Author Archive for Gill Bridges – Page 2

Looe Food Festival Accommodation – Special Offer

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

LOOE FESTIVAL OF FOOD AND DRINK: 23 AND 24 JUNE

Check availabilityA great weekend for foodies to take a shortbreak in Looe and we have two rooms available at Polraen Country House at short notice!

This year sees the very first Looe Festival of Food and Drink open it’s gastronomic doors to Looe and South East Cornwall. Whether it rains or shines, you’ll be able to sample delicious Cornish food and drink, talk to local food producers and learn how to cook something new and delicious with cooking demonstrations from top chefs from our best restaurants. Everything will be under cover in a custom designed marquee on the Millpool car park beside the Looe River.  The festival is free to enter and there’ll be plenty of tasters.

Photo Courtesy of Looe Festival of ood and DrinkAt Polraen Country House, we have a double and a king available over this weekend (£87 – £96 per night with extra nights available). So you can enjoy our quiet location with free parking and free WiFi at Polraen Country House in the Looe Valley, waking up to our full range of breakfast choices using local produce relaxing in the conservatory overlooking our award winning garden. Then you can head into town to literally ‘graze’ on tempting tasters from land and sea in the marquee tents at the Festival throughout the day (Sat & Sun).   We’re just 5 minutes from Looe and the sea with convenient bus and train links on the Looe Valley line so if you fancy sampling some of the local beer and cider, you don’t need to worry about taking the car.  You can add extra nights for a  longer break with optional evening dinner Mon-Fri.

So don’t wait, don’t hesitate, don’t bother to look up the weather forecast, just BOOK NOW now before it’s gone

 

The annual Polperro Festival takes place Sat 16-24 June promising an action packed week of entertainment while the new Looe Food Festival provides a weekend (June 23 and 24) to tempt your tastebuds with produce from land and sea. (Scroll down to see the outline programme of events).

Accommodation with free bus links

If you want to visit the Polperro Festival and need somewhere to stay, accommodation in the small fishing village of Polperro may be in short supply or at a premium and parking (minimum £4 charge) can be an issue. So avoid the crowds and the seagull noise! and enjoy our quiet location leaving your car behind in our free car park at Polraen Country House in the Looe Valley. Go green and catch the bus! We benefit from an hourly bus service No 573 which runs to Polperro from 07.42 until 17.49 while later bus services run from Looe. The last evening return from Polperro to Polraen leaves Polperro at 18.20 but much later services run between Polperro and Looe allowing you to enjoy the full range of evening entertainnment in Polperro’s pubs with the last service back to Looe at 23.20 from where you can catch a taxi.

Here you can download the No. 573 bus timetable

Bring your bus pass if you are a senior citizen, and you can enjoy the scenic ride to Looe and Polperro for free as concession passes are recognised by Western Greyhound buses in Cornwall.

At Polraen Country House, we currently have availability throughout the week of the festival from £87 per room per night including breakfast with optional dinner available. Call us direct for the best deals or book online via our website which will be up to 15% cheaper than online booking agents. But book soon as the end of the Polperro Festival coincides with the Looe Food Festival, taking place over the weekend of 23 and 24 June. And there’s no prettier journey into Looe than on the scenic Looe Valley Line where you can board the train at Sandplace for the 5 minute journey into Looe skirting the banks of the river while you watch the birds and wildlife from your carriage window. Here you can download the train timetable

So it really is a great time to visit, when you can enjoy two festivals in the same week! The Looe Food Festival will take place in a large marquee in the Millpool Car Park in Looe, where you can tempt your taste buds with an array of Cornish seafood and local produce from sea and land. There’ll be a host of leading Cornish food and drink suppliers, chef demos, brewery bar….and more over a fantastic weekend with FREE ENTRY TO THE FESTIVAL MARQUEE!

(Outline programme for the Polperro Festival is below with a full programme available via this link:  Polperro Programme of Events 2012 )

Friday 15th June – Day 0 – Festival Eve/ Arts Foundation evening
Saturday 16th June – Day 1 – Opening Day, Procession & Mayor Unveiling (Procession at 2pm)
Sunday 17th June – Day 2 – Music & Family Fun Dog Show
Monday 18th June – Day 3 – Arts Foundation Craft Fayre
Tuesday 19th June – Day 4 – Village Fete
Wednesday 20th June- Day 5 – Schools Day, Comedy Night
Thursday 21st June – Day 6 – All things Cornish, Comedy Night
Friday 22nd June – Day 7 – Foody Friday
Saturday 23rd June – Day 8 – Polperro Festival Carnival (procession at 2pm)
Sunday 24th June – Day 9 – Gig on the Green Finale

 

Basking Shark in Looe Harbour

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Yesterday (Sunday 20 May) an 8-10ft basking shark spent an hour serenely swimming around Looe Harbour in South East Cornwall at around 4pm witnessed by onlookers from East and West Looe quaysides and along the Banjo Pier. Dave Haines took some brilliant pictures from outside the RNLI Lifeboat Station which yoiu can see on our Facebook page.

What amazes me is the way it gets written up in the paper:

BBC News: “A basking shark has been spotted in a town harbour in Cornwall in what is believed to be the first such sighting for about 20 years.  The shark, estimated to be between 8ft and 10ft (2.4m and 3m) long, spent an hour at Looe after being seen at about 16:00 BST on Sunday.  The creature was watched by dozens of people on the town’s quayside and Banjo Pier.  It then swam out of the River Looe, local lifeboat staff said.

The Sun: “A MONSTER shark swam into a British harbour for the first time in 20 years — and came within 8ft of onlookers. The 10ft basking shark glided into Looe harbour in Cornwall after mistakenly swimming up the mouth of the River Looe.

What a sight to behold and I missed it by a day as I’d spent all the afternoon before assisting the Cornwall Wildlife Trust with our Looe Crazy about Crabbing event! which will  be on the next blog when I’ve got the photos sorted. As a volunteer in our Local Marine Conservation Group, we help out with some great events to share knowledge and spread the word about the importance of marine conservation. Basking sharks are amazing creatures. It was over 20 years ago that one was sighted in Looe Harbour in this way. Just a pity that I was there a day early and the shark turned up a day late!

Olympic Torch Route – Liskeard

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

The Olympic Torch is being carried through Cornwall today and will be coming through Liskeard at 18.35 after passing through Bodmin. It will then go to Saltash, across the Tamar and into Plymouth - the final destination for today Saturday 19 May – the first leg of its round the UK journey.

Here are two PDF downloads to gain quick access to what’s going on in Liskeard (lots of fun and games of a sporty nature taking place all day from 10 am in the morning in the build up to the arrival of the Olympic Torch.

There will inevitably be some delays on the A38 which will be closed eastbound to allow the torch to cross the Tamar Bridges circa round about 6.30 pm.

And a couple of hours later here are the photos I took:

 

Cornish Tin Mining – A World Heritage Site

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Last week I learned what Cornish tin mines have in common with Machu Pichu, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and Stonehenge. They’re all World Heritage Sites!  And having just completed a ‘World Heritage Champion’ training day, I found the learning quite  fascinating- inspiring me to put a Cornish Mining Heritage page on the Polraen website featuring a great widget (interactive tool) that introduces visitors to the sites, the attractions, audio trails and history – all part of the ‘Discover the Extraordinary’ project.

Learning about the history of Cornwall’s mining industry helps you to appreciate the full legacy of what has been left not only here in Cornwall but also the extent of the impact that Cornish mining had around the world.  It’s a fascinating story which started 270 million years ago when the granite that creates the backbone of the county cooled and tin and copper ore amongst others was created. From circa 1700 to 1914, the mining industry helped shape the heritage, culture and traditions of the Cornish people as well as the landscape. The population boomed as demand for mineral ores grew for industrial and military use.

Cornwall was the Silicon Valley of its day, fuelling the industrial revolution, exporting mining technology around the world along with Cornish miners who then were at the forefront of diamond mining in South Africa, silver mining in Mexico, and the gold rushes in America and Australia. High pressure steam in Cornish mining was the engineering foundation for Stevenson’s invention of the first steam locomotive leading to the mass movement of goods and people. The first tin plated can was made in 1810 revolutionising food storage and preservation. Meanwhile, social impact was reflected in choral singing, temperance religions and Methodism, the brass and silver bands which became synonymous with mining communities. The tin barons, the wealthy investors, filled the gardens of their Cornish country estates with camelias and rhodedendrons brought back from the Empire leaving the legacy of exotic flora and fauna which you can find in Cornwall’s gardens today.

We often get folks from across the UK and from abroad searching their family history, researching their Cornish surname, visiting graveyards to seek out the resting place of past generations. And now, I can help encourage visitors to get a real sense of the ‘hidden Cornwall’ that many don’t get to discover, by visiting some of the 18 attractions, many of them wet weather places, most free to enter.

What a fascinating day it was and I’ve already had a very interesting talk over a pint in the bar with a guy from Walsall, who spent 3 years in South Africa in the diamond mines after studying at Camborne School of Mining. Just goes to show, you’re never too old to learn…….. So take a look at the Polraen Cornish Mining Heritage page to plan an interesting day out discovering the extraordinary and hidden Cornwall.

 

Are you making the most of Cornwall in Spring?

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Visit Looe Harbour on a Spring Break at Polraen Country House

Survived  the shock of the Christmas credit card bill? Eased off on the New Year resolutions? Stress at work getting you down?  May be it’s time to give yourself a break.  The secret ingredient?  Treat yourself to a couple of days away in Cornwall before the crowds? A visit to Looe, a change of scene, a slower pace, taking some time out – even just a 2 or 3 night short break - can be the path to relaxation, giving yourself a chance to beat the stress and find your balance.

Cornwall in Spring – 3 nights for the Price of 2

For not much more than the cost of a couple of theatre tickets or a gourmet dinner, you and your partner could recharge your batteries by taking a spring break in Looe at Polraen Country House – country house comfort just 2 miles from Looe and the sea. From £80 per person for 3 a night stay including breakfast. Select any 3 nights and one will be FREE! You might like to add our Special Occasion package of Champagne and Chocolates or Flowers at £30.  Perfect for Mother’s Day as this special offer to visit Cornwall in spring is available until 5 April 2014. 

Check availability

 

Looe is a perfect destination for a romantic break, a pamper weekend, a celebration or simply a chance to relax and chill. The milder climate means the spring flowers are well ahead here, with daffodils and primroses peeping from the hedgerows and some of the countries finest camelia displays are already in full bloom at the National Trust properties such as Lanhydrock or Mt Edgcumbe.

Polrean is very near the South West Coast PathWalking along the cliff tops will blow the cobwebs away, with spectacular views to Looe Island (maybe spot the seals). See Cornish pasties being crimped before you eat them, watch fish being landed at Looe Quay, spot pheasants wandering across the garden at Polraen Country House Hotel. Take a look at some of our other suggestions for Day Trips from Looe.

Here in the Looe Valley, you can relax in a charming historic country house hotel 5 minutes from Looe with optional evening dinner from 12 March and a fully licensed bar with plentiful onsite parking. So treat yourself to a spring break in Cornwall. Our warm hospitality, friendly welcoming relaxed country house atmosphere and peaceful location may be just the tonic you need. ”Proper job” as the Cornish say.

Free night offer at Polraen Country House this Spring

Book 3 nights for the price of 2 in any room to stay before April 5.

Book your room at Polraen online now

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One natural, one man-made – both inspiring!

Great coverage by the BBC presenting the joint delights of the Cornish countryside and coastline in one great episode of Countryfile.  Marine Conservation efforts in and around Looe and Cornish Mining Heritage were both featured on  Sunday night (26 Feb). The media interest reflects a growing awareness of the need to protect and conserve our marine habitats and gives deserved recognition to the Cornish mining industry under its World Heritage Site status.  (Not sure how long these links to BBC iPlayer will remain live but here they are for a few days at least. )

Watch the clip of :  Ellie Explores a Wreck. As marine conservation volunteers in Looe, my daughter and I were particularly interested to see the coverage having attended a conference for marine conservation volunteers the day before, organised by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The programme exposes the plight of sea creatures trapped in a fishing net which has got caught around the sunken frigate, HMS Scilla in Whitsand Bay – a popular dive site.

Heading west from the  marine habitats of South East Cornwall, the Countryfile episode encompassed the Cornish mining industry – each in their turn contributing so much to the essence of what makes Cornwall’s landscape unique. Tin mining followed by clay  sculpting the shape of inland Cornwall while the coastline provides many of the magical memories and recreational activities that  visitors recall of their Cornish holiday.

And what lies beneath the waves? Incredible beauty and marine wildlife in abundance that we must protect.

Inspired by these two topics, I’ll shortly be giving each greater exposure on the Polraen website with pages of useful information for visitors so watch this space for interesting places to visit when planning your next holiday. As a taster:

Marine Conservation

Take a look at the exciting programme of mainly free events and activities developed for 2012 from rockshore rambles to seal trips and foraging walks. Details can be downloaded via the Cornwall Wildlife Trust website: the YourShore leaflet gives details of events  organised by the Looe Marine Conservation Group and by the 4 other Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas throughout Cornwall.

Cornish Mining Heritage

There’s so much more to know about the contribution Cornwall and Cornish miners has given to the world! South Africa without rugby? Football without the Mexican wave? From Cornish pasties to tracing your ancestors, take a  look at a new interactive website developed by the World Heritage Site organisation. It brings the story of Cornish mining to life and highlights some really interesting places to visit like the historic port of Charlestown, the clay pits at Wheal Martyn, Caradon Hill mines, and Morwellham Quay . Most are  free and most are all weather attractions – but don’t save them all for just a rainy day – they’re well worth slotting into your sight seeing plans.

 

Film crew use Polraen on location in Looe Valley

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Interesting day yesterday as a film production company (crew of 25+) and endless vehicles set up camp at Polraen Country House in the car park at 5.45 am to start filming a movie (being produced by James Biddle of BigTalk Productions, producer of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’). It’s a horror movie, set in Ireland but being filmed on location here in Cornwall and most specifically, here in the beautiful Looe Valley, so I’ve loaded a few pix to give appropriate credit to the stunning countryside that surrounds Polraen here in the beautiful Looe Valley which on this occasion, is doubling for the verdant pastures of Ireland.

With a log fire burning in Polraen’s  bar to greet them and the hotel providing a warm retreat throughout the day, we were invited to the catering wagon to have breakfast alongside the crew.  (Have to say the egg and bacon wasn’t a patch on Martin’s but very nice to have someone else cook it for you!)

The film is about a young couple setting out on holiday, who can’t find the hotel they are booked into and get horribly lost…….and things start happening. It’s being  filmed on location at various spots throughout South East Cornwall with Bodmin Moor being used for the spooky bits and a pub somewhere further west doubling as the hotel they can’t find………

Much of the action yesterday was filming the couple inside their car as they set out at the start of their holiday.  They drive at speed over an unmanned level crossing at Trenant, across Terras Bridge before hurtling up the hill towards Treworgey. They had to wait for the tide to come up the Looe River so they could film from the water and they needed to avoid filming when the Looe Valley Line train put in an appearance. Various local talents were pulled in. Rob Chapman from Trenant Holiday Cottages supplied a boat and his services to steer his inflatable rib for the camera man and director. James Chudleigh from the Rowing Club/RNLI was called upon to provide health and safety advice, which he gave very succinctly: “Don’t Fall In!”

   

Filming continued after dark under arc lights in the car park at Polraen, recreating day light to film the couple discussing/arguing inside the car. Interesting concept because the actor and actress don’t know the plot……….apparently an experimental approach to capture better reactions when things start happening to them/going wrong.

The film crew have departed for now……but will be returning in the next couple of weeks to film in Kilminorth Woods and Pelynt. They didn’t leave until about 7.00pm so it’s a very long day but they eat well (enjoyed an excellent lunch too courtesy of  Roast Catering – location caterers for TV & Film.) Playing host to a film crew does monopolise your time …. but it was all very interesting and a great experience  - the kind of thing we’d entertain during the quieter months of the year! Unless there’s a bigger budget………..!

The film ‘In Fear’ will be out next year.

 

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Help for Heroes Bangers ‘n Mash Night at Polraen

Monday, November 14th, 2011

We had a great night here at Polraen on Friday! A Sandplace community get together, harnessing the best of community spirit, generosity and kindness for which the Brits are  known. It was a simple affair – a Bangers ‘n Mash night in aid of the Help for Heroes charity. And we raised £443.16. A good time was had by all – a fun quiz, a well supported raffle and a few beers and wines shared in a warm and welcoming atmosphere and in the presence of good company. And for those who want to know where the sausages were from – Warren’s, the Butchers in Liskeard. Hard to beat! We buy all our meat there, great quality for our Sunday roasts!

Oddly enough, we have Network Rail to thank for our new community spirit! Had we not combined forces in the early spring to fight the erection of their telecommunications mast at Sandplace Station, we might never have got to meet our various neighbours, now friends, strung out along the length of the Looe Valley in the small communities of Trenant, Sandplace, Tregarland Bridge, Plashford and Causeland.  Perhaps every cloud does have a silver lining……  And the generosity is illustrated by those who were unable to come but still gave a donation or provided a raffle ticket prize. THANK YOU!

Falling on such an auspicious date as 11.11.11, I was reminded that Remembrance Weekend is about remembering the fallen. And indeed,  no community remains untouched by the impact of war – the name of Lance Corporal Paul Upton (died in Afghanistan in Feb 2009) is remembered through its inscription on the local memorial in Looe – the first name to be added since 1945. But whilst  remembering the dead, we must also look after the wounded.  So if you want to give a donation to Help for Heroes, it’s easy. Click here to simply donate!

And here’s to our next evening. A Mulled Wine and Mince Pies Affair with the odd musical instrument thrown in for good measure. Date to be advised………Watch this space!!

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Sunday Roast Lunch in Looe, Cornwall

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

I thought I’d take two minutes to tell you why we think our Sunday lunch at Polraen is so special and such fantastic value for money at only £8.95 per person.

The Main Course

The key hallmarks of our Sunday roast are that we use only Cornish reared meat from a local butcher – full ribs of beef, shoulder or leg of pork and only free range chickens. The lovely root vegetables – carrots, parsnips, swede, potatoes, cabbage or sprouts are sourced locally, usually from the farm shop and all hand peeled and prepared at Polraen. Martin’s roast potatoes are Maris Piper from a local farm and we part boil to get them nice and fluffy, using either goose fat or beef dripping to get the flavour – wondefully crisp and golden brown. We use minimal salt in our cooking but our rich gravy is  flavoured with a liberal dose of Marsala wine.

The Welcome

We welcome folks into Polraen with the chance to get a drink in the bar before being taken to your table.  And on cold winter days, what a sight to see a lovely blazing real fire!! Then with the help of our waitresses, Ruby, Amelia, Emma and Lucy, supported in the kitchen by Lydia and Antoine, we aim to ensure that our guests enjoy a lovely meal in a warm and friendly atmosphere, served in the conservatory overlooking the garden. It is not a carvery. It is not a preplated meal. Your meal, with separate vegetable dishes, will be served individually to your table so you can help yourself to as much or little as you choose. We are happy to make alternative gravy for celiacs and will endeavour to satisfy special dietary requirements with advance notice. Although we serve only a Sunday Roast dinner, we are happy to prepare a vegetarian meal if ordered in advance.

The Puddings

And then of course there are the puddings from £4.95. Wonderful home made yummy puddings!! In the crumbles, we use apples from Polraen’s award winning garden – we’ve had the best crop ever this year from our two apple trees. And the lovely wholemeal and porridge oat topping is courtesy of a Delia Smith recipe. Pavlovas – for which we have gained quite a reputation over the years – are usually strawberry and kiwi fruit but sometimes I ring the changes with a fresh pineapple. Martin takes the credit for all the main course but I am queen of the pavlovas! But I must thank the lady who used to own Polraen Country House for sharing her secrets with me. Then of course Bread and Butter Pudding! Over the 12 years we have been at Polraen, we have got to know that certain of our puddings are so popular that we can’t take them off the menu. So I make no apology for promising that Martin’s brioche bread and butter pudding will be back each Sunday – flavoured either with Grand Marnier/Cointreau or Whiskey and Ginger Marmalade.

Hope I’ve tempted you!!   When word gets round that we’ve started serving Sunday roasts, we can get well booked up in advance so always best to ring and book a table if you can on 01503 263956 but we’ll always try to squeeze you in on the day.

The aroma of apples and plums simmering in the kitchen is currently filling the house as we prepare for our first Sunday lunch of the 2013 winter season – November 10th.  So hope you can join us one of these Sundays!

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