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When you are in a post-industrial hinterland like this…

… you don’t expect to find a clean-lined little artisan bakery cafe like this:

And this bold randomness is exactly what I love about Baker Tom’s new canteen-chic bakery outlet. It’s located in the murky depths of the Pool Industrial Estate, one of the most unforgiving, bleak and neglected areas of Cornwall. The move is all the more intriguing when you consider that Tom Hazeldine’s other two bijou outlets are located on Truro and Falmouth’s most desirable shopping streets.

‘We’ve had our main bakery on this site for a year,’ Tom explained to me, ‘And we quickly realised there is nowhere for all the people who work in the area – from office workers to NHS midwives to truckers – to get something decent to eat or a nice coffee. It is quite a brave move as there are no tourists here and there is no view – we are on an industrial estate next to a brewery yard, a meat factory and Furniss biscuits.’

I think all Cornish residents get a bit tired of ‘lifestyle’ Cornwall, airbrushed and geared up for six weeks of tourist dough – the overpriced sandwich, the perfect view, the indifferent coffee – so for me there’s something interesting and creative about this place.

In the event that the homemade jam, fluffy fresh croissants and speciality breads should not be enough to pull you off-course to this post-mining desert, perhaps Baker Tom’s claim to the ‘nicest loo in Pool’ will? The recently opened Heartlands is just around the corner too. As, of course, is Ladds Concrete Products (a personal favourite), Low Cost Storage and TyreFinders!

The Bakery Cafe, Wilson Way, Pool Industrial Estate, Redruth, Cornwall. Open breakfast, lunch and snacks. All sandwiches £4.95, pasties £2.50, breakfasts from £2.50. www.bakertom.co.uk

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manuka leaf tisane tregothnan

The caffeine-free hot drink is a problem to which there seems – or seemed – to be no solution. Every time I’m at the herbal tea aisle of Archie Browns, I appear to suffer some sort of repetitive amnesia: they promise so much – smell irresistible, have pretty packaging – and deliver so little. But it turns out I just wasn’t spending enough money!

A sachet of Tregothnan Manuka Blossom Leaf Tisane, picked on the banks of the River Fal, landed on my desk this week and it has none of the processed flavours of your Twinings Raspberry & Catpee fare but rather offers the complex, earthy taste of the leaf and bark, with – and this is the limited edition bit – the delicate white blossom of the manuka bush. And Tregothnan, Cornwall, has the only manuka plantation in the UK, which – for your £7 per 25g caddy – is also kind of cool.

www.tregothnan.com and selected stockist, including sweet little Dishotay on Chapel Street in Penzance.

More pics here: Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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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 »

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In case you can’t wait for the splash in the Cornishman on Thursday, here’s a quick post to bring you news of our great victory: Penzance now holds the world record for the most amount of pirates in one place. The title is in its rightful home! We beat Hastings by several thousand, with a total of 8734 Cornish pirates, most armed with cutlasses, lined up on the prom.

It was a truly uplifting event, with communal ‘oooo-arrrrrrrghs’ encouraged on the sound system – and, of course, the mother of all ‘oggy, oggy, oggies’ when the winning result was announced.

Some people looked like they had hardly needed to dress up – what with the prevalence of beards and unruly, salty hair. And one pirate had a real parrot on his shoulder, which was causing mass piratical hysteria.

Cornwall is in the spotlight on Google today – check out Richard Trevithick’s google-ised steam loco, to commemorate his 240th birthday.

An Illogan boy, and engineer at Ding Dong mine (yes indeed, this is partly an excuse to type out ‘Ding Dong’, my favourite place name in Cornwall, pipping Praze-an-Beeble to the post), Trevithick is Read the rest of this entry »

I know everyone else in the country (even the county) has been knee-deep in the stuff for days but when it snows in Penzance, it’s a big deal.

If we get a dusting, there are squeals of delight (from adults), so waking up to a full inch today – the sort of depth where you start to get that satisfying creaking under foot – has everyone out with their cameras on the prom. Including me.

Everything has ground to a halt, naturally. And since it’s snowing, we’re all listening to Radio Dreckly… ‘ere, 18 inches of the stuff out Land’s End way so I hear. Would love to see some pictures of Sennen, anyone?

snow penzance cornwall morrab gardensnow penzance cornwall promsnow penzance cornwall morrab garden

Apparently we are to be showered with meteors tomorrow and Friday night. And Nasa’s star brains say it could be the most spectacular August “Perseids shower” in recent years, thanks to a dark moon and a clear forecast (see above for Penzance).

The National Trust’s page about it advises stargazers to “escape the city lights”. Ha ha, that should take all of about three minutes round here. I’ll be finding myself a suitably dark spot on the moors for the show.

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

Berry Rattler Bottle cornwallcornish stingers bottle cornwall

In Cornwall’s steady move towards food & drink domination, three new bottled drinks hailing from these parts are hitting the shelves this summer. (Domination is a slight exaggeration, but we do now have 100% Cornish ‘champagne’ from Camel Valley, tea from Tregothnan, ‘aval’ from Polgoon, all manner of Very Expensive premium juices, such as Helford Creek and Cornish Orchards, not to mention the ridiculousness that is bottled Cornish spring water.)

Two of the new brews are alcoholic, but the third is no shrinking violet. I’ve been sipping away selflessly to bring you some tasting notes:

Berry Rattler

Cornwall’s favourite cider, Cornish Rattler, has given birth to a fruity new Rattler infused with red berries.

The look: cloudy, red, girly, new surfy label. The taste: fruity but not Read the rest of this entry »

I clicked my way around Penzance the other day with Google Street View, which was pretty exciting, but this morning I stumbled across some even more compulsive footage: a video of Penzance on a sunny day in 1964.

Probably only long-standing locals will make it to the end of the six minutes, lovely though they are, but it’s worth a look if only for the chirpy Beatles soundtrack, the cool old cars, bobbies on bikes, and to marvel at how little, essentially, PZ has changed.

I did, however, note one key difference: no one in Penzance dresses that smartly anymore. Men in suits and braces? Women in dresses and heels (all sporting a fetching pastel-cardie-over-the-shoulder look)? I feel so underdressed in my Hager vor hoodie.

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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