For the last two Sundays, 11th and 18th November, the Looe Valley has reverberated to the sound of steam hissing, engine pistons clacking and whistles blowing as a steam engine (Great Western Society’s 104-year-old Steam Railmotor 93) has plied the journey from Liskeard to Looe and back. Walking our dog May, up past Sandplace Station, Tregarland Bridge and Plashford on Sunday morning before the rush of Sunday lunch at Polraen, the smell of sulphur from the burning coal filled my nostrils as the steam hovered above the track as the little engine disappeared down the single track toward Looe leaving a plume of white as its signature.
Fortunately, both Sundays were blessed with lovely sunny weather. The Looe Valley was a picture, dressed in its autumn glory with its tree lined banks saluting the passing of the little train . This little video captures a day in the life of the little train from all angles and from most stations along the route. Enjoy….
This weekend only – Kids Go Free (3,4 and 5 August) with a room rate of only £99 prpn! Hurry before it’s gone…..
Up to £140 off the cost of a family summer holiday in Cornwall with good availability throughout August . Such savings can be had now on family rooms in Looe in Cornwall in August.
No of nights
For example, at Polraen Country House near Looe we would rather have our last family room booked for a minimum stay of 3 or 4 nights so we are happy to give generous discounts and special offers for late availability rather than slashing prices for just a one night stop over – as long as you book direct and preferably by phone on 01503 263956.
Our discounted room rates are available only on our Family Room to Sleep 3 (+ travel cot) as our largest family room has been fully booked out by repeat visitors who tend to book early. Having stayed with us before, they know what they want and are assured of the quality, cleanliness, hospitality and facilities they can rely on at Polraen Country House. After all, it’s thanks to their independent reviews that we have received a tripadvisor certificate of excellence fo the second year and the coveted AA Gold Star Award as well as Breakfast and Dinner Awards. And there are so many Things to Do in this lovely part of Cornwall. See What’s On.
You’ll need to book direct by phone on 01503 263956 to get these cheap rates as they’re not available via third party agents who charge quite a lot of commission! We’d prefer you – our guests – to benefit from finding a great deal rather than paying for the overheads of a third party booking system.
So the bad weather has delivered a great benefit to you! The bad weather and the Olympics are working in your favour if you’re looking for a last minute deal as the combination has affected the usual booking pattern and we’d rather have the room let than empty. So if you are looking for late availability in August on a family room in Looe, look no further – just give us a call on 01503 263956.
One month earlier in 2013 taking place:- 1st and 2nd June – A fantastic weekend to visit Looe if you’re planning a last minute weekend break.
Expect to be entertained at Looe’s annual homage to its maritime heritage and Cornish roots, with just about everything to do with the sea on the agenda including the funniest silliest wackiest Raft Race ever. Taking place on Sunday afternoon, and guaranteed to make you laugh, come rain or shine, you’ll see rafts made out of empty bottles, barrels – anything, including the kitchen sink. Many taking to the waters of the Looe River on their home made vessels will be bombarded with water bombs and abandon ship or possibly sink before the half way mark. All proceeds from the race go to the RNLI.
Grazing on the Quay
Enjoy all manner of food from the sea – another great feature of the weekend, both Sat and Sun, is the daily tasting from 11 am each day, with the ever popular ‘grazing on the quay’ providing succulent taster dishes from some of Looe’s finest restaurants and food suppliers including crab from Nippers Shellfish and paella from Simply Fish. Sample the best of local food and drink in stalls set up along the harbour side of the historic fishing port of Looe.
As you stroll along the quay with the aroma of a fish bbq courtesy of Pengelly’s wafting on the breeze, music by local groups and artists will lift your spirits, even if the rain tries to dampen them. If you enjoy music, check out the Looe Music Festival in September.
Looe Marine Conservation Group
We’ll be there with a show and tell stall to introduce you to a few creatures from the rocky sea shore around Looe – crabs, limpets, starfish, anemones. Crabbing from the Looe quayside is always fun with the kids and there’s a neat little leaflet about crabbing in Looe which you can get free of charge from the Looe Tourist Office and from retail shops in Looe which sell the crabbing kits.
Life Boat Station
Take a tour around the lifeboat station, experience their simulator and talk to the crews. The raft race prize giving and closing ceremony is 5pm at the lifeboat station on Sunday.
For further information on the Raft Race in Looe: contact: 07747488488 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR Dave Peat 07747488488
A 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.
At 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 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:
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.
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:
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.
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………..!
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!!
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.
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.
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!