so geeky about it all, it’s Read the rest of this entry »

I know this is old news now but: Happy New Year all!

I have only just emerged from the self-inflicted carnage of a St Ives New Year, which I spent dressed in some high-waisted snakeskin trousers and a blond wig – and in the company of a womble, Big Bird, two shepherds, Dr Zoidberg, a carrot, a robot and a crocodile.

We spent most of the evening in the throng outside the Sloop and then, as is traditional, Read the rest of this entry »

st ives bench

As with most people in the digital age, my photo library is completely out of control: bursting at the seams, inconsistently labelled, and backed up at random. And the job is now too big and frightening to ever tick off on a rainy sunday. Given my recumbent state at the moment, I thought I’d engage in a little laptop housework and delve back through the archives. One of the things I found was this photo of four colourfully dressed holidaymakers on a bench in St Ives, taken by my friend Anna on a visit to West Cornwall last year.

It captures most people’s response to That View beautifully: no chat, just staring at the ridiculous perfection of St Ives harbour and clearly in no hurry to move on. Like me, Anna is a writer and an editor, but I think she is also a fantastic photographer – her photos always have that elusive quality that makes you want to keep looking at them. I’ve posted a few more from her Penwith set below but you can check out more of her images on her flickr photostream.

Well, that was a nice distraction from iPhoto library hell – I’m going back in.

st ives porthmeor cornwall

I love the way the old lady's cardie matches the sea - Porthmeor Beach

surf cornwallsleepy sennen

On Friday, I winched myself out of the house and down to the bench on Wherrytown Beach to spectate at the annual sea swim race from Newlyn to Battery Rocks. The conditions were ideal – one of those calm, blue late summer evenings that make you get all pretentious and emotional about the Cornish light.

Next to me on the bench was a friendly Newlyn octogenarian, who told me about how ‘when he was a lad’ – ie before the advent of ‘health and safety ‘n’ all that’ – the race started with a dive off Newlyn harbour wall. Wetsuit? ‘Naaaw.. wouldn’t have known the meaning of the word’. We are a bit soft these days, aren’t we? Not his 19-year-old granddaughter, though, who last weekend swam from the Brisons (rock a mile off Cape Cornwall, ie in the Atlantic Ocean) to shore. Hard. Core.

As you can see in the vid above (look for the moving dots), the pack spread out quickly, with the top ten looking impressively bullet-like and splash-free. It was an inspiring sight – it even made me harbour some ambitions, possibly fleeting, about entering next year. But the Brisons, never.

sea swim newlyn to battery rocks

Click through for more pics. Read the rest of this entry »

Newquay has something of a vomit-spattered reputation at present (unless you go to posh bits like Watergate Bay or Scarlet territory like Mawgan Porth). But amid the tales of stag nights and lap dancing, I always seem to forget how big and impressive its cliffs and beaches are.

I was forced up to Porth the other day to write about a restaurant and took the short stroll out to Trevelgue Head. It’s a fantastic spot, despite the apartment complexes on the horizon and the presence of a couple of rottweilers growling next to me. Click on the image for the full, screen-filling effect.

While beaching at Hayle Towans at the weekend, watching hundreds of holidaymakers frolicking in the waves, I spotted the blue Nordica ship in the Bay (pic of her below) getting ready to lay the cable for the Wave Hub – a groundbreaking new energy project costing mucho money (sorry, as with concept of universe, can’t compute figures more than a million) about 10 miles off the Cornish coast.

Don’t know about you, but I find the concept of Cornwall becoming some sort of cutting-edge wave energy centre pretty exciting. Anyone know what the prospects are for this becoming a sparkly new Cornish eco industry?!

For more information on the Wave Hub: http://bit.ly/cXbwSL

And I never thought I’d say this, but I quite fancy a holiday in one of these ocean-facing mobile homes in the dunes at Hayle:

Like most locals in August, I feel compelled to declare that it was ‘ell on the beach (translation: there were a few more people than in December but you can still get a parking space and everyone was very jolly).

penzance beach

When you live in Cornwall, it’s easy to get very fussy and spoiled about beaches. Why would you go to a sub-standard one when the Sennens, Pedn Vounders and Gwithians of this world are just a short drive away?

Penzance has a town beach – quite a big one. But no one really talks about it, people don’t tend to hang out on it much and I don’t even know if it has a name (anyone?). I suppose this is because the pebbles are ever so slightly uncomfortable under foot! (You see the snobbery that creeps in).

But I went there yesterday to eat lunch with my cousin visiting from America and she took this gorgeous shot – and it made me reassess. It’s really not a bad beach to have at the end of the road. As a backup, you understand.

Ben Skinner riding the Cribber off Newquay – up to 40ft – plus mini interview. Too cool.

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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