International Sea Shanty Festival at Falmouth

A few weeks ago I blogged about Cornwall’s history of communal singing, well recently that reached its pinnacle with the International Sea Shanty Festival, which was held in Falmouth, Cornwall.

Crowds descended on Falmouth over the course of the weekend to lend their ears to the many Shanty singers that were performing in venues and on streets throughout the town.

As well as Shanty singers, the sun made a dazzling appearance too, which cast the queen of Cornish Ale, Betty Stogs, in a beautiful light as she paraded around the crowds shaking her RNLI money box, helping to raise 3,000 pounds for the charity.

Queen of Cornish Ale, Betty Stogs, out raising money for the RNLI

Queen of Cornish Ale, Betty Stogs, out raising money for the RNLI

The town was quite literally bellowing with noise. On Sunday afternoon I walked up towards the point and while standing over the port I could hear the baritone voices of the shanty singers. I even heard reports of people hearing the singing on Castle Beach, a few miles away.

The shanties ranged from the historical to the hysterical in topic.

One particular shanty, commonly sung among the different groups, was about how losing body parts is part of being a pirate, and you can’t be a pirate if you’ve got all your parts.

The food served on vessels was widely sung about, particularly chicken on a raft.

Pirate’s lust for treasure and love of gold, the lure of the mermaid, and boys spending all their tin drinking gin with the lassies from Falmouth and Helston were all topics for the stories.

Sea Shanty group, Falmouth Shout, performing in the streets.

Sea Shanty group, Falmouth Shout, performing in the streets.

Although it was quite pub orientated there didn’t seem to be any drinking related trouble. It was very much a family friendly event. The highlight for me was sitting in the cobbled courtyard where Hand Bar and Cinnamon Café is on early Sunday afternoon listing to Falmouth Fish and 2 Anchored in the sunshine – it was joyous.

One problem can by spoken about though, and that is that the weekend simply passed too quickly.

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A Few of London’s Many Pockets

On request we have selected some interesting places to go in London that are not the main attractions Tower of London, London Dungeons and Buckingham Palace and so forth. So here’s what we have come up with. There’s more to come.

Little Venice

London Time Out has referred to London’s Little Venice as ‘London’s most picturesque narrow boat hideout.’ It is a place where two canals, Regents Canal and Grand Union, meet.North of Paddington, Little Venice offers a restpite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Things in Little Venice move at a slower pace – time isn’t money here.

Along the waterways there are very pleasant footpaths with cafes and bars on them. The surrounding streets are also very pretty and hold many little cafes and restaurants. There are boat trips into other areas of London and offer an insight into the City from a new perspective. Water buses into Central London, Camden and London Zoo can be caught from this area. Close by there is the interesting London Canal Museum.

Brick Lane

Picture by Peter Bayan

Brick lane is more raw and edgy than Little Venice is. The canal boats and white painted town houses are exchanged for bare bricks that are often painted with street art.

Brick Lane is a place of ever changing communities. In the 17th century many French Immigrants moved into Brick Lane and the area became the centre for master weavers. In the 19th century Irish and Ashkenazi Jews moved in, and in the later 20th century Bangladeshis comprised the major group of people living in this area and still are to this day. Brick lane is a testimant to the cultural diversity that London has to offer, and which makes London interesting.

Brick Lane is the hub of anglo-indian cuisine. If you fancy going out for a curry with friends then Brick Lane is the place to go. Art and photography exhibitions by the Capital’s trend setters are often held in there, along vintage clothe stalls and markets. This area makes for an enjoyable afternoon and an interesting night out.



Picture By Maria Guerrero

Camden Town is the hub for alternative culture, particularly rock and punk, in London. The place is a mass of markets and it is home to many internationally renowned venues, which host some big names, and smaller ones.

Camden is an inner city district that is located north-west from Charing Cross. Like Little Venice, Camden Town is also situated on the London Canal Network’s, Regents Canal, which was built through the area in 1816.

Up until the mid 20th century Camden Town was once considered an unfashionable locality. Walking through Camden today it seems unbelievable that such an opinion was ever held. Go there, and you will see what I mean.

Markets include Camden Lock Market, Buck street Market, Stables Market, Camden Lock Villiage and an indoor market inside the Electric Ballroom. They all sell a great variety of goods, especially clothing for alternative culture, especially Punk. In fact, Camden is almost ubiquitous with Punk as it is the area where many punk bands have played and it is a meeting place for many who enjoy this scene.

There is also a theatre called The Roundhouse.

Neal’s Yard


Picture by Ollie Jay

Neal’s Yard is little courtyard just off Covent Garden that has a big personality. Is has been described as a ‘place full of life’ and as a ‘hidden gem’ by reviewers on Trip Advisor. The buildings are painted with bright yellows and oranges, which provide this cosy little corner of the capital with a Mediterranean feel that is delightful to bask in while sitting outside in one of the cafés.

This is the place to get some delicious and hearty vegetarian food. It just so happens to be situated close to Neal street, where an absolutely glorious little vegetarian café, Food for Thought, is. For places to eat, especially vegetarian food, which is reasonably priced, visitors are spoilt for choice between Neils Yard and Food for Thought.

Neal’s yard is made up of a collective of independent businesses that all share the same outlook in the way they wish to trade and do business, and that is be ethical, to the planet and to people. Enjoy!


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