Cornwall's Execptional Artistic and Literary Heritage
If you are considering a visit to North Cornwall this week, you cannot fail to notice that the County show - The Royal Cornwall - is in full swing. Based on the outskirts of Wadebridge, the show draws in the biggest businesses in Cornwall, showing their wares on stalls and in marquees. In addition, there are numerous livestock competitions, craft exhibitions, games, rides, bars and cafes. The show runs for three days, on June the 11th, 12th and 13th.
However, as is often the case, the main event obscures many smaller, more interesting stories. If you prefer to avoid the show crowds and venture down a few country lanes, you will find that Cornwall will give up its secrets to the discerning traveller.
The region has always been steeped in myth and legend, which has inspired much of the creativity that has always thrived here. For example, Menabilly, a fifteenth Century manor on the South Coast, just outside St.Austell, provided the inspiration for Manderley in Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca. Though the house is private, there is a car park in the grounds and a footpath to Polridmouth beach, also inferred in the Rebecca story. However, if you wish to soak up more than just atmosphere, neighbouring Polkerris, has a pub and a restaurant clustered around a tiny harbour with water-sports facilities.
About 10 miles east of Menabilly and Polkerris, along the A390 is Lostwithiel. Though small, this charming town has carved out a niche for itself as a centre of antiques and fine crafts. It is also home to the ancient Restormel Castle, a Norman fortification built to facilitate a commanding prospect over the Fowey River Valley. Also worth visiting is nearby Lerryn, a pretty creek-side village said to have provided inspiration for Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willow's.
Although Cornwall's artistic profile spikes around Newlyn and St.Ives, in the far west, the north of the county is not without its high points. In Padstow can be found outstanding paintings by artists such as John O'Carol at Padstow Contemporary Art, Sarah Adams at The Padstow Studio and David Pearce at Padstow Fine Art. On the opposite side of the Camel Estuary, Alan Caswell's Rock Road gallery is a real gem.
For clothing design, forget the Newquay surf shops, instead parouse the range on offer from Cornish based company Seasalt with branches at Fowey, Padstow, Truro, Falmouth, St.Ives and Penzance. For food, buy a disposal barbecue, a hook and line, and stand in about three feet of water. Within half an hour, perched on a rock, wrapped in your Seasalt woolen, haunted by memories of Manderley, clutching your recent artistic acquisition, you will be enjoying a mackerel supper and an alternative, perhaps more authentic Cornish experience.