Thursday, 9 February 2017

Winter in Cornwall & Polperro Off Season

Winter in Cornwall

Some time ago, upon meeting somebody for the first time, I was asked, "yes, but have you spent a winter in Cornwall yet...?" 

We had- and had loved it too- but I suppose I can understand a little bit her implication that winter here is an ordeal. It can be very wet and stormy, and can seem entirely different from endless summer days. 

Spring Flowers in Polperro
Spring Flowers in Polperro

Quick Guide to A Cornish Winter:

It is well worth visiting Cornwall out of season- it is still just as beautiful but has the advantage of being a lot quieter. Here are some quick tips:

Dress well:

The weather here is extremely changeable so I always opt for light layers which I can adjust as necessary. Good footwear is essential on slippy surfaces, as is a waterproof top layer as you can almost bank on getting wet at some point.

Take provisions:

In the summer there is an abundance of cafés, and in some places this is the case in winter too, but not always. A hot flask and some sandwiches is never a bad idea. 

Travel with care: 

In my experience the Cornish can be a little gung-ho when it comes to driving (if also quite courteous too). Factor in narrow lanes with Cornish hedges (aka jagged walls, eager to burst any passing tyre), cyclists, tractors, roadworks, oncoming headlights and potentially horizontal rain... it can be challenging even when you are accustomed to it. So, my advice here is to just take your time and don't be intimidated, and consider using public transport for more-major destinations. The trains here are good, and the fact that they run at a leisurely pace gives you a great chance to soak up the scenery.

Take bad weather seriously:

Storms do batter the South West of England. The ensuing rough seas and blustery weather can be exhilarating. However, they are also dangerous, and it is essential to take care. One thing to love about Cornwall is that there are rarely any railings, and no busy-bodies telling you what you can and can't do. However, just because you can stroll onto an exposed quay in a storm it really doesn't mean that you should. And yet... people still do! Is that shot for Instagram really worth it...?

Be Flexible:

If I was renting a cottage here in the winter, I would definitely plan some indoor things to do, but seize every opportunity to soak up the wonderful light when it does show itself. Spring does appear to come early here too, despite the stormy weather, so don't forget to look for the signs.

Spring Flowers in Polperro
Spring Flowers in Polperro

Things to do on a cold day in Polperro:

The village of Polperro is situated along a deep shady valley, and as such it can feel pretty chilly there, even on a summer's day, let alone in the winter when seemingly everything is shut anyway. So, if you're planning a winter day-trip I've put together some highlights: 

Polperro shuts for the winter
The Prettiest 'Closed' Sign

The Shell House:

A must-see at any time of year. This stunning property just appears as you walk around Polperro harbour. Entirely free to marvel at, but you can leave your donation in the box. 

The Shell House Polperro
The Shell House Polperro

The Shell House Polperro
The Shell House Polperro

Watch the water

The river flows right through the centre of Polperro- right up against the buildings. It is also a working harbour, so there's plenty of boats to watch, as well as swans, ducks, and all sorts of other birds.  The tide rises and falls rapidly in the harbour, so this is the perfect place to just be present and watch life unfold in front of you. There's such a meditative quality in doing this. 

House on the Props, Polperro
House on the Props, Polperro

Polperro Harbour
Polperro Harbour


Follow the coast path in either direction to get a fuller view of the stunning coastline. To the west you can walk up past the historic Net Loft and onto a rocky outcrop, from which the views both back into town and out to sea are just beautiful. As well as being scientifically proven to make you feel good, walking will help you stave off the cold. 

The Coast Path Cornwall
The Coast Path

But if you don't fancy this, you can explore the beach below with its caves, rock pools and steps carved into the stone. 

Cornish Light
Cornish Light

The sea pool:

Ok, so in this picture the tide is in, but you can just make out the outline of the naturally formed sea pool. I admit that I did not swim in it on my recent visit, but with a warm wetsuit there is no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of its emptiness in colder months. 

The Sea Pool Polperro
The Sea Pool

And if all else fails, there is always 

Roly's Fudge

There is nothing like a sweet treat to warm yourself up on a winter day, and who can resist that wonderful smell...? The best fudge comes from Roly's, and the branch in Polperro has the friendliest service too. If you are spoilt for choice then do try the sea salt flavour.

Roy's Fudge Polperro
Roy's Fudge Polperro

Enjoy your visit, and please let me know if you find my tips useful 

Cornish Cottage
Cornish Cottage

Monday, 14 November 2016

Small Talk (plus discount code)

Sustainable Smalls:

Underwear can pose a bit of a problem when it comes to dressing more sustainably. We are quite demanding of our smalls (we want them smooth but supportive, invisible but opaque, cool but warm...). And, a cursory glance about any lingerie department in a large shop will show you a huge range of styles, because our tastes are so individual.

Bras pose a bit more of a problem, as the fit is so personal, and us women vary so widely in terms of our shape. However, I've taken a peek at some sustainable pants and put together a small selection to get you started, hope you like them! 

N.B. there are no pictures of my actual tried and tested pants! 

Merino Wool:

Yes really. If you haven't caught up with my craze for everything merino then see here- I'm a convert!  

And, I do now own merino pants. Merino is light and temperature regulating, moisture wicking, anti-smell, sustainable, completely biodegradable, and contrary to what you might expect it is also smooth, comfortable, and easy to care for. 

Cornish brand Finisterre make nice-looking woolly pants, or you could try Icebreaker, although reviews are mixed for their pants. Mons Royale make pretty longer-leg pants too. 

sustainable merino underwear
Merino Wool Tank Top from Finisterre, which matches their undies.


Silk is also entirely natural, breathable, and biodegradable. Traditionally a luxury fabric, it is strong and light, and temperature regulating. 

Greenfibres sell a range of undies made from organic silk jersey, which looks supremely comfortable, (unlike some silk undies made from woven fabrics which can feel a bit papery).You can use code PIXIE10 for a discount at Greenfibres.  


I have some of these undies from No Balls. They are the most comfortable pants ever! Completely seamless, they are soft and stretchy, and they fit really well. They are £11 a pair, or cheaper if you can find what you need in the clearance section. They also make a boy short

Other suppliers of bamboo undies include BAM.

organic cotton underwear
Organic Cotton Stripes from Seasalt. Their pants are designed in the same vein. 

Organic Cotton:

Seasalt Cornwall make pretty organic cotton pants, including their signature sailor stripe. Watch out for Mighty Good Undies too who have a good range of styles available soon, and again Greenfibres who also stock a pretty range of pants (again don't forget to use code PIXIE10). 

Enjoy shopping for sustainable underwear, and if you have any favourites that I haven't mentioned then do let me know :-)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

On Garment Waste

Organic Cotton Stripes

If you are a regular reader, you will probably know that I do love a stripey sailor top, especially if it is made from organic cotton and is in a fabulous colour, like orange perhaps. 

I was interested, then, when I noticed that my local Seasalt branch was having a sale recently. I popped in, with no particular intention of making a purchase and discovered this beauty on the sale rack: 

organic cotton sailor top

Brilliant Mistake

It turns out that this, and a bunch of other items were all reduced because they have flaws: tiny rips, buttons missing, small marks, that sort of thing. Well, naturally I headed straight for the checkout with my prize. I bet you didn't even notice the tiny mark either- it's barely even visible in the picture, despite the huge incriminating arrow!

seasalt cornwall organic top

Marks for Thought

This got me to thinking: why don't we see more slight second in shops like this? In short, I suspect it is because they are sent to be mulched before they even reach the shop floor, or worse- to landfill. There's nothing wrong with recycling of course when something has reached the end of its life, but how much better to offer people the choice? Surely it's up to the individual consumer whether a 'flaw' is acceptable to them or not? 

ethical stripe top

Thank you, Seasalt

So, thanks Seasalt for putting these less-than-perfect garments out there for us to make up our own minds, and giving items which have taken resources and energy all along the production line a chance to be used before they go to be recycled. 

responsible fashion

Could Try Harder?

I was pleased to be handed my top in a small paper bag. The paper comes from 'sustainably managed forests' which is great, but wouldn't it be better if it was recycled paper? The receipt was also handed to me in a quite a large piece of folded card, and on reflection I wonder whether this is at all necessary- especially as due to the nature of my purchase it was going to be un-returnable anyway... food for thought.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

New Pattern Announcement: Cornish Sunset Crochet Throw

I devised this pattern some months ago, but having taught it to a group of lovely ladies at Roseland Mews last weekend, I finally had the impetus to dot the slip stitches and cross the trebles, and get the finished result listed up on ravelry

crochet workshop cornwall
Cornish Sunset Crochet Throw 

The colour scheme was mainly dictated by what I had in my stash at the time, but I feel it works well for the sunset theme, with a little pop of colour in the centre of each motif. 

crochet lessons cornwall

The pattern is both written and charted, allowing my workshop participants to familiarise themselves with both, as well as looking at some more-advanced techniques like bobbles. 

learn to crochet cornwall
Pattern on Ravelry

Following the pattern is a great exercise in counting stitches and reading what you have done- skills which are always useful! 

crochet teacher cornwall
Crochet Throw

I can deliver this workshop on request, so if you have a crochet group or just a few friends who you want to get together for me to visit then please contact me so we can discuss it!

easy crochet blanket pattern
Hexagon Blanket

The blanket is worked in Aran-weight yarn, so it builds up quite quickly. My sample is about 3' square, but of course you can keep adding hexagons until you reach the size you want. 

learn to crochet cornwall
Lap-sized Throw

It occurred to me after the workshop that I have lots of odds and ends in Aran weight yarn, which I could collage together to make more of a random result. Because there is a lot going on in this version, I have kept the coloured centres to a single colour, and I've also left out the bobbles. 

I can make these motifs pretty much without even looking now, so this is great TV crochet for me. I'd like the result to be big enough to thrower the bed, where we have duck-egg-coloured walls... but, there's no urgency so I'll just see where this project goes. 

craft teacher cornwall
The Next Crochet Blanket

The Cornish Sky

Friday, 16 September 2016

Neal's Yard Review: 3 Favourite Cosmetics (Organic Beauty Week)

Au Naturel

I'm not the sort of woman who uses lots of cosmetics. I don't ever wear make-up (in fact I don't even own any). I don't have a problem with it, by which I mean for me it's not a polemical feminist choice not to wear it: it's not a statement as far as I'm concerned, I just can't muster any enthusiasm for it. And besides, I was alway useless when I tried to put it on to go out in my younger days. 

Neal's Yard Organic Skincare

However, I do like good skincare, and I am trying to take better care of my skin as I get older. I've dipped in and out of Neal's Yard products over the years (when I dipped out it was because I could't afford it), but I do have a few favourites amongst their delightful range, so I thought I'd share them with you here, in time for Organic Beauty Week next week- which I am delighted to discover exists: 

What's so great about Organic?

There is a great explanation on the Neal's Yard website, which you can see here- I can't put it any better!

My Three Favourites: 

Rose & Almond Night Cream: this is an intense, nourishing cream which smells heavenly and comes in a delightfully old-fashioned tin tube. It's probably best for drier skin, but I find it absorbs easily enough and makes me feel like I'm really ready for some restorative sleep. 75% organic ingredients, and packed with anti-oxidants and vitamins. 

Wild Rose Hand Cream: 92% organic, this cream again smells divine. It is easy to apply, and is well absorbed whilst leaving your hands delicately scented. Plus, it has really pretty packaging. Perfect to counteract anything strenuous you might do with your hands.

Starflower Cleansing Milk: I'm pretty sure that one of the things I used to love about this cleanser was that it was a splash-off sort of thing. This seems to have disappeared from the instructions for use, however it is still a lovely light cleanser which doesn't leave a residue or let your skin feel overly dry. At 95% organic it is reassuring to know that you don't need man-made synthetic chemicals to leave your skin feeling bright and awake. 

Something for all skin types

Do click the banners to go straight to the Neal'sYard site. With a comprehensive range of products there is bound to be something which smells delicious and suites your skin type. On my list to try is the Palmarosa Purifying Face Mask to tackle congested skin. 

Organic Make-Up

If you are more interested in make-up, you might be interested to know that you can organic too! Click below!

The Down Side

My only comment about ordering from Neal's Yard online would be the over-the-top packaging that everything seems to come in- think huge boxes full of padding, and thermal envelopes. Seriously, is that the most economic and eco-friendly way of sending things...? I wonder.

Incidentally, in case you are wondering, also pictured is the delightful ikat clutch bag that I won from Teixits Vicens, in the instagram competition they ran to showcase items made from their stunning fabrics. Thank you Martina! 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

New Knitting Pattern Announcement: Lanhydrock Shawl & Discount Code

Lanhydrock house and gardens Cornwall
The best gardens seem to have secret doors!

Some places are full of patterns and shapes, and cannot help but to inspire creativity. Lanhydrock, National Trust stately home and gardens, set in lush green parkland, is one such place. As soon as I first visited and saw the formal gardens, abundant floral borders, and neat topiary I thought 'shawl design'! 

I got to work, settling on some beautiful 4 ply from my stash, and after a bit of thinking and scribbling on graph paper, this design was born: the Lanhydrock Shawl

Lamhydrock knitting pattern
Lanhydrock Shawl in situ...

I really wanted to make use of the formal, symmetrical garden layout in the lace motifs I picked, as well as those giant topiary trees. As in real life, the edge of my Lanhydrock is fringed by a wilder border area.

Cornish design
...inspired by the formal gardens...

I used a full 400m of Artesano Alpaca Silk 4 ply, in shade 'Dolphin'. The shawl is knitted from a tab cast on, and the trim is knitted on, making use of optional beads (mainly to help with blocking).

Lanhydrock shawl pattern
...patterns are everywhere...

I put the pattern out to test, and have had some really useful feedback, which has helped me refine the pattern quite a lot. Many thanks to all of my test knitters- your shawls look amazing and I really appreciate your patience!

knitting inspired by Cornwall
...the shawl is symmetrical...

I am offering my blog readers 25% off the price of this pattern until September 10th, using the code 'pixieblog'- simply enter it at the checkout on ravelry and your discount should appear. 

Cornish bue knitted shawl
Cornish blue to reflect the sky

shawl pattern knitting discount
...everybody loves discount!

I have a few more designs in the pipeline- I can't help but be inspired by beautiful Cornwall! Most of them need to be tested. Do let me know if you are interested in test knitting!

Lanhydrock House Cornwall

architecture at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

beautiful plants at Lanhydrock

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Review: A Visit to The Eden Project

The Famous Eden Project Biomes
The Famous Eden Project Biomes

Why Visit?

To my slight shame, we have lived within striking distance of The Eden Project for over a year and had not visited until recently. As clichéd as it is, we actually had no idea what we were missing!

A riot of colourful plants
A Riot of Colourful Plants 

A trip to this attraction is not just a botanical and ecological education. It is also a trip around the world, as well as, paradoxically, a real dose of Cornish fresh air, as witnessed by the pair of calling buzzards we saw wheeling about in the huge expanse of blue above.

It is a delight to see the sheer creativity and ingenuity that have come together to create the place. And most of all, it is a really pleasant stroll through the most beautifully maintained gardens and greenhouses imaginable. 

We have now been twice, and as I mentioned, I'm quite embarrassed that we weren't expecting it to be very engaging.

The Welcome: 

Without fail, all of the staff we have encountered at The Eden Project have been friendly, polite and helpful. Top marks for customer service!

Welcoming Faces
Welcoming Faces 

Getting Around:

Two words: 'sensible shoes'. The paths are wide and well-maintained, and there is a land train to help you get around this attraction. However, there is no getting away from the fact that to really take in the magic of the Eden Project you will need to do some walking. Ok, perhaps a lot of walking.

Exotic Floral Beauty
Exotic Floral Beauty

Looking after yourself:

Part of the magic of this place is that it is built in a converted industrial landscape. You can't even see it, despite its grand scale, until you are in it: think of a large crater. This means that in summer the Eden Project is a hot place, and there isn't much shade. And of course, the tropical biome (golf ball shaped greenhouse) is just that: tropical. There is a small water fountain, and plenty of places to buy a cooling drink, but I would thoroughly recommend that you wear a hat and sunblock, wear clothing in layers which you can take off as necessary, and take your own supply of water.

Mediterranean Tiles in the Biome
Mediterranean Tiles in the Biome


It's so refreshing that the quality of the food served here is amazing. We had a burrito (prepared in front of us in a completely open plan area) which was served with the freshest salad. Both were extremely tasty. We might possibly have indulged in carrot cake too, which was also yummy. 


I was surprised at the quantity and variety of things to buy at various shops around the site. I am no gardener, but even I was really thrilled by the selection of plants for sale. What a great concept in souvenir shopping: your very own piece of Eden!

Geometric Leaves
Geometric Leaves

Added to which, there were plenty of shopping bags, eco kitchenware, foodstuffs, recycled glass, jewellery... etc. Basically, a great place to find unusual gifts, and everything oozed quality. There was no cheap 'tat', which was really refreshing, but I'm not sure what you'd do if the kids are expecting a novelty pencil to spend their pennies on. Perhaps I missed that section- the main shop is huge so it's quite likely.

I was excited to see a selection of clothing by eco brand Braintree too.

Braintree Clothing

Plus, Pukka teas are for sale (see below for more on this).


To visit the Eden Project with a family as a one-off would be quite a pricey day out. Personally I would say that it is worth the cost, as you could happily spend the whole day there. However, if you think there is any chance you might return within the year, it would be better to buy an annual pass (for the same price as one-day admission). 

The Highlights:

The Eden Project is a huge attraction. Most of the time I was too enthralled to even take photos, and there's no way I've seen everything it has to offer, but here are just a few of my highlights:

1: The smoothie bar in the Tropical Biome. Yum yum!

Yummy Smoothies
Yummy Smoothies

2: The Mediterranean Biome: I loved this area. If you've ever been to the Med and walked around the countryside this will be a really nostalgic experience. If you're having a staycation, or just missing some sun then have a wander through here and drink in the atmosphere and the smells and make believe!

3: The Roul Rouls and their delightful little chicks: they scamper around the Tropical Biome, pecking at fruit, and are just too cute. But, you'll have to see them for yourself, as I couldn't get a single photo as I was cooing over them too much!

beautiful floor red shoes
Thoughtful Details: even the floors are beautiful!

I'd thoroughly recommend the Eden Project for visitors of all ages and all interests. There are play areas and story telling for the little ones, as well as plenty of space for them to run off steam. There are too many facts hidden amongst the foliage for one person to ever tire of, and even poetry if you look for it. Whether you are interested in taking in all of the engaging information on offer, or just admiring the immense botanical beauty, I expect that you will have a fantastic time. 

Oh, and even the piped music in the café space is a treat, if you care to listen out for it! 


Pukka teas evidently have a relationship with the Eden Project, and there is a little section devoted to the magnificent herbs and spices which are oh so good to drink. I found this really fascinating: seeing things like vanilla pods and cinnamon growing in front of me was quite exciting, as I normally associate these great-smelling things with jars and essences.  

Following on from this, there was also the biggest imaginable range of herbal teas for sale in the shop. Quite handy for me, as these are my favourite teas! I indulged in a box of liquorice and cinnamon, and I'm very pleased that I did, as it is supremely tasty. 

Pukka Teas for sale in the Eden Project Shop 


Vanilla Pods 

Pukka spices

Pukka Merchandise