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Time to blog about my biggest Cornish crush in some time. There’s a newish Cornish clothes brand on the scene – not as out there yet as Cornish stars Finisterre and Seasalt, but it has been quietly growing over the past few years and collecting fans. EKO (Earth Kind Originals) is the work of Cornish maid Helen Davies, who moved back to St Just from London to start an eco-aware, coastally inspired clothes label.

Other than occasional desperate dashes to New Look’s Apricot range, the best of a truly shocking bunch on Penzance’s high street, I aspire to move away from cheapie cheap high-street crap. The prices can only belie a world of sweatshop darkness, the clothes don’t last, and the colours are never quite right.

My EKO Dusk till Dawn scarf, pictured above, has been welded to my neck since it arrived – it’s a tactile cotton-cashmere mix but the real sell is the ingenious string of buttons and buttonholes down the edges, which allows you to fasten it any way you like and however artlessly you do it, it seems to look great.

Other things I like: the models look like real people; the catalogue makes you want to Read the rest of this entry »

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I went to the Lost Gardens of Heligan for the first time at the weekend. It was a revelation. I was so taken with the romance of it all – the story of discovery and reclamation, all the neatly hand-written plant labels, the peach house, the pineapple pit, the fanning apple trees… In fact, it was such a revelation that I am not going to post extensive photos, to allow for similar surprise in any other first-timers.

Instead I’m posting a photo binge of just one tree – the magnolia tree in the jungle. Go now for blue skies, blooms and silence before the romance is compromised by the summer crowds.

www.heligan.co.uk, £10 entry.  Click through for yet more pink leaves. Read the rest of this entry »

I agree with the majority that Cornwall is a very creative place – partly by nature, also by necessity. But sometimes I find the same old coastally-inspired art and ceramics pop up time and time again in galleries, and I kind of crave something new and different.

Well, check out Falmouth-based Jonathan Fuller’s sea-glass sculpture for something fresh on the eye, as featured in coast magazine this month (he’s married to the head of design at organic Cornish clothing company, seasalt, so they are the perfect Coast couple).

I really love the washed-out pastel colours and the clean lines and shapes of Jonny’s artwork, and I feel quite inspired to start collecting and categorising glass in satisfyingly colour-coded jars. I wonder if, as in my childhood, finding a piece of soft blue glass is still the top trump.

www.jonathanfuller.co.uk; his work is showing at Trelowarren’s Christmas craft fair Shine, 9th-11th Dec, info at www.cornwallcrafts.co.uk. Prices from £250.

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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 »

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 »

One of the more trying aspects of my job is having to go and sample the occasional spa for an article. And so it was that I had to accomplish this rare and terrible task the other weekend: a 90-minute ™Relax into Radiance treatment, care of Spiezia in Trelowarren‘s new spa.

But actually I was almost as excited about taking my first dip in their heated outdoor pool under the November sky. The temperature of the water was roughly 25ºC, which I thought was very fair under the wintery circs.

As my friends and family will know, I have developed a slightly strange obsession with the temperature of swimming pools around Cornwall lately, so I can actually tell you where this places it against other pools in west Cornwall… should anyone wish to know. No? Ok, so moving on.

Spa or no spa, Trelowarren was already pretty much one of my favourite places on earth – a peaceful and incredibly romantic woodland estate reaching all the way to the still banks of the Helford River.

I have been going there since I was a child so just in case I am no longer capable of objectivity, I call upon Daphne du Maurier for description: ‘a shock of surprise and delight, lying indeed like a jewel in the hollow of the hand’. She used to hang on the estate quite a bit and found inspiration here for her pulse-quickening novel Frenchman’s Creek.

Anyway, so Trelowarren has teamed up with luxury organic skincare company Spiezia to open the Walled Garden, a rather lovely new treatment room in one of the estate’s original walled gardens. (Full account in December’s Cornwall Today…).

Trelowarren, Helston, Cornwall TR12 6AF. T 01326 221224. www.trelowarren.com


battery rocks penzance

Last week I was airing my concerns over Cornwall Council’s plans for Penzance harbour on pasties & cream. Well, on Friday I went to the public meeting in St John’s Hall called by the Friends of Penzance Harbour. My attendance of said meeting in a dusty town hall bang in the middle of Friday night is testament to my love of PZ’s waterfront!!

Turns out I was not alone – it was packed. It got quite heated in there – well, you know, as heated as things ever get in this mellow corner of the country, ie clapping, a few ‘hear, hears’ and a spot of hissing. There was an overwhelming sense of frustration and anger in the crowd about how the episode has been handled – one speaker even questioned whether the lack of public consultation flouted the Aarhus convention  (the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters)… to much vigorous nodding.

I took a few short vids.

Here is one deceptively gently spoken speaker:

And the lone representative of Option A speaking:

penzance harbour wall & battery rocksbattery rocks

As a relatively new blogger, and not a political blogger at that, I have been tentative about wading into the shark-infested waters surrounding the proposed redevelopment of Penzance harbour on pasties & cream.

*braces self* As any Penwith resident will know, the so-called Option A, plans to redevelop large parts of the historic harbour wall and build a ferry terminal on Battery Rocks beach, has been the subject of very heated and embittered debate in Penzance over the past two years, creating the mother of all bad vibes.

At one point, shops were displaying their for or against poster in the window and in one drinking establishment, I even heard about an informal ‘don’t mention the harbour’ policy!

As you may have read, last week the Council waved through these controversial plans – despite the fact the only Penzance councillor on the committee voted against, despite the fact that English Heritage have upped the listed status of the harbour wall, despite the fact there are cheaper, less harmful alternatives on the table – and I feel I can contain my thoughts no longer.

In my humble opinion, there seem to be an array of Bloody Good Points to be made against Option A – all of which are expressed eloquently and reasonably on the Friends of Penzance Harbour website. But my instinctive objection is much simpler and less political.

For me, the aesthetic and historical value of Battery Rocks and the old harbour wall is priceless – and once it has disappeared under concrete and a noisy coach park, it will be lost forever.

Thinking about how best to go about this, my thorniest blog post yet, I decided that since so many words have already been written (even the national press and radio have got involved at various points), and since it is an exquisite blue-skied autumn day, I’d take my camera down to the area in question and photograph what is at stake. Here are the results:

battery rocks penzance - 4battery rocks penzance battery rocks penzance battery rocks penzance

I don’t know about you but I find the idea of losing these things really sad. I swim there in summer. I walk there most days. It’s got the best view in town of St Michael’s Mount.

If you also have an opinion about this either way (or even if you’re on the fence – there’s an ‘I don’t know’ option!), please vote in the online poll being run by the Cornishman this week – you don’t need to register and it takes a millisecond to click your vote.

And if you happen to feel the same way as me about it, you can also sign up for the Friends of Penzance Harbour email updates on ways to help – usually in the form of easy-to-send emails.

battery rocks penzancebattery rocks penzance

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).

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

mackerel cornwall

via wiki

The fat of the land I can’t say I had really thought much before about the fuel potential of chip fat – and then in one week I hear about two Cornish businesses running on the stuff. The new Place Ferry (from St Mawes to Place) is powered by waste chip fat (provided by local businesses – nice) and this week I took one of Newquay’s biotaxis, running on an eco-friendly biofuel.

God knows there’s enough fish & chip shops in Cornwall to oblige! Does this mean that if I fuel my body regularly with fish & chips that I am technically being very green? If necessary, I can up my intake.

Mackerel crisis It really isn’t easy being green when it comes to eating fish – there is next to nothing left on the OK list. Still, I’ve always been glad that the humble but delicious mackerel is on there (along with gurnard), so that is what I buy – and occasionally attempt to catch (low success rate – the fish stocks are totally safe with me). So this Times article about the ‘mackerel war’ made rather grim reading…

Cornish wallabies Finally, everyone say ‘aaaaaah’ for these zoo escapees seen strolling about in Cornwall – a long way from the outback.

OK, actually, sorry you’re going to have say ‘aaaaaah’ again for this dancing dolphin snapped off Porthtowan. I saw some dolphins do a turn at the weekend off the coast near Zennor but this guy caught a really high jump (& he deserves it for getting up at 5am).

When checking out the new café/tapas bar at Scarlet Wines in Lelant at the weekend (of which more to follow), on the Old Forge pottery site, I discovered a neat new branch of St Ives vintage design shop Beaten Green in the hut next door.

There’s all manner of shabby-chic furniture piled up (chests-of-drawers, shelves, armchairs) – some more shabby than chic, some more chic than shabby – but it’s the unconventional pieces that really demonstrate a designer’s eye for potential.

Read the rest of this entry »

flow film penzance

still from FLOW the film

After watching the excellent – if inevitably depressing – docu-film The End of the Line about the excesses of the global fishing industry a few weeks back, I remembered just how rewarding and effective a well-made documentary can be, and vowed to watch more. Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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