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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.”
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
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.
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.”
Click here to see my video of the 2010 swim.
If you live in these parts, and are into such things, you will probably have heard about a little seafood restaurant down an alleyway in Falmouth called the Wheelhouse. Despite actively shunning publicity, it is booked for months in advance and seems to get choice mentions regularly in the media as a den of great awesomeness. Last week, finally, a table had my name on it*.
When restaurants become this desirable, a whiff of pretension can creep in – a subtle revelling in the lack of available tables, or complacent service, contributing to a feeling that we should be so lucky. But despite my tentacles being out, I found the mellow, candlelit scene to be a down-to-earth pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, the Wheelhouse is certainly confident – waitresses take a seat and chat assuredly about the merits of spider crab, the size of mussels and seasonality – but thankfully it is still eager to please.
So, you might ask, what’s the biggie? Well, the story is this: Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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.
I agree with the majority that Cornwall is a very creative place – partly by nature, also by necessity. But sometimes I find the same old coastally-inspired art and ceramics pop up time and time again in galleries, and I kind of crave something new and different.
Well, check out Falmouth-based Jonathan Fuller’s sea-glass sculpture for something fresh on the eye, as featured in coast magazine this month (he’s married to the head of design at organic Cornish clothing company, seasalt, so they are the perfect Coast couple).
I really love the washed-out pastel colours and the clean lines and shapes of Jonny’s artwork, and I feel quite inspired to start collecting and categorising glass in satisfyingly colour-coded jars. I wonder if, as in my childhood, finding a piece of soft blue glass is still the top trump.
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 email@example.com. http://penzanceseafront.com
This is extraordinary. Apparently taken on the north coast. Gone off the idea of that cliff walk now?
The Cornish sardines stacked on counters in Newlyn fish shops at the moment are a spectacular bargain: five for £1. Fresh, meaty, good for you, supplies not about to expire. Pan-fried, slice of lemon, sprig of parsley – delicious.
That is all.
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.
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 »
I have to admit my other incentive to go fish-shopping in Newlyn, beyond an attempt to be worthy, was to use my sparkling new fish app by seafood supremo Mitch Tonks – the world’s first comprehensive fish and seafood cookery app.
At £2.99, this is the most expensive app I’ve bought (ahem, actually it’s the only one I’ve ever paid for, so you could say I’m more of a Fat Booth Lite kind of girl) but for your money you get a slick app, giving you vital fishy stats, yield, fat content, seasonality, tons of crystal-clear how-to videos on scary things like filleting, descaling etc, and access to a growing bank of Tonks recipes.
I interviewed Mitch Tonks last week 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.
Gourmet salt is in – it’s official. And at the forefront of this trend is Cornish Sea Salt, which everyone seems to be obsessing about. Stein, Hugh FW and Gordo all use it; it’s on every restaurant table in Cornwall; and I interviewed a chocolatier in St Ives the other week who said she simply cannot make enough Cornish Sea Salted chocolate to meet demand!
There is part of me that wants to mutter ‘it’s just salt, for chrissakes’, but I have to say, after a thorough and thirsty investigation, that it really is very good salt (& it is certainly reassuringly expensive).
Anyway that much is old news. What’s new is that Cornish Sea Salt have now brought out a range of aromatic ‘pinch pots’ in flavours such as chilli, caramelised onion, roasted garlic and… APPLE AND CHERRY WOOD-SMOKED. I just took the lid off and it smells so good I’ve actually been sticking my nose in there every five minutes since 9am. It smells like a cross between smoked cheese and the embers of a big beach bonfire.
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:
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 »
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.
Last night I watched The Wrecking Season on BBC4, a wonderful self-portrait of the late Cornish playwright Nick Darke, shot not long before his untimely death. I just found out that you can’t watch this back on the iPlayer, but I was so taken by it, I’m going to post about it anyway.
Bound together by Darke’s gently passionate character, and his inquisitiveness about the great theatre of the ocean, the docu-film explores the tradition of beachcombing (or wrecking) and his fascination with long-haul drift. Incredibly, Read the rest of this entry »
Just stumbled across Mildred the surfing sheep – the star of Cornish outdoor/surf apparel company Finisterre‘s new advertising campaign. In the same, surprisingly popular video genre of surfing animals, a Peruvian surfer brought us Pisco the surfing alpaca not long ago.
Finisterre has a nice-looking merino base layer range btw. Merino base layers have become a bit of an obsession of mine since I discovered their many merits (feel like a t-shirt, act like a jumper!) on a trip to the Arctic Circle last year.