My love of books and reading was no doubt aided by visits to my local library as a child for weekly story time sessions. I vividly recall the sweet smell of the polished wooden floor that somehow mingled with a musty smell at the same time. I now know that the victorian building was built in 1914 by Sir Frank Wills in the Edwardian Baroque style and its impact was great even on such a small child. My favourite author when I was young was Enid Blyton and I lost myself in the Famous Five books following the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne & George and of course not forgetting Timmy the dog. I believe books are for all and I am proud to say that The Secret of Creek Cottagewill soon be available in libraries throughout North Somerset and Cornwall.
I recently revisited the Men An Tol, but this time with a slightly different perspective. It is still otherworldly, with an atmosphere that quietly slips under your skin and at times takes your breath away with its energy. You can feel it under your feet, smell it in the sweet smelling gorse, see it in the weather beaten trees and the low growing heather. At this visit I was visualising it through the eyes of Loveday having now published my book, The Secret of Creek Cottage. What was spookily eerily was that the hedgerows were scattered with spider webs, just as Loveday had seen in Chapter XXVII – ‘The sun was low but bright, searching out all the cobwebs in the hedges that had been spun overnight, highlighting dewdrops which glistened as though left by the spiders to entice flies into their lairs. Nature was a wonderful thing’.
As I walked the same stony path that Gribble Gummo & Loveday had walked in Chapter XXV, stepping over the granite stone, cattle style stile (theres a mouthful!) and into the field where the standing stones waited, the mist was low and tangible, wetting everything that it touched. I could not have picked a more perfect day for atmosphere! If you are ever down in West Cornwall, I highly recommend a visit.
The stones are thought to be from the Neolithic or early Bronze Age era, making them approximately 3,500 years old. It is highly probable that they were at some point part of a stone circle. Grid reference SW 426349
As the sun began to slip behind Shepherd Delight clouds, 266ft above sea level, a small group gathered upon an Iron Age hillfort in North Somerset to share poetry, prose and the love of a good story. Organised by Michael Loader – 4 Communities, 3 Trees, 1 Hill Green Arts Wellbeing and funded by the Arts Council Emergency Fund, we listened to an eclectic mix of readings from Dylan Thomas to poems written by a participants eight year old (she’s now 24!). As well as sharing one of my own poems, I read an excerpt of chapter VII from my debut novel, The Secret of Creek Cottage, where I introduced one of the main characters from 1916, Loveday Nance, as well as the Cornish Droll Teller (Story Teller), Gribble Gummo. It was a magical evening and we were guided down the hillfort at dark by the almost full Harvest Moon.
As you will know if you have read the book, Loveday was partial to a good old cuppa of nettle tea. An acquired taste you may think, but coastal and country folk would make do with their surrounding flora in many ways, from medicinal cures to food and drink. The Cornish also make a delicious Yarg cheese that is coated with nettle leaves and is very yummy!
Nettles are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and are high in Vitamins A & C, as well as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Potassium. They are earthy in taste and similar to spinach and best eaten when tender from early to mid-spring.
Make sure you wear thick gloves when picking and pinch the tips of the young leaves.
Lay on a tray to wilt or wash in hot water (once wilted they lose their sting).
They must always be cooked (never use them fresh in salads).
Crush leaves, add water then steep for 5-20 minutes depending on personal taste.
Add a squeeze of lemon or/and sugar if required.
A sprinkle of magic.
Drink no more than 4 cups per day.
Check with a Doctor or Herbalist if taking medication to ensure there are no interactions.
Side effects can and sometimes do happen. Always test a small amount first. Be sure to only pick what you need from nature and also that you are sure you know what you are picking.