Category Archives: Travel

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.

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 …

***

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.

UK Travel | Highlights of Penzance, Cornwall

When I was in Penzance last Spring, I managed to pack rather a lot into 3 days, taking in the delights of the town, as well as nearby Tremenheere Sculpture Park and St Michael’s Mount. This time, I returned to some familiar favourites (the Exchange Gallery, No. 56The Front Room, Endpaper and Barton Books all high on my list), but also explored some new places. A real pleasure in visiting Penzance is that there is so much to do and see. Here are some highlights from my recent trip:

1/ The National Dahlia Collection

We seized the opportunity of a sunny morning to head to the National Dahlia Collection at Varfell Farm, just outside of Penzance. The dahlia season was just ending, but we were still in time to see some gorgeous blooms.

It felt very peaceful to wander amongst the rows of colourful flowers, with only the hum of a lawnmower disturbing the peace. Butterflies fluttered in the breeze, and, a little hazy in the distance, St Michael’s Mount could be glimpsed.

2/ Tasting Menu at The Shore

You may remember that on my last press trip to Penzance, I was invited to review The Shore restaurant. I enjoyed it so much then that, when my Dad said he wanted to take us all out for a meal to celebrate my birthday, I instantly suggested The Shore.

Since our last visit, a tasting menu (either 5 or 7 courses), as well as the regular à la carte, has been introduced. My Dad treated us to the 7 course meal, with accompanying wine flight. It was incredible! All the wines and dishes were superb, and it would be impossible to pick a favourite, though some highlights for me were the cured monkfish with seaweed salad and wasabi sorbet, hake with roasted beetroot, puy lentils and red cabbage  and the raspberry sorbet. It was a fantastically memorable birthday meal.

3/ Morrab Library

This independent library, housed in a Victorian mansion, is only a few minutes walk from Myrtle House, just across the pretty Morrab Gardens, and is the perfect place for any bibliophile to while away a rainy afternoon. Morrab Library boasts an impressive collection of books, and the reading rooms are beautiful, with desks placed at windows offering  breath-taking views across the gardens and out to sea.

4/ An Afternoon in Mousehole.

I’d been disappointed not to make it to Mousehole (pronounced Mowsol), a charming fishing village about a 15 minute drive from Penzance, on my last visit, so this time I was determined to go. We stopped for lunch at Rock Pool, which served crab sandwiches, cream teas and cocktails and was a lot fun! The cafe offers terrific views of the sea, and although it was too cold to sit out on the terrace, we nabbed a table near the window.

After our sandwiches, I strolled on into the town, pausing to snap plenty of photos of the winding streets and pretty harbour. I thought Mousehole was delightful, with a fairytale quality to its colourful cottages and bobbing boats.

5/ Jubilee Pool.

The Jubilee Pool had been closed on my last trip, so I was very pleased to get to visit it this time, although I’m afraid I wasn’t brave enough to have a dip! I loved the Art Deco design, and the serenity of the quiet pool, jutting out into the sea.

***

Next time I’m in Penzance, I’m planning a visit to Polgoon Vineyard (we tried some of their Cornish wine and cider, which were very good!) and the Minack Theatre, which I didn’t manage to get to this time. At least I have an excuse for another trip!

T&T 49 | Nell Stevens Discusses Bleaker House

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

In today’s Tea & Tattle episode, I’m joined by the writer Nell Stevens to discuss Nell’s debut book, Bleaker House. Nell lives in London and has a PhD in Victorian literature from King’s College London, and an MFA in Fiction from Boston University.

In her book, Nell describes her journey to the Falkland Islands, in search of the distraction-free, solitary existence she believed would help her to write a novel. Both funny and poignant, Bleaker House is one of the best books I’ve read about the writing process and what it means to be a writer.

It was a real joy to get to chat to Nell on the podcast and find out more about her day-to-day routine on Bleaker Island, as well as what her experience taught her about herself and her writing. Nell also explained how she came to structure the book in an unusual way, assembling it into a kind of collage to include her account of life on Bleaker Island, as well as extracts from her fiction writing and anecdotes about her past.

Nell Stevens, photographed by Mat Smith

I also questioned Nell about the title of her novel and the significance that Dickens’s Bleak House held for her writing process. Nell also makes an exciting announcement at the end of the episode about her next book, so be sure to listen out for that!

Listen to learn more about Nell’s experience of Bleaker Island and of writing a book. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Tea & Tattle newsletter to get exclusive updates and recommendations of favourite books and products from Sophie and me every week.

UK Travel | A Family Reunion at Myrtle House Penzance

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

I spent the beginning of the month in beautiful Cornwall, exploring Penzance, Mawgan Porth, Carbis Bay and St Ives. I had the most wonderful time and love Cornwall even more than ever. You may remember I spent three days in Penzance last Spring, and so I was delighted to be able to take a longer autumnal trip and see a little more.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more about where I stayed and the cultural and foodie highlights from the trip, as well as my shopping haul! It was my birthday whilst I was in Penzance, so I made that an excuse to visit my favourite shops again.

For this trip, I stayed in a varied number of places, from self-catering homes to luxurious beachside hotels, and I’m very pleased to have such a wide range, which would suit many different types of holidays, to show you. First up, is Myrtle House Penzance: the perfect choice for a gathering of friends or family, or for those seeking plenty of space (see the end of the post for an exclusive discount offered to Miranda’s Notebook readers when booking a stay).

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

I’d been invited to Myrtle House to stay and review for the blog, and as this beautiful Georgian house in the heart of Penzance is self-catering and sleeps up to 8,  I decided it would be fun to invite some of my family along to join in the fun. Mum travelled down with me from London, and my Dad (along with my Grandma, who was paying a visit from Canada), flew over from Geneva, Switzerland.

On arriving at the house for a long weekend stay, we we were greeted by a hamper stuffed with Cornish treats, a tall vase filled with locally grown dahlias and Cornish cream, butter, milk and cheese stashed in the fridge. All the essentials, in fact!

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers! A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

We were all so impressed by the huge, well-stocked kitchen. I, of course, was delighted by the fantastic collection of teapots and pretty mugs and teacups. I always think the kitchen is the heart of a home, and we found we naturally collected a good deal around the large table, making plans for the day ahead over breakfast, or reliving adventures with a glass of wine in the evenings.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers! A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers! A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

Also on the ground floor, along the corridor next to the kitchen, is a proper dining room, with a rather magnificent dining table and sideboard. We didn’t eat in this room, as we had suppers out and enjoyed breakfast in the kitchen, but I appreciated the table as another good workspace, and I enjoyed writing some cards and editing photos whilst looking out onto the front garden.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

Stashed inside the sideboard, I discovered a marvellous collection of dainty china teacups and teapots, as well as linen napkins and tablecloths – perfect for an impromptu tea party!

We enjoyed the large sitting room as a cosy and inviting space to curl up with a book or sit and chat. The room features an attractive, useable fireplace – perfect for blustery autumnal evenings. I was drawn to the long window seat and coffee table heaped with good books and glossy magazines.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

My dad especially loved the broad desk, and he ended up taking over this floor, the first floor, which, as well as the sitting room, has the French bedroom (I was charmed that all the bedrooms have their own name!).

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers! A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

All the bedrooms at Myrtle House are beautiful and every thought is given to comfort, with en suite shower rooms for each bedroom and chairs in the windows to sit and admire the view of Morrab Gardens, which are directly opposite the house. I thought the French room lived up to its name, with its dainty prettiness and slightly old-fashioned ornaments (those Staffordshire dogs!).

Two more bedrooms are on the second floor of the house, which I shared with my Grandma. She took a fancy to the Blue Room, which is painted in lovely tones of blue that reminded me of the sea only a short walk from the house.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

A particularly charming touch was the fully stocked tea and coffee supplies in the bedrooms.

I fell for the Master Room, which, as well as boasting very generous proportions, has a large bathroom with an extremely inviting bathtub, in addition to a walk-in shower. Anticipating the chance at a particularly good soak, I’d brought a bottle of Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley Bath Oil with me from London. Bliss!

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

Finally, at the top of the house on the the third floor is the loft, which can be set up with either a double or twin beds, or simply left as another living area. This space is, I think, especially great for children, as the ceilings are quite low and slanted, and there’s a little landing / play area  just outside the bedroom that would be enchanting for youngsters.

There’s a little shower room tucked away in a corner too that wouldn’t fit a tall person, but is great for kids! However, we chose to have this area made up with a double bed for my Mum to use, and it’s a good option for another double bedroom (although you’d have to share a shower with one of the downstairs rooms!).

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

I always find that self-catering homes generally have a lot more character and individual charm compared with hotels. We all enjoyed the excellent choice of books scattered throughout the house: a shelf of classic cookbooks in the kitchen; stuffed bookshelves on each little staircase landing; piles of beautiful coffee table books in the sitting room and stacks of magazines arranged in bedrooms.

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

The owners of Myrtle House also clearly have a bit of a penchant for cows, as there’s a bovine theme to the ornamentation scattered throughout the house, from cow-creamers to the life-size cow ornament (Myrtle herself) welcoming you in the front garden!

A glorious family gathering in Cornwall at Myrtle House Penzance, a beautiful self-catering holiday home sleeping up to 8 people. 10% discount for readers!

If you have kids, a great project for them would be finding and drawing all the cows in the house – it would keep them quiet for quite a while!

I so enjoyed our family gathering at Myrtle House Penzance, and I can’t recommend it enough. The Property Manager, Claire, was such a delight too and so helpful about recommending some off-the-beaten-track destinations to explore in the area. I’ll share more about where we visited in my next post.

Myrtle House is a self-catering holiday home that sleeps up to 8 people. To claim 10% off website prices for stays up to end of May 2018, simply mention ‘Miranda’s Notebook’ when booking.

Note: my stay at Myrtle House Penzance was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

T&T 45 | A Chat With Carolyn Stritch (@theslowtraveler)

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

This week on Tea & Tattle Podcast, I’m in conversation with the freelance photographer, Carolyn Stritch. Carolyn lives in Newcastle, UK, and is the creator of The Slow Traveler blog and Instagram account. Her beautiful photographs never fail to leave me spell-bound, and I always appreciate the photography and Instagram advice she gives through articles on her blog.

Carolyn has one of the most beautiful, imaginative galleries on Instagram, so it’s hardly surprising that she’s attracted a huge following. I was so delighted when Carolyn agreed to interview on Tea & Tattle, and it was wonderful to find out more about how her career as a freelance photographer began and her creative process.

Knowing Carolyn to be an avid reader as well, I also asked her for some great book recommendations to curl up with as we head into autumn, and her suggestions had me rushing out to my nearest bookshop immediately!

Listen to learn about ways to improve your photography and navigate instagram. 

Note: images courtesy Carolyn Stritch.

Creative Crush | Georgianna Lane Discusses Paris in Bloom

Georgianna Lane is one of the photographers I admire the most. I always eagerly anticipate her dreamy images of Paris and beautiful florals on my Instagram feed, and I find Georgianna’s use of light and visual story-telling extremely inspiring.

Georgianna’s work has been widely published in magazines, books, stationery and home decor products, and she’s the author of Paris in BloomAlthough originally from America, Georgianna has spent a great deal of time in Paris, and her photography shows how much creative inspiration she draws from the City of Light.

Miranda’s Notebook readers obviously know me rather well, as I received Paris in Bloom as a gift from the lovely Marion, a regular reader of the blog. It was the most perfect present, and I lingered over each exquisite page of the book as I read it (thanks again, Marion!)Not only does Paris in Bloom feature the most breath-taking photography of Paris and the show-stopping blooms Georgianna finds in the city, it’s also full of useful tips on flower styling and Parisian destinations.

Georgianna Lane

I was delighted when Georgianna agreed to answer some questions for an interview on Miranda’s Notebook. I asked her all about her favourite floral destinations in Paris, tips for photographing flowers, how she runs her own business and so much more. As I’m sure you’ll agree, Georgianna gives lots of fantastic advice in her answers, and now has me yearning for a trip to Paris next spring! I think it’s time to start planning….

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MN: What first sparked your love for Paris and floral photography?

GL: My passion for both has been part of me for a long time. I’ve been traveling to Paris since I was a teenager and taking photographs well before that so it was a natural progression, given the beauty and romance of both subjects.

MN: How did your career as a photographer begin? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?

GL: Art and creativity were always present in our household when I was growing up. My mother was a musician, singer and painter and both my parents were avid photographers. We were encouraged to read, create and dream. I began writing and taking photographs at a very young age and have continued to do so always.

When I left corporate marketing as an Art Director at a literary agency over ten years ago, I decided to focus on my photography business which now includes my books, specialist stock image library, online shops, licensing and assignment work for major gardening and lifestyle magazines.

Floral photography is endlessly fascinating and always popular. However, it’s a crowded field so I dedicated myself to excelling technically and artistically.

I feel very thankful that I make a living in a creative field and am grateful that my upbringing celebrated beauty and art, as well as the practical aspects of life.

MN: What inspired you to photograph and write Paris in Bloom?

GL: I’ve been visiting Paris since I was a teenager and spending more and more time there over the last six years. My first visit at age fourteen with my Mom introduced me to the city’s parks and gardens and museums, especially those with the Impressionist painters. I loved that the city itself seemed very feminine and that flowers are such a strong influence on the design and architecture. I started working on the concepts for Paris in Bloom about four or five years ago and developed it from there.

MN: Where are your three favourite places to go in Paris to experience its best florals?

GL: I love the Jardin du Palais Royal, which has bright pink blooming magnolias in March and abundant roses throughout the summer, all set against elegant, formal architecture. Flower shops on the walking streets of Rue Cler and Rue Montorgueil always have colorful displays. And nothing surpasses the beautiful cherry blossoms at Notre Dame and around the Eiffel Tower in April.

MN: In Paris in Bloom, you mention how much you admire the Impressionist painters, and your gorgeous photos remind me of their dreamy, floral aesthetic. Is there a particular artist that inspires your work?

GL: I’ve always been very inspired by the Impressionists and the Pre-Raphaelite painters, as well as the great artists and designers of the Arts and Crafts movement, such as William Morris and Sir Edward Burne Jones. Naturally, Monet has been very influential. The romance and beauty of these artists evokes a sense of otherworldly beauty, places that exist on the edge of the imagination that just might be real.

I love romantic and beautiful works in any field and inspiration can be found in poetry, music and nature, too. The peacefulness and serenity of the natural world influences the creation of many of my images. I approach my photographs as if they were paintings, leaving out elements that are modern or distracting to create a scene that allows the viewer to visualize themselves in that location. I strive to create timeless, light-filled, dreamy images with a bit of a magical atmosphere and hope to transport the viewer to a tranquil and beautiful realm.

MN: Do you have a favourite flower to photograph?

GL: Roses are always a favorite, as well as peonies, dahlias, hellebores and narcissus. I also love hydrangea and grow many varieties myself. In spring I have tulips, daffodils, Lily of the Valley, lilacs, bleeding heart and many more beautiful blooms to photograph. In summer, it’s roses, hydrangea, clematis, lilies and poppies.

MN: Would you share some of your tips for photographing blooms?

GL: Absolutely! You can instantly improve much outdoor flower photography by avoiding shooting in harsh sunshine. The high contrast light creates dark shadows on the subject and burns out highlights so you lose the detail in a flower. A slightly overcast day is perfect, with soft, even light, that will illuminate the beauty of the flower and allow all its features to be seen.

If you can’t avoid the sun, you can block it with an umbrella or diffuser to soften the light. And you can always choose to shoot in early morning or early evening when the sun is low. Backlighting can be lovely and give flowers a glowing radiance but again, you have to ensure you don’t lose detail by overexposure. And I always recommend using a macro lens so that you can get very close to the flower and explore its structure and form.

Becoming good friends with your tripod will open up a world of possibilities for flower photography. Even if a photograph has a shallow depth of field for a dreamy quality, having one area of sharp focus, usually on the center of the flower, will give the viewer a focal point and entrance point to the image. To ensure tack sharpness, a tripod is vital.

MN: I know you split your time between Seattle, London and Paris. What are the qualities you appreciate most about these cities in terms of capturing them through photography?

GL: I’ve lived in all three cities and know them well. In London and Paris, I adore wandering and exploring the layers of architecture and history that present themselves. It’s a joy with always something new to discover and learn. As the US base for my business, in Seattle I tend to concentrate my work on our own large wooded property and garden and the flowers I’ve planted there over the years, many of which feature in my images.

I also collaborate with a number of the local flower farms on book and magazine projects so its a seasonal concentration during spring and summer, although I also spend some months during that time in Paris and in London as well. I travel extensively back and forth over the pond from February through June.

MN: As well as a renowned floral photographer, you’re a very successful business woman, running two online shops and founding a horticultural stock photography website. Which quality of your personality would you say has helped you most to succeed in business? Do you ever find it difficult to juggle the creative side of what you do alongside the business?

GL: Thanks so much! I’m very determined and once I set a goal for myself, I don’t quit easily. I think my persistence is a key trait. I truly believe that giving up on a dream is the only reason for failure. But you have to do the work. Dreaming doesn’t get it done. One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” I’ve never been good at downtime and usually have many projects going at once.

It is challenging juggling both the creative and business side of my company. More and more my time is spent on marketing, social media, websites, etc. Fortunately, my husband is also full time on our business. In addition to being a marvelous photographer himself with his own successful career, he handles all the finances and travel logistics, which is a lifesaver. You cannot effectively do it alone and expect to expand.

MN: Finally, what’s next? Are there any upcoming projects that you’re able to share at the moment?

GL: I can definitely tell you that more books are coming, beginning in Spring 2018! I’m expanding product lines to include more stationery items, wall art and wearable art. And hope to launch workshops and online training next year. Thank you so much, Miranda!

***

Find Georgianna on Instagram as @georgiannalane and @aparisianmoment, Twitter, Etsy and Facebook. You can also see more of Georgianna’s products and photographs on her website. Paris in Bloom is available to purchase here. You can watch the trailer for the book, which is a visual treat and wonderfully soothing to the soul:

Don’t you think Georgianna’s photography is stunning? Thanks so much again to her for a wonderful interview and for her photographs that add a little more beauty to my days.

Note: all images in this post courtesy Georgianna Lane.

T&T 43 | A Chat With Liz Schaffer, Editor of Lodestars Anthology

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

Today on Tea & Tattle Podcast, I’m chatting with Liz Schaffer, the editor and founder of my favourite travel magazine, Lodestars Anthology. I first discovered these travel journals when I was browsing Daunt Books, and I instantly fell for the awe-inspiring photography and well-written articles. There are now 8 issues to date, with the most recent, New Zealand, published last month.

In this week’s episode, I took the opportunity to question Liz about the future of independent magazine publishing, how she first came to launch Lodestars Anthology and what lessons she’s learnt from running her own business. We also chatted about the art of travel and how to travel more creatively.

This is a brilliant episode for anyone who enjoys travel and inspiring reading material, and it is guaranteed to make you want to plan your next holiday!

Listen to learn more about publishing an independent travel magazine.

P.S. I’ve created a guide to travel journaling for Tea & Tattle listeners for further travel inspiration. If you’ve already signed up to our newsletter, then check your inbox, as the guide was emailed to you. Otherwise, you can sign up to get it here.

T&T 41 | Joyful French Eating with Elizabeth Bard

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

Today on Tea & Tattle, I’m chatting with the bestselling author, Elizabeth Bard, about Elizabeth’s new cookbook, Dinner Chez Moi: 50 French Secrets to Joyful Eating and Entertaining.

Elizabeth lives in Provence with her family, and she has also written two culinary memoirs, Lunch in Paris and Picnic in Provence, about her move from America to France and how she fell in love with the country, the food and a Frenchman! I love Elizabeth’s humorous and insightful descriptions of adapting to the French way of life, as well as the delicious recipes that accompany her words.

Dinner Chez Moi is less of a memoir and more a handy guide to the French style of eating and living, with plenty of Elizabeth’s favourite recipes to enjoy. I had a fabulous time asking Elizabeth all about what she stocks in her Provençal kitchen; how to shop wisely for delicious, but affordable meals and some of the French secrets to keeping a trim waistline (I think I’ve got the tea-drinking part down at least!).

It was so fun to catch-up with Elizabeth on the podcast, as I’d met her last summer when I was in Provence, and arranged an interview with her at Scaramouche, the artisan glacier Elizabeth runs with her husband.

With Elizabeth Bard outside Scaramouche

This episode is perfect for summer and will inspire anyone, I’m sure, to dash to their local farmers’ market and start buying up juicy tomatoes and other fresh produce!

Listen to learn more about eating, cooking and living the French way.