We’ve just returned from a fantastic week in St Ives Cornwall, one of my favourite places ever! When the sun shines, as it did for us, it really is such a beautiful and inspiring place and you can understand what attracts the many artists who have flocked there over the years. As well as the numerous art galleries that weave their way through out the town, there are plenty of individual independent shops and vintage stores and some of the best restaurants to be found by the coast. Here for anybody lucky enough to be visiting St Ives this summer, is my guide to some of the best shopping and eating destinations on offer.
Beaten Green is a vintage store owned by a lovely lady called Kerry who as well as having an amazing eye for pre loved items is also an interior designer. Her store is located in Downalong which is the heart of the old fishing village, in a fabulous granite, double fronted building. The stock is constantly changing and Kerry specialises in furniture which has a semi industrial history such as old plan chests, maps, school lockers and benches etc. The prices are really competitive and much cheaper than in the big cities such as Manchester or London. While I was there she had some old wooden benches for £60.00, I had sourced some identical in Manchester a few weeks before for £200.00!
Another lovely lady I met, Elaine, also sells her wares through Beaten Green. Elaine is a very skilled seamstress who makes gorgeous clothes under her label Edith & Bertha. All the fabrics used are vintage and many are sourced in France. The clothes Elaine makes vary from simple a-line and apron styles to garments she has made from vintage patterns she has sourced. She also has a line of belted trench style coats in adult or child size which are very stylish and unique. Elaine doesn’t currently have a website but you can contact her through her email address.
I know Cath Kidston seems to have a shop on every High Street in the country at the moment, but the little shop in St Ives was tailor made for her brand. Housed in an old fishermans cottage on Fore Street, the visual merchandising is so perfect and there’s never a time when I visit St Ives that I don’t find myself buying something from there.
My friend Helen, who is a master of embroidery introduced me recently to the work of Poppy Treffry who has recently opened her own shop in St Ives. Poppy’s work is a delightful mix of applique and embroidery and the shop showcases her work perfectly with it’s display of vintage sewing machines, suitcases and painted furniture. As well as being able to buy Poppy’s work and a book which shows you how it’s done, she runs workshops at The Bedruthan Steps Hotel. The workshops for this year are now fully booked but it’s worth registering on Poppy’s website for further info on future workshops and 10% discount on purchases from her shop.
This is the present my very talented friend Helen made me for Christmas inspired by Poppy’s work.As I collect old Penguin books, she made me my very own classic, which is a removable cover for my notebook.So thoughtful and so special! Helen is due to start her own blog soon which will be something well worth reading as she embarks on a 6 month road trip around Europe and Africa. I’ll be adding a tag to it as soon as I can.
New to St Ives this year is The Vintage Storeroom which is housed in a loft on The Wharf facing the Harbour. The space is a perfect showcase for the minimal display of furniture, bric a brac and textiles which are sold along with gift cards and photography by Graphic Design graduate Emily Fishpool. Emily prints her cards using a Gocco which is a small screen printer, found in many domestic households around Japan where they are used for printing personal invitations and cards. Emily’s work can also be bought through Etsy.com
My final vintage shopping destination and also new to St Ives since my last visit is Betty Boyns, which opened it’s door to the public in October 2010, after starting life as an online shop. The shop is stocked with vintage style textile designs, many with a nautical theme, which is the brain child of Paula Nicholls who named her company after her mum. Paula is Cornish born and bred which makes buying from her shop something special, you really feel you are bringing something unique back from your holidays, although this can only be a matter of time with such lovely designs. Paula also stocks a small supply of prints and greetings cards by local artists. It is always feels exciting to find a new textile designer before the rest of the world does and they go main stream.
Rather than talk too much about the best restaurants in St Ives, of which there are plenty, I will just list some of my favourites. Most of them have already had lots of great press so no surprises here but they never disappoint and for the first time visitor to St Ives they should be top of your list.
For location location location ( as well as great food) the following three are unrivalled.
If you like to take in some art with your tea, and great home made cakes, you can do no better than visit the cafe at The Tate. The framed views of Porthmeor beach are the best art money can’t buy!
As a once confirmed vegetarian for over 10 years, I would never have believed I’d be urging people to try a restuarant that serves only burgers. But they are burgers like no other. Blas Burgerworks, serve every type of burger, all home made, mainly organic and locally sourced where possible with delicous side orders such as the best coleslaw ever tasted and puddings to die for. The restaurant is tiny and tables are large trestle style which diners have to share with who ever else is sat at the table so this is not the type of romantic meal a deux. What it is though is fun, fast, fabulous food with a great atmosphere, what more could you want when you don’t want to dress for dinner and you’ve still got sand in your shoes!
If your looking for the perfect gift to bring home from your stay in St Ives, I recommend you pop along to I should Coco on Fore Street, where all the chocolate sold is made on the premises by hand using mainly local ingredients. As well as their regular chocolate bars in a myriad of flavours and hand made individual chocolates, they specialise in bespoke chocolate bars with a message of your choice. During our stay my friend Lesley who works at the shop suggested that our daughters attended the chocolate workshops that are run in the evening when the premises are closed to the public. The workshops give the children the opportunity to make as much chocolate as they can in the time allotted under the watchful eye of the chocolatiers and they get to bring home sweet treats such as chocolate dipped fudge kebabs! It’s like a scene from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and a great way for children to be creative.