Everyone likes getting post, and this week I was very excited to receive 2 hand-written stories by Joy Micallef, who I met at the Memory Day at Helston Museum earlier this year. Joy, who came to Cornwall as a Land Girl in the war, has a fascinating story of her own (which I will publish soon) and now lives in Coverack. To start with, here is a brilliant story, written by Joy, about Harry Skewes’ memories of growing up on Chiverton Farm in Resudgeon.
Harry was 8 years old, and the eldest of a family of three, with 2 younger sisters. He was a quiet little boy and always willing to help his father, doing many little jobs that had to be done on the farm where they lived.
In the school holidays he loved to walk down to Prussia Cove where his Grandmother lived in a house called ‘Sea View.’ She called him her “pigeon-golden-treasure,” and there was always Cornish Heavy cake straight from the oven, and jam tarts on the table.
Harry often stayed overnight, and joined the fishermen in the early morning, helping them to unload the night’s catch. Sometimes they took him out on the boat when the weather was fine. They frequently saw dolphins, and sometimes a seal would bob up un-expectantly and he thought how grand it would be to have a boat of his own one day. He would catch a lot of fish for his Granny, and she would cook them, and they would eat them for supper. How pleased she would be!
One particular morning he wandered down the path that led to the beach, stooping down at times to poke his finger in the hole that a lizard disappeared into. Not that he even caught one, but he did find coloured little stones, or sometimes nice shells buried in the wall. He put the best ones in his pocket to take home.
It was so quiet. The little waves were lapping on the beach, and a few seagulls were crying and swooping overhead. He liked having the cove to himself, and he sat down behind a rock and watched the early sun creep up over the little rock- which became an island when the tide came in.
Suddenly he heard footsteps on the path from Cliff Cottage. He knew somebody lived there but had never seen anyone before… The cottage looked as though it had been built into the cliff, and he could see parts of it through the tamarisk hedge.
A little green gate closed with a squeak and a tall lady with dark hair, wrapped in a brightly coloured towel, appeared and made her way down to the sea.
Harry bobbed quickly back behind the rock- he didn’t know quite why- but in a moment his curiosity overcame him, and he peeped again. By this time the lady had reached the edge of the sand, and she glanced briefly around before slipping the towel to the ground.
Harry then bobbed back behind the rock like a thunderbolt. She was quite naked! And very white. He couldn’t believe his eyes, which by this time were very wide open.
There was a big splash (she was a large lady) and she thrashed through the water like a white whale. Harry froze. He’s seen his little sisters in the bath at night- but this was quite different.
He never told anyone about his experience but in good time he figured it out……!
A big thanks to Joy for sending over this story and another thanks to Carol Lawrence for helping Joy get this to me.