Last of Summer
Still Life: Hothouse
Home of the Bees
Last of Summer
Still Life: Hothouse
Home of the Bees
Day 1: Polzeath & Port Issac
After a 6 hour drive from south London, we arrived in Cornwall and – knowing we couldn’t check into our accommodation for a little while – headed to Polzeath beach. A couple of hours chilling on the sand, watching the surfers, searching rock pools for crabs, reading, and eating Cornish ice-cream was just what the doctor ordered.
End of a Hard Day’s Work
Our first two nights were spent in the tiny fishing village of Port Isaac, with a delicious meal on the first evening at Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen. Highlights from the seven-course tasting menu included: raw scallop with ginger, cured monkfish with coconut, and whole Dover Sole. Delicious. It was a chilly walk uphill to our flat afterwards, past the harbour and precariously-perched cottages, but probably necessary to work off the baked cheesecake.
Pretty in Pink
Day 2: Tintagel & Padstow
We were gifted a gloriously sunny day for exploring Tintagel Castle and its picturesque cove. Crossing the natural chasm between clifftops on the newly-built Castle Bridge, you can’t help but gawp in awe at the stunning coastline. The bridge itself is an impressive structure – two cantilevers that stretch towards, but don’t quite meet, each other, leaving a four centimetre gap in the centre (representing, we were told, the transition from present to past). Paved with Cornish slate, to sympathetically blend with the landscape, it unites the two halves of the castle complex for the first time in over 500 years. But would, I imagine, be bloody scary in high winds!
Medieval ruins and Arthurian tales await on the far side. And it’s an enjoyable amble across the island, taking the clearly-marked (and now strictly one-way – thanks Covid!) clifftop paths, weaving through the remains of the 13th century fortress. A couple of factoids for you: the tourist site is part of the Prince of Wales’ estate; and is understood to be where Uther Pendragon and Igraine (the Duchess of Cornwall) conceived the boy who would one day pull Excalibur from the stone and acquire himself a Round Table.
Haven of Delights
But back to those views…turquoise waters, rugged shorelines, and cliffs stretching into the distance in both directions; seagulls screeching, waves crashing, and the odd seal to be spotted frolicking in the surf. Wow. And worth the ticket price alone to descend to Tintagel Haven (the aforementioned golden-sanded cove) where at low tide you can walk through ‘Merlin’s Cave’, a 300 meter tunnel beneath the island, and wonder at the slender waterfall cascading onto the beach.
North Cornwall Coast
Bridge to the Past
After an obligatory Cornish pasty (I went off-piste with a delicious lamb and mint combo), we headed down the coast to Padstow. The little town has been a foodie destination for decades, but apart from seeking out a good-quality cream tea, we didn’t have time to fit in a Stein or Ainsworth on this trip. A pause here to settle a long-standing dispute about scones: jam first, always. Glad that’s sorted.
We had a quick mosey around the shops and art galleries, before walking to St George’s Cove, just over half a mile from the harbour. And from there, taking advantage of the low tide, sauntered all the way from St Saviour’s Point to Harbour Cove and neighbouring Hawker’s Cove at the mouth of the Camel Estuary. It is here where the sand forms the infamous Doom Bar, the curse of ships for many a century (and from which the local ale gets its name). I am just full of useful information!
Dog Walker’s Dream
Day 3: Camel Valley
The second of our three homestays for the week was close to Porthscatho on the beautiful Roseland Peninsula. Amazing destination, but the least said about this bridging day the better. After an ill-advised attempt to visit the beach at Trebarwith (it was raining and the tide was in, covering every inch of sand), it took us over an hour to get back into Port Isaac for an oyster lunch (the tourist traffic having inexplicably quadrupled). I can’t even eat oysters, so the journey was even more painful.
Fresh from the Sea
Finally en route to the south coast, we made a stop mid-way at Camel Valley vineyard, intending for the non-drivers to enjoy a tasting and the drivers to take in the view and purchase some bottles from the shop. All good in theory. Expect the handbrake on bro-in-law’s car failed and the vehicle ended up amongst the vines, having rolled down a steep incline and smashed through a fence on its way. Oops.
After a local farmer pulled it out with his Landover, we dusted off the grapes and waved goodbye as it was towed off to a Cornish car graveyard. Not a great day.
Day 4: Minack Theatre and Porthcurno
Whilst our holiday mates dealt with their insurance company, Paul and I drove to the far tip of the county (just 4 miles from Land’s End) to meet up with friends Rob and Laura. The Minack Theatre had been strongly recommended by a few people before the trip, so we were eager to see what the fuss was about. Another fantastically hot and sunny day greeted us, and – since we’d arrived a little early – we had a stroll along the cliffs to Porthchapel Beach. The sea was a vibrant aquamarine, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and it was such a peaceful spot that I could have happily have stayed there forever.
The Perfect Cove
But then I’d have missed Minack, which was as great as everyone had claimed. An open-air amphitheatre, built completely by hand by Rowena Cade – a rich eccentric – and her gardener Billy in the 1930s, the theatre is quite the spectacle. Perched on a granite outcrop, the seats and stage where chiselled by hand, the sand for cement having been hauled up a man-made stone staircase from the beach below. Dotted with sub-tropical plants, the ocean-view terraces are surely the best seats in any theatre.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Nearby Porthcurno Beach is always found on lists of Cornwall’s best beaches. Often somewhat disingenuously labelled a “hidden gem”, when in reality everyone is quite clear where to find it! We had a really lovely, chilled out afternoon on the sand, eating crab sandwiches and ice-creams, reading and watching Harvey (their dog) frolic in the waves. I even donned Rob’s rash vest and braved the sea myself…absolutely bloody freezing, but fantastic once you were immersed.
Fish and chips on a clifftop bench back at the Peninsula rounded off a pretty memorable day. You don’t even need to worry about gulls nicking your chips in Cornwall; they’re much more refined than their Kentish cousins!
Day 5: St Mawes and Heligan
Wednesday dawned grey and, surprisingly, a little chilly. Ditching plans for the beach, we instead drove to Kastel Lannvowsedh – one of King Henry VIII’s seaside fortresses – in nearby St Mawes. Not particularly exciting, but the village itself is worth a visit. Situated at the southern end of the Peninsula, looking across the Fal Estuary towards Fraggle Rock lighthouse (yes, the Fraggle Rock!), the small village has a charming harbour, a decent selection of boutique shops and delis, good pasties, and – on a sunny day – plenty of seafront terraces for enjoying your cream tea.
Buoyed by the promise of afternoon sun, our next destination was the much-lauded Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey. Very glad, in retrospect, to have slotted this into the schedule. A restored Victorian Pleasure Garden, the eclectic mix of alpine ravines, ancient woodland, hothouses, sub-tropical jungle, kitchen gardens and farmland pasture are a delight to explore. Having taken several dozen photos there, I decided it deserved a post of its own, so click on the link above to take a gander.
And the clouds did indeed clear, providing perfect conditions for the walk and leading to a glorious harbourside sunset later that evening. Which we enjoyed from local fish restaurant The Watch House, where we tucked into grilled tiger prawns from the plancha, crispy squid and possibly the best lemon sole with caper butter I’ve ever eaten.
Day 6: Porthcurnick and St Just
Luckily, Chris and Ching’s final morning was hot and bright, with endless blue sky. And so – packing our picnic blankets, sun-cream and flip flops – we descended on Porthcurnick Beach. Another of the picture-perfect coves we’d travelled so far to discover. The beach has become famous for its café (The Hidden Hut), from which we purchased a very tasty crab and fennel chowder at lunchtime. More swimming, reading and lounging ensued, as boats bobbed on the calm waters, and I spent a long while contemplating how very fortunate I am.
Before journeying to our final stop, Paul and I called in at the very attractive Saint-Just-in-Roseland, a chapel and gardens perched beside a tidal creek ten minutes from Portscatho. Described by John Betjeman as “to many people the most beautiful churchyard on earth”, the much-visited 6th century Celtic shrine is really quite bewitching. Local legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea brought his boy nephew, Jesus, to Cornwall, landing in this spot. But you don’t have to believe that to enjoy the alluring trail around jumbled, lop-sided gravestones and ogle at the splintered rowing boats strewn across the creek.
Waiting for the Tide
Arriving in Fowey late afternoon, we checked in to our fisherman’s cottage and quickly headed to the estuary to witness the golden rays dipping below the horizon. Heavenly! We fell in love with the town immediately. Only helped by the amazing choice of restaurants. Dinner was at the superlative Appleton’s on Fore Street, where we devoured tempura’d anchovies, sardella, octopus with n’duja and monk’s beard, squid ink linguine, beef with wild garlic, and bee pollen cake. In snatched moments over the coming days, the RightMove app was scoured for affordable properties on the esplanade.
Day 7: Polruan and Fowey
A short ride on the petite “ferry” to Bodinnick the next morning saw us on a 7km National Trust walk around the tributary to Polruan, passing the small hamlet of Pont and taking in the gorgeous views across to Fowey from the opposite bank. With slightly aching legs, we congratulated ourselves with moules marinière at Lugger Inn (a must!) and an amble around the delightful streets of Polruan (another potential option for our seaside relocation project).
Back on the other side, an ice-cream at dinky Readymoney Cove was followed by a happy hour or two browsing the independent shops of Fowey: a variety of of nautical and aquatic wrapping paper getting purchased.
Colours at Dusk
Day 8: Lerryn and Par Sands
The next morning we arrived at Golant at high tide to join our guided kayaking trip on the river. Having learned how enjoyable sculling can be on a previous trip to New Orleans, I’d pre-booked the excursion weeks before and arrived brimming with excited anticipation. Despite his world-weary demeanour, the guide was informative and helpful with suggestions for improving technique. We paddled into “Wind in the Willows” Creek (Kenneth Grahame having holidayed frequently in the area and chosen it as the setting for his story), along to the picturesque village of Lerryn (where we stopped for lunch) and then looped back past the quaint quaysides and private jetties that dot the banks.
Mole and Ratty
Pulling My Weight
The latter part of the afternoon was spent relaxing in the dunes at nearby Par Sands. A contradiction of a beach, with pretty countryside in one direction but an unattractive china clay works in the other. Positioning ourselves correctly, we stayed until the evening light began to glint on the surf, then headed to dinner at Fitzroy. Wow! My lobster was huge and juicy, and the sea buckthorn meringue a revelation. Such a shame this place closes for the winter months, otherwise I’d have booked a second trip to Fowey immediately!
Dreaming of Returning
Moody weather over Dartmoor National Park. Lucky to see wild ponies gathered around Hound Tor. Great walk, with much kudos to a pregnant Laura for managing the steep bits a lot better than I did!
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire
I do wander every where,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits: I’ll be gone;
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.
– William Shakespeare
“I won’t know for sure if Malhamdale is the finest place there is until I have died and seen heaven (assuming they let me at least have a glance), but until that day comes, it will certainly do” – Bill Bryson
On our recent road trip, visiting family in Yorkshire and Cumbria post-lockdown, we wanted to take advantage of having the car and see more of the Dales. Malhamdale was the natural choice. Our outing took in Janet’s Foss (‘foss’ being the old Norse for waterfall); Gordale Scar, a huge gorge with accompanying babbling brook; quintessential sheep farms; and finally Malham Cove, a huge natural limestone cliff that was once a spectacular prehistoric waterfall.
For over a million years, Malham has been repeatedly covered by giant sheets of ice, and the glaciers ground away the rock and carried away large chunks of the landscape. Each time the glaciers melted, floods of water then further eroded the face of the Cove, leaving us with the stunning natural beauty spot of today. No wonder tourists flooded (see what I did there?) to the site as soon as Covid restrictions were lifted. Luckily, there were very few people to spoil the view on the Monday we visited. Perfect for practising some landscape photography.
Final photo Credit: Paul Adnitt
GLORY on glory greets our wondering sight
As we wind down these slopes; mountain and plain
Robed in rich sunshine, and the distant main
Lacing the sky with silver; and yon height,
So lately left in clouds, distinct and bright.
Anon the mist enwraps us; then again
Burst into view lakes, pastures, fields of grain,
And rocky passes, with their torrents white.
So on the head, perchance, and highest bent
Of thine endeavor, Heaven may stint the dower
Of rich reward long hoped; but thine ascent
Was full of pleasures, and the teaching hour
Of disappointment hath a kindly voice,
That moves the spirit inly to rejoice.
– Henry Alford
My father-in-law moved to Cumbria a few years ago, which means lots of long walks around glistening lakes and over craggy fells whenever we visit. The good thing about photography is that it gives you an excuse to rest and get your breath back, as your much fitter relative strides purposefully ahead. You can pretend to be admiring the handsome Herdwick sheep, for example, or be intent on capturing the dappled sunlight on a rock…anything to slow down the pace and save face.
The Lake District is stunning. We have spent happy times inland: clambering over slate at Honister to reach the stunning views over Buttermere; slipping and sliding on damp rocks to reach Aira Force; eating fish & chips from the viewpoint above Derwentwater; slogging over miles of moorland on Askham Fell, sleet pounding our faces and wind whipping in our ears….ok, that last one was less fun. But you get the idea. And on our last visit, we made it out to the west coast for a sunny walk along the cliffs between Whitehaven and St Bees. Lighthouses, cormorants, pebble coves, and an ice-cream at the end to boot: glorious!
There are also places nearby perfect for extended stays. A few Christmases ago, in a frankly inspired move, Paul and I tagged on a night in Cartmel (of sticky toffee pudding fame), where we ate (and slept) in the amazing L’Enclume. Not something we can afford to do often, but a real treat. I’d really recommend.
And we have plenty more to do. Hoping, for instance, to re-book to see the baby alpacas at Bassenthwaite distillery (a victim of Covid); to build up the stamina to take the (easy) route up Blencathra; and to explore some of the lesser-known tarns and waters.
This is my first tandem blog post. A collaboration with the aforementioned – and very talented – FIL. Except…well, it’s kinda become a guest blog with just a few of my own photos thrown in. Dave is a much better landscape photographer than I am!
Scafell range from Styhead (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Catbells (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Blencathra summit from Scales Fell (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Lone Birch (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Tarn Hows (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Ashness boat landing, Derwentwater
Haweswater (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
St Bees Head
North western fells (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Lowther Estate (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Castlerigg Stone Circle (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Pooley Bridge (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Skiddaw (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Sunset at Derwentwater (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Lonscale Fell and Skiddaw from Tewet Tarn (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
Dock Tarn over Borrowdale (Credit: Dave Adnitt)
We bought a car. We went on a tivvy through the Kent countryside to Margate. We bought ice-creams. We strolled through barley fields. We sat on deckchairs on the beach. We ogled at oast houses. We ate fish & chips on the pier.
My nose got burned.
It was glorious.
It got hotter and hotter, sunnier and sunnier. And then, randomly, there was a day of hailstones. Some thunder and lightening. A week of thick grey cloud. It started to feel as though the weather was as confused as the nation. Lockdown continued interminably… but with some relaxations, allowing friends living close enough to meet in the park. We even managed a couple of picnics. Amazing how such simple pleasures could feel so exciting; illicit, even, and to be treasured, never again taken for granted.
But whilst things started to turn a corner on Covid, a much more insidious and enduring pandemic raised its head. The season ended with a series of marches and protests under the banner of Black Lives Matter, following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. 2020 certainly won’t be forgotten easily. Whether it turns out to be a pivotal year for equality and sets the world on a brighter, fairer path, only time will tell. But we can hope, and listen, and learn, and be hungry for change.
Just as we can hope and agitate for positive outcomes across a range of other topics following this period of enforced reflection: whether that be on environmental matters, world politics, or our own working practices and life priorities. Good things need to emerge from the ashes.
But back to prosaic matters. We’re now able to drive – or Paul is (the DVLA is likely to object if I try!) – so can finally get beyond Brixton’s borders. Roll on summer…
Black Lives Matter Plaza (Credit: Washington Post)
Stik and Mini-Stik
Lockdown Dessert League
Born to Reign Over Us
Appreciation (Credit: Alex Badrick)
And so the weeks and months rolled on… Happily, April and May brought lots of sunny days. And Paul and I got very competitive with our ‘Lockdown Food League’, so very many nice meals were consumed. We got a delivery of wine; I finally learned how to keep a sourdough starter alive (and produced several pleasingly well-risen loaves); my running times improved; the nation carried on clapping weekly for NHS staff and key workers; and stunning flowers bloomed everywhere.
Less positively, the £30 yoga mat has only had two outings in 10 weeks. But you can only have so many lockdown projects at once, right?!
Day of the Triffids
True Dat (Credit: Alex Badrick)
What You Looking At?
Phlegm in ED
Lockdown Food League #1
Sunshine in Bloom
Stamen Envy II
Brighten My Journey
Having spent the whole of Spring in lockdown, I thought I would create and save a few photo blogs for posterity. Over the last 13 weeks, I’ve pretty much explored every inch of the three-mile radius around my house, deepening my love of and appreciation for this pocket of south-east London. Whether it’s jogging in Brockwell Park, admiring the architecture in Dulwich Village, stalking the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace, counting the bluebells in Sydenham Woods, picnicking in Dulwich Park, or finding new murals and street art throughout…there’s been plenty to occupy the time. Yes, I’m dying to get further afield (I really wish we had a car!) and yes, I can’t wait for pubs, restaurants, theatres and galleries to reopen. But if I’m gonna be locked-down anywhere, I’m glad it’s here.
I’ve also loved seeing other people’s photos of their springtime activities in lockdown. Most of the pictures here (and in Parts 2 & 3) are my own, but I’ve credited where others have contributed. Including special appearances from friends in Greenwich, Leeds, Elephant, Cumbria…looking forward to seeing everyone again soon!
Out of Decay
Coffee & Kindness
Poppies in the Park
Bunny Watch (Credit: Jenny Hancock)
Fear is the Virus
Until Further Notice
Supporting our Key Workers
Superheroes Wear Masks
Fallin’ and Risin’