GYM & TONEIC

Life is best at the beach

St Ives in the sun!

Oh I do love to be beside the seaside. It’s my happy place, a place for relaxation, rest and tranquillity, a place I hope to live one day!

Last week I spent a fab few days down in Cornwall, somewhere I hadn’t been since I was little. I went down to meet my other half, Heath (Ted), who’d spent the previous week walking the South West Coast Way. He walked over 150 miles from Minehead to Padstow, Bear Grylls style… carrying his life on his back, camping out in the wild, trekking up and down costal cliffs, just one man and his dog! An impressive feat not for the faint hearted… luckily for me he was more than ready for a little of life’s luxuries when I came to meet him. I have to say I’m somewhat jealous(ish) of his seaside stroll (expedition – his reference), as he looks like he’s been to the Caribbean for a month the colour of him! Spending all that time outdoors, away from the stresses of everyday life, completely incommunicado, sunshine and stunning sea views – sounds like bliss! I might get involved with part 2 of the ‘expedition’ next year…

The first night we stopped in Padstow, in a really nice B&B a stone’s throw from the centre. I didn’t arrive until late on after driving to what felt like the ends of the earth… we checked in, threw on dressie clobber and headed out for dinner. I was seriously spoilt with an amazing meal at Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant as a belated Birthday treat, we hadn’t booked a table we just called in on the off chance of availability and managed to bag a spot by the bar, result! G&T’s were flowing, Tarquin’s Cornish gin to be precise (very nice), and the food was deliciously divine – if you’re in that neck of the woods and get chance to go, go!

Stone fish delicious dish
Delicious stonefish dish
Ted trying to steal my tart...
Ted trying to steal my apple tart…
Padstow port
Padstow port

Day 2… We got up and headed down to the port for a mooch around Padstein (Rick really does own most of the port), before heading to St Ives. The weather was cloudy and overcast unfortunately, but that didn’t dampen seaside spirits. We scoped out St Ives centre, had an obligatory Cornish pasty for lunch and just as the heavens opened found a quirky little gin bar to take shelter, and sampled a few new gins whilst looking for somewhere to stay the night. We hadn’t pre-booked anywhere, we were winging the trip, winging it worked as we found a cool converted gypsy caravan to stay in on Air B&B for the two nights we were there, situated about 10 minutes drive away from St Ives centre. Before heading up to our gypsy retreat we had lush seaside style tapas at Porthmeour Beach Café in one of their outdoor booths, cosied up in blankets overlooking the bay. The rain didn’t subside that night, it turned into a monsoon / typhoon / I thought the world was ending style thunder storm. The scariest night of my life spent in a little wooden caravan that I was convinced was going to be hit by lightening and blow us into obliteration! Heath on the other hand slept like a log, completely unfazed and unaware the world was ending around us, despite me waking him every hour on the hour whimpering and whining about needing to go to the loo, but being too scared to move.

Our gypsy retreat
Our gypsy retreat

Day 3… We survived the storm and woke up to clear blue skies and sunshine, and headed straight for the beach. We spent the morning relaxing and sunning ourselves (me looking like Casper the ghost next to my bronzed up boyfriend) watching the world go by on the waterfront, eating lots… freshly caught and cooked mackerels, crepes and creamy Cornish ice cream. We ate dinner at another nice restaurant that evening, The Loft Restaurant & Sun Terrace, soaking up the last of the sun, and later enjoyed fizz by the fire back at base – a perfect way to end a blissful day!

Crystal clear waters at Kynance Cove
Crystal clear waters at Kynance Cove

Day 4… We packed up and left our gypsy life behind to head to Kynance Cove for the day, a National Trust site on the Lizard peninsula. Although overcast and cloudy, the cove was/is seriously stunning; you could be on the great ocean road, white sands and turquoise sea. It was brisk and breezy but that didn’t stop us exploring the coves and braving a dip in the sea, we were pretty much the only ones in the sea… and I was the only woman nuts enough to strip off and brave it in my briefs… yes I stripped off in broad daylight, stone cold sober, minus a swimsuit – you only live once 😉

My hunk in trunks ~ there's no photographic evidence of ugly Betty in briefs!
My hunk in trunks ~ there’s no photographic evidence of ugly Betty in briefs!

After a picnic and brew to warm us up we were back on the road, the end of our mini seaside jolly and start of the mammoth drive back up North… I forgot how stunning the Cornish coast is, you don’t have to jump on a plane to be beside the sea and sands. The weather may be hit and miss in the UK, but it’s what you make of it and you who you share it with that counts. I won’t be leaving it so long before I visit again, and I’m going to make a conscious effort to visit more of the UK’s coastline and beachy resorts!

You, me & the sea

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The Gin Society Festival

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All praise the superior spirit… gin! Gin gods, goddesses and worshipers came together to show, share and sample the good stuff in Manchester once again this weekend, at the first Gin Society Festival, and of course as a gindisciple ever keen to know and learn more I attended mass.

This being the second gin festival I’ve attended in the city, it was hosted at another historic and beautifully iconic landmark, Manchester Cathedral, the perfect place for worship and gin-appreciation!

The festival was held over two days, 2 & 3 September, I went to the evening session on Saturday (the day before my Birthday!) with my gin guzzling gals to celebrate turning 30 +2, all my Birthday wishes come true…

On arrival we were greeted with a goblet and gin guide, which listed over 70 gins to try from producers throughout the UK and Europe. We then purchased our drink tokens, which cost a very reasonable £5 per drink. Once again I had that liver capacity dilemma… I couldn’t try them all, so I flicked through the guide and selected gins I liked the sound of that I hadn’t sampled before. I have to say, I was a little disappointed to hear they had run out of stock of the first two gins I wanted to try, Ginvinity and 5th Fire – Red Fruits… opening the festival by losing my Ginvinity would’ve been the perfect way to start, but I guess lots of other gin-lovers had the same idea 😉

Gins I supped included…

Warner Edwards – Rhubarb an English fruit gin that I was told was a good substitute for the two gins I initially picked that I couldn’t sample. This gin combines Harrington Dry Gin with a rhubarb infusion, rhubarb that was originally grown in the gardens of Queen Victoria’s estate in the 1800’s! I drank this with ginger ale instead of tonic, as rhubarb and ginger go together perfectly, and was very impressed.

Manchester Gin a gin that’s produced in Chorlton, South Manchester (where I lived for a good while). Another relatively new gin on Manchester’s scene, made by a couple that met and fell in love over a gin and tonic! I loved the love story as much as I liked the sound of the botanicals, Dandelion and Burdock Root. I supped it with orange and rosemary garnish and was very impressed indeed; Manchester’s proving to be a great city for good times and great gins!

Batch gin from Burnley. I chose to try this as Burnley is just up’th road from my hometown of Ramsbottom, also because my nephew Alfie is the biggest Burnley FC fan. This gin contains nutmeg, frankincense and myrrh giving it a Christmassy flavour. Contrary to the flavour, the garnishes you sup it with give it a summery twist… lime and strawberry! I was very impressed with this lovely Lancashire liquor; I highly recommend giving it a try.

Sharish Blue Magic produced in Portugal. This fruit gin gets its colour from the blue pea flower, other botanicals include strawberry, cinnamon, lemon peel, ginger and liquorice. The magic happens when you pour on the tonic and the gin turns from blue to pink! Not only does this gin look lush, it tastes it too… best served with a lime garnish.

Good time Gin Guzzling Gals
Good times with my gin guzzling gals

I had a fab night with fabulous friends… supping lots of lush gins most definitely took the edge off my increasing age!

For a first festival it was really good, stunning location and lots of great gins to be sampled… only feedback from me would be, to have more stock (no running out!) and have a wider variety of food on offer… however with gin domination showing no signs of slowing, I’m sure it’ll be bigger and even better next year!

Find out more about The Gin Society festival and follow them on social Facebook and Twitter.

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