Archive | August, 2010

Porcupine Papers

28 Aug

Porcupine Papers, based in Newcastle Emlyn (Ceredigion), sells beautiful decorative Italian papers as well as all the lovely things they make themselves from those papers – notebooks, albums, journals, etc.

Here are some of their Italian notebooks:

And here’s my favourite of their current papers:

The papers (which cost £1.75 for a 50cmx70cm piece) can be used as giftwrap or for bookbinding or other crafty things. And I think some of them are even gorgeous enough to be framed as is.


Homemade Runner Bean Chutney

25 Aug

One day we’ll get our own vegetable garden going but, until then, we’re very lucky to have lovely neighbours who keep us well-supplied with all manner of fruit and veg – including, this year, loads of runner beans. These are end-of-season beans, so not as tender as earlier ones; this makes them ideal for chutney.

2 lbs runner beans, chopped or sliced
1 lb chopped onions
1½ pints malt vinegar
1½ lbs demerara sugar
½ tbsp salt
½ tbsp cornflour
½ tbsp turmeric
½ tbsp dried mustard

Cook the onions and beans in salted water until soft. Strain and chop more finely if desired. Return to the pan and add 1 pint of the malt vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer. Add the sugar. Mix the salt, cornflour, turmeric and mustard with the remaining vinegar and stir into the pan. Bring back to the boil and simmer until thick, 20-30 minutes. Pour into sterilised jars, but do not cover until cool.

*I halved the recipe

Serve with cheese or cold meat.

British Fruit & Veg Tea Towel

20 Aug

I bought this tea towel a week or so ago, but haven’t used it yet. It’s almost too pretty to use!


This lovely unbleached cotton tea towel is designed by Stuart Gardiner and costs £10. It’s a handy-dandy chart showing which fruit and vegetables are in season in which months.

I bought mine at the fabulous Hooper & Shaw (An Emporium of Wonderful Things) in Port Isaac, which is worth a mention itself. It’s a gallery/shop that showcases lots of handmade stuff produced by Cornish artists. They do these amazing screen prints, of which this is my favourite:

If you find yourself in Port Isaac scoping out the Doc Martin filming locations, be sure to stop in at Hooper & Shaw. They’re on Fore Street on your right as you walk out of the village, not much beyond The Old School Hotel.

The Minack Theatre

19 Aug

Last night we went to a performance of Brecht’s Trumpets and Drums at the gorgeous Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Cornwall. The Minack is an outdoor theatre, built into a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. It’s a spectacular spot, especially as you see the moonlight glimmering off the water.


The Minack was the brainchild of Rowena Cade, who built it beginning in the ’30s. You can read a full history of the project here.

If you’re in Cornwall during the Minack season (roughly May through September) do try and book tickets. It almost doesn’t matter what you see as the theatre itself is half the fun. Come early and bring a picnic. Or, if you’d rather not make your own picnic, phone ahead and there’ll be a pasty and a saffron bun waiting for you.

Vintage Swimsuits

13 Aug

Oh, if only this ooh-la-la gold lamé number were in my size.

The woman who owns Suffolk-based Beach Bygones sells amazing vintage swimwear, summer dresses, deck chairs and picnic baskets. I wish I could buy it all!

Handmade Marshmallows

12 Aug

How gorgeous do these look?! I don’t normally like marshmallows, but I think I’m more used to the bland, rubbery, artificial, overly sweet supermarket ones. These, however, sound delicious.

They’re from Sweet Treats Bakers and Confectioners and come in five yummy flavours: vanilla, caramel ripple, coconut, lemon meringue and raspberry. And they’re all natural, made with real fruit. A 100g-box is £2.95 from their online shop, or you can find them at a few food festivals around the UK. I think I need to order some. Now.

Local Agricultural Shows

11 Aug

White Orpingtons, pompom Dahlias, Victoria sponges, vintage Jags and homemade fruit wine. The local show never disappoints!

This particular one was the Pembrokeshire Town & Country Show in Lamphey, but they’re all good fun. If you’re looking for a great day out, check the Association of Show & Agricultural Organisations for an event near you.

Postcards from Penguin

10 Aug

Ooooh! Look at these! A set of 100 postcards featuring iconic Penguin book covers.

Available all over the place (Waterstone’s, WH Smith, Tesco, Amazon or from Penguin) for about £10-14.

Caldey Island

9 Aug

Cistercian monks, beaches and seals. What more could you ask?

To get to Caldey, take the small passenger ferry from the harbour in Tenby (Pembrokeshire). As of this week, it’s £11 for adults and £6 for children, and takes about 20 minutes. Note: no boats on Sundays.

When you’re on Caldey, you can walk up to the lighthouse at the far tip of the island and look at the seals on the rocks below, you can go and (very quietly) watch the monks’ chanting service, you can buy perfume (which used to be made by the monks, but I think is now outsourced), you can explore ancient St. Illtyd’s church and see the ogham writing there, you can loll on the beach with a picnic, you can see remains of prehistoric creatures in the tiny museum/post office … for such a small island, there’s an awful lot to do!