Where I've Been:

Photo Diary: Penrith Winter Droving by Day

Horse and cart rides

Don't think about it. Don't think about the fact that the people below are tiny, that any minute now the helter-skelter man is going to give you a shove and there's nothing you can do about it. Forget that you saw them polishing the slide this morning so you'll go faster. Forget that you're afraid of heights.

The eight-year-old waiting her turn behind you is buzzing with excitement, clearly not fazed by the huge distance between her and the ground. Focus on that. Focus on the fact that she's not afraid. 

Surely you can be braver than an eight-year-old. After all, you're supposed to be staff!

This was my day at Eden Arts' Penrith Winter Droving: a festival celebrating rural life, with food, games, entertainment - rounded off with a mask, fire torch and lantern procession after dark. 

There were performers roaming the streets, musicians providing entertainment at the three stages around the town, children with masks and painted faces, delicious smells wafting from the food village, handmade craft stalls, cookery demonstrations, vintage tractors, horse and cart rides... The list goes on. 

It was busy, bustling with people all afternoon and evening, but the chance to look around the stalls, try out the helter-skelter and take part in the procession at the end of the day meant that this was one of the best 'work days' I've ever done! 

Photo Diary: Beaches of St Ives

St Ives Beach, Cornwall

Sand. Sea. The gentle rolling of the waves onto the shore.

Sounds delightful, doesn't it? But the beaches in St Ives in Cornwall offer even more. I've already touched on this in my Postcards from St Ives, but there's a reason that the town is beloved by artists: the light. 

The light in St Ives has an almost filtered quality, where nothing is too sharp, and yet everything is clear. It's bright, but not garish. The colours seem somehow muted, but pure. 

Not sure what I mean by that? That's ok - a picture tells a thousand words, and I have several below. This is my photo diary of St Ives' beautiful beaches. (It's the first of a few photo diaries that I'll be posting in the next week or so.) 

I hope you fall in love with these beaches as strongly as I have.

Monday Wisdom: 'it's always ourselves we find in the sea'

November's Monday Wisdom comes from none other than E. E. Cummings, the 20th century American poet. 

I came across this poem on a recent poetry residential in St Ives, which was all based around ideas of the sea. And, since I'm posting quite a bit about the St Ives and the sea lately, I thought this would be an appropriate piece of Monday wisdom. 

You can read the whole poem on PoemHunter, but it's the last line that I really want to focus on: 

it's always ourselves we find in the sea

After a week of writing creatively about the sea in St Ives, this really resonated with me. I'm not sure that it's possible to look at something outside of ourselves without it reflecting on ourselves in some way. Everything we see, we see through the unique lenses of our own eyes. We discover things with our own unique minds. 

For me, that's what makes travel such a deeply personal experience. You know that feeling when you visit a place and it it somehow speaks to you, and yet you talk to someone else who doesn't like it at all? I think that's an extension of this same idea. Everything is personal. Everything is individual. 

Besides, it fits with what hundreds of travellers have been saying for years. Aren't we always saying that we travel to learn more about ourselves? It's always ourselves we find in the sea. 

Staying at The Belmont, St Ives:

The Belmont, St Ives, Cornwall

I don't usually stay in B&Bs. I'm a hostel sort of girl normally - largely because of the price. I usually spend a lot of time out and about anyway, so really there doesn't seem a lot of point in spending a lot on a room I'll only sleep in.

But for St Ives, I decided to break my pattern. Don't ask me why - I've no idea. Perhaps because I was already spending more than usual on this trip, so I thought, 'screw it, let's go fancy.' Perhaps not. Honestly, I'm not sure it really matters.

What does matter, though, is the B&B itself. 

I stayed in The Belmont Bed & Breakfast. It was fabulous. 

Apart from the location (which, you can see from the above picture, was about as close to the sea as possible), the place itself was immaculately put together, and yet still felt like a kind of home - even though I was only there for one night. 

From the stained glass bathroom doors in my room, to the beautifully decorated lounge, to the artwork on the walls in the dining room, everything had been carefully thought through. 

But I'll let the pictures do the talking. (I don't have photos of the breakfast, I'm afraid. My only excuse is that it was too delicious, and I ate it before the thought of taking photos had even crossed my mind.)

Postcards from St Ives

St Ives harbour

Cream teas, Cornish pasties and beautiful beaches. These are three things that Cornwall is famous for - and rightly so. But St Ives has all of this and more. 

I'd never been to Cornwall before my trip to St Ives, but I'd heard good things. I knew that St Ives had a branch of the Tate Gallery, and that a number of artists made their homes there, both historically and today. So I sort of expected to discover a stunning natural coastline. 

I also expected the light to be somehow different, which it is. Think of that early morning light, when there's still mist in the air - or if not actual mist, then a feeling of mist. Think of that ethereal dawn feeling you get when nobody else is awake yet. Think of the almost unnatural brightness you get from over-exposed photographs or big skies. That's St Ives.