Thursday, 30 July 2015

On Losing Lore

"Ladybird Ladybird Fly away home
your house is on fire and your children are gone
all except one,
and her name is Anne 
and she is hid under the frying pan

-A Nursery Rhyme-  

I was browsing in Mariette's shop the other day, down by the ice cream and milking parlour when I happened across a book entitled 'Red Sky at Night - The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom'. I picked it up, lured by it's promise of something both lost and wise and I was immediately enchanted by words and proverbs from my childhood, things my Dad or Nan might tell young me once upon a time, that nurtured my love of my rural homelands. I found familiar phrases and snippets of knowledge, some that I still carried with me today such as weather lore like the meaning behind Mackerel skies and hazy horizons, to things that had worn with time and filled me with joy upon their rediscovery.

"The North wind doth blow
and we shall have snow,
And what will poor Robin do then,
poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn,
and keep himself warm,
and hide his head under his wing"

-A Nursery Rhyme- 

One of my favourite nursery rhymes as a child was the one about gypsies in a wood, but when I told this to other people I was saddened that hardly anyone had heard of it. Nursery rhymes are precious, whimsical things and when I recite them today they transport me back to a soft, enchanting world veiled by magic, imagination and the promise that anything and everything in this universe was a mystery waiting to be solved. The world of my young self. When I remember the words of counting rhymes and bedtime songs, I think of the soft dreamy pages and colours of the drawings in the books I was reading and how easy it was back then to tumble oneself wholly into those illustrations, share that world temporarily with the 2d inky impressions of the made-up folk on those pages. 

Over generations, although there are a great deal of us that remember the proverbs, remember the old wives tales and the ways of nature and the countryside, many of us have forgotten or time has wuthered at such lore. Of course, today we live in a land where this sort of knowledge isn't considered 'necessary' and we can get by just fine without it - but there is a sort of enchantment that comes with it, remnants of that world before everything had a scientific explanation, left behinds of a time when magic, witchcraft, ghosts were a possibility and we left bread for the knockers down the mines. There is delight in the concept of such a world - today we are so lucky for we have health, science and knowledge on our side and we have the ability to retain and celebrate this old world, reignite some of it's magic and mystery even if superstitions are considered foolish - there is much to be enjoyed from reciting lore, and much we can pass onto future generations to give them the same magic in their childhood. 

"A rainbow in the eastern sky,
the morrow will be fine and dry. 
A rainbow in the west that gleams, 
rain tomorrow falls in streams"

                                                                       -Old Proverb- 

 After we all finished work, Georges family and I jumped in their car and whizzed out to enjoy the beautiful evening of golden sunlight which has been rare in South Cornwall this summer. George is away out of the county with his older brother at the moment and even though it's been a day, I really miss his company and even his duvet stealing habits.

 Lore is something I wish to celebrate in the Salty Sea Blog. I do not wish for us to lose this countryside wisdom that grew upon this rainy isle. From phrases and knowledge passed down by word of mouth from my own family, tales told to me by rural neighbours and contents found in books - I want to rediscover the old joy found in those words and share it. celebrate it. Look at the histories and explanations behind them. I have a complete fascination with history, folklore and mythology and I'm really excited to begin throwing myself into exploring beyond what I know.

Lou found an extinguished bonfire and used the coal to make celtic style body paint. 

"Mares' tails and mackerel scales 
make lofty ships carry low sails

-Old English Proverb- 

George is lucky for he has grown up in a family that is full of the old words of lore. His father can tell you of all the ghost stories, all of the wrecks and smugglers tunnels around the peninsula and even the rock types. His Step-Mum can tell you about the wood lore, the flowers and what berries are edible and makes her own jams in the autumn when we've picked the bramble berries from the hedgerows. I love walking with them, for I'll always learn some new story about the lands and I'll squint at the cliffs and rocks, across the seas trying to imagine wrecked ships and sails. His little brother can start his own fire in the woods and forage for food and tell me all of the histories and celtic historic sites on the Lizard. He even built a little round house once.

"Whan the sunne shynth make hey.
Which is to say.
Take time whan time cometh, lest 
            time steale away

-16th century proverb- 

Modern translation
"If it's sunny, get off your backside and do something enjoyable!"

Hundreds of years later, and lore is still very much alive in the old parts of Cornwall among the old families. It carries on in festivals, folk songs and word of mouth. It carries on in theatre, in the markings on the land and in museums. It is precious and must not be forgotten and for the love of ice cream, not replaced with MTV and big brother. 



  1. Omg your photos are stunning! I really hope the weather is like this when we come down week after next! So excited :D xx

  2. I agree. Very important to keep old traditions and wisdom alive. I worry about the loss of so many skills, loves, interests as the years go on. x

  3. Wow the photos are amazing, thanks for sharing I am in love with your blog. Can we follow each other’s blog to support each other?:) please let me know if you are interested so I can follow your blog back:)


  4. Oh. <3 This was an absolute joy to read and look upon.

  5. I love this post, I remember old tales I was told as a child, I am lucky to have a mix of stories to pass on, my father is from Yorkshire so I get northern tales, mum is from Bristol like me so we have the South West stories and I have family on the Isles of Scilly and in Norway so I have many a random tale. I hope to be able to remember them to pass onto future generations as like you say they should never be forgotten. I used to love learning tales from different family members when I was a child and I think it's becoming a lost art as kids turn to Ipads for entertainment now.
    Your photos in this post are stunning too :)
    I have two family friends children staying and I've been entertaining them the last few days and I will make sure to share some stories with them tomorrow before they head back to Cyprus.

  6. This is a beautiful post. It always amazes me how others don't know your childhood rhymes. The winter robin you have posted is one I have always known. Your beautiful photography matches the tales of lore perfectly x

    Anna | aforvogue

  7. Absolutely stunning photos Sarah, as ever! I loved this post, so much history and tradition, one of the many things I love about Cornwall compared to other counties! :) Alice xx

    1. Thanks Alice!

      It was a treat to meet you last week ^_^ Thankyou for stopping by :D
      We are so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful land :) The good parts of tradition have been carefully tended to and guarded ^_^ I really hope to make it to more local festivals next year! :D Which one is your favourite? xxx


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