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Cafes don’t get a whole lot smaller than Genki in St Agnes, which is to all intents and purposes a painted hut with a few cosily packed tables, occupied on my visit by Finisterre-clad surfers. But this particular little beach hut has a few other strings to its bow: a sweet Zen-style cafe garden inspired by the owners’ time in Japan, free wifi, and a serious smoothie menu.

Smoothies are often the most expensively disappointing thing on cafe menus in this country – insubstantial and never cold enough. But something told me to try my luck on the Mavericks Mocha Smoothie (£3.50), which contains banana, cocoa, peanut butter and espresso. It was stupendous – thick, ice-cold, filling, sweet not sickly. Crap cafes of Cornwall, take note.

Quay Road, St Agnes, 01872 555 858. Follow Genki on twitter here.

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magic chocolate, st ives

It was designer-illustrator Emily Fishpool over in St Ives who first handed me a tiny piece of a ‘raw chocolate bar’ at a barbecue. Tiny not because she’s an ungenerous sort but rather because you only really need a small amount – it’s pretty punchy stuff, and I’ve been popping away the little bars ever since, plucked from the fridge at the back of Archie Browns.

Being a stiff believer in full-fat, non-light, food-for-taste food, I initially approached the concept of ‘healthy’ chocolate with characteristic cynicism. But I have to say it is an incredibly moreish thing… and I know that because I just chain-ate all the chocolates in the picture above, one after another.

These little pieces of chocolate art are the work of a new Cornish raw chocolate company I’ve just discovered called Magic Chocolate. They are cutely hand-moulded and come in flavours such as lemon, strawberry & peppercorn, peppermint and chocolate orange.

Being naturally sweetened and free from dairy, they fill a quite different chocolate ‘need’ to your textbook 3pm sugar-low Cadbury’s binge that leads you blindly and ill-advisedly to the corner shop. It’s still satisfying but not overly sweet and it’s more, well, raw. See what you think.

http://magicchocolate.co.uk/ 

You can also buy Magic Chocolate bars from Halzephron in Truro and the Muju Studio and Gallery in the Sloop Craft Market, St Ives (www.mujuworld.com). £6.50 for nine chocolates.

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 »

Bored of driftwood trinkets, Farrow & Ball shades and painted seagulls? Get a load of this luxury B&B in Fowey, which keeps its tongue firmly in cheek at all times. At Upton House, each of the four rooms are bonkersly different, featuring things like pink flamingos, block-printed skull wallpaper (see banner pic – a brilliantly subversive take on townhouse chic) and white rabbits.

I stayed there for the new Time Out Devon & Cornwall Guide the other week and it was such an uplifting jaunt – great to see a hotel nail all the key things (supreme comfort, great service, location – 5 stars from Visit Britain) without taking life too seriously. Breakfast? Heart-shaped waffles from the pink toaster of course.

So, hats off to interior design Angelique Thompson for pulling off something so fabulously nutty in a small seaside town – Cornwall could do with more of you. She has also opened a design boutique next door, soon also to feature a 1940s inspired collection of dresses (from LA) and original 1940s/50s hats and gloves.

Keep an eye on the Upton House website for the soon-to-launch twisted tea parties – think clotted cream meets wild hibiscus champagne in a teacup.

Upton House, 2 Esplanade, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23 1HY. www.upton-house.com

What with Christmas coming, I thought this would be a good time to share the news that the TeddyPasty has landed online – it has its own spot on Etsy. Handmade in St Ives by Emily Fishpool, he has good crimpage, comes in his own brown paper bag, and looks highly cuddly… for a pasty. Costs £10.

TeddyPasty is online at http://teddypasty.tumblr.com and he even tweets: http://twitter.com/teddypasty

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.

www.jonathanfuller.co.uk; his work is showing at Trelowarren’s Christmas craft fair Shine, 9th-11th Dec, info at www.cornwallcrafts.co.uk. Prices from £250.

venton vean penzance cornwall

It’s always a pleasure when I get an email from a pasties & cream reader, even if it’s just to complain about my lack of captioning (full-time job alert). But it’s particularly nice when I get an email about something as eye-opening as this beautiful new boutique b&b in Penzance – opened this week.

The modern-classic chairs, blue accents, amazing garden, period detailing, rainforest showers… you don’t find all of that for under £100 a room very often. I know this because I drove round the whole of Cornwall a few years ago seeking out special places to stay for the Time Out Guide to Devon & Cornwall – and gems are few in this price bracket.

It is also on one of my favourite streets, leafy Trewithen Road, next to Penlee Park. Best of luck, Venton Vean – if your website is anything to go by, you’re going to storm it. Oh and can you open a little tea shop in your garden too, please? That would be most handy.

www.ventonvean.co.uk

Get an eyeful of this!

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Anyone who went to Cornwall Design Fair at Trereife House at the weekend will know what I mean when I say that the wallet-emptying perils of this event are grave. It was my first time at the fair, and the jewellery temptation levels – always my weak spot – were vertiginously high. Short of time this week, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking – but for once I’m going to treat you to captions ;)

PS My only gripe was the £6 per person admission fee (not allowing you to come back the next day without paying more again). This did include entry to the wonderful house but on the whole I’m not so keen on paying to go shopping. Don’t mind me, though, I’m just a grumpy old woman!

georgia stoneman; ever-gorgeous jewellery taking on organic forms (www.georgiastoneman.co.uk); these rings are beautiful stacked together

little fruit earrings by irreverent foundlings jewellery (www.foundlingsjewellery.co.uk), also responsible for surreal baby necklace above, which by rights shouldn't work but does!

the scene at trereife, with outsized pebble seat sculptures by ben barrel (www.benbarrell.co.uk); also pictured above. saving up...

love, love, love this girl's blue and white ceramics and salt servers - bugger, lost her card. she of the blueberry-scented pen, please tell me your name so i can link to you!

satisfying, strokeable felt pebbles

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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 »

lunar eclipse penzance

They were sounding so chirpy on Radio Cornwall about the lunar eclipse this morning – the first total lunar eclipse to take place on the winter solstice since 1638 – that I felt spurred to get out of bed and try and catch it. It was cold and I couldn’t see no bleddy moon but it was an incredible sunrise all the same. Anyone else have any lunar joy?

Today is of course the shortest day of the year and in Penzance that means everyone goes a bit pagan and marches up to the beacon with lanterns to stand around a large bonfire and sing. Montol as a festival was revived here four years ago – it’s devoid of bells and whistles (burger vans, candyfloss etc), but I think that’s the idea. Procession starts from St John’s Hall at 5.45pm this evening.

More deets at http://www.montol.co.uk/

lunar eclipse penzance cornwall

vintage storeroom cornwall vintage storeroom cornwall

I made it through the sheets of rain to the opening of a rather charming new studio-cum-shop up some old granite steps off the front in St Ives called the Vintage Storeroom, brainchild of freelance knitwear designer Rosie Savidge.

It’s a pot pourri of vintage pieces, illustrated cards, textile designs (lavender mice, above, and soon to include the pasty teddy – the prototype by Emily Fishpool looked like a proper job), and also – in a random but useful twist – a selection of Asian and Italian specialist foodstuffs like fish sauce, coconut milk, and good spaghetti.

Follow their progress at http://twitter.com/#!/thevintagesroom

www.thevintagestoreroom.co.uk

vintage storeroom cornwall

vintage storeroom cornwall vintage storeroom cornwall vintage storeroom cornwall vintage storeroom cornwall

One of the more trying aspects of my job is having to go and sample the occasional spa for an article. And so it was that I had to accomplish this rare and terrible task the other weekend: a 90-minute ™Relax into Radiance treatment, care of Spiezia in Trelowarren‘s new spa.

But actually I was almost as excited about taking my first dip in their heated outdoor pool under the November sky. The temperature of the water was roughly 25ºC, which I thought was very fair under the wintery circs.

As my friends and family will know, I have developed a slightly strange obsession with the temperature of swimming pools around Cornwall lately, so I can actually tell you where this places it against other pools in west Cornwall… should anyone wish to know. No? Ok, so moving on.

Spa or no spa, Trelowarren was already pretty much one of my favourite places on earth – a peaceful and incredibly romantic woodland estate reaching all the way to the still banks of the Helford River.

I have been going there since I was a child so just in case I am no longer capable of objectivity, I call upon Daphne du Maurier for description: ‘a shock of surprise and delight, lying indeed like a jewel in the hollow of the hand’. She used to hang on the estate quite a bit and found inspiration here for her pulse-quickening novel Frenchman’s Creek.

Anyway, so Trelowarren has teamed up with luxury organic skincare company Spiezia to open the Walled Garden, a rather lovely new treatment room in one of the estate’s original walled gardens. (Full account in December’s Cornwall Today…).

Trelowarren, Helston, Cornwall TR12 6AF. T 01326 221224. www.trelowarren.com


I’ve got a bit of a thing at the moment for monterey pines (see also banner pic!), so here is a quick vid of the fireworks on Friday going off behind the silhouette of a monterey pine in Penlee Park (aka the cheap seats).

I can but apologise in advance to male readers for the amount of pink in this post. I discovered Atlantic Blanket‘s Padstow shop recently and must have spent about half an hour in there stroking the cashmere throws and merino hand-knitted hot water bottles. The owners of this newish Cornish company (with an online shop) hand-pick their stock from knitters and weavers far and wide – and collection is clearly amassed with great care.

Having become strangely obsessed with llama wool in Argentina (only to get home and have the whole lot decimated in the washing machine EVEN THOUGH IT WAS ON A COLD WOOL CYCLE), I was a bit disappointed not to see any of it on the wool menu at Atlantic Blanket. But no matter – there is mohair, alpaca, cashmere, lambswool, merino, as well as more practical fleecy throws for picnics. Check this Celtic Fringe blanket from Scotland… £250…sigh.

And here comes the pink…

tregothnan tolcarnetregothnantregothnantregothnan

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 »

scarlet wines cornwall

I think Scarlet Wines & tapas bar in Lelant might just be my new favourite place in west Cornwall. I had suspected it might indeed be rather cool when I stopped by Beaten Green next door the other day, but after attending their South American wine & food tasting on Tuesday night, I am now officially 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 »

Here’s some shaky footage from my phone of Flora Day children’s dance in Helston on Saturday – a scene of great purity, as always, before the Spingo takes its toll.

Can you spot newly reelected Lib Dem Andrew George in Hal-an-tow regalia in this vid?

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 »

Check out pasties and cream’s new design*sponge guide to Cornwall, out this week.

For those of you not familiar with the site, design*sponge – written by Grace Bonney and her team of design detectives – feeds readers with a constant supply of art-craft-design ideas, images and general loveliness from across the pond. It’s addictive stuff.

OK, it’s not my car. The shiny new racing-blue Morgan +4 convertible in question belongs to the Morgan Garage in Perranwell.

In fact, worse than that, it’s not even my rental car – it’s my Dad’s. But that didn’t stop me from immersing myself fully in the classic car dream for fifteen minutes as we spun from Penzance, past Newlyn harbour, and over to Mousehole along the coastal road – before he headed further west to Sennen, Zennor and St Ives.

I’m hardly what you could call a car geek but, with the breeze in my hair, blue skies above, Mount’s Bay glistening in the foreground – and the walnut dashboard, cream leather seats and long, shiny bonnet reaching out in front – it was all too much.

Back at my desk, and suddenly intrigued by the concept of owning such a vehicle, I had a quick fantasy google: ‘prices from £29,369 to £34,902’. Ah. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been looking for a reason to air my pictures of a particularly quirky weekend last ‘summer’ that I spent in a classic 1950s caravan on an iron age fort on the Lizard. And I think I’ve found one: Lovelane Caravans, the hosts in question, are imminently opening (post-Easter) their own little Love Lane Campsite in a field over at Roskilly’s, near St Keverne on the Lizard.

Lovelane lady Anna, an ex lingerie designer, Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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