I grew up in a household where farm work and animals came first, above anything else. Don’t misunderstand, I am not complaining. I had a blessed childhood with a kind of freedom that sadly very few children experience today. It taught me not only independence but also the importance of hard work and taking responsibility. However, it did mean that we never went on family holidays. Not one. And days out were very few and far between. But that just made the time we did spend tigether all the more special.
I was, and still am, a bit of a daddy’s girl. And I hope that my father has had a strong influence on the person that I have become. One thing that I know he did instil in me from a young age was an admiration for a good piece of granite.
Those days off I mentioned were never spent on the beach making sandcastles. They were spent on the Penwith or the heights of Bodmin moor or Dartmoor tramping through undergrowth looking for ancient pieces of stone. It is a tradition that you may have noticed I still enjoy as often as possible!
In the summer of 1999 my father and I spent a whole day together driving around the west of Cornwall looking at big rocks.
We admired their size and shape. Marvelled at their probable weight. And puzzled over how ancient man had moved them and raised them up.
You see my father had a plan.
He wanted his own standing stone.
Our standing stone
Our farm covers a hill and the highest point affords beautiful views across the valley and the tidal creek below. It was the ideal spot for our very own monolith.
My father took himself to the local granite quarry and spent hours walking around looking at the available stones. It couldn’t be just any stone. He wanted a piece of granite that was as natural in shape as possible, with no obvious signs that it had been split by drilling or handled by machinery. Like ancient man all those thousands of years ago I am sure he had a particular piece of stone in mind.
I am also sure the workmen thought he was barmy. But perhaps that is where I also get my own nonchalance with regards to looking silly myself. And he did find his perfect stone and had it delivered to the farm.
The pit was dug and with the help of todays modern mechanised assistance our standing stone was raised to mark the year 2000 but also to commemorate 100 years of our family living on the farm. We arrived in 1899.
We have never really spoken about it, my father is a man of few words. But I think he really enjoys the idea of something so lasting, so solid and unmoving marking his time on the land he loves so much. And so do I.