Before the crowds arrived in the south west [two Cornish beaches were announced to be full this week] we took a trip to St Ives to visit friends who were holidaying down there. Parking the car at our local station we hopped on the Penzance train with our Devon and Cornwall railcards. It didn’t start out the best of days but the clouds parted as we left the train at our destination and, as usual, St Ives did its best to enchant and welcome. We were killing two birds because we wanted to catch the Patrick Heron exhibition at Tate St Ives and our friends were happy to tag along. There was a lot to take in but my definite favourites were the blocks of primary colours rather than the ones in pastels that were line drawings and looked, to me, unfinished. The view from inside the Tate is like a painting in itself, the sun had really heated up and the surfers were taking to the waves. We left the gallery and had a lunch overlooking Porthmeor beach and before we knew it we were racing to get our return train.
There are still loads of Cornish beaches that, amazingly, have very few people on, the downside may be that you have to walk a bit after parking but you will be rewarded. Just remember if you are taking picnics, please take your rubbish home, every year beautiful beaches are left litter strewn and when the tide come in that litter will be taken into the sea to add to the already overcrowded plastic pollution.
At the 2017 Edinburgh festival we saw Middle Child’s All We Ever Wanted was Everything late one night at Summerhall, in a circular tent and it was packed. Gig theatre; a mash up of theatre [new writing] and an [original] music gig, as it is termed has brought new young audiences into the theatre and you can see why, there’s an energy that goes beyond the norm and its infectious.
Last night I headed to the Lost Gardens of Heligan to another circular tent for the start of Kneehigh’s Asylum summer season which started with Ubu Karaoke. This was a retelling of Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry and modern classic songs that aid the telling of the story to a twenty-first century audience. The title may imply that people have to get onstage and sing along but that is a false assumption, the cast always lead the songs, which are surtitled and the audience sings along as one. In fact from the start, the usual rules of theatre are left aside. Gone was the 15-20 minute interval and we were told there was a 5 minute breather, we could come and go throughout the show, the doors of the tent were always open and the bar alongside the stage was available throughout the performance. The audience were sitting, standing and dancing; even partaking of games during the Ubu Olympics but never was anyone asked to do anything they didn’t want to do. The whole event was relaxed for everyone and the audience loved it. The analogy of Ubu, who gets to be king by a devious route, wan’t lost on anyone in the audience and nothing had to be spelt out for us to see the modern day equivalents. The fact that it was so relevant to what is happening now made people sing louder, sing like no-one was watching because no-one was watching, we were all partaking. When Ubu was first produced in 1896 it caused a riot and last night the riot was contained within the audience as they formed armies to follow their leaders. If you are on holiday in Cornwall or live in the south west GO. This isn’t gig theatre, its not even karaoke theatre, Knee-high call it ‘promenade musical’ but its something deeper and at this moment in time its obvious that people need it.
Ubu Karaoke is on at the Lost Gardens of Heligan from now until Saturday 25th August
More info here http://www.kneehigh.co.uk/show/UBU-Karaoke.php
Photograph: Melanie Duchene/EPA more views here
After weeks and weeks of clear cloudless blue skies nature sticks a finger up to us in the UK and denies us a natural astronomical phenomena [lets hope it isn’t a metaphor for Brexit seeing as the rest of Europe saw it]. Yes, along with others in the UK we didn’t get to see the lunar eclipse last night because of cloud. Just like the solar eclipse of 1999, the year we arrived in the south west, when the clouds did their thing that day too. Back then some adventurous people got in their cars and headed to the very west of Cornwall where there were clear skies, but most ended up in traffic jams because everyone else had the same idea.
So no blood mood for us I will hope that come 24th September there will be clear skies so we will see the Harvest moon – or hærfest, meaning autumn in old English – although sadly it will be heralding the end of summer, which so far has been pretty pretty good.
For pictures of the blood moon around the world in The Guardian, click here
These are for sale in the UpCycled Home, [a shop housed in the old coachhouse at Mount Edgecombe Country Park] a selection of candles named after places on the Rame Peninsula. The shop is full of eclectic finds and all locally sourced, a perfect shop to find presents. I have my eye on Freathy Cliffs if anyone’s interested!!!
I have been doing some work for a friend and old employer who has inherited a chalet on the cliff, one that he and his siblings would come and live in all summer long when they were children. Since his father passed away it has been difficult to come back but now he is trying to open it up and get it ready for use this summer. It’s on a part of the cliff where the chalets really blend in with their surroundings [a requisite was that the chalets had to be painted in only a few colours that would blend with the cliff] so much so that they are difficult to identify and, with that in mind, I am not going to post a photo of the building but just the tantalising view of the roof.
The roof can just be seen above the outcrop of rocks.
Over the years there has been some erosion of the cliff and some pathways down to the beach are no longer accessible, one of them is the route to the chalet. About halfway down there is a sign warning of the dangerous cliff and if you continue you have to navigate the makeshift path and handrails [some made of wooden ladders] that are perilously close to the edge. The alternative is to travel down by another route and walk along the beach until you come to the cut off path and walk up from the bottom. There is a feeling of Shangri La, a sense of finding something beyond the normal reality, a happy place that is cut off from the rest of the cliff. Maybe it’s because the chalet is locked in a past time, a time that was childhood summer holidays that stretched on forever, that were free and sunny. From the bottom of the garden there is a view of Rame Head so different from mine because at this low down point the chapel at the end cannot be seen. Even the beach at this point of the bay is quiet and unused, only a few bathers and dog walkers. It has been a joy to help get the chalet ready, it was hot work but with the breathtaking views and the cloudless blue skies and the sea to cool you off there couldn’t have been a better place for that short time.
Last weekend there was an open garden event in our nearest village and proceeds were being given to the local hospice, so as the weather was pretty perfect for it we went along. The event was entitled the Hidden Gardens of… and some were really out of the way [hence the name] some with a steep climb up but, with a fantastic vista when you got there.
Most were typically English with lots of lawn and borders and a smattering of tropical plants; yuccas, bamboos and palms but one had a gravelled courtyard with carefully placed architectural plants that was almost Californian in its feel, or maybe it was just the effect of the sun.
Most had lovely borders or beds created within the lawn itself.
My favourite was on a slope with a path down the side that led to a series of garden ‘rooms’ and was so heavily planted that there was hardly any more room for growth. Each ‘room’ had a different feel to it depending on the planting and the final one had a pond with a bench placed ideally to create a postcard view out beyond the garden to the estuary that flows into a lake creating a larger vista replicating the smaller one we were sitting within.
Giant Gunnera [above] at the end of my favourite garden.
I came away with a handful of pots and a determination to tackle the plants in my own garden that have taken hold and are dominating the beds, to put some order into the chaos.
Over the last week we have had the most intense sunsets for some time, all taken on an iPhone with the point and click method.