open the curtains

and take a look out the window if you want to know what the weather's like


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Lost Mine Found

entrance to Tate St Ives [c] J Hughes 2008

Standing inside the amphitheatrical atrium of Tate St Ives feels like being inside the heart of a giant seashell. The entrance path whorls up concentrically from the waterfront.  Look up – here’s a siphon hole to the sky.  Framed by the clean Art Deco lines is the expanse of Porthmeor Beach, devoid of tourists, a smattering of surfers catching the last warmth of the autumnal Atlantic waves.  Listen – here’s the sea sound reverberated, amplified, almost abstracted to the resonant shush of a conch held to the ear.  Today I am a hermit crab, scuttling around in this shell that’s far too big for me, scavenging on the dead meat of art and place. Continue reading

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Shadowlands & Reflections

I wrote this a while ago as a sort of joke 2012 retrospective piece, and initially wasn’t going to post it on here at all. However, in the wake of the popularity of my previous post wherein I visited the location of a BBC adaptation of a classic novel, it seems more appropriate. Forget country houses and nineteenth-century romances and read on if you fancy a trip to Narnia by way of the Great British countryside…

Wrapping myself more tightly in my inadequate layers I attempt to minimise the possible gaps in my clothing through which the wind can creep, and peer over the ship’s railings to see if I can catch a better glimpse of our destination. Cee is standing a little ahead of me on deck keeping a weather eye on the horizon. The first hint that there was something other than sea out there appeared about an hour into the voyage, a smudge on the border between sea and sky that disappeared almost as soon as it had arrived, leaving us in doubt as to whether it had been visible at all. Continue reading


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River Fal 12: Alternative Perspectives

– The Roseland – St Mawes (where?)

It would be easy to misinterpret the name Roseland but in fact rose stems from ros, the Cornish word for heathland, which would once have been the main habitat of this peninsula. Now it’s mostly farmland but with much of that given over to grazing, the high summer of wildflower meadows, dog roses in the hedgerows, and adjacent private gardens blossoming bright in the late afternoon sunshine, this really does seem to be a land of roses. Gardens fare particularly well in Cornwall because of the climate: for all we might complain about the rainfall it is the combination of this, the milder winters and warm but not too dry summers that make the area such a haven for plants. As with the churchyard garden at St Just some parts are almost sub-tropical, with the coastal river valleys providing the perfect combination of shelter, warmth and moisture for these miniature jungles.

This eastern shoreline of the Fal Estuary is far less populated than the western side, but it might have been different, had the development of Falmouth’s deepwater harbour had an alternative setting. Continue reading