I spent two weeks on a writing residency here just before Christmas, awarded to me by Brisons Veor Trust. The house was given to the Trust by Tracy O’Kates exclusively for artists of all kinds and you can apply for a period of time. It is the most inspiring and curious place if you like wildness, being alone, darkness, winter storms, lighthouses, waves and more waves. for a fortnight I ate, drank, slept waves.
The word Veor, I learned means Great in Cornish and as this was the last house on the promontory that is Cape Cornwall and looks out on to the Brisons, two huge rocks at the tip of the Cape it seemed very aptly named.
On arrival I won’t ever forget the breath-stopping moment at the immensity of the sea and the huge headland (there was a big storm brewing up). In my journal I see that on Dec 12th I wrote, I am stumped by this sea and on the 13th that it was a dizzy-making cacophony. On another I used the word delirious and catacombs of the sea. Later I wrote there are ghosts everywhere.
I was aiming to write poems for my endangered species pamphlet and was worried that in December I would find few, but in fact I found several and watched them every day. I looked and looked deeper and deeper into the rock pools and found beautiful snake lock anemones, blennies, jewelled beadlet anemones, tiny fish and shrimp. I couldn’t understand how they all survive when the high tide waves lash their little worlds to smithereens. Tiny, quiet lenses, brushed by wind but then stirred up, scoured out by lashing waves. How do they keep their lives within?
The more I looked the more I found. In fact, I began to question everything I saw because however much I thought I had the measure of something, I learned there was always more to find out. I went to Cornwall Sequest event in St Ives and saw porpoises, adult seal, a young seal and a Great Northern Diver. What I began to feel was that the quality of my looking was never enough. I became deeply interested in the geology of this coast and in the mines that riddle the cliffs, the lives of the miners and their families.
I spent a lot of time being mesmerised by waves and some more time worrying that whatever I wrote wasn’t good enough for me to deserve the privilege of spending two whole weeks of my life there. The chance to do what I love most…being out and about in all weathers and having no appointments, specific times to do things was a delight. When I left I knew this place would never leave me and that the writing space it gave me would always need to be factored in to my life. Since coming home I have dreamed of the sea every night.
But look I did do some work:
I thank Brisons Veor Trust from the bottom of my heart and also the kindly people of the Coast Watch who gave me lots of information about lighthouses, shipping lanes and the mines.
“You only die when the tide is out and you’re only born, properly born, when the tide is in.” Mr Peggotty in David Copperfield. I think both happened to me in the two weeks.