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  • Our Top Ten Romantic Days Out In Cornwall

    It's that time of year again and so we've come up with our own list of Romantic things to do whilst in Cornwall.

    1) Make like Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze and get down and dirty with a ceramic workshop. Ben Barker and Treeban pottery are just some of those offering tuition. For more info check out www.benbarker.co.uk/tuition
     

    2) Visit the Barbara Hepworth museum in St Ives. If her sculptures (which some may see as having erotic overtones) don't get you going then her beautiful tropical garden is the perfect romantic setting for passing the time with a loved one.

    3)  Speaking of (arguably) erotic structures-why not head to one of Cornwalls many fertility rocks. Legend has it that if you rub up against one of these ancient stones then you increase your fertility by a whopping 500%!

    4) Once fully loaded on the fertility front why not stay in the Chapel House on the picture postcard Chapel Street in Penzance? This place is a regular fixture in style magazines and is a great place to snuggle up on a stormy night.

    5) Horse riding on the beach next to Michaels Mount (no sniggering). Not original, but who cares! It's horse riding! On the beach! jodhpurs! Whips! It's sexy!

    6) Coastal walk. So many beautiful country walks in Cornwall which will take your breath away and get the blood flowing, but we all know it's the pub afterwards that's the real fun. 

    7) The pub. Dry off your clothes by the fire in one on Cornwalls lovely old country Inn's. Everyone's got their favourites, but we love the Old Coastguard in Mousehole, the Admiral Benbow in Penzance and the Tinners arms in Zennor. The Tinners Arms once played host to DH Lawrence, so bring a copy of Lady Chatterly's lover if you really want to spice things up!

    8) Get messy with a chocolate workshop at "I should Coco" in St Ives. It's St St Ives! It's chocolate! Come on, what are you, a monk!?

    9) No list regarding Cornwall would be complete without mentioning Poldark- So head to the set and see if you can catch a glimpse of everyone's favourite romper. Not sure if this is romantic. One for singletons perhaps.

    10) Dolphin watching. What could be more romantic than floating on the high seas with your loved one in search of one our squeaky friends? (Don't answer that). Not only are Dolphins remarkably smart, but they are also thought to be incredibly romantic. It's even thought that Dolphins stay with the same partner for life. (Not sure if this is true-Don't google the mating habits of dolphins-least romantic mammals out there). The sailors are also hunky. (So says my partner). 

    There are Harbour tours from Penzance and St Ives daily.

  • Our Ten best things to do in Cornwall in 2017

    With Penzance coming in at a lofty number 14 in the New York Times list of global destinations to visit in 2017 we’ve come up with our own reasons why we think Cornwall is the place to be in 2017.

    1. Penzance. It’s not hard to see why Penzance was named as the 14th best holiday destination in the NYT. Of course there is the newly reopened lido but also the lovely coffees shops and renowned restaurants such as The Front room and The Shore. We also love Suko Thai for an authentic thai curry. For a bit of culture check out the open air theatre at Morab gardens or for some laid back cocktails head to the Artists Residence. There's also the picture postcard Chapel Street, where you can spend a night in the luxurious Chapel house or have a pint by the fire in the historic Admiral Benbow.
    2. Have a cream tea in the porthminister cafe restaurant in St Ives. St Ives has an embarrassment of superb beaches but our favourite is Porthminister with its excellent cafe. Work off those calories with a brisk strole across the beach and into the town of St Ives itself.
    3. Do the Zennor walk. Starting out in St Ives head South West along the coast to the small village of Zennor. Increasingly popular all year round the walk comes to about five miles each way and is a must on a glorious summers day. It’s pretty testing but the coastal views are spectacular. Reward yourself with a pint of Doombar and a delicious ploughmans at the Tinners arms. It's also good for celeb spotting. (I was once greeted by Geri Halliwell who informed me that my laces were undone).
    4. Check out the markets in Loswithel. With dozens of antique shops we've spent many a Saturday afternoon poking around for bargains in this famous old town by the river Fowey.
    5. Shelter from a storm by the fire at the Old Coastguard hotel and restaurant in Mousehole. With its views across Mounts bay we love spending a stormy winters afternoon here. Pull up a blanket and open a bottle. The food is superb, only bettered by the views out onto the Atlantic coast.
    6. Visit the artists open studios. Throughout the end of May and the start of June a wide range of artists and craft makers throw open their doors to members of the public. A great way of seeing first hand Cornwalls artistic community at work. 
    7. Visit the Tate. It’s going to be newly re-opened in March, 2017 after an extensive renovation. Or if you can't wait check out the nearby Barbara Hepworth museum.
    8. Whale spotting. Dolphin spotting. Seal spotting. Take a cruise from the harbour out of both St Ives or Penzance. The sea round these parts is full of sea life so you can expect an amazing experience.
    9. Fish and chips. Yes, we all know Cornwall does amazing pasties but we love its Fish and chips. Best fish and chips for us are Lewis in Newlyn (and we've done extensive research!) or for the slightly more upmarket experience check out Mackerel Sky.
    10. Drive around the Lizard. To really get away from it all visit the lizard. Round here it can be as remote as it gets. Head to the town of St Buryan where they filmed straw dogs, or the picturesque Cadgwith cove, which is one of the few working fishing villages in Cornwall.
  • Using Reddit for website feedback

    We launched our website in September and at this point we thought it was looking pretty good, but having spent so much time with our nose to the screen could we even tell anymore?

    Friends and family all seemed pretty positive. In fact they just focused on the positives, as of course friends and family are inclined to do , however I really felt it was important to have some objective criticism from a broader range of people. 

    In order to get a more rounded view market research was needed, and with little marketing budget to go off outsourcing wasn't possible.

    Then through one of shopify's excellent blog posts we came across the idea of posting a link to the site on one of Reddits business forums and then asking for feedback.

    Now Reddit is something I've flirted with in the past. Often referred to as the homepage of the Internet, anything goes. It's  generally a self regulating site where people post whatever they wish and then everyone else is free to comment. People generally just said what they think and don't mince their words. Bullshit will be snuffed out at the first opportunity.

    So we posted a link asking for some open and honest criticism, keeping in mind that even particularly negative feedback could reveal something we've otherwise missed. 

    Thoughts at this time are what if everyone hates it? Will I just recieve a barrage of negative comments? Will I get any reponse at all? I had some concerns that we'd be eaten up by people who didn't like it simply for the fact that Homeware products were not something they were interested in. 

    After a few hours I stealed myself and logged in to see if there were any responses. The first came in and simply read 'Boring'. A rather damning and succinct appraisal of our work the past three months. I logged off.

    A few hours later, and reminding myself that even the negative stuff can be used positively, I logged back in. Below the link I had over thirty comments. I could barely bring myself to look.

    The next comment down read "Great, I'd buy from here". Relieved I scrolled through. "Awesome job" said another. "You have great taste". I was starting to feel heartened. "I'm not really interested in Homeware but I still love the site". I kept reading positive comment after positive comment, and amongst the positive stuff was also some detailed and constructive criticism that really shone a light on areas that I wasn't sure about. 

    It was even worth considering why the first poster described it as "boring" so I hit reply and asked him. A shorthwhile later he came back and explained that he actually liked the site, but that some of the photos could be a bit more interesting. And after some thought, he's probably right.

    So having gone to Reddit with some reservations that we'd be chewed up and spat out, I instead found a place where people were thoughtful, friendly, constructive, encouraging and happy to give up some of their time in order to help you make your product the best it can be.

    And I was also reminded that as much as we needed the positive feedback, it was the critical stuff that will really make the difference.

     

  • Everything you need to know about candle making (but were too bored too ask!)

    A few pieces of useful information if you ever fancied making your own.

    Firstly, let's start with the wax.

    The two main types of wax people use are paraffin and soya.

    Paraffin is the standard type which has been used for decades and is formed from petroleum. There is a question over whether or not it is toxic but from my online research it is the soot itself which can be harmful as this can then be inhaled, potentially damaging the lungs.

    A study from the university of Michigan found that parrafin candles give off emissions that exceed the Environmental Protection Agencys standards for outdoor air quality (let alone indoor air quality). Thanks to cleannaturalhealthy.com for that info.

    So probably best to avoid parrafin wax.

    Then there is soya. Soya wax is a processed form of soya bean oil and its greatest advantage is that it is completely renewable.

    According to candle science.com "while the global reserves of oil shrink and paraffin prices increase, the only limit to the soy supply is how much we choose to grow"

    "In addition to sustainability, a well-made soy candle will burn cleanly and slowly. They are also considered eco-friendly, renewable, sustainable, carbon neutral".

    So that's the science out of the way.

    Next for the scents, and this is the fun part. Having always had a fantasy of being a perfumer (probably after reading the book perfume) this comes down to trial and error. And we started by deciding on the type of scents we wanted.

    We wanted Cornish cream tea to be our first, but how to get this in a candle?

    So we ate some (a lot!) cream tea and decided that butter cream, and a jasmine scent to invoke tea, would be a good starting point. We also experimented with adding strawberry but this became a big confused.

    We initially followed the measurement guidelines when adding the scents but this wasn't giving us our intended results so we went heavy with the tea, as this was the more subtle, and less with the butter cream. We also added a drop of vanilla to give it some extra kick. Soya has less throw, so you can be quite generous when adding scents.

    So having come up with our formula we then went into production in our small kitchen. Melting the wax in a bowl over boiling water and then pouring the melted wax into tins, before stirring in the scents.

    We'd then position our wicks. Some online advice suggested using chop sticks to hold the wicks in place whilst the wax solidifies, however we found that pasta sticks work just as well.

    It's also important to let the wax cool slightly before adding the wick, as otherwise the wick will break off from its weight (The scent may also get burned up if the wax is too hot). I suggest you let the wax cool for about five minutes after melting.

    Then you just pour yourself some tea and wait for the wax to form. This takes about fourty minutes, after which you'll have your very own scented soya wax candle.

    (Or you could just buy one of ours and save yourself the hassle). :)

  • Welcome to St Ives homeware

    We're delighted to have the St Ives Homeware website finally launched and be able to share with you many of my favourite makers (designers, ceramicists and illustrators) in St Ives and Cornwall.

    Highlights include items from the brilliant designer Helen Round, including Helens hand printed linenware, a collection of hand printed bags, aprons, tea towels and cushions.

    We also feature work from the ceramicist Ben Barker who is based nearby at his studio in Heston. From Ben we've a a series of highly collectable minimalist monochrome procelian vases and bowls.

    We've also got homeware from Laetitia Miles, with one off oven proof functional dishes in a French provincial style.

    We're also delighted to have local illustrator and designer Melanie Chadwick, (aka Mellybee) who is based in Falmouth. Through Melanie we've a selection of her screen printed duck feather cushions, tea towels and hand printed stationary.

    Another contributor to the St Ives homeware we're really pleased to collaborate with is Lou Tonkin who is an artist and illustrator. We feature some of her "Hare" prints and illustrated covered sketchbooks.

    Through Bespoke and vintage light studio Emporium Illuminstration we've a series of their handmade lampshades.

    In addition to the makers contributions to St Ives Homeware we've also been busy searching for unique one offs in vintage markets and antique stores. This has included a recent find of a set of monochrome coffee cups picked up from a market in Lostwithel.

    This really is just a fraction of what St Ives and West Cornwall has to offer and we can't wait to discover even more unique and beautiful products in the coming months.

    Sam

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