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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Friday, 6 December 2013

Rum and shrub, brandy and lovage Part I

Just had an online conversation that has stirred bittersweet memories of times past. There's something about this time of year, days shortening followed by a return to longer daylight hours that inspires reminiscences...

Cornwall  in the far south west maintains a separate identity in culture and language. For many, many years we would spend weeks down there. In fact, we'd run away from the day job and treasure holiday times living in Cornwall immersing ourselves in the area. 

When I knew it at first it was a tin mining area, hard rock miners and many our friends were miners past and present. With our love of geology and industrial archaeology the area acted as a magnet drawing us to explore more and more.

Botallack, and Levant now taken over by the overbearing auspices of the sterile National Trust. We knew them before they were made part of a collective 'estate', when we could roam free with the dogs and meet scarcely a soul for hours upon end. 

We imbibed in local hostelries and sang our hearts out... 'Goin' up Cambourne hill, comin' down', the 'White Rose' and of course 'Trelawny.' Tell Man the folk singer raising everyone's spirits as the walls reverberated with song.

Roaming the coastal path for days on end. Filling our lungs with the fresh, bracing Atlantic air. Watching the squalls beat in and Atlantic waves crash against forbidding granite rock cliffs. No matter the weather, the two of us and our dogs revelling in the Cornish landscape. 

Then at night and sometimes into the early hours conversing with folk who spoke broad Cornish. Learning and using such phrases as 'damned ee no!' and 'madder do ee'?' Welcoming being addressed as 'Pard' and 'Maid'. Turning as brown as a berry in the sunshine, watching for ripening blackberries to pick from lanes and 'hedges'. A Cornish 'hedge' is not be confused with the ordinary kind. The wily Cornishman built stone walls of granite rocks along the winding lanes. A work of art and geometry, placing individual pieces just so. Then, nature takes hold and plants work their way into crevices. Soon the whole takes on the appearance of a grass bank, but be warned it has a granite core.