Monday, 12 April 2021

Treasure those Memories … part 10 … Seaweed mulch, St Michael’s Mount with its Mythical Giants …


What you’d expect … we have giants in Cornwall … particularly in the Penwith peninsula area … that’s fine … but b’gorra … they be complicated to work their story out …

Jack the Giant Killer -
his history in a chapbook

 So we’ll go and collect seaweed instead – essential for the health of the grandparents' garden … it’s an amazing resource from the sea – we humans eat it … and before it was commercially available … it was assiduously collected by the farmers for spreading on their fields.



Carbis Bay - before development c 1920
We’d be piled into grandpa’s car and either go down to Carbis Bay beach below the house, or across the peninsula to St Michael’s Mount … to rake up fronds of kelp after a storm …

Collecting seaweed for the fields of
daffodils, vegetables - c 1900
Two giants – possibly brothers – one held St Michael’s Mount … while the other lived at Trencrom – the high point between St Ives and Penzance.   It’s odd one brother’s name is known – Cormoran of Trencrom … the other is just ‘the brother’ … but the myth remains.


This woodcut illustration c 1820
was used in a variety of chapbooks
“Jack the Giant Killer” is a Cornish fairy tale and legend about Jack, who slays a number of giants … based on these giants of St Michael’s Mount and Trencrom.



The barren granite of Trencrom
They had sibling rivalries … and used to throw granite boulders at each other – now found at the top of these two ‘granite outcrops’ … we’ll go to Trencrom (a Neolithic hill fort) for a picnic in a later post.



Tinted postcard from c 1900
photographed from Marazion village

St Michael’s Mount is believed to have been a famous mart – trading place – between the Cornish and the Orient (Phoenicia).




Postcard of Penzance waterfront -
the storm battered prom
This area has an incredible history … the Romans were here, earlier the Neolithic peoples populated this wild, forested, storm battered part of England …



St Michael's Mount from Trencrom
… where tin could be surface mined (an ancient bronze furnace was found just outside Marazion village) traded with the Orient (the Phoenicians) – and where, after great storms, tree trunks, now under the waters of Penzance Bay, are cast up on the shore …


Ictis is described as a tin-trading island in the Bibliotheca historica of the Sicilian-Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century BC – it is thought St Michael’s Mount wasIctis as mentioned by Diodorus.



Map of west Penwith
Folklore, ancient history and remembrances from over 2,000 years remain, to be melded as time goes by with our more modern history … seaweed for our gardens and our kitchens.


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Treasure those Memories … part 9 … Grandparents' garden and wind-up gramophone ...


This was one year … when we, as kids, were in Carbis Bay at my grandparents’ house … I don’t remember my brother pestering me, but he must have been there … and it was almost certainly the year of 'stepping on a snake' ... 


My grandparents' house ... that tree is still
there - well it was in 2010
I must have been very young ... as I remember the milk being delivered in churns ... we put out whatever size we needed ... smaller than these shown below ... 


The churns were put out for
filling by the tanker - before
milk bottles were the norm ...
Cornwall would have been
behind the rest of the country
… but it must have been one year when the journey was split and we were ‘dumped’ off in Exeter – half-way between Woking (near London Heathrow) and Carbis Bay … to journey the rest of the way with the grand-parents!



The upshot being … there was room for more luggage – and that year … my father’s sister and her husband (the uncle I looked after in recent years) had given me a wind-up gramophone …



It wasn't this one ...
but it so reminds me
of mine!

 … my pride and joy – my aunt had covered it with red sticky kitchen-drawer paper – it was just the best thing to be given.  Down it went, with extra needles, to Cornwall …



… I only remember two records … there was no volume switch … partly overcome by stuffing socks into the hole under the needle arm – it did do some good, but not much … it blared …


… heaven knows what my grandparents, neighbours and ancillary visitors thought … as these two records blasted their way out of the house around Carbis Bay … and they were continuously played!


Nothing like the Laughing Policeman …

I know a fat old policeman,

he's always on our street,

a fat and jolly red faced man

he really is a treat.

He's too kind to be a policeman,

he's never known to frown,

and everybody says he's the happiest man in town.



(Ha ha ha ha ha,

Woo ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha,

Woo ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha,

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha,

Ha ha ha .)



Or The Dambusters’ March by Eric Coates – so rousing …



Auckland Symphony Orchestra playing
The Dambusters' March
The bedroom was over the sitting room and had a south facing window – with a window seat … so there rested the magnificent red noise-box … only quiet when its youthful owner wasn’t nearby.  Oh I had fun with it …



My grandparents didn’t use the sitting room during the day – it was the kitchen, dining room, the study and the garden that were in full use.



Old-fashioned Roses from a card
by Parastoo Ganjei

They loved gardening … my grandmother had the front part of the garden with all the roses, border, cottage plants … while grandpa had the back, where the vegetables were grown … along with sweet peas clambering up the bean poles …


Fuchsias ... I used to pop the sepals
… lined with fuchsia hedges – popping the ‘pod’ before the sepals opened … I still love fuchsia … the memories of fuchsia hedges remind me of youth and Cornwall days …


Leonhart Fuchs
(1501 - 1566)

The front garden had a potting shed for Grandma – covered with prize certificates from the St Ives gardening shows … where they’d entered their best entries … plants, flowers or vegetables …


Happy Days - and I hope you all had peaceful Easters ...

The Dambusters’ March (by Eric Coates) – performed here by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra 


The LaughingPoliceman – a music hall song by Charles Penrose (1922)


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories