Showing posts with label castles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label castles. Show all posts

Monday, 5 March 2012

A trip to the Cornish coast

The Boy and I took a road trip this weekend to the beautiful south Cornwall coast of the Roseland Peninsula. We booked the weekend just after getting engaged back in December, when we discovered that the enchanting English Heritage St Mawes Castle was holding a Wedding Showcase. Getting married in a castle by the sea?? Yes please! We may, however, have got a little ahead of ourselves with romantic dreams of vows by candlelight, photographs of us by towering turrets, and speeches echoing around medieval stone walls. Here's a peek at how our first "wedding research" trip went...

St Mawes Castle 

After an early Saturday morning start and a very long drive accompanied by classic CDs such as The Best of the Beach Boys, we arrived to dazzling sunshine, sparkling blue ocean views, and a biting wind. We headed straight to the English Heritage castle overlooking the entrance to the Fal estuary in St Mawes, a delightful little fishing village surrounded by fantastic sea views and the lush greenery of the temperate Roseland Peninsula. As a major castle geek, I was super excited to see one of the best-preserved coastal artillery fortresses built during Henry VIII's reign to guard the area against invasions from France and Spain. Fast becoming a wedding planning bridezilla, I was even more excited to see the castle dressed as a unique, seaside wedding venue. The castle was just as enchanting as we had hoped it would be. From the beautifully minimalist ceremony room at the top of the castle, with panoramic views of the sea, to the turreted terrace used for drinks receptions, and the ancient gun room used for dinner (prepared by an adventurous team of caterers in the open-air makeshift kitchen!), the castle certainly provides a special venue for a wedding. Unfortunately we knew immediately that it felt like a great place for a day out but not the right place for our wedding (especially as the narrow stone steps and slatted floors would rule out any elderly guests or high heels!). 

St Mawes Castle, looking out to the lighthouse used in Fraggle Rock!
Childhood Memories 

We spent a whole day exploring the gorgeous villages and coves along the coast between St Mawes and Fowey. The very friendly landlady of our B&B gave us a list of places to visit if we were "brave enough to take a drive around the coastal road" and waved us off, jokingly checking that we knew where the reverse gear of our hire car was. An incredible adventure followed. I took The Boy on a tour of the delightful harbours and unspoilt beaches that I used to visit as a child, which involved some scary near vertical, one-track, winding roads; some near-misses with scathing local drivers; and some absolutely breathtaking views. I loved rediscovering the area. I had forgotten how clear the sea is in Cornwall, and how golden the clean sandy beaches are. Even the huge seagulls are haughtily superior and the salty air smells amazing. Here are a few of my favourite snaps from the weekend... 

The harbour at Mevagissey

View from the Rising Sun Inn, Portmellon

Sheltering from a rain shower at Caerhays beach

Daphne Du Maurier's Menabilly bay

Pretty shop window at Portscatho

Urchin shells for sale on the quay at St Mawes

View of the creek from St Just in Roseland church
Foodie Treats

Now that we're saving for a wedding, The Boy and I have had to reign in our foodie tastes somewhat and eat out a little less. We packed up a picnic for the long journey down to Cornwall, consisting of flasks of coffee, chocolate brioche, kettle chips, sushi and delicious corned beef and mustard rolls. After a quick trip to the castle, The Boy just had to sample the local fish and chips as an afternoon snack. We grabbed a portion of twice-cooked chips from The Watchhouse in St Mawes and were disappointed. They were too crispy and tasted of the oil they were cooked in. The Rising Sun Inn right in the centre of St Mawes more than made up for it with a fantastic dinner menu later on. I had Scallops and Smoked Salmon with lemon mayonnaise, followed by a tasty special of grilled bass fillets and crushed new potatoes with cherry tomatoes and a beurre blanc sauce. The Boy tucked into a wintery dish of roast pheasant breast and bacon on a potato rosti. Delicious!

I was desperate to revisit a pub in the nearby village of Portmellon after enjoying their menu of fresh fish a few years ago. As part of our tour, I took The Boy to the Rising Sun Inn on the harbour at Portmellon for a traditional pub lunch. Luckily the pub remains unspoilt and we sampled a simple and generous roast beef lunch - I especially liked the fresh, flavourful carrots and green beans, and the interesting cheese rosti added to the already heaving plate! The welcoming mother and daughter team also offered us extra gravy and homemade horseradish sauce. It was the perfect lunch spot, and really well-priced too.

Roast Beef at the Rising Sun Inn, Portmellon
So, although the search for our perfect wedding venue continues, I'm looking forward to having as much fun along the way as we did this weekend! I'll keep you posted...

Enjoy! :-)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

What I'm looking forward to this month...

My winter blues have somewhat lifted now that we've finally seen some sunshine!

To top off my good mood, I've got lots of fun and exciting plans for the month of March. This month I'm looking forward to visiting castles by the sea, sipping champagne at charity fashion shows, some hardcore hot yoga, exploring vintage haberdashery, and vicariously enjoying some good old British binge drinking.

St Mawes Castle, Cornwall

In search of a fairytale wedding venue by the sea, The Boy and I are embarking on a 7 hour road trip to Cornwall this weekend to attend our first "wedding showcase" at a potential venue. With a few wedding fairs under my belt and lots of advice from married family and friends, I've got plenty of ideas, questions, even scrapbooks, but I'm going to ease the fiance in gently. He scares easy. So a fun weekend of beach walks and fresh seafood, including a *quick* wander round a castle (which just happens to have been set up for a wedding) could be just the ticket. Besides, the castle is managed by English Heritage and we're big fans. Photos to follow! :-)

NSPCC Charity Fashion Show and Auction, ARU Cambridge - book tickets here: Mumford Theatre.

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Childline, an exclusive event is being held in Cambridge to showcase some fabulous independent local fashion, art and talent. The catwalk show and auction, held at Anglia Ruskin University on East Road, will feature the university's BA Fashion students and unique creations from local labels Abigail Crampton Millinery, Cuckoo and Le Reve lingerie. I'm looking forward to sipping champagne, ransacking my goody bag, and maybe even rubbing shoulders with celebrity auctioneer Will Axon (of BBC's Flog It)!! ;-). Watch this space for my review. 

Hot Yoga at Camyoga, Cambridge

Lately I've been spending a lot of time in one of my new favourite places in Cambridge. Tucked away in a quiet side street close to the city centre Camyoga's beautiful yoga studios and cafe provide a haven when I need to escape a busy day and the winter weather. I signed up for the centre's new client offer at the beginning of February and now I'm hooked, especially on the Hot Yoga classes. Held in the centre's special heated studio with gorgeous bamboo flooring, the class follows the 26 posture Bikram series and is a fantastic way to de-stress, meditate, and sweat out all those horrible toxins and (hopefully) aid weight loss. Perhaps I'm gradually becoming a seasoned Yogi... after four weeks of classes I'm getting a bit addicted to improving my focus, balance and strength so that I can attempt the "advanced" versions of each posture. So this month I'm looking forward to making my membership official and enjoying many more treats from the centre's Dandelion Cafe. Favourites so far have been the Superfood Salad, Lentil and Coconut Soup, and a fabulous cheese, olive and sundried tomato organic savoury muffin. YUM. Go and see for yourself - but don't tell everyone ;-).

Lentil & Coconut Soup and Umami Muffin
Vintage and Retro Finds at Rejuvinate, Cambridge 

A real gem of a retail store has popped up on Hills Road in Cambridge. Decorated with deliciously tacky neon lights, silver foil shimmer curtains in the windows, and an array of 60s, 70s, and 80s paraphernalia, the shop is packed full of goodies that transport me back to my teenage years of collecting funky vinyl covers and lamps shaped like lightbulbs. When I find a spare ten minutes I'm planning to have a good rummage through the shop's vintage and retro offerings and haberdashery. The window display alone has got me coveting a gorgeous white distressed dressing table and some fabulous 1940s heels. Photos to follow :-). 

I heard about an intriguing little piece of theatre being performed at  The Junction this month when I was compiling the City View listings for March. Created by multi-award winning theatre company The Paper Birds, the show, aptly named Thirsty, is based on our nation's love affair with alcohol. I thought it was fitting to invite Best-Friend-Jess to join me - the friend with whom I learned to binge drink, before that was even the name for being 18 and going out with your friends to the local pub to neck a crate of alcopops. I make light of it now but I'm looking forward to being educated by the theatrical piece, which apparently weaves together true stories and booze-based confessions, collected from a 'drunken hotline' and on online questionnaire, in particular focusing on the women waving the flag for 'Booze Britain'! I suspect I will be sheepishly lowering my glass of half-drunk red wine by the end of the show and vowing to detox (the Hot Yoga obsession might come in handy there...). Watch this space for my review.  

Whatever you're up to this month, enjoy :-)