Sunday, 31 August 2014

How to make the most of a British summer holiday

This year, I have been lucky enough to enjoy two gorgeous city breaks (the first, to Paris and the other to Berlin), several adventures for magazine travel pieces (including a fantastic visit to Iceland) and some really brilliant out-of-season festivals, including Horizon Festival in Bulgaria.

By the second half of the year I decided it was time to reign things in a bit. Instead of taking another flight, booking another hotel and negotiating the logistics of another set of transfers, I decided that a holiday 'chez mes parents' was in order (they live in St Just in Cornwall, portrayed rather sweetly in a postcard I found by illustrator Joseph Mason, above).

We took the train from Bristol Temple Meads down to the final stop of the line, Penzance, and spent a week in traditionally-mixed English weather enjoying wild South West Cornwall. We braved the rain to see old mine buildings, managed to enjoy two beach days, snatched one glorious barbecue and, of course, enjoyed plenty of cosy pints in the pub. Here are several ways to make the most of a summer holiday in Cornwall.

Embrace the rain
If it hasn't stopped raining since the wee hours and is showing no signs of stopping, then dash out, dodge the puddles and see if you can still see some famous landmarks. We managed to get over to The Crowns in Bottallack – though none of us were brave enough to climb down for a closer look in the persistent drizzle.

Snatch the beaching opportunities
As soon as it is sunny, grab the bikini, Ray-Bans and Mum's oldest towel and hotfoot it to the nearest and most beautiful beach. Swimming through the waves at Sennen was a highlight of my holiday.

Go to the pub
When it does get nippy – and because you have survived your day until the afternoon – get yourself down to the pub for a cheeky half (or four). English pubs are unbeatable and a family favourite is The Queen's Arms in Bottallack.

Ride an open-topped bus
For fantastic views and fresh air getting where you need to go, nothing beats the open-top. Just be prepared for high winds, overhanging branches and a change in the weather. And don't expect that hair to stay neat. We took the 300 between St Just and Lands End.

Visit the end of the earth
By which I mean Land's End, of course. The miniature village we found there is cute despite the lack of seeming to have any real purpose. And we saw an Oompa Loompa (I kid you not).

Brave a barbecue
If the clouds still haven't descended following a blissful beach day, stay out! Light up the barbecue and enjoy a burger of unadulterated beef packed with salad, sauce, pineapple and too much cheese – one of the best burgers I have ever had (and I have had a few).

Wrap up warm to take in the scenery
Sometimes just looking at Cornwall is enough. How about wrapping up and enjoying a walk along the coast? A light lunch at The Godolphin Arms overlooking the beach was the perfect way to break the day up when we went for a stroll around Marazion before getting the train back to Bristol.

A typical Cornish view...
Wrapping up against the wind and rain
Surfers at Sennen
Sennen pier
Porthcurno, Cornwall

On Porthcurno beach
The miniature village at Land's End
Oompa Loompa doompadee-doo...
St Michael's Mount from Marazion
A view of Cape Cornwall from the open-topped '300' bus

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Home Truths

Monday, 18 August 2014

Live from the Lawn, Tyntesfield

On Saturday I had the privilege to join my lovely friend and singer-songwriter Rosie Sleightholme playing a gig at Tyntesfield's Live from the Lawn. What was fantastic about this day of live music is that we got to play two very different sets: one in Tyntesfield's stunning chapel (one of the best acoustics I have ever played in – we both regretted not recording it!) and the other in a big marquee on the croquet lawn. It was all very pleasant with the weather lovely and sunny, and the atmosphere very chilled out. There were several acts playing on different stages and people just wandered around and relaxed.

It was wonderful to discover the beautiful house and gardens of Tyntesfield. Located seven miles away from the centre of Bristol, the house was built by William Gibbs in the 1860s in the Victorian Gothic revivalist style. It was so nice to be making music in such an incredible place.

Another brilliant part of the day was discovering the delicious fare of Barefoot Stonebooked Pizza Co. – that sorted out any hint of a hangover there may or may not have been lingering in the air. It was amazing to see how quickly those handmade bases curled up protectively around lashings of tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni and rocket.

And, being on a National Trust property as we were, we couldn't leave without that obligatory over-priced slice of cake and milky tea to finish off a lovely day.

Listen to Rosie's Great Oak EP below.

Tyntesfield House, North Somerset | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

The chapel at Tyntesfield | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Inside the chapel, Tyntesfield | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Setting up | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Rosie performs 'Sabrina' | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Live from the Lawn, Tyntesfield | Photo: Rosie Pentreath


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Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Playlist: Trentemøller

Trentemøller's Lost album is an eclectic mix of different vocal collaborations (including with The Drums's Jonny Pierce and members of Low), dance tracks full of driving synths and spectral dream-pop songs. I think the eclecticism is what has kept me returning to it time and time again.

Candy Tongue featuring Marie Fisker is a memorable track, as is Never Stop Running with Jonny Pierce, his familiar Drums-voice soaring over the 80s-style quick beats. Deceive featuring Sune Rose Wagner is another good one; perfectly dark and dramatic.

Anders Trentemøller emerged out of Denmark a few years ago with his debut The Last Resort, which is a much more ambient and abstract dance album, kept more in focus by a uniform style.

I think a lot of the tracks on the latest album owe their greatness to the collaborations, not Trentemöller himself. Still, it's a good listen for those looking to add a bit of 'Scandi Chic' to their record collection. For something more authentically Trentemøller turn to the two earlier albums, The Last Resort (2006) and Into the Great Wilde Yonder (2010).

Monday, 4 August 2014

Ten typical festival goers

We're halfway through the festival season and I haven't yet been away to one – it is the first year in six that I didn't excitedly pitch my tent at Glastonbury and I even missed Lafrowda, the small festival in my hometown that I have been to every year since it was established. To make myself feel better I have watched plenty of coverage from the big ones and imagined myself in those filthy crowds with the best of them...

We have all had moments at Glastonbury or Bestival or Green Man where we see a girl coming towards us, far too clean and fresh to have engaged with the festival at all. In comparison, we are covered in smears of mud, sporting lank hair that is miraculously greasy and frizzy at the same time and, of course, carrying that faint whiff of farm antics that one acquires after not washing for days. The aforementioned clean one is more-than-likely your typical festival day-tripper – someone who has the luxury of swanning into Glastonbury from a place with a four poster bed and fresh towels. And there are other festival goer clichés that I have also noticed. There is the timid festival first-timer (we were all one once!). And that old-timer who you know used to go to Stone Henge for  the Summer Solstice and party right on through to Pilton in the festival's early days. Here are ten of the best festival-going clichés that I have seen (and been).

1. The old-timer
This seventy-plus-year-old raver tends to pitch an armchair in the middle of the patch between the Pyramid Stage and its sound system, wholly unconcerned by the surging crowds around them. Instead they pass out under that head of matted grey hair, spliff in one hand, a beer in the other, and nod along with the music.

Source: Matt Dunham/AP

2. Front row keen
These kids are the opposite. Still excited by the Festival Experience, they have got to see the very pores in Lily Allen’s face to feel satisfied.

When I went to Glastonbury in 2010 I spent enough time right in front of the Pyramid Stage to be snapped by Guardian photographer Mark Large and slapped on the cover of the next morning's paper

3. The Cara Delevingne fan
You may have thought you were waiting to see Rita Ora, and that so were the group of screaming teens to the right of you. Wrong. Cara Delevingne is the word on their lips. The same model-spotting goes on in the name of Alexa Chung, Georgia May Jagger and, of course, famous festival veteran Kate Moss.

Cara Delevingne: more rockstar than the rockstars? | Source: Aimee Blaut/The Formula Blog

4. The day-tripper
These girls and boys impress us and infuriate us in equal measure. While they are able to take a hot shower in the morning and smell of Thierry Mugler Alien all day, we have been reduced to l’eau de Pilton, the ‘wet wipe shower’, and washing our heads under a cold tap. Come on girls, give us a chance – this is hardly a fair fight.

Photo: Rosie Pentreath

5. The happy family
These kids have the coolest parents ever. They are parents that love festivals so much that pregnancy, twins and two tiny toddlers can’t stop them. They are likely to be spotted at the circus tent by day and safely tucked up in family camping at night.

Source: Victor Frankowski/The Guardian

6. The super-fan
This rarer breed wears the t-shirt, carries the home-made banner, owns the mug and screams themselves hoarse when their best-band-of-all-time emerges. They have waited a year for this and endured violent elbow-in-the-rib moments at the front of a growing crowd. When the set starts, it’s all about knowing the entire album in order and singing along word for word.

Yannis Phillippakis of Foals wears a Buckwheat t-shirt | Source:

7. The lone ranger
This cool cat meanders into the festival at his own time with a single backpack, beard and brown clothes of varying shades. The hundreds-of-thousands strong crowds can’t distract him from a solitary and soulful experience of the music.

Photo: Ryan Mahon/Facebook

8. The campsite dweller
These guys, on the other hand, are pack animals. They don't seem to mind that they have missed Radiohead on the Park stage. Instead, they are making giant wands from the beer cans they have been emptying down their throats since dawn and guarding the large gazebo that marks their territory.

Photo: Sasha Calontiw/

9. The hippy healer
Rarely seen outside the healing fields, this pleasant breed is all sunshine and smiles, oblivious to the hedonism that ensues with deep house only one field away.

The best hippy vibes have to be those found at Fire in the Mountain in Wales. This was taken in 2012 when I played there with singer-songwriter Rosie Sleightholme (right) | Photo: Mina Bihi/FITM

10. Twenty-four-hour-party-people
These youngsters spend all their time in the dance villages of the summer festivals. Fueled and goaded-on by their best friend Mandy, they continue even after the rest of us have collapsed under a hot Sunday sun.

Photo: Emily Pentreath/Instagram

If you like this, why not try:

Glastonbury 2013: the diary of a festival goer
Glastonbury 2013: REVIEW
Horizon Festival, Bulgaria
Lafrowda 2013

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