Avallen Barn, at Kestle Barton today… we dropped in on owner Karen to discuss plans for next year. The beautiful barn was sitting ready to welcome its next guests, and over a very nice bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (in the guest’s welcome pack this week… lucky them) we talked about art, sofas, how to arrange cushions, customer service (as you do)… and met Liz, the lovely new housekeeper, always good to meet the teams. The gallery is still showing paintings by Jessica Cooper, really nice and still there for few more days.
We spent longer than we meant, so instead of our planned jaunt down to Frenchman’s Creek with the dogs (the had sat patiently in the car and the footpath to the creek is right opposite Avallen) we slipped through the gate into the orchard and wildflower meadow. Glad we did… Karen had the over-rich topsoil scraped from the field to make an ideal wildflower habitat. It’s starting to pay off, with thousands (yes literally, literally thousands) of cowslips stretching towards the warm spring sun.
Forever Cornwall still has a few self-catering weeks available at Avallen Barn this August… and autumn 2013 availability.
Now there is no excuse for not getting to Cornwall in May 2013… a whopping 20% off the weeks we still have available at some of out loveliest properties — Driftwood and The Bees Knees beach chalets and our flagship 8-sleeper cottage Wildwood…
… have a look at the website to pick a week and email us quickly before they get away! firstname.lastname@example.org
You will not be able to book with the discount online!
There is never a wrong time to come to Cornwall. We were flicking through some old photos last night and stumbled on these… a walk just last year around the stunning Loe Pool at Helston. Loe Pool was once an inlet from the sea (or a ria, if you are a geographer)… but a sand bar now blocks the entrance where the beach is, forming a lake. Some think that Helston was a port in medieval times… Wikipedia has a different view…
But enough of that. Walk all the way around. You have to. It takes about two/three hours… or more if you take a picnic. The west shore is very civilised, and the easy walking on the surfaced path takes you past beautiful Penrose House. The east shore is more wild and wooded (we like it best)… we recommend to go clockwise and start on the woody side. That way the walking gets easier as you get more tired. There is easy parking in Helston on the Porthleven road… just past the boating lake on the left.
If you like what you see, come and stay at Chapel Cottage… just minutes away. We have plenty of June availability — when Cornwall is at its best (and before the schools break up:)
We are suckers for cows… these your heifers loved us back…
We dropped in to Gear Farm ‘down Lizard’ for a quick nose-around on Good Friday… What a lovely sight, and smell! A table laid with hotty crossy bunnies and a fire in the corner. David Web, the proprietor, was busy baking, but not too busy to chat about his passion for all things Cornish, local and organic. If you are missing Cornwall, fear not! You can score a box-full of his most fabulous pasties with a click of the mouse… at www.gearfarmorganicpasties.co.uk Gear Farm is just a three minute drive from our lovely self-catering Avallen Barn… and worth a trip for a light snack from Chapel Cottage too.
We have reduced the price of over 25 holiday weeks in April and May… so now that the sun is finally shining come on down to Cornwall for a week’s self-catering in a lovely, unique retreat. You know you’ve earned it:) Weeks start at just £345 for a cosy four-sleeper barn conversion, and there are even places right by the beach still up for grabs…
Australians love it, babies love it, visitors from Germany, France, Denmark and Belgium love it. Surfers and blow-carters love it, paddlers and swimmers love it, rock-poolers and bird-watchers love it… and of course Forever Cornwall loves it, because we have two beautiful beach chalets right here, The Bees Knees and Driftwood Beach Chalet . And now Trip Advisor loves Gwithian too! Their reviews give it topping marks… and are well worth a read. Plenty of tips and insights… visit Gwithian’s Trip Advisory page here.
We’ve had lovely guests in Swallow Barn over the New Year period… and they wrote such a useful page in the guestbook we thought we’d share it with you. Here goes…
“We’ve loved our little ‘nest’. It’s been a fabulous shelter from the winter wind and rain. Despite the weather we’ve been out and about exploring the area. It’s our first time to Cornwall and there was lots to see and do, and we crammed a lot in! Our favorites have been St Ives, Mousehole and the Eden Project. We absolutely loved Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant at Watergate Bay — what a stunning location! Other great meals have been at the Tate in St Ives and Rick Stein’s “Fish” restaurant in Falmouth. On our one sunny day we enjoyed a walk out to St Michael’s Mount in Marazion, well worth the walk! It was on New Year’s day… so a very special way to start 2013. So, we are off home to Northern Ireland with wonderful memories of this special place.”
Cornwall’s Lizard peninsular is not just one beautiful place, but three. The west coast is spectacularly rugged, with towering cliffs and crashing seas… the heartland is a wild and gorsey plateau… and the west coast is swathe of woody creeks and sheltered riverbanks bordered by the Helford, one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets.
If you drive from Gweek (which marks the westerly gateway to the Lizard peninsula) and head down towards St Keverne in the south (through Mawgan, St Martin and Newtown), you will get glimpses of the water as you wind over tiny bridges. So get the OS map (Explorer 103) and find the footpaths for the real thing. You’ll find it remarkably quiet even at the height of summer… a far cry from the touristy towns and bigger beaches. Not that you’ll be short of beaches when you stay here; some of Cornwall’s best are on the Lizard peninsular… including Church Cove, Poldhu, Kennack Sands and Kynance.
Stay at Avallen Barn, our beautiful holiday cottage on the Helford to explore the area… it’s near Manaccan. Avallen sleeps up to 8 and is self-catering at its best. The photo is of Helford village, courteousy of Jeff Meadows at http://helfordriver.net (which is a very helpful website indeed).
I’m meeting Dave, the owner of Kiln Cottage in Newlyn. He wants to show me how fab his Smeg range is… but first we’ll put the world to rights on this wintersunny Cornish Saturday. We meet at pretty Perranuthnoe, at the Cabin Beach Cafe. The village is just east of Marazion, a few minutes from the main road towards Helston…the cafe is great. Literally by the beach, it offers food, drink and a happy welcome every single day of the year except Xmas day — breakfast to teatime (which can vary from 8pm in the summer to 4pm in the winter). The beach is a little gem… not big or small but lovely sand and great snorkeling along the rocks to the sides. At high tide the sand does disappear, so check tide times when you go there. When it’s working it’s a pretty good winter beach-break at low tide as well, you surfers.
A few surfers are in… it’s not really big enough, but they are clearly enjoying getting wet anyway. We amble along the beach eastwards, and scramble over gorgeous boulders. After twenty minutes of this we find a place where the cliff-path meets the shore and stride up to join it… then turn back towards the village by path, as the sun sets magnificently beyond Land’s End. The visibility amazing — crystal clear to the horizon, where you can clearly see Wolf Rock lighthouse four miles off Land’s End, where the Penwith peninsula reaches out beyond Newlyn and Mousehole. (Well we can see it with the naked eye… the camera lens can’t get it!).
Back in Perranuthnoe at 5.15 we are gagging for a pint… and hoping for one at the Victoria, but it’s shut. Winter time the pub opens for food at 5:30, damn… the menu sounds good too but hey ho. Let’s cook something up back at Kiln Cottage.
We drop into the amazingly cute Trevelyan Farm Shop and pick up ingredients for a risotto, all locally grown (well, except for the rice). Try to find it… just pull in to the little lay-by and have a look… it’s on the A394 just on the Penzance side of Rosudgeon.
Then, still craving that pint, we drop in to the Godolphin Arms in Marazion. The Gig Bar downstairs pulls us a couple of nice ones… Dave has a pint of Skinner’s Betty Stogs… and I, the new Harbour Ale… two of Cornwall’s finest. Note to self: must do a blog on the best of Cornish breweries! The sun obliges us by silhouetting St Michael’s Mount in fine style. In the photo, you can just see the amphibious ferry on one of its last runs of the day. Then back to Newlyn, light the woodburner, put on some Jazz, risotto-a-go-go.
… oh yeah Dave, the Smeg is a bit of a beaut.
You can stay at Kiln Cottage in the summer. Self catering the way it should be, for groups or up to four, dog friendly.
Well, that’s what the T-shirt says, and we are not about to argue. As a statement of fact, Gwithian beach is the west side of St Ives bay. It stretches for three miles… all the way from the town of Hayle to the the village of Gwithian itself. Strictly speaking it’s not all Gwithian beach… at the Hayle end it has sections called Hayle Towans, Black Cliff and Mexico Towans… then north of the Red River (which flows out into the bay just north of Gwithian village, it’s Godrevy beach (that’s the little one far out on the point adjacent to the lighthouse, best for rock pools, startling geology in the contorted cliff-face, and sunset bbqs). Heck, whatever way you look at it, Gwithian is certainly one of Cornwall’s finest stretches of sand, sun and surf… the photo here is taken on my iPhone, mid November, at low tide, looking south towards Hayle. Stay self-catering at Driftwood Beach Chalet or The Bees Knees, and stroll form your front door to here in minutes…
Thursday afternoon, checking in for the Skybus flight to the Isles of Scilly at Newquay airport. The grey overcast sky promised little… but when the little De Havilland Twin Otter buzzed up into the sky (with just the two of us on board) and hopped over Watergate Bay we were in for a surprise. The patchy sun spot-lit features of the Cornish landscape in dramatic style that a lighting artist would have been proud of… now a beach, now a hill-top… now a church-tower, now a newly ploughed field. And then a real treat… we were passing one of our very favourite spots, Godrevy Island, with the stunning three-mile Gwithian beach reaching all the way to Hayle… and then Porthkidney beach and Carbis Bay… and Porthmister beach and Porthmeor beach at St Ives. I grabbed a quick photo on the iPhone… you can just see the little group of chalets where Driftwood and The Bees Knees are situated. On past St Ives, passing Penzance and over the patchwork field systems of west Penwith… half an hour later we bounce down into the grass runway on St Mary’s… reminded of how jewel-like Cornwall appears from the sky. A day trip to Scilly would make a fantastic day out when you are staying with us… not cheap at around £100 return by air… but a whole family can do it by sea on the Scillonian for less than it costs to get in to the Eden Project… so well worth investigating! You’d never forget it. Have a look at Isles of Scilly Travel for more info.
We are delighted to be offering this amazing self-catering cottage from 2013 on. It’s barn conversion, and so good that it’s won architectural conservation awards last year, from RIBA and Green Apple. Avallen Barn doesn’t just impress architectural judges though; it’s a delight to stay in, with a foodie’s kitchen, generous wood-burners, underfloor heating, and a games console and table football for days in! But there are two other things we just love. First, you can stroll along a footpath from right by your front door to Frenchman’s Creek (yes that’s the Frenchman’s Creek of Daphne du Maurier fame). Second, Avallen Barn is part of a restored and converted farmstead that includes one of the hidden gems of Cornwall’s art world, the Kestle Barton gallery. Click on the links, or email us, to find out more.
If you don’t know the area, have a look at www.helfordriver.net — a most informative website indeed. Here is one of Jeff Meadows’ stunning photos of Frenchman’s Creek, from it (thanks Jeff).
Will Colman, Cornwall’s very finest storyteller, tells the story of how God bestowed the gift of Feasts on the the land — when he was a little the worst for wear. Come and stay in May for the beginning of the feast season, with Padstow Obby ‘Oss (May 1st), or Helson Flora Day (May 8th).
Thumb’s up for Visit Cornwall (our beloved tourist board) for commissioning some stunning aerial films. This one takes you on an epic soaring journey starting at Mullion on the Lizard Peninsular, which is a short drive south of our very own Chapel Cottage, then swooshing westwards over Mount’s bay with Newlyn in the distance (where our lovely Kiln Cottage is situated) — finally past Land’s End and around to St Ives Bay. The finishing shot is Gwithian and Godrevy island, where you’ll find Driftwood Beach Chalet. Couldn’t be more appropriate if we’d hired the helicopter to show off our holiday cottage locations ourselves!
We are lucky to get such interesting guests at the Forever Cornwall cottages. And they don’t come much more interesting than seed gurus Peter and Imogen Clements who have just spent a self-catering week at our chalet at Gwithian Towans. If you’ve ever wanted to tun a patch of soil into a bounteous organic veg patch you’ll find their unique website Seed to Plate to be a most helpful place to start. “We know people don’t have stacks of time to devote to their veg plot, so we’ve made every effort to ensure growing is as low maintenance as possible” says Imogen.
Start off with a little inspiration, by using the Plot Designer tool which cleverly tells you what to plant based on the size of your garden (or window box!), what you like to eat best, and the spare time you have available… then flick to the Sowing Calendar to show you when to plant… and finally video tutorials to show you how! The site is designed and presented with all the care and attention you’d expect from your favourite cook book. Very clever… now I’m hungry. Where’s that spade (and credit card)!
If you want to find out more about how to be as eco-friendly on holiday as you are at home, have a look at the CoaST website. It’s the portal for the global (but Cornwall-based) “one planet tourism network”. (Forever Cornwall is proud to be a member).
When you visit Cornwall, whatever the weather and whenever you come, there are two things you will almost certainly do. Go to a beach — and eat a pasty. Now, just as there is good and bad disco music, good and bad haircuts, and good and bad karma — there are good and bad pasties. And to save you the time, trouble and unnecessary calorific intake of testing out all of the types you come across, we though we’d give you some pointers. Following are our current top ten… but first the basics..
A Proper Pasty has to be made by hand. The reason is that the ingredients have to be carefully layered for the flavours to integrate successfully. Specifically the meat has to be on top so that the meat juices flow down though the veg ingredients during the cooking process. ‘Mother’ would very likely have put a knob of butter on top of the meat for added flavour (and cholesterol). On top of the meat, some seasoning obviously… Below the meat there must be onion, followed by turnip which should be sliced, not diced, so that it cooks in time with the potato which is on the bottom. See the logic? each flavour will flow through the next. Make it in a factory mixer and the effect is utterly lost — like trying to make a layer cake without the layers. If follows that if a pasty is hand made it will be hand ‘crimped’ too.
Incidentally the clasic beef for a pasty is either ‘chuck steak’ or ‘skirt’. I have to be honest and say I have no idea what skirt is… plesae do tell if you know.
‘These days’ you will find pasties with all sorts of ingredients. This is by no means a modern idea, as ‘originally’ pasties might have had all sorts of things in them… depending on what was in season, personal preference and so on. And while we are talking history, pasties aren’t actually that old — the thing we recognise as the Cornish pasty today is probably a Victorian invention.
There are various cute stories about pasties, one of the most prevalent is that miners with their mucky hands would hold on to the crimped edge as if it were a handle, and then discard it (also to pacify the Knockers who may otherwise have jinxed the mine). Personally I am more than a little skeptical about this. Dunno about you but I reckon the crusty crimped edge is the best bit, and if I were a hungry miner I’d want the calories and the treat enough to simply give my hand a wipe first and then eat the lot.
Finally, and while we are talking history, the etymology of the word ‘pasty’ goes back to old French and thence Latin. The same root word as pastry, pasta, patty, pate, patas etcetera. Now, for that highly subjective list! (… which focuses unashamedly on West Cornwall).
1. Trevaskis farm shop pasty in the restaurant — at quiet times of year they may let you have one to take away, worth the ask
2. Anne’s in The Lizard village. Literally worth the drive from almost anywhere
3. Horse and Jockey in Helston (by The Bell public house in Meneage Street)
4. Strawberry sandwich bar in Penryn — they just make a few every day, awesome
5. Philps in Hayle or Praze-an-Beeble — a big maker but absolutely the real deal… join the queue in the summer and eat on Hayle quay
6. Rowes — made in Penryn and about the biggest chain in the area with ubiquitous yellow shops. Very good nonetheless
7. In the cafe at Geevor Tin Mine — dunno who makes them but they are just ace
8. Berryman’s in Redruth — a little plain but a delight
9. The village butchers in Mylor Bridge — it’s traditional in Cornwall for butchers to make pasties for obvious reasons
10. Choaks in Falmouth (at the top of ‘the Moor’) — see them being made in the shop
Forever Cornwall says: Want to read more? Try this pasty blog from Cornish Casio rappers Hedluv and Passman
Close to the Forever Cornwall HQ, and just a 30-minute walk from the Swallow Barn along the meandering bridle path takes us to Polcrebo Downs, between Crowan and Nancegollan. Polcrebo mine was active in the 1860s, mining tin and copper, and the records seem to show that it struggled to break even. The remaining chimney set on ragged down-land is a fine building nonetheless, and is grade II listed, to prove the point. In spring and early summer the downs bloom purple with heather, and the gorse is vivid with golden flowers even now in midwinter. The mine shaft was capped in 2003 by the local council.
Mining for tin, copper and other minerals shaped the landscape and history of much of Cornwall, and in 2006 numerous mining landscapes in Cornwall and West Devon were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ensuring that they will be preserved for future generations.
To find out more about the history of tin mining and the World Heritage mining sites of Cornwall and West Devon visit The Cornish Mining website. When you come to Cornwall take time to visit the Royal Cornwall Museum or the fab Geevor Tin Mine where you can go underground yourself.
Newlyn was the home of Cornwall’s first artist’s colony, so it is fitting that the very wonderful Newlyn Art Gallery www.newlynartgallery.com should be hosting a major retrospective of the work of Breon O’Casey (1928-2011). Breon O’casey came to Cornwall in 1959 and was a contemporary of Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Terry Frost, Bryan Wynter, John Wells, William Scott and others. This major exhibition will feature many of his iconic bird and fish paintings, as well as notebooks, photographs and artefacts. Newlyn Art Gallery 14th January – 28th April 2012. In the summer Kiln Cottage makes a great base for exploring Newlyn and West Penwith — or at any time of year Newlyn is just 25 minutes drive from our delightful self catering cottages Chapel Cottage and Wildwood.
We have Driftwood beach chalet to ourselves for a few days after a few particularly busy Forever Cornwall weeks. It has been time for some TLC — all of the window hinges have seized up after a few winters of thrashing by salty Atlantic winds (a day of ‘fun’ with screwdriver, wire-brush and marine-grade grease has worked wonders). So by Sunday it’s time for a well earned break. Poppy, Midge and I head out for a long beach-combing session, while Maria sleeps off a birthday celebration. And it’s one of those perfect winter days in Cornwall. You are aware of texture everywhere, accentuated by the crisp light from the low sun. The marram grass, the sand, the black-golden-granite cliff face, the surf with sets of curling glassy waves, peeling left and right from the offshore rocks that make the surf work at high tide down below the Lifeguard hut, even the sky itself seems newly etched onto the retina. With the tide high, we walk ‘down’ the coast towards Upton Towans, over the dunes, following the meandering paths, St Ives and Carbis Bay beckoning us across the bay. After half an hour we descend to the beach, now revealed pristine again with footprints washed away by the ebbing tide. We are able to make it back to the chalets at Gwithian by slipping from cove to cove, dodging the rushing foamy tongues of spent rollers as they race across the hissing sand. I’m glad to have a camera in my pocket, glad to have the privilege of West Cornwall as a neighbor, and the sea as a friend.
You can get up-to-the-minute surf reports for Gwithian and all of Cornwall’s best breaks at magicseaweed.com