Friday 23 September

Yesterday in St Just I came across a small store called Just Cornwall that specializes, as one might imagine, in material from Cornwall. Tapes to learn the Cornish language, necklaces made by local craftsmen, pots and T-shirts and Cornish fudge and coffee cups with the Cornish flag and of course books galore. I am now the owner of books of old photographs, books on Cornish place-names, on archaeology and crafts and folktales, and the complete libretto of a three-play miracle play recently put on in the town of St Just.

Yesterday my daughter had an enforced off-day, something she ate that disagreed with her and allowed a year’e2’80’99s worth of tension to work itself out. So I left her at the very remote cottage we’e2’80’99re renting for a few days, a converted barn that, until the current owners bought it a few years ago, had no vehicular access at all. Now it has a road even worse than any I have lived on, which is really saying something. But it is quiet and lovely, and inhabited by a trio of lady Labs, three generations of affectionate non-guardians.

And of course, no wireless access, hence this is delayed yet more days. I will, however, be able to send it off from the home of Adrian and Jen Muller, in Bristol, where we will be on Saturday. Many of you in the mystery community may know Adrian Muller, who has done interviews with about 95 percent of the writers out there and reviews of the other five percent. His current project is next spring’e2’80’99s Left Coast Crime, a conference generally held on the left coast of the United States, but in 2006 on the left coast of Britain, namely, Bristol. If you’e2’80’99re free and looking for a good time, put it on your calendar for next March. And I’e2’80’99m not just saying that because Adrian is letting me use his wireless access’e2’80’94he puts on a great event. And Britain can be lovely in the early spring.

Today, with my daughter recovered, we drove off in search of old things. Tin mines, standing stones, iron-age cities, and a very nice vegetarian bistro in the town of Cripplesease. We’e2’80’99ve been very lucky with the rain, which fell during the night but cleared in the morning, and had a few hours of fitful sun as we clambered through fields and over stiles, explored churchyards and paused to admire the long view towards the sea.

This is a peninsula, with the sea never far away, in fact or in one’e2’80’99s mind. From here the Spanish Armada was spotted, near here the town of Mousehole (pronounced Mowzel) was burned by those invaders, and both of the Iron Age forts we explored today had their faces towards the sea, just in case. I understand that the theory of Phoenician presence here has lost what acceptance it once had, but I firmly hold to it, and plan on giving it at least mention in the book. (One advantage of writing historical novels is that one is not only allowed to incorporate archaic ideas, one is expected to.)

Saturday we move on, to Bristol, the Mullers, and civilization. But I have to say, when I retire, I’e2’80’99m seriously considering these parts. I will restore a decrepit tin mine, put my study in its upper reaches, reserve my table at the local pub, and write about warm lands.

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  1. Jill on September 25, 2005 at 3:07 am

    The mention of Mousehole and your extended discussion of Cornwall reminds me of Charles de Lint’s delightful (and rather…surreal) novel, The Little Country. It’s set in Mousehole, and features a Celtic musician as one of its main characters. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it–though I admit it’s been a few years since I’ve read it myself. (The cover’s falling off my copy, and I haven’t gotten ’round to replacing it…)

  2. Jan on September 25, 2005 at 6:03 pm

    OH..I know well the area where you are…visited Penzance….I am an avid Gilbert&Sullivan fan and just had to see Penzance. Found Cornwall interesting, especially if you could be in a place where there were no tourists. The people do ruin.

    Want to mention that I had never realized there were tin mines until I read “The Moor”.


  3. FeltHat on October 4, 2005 at 12:30 am

    The most wonderful place in the world!- my home county – its at once beautiful and bleak (at its best anyway) I spent my teenage years writing tortured poetry and painting rather better landscapes amongst those cliffs and coves.
    Botallack & Ding Dong mines are my favourites, on the moor by Lanyon Quoit and the Men an Tol and the drive around the coast road from st Ives to st Just is so special. A stop to pay respects to the Merrymaid of zennor is a requirement and a pint and substantial lunch in the tinners arms at Zennor a must – in the winter with the fires going and the cats for company it is wonderful.
    In terms of Books written about the Area – The Wreckers Must Breathe – an old thriller by Hammond Innes is atmospheric – Cripplesease gets a mention – and Helen Dunmore’s Zennor in Darkness a novel about DH Lawrence and his german wife who lived here during the war. Helen Dunmore is also a Bristol based author.

    I shall have to put up some more of my Cornish Photos on my blog site so you can all see Zennor and West Penwith in all their glory.
    Glad you enjoyed the area Laurie.

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