Fiona Golfar – My Cornwall
Journalist and founder of The Little Shop at Fowey Hall Hotel, Fiona Golfar has been discovering Cornwall's secret places for the past twenty years - but where has stood the test of time?
In collaboration with Cathy St Germans (founder of Farms to Feed Us) and Harriet Baylis (Marazul clothing), Fiona is launching a new fortnightly artisanal community market in the grounds of Fowey Hall Hotel. Bringing together makers, bakers and hopefully even candlestick makers, plus the best of local farm produce, I caught up with Fiona ahead of the first market on 30 May to chat about what makes Cornwall special to her.
Fave place to eat
One of the great privileges of living in Cornwall is being able to motor down the river in our John Dory (our boat which fits both us and the dogs), moor up and walk up the gangplank to North Street Kitchen in Fowey for a dozen oysters that leapt out of the sea just five minutes before I did. I’m torn between the oysters, or a piece of Coombeshead bread, spread thick with salted butter and topped with a pickled anchovy, as my favourite thing to eat.
Fave place for a swim
There’s something very romantic about walking down the National Trust path to Lansallas – every inch of the path and beach carries our history and memories. It’s where my children swam where they were tiny, where my husband swam when he was a child. His aunts came to Cornwall as Land Girls during the war and they never left.
When you get to the bottom of the magical pathway you see the steps carved into the stones to the beach. You feel the smugglers that made them and the deep magic of Cornwall. The water is gorgeous: barely any waves, just clear and blue and never cold. I used to watch the kids jumping off the rocks, getting braver, higher; this is what was in my mind wherever we’ve travelled and we’d ask ourselves, here, or Cornwall? I think you can guess the answer.
My Cornish beach bag essentials
I always walk in my Merrells, no matter how much my family laugh. My big investment is an Eres swimsuit (you can take the girl out of fashion but can’t take fashion out of the girl!) so I either wear that or a high waisted bikini from Davy J, which is a bit like wearing Spanx on the beach, super flattering. Every sunny day could be a rainy day, so I also always have a jumper with me.
I have these striped beach bags we bought in Australia, but I might also use a light Rains backpack that we sell in The Little Shop. In it I always have a good book, charged up ear buds for an energising walk back up the hills, and a LilyEve sweatshirt to put on after a swim. And always a packet of sausages and a box of matches to make a little fire to cook something to eat after we swim. I’m not a fan of a pasty but Mr Liddicoat in Lostwithiel makes the best sausage rolls.
Fave places to shop
I think there really needs to be an emphasise on long lasting and sustainability now which is good. Perhaps exacerbated by lockdown, but it has made me think more carefully about where I spend my money. We hope that the brands we sell embody that, like Marazul, which is easy to wear light clothes, By Settle, who upcycle deadstock (ends of fabric lines from other brands), LilyEve, and Esse who make the pre and probiotic skincare range that I also use myself.
As for Cornish brands, where to start! There’s so many great little independent businesses that I love, but a few include Lostwithiel Antiques, where you can lose several hours, and also Watts Trading – I love all their beautiful brushes.
In Newquay I head for MMW Revolver. I don’t pretend I was born in Cornwall so I do like to get a London fix sometimes and Michelle has great taste. On my way to MMW I like to stop at Pavilion Bakery to stock up on granola and peanut butter.
I’m also obsessed with air plants, which I like to put in my stripy oversized egg cups by Tina Vaia (we sell them at The Little Shop) to put on my desk, and I always head to the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery for the plants.
I’m a big fan of the saffron yellow Gurnard’s Head down beyond St Ives, which I might head to for food after visiting Barbara Hepworth’s Sculpture Garden or the Tate St Ives. A trip to Simon Stallard’s Hidden Hut in Porthcurnick on the Roseland for one of his epic feasts never disappoints. Caerhays Castle is fantastic in early spring – the camellias, magnolias and plant shop are another favourite day out.
During lockdown we discovered an amazing walk, using the iwalk Cornwall app. It’s so different on each of the Cornish coasts and kind of amazing that within half an hour of your house you can be somewhere totally different. Wide white beaches, twisty little paths down to the coves; it delivers on every level. This particular walk takes you from the canyons of Rocky Valley to Bossiney along the coast path, via St Nectan’s Glen for a swim. You go past waterfalls, through forests of ferns and then follow the river down to the sea. I also use the app Picture This so I can identify plants and remember their names for later.
Find the market at Fowey Hall Hotel on Sunday 30 May from 10am to 2pm and continuing fortnightly throughout the Summer – expect farm produce, artisanal and craft stalls.