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cornish pink polgoon orchard, penzance, cornwall

Fruity ciders seem to be all the rage round here at the mo, which is fine by me, even if I tend to think of them as a one-drink novelty. A bit like that lovely German cherry beer Kriek. But I just discovered one that I’d be delighted to drink all night long… you know, should the opportunity arise.

The spanking new Cornish Pink from Polgoon comes in girly, pink, alcopoppy bottles but the label belies some classy bubbles inside. Not too fizzy and carbonated, it’s a very smooth ride. £2.50 a bottle in a deli near you.

art of cornwall

If you missed the documentary on BBC4 the other night entitled ‘The Art of Cornwall’, fret not – you can still catch it on iPlayer here for another four days.

It is well worth watching, energetically narrating the remarkable story of how St Ives came to be one of the Britain’s most important art colonies, and generously seasoned with anecdotes and background about the lives of the main players (Ben Nicholson, Babs Hepworth, Wallis, Frost, Heron…).

Even if I did find the commentary by Dr James Fox a little over-dramatised and breathless at points, his levels of enthusiasm and depth of knowledge won me over (and helped me overlook the wearing of a suit on windswept Cornish cliffs in the opening frame and the glossy sports car ;-)). Apart from anything else, there is some truly inspiring footage of West Penwith. Take a look.

Here’s the Beeb outline:

“For a period in the 20th century, Cornwall was the home of the avant garde, eclipsing 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

winter penwith moors cornwall

When weighing up the move to Cornwall a few years ago, I was quite preoccupied with the idea of getting through the winters. In my first week in Penzance, at the start of winter, I noted with deep concern that every light on the street was out by 10pm, and thought my worst fears had been realised. No signs of life!

But it’s funny how wrong you can be because I love winter down here. There are the obvious bonuses like being able to find a parking space, quiet roads and empty beaches, but also the Penwith landscape wears the dark tones of foul weather well.

Here are a few late afternoon shots taken from a beacon near Sancreed (randomly chosen from the OS map – coordinates on a postcard plse!) shortly before the sleet started, at which point we repaired to the Sportsman’s Arms in Heamoor for pints of Trade Winds.

winter penwith cornwallwinter penwith

vintage storeroom cornwall vintage storeroom cornwall

I made it through the sheets of rain to the opening of a rather charming new studio-cum-shop up some old granite steps off the front in St Ives called the Vintage Storeroom, brainchild of freelance knitwear designer Rosie Savidge.

It’s a pot pourri of vintage pieces, illustrated cards, textile designs (lavender mice, above, and soon to include the pasty teddy – the prototype by Emily Fishpool looked like a proper job), and also – in a random but useful twist – a selection of Asian and Italian specialist foodstuffs like fish sauce, coconut milk, and good spaghetti.

Follow their progress at!/thevintagesroom

vintage storeroom cornwall

vintage storeroom cornwall vintage storeroom cornwall vintage storeroom cornwall vintage storeroom cornwall

scarlet wine cornwallscarlet wine cornwall

The good thing and the bad thing about blogs is the freedom they give you to trill on about your own little obsessions and gripes, blissfully undeterred by the eye of an objective editor.

I try and hold back from blogging repeatedly about places and venues in west Cornwall I have a crush on but… sometimes it’s just not possible. So today, newly enthused after their Spanish wine tasting last night, I’d like to reiterate how much I still love bar-resto-deli Scarlet Wines‘ wine nights in Lelant!

They really are getting everything right on the night – and how often can you say that about somewhere? Owner Jon Keast is an enthusiastic and charming host, managing to deliver high-level wine chat without a hint of pretension or dryness. There’s a well-stoked wood-burner; an amazing selection of beers; cool decor; creative tapas (standouts: baked figs with sherry and goat’s cheese, and chestnuts dipped in brandy sauce and oven-crisped serrano ham).

AND better yet, the bus from Penzance stops right outside – last one at 12.29, which I think you’ll all agree is pretty wild. The bus took such an indirect route on the way home that at one point it took a worrying turn towards Helston, and it cost £9.50 return for two (!?), but you know, you can’t have it all…

The wine tasting nights happen once a month, except in January it’s… whisky-tasting night instead for Burn’s Night. Could be messy.

Click here for my last enthusiastic blog post about Scarlet wine tastings.

Scarlet Wines –  The Old Forge, Lelant, Hayle, TR27 6JG. Wine tasting nights usually £25 including six wines (non-stingy servings) and tapas.

Oh and here’s 8 seconds of uselessly dark video footage for your viewing pleasure!

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

I was touched to receive an old, red Ward-Lock Guide to Penzance as a get-well present from my friend Sarah while recovering from surgery (I’ve started walking btw… like a duck, but you’ve got to start somewhere).

It’s hard to know exactly what date it was published as Ward-Locks apparently routinely omitted a date from all pages in order to look current but I’m guessing first half of 20th century… One can, should one not have a job, go on online forums where people endlessly discuss the possible publication dates of these old guides with impressive anality.

At the risk of romanticising my convalescence, which hasn’t been a walk in the park (literally no walks in the park!), I did indulge in several enjoyable afternoons of reading in the company of this book while watching the boats potter in and out of Newlyn harbour from my bedroom window and a) pondering how little Penzance had changed in the years that had passed since that book was written, and b) amusing myself with the things that had.

My top 10 highlights from the book:

1/ ‘Penzance is the metropolis of the toe of England – a town that has prospered amazingly considering its isolation for hundreds of years’.
Come on, I don’t think the use of the M-word has ever been appropriate.

2/ ‘Penzance shops close at 1pm on Fridays. On other days between 5pm and 6pm. On market days, some shops remain open later.’ Well, lucky old people of olden times. Can’t remember the last time I found a shop open a minute past 5.30pm.

3/ ‘To many the charm of the place, and the justification of a journey of some hundreds of miles, is simply that Penzance is–just Penzance.’

4/ ‘Mid-way along the seafront is the Pavilion Theatre, with a café and roof garden’
–ER, HELLO – PENZANCE HAD A SEAFRONT ROOF GARDEN? Who got rid of that and replaced with an amusement arcade?

5/ ‘Mousehole has no claim other than it is to-day as it was yesterday–an unsophisticated Cornish fishing village unreformed by artists and unspoiled by vandals.’
Thankfully still unvandalised though I think a few artists might be ‘reforming’ it.

6/ ‘After reading the effusive descriptions of the beauty of Lamorna Cove, handed down from writers of the past, many visitors express disappointment when they reach this pretty but over-publicised spot–particularly when they have seen more beautiful coves. Nevertheless, Lamorna is… very fine in its own wild, untidy way but is unfortunate in possessing a beach consisting entirely of granite boulders’
Ouch! Touch harsh on Lamorna.

7/ ‘What natural beauty Land’s End does possess is usually imperilled by the disgraceful amount of paper, cardboard and other debris of picnics cast aside by careless visitors’.
Oh well, better that than the unmovable debris of a sizeable theme park, no?

8/ ‘One arrives at Porthmeor Beach, a fine sandy bay, splendid for surf-bathing’

9/ ‘This peninsula combines the soft charms of a genial winter – and is, in fact, an invalid’s paradise, with a summer season of unvarying equability’.
Looking forward to its soft charms again as winter draws in… is he talking about mizzle?

10/ ‘A century ago, the journey from London to West Cornwall occupied something like forty hours… The world-famous Cornish Riviera Limited now runs from London to Penzance in about 7 hours’
Nice to see the coming of the 21st century has reduced the travel time by a whole hour. Maybe we’ll get it down to 4.5 hours by 2110.


I was horrified to read this week that Penzance came tenth in a survey looking into Britain’s worst clone towns, and charting the devastating rampage of the chains on this country’s high streets.

I have to admit I was also a little surprised. One of the things that draws a lot of us to this *faraway town (*swap in ‘godforsaken’ on a bad day), and Cornwall in general, is its strong sense of identity – a feeling of foreignness, community and all-round arty eccentricity.

While I’m not declaring myself above supermarket shopping, I am rather partial to a trundle around town (yes I have a shopping trolly and no, I don’t care if I look like a granny), buying my meat and sausages at the butchers, fish from Newlyn, eggs and cold meats from the deli, and all manner of goods by the side of the road. [I am yet to succumb to one of those wooden ducks that are always lined up in lay-bys in Cornwall – do people finally give in once they’ve lived here long enough?]

But let’s face up to facts: the chains – and really the most dire of chains – are all here. So, to cheer myself up, I’ve made a list of my top ten independent shops in Penzance (I’ve permitted Cornish mini chains!):

1/ Lavenders: eggs, cold meats & pasties
2/ The Deli: best coffee in town
3/ Lenterns: superb sausages and meat
4/ Stevo’s – fish boutique (Wharfside)
5/ Archie Browns – health shop and community hub
6/ Seasalt – organic Cornish clothing, though you have to go easy or you look like everyone else in Cornwall
7/ Steckfensters – second-hand emporium (I blogged about this the other day)
8/ Weigh Your Own Absolutely Anything on Causewayhead – not sure what it’s really called but they are shit-hot weighers
9/ Super Volt – the sort of passion for cables you want from your local electrics shop
10/ Books Plus – books & stationery, plus Cornwall section

There, I feel better now. It’s going to be OK. I mean I even had to miss lots out! Let me know if you agree with the lineup.

The good news is that Newlyn scored very highly in the same study for identity and diversity.


sandsifter cornwall

It’s changed hands a few times in recent years, so it’s hard to know exactly when to get excited about Sandsifter. The fact the old 2009 website is still up doesn’t help. I liked what the last people were doing in terms of club nights (including the Trojan Sound System, which I was sorry to miss), gourmet burgers, serious spirits, cool design etc etc. I don’t know enough to gossip in any depth about what prompted their quick departure but the sands have shifted again and the white box in the towans at Godrevy is under newish management.

I finally got over there yesterday for a quick drink on the new sea-facing terrace at the back – and it seemed to be a triumph. People were mellowing about reading the Sunday papers, listening to the band, drinking Betty Stogs and gazing out over the dunes in the fading September sun.

So in my post-surgery survey of places in West Cornwall that I can get to with minimum walking and maximum outdoorsy effect, Sandsifter has gone straight in at number one (can’t comment on food yet, only had a hot chocolate).

Plus, the outdoor chairs have GREAT lumbar support (below)! As fellow haters of bench seating will know, this is a rare find indeed.

sandsifter cornwall

sandsifter cornwall

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 »

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.

I’ve seen these guys busking in Penzance a few times – and it’s always been a huge, mood-enhancing bonus to hear their close harmonies and banjo playing while going about my lunchtime chores.

So, it turned out at the Last Cabaret at the Acorn the other weekend (where I took this vid), that The-banjoing-buskers-from-Causewayhead-and-occasionally-if-drizzly-the- bottom-of-the-stairs-by-Abbey-National are actually a regularly gigging group – called Flats and Sharps.

Ha ha, or at least they were until yesterday. Having only just discovered them in earnest, I felt quite stricken to go on their Facebook page to find this statement posted just yesterday: “Unfortunately, Flats and Sharps as from today are no longer a band. Thank you for all your support.”

All is not lost: two members – Kirk (banjo, vocal, harmonica) and Liam (vocals, guitar) – have formed a yet-to-be-named duo playing a similar mix of bluegrass and country. Hallelujah, I’m ready!

Keep an eye out for them – they are young, funny, and disgracefully confident and talented.

Check out Kirk & Liam’s facebook page for gig dates etc.

via wiki

Two Cornwall-related stories that caught my eye this week.

More sleepers on the sleeper

I haven’t yet banged on about the joys of the sleeper train on this blog, but rest assured it is only a matter of time *friends nod knowingly*. The discovery of the Night Riviera service to London – with its gentle rocking motion, late night bar for a nightcap, and all-round usefulness and romance – was a key moment after I moved to Cornwall. Ok, we’re 300 miles from anywhere but at least I can sleep through it!

More of that later…  Like a massive train geek, I was pretty stoked to read this week that more carriages are being added to the sleeper train from Penzance to London on account of demand. Given that local people fought hard to save this service in 2005, it’s a happy ending to know it’s being used. Now all they need to do is make a ticket cheaper than a round-the-world trip…

“Sculptor seeks tin miner to pose nude”

As headlines go, this one’s hard to make up. But ’tis true. The story goes: “Sculptor Tim Shaw is hunting for a Cornish miner with a ‘rugged experienced look’ to pose naked so that he can refine a £90,000 bronze sculpture that will eventually stand outside the Hall for Cornwall.”

The sculptor says: “I thought that if I cast my net far and wide I would find someone different and interesting. The historical images that I have seen at the museum show men with hard expressions in their eyes.”

Miners with their tackle out – could be an interesting new, cliché-free angle on Cornish mining heritage? Full story here.

Have a good weekend!

breadman exchange penzance cornwall

I like to think I’m a pretty open-minded kind of person when it comes to the arts but even I was a little perplexed this morning when I got the Exchange Gallery‘s summer programme through the post. First thing I spotted was an event taking place this Saturday morning called the Breadman, accompanied by a picture of people with bread on their heads.

OK, fine, I get it: the people have baguettes tied to their heads. I read on… “Tatsumi Orimoto, as Breadman, will dress a dozen assistants with loaves of bread bound with twine around their heads. Starting at The Exchange, the Breadman will lead a tour of tourist sites through the centre of Penzance, stopping for photo opportunities and offering bread to the public.”

It is definitely bizarre but it’s also quite an intriguing photo op. BUT IS IT ART?! Only one way to find out. It starts at 11am on Saturday. See for more deets. Get your bread on.

brother and bones cornwall

I went to a great gig at the Acorn in Penzance last night – it was the launch of Brother & Bones’ new album, supported by up-and-comings Rokshan and Ryan Jones (of the Hitchcock Rules).

Brother & Bones were accompanied by a full string and brass section and the high-emotion, epic sound was – and I’m trying not to say this too lightly – quite reminiscent of Muse. Impressive stuff. Check out their myspace.

I tried to get some footage on my iPhone of their more high-octane songs but it distorted (far too much energy, it seems, for such a small mic) but this sweet acoustic lullaby came out sort of OK for the first half. Sorry must do better!

And here, by polar contrast, is a masterclass in how to make a VERY cool music video of the wilds of west Cornwall – the lead singer Rich of Brother & Bones doing a more slidey guitar thing:

penwith chest of drawers

I’m more of a mid-century-classic kind of girl when it comes to furniture fantasies, but this chest of drawers sculpted from oak caught my eye the other day for its strong sense of place (my favourite place as it happens!).

It’s entitled the ‘Penwith Chest of Drawers’, priced at a mere £6,000, and is shaped like the many ancient granite monuments that dot the moors around Penwith. I have to admit that I would prefer it without the black stripe across the drawers (achieved by using dark bog oak – and designed, I would imagine, to reflect the moodiness of the moors), but I really like the prehistoric shape. It’s sold at Handmade Designer Furniture, a site featuring mainly Cornish designers.

Click here for some pics (also quite moody!) of the granite moors from my blog post about Trencrom Hill.

penzance arts club cornwall

Where oh where would we be without the Penzance Arts Club?

A little while back, the lovely Emily Evans and Harry Gordon-Smith took over the Club (after rumours of a boutique hotel) – located in the instantly memorable old mansion, once the Portuguese embassy, at the bottom of Chapel Street.

I say instantly memorable because, although I only visited Penzance maybe once as a child (for a Kneehigh Theatre production at the Acorn – we have to save it!), the extravagant seaside mansion and its intriguing side entrance etched themselves on my memory.

Let’s be honest, the restaurant situation in Penzance is pretty dire at the moment – I really love a chilli and chorizo pizza and a pint of Otter in the Crown, occasionally get a Curry Corner or Sukothai takeout (both good & friendly) and I stop for a Corona and some tapas at Mackerel Sky now and again but there’s really not much else cooking.

Or at least there wasn’t until the Dining Room at the Penzance Arts Club opened a few weeks back. I made it over last weekend to try it out and it’s brilliant – and *very big cheer* it’s priced with locals in mind. The room is pure shabby chic, with sweet French perfume bottles as mini vases, simple rustic furniture and white tablecloths, and Breon O’Casey paintings on the walls.

Check out the colours in the food – it looks like an abstract art canvas! The chef makes extensive use of Dan the Potager’s salad boxes, which are stuffed with bright, wild greens, and lots of edible flowers.

Bruschetta, giant prawns with aoili and fishcakes were all fantastic – oh, and we met a nicely sticky end with limoncello cake and cream topped with roasted almonds. There are worse ways to go.

Penzance Arts Club, Chapel Street, 01736 363 761/

penzance arts club cornwall

st ives harbour cornwall

The first St Ives Food & Drink Festival seemed to be going with a swing yesterday when I swung by – though it’s hard to imagine what wouldn’t go with a swing when the skies are blue and St Ives looks, as it does on sunny days, like it’s been dropped in from the Bounty advert.

The Guild Hall food fair was a bit of who’s who of cool new Cornish food & drink companies (and there really are TONS). With everyone enthusiastically handing out tasters and being generally friendly and chatty, it was a convivial scene.

Polgoon was there with its new River Cottage-endorsed elderflower fizz in champagne bottles (tasty stuff but £17 – ouch!), then there was the Rev Berriman’s fiery chilli cola (which I enthused about the other day), Cornish Stingers nettle beer, Cornish Blue cheese, amazing Helford River cheeses, real ale, St Ives beef….

Down on the harbour wall, a small crowd had gathered for the chef demos. I listened for a while to the chef from the Greenbank in Falmouth demonstrating how to cook fish to perfection (in brief: score the fish, high heat, skin first, shake the pan, then don’t be tempted to keep moving it away from the hob…).

Oh, and I took the park & (train) ride from Lelant for the first time – it’s the only way to go. (10% off tickets the Cornish rail card btw – yay).

More pics of the festival care of the Clotted Cream Diaries blog here.

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).

jubilee pool penzance cornwall

The 1930s deco lido in Penzance is a great source of inspiration to local photographers and artists – the cool curves, cubist steps, and triangular shapes pointing out into the sea are a pretty extraordinary sight.

To celebrate my first ever swim in the Jubilee Pool – so overdue, it was getting quite embarrassing – I thought I’d post my humble interpretation of this iconic monument. This was the view from my towel as I lay sunbathing at the weekend (before, that is, I was told to stop photographing the architecture due to ‘child protection’).

I lay there for at least an hour thinking that if I could just absorb enough rays, it would defend me against the famously cold temperature of the water. I noted with some concern that over half the people in the pool had some sort of expensive-looking swimming protection, including swimming caps made of wetsuit material.

But I have to say the water really was lovely – fresh but manageable, and considerably warmer than the sea proper (I know this because I swam off Battery Rocks on Friday evening sans suit and it was… challenging). The feeling of swimming in a pool of that size (100 metres long at its longest point!) was invigorating – and the unconventional triangular shape liberates you from boring old up-and-down lengths, and makes it feel more like a wild swim.

This year is the 75th anniversary of Jubilee Pool, and there are celebratory flags flying (below) and historic Read the rest of this entry »

scarlet wines cornwall

I think Scarlet Wines & tapas bar in Lelant might just be my new favourite place in west Cornwall. I had suspected it might indeed be rather cool when I stopped by Beaten Green next door the other day, but after attending their South American wine & food tasting on Tuesday night, I am now officially Read the rest of this entry »

In the absence of an official music vid for ‘Into the fire’ by Thirteen Senses on YouTube, I was quite amused to find this Grey’s Anatomy sequence to the tune instead. Apologies for the gross & gory still that comes up before you start the video (and the even grosser snogging scenes)…

It’s catchy, isn’t it? Thirteen Senses formed in a bedroom in Penzance, though they have since flown the Cornish nest and released three albums – and it is oft quoted (in seemingly every article ever written about them, so I didn’t want to be an exception) that they are the only Cornish band to have had a top 20 single (with Thru the Glass).

Check their myspace here.

Trencrom Hill Fort is one of the highest hills in the westernmost Cornish district of Penwith – and I was looking forward to finally conquering this great peak. Ten minutes after parking the car, I had.

The ascent was a little tamer than expected but it was none the less epic at the summit. The views from these granite stacks are incredible – from sand-trimmed St Ives Bay to the north to Mount’s Bay in the south, and the ancient field patterns stretching west across the moors towards Land’s End.

In my Trencrom expedition team were some visiting friends, one of whom enquired about the age of this historic site. I usefully stated it was ‘really bloody old’. Read the rest of this entry »

Check out pasties and cream’s new design*sponge guide to Cornwall, out this week.

For those of you not familiar with the site, design*sponge – written by Grace Bonney and her team of design detectives – feeds readers with a constant supply of art-craft-design ideas, images and general loveliness from across the pond. It’s addictive stuff.

OK, it’s not my car. The shiny new racing-blue Morgan +4 convertible in question belongs to the Morgan Garage in Perranwell.

In fact, worse than that, it’s not even my rental car – it’s my Dad’s. But that didn’t stop me from immersing myself fully in the classic car dream for fifteen minutes as we spun from Penzance, past Newlyn harbour, and over to Mousehole along the coastal road – before he headed further west to Sennen, Zennor and St Ives.

I’m hardly what you could call a car geek but, with the breeze in my hair, blue skies above, Mount’s Bay glistening in the foreground – and the walnut dashboard, cream leather seats and long, shiny bonnet reaching out in front – it was all too much.

Back at my desk, and suddenly intrigued by the concept of owning such a vehicle, I had a quick fantasy google: ‘prices from £29,369 to £34,902’. Ah. Read the rest of this entry »

geevor fiona crisp

fiona crisp at geevor tin mine

In the space of three months last year I visited virtually every sightseeing attraction in Cornwall (not as some sort of bizarre personal challenge, you understand, but for the new Time Out Guide to Devon & Cornwall). And of them all, Geevor Tin Mine, on the moody cliffs of Pendeen, was the most rewarding – not least because it came as such a surprise.

Mining heritage centres in Cornwall have a tendency to contain interesting but ultimately very dusty exhibitions, with captions in 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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