All posts by mirandasnotebook

T&T 55 | Tatiana de Rosnay Discusses Daphne du Maurier

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle, I’m thrilled to be speaking with the celebrated author, Tatiana de Rosnay, about her biography of Daphne du Maurier, Manderley Forever. Tatiana lives in Paris and writes in both French and English. She is the author of the international bestseller, Sarah’s Key, which is one of the most moving books I have ever read.

A consummate story-teller herself, Tatiana has often cited Daphne du Maurier’s books as being highly influential on her own work. Daphne du Maurier is one of my very favourite authors too, so I was delighted to read that Tatiana had written a new biography of the famous novelist.

Tatiana de Rosnay. Image credit: Denis Felix/Albin Michel

Manderley Forever was originally written in French, but was translated into English and published in the UK in October. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy, and found it an absorbing read. Tatiana draws a brilliant picture of Daphne du Maurier’s character and life and fleshes out details that have previously been rather obscure: like Daphne’s time in France, her love for Paris and interest in her own French heritage.

In this episode, Tatiana explains how she came to write Daphne du Maurier’s biography, what she discovered about the French edition of Rebecca, and the complex nature of Daphne’s personality. This is a brilliant listen for any Daphne du Maurier fan, and if you haven’t read one of her novels yet, then I’m sure you’ll be tempted to get reading right after this episode!

Listen to learn more about Daphne du Maurier’s fascinating life.

UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

Child-Friendly Seaside Luxury

After our night at the Scarlet Hotel, Mum and I made the very short journey a little further along the coast to the Scarlet’s sister hotel, the Bedruthan Hotel and Spa. Our bags had already been transported for us and were waiting in our hotel room, which I thought was a very nice touch, and I was relieved not to carry them myself, especially considering the number of books I’d purchased in Penzance!

Having had such a wonderful experience at the Scarlet, our standards were high for Bedruthan, and I was eager to compare the two hotels. The main difference is that Bedruthan is the ideal choice for a family holiday. Whereas the Scarlet is more suitable for adults only, the Bedruthan hotel is exceedingly child-friendly, with day-care options available for when parents are having spa treatments, fun play areas and suggested activities for families to enjoy both within the hotel and in the surrounding area.

Comfortable Spaces

UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

Even if you don’t have any children with you, however, Bedruthan is a glorious place to relax and unwind, and there is an adult-only bar, as well as restaurant, which are excellent options for guests without young families.

Bedruthan hotel is extremely spacious, and there are many different lounges where you can sit and chat over a drink, or simply admire the view. Like the Scarlet, there’s also a strong emphasis on art and design, with a gallery of paintings to see downstairs, and a nice gift shop filled with an extremely tempting display of Orla Kiely products, as well as lots of other beautiful things!

I liked the Scandinavian inspired decor, which matched the seaside setting so well. Children would love the many outdoor decks and play areas too, and there are lots of fun, creative projects to try out, like a taster session at the Bedruthan pottery studio, or booking a craft workshop. The huge spa and indoor and outdoor pools are also extremely impressive.

Spectacular Scenery

Like its sister hotel, Bedruthan offers breath-taking views of the spectacular Mawgan Porth, and there are wonderful coastal walks to take, as well as plenty of outdoor spaces from which to sit and take in the scenery.

UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, NewquayI was rather impressed by the idea of reserving one of the seated campfire areas, where guests can stay warm by an outdoor fire and watch the sun set over the water.

Sea View Double Room

It was marvellous to pull back the curtains in the morning and look out at the sunrise over the cliffs and sea. We were given a spacious double room with a seaside view, and I liked the bright, cheerful colours (very Marimekko, I thought!). Our bathroom was small, but still had a bath as well as a shower, and as I made use of the hotel’s incredible spa facilities, I didn’t miss having a big bathroom.

UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

We ordered a yummy breakfast in bed (yoghurt, juice, croissants, fruit salad and tea), and it was wonderful to eat a leisurely meal whilst looking out to sea.

Sensory Spa Garden

UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

One of the many delights of the Bedruthan is their sensory spa garden, and I was very excited to get to try it out. The sensory garden is meant to trigger all your senses and is inspired by fire, earth, water, air and space.

A theme running through the hotel is playfulness, and this is reflected in the colourful decor, wide-range of activities and spa treatments. The sensory spa garden is a place where you can reclaim a childlike sense of excitement and discovery in nature. Laid out in a secluded garden sheltered from the wind, guests are invited to work their way around the garden, experiencing the benefits in going from hot to cold to back again.

UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

I started off with a rejuvenating oatmeal scrub and shower, before stepping into the sauna to sweat it out for 10 minutes and breathe in the wood-scented air. Next, I had to nerve myself to tackle the ice-water bucket ‘shower,’ which was very cold! Happily, after that, I got to enjoy a long session in the hot tub, which felt amazing. Finally, after one last shower and seaweed and salt scrub, I was given a delicious mug of ginger and lemon tea and a warm blanket and sat by the smouldering open fire, my feet in a warm water bath, feeling wonderfully refreshed and glowing. I hadn’t had so much fun in ages!

Herring Restaurant

UK Travel | Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

We had supper booked at the hotel, which I felt very much ready for after my sensory garden experience. The Herring is the main restaurant at Bedruthan, and has floor to ceiling windows showcasing the panoramic views of the ocean.

In the evening, candles flickered on the tables, encircling us in a warm, cosy glow of light.

The Herring offers a daily changing, seasonal 3 course menu for £37.50. We started off ordering a bottle of house white wine, which arrived with some crusty brown bread and Cornish butter.

For my first course, I ordered cured sea trout with yuzu and mirin, mooli, pickled cucumber and salmon eggs. Mum chose pan fried scallops with Moroccan couscous, tea soaked raisins and preserved lemon puree.

Both dishes were fantastic. Trout is always a favourite of mine, and this dish was beautifully light, and yet packed with flavour.

We each settled on Cornish lamb rump for our main, which was tender and delicious, and served with celeriac fondant and puree, sprouting broccoli and rosemary jus.

For dessert, I had gingerbread panna cotta with spiced orange, sorbet and white wine poached pear. It was a brilliant combination of flavour and one of my favourite desserts from the trip. Mum polished off baked yoghurt with apple jelly, poached apple and blackberry sorbet.

We both agreed the food was spectacular and a real highlight of our stay at Bedruthan. I was so impressed by both the Scarlet and Bedruthan hotels on this trip. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a family holiday than a stay at the Bedruthan, but it’s also a great option for a luxurious, child-free holiday too.

For more information, check out the Bedruthan Hotel & Spa website.
Room rates at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa are from £156 per night. This is based on double occupancy and includes breakfast, taxes and fees. To book, please visit www.bedruthan.com/stay/rooms, email stay@bedruthan.com, or call 01637 861 200.

Note: our stay at Bedruthan Hotel and Spa was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

P.S. You may also wish to read my review of the Scarlet Hotel, only a few minutes away from Bedruthan.

T&T 54 | Emily Quinton and Creative Community

T&T 54 | Emily Quinton and Creative Community

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

Today on Tea & Tattle podcast, I’m chatting with the lovely Emily Quinton, founder of Makelight, and one of the nicest people I’ve met so far on my own social media journey. I’d been following Emily’s gorgeous instagram account for several months before joining her online membership community, Makelight.

Emily Quinton, founder of Makelight

Makelight offers courses on all things social media related, from how to take beautiful photographs, to boosting your instagram following, creating a brand that stands out, and so much more. One of the best things about being a part of Makelight is getting to know many of its members, and I’ve been lucky enough to make some lovely friends through the community already.

Emily and me taking photos in Chelsea

I was so thrilled when Emily agreed to interview on Tea & Tattle, and I got to question her on how she transitioned from being a portrait and wedding photographer, to a blogger, to then founding her own business alongside her husband, Stef.

It was so inspiring to hear how Emily uses her intuition to guide her when making decisions and how she’s learnt to listen to her inner voice. We also spoke about the importance of building a creative network and Emily’s goals for Makelight, which made me very excited for what’s to come in 2018.

A few of Emily’s gorgeous flat-lays

This episode is a great listen for anyone who is interested in building their own online platform or business in a meaningful way, whilst making genuine connections and enjoying the process one step at a time.

Listen to learn about building a successful online learning platform and growing a creative network. 

Portrait of Emily and flat-lay images provided by Emily Quinton.

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Tea & Tattle newsletter for exclusive weekly content and the latest podcast episodes.

Christopher Brown’s London Pop Up

The other week, I popped along to Christopher Brown‘s pop-up shop, which is running until the end of November and is next to the fabulous Pentreath and Hall. I’ve long been an admirer of Christopher’s distinctive artwork, and his book, An Alphabet of Londonis a must for any fan of the city.

If you’re in need of some Christmas shopping inspiration, I definitely recommend visiting the pop-up. I picked up an adorable tea-towel (the one with the tipsy robins), and there were plenty of prints, ceramics, scarves, lamp shades, books, cushions and tote bags that would make excellent gifts as well. Afterwards, you could always drop by Persephone Books (just around the corner) for a few presents for any bibliophiles in your life too. And if you fancy a pick-me-up after all that shopping, I’d suggest a glass of wine at Noble Rot or the newly opened branch of La Fromagerie.

I was so pleased that Christopher kindly agreed to answer some questions about the inspiration behind the pop-up shop and his career. It was so fascinating to learn more about his friendship with Edward Bawden, as well as his creative inspiration and favourite London haunts.

***

MN: Would you tell me a little about yourself and your background? Did you always want to be an artist?

CB: I would encourage people to read about my childhood in An Alphabet of London.
Every child loves to draw to make pictures, and I was no exception. My father would sit me on his knee with a large sheet of paper on the table and draw the most intricate scenes. I would suggest a subject – usually a medieval battle scene!

My real ambition as a child was to be a History don at Oxford. Then I wanted to be an archeologist, and then a marine biologist. At school, my two best subjects were Art and History. I applied to both art school and university and was accepted to read History but went for Art – a choice I have never regretted. At art school, boys did graphics and girls did fashion and textiles. I spent time in the fashion and textile department, and, unknown to me, was offered a transfer, but was never told about it! Again, I don’t regret it; as a designer/illustrator, I can still apply myself to other forms of design.

MN: I know that you were an assistant to Edward Bawden. How much did he influence you as an artist?

CB: Greatly – from my first meeting with him in 1979 we got on well. He opened my eyes to not only working methods but books, art and drawing en plein air. We also shared a similar sense of humour, which, for me, is vital in friendship.

MN: What do you find particularly appealing about creating linocuts?

CB: The process – the planning, the cutting and because you’re working in reverse the end result is always a surprise. I’ve been doing it for a long time now, but it is still pleasurable, even if I moan sometimes. The sense of craft is also important. Though I would never describe myself as a great printmaker, the inking up and rolling under the press is still as enjoyable as when I first started.

MN: Who are some of your favourite artists?

CB: So many and many anonymous – Egyptian Art, Medieval illuminations and vernacular and folk art. Mr. Hockney has always been a favourite as has Jean Cocteau. Others include Morandi, Ben Shahn, Matisse, Fra Angelico, Herge, Giotto, Chardin, David Jones, Edward Burra, Edward Gorey…really the list is endless. Mr. Bawden is in there to of course!
There are also so many of my fellow illustrators I admire: Chris Corr, Jeff Fisher, Angela Barrett, Jonny Hannah, Paul Slater, Mick Brownfield, Pierre le Tan, Ian Beck….

MN: I love your pop-up shop in Bloomsbury. Would you tell be a bit about the concept behind it?

CB: It was Diana Parkin who had the idea. After over thirty years of chipping away on bits of lino I have so much work! The idea was to apply it to other materials to reimagine it. Working as an illustrator, too often one produces work that is so ephemeral
(apart from books), in that it’s been for magazines or periodicals that people generally don’t keep.

MN: Which are some of your favourite pieces in the shop?

CB: I suppose “Shadow Bunny” which was a little print I did for myself. My partner David Ivie  copied it on a plate for one of my Christmas presents. So really the little chap started the whole idea of my work on ceramics. My wallpaper “Albion” for St Jude’s has to have a mention as it was Simon and Angie Lewin who encouraged me to think big again.

MN: I love your book, An Alphabet of London. Which are some of your favourite London haunts?

CB: Anywhere by the river and my place of birth – Putney – rate highly. I love the Petrie Collection, the V&A and Ham House. Walking around my home city still inspires and surprises me.

MN: Would you tell me a little about the menswear course you teach at Central Saint Martins?

CB: I teach all years, and it is so inspiring. I have the greatest respect for fashion students and designers – gosh do they work hard! It is not illustration or drawing I teach – it’s about research, presentation, colour and proportion. Hopefully I can inspire then to think beyond the obvious.

MN: What advice would you give to young creatives starting out today?

CB: Don’t give up. Don’t force a style. Draw everyday. Read as much as possible. Look up when walking along a street. Be brave –  try something new. Be passionate about your work. Take advice; sometimes you won’t like what people say, but if you respect them, listen.

MN: Finally, what’s next for you? Are there any future projects or events coming up that you’re able to share?

CB: I am just about to start on designs for a scarf for a wonderful shop on Capri – Laboratorio. My book on England is still something I want to complete, and I have an idea for a book about my travels and friendship with Edward Bawden. It was good to see my Christmas packaging for Gail’s Bakery in their shops. Sometime soon my work will be seen in the Museum of London Docklands, which is exciting! All I hope is that I keep getting asked to do nice projects, make work for myself and have fun doing both.

***

Visit Christopher Brown’s pop-up shop at:
17a Rugby Street, WC1N 3QT
Open for the whole of November, Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm.

T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton

T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle podcast here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle podcast, I’m in conversation with the charming Rosebie Morton, horticulturalist and founder of The Real Flower Company. In this episode, Rosebie tells me about the farm that she runs in Hampshire with her husband, and how she went from raising sheep to getting an idea to grow a few scented roses….

Rosebie Morton at her flower farm in Hampshire

It was so inspiring to learn how Rosebie’s idea of growing some roses gradually grew into what The Real Flower Company is today. Now with flowers grown on farms in the UK, as well as in Kenya during the off-season, The Real Flower Company delivers award-winning, luxurious blooms, with a focus on scented flowers. I love popping by their pretty shop in West London.

T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton

On the podcast, Rosebie tells me more about her company’s ethos in growing flowers as sustainably and ethically as possible. She also gives advice to anyone thinking of becoming a florist, or starting their own business, and explains how she found the courage to keeping going with her dream, even though the odds seemed very much against her.

T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton

I also questioned Rosebie about her favourite ways to use flowers to decorate the home, particularly for a winter dinner party, and she gave me some fantastic ideas.

Listen to learn about building a successful flower business and ideas for decorating your winter holiday table. 

All images provided by The Real Flower Company.

UK Travel | The Scarlet Hotel at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

UK Travel | The Scarlet Hotel at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

After our sojourn in Penzance, we made our way to The Scarlet Hotel at Mawgan Porth, very near Newquay airport. I think this has to be the most beautiful, tranquil hotel I’ve ever been lucky enough to stay in.

The Scarlet is built right on the cliffs, and the gorgeous architecture means there’s as little division between sea and building as possible. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer a constant reminder of the stunning cove just outside, and there are numerous balconies from which to admire the view.

We arrived just as a rather dramatic storm had blown up, with the sea thundering against the rocks, but happily the next day dawned crisp and golden so I was able to enjoy some invigorating walks along the beach. But let’s start at the beginning, with a tour of the hotel:

Reception and Lounge Areas

UK Travel | The Scarlet Hotel at Mawgan Porth, Newquay

The Scarlet is quite unlike any other hotel I’ve stayed in, and it sets the tone of indulgence and effortless comfort from the moment you step into its elegant interior. Rather than hauling your bags to a Reception desk (I failed completely, by the way, to pack with my usual lightness for this trip, and in a fit of madness seemed to bring my entire autumn wardrobe with me), you’re invited to take a seat in the spacious entrance way (pictured above). We barely had a chance to catch our breath over the remarkable view, when one of the hotel managers appeared as if by magic, whisked our bags away to our room and took us on a tour.

I was impressed by the spaciousness of the hotel, with its many lounge areas for guests to sit and relax, the large spa and swimming pool, coastal gardens and decks. Every inch is truly lovely, with carefully chosen art and sculpture decorating each space in a tasteful homage to Cornwall’s artistic heritage.

Our ‘Just Right’ Double Room

After our tour, we were shown to our room, which had a lovely view of the sea and had a minimalist, muted decor. I appreciated the generous size of the room, with plenty of space for chairs, a desk and large bed. The bathroom was also large, and we were both very pleased with the walk-in shower and separate bath tub. I noted a dish of bath salts, which I thought was a nice touch – too often I find hotels with lovely baths, but nothing to put in them (hence why I’ve taken to traveling with my own bath oil!).

This was the view that greeted me when I rose the next morning and stepped out onto the balcony:

The rising sun cast a rich pink glow in the sky, and the blue of the sea faded to a pretty shade of lavender on the horizon. Oh to have a view like that every morning!

Breakfast in bed was provided at no extra charge, and I went for a cheese and mustard toastie with a fried egg, a side of fruit and yoghurt, a berry smoothie, orange juice and tea. Mum ordered the Full English. Both breakfasts were absolutely scrumptious, and it felt so decadent to eat my first meal of the day in bed with a magazine.

Coastal Garden, Spa and Seaside Walks

I couldn’t wait to take advantage of the sunshine to get out and explore the hotel’s pretty coastal gardens, accessed through their gorgeous spa, as well as the beach itself. Although I didn’t take a dip in the heated pool during our say, I did have a session in one of the cliffside hot tubs (mine was the middle hot tub in the above picture).

Unfortunately, my session was scheduled for our first day, when it was pouring rain, so I couldn’t get any decent photos, but the view from the hot tub was incredible, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the experience of sitting in a hot tub, feeling perfectly snug, but with the rain lashing down and the waves roaring and frothing against the cliffs immediately before me.

When the sun shone, I scrambled down the cliff path to the beach. Mum had joined me for a wander around the gardens, but she decided to sit on one of the covered benches on the cliffs and admire the view whilst I went down to dip my toes in the sea.

There were only a few people walking their dogs on the shore. I can imagine that this coast must be packed with tourists in the summer, but travelling in the off season meant that I got to experience the luxury of hardly anyone else being on the beach. I always feel at peace when I’m by the sea, perhaps because my Mum’s family came from Dorset, so I have sea in my veins, so to speak.

Bar and Restaurant

Another huge perk of staying at The Scarlet is the fantastic food and wine list. All the sea air definitely made Mum and me rather peckish by supper time, so we were definitely looking forward to our evening meal.

The restaurant is a lovely room, with large windows looking out to sea, and there is a stylish bar that juts out just above it. We were shown to a table next to the window and brought menus and some delicious crusty sourdough bread to nibble as we made our choices.

We had the three course menu with accompanying wine flight. The wine flight changes daily, allowing guests to discover new and delicious European wines, hand-picked by the sommelier, each evening.

To start, I went for the roast pigeon breast with black pudding, roast figs and beetroot, and Mum chose Cornish fish and shellfish stew with saffron potatoes, spinach, rye crostini and rouille.

My dish was paired with an exceedingly smooth Tempranillo, and Mum very much enjoyed her Burgundy white. The sommelier brought round each bottle to pour for every course, explaining more about the wines and why they were selected for each dish as she did so.

The food was just as palatable as the wine. I loved the autumnal flavours of my dish and thoroughly approved the combination of pigeon breast and roast fig. Mum always enjoys a good fish stew and pronounced hers excellent.

For our mains, I went for the pan fried trout with shellfish risotto, parmesan, chives, cucumber, mustard and dill and Mum ordered slow cooked lamb rump with broccoli puree, crispy belly, mint dauphines, ricotta and braised fennel. My fish paired excellently with a crisp Rioja, and Mum’s Bordeaux stood up very well against the richness of her lamb.

I adore trout, and generally always order it if I have the chance, so this dish was a great treat for me. It was a really excellent piece of fish, beautifully cooked, and I loved the creamy risotto and slightly mustardy sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking of it again! My Mum enjoyed her lamb as well, which was beautifully tender.

For dessert, I – predictably! – went for chocolate: a dark chocolate cremeux with blackberries, lemon curd and blackberry sorbet, to be exact. Mum chose coffee panna cotta with vanilla sponge, coffee granita and candied walnuts.

I know it isn’t very fashionable to say so, but I adore sweet wine, so this was the part of the wine flight I was anticipating most eagerly! I’d never tried a red sweet wine before, but it was a brilliant choice to accompany chocolate. My mum’s more traditional sweet wine brought out the sweetness in her coffee panna cotta superbly. A fabulous end to a memorable meal!

Our stay at The Scarlet was a wonderful taste of luxury and felt so rejuvenating. I would highly recommend booking a stay for a special occasion, a romantic getaway (I think spending your honeymoon here would be idyllic), or simply if you’re in need of a thorough rest, with good food, great wine and gorgeous seaside amply provided. A friend messaged me whilst I was staying at The Scarlet, saying she and her husband plan a holiday there every winter, and I can see why! It’s the perfect retreat from the world for a few days, whatever the weather.

For more information, check out the Scarlet Hotel website. Room rates are from £240 per night. This is based on double occupancy and includes breakfast, taxes and fees. To book, please visit www.scarlethotel.co.uk/stay/rooms, email stay@scarlethotel.co.uk, or call 01637 861 800.

Note: our stay at the Scarlet Hotel was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

T&T 52 | 1st Year Anniversary Special

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Episode here or on iTunes.

I’m so excited to announce that it’s Tea & Tattle’s birthday! Sophie and I have now been podcasting for a year, which is very hard for us to believe (where does the time go?!). In celebration of our 1st year anniversary, we’ve prepared a special episode, where we’re discussing our own highlights from the first year of the podcast and then answering the fantastic listener questions that were sent in for this episode.

Sophie and I want to say thank you so much to all our listeners, from those who have been with us from the beginning, to those who recently discovered the podcast. It’s so wonderful to hear from our listeners, and we so appreciate your support. Many people have shared Tea & Tattle with their friends and on their social media accounts, and that makes all the difference to us – you’re really helping Tea & Tattle to grow, so thank you!

Special thanks go to everyone who sent in a question for this episode. We had so much fun reading through them, and I hope you enjoy our answers!

Listen to hear our highlights from the first year of podcasting and our answers to listener questions.

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Tea & Tattle newsletter for the latest episodes and exclusive news and recommendations from Sophie and me every week.

T&T 51 | Susan Owens and the Cultural History of Ghosts

Tea & Tattle Podcast, Episode 51 | Susan Owens and the Cultural History of Ghosts

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle podcast, I’m hosting a special episode that’s perfect for Halloween and is bound to get you in the mood for any spooky happenings tonight. The art historian Susan Owens has joined me for a fantastic conversation about Susan’s latest book, The Ghost: A Cultural History, which examines the significance of ghosts in British art, literature, film and folklore.

Tea & Tattle Podcast, Episode 51 | Susan Owens and the Cultural History of Ghosts

In today’s episode, Susan explains how moving to a Medieval house prompted her research into ghosts, and how people’s stories and artwork featuring ghosts offer an intriguing insight into the wider culture and politics of the times.

Tea & Tattle Podcast, Episode 51 | Susan Owens and the Cultural History of GhostsSusan Owens, photographed by Stephen Calloway

I questioned Susan about what she considers to be the earliest ghost stories, which famous literary ghost best represents its era, why seances became so popular in Victorian society, and so much more.

Listen to learn more about the cultural history of ghosts in Britain. 

P.S. don’t forget to subscribe to the Tea & Tattle newsletter for the latest episodes and exclusive news and recommendations from Sophie and me every week.

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56, Penzance

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, CornwallCarole Elsworth at her shop, No.56 in Penzance, Cornwall. Photo courtesy Natalie Coe.

With this post, I’m introducing a new series on Miranda’s Notebook, ‘Talking Shop,’ where I share interviews with owners of my most-loved independent shops, in London and beyond.

One of my very favourite shops in Penzance is No.56 on Chapel Street. Founded by Carole Elsworth, No.56 is a shopper’s haven filled with all manner of useful and beautiful items. I love the shop for its notebooks, handmade soaps, pretty linens and stylish enamelware, and I definitely blame No.56 for a much heavier suitcase whenever I return to London from Cornwall!

I was so pleased when Carole agreed to answer my questions about her tasteful and elegant shop.

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, CornwallTalking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

***

MN: Would you tell me a little about yourself? What did you do before opening No.56?

CE: My training and background is in mens and womenswear design – but immediately before opening No.56 I ran a very small artisan bakery. I enjoy the making process so this isn’t as odd as it seems!

MN: What made you want to run your own shop, and what first brought you to Penzance?

CE: Since moving to Cornwall, I have been steadily moving further west – more by accident than design really – eventually arriving in Penzance which I really love.

I opened No.56 four years ago – I felt there was a gap in Penzance for the type of products I like to use and decided creating such a store would bring together all the elements I really enjoy – design, presentation etc.

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

MN: What do you love most about living in Cornwall?

CE: I lived by the sea until I went away to college, and always feel a sense of belonging by the coast. Cornwall itself is just beautiful – I love it here.

MN: How would you sum up the ethos behind No.56?

CE: Simply that well designed, beautiful objects can add pleasure to the everyday.

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, CornwallTalking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

MN: How do you pick the products that feature in your shop?

CE: It is a very personal choice. On the whole items need to serve a purpose rather than being purely decorative (with occasional exceptions that I can’t resist!), and then I ask the question “does it make my heart sing ?” and go with that…

MN: Would you share one of your favourite pieces for autumn?

CE: All items are favourites of course, but I’m particularly pleased with the mohair throws from Ireland at the moment. Lovely colours and so cosy. (see all throws available from the No. 56 online shop here)

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

MN: What does a typical day look like for you?

CE: I do try to get off to an early start – I design and produce a small range of womenswear for the store under the HANDWORKED label, so I like to work on that first thing.
Then, I’m usually in the shop serving customers, placing orders etc – all the usual shopkeeping duties.

MN: Finally, what’s next for No. 56?

CE: Having moved to larger shop premises last year, it feels as if we are just settling in here, making small adjustments and constantly working to keep things fresh. We are now adding more products to the website and have plans to collaborate on a few items exclusive to No.56 – can’t say more than that …

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Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

I’m definitely intrigued by those upcoming collaborations! Thank you so much to Carole for taking the time to answer my questions. Isn’t her shop delightful? I always want to buy everything in it whenever I visit! Fortunately, there is an online shop for No.56, so you don’t have to be in Penzance to get your hands on much of Carole’s gorgeous stock.

Follow No.56 on: instagram, facebook, pinterest.

Which shops in the UK would you like to see me visit?

UK Travel | The Egyptian House, Penzance

UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance

Our last weekend in Penzance was spent in one of the most unusual buildings I’ve ever come across: the Egyptian House, a Landmark Trust property in Penzance. Located on elegant Chapel Street, this building certainly catches your eye, and I was so delighted to get the chance to stay in one of the flats and call the Egyptian House home for a few days.

The Landmark Trust is a charity that rescues important historical buildings that would otherwise be lost, and the income gained from bookings is put towards restoring other beautiful buildings and making them available to everyone. Isn’t that rather marvellous?

Apparently, there was a craze for Egyptian-style architecture in early 19th Century Britain, after Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt in 1798. Originally a geological shop and museum dating from 1835, The Egyptian House is now divided into three self-catering flats. We were in the 3rd floor flat, which sleeps up to four people, with a double and twin beds.

This was the first Landmark Trust property I’d stayed in, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thought it likely that only a few bare essentials would be provided, so it was a wonderful surprise to walk through the door and see what comfortable surroundings we had. I appreciated the attractive china wear, vintage furniture, ample provision of towels and bedding, as well as the stacks of carefully chosen books (featuring either a Cornish or Egyptian theme), the cosy gas fire and the stunning views of St Michael’s Mount. TV, phones and wifi aren’t provided, and instead visitors are encouraged to bring radios, dressing gowns and candles to light in the evenings. A stay at the Egyptian House enables you to really take a break, soak up the incredible atmosphere, and remember the time when evenings weren’t spent in front of either the TV, computer or smartphone.

Let me take you on a little tour…

Kitchen

UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance

I was utterly charmed by the cosy kitchen, with its wide window, dainty blue and white china, deep green cabinets and spick-and-span appearance. The carefully arranged tea tray and fresh milk in the fridge were a comforting and welcome touch when we first arrived. I definitely agree with the necessity of tea above all else!

UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance

There were plenty of pots and pans, and all the usual cooking utensils too, so it would have been easy to cook for ourselves, although as we were only there a few nights we mainly picked up some appetising treats, such as Cornish cheese, sausage rolls and freshly made salads, from the nearby Cornish Hen Deli.

Living Area

UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance

I was so impressed by the cosiness of this room! A wide window seat, big enough to sit on with a book, is always a winner with me, and I loved sitting and looking at out at the beautiful view of the church and St Michael’s Mount. When it poured with rain on the Sunday, Mum and I enjoyed completing the puzzle provided (apparently there’s always a puzzle in a Landmark Trust Residence) and reading by the fire. There’s no wi-fi at the property, so I took the opportunity to entirely disconnect from social media, and I thoroughly enjoyed the break!

UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance UK Travel | The Egyptian House PenzanceUK Travel | The Egyptian House PenzanceUK Travel | The Egyptian House PenzanceUK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance UK Travel | The Egyptian House PenzanceUK Travel | The Egyptian House PenzanceUK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance

My birthday fell whilst were staying at the Egyptian House, so we had a properly celebratory High Tea, with my Mum surprising me with some cupcakes and chocolate tarts she’d surreptitiously picked up at Baker Tom’s Bread.

It was one of the best birthdays I’d ever had! We started the morning with cinnamon French toast at the Exchange Gallery cafe (about a 2 minute walk from the Egyptian House and my favourite place in Penzance for breakfast or light lunch. The food is exceptional and very reasonably priced), and then had a potter about my favourite shops on Chapel street. I picked up some prints and a notebook as a birthday treat to myself from Endpaper, as well as a secondhand set of Virginia Woolf’s diaries in one of the many excellent antique shops. We then went back to the flat for our tea and a quiet, snug evening in. Much as I love London, life does get rather hectic in the city, and being able to live so peacefully for a few days, with only the sound of the sea in the distance and the occasional ring of church bells, was, to me, a fabulous birthday treat.

Bedrooms

UK Travel | The Egyptian House Penzance

Both Mum and I commented on how we thought the flat was exceptionally well-laid out. We liked the design of the spacious hallway, with doors to one bedroom, the living room, bathroom and kitchen all opening out from it. The second, largest room with twin beds, is accessed via a door opening out from the living room, and, like the sitting area, features two large skylights, as well as a window.

I took over the double bedroom, which is smaller, but still very pleasant, and there’s just room for a corner cupboard to hang up a few clothes which is great.

Surrounding Area

As I’ve mentioned before, Chapel Street is one of my favourite streets in Britain, with its fantastic collections of restaurants, pubs, shops and attractive buildings. It was great to be in such a convenient location, and of course, there is plenty to do within the wider area of this part of Cornwall. The Egyptian House makes an excellent base for exploring further afield, as well as more locally.

If you’re keen to holiday in reasonably priced, comfortable accommodation that offers a delightful mix of historical and architectural interest, then I definitely urge you to have a browse through the Landmark Trust properties available, and any of the flats in the Egyptian House would offer a lovely stay if you’re planning a trip to Penzance.

Flat Three in the Egyptian House is a self-catering flat that sleeps up to 4 in the heart of Penzance. 4 nights may be booked from £197. For more information and how to book, click here.

Please note: our stay at the Egyptian House was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.