Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno

On Saturday morning we walked down to the seafront and waited for the first bus to Porthcurno.

Sea and railings


The bus took us along narrow windy lanes, passing farmlands into Porthcurno.  A large building housing the Telegraph Museum dominates the area where the bus stops.  After a steep walk to the top of the hill we entered The Minack Theatre.

Firstly, I’m going to give you a little of the history of The Minack Theatre and then just let the photographs do the talking,

In 1929, local drama enthusiasts put on an out-door performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on a grassy meadow about a mile inland from the Minack. It was a great success and a couple of years later the players were looking for a venue to perform The Tempest.

Rowena Cade, who lived in Minack House, decided that the cliffs below her garden would be the perfect setting, and over the winter of 1931 and into 1932 she and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, moved endless granite boulders and earth, creating the lower terraces of the theatre, much as they are today.

The Tempest was big success, even gaining a positive review in The Times, and over the next few years Rowena and her gardeners made many improvements, building a throne for Antony and Cleopatra and creating the beginnings of the stage structures you see today.



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Row A, Seat 1 The Tempest 1932 – the very first performance.

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Although the Minack is built into huge granite cliffs, almost all of the theatre is made from concrete, mixed with local beach sand. Rowena carried many tons of sand from Porthcurno to the theatre where the concrete was used for seats, pillars, steps and walkways. Many of the seats in the theatre bear the name of a play or performance, each carefully carved into the wet concrete, and Rowena carved many intricate designs into new structures as they were made.

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I don’t think I have seen a place more beautiful.

We only stayed for an hour because we had to get back to Penzance to catch the train home but we’ll definitely return, hopefully to actually see a play or concert.

Rowena Cade must have been an incredible woman and I would love to have met her.  Not only did she have the amazing vision to design and build the amphitheatre but continued working on it until well in her 80′s.

Rowena Cade 1893 – 1983

Mini trip to Penzance

Given the opportunity to go on a long train ride taking in the south coast, you’d jump at it, right?  I did.

Earlier this summer my husband and two workmates cycled from the most Westerly point of England, Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groat’s, the most Northerly point of Scotland and raised money for Macmillan Cancer Support at the same time.  The train ride that got them to Cornwall was the start of their scenic journey.

When some discounted train tickets came up to go to Penzance last week we booked window seats and spent the next 5 1/2 hours enjoying the views.   We arrived at lunchtime and jumped straight on a bus to Marazion to visit St. Michael’s Mount.

St Michael's Mount

The plan was to get the boat across but Storm Barney had left a bit of a sandbank in it’s wake so they were no longer running and we had no other option but to grab a Cornish pasty and wait for the tide to go out.




A pasty, cake and several cups of tea later, we were able to cross over to the island.  The walk over was very blowy and cold and the causeway was still being covered by the odd wave but the light was fading so we didn’t hang about!

causewaycastle trees



HarbourCommunity art

The island has subtropical gardens with many of my personal favourites; Cordyline, succulents, Agave, Aloe and Agapanthus.  The Gulf stream tempers the climate so that frosts are a rarity and many unusual plants thrive here.  On this day the Castle and gardens were closed so it looks like we are going to have to return another time.


Apparently, St Michael’s Mount is one of forty-three (unbridged) tidal islands that one can walk to from mainland Britain.  Looks like we’ve got 42 more trips to plan!

The next day we made another early start to visit Porthcurno – Part 2 of this mini trip is on my next post …….  and I hope you will join me because this particular day out will stay with me forever.

Three go mad in Dorset

At the beginning of November we rented a cottage, threw some waterproof clothes in a bag and headed off to Dorset for five exciting days.  The drive there was foggy and we arrived late evening in the dark.  So, after unpacking there was nothing else to do but crack open the complimentary bottle of wine and settle in for the night.

On the first day we drove to Charmouth along the Jurassic Coast to have a go at fossil hunting.  We hired some equipment and set about splitting open likely stones in the hope of finding an ammonite or two.


I didn’t having much luck and even what I thought was a fish fossil has since been disputed!

Charmouth beach

beach huts

Elsa yawning

Someone had been very patient so we called it a day and headed back to the cottage.


These were outside a nearby house (no wonder I couldn’t find any – they’re all here!)

The next day we drove to Sidmouth to visit my adopted donkey ‘Teddy’ at The Donkey Sanctuary.  The sanctuary was founded as a charity in 1969, by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE and has given over 15,500 donkeys and mules in need lifelong care in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe.  There are currently 5,800 donkeys in their care, 500 of which are homed in Sidmouth.

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It was lovely to see the donkeys and mules in such beautiful surroundings.

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Some days we did nothing more than take a walk along the narrow lanes and explore the surroundings.

graveyard sign

A big house along the lane still had pumpkins left over from Halloween.  I thought this childlike sign sitting on the wall was wonderful.


Doggy in window

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail.
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale.

St Catherine's

A foggy view over to St. Catherine’s Chapel in Abbotsbury.

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Even on a grey day, the view was breathtaking.


We walked back down the hill from St. Catherine’s Chapel to the deserted Chesil beach.

Chesil beach


I couldn’t go home without taking a photo of a hilltop we’d passed several times during the week.

Tree silhouette