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The first an auction at the PZ Gallery with prosecco and canapés, and art by Rose Hilton, Jessica Cooper, Sam Bassett and others…
The second, with another covetable poster designed by Pirrip Press, takes place the gardens of the comprehensively gorgeous B&B Venton Vean (which temporarily fulfils a wish I expressed 3 years ago on this blog: for them to open a tea garden!).
With Penzance town centre perennially under attack from the faceless threats of supermarkets, parking charges and high business rates, it’s a joy to watch how Chapel Street is turning into a real little vintage and design enclave.
It is an atmospheric street at the worst of times but now it has the likes of Lost & Found cafe (my new cafe favourite with vintage shop attached), one-week-old No.56 (a touch of London’s Labour & Wait plus hand-crocheted cushions), newly relocated Daisy Laing – as well as oldies like Newlyn Books, Fishboy, Steckfensters and the cigar shop – it can genuinely call itself a shopping ‘enclave’.
I also like the way the businesses – all independents – are coming up with shopping extras. See above a poster for a vintage fair at Lost & Found next weekend. Also hark that shops on Chapel Street are opening late on Thursdsays up till Christmas (until 7pm! And yes, if you are reading from afar, that is most definitely ‘late’ & very useful for Cornwall).
I’ve never made it to Cornwall Film Festival, despite good intentions, as it’s been mainly based up the line in Newquay or Truro. Well, this year, a mini film festival in Redruth is in the offing for next week. (In case you didn’t know, Redruth has a surprisingly cool art deco cinema, which I blogged about a little while back here).
This is happening tomorrow and describes itself as ‘not your usual craft fair’. You have my attention!
I’ve taken the King Harry Ferry twice in the last month – so I decided to post a short clip of this meditative little journey across the Carrick Roads.
I can never resist a ride on this chain ferry (can you hear the clicks?) rather than drive the long way round to the Roseland, even if I am £8 poorer per 10-minute return trip as a result. It isn’t really acceptable pricing as a functional part of Cornwall’s transport system, is it? But I’ll leave that rant aside for now as it’s just so beautiful, and is a particularly calm and woody treat for a West Pewithian, where trees and calm water are both somewhat rare.
King Harry Ferry, £8 return day trip. More details & timetables here.
… and I shit on it!
After listening to me rant on last weekend about Cornwall Council’s parking charges – the stranglehold they have on towns and on local residents’ ability to make an impromptu trip to their local beach – a visiting friend took this picture for me in Marazion. August in Cornwall seems to bring out the rant in me: next up, when I can bear to, the monster Sainsbury’s currently rising from the heliport.
Up-and-coming English folkies the Staves are playing a rather special gig on Sunday in Cornwall – by the sea, presumably alfresco, at the Hidden Hut on the Roseland (enjoying much foodie cachet en ce moment; Stein even recommended it last week in the Times). Seems like a pretty inspired collaboration to me – and one of their hits is even called ‘Facing West’.
As luck would have it, Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
For a couple of years I think I didn’t quite get Golowan. I was busy trying to find out what was happening where, searching the scant printed information for details – it all seemed too scattergun to get a handle on. Now of course I realise that this is absolutely the point of it, and its beauty.
It’s about the chaos and the wandering, the random discoveries, with mini stages and micro events on every street – some planned, some not. As Old Mike rightly said in his column in The Cornishman last week, Golowan is not supposed to be anything as divisive or elite as an ‘arts festival’; it’s a community festival and it represents Penzance perfectly in all its fruity glory.
This guy, who was kicking up dust on Greenmarket at a mere 10.30am, was a particular highlight – anyone catch his name?
A good Golowan is being had by all this week, with Mazey Day as giddy and chaotic as ever yesterday. Here’s the beginning of the morning parade for those who missed Mazey or who enjoyed it so much they already want to relive it. Quay Fair Day is cranking into action today on the prom – check website below for events.
For such a quirky, low-key film – especially one that was released almost ten years ago – Sideways had a curiously long-lasting effect on me. Snippets seem to enter my consciousness at relatively frequent intervals. The bit where he drinks his most treasured wine out of a paper coffee cup in a life-defining ‘fuck it’ moment. The romance of the road trip. The search for amazing wine. And the tragi-comic intricacies of the protagonist’s mid-life crisis, but there I digress…
My latest little Sideways moment came at Read the rest of this entry »
My favourite artist in Cornwall is St Just-based Jessica Cooper, whose simple lines and pared-down still lifes are confidently, deceptively simple. I have been coveting a piece for about five years, and wish I had struck then, as Jessica’s star has since ascended, deservedly, into the Cornish A-list. Meanwhile, my budget has stayed decidedly D-list.
Anyway, looking costs nothing, and fortunately Read the rest of this entry »
Exciting news has reached pasties & cream of plans to create a state-of-the-art, two-screen digital cinema and cultural space in Newlyn, in the old Turner’s fish house (pictured above). Up your street? Get thee along to the open day on Thursday to look at the plans & show your support.
With the local elections last week having taken the area’s pulse and found it somewhat faint, this is a well-timed reason to be cheerful. If planning goes smoothly, says owner Suzie Sinclair, it could be up and running by early next year.
My favourite line of the press release is the bit where it promises ‘comfy seats’ and luxurious surrounds. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Savoy Cinema in its own quirky, insufficiently heated way but the seats could never be called comfy.
Open day 2–5pm for general public – all visitors welcome. St Peter’s Church Hall, The Coombe, Newlyn.
Today I’m sending out the stirring, sincere sounds of James Findlay, who was the starring guest at Penzance Folk Club last night upstairs at the Benbow.
It’s been a couple of years since Findlay won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award but the early twentysomething must still have felt pretty fresh-faced when looking out over PZ folk club’s mature crowd. I am a big fan of traditional folk music – indeed the name of this blog is a tribute to mighty Cornish folkie Brenda Wootton – and it was a treat to have this rising star in our midst. I live in hope of a revival of a 1960s Count House-style folk music scene in West Cornwall… anyone fancy kicking things off?
Click through for another vid from last night… Read the rest of this entry »
Some smooth, Friday afternoon tones for you from rising folky Kezia, Cornwall’s answer to Ellie Goulding (she is going to get sick of that one but it has to be said). She’s playing at the ridiculously nice new Lime Tree Cafe at Tremenheere Sculpture Garden tomorrow evening – free entry.
Check out how moody and cool the Jubilee Pool is looking in its close-up in The xx new video Chained, from the album Coexist, out now. Very taken with Penzance’s handsome lido, they were apparently. The underwater shots were filmed subsequently in a water tank. Ha! Don’t blame them – tis chilly in there.
Cornish outdoor clothing brand Finisterre has opened a shop! It’s aptly located on a wind-battered Cornish headland, next to their Wheal Kitty workshops and HQ of Surfers Against Sewage. Anyway, I just bought the most expensive hat of my life there – the merino Cable Beanie pictured above. Fortunately, after the initial layout, it has turned out to be the sort of hat that manages to turbo-heat your whole body. Pure wool yet zero itch, and ample ear coverage. Good sale rail at the shop too, by the way.
Cable Beanie, Finisterre, £30. www.finisterreuk.com
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.
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.
Cornwall cried when the beautiful Pandora Inn on the banks of Restronguet Creek was destroyed by fire last year, and cheered when it rose again a year later. The age-old pub looks only a little different for its ordeal I discovered and the pontoon is still an eye-wateringly gorgeous place for a pint on a sunny evening.
(It also has a golden letterbox! thanks of course to a certain Mr Ainslie.)
Ooo, there’s a new bar opened next to Untitled called the Cellar Door – seems to be going for the Hispanic arty dive bar vibe. It’s a curious, pared down place with exposed brick, £3 house red served in beaker glasses, chalked up pinchos (£2 each) – even Orishas and Jarabe de Palo on the stereo. No credit cards, limited opening hours and just a few old church pews for seats. Me gusta!
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.
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
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 »
Thought I’d post the link to an article I’ve written for the Guardian about cheap eats along the north coast of Cornwall – it’s part of a bigger interactive online Guardian guide to Cornwall, with lots of top 10 lists, from family days out (written by p&c friend Hayley Spurway) to campsites and B&Bs.
List journalism has its critics but when it comes to easy reading, no one can resist a nicely focused top 10 – if only to gripe about all the better places/things YOU would have put in instead. My brief was lunch for £10, which turned out to be a tall order along the north coast of Cornwall – somewhere that relies on the tourist pound, the sea view and the cornered market.
Still, I think I found some gooduns – from the St Kew Harvest, a sourcing-savvy farmshop cafe, to Blas, everyone’s favourite gourmet burger, via Relish, probably Cornwall’s best coffee. I had to kiss a few frogs along the way – supermarket-style bread in expensive places, limp pasties, dusty falafel – but am resisting the temptation to name and shame ;)
Read my complete top 10 here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/mar/14/top-10-budget-restaurants-north-cornwall
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.