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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.

www.barefootkitchen.com

Neil Halstead (Mojave 3 – he’s a NQY boy)

Matthew P (summery acoustic…)

Harry Fricker (guitar-as-drum)

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Paul Spooner at the Poly

A shout-out for two interesting things happening at the Poly in Falmouth. The first is a talk by very long-time pasties & cream friend Paul Spooner, whose career as an automata maker (“making mechanical jokes for people with short attention spans”) has included pieces for the Science Museum, Louis Vuitton and, er, me aged six – a wooden box that I still have and keep my drawing pins in. Takes place tonight at 8pm at the Poly; pay a little visit here for more information and tickets.

The second thing I’m giving you a fraction more notice for. Opening on 21st February, also at the Poly, is an exhibition of the sumptuous illustrations and photography that appear in the Parabola Project‘s second book, the beautifully designed anthology I blogged about the other day. Here’s a taster, reproduced here with kind permission of Parabola.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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?

www.seasaltcornwall.com

More pics from the collection: Read the rest of this entry »

manuka leaf tisane tregothnan

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.

www.tregothnan.com and selected stockist, including sweet little Dishotay on Chapel Street in Penzance.

More pics here: 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.

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

Any radio programme that starts with a line like that is going to hook me in straight away. Thanks go to my friend Jan Fuscoe for sending me the link to this engaging, 30-minute portrait by Anna Chen for Radio 4 of everyone’s favourite seaside town. The programme – only available online for another three days – is all about what draws people inexorably in, the light, energy, bohemian lifestyle…

There may no longer be a working potter on every corner, and the appearance of Musto and Pizza Express do rather diminish the boho credentials, but St Ives is still a very special, individual, free-thinking kind of place. It’s where I go on the train on a rainy February day to perk myself up – it’s always summer in St Ives.

Among many who have fallen under its spell, one escape artist interviewed on the programme says, ‘We were terrified of the drudgery of a conformist life – we came to St Ives to avoid having our wings clipped.’ I think there’s something of that sentiment in many an escape to Cornwall.

You can listen to the programme for the next THREE days online here. 30 mins long.

It is sad but universally true that you only really appreciate a) your health and b) your local health services when they are in peril. Having had a crash course in the past few years in the immense value of both those things, I went along to the Hands Off Our Hospital protest yesterday against cuts to services at West Cornwall Hospital.

With the increasing centralisation of services to Truro, people living in West Penwith are having to undertake a 40-mile round-trip, sometimes for routine appointments (even, once, in my case a 5-second MRSA swab).

One area for protest is the lack of a 24-hour doctor-led casualty in west Cornwall (nurses only at night-time) – again, I’m sure that particular outrage only really comes into focus at 2am when you badly need a doctor.

Thousands of people turned up, the Golowan band and Penzamba were there (of course), there was a little chanting, and then the crowds joined hands in a huge circle around the hospital. The main thing is that Spotlight were there – hope WCH got its close-up.

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.

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 has been no shortage of new Cornish food and drink products appearing in recent years (let’s see, this one, that one, and this one) but there is one product that emerged this year that has a particularly interesting backstory – one that had me clicking through to the press release with unusual speed. I’m talking about the first Cornish whisky, made collaboratively and on a very small scale by Hicks & Healey’s, both leaders in the Cornish drinks industry.

I got busy arranging an interview and most importantly getting my hands on a very, very small wax-sealed sample bottle of this liquid gold (priced at £150 a bottle, with only 319 bottles in circulation), pictured below. It was handed over with all the weight of a historical artefact, which I suppose is what it is – a true limited edition.

I thought p&c readers might like to read more about it, so here is the little feature I wrote about it, first published on the food pages of Cornwall Today.

It was amid a flurry of curiosity and inquisition that leading Cornish drinks producers Hicks of St Austell Brewery and Healey’s jointly launched the first Cornish, indeed also the first English, whiskey – an oak-matured, seven-year single malt made with Cornish ingredients. Barley isn’t traditionally grown in these parts, nor of course is whiskey traditionally distilled in England, let alone the South West. But then improbability isn’t traditionally something to deter the Cornish.

The plan to create the first Cornish whiskey was hatched between two men ten years ago, who realised that Read the rest of this entry »

a new dawn for pz seafront?

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 ideas@pzharbourfutures.org. http://penzanceseafront.com

These are words that greet you on a sandwich board outside 108 Coffee in Truro. And that is exactly what the owner-barista at 108 Coffee in Truro has done: he moved on from Starbucks to launch his own house of beans a few months ago.

I’m glad he did, because my flat white was perfection yesterday, as you can see – served in a glass, which always makes things feel that bit more continental. I visited on the strength of Dave’s recommendation in the p&c Cornwall coffee shortlist the other day, and assorted word-of-twitter praise, and left rather enamoured with this nine-week-old coffeeshop.

108 Coffee, 108 Kenwyn Street, Truro.

grumpies of cornwall

I’m digging the branding for this new line of Cornish pies from Lanson – it is the brainchild of two self-proclaimed grumpy old men, and it’s pronounced GrumPIES.

Clever jokes and hand-drawn illustrations aside, the product is great. I tried the all-Cornish pork, apple and cider pie for lunch today and it was uncompromisingly meaty and flaky of crust. It’s also really nice to see someone using local, premium ingredients without taking themselves too seriously. I love the food revolution in Cornwall, and writing about it, but sometimes it can all get a bit ‘we hand-knit our own freerange cows’.

Mr Grumpie, who is actually very friendly, tells me Read the rest of this entry »

What do you make of these pics? Not mine, sadly.

It’s great to see this crisp, modern new website that has been launched to educate and inspire people about Cornish Mining World Heritage – it’s so good, it was even ‘site of the week’ in New Media Age last week.

I’ve noticed that most things to do with mining history in Cornwall are accompanied by a crappy low-res website that hasn’t been updated since, well, the beginning of the internet, and grainy, uninspiring photography.

And it always strikes me as a bit of a shame, since mining heritage of Cornwall is not only scenically pretty mind-blowing but also internationally highly significant, yet it seems to get rather overlooked by all but those with a corduroy-trouser specialist interest. Myself included — the insufficiently informed Cornishwoman, that is, not the corduroy wearer.

It is with kind permission of Cornish Mining that I am able to publish these superb images on p&c. Picking them out from their image gallery was a task that I indulged in for way too long to the detriment of paid work, and in the end I went for some classics such as Wheal Coates near Aggy and Botallack from above [er, wow], as well some little-known sites such as Wheal Trewavas and South Wheal Frances. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did — there’s tons more gold ore on the website.

Time to click on the ‘Delving Deeper‘ tab perhaps!

www.cornish-mining.org.uk

Read the rest of this entry »

the asylum, cornwall

I finally made it to Kneehigh’s Asylum of awesomeness last night for The Wild Bride. As promised by everyone, it was pure Kneehigh, spell-binding, funny and dark. It probably isn’t very useful posting about this on the last day of its Cornish run but if you can get your hands on a ticket GO! It’s moving on to Hammersmith after tomorrow, where presumably it won’t take place in a field.

All residual objection to the West End prices evaporated (well, nearly all) when the youngest Wild Bride first opened her mouth to sing…

www.kneehigh.co.uk; public wealth warning: tickets £23! Tickets for London shows start at £12.. mm. 

the asylum, cornwallthe asylum, cornwall

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!

venton vean, penzance, cornwallventon vean, penzance, cornwall

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I’ve had a bath, downloaded my photos, and strewn muddy camping kit all over the lounge. After the non-stop stimulation and good vibes of Port Eliot Festival over the weekend, Monday morning from where I’m sitting is looking a little grey and boring.

But I still have many inspirational words ringing in my ears, so I thought I’d write a blog post before they are drowned out by the pile of admin tasks. As someone tweeted last night: “Back from Port Eliot with serious festival state of mind. Do I go back to work tomorrow, or set up an organic cider press in Cornwall? Sigh”.

The journalistic shorthand for writing about Port Eliot is to say that it is incredibly posh. Well, it turns out Read the rest of this entry »

I’m a fan of this poster for the Cornwall Film Festival. It’s the wunderbar work of Cornwall-based illustrator & animator Darren Whittington, and is inspired by the Cornish national [sic] emblem, the chough, which is of course making an exciting comeback on the cliffs of the Lizard. And, no, non-Cornos – it’s clearly nothing like a boring blackbird.

The 10th annual Cornwall Film Festival will be Read the rest of this entry »

OK, I realise that two consecutive blog posts have contained images of bunting fluttering in the Cornish breeze – you’ll have to forgive me (particularly male readers) but really you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines.

This is a clip of Porthleven Food Festival on Saturday, taken from next to the food marquee, where I sat pint of Betty in hand, enjoying Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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