Apparently, today is National Pumpkin Day! Who knew… I’ve been trying to get this post live for more than a week now but turns out life can be pretty busy down here – but apparently my inner content creator calendar is obviously perfectly in sync and today is a perfect day to be posting about pumpkins.

I’ve read quite a bit where people have been discussing halloween being an imported event, but I am not sure it is necessarily the case. I understand that pumpkins have formed part of a halloween type tradition particularly in the north of England, and Scotland, for a long time. Personally, I love to embrace a bit of seasonality, and fill our home and table with whatever is plentiful at the time. One restaurant describes their menu as “aggressively seasonal” and I feel like that could also be used to describe our house at present.

Aside from making a lovely photo background, we’ve been trying to visit our local farm shops and where possible pick your own places for several reasons. One, it is nice to eat local and support local businesses; two, I like that the kids are starting to understand a bit more where food comes from, the effort that goes into producing it, and the importance of good ingredients. Pip is learning to cook, and I think a good first step is some understanding why pumpkins thoughtfully grown will make good soup as well as something we can carve for halloween.

We spent a glorious afternoon in the late autumnal afternoon sun, wondering around Trevaskis Farm and selecting our pumpkins. I highly recommend a visit to this farm during the summer when the majority of the soft fruit is in season, but an autumnal visit is also well worth it. (And make sure you stop for tea and cake – the options are legendary.)

I also selected some smaller gourds to decorate the table, which I paired with the last of the roadside flowers. The farm images are all Trevaskis, the other images our house.

Trevaskis Farm

Trevaskis Farm, Connor Downs, Hayle, TR27 5JQ

Pick your Own open 8am-7pm every day

Not a sponsored post!

Country Kids

Sitting in the Tate St Ives, drinking coffee and sketching, is one of my first Cornish memories. My love of Cornwall I think started with my Grandparents, artists and makers, who came down to Cornwall once or twice a year, to draw, paint and drink coffee (or so it seemed to me). In particular, my Grandfather who was an artist in his own right, gave me my love of light, and of galleries. Though the temptation is to look at everything, he taught me it was ok to spend only time looking at the pieces with which one formed a connection – to spend time drawing and appreciating only a few pieces (whatever form that might take – I always like to use my sketchbook) rather than a cursory glance at everything. And then, we’d sit in the cafe, looking out over the sea, sketching the lichen covered skyline and beach, and discussing what we’d seen.

We’ve been back several times, most notably on our honeymoon where we sat for hours on the outside deck, again drinking coffee and drawing. Whilst I love our family now, I do sometimes miss those halcyon days where no one wanted anything from me and I had hours to pursue my own interests…

When we came down to Cornwall in March this year, we missed the Tate by only a few days before it opened for the summer, much to my disappointment, and then I think everyone who lives in Cornwall avoids St Ives in August if they can. It then closed again for the final stage of a four year building project which has doubled the space, giving rise to a new permanent collection and a wonderful new gallery for their new programme of large-scale seasonal shows, beginning with sculptor Rebecca Warren’s first major UK exhibition.

Opening on 14 October 2017 to the public (free opening weekend – go if you can!) the new space brings a befitting contemporary gallery to Cornwall and finally with a beautiful permanent collection gives a context to the gallery that was never offered before. Previously some knowledge of the St Ives art scene was required, and often the exhibitions had little or no obvious ties to Cornwall or St Ives.

The new gallery, sunk into the cliff alongside the original building, offers artists and curators a column-free space lit by six huge skylights. Designed by the award-winning Jamie Fobert Architects, it will allow Tate St Ives to stay open all year round for the first time, without the need to close each time the exhibitions change. With a public garden on its roof, connected to the cliff above and the beach below, the new building also adds a collection care studio, loading bay, staff offices and visitor facilities. Clad in handmade ceramic tiles with a blue-green glaze, the building is designed to reflect the changing colours of the sky and sea.

Tate St Ives by Jamie Fobert Architects Photography © Hufton+Crow

Modern Art and St Ives

The permanent collection is housed in the familiar part of the gallery, in the former gas works which was transformed into the familiar white rotunda entrance and buildings by architects Eldred Evans and David Shalev. I was pleased that none of this has changed and the entrance way still reflects in the light from the sea, and feels like stepping right inside one of Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures. This new curation of these pieces gives context to the gallery and the artists that sought out St Ives across the last century, setting them in the artistic canon of modernism and to London, Paris and wider influence. It was a delight to see old favourites out, knowing that I won’t have to wait for the next Alfred Wallis related exhibition but can pop in to stare and think and reflect; likewise, Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Ben Nicholson. Barbara Hepworth of course forms part of this, and the exhibition contains a few of her smaller works, still sadly encased in perspex (which was my main disappointment at the otherwise wonderful exhibition at the Tate Britain – which I thought I’d written about on The Little Pip before, but I can’t find), but taking away nothing from the absolute charm and delight of seeing her works in her own garden just up the road.

Peter Lanyon (1918 –1964)West Penwith 1949 Tate. Bequeathed by Eugene and Penelope Rosenberg 2015 © Estate of Peter Lanyon / DACS 2017

Sir Terry Frost (1915 –2003)Green, Black and White Movement 1951Tate. Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1971 © The estate of Sir Terry Frost | John Tunnard (1900 –1971)Tol Pedn 1942Tate. Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1981

Rebecca Warren: All that Heaven Allows

“We didn’t want windows, we didn’t want views. we’ve got lots of those. What we wanted was a space that was fit for purpose for art, but with the natural light of St Ives coming in.” Mark Osterfield, Executive Director, speaking to the Guardian.

Rebecca Warren’s sculptures fill the new space, which creates a contemporary space which both works perfectly with the landscape at St Ives, but also gives relevance and meaning and connects the Tate St Ives to the Tate Modern. For the first time since being in Cornwall I felt a tie to London and proper cultural relevance and interest- something which I’ve only experienced in Denmark at the Louisiana gallery before.

Perhaps too because I love the Giacometti sculptures which sit in an amazing room at the Louisiana, but Warren’s figures reminded me of Giacometti, if Giacometti had a run in with neon and some strawberry ice cream. They were curious, elusive figures that demanded interaction with all the senses somehow, and it was hard work to stop Buster grabbing and interacting.


Tate Create: Modern Art Mash Up

We spent by far the most time in the most amazing kids space – Tate Create. Pip declared that working in such a space would be her dream job and indeed she spent nearly two hours creating her own works based on pieces found in the rest of the gallery, using the shapes from various works, cleverly cut from acrylic and magnetised, arranging them on magnetic boards. An ever changing insight in to her mind – ordering bottles in lines, creating shapes, replicating works of art, creating stories. She spent so long in there that the curator taught her to use the digital camera on the tripod to capture her ideas.

Buster too thought it was great fun, selecting a magnetic palette to curate shapes from the table, then sticking them to the various canvases that were on the wall at different heights. It was definitely not just for the kids – I found it extremely therapeutic and relaxing arranging pieces.

We are definitely going to attempt to replicate this one at home!

I cannot recommend more highly – if you like art and are in the area, this is a definite must do on my list. Be quick – the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden closes for refurbishment until the Spring at the end of October 2017.

Read more: My previous blog about Barbara Hepworth

Tate St Ives: Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1TG: Plan your visit

This is not a sponsored post. We were invited to attend one of the opening events along with other local businesses and press. 

*Post in collaboration with Bed Guru.

I’m not sure what happened – I turned round and it was suddenly October. We’ve had a couple of quieter weekends after a little run of family visitors and I’m trying to use this time to get prepared for half term and then Christmas, when we hope to welcome various friends and family to our Cornish cottage.

We’re still getting ourselves organised but one of the things I love about being down here is having people to stay to share it with. I love having a house full of friends and family, cooking and sharing meals and making them feel relaxed and cosy, as if they’d stayed in an expensive B&B or hotel.

I read that the best tip to making sure that your guest bed and bedroom is comfortable and cosy is to sleep in it yourself for a night. I did the next best thing and quizzed my sister after she’d been to stay for some honest feedback. We’re still working out how to make this cottage work for us best – in many ways we’ve so much more room than our little flat in London, but the layout and fact that it is a 200 year old granite cottage means that it’s not just a case of having a couple of extra rooms.

Instead of a dedicated guest room we have to make this room do double or even triple duty. We opted to have the largest bedroom ourself (after having a room in London we could only fit a bed in and no more, it is beyond luxurious having a relaxing spacious room). The two smallest rooms we’ve allocated one each to Pip and Buster, which means the spare room is not only the guest room but the crafting space, the home office, the changing table and my laundry sorting room. Nevertheless, there are several things which I’ve done which I think make a difference to our guests and when Bed Guru asked me to take part in their Guest Bed Ready campaign, I was pleased to share some of my tips.

1. A comfortable bed with hidden storage

Bed Guru is an online bed retailer who are sleep specialists, they understand that no two people share the same sleeping requirements and see it not just as a belief but an obligation to ensure that everybody gets a great night’s sleep! We have to work with the bed that came with the house at the moment but once we are in a position to upgrade I will be seeking out a bed that has additional storage. For a guest room, a divan bed works well, as you can pop all your crafting bits into the drawers so that they are easily accessible but a guest wouldn’t even know that they are there and a guest bed from Bed Guru fits the bill nicely.

2. Crisp clean sheets and white towels

I think it makes all the difference when you stay somewhere and it feels luxurious rather than they are doing you a favour by squeezing you in. We actually use all white towels anyway, so I just make sure to add one per guest folded on the bed. After we’ve have several guests recently we’ve actually done a holiday let service wash with all our linen, so it is all pressed and smooth. I also don’t save our nice linen for our bed only, I make sure that I know the sheets and duvet cover that is on the guest bed is soft and feels nice to sleep in. I also leave a spare blanket out (got to do something with all my vintage blankets!)

3. Chargers and plug sockets plus wifi code

No-one wants to be the phone obsessor who asks for a charging place and a wifi code, so I make sure that there is an extension lead so both parties can plug in their phone and get on line. I also make sure that there is a lamp either side of the bed, and a surface on which to put water. (We can’t fit a table both sides, so one side has a vintage wine crate which also stores all our photo albums – I figure they look nice and I don’t mind if people want to look through them).

4. Reading material

In my experience, everyone loves something to flick through, so I leave old copies of Cornwall Life, back issues of Kinfolk and Ernest journal, and other reading material which doesn’t date. We also have most of our novels lining our staircase, so I think its nice and easy for someone staying to find something to read.

5. Somewhere to unpack

It was one of my aims with the guest room that we wouldn’t just fill it with stuff because we had more space, so I have deliberately left drawers free, hooks empty on the back of the door (with a couple of spare hangers) and a stool at the foot of the bed to put a bag on. My desk is also in the room, so I make sure I clear off the general office detritus from the top so that there is space there to use too, and make sure the window sill is clear too.

6. Creature comforts

I usually put out water, tissues and a hot water bottle in the room too. I also make sure that I put out spare loo roll in the bathroom and so on; I’ve been there in someone’s house not knowing where they keep the spare loo roll when it runs out, or not wanting to creep down to the sink for water in the night, so I try and make it as stress free as possible as it can be in a house of many children. I also try and bring tea in bed at least one day of the weekend, as it is one of my most favourite things, and it is always nice to treat people who make the effort to drive down this far to see us.

Then I just use my lavender linen spray and hope that I’ve made things cosy enough. Any other tips that I might have missed?

I’ll be back with a proper life update very soon!