Thursday, 27 June 2013

Of Peter Pan & Pirate Ships

From NeverNeverland on tumblr
"You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting."
J.M. Barrie - Peter Pan

I know how she feels! Midsummer always makes me languid and dreamy. This time last year I was obsessed with Mermaids and now I feel like Wendy waiting for Peter to appear and whisk me off to Neverland.

A favourite Peter Pan illustration by Flora White

When I was a child the very English tales of Peter Pan, Alice and Winnie the Pooh fascinated me and planted the first seeds of my love affair with England. I never grew tired of them and as a teenager I read the biographies of their authors and remained determined to one day visit the places where they had lived and which had inspired them to write the stories. Despite liking the idea of being a pirate I possess a hopeless sense of navigation and upon my first visit to Kensington Gardens I spent a considerable time searching for Peter Pan. The bronze is perfectly located in a site chosen by author J.M Barrie about half way along the west bank of the Long Water. The statue is by Sir George Frampton, R.A., P.R.B.S. (1860-1928).   It has a special atmosphere about it and thousands of people, young and old make the pilgrimage to see it. Looking at it made me feel a loss for my own childhood, even though at the time I was a mere girl of twenty-something.

So many children's stories are bittersweet rather than sweet, if you learn to read between the lines. And perhaps, often, we do not fully comprehend this bittersweetness until we are grown up. Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up is a sad tale and yet ..... a part of him lives in all of us who treasure childhood and enchantment and do not want it to end nor do we want to face the inevitability of our own mortality.

painting by Margaret W. Tarrant  (1888—1959). 
I'd not forgotten Peter, no, never, but I had neglected him over winter when I tend to think of darker things, of Grimlings and beasts in the wild woods.

On a recent trip to Scotland a friend took us to a magical gift and tea shop in Kirkcaldy, called appropriately The Merchant's Garden as it is located in The Merchants House, on the sea. Being near a wild sea reminded me of how much I had loved The Tempest and the illustration of Miranda by Waterhouse who painted versions of Miranda at the start and the end of his career. The sea has played a running part in my life too. I had a cat named Miranda and a parrot named Prospero, sadly both long gone now.

Miranda from The Tempest so divinely captured in oil in 1916
by John William Waterhouse

The shop keeper had two old carved wooden galleons as decoration and I fell in love with them. Alas, they were her treasured keepsakes and not for sale.

You can see one of their old galleons on the shelf with gift items.

 It was an inspiring place you can feel the age of the building, the romance of the sea and the ochre colour sings. On the upper floors when they restored the building they found an ancient wall painting of a galleon which has inspired them in their decorations. 

They have a facebook page: Merchant's Garden at The Merchants House

As summer finally arrived my dreams turned back to the sea and all things watery and I started thinking of galleons and pirates.

by James Coleman

One of my history teachers was descended from Sir Francis Drake and the way in which he taught seafaring history kept my interest in pirates and galleons alive. It has not waned through all of these years and is one of the reasons I had first wanted to live in Devon. I miss the sea and am always drawn to water.

Having just attended Royal Ascot the subject of hats has been much on my mind as well. I've never been a great beauty and do not like to stand out in a crowd but I must admit this galleon hat was very tempting! It is magnificent.

It is the creation of artist Amanda Scrivener of ProfMaelstromme on Etsy. Have a look at her designs and find out more about her on her blog at Professor Maelstromme:

 From: ProfMaelstromme on Etsy

When you collect things or get an idea for a design theme I often find that items which fit are attracted to you, or vice versa.

Treasures of the sea

My treasures of late include this wooden pirates chest from a charity shop, (the jewels did not come with it!) a small oil painting of a sailing ship from ebay and strings of shells from the 'Shore' section of online store Re. I have many gathered shells which I could have strung myself but this arrangement is so well done, and so reasonable that I bought two. The site is well worth a wander, they have wondrous things!

Seashell strings from : Re  

I have saved the best for last. I found my galleon! It's a little broken and faded, but then it is very old. You can just see the lions on the masts, and all of the flags which fly depicting royal arms. It may be a model of  a real ship or just a fantasy. The seller did not know, I will need to do some research.

My very own Galleon!


  1. This post is divine. I have a very soft spot for Peter Pan. The pictures you have posted are soooo lovely. And you even have Miranda, one of my favourite paintings. Perfect, all of it, thank you.

  2. Love, love, love this post , it had me all nostalgic and wistful !
    I saw the play Peter Pan in London when I was 9 and I was mesmerized and enchanted with the whole encounter . I fell in love with Tink whom in the play was a mere wisp of magical lighting ... but real in my heart !
    Peter Pan and Tink have a sweet spot in my mind forever .

  3. Living here has made me realize that there is more fact in the fiction than I had imagined. I learned that there really are prefects and houses in the schools here, like in Harry Potter. There were real pirates in Cornwall and Devon. Your images are sooo dreamy and lovely.

  4. I have always loved Peter Pan story. It is sad, as you said, and sentimental story written for adults, I think. I still shout once a while 'Fairies exist!' while I am alone at home, just in case I might save the life of a fairy. I also took ages to find the Peter Pan statue, when I visited London for the first time. : ) Peter lives inside us, and he is the only one who could get the kiss on the corner of the lips. A lovely post.

  5. You have found some really, really wonderful illustrations - truly magical, and the James Coleman perhaps most of all. I am not sure that modern illustrators would be capable of doing pictures in quite this way, even though there are a few who come pretty close. I went to a church which had been Margaret Tarrant's local church and it had some gorgeous pictures in it - she had worshipped there regularly. Somewhere in Surrey, I think.

  6. Thank you for popping by. I so enjoyed reading this post and feasting on all your lovely imagery. Me thinks we are both on a journey to recapture that nostalgia of child hood. There is so little time for innocence left in the world we live in. Love the old buildings. Scotland is on my bucket list. Happy you found your Galleon.

  7. My comment I put yesterday disappeared. Snif : ( I was saying that Peter pan has been also my favourite story since I read it as a child. I agree, it is sad and sentimental. I think it was written for adults, who never forget their childhood. The kiss on the corner of the lips is something magical in the story. What a lovely post! I also took a long time to find Peter Pan in the Kensington Garden. And your hat is absolutely fab!

  8. Loved this post and finding your Galleon. The Houston ballet is presenting Peter Pan this month. Synchronicity!


  9. A beautiful post full of wonderful pictures. I have A Rackham's book of Peter Pan that my Grandfather gave me so the story of Peter Pan has always been magical to me. How luck to find the galleon.
    Sarah x

  10. I am so glad and happy that you found your galleon or your Galleon found you?
    off to visit re now and won't spend will just look!!!
    Daisy j xx

    Ps thank you for your lovely comment about my Mum on my post today...i am showing her all the comments via a link...they will lift thrill her immensely xx

  11. The galleon is just wonderful - well done for spotting it. Lovely to hear shared love of Ms Flora White - I am very lucky to own a copy of this book Peter Pan's ABC that I bought many, many years ago now from a junk shop. It is had a battered spine but as I look at it now I can see the price was only £5.50 and each and every illustration is a delight. I am rather partial to certain illustrators and one day I do a post on some of them that I have collected over the years - Katharine Cameron, Anne Anderson and all those early twentieth century designs are just wonderful.
    I may have to spend a little while rifling through some of my old books now!
    Best wishes


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