Archive | May, 2011

St. Ives Food and Drink Festival

22 May

Between Friday’s farmers’ market and today’s trip to the St. Ives Food and Drink Festival, this has been an extremely food-ful weekend. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

It was great to see St. Ives buzzing and full of people.

And the weather couldn’t have been better.

We really only went to the food producers’ market along the pier, but that was enough to keep me dipping into my purse every minute or so.

There was local fruit and veg:

… delicious cheeses:

… smoked haddock chowder (which was scrumptious) and giant pans of paella:

…lots to wash it down with:

(The husband will report back with his verdict on the Boilers Cornish Ale later on, and I can already vouch for the yummy-ness of Polgoon’s Aval, which you can order online. It’s one of my very favourite tipples.)

…and plenty of sweet treats for afters:

I opted for Jaffa Cake which was homemade dark chocolate ice cream and orange ice cream swirled together with an orange reduction syrup type thing, and with chunks of Jaffa Cake mixed in. Heaven.

A splendid day. Shame we didn’t leave many crumbs for this fellow and his friends:


Hidden Gardens of Penzance

21 May

Today was the Hidden Gardens of Penzance, a wonderful opportunity to nose around some of Penzance’s loveliest gardens.

In spite of the spotty weather, loads of people turned out and the event was a huge success!

As well as seeing some fabulous gardens, I also discovered parts of Penzance I never knew existed – like the wonderful cottages on Penlee Manor Drive.

We walked to all 10 gardens, from Castle Horneck to the Promenade, and felt we more than deserved our cream tea at The Morrab Library at the end.

Here’s hoping next year marks the second annual Hidden Gardens tour!

Penzance Farmers’ Market

20 May

Today I helped out at the farmers’ market on a stall for The Morrab Library. We sold some books, some sandwiches, tickets to tomorrow’s Hidden Gardens of Penzance and raffle tickets. This is the fabulous John Piper painting which we’ll be raffling later in the summer (sorry it’s propped up at a funny angle):

And, of course, we all had time to wander around and do a bit of shopping as well. The food on the stalls was all so tempting.

How did I manage to miss taking pictures of all the lovely cakes, brownies and meringues? And the pasties and pies? And the gorgeous veg?

Ah, well. The plants and flowers will make up for it:

I came home with a bag full of asparagus, broad beans, peas, flowers and two of the biggest most luscious meringues I’ve ever seen.


14 May

Yesterday, I went on a trip to Greenway, Agatha Christie’s holiday home near Dartmouth in Devon. It was so wonderful! The sort of house that’s big but not too big, grand but not too grand. I could have moved straight in. Really, I could.

Christie and her archaeologist husband, Sir Max Mallowan, bought the house in the late ’30s for £6,000 – and that included the 33 acres of land that surround it!

In her autobiography, Christie writes:

… I asked its price, though without much interest. I didn’t think I had heard the answer correctly.

‘Sixteen thousand, did you say?’

‘Six thousand.’

‘Six thousand?’ I could hardly believe it. We drove home talking about it. ‘It’s incredibly cheap,’ I said.

In 1959, the house was transferred to Christie’s daughter who lived there permanently with her husband and son. It was given to the National Trust in 2000 and has only been open to the public since 2009.

We started off in Dartmouth and took the Christie Belle ferry up the Dart to Greenway.

There was no photography permitted in the house  (which was a real shame), so I’ve taken these few interior pictures from the internet:

During the war, the house was requisitioned for use of the U.S. Navy and became the Officers’ Mess for the Coast Guard. During this time, Lt. Marshall Lee painted a mural around the wall of the library at Greenway:

When the house was returned to the Mallowans, they opted to keep the mural rather than paint over it. And a good decision that was too.

The best thing about the house is that it’s not museum-like. You can sit on most of the furniture. Well, perhaps not the tables. But the sofa in the sitting room was invitingly squishy. The other thing I loved about the house was the STUFF in it. The Mallowans were big collectors, as were Agatha Christie’s daughter and son-in-law who lived there later. Consequently, it’s jam-packed with their collections of … well, everything. China, paintings, clocks, watches, stamp boxes, pottery, glass, shell pictures, tapestries, etc. I could go on. The house is full of it and it’s all fascinating.

The grounds were rambling and wonderful and full of hidden corners. Not to mention the glorious views of the river.

And the greenhouses! During his life, Anthony Hicks, Agatha Christie’s son-in-law, ran a commercial nursery at Greenway. Since 2000, the greenhouses have been beautifully restored and are a joy to explore.

Plants are still sold at Greenway. I liked the way they were displayed – with signs telling you where to see them growing in the garden:

Agatha Christie didn’t write any of her books at Greenway. She saw it purely as a holiday home, and liked to escape from her work while she was there. She did, however, use the house as the backdrop for three of her murder mysteries, Five Little Pigs, Dead Man’s Folly and Ordeal by Innocence. Those, and all of her others, were for sale in the giftshop.

We ran out of time to explore the boathouse (I’ll save that for the next visit), but did pass it on the boat trip back to Dartmouth. It’s the spot where poor little Marlene Tucker met her end in Dead Man’s Folly.

Next time, I’ll try and allow more time so I can see everything. And, who knows. I might even convince the other half to book a week in the holiday apartment contained within the house. Though at over £2,000 a week, it’s not likely. For that price, I’d expect at least a murder or two!

A Trip to Looe

7 May

We finally had a rain-free day, so decided to head off to Looe. I’d never been before and I’m so glad we went – and doubly glad we didn’t go during the school holidays!

We hadn’t known that today was the second annual West Looe May Fayre, a small but lovely fair which is now back after a 70 or so year hiatus. There were stalls and crafty things:

And I was particularly enamoured of these green painted and upholstered chairs:

And there was music and the usual assemblages:

And a lovely exhibition of old photographs of Looe in the church:

Looe is actually made up of two towns, East Looe and West Looe, connected by a bridge:

I liked the plaque on the Old Looe Bridge, marking repairs made in the 17th century:

Looe has some remarkably old buildings:

and is a mass of hidden lanes and alleyways:

There are also some rather gorgeous shops:

All in all, it was a splendid day!