Heading to Cornwall in search of King Arthur, Doc Martin and witches

As most of you know, I'm not much of a fan of "bloody" cold, damn windy and constant rain, however knowing that all would be well, I settled down to sleep with my alarm set for 6am, my backpack filled and my warm woolies wrapped around the sat-nav (just in case it got cold and wouldn't work).

I picked up Glen at 6.30 and we headed off on the four hour drive to Cornwall. We arrived in the dear little town of Boscastle (which looked JUST like where Doc Martin lives) and headed for the tea shop. The tea shop is situated on a Bridge that says it is "the property of the Lord of the Manor" and is dated 1886. Well he wasn't there that day to kick out the antipodean and her friend, and instead we had wonderful scones, jam and clotted cream before heading to the Museum of Witchcraft. I must say, Boscastle was flooded badly in 2005 and many of the really old buildings were badly damaged, but as we walked down to the Museum, we came across some guys chipping away by hand at the cement render on a building in preparation for re-rendering and my education continued. After pleading ignorance, the nice man explained all about what he was doing and why removing the render by hand, with a hammer and chisel was MUCH more effective than using a machine. Important knowledge for me, especially if I ever decide to renovate a rendered 16th century cottage in coastal Victoria!

Onwards to the Museum of Witchcraft, a quaint, white washed building tucked away in the corner of town. I've gotta say, given the esoteric friends I hang out with, I've seen a fair bit of "witchy-poo" stuff, but this museum was the REAL DEAL! There were things that made me feel really sad, like a long list of women who had been burned, hung or drowned, instruments of torture, nooses (used ones),and a real dunking chair............all of which were generally applied to women who were just trying to heal, nurture and provide midwifery care to the people in their villages, and who had made the fatal mistake of not marrying and floating when dunked in a pond!

There was also some really scary stuff like a whole range of "poppets", complete with pins inserted in places I would imagine would have been quite uncomfortable for the recipients of the spell, mummified hands and a really disturbing recording of Alister Crowley who sounded like he was long dead when the recording was made! The collection of herbs, mortars and pestles, scrying mirrors and crystal orbs were extraordinary. As we left the museum, I walked past a mummified skull that was obviously very old and stood for a moment to pay my respects.............it doesn't matter where I find pieces of people, whether in museums, churches or galleries, I can't help but feel overwhelmingly sad that a piece of someone is missing from the rest of their remains. Some of you might think this is a bit of a romantic notion, but I'd like to think that no matter who you are, your nationality, your age or your religion, you are entitled to be treated with the same amount of dignity after you have died as you are entitled to when you are living and that should mean that your remains are kept intact, so that whatever happens after death, you have all of your bits in one place.........but that's just me!

We left the Museum of Witchcraft and headed to the "woollies" store to buy some antarctic fleecies as the wind had whipped up to a gale (despite the sun being warm) and I didn't want to die of hypothermia before I had my encounter with King Arthur! We crossed the road and went to look at the beautiful old National Trust Boscastle Post Office. I must say, walking through the old Post Office, which is a rare example of a "Cornish Medieval Hall House", my sadness at leaving behind the poor dismembered body parts in the Museum was lifted by a number of beautiful old cross stitch samplers that were hanging on the walls, that talked about death, grief and loss, many of which were painstakingly sewn by young girls and hopefully taught them some lessons about the dignity of death and the importance of death rituals as they sewed away at night by roaring fires, listening to the ships wash up on the rugged coast and the wind whipping the trees. The gardens at the Post Office were beautifully manicured and seemed to complement both the building, the artwork and the wild landscape.

As I wrapped myself in the insulation of my Cornwellian woolly jumper, Glenys and I hopped into the car, left gentle, sleepy Boscastle behind us and headed up the road to Tintagel.

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