St Ives – An Emmet’s Eye View
There aren’t many pictures in this bit. This is because a) I didn’t have my camera with me when I should have done, and b) final contract negotiations to do this piece were only completed late on Friday in the Union, just before our early departure on Saturday morning. Things were further delayed by the disappearance of one of the Shauns, whose hoofmark was required on the cheque. It later transpired that after four pints of Doom Bar he’d gone off down Fore Street looking for a Welshman.
We were in St Ives for a few days in late September, entirely of our own volition. It’s probably true to say that most of the poor buggers working the bars, tables, slave pits etc, having been there since June, would go along with Elvis Costello – “I would rather be anywhere else but here today” , so I think it’s only fair to cut them a bit of slack. Fair but unlikely, in some cases.
In case you’ve got this far and are wondering what the footnotes are doing here, all will be explained in the preface at the end.
I am sure that Jelly’s research has always been of the highest standard. However, it seems that the original name for St Ives was not St Eia, but St Ia, (See board outside the Catholic church on Tregenna Hill). The only reason I bring this minor quibble to the surface is that it means I can now refer (passim) to the much loved tourists and visitors as emmets and to the local inhabitants as ians. That was worth waiting for, wasn’t it?
Following the shocking revelation of the red spotted calves in No Bed of Roses, for anyone who is the slightest bit interested I can exclusively reveal another tantalising glimpse of the Vile anatomy.
Eating Out in St Ives
“Norma, I’m just popping out for a Currie” – John Major
If you were of a suspicious turn of mind, you might think that there existed in St Ives a secret society dedicated to ethnically cleansing the town of emmets by luring them into “restaurants” and then leaving them there to starve to death. This is the only reason I can think of to explain the crowds of poor souls forced onto The Wharf to fight for their pasties with hordes of gulls. That, or the ians reckon it’s the nearest they’ll get to throwing Christians to the lions.
St Ives is full of eateries, from the achingly trendy to something rather the
opposite. As we were simply aching,
we tended to avoid the former. We tried seven places in our five days in St Ives.
It’s not that we’re greedy or anything, it’s just that two of them
said they could get us a table in March. 2005.
So, here goes….
The New World
It’s a Chinese restaurant. It does what Chinese restaurants do. We went because we needed to eat fairly quickly to get back to the Sloop in time for Jelly to buy us the remains of the last barrel of Doom Bar. I’ve got two problems, though. The first is it’s EXPENSIVE. The second is the Bang Bang Chicken. It was dire. More precisely, it was chicken, shredded greenery, and industrial quantities of salad cream with a hint of something to colour it a bit.
Compare and contrast. Try putting Bang Bang Chicken into Google and see what you get. It won’t be salad cream.
Had a drink about 7.45, and wandered around a bit looking for somewhere to eat. Peppers looked OK , so in we went.
“Table for two?”
“About 8.30 OK for you?”
Return at 8.30, shown straight to table, drinks ordered, menus perused. Good starter, very good fish, good bottle of wine and a fine espresso. Oh, and good service, too. And only a whisker dearer than the New World. Hats aloft to one and all there.
The Saucy Chef
Don’t go up those stairs. Unless you’re tired of life, really don’t. It’s abysmal.
Went in about 7.45, and booked table for 8.30.
Returned at 8.30, shown to table, menus, drinks (warm Budweiser, one of my favourites), placed order.
Waited a bit more. Another warm Budweiser.
Asked very politely where food had got to? “It’s on its way. Orders are done in turn”
9.40. Food arrived. Closely followed by a waitperson asking if everything was all right for us?
Well, no, actually, it wasn’t, but never mind. We’re British. We can take it.
And would I like some mustard? English or French? French please. Two of those squishy little envelope things of Heinz French mustard arrived. I’d at least expect real French mustard for a bill of over £30.00 for main course and drinks only.
It seems that we had committed the cardinal sin of not having a starter, thus ensuring that we would only get fed when everyone else had had their pudding. We both had steak and it doesn’t take long to grill a steak, even badly, so why that couldn’t happen at the same time as everyone else’s starters beats me.
What really pissed me off about the Saucy Chef was the impression that they were doing us a huge favour by allowing us to eat there. There was no apology, no offer of a refund, just two “complimentary liqueurs”. I’ve no idea what they were other than disgustingly sweet, but I suspect it was a bottle of something they’ve been trying to get rid of since the last Royal Wedding but one.
So, quick change of name by deed poll – The Useless Chef
Arrived about sevenish, had a drink and looked at the menu. Food, and more drinks, were ordered about 7.30.
Waited. More drinks.
Waited a bit longer. More drinks. (Luckily, it was Tinners this time, and you can, if you must, drink Tinners until it comes out of your ears)
8.15 Approach bar and ask about whereabouts of food. Bloke behind bar says “Sorry, I’ll check right now for you”
8.20 Herself announces enough is enough and heads for the bar. I hide under table. Returns about 2 minutes later with bar bloke in hot pursuit.. I come out from hiding place under table. Bar bloke says he is very sorry and here’s our money back. Food will be here in one minute. It is. And it’s OK.
Two cock ups in two days, but the guy in the Lifeboat knew exactly how to handle it. Instant apology, instant refund, and your food. We might even go back.
The Queens Tavern
Big, slightly tatty round the edges pub. Couldn’t really fault it, apart from the Tinners (more of which later). Ordered the food, and having learnt a thing a two in the last few days asked how long it would be. About ten minutes. And it was. It was fillet of sole, chips and salad, and sausage, mash, peas, and onion gravy. From memory, the food was just under £13.00, and it was just fine.
The Man with no Name
There’s a little take away pizza place along The Wharf whose name I completely failed to remember, but they’ll do you a damn fine espresso for only slightly less than the GDP of Mexico, which you can go and drink looking over the harbour, which on a sunny morning is a pretty OK way of passing a bit of time. And gulls don’t like espresso, so they leave you in peace.
We didn’t eat in the Sloop. Mainly
because a) the guy behind the bar told us not to, and b) having seen the state
of Jelly after six hours of chopping veg in the slave pits (bloodshot eyes,
shaking hands, uncontrollable dribbling etc,) we’d probably be eating his
fingers. Actually, b) was a false
alarm, because we found out later he always looks like that.
Sadly, the men from St Austell seem to have forgotten how to brew beer. Tinners is pretty awful, Tribute is not much better, and I didn’t try the other one.
Sharps Doom Bar. God, how I miss
the Doom Bar. It is a wonderful
beer and everyone should drink lots of it.
Often. Don’t know why the
Sloop don’t keep it anymore, but it’s still to be had in the Union.
Sharps Special is pretty marvellous, too.
I don’t know if you can get in St Ives but the Tinners at Zennor has
it. For instructions on how to get there, read The Prisoner of
Zennor herein, grid up your lions, and start walking.
Tin (and some arsenic)
Go along the cliffs between Botallack and Pendeen, and if there’s a spark of imagination in your body, you cannot but be amazed by the landscape created by the tin mining industry over the last 250 years or so.
Go, too, to the Levant engine house and Geevor mine and learn a bit about the winning of tin from nearly 2000 feet underground and a mile out to sea. They’re both fascinating places with committed and knowledgeable people there to tell the story of tin mining. I left feeling humbled by the sheer scale of it all, much of it done by men, women and children with little more than pickaxes, hammers and chisels and some fairly unstable high explosive.
When we went to Geevor, they asked us to complete a form with our impressions of the visit. What I meant to say, but didn’t at the time, was please don’t turn the place into a theme park - leave it as it is as much as you can, because it is fascinating just as it is.
So if anybody has got this far without falling asleep (assuming Jelly hasn’t cut it out altogether) if you go to Geevor, tell them that.
One of the guides at Geevor is a big bloke called John. You’ll recognise him because he’s the only one with red hair and a beard. He’s also got a label on his hat saying John, which should help. The other thing he’s got is a rather fine triskele ring, and as herself collects triskele jewellery, she’s curious to know where it came from. Any information emailed to Jelly gratefully received. Why she didn’t just ask at the time I’ll never know.
Because Mr Tony says we must all engage in lifelong learning, we learnt a lot about tin. One of the things we learnt is that one of the main by-products of the tin process is arsenic. Mainly, it used to be flogged to the Americans, who sprayed it on boll weevils, farm workers, and anyone else who got in the way. Being Americans, they then invented their own bigger and better version, called it Agent Orange, and sprayed it all over South East Asia. Weapons of mass destruction? Never heard of ‘em.
Anyway, as any fule no, the main thing about arsenic is it’s poisonous. Very poisonous. And there’s tons of the stuff still out there.
And what have the ians got a problem with? Gulls.
Do you begin to see the glimmer of an idea here?
It might work for young persons on skateboards as well………………..
And the good news is that on the way back to St Ives, you get to go through Zennor, which means you can stop at the Tinners for a pint or two of Sharps Special. Makes it all worthwhile, really.
It’s all to do with cut and paste.
That’s more than enough for now.
|I (that’s me) own the copyright in all the content of this site (except where otherwise acknowledged). You can read it, download it, transmit it and reproduce it only for your own personal use. You are not allowed to bugger about with it. If your computer explodes as a result of accessing this site and its contents, it’s nothing to do with me, mate! Copyright Vile Jelly Publications 2001-2009. All rights (and some wrongs) reserved.|