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Hercules Storm Sennen

Hercules Storm Sennen

I’ve messed around with wave pics before but some events call for the professionals – and the Herculean storm that battered Cornish shores this January was one of them. So it is a treat to feature the work of PZ photographer and pasties & cream friend Mike Newman during these brine-soaked days. These two pictures also made their way to the Guardian, the Times and Telegraph.

Here’s what Mike had to say about the experience. “Shooting the Hercules storm was an amazing but busy day for me as a photographer. The hype surrounding its approach was as large as the predicted waves and my photographic anticipation was further increased by my interest as a surfer. Howling winds and heavy seas meant Porthleven was a misty, windy, apocalyptic spectacle when I arrived, somehow reminiscent of a film set dotted with photographers and storm watchers, under a watery half-light and scurrying clouds.

The ground was shaking at the top of the cliff as solid waves hit the shore, always preceded by an ominously heavy ‘crump’ as they unfolded onto the beach. I’ve seen bigger waves but these ones were so thick, they carried a massive amount of power, sending huge plumes of spray over the houses on top of the cliff.  And over expensive camera equipment if you didn’t get covered up in time.

Later, a mile offshore at Land’s End, waves were also breaking over the top of Longships Lighthouse. Reaching the cliffs at Pedn Men Dhu which protect Sennen Cove from the Atlantic, they still had enough power to cascade up to the top, about 230 feet above sea level.  The amount of spray in the air was phenomenal, there was only a short window of opportunity to get a shot after cleaning my lens before it got wet again, all the time battling the gale force winds which were rattling the stability of both me, and my tripod.”

mikenewmanphotography.co.uk; Mike also ‘raves and rants’ about Penzance life at http://ocean-image.blogspot.co.uk.

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The Jeanne Gougy 1962, courtesy of Sotheby'sSeine, courtesy of Sotheby's The Jeune Hortense 1888, courtesy of Sotheby's high res The Mildred, 1912, courtesy of Sotheby's Tripolitania, courtesy of Sotheby's

These awesome (trad meaning) pictures of shipwrecks off the coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – and hundreds more – have just been purchased by the National Maritime Museum, London branch, for £122,000.

They are from the family archive of the Gibson family, assembled over 125 years and four generations, who made it their mission to record shipwrecks off the Cornish coast.

I wish I had the locations of the wrecks pictured here but the names provide interest enough – wonderful titles like Tripolitania, Minnehaha and the Mildred.

The museum says that they will be digitising the material then lending it out to museums across the South West, so by rights I’m sure there will be a Cornish airing soon.

Images reproduced on pasties & cream courtesy of Sotheby’s. www.rmg.co.uk

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There is something slightly dull about other people’s pictures of sunrise and sunset – a bit like other people’s dreams or drinking stories, you really have to be there (or, alternatively, for it to be a highly significant day, as with West Cornish company The Day That). But the joy of the self-publishing revolution is that it’s my blog party and I can post what I want to!

So if you’ll pardon the pictorial gush, here are some photos of dawn this morning over Penzance prom, which was the beginning of a fresh, clear autumn day that made the Lizard look like it was just round the corner.

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The Yacht Inn Swim is an ever-growing annual sea swim from Newlyn to the Jubilee Pool (next to the Yacht Inn, hence the name). It is traditional for me to talk about doing the swim every year yet never quite manage to train or make it to the start line. But it’s a classic Penzance event even for spectators and a stirring display of (other people’s) human endeavour – Penzancers of all ages can be found crossing the finish line.

I saw these pictures on flickr and loved their black and white realism, so I asked the author, Julian De Courcy, if he’d allow me to post them on pasties & cream. He kindly said yes; if you like what you see, you can view the full 2013 set here.

I enjoyed the unedited expressions on people’s dripping wet faces – smiles, grimaces, relief, exhaustion – and the refreshing lack of Cornish ‘colour’.

“I do approach this type of subject as documentary,” says the photographer, “I love the old photographs of a gone age – with as much reality as photography allows.”

http://juliandecourcy.weebly.com

Click here to see my video of the 2010 swim.

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Here is my picturebook from a day out at Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, a wondrous garden carved out of a valley overlooking Mount’s Bay, dotted with modern art installations, tropical vegetation and artily placed viewing platforms. It pleased me that it’s not so arty as to neglect the traditional Cornish harbinger of spring: the humble daff. You can read more on the story of Tremenheere in ‘The tropic of Cornwall: How a nondescript field was turned into an unexpected sculpture park’ in the Independent.

The on-site Lime Tree is my Cornish cafe crush of the year, of which more soon.

Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, £6.50 entrance, or free for members, nr Gulval. 01736 448 089, TR20 8YL www.tremenheere.co.uk

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I’ve been stealing SD cards again – this time from my friend and keen photographer Chris Pierre, who has been taking a séjour in Penzance this past sunny week. I was flicking through his Canon Ixus and enjoying all the unusual details he had picked out of the Cornish landscape with fresh eyes. I particularly like the railings on the Jubilee Pool, the sofa in a field, the monterey pines and the prettiest cow on earth. Thanks Chris – I will continue to apply pressure for you to start a photo blog.

‘Heartlands’, in case you hadn’t heard, ‘is the fruition of a long held ambition in the community to redevelop the Pool area of West Cornwall which was left largely untouched following the demise of the tin mining industry and final closure of the mines in 1998, after nearly 400 years of activity.’ And… it is finally open.

I went at the weekend but it was only a quick tour so I didn’t really have time to get to the ‘heart’ of the matter. All the same, here are some first pics from this freshly opened ‘cultural playground’ in Pool, between Redruth and Camborne.

As you can see it’s a slick-looking and multifaceted new ‘zone’ encompassing an adventure playground for kids (hundreds of delighted squeals), the Red River Cafe (sensitively designed, reasonably priced, standard cafe fare), a shop (a rather curious mix but did at least contain Hager Vor hoodies and Natalie Bonney’s lovely ceramics), workshops and an exhibition centre, plus – most importantly – the carefully restored mining remnants and buildings that form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As per, Cornwall Council couldn’t resist slapping a pay & display car park on something trumpeted as a free attraction for the community. Still, that won’t stop most locals parking for free on one of the many surrounding streets of the industrial estate instead. Baker Tom’s little oasis in the desert is also just round the corner – weekdays only, mind.

www.heartlandscornwall.com

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 have a great appetite for old photos of Cornwall – particularly of parts I know and love. Charming as they undoubtedly are, we’ve all seen the classic black and white photos of Penzance in the Frith series around and about, so it’s exciting that Penlee House has recently acquired a collection of long-buried pictures of Penzance and Newlyn.

A choice selection from the archive is currently on display at Penlee House Gallery and this week is the last chance to see it. I just loved the ladies Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Spooner at the Poly

A shout-out for two interesting things happening at the Poly in Falmouth. The first is a talk by very long-time pasties & cream friend Paul Spooner, whose career as an automata maker (“making mechanical jokes for people with short attention spans”) has included pieces for the Science Museum, Louis Vuitton and, er, me aged six – a wooden box that I still have and keep my drawing pins in. Takes place tonight at 8pm at the Poly; pay a little visit here for more information and tickets.

The second thing I’m giving you a fraction more notice for. Opening on 21st February, also at the Poly, is an exhibition of the sumptuous illustrations and photography that appear in the Parabola Project‘s second book, the beautifully designed anthology I blogged about the other day. Here’s a taster, reproduced here with kind permission of Parabola.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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

According to an email alert reminding me to renew my domain, or forever lose my Cornish corner of cyberspace, this week marks pasties & cream blog’s first anniversary *Camel Valley champers all round*.

Cliche as it is to reflect on time’s stealthy passing, it really does seem like no time since I was tentatively tapping out my first posts, too self-conscious for weeks to actually share the link with anyone.

I’m still a little self-conscious on occasions but blogging a few times a week has quickly become an integral part of my life. It is something I always appear to have time for when far more urgent tasks languish on the list. But why, I wonder, do we blog?

For my part, I love Read the rest of this entry »

botallack picture sam carnell

Warning: this photo should only be viewed full screen! (Click on the image to make it bigger.) This amazing image was taken by Hayle-based master thatcher and photographer Sam Carnell. It captures the unreceptive cliffs at Botallack getting an extreme battering in the storms of 2008.

Sam entered it in the Lloyds TSB Insurance Weather Photographer of the Year competition, along with 10,000 others hopefuls, and made the final twelve. I couldn’t help wondering what conditions the valiant photographer was working in to get that shot: ‘That day the wind was gusting at around 100mph at exposed spots,’ he told p&c, ‘and the sea had over thirty foot of swell, so not the most pleasant of conditions. But worth it!!”

Reckon so – very cool.

Check out more of Sam’s shots at www.samcarnell.co.uk.

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.

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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.

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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.

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I love the way the old lady's cardie matches the sea - Porthmeor Beach

surf cornwallsleepy sennen

cape cornwall by photographer matt cardy (via http://www.mattcardyphoto.com)

Hello! This surreal photograph of the night sky above Cape Cornwall has finally lifted the low-hanging, post-operative fog of daytime telly, cups of tea and snoozing.

Thanks very much for your kind well-wishing comments by the way – the surgery seems to have gone well (I even got sent high-res images of the inside of my hip joint to prove it – a slightly grisly souvenir). And thus far I’ve navigated the precarious new world of crutches without major incident. Can’t carry? Just throw. I am working on the transportation of tea.

So, what do you think of this photo? It is the work of South West-based photographer Matt Cardy and this year it made the cut for the Press Photographer’s Year 2010, an exhibition currently showing at the foyer of the National Theatre in London.

Just outside St Just, Cape Cornwall is one of Cornwall’s great wild spots. It’s my favoured land’s end (would I like a theme park and some greasy chips with my cliffs? no thanks!), and I like the stone stack set against the gradually intensifying red-orange glow and the sci-fi stars. I found this picture to have hidden depths – at first glance, it looked simple alongside the other more urgently moving images of war and human suffering that make up the exhibition. But it’s a real slow burner…

I thought the light in the picture must have been from the sun but Matt told pasties & cream: “the yellow Read the rest of this entry »

Newquay has something of a vomit-spattered reputation at present (unless you go to posh bits like Watergate Bay or Scarlet territory like Mawgan Porth). But amid the tales of stag nights and lap dancing, I always seem to forget how big and impressive its cliffs and beaches are.

I was forced up to Porth the other day to write about a restaurant and took the short stroll out to Trevelgue Head. It’s a fantastic spot, despite the apartment complexes on the horizon and the presence of a couple of rottweilers growling next to me. Click on the image for the full, screen-filling effect.

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).

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.

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pasties & cream is heading east – back next week. Finally an excuse to post the above picture, taken by my sister Jen on a recent trip to Rame (south east Cornwall)! She does a very nice line in arty graffiti shots in London’s east end but probably didn’t expect to find such a gem in ‘Cornwall’s forgotten corner’.

Right. Passport, tickets, money… Passport, tickets, money…

A few pics from the jolly Sea Salts & Sail maritime festival in Mousehole harbour at the weekend – next one in 2012. www.seasalts.co.uk.

(Apologies for minimalist blog post today – large book to edit. But a picture speaks a thousand words, right, so really this is a 7000-word blog post). Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 »

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 »

mount's bay

cornish palm morrab gardens penzance
…Winter is over!

OK, I know there are lows of 1º C forecast for Sunday night but it’s the deep blue sky and daffodils that count. Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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