A Walk Near Tintagel

England’s South-West Coast Path is one of the world’s great walking routes, stretching from Somerset in the North, around the tip of Cornwall to the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.. We are lucky to have some 300 miles of that route here within Cornwall.

Recently, Alex and I took advantage of the glorious weather to take a walk along part of the Cornwall Coastal Path that was new to us. The stretch of the Path between Tintagel and Trebarwith Strand is typical of North Cornwall with it’s rugged rocky cliffs. That ruggedness is made even more dramatic here due to the scars of old slate quarrying. This is such a feature that the area is known as the “Slate Coast”. In fact, the coast path here is largely created from the old paths that the quarry-men used to access the mining sites.

Quarrying for slate has left its impact on the cliffs
looking to the sea over a field of bright yellow wildflowers

We started our walk just to the west of Tintagel. Looking back to the east we could see the island part of Tintagel Castle, while a little further on we passed the fabulously situated Tintagel Youth Hostel.

The island of Tintagel Castle seen from the South-West
Tintagel Youth Hostel has a magnificent clifftop view

If you live in Cornwall you are used to seeing seas in shades of dark brooding greys. With summers we are having now however, there are more and more days when you can see the waters in clear, almost mediterranean blues and greens.

As Trebarwith Strand comes into view along the walk, one can see the huge scars that historical slate mining has left in the cliffs.

A feature of the quarry sites are the great rock pillars left undisturbed where the miners hit unsuitable rock. These now tower over the old quarry beds.

Precautions were needed against the blazing sun!

All the waste rock from the quarries has led to many variations of dry stone walling.

And if you turn away from the sea, you are faced with the beautiful green of Cornwall

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Back after a break!

Hello everyone, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted but I’m looking forward to blogging more frequently from now on.

Since I last posted, I’ve been enjoying retirement – lots more time for creativity, gardening, friends and family!

My daughter, Isla, has been dealing with a difficult health condition and has started her own blog where she talks about her experiences and posts her own artwork, you can find her at Medically Unexplained.

I spent a week staying with my son a few weeks back, and visited Hillier Gardens in Hampshire. The seasonal planting displays are stunning and I’m feeling very inspired by all the colours and patterns.

Widemouth Bay

Today has been wet and miserable in this bit of the world but last week we had some days of brilliant sunshine. Last Wednesday I had a really good day working on my textile jewellery. I finished a new necklace that I was pleased with so Alex and I decided that a trip to the beach to enjoy the sunset was overdue.

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A new textile necklace

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When we arrived the at Widemouth Bay the light was stunning. The reflection of the brilliant blue sky on the the breaking waves made them appear almost fluorescent.

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Widemouth Bay near Bude in North Cornwall

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Near the beach, the air was laden with spray that glowed in the evening light

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A big wave crashing into the headland

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I always enjoy the little details as well as the broad seascape

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Light effects change very rapidly as the sun sinks down

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Another shot of the amazing glow in the spray lit by the setting sun

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The glowing sky reflected in the wet sand

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Just as the sun dipped under the horizon

An Ocean of Foxgloves

I went for a walk in the local forest a few weeks ago and came across this glorious patch of purple. This area had been cleared last year, and the foxgloves seem to have wasted no time in colonising!

Foxglove 5Unfortunately, there was no way to get a better view (though I did consider sending Alex up a tree), but hopefully these photos will convey some of the drama.

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Solitary Pale Bloom

A lone spire of white amongst the purple. 

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Digitalis purpurea (Common Foxglove)

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Wilsey Down Forest

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Clearing in the conifers


The Horniman Museum

I have discovered a new favourite museum! Hidden away in Forest Hill, South London is a late-Victorian gem – The Horniman Museum.

The facade of the original Horiniman Museum building

The facade of the original Horiniman Museum building

Founded in 1901 by Victorian tea trader Frederick John Horniman, the museum contains an eclectic mix of displays including natural history, ethnology and musical instruments. The original building was designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Charles Harrison Townsend who also designed an extension opened in 1912. New buildings were again added in the 1990’s, including a grass-roofed Centre for Understanding the Environment.

Townsend's 1912 extension

Townsend’s 1912 extension

The CUE building (Centre for Understanding the Environment)

The CUE building (Centre for Understanding the Environment)

This is a very traditional museum with many of the natural history exhibits being slightly faded examples of the taxidermist’s art, but they are a major part the place’s charm. Other display cases contain particularly good educational explanations.

Scarlet ibis

Scarlet ibis

Slightly faded and scruffy but still very beautiful!

Slightly faded and scruffy but still very beautiful!

Beautiful if slightly dusty insects abound

Beautiful if slightly dusty insects abound

The museum has a vast collection of musical instruments, from ancient to modern, with many beautiful specimens.

A case of musical instruments

A case of musical instruments

One of the Benin brozes in the Africa gallery

One of the Benin bronzes in the Africa gallery

Mask

Mask

One of the delights of the Horniman is it’s freedom from the modern “sanitised” display aesthetic. Many of the ethnographic displays are housed in dark old wooden cabinets, often with an eccentric mix of items displayed side by side.

Model of a north-African doorway behind a case of stuffed birds

Model of a north-African doorway behind a case of stuffed birds

One of the fossil displays

Fossil Ichthyosaur fore-limb

A beautiful set of teeth!

A beautiful set of teeth!

Lettuce Coral

Lettuce Coral

One of the many fine moths and butterflys

One of the many fine moths and butterflys

Chelsea Physic Garden

I recently paid a delightful visit to Chelsea Physic Garden, the first time I had been there in many years. For those who love plants, this is one of London’s great hidden treasures. Being someone who is inspired by natural forms, I found many unusual shapes and textures that can serve as inspiration for my work but the garden is a great place for anyone to visit.Physic_garden_3Chelsea Physic Garden is one of the oldest horticultural establishments in the world. It was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries as a place to train apprentices in growing and using medicinal plants.Physic_garden_8Physic_garden_9Physic_garden_10 Physic_garden_5Physic_garden_1 Physic_garden_6 Physic_garden_4 Physic_garden_2 Physic_garden_7Despite its long history, the garden only opened to the general public in 1983. Prior to that time it was almost exclusively a place for scientists and students to study and today the garden remains a centre for education and scientific research.