Friday, 26 August 2016

The Mermaid's House

“mermaids have no tears, and therefore they suffer more.”
Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid

As August drifts into September we in England have the last Bank Holiday of the year. It's an odd time, before school re-claims the children and after mid summer dreaming has left us feeling a little drowsy. Things seem to have slowed down and I know I am not alone in my thoughts turning toward the sea and longing for one last weekend there. Like fairy tales, I believe that no matter how old that we become we still love sandcastles and a part of us knows there amongst those rocks there is a Mermaid. 

Miranda, the Mermaid of Dartmouth
As a writer it is interesting which blog posts become your most popular and amongst mine there seems to be a balance between the Summer and the Autumn / Winter posts. The sea and the woodlands both have a strong pull for so many of us. 

Deer on Exmoor overlooking the sea
Late summer kindles many memories from my Californian upbringing when the months of heat had baked the Earth and the flora dry. That sun shone so brightly that the world was seen through a gauze of glinting silver and gold too bright to look directly at.  It was an odd combination of desert / prairie dust and winds and the ocean where we would retreat to cool ourselves and the palette of our visions down. It was easy to imagine that you glimpsed a Mermaid there just by the water's edge.

We foolishly tanned and wore our antique Navajo silver and turquoise jewellery into the sea. Our hair tangled with salt we would sit on the sand and dry ourselves singing along with our favourite songs like sirens.  I now realise that young girls will always dream of being Mermaids.

I am drawn to the mountains but also to the sea. I love the quality of light there and for awhile thought I might one day live in a cheerful cottage in some little village on one of England's pretty coasts.

But then I visited the wilder beaches in Norfolk, villages along the top of Exmoor, hidden coves in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and I saw the houses which sit precariously along the Bosphorus. There, in these places I found my true coastal calling.

Norfolk light
Durdle, Dorset
It's somewhere quiet, with less people, a little melancholy, where memories can dwell without being disturbed.

There the sea will not often be a tame one, it will command respect and play with you, battering the shores in great tempests before subsiding into shiny sequinned calm.  I will wrap up warmly for walks collecting shells and helping creatures which the sea has forsaken find their way home after the storm has gone.

My home is not a cottage. I live in The Mermaid's House, the old house by the sea which has a place in the heart of every ancient mariner who has ever loved the sea. 

For the Sea Captain who built this house fell in love with a Mermaid he found on the beach after a terrible tempest. Because he saved her life she gave up her deep ways to tend to him and the house he built for her. 

They shared a special love, they both knew that their first love, for each of them, was the sea. When he was away for long periods she was never far from the sea and it remained her real home. Over the years local people found her mysterious ways bewitching and many folk tales grew up around her.  Some say that she was not just a Mermaid, but a Sea Witch.

She had his daughter, together they gathered beautiful remnants from their beloved sea to adorn themselves and because he was a wealthy Sea Captain they could collect wondrous jewels and objects in the colours of their watery home to delight him when he returned from long journeys.

The Sea Captain's house they decorated in hues of blue and green and glints of silver and gold and their carefully collected objects drifted through and settled in all the rooms of the house.

William Morris 'Seaweed' wallpaper

Torquay Pottery Mermaid Jug

sea glass tiles
But alas, Sea Captains are not as long lived as Mermaids and when he lived no more they stayed on for awhile there alone. One night during a raging storm they disappeared and were n 'ever seen except by those who knew where to look for them.

a Tempest
People say that Neptune came to collect them and take them home and swear that on that night they saw great white horses pawing the ground outside of the house, and that upon the morn you could still see the hoof prints in the sand.
Walter Crane, Neptune's Horses

The Mermaid's House is spoken of in myriad tales, many is the place which has that name, but unless you have happened upon it yourself you will not know where that it is or exactly what that it looks like. It seems to have many guises, and do not become confused and believe that it is a Shell Cottage, for that is some other Mermaid dwelling entirely!

The Shell Cottage, Polperro
 and perhaps there was more than one Sea Captain who shared the love of the sea with a Mermaid.

Of course I know where The Mermaid's House is, because I live there. But I am not telling you.



  1. Too many people on the beaches in California. When I lived on Galveston Island on the Texas Gulf Coast, we stayed at home during the summer beach season. We hit the beach around Thanksgiving so we could have it all to ourselves. I'm now at the age that I am paying for all the time I spent in the sun ... ah, well. It was fun at the time! Love that you live in the mermaid's house. Another beautiful post.

  2. Oh come on, you can tell ME!
    Beautiful post!

  3. Such a beautiful post you have shared and gorgeous photos.
    You can't beat to spend the day at the seaside with the allure of the sea and sand.
    How wonderful that you live in the Mermaid house.
    Happy weekend

  4. I can well imagine you living in a Mermaid's House. This was an enchanting post and captured my imagination as few do anymore.
    I too am drawn to the sea. I was born on an island on the Atlantic Coast and will spend the rest of my days on an island on the Pacific. The tides comfort and challenge me. I spend a part of each sunrise beach-combing and end my days with a walk down along the shore. If the sea is in your blood you will always be drawn to it.

  5. What a gorgeous post - as your's always are! We just returned from our month by the sea on beautiful Cape Breton Island - truly magical...

  6. You don't have to tell me but you can come to the estuary if you like...

  7. What a lovely post and it is really so up my alley because i am a true Aquarius and love the sea and i also love mermaid stories.

  8. Beautiful, beautiful pictures, thank you for those! Mermaids are fascinating - I am always on the look-out for paintings, sculptures, fairy-tales. I even found a fashion-site where they offer a sort of mermaid-skirt! (Though I wouldn't buy that :-)

  9. You have woven lyrical words into a post for us, with great photos. I think the wooden houses are in Bebek, where I attended college for a year. I hope they are being preserved. I like the mystery of the unknown location where you live in the mermaid house.

  10. A lovely post and evocative photos. It must have been lovely to have been raised in CA on those beaches, before it got as crowded as it is now.

  11. What a beautiful, magical post.

  12. Thank you to everyone for visiting and leaving such lovely comments. Alas! I had to rush off on some travels and have not had the time to reply to you. But I read and truly appreciate every comment. I'm glad you al enjoyed the tale of The Mermaid's House. Where I dwell in the summer months of my imagination. One day maybe in real.


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