Bring on Spring

As we head towards the weekend, where British Summer Time is brought in, the promise of better weather is going to mean brighter longer days. What can you do to fill them? The good thing is that there are so many things you can do at St Ives.

Among some of the places to visit:

The open-air amphitheatre, Minack Theatre

Tate St Ives, the recently re-opened gallery housing works such as those by Barbara Hepworth

The Flambards Experience – loads of rides and exciting adventures!

The Barbara Hepworth museum – see the famous working studio of the St Ives sculptress

There are also various arty places such as the Leach Pottery and St Ives Museum.

Fancy a bite? Take a walk down the harbour and take your pick from the various cafes and restaurants that line the sea front. Enjoy a nice cool beer in the sun or a cream tea as the afternoon heat bathes you in its warmth.

Why not get into the sea yourself? There are various surfing and kayaking lessons you can sign up for.

For the younger children, there are various parks and places to choose from.

Winter is over – as the song goes, turn on the sun!

Car left hanging over Thicket path

A man has been arrested over drink-drug charges after a grey Seat saloon was left having over thet Thicket path between St Ives and Houghton.

The path is not open to vehicular access and is a popular cycleway and footpath between the two towns. It is not clear whether any members of the public were within the vicinity where the saloon was dumped, and left hanging dangerously.

The use of the car down a cycle way will of course suggest that the driver and his passenger were either intoxicated or not of sound mental function when they were driving.

The incident happened on 11:25am on Wednesday morning and while the occupants of the car were reported to have fled the scene, police later confirmed that a 25-year old man from Somerset had been arrested.

The Thicket path has vehicular access to part of the track at each end. It is only 500m long, and is a narrow bank of ash and field maple woodland, and it is not clear if the driver was trying to take a short cut when it happened, or merely got confused.

The incident will surely rile environmentalists. Nesting birds line the side of the path, with the Great River Ouse in close proximity, and the natural woodland has been there for a long time. The dead wood encourages insects to migrate there, and they provide food for the nesting birds which include green woodpeckers.

Areas of natural beauty rely on human common sense for their preservation and it is sad that a place like the Thicket path has been disturbed by one stupid act.

Learning a new skill?

How do you feel when you have to learn something new? Some people feel a sense of excitement at the thought of a new experience. These individuals are generally more open-minded, open to learning new things. But there are others who perhaps come with a sense of reservation, or even caution at the thought of learning something new, or trying something different. For them, the extension of oneself is effortful and they are unwilling to make the effort – or at least, the initial reaction is of unwillingness, and then some people overcome it, while others are content to remain within it.

There is no doubt that the attraction of learning a new skill for many people comes with a sense of aspiration and idealism. We envision how the skill we would like to acquire can benefit us, not just financially, but also in enriching our lives. But sometimes we look at things from the wrong perspectives, looking for fame and recognition itself. It is not wrong in itself to seek these things, but when they become the sole purpose of learning a new skill then we have started off on the wrong foot. An aspiring singer of course should want to make a living from doing something that he or she likes, but when the focus is on wanting to make it big as a singer-songwriter, and being the object of attention of millions in a big arena, then the lens needs reviewing.

Why should we not look for these benefits primarily? When we learning a new skill, it takes time to do it well. Skills develop over time and continually revisiting these skills in order to do well requires patience and the correct mindset. Focussing on the wrong things at the start, unfortunately, blurs the focus and invites you to shorten the natural process. A lot of people go for the product and not the process, because they want to end-gain, to get to the final product immediately, because they are hungry for the success. While the idea is to produce a final product as a result of going through a process, producing a product just to say it’s been done and thinking it’s finished is wrong.

How long do you think it takes to learn the piano? Many pianists go through hours of practice, going over boring things such as scales and technical exercises to sightreading just to learn to play music. But there are others who think that being able to play Fur Elise means they have learn to play the piano. That is the difference between process and product.

Perhaps it is a good idea to learn little craft skills to subconsciously learn the life skills of patience and practice, which build on a deeper level good estimations of time and required effort. Instead of leaving it till late to discover that you have not quite yet have the correct mindset to things, when the stakes are too high, it may be a good idea to do little artistic skills, slightly less ambitious tasks, to learn about learning. This gives you a mental framework of what it takes to learn a skill. If you’re ever in St Ives, you’ll find many things to do, from weekend workshops to day events. Try to get some ideas of what you might like to try just browsing around the many crafts shops around. There’s knitting. Surfing. Cake-decorating. Art. Painting. While it may be good to try something you are drawn to, trying something that might not come naturally in the first place is also a good place to develop a healthy mindset to new situations, if you belong to the latter group of people I mentioned in the first paragraph.

St Ives offers you many opportunities to learn about learning – it is a skill that will benefit you for life! And if you are ever looking for a place to stay, why not try the Blue Mist properties? You can choose from a small studio, a mid-sized room to a larger room for families or groups. Located near the harbour and gorgeous scenic views, the Blue Mist properties will allow you to enjoy your stay and make full use of your time here.

Peter Lanyon exhibition to mark birth centenary

An artist from St Ives has been honoured with an exhibition to mark then centenary of his birth.

Born in 1918, Peter Lanyon unfortunately died in a gliding accident in 1964. His traditional landscape art works were held in high regard, particularly by the singer, the late David Bowie, who had four of Lanyon’s work in his collection.

At first glance, Lanyon’s work may appear to be oil drawings by a young child, with colours smeared over one another. But perhaps you have to understand the artist to appreciate the art work. Within the art world, Lanyon is credited with transforming landscape art. The use of colours is a vibrant attempt to capture the unbridled emotion of being physically in the place at the time. Sure, it is not neat as in a photograph, or a detailed still life painting. But the art perhaps captures the underlying emotion, albeit a raw, childish one, of the subject in question.

The last of the above paintings, Wheal Owles, is an oil on board painting that dates back to 1958. At first it looks like a fishing boat on sea, and visitors unfamiliar to area may think it is a representation of a boat and St Ives history as a fishing town.

However, Wheal Owles is actually a tin mine near Botallack, near St Just. In January 1893, miners working underground were drowned when water rushed in. When you look again at the picture, now that streak of black in the middle makes sense – it is the mining shaft. The boarded shapes around it not only suggest the materials on the ground, but the feeling of being trapped and bordered with no way out echoes the fear of the men who were trapped and eventually died. It is said that before the water flooded in, a gust of wind blew out the lights, leaving the man trapped in darkness. This mirrors the lack of light in the work.

‘Peter Lanyon: Cornwall Inside Out’ at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, in St James’s, London, is open until 16 March.

Knowles stays for the moment!

Cambridge United winger Tom Knowles, currently on loan at St Ives Town, has had his loan spell extended for least another month.

Knowles has made a name for himself within St Ives since arriving from Cambridge. On his debut game for St Ives, he scored a goal and also teed up another, making a major impact in a game which ended 3-0 within minutes of only just coming on as a substitute.

The team manager Ricky Marheineke praised his work rate and energy among other things, and there were fears that he might be recalled to his parent club, but these fears have been allayed for the moment.

It is good news for St Ives to continue having the services of Knowles for that period – hopefully the team can keep him for even longer after that!

St Ives young adult case highlights the need for mental health help

The unfortunate death of St Ives rugby player Peter Skeggs has prompted police to encourage young people to speak out when they are feeling down or when they notice someone experiencing issues.

An inquest at Truro Crown Court found that Peter had been feeling down in the lead up to his death. On the night of his passing, his parents went out but made plans to return to take him out to dinner and walk the dog. When they came back they unfortunately found him dead in his room.

A note was left by Peter describing a relationship break down that had happened recently and his feelings of being low. Detective Constable Katie Tucker described it as being a “heart-wrenching” letter by the eighteen-year-old.

A recent report by BBC news found that only 22% of young adults feel they have someone to talk to in the moments of loneliness and depression which can strike at particular points in life. That sense of isolation can be negated by having someone to talk to. It is not so much the resolution of the problem that gives respite, but the sense of not having to carry the burden and having someone to share it with.

If you notice someone feeling down or need someone to talk to yourself, you can always call Samaritans anonymously on 116 123.

Learning a new skill? How about knitting?

You can find a plethora of crafts in St Ives – it’s the artist paradise. One of the crafts you might like to try is knitting – it doesn’t cost much and it can give you a lot of pleasure.

Knitting is the process which produces cloth from thread. It’s used to create garments, toys, home wares and all sorts of exciting things! It’s a skill that can be enjoyed by anyone – and it’s growing in popularity every single day with celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Cameron Diaz happily declaring their love for the hobby. But, it’s actually so much more than that.

Knitting can be beneficial to your health! It has been proven to lower blood pressure, relax the enthusiast and even burn calories (approximately 55 for half an hour of knitting). In fact, knitting has become so popular that there are now many competitions and challenges associated with it. The most well-known of these being:

The World’s Fastest Knitter – currently held by Miriam Tegels of the Netherlands who can hand knit 118 stitches in one minute.

Speed Knitting – currently held by Linda Benne of America who can knit 253 stitches in 3 minutes.

The World Knitting Record – currently held by Australia at 4 hours and 50 minutes.

Of course, these aren’t things that we are aiming for just yet! They are just interesting facts which demonstrate how widespread knitting has become.

Although these days it is considered a hobby more popular with females, knitting started out as a male only occupation, proving that anyone can reap the benefits from it! T

There are many suggestions of when knitting began, but the truth of it is no one really knows since many ancient textile fragments thought to be knitting have actually turned out to be an ancient form of needle craft, often thought of single needle knitting – nålebinding. However, when the knitting machine was invented, hand knitting became less of an essential necessity, and more of a hobby, which is where we are at today.

There are a few supplies that you will need before you start your first knitting project. The amount you spend on this skill is entirely up to you, and entirely depends on your requirements and budget. Everything that you’ll need to complete a knitting pattern will be listed within the patterns information, but just for practicing the stitches listed in this guide, you will only need the basics: Yarn, Needles, Scissors, A sewing needle, and a crochet hook.

Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocking fibers. It’s essential to knitting as it is the basis for creating the cloth. It may interest you to know that although we automatically think of wool at the mention of yarn, but for the four of five hundred years of the recorded history of knitting, the yarn materials were cotton or silk.

To decide what yarn is best suited to a particular knitting project, many factors come into play; its loft (its ability to trap air), its resilience (elasticity under tension), its washability, its feel (its feel, particularly softness vs. scratchiness), its durability against abrasion, its tendency to twist or untwist, its overall weight and drape, its blocking and felting qualities, its comfort (breathability, moisture absorption, wicking properties) and of course its look.

There are three main types of yarn: wool, cotton and acrylic. Each type produces an entirely different result after it has been worked with, so it is important to familiarize yourself with these during the practice stages of learning this skill so you know how each one works and how they suit you and your knitting style.

Selecting the right knitting needles for your project is essential. Choosing the wrong size for the yarn and pattern will throw off the gauge entirely and the end result will not look anything like you want it to. These needles generally have a long shaft and taper at the end and they come in a wide range of materials, including bamboo, aluminum, steel, wood, plastic, glass and casein. It may surprise you to learn that originally knitting needles were created from ivory, tortoise shell, or even bone! Although the knitting needle size will be included in the pattern, the material you select is completely dependent on your personal preference.

Experienced knitters will tell you that it is much easier to start with straight needles – especially when practicing stitches. Back and forth rows are constructed using the straight needles, whereas the circular and double pointed needles can be used to create rounds. It’s much simpler to get to grips with rows as you know where they begin and where they end, whereas it takes a little more experience when it comes to rounds – as their name suggests they are circular.

If you are not confident of your knitting skills, you can find many craft shops where you can learn from an experienced knitter. Or you can find a whole community dedicated to it. Get knitting!

St Ives and the history of Cornish smugglers

Despite the inroads of commercialisation, there lingers in many Cornish fishing villages and coves something of the romantic atmosphere of the old smuggling days, when sea-booted figures shouldered heavy tubs of spirits up steep cliffside tracks on moonless nights to the waiting horses above, running the gauntlet of Revenue cruisers, Preventive boats and the coastguard to get the precious ‘goods’ safely landed and away. Inevitably, much nonsense has been written about the smuggler; and the truth, as is so often the case, proves to be far more interesting than far-fetched fantasy.

The smuggler emerges from many tales neither as a criminal nor a hero, but as a courageous, resourceful and enterprising character, who did no one – except the Chancellor of the Exchequer – any particular harm, and benefited his fellows not a little in providing them with cut-price luxuries. Left to his own devices, he was the most harmless of men; it was only when Authorities sought to curb his activities that he showed how ready he was to defend what he regarded as his legitimate interests.

Most of these stories belong to the early nineteenth century – that period when smuggling was in slow but steady decline, and when the violence and bloodshed of earlier times had been somewhat moderated. Traditions of such incidents are still handed down in a few local families – though they are not always for the ear of the inquisitive stranger.

Every smuggling operation was carried out by two teams of men, who had to work in the closest concert with each other to achieve success – those on the ship which brought the contraband goods from France, and the shore party who helped to land and convey them safely away to their destination. The latter task was often the more dangerous, and required much physical effort, particularly when heavy casks had to be carried up high and steep cliffs. This explains why it was sometimes necessary to employ large numbers of men in the landing party – as many as a hundred or more – to get the goods removed expeditiously from the coast before the onset of daylight.

The greatest danger which the ships had to face came from the Revenue cutters which constantly patrolled the coasts of Cornwall and also from the Preventive boats, which usually operated closer to the shore. But even if they eluded these hazards, there still remained the possibility that their boats, on landing, might run into an ambush should the Preventive men have discovered that a ‘run’ was to be made at that particular place.

The existence of such an ambush would usually be known by the shore party, who might quite well have been disturbed by it themselves. The recognised manner of warning the boats approaching the trap with their precious cargo was by lighting a fire on shore. For this purpose, a beacon of furze or other suitable materials was prepared in advance, and some of the party were detailed to kindle this should the need arise. So common was this practice that it was made a punishable offence to light a fire upon the coast as a signal, and several instances are recorded where men were brought to trial for this offence.

At Cornwall Lent Assize in 1828, John Brown, John Dunstan and William Borlase were indicted for making a light to give notice to their associates at sea, in order to prevent the landing of a smuggled cargo. It appears that on the 9th of March Samuel Gammon, boatman of the Cawsand Coastguard station, was on duty on Rame Hills, near Porlorn [Polhawn] Cove, about a mile and a half from Cawsand. At three in the morning, Gammon and another boatman called James Dyer hid themselves in a furze brake near Rame church. They saw a fire in the gateway, and three men came into the field with lighted straw in their hands, and made lights in three different directions.

Gammon ran across and caught Dunstan, who was coming from the gateway where the fire had first been seen. On seeing three smugglers running across the field pursued by Preventive men, Gammon let Dunstan go and joined in the chase. Eventually three prisoners were secured. Before the fires were lighted, a vessel had been seen standing in for the land.

To take another example: at Cornwall Lent Assize in 1825 a smuggler named Spry was indicted for lighting a fire on the banks of the Helford river for the purpose of warning smugglers of the approach of Customs officers. It was proved that on the arrival of Preventive men at the spot where the defendant was found, some straw was ignited, and the defendant cried ‘Run! Run! They are coming!’ The officers then rushed forward and secured him. Spry admitted the truth of this evidence, but declared he had no hand in lighting the fire; he was merely on his way home, and on seeing the officers approach cried out to the smugglers to run. He handed to the court a testimonial to his good character signed by several respectable persons, but this did not prevent him being found guilty.

During the early morning of December 4th 1831, the French smuggler Elizabeth, having on board 338 kegs of brandy and gin and some packages of highly dutiable manufactured glass, appeared in the vicinity of St Ives. Her master was a certain Jean-Marie Yves Creach, and she carried a crew of six French and two British. When first observed from the shore, she was standing into the bay under full sail, it being their intention to land the goods either at Gwithian or Hayle.

The Coastguard at all times maintained an all-night watch from several vantage points in and around St Ives and as soon as Moses Martin, Chief officer of the local station, was told of the craft’s suspicious behaviour, he and his assitants immediately went out after her in the Coastguard cutter, together with the St Ives customs boat. However, the smugglers had confederates waiting ashore; and as soon as they realised that the Elizabeth had been detected, they lit fires to warn her of danger.

The French vessel promptly turned about and put off again. A stern chase then developed between her and the pursuing coastguards. Martin was a sworn and inveterate enemy of local smugglers; and he kept determinedly on the vessel’s tail until eventually she was overhauled and captured about six miles from the coast. She was then brought in triumph into St Ives harbour.

Her crew were subsequently brought before the St Ives magistrates on December 13th and fined £100 each, but being unable to pay, they were committed to Bodmin Gaol. Two of them were Cornish: one, called Yellam, from Probus, and the other named Bawden, from Mevagissey.

As for the poor little Elizabeth, she suffered an even sadder fate. At that time, to prevent seized smuggling craft from being ‘bought back’ by their former owners at the subsequent auction and once more used for contraband running, the authorities had the hulls of such vessels sawn into three parts, and their ropes destroyed prior to the sale. And this is what happened to the Elizabeth.

A copy of the advertisement was put out by the St Ives’ Custom house. It will be seen from this last case that warning beacons were not always effective in enabling a smuggling vessel to make her getaway; but that many were saved by this means is an undoubted fact, and explains why those who lit these beacons were hunted down so vigilantly by the Preventive men.