You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘west cornwall’ category.
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
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.
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.
Time to blog about my biggest Cornish crush in some time. There’s a newish Cornish clothes brand on the scene – not as out there yet as Cornish stars Finisterre and Seasalt, but it has been quietly growing over the past few years and collecting fans. EKO (Earth Kind Originals) is the work of Cornish maid Helen Davies, who moved back to St Just from London to start an eco-aware, coastally inspired clothes label.
Other than occasional desperate dashes to New Look’s Apricot range, the best of a truly shocking bunch on Penzance’s high street, I aspire to move away from cheapie cheap high-street crap. The prices can only belie a world of sweatshop darkness, the clothes don’t last, and the colours are never quite right.
My EKO Dusk till Dawn scarf, pictured above, has been welded to my neck since it arrived – it’s a tactile cotton-cashmere mix but the real sell is the ingenious string of buttons and buttonholes down the edges, which allows you to fasten it any way you like and however artlessly you do it, it seems to look great.
Other things I like: the models look like real people; the catalogue makes you want to Read the rest of this entry »
I went to these guys’ Christmas Mart at Chapel Street’s Trevelyan House and emerged happily with several ‘knitted freaks‘ (see second row above & pic below – they make the world a better place), silkscreen-printed wrapping paper and cards by Studio No.6, and a few fine slabs of brownie. They (that’s Heyday Presents) are holding a May Mart on Friday and Saturday in Penzance – see poster below for full detailage.
Since I was berating smugly photographed cookery books last week, I’ve been having a little email debate with my good friend and prolific blogger Emma Balch over at Doble M Design in Hay-on-Wye about the value of the “lifestyle cookbook”. She said she begs to differ and loves a good lifestyle cookbook with inspiring photography. And actually, when I came to think about it again, I often do too – as long as a) I believe the lifestyle in question is real (ie not when chef is standing in chinos and brogues pretending to have landed a huge fish) and/or b) I am interested in attaining the lifestyle in question.
Today’s lifestyle cookbook definitely falls into the latter category. It is roughly two parts lifestyle to one part recipes but I don’t seem to mind nearly as much because ultimately I am into the lifestyle it paints: living and eating outdoors on the British coast (with accompanying checked wool blanket and wild flowers).
The book is Martin Dorey’s Camper Van Coast. I am something of a canvas camping purist tbh, so even though I get the appeal of the VW porn, it isn’t the main lure for me – it’s all about the 100 recipes designed for cooking on a two-ring stove, something I intend to be doing again before long in my camp kitchen, y’know just as soon as the central heating goes off for the season.
I’m basically never happier than under canvas, fiddling about making tricky cups of tea on a Pocket Rocket stove and planning camp desserts such as bonfire-baked banana with dulce de leche. I am outraged to see that Martin Dorey has upstaged this dish by adding marshmallows and digestives and called it Rocky Road – these luxury-chasing campervanners, eh?
Out now, published by Saltyard Books, priced £16.99. www.martindorey.com
Chef Nathan Outlaw’s star continues in the ascendant with the imminent publication of his first cookery book entitled Nathan Outlaw’s British Seafood – it’s out in May but I got my mitts on a preview copy and can report that it’s a beautiful blue hard-back tome with full-colour, full-page pictures of every dish.
Refreshingly free from the lifestyle shots and smug backstory that have become part and parcel of the celebrity chef cookbook (do I need a full-size picture of your daughter/you on a boat with that turbot recipe? Without meaning to be harsh, no, I’m afraid I don’t), it focuses with precision on the food – how, when and where to source British seafood, and methods of preparation and cooking.
The recipes are divided pragmatically and usefully into fish type – flat white fish, round white fish, oily fish, smoked fish and shellfish – and are characterised by Outlaw’s trademark lightness of touch and clever simplicity. Tempting for summer are the cured brill with pistachio dressing, pink grapefruit and pickled chicory – his take on ceviche – the cured mackerel and gooseberry jam roll, and a mussel and saffron quiche with fennel and rocket salad.
The foreword by Rick Stein, who employed Outlaw in his younger cheffing days, pays tribute to the honesty and simplicity of his food, and the “utterly charming, self-effacing man who seems somewhat perplexed about the fact that he has two Michelin stars because he says it’s only simple cooking.”
Nathan really is Cornwall’s favourite adopted son.
Published 10 May by Quadrille, £25. www.nathan-outlaw.com
The Tinner’s Arms – trading in the simple pleasures in life since 1271.
Tinner’s Arms, Zennor, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 3BY. www.tinnersarms.com
A speed-blogpost to alert you all to the fact that comedic Trifle Gathering Productions – surely the hottest thing in Cornish theatre – are touring again, with west Cornwall dates imminent.
I freakin love these guys, especially Kyla who barely has to raise an eyebrow to get a belly laugh. They made a name for themselves in festivals around Cornwall with the surreal, mullet-haired Zodiac gymnasts (pictured below) and then in small venues and village halls with Charity Shop Cabaret.
The new show is called A CURIOUS EVENING OF TRANCE AND RAP WITH THE OGDEN SISTERS – and I’m afraid that’s all I know about it, so I’ll give you the blurb:
“Travelling back in time to a darkened room in 1892, Cornish production company, Trifle Gathering Productions presents A CURIOUS EVENING OF TRANCE AND RAP WITH THE OGDEN SISTERS. A new play written by Nick Whitby and Kyla Goodey, this all-encompassing trip into the world of Victorian mediums is to tour the UK from 17 March to 20 May.
Lettie Ogden has a gift. Born in 1867, the youngest of four girls, Lettie begins to experience Œraps‚ from the other side following the tragic deaths of her father and her twin sister Vivienne. Desperate to escape the brutal upbringing inflicted on them by the hated housekeeper Mrs Skunt, her two older sisters Adeline and Constant take it upon themselves to take their show on the road and to share Lettie’s gift with anyone who will listen.”
So that clears up the narrative, right?
Slightly clearer are the dates:
Tonight! Wednesday 4th April; Princess Pavilions Falmouth 7.30pm; 01326 211222
Thursday 5th April; The Acorn Penzance 8pm; 01726 879500
Friday 6th April; Devoran Village Hall 7.30pm; 01872 864854
Saturday 7th April; The Burrell Theatre Truro 7.30pm; 01726 879500
More details at www.triflegatheringproductions.co.uk.
Despite being a fisherman’s daughter – there again, maybe because of that – my fish filleting skills are often a pitiful sight involving gut-spattered youtube videos and too much fresh Newlyn fish flesh in the bin. Still, the situation has improved recently – mainly thanks to a commission to write an article for coast magazine about a course at the Rick Stein Cookery School in Padstow, combined with use of Mitch Tonks’ ingenious iPhone fish app.
I attended the classic one-day Seafood Cookery course and it was the business – a highly intensive course introducing beginners/improvers to all elements of seafood preparation and cooking.
The snag is that it is pricey (£175 for the day), which might explain why there was only one other Cornish resident on my course. But should you chose to splash out, that does include about five lunches and wine throughout the afternoon, and access to the minds and tips of some of Britain’s finest dedicated seafood chefs for a whole day. And obviously – this being Stein – Read the rest of this entry »
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.
I have a great appetite for old photos of Cornwall – particularly of parts I know and love. Charming as they undoubtedly are, we’ve all seen the classic black and white photos of Penzance in the Frith series around and about, so it’s exciting that Penlee House has recently acquired a collection of long-buried pictures of Penzance and Newlyn.
A choice selection from the archive is currently on display at Penlee House Gallery and this week is the last chance to see it. I just loved the ladies Read the rest of this entry »
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’.
Enjoying the announcement of a micro-festival at Barefoot (the place I was rave-blogging about the other day) over the Easter weekend to celebrate the launch of their surf school and record label – uh-huh, a record label on our very own Lizard Peninsula. It’s £30 for a day ticket (£45 for the weekend) but I see BF have managed to lure some interesting folky/acoustic names to the deep south, plus it is being opened by none other than Michael Eavis (if ever there was a good festival omen…).
I’ve been checking out the artists, and here are the ones that caught my eye. The beard count is reassuringly high.
Matthew P (summery acoustic…)
Harry Fricker (guitar-as-drum)
On a good week, I get paid to criticise restaurants so it’s rare for me to find nothing to fault in a place. That unnerving occurrence did, however, come about last Saturday at Hugh F-W’s new River Cottage Canteen in Royal William Yard in Plymouth. The enclave of bold, forbidding waterside former naval buildings – once a symbol of British military might – has been made into a subtly chic (it’s Grade I listed) ensemble of apartments, boutique bakeries and restaurants facing Mount Edgcumbe over the Tamar in Cornwall. Frankly, it was all a blessed relief after the relentless bleakness of Plymouth city centre in the sheeting rain – it really takes no prisoners.
Service was quick and bend-over-backwards-forwards-any-way-you-like friendly, decor upcycled chic and food just as you might expect from the man of Fish Fight and farm life fame – wholesome but not boring. Splitting hairs, there is the small matter of the smug gilets-and-spotty-Cath-Kidston-bag brigade to be coped with but I can handle that just fine as long as it’s served with a perfectly cooked piece of pollack on a bed of subtly spiced lentils for a tenner (pictured below).
River Cottage Canteen & Deli Plymouth, Royal William Yard, Plymouth PL1 3QQ. http://www.rivercottage.net/canteens/plymouth/
Click through for pics of the food.. Read the rest of this entry »
I got a little overexcited in Falmouth’s new ‘artisan coffee‘ café Espressini on Saturday. The coffee menu covers an entire six-foot-long blackboard and there are three types of sugar (including one with dried rose petals in, another with chilli).
The styling is also very neat. Your coffee is served in retro turquoise cups and saucers, there’s a centrepiece La Marzocco coffee machine, and piles of mags and papers – all nicely accessorised by the addition of artily dressed Falmouth students. Owner Rupert said he looked at some properties in Penzance but Falmouth won out… Ouch, that was hard to hear (what I wouldn’t give for a good hangout coffee shop in PZ) but it does at least now provide further motivation, should ever it be needed, to make the pilgrimage to Trago.
39 Killigrew Street, TR11 3PW, Falmouth, Cornwall. A website is on its way but in the meanwhile, there’s a FB page for interested parties: http://www.facebook.com/Espressini
Now Kernow is some way from the city (no, not that one, I mean the city). And every time I get that donkey of a FGW train, it feels ever so slightly further. But for one day a year, on St Piran’s Day fittingly, Cornwall gets its moment of fame in London for the ‘Kernow in the City‘ event, showcasing Cornish artists, music and film.
There are to be real Cornish pasties and ale, live shows from the Crowns and the Loose Salute, Cornish language workshops, visual arts, plus singer-songwriter Ruarri Joseph, who I’ve never seen live, though I am fond of the sweet chorus I have posted above. Touch of the David Gray? That’s alright, that’s alright…
Sat 10 March 7pm, £10 adv / £12 door. Rich Mix. More info on Kernow in the City here.
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
Have a crush on this ‘Sicily Top’ from Seasalt’s just-out Artists & Potters collection. No surprise there really – lime green and stripes combined are basically a short cut to my heart.
Seasalt hardly needs an introduction round here. It is one of Cornwall’s great success stories – it was the small, extremely friendly (never a sighing shop assistant in its boutiques) organic clothing company that could. From its beginnings in Penzance, it has just launched its first range in John Lewis on Oxford Street, can you believe?
More pics from the collection: Read the rest of this entry »
The caffeine-free hot drink is a problem to which there seems – or seemed – to be no solution. Every time I’m at the herbal tea aisle of Archie Browns, I appear to suffer some sort of repetitive amnesia: they promise so much – smell irresistible, have pretty packaging – and deliver so little. But it turns out I just wasn’t spending enough money!
A sachet of Tregothnan Manuka Blossom Leaf Tisane, picked on the banks of the River Fal, landed on my desk this week and it has none of the processed flavours of your Twinings Raspberry & Catpee fare but rather offers the complex, earthy taste of the leaf and bark, with – and this is the limited edition bit – the delicate white blossom of the manuka bush. And Tregothnan, Cornwall, has the only manuka plantation in the UK, which – for your £7 per 25g caddy – is also kind of cool.
More pics here: Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Here’s a pictorial taster for an article I have out in Coast magazine this month (Feb issue) about the excellent new Newlyn School of Art, the brainchild of local artist Henry Garfit.
I attended the Landscape Painting course with local artist Mark Spray back in September and it was a most eye-opening, exhilarating experience. Beginners, have no fear – Mark’s unorthodox style, which includes the use of earth, paintbrushes strapped on to sticks and speed drawing, had even the experienced painters in my group flummoxed. Having not picked up a paintbrush since GCSE art, at least I was expecting it to be hard.
The school occupies a converted granite school at the top of Paul hill (the Board School) in Newlyn, paces away from the original, famed Forbes-led Newlyn School of painters in the late 19th and early 20th century. Other tempting courses include print-making, stone carving and Cornish gardens.
It is no mean feat to open a not-for-profit arts institution (with some Arts Council funding) in grim times such as these, so congrats. With our local arty institutions looking poorly – Acorn open but website looking unwell, Penzance Arts Club closed, Golowan funding cut – it’s brilliant to find something as fresh and new as this.
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.
I nearly died of surprise when I got to the cinema last night to find the Penwith Film Society‘s screening of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ had sold out, and a cluster of people waiting for some unlikely tickets to become available. It’s not often the Saveloy sells out.
Other than the brilliant Penwith Film Society’s weekly screenings, there’s an awful lot of mainstream fare, so the second cinema-related surprise of the week is that there’s also a one-off screening of a locally shot art-house film taking place on Thursday evening.
Local film director Mark Jenkin’s second feature-length film, Happy Christmas, is the film in question – ‘an interwoven seaside hymn to gift-wrapped promises and unwanted presence’. It is filmed in Penzance and around West Cornwall – I am hoping from the photo stills to see some gritty after-dark shots of the prom. Drinkies & nibbles in the bar upstairs afterwards.
Book in advance. www.merlincinemas.net
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.