Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Eden Project in The Winter

I have to admit the idea of getting up at 7.00 am on a Sunday morning to drive to the Eden Project did not fill me with excitement! I've been there a fair few times before and whilst I wouldn't say the place didn't impress me I wouldn't say it interested me much either. Anyway, this was February and we were heading up with the kids to go ice skating and a Shaun the Sheep modelling work shop - wahoo!

After the delights of driving along the A30 and the highlights of Bugle (sorry anyone from Bugle) we arrived in the Banana car park of the Eden Project - it's sort of banana shaped I suppose. From there we made our way down to the mega gift shop, sorry entrance. That is after stopping off in what were the poshest toilets I've been in for quite some time. Being from round ere we got out our 'Local Pass', which, for £7.50, means I can return for free for the rest of the year. They weren't taking any chances though, proof of address etc...

Eden Project
The Eden Project
 When we had negotiated the steep zig-zagging slope (the kids only fell over twice)  down to the main area I was feeling a little more positive about things. It was a nice day, there weren't too many people around and everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves, so I thought I'd better.
The ice skating area is under a big canvas canopy a little way from the biomes. Inside there is the ice rink and  the Eden Winter Cafe, which actually did make me feel remotely festive, especially after a hot drink. With that we took to the ice.

Eden Winter Cafe
Eden Winter Cafe

Now this wasn't the kind of ice most of you will be familiar with. I.e. it wasn't slippy ice. It kind of had a powdery texture and was about as grippy as carpet. But, there were lots of sledges, plastic dumper trucks and tricycle type things all over the ice and the amazing thing is they did slide! So as you can imagine this combination of slippy and grippy allowed me to run around whilst pulling the kids in a sledge...
...for what felt like hours! I'm sure it did me good and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. There was also lots of them scooting around on various vehicles and pulling each other around. So, the verdict lots of fun was had by all!

After the kids session a tractor like-machine called the Olympian 2000 or something came and magically transformed the ice back into the slippery sort of ice we are all familiar with.

Eden Ice
Kids Ice Session at Eden Project

My oldest and me were booked into a Shaun the Sheep modelling work shop run by the people from Ardman (Wallace & Grommet etc). The deal was you pay £5 and you get to make your own Shaun the Sheep out of plasticine, sorry, modelling clay. Anyway, we had a bit of time to kill so we had a look in the giant yurt type structure next door where some more sheep related activities were going on. I was a tad apprehensive when we first entered as there was a massive wood burner in the middle with only a rail to prevent careering kids from roasting themselves. None did whilst I was in there so maybe kids are smarter than they look?!
There were a few crafty activities going on and we made a bobble sheep just to get in the mood.

Shaun the Sheep as mad by us!
So, on to the workshop proper. I was very impressed to find that the people running it where actual Ardman modellers - these are the people who actually make Wallace and Grommet! I'm guessing they didn't have kids of their own as when I asked one if they'd met Wallace and Grommet she replied, 'Oh, yes. There's hundreds of them'. I think my 6 year old had probably already figured out they weren't real but...

To cut a long story short we were instructed and given a few pointers on how to make our own Shauns. Amazingly enough it worked, although if you give a 6 year old black and white plasticine much of it ends up a dirty grey.

That was the structured part of the day. We sat on a bench and scoffed our home made sandwiches and headed off to the Eden Project proper. Now, since I had last been things seemed to have grown to fill in the void in front of the biomes. It did in places have the feel of a garden centre but generally it looked nice. There are also lots of sculptures and the likes around the place such as water features. Nearly all of these have clever little features, visual puns, that sort of thing which I have to admit to liking.

Well, here I am at the Eden Project actually thinking this is quite a nice place to spend a bit of time. Admittedly it was quiet and the weather was nice, but this is an improvement on my previous feelings. Now for Eden's raison d'etre - the biomes.

There are two biomes linked by the central cafe area. There is the Tropical Biome and the Mediterranean Biome. I'm assuming you all no what a biome is. Everyone knows what a biome is don't they? OK, for those who don't, imagine and enormous dome shaped green house made up of hexagonal panes of plastic. Somewhat like the molecular structure of Buckminsterfullerene I would guess, if that helps!

Eden Project Biome
The Buckminsterfulerene like qualities of the Eden Project
So off we headed to the tropical rain forest dressed in scarves, hats and winter coats - it turns out there is a cloakroom next door, but anyway. I quite like the heat but my missus was not a happy camper. By the time we had ascended the paths up the biome her hair had gone frizzy, she was developing jungle fever and was getting a touch short tempered! So we headed out.

Tropical biome
Biome was so tropical it steamed up my camera!
On the way out my son spotted the platform at the end of a stairway, suspended from the top of the dome. He wanted to go up there so I think I might have volunteered to take him. At the foot of the stairs there was a lady who told us we would have to wait about 10 minutes and gave me a thing to read. I started reading it, and the warnings about heart conditions and vertigo, and... well it was then that I decided we weren't going up there. This didn't go down very well with the boy, but I had to protect him from seeing his father crawling along on hands and knees whilst sweating profusely and mumbling.

On to the Mediterranean biome. This time we'd found the cloakroom, which made it a lot more pleasant. I have to say this was my favourite bit. Admittedly I didn't look at a single plant but there is a square there. The sort of square you find in Mediterranean villages with tables and chairs. It was sunny outside and the temperature was in the 20s, along with the smell of the plants it actually felt like being on holiday. I think even the kids were convinced for about a minute. I would have been happy sitting there, working on my tan all day, but alas it was time to go.

Eden installation
One of those installations
Back up to the exit / gift shop / cafe / environmental awareness centre for a cuppa before hitting the road. I am slightly cynical about the Eden Project's green credentials, surely the most environmentally friendly thing they could have done was nothing, i.e. not build it. There is also the rumour that they were orginally going to build it in a pristine valley and not a disused quarry. Whether this is true or not I don't know.
That said the kids thoroughly enjoyed watching the installation here. It is an automated puppet show telling of what would happen if there were no plants, with the unfortunate puppets losing everything including their clothes. The kids really revelled in the puppets misfortune, not sure if they got the take home message, but hey!

In conclusion, the family went to the Eden Project and had a nice day out in February. And my opinion of the place has, grudgingly, slightly improved. All it need now is a few wild animals roaming the biomes, tigers and the likes, and I will be completely sold on it.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Padstow - 5 Things to Do on Holiday

The bustling North Cornwall port of Padstow has been a centre for fishing and boat building since mediaeval times and an attractive town has grown around the harbour over the years. Padstow’s former prosperity can be seen in the imposing Georgian (and older) buildings that line the quayside. Whilst once the merchants who owned them traded cargoes from far and wide now-a-days they are home to cafes, holiday accommodation and shops.
Padstow harbour
Although the traditional industries have largely disappeared Padstow has had a renaissance as an upmarket holiday destination, some may say due to the influence of celebrity chef Rick Stein. The harbour is still as thriving as it ever was but now the custom is the holiday trade. Fishing boats have to a large extent been replaced by cruisers and yachts and fisherman’s cottages are now some of the most desirable holiday accommodation in Cornwall. There are still a few fishing boats, but most of their catch is destined for the table of the numerous fine eating establishments.

So, once you have spent a day or so pottering around the harbour, sitting in the cafes and admiring the view from your cottage what next? Well, the list of suggestions below are a few of my favourites and there should be at least one to suit everyone and help get the most out of your holiday in Padstow.

Cycle the Camel Trail

Camel Trail
Cycle the Camel Trail
Whilst you may think this sounds a little energetic it doesn't have to be. The trail follows and old, disused railway line running from Padstow to Bodmin, passing through Wadebridge. As such it is relatively flat, since steam engines weren’t great at pulling loads up steep hills. It is a well maintained route stretching for 11 miles, or 17 if you continue after Bodmin. The trail caters for everyone; walkers, horse riders and birdwatchers but it is best known as a cycle route.

The scenery is some of Cornwall’s finest as the trail follows the route of the River Camel the 11 miles to Bodmin. The surrounds are also a haven for wildlife with many relatively rare water birds such as curlews and egrets to be seen. Whilst most cyclists call it quits at Bodmin there is a further section leading up to the village of Blisland on Bodmin Moor. This steeper wooded section is more demanding but the views and scenery at the top are worth it.

The Camel Trail is traffic free and safe for families. It can also be taken at your own pace with plenty of refreshment spots en route, and a great pub at the end! If you haven’t got a bike with you that’s not a problem as there are plenty of places to hire a bike in Padstow and Wadebridge.

Go to the Beach

Some of the best sandy beaches in Cornwall are within a stone’s throw of Padstow. Just a few hundred metres along the coast path, north of the harbour is a magnificent stretch of sand incorporating Hawker’s Cove, St George’s Cove and Tregirls beach.
Padstow Beaches
St George's to Hawkers Cove
If you don’t mind a short drive then there are a plethora of beaches within range. Head a few miles west to the popular and safe, family friendly beaches of Trevone and Harlyn Bay. Both are lifeguarded and slightly more sheltered than many of the North Coast beaches. Harlyn is also home to one of the areas best regarded surf schools.

Alternatively you can catch the ferry from the harbour over to the super posh village of Rock on the other side of the Camel. There are a few great beaches within walking distance of here starting with Rock beach itself. This dune backed, sandy beach follows the estuary around to the next beach, Daymer Bay, a lovely sheltered beach bordered  by sand dunes. If you really fancy a walk, the next beach around is Polzeath, another great family beach with a reputation as a surfing hotspot.

Dine with Stein!

Rick Stein restaurant
Rick Stein Seafood Restaurant
Whether Padstow’s fortunes are directly to Rick Stein or not there is no way of getting away from him. With an empire comprising of four cafes and restaurants, four shops, a cookery school and several upmarket accommodation options it is no wonder the town has been dubbed Padstein.

The original Rick Stein restaurant is the Seafood restaurant which is generally well regarded if a little pricey. If you want to tick it off the list but save yourself a few quid don’t bank on Stein's Fish and Chips being the answer. Whilst the menu has some slightly more exotic offerings than the average chippy, expect to pay a premium for it. Of the four I think I’d be plumping for tea and cake at the café and leaving my bank balance relatively unscathed!

Go on a boat trip

Boating excursions from Padstow’s harbour are a great way to explore this part of the North Cornish Coast. There are a host of companies running cruises and angling trips with sailing times depending on the tides. Just to the east of Padstow is the striking double headland of the Rumps, with several islands just off the coast including Puffin Island - guess what you can spot here! Head in the opposite direction around Stepper Point and there are numerous points of interest such as Tregudda Gorge and Trevose Head beyond.
Wildlife spotting
Grey Seal

Wildlife spotting trips are popular and there is always something to see at anytime of year. Common sightings include seals, dolphins and a host of sea-birds  If you are lucky and it is the right time of year you may even spot basking sharks and sunfish. Perhaps the most spectacular sighting was a year or 2 ago when a pod of killer whales were spotted of Trevose Head.

Get on yer Obby Oss!

Padstow Obby Oss
Obby Oss catches a maiden
Before there were any celebrity chefs, or tourists for that matter Padstow was known for its May Day celebration, the annual Obby Oss (hobby horse) festival. Derived from some sort of Beltane, pre-Christian fertility rite the custom revolves around the two Obby Osses and their teams gallivanting around town in search of maidens to accost! The two teams are headed by their respective Osses (a sort of one man pantomime horse) and consist mainly of morris dancing types dressed in white and playing accordions / banging drums. They are named the ‘Blue Ribbon’ and the ‘Old’ Osses. Sounds bizarre? Well it kind of is and get there early as it’s busy.

There is a less well known tradition on Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Mumming Day, or Darkie Days as previously known, involves the slightly dubious practice of the townsfolk dressing up and performing as minstrels. It isn't clear what the origin of the custom is and certainly there is no racist intent these days.

So there are a few ideas to get going with, there are plenty of other things to do in and around Padstow such as visiting the National Lobster Hatchery or enjoying a pint in the London Inn. Whatever you decide with such a picturesque town and fantastic surroundings you'll find plenty of things to do on holiday in Padstow.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Saint Ives - past and present

The harbour town of St Ives has long been regarded as West Cornwall's premier holiday resort. The town is undeniably attractive with whitewashed fisherman's cottages lining the streets in the 'Down-along' area. There are also a host of sandy beaches to choose from, all of which benefit from the clear blue water and proximity to the town centre.
St Ives Cornwall
View over St Ives

The History of St Ives

Originally Porth Ia, the town is named after Saint Ia who legend has it sailed across the Irish sea on a leaf. Where she landed became St Ives and this is to whom the 15th century parish church is dedicated. The town's other chapel has a more dramatic setting atop the 'Island' (which isn't actually and island!). The diminutive St Nicholas' chapel consists of one small room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to three sides. Over the years the little chapel has served as a lookout for both smugglers and invading navies. Despite almost being demolished in 1904 St Nicholas' is once again consecrated ground.

There has been fishing in St Ives since the middle ages and the town was one of the centres of the Cornish pilchard industry. Pilchard presses used to extract oil from the fish are exhibited in the town museum. There is still fishing carried out from the harbour, both commercial and recreational along with a variety of boat trips including seal watching excursions.
St Ives Harbour - Archive photo
St Ives harbour during the heydays of pilchard fishing

The St Ives Artists

St Ives enjoys the reputation as somewhat of an artists' haven. This is put down to the exceptional quality of light, which has actually been scientifically measured. The light has drawn artists here since the 19th century when renowned painters including JMW Turner visited. This popularity coincided with the development of the railways and heralded an influx of many more artists and crafts people, many of whom were equally innovative.

Barbara Hepworth sculpture
Barbara Hepworth sculpture
The first wave of contemporary artists arrived at the turn of the century and included the likes of Borlase Smart, Julius Olsson and John Park. Potter Bernard Leach followed soon after leaving the legacy of his pottery and studio which is now open to the public. It was the late 1920s that saw the definitive cohort of artists coming to the town and it is them, more than any, who are associated with the St Ives School. Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood are perhaps the most influential of all these and oddly their styles were influenced by local man, Alfred Wallis and his childlike 'Primitive' painting style.

Nicholson went on to marry another of St Ives' most distinguished artists, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Her studio and gardens, which feature many of her sculptures, are now open to the public and remain as they were on the day of her death in 1975.

In 1993 the St Ives Tate Gallery was opened. Situated overlooking the Atlantic at Porthmeor beach this is an area synonymous with many of the St Ives artists. The gallery is set over 3 floors featuring 5 separate gallery spaces. If contemporary art isn't your thing it is still worth a visit for the rooftop café, if nothing else.

St Ives' Beaches

With no less than 5 fine, sandy beaches in St Ives to choose from is a great spot for a family holiday. Best known of these is Porthmeor beach in front of the Tate gallery. Porthmeor is a few minutes walk from the town centre yet manages to maintain a rugged feel due to the headlands which flank the beach. It also faces directly into the Atlantic Ocean meaning there is often good surf here. On the beach there are no shortage of facilities including a great café and surf hire facilities. The beach is lifeguard patrolled and the water as clean as it looks.
On the other side of the 'Island' is the small beach of Porthgwidden. It is particularly accessible, backing on to a large car park. There is also a good café here.

The next beach round it the harbour beach which is another favourite. With Wharf Street directly behind there is no shortage of shops, cafes and facilities making this a very family friendly beach.

St Ives' second beach is generally considered to be Porthminster. It differs to Porthmeor in nearly every aspect. Facing eastwards and tucked in around the headland Porthminster is a sheltered beach. The backdrop is much less dramatic too, with a manicured lawn and wooded hillside dotted with Victorian villas. What it does have in common with Porthmeor is excellent facilities. There is a highly rated beach café and this lifeguard patrolled beach has clean, safe bathing waters. The other great thing about Porthminster is it is located right next to the train station and just below the bus station at the Malakoff.
St Ives Harbour Beach
St Ives harbour beach

Events in St Ives

There are three main events on the St Ives calendar. There is the September Festival, the Hurling of the Silver Ball and the New Years Eve celebrations.

The September Festival is held over two weeks every and acts from all around the world perform in a range of venues of across the town. In keeping with the town's persona these are often well regarded and somewhat high-brow acts.

The Hurling of the Silver Ball is held at the beginning of February and is a unique tradition involving hurling a silver ball! The activity is basically a rampaging rugby scrum with goals several miles apart. It is generally recommended that one watches rather than participates in the melee!

New Years Eve in St Ives has grown into quite a large affair over the years. Come rain, snow or gales thousands of fancy dress clad revellers take to the streets in a drunken, but good natured celebration. Over the years I have graced the event as a lighthouse keeper and Noel Coward, my top tip is tailor your outfit to the weather.

St Ives is a great location to spend a holiday. Given its close proximity to so many other interesting sites and towns it is probably worth spending at least a week. To the south is the historic harbour town of Penzance and to the west, the dramatic scenery of the West Cornwall moors and Land's End beyond. If you get bored of St Ives' beaches then pop over to neighbouring Hayle with its '3 miles of golden sands'.

As such a well established holiday resort there is no shortage of accommodation in St Ives. The town benefits from a range of B and Bs and small hotels. Of course traditional Cornish cottages abound so these are often a great option. St Ives is a great place to visit at any time of year, in fact I would recommend avoiding the peak summer season. Hopefully this article has provided a few ideas and whetted some appetites.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Favourite Beaches in Cornwall

Cornwall boasts over 200 miles of coastline forming a narrow peninsula which juts into the Atlantic Ocean. As you can imagine this result in a fantastic assortment of coves, bays and beaches. There are in the region of 150 beaches dotted around this stretch of coast, each with its own distinct character. Whilst it is no easy task to choose favourites from such a selection, knowing where to go can really help to make your holiday in Cornwall.

Kynance Cove
Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula

Most scenic beach

Two candidates spring to mind for the title of most scenic beach in Cornwall. The first is Porthcurno beach in the far west of the county, however, just beating it is Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula.

Kynance is carved out of the unusual serpentine geology of the Lizard and consists of islands, sea-stacks and caves. The water here is a deep turquoise due to the fine sand made from millions of crushed sea shells. Over the centuries the cove has been the muse of many an artist and the tradition continues with it providing a lure to photographers of all abilities.

Best surfing beach

Whilst nearly every beach in Cornwall picks up some of the Atlantic surf it is the north coast where the waves are biggest and most consistent. To some extent the best surfing beach can be different from one day to the next so based on consistency and how good it can get I am going to opt for a popular choice; Fistral beach in Newquay. This is where surfing began in the UK and is still the best known surf spot in the UK, but it is still a great beach. There are nearly always waves here and when it gets big it is still surfable. Probably the worst thing about Fistral is its popularity.
Surfing at Fistral Beach
Sam Smart on a good sized Fistral beach wave

Most family friendly beach

In general, any beach that has been awarded the Blue Flag will meet this criteria. The award is based on facilities, accessibility and water cleanliness. Out of all these beaches I would suggest Sennen Cove for the sheer ease of parking and overall appeal of the beach. Situated just around the UK's most westerly point, Land's End, Sennen is a picturesque stretch of sandy beach with everything you could need from a la carte dining to surf hire. The village itself is a quaint assortment of cottages around a small harbour which is worth a visit.
Best beach in Cornwall
Sennen beach - a great family beach

Best beach to be seen at

Again this is a difficult call between two very close contenders, fortunately they are within a couple of miles of each other so it is possible to cruise both. Whilst Polzeath is great for being seen post-surf I'm going to go with Cornwall's very own 'Chelsea-on-Sea', Rock. This small village across the water from Padstow is home to a disproportionate number of millionaires, a yacht club and a highly regarded golf course. It also has a very nice sandy beach running along the mouth of the Camel Estuary. So if you fancy rubbing shoulders with the rich and occasionally famous then Rock may be just the beach for you!
Rock Beach in Cornwall
Rock Beach - aka Chelsea-on-Sea!

Best town beach

There are few beaches that are overlooked by world class art galleries, offer fine dining on the beach front and are known for their surf. Porthmeor beach in St Ives has all of this and more. Within minutes of St Ives' town centre, Porthmeor is clean, family friendly beach on the very doorstep of the Tate St Ives art gallery. The Porthemeor cafe on the beach-front offers a great line in food too.
Porthmeor Beach St Ives
Porthmeor Beach in St Ives

Whilst this guide is in no way exhaustive and is highly subjective it should give you an idea of some of the fantastic beaches Cornwall has to offer. For a comprehensive guide to all the beaches in Cornwall have a look at the Cornwall Beach Guide website. If in doubt just head north, south or west and you will arrive at one of our great beaches in no time at all.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Penzance - A Seaside Town

Located in the Far West of Cornwall, at the very south westerly tip of the British Isles is the seaside town of Penzance. As someone who has grown up and spent many years in Penzance I'd like to think consider myself a reliable source of information on most aspects of the town and living here. Penzance has both a fascinating history but remains a lively town whose fortunes have ebbed and waned over the years.

Penzance docks and Ross Bridge

Historic Penzance

Quay Street
Quay Street
The name Penzance comes from the Cornish 'Pen Sans' which translates as holy head. Whilst the adopted symbol of the town was the severed head of John the Baptist it appears more likely that the town's name refers to a holy headland where a chapel stood over a thousand years ago. Whatever the derivation, there is little doubt that town originated and grew around the thriving harbour.

Chapel Street leads from the harbour to the town centre and is oft called the most historic street in Penzance, and for good reason. Amongst its eclectic mix of 17th-19th century architecture are a host of pubs, two churches and a number of curiosity shops. Of these pubs the oldest is the Turks Head, whilst the best known is the Admiral Benbow, the fictitious home of Jim Hawkins in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Of equal historical import is the Union Hotel where in 1805 the death of English admiral Horatio Nelson was announced following the Battle of Trafalgar.

Penzance Town

Penzance town centre
Penzance town centre
With a population of around 20,000 Penzance is a fair sized town. As such it has a reasonable, though not impressive, selection of shops on the curiously named Market Jew Street. There are further, quirkier shops to be found on the adjoining pedestrianised Causewayhead, but more importantly both offer a fine selection of pasty purveyors! Whilst it may be said of every town in the UK, Penzance does seem to have more than its fair share of pubs, around about 25 last time I counted. Whether this is a good or bad point is debatable.

Beyond the town centre Penzance's main features are its sea front with its harbour and the only promenade in Cornwall. The prom, as it is know, stretches for almost a mile towards the fishing port of Newlyn. On a sunny day it is great place to take a stroll and even a dip in the sea. On a force 8 south westerly wind it develops a somewhat different character with waves battering it sending plumes of spray high into the air.

What to See and Do in Penzance

Besides the obvious attractions of the town there are a few things worth seeing. Depending on the weather, first on the list might be Morrab Gardens, a sub-tropical garden located between the town centre and the sea front. Once privately owned these gardens are now open to the public and feature an array of sub-tropical plants such as tree ferns, palms, Japanese Bitter Orange and even banana plants.

A little way along the sea front from the gardens and at the eastern end of the Promenade is a fine example of an Art-Deco lido, the Jubilee Pool. The pool seems to go through phases of resplendent restoration and woeful neglect, these seem to generally reflect the town's fortunes. In the summer there is a cafe open overlooking the pool which is a great spot to start a sunny day off with breakfast and a coffee.
Penzance's Art Deco Jubilee Pool
Penzance's Art Deco Jubilee Pool
Situated in the next park is the Penlee House gallery and museum. This houses a permanent collection paintings from the Newlyn School with the works of artists such as Stanhope Forbes and Norman Garstin. It also hosts the town museum with exhibits detailing the history of Penzance.

The town's other gallery is the equally prestigious Exchange which showcases the very best of local, national and international contemporary art. As with Penlee House there is a pleasant cafe to enjoy a coffee or grab a bite to eat.

Around Penzance

As one of the longest established holiday resorts in Cornwall there should be no problem finding somewhere to stay in Penzance. Staying in the town centre is one option  and there are a range of good hotels and B&Bs around the seafront. If you want the best of both worlds - staying near Penzance but also in the countryside, or perhaps the nearby fishing village of Mousehole, there are a plethora of Penzance holiday cottages nearby and in the surrounding villages that offer good value for money. Wherever you choose, Penzance and surrounds are a great spot for exploring West Cornwall.

To the south Penzance is bordered by Mount's Bay with its fairy tale island castle, St Michael's Mount. To the north and west are the West Cornwall moors starkly beautiful and littered with the remains of Bronze and Stone Age civilization. Most notable of these sites are the bizarre holed stone at Men-an-Tol and Lanyon Quoit with its huge capstone rested on 3 granite legs. There are also remnants of much more recent history - the engine houses of tin mines, abandoned at the turn of the century when the tin ran out.

Just along the coast from Penzance is the fishing port of Newlyn - the largest in England. Despite attempts to 'clean up' and modernise the town around a hundred years ago the higgledy-piggledy Fradgan district still remains with its maze of tiny streets and fisherman's cottages. A few miles further down the coast is the village of Mousehole (pronounced Mowz-ul). Described by renowned poet and alcoholic Dylan Thomas as the loveliest village in England Mousehole lives up to this claim. Weathered granite cottages huddle around the small harbour whose narrow entrance is where the village gets its name.

Penzance is also the gateway to the Isles of Scilly which sit around 30 miles west of Land's End. At present Penzance is the point of departure for the daily ferry, the Scillonian III. Unfortunately the heliport which offered a 30 minute flight has now closed. The next best alternative is the Skybus plane service running from Land's End airport around 7 miles away.

New background picture (Watergate Bay)

Watergate Bay - Blur

For the new background image on the blog I used this photo of Watergate Bay near Newquay on a beautiful summer's day. I took it a couple of years ago; the colours are natural but the blur was added in Photoshop (my camera's autofocus isn't that bad!)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Glamping in Cornwall

Zamping, the new Glamping

Forget the Injuns, this is a glampsite
As someone who isn't a great fan of putting tents up in the rain or not sleeping the explosion in popularity of 'glamping' can only be seen as a positive. Glamorous camping might not be quite packaged and named to attract my sort but the essence of it appeals. Maybe I could coin a phrase here and now - 'zamping' - it's a the combination of lazy and camping!

Anyway, what's not to like about rocking up at the campsite (or should I say glampsite) with the tent already up and waiting for you. And as if that wasn't good enough these are tents you can stand up in. Call them yurts, bell-tents, safari tents, Bedouin birthing tents, I don't care. I have even heard tell of tents with real beds in. Imagine that, coming in, smelling of camp fires and crashing out on a mattress.
Enough said, my days of putting tents up are over. Make mine a tipi...

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