Granite filled with grace
A Journey for Holy Week
Holy Week begins
The Mundic Dilemma
Selling a house built of concrete
No more springs in this Cornish home
Selling our houseIt was not until I'd posted that last entry that it struck me: this is almost certainly the last spring that we shall spend in this house. So we shan't see the sun move round to flood our workroom through the blinds next year.
We have lived in our home very happily for 25 years, but now, as we get older, we need a smaller and more appropriate house. We don't plan to move far away - we'll stay on the same street if we can - but it will still be a real wrench.
And I am already beginning to understand why moving house is the third most stressful event after bereavement and divorce! We have arranged for an initial valuation, but we find we are missing an important bit of information about our house - a detail that could make a difference of tens of thousands of pounds in its value. We are talking about what to do next...
Spring in Cornwall
Spring is hereOur house is built on the side of a hill, which is one side of a steep valley, and faces east. In the winter, the sun doesn't get high enough to come over the hill opposite until late morning, and then the sun is well to the south, so it doesn't come directly into our workroom window. You can see the view from the window in the middle of my banner graphic.
About the middle of March, the sun's arc gets steeper, and from then until late September the sun shines in most of the morning, and we have to put the blinds down to stop the computer monitors melting... So although we have to shade ourselves from it, the rising sun shows us summer is on the way!
Born in song
How to stay sane and happy? Sing!
What do you do to cope with the stresses of ordinary modern life? Here in Cornwall, one of the things we do is to sing - or if we are not so good at that, to listen. Throughout Cornwall, there are dozens of amateur choirs, mostly of male voices, of a very high standard, who give concerts throughout the year. The large number is partly because the people of Cornwall were originally Celts. Cornwall, in the far south-west of Britain, is was one of the last places where the Celts were driven by successive invading hordes from the Romans to the Normans. And all Celtic people sing as easily as they breathe. The people in Wales, northern Scotland and Ireland are Celts, too, and they also have a great singing tradition.
Singing is also an important part of religious life in Cornwall. The county is a stronghold of Methodism, a movement always said to be born in song. John Wesley preached many times in Cornwall; not a mile from our house, there's a stone commemorating one of his open-air services. Last summer, our minister did an exchange with a Methodist minister from Connecticut, who was seriously impressed with the singing. She told us that, when she gets to heaven, she's going to insist on sitting next to the Cornish Methodists, so she can sing along with us
A wonderful time of the singing year for us is the ten weeks of the summer, when evey Sunday we have an evening Choir Service in our church, with a different choir every week. The church is always full, and the music is always wonderful.
Perhaps it seems especially good because our church, though not very large, has a gallery, so we can seat a fair few people but we all seem to be quite close together. And some of the choirs come back in the winter -- we have a concert at least once a month, and two in December.
But the highlight of the singing winter for me is always Christmas Eve. A men's choir based in the next village to us, Polperro, always goes carol sining round the village on Christmas Eve, and many of the visitors down for the holidays join in. Of course, we sing traditional carols like Hark the Herald Angels Sing. But we also have old Cornish carols -- 'Tis Christmas time, Hail smiling morn, Bethlehem Star -- that we don't hear anywhere else. There's something truly magical about standing a hundred feet above the harbour, looking over to the houses across the water, and singing our hearts out.
This year, I shall miss that lovely treat, because we are going to spend Christmas with our two-year-old granddaughter in Dublin. And of course we are looking forward to it very much, and we'll have a wonderful time. But on Christmas Eve, a large part of my heart will be at home in Cornwall, singing to welcome the birth of the Prince of Peace.
Why Granite filled with Grace?
Proper JobI've lived in Cornwall for the last 24 years. The standard joke - and it's actually half serious - is that you have to have two generations in the graveyard to be truly Cornish. Until a few years ago, I thought I'd have to rely on being `born-again' Cornish, but then I turned up an ancestor five generations back, who was undeniably Cornish. So now I say that the half-pint of blood she left me is the most important part.
If you've never been to Cornwall, you might be forgiven for finding this attitude, which is very common among `incomers', rather surprising. But Cornwall is very special. My title is the name of a song, a little laugh-at-ourselves witticism at one of the local phrases - a `proper job' is something well done. And in the song, Cornwall, whose geology is thoroughly granite, is described as `granite filled with grace', which just about sums up the place and the people who live here.
My plan is to give some idea of what it's like to live and work in a beautiful town where about half of us are here all the year round, and the rest come and go like the swallows. And where the population is 7,000 in the winter and 27,000 in the summer... As well, I'll try and give a flavour of a unique, much-loved place.