I don’t believe I really have anything in common with Tracey Emin, apart perhaps from the fact that we are both female. She is bold and brash, deep thinking and highly artistic and of course seems to simply thrive on controversy. I admire anyone who feels able to throw open their lives and their souls for other people’s entertainment and scrutiny but really that’s not my style. Tracey Emin, however, did something in early 2016 that fascinates me. I find it both amusing and moving in equal measure.
So what did she do that has stuck with me nearly 12 months later? Well how do I put this? . . . Tracey Emin married a rock. Continue reading
Lets face it most of the decisions you make in the pub are at best misguided and at worst dangerous. We have all read or heard about some crazy misadventure and thought to ourselves that decision was definately made after several pints of Spingo!? I have to admit that was my first thought when I read about the voyage of Captain Richard Nicholls and his six crew.
One day in the middle of the winter of 1854 they set sail in their 37ft fishing boat called Mystery. As they left the safety of the small harbour of Newlyn their next stop was to be the coast of Australia. A treacherous journey of roughly 11,000 miles. . . Through some of the world’s roughest seas. . . In a small fishing boat. . . Somebody pass the rum! Continue reading
December is the time of the year when our days are at their shortest and darkest. When it seems that our little world is more night than day. But the Winter Solstice, 21st December, marks the turning of the year – the return of the sun! Celebrations marking this returning of light and warmth have been part of our culture for thousands of years.
Penzance’s Montol is a revival of those ancient celebrations. It is a modern version of a festival which was once held annually in the town until it feel out of favour in the 1930s. There are some festivities in Cornwall that still retain a true flavour of their pagan roots, such as the rather madcap Padstow Obby Oss. The Montol is another, it holds on to an ancient, much darker remembrance of our ancestor’s beliefs. Continue reading
Men Gurta or the St Breock Longstone stands high on the St Breock Downs within sight of a modern windfarm. Although the view from the hill is as good reason as any to visit this particular stone well worth looking for, it is a giant. In fact it is the largest and heaviest in Cornwall- which, you might well think, should make it easy to find. Which it is, once you know where to look but more if that later!
Men Gurta is huge, it is 4.9m tall (3m of that above ground) and weighs a whooping 16.5 tons but there is also something very striking about this stone, it’s beautiful zebra strips! Continue reading
Despite it’s size, Truro is actually a city and the capital of Cornwall. But you would hardly call it a pulsating metropolis especially on one particular day every December. on that day the city’s main square is filled with all the sights, sounds and smells of your average farmyard. When I arrived at the annual Cornwall’s Primestock show on Lemon Quay preparations for judging were in full swing.
You would, I expect, be a little surprised how much effort is taken by the farmers to make their cattle look beautiful. Continue reading
Standing with his arms flung wide, as if about to launch himself from his plinth, the statue of the miner looks down the steep hill of Redruth’s main street. In one hand he clasps a pole pick and in his other hand, palm turned skyward, he grasps a shiny ingot of tin. But there is no work for this bronze man, his purposeful stance is inane, by the time he was placed here in 2008 he merely represented all that the town had lost.
He became a memorial to a grand and vanished past that perhaps few of the shoppers passing beneath him wished to be reminded of.
Mining was the source of this area of Cornwall’s wealth but also it’s undoing. Continue reading
It has taken me far too long to get around to writing this article and it is only the thought of getting back out on the moor again in a few days time that forced my thoughts to turn once again to this unwritten story.
It actually began with this blog. A piece I wrote many months ago led me to meet a group of strangers with whom I would spend many a happy hour in the vast emptiness of Bodmin Moor.
Since I left home aged 20 and flew to Germany on a complete whim my long suffering parents have been used to my often rather impulsive behaviour but even I questioned whether I was thinking straight on that first morning. We had never met before, not even spoken on the phone but when Roy, Stuart and Colin arrived in a beat up old truck full of tools I, with no hesitation climbed aboard, and set out across the moor with 3 total strangers!
When I try to explain to people what we did this summer they usually fall into two camps: the intrigued and the confused. In short we were uncovering large pieces of granite on a wild and windswept moor.
But of course these were no ordinary rocks Continue reading
An interview with Bartholomew Patrick O’Farrell
Driving down towards St Keverne on Cornwall’s isolated Lizard peninsula feels like drifting back in time. With the Autumnal fog rolling in from the sea and covering the Goonhilly Downs the whole scene can suddenly become rather otherworldly. Quite an appropriate place to meet a wizard.
Bartholomew Patrick O’Farrell, or Bart as he likes to be known, is a small man with shoulder length grey hair and a white beard. Today he is dressed exuberantly from head to toe in bright red, in his gentle lilting Welsh accent he explains, “It’s like the poem When I get old, I shall wear purple, do you know it? Well, have you noticed that all old men just wear grey and brown and seem to fade in to the background, now that’s why I chose to wear red”.
Bart is most certainly not a man to fade away, just a few minutes with him and the room feels warmer as he happily regales you with stories about a life full of incident and adventure. In his 75 years he has been a copy-writer, typewriter salesman, teacher, picture restorer, artist, oral poet and a palmist.
The latest phase of what he calls his “diamond” of a life has seen him discover or perhaps rediscover his abilities as a dowser. Continue reading