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