A Wedding, a Floating Pub, and a Naked Yachtsman: more Adventures in Cornwall

Yesterday, we returned to Mylor. Just above the harbour is St Mylor’s Parish Church, a very beautiful and very old building, that I’ve visited every time I’ve been to Cornwall for the last twenty six years. Parts of it date back to the 11th century, and the graveyard full of ancient yew trees, trailing ivy and sloping, lichen-covered tombstones in narrow, crooked lines has always felt like a comfortingly peaceful place to me. Is that strange? To enjoy spending time in a graveyard? Perhaps so, but it has always felt like a place of rest rather than sorrow to me. There are also two other very important pieces of information I have so far kept from you. The first, is that I was actually baptised in this church. My grandmother is adamant I was baptised at night… but my parents are pretty sure this is not true.  How they can fail to agree on the details of such a momentous occasion, when the bible seems to manage just fine, I don’t know, but anyway.

The second, super exciting fact, is that Tom and I are getting married in this church next May. Think of this as a sneak preview!

Aside from booking the reception venue, designing the invitations and putting aside a ‘wedding fund’, we haven’t really done anything at all to prepare. It feels like ages away, but I’m sure the time will fly by and I’ll end up turning into a demented panic-harpy, trying to arrange everything in the last week. Any tips are very welcome. Oh, and I’ve also created a WordPress site for our wedding guests, with travel information, places to stay, advice on where to eat out, and things to see and do in the area. There’s also a page for gifts. That’s my favourite part. Has anyone else done this, or have I gone overboard (as overboard as a bride without a dress can go)?

After pottering around the church, we walked along the creek to Mylor village. It’s a lovely walk, and only takes about twenty minutes. One of many exciting events is the giant rhubarb. My father told me it would eat me if I got close enough, and I was wary of large-leafed plants for years afterwards. Seeing a trailer for the old Lost in Space film when I was about six didn’t help, as it featured a shot of giant carnivorous plants (“oh my god, Dad was right!”)

The Wild-Man of the Rhubarb

I used to spend hours imagining the sort of people that lived in the houses along Mylor Creek when I was little.They usually resembled the witches and magical creatures I read about in books, but these days I think they’re mostly Londoners escaping to the country. These steps in particular always fascinated me, especially when they were overgrown and jewelled with emerald moss in the spring. I’d loiter at the bottom, hoping someone would appear and ask me in for tea (probably lucky they didn’t, retrospectively).

We finally reached the Pandora Inn, just as the sun was beginning to chase away the storm clouds. A large thatched inn, the Pandora has burned down… a number of times now, but on this occasion it was thankfully still standing. Low wooden beams line the ceilings inside, barrels double-up as spare seating, and open fires burn in most of the rooms. Outside, a floating platform provides further seating, jutting out into the creek. Swans drift up and down, hoping for hand-outs, and children fish for crabs over the side. Locals often sail over, and moor their boats to the side of the pontoon.

The Pandora

A Sea-Swan

The view from the end of the pontoon. Not many pub-views can rival this one, though please let me know if you have any in mind!

Locals sailing over for an evening drink

My friend Kay, artist and librarian (sounds like excellent cover for ‘Secret Agent’ doesn’t it), who has been showing us all the best bits of Falmouth we didn’t know existed.

 

It was mostly families having dinner, and couples enjoying the sunset… and then this lot turned up to provide the entertainment. Look closely… It took him about ten minutes to, er, sort himself out, to the hilarity/ horror of the other patrons.

Kay and I seem to be tilting sideways by this point, probably due to Tom sneakily switching our half-pints of Rattler to full pints without us noticing.

We were the last group left out in the dark, but eventually the night chill got too much for us and we headed inside. Growing up on a tiny Pacific island has given me a lifelong tie to the sea, like an invisible cord that will never break, so I’m never happier than when I’m near it.  Being in Cornwall, where the sea permeates every aspect of daily life, makes me feel like I’ve come home.

You might also like:

P1080787   Mussenden Temple 1

Advertisements

Drifting Away: Cornwall, Crabs and Cider

Being in London during summer doesn’t feel right. I escaped to work in the country each of my first three London summers at university, so perhaps this has set a precedent I will never quite throw off. Whether exercising horses and brush-cutting rampant weeds, or house-sitting for a family friend who took their yacht and family (minus pets) off to the Isles of Scilly for two months,  I always found an excuse. Now that I live and work full-time in London, however, I am tied to it. The oppressive heat and stinking tube carriages, and unnecessary building-work extending houses upwards, outwards and downwards, that clatters and roars through open windows, is a part of daily life. I do love London, but sometimes it feels like living inside a huge factory. Powered by rumbling machinery and scuttling workers with dead eyes and empty souls.

Just as life in the factory was getting all too much, Tom came up with a wonderful suggestion: Cornwall. If ever there was an antidote to the daily grind and toil, it is to be found here. There is something wild and ancient about this part of the British Isles. The scream of seagulls, smell of brine, and the patchwork of fields in gold, jade and bronze transport me back to a simpler time. The few family holidays we took were always spent visiting my grandparents near Falmouth, as my mother didn’t want them to miss out on my childhood. I would read stories of magical forests , streams and wells, and animals that talked and went on adventures, and once a year I would be taken to visit the land such stories came from. For me the magic was real, and it came undeniably from Cornwall.

My grandparents have recently moved away but the area near Falmouth will always feel like home. Luckily for me Tom loves it as much as I do, so we scheduled ourselves a week off, found an apartment overlooking the sea, and made the five hour journey down by train. As we arrived late we headed straight to Rick Stein’s restaurant, for the most wonderful  seafood. The view isn’t particularly inspiring (the back of the Maritime Museum), but the atmosphere is relaxed and the food… indescribably wonderful.

The next morning we woke up and discovered that perfect summer’s day you never usually get on holiday, and a view from our balcony we’ll be able to stare at for hours even if rain manages to drown the sun.

The view from our balcony

We pottered down the road to a sheltered courtyard just off the high street, and had breakfast at Café Cinnamon. Serving excellent vegetarian food, this small, friendly café is the perfect place to while away a couple of hours, and the owners are happy to offer advice on the local area.

I managed to damage the lining of my stomach a few days ago (aspirin and ibuprofen are apparently the worst way to deal with back pain, as they react with the acid in your stomach to torture you) and on asking for a glass of milk (my doctor advised this, I’m not just reverting to childhood) I was offered the above, magical concoction. Milk with ice and mint syrup – it was like drinking mint imperials, and it was amazing.

After a leisurely breakfast, we got the ferry to Flushing. Ferries really are the best way to travel in Cornwall. Reasonably priced, convenient, and bloody exciting! Falmouth to Flushing is ten minutes by car, or a five minute/ £2.50 per adult ferry trip, so there’s no contest really.

 Here’s me waiting for the ferry to leave, riveted by excitement, my gaze fixed upon the open water.

 Here’s Tom enjoying the ferry too, in a rugged, manly way. His excitement is well hidden, but just as fervent.

Once in Flushing, we headed East around the coastline. You can walk to Mylor Harbour in 5-10 minutes via a series of twisting, overgrown lanes, but we decided to take the more scenic and adventurous route.

A coastal path weaves its way through fields, so we followed this for ten minutes or so before scrambling down through brush and sea-hardened shrubs to the rocks. Here did the real fun begin. Provided you catch an ebb-tide, a stretch of rock will lead you all the way round the coast to Mylor Harbour. Mostly dark shale, with seams of glittering white granite running through it, the landscape has clearly been twisted in some seismic shift, and the layers revealed jut towards the sky instead of lying flat. This has the added bonus of giving you greater purchase, but do still wear flexible shoes with a rubber sole for such scrambling. My Fred Perry pumps may not seem the most practical, but they allowed me to clamber safely across the rocks with far greater ease than Tom’s trainers (as well as matching my outfit).

There was a reason for making our journey a lot more difficult and time consuming. Rock pools. Peering into the depths of a huge pool, cut off from the sea and harbouring any number of monsters, is the best way to spend a summer’s afternoon. Drifting a stick through tendrils of bright green weed to flush out whatever may be hiding or camouflaged beneath it; patiently trapping tiny fish and shrimps with your hands until with a swoop you lift them from the water, and are able to examine them for a few elated seconds before returning them to their pool. The best thing of all, however, is ever so slowly lifting rocks from their resting places, to see what is hiding beneath them. Literally hours of fun to be had with this. We found a good assortment of crabs, and one huge fish that flopped out of the pool in panic, before escaping into the sea; much to my disappointment.

When we finally reached Mylor Harbour we bought well-deserved pints of Rattler (Cornish cider, pronounced ‘rat-luh’) and ice-creams, and sat on the quay enjoying the glorious sunshine. We were also treated to an unexpected air-show from a Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter, which looped around the harbour several times before hovering over the beach next to us and divesting itself of a paramedic on the end of a rope. An agog group of locals and tourists were by this point on their feet, pasties and pints of cider in their hands, and we watched in polite silence as the jump-suited paramedic jogged up the beach and into the woods. Imaginations ran riot, especially when the helicopter flew off around the bay, then returned to actually land; a second paramedic climbing out and jogging off in the same direction as the first. They eventually carried a patient on-board and took off, and the small crowd that had gathered slowly dispersed.

Can you spot the paramedic? He’s mid-air, if you need a clue!

The view across Mylor Harbour

More tales of seaside action and derring do to follow soon. Does anyone else enjoy hunting in rock pools as much as me?!

A Pool of Their Own

The time has come.

My tadpoles have started to turn into tiny frogs, staring mournfully out through the convex glass of their prison home and dreaming of freedom. first they grew useless looking, skeletal appendages beneath their tails, which slowly grew stronger and began to be utilised for extra propulsion, and then front legs exploded out of their heads (I’m not joking; it’s really weird). Despite giving them a gently-sloping stone platform they can sit on above water level, and procuring a Tupperware box full of aphids to feed them from the garden of one of my students (that family will never view me as a sensible, normal adult again), to my absolute horror I somehow lost two more frogs last week. I was perplexed by this, and mortified, and even a little upset (I know they’re just frogs, but they’re my frogs!)

I had secretly been harbouring plans to keep a few, but realised the impracticality of this. Firstly, having to regularly hunt down live prey is not really my thing (daphnia seem to be of no interest to them, unfortunately). Before finding the aphids, I spent an uneasy afternoon desperately searching the flat for ants, tiny flies or other insect life small enough to feed to them, contemplating such things as moths and bumble bees before shaking my head and muttering “too big, too big” under my breath. Nothing could be found (probably a good thing?!) and I realised that I was going a bit mad. Plus there was the death thing. I really didn’t want to  be inadvertently responsible for any more tiny corpses disappearing into the willing maws of their siblings.

Literally climbing the (glass) walls. Normal frogs aren’t supposed to be able to do this, so they must be desperate.

Tom headed to Dorset for a man-weekend with one of his man-friends (it’s not quite Vegas is it, but as long as they’re happy) so I took the opportunity to visit my parents, and release my froglets somewhere suitably pastoral. I got the train South, and bought myself a small bottle of champagne for the journey, to toast their freedom. I actually bumped into an old school friend at Charing Cross, so we travelled down together and kept the froglets company (I’m not sure if he was more perturbed by the fact that I was transporting baby frogs in Tupperware or that I was planning on drinking champagne on a train, on my own, in the afternoon… but anyway, I thought it was a good send-off).

There’s a beautiful and ancient pond near where my parents live, that I actually released the last few I managed to keep alive into (tadpoles must view my flat as being like a set from Battle Royale). It’s very overgrown, and I had to tiptoe between briars and across spongy moss to reach the edge, but it’s a small, lily-pad filled oasis. It’s also surrounded by ancient blackthorn, hazel and oak trees, and has a lovely view across rolling Sussex countryside (not that the froglets will care, I know, they’ll be preoccupied with trying not to be eaten, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside).

Nice bit uh prime reel estate. Jus perfic fur frogs.

I used to go out hacking in my youth with one of our neighbours and her daughter, and we would often ride past this particular pond. She told me that a body was found in it years ago, preserved in the same way as the Lindow Man and Woman, but I never knew if she was telling me the truth. I’m less suspicious of the story that prehistoric weapons and tools were found in it though, which suggests that it may have been around since the Bronze Age. The log where Kevin Costner addressed his merry men is also nearby, but again I don’t think the frogs will care.

© Jade Everingham

Yes, I climbed over a five bar gate in a mini skirt and high heels. What else was I supposed to do?!

A last farewell.

As soon as I dipped the box into the water the remaining tadpoles disappeared into the shadowy depths, and the froglets breast-stroked their way to the edge to hide in the grass.

Here’s me looking sad to say goodbye.

I’ve been trying to think of something else I can keep in my fish-bowl that I’ll be able to keep alive, other than pond-snails (which aren’t the most exciting…) any ideas?

You might also like:

NG tadpoles   P1070872   Bullfrog Tadpole

Diptyque & V V Rouleaux

It sounds like the title of an Art film about a pair of Parisian courtesans doesn’t it. It’s actually the title of my most recent shopping trip though, so less exciting, sorry. I thought I’d share two of my favourite London shops with you as I managed to hit them both in one day, and am still floating on a euphoric cloud of post-purchase delight.

Diptyque

Diptyque are a luxury perfume and scented-candle brand, originating  in Paris at 34 boulevard Saint-Germain. Three friends (an interior designer, a painter, and a theater director/ set designer) created a kind of stylish bazaar full of surprising items, gathered by the trio on their travels. This combination of Parisian romance, exotic travel, and a commitment to quality, have made Diptyque  highly desirable.

I often wear their perfumes, but the scented candles are where my loyalty is unwavering. Pomander in winter, and Freesia in spring. A creature of habit am I, like a trustworthy hedgehog snuffling along the same paths year in, year out. HOWEVER, I thought I’d go crazy, and try a new one! I picked out Mousses (Moss), partly because it evokes “all the fresh scents of the forest floor after the rain”, which sounds like heaven to me, and partly because it sounds likes mouses (childish snigger). I headed to 37 Brook Street, Mayfair, as there’s a lovely little branch of Diptyque near Bond Street tube station. Helpful staff, happy to let you wander around sniffing bottles and jars, or to offer expert advice if you require it. Seductive fragrances float through the air, enchanting and enticing you. Every purchase will also have complimentary perfume samples added to it as well, which are perfect for popping into an evening bag.

Diptyque (editer.com)

Mousses smells exactly how it is described. Earthy and green, it smells of damp bark, leaf mulch, trickling streams and ferns crushed underfoot as you leap and blunder dart through the forest. The perfume distribution of Diptyque candles is incredible, and you can scent a whole room just by placing one in it unlit; the £40 size also has a 50hr burn-time. A lot of my friends are horrified that I’ll spend £40 on a candle, but scent affects us so deeply that I’m surprised to be considered unusual in my adulation of it.

P1080270    P1080281

V V Rouleaux

VV Rouleaux is a ten minute walk (in high heels) North of Diptyque, to 102 Marylebone Lane. It sells beautiful ribbons in every colour and fabric, feathers, tassels, and satin flowers galore. A glamorous haberdashers, for the glamorous arts and crafters! It’s technically a passementerie, devoted to the art of making elaborate trimmings or edgings (in French, passements). Being surrounded by ribbons and feathers reminds me of an elegant age when all clothing you didn’t make yourself was haute couture; a time of cocktails, jazz and dressing up.

1

102 Marylebone Lane

Tying gifts with real ribbon (rather than the nasty, plasticy stuff that’s always sold at Christmas) makes them so much more special, and shows that you’ve put the thought and care into a purchase that its recipient deserves (even if you haven’t). I’ve also made my own gift-cards (Birthdays, Christmas, Thank-you etc) since I was four, and my mother refused to pay the Air Mail for cards to England if they weren’t a bit more special, so I love finding a new colour or fabric I can experiment with (leather ribbon anyone? V V Rouleaux will provide). I am V V excited about playing with my new haul, and I’ll show you what I come up with once I’ve had to time to destroy our flat in the name of gift-cards.

A few examples below – I’ll write a post about them soon; then you’ll get to see my glue-gun.

     

You might also like:

Au Grand Theatre Ambrose Hummingbird Traygift boxes for students

The Night Circus

acrobats 5

Last weekend, Tom and I found ourselves trotting through the crooked back-streets of Smithfield, heading towards the night circus.

Smithfield is steeped in history, so is a highly charged setting for any performance. It’s mostly known for its centuries-old market these days, but it used to be a popular site for executions, including that of William Wallace in 1305. It was also largely untouched by the 1666 fire of London, so has retained a sense of its past more than most areas of London. Ghosts brush past you as you wander through it, and you find yourself listening out for their footsteps.

WillTom and I had tickets for ‘How Like an Angel‘, a collaboration between the UK based vocal ensemble, I Fagiolini, and the contemporary Australian circus troop Circa. They have been performing at cathedrals around the UK culminating in this, their final run, at The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great. The church was founded in 1123 as an Augustinian priory, and though what remains is merely the chancel of a much larger monastic church, it still possesses the most significant Norman interior in London (and was used in Shakespeare in Love as the church where Shakespeare begs for forgiveness, incidentally).

It took us a while to work out how to actually get inside (it was dark, alright!), so we were a couple of minutes late, but this only gave the scene that greeted us greater impact. The atmosphere was charged; the audience a small crowd in the centre of the church. Abstract, electronic sound that could be felt as much as heard pulsed through the building,  like the energy you perceive in the sky before a storm breaks; the heaviness of the air before the rain falls. White-clad figures were twisting and contorting through the air above us, ropes of silk being formed into ladders and swings, human limbs used as levers and supports. It was breathtaking.

acrobats 4There is something magical and illicit about the circus. It allows you to step into another, fantastical world, designed purely for pleasure and entertainment, that you suspect is neither entirely real nor entirely safe. Both suspicions heighten its power to enthral. Soon, the focus shifted to I Fagiolini, and their voices soared above us, higher even than the acrobats had taken us. The performance shifted between two stages at either end of the church, as well as weaving through the audience at times. Choral music from the 11th to the 20th centuries was both focus and background, enhancing the sense that the acrobats and their contortions strangely belonged in the church, despite being so disparate from its usual use.

acrobats 1

The skill and strength of the circus performers was remarkable, and frequent gasps were elicited from their delighted audience. Most were lost in their own world, twisting, balancing and leaping through the air, but a sense of rapport was built between audience and performers through very subtle humour; a smirk when a clever trick surprised us, or a smile when a particularly difficult routine was completed.

This wasn’t exactly like Erin Morgenstern’s 2011 fantasy novel The Night Circus, but it felt pretty close. Magic was woven in the air that night.

acrobats 3

Has anyone else seen Circa or I Fagiolini before?