Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A curious thing.   When I started this blog way back in 2006, my very first stumbling effort into Bloggerland was to celebrate the 100th anniversery of the birth of the late Sir John Betjeman.   I wrote that first `piece` as we had just come home from visiting that very special area of north Cornwall and had made the pilgrimage to St. Enodoc church, where Sir John was laid to rest.

One of his most celebrated poems captured the unending appeal of the place where he lived and which he loved so well.   Here it is:-


We used to picnic where the thrift
Grew deep and tufted to the edge;
We saw the yellow foam flakes drift
In trembling sponges on the ledge
Below us, till the wind would lift
Them up the cliff and o’er the hedge.
Sand in the sandwiches, wasps in the tea,
Sun on our bathing dresses heavy with the wet,
Squelch of the bladder-wrack waiting for the sea,
Fleas around the tamarisk, an early cigarette.

From where the coastguard houses stood
One used to see below the hill,
The lichened branches of a wood
In summer silver cool and still;
And there the Shade of Evil could
Stretch out at us from Shilla Mill.
Thick with sloe and blackberry, uneven in the light,
Lonely round the hedge, the heavy meadow was remote,
The oldest part of Cornwall was the wood as black as night,
And the pheasant and the rabbit lay torn open at the throat.

But when a storm was at its height,
And feathery slate was black in rain,
And tamarisks were hung with light
And golden sand was brown again,
Spring tide and blizzard would unite
And sea come flooding up the lane.
Waves full of treasure then were roaring up the beach,
Ropes round our mackintoshes, waders warm and dry,
We waited for the wreckage to come swirling into reach,
Ralph, Vasey, Alistair, Biddy, John and I.

Then roller into roller curled
And thundered down the rocky bay,
And we were in a water world
Of rain and blizzard, sea and spray,
And one against the other hurled
We struggled round to Greenaway.
Blesséd be St Enodoc, blesséd be the wave,
Blesséd be the springy turf, we pray, pray to thee,
Ask for our children all happy days you gave
To Ralph, Vasey, Alistair, Biddy, John and me.

And the curious thing?   Well, on Friday we`re off to stay in Trebetherick for a week;  to see the tamarisks hung with light, the golden sand, the rocky bay, to struggle round to Greenaway and lose ourselves in the timeless wonder of just being in that very special part of this sceptred isle.

Back in a week or so, but I`ll leave you with a piece of music from Nigel Hess`s score for the film `Ladies in Lavender,` which was set in Cornwall and somehow quite magically captures what it feels like to stand on a Cornish cliff top and look out to an endless, sparkling sea.  Enjoy:-

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