Below is an extract from our new book with New Heroes & Pioneers, to be released just in time for Christmas. You can learn more about the project and order a copy by clicking here.
Enamoured with foreign landscapes and the promise of escape, it is difficult to resist the romance of distant shores. Some of these yearnings may remain idle, little more than wanderlust-infused daydreams, while others are enough to see us journey into the unknown. Yet, as glorious as the new and undiscovered may be, once we have explored a destination (living like a local and venturing beyond the tourist trail), it’s not uncommon to find that there are certain spots we can’t help but return to. While first encounters are marvellous, following a pathway back to the familiar can be just as inspiring.
Photographer Virginia Woods-Jack has visited the Californian coast on many occasions, enthralled by its natural wonders and soulful inhabitants. Seeing her depictions of Venice Beach, with its laid-back surfing vibes, and the mellow scenes of the Encinitas area, it’s not difficult to imagine why.
From her first visit to these glowing shores, Virginia felt like she was coming home; somewhere she hadn’t been for a while that was familiar nonetheless. With the beauty of the scenes and the calm of the people observed remaining constant, each visit was a reminder of that first encounter – a chance to once again capture smiles, soft light and rolling waves. However, Virginia’s lens was also drawn to the subtle changes in the landscape, the shifts in mood and colour that arose with the turning seasons. Over time these changes helped bring the setting to life, elevating it from mere ‘holiday destination’ into something alive and ever-evolving. And so, with each return Virginia asked herself the same question – what would life be like if this was truly home?
It is by revisiting certain destinations that we are able to reflect on the pathways we have chosen: where we find ourselves, where we have been and who we wish to be. From here, far from the constraints of the everyday, we can do more than recall fond memories or sate our inner vagabond. We can instead focus on the minute, appreciate the altering patterns and perfection of nature and plot future journeys surrounded by a setting that remains strangely familiar. We know the scenes before us will transform before we return, and we might too – the sense of possibility forever promising.
Words by Yvette Edwards and photographs by Virginia Woods-Jack.
A friend asked me recently, after reading my wabi-sabi essay in our latest issue, if there’s anything else about Japanese culture that I’ve applied to my daily life – an intriguing question that got the cogs turning.
Japan was the first of the many countries I’ve lived in since leaving Australia. Arriving after a massive false start (the first plane I caught to Osaka fell out of the sky), I had never felt so foreign in my life. It was the mid-90s and there I was: 19-years old, 6-feet tall with blonde wavy hair to my waist and blue eyes. To say I stood out is an understatement.
Perhaps if I’d been living in Tokyo or one of the other mega-cities the differences wouldn’t have been as acute, but I spent most of my time in Kanazawa, a picturesque university town, and on Kikai-Jiima, a tiny sliver of an island in the Ryukyu archipelago so remote that most Japanese people have never heard of it.
For the most part, the attention I received was well-intentioned curiosity, but it took me a while to come to terms with feeling so different as well as being the open topic of public conversation – a fact I was all too aware of as I learned to speak the language.
In Japanese the common word for foreigner is gaijin, which literally translates as ‘outside person,’ a fact that’s unsurprising given the countries unique relationship with the rest of the world. They did, after all, deny entry to most foreigners for over 200 years as part of the Sakoku policy that held fast from 1639 to 1853. And it’s this sense of the other – along with with fact that I can fold a mean origami crane and make the best okonomiyaki this side of Cape Irizaki – that I’ve carried with me ever since.
Growing up in Australia, I always felt uncomfortably out of place, but spending two years in Japan taught me to embrace my differences – and eventually use them to my advantage. There is something very powerful in being an ‘outside person.’ You become more daring. You can disarm. And failure seems to mean less. It’s an attitude I’ve tried to embrace everywhere I’ve either lived or travelled to since – and it hasn’t let me down yet.
This post was inspired by Kate’s essay, extracted below, on wabi-sabi in the Japan issue of Lodestars Anthology.
I’m kneeling at a low table, legs folded politely but painfully beneath me. My host, the wife of a university professor tasked with welcoming me to Japan, has invited me to tea. I rest my cup, which is more of a bowl as it has no handle, in the palm of my hand. I run my thumb over its mottled earthy surface, tracing with my fingernail the gold-flecked cracks that highlight rather than hide its so-called flaws. I notice that the rim is not quite symmetrical as I raise it to my lips.
At the time – it was the first week of the two years I would spend living in the country – I didn’t realise that the aesthetic I was admiring was actually a small example of something far more philosophically relevant – a notion so deeply rooted in Japan’s culture and identity that it even had its own name: wabi sabi.
To read the rest of the essay, as well as immerse yourself in 160-pages of Japanese art, culture and travel,
pick up a copy of our latest issue, available for purchase here.
For now, here is a sneak peak of the gems that lie within.
Journey to Japan and discover a land of tea and tropics, wabi-sabi and wonder. A place where symbolism abounds and nothing is without purpose. For here you’ll find an ancient and powerful landscape that has shaped history yet still dictates the rhythms of modern life. There are illuminated capitals and pockets of untouched wilderness, both marked by a deep sense of spirituality. Art flourishes, design inspires and others come first. May the light never dim on the Land of the Rising Sun.
Northumberland, in North East England, is where my husband, and fellow Lodestars Anthology contributor, Tom Bland is from – and without our paths crossing, I doubt I would have known this place existed. You may have heard of Newcastle upon Tyne, Lindisfarne, Hadrian’s Wall or maybe Bamburgh Castle, but if you don’t call Great Britain home, odds are that Northumberland and its adjacent counties are not known to you. We like it this way, of course, and coming here is a welcome respite from our day-to-day life a stone’s throw from New York City.
A vast and sparsely populated county of moorland, farmland, and forests bound by stone walls and rugged coastline, Northumberland was easy to appreciate from my first visit seven years ago. I have traveled here often in the years since, fortunate to enjoy repeated visits in different seasons that reveal new viewpoints and greater understanding. This winter in particular has been a chance to see this part of England anew, with unusually calm days full of low-hanging sunshine made for leisurely walks in Hexhamshire or venturing further afield into County Durham, Cumbria, Teesdale and even into the ‘debatable lands’ in the Scottish borders – all of which are part of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria. These lands are home to complex layers of history and today are a spectacular setting for natural beauty. This landscape can be extreme and wild, bleak and isolated, lush and bucolic in turn, changing by the season and sometimes by the hour.
Located on the first floor of the Great Northern Hotel at Kings Cross St. Pancras, Plum + Spilt Milk is bringing the glamour back to railway dining. The décor in the dining area feels like a modern twist on railway carriage interiors typical of the twenties and thirties, with wood panelled walls, luxurious cream and brown booths, shining tables and a fantastical light feature of glass-encased bulbs hanging from copper rods in a shimmering arrangement. A feast for the senses before you even try the food.
We were welcomed to our table in style with several cocktails – a delicious berry concoction for me and a Lady Violet for my dining companion (trainspotters will be enthused by the presence of the Oriental Express cocktail on the menu). An appreciative pause gave us the opportunity to examine the a la carte menu at our leisure, which showcased a mix of core favourites and seasonal specialties. As the weather outside was frosty, I gave in to the urge to inject some colour into my evening and plumped for the Atlantic prawn, shaved fennel and orange salad followed by the Orkney scallops, while my companion went for the creamed smoked haddock, poached hen’s egg and hollandaise, along with the loin of venison and sloe gin main. The seafood was fresh as could be, and beautifully presented, as was the venison, which had a rich, warming flavour. Neither of us chose from the vegetarian menu, but rest assured, there is one, as tempting as the meat and fish menus with its selection of dishes such as Sharpham Estate spelt, squash and chanterelles.
The restaurant’s name refers to the livery worn by the dining cars that the Flying Scotsman pulled out of Kings Cross, and also features on the dessert menu. A mouth-wateringly sweet construction of tangy plums on top of deep-fried milk custard, this signature dish was matched only by my companion’s choice of dark chocolate mousse, praline and pecans. I would recommend ordering, as we did, the accompanying dessert wines; my glass of Tokaji slid down my throat like liquid gold.
If you’re in the Kings Cross area, or if you’re on the opposite side of London, there’s simply no reason not to visit this jewel of a restaurant. Stylish interiors, good food, good wine and good opportunities for people watching, this is lovely place to begin, or end your journey from. And with spring in the air, the menu promises to deliver yet more delicious dishes to help you on your way.
Here at Lodestars Anthology we love a beautiful travel journal as much as the next person (a lot more so, probably). So imagine how happy we were when we chanced across Cornwall by Weekend Journals, a definitive guide to exploring the fairest English county which features unique and special venues, from verdant gardens to visionary galleries, independent shops and exceptional restaurants.
The book is written by Milly Kenny-Ryder and produced by Simon Lovell, who both have strong links to Cornwall, and have been visiting with their families since they were young. Using these connections they have gone off the beaten track to discover the venues that the locals love, while also showcasing some of Cornwall’s most iconic sites and stories. For a hint of what this edition of The Weekend is all about, read on, and be inspired by all that Cornwall has to offer (or click here to order a copy).
St. Tudy Inn
Emily Scott is an ambitious and optimistic chef who took over the St. Tudy Inn, determined to offer locals and visitors great food in a delightful setting. This charming Cornish pub is situated in St. Tudy, a quaint village in North Cornwall. After extensive redecoration the pub feels cosy and welcoming, with Nicole Heidaripour prints on the walls and vintage furniture.
All Emily’s cheffing experience has been put to good use in the kitchen, where seasonality and local produce reign. The menu is full of comforting classics with a twist, such as the fish and chips, upgraded to the irresistibly tasty Monkfish tails in rosemary focaccia crumb with fries and citrus mayo. The St. Tudy Inn also runs regular events, including Pig and Cider nights with a hog roast and regional ales, so there’s many an enticing reason to visit.
St. Tudy Inn, St. Tudy, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 3NN
01208 850 656
Surfside is an exciting venture from London-based mixologist Tristan Stephenson, author of The Curious Bartender and part of the drinks company Fluid Movement who founded Purl and The Whistling Shop bars in London. Surfside has become a local hit, serving fresh food and cocktails at the water’s edge in Polzeath. Located on a corner of the beach, the restaurant is only accessible via the sand which adds to the experience.
Although the venue appears casual from the exterior, inside the offerings are for serious foodies with surf and turf platters and inventive cocktails. Thanks to the isolated location Surfside feels intimate and exclusive, with panoramic sea views adding something special to the meal.
Surfside Restaurant, On the Beach, Polzeath, Cornwall, PL27 6TB
01208 862 931
Trevibban Mill & Appleton’s at the Vineyard
Situated on the slopes of the Issey brook near Padstow, Trevibban Mill is one of the newer Cornish wineries but is already producing award-winning wines. Liz and Engin began planting in 2008 with an ambition to produce top quality Cornish wines and ciders. Native sheep graze on the land and their wool is for sale in the vineyard shop. Tours and tastings can be arranged to sample a range of the different wine and cider varieties.
Also on site is Appleton’s at the Vineyard, where ex-Fifteen head chef Andy Appleton is managing the kitchen, feeding hungry visitors with fine Italian dishes showcasing the local produce. Choose from a beautiful piece of sustainable fish, or a bowl of comforting pasta. The dishes provide the ideal accompaniment to a glass of Trevibban Mill wine.
Trevibban Mill & Appleton’s at the Vineyard, Dark Lane, near Padstow, PL27 7SE
01841 541 413
Hidden Kitchen is a supper club and culinary concierge serving unique food to its St Ives clientele. Located on the corner of St. Andrews Street, in the centre of the historic town, it is easy to miss this understated dining room. Chef James Watson and his wife Georgina worked together in the catering business before opening their first venue. The intimate dining experience in the boutique restaurant makes it feel like a dinner party at a friend’s house.
James regularly plays host to visiting chefs who provide diners with constantly changing, exciting international cuisines. Guest chefs have included Gordon Ramsay student Lee Skeet and Japanese cook Naoko Kashiwagi. After the meal leave a message to show your appreciation on the blackboard tables.
Hidden Kitchen, The Masonic Lodge, St. Andrews Street, St Ives, TR26 1AH
07792 639 755
There are more and more promising independent coffee shops in Cornwall; Espressini on Killigrew Street in Falmouth is one of the best. This characterful venue serves a bespoke blend of beans sourced and roasted by Yallah Coffee, selected specially for them from growers around the world. Inside, the café is cosy and familiar with mismatched antique furniture, and the chatter accompanied by a thoughtful playlist. The coffee is bold in flavour and served to your preference. Brunch is particularly popular with a menu of tempting and indulgent dishes displaying a wide range of influences from world cuisines.
Nearby, on Falmouth harbour, is Dulce, the smaller sibling of Espressini which, as well as offering freshly brewed coffee, sells equipment to help you make the perfect cup at home.