Cornwall is the furthest peninsula in the south west of the United Kingdom bordered on one side by Devon, and on two sides by two seas — most notably the English Channel in the South and the Celtic Sea (Cornish: An Mor Keltek) in the north Atlantic ocean. The furtherest point is Land’s End, a place I recall visiting as a child as just a rocky outcrop angling down to the sea so that one could walk right to the edge to dip one’s toes. Today, this requires paying to get into the tourist facilities built around the spot so that no one can visit without payment — not a high point in tourism IMHO.
The south of Cornwall is often referred to as Cornish Riviera. It’s more sheltered from the rough and cooler high winds and is usually favoured with warmer weather. However, I’ve always favoured North Cornwall with its higher cliffs, less popularised beaches and the wilder coastline.
The area has featured heavily in fiction, possibly most well-known in tales such as Jamaica Inn at Bodmin by Daphne du Maurier (although she also set other novels in the county), and a Sherlock Holmes tale of The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot by Conan Doyle. Many famous novelists and poets were either born or chose to live near the area, which with its changing atmosphere, varied topography, diverse weather patterns, and local historical and legendary history is hardly surprising.
You can’t be British and not talk about the weather at some point. There’s a reason some say if you don’t like the weather in the UK, wait five minutes. While this ‘may’ be something of an exaggeration, the changeable weather certainly equates to some dramatic extremes, as viewed in these two photographs. They were taken during the same holiday a couple of days apart.
In the first there’s a lovely shot of the Camelot Castle Hotel (far right distance — originally known as King Arthur’s Castle Hotel) complete with a rescue service helicopter in action along the cliffs.
In the second…well, there’s a hotel there somewhere, although it rather looks as if it’s being swallowed up in the mists of time reminiscent of a far different location, aka Brigadoon.
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2012 seems a million years ago, now. All the celebrations for the Queen’s jubilee and then the Olympics/Paralympics. Pomp, pageantry, well organised and inspiring events, all sorts of things which we Brits do extremely well, but refuse to shout about.
And all of these were a tremendous celebration of what it means to be British. We’re a mixed up, muddled sort of society, obsessed with the weather and totally blase about the history which surrounds us but…we’re fun.
Last summer we “followed” the Olympic torch on its journey around the country, picking up some literary connections on the way, with a slant on LGBTQ fiction and authors. Seventy (count them!) days of posts about our gloriously diverse country and culture, well worth revisiting.
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The brand new public library in Birmingham is getting ready to open its doors later this year and staff have already started transferring the contents from old to new building. It’s a Herculean task – apparently they will be moving over 1,000 crates of books, papers, journals, cds, maps and gawd knows what else across every single day for the next three months.
It’s an exciting time all round, and to involve the public a little more, the library ran a poll to choose the first book to be reshelved. There were some interesting choices on the top ten including, unsurprisingly, The King James Bible, as well as classics like Alice in Wonderland, 1984, and Paradise Lost.
But the book that won, and that was carefully placed on a shelf all by itself by council leader Albert Bore, was Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It’s particularly fitting – not only is it a great book that appeals to adults and children alike, but the author had strong links with Birmingham for much of his life.
I just wish the new library building was as endearing, or likely to prove as popular for future generations. I can only think of concertina wire whenever I look at it.
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Okay, I’m as bad as everyone else for letting this blog slide. So many hours in the day, so much to do, but I’ll try a post and see if anyone is listening.
Of course, it involves a touch of promo but it’s more about how my home country inspires me to write. All but a couple of the twenty odd novels I’ve written are set in the UK. I’ve learned to set them in areas I know or at least can easily research. It makes life so much simpler. So popular settings are – Greenwich, Yorkshire – Leeds, Harrogate etc, Derbyshire, Northumberland, Scotland. I’ve dragged poor husband all over the place to take pictures of locations (though I didn’t notice him grumbling when we went to Miami to scout out details for one the books not set in the UK) We were already in Florida so a five hour drive in tropical heat didn’t seem too unreasonable. Oh and five hours back. oops.
My latest book – okay – twist my arm and I’ll tell you – Every Move He Makes – out with Samhain publishing, involves a British spy – so I needed pictures of that building on the Thames that’s hardly secret but holds our secret service. I took so many pictures, I kept expecting to get a tap on the shoulder and to whisked away by 007. Well, a girl can dream. Research on what the building is like inside came up woefully short so I had to make up some bits. I think readers will forgive me.
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