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Bored of driftwood trinkets, Farrow & Ball shades and painted seagulls? Get a load of this luxury B&B in Fowey, which keeps its tongue firmly in cheek at all times. At Upton House, each of the four rooms are bonkersly different, featuring things like pink flamingos, block-printed skull wallpaper (see banner pic – a brilliantly subversive take on townhouse chic) and white rabbits.

I stayed there for the new Time Out Devon & Cornwall Guide the other week and it was such an uplifting jaunt – great to see a hotel nail all the key things (supreme comfort, great service, location – 5 stars from Visit Britain) without taking life too seriously. Breakfast? Heart-shaped waffles from the pink toaster of course.

So, hats off to interior design Angelique Thompson for pulling off something so fabulously nutty in a small seaside town – Cornwall could do with more of you. She has also opened a design boutique next door, soon also to feature a 1940s inspired collection of dresses (from LA) and original 1940s/50s hats and gloves.

Keep an eye on the Upton House website for the soon-to-launch twisted tea parties – think clotted cream meets wild hibiscus champagne in a teacup.

Upton House, 2 Esplanade, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23 1HY. www.upton-house.com

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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 »

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 »

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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 went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Du Maurier Festival in Fowey last night – plucking amazing, they were.

Watching them dismember rock songs on titchily tiny ukuleles is a formula that never seems to fail (which may be why they sell out hundreds of gigs a year).

It’s a relentlessly entertaining, semi-ironic show but musically it’s no joke – these people are slick pickers. Even Ralph Read the rest of this entry »

eden project cornwalleden project cornwall

I think one way or another we all suffer from bouts of green fatigue. Does anyone else, as they toss a lone newspaper in the recycling bin, get a weary feeling of futility? Surely, I can’t help thinking, it is going to take a shitload more than this to get ourselves out of this mess.

The revolution starts at home, and don’t get me wrong Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been a lean week at p&c this week, due to work deadlines, unbloggably boring admin tasks and having wisdom teeth pulled. I did nearly blog about St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle, which must be the only NHS hospital to have jazz music playing in reception, but then I decided that the misplacement of the dental drill kind of cancelled it out.

Since I’m on a cheesy vibe this month, what with the Newlyn Cheese opening the other day, I thought I’d spread the news that Cornish Blue has just won the top prize at the World Cheese Awards – the first British cheese to win for ten years, beating 2,600 entries from 26 countries. Nice one. Full Guardian story here.

Contrary to first appearances, Cornish Blue isn’t like Stilton – it’s certainly veiny and mouldy but it’s younger and not so overpowering.

I wonder what the acceptance speeches are like at an event like that: ‘I’d just like to thank Daisy and Bessie for producing such thoroughly creamy milk…’

www.cornishcheese.co.uk

tomatoes buttervilla cornwall

I saw this article about Cornish farmer Robert Hocking of Buttervilla in the Telegraph yesterday and it reminded me to post on something.

If it’s possible to be the rock star of, erm, organic small-holders, then Robert of Buttervilla Farm might just be one. He has been mellowly championing small-scale, highest-taste farming for many years before such things became fashionable. For him it’s clearly just a way of life: makes sense, tastes good.

But since the chef from Fifteen picked up on his passion for taste (over large-scale production) at a Soil Association meeting a few years back, his microgreens and heirloom strawberries and tomatoes have been in heavy demand with the likes of Jamie, Heston et al.

I interviewed him for food magazine earlier this year and found him utterly inspiring, so I called in to see him the other day while I was staying in the Rame area. He showed me around his small farm and, clocking my curiosity, or at least my appetite for strawberries, he encouraged me to start growing some bits and bobs in my yard.

But I don’t have the patience, I mumbled. I need instant results or I’ll get  frustrated. ‘That’, he said, ‘is exactly why you should do it – it’ll be good for you.’

So, he sent me off with a pot of his special ‘vintage manure’, a strawberry plant, a tomato plant and some salad leaves – and told me to get stuck in.

Weeellll, my first foray into gardening has been an emotional rollercoaster. The excitement of the first strawberries was too much (there were only three, so the eating of them was a ceremonial affair), then the thrill at the first yellow flowers appearing on the tomato plant… and THEN came the double-pronged heartbreak of slugs and weeds.

It turned out I had been tending lovingly to a bunch of poxy weeds for weeks thinking it was the first fragile shoots of parsley (sense of humour gradually returning). And I hate slugs sooo much.

But I pulled through the slug/weed crisis and it made me more determined to succeed. Rewards really do come to those who wait. So genuine thanks, Robert, for starting me off – there’s no stopping me now. And there’s clearly no stopping you.

Pics of my first shambolic kitchen garden below.

http://www.buttervilla.com/funky

garden penzance

As I am wont to where spotty mugs and wild flower arrangements are involved, I went a bit crazy with the zoom the other weekend at the Westcroft. It’s a gorgeous boutique b&b and gallery in the soothing village of Kingsand on the Rame Peninsula, aka ‘Cornwall’s Forgotten Corner’. As you can see, it’s a haven of all-round loveliness…  what you can’t see here is that it’s right on the beach.

Westcroft Guesthouse & Gallery, seafront, Kingsand, Cornwall – www.westcroftguesthouse.co.uk. From £90 a night for a double. Btw, it’s a short drive from Antony House, of Alice in Wonderland fame.

westcroft guesthouse rame cornwallwestcroft guesthouse rame cornwall Read the rest of this entry »

antony house cornwall cupcakeantony house cornwall

Unless you’ve been hiding under a large granite rock on Bodmin Moor for the past year (a small one wouldn’t do it), most Cornish dwellers will know that the new, Tim Burton-directed Alice in Wonderland was filmed in Cornwall. More specifically in Antony House and grounds, a vast 18th-century pile in east Cornwall on the beautiful Rame Peninsula, overlooking the River Lynher.

But even if you have managed to escape the news, you wouldn’t get far into a visit here before the penny dropped. There’s an Alice-themed shop, Queen of Hearts cupcakes (see above – obviously I fell for them hook, line and sinker) and an automated Mad Hatter in a clocktower on the lawn exclaiming repeatedly ‘I shall be late!’. (Not to mention a timed ticket system to even out the flocking crowds.)

And who could blame them for hamming it up a bit? It’s not every day in the life of an old Cornish country mansion manned by silver-haired volunteers that you get a Disney film crew in your midst.

I went to Antony House last Saturday and Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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