16 Reasons Why Cornwall Makes Us Happy

1. The Language

There aren’t many places in the world where you can expect everyone from the lady behind the till in the supermarket, to your postman to call you “my ‘andsom” or “my lover”, irrelevant of your appearance or relationship and that’s just how we like it.

2. The Cornish Pasty

It would be wrong not to mention this delicious pastry coated meat and vegetable delight, after all, it is our creation – A fast food to eat while on the move and packing its famous peppery punch. Gosh we love a good pasty and NO, you cannot get anything close outside of Cornwall.

Cornwall

 3. The Pace of Life

Probably the number one reason why city dwellers flock to Cornwall at every opportunity they have. Surrounded by sea, perhaps it’s the fresh air that keeps us in touch with what is actually important in life. Just relax, everything will be done dreckly.

4. How Everyone Knows Everyone

If they haven’t just moved here, chances are you will have five mutual friends on Facebook and you know their next door neighbour. We love that we can always expect to see friendly, familiar faces wherever we go.

Cornwall

5. The People

Here in Kernow, if you smile at a stranger in the street you’re not met with a scowl and secretly suspected of being an axe wielding maniac, a kind smile is returned and you’re sure to have made a passing friend. You never know, next time you see them they might just return your smile with “ALRIGHT”?

6. We are always on holiday

Surrounded by turquoise waters and breath-taking beaches, including a sneaky few which are yet to be discovered by tourists, it’s paradise on our front door. At this time of year, if the sun is shining and it’s a weekday, it’s not unusual for your footprints to be the only ones in the sand.

Cornwall

7. The Free Fun

If you grew up here, you should know that your parents probably saved a fortune. Yes, you did spend every sunny birthday on the beach with a party picnic – but wasn’t it great?

8.  We Always Have An Excuse When We’re Late

It was a tractor, scrap that, a tractor behind a bus… the road was closed because of a loose sheep, cows were crossing – the possibilities are endless.. ENDLESS. Plus they’re all absolutely believable… And 99% of the time they are actually true.

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9. The Incredible News

Stolen milk, slurry perverts, big cats, seagull attacks and our yet to be spotted resident Great White Shark (perhaps he’s hiding with Nessy?). There’s no other news like it.

10. The Magic

As the witch hotspot of England, it’s no surprise that Cornwall has mystical powers running through its water. From nighttime celebrations with horse skull masks to the wild moors and the Merry Maidens, this fascinating land has us under its spell. The Cornish calendar is full of festivals, from Port Eliot to Let Loose at Looe, so there’s always an opportunity to celebrate and share our vibrant art scene.

Cornwall

11. You Can Be You

No one blinks an eyelid if you have decided to dye your hair three shades of blue, or if it’s so matted you’ve tied it in ribbon on the top of your head. Seeing as you’re usually only a few miles from the beach, it’s also pretty acceptable not to wear shoes if you don’t fancy it.

12. The Weather

The Cornish weather is something that we can’t help but talk about at least once (or maybe four times) a day. It’s become a replacement for hello “Lovely day”, a reason to rant and its always a conversation starter… It’s probably the only place to have its own type of weather – mizzle – a cross between drizzle and mist. It may be pretty unpredictable, but hey, where else can you experience all four seasons in one day? And remember, when it’s good, it’s REALLY good. Oh and what’s with the hose pipe ban always being followed by torrential rain?!

Cornwall sunset

13. The Cornish Food & Drink

Whether it’s fresh fish landed at Newlyn harbour, fluffy homemade scones slathered in jam followed by a good dollop of clotted cream or a massive ice cream there’s no food that makes you happier! As for drink, Cornwall is packed with independent breweries from Penpont to Keltek and there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a pint of Cornish cyder when the sun’s out.

14. The Quiet

Cornwall is the perfect destination if you’re in need of escape. Whether it’s an empty stretch of beach or a large deserted field, wherever you are, you can head out for a stroll and make the most of simply being alone. Sometimes a chance to just be by yourself is all the happiness you need.

Cornwall gardens

15. Our Thriving Independence

Yes, some may see us as a little bit ‘behind the times’ but we’ll take a Cornish coffee at a beach hut cafe over a chain restaurant any day! Nothing makes us happier than discovering a new hidden Cornish gem. We love to embrace the unusual and support our varied high streets. We have our own wonderful selection of shops, restaurants and companies and we wouldn’t change it for the world!

16. We Can Truly Relax

Here in Cornwall we’re a trusting bunch. If the front door gets left unlocked we’re not seized by panic, we feel fine leaving the dog in the care of a stranger whilst we pop in to buy some milk and don’t worry about leaving our bags on the beach whilst we go for a dip in the ocean. We live in Cornwall after all, where the innocence of living in one of Britain’s last true communities is still alive.

 

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The Great War & Porthcurno

Last year marked 100 years since the beginning of The Great War. Whilst the newspapers and magazines of Britain understandably focused on the lives and tales of the brave soldiers who battled away in the trenches of mainland Europe, myCornwall decided to focus on the vital role the Telegraph Museum, Porthcurno played in WWI.

The Telegraph Museum, Porthcurno was once the epicentre of international communications and below the feet of the modern day beach bathers lie the remains of some of the many cables that connected Britain to the rest of the world during the conflicts of the 20th century.

In the lead up to and during the First World War Porthcurno was an essential tool in the fight against the enemies of Britain as many of the young men (for it was all men) who came to train there were to find out. Porthcurno at that time was the largest cable station in the world and it included a training college to the communications industry that remained in operation until 1993. Trainees in those early days came to Porthcurno, learned their trades and were later shipped out to the many outposts owned and maintained by the Eastern Telegraph Company, which was set up by John Pender (1816-1896), a pioneer in the communication industry.

ETC Cable Map 1894 the great warThe Exiles

One such trainee was the young Alfred Izzard who came to Porthcurno in February 1911. Unlike many of those who passed through the doors, Alfred’s training days and further adventures where recorded by the man himself in his diary, a copy of which is kept at the museum .

According to the records held at Porthcurno he was appointed to the staff at Porthcurno in 1911. It wasn’t until the war, whichPorthcurno Main Street 1911 - the great war started on the 28th July 1914, was almost a year old that he was transferred to the C.S. Electra (Cable Ship) as third electrician. At the time Porthcurno was an unusual place as Alfred wrote in his diary “The main street has electric lamps every 50 yards in most up-to-date manner”. Although many towns and cities had electric lighting in their centres the streets surrounding the homes of the recruits did not. Apart from the hard work and training, life at Porthcurno was pretty good for the trainees. Despite this the staff and students at Porthcurno often felt very isolated and referred to themselves as ‘Exiles’. It was because of this isolation that the Exiles had to make their own entertainment by putting on theatre shows, parties and dances, playing cards and swimming.

The diary also describes the way in which the cables of Porthcurno connect with other telegraph stations around the world. “The work that comes from London is directed to all parts of the world, and, when it arrives here it is sorted out in a certain order for certain cables according to the addresses.”

Messages could be sent directly or relayed via the company’s stations around the world. Someone in Britain could send a message to any one of the receiving stations in minutes rather than weeks. This gave Britain and all those who used telegraphic communications tremendous power which explains why the enemies of Britain attacked the network on numerous occasions during the war.

All Aboard

Like many staff based in Cornwall Alfred Izard left the comfort of Porthcurno to carry out vital works to assist the war effort. In November 1915 he was assigned to the Cable Ship Electra which was based in the Mediterranean.

CS Electra at St. Lucia 1956According to Charlotte Dando, Collections Manager at Porthcurno, Alfred’s skills were of great use aboard the ship: “He was one of the crew involved in repairing damaged cables or cables destroyed by Britain’s enemies.”

Understandably Alfred and his comrades worried about German submarines or warships. Shortly after joining the C.S. Electra he wrote “I am writing down things now exactly as I feel at the present moment. Being very much perturbed, having already had one unpleasant though successful encounter with submarines.”

He was worried that should he be injured or worse things would be difficult for his family: “As for actual fear, I fear nothing, thanks to my Theosophical beliefs but I do fear the blow it would be to Mother and Sisters were I to get scuppered, or worse, to be permanently disabled.”

The fears were based on incidents that took place during the early months of the war when Cable Ships and Cable Stations were attacked. One such incident, which is highlighted in the permanent exhibition at Porthcurno, involved the station on the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Shortly after the First World War started, the German light cruiser Emden, disguised as a merchant boat, landed a party of soldiers on the Cocos Islands to destroy the communications network based there. One of the staff at the Cable Station realised what was happening and sent an SOS message before the Germans were able to disrupt communications…

 

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‘The Great War & Porthcurno’ is taken from our August/September 2014, Vol.2 Issue 25. Subscribe to myCornwall magazine for more stories like this one.

3 Cornish Marmalades You HAVE To Try

Seville oranges, tangy lemons, hints of whisky and dashes of elderflower make these Cornish marmalades that little bit more delicious than your ordinary supermarket jar.

 

Crellow’s Summer Citrus Marmalade

For those who find the sharp, dark flavour of Seville oranges overwhelming, Crellow’s is an excellent alternative. Made using eating oranges and some lemons it is lighter, sweeter and tangier than other marmalades.

marmalade

Halzephron’s Citrus Marmalade with Whisky

Made with a truly wonderful mixture of fresh citrus fruits and more than a hint of whisky, this scrummy treat from Halzephron is sure to get you out of bed in the morning!

 

3. Hubble’s Lemon & Elderflower Marmalade

Hubble’s delicious coarse cut lemon marmalade with a hint of elderflower is perfect for those who like a tangy taste on their toast.

marmalade

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10 Reasons to Visit Polperro

Thinking about booking your next holiday? Or simply searching for a family day out in Cornwall? Polperro could be the perfect destination. With a selection of attractions to suit all ages, a stunning harbour backdrop and gorgeous places to stay it has something for everyone.polperro

The Anchorage

Perched on the traffic free inner harbour wall of the pretty village of Polperro, this fisherman’s cottage dates back over 300 hundred years. Lovingly renovated in seaside blue and white by its owners to provide open-plan home from home accommodation downstairs and one double and one twin bedroom upstairs. Cosy up to the large South facing bay windows that provide stunning views over the working harbour. If you can drag yourself away from the view go for a trek on the South West Coast Path that runs past the front door of the cottage. Then, of course, there are the five welcoming pubs and a variety of eateries only steps away from The Anchorage.

www.cottagepolperro.co.uk

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Couch’s Great house and Restaurant

Couch’s offers a relaxed dining atmosphere, fusing old world charm with modern, quality cuisine. Learning his craft under such culinary heavyweights as Gordon Ramsey, Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc, head chef and owner Richard McGeown has established one of Cornwall’s best kept secrets tucked away in Polperro. Private parties, weddings or any significant event are all accommodated. 

www.couchspolperro.com

polperro

Talland Bay Hotel

With Stunning views over the bay and out to sea. Talland Bay hotel boasts a 2 AA rosette restaurant and alfresco dinning, produced from locally sourced ingredients. With roaring open fires to keep you warm in the winter.



www.tallandbayhotel.co.uk

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Boat Trips

Polperro has a number of boats offering a variety of trips. You can head out to sea on a scenic coastal trip, a fish trip or a mixed walking and boat return trip. There are single and return trips to Looe and to Fowey. There are occasional sightings of dolphins and basking sharks. One of those offering mackerel fishing trips from the harbour is Olly Puckey.

Phone: 07966 528045 

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Holiday Cottages

Holiday Cottages Polperro provide the largest portfolio of Visit England Quality Assured holiday cottages in Polperro. They cater for all budgets and tastes and their cottages range from 1 to 5 bedrooms. Many offer sea and harbour views and they also offer a good selection of pet friendly properties. 

www.holidaycottagespolperro.co.uk

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Polperro Model Village & Land of Legend

No trip to Polperro would be complete without a visit to the famous Model Village and Land of Legend. Explore the village in miniature, and learn about the Cornish myths and legends. More than 60 years in existence, having survived fire and floods, this famous attraction continues to delight families of all ages.

www.polperromodelvillage.com

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The Blue Peter

Amongst the most popular places to eat in Polperro, the Blue Peter public house, which overlooks the harbour, is one of those places that oozes atmosphere. It’s famous for Fish and Chips, and they alone make it worth the visit. Friendly bar staff meant it’s somewhere families and couples seek out again and again.

thebluepeterinn.yolasite.com

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Stonerush Lakes

Nestling in unspoilt countryside, seven miles from Polperro, Stonerush Lakes offers a choice of luxurious two or three bedroom detached holiday homes. Perfect for exclusive personal use or for those buyers wishing to generate an income through one of their fully managed letting schemes. Prices from £145,000 unfurnished.

www.charteroak.co.uk

polperro

Natal House

Natal House Bed and Breakfast is perfectly situated, with easy access and its own parking. It makes a great base from which to explore. If you are looking for a well earned rest from the daily routine or a stopover whilst walking the coastal path, or even a romantic break, you will find all you need here.

www.polperro-bedandbreakfast.co.uk

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Polperro Heritage Museum

Located in The Warren overlooking the harbour, the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing houses a remarkable collection of exhibits and 19th century photographs as well as many items of memorabilia dating from the 18th century when both smuggling and fishing thrived in Polperro.

www.polperro.org

 

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’10 Reasons to Visit Polperro’ is taken from our October/November 2014, Vol.2 Issue 26. Subscribe to myCornwall magazine for more stories like this one.

WEEKEND AWAY: Polperro

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Whizzing down the narrow main road into Polperro on board Lizzie, one of the village’s double decker electric transports is one of the best introductions to a new location one could wish for. The steep valley walls on each side of the road are covered with charming houses and fisherman’s cottages scattered amidst the trees and other greenery clinging to the hillside as you make your way down the valley towards the shops, pubs and restaurants surrounding the harbour below.

I’d been in the village for less than twenty four hours and my desire to ride this unique form of transportation had got the better of me. My other half had chosen to wander the narrow streets in search of mementos for friends and family. Her loss perhaps, but I doubt it from the goodies and experiences she brought back with her.

We’d parted company shortly after eating a deliciously hearty breakfast served in the dinning room of Natal House, the bed and breakfast we were staying in for our weekend away in Polperro. We’d arrived in Polperro the evening before, in dire need of a recuperating weekend, and Natal House had been one of the many superb accommodation providers that was recommended by friends and a solid search online. Just take a look at Trip Advisor and you’ll see what I mean.

On arrival at Natal House we were met by Jackie, who along with husband Simon runs the unusually named b&b. “It was built in 1923 by a Mr Hockin, a Cornishman, who spent some time in the Natal province of South Africa,” explained Jackie. “Not much else is known about him.”

The couple were now well into their second year of offering the superb accommodation following a major refurbishment a couple of years ago. “We’re booked up much of the time due to the great response we get from people who’ve stayed with us,” says Simon. “We also get a lot of passers-by enquiring.” The ‘no vacancies’ sign that sits above the Natal House sign was clearly not putting potential visitors off.polperro

Polperro itself is tiny, a few very narrow lanes provide the visitor with a superb warren of intriguing pubs and restaurants, all worth a visit if you’ve got the time. That first night the pair of us had spent a bit of time wandering the lanes looking at menus pinned to the walls of the broad range of restaurants.

As we wandered the lanes the place at first appeared to be deserted, no cars and no people except for those already seated in the restaurants and pubs. We could hear singing echoing around the lanes and as we headed in the direction of the sounds we came across crowds of onlookers listening to the Polperro Fishermen’s Choir who were performing beside the harbour. A real treat that one member of the choir told me was a regular occurrence.

We passed through the crowd after listening to the heavenly sound for a few minutes. It was a romantic vision, seeing the men all dressed up, their voices drifting as the light of the evening summer sun threw long shadows across the harbour waters.

Not far away we came across The Blue Peter public house, its reputation for being a popular haunt for visitors and locals alike soon proved to be correct. Patrons crowded the place, many just having an evening tipple, others like us seeking something tasty. I’d been told by Jackie and Steve at Natal House that the pub produced the best fish and chips. My partner opted for the chef’s Fishcake of the Day and I followed Jackie and Steve’s advice. I’m not used to describing Fish and Chips as delicious or superb but these are the words that come to mind. Possibly the lightest batter I’d ever come across.

Our appetites sated we strolled back through the lanes to our accommodation. Tip toeing into the room the pair of us turned in for the night. It was at this time I noticed just how much attention to detail the owners of Natal House had put into the place. Not one misplaced paint splodge, not one piece of poorly chosen furniture. It was as comfortable as a bed and breakfast could be. No wonder its reviews are so good.

Once I’d alighted from the electric transport that morning, after our short journey along the valley, I wandered down through the village to join my partner at The Museum Tearoom, which is, funnily enough, next to the village’s heritage museum. A light snack before heading next door.

polperroThe Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing, to give it its full title, houses a collection of exhibits and 19th century photographs depicting life in Polperro over the years. It’s a superb place to pop in and spend and hour or so.

The two of us decided to head up through the village to the cliffs above for an afternoon walk. Polperro is a great place to base yourself if you’re one of the many who enjoy a proper walk in an area full of history. At the top of the cliffs one can look down on the small fishing boats bobbing about in the harbour waters. I’ve been told that visitors can walk the coastal path to Looe which takes you past Talland Bay and on to Hannafore Beach in Looe itself. There are buses back to Polperro if you want to give the walk back a miss.

We opted to head back down to the harbour area to see if we could catch one of the boats taking people out fishing or on a tour of the coastal areas. Oliver Puckey’s boat Smuggler was our choice on this occasion, although there are several other boats available. The Polperro boats offer a variety of trips, from scenic coastal trips to two hour fishing trips. The coastal trip provided a great way to see the sea birds. Although there are also opportunities to see dolphins and basking sharks we didn’t encounter any on this occasion.polperro

Our feet firmly back on Terra Firma, we headed back to the Bed and Breakfast to change before the heading out again in search of an evening meal.

Dining that evening was at Couch’s restaurant, whose delicious menu had much to offer. My partner chose the Cod, served with parsley crushed potato, tomato vinegarette and tomato hot sauce. I chose the Rump of Lamb, sourced locally, served with slow roasted fondant potato, green beans and red wine sauce. The friendly staff chose the right moment to clear the table and offer the dessert menu. Panna Cotta for me and Apple Tatin for my partner. Highly recommended.

Sadly this was our last night in one of Cornwall’s most beautiful harbour villages. It had been a brief but full weekend. One can’t fault Polperro, it has everything a visitor to Cornwall is looking for. Heritage, boat trips, walking, entertainment for children, pubs, shopping, restaurants and much much more. Whether you want a romantic weekend away or a family holiday the place has it all.

 

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Patrick Gale Interview

Cornwall has been home to many artists, authors and other creative types for hundreds of years. From those born here to those more recently attracted to Cornwall’s wild moors and shores, the place has influenced them all. Amongst their number is the renowned author Patrick Gale, who, since arriving in this part of the British Isles, has explored a lot of what Cornwall has to offer as writer Jane Pugh found out.

patrick gale cornwall

Patrick Gale’s novels are evocative and transforming and so is his way of life. Patrick, now 51, lives with his husband, Aidan, on the very last farm in England, a short muddy distance from Land’s End. Aidan is a cattle farmer and so whilst the farmhouse is a solid and pretty affair, the aroma from the farm yard is best described as ripe.

“He’s one of those people who exude positivity and smiles all the time”

Patrick has got the plumber over this morning. The pipes, fitted in the late 1960s, are grumbling following a fierce storm the night before. The whistling kettle takes an age to boil and his two sleek and silky dogs sleepily curl up on their own twin armchairs. Patrick Gale is a very happy man and it’s not because he’s a critically admired and popular novelist or because he lives in a beautiful if wind-battered setting, he is just one of those people who, regardless of their circumstances, exudes positivity and smiles all the time.

It’s impossible to imagine him in a temper or a sulk and his boyish good looks reinforce the impression. His novels (seventeen to date) are not always so cheerful, several are set in Cornwall and are packed with characters that avoid or even sabotage opportunities they have for contentment. I asked him to talk about why. ‘If I wasn’t a novelist I would be something useful like a psychotherapist, I am obsessed with characters and the characters I create begin as damaged and then go through a process of healing.’

Whilst Patrick’s books are serious and thoughtful they never fail to engage as we, the reader, follow the stories of ordinary people who are having a tough time at the start but finish their journey with a greater understanding of themselves. ‘I would say my characters are normal people who are good and nice and then I event something horrible to happen to them,’ he jokes. Indeed, Patrick the man seems to feel guilty and blessed in equal measures.

When I question this, Patrick explains that as he grew up (he is the youngest of four), his mum was the type of woman who failed to see reading as a valid activity and much preferred seeing her youngest outside in the fresh air so he never felt as if reading and writing were valid activities. Patrick went on to study English at New College Oxford and had to justify flopping about on the couch, ploughing through his reading list.

Indeed, this is reflected in almost all of Patrick’s books, which convey the thoughts, beliefs, feelings and questions that occupy the minds of his characters. They are people of words not actions, on saying that, he is currently working on a new novel about a farmer in Canada so perhaps that is about to change. Furthermore, Patrick doesn’t feel very talented; difficult to believe considering he was spotted at eight years old by his music teacher for a considerable gift for music.

He quickly earned a scholarship at the Winchester School where he studied singing and took up two musical instruments. At university, he was desperate to be an actor and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Hugh Grant. ‘I was a singing waiter because I really wanted to get my Equity Card. I only ever wrote for myself, for fun, in fact, I was compelled to write. Then I decided to put in my first novel to the Betty Trask Award. I was being cheeky because the award was for romantic novels and I entered my book ‘The Aerodynamics of Pork’ which was all about gay love. I was poor and the prize money was substantial.

At the same time, a friend showed her literary agent boss my manuscript, he invited me for lunch and explained that he only read it because he liked the title but a year later he found a publisher.’ Patrick was only twenty-two when his first novel was published and has written ever since. ‘Writing my first few novels was like serving an apprenticeship. In those days, a publisher supported that. These days, if a new novelist doesn’t sell well, they’ll be dumped by the publisher after their second book.’

Patrick is remarkably ego-free, uncompetitive and generous and, to dispel popular myths, writing doesn’t come easy for any novelist. Patrick grafts. He thoroughly researches each of his books, writes copious notes and sits down to write for several hours every morning. I ask him how his life in Cornwall impacts on his work, ‘Cornwall is beautiful but, being one of the two poorest counties in England, it is also deprived. People sacrifice and struggle which gives me lots of ideas for stories.’

patrick gale interview cornwall

Whilst he enthusiastically expresses how much he loves Cornwall and feels that ‘at last, I really feel I belong here’, he also explains ‘Where-ever I lived, I would write about that place.’ He has been criticized for not writing exclusively about gay experiences but says ‘that would be too boring and limiting. I was surprised and delighted to find out that outside cities like Brighton, London and Manchester, West Cornwall has a very high influx of gay and lesbian people, one of the highest in the country but whilst I always include a gay character in my books, I write about the world around me, the world that I see.’

The world in Patrick’s immediate surrounds is entirely rural; huge skies and undulating landscapes, too lonely for some but not Patrick, he smiles contentedly saying that ‘whilst I sometimes miss the melting-pot diversity of cities like London, the isolation suits me.’ He expands; ‘I feel very in tune with the landscape. I’m rooted in Cornwall and I feel particularly rooted through music. The Penzance area has amazing orchestras!’ There’s sheet music in Patrick’s sitting-room-cum-kitchen, and perched against its stand is a beautiful cello.

Patrick is concerned and involved with issues that gay men and women face. This year, he opened the Gay Pride gathering in Truro and states ‘that I want to do something positive, suicide attempts are going up amongst 16 to 25 year olds, and, having grown up in Winchester, I know how hard it can be to be young and gay and living in the country.’

Earlier, I mentioned that Patrick writes for several hours every morning. It’s amazing he’s got the time. Not only is he involved in the West Cornwall music scene, he has for many years been a key member of Endelienta. This small but highly active and successful organisation based in the tiny North Cornwall hamlet of St. Endellion, organises two music festivals per year, one at Easter and one during the summer, attracting musical brilliance from around in the country with musicians playing in hall and church venues, packed with Cornish audiences.

This October, they launched a literary festival with writers such as Cornish based novelist, Philip Marsden and award-winning children’s writer, Chris Higgins. Music and writing being Patrick’s life-long passions, he has immersed himself in the task of producing three festivals per year and finds himself doing everything from booking performances to pouring wine during the interval.

patrick gale interview

“If I spend all my time writing, I feel bad that I’m not busy with my other commitments”

There is only one disadvantage to all of Patrick’s activities, whether they be societal, musical or literary, is that they steal away time from Patrick’s writing. He does feel guilty about this but argues with himself that ‘if I spend all my time writing, I feel bad that I’m not busy with my other commitments.’ As Patrick shares this with me, he nods his head towards an attractively constructed, wooden cabin where he writes his novels. I’m dying to have a look inside but the atmosphere of privacy and sanctuary surrounding the cabin forces me to keep a respectful distance.

Patrick explains that he starts all his books in longhand, scribbling away with paper and pen. I think about how many other writers do the same but I always wonder if it’s because they can’t touch type rather than for creative reasons. I put this to Patrick, ‘Oh, I can touch type! In fact, I’m a very fast typist!’ He counters cheerfully. ‘When I was very young and in need of a job, I did a Pitman’s typing course. I got work as a temp and I was the only Brook Street boy in the typing pool! Of course, if I mention this to young people today, they have no idea what a typing pool is – or even a type writer!’

Being a touch-typist myself, I am seriously impressed. Patrick insists he’s not clever but he sets the bar high; musician, festival organiser, novelist loved by both critics and readers and touch typist. Is there nothing the boy can’t do? When I ask Patrick if he helps Aidan on the farm he pauses for a minute. ‘When we first came here, I was Aidan’s farmhand and helped harvest the cauliflowers on a daily basis. These days, I leave the farming to Aidan.’ He appears to be perfectly happy about this.

 

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Discover Cornwall’s Holy Wells

A Holy Well is a spring or small body of water which is associated with the Cornish saint to which is was dedicated.  Many believe these sacred spots have the power to cure illnesses and even that they hold divine power. Searching for holy wells in Cornwall offers the opportunity to explore Cornwall’s rugged and rural landscape, escape the tourist spots and admire these peaceful, untouched sanctuaries in all their glory.

The fact that Cornwall is blessed with more than its fair share of spiritually holy well and other sites is no geographical coincidence. It is only at these distant places, furthest from what is considered to be real and important, that ideas like those contained deep within these ancient well pools are remembered and manage to survive.

Get out and discover some of Cornwall’s holy wells for yourself. Map references are included, as locations can be hidden or remote.

The Well at Holywell Bay, near Newquay: SW 764 602

holy wells cornwall

One of the most remarkable sites anywhere in the British Isles, the holy well at Holywell Bay – set in one of the dark caves on the south west corner of Kelsey Head – is only accessible at low tide. Once there, steps in the rock wall, always slippery with seaweed and mosses, lead to a magnificent series of calcareous basins, filled with clear fresh cascading waters, surrounded by (when lit) rocks of rainbow colours.

St Keyne’s Holy Well, near Liskeard: SX 241 579

holy wells cornwall

Keyne was one of the many beautiful daughters of the Welsh King Brychan, all of whom became either saints or martyrs. Her well is best remembered for its water’s ability to determine who will ‘wear the trousers’ in a marriage, giving a woman the rare chance, in those days, of “being equal to her lord and master” by first drinking from its waters immediately after the marriage ceremony.

The Fairy Well, above Carbis Bay, nr St Ives: SW 536 387

A strong belief in ‘the little people’ was once commonplace throughout Cornwall, as in all Celtic countries. The evocative Fairy Well, overlooking the great sweep of Carbis Bay, retains all of its original powers. Its waters, seeping through the overhanging rock into a calm pool, are decorated with tokens of remembrance, peace and healing, eventually tumbling over the cliff face towards the sea.

Wishes will be granted here, it is said … as long as they are not spoken aloud!

St Clether Holy Well and Chapel: SX 203 847

holy wells cornwall

Like many sites, St Clether has a rich history dating to Celtic times. The chapel is linked to the holy well itself, as the water runs through the building and underneath the granite altar. Major restoration work was carried out here in the early 1900s, when the chapel was rebuilt from a pile of stonework.

St Guidel’s Holy Well, Menacuddle, near St Austell: SX 013 535

holy wells cornwall

This is a truly magical site, sitting as it does at the foot of a grove of ancient trees and rhododendron bushes, beside a waterfall and river which runs white with the powder from the china clay industry which once so dominated this area.

The beautiful Gothic well chapel is now completely clothed in ivy and lichen, giving it the impression of emerging naturally from, or perhaps slowly returning to, the earth.

Cornwall’s Top Sunset Spots

With the early sundowns of the winter, and clear skies of the summer, Cornish sunsets are truly mesmerising. Sit back, relax and enjoy the day’s end in these fantastic sunsetting spots!

 

cornwall sunset

Karen Roe, Flickr

 Land’s End

Land’s End is an obvious choice for its natural beauty and unique location. Walk out to the furthest point in the UK and enjoy the wonderful feeling of space and tranquility. We defy you not to feel awe-struck as the sun goes down.

cornwall sunset

Benjamin Vander Steen, Flickr

Constantine Bay, near Padstow

West of the village of Constantine Bay, the beach is popular among surfers and has lifeguards patrolling during the summer. It was (random fact alert!) apparently once a favourite of Margaret Thatcher. Parking is limited, though it is a pleasant coastal walk to the beach from a car park at nearby Treyarnon Bay.

cornwall sunset

Philip Male, Flickr

St Agnes Beacon

The Beacon involves a steady climb, but is worth it for the view once the top is reached (those who prefer a slow pace can rest on a bench halfway up). From the top, there are panoramic views over a huge amount of Cornwall. The Beacon can be reached by parking in the village and walking though Higher Bal, or by making use of the car parks nearby.

capecornwall

Andrew, Flickr

Cape Cornwall

With its wonderfully dramatic landscape and beautiful sea views, Cape Cornwall in St Just is a spectacular location to watch the sun set. The Cape Cornwall Golf Club is a popular wedding venue, with couples from all over Cornwall and beyond opting for sunset photographs against the wild backdrop. Enjoy dinner or an evening drink here before gathering outside on the patio area to see for yourself.

cornwall sunset

Michael Day, Flickr

The Garrison, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly

If holidaying on the Isles of Scilly, there is nothing nicer on a clear evening than a walk around the Garrison on St Mary’s. Stroll through the Garrison Gate, up the hill past Star Castle and pause where the land curves around to the left. From here there is a stunning view over the off-islands and a beautiful stop to wait for a sunset.

 

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Meet Cornwall’s American Cousins

Brass Friday2The distinctive heritage and musical zest of Cornwall was the focal point of Cornish celebrations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in August. The area’s Cornish Cousins paid homage to the Cornish brass band at their 17th annual gathering.

The Milwaukee Brass, under musical director Mark Taylor’s guidance not only fulfilled but exceeded the expectations of the audience, who expressed their admiration of the extraordinary performance with a standing ovation.

Prior to the evening’s performance Mark Taylor gave an overview of the history and development of brass bands, with an emphasis on the long standing tradition in Cornish communities. His knowledge and enthusiasm was complemented by samples of works by Cornish composers and arrangers, an exciting preview for the evening concert which included Calling Cornwall, The Royal Trophy, Prelude on St Agnes, Floral Dance, Four Cornish Dances,OP.91, Cornish Cavalier, and Penlee.

Article written by Tommi O’Hagan.

 

MEET THE CHEF: Jah Hemming, The Lost Gardens of Heligan

myCornwall  joined Jah Hemming at The Lost Gardens of Heligan to find out what delicious treats are on offer at The Heligan Tearoom.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I grew up in Cornwall after moving from Gloucestershire when I was six, to live on Bodmin Moor. My first catering training was at Cornwall College after which I worked with Kevin Viner at Sevens and Viners in Truro. I have worked crew catering at a number of festivals, including Glastonbury for ten years, and at various restaurants and hotels around Cornwall. I have also worked as a private chef in France, Switzerland, Austria and the UK. I’ve been at Heligan for nearly two years now.

the lost gardens of heligan

What’s appealing about The Lost Gardens of Heligan?

It has to be the very real connection with all of the produce from the gardens and estate. We have Dexter beef, Devon and Cornwall Longwool lamb as well as Tamworth pork which is all reared here at Heligan. We also have the large productive gardens that grow over 250 varieties of heritage fruit and vegetable. It is all about seasonal eating here, so we try and keep in tune with that.

Do you often create new dishes?

Yes, we love to experiment with the produce and create new things all of the time. We have been experimenting lots over the last year by barbequing produce and utilizing the charcoal made on site. We have also been brining and preserving things and more recently we have been fermenting. One of tour team, Joe, made Sprout and Turnip Kimchi – it’s a Korean dish usually made with fermented cabbage but he thought he’d try making it with sprouts so we’ll look forward to making that again when they’re back in season.

Where do you look for inspiration for your dishes?

the lost gardens of heligan

From the season and the produce available within it, I often take a historical perspective or look at local food traditions for inspiration too as it reflects the garden experience here at Heligan. I think people like to know where their food has come from and here we can trace everything, we don’t talk food miles here we talk in food yards from soil to plate! It is a huge bonus. I think it’s becoming more popular to eat what is naturally growing at that time of year and if you stick with that idea, it will be healthier, fresher and kinder to the environment.

How would you describe your cooking style and menu?

We try and keep our dishes as English and Cornish as we can – although a few curries do slip in for good measure! Throughout the summer we create lots of tasty salads, fresh sandwiches and barbequed treats. We also have our own onsite bakery, so all of the bread is freshly made each day. We try to avoid wine and olive oil and instead use local beer, cider and Cornish rapeseed oil. The gardens produce a bounty of fresh, heritage produce and the estate a variety of tasty meats, in reflection of this we offer a menu of simple and fresh flavours which are in tune with the time of year.

What is your favourite dish?

That is never a fair question to ask a chef! I do really enjoy making our own pastrami (dried, seasoned and smoked meat) with the Dexter beef from the estate– it’s cured with lots of black pepper, coriander seed and chilli flakes. It is something that takes a couple of weeks to make so you do put a lot of effort in; the reward is well worth it though! We have been including it in our sandwiches along with some Cornish Gouda and handmade pickles; it’s very popular.

What rules do you live by in the kitchen?

The rules we live by in the Heligan Kitchen are seasonality, local freshness and authenticity, combined with a passion for food! We want our dishes to reflect what is growing in the Productive Garden so that we increase peoples connection and visitors can taste what they have seen growing. We are all inspired and come up with recipe ideas that we develop together.

the lost gardens of heligan

Have you always had a passion for food?

Yes, I decided that it was what I wanted to do fairly early on and after college realized I was well and truly addicted! I have also gained experience in the art of butchery which has actually proven very useful here at Heligan.

Do you source your ingredients locally?

Yes, always – it’s one of our rules! We also work with a great project called People and Gardens which operates out of Eden’s Nurseries and employs people with learning disabilities to grow the plants. Their produce supplements ours perfectly and we buy their vegetable bags through the summer; it’s literally a couple of food miles for us!

What are your most popular dishes on the menu?

Visitors should definitely try our home-cooked Sunday Lunch, our summer barbeques and our Cornish Cream Teas – reputedly the best in Cornwall! Our Sunday lunch comprises Heligan grown and local seasonal veg, two meat choices and a vegetarian option – for summer this is often courgette and brie crumbles or roasted vegetable strudels.

the lost gardens of heligan

Top tip for cooking at home?

Just to be organised, take your time and most importantly enjoy it!

Would you like to add anything else?

We are open every day from 9.30am for breakfasts and serve seasonal dishes and tasty treats throughout the day which you are always welcome to come and take away for a picnic in the gardens if you prefer.

 

Opening Hours (1st April – 30th September)

Heligan Tearoom open from 9:30am

Gardens open daily 10:00am – 6:00pm (last tickets 4:30pm)

Heligan Shop and Plant Centre – 10:00am – 6:00pm daily, except Sundays 12:00 – 6:00pm

 

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