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Hercules Storm Sennen

Hercules Storm Sennen

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.”

mikenewmanphotography.co.uk; Mike also ‘raves and rants’ about Penzance life at http://ocean-image.blogspot.co.uk.

finisterre sale

I love Finisterre cold-weather clothes and lap up discounts on their high-end gear. This promising-looking workshop sale takes place Saturday at Finisterre’s HQ at Wheal Kitty in St Agnes. Test your gear in the (probably) lashing rain at Trevaunance Cove afterwards. Or better still hang it up and go for a Wheal Kitty pizza at the Cornish Pizza Company – I haven’t tried them out yet but it all sounds perfectly tasty and thin-crust.

www.finisterreuk.com

Out of season weekend sunshine. Sweet (Cornish) dreams are made of this.

PS Anyone know what that structure is on the headland? Never noticed it before.

hardys exotics, cornwall

It’s an exotic life we live in west Cornwall, isn’t it? If you look around at people’s gardens, you’d think it were the Canaries – no Penwith garden or yard is complete without a few succulents making themselves at home, a banana tree, or at the very least a palm.

The reality of the Cornish climate is a more mizzly and damp affair – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But what’s crucial plant-wise is our lack of frost and the year-round mild temperatures, which allow people to grow all sorts of exotic plants with great success. I’m determined to be one of them.

With that in mind I went over to the Hardy Exotics Nursery on the A30 at the weekend, and left quite overwhelmed with inspiration. I could have spent hundreds of pounds buying into the dream of creating a mini Eden in my diminutive Penzance yard, but my affections settled in the Echeveria section. These permanently flower-like succulents are impossible to resist with their pale pinky, green shades, and intricate patterns. I bought two (£6.50 each – the two pots pictured below) and left thrilled.

It’s the owners, though, that really make the experience – both are wonderfully generous and enthusiastic with their advice in a gentle, totally non-pushy way. They also responded well to my request for plants that are ‘very difficult to kill’.

Hardy Exotics Nursery, Gilly Lane, Whitecross, Penzance, Cornwall, TR20 8BZ. www.hardyexotics.co.uk 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 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.

Newlyn Harbour like a pane of glass this morning, and a very large pile of seaweed dumped on Wherrytown Beach by the considerable ‘weather’ that rolled in last week…

I think few would deny Cornwall this honourable title, such is the quality of the mizzle the county produces. Many people make the mistake of classifying it as rain, but this is incorrect. It’s a refreshingly mild offspring of rain and mist – I barely notice it.

I took these pictures of the first mizzle of winter up on Ding Dong Moor at the weekend. I think you’ll agree there’s nothing for it at this time of year but to embrace it.

botallack picture sam carnell

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.

I know everyone else in the country (even the county) has been knee-deep in the stuff for days but when it snows in Penzance, it’s a big deal.

If we get a dusting, there are squeals of delight (from adults), so waking up to a full inch today – the sort of depth where you start to get that satisfying creaking under foot – has everyone out with their cameras on the prom. Including me.

Everything has ground to a halt, naturally. And since it’s snowing, we’re all listening to Radio Dreckly… ‘ere, 18 inches of the stuff out Land’s End way so I hear. Would love to see some pictures of Sennen, anyone?

snow penzance cornwall morrab gardensnow penzance cornwall promsnow penzance cornwall morrab garden

winter penwith moors cornwall

When weighing up the move to Cornwall a few years ago, I was quite preoccupied with the idea of getting through the winters. In my first week in Penzance, at the start of winter, I noted with deep concern that every light on the street was out by 10pm, and thought my worst fears had been realised. No signs of life!

But it’s funny how wrong you can be because I love winter down here. There are the obvious bonuses like being able to find a parking space, quiet roads and empty beaches, but also the Penwith landscape wears the dark tones of foul weather well.

Here are a few late afternoon shots taken from a beacon near Sancreed (randomly chosen from the OS map – coordinates on a postcard plse!) shortly before the sleet started, at which point we repaired to the Sportsman’s Arms in Heamoor for pints of Trade Winds.

winter penwith cornwallwinter penwith

Blimey, last night was wild. I went down to the promenade for some wave watching early evening and here’s what I saw.

(Overheard in Coop: the Scillonian came in “virtually on its side”. Doesn’t bear thinking about.)

Check out these daredevils:

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 »

mount's bay

cornish palm morrab gardens penzance
…Winter is over!

OK, I know there are lows of 1º C forecast for Sunday night but it’s the deep blue sky and daffodils that count. Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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