Sunday, 31 August 2014

Cornwall's Forgotten Corner

I love Cornwall.  I don't know many people who don't (make that anyone actually!). Since we moved to Cornwall over 14 years ago, we have been inundated with guests every summer, some come with an invite, some seem to invite themselves......

Whenever I tell people that Cornwall is my home, they always tell me how jealous they are. But when they ask where in Cornwall I live, hardly anyone has ever heard of it.  They all know Newquay, St Ives, Lands End, the Lizard, Looe, but mention the Rame Peninsula and they look at you blankly.

I really don't know why this is as it is a beautiful part of Cornwall. Just look at the beach at Whitsand Bay on the south coast of the peninsula.  It's supervised by RNLI lifeguards from Easter to the end of September so you can bathe or surf in safety.  This beach is miles long and often completely deserted (as you can see in the photos.  Even on the busiest sunny Sunday August afternoon, you can walk down there and just go 50 yards either side of the path and you will have acres of beach all to yourself. Perfect for playing beach games like cricket or frisbee, if you have a dog who likes to run after a ball, or just want to get away from the "crowds". Not many other places with a wide sandy beach in Cornwall that you can say that about!

There are pretty little twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand overlooking Plymouth Sound where the narrow streets are lined with pastel coloured cottages jostling for space.  There's plenty of places to eat, with several fantastic pubs offering fresh local food (this is one of our favourites, directly overlooking Kingsand beach, the Devonport Inn), and of course, you can get the "Best of the West's" Cornish pasty too in many of the local shops.  We have taste-tested many pasties over the years and can thoroughly recommend Dashers Pasties as being the best, based in Torpoint just 8 miles away and available all over the Rame Peninsula

This is where you can have a proper old fashioned family seaside holiday.  Leave the car parked up all week and spend the holiday messing about on the beach with buckets and spades and dipping with a net in rock pools.  I swim with my dogs every day from Kingsand beach in the summer whilst toddlers are digging holes in the sand and teenagers are messing about on body boards or in kayaks.  Mums & Dads relax under the shade of sunbrellas, and everyone enjoys a locally made ice cream from the cafe at the top of the slipway. It's a lovely friendly atmosphere where strangers talk to eachother and everyone smiles.  :)  Even in Cornwall that's a rarity in summer!

When you've had enough of the beach (unusual if you have kids here!), there are over 800 acres of the Mount Edgcumbe CountryPark to explore and miles of coastal and countryside footpaths.  Mount Edgcumbe is the ancestral home of the Earl of Edgcumbe, now owned by the council and open to the public. The Earl does still live on the peninsula and is a well known local character from New Zealand (long ancestral story!) who you may well encounter in the local pubs.  There are lots of circular walks you can enjoy directly from the villages, often with somewhere to refresh yourself en route.  You might even see the wild deer herds that live here if you are lucky.  In the spring, the woods are carpeted with bluebells, and summer flowers are abundant on the cliffs overlooking the sea.  Stop for a cup of tea and a cake at one of the clifftop cafes, or enjoy a chinwag with the Coastguard Watch at Rame Head who welcome visitors in to see what they do.

OK, so just sometimes it rains in Cornwall (actually, surprisingly infrequently on the Rame Peninsula which has it's own little micro climate) so for rainy day activities, you can catch the little Cawsand foot ferry over to the Mayflower Steps in the Barbican area of historic Plymouth.  Here there are many attractions to be found, including the National Aquarium, cinemas, and of course, plenty of shopping opportunities.  The ferry journey itself is an "attraction" in it's own right as it takes you right across the wide mouth of Plymouth Sound, past the historic Hoe where Sir Francis Drake played bowls whilst waiting for the Spanish Armada (now topped by Smeatons Tower, the original lighthouse for Eddystone lighthouse).  On a sunny day, it is sheer bliss.
Cawand ferry

So come and discover Cornwall's Forgotten Corner, you won't be disappointed.  It's like taking an old fashioned Cornish seaside holiday used to be before commercialisation got in the way!  Make the most of it before it gets discovered!

Swimming with a Gingernut!

I love Bubb, my silly gingernut Vizsla, and most of the time, it's wonderful that he loves to be right by my side.  

However, instead of daily walkies in the summer, we all swim in the sea together to keep the dogs (and me!) fit.  It's so much better for the dogs when it's hot.  However, whilst my other lovely gingernut is a pleasure to swim with, she just paddles along next to me, Bubb has to be right by my side even in the water which often results in a lot splashing and often a ducking for me!

He adores the water though, and I just have to put up with his enthusiasm, despite already losing a watch and a waterproof camera to his thrashing paws this summer!!

Knock Knock!

I've been thinking a bit about "The Front Door" - the threshold to the Englishman's home & castle.  It's often somewhat overlooked in design terms (but not with the great "design your front door" options that Yale now offers), but as your front door is the first thing that greets guests, surely it should be as attractive and welcoming as possible?  People often put a Christmas wreath on their front door to decorate it during the festive season, but why stop there?  At ours, we ring the changing seasons with pretty wreaths to reflect the time of year.

Of course, we do have some funny issues with our current "front" door, mostly because we have two, neither of which are at the front of the house..... which causes great confusion to delivery drivers!  So when we get a knock at the door, firstly the dogs go mad barking so we're not sure which door the knock came from, and then we have to chase around the house to find out which door they are at, often tripping over the cat, who has been alarmed by the barking, in the process.  Oh the joys of old houses!

When I was small, I drove my Mum mad (I know this now, but obviously didn't realise it then!) by wanting to tell her my Knock Knock jokes.  My proviso for this display of humour was that I actually had to be standing outside the front door and she had to be inside, so I could "knock knock" on the door with my hand.  We must have spent hours there whilst she patiently listened (and laughed, repeatedly....) to my jokes - thanks for your never ending patience Mum  :)  I can still recall my favourites today  (more years ago than I care to remember.....)

Me (excitedly, aged about 6)            Knock Knock          (both said and actioned!)
Mum (somewhat resignedly)            Who's there?
Me                                                              Henrietta
Mum                                                          Henrietta who?
Me  (giggling)                                       Henrietta worm that was in his apple!

Me (even more excitedly,still 6)      Knock Knock          (ditto as above)
Mum (even more resignedly)           Who's there?
Me                                                                 Ash
Mum (reading a book by now)          Ash who?
Me  (giggling even more)                   Bless you! I didn't mean to make you sneeze!

This scenario could go on for some time, depending on how many I could remember.  My Uncle James (Mum's brother), is a great raconteur and joke teller and was my hero when I was a child.  Every time he visited he would tell me new Knock Knock jokes, and those would go into my then current repertoire - I'm quite surprised that Mum continued to allow James to visit!  I now have a toddler of my own and am just hoping that Mum doesn't recount to him how I used to tell my Knock Knock jokes, otherwise I'll be the one sat on the stairs......

Hopefully, next time there's a knock on the front door, you'll be reminded of this rather than worrying about if it's a cold caller, and it may just make you smile too.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Summer Memories

What's been my favourite memory of this summer?  That's easy, it has to be swimming with my two hounds every day during the heatwave.  It was far too hot to walk them, but I needed to keep them (and me!) fit so we took to the water like ducks and have had a ball!

Summer fun!

I always seem to have loads of stuff to cart down to the beach when we go (dog leads, balls, towels......) so my favourite style of bag is the Tote so I can get everything in and still look chic!

How I kicked my Bad Habit!

Everyone has bad habits - there's the obvious ones like smoking, and eating too much, especially junk food, and then there's mine, which was more mundane, but perhaps just as bad for my health.

I found myself slumped in front of the TV from 6 till bedtime every evening, watching whatever happened to be on (let's face it, with all those TV channels, there's always something to watch, albeit often completely trashy!).  Perhaps the worst was my Soaps addiction - I was glued to Emmerdale and Corrie every evening, even though the former really had nothing to recommend it!!  

So, after a TV-filled Christmas last year, I took stock and decided to make a New Year's resolution that I would only watch those programmes that I really wanted to see.  January 1 came around and I ditched Emmerdale (Corrie has remained, at least if I am around the living room as I do enjoy the humour) and all the other silly reality shows that abound these days.  I mark the programmes I want to watch in the TV listings paper at the weekend and then stick to watching just those programmes that have piqued my interest.

I started reading books again, and, shock horror, talking to my hubby! In the summer, I have been dashing down with the dogs in the evening to take a swim in the sea and have dusted my camera off to start taking photos again.

All it took was a bit of will power, and my life and health have been transformed.  You can do it too!

My Living Room dream design

Living Room

Cast iron floor lamp, $2,240 / Seletti wall lighting, $62 / Amara zebra rug, $985 / Red wall art, $495 / LSA International floral home decor, $33 / H M metal candlestick, $13 / Eichholtz hollywood chair, $1,410 / Andrew Martin industrial furniture, $1,320 / Portfolio micro fiber sofa

When Heart Home wrote about their Dream Room Blogger competition, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to spend the morning designing my perfect living room.  We are in the process of getting planning permission to knock down our (very old, very damp and draughty) house and replace it with a wonderful modern light-filled home.  I simply can't wait for the building to commence and whilst deciding on what rooms we need right now is of utmost importance, a girl need to daydream!

We'll be having polished concrete floors and floor to ceiling windows with white walls, so the living room will be a blank canvas.  I've always dreamed of having a zebra print rug (my maiden name is Stripe so I have a great affinity!) so that was my starting point.  I love the neon art work of Chris Bracey, but probably couldn't afford any of his work, but want something neon on the walls.  Red will bring warmth to the room.  I don't like 3 piece suites or the new trend for extra large sofas with jutting out bits, preferring to have a cosy sofa to curl up on and a variety of other comfy chairs dotted around the room.  I love the curves and finish of this coffee table and want BIG bold modern wall art.

Now, we just have to wait for the JCB to arrive........

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Romantic Scotland

Scotland simply oozes romance.  What could be better than walking with your loved one for miles without seeing another soul and then curling up together on the sofa whilst enjoying a local dram?  Whenever we want to get away from it all and just spend some quality time together, we head for Scotland.  And let's face it, it MUST be great because we have a minimum 10 hour drive from Cornwall just to the Borders!  

There are so many wonderful places to stay, whatever your mood.  Our favourite is always to hire a remote cottage with no mobile phone signal, always with a woodburner to keep us toasty warm after long walks and Munro bagging with the dogs.  We curl up in front of the fire after enjoying some hearty Scottish fare for supper (haggis is our favourite - we always buy from the local butchers as they are the best), and spend the evenings just enjoying eachother's company far away from the hubbub of everyday life.

Beautiful remote Croft house

Scotland is so varied - it's not all "Highlands and Islands", the Border country has beautiful rolling hills and the Solway Firth is teeming with wild birds.  The beaches are some of the most stunning in the world and often completely deserted, perfect for long romantic walks.
Enjoying Banff beach

The light in Scotland is very soft which encourages those romantic feelings.  We enjoy sundowners with a difference in Scotland - wrapped up warm under a blanket with a wee dram of malt whisky whilst watching the stunning colours develop in the sky.

Ben Rinnes at sunset

Hunters moon near Dufftown

There are special festivals held throughout the year, and those in the winter months are particularly romantic with lantern promenades through the streets.

Does your romantic dream involve castles?  You won't be disappointed in Scotland - you can stay in one, just visit those still inhabited, or (our favourite), explore the ruins of a former stronghold, where we dream that we are the Lairds.

So what are you waiting for?  It's time to go and explore romantic Scotland!
Enjoy the beautiful, often deserted, roads

All the photographs in this blog post are my own from previous visits to Scotland.