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This is one of my favourite carols, the St Day Carol (or Sans Day Carol), thought to originate from St Day, near Redruth, in the 19th century. It was translated from Cornish roughly to the lyrics of ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ – and I think the melody has a lovely lilt, as demonstrated by these charming chaps with stunning ‘taches.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. May your days be laden with Rodda’s and lit by gently flashing fairy lights. And may your mornings-after be quickly and painlessly cured by sea breezes. See you in 2012 – thanks for reading my Cornish miscellany. Back dreckly.

What with Christmas coming, I thought this would be a good time to share the news that the TeddyPasty has landed online – it has its own spot on Etsy. Handmade in St Ives by Emily Fishpool, he has good crimpage, comes in his own brown paper bag, and looks highly cuddly… for a pasty. Costs £10.

TeddyPasty is online at http://teddypasty.tumblr.com and he even tweets: http://twitter.com/teddypasty

Just wanted to throw a link to casio duo Hedluv + Passman‘s long-awaited video of Cornish anthem, Doin it Dreckly, which is gathering momentum in these parts. Sumptuously filmed on the streets of Redruth. Love them.

Also love their blog: http://hedluvandpassman.wordpress.com. The album, ‘We Came Here Not For Gold’, is available to buy here.

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.

It is sad but universally true that you only really appreciate a) your health and b) your local health services when they are in peril. Having had a crash course in the past few years in the immense value of both those things, I went along to the Hands Off Our Hospital protest yesterday against cuts to services at West Cornwall Hospital.

With the increasing centralisation of services to Truro, people living in West Penwith are having to undertake a 40-mile round-trip, sometimes for routine appointments (even, once, in my case a 5-second MRSA swab).

One area for protest is the lack of a 24-hour doctor-led casualty in west Cornwall (nurses only at night-time) – again, I’m sure that particular outrage only really comes into focus at 2am when you badly need a doctor.

Thousands of people turned up, the Golowan band and Penzamba were there (of course), there was a little chanting, and then the crowds joined hands in a huge circle around the hospital. The main thing is that Spotlight were there – hope WCH got its close-up.

There has been no shortage of new Cornish food and drink products appearing in recent years (let’s see, this one, that one, and this one) but there is one product that emerged this year that has a particularly interesting backstory – one that had me clicking through to the press release with unusual speed. I’m talking about the first Cornish whisky, made collaboratively and on a very small scale by Hicks & Healey’s, both leaders in the Cornish drinks industry.

I got busy arranging an interview and most importantly getting my hands on a very, very small wax-sealed sample bottle of this liquid gold (priced at £150 a bottle, with only 319 bottles in circulation), pictured below. It was handed over with all the weight of a historical artefact, which I suppose is what it is – a true limited edition.

I thought p&c readers might like to read more about it, so here is the little feature I wrote about it, first published on the food pages of Cornwall Today.

It was amid a flurry of curiosity and inquisition that leading Cornish drinks producers Hicks of St Austell Brewery and Healey’s jointly launched the first Cornish, indeed also the first English, whiskey – an oak-matured, seven-year single malt made with Cornish ingredients. Barley isn’t traditionally grown in these parts, nor of course is whiskey traditionally distilled in England, let alone the South West. But then improbability isn’t traditionally something to deter the Cornish.

The plan to create the first Cornish whiskey was hatched between two men ten years ago, who realised that Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Falmouth gets all the fun. Literary types, here’s a date for your diaries: 29th November, Rum Bar, Falmouth, 7.30pm.

The Parabola Project – a not for profit creative writing and storytelling project – will be launching its second writing anthology, showcasing the talents of signed and unsigned creative writers from around Cornwall. The book is edited and masterminded by p&c friend and self-confessed ‘alphabet floozy’ Clare Howdle.

On the night, there will be the chance to hear the writers read from the new book – called Quickening – and other spoken word performances; buy a copy of the new book, priced £6; and drink Winter Pimms (and presumably rum).

The book is rather lusciously designed by Venn Creative.

www.parabolaproject.com

The Parabola Project Issue II: Quickening is available online from http://www.parabolaproject.com, in Waterstones Truro and from independent bookshops across Cornwall, it costs £6 – with all profits going back into the production pot for issue III.

Sorry for being a slack blogger lately – I’ve been on holiday. As in an actual holiday in a different country. Cornwall really is a comfortable hole isn’t it, and it’s hard to leave – not least because it takes a day just to get to your mode of transport.

In any case, what better tonic for the post-holiday blues than a stay at Salt House last night; at the moment, I’m writing some updates for the Time Out Guide to Devon & Cornwall and this haute-design B&B in Carbis Bay was high up my list of must-check-outs (feel I must add the obligatory travel writer’s aside: ‘hard job but someone’s got…’).

Sink all thoughts of nautical themes or fishermen’s cottage chic. This is real-deal modern luxury – a stunning, wood-clad cube of a building with omg views from each guest room’s private terrace over the full golden sweep of St Ives Bay through the monterey pines. I always try and use my own pictures on pasties & cream but it’s just so horribly dark and cold and grey this week that my iphone couldn’t handle it, hence the sparkly official photos, which do it greater justice.

In the white rooms it’s all about careful editing – an Alessi bottle opener here, an Orla Kiely mug there, glossy flat-screen telly, homemade coconut-flecked cookies. It’s the work of owners Alan and Sharon, both graphic designers.

There are only two rooms, so unsurprisingly they’re a hot booking.

www.salthousestives.co.uk; £170-£190 per night, including (amazing) breakfast, mine pictured below.

If you didn’t catch this week’s episode of Grand Designs, in which Kevin McCloud follows the renovation of a dilapidated Cornish enginehouse from beginning to near-end, you should definitely watch it online here, where it will be available for the next month.

Apart from being a fascinating insight into the demands of turning one of Cornwall’s crumbling mining remnants into a home, with the attendant historical and physical challenges, the programme is a lovely little portrait of how things work in a Cornish community.

Mind-bogglingly multi-skilled stonemason Adam Purchase manages to make it all happen on an improbably small budget. He achieves this mainly by being generally adaptable and creative but also by calling in favours from neighbours and friends with skills (while giving out favours just as generously), mate’s rates, and gentleman’s agreements. At one point, one of the helpers says ‘Who needs that cash stuff, eh?’ and I think that’s my favourite line of the show. Well, it’s a good job really, since there’s bugger-all of it in these parts!

Did anyone work out where it was? I didn’t.

These are words that greet you on a sandwich board outside 108 Coffee in Truro. And that is exactly what the owner-barista at 108 Coffee in Truro has done: he moved on from Starbucks to launch his own house of beans a few months ago.

I’m glad he did, because my flat white was perfection yesterday, as you can see – served in a glass, which always makes things feel that bit more continental. I visited on the strength of Dave’s recommendation in the p&c Cornwall coffee shortlist the other day, and assorted word-of-twitter praise, and left rather enamoured with this nine-week-old coffeeshop.

108 Coffee, 108 Kenwyn Street, Truro.

I think few would deny Cornwall this honourable title, such is the quality of the mizzle the county produces. Many people make the mistake of classifying it as rain, but this is incorrect. It’s a refreshingly mild offspring of rain and mist – I barely notice it.

I took these pictures of the first mizzle of winter up on Ding Dong Moor at the weekend. I think you’ll agree there’s nothing for it at this time of year but to embrace it.

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This photo blog post has come in today from Mexico care of p&c hermana Jen. Far away in the Mexican province of Hidalgo, there is a little corner of Kernow called Real del Monte, twinned with Redruth. It’s a community steeped in Cornish culture, thanks to the pasty-munching influence of some 350 Cornish miners who ran the local mines in the early to mid 19th century.

Most of the photos in this slideshow were taken in the local cemetery, which contains hundreds of Cornishmen, many of whom died at alarming ages. My Mexican correspondent tells me that Read the rest of this entry »

grumpies of cornwall

I’m digging the branding for this new line of Cornish pies from Lanson – it is the brainchild of two self-proclaimed grumpy old men, and it’s pronounced GrumPIES.

Clever jokes and hand-drawn illustrations aside, the product is great. I tried the all-Cornish pork, apple and cider pie for lunch today and it was uncompromisingly meaty and flaky of crust. It’s also really nice to see someone using local, premium ingredients without taking themselves too seriously. I love the food revolution in Cornwall, and writing about it, but sometimes it can all get a bit ‘we hand-knit our own freerange cows’.

Mr Grumpie, who is actually very friendly, tells me Read the rest of this entry »

What do you make of these pics? Not mine, sadly.

It’s great to see this crisp, modern new website that has been launched to educate and inspire people about Cornish Mining World Heritage – it’s so good, it was even ‘site of the week’ in New Media Age last week.

I’ve noticed that most things to do with mining history in Cornwall are accompanied by a crappy low-res website that hasn’t been updated since, well, the beginning of the internet, and grainy, uninspiring photography.

And it always strikes me as a bit of a shame, since mining heritage of Cornwall is not only scenically pretty mind-blowing but also internationally highly significant, yet it seems to get rather overlooked by all but those with a corduroy-trouser specialist interest. Myself included — the insufficiently informed Cornishwoman, that is, not the corduroy wearer.

It is with kind permission of Cornish Mining that I am able to publish these superb images on p&c. Picking them out from their image gallery was a task that I indulged in for way too long to the detriment of paid work, and in the end I went for some classics such as Wheal Coates near Aggy and Botallack from above [er, wow], as well some little-known sites such as Wheal Trewavas and South Wheal Frances. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did — there’s tons more gold ore on the website.

Time to click on the ‘Delving Deeper‘ tab perhaps!

www.cornish-mining.org.uk

Shocking-quality phone vid for you of Dartmoor dweller Seth Lakeman’s sell-out show at the St Ives September Festival last night. You know you can rely on me for plenty of distortion on the sound, and erratic framing. Still, hopefully this snippet conveys something of his electric performance of eerie, insistent ‘Kitty Jay’ – in my view his finest song.

Btw, if you missed Botallack O Clock the other night, fret not: the excellent Third Man Theatre are performing their ambulatory show ‘The One that Got Away’ this week, meeting at the Guildhall: details here. Am hearing great, often surreal things.

PS I feel duty-bound to point you to the full version of Kitty Jay with crystal-clear sound.

It is one of the quirks of living in these parts that the most exciting happenings in the arts seem to take place without the fanfare that they are due – never mind the fanfare, actually, with very little information at all!

And so it was that I found out about an amazing-sounding play taking place in St Ives this week thanks to a friend’s facebook status update containing a link to a truly gushing Time Out London review that had awarded it five stars.

The performance in question is Botallack O Clock, a play about the life of pioneering West Cornwall abstract artist Roger Hilton, performed by Third Man Theatre. It is described by Time Out as “the best kind of buried treasure” and describes Dan Frost’s performance as “phenomenal and uncompromising”.

There – a mini West Cornwall fanfare!

13th & 14th September at St Ives Art Club, £10. www.thirdmantheatre.com

The Cornish sardines stacked on counters in Newlyn fish shops at the moment are a spectacular bargain: five for £1. Fresh, meaty, good for you, supplies not about to expire. Pan-fried, slice of lemon, sprig of parsley – delicious.

That is all.

Bon weekend!

www.cornishsardines.org.uk

Being a bit of a tin geek, I approve of this vintage-chic new tin of Cornish Fairings care of Furniss (official makers of the Cornish Fairing – they nabbed a trademark a few years back), which has been designed to celebrate their 125th anniversary in business.

The requisite embossing and retro styling is in place, as well as a motif of a pan-Cornish lighthouse, all brought up to date with some nice pastel colours and tactile matt gold.

Cornish people don’t tend to eat Fairings in great quantities, other than when they have just gifted someone a tin of them, under which circumstances Read the rest of this entry »

Anyone who went to Cornwall Design Fair at Trereife House at the weekend will know what I mean when I say that the wallet-emptying perils of this event are grave. It was my first time at the fair, and the jewellery temptation levels – always my weak spot – were vertiginously high. Short of time this week, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking – but for once I’m going to treat you to captions ;)

PS My only gripe was the £6 per person admission fee (not allowing you to come back the next day without paying more again). This did include entry to the wonderful house but on the whole I’m not so keen on paying to go shopping. Don’t mind me, though, I’m just a grumpy old woman!

georgia stoneman; ever-gorgeous jewellery taking on organic forms (www.georgiastoneman.co.uk); these rings are beautiful stacked together

little fruit earrings by irreverent foundlings jewellery (www.foundlingsjewellery.co.uk), also responsible for surreal baby necklace above, which by rights shouldn't work but does!

the scene at trereife, with outsized pebble seat sculptures by ben barrel (www.benbarrell.co.uk); also pictured above. saving up...

love, love, love this girl's blue and white ceramics and salt servers - bugger, lost her card. she of the blueberry-scented pen, please tell me your name so i can link to you!

satisfying, strokeable felt pebbles

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.

I’m hard to please when it comes to bath and body products – I like an vivid, fresh fragrance, a good consistency and preferably a pretty bottle.

I seem to form my strongest memories by scent – Molton Brown Warming Eucalyptus Shower Gel will forever transport me to my hospital séjour earlier this year (shame, that) and Monoi oil to my French exchange’s house, aged 12.

When I had lunch at the Beach Hut at Watergate Bay the other day (very fine fajitas btw – pic below), a trip to the bathroom was made all the more memorable by the presence of a bottle of a certain Rosemary & Bergamot hand wash with matching lotion.

The adjective I’m looking for is, Read the rest of this entry »

In a classically west Penwith moment the other month, I got an email from Sara Priddle of the Zennor Wayhouse Museum, telling me about their newly restored 19th-century watermill and the flour they were producing. She had got my name from one kind pasties & cream reader (thanks, if you’re reading), who said – correctly – that it would be right up my street.

I told the story of these accidental millers in the food & drink section of Cornwall Today the other month and thought you might like to read it. If you are sitting comfortably, then I will begin.

In the timeless village of Zennor, Sara and Bob Priddle are quietly busy reviving a long-dormant corner of Cornish history. Ten years ago, the couple left their careers in publishing to purchase Cornwall’s oldest private museum, the Wayside Museum in Zennor, as part of their long-term plan to retire and try their hand at something ‘completely different’. What they couldn’t have predicted when they bought the museum was just how different their new line of work would turn out to be. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve had a bath, downloaded my photos, and strewn muddy camping kit all over the lounge. After the non-stop stimulation and good vibes of Port Eliot Festival over the weekend, Monday morning from where I’m sitting is looking a little grey and boring.

But I still have many inspirational words ringing in my ears, so I thought I’d write a blog post before they are drowned out by the pile of admin tasks. As someone tweeted last night: “Back from Port Eliot with serious festival state of mind. Do I go back to work tomorrow, or set up an organic cider press in Cornwall? Sigh”.

The journalistic shorthand for writing about Port Eliot is to say that it is incredibly posh. Well, it turns out Read the rest of this entry »

I’m a fan of this poster for the Cornwall Film Festival. It’s the wunderbar work of Cornwall-based illustrator & animator Darren Whittington, and is inspired by the Cornish national [sic] emblem, the chough, which is of course making an exciting comeback on the cliffs of the Lizard. And, no, non-Cornos – it’s clearly nothing like a boring blackbird.

The 10th annual Cornwall Film Festival will be Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

I interviewed Andy Appleton, head chef at Fifteen, some time ago for Food magazine – interesting guy, very keen to place the emphasis on Fifteen’s charitable status, which can often be lost in the Jamie factor and the general desirability of the place.

But one other, smaller thing also stuck in my mind from our chat: he was very excitable about Read the rest of this entry »

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A few ale-addled snaps from Mazey Day in Penzance last week. It was my first and I loved it – the chaotic anything everything goes atmosphere is pure Penzance. One couple had dressed up as hippies – which is akin to dressing in camouflage.

I want to get more into top-five lists on pasties & cream, so I’ll kick off with my top five Golowan festival highlights:

1) The DJ in the Arts Club garden dropping Black Box ‘Ride on Time’ at 3 in the afternoon. Not only did he get away with it – people went crazy.

2) Singer Dom Youngman at the busk-off at Zero Lounge’s alfresco bar on Mock Mayor Wednesday (incidentally, was anyone else confused by the brisk trade they were doing all week in Veuve Clicquot??! Do these people know of a secretly booming industry in Cornwall that I don’t?).

3) Pondlife ska at the Dock (listen here) – young and old dancing in the streets and things starting to get messy.

4) Mr B’s new vintage ice-cream van’s first outing.

5) Of course, Pirates on the Prom – 8,734 pirates and a real pirate ship. Rad.

Till next year…

Move over Ottolenghi, step up to the magimix Billy, the salad supremo at Archie Brown’s in Truro.

Archie Brown’s salads, originating in Penzance, are something of a cult classic in these parts. Chopping up into colourful pieces any preconceptions you might have about salads being boring and/or a side dish, these salads are strong enough to be the main event – they are packed with herbs and sprouts and nuts, as well as secret, rather thrilling ingredients such as preserved lemon and pomegranate molasses.

Long having wondered how they managed to make salad that exciting, I was stoked to see they have started doing salad masterclasses at their Truro kitchen, and immediately snapped up a couple of tickets.

Obviously I am not the only one who is obsessed with them, as all the salad classes have sold out until October – so, it’s not often I say this in Cornwall but, er, book ahead!

£12.50 including a salad and recipes to take home (www.archiebrowns.co.uk); £3.50 for a takeaway salad.

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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