“mermaids have no tears, and therefore they suffer more.”
― Hans Christian Andersen,
― Hans Christian Andersen,
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|
|Deer on Exmoor overlooking the sea|
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.
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.
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|
|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|
Of course I know where The Mermaid's House is, because I live there. But I am not telling you.