DIANE WHALLEY ART

paintings 034-002Due to time restrictions I have decided to concentrate on my art. But I thank all of you who followed Pictures and Patisserie over the past year. I would like to take this opportunity though to inform you that I am still writing a blog all about art and arty things on my website www.dianewhalleyart.co.uk. I do hope that you can find time to take a look. Thank you.

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Pure Pleasure

Diane

Diane x


MY TOP TEN PORTRAIT ARTISTS ~ THEN THERE IS ME!

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I decided recently to give portraiture a go – I had never painted a portrait before so it was quite an experiment. I had no intention of trying to be like the great masters – there was just no way at a first attempt that I was going to produce paintings like those of my top ten favourite portrait artists. And in no particular order here they are:

  1. The great Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) is listed first simply because his work always springs to mind first. Maybe because I discovered his colourful paintings way back when I was an art student. He completed many self portraits, often revealing the tensions he felt with life. All his work – later work anyway – have a vibrancy I feel is unmatched by many – full of colour and large paint swirls. And I don’t know many people who have not heard of Van Gogh.
  2. Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was probably the most influential twentieth century artist and probably the most famous artist of modern times. He was able to artfully use many different styles, but probably became popularly know for his cubism which he invented along with his friend Georges Braque – a style he used in many of his portraits which were distorted and fragmented with rigid paint strokes and in strong colours, but at the same time most captivating. Picasso moved to Paris in 1901 and was to spend most of his days in France.
  3. Another great artist of the twentieth century was French man Henri Matisse (1849-1954). A talented man who trained as a lawyer, but found art to be his vocation. The south of France was a great attraction to him and he settled in Nice in 1917. He had a great skill in use of colour and was a fluid draughtsman. Matisse would often use bright and unnatural colours in his work rather than showing things as they really looked. By the mid 1970’s and with a declining health he could no longer paint in the traditional way and so he took to painting with scissors – as he would say – but we refer to them as cut-outs!
  4. Another of my favourites is English artist David Hockney (b.1937) who over the years has spent his time residing in the UK and America. I love the strong, expanse of colours and strong distinguishable shapes that he has sometimes used in his work and in particular in a lot of his portraits. Many of his portraits feature the whole environment and not just the head and shoulders which brings out the character of the individual or individuals – he sometimes painted more than one person in his portraits. Fascinated by people and how he could represent them in art Hockney has been a consummate portrait artist since his teenage years. On his return to Los Angeles in 2013 he set out to paint as many portraits as he could with the subject sitting on the same chair and with the same blue backdrop and all on the same size large canvas in acrylics. Seventy seven portraits have been completed with stunning complexity revealing each persons character. Hockney has stunned the world of art with other great works too, but his portraits are what stand out for me!
  5. The Viennese creator of rich, decorative paintings Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) often shocked the people of his day with his bold use of nude figures. But later he started painting jewel-like and bright landscapes and portraits for which he became much sought after. His inspiration for adding gold leaf to his pictures came from ancient golden mosaics that he discovered in Italy – the most famous of his works being ‘The Kiss’.
  6. Closer to  present day and much more graphical in style is American artist Andy Warhol’s work (1928-1987). He was most recognisable for wearing a silver ring and sun glasses. But far exceeding his persona were his bold, brash and commercial creations revealing his great fascination with celebrity.  Towards the end of his life he focussed on painting portraits for the famous. His most famous portrait being that of the actress Marilyn Monroe.
  7. Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was probably one of the most prolific artists of the seventeenth century who was not only a great portrait artist but a brilliant scholar and diplomat. He was born in Siegen in what is now Germany and lived for a while in Antwerp. But after a trip to Venice and seeing the work of great artists there he settled in Italy. And in honour of his love for the country he would often sign his name in Italian. On returning to Antwerp upon his mother’s death he was persuaded to stay to see out his days. His portrait paintings were famously big, bold and quite extravagant. They were almost photographic in style and while that is not to my taste I admire his great technical ability in creating the true-to-life.
  8. One of the greatest British portrait painters is how I would describe Lucien Freud (1922-2011). His portraits were often muted in colour but there was great draughtsmanship in the strong brush strokes. Paintings and drawings of people were quite central to his work as he wanted to bring drama to his paintings and he believed this would be achieved through portraiture as the smallest of human gestures showed drama.
  9. Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He had a magical way of elongating the face without losing the freshness of the individuals. Sadly, for him, his style was not appreciated at the time and it was only after his premature death that his portraits became popular.
  10. Most artists are known by their surname but not Rembrandt (1606-1669) – Rembrandt was actually his first name! His full title was Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn which is self-explanatory on why his first name was adopted! Probably the most successful Dutch artist of the time famous for his powerful portraits. He was born in Leiden and then moved to Amsterdam where he was to see out his years. He was a great master producing many fine art portraits to almost photographic detail. They were often dark and moody.

There are two additional artists that I must add to this post – firstly the most universally acclaimed portrait of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and his portrait is probably one of the most talked about portraits of all time; and so he should not be excluded from the list of great portrait artists. He was not only a great artist but an excellent mathematician who worked with great precision in striving to create perfection.

And of course the twelfth name is me – okay, I know there is a little difference between them and me but we all have to begin somewhere! All the portraits seen here are acrylic on canvas board and all by me:

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Diane x


GALLERY ART BY DIANE

Just a few recent artworks by me. And just to let you know that I will be opening a shop here very soon. All the paintings below are acrylic on canvas board. Originals and prints are for sale – until my shop opens please message me from the about page.

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My eldest daughter recently had a birthday and instead of making the usual birthday size card I thought I would paint a birthday picture (12×16* – approx. 30x40cm) from when she was a little younger! And doing what little children enjoy – splashing about in the wet sand on a beach in Cornwall; and from memory, I believe it was the glorious Sennen Cove.

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I had some left over paint from my daughter’s birthday painting and a vase of flowers close by – and not wanting to waste the paint – I thought I would create a still life.

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The Blue Vase (12×16* – approx. 30x40cm)

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With a little editing I created a very simple image below for wall print and greeting card designs. I used one of the cards recently as a thank you note to a good friend.

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Finally, a little something different. I was so inspired one day to paint an elephant that I did – don’t you just love elephants? I had been to Paignton Zoo a couple of years ago and used my elephant photographs for reference.

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Big Grey (24×20* – 61x52cm) on a creamy/beige background. Various sizes of prints will be available soon from my new online shop – coming very soon!

Diane x


SIR TERRY FROST EXHIBITION ~ NEWLYN ART GALLERY…

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Newlyn Art Gallery’s Sir Terry Frost exhibition – Green Below, 2003, the last painting by the artist

I felt so privileged during the Christmas break to have visited a most wonderful – and certainly colourful – exhibition of works by leading modernist painter Sir Terry Frost (1915 – 2003). It was a treat for my birthday and would have been a treat for any occasion and for anyone in the vicinity of Newlyn and Penzance – two very popular resorts in the extreme south west of Cornwall. The exhibition was divided between the two galleries – Newlyn Art Gallery exhibited his later work and Penzance’s The Exchange was showing some of his earlier work – bringing together some of his most acclaimed paintings, sculptures and collages from public and private collections across the UK. There were works from his life in St. Ives in the early 1950’s, his time away from Cornwall and his return to the county when he took up residence and a studio in Newlyn in the 1970’s until his demise in 2003. And all was organised by the Tate St Ives in consultation with Sir Terry Frost’s estate and in collaboration with Leeds Art Gallery and the two galleries in the south west. He was one of the artistic greats of his time along with fellow artists Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, Roger Hilton, Mark Rothko, Victor Pasmore, Adrian Heath and Barbara Hepworth – all of whom were his friends or colleges.

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Purple and Green

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Sir Terry Frost’s Sunburst framing Clemmy

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Blue Winter 1956

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Red, Black and White 1955-6

I have admired this great mid-twentieth century artist for a long time and felt lucky that I had the opportunity to see some of his original work and prints. I love the way Sir Terry Frost used colour and simple forms to create impact with his paintings – they impart an energy and intrigue. And continue to be admired by many well into the twenty first century and I foresee will continue to influence art of the future. Sir Terry Frost and the other great names of that era were bold innovators of form and colour and they have most certainly impacted upon my art works.

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High Yellow, Yorkshire, by Sir Terry Frost c.1955

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Walking Down the Quays by Sir Terry Frost, 1954

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A Sir Terry Frost display at The Exchange in Penzance

Sadly, the Sir Terry Frost exhibition has now ended in the SW but the Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange continue to offer some exciting works by local and national artists – and in such great locations too – who could possible resist calling by!

Both galleries have there own cafes but the Old Coastguard in Mousehole is a treat with sea views in which to dine too – we did and we were not disappointed – I can recommend the Sticky Date Pudding with brandied prunes and hazelnut ice cream; and the crème brulee and the lemon verbena panna cotta where also good enough to die for!

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Contemplating Force 8 (1960) at The Exchange, Penzance

Diane x


FOWEY CHRISTMAS MARKET WEEKEND

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Christmas is a very special time of year for many reasons not least the Fowey Christmas Market which takes place during the first weekend of December. The small harbour side town comes alive with the switching on of the lights on the Friday night by Father Christmas, of course! His mode of transport is a little more creative than his usual sleigh as he arrives by boat. Local traders are open to welcome visitors and there is a buzzing congregation around the church with carols and Christmas elation ringing out – not to mention the squeals of excited children! Many events take place during the weekend and there is much to sample from the market traders based throughout the town – from marquees on the town quay and in Webb Street in the heart of Fowey to a packed hall at Fowey River Academy’s sports hub at the top. The community hall and church also open their doors to show case the talents of local artists and crafts people. And for the past two years I have been there with a friend in the Webb Street marquee offering textile art, acrylic paintings, Christmas cards, stationery, tree decorations, charming wooden reindeers, Fowey estuary map lampshades and my own sweet treats.

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It was so lovely to see so many friendly faces return from last year and all keen to enjoy the great festive spirit. Even the strong winds did not deter and I have heard on the grape vine that it was the best year ever. Fowey Christmas Market just keeps on growing and getting better. Everyone already seems so excited about the 2016 event – the first weekend of December – it will most certainly be in my diary!

I had hoped to share some pictures of the weekend’s events with you, but I was so busy on my stall that I never had the opportunity to escape with my camera, so instead I have a few pictures of some of my work that was on show and some of those that were keenly snapped up, along with all of Sally’s reindeers and several of her wonderful lampshades.

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Two Green Pears!

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Sandbar – low tide!

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Red boat II in Fowey!

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Lone Sheep!

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Harbour sunset!

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Roses!

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Textile art- Love Camping and Woof – Dog!

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By the sea – looking through the window!

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Fowey harbour!

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Boat race!

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Beach huts!

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Cornish ware daisies!

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Sheep – Shirley!

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Redbreast!

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Flying Kites!

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Stockings and tree Christmas tree decorations!

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Coming soon are instructions on how to make these playful and pretty decorations.

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Big love elephant and heart mixed media print.

Alongside us in the Webb Street marquee were photographer Susanna Stables, jeweller Sarah Windslade, textile designer Misty and Boo, felt designer Heartfelt; designers: Polkadot Shirley, Windswept Girlie, Ways with Willow, Claire Harris fused glass, Lullabellas handknits, The Strand cakery; Fowey Festival; and cider company Fowey Valley Cider to help along the merry making!

And to finish are a couple of artworks that were not on display at the Fowey Christmas Market but always on display, along with many others, in my studio gallery just outside of Fowey – feel free to message for a viewing.

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Christmas begins now!

Diane x


CREAMY CARAMEL CHEESECAKE

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I feel that I have been a little neglectful over the past three weeks – it has been a busy time – so I hope that you will accept my apologises and to recompense I offer a simple, but moreish, recipe for a delightful sweet treat. It is so quick to make, requires the minimal of ingredients and no baking. If you have a fridge and a spare 20 minutes than this is one for you. To be honest it all began with some cream in the fridge that needed to be used up and a couple of sweet toothed, pudding loving daughters reaching for the cake tins, only to find them bare! And it being a weekend we all needed a little indulgence and that including the two boys of the house – one bigger and one getting bigger! I turned out the fridge and the food cupboard and found all the basics that were required to make a cheesecake. Those very same basic ingredients as my usual white chocolate and citrus cheesecakes, but not having any lemons or limes in the fruit bowl and the white chocolate already used for a batch of my Blondies earlier in the week, I reached for a tin of caramel sauce that sat lonely upon the shelf – I think it will be time for a shop soon! Without further ado I set about my experiment to create a new dessert to add to my long list of sweet recipes. I served it with a little homemade vanilla ice cream (as my coconut ice cream, but replacing the coconut milk with full fat milk) and a few strawberries. And as everyone keeps asking for more, I guess it was a success!

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CREAMY CARAMEL CHEESECAKE WITH VANILLA ICE CREAM

You will need:

  • One 20cm (8″) round loose bottom or spring form cake tin (base lined
  • 125g (5oz) digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 75g (3oz) butter, melted
  • 350ml (12floz) double cream
  • 450g (16oz) cream cheese
  • 400g (14oz) tin of caramel sauce (Dulce de leche or Carnation!)

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Here we go – Combine the melted butter and crushed biscuits and press down onto the base of the prepared tin. Chill. In the meantime put the cream into a mixing bowl and whisk until just beginning to thicken. In another bowl place the cream cheese and 250g (8oz) of the caramel sauce and whisk to combine. Spoon the cream into the caramel mixture and whisk together until well blended. Cover the biscuit base with the caramel cheesecake cream and smooth the top. Chill for at least an hour. Remove the cheesecake from the tin and spread the remaining caramel sauce over the top. And that is it!

It can be served straight away or returned to the fridge until required. But it is always best served chilled. It freezes well.

Serves up to12.

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I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!

Diane x


 

 

PATTERNS AND ART AROUND US ~ MALLORCA

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Reflections in the water

I can’t resist snapping away when I see a pattern – whether it be an intended design or an accidental creation of nature. Pattern is everywhere in the mundane and the splendid, and everywhere I go I see it. We walk over it; we walk under it; it passes us by; it’s on our table or in our wardrobe. I see it on the beach; amongst the clouds; in a pool of water; or simply the reflection on a window. And as the sun moves and the rain pours, or frost bites, new patterns are continuously created. If we are imaginative enough some of these patterns around us can be used in design that can make a difference to our environment and the way we live. Of course when I was on the Balearic island of Mallorca recently I saw loads of patterns there too! And art and design was plentiful at every corner and sometimes when I least expected it. Take a look for yourself – mind you I can only share a little of what I saw as there was so much pattern and art that I just could not record it all! I can only hope that you see what I mean?

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Roof tiles!

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A balcony rug

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Colour change of a building

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Colourful tiling on the outside of a wall

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Geometrics on a pier!

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A colourful collection of hats for sale sit as a sculpture on the pavement

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A canopy!

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The canopy’s shadow!

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A street light by day

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Spot the drain pipe down the cathedral wall!

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Sunlight and tree. Shadows and railings

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More shadows!

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A play with shadows

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Natural form!

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Manmade – glass in Palma, Mallorca

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Behind a glass cupboard door in Portocolom

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Natural discoloration on a wall

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Even barbed wire in the sunlight takes on art!

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Bark

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Shutters

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Powerful colour and shapes from the stained glass

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An apartment block has less colourful form, but still striking all the same!

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Pattern of a stairway

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Manmade and nature – sculpture and pattern

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Not intended to be a sculpture – but this practical form takes on art!

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A tree creates its own natural pattern against the grey sky

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A terrace curtain catching the wind!

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Dramatic form in the harbour at Portocolom – a sculpture by Albert Rouiller (1938-2000)

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Post boxes!

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Sculptural forms in the sunlight – dancing patterns!

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Almost marble-like milkshakes

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Angular pattern – still under construction!

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A take on blue and white stripes!

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Toes and tiles – natural form and manmade!

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Not a pattern but where design becomes an accidental sculpture – when someone places a single hat on one of its hooks!

It just goes to show that pattern, art, nature and everyday items are all one!

Diane x


    

 

A TRIP TO MALLORCA ~ OR IS IT MAJORCA?

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I have been away – yes I managed to escape from the children and fly off to the warmth of Mallorca, or should I spell it Majorca, what ever the spelling the pronunciation is always the same … the two ‘lls’ and the ‘j’ both become a ‘y’ and we say ‘Mayorca’ – but don’t ever spell it this way! I have done a little detective work on this and lots of reasons appear to be given for the two different spellings and I am not sure which to believe – I am always happy to hear from anyone who actually knows what this is all about – but for now I am sticking with the spelling ‘Mallorca'; the one with two ‘l’s’ as I believe that to be the correct spelling in Catalan and Mallorca is Catalan after all – or is it? Anyway we’ll leave this conundrum well alone for now because I just want to share with you my wonderful experience of this wonderful Balearic island. And just in case you did not know – Mallorca is one of the Balearic islands just off the east coast of Spain across the water from Catalan country. Yes we are back to the Catalan association and If I am not careful I will be entering another debate over the languages of Spain and Catalan, but as I don’t want to entertain this I’ll swiftly move on….

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The beautiful old fishing village of Portocolom, Mallorca – I wish I could keep it a secret!

… I am very lucky that I already live in the beautiful county of Cornwall in England. But sometimes it just does not matter how lucky you are living in such a wonderful place it is always good to get away and have a change of scenery – still beautiful scenery of course! And I wanted to take in a little art and culture of Mallorca which has been so underrated for far too long. Even though I like the beach I could not describe myself as a beach girl and whilst there are some fantastic beaches and calas on the island it is also known for its artists – Salvador Dali and Joan Miro being two – architecture and unspoilt landscapes.

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Gaudi influenced design (above) and more typical Mallorcan style of the Palais des Rois de Majorque (below)

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The flight was a challenge – as for the first time I was flying with cabin luggage only and just how does a girl manage with a bag just 50x40x20cm? I decanted my creams, lip gloss and perfume, left behind the manicure set and shared the toothpaste, shampoo, after sun and sun cream (small tube only) with the main man’s bag – not that he knew. I let him pack his two shirts, one pair of shorts, one pair of trousers, two pairs of pants and two pairs of socks (he assured me he planned on doing some washing whilst we were away!). And then, when he was not looking, I slipped in a few things of mine, namely the camera and its attachments, hair drier, beach towels … there was definitely going to be no room in my miniscule bag. I had clothes – just a few bits and pieces – shoes, magazines and a handbag to pack in mine! The airline we were flying with stipulated … strictly one bag only to board. To cut a long and tedious story short … we made it through security and the flight and before we knew it we were jumping into a taxi at Palma airport without having to wait for hold luggage. All I can say is that I am hooked on cabin luggage only; and do you know … I still took too much!

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El Molinar – a scenic 25 minutes walk along the promenade to central Palma

We had a wonderful reception at 10pm at night from our wonderful host Harry. Silvia, his wife, could not make it. But between them they have created a little haven of comfort and style. We were staying in their El Molinar urban seaside loft apartment for a few nights. El Molinar is just east of Palma city and just west of the airport. It is an area that has experienced a recent revival and the pretty sea front properties are now in demand and commanding large amounts of Euros. We chose this spot as it is just a 25 minute walk from the sights of Palma city without all the city hustle and bustle.

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If you feel like a breakfast stop or a short snack break the café Fibonacci by the port of El Molinar is perfect!

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The Cathedral of Mallorca – so beautiful outside and in!

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We made it to the Palau March Museum and Esbaluard – the museu d’art modern i centerporani de Palma. I was mesmerised by the architecture and art of the city. Our two days there were just not enough. We had hoped to visit the spectacular round Bellver Castle – but sadly it was closed on the Monday afternoon we were there!

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Palau March Museu with sculptures by Henry Moore and Cornwall’s very own Barbara Hepworth, and paintings by Salvador Dali. And many more …

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Esbaluard museu d’art modern

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Not able to tear ourselves away from the fantastic location of the Esbaluard museum – located in a former 16th Century fortress – overlooking the whole of Palma and its marina and coast, we stayed a little longer to dine at the Esbaluard restaurant. I was in heaven – watching the sun set and surrounded by art, dining on delicious duck and goats cheese open sandwiches and drinking a chilled glass of Cava … or two!

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And then the next day we were gone and by bus on our way to a peaceful coastal spot on the east of the island to the most beautiful and unspoilt fishing village of Portocolom.

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I was certainly seduced from the start. The place we were staying in was described as a beautiful house in Portocolom – and it most certainly is! Our host was the charming Carmen. She led us through her traditional Mallorcan house – room after room of well preserved character. The house is like a tardis – a delightful one – hidden behind a simple and modest façade.

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A beautiful house in Portocolom – truly!

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Both properties had been sourced through Airbnb. And both properties were a hit. I am hooked on Airbnb when looking for accommodation, hooked on El Molinar, hooked on Portocolom and Carmen’s beautiful house, hooked on the food we ate and hooked on all the wonderful art, architecture and history of the most beautiful island of Mallorca. Oh – and I was hooked on the food too! We ate tasty toasted mozzarella and tomato sandwiches, gooey chocolate muffins, apple tart, lemon custard pie, huge ice creams, tapas (Spanish nibbles) and the popular Spanish dish of paella. And we drank hot cappuccinos, decadent milk shakes and glass upon glass of chilled Spanish Cava.

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Paella at the Tapas Club, El Molinar, Palma de Mallorca (above) and delicate apple tart at a street café on Palma

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In Spain and Mallorca many restaurants offer a set menu of the day which often includes three courses and sometimes water, wine and coffee, as did ours at Portocolom’s harbour side restaurant Sa Llotja. With the menu of the day you are a little restricted in choice, but there is normally something to suit.

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Lemon custard pie at Santuari de Sant Salvador, Felanitx – so delicate, so delicious – I am going to have to create a recipe for something similar to this one … coming soon!

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A long but pleasant trek along country roads up to the twin peaks of Santuari de Sant Salvador

The golden colour, delicate flavour and soft texture of the lemon custard pie was just one good reason for a walk up 510 metres and the Santuari de Sant Salvador is another. All I can say is … spectacular! We caught a bus from Portocolom to the working town of Felanitx – not a lot here – and walked approximately five kilometres – up and up – passing olive groves; dodging goats and the many cyclists that make this journey; weaving along winding roads; cutting across the hairpin bends; and following the pilgrims trail to the peak. The sanctuary is now a hotel, but a charm remains and you are free to roam around the buildings, monuments and the giant cross. The views are truly spectacular from the top of the highest mountain of Serres de Llevant from where you can see much of the south east coast, including Portocolom and the rural farming communities inland. The walk back down was a lot easier!

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Of course being on holiday we had to do all that you are expected to do but would never dream of doing back at home in Cornwall – to indulge oneself in giant ice creams and sweet milkshakes. Whilst they were not sophisticated they were delicious and much appreciated in the September heat.

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All I can say now is a very big thank you to Silvia, Harry and Carmen for giving us the opportunity to stay in your wonderful homes on the fabulous island of Mallorca to see all the fabulous things Mallorca has to offer – we will be back! Cornwall I love you – but I think I have just had a love affair with Mallorca!

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No city is a city without a little graffiti – not done by me – but truly represents the smile I had in Palma!

Gracies Mallorca!

Diane x


APPLE AND ALMOND CAKE WITH TOFFEE SAUCE

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The autumn is suddenly upon us – there is a chilly bite to the evening air and morning dewy grass dampens my sandal strewn feet – yes, I am still wearing sandals as a last ditch attempt to hang onto summer. Not that it was a good one in England this year, but we did have a few sunny days – just not enough of them. But autumn comes with its own beauty and charm – leaves fluttering to the ground creating a carpet of gold, red and orange; branches laden with jewel-like berries; fires dancing in the log burner; and the final flourish of apples falling from the trees in the orchard. Either ready to eat, pummel into juice or cook with – or all of them!

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There are so many wonderful delights to be made with apples: crumble, pies, tarts, chutneys, sauces and cakes. Cakes I will come to in a moment but first I want to tell you about what we sometimes do with our bumper crops – press them! Apples for pressing to make our own apple juice, cider and wine. And we have our own hand made juicer, not made by me, oh, of course not, but by the practical one of the house – my man! But before getting to the juicy bit we have to spend a little time sorting through the apples that the no so little ones anymore collect for us over the weeks.

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We then remove any bad ones and cut away bits that are not required and then they are washed in an old bath tub before being tipped, a few at a time into the pulper, and then into another machine and out comes the juice, faster than Niagara Falls. This then has to go through a process of sterilization, separation, decanting, brewing, fermenting and storage. I will save the details of all of this for another time – my better half would normally do this, so I have a little learning to go through myself before I can share the detailed process with you.

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My forte is the creation and baking – using a few stolen apples from the orchard – of a moist and sweet cake drizzled with a golden sauce.

Apple and Almond Cake with Toffee Sauce

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You will need for the cake:

  • 20cm (8″) base lined cake tin
  • 225g (8oz) softened butter
  • 250g (9oz) caster sugar
  • 125g (4oz) self raising flour
  • 75g (3oz) ground almonds
  • 1tsp almond essence
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 eating apples of your choice, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1tbsp Demerara sugar

For the toffee sauce you will need:

  • 200ml (7floz) double cream
  • 50g (2oz) dark Muscovado sugar
  • 50g (2oz) light brown soft sugar
  • 25g (1oz) butter

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To make the cake pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 degrees C fan oven) mark 4. Then put all the cake ingredients into a large bowl and with an electric mixer combine thoroughly until pale and creamy.

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Spoon the mixture into the pre-pared cake tin, level and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20mins.Remove from the oven and quickly, but carefully, press the apple slices onto the top of the part baked cake so that they sink slightly. Sprinkle over the Demerara sugar.

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Return to the oven and finish baking for approximately45-50mins, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 10mins. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

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This cake can be eaten entirely on its own and it is just as delicious without the the sauce, but if you want a little decadence continue with the sauce and here is how you make it. Simply take all the ingredients for the toffee sauce and place them in a small saucepan. On a gentle heat melt all the ingredients and then simmer for approximately 5 mins until slightly thickened. Cool slightly.

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Then all that is left is to drizzle a little around the entire cake, slice, pour and serve. The cake and the sauce is great warm or cold and for a little further indulgence try  the duo with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of clotted cream.

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Who says that the short days, longer nights and cooler air cannot bring happiness?! I am about to sit down in front of the comforting glow of our wood burning stove with a plate of warm cake and sauce – I am very happy!

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Apple pedestal in acrylic by Diane

Diane x


TOP 10 GREAT PLACES TO VISIT IN CORNWALL

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There is no doubting that Cornwall is one of the most beautiful counties of England and within in it there are many wonderful places to visit – spectacular scenery, great coastline, superb beaches, blue waters, pretty and historical towns, colourful gardens and grand properties….no wonder global film companies come to Cornwall. The most notable production in very recent times is, of course, Poldark. All this aside, I have my personal favourite places I enjoy visiting time and time again – some of which I did manage to squeeze in during this summer – and now I want to share them with you. Actually, if I were to be honest, I don’t really want to share as they may get busier for when I want to next visit, but I feel that would be a little selfish – it is only fair that you get the chance to enjoy them too! So, here we go….. Oh, and by the way, they are not in any particular order, but as I live just outside of Fowey I am going to start with my home town.

FOWEY

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Fowey as seen from the other side of the river.

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On the south coast of Cornwall can be found the ancient port of Fowey – a small, pretty harbour set at the mouth of the Fowey River. From here you can simply chill out or use it as a base to explore the south coast. But you don’t have to leave Fowey at all to have a great time – there are varied and many places to dine from pubs to fine restaurants. The clothes, gift and interior shops along the narrow streets offer an eclectic mix of things to peruse and purchase. There is a butcher’s and deli, fish monger’s; a couple of bakeries, ice cream parlours and sweet shops; a small convenience store and a pasty shop. From the quay side are great views across the river and two ferries run everyday from each end of town. There is kayak and canoe hire, motorboat hire and organised trips up the river and out to sea. A stroll along the esplanade will take you to Readymoney beach, St. Catherine’s Castle and the coastal footpath. Fowey has been an inspiration to the writings of many famous authors – in particular Daphne du Maurier who also resided in Fowey and Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch who lived close by. The town holds a literary and music festival every May and in August there is the very popular Fowey Royal Regatta when the town bubbles with extra visitors, entertainment and a wonderful air display by the world famous Red Arrows. And for more than just a day visit there are several B&Bs, hotels and holiday rentals in the town and camping just on the outskirts. There is ample parking and a local town bus. Many attractions are near by including the Eden Project, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Lanhydrock house and gardens, The Ship Wreck Museum at Charlestown and the quaint cove of Polkerris.

Fowey can be found off the B3269 from Bodmin and the A390 from St Austell through Par.

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PADSTOW

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You will not only find a picturesque harbour and town here, but Padstow also offers a fantastic sandy beach where you can never feel crowded.

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However at weekends and holidays the town tells a very different story when it can be very busy. We have the famous celebrity chef, Rick Stein, to thank for putting Padstow in the limelight. That said it is one of my most favourite places to visit in Cornwall and I have not been disappointed yet. There are great little shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries and pubs in the harbour area and for the more energetic there is the picturesque walk along the beach or coastal path, and an inland walk and cycle trail along the camel estuary. A ferry operates regularly from the harbour or beach across to Rock which offers even more expanse of sandy beach. And there is the beautiful house and gardens of Prideaux Place just on the outskirts of the town.

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Great food and cakes at the Cherry Trees café and delicious patisseries at Rick Stein’s.

Padstow is on the north coast just off the A389 from the south or the B3276 from the west.

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A hideaway on the coastal path!

ST.IVES

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It is easy to sea why St Ives is so popular with artists – past and present – as the light is so unique to this wonderful town on the north coast of Cornwall. But it is not only artists who find St Ives so attractive as there is a good selection of cafes, restaurants and bars; a variety of shopping opportunities; many galleries to peruse and just a mile away the seaside resort and village of Carbis Bay.

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This town is blessed with spectacular sandy beaches, pretty cobbled streets and quaint architecture. And, because of its link with the art world, it has the Tate St.Ives gallery – part of the Tate gallery group.

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And when the sun shines there are plenty of simple pleasures on the beach to keep the children happy.

St Ives is on the north coast and is approached from either the B3306 coast road or the A3074 off the A30 at Lelant.

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MOUSEHOLE

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Ever since I lived close to Mousehole – quite a few years ago now – I have harboured a soft spot for this very pretty little harbour which is still a small fishing port. When the tide is out there is a great expanse of sand, but there is still enough beach to enjoy even when the tide is in. From the heart of the town are great walks along the coast and into Penzance. There are a few shops – mainly little galleries – to mooch round and cafes, restaurants and pubs in which to find good food. The fishing port of Newlyn is close by.

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Kids just love the open space and parents love the safety of the enclosed harbour. Mousehole is also a great place to visit just before Christmas when they have a spectacular display of lights.

Mousehole is off the B3315 or you can cruise along the coast road through Newlyn from Penzance.

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ST.MAWES

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Found tucked away on the south coast is the charming and exclusive small port of St Mawes. It is just an estuary crossing away from Falmouth – there is a ferry service that operates between the two – yet they could not be more different; but both lovely. St Mawes is on the scenic Roseland Pensula which is a popular area with walkers.

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Whilst I have not been inside the castle myself I have – on good authority – been told that it is quite a spectacular example of one of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery fortresses. I intend to put it on my agenda when I am next that way.

St Mawes is situated off Falmouth’s Carrick Roads by water or off the A3078 from St Just in Roseland if approaching by road.

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CHARLESTOWN

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Great Poldark filming territory Charlestown – with its resident square rig ships and unspoilt landscape, it is always pleasing to the eye. And appropriately, for its association as a shipping port, it has a Ship Wreck Museum.

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Charlestown also offers beaches with some rocky outcrops, enjoyable coastal walks, pubs, cafes and restaurants and a courtyard of art and crafts.

It is on the south coast of Cornwall, close to St Austell off the A390.

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MYLOR AND MYLOR BRIDGE

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Mylor and Mylor Bridge are two small places on the waters edge of Mylor Creek. It is popular walking terrain and, by virtue of being close to the port of Falmouth, they are frequented by sailors – when the tide allows. They thrive on water activities. They offer a peaceful respite from the more buzzing port of Falmouth where you will find shops, places to dine, beaches and the National Maritime Museum. There are lots of other pretty places to stop at in the area too.

You will find them off the A39 just north of Falmouth.

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THE LIZARD AND KYNANCE COVE

This area of Cornwall is the real lands end of England – The Lizard is the furthest point south on the English coastline and offers stunning scenery, great beaches, in particular Kynance Cove, fabulous walks and pretty villages to explore.  

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There are pleasurable walks, as well as convenient parking, to the lighthouse.

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Because of its rural and rugged location the Lizard area never seems too busy – well certainly hasn’t all the times I have been there! The Lizard is for walkers and for those who want to get away from it all.

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At Lizard point there are great views out to sea and a café for a little respite.

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And just 17 miles away you can find the beautiful gardens and beach of Trebah. But closer to the Lizard Point are the pretty waterside villages of Cadgwith and Mullion Cove. And just a short drive away is the waterside village, harbour and beach of Coverack.

The Lizard can be found at the end of the A3083 from Helston.

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Coverack harbour

PENZANCE

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A colourful water front town with large beaches, long promenade, great parks and St. Michael’s Mount – a small tidal island in Mount’s Bay of Penzance. And close by is the rugged land of Poldark country with its tin mines and scenic coastal walks.

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Another popular local attraction, just 9 miles south of Penzance, is the Minack Theatre perched high on the cliffs above the Atlantic sea where a variety of productions are performed.

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The Miracle Theatre performing at the Minack close to the spectacular beach of Porthcurno.

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Penzance is located on the south coast of Cornwall off the A30 and beyond it continuing west is Land’s End.

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THE GREAT NORTH COAST BEACHES OF WATERGATE BAY AND PERRANPORTH

We are fortunate in Cornwall to have many fantastic, sandy beaches – they easily match up to those in the Mediterranean – and a couple of my favourites are on the north coast. I wish to clarify that I have been told that there are many more great beaches in Cornwall, but have yet to visit some of those suggested, so maybe I will be updating my choice of beaches in the future! But for now I do love the beaches at Watergate Bay and Perranporth that have just 11 miles between them with the town of Newquay in the middle. They both offer great expanses of flat, golden sand, blue water and some great surfing waves. perranporth and cake 204 perranporth and cake 249

PERRANPORTH not only offers 2 miles of golden sand – when combined with adjoining Perran sands – but some interesting rock formations for exploring. Just one word of warning – when the tide comes in it comes in quickly and therefore tidal awareness is paramount to safety, if you don’t want to get trapped in one of the caves or on top of a rock! There is a busy and buzzing beach café which is actually constructed on the beach – the Watering Hole – with good food and superb views. But, be warned, due to its location it is very sandy and at times loud with happy chatter and laughter. On a chilly day and after a brisk walk along the beach I would recommend the hot chocolate topped with a mountain of cream and marshmallows.

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This is a place to go for the beach and coastal walks as the town is small and basic.

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WATERGATE BAY is just north of Newquay and easy to discover as you drive along the coast road from Newquay. Another spectacular 2 miles of golden sand – at low tide – and blue water front with a frequently exciting surfing swell. Popular for events, including the annual beach polo, and desirable to film makers and celebrities. Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant overlooks the bay and has brought an influx of new and discerning visitors to the region.

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The beach is just as spectacular when the tide is out as the tide is in; by day and night; whether for relaxing or energising. It is great for picnics, playing ball, building sandcastles, walking and lazing in the sun.

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It is a beach for dogs too – all welcome!

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Perranporth is off the B3285 just south of Newquay and Watergate Bay can be found on the B3276 just north of Newquay and close to St Mawgan.

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A recent high tide at Perranporth!

Here are only my first thoughts of my top 10 favourite places to visit in Cornwall, but as I write I can think of more wonderful places to tell you about soon.

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Diane x