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Outside, the weather was doing this. Again. We all know the drill by now: sheeting rain, gale-force winds, couple of feet of mud in areas not usually classed as the countryside.

But inside Mount Pleasant Ecological Park’s music venue on Friday night, it may as well have been Jamaica, such were the sweet tunes and warm, unbuttoned atmosphere at the Cornell Campbell & the Soothsayers gig.

Thank you for the excellent, warming food Cafe Irie and to the main man Cornell for having one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard – a sweet, clear falsetto. And for wearing sunnies in the midst of one of the foulest Cornish winters on record.

What a great venue – check www.mpecopark.co.uk for more gigs. I’ve signed myself right up for updates on their world music programme.

REDRUTH_1.1

I’ve never made it to Cornwall Film Festival, despite good intentions, as it’s been mainly based up the line in Newquay or Truro. Well, this year, a mini film festival in Redruth is in the offing for next week. (In case you didn’t know, Redruth has a surprisingly cool art deco cinema, which I blogged about a little while back here).

www.cornwallfilmfestival.com

‘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

Logan rocks – chopping boards by Samuel Walsh

It’s Open Studios time again – an opportunity to stick your nose into the studios of Cornwall’s many hidden away artists and designers, woodworkers, needleworkers and illustrators. Just look out for the orange circles.

It is oft quoted that West Cornwall has more working artists/sole-trading “creatives” per capita than anywhere outside London (or something…). The exact statistic has been distorted by Cornish whispers, but it is clear when you look at the Open Studios map that there are a lot of them – even the village of Nancledra, population 150, is stacked with dots.

I am particularly keen on visiting the arty clusters of studios like Krowji and Trewidden. It doesn’t feel quite so much like walking into someone’s house (with the attendant feeling of obligation to chat!) and you can see lots of different work in a small space in a mellow but bustling atmosphere. Plus you can stop by the wildly eccentric Melting Pot Cafe afterwards at Krowji, which on the whole I love, though I wasn’t so keen on being charged £2.45 for a slightly watery hot chocolate in a paper cup on Sunday.

Open Studios is on for the rest of the week, and I’m not done yet, but my highlights so far are as follows:

• Steam-bent wooden lampshades – Tom Raffield, Krowji

High-design steam-sculptured wooden lampshades, flower pots and assorted furniture. www.tomraffield.com
 
 

• Logan rock chopping boards – Samuel Walsh, Krowji, from £18

Stacked up, they look like the rocks of Bodmin Moor or West Penwith’s Logan Rock – and they are very strokable. www.samwalshfurniture.co.uk

• Paul Fry – Trewidden

Uplifting simple flowers against fresh white backgrounds. www.paulfry.co.uk

• George Meyrick – Krowji

Minimalist geometric 3D shapes and flat paintings. Could be interesting installing one in a Cornish cottage, where right angles are hard to find. More info on George here

 
For all details on Open Studios 2012, including full list of participating artists, have a look here: http://www.creativeskills.org.uk/open-studios-cornwall-2012
Free entry throughout.

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

Just wanted to throw a link to casio duo Hedluv + Passman‘s long-awaited video of Cornish anthem, Doin it Dreckly, which is gathering momentum in these parts. Sumptuously filmed on the streets of Redruth. Love them.

Also love their blog: http://hedluvandpassman.wordpress.com. The album, ‘We Came Here Not For Gold’, is available to buy here.

When the compere introduced the opening act at the Last Cabaret at the Acorn on Saturday as a rap outfit from west Cornwall, I couldn’t help but brace myself and check the exit leading to the bar was clear (well, come on, on paper it didn’t bode well). I needn’t have worried though because the duo in question clearly started honing their sense of irony in the womb.

“Casio rap duo” Hedluv & Passman deliver deadpan raps and rhymes from the urban underbelly of, er, Redruth. ‘Doin’ it Dreckly’, as fans will know, is their “anthem” – you can buy the T-shirt on their website. The chorus is catchy and it goes like this: Cos we’re doin’ it, yeah, we’re doin’ it dreckly… doin’ it, yeah, we’re doin’ it dreckly… Listen to it on their myspace.

Their act was over too soon for me – the belly laughing was just gathering momentum on my row – and I was left gasping for more of their humorous rhapsodies on life in ‘Druth. Fortunately I have now discovered Hedluv’s blog, The Online Pasty Guide, to sate my appetite – which is a stroke of pasty genius. Here’s the basic remit:

“Welcome to ‘the online pasty guide’ brought to you by hedluv and filled with hints and tips designed to help you avoid the unspeakable pain of having a bad pasty (photographed above). This particular pasty was purchased after 3pm – that was my first mistake, and leads me neatly to my first tip: 3pm is too late to be buying pasties.”

Look out for them.

headluv and passman (www.druth.co.uk).

Don’t forget to join the facebook group ‘Save the Acorn’ for the latest on how to help secure the future of the marvellous venue, which is sadly due to close shortly. Click here for my blog post on this.

roddas cornwallIn other liquid news: after 120 years in the dairy business, legendary clotted cream makers Rodda’s have started making milk.

I suppose market pressures dictate that they had to produce a semi-skimmed version but I can only imagine the removal of cream must have met with serious resistance in the factory. It has, after all, spent the last hundred years dedicated to churning out the thickest, creamiest cream known to man. They stopped short of skimmed, mind…

regal cinema redruth cornwall

The last film I saw at Redruth’s Regal cinema was Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which dates the trip at circa 1988 – a time when I almost certainly would have been wearing  high-waisted stonewashed jeans with zips at the ankles. So you could say my visit last night (to see The Hurt Locker) was long overdue.

Two decades on, the Regal is a surprisingly fancy affair, tricked out with neon deco signage, a bar and – the unique selling point – a licensed screen with saloon-style black leather seats, two-person love seats and acres of leg room.

That perennially short-changed Redruth should be the chosen cinema for this sort of flagship treatment isn’t perhaps as surprising as it first seems. Architecturally, this is easily the county’s most interesting cinema, an art deco affair dating back to 1935, with a gorgeous fin tower on the left, deco signage and a circular lobby. Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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