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welcome to england cornwall

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…

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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