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!

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!

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!

From pollen to candle

St Ives is a seaside town full of crafts – one of the many things you can do is sign up for candle making courses, or wander around the various craft shops looking at candles and other products from beeswax, such as soaps. But do you know how candles and soaps originate, and the process from which the beeswax is produced?

Beeswax is the miracle of the beehive. The comb is built up from nothing and serves as a house, a nursery, and a food pantry. Over the millennia, bees have figured out that by building their combs into hexagons, the combs hold the most amount of honey and require the least amount of wax. The combs also serve as the perfect area for a bee to undergo its metamorphosis from egg to bee.

So what is beeswax? In the simplest terms, it is a wax produced by honey bees of the genus Apis. Beeswax consists of at least 284 different compounds, mainly a variety of long-chain alkanes, acids, esters, polyesters, and hydroxy esters, but the exact composition of beeswax varies with location. It has a specific gravity of about 0.95 and a melting point of over 140°F (60°C). More specifically, it is a wax that is secreted from eight wax-producing glands on the worker bee’s abdomen.

The wax is secreted in thin sheets called scales. The scales, when first secreted, looks a bit like mica flakes. They are clear, colorless, tasteless, and very brittle. Beeswax is typically produced by the younger house bees when they are between twelve and twenty days old. As the bee grows older and begins to collect pollen and nectar, these glands start to atrophy, but their ability to produce beeswax doesn’t disappear completely.

When bees swarm they will rapidly produce wax comb, since they need to quickly create a place for the queen to lay eggs and somewhere to store food. To form the beeswax into honeycomb, the bees will hang in strings and as wax is extruded from the glands of the wax-producing bees it is passed between the legs and mouths of the bees that form the chain, being chewed and molded into shape along the way. The bees will then use this wax to build the familiar hexagon-shaped honey cells.

It is during this process that the wax starts to develop its color and opacity. Depending on what kind of nectar and pollen come into the hive and is consumed by the bees, microscopic bits of the pollen and nectar remain and get added to the wax.

It takes about 1,100 scales to make one gram of wax. Under the right conditions—meaning there is an adequate supply of food and the ambient temperature within the hive is between 91°F and 97°F (33°C and 36°C)—worker bees can produce beeswax on demand. They achieve the right temperature on cooler spring days by clustering around the wax-producing bees when they are building comb.

The production of beeswax in the hive is very costly, however. It takes about 8.4 pounds (3.8 kg) of honey to create 1 pound (425 g) of beeswax. This honey could be used to feed the nonforaging bees or it could be saved for times when nectar is in short supply. For this reason, beeswax is often chewed off in one spot and placed where it is needed. The reusing of old comb also contributes to the color, since it may have been used for brood rearing or honey storage and may contain cocoon remains, propolis, or pollen.

Most of the wax that is commercially available is made from what beekeepers call “cappings.” When bees produce honey, the foraging bee collects the nectar and stores it in one of her two stomachs (one stomach is reserved for honey collection and the other for personal digestion). The nectar in the honey stomach mixes with enzymes and when the bee returns to the hive she places it into a waiting cell. As more cells are filled with nectar, bees fan their wings to create airflow through the hive, which helps dry out the nectar.

By lowering the moisture content of the nectar to less than 19 percent, the bees are ensuring that the honey will not spoil. Then the bees systematically work their way across frames and across honey boxes, capping off each cell to prevent additional moisture loss.

When beekeepers harvest the honey, they remove the frames with honey from the hive and bring them to the honey house for processing. Since all the honey cells have wax caps on them, just adding the frames to a honey extractor would yield no honey. So beekeepers first remove the wax cap using either a hot knife or some sort of flail.

The wax cappings are added to a capping tank and the frames are placed into the extractor to spin out the honey. What a beekeeper does with the wax cappings depends to a certain degree on how many hives he has.

In most cases, heat is applied to the cappings, allowing the honey and wax to liquefy and separate into two layers—honey on the bottom and wax on the top. After several more filterings to remove residual honey and miscellaneous bee parts, the wax looks pretty clean and is generally ready to go.

Beekeepers also melt down old honey and brood comb in order to install clean wax and do general maintenance on the frames. Over the years, brood comb will have raised multiple cycles of bees and the cocoon from the larvae stage will have turned the comb a dark brown. Also, potential pathogens may have been introduced either from the environment or from bees carrying the pathogen with them. These pathogens can decimate a hive rather quickly, which is why beekeepers often replace the old brood comb with clean wax.

While wax from cappings and honey combs is fairly pure, the wax from brood combs contains a wide assortment of “stuff” which may include cocoons from both bees and wax moths, excrement from bee larvae, mites, pollen, propolis, and bee parts. All this extra stuff is called “slum gum,” and removing the slum gum from the wax is a more involved process.

One method is to put the brood combs into burlap sacks and then add the bag to a hot water bath. The melted wax will flow through the burlap and the slum gum will stay in the bag. Beekeepers then press the burlap sacks to release the rest of the trapped wax from the slum gum. Once most of the wax is pressed out, the slum gum is discarded and the wax is molded into 30–50 lb (14–23 kg) blocks. The resulting wax is usually significantly darker than the cappings wax, ranging from light brown to almost black. If this wax were to be used for something such as candles, it would give off an unpleasant smell.

A lot of beekeepers turn this wax in to bee supply stores for credit toward “clean” wax or wax that has already been turned into foundation for inclusion into new frames. The bee supply stores ship this dark wax to commercial wax processing operations that have specialized equipment with carbon filters that remove the color from the wax. This process is far better than how wax was filtered in the past, when it was bleached using noxious chemicals to remove the color.

Most of the white wax available today is achieved naturally using carbon filters instead of chemicals. One drawback to the heavily refined, highly filtered wax is that the aroma and charm of beeswax (as well as many of its unique health advantages) actually come from the natural “contaminants,” including honey, propolis, and pollen. Bleaching or advanced refining of beeswax to remove its color and fragrance, yields a product that is a bit bland.

The relationship between bees and humans dates to the hunter–gatherer days when, armed with nothing but a long stick and a lot of resolve, men would knock down hives from trees and run, returning to the scene to harvest the honey when it was deemed safe. Later, humans discovered that using smoke from a burning stick helped to subdue the bees, making the job a bit easier. The usefulness of wax could very well have been discovered then.

Although some of this is conjecture on my part, there are cave paintings in Valencia Spain dating back about 8,000 years, that show two people collecting honey and honeycomb from a wild bee hive. They used baskets and gourds to transport the honeycomb, and a series of ropes to reach the hive.

We know more about the ancient Egyptians and their relationship with beeswax. They recognized the value of beeswax in mummification and used it for the embalming process. They also used the wax to seal the coffin and make it air tight, further preserving the body. The Egyptians preserved their writings on papyrus and on cave walls using beeswax, and these writings have remained unchanged for more than 2,000 years.

They even recognized the importance of beeswax in health, as prescriptions dating back to 1550 BC called for beeswax in various formulations. Ancient jewelers and artisans utilized the lost wax casting technique, which involves sculpting an object in beeswax, coating the object with clay, and then hardening the clay with heat. The heat melted the wax, leaving a clay shell that was a perfect replica of the beeswax sculpture. Molten metal was then poured into the clay shell and allowed to harden before the clay was removed. Egyptian priests also created the first voodoo dolls, using beeswax to create figures resembling their enemies before ritually destroying them.

Egyptians also loved perfumes and were reputed to have made perfumed unguents, the precursors to today’s solid perfumes. They incorporated beeswax, tallow, and various aromatic substances infused in oil, such as myrrh, henna, cinnamon, thyme, sage, anise, rose, and iris. The unguents weren’t sold as perfumes, but rather for a multitude of medical uses.

The Chinese also recognized the importance of beeswax. About 2,000 years ago, one of China’s most famous books on medicine, The Shennong Book of Herbs, praised beeswax for its beneficial influence on blood and energy systems and attributed beeswax with beauty enhancement and anti aging properties.

Beeswax was also recognized as an important ingredient in wound treatment and dietary supplement. Beeswax candles were already used by the ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks, and in Rome and China.

Beeswax candles have been used in European churches since the beginning of Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church only allowed beeswax candles to be used in the church. Although this law is still valid today, candles are no longer required to be 100 percent beeswax.

By the eleventh century, however, churches were using huge amounts of candles. They were able to maintain the necessary amount of beeswax in part by having apiaries in every monastery and abbey. In the days of Marco Polo, beeswax was abundant and was often used to pay tribute to kings. But despite its abundance, beeswax candles were only in the hands of the rich; the poor had to suffer with tallow candles. Today, when technology seems to trump all else, it is encouraging to see that a product with such a rich history is just as vital in the twenty-first century as it was long ago.

St Ives out of season is also not a bad idea

Think of St Ives and beaches, ice creams and sunny clifftop walks come to mind. The cosmopolitan artists’ haven in south west Cornwall has always been about more than bucket-and-spade brigade, though in the summer months – when the sands are thronged, the traffic end-to-end and the queues for fish and chips snake along the harbour – you could be forgiven for forgetting that. St Ives in late autumn and winter is quite a different fish. While some hotels, guest houses and cafes shut up shop for three or four months, it is far from a ghost town.

In fact, there is just enough buzz to make it a perfectly smug place for a winter break: there are no cars, the beaches are empty and majestic, the coastal path blissfully clear and rooms and restaurant tables are yours for the taking. And when the mist rolls in, as it surely will, there is plenty to do – from exhibitions to thermal spas, shopping to cosy hidden bars.

There is even more reason to visit St Ives this winter. Great Western has just relaunched its London to Penzance Night Riviera sleeper service with some quite neat new cabins which have surprisingly comfortable, if narrow, beds (bunks if you’re sharing) that can be converted into sofas, plus a small sink, wifi and phone-charging sockets. The 23.45 from Paddington arrives into St Erth just in time to catch the 07.49 to St Ives on the branch line, which is an attraction in itself. The beautiful, 15-minute pootle around the coast has views across the Hayle estuary and Carbis Bay, dotted with oyster-catchers and flashes of wild flowers.

The other draw is that the new Tate St Ives, officially opened in October, having been closed for 18 months for a £20 million refurbishment and extension. The original gallery, which opened in 1993 and attracts over 250,000 visitors a year (over three times the number for which it was designed), has now doubled in size. The new extension, an “anti-iconic” build by Jamie Fobert Architects, has been cleverly carved into the cliff; the only signs of it are six light wells on the hillside and a handsome new facade clad in sea-green and sky-blue ceramic tiles which seem to change with the weather.

The new exhibition space is currently given over to a single, vast, room of sculptures by Rebecca Warren, but the space is flexible and for the next show in February, which is dedicated to Virginia Woolf and women artists since the 1850s, it will be divided up into various rooms.

The tiles on the new Tate St Ives extension change colour with the weather The old gallery spaces, centred around that remarkable loggia which reflects the sea back into the gallery, have been de-cluttered and refreshed, the better to show off the permanent collection of work by artists more or less connected to St Ives – from Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo and Mark Rothko right up to 2017 Turner Prize nominee Lubaina Himid. It is a joy to walk around and thanks to a redesigned entrance hall and cafe (still the best place for coffee with a view in town), the queues in summer should be shorter, too.

Visiting in November, I had one dull-ish day and another filled with gorgeous sun, which I devoted to the South West Coast Path. I caught the branch line back to Lelant Saltings and walked the four-and-a-half miles to St Ives, through fields and churchyards, down country lanes (peeking into the vast back gardens of mansions), across clifftops and beaches including the wild Porthkidney Sands with its view across to Godrevy lighthouse, as immortalised by Virginia Woolf. Magnificent – and I saw a handful of people the whole way.

According to locals, the Pedn Olva hotel at the top of The Warren has outside terraces overlooking Porthminster beach and the harbour. You might even spot a dolphin. It is open to non-residents and is excellent for a coffee, a drink or a meal with really friendly staff.

My local favourites include the Beach Cafe Bar on The Wharf. You can get fabulous coffees, drinks and food all day and late evenings in the summer.

The Pilchard Press, the UK’s smallest – and Cornwall’s first – micropub which is fairly comprehensively hidden behind some bins and a pasty shop on the harbour. Inside the whitewashed cave are about four card tables and a bar serving five craft ales (as well as beers and wine) of varying strength. It opened last year and will not be hidden for long, I suspect.

The view from inside the sauna on the cliffside at the C Bay Spa I stayed at the Gannet Inn, a very cosy hotel in Carbis Bay, on the road to St Ives, which opened last year. The stylish rooms are named after sea-birds and have distant views down to the sea, the food is hearty and the welcome warm. The lounge, stuffed with leather and tweed armchairs and centred on a roaring fire is a very pleasant place to return to. Guests get access to the beach and spa at its sister property, the Carbis Bay Hotel, 10 minutes’ walk away.

The spa has two pools – one large and bracing, the other small and toasty with hydrotherapy jets – and a charming round sauna perched on the cliff, overlooking the beach as the waves crash in the distance. Who needs summer sun when you have views like this all to yourself?

If you are planning a long winter break for yourself, why not book one of the Blue Mist accommodations? There is a studio, family-sized and larger cottage for groups of all sizes, guaranteed to give you the cosiest stay for you.

Rock-pooling and swimming in the St Ives beaches

A strandline is the visual mark of the highest point reached by the tide on a beach and consists of sediments, such as seaweed and other organic matter, driftwood, and general detritus including litter. Due to variations in the height of the tides there can be several strandlines on a single beach and they can be home to a wide variety of life, including sandhoppers, beetles and small crabs, which in turn provide food for birds such as oystercatchers, turnstones, dunlins and sanderlings. With each high tide, new life and materials are deposited, helping to sustain these unique habitats.  

Beaches are increasingly under threat from pollution and most of it washes up in the strandline. Many local communities and organisations now arrange regular beach cleaning days, while many of the more responsible visitors and beachcombers, who search the strandline for interesting or unusual items, such as driftwood, shells, bones, sea glass and weirdly-shaped egg cases, also help by removing any rubbish they come across.

While there is easy access to most of the beaches around Cornwall, in particular St Ives, there are a number of coves in which the access route is less obvious and these often require care and attention if planning to visit them. All beaches and the whole of the coastline are subject to change due to the effects of the tides and adverse weather conditions, and coastal erosion can sometimes result in a beach that was relatively easy to access becoming less easy to reach, or even inaccessible. Therefore it’s important to plan a safe route down to the beach, not forgetting to ensure that there is an equally safe and easily negotiable way back up the cliff.

One of the results of the action of the tides are the delightful rock pools that appear on rocky beaches when the water recedes. Like a window into an underwater world, they can provide hours of fun for people of all ages, from children to adults. Here are some basic tips to help to get the most out of your rock pool rambles:

1. Check the tide times; the lower the tide, the more pools there will be.
2. Start with the pools closest to the sea and work your way back up the shore.
3. Keep an eye on the tide and ensure you have an easy return route up the beach.
4. Be aware that wet rocks and seaweed can be slippery.
5. Wear stout footwear.
6. Take a bucket or plastic container.
7. Nets are commonly used but not advisable as they can cause damage to small creatures; instead, use your bucket or container as a ‘scoop’.
8. Don’t wade into the pool as this can cause damage – it’s better to stand or kneel on the edge.
9. Carefully replace rocks or stones after looking under them.
10. Always gently return sea creatures to where you found them, ensuring they are the right way up.

Jellyfish can be washed up on beaches, especially around the strandline, or encountered in the sea and in rock pools. They are simple creatures consisting of 90% water and have no brains, bones or blood but some of them can be quite beautiful to look at. However, some jellyfish found in UK waters can sting, even when dead or stranded on a beach, so they should never be handled and avoid any contact with their tentacles. Fortunately, most stings are merely unpleasant, similar to a nettle sting, but if you are stung, inform any lifeguard present and seek medical attention if the pain is severe – applying an ice pack or taking ibuprofen and paracetamol can ease the pain and swelling.

Over 200 people die every year around the coastline of Britain and Ireland, and thousands more find themselves in difficulty and have to be rescued. The safest beaches on which to swim are those patrolled by RNLI Lifeguards, provided you follow their advice.

If on a beach where there are no lifeguards and you decide that the conditions are nevertheless suitable for entering the water, please be aware of the following advice:

1. You are responsible for your own safety and that of any dependants.
2. NEVER swim alone.
3. Do not allow children to enter the sea alone.
4. Check where any safety equipment is situated. Sennen Cove
5. Wear a wetsuit if intending to be in the water for more than 15 minutes.
6. In high swell avoid deeply shelved beaches and don’t swim near rocks or into caves.
7. Swim only within sheltered coves or bays unless you understand the tidal streams that can be found near headlands and in the open sea – that takes local knowledge and experience.
8. Never jump or dive into water unless you have checked it for depth and obstructions such as rocks.
9. Never use inflatables – they can drift on the current or in the wind.
10. Avoid areas where rip currents commonly form, such as river mouths or estuaries, piers or the edges of coves, but also be aware that they can be found anywhere off the beach so learn to spot their characteristics, such as a break in the pattern of the waves, excessive foam, or debris being dragged in the opposite direction.
11. If caught in a rip current do not attempt to swim against it but instead swim to the side, parallel to the shore, until free of the current, then swim to the shore.
12. Never approach seals or their pups.