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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.”
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.
In an ideal world, this is how I like my foraged food to look. Spot the candied alexanders stem, carrageen-set panna cotta and wild fennel shortbread in this composition.
It is said to the point of cliche, but nonetheless true, that there is something about foraging for food that seems to tap into our most primitive instincts. Just the simple action of plucking a leaf from a tangled Cornish hedge and finding it tastes like wasabi or watercress or coconut – in short, something you would normally pay for – is unfailingly thrilling.
That probably says a lot about how darkly far we’ve come from the origins of our food. Still, there’s no need to go getting too primitive about these things, and that’s what I particularly like about Caroline Davey of St Buryan wild food school Fat Hen. On her courses, it’s not just about whether the plant is edible, it’s about whether it tastes good… and not just good, but Read the rest of this entry »
Hurrah, the little vintage caravan on the prom lives on, this year with new owners (one of which is none other than knitted freak lady Katie Lennon of Heyday) and under a cute new name, Little Wonder.
As well as the arrival of Starry-Gazy Cupcakes on the menu, the other news is that it’s not waiting till the official ‘season’ to trundle on to the prom – it’s open weekends from now. Yes, that’s correct, it is February and there is no cover – just how I like it. A hot cup of tea and a chill in the air… makes me feel like I’m camping.
Views across Mount’s Bay, yours for £1.50 for a cuppa, £3 with cupcake. Naturally, I dream about them serving wine… We so badly need somewhere nice outdoors for a sundowner* in this town.
*amongst other things
It also sells cards by the wonderful local design & print studio Pirrip Press.
More pics here Read the rest of this entry »
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.
Maybe, maybe not. But in more groundbreaking news, there seems to be life on Penzance prom! Not only is the Olympic Torch passing through tomorrow morning but the Little Tea Caravan, which I blogged about last summer, is also back at weekends. Get your tea and cake kicks from the vintage caravan on the prom (near bottom of Alexandra Road) – open tomorrow from 11am and weekends this summer. Love the idea and love the Victoria Sponge.
Little Tea Caravan – see here for their facebook page.
At one point, while camping near the pretty peak of Lanín in Argentina I think it was, I harboured vague aspirations to climb up high stuff. Since then I have had three hip surgeries, and live with the lingering pain of hip impingement syndrome, so it’s a very good thing for me that the peaks of West Penwith are measured in hundreds rather than thousands of metres – and take on average 10 minutes to climb. Ideal for those with motivation impingement syndrome too!
Herewith, documentation of my first 2012 peak of Penwith: the Iron Age fortification of Chun Castle, atop a bloody great hill near Pendeen. It’s a bit rubbly now, as you might fairly expect after 2,400 years, but the circular hillfort and its granite gates are still perfectly clear and impressive. No longer needed for spying approaching enemies perhaps but for me a useful vantage point from which to decide on my favourite remote Penwith property…
Click for more pics: Read the rest of this entry »
Lest anyone think I only portray the sunny side of Cornwall, here are some photos of what a cold, damp Sunday in the dead of January looks like in West Penwith.
Stopping at a random spot on the St Ives-St Just road, we made a stab for the nearby coast, with visibility at about 10 metres. Porthmoina is what we found at the end of the path, a properly stirring spot, with the remains of a water mill that formed part of the Carn Galva mining operation. It had something of a Machu Picchu about it in the mist… Look, like I said, it is January.
More pics Read the rest of this entry »
The church on the beach at Gunwalloe on the Lizard – a beautiful, little-visited spot on the Lizard.
I’ve just realised that I don’t have a picture of the church itself set against the sandy beach, so this post will have to serve as an incentive to visit for the full scenic effect. It is just down the road from the Barefoot Kitchen, subject of my last gushing post.
Alert! Alert! I just discovered a perfect little place out on the Lizard, on a wind-beaten cliff above Gunwalloe. For the past year, word has been reaching me of Barefoot Kitchen being ‘right up my street’ and when I finally made it over to this remote area of Cornwall, so indeed it was. Right up my muddy, single-vehicle-access Cornish lane, in any case.
Occupying Helzephron House (previously home to the Helzephron Herb Farm), this cafe/shop has the kind of pared down intuitive design that makes me think a Swede MUST have been involved at some stage. The shop has a small selection of products, some their own, others carefully chosen, for example gorse-scented candles, the Ghillie kettle, retro wooden bodyboards, earring studs made of softened seaglass, seaweed design aprons… I wanted to bring it all home. The coffee was great, the fish soup fragrant.
Whenever my sister comes to stay with her array of sharp camera lenses, I demand immediate possession of the memory stick so I can use the pictures on pasties & cream, hence an artier than usual selection – and several more photography-based posts on their way.
Oh and Barefoot is opening a surf school in coming months AND does pop-up restaurants in conjunction with Lime Tree. AND there are sea views, when the rain’s not slashing against the window.
The daffs might be out at Eden, but make no mistake – things have turned pretty dark in the west. As predicted, squally showers and raging seas this morning, here taken at Long Rock carpark, which has the advantage of allowing you to be ten metres from the sea while cranking the car heater up.
There’s been a bit of an atmosphere of ‘don’t mention the harbour’ ever since the potent and divisive controversy surrounding the proposed Option A development for Penzance Harbour.
The Council’s plan, known as Option A, was to seriously compromise an area of historic beauty and build a coach park in one of the most scenic parts of town – which they tried to push through at all costs without adequately consulting members of the local community. Thanks in part to protest but in reality mainly due to the recession, this pricey project was overturned.
The aim now, though, isn’t to rake up old bitterness (though if you want to read my feelings about it at the time, you can here) but rather to celebrate a promising new forum for development along the seafront, planning close consultation with local people. It goes by the name of the Penzance Seafront Forum, and it is organising its first public meeting for next Thursday, 17th November at 7.30pm in St John’s Hall. Spread the word.
If you can’t attend, but have thoughts to air, you are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org. http://penzanceseafront.com
Sorry for being a slack blogger lately – I’ve been on holiday. As in an actual holiday in a different country. Cornwall really is a comfortable hole isn’t it, and it’s hard to leave – not least because it takes a day just to get to your mode of transport.
In any case, what better tonic for the post-holiday blues than a stay at Salt House last night; at the moment, I’m writing some updates for the Time Out Guide to Devon & Cornwall and this haute-design B&B in Carbis Bay was high up my list of must-check-outs (feel I must add the obligatory travel writer’s aside: ‘hard job but someone’s got…’).
Sink all thoughts of nautical themes or fishermen’s cottage chic. This is real-deal modern luxury – a stunning, wood-clad cube of a building with omg views from each guest room’s private terrace over the full golden sweep of St Ives Bay through the monterey pines. I always try and use my own pictures on pasties & cream but it’s just so horribly dark and cold and grey this week that my iphone couldn’t handle it, hence the sparkly official photos, which do it greater justice.
In the white rooms it’s all about careful editing – an Alessi bottle opener here, an Orla Kiely mug there, glossy flat-screen telly, homemade coconut-flecked cookies. It’s the work of owners Alan and Sharon, both graphic designers.
There are only two rooms, so unsurprisingly they’re a hot booking.
www.salthousestives.co.uk; £170-£190 per night, including (amazing) breakfast, mine pictured below.
This is extraordinary. Apparently taken on the north coast. Gone off the idea of that cliff walk now?
Well, it might not be lovely in the strictest sense of the word but it’s as lovely as it’s going to get.
I walked past the poster for the annual Yacht Inn Swim this morning and thought I’d post the details. It takes place this evening – if you’re spectating then be sure to get there for the main race at 7.30pm, as the fastest swimmers reach Battery Rocks in 16 minutes.
If you’re participating, well, what can say? As you become achy of arm and leaden of leg about 100 metres in, take comfort in the fact that ‘wild swimming’ (er, otherwise known as ‘swimming‘) is totally on trend right now.
I took some pics and video last year, click here to take a look.
Seeing as it’s scorchio outside and I’m feeling more deckchairy than bloggy, I’m going to be brief and post some pictures of sunset from the Porthmeor Beach Cafe at the weekend – all in all, a pretty smug-making Read the rest of this entry »
Like any girl, I swoon at the sight of vintage crockery, bunting, wild flowers and cakes (in pretty much any combination), so imagine my excitement at this pop-up tea shop called Tea by the Sea, which pitched up in the old shipping container that is currently on Penzance prom as part of Cornwall Design Season.
Despite being the only seaside prom in Cornwall – with twinkling views – Penzance prom is quite a bare kind of place. Occasionally, and seemingly randomly, a few potted palms appear, but then they disappear as mysteriously as Read the rest of this entry »
The last time I went to St Michael’s Mount was circa 1986, which is a poor state of affairs when you actually live in the same bay. The trouble with living locally, I suppose, is that there is always tomorrow…
Most locals Read the rest of this entry »
For reasons that will become clear later in the week, I made a run for the border yesterday and embarked on a daytrip to Plymouth. Not everyone’s first choice on a grey Tuesday morning in January but, having only really ever been to the station (under the dubious care of First Great Western) and the punishingly grey main shopping street, I was actually very taken.
The city centre is still soul-saddeningly bleak but the seafront and the harbour area, looking out on the Plymouth Sound, is really rather striking. Of course, I am not the first Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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.
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.
Click through for more pics. Read the rest of this entry »
At the weekend, under heavy grey skies, I set off with friends from Feock for Tolverne Cottage on the eastern side of the Fal, via the King Harry Ferry (free for pedestrians). It’s a serene part of Cornwall – and you can cut through on a footpath through the woodland attached precariously to the banks.
On arrival at Smugglers’ Cottage, we found what was once one of Cornwall’s most eccentric teahouses looking considerably more dapper, having been taken over by Tregothnan of tea fame.
‘Oh,’ said one of our party, ‘It’s been Farrow and Balled’.
That pretty much summed up my unedited response to the new understated colour scheme and smart garden furniture. Gone was the endearing eccentricity of the place (though all the nautical curios that once hung from all available spaces will appear in a soon-to-open museum) and in their place was a National Trust look, silver trays and lots of beige.
I think I am probably taking out my frustrations about wider issues on this one, ultimately very pleasant spot – it’s hardly like Starbucks has just pitched up in the woods on the River Fal. There is nothing wrong, and plenty right, with tasteful aesthetics and high-quality cream teas but, like all forms of gentrification, in large quantities it starts to feel like it’s endangering the very character of a place – ie the bit people liked in the first place.
I feel that on some level this is what is happening with Cornwall. Where it was once a novelty to have a pricey cappuccino in chic surroundings by the beach, it now seems to be an essential part of the business plan of every beach, cove or garden – and I can’t help thinking that if I’d really wanted to be drip-fed lattes after every muddy walk, surf and wild view, I wouldn’t have moved to England’s most remote county!
On a similar note, 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.
I got totally carried away after a visit to St Ives’ new vintage-styled sweetshop Beau Bonbon at the weekend. Before I knew it, one aniseed ball had led to ten milk bottles, five fried eggs, a black jack and a trillion zingy cola bottles. All that before someone cracked open the edible necklaces…
At month-old Beau Bonbon, a nostalgically chic shop on the harbour with lovely antique dressers, coloured bunting and pink stripy paper bags, no sweet has been overlooked. There were sugar mice and parma violets, love hearts and flying saucers (oh yes), sherbet dips, black jacks, fruit salads, drumsticks, foam bananas, jelly babies, refreshers, fizz wiz, dolly mixture…
As you can see, Read the rest of this entry »