Back to Bude for more Stories

Posted on: 14th January 2022 No Comments

After our initial visit to Bude when we were bowled over by the welcome we received and with the uniquely beautiful local landscape, we couldn’t wait to go back up to North Cornwall to unearth some more stories.

In collaboration with the Bude Climate Partnership, we have been tasked with creating resources to help the community explore the area’s heritage, culture and environment, and understand the impacts of climate change here. We spent much time researching community initiatives and identifying contacts who might have stories to share and have since spent an inspiring and thought provoking few months with people in and around Bude.

We returned to the Sea Pool to interview Nicky and Billy, two regular swimmers and volunteers who hold this iconic spot very dear. They spoke passionately about how it had become a life saver for many people, especially during the pandemic – a place of comfort, consolation and connection. It became clear that the volunteers who care for the pool represented a shining beacon of a resilient and committed community, something we heard many times from other initiatives in our visits to Bude and which bodes well for the future.

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Time at the Sea Pool with Billy and Nicky

Sue Read, a local artist and another keen swimmer, has a life- long connection to Bude and her spirit is most definitely embedded in the local coastline where she creates her dramatic and colourful seascapes. Sat in her studio on the family farm, surrounded by her art, we heard about the changes she has witnessed to the coastline, her art, her love of nature, and her focus on the tiny details around her that bring balance into her life.

There’s a quiet food revolution emerging in Bude so it was exciting to talk with Alex and visit his vibrant Electric Bakery. Alex is at the forefront of a movement to address food security in the area with his 3-mile loaf using grain grown, milled, baked and sold within 3 miles. He has created another supportive and committed community around his enterprise and is exploring healthier and more sustainable ways of eating. If you are ever in Bude you must drop by and sample his sourdough… sublime!

We wanted a young person’s voice to be part of our collection and provide a starting point for intergenerational conversations about the future, the value of nature and climate anxiety. We were very excited when we were passed Lochy’s details, and when it came to interviewing him, we were absolutely blown away. Lochy, a 16 year old local surfer, spoke eloquently and honestly about how it feels to be young in Bude and the worries that his generation are feeling about their futures. At this time of uncertainty Lochy shared how he interacts with the natural world around him to maintain his wellbeing and what small acts he is undertaking to make a difference in the world. A truly inspiring young man!

As the climate continues to change, we are becoming more vunerable to flood events and protecting Bude from floods is an ongoing challenge. As well as remembering past flooding such as those that hit Bude in 1993, Simon has spent many years, as he puts it, “looking into rivers” through his work with the Westcountry Rivers Trust. Perched by the river Strat, we were infected by Simon’s passion for the local landscape, rivers and measuring things! Learning about the things people can do to help improve our landscape, soil and reduce flooding, both big and small, left us feeling hopeful.

On our visits to Bude we were keenly aware of the diversity of the landscape that surrounded the town. Walking along the canal with Hilary, we learnt about the myriad of individual ecosystems existing here, ranging from salt marshes, to rockpools to woodland to sand dunes. Hilary has spent her life absorbed in the natural world and as a fantastic wildlife photographer, was only too happy to contribute some of her wonderful photographs to the project. Never before have we been so spoilt for choice for images to accompany a digital story!

As Summer turned to Autumn we were delighted to be invited to Jan’s home and witness his light touch way of living on the planet. With a life-long commitment to reuse and repurpose he has created a beautiful home from what most people would normally throw away, heating it with renewable energy as well as nurturing the natural world around him. We might not all be able to aspire to these heights of self sufficiency, but listening to Jan certainly made us think about how we live and left us feeling inspired.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who shared with us and made us so welcome. Bude’s a very special place and we’ve loved getting to know it better through the stories of those who know it best.

We are now putting the finishing touches to these digital stories and accompanying resources, which we’re looking forward to delivering to Bude to share far and wide. By building a better understanding of our past, we can encourage and develop new thoughts about our future. The more we understand what we are facing and talk it through with each other, the more we will feel empowered to take the actions necessary to futureproof thriving, resilient communities and a healthier planet for everyone.

Gwelen Podcasts – The Sea from Land in Mounts Bay

Posted on: 11th January 2022 No Comments

As you move around the coastline of Mounts Bay, your view of the Mount and bay shifts. As the weather and the seasons change, it shifts even more. Some views, such as coming along the A30 through Crowlas when the Mount suddenly appears, are treasured by many… the sign of “Ah we’re home”. And some are more private- the sit spots, the hidden coves and the less trodden routes still frequented by locals. Through the ‘Perspectives of Mounts Bay- The Sea from Land’ podcast, we wanted to explore different experiences of living and working on the land that surrounds Mounts Bay.

It was a treat to sit in the scorching sun in a field overlooking the Bay at Trevean and hear from farmer Andrew Thomas, who knows this land intimately. It may have been beautiful on the day we recorded, and many would agree that his view is one to be envied, however the bay also brings challenges. It was interesting to learn about what makes farming here unique and consider the history of this landscape which was once forest.

Someone who knows the bay from a different perspective was the wonderful poet and recently retired bus driver Gray Lightfoot. We loved hearing some of his experiences and poems inspired from his time in the cab of a bus driving around Mounts Bay.

Walking along the beach near Marazion we came across the fascinating Connie, who happened to be walking her dog and cat, whilst picking up plastic. Connie’s love and care for this place has led her to becoming involved with different local charities such as the Marine Stranding Network, as well as her regular beach cleans. She talked passionately about the wildlife that she encounters and her mission to educate as many people about the dangers of plastic pollution in our seas and on our shorelines. She also shared snippets of folklore from the bay that she had grown up with.

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Sarah recording Rachel Lambert

Tucking ourselves away behind a sea wall for shade with local forager Rachel Lambert, we have the beach to ourselves. Calls from the seabirds punctuate our conversation and it’s fascinating to learn more about what might have been foraged in the forest that once dominated the Bay and how this would have sustained the local folk.

Heading for higher ground, we spent time in the NCI watch station in Penzance with the delightful Bobbie. Run by volunteers like Bobbie, the NCI plays an important role in keeping eyes on the coast and calling in incidents to the coastguard. It was interesting to hear what it’s like to volunteer here and listen to stories from the tower.

Another person we found sitting and watching the coast, this time purely for leisure, was the lovely Graham. On his regular walks along the prom in Penzance, Graham notices things. He reminds us how important it is to simply sit and be in the moment, to watch and to appreciate what’s on our doorstep. Talented poet Sonja, a member of Cobnuts poetry group, shares her poem ‘A Note to Self’ along the same theme.

Whilst Mounts Bay is undoubtably a special place, living and working here also brings its challenges such as the reality of fragile housing and the continual rise of second homes, clogged roads and pockets of poverty. We felt it was important to share some of these in this podcast.

Again we hear from the brilliant Dr.Jo Esra , this time focusing on tales from the rich heritage of smuggling along this coast. Her sheer enthusiasm and passion for her subject will keep you captivated and we could have had a whole podcast dedicated to her research into maritime history in this area.

A massive thank you to everyone who has shared with us for this podcast. It’s been a privilege to hear your stories. The music in this podcast was Gelasma composed by Robin Holmes, played by Jypsonian. If you enjoyed Gray Lightfoot’s poems then you can visit his website. Rachel Lambert is a Wild Food tutor, forager, and award-winning author. There will be more from Rachel Lambert on foraging and Connie on local sea life in later podcasts.

The full series of podcasts will be made available through the Newlyn Art Gallery website as well as other podcasting platforms.

The podcasts are part of the project led by artist Emma Smith, commissioned by Cornwall Council. The artwork is part of the EXPERIENCE project which promotes experiential tourism and sustainable economic growth during October to March. The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme under the Natural and Cultural Heritage funding category.

Gwelen Podcasts – In, On and Under the Sea in Mounts Bay

Posted on: 11th December 2021 No Comments

For some, the sea in Mounts Bay calls to them. This pull to be in or under the sea has been felt by many and was something we wanted to explore for the ‘Perspectives of Mounts Bay- In, On and Under the Sea’ podcast.

We were thrilled to hear from intrepid diver James Wheeler, who after being thrown into Newlyn Harbour as a small child and told to swim, found a deep love and fascination for what lay beneath the surface in Mounts Bay. Through snorkelling and then diving, James found a different world under the water, diving as far as 40 feet as a teenager in the 1960’s, wearing only a wool jumper in an attempt to keep warm! Becoming an early member of the Penzance Sub Aqua Club, James got more and more adventurous and we were on the edge of our seats as we listened to his intrepid and risky tales of diving off wrecks and reefs in Mounts Bay.

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Recording with Emily Nixon by Battery Rocks

By Battery Rocks we found the remarkable Sam, who found himself at the end of the line in Penzance with no home, but has found healing, community and belonging here, through year-round swimming. We also spent time withthe talented Emily Nixon, who makes stunning jewellery inspired by what she finds on the coastline here. More and more people are finding healing and inspiration from immersing themselves in cold water, and listening, we certainly felt more compelled to swim all year round.

In Porthleven, we sat listening to the Cornish choughs and watching a calm ocean with Tom Chambers, who recalls his childhood memories growing up here and his father teaching him to fish. We peek at his father’s precious notebook, containing information on the fishing marks that informed where they put their lobster pots. Still heavily prized and guarded by his 92 year old father, who still makes a traditional withy pot each year, it was fascinating to hear the names of marks and hear about older ways of fishing.

Of course, the sea also has many dangers, with some going to sea and not coming back. The fabulous Dr.Jo Esra talked about these dangers by sharing tales from her husband who fished here and stories of piracy in the bay. A Maritime Historian with a love of Mounts Bay, Jo’s enthusiasm for local history was truly infectious.


We also heard from the lovely Lynne, who found her community on the water, gig rowing from Newlyn. Lynne talks passionately about the history, joys and challenges of gig rowing and we loved her description of the “amazing machine of women” she rows with. One of these women is the brilliant Anna Maria Murphy, who was kind enough to share one of her poems with us, capturing the team’s experiences of being out on the water.

Ciaran, who did the sound design for these podcasts, was lucky enough to be invited on the women’s gig boat, recording some wonderful sounds of the rhythmic clunk of oars. It was a pleasure to work with Ciaran on these podcasts, and we love how he has woven ambient sounds from around the bay into the stories.

Recording Jypsonyon

The podcasts were also accompanied by music from Jypsonian, an accordion and fiddle duo who explore their shared cultural background through music and folklore. Meeting Garry and Grace in some abandoned mine works, we managed to record a series of local songs, including the Fisherman’s Reel, which we have woven into this podcast.

A massive thank you to everyone who has shared with us for this podcast. It’s been a privilege to hear your stories. If you enjoyed hearing James Wheeler’s diving experiences then you’ll be pleased to hear he has produced his own series of podcasts called Aquanaut, chronicling his adventures diving off the Cornish coast in the 1960’s and later as a semi professional salvage diver. You can also follow Sam Main’s journey on his facebook and Instagram account. We’ll hearing more from Tom on fishing marks, Dr Jo Esra on Maritime History and Stephen on the Mount in later podcasts.

The full series of podcasts will be made available through the Newlyn Art Gallery website as well as other podcasting platforms.

The podcasts are part of the project led by artist Emma Smith, commissioned by Cornwall Council. The artwork is part of the EXPERIENCE project which promotes experiential tourism and sustainable economic growth during October to March. The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme under the Natural and Cultural Heritage funding category.

Gwelan Podcasts- Exploring Mounts Bay

Posted on: 11th October 2021 No Comments

Sarah recording Rachel Lambert

This Summer Storylines were invited to collect memories and reflections about Mounts Bay to feed a series of podcasts to accompany Gwelen, a new artwork by award winning artist Emma Smith and residents of West Penwith.

Having been born in Penzance and brought up in Mounts Bay, Storylines Sarah in particular, was excited to have an opportunity to delve even deeper into a place already close to her heart. Here are her own reflections on this special place.

“When I reflect back over my lifetime, I realise that Mounts Bay was the backdrop to so many memories. From travelling by bus to school in Penzance, night-time swimming off battery rocks, gathering bruises whilst sailing off Marazion, exploring smuggling caves with a torch and the dog, getting married amongst the early daffodils and spending many hours in all winds and weathers walking the coastline.”

After hearing about the concept behind Emma’s artwork, which is inspired by Cornwall’s largest submerged forest that sits in the bay, we were eager to uncover different perspectives of Mounts Bay, as well as exploring its unique geology, ecology, history and culture.

Sat on the Mount recording

We began by exploring two different perspectives of Mounts Bay- from ‘In, On and Under the Sea’ and ‘from the Land’. There are thousands of different perspectives we could have gathered, but as we only had a short period of time to work on this project, we set out with our recording kit to gather as many different voices as possible. We also delved into the myths, language and legends associated with the bay.

Sat along the coastline, with varying views of the Mount, it was a real treat to be able to spend time listening and recording people’s stories and reflections. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed their time and stories, and to Emma for getting us involved in such a fascinating project. We hope you enjoy listening to the podcasts and you can read about some of our experience of the project over forthcoming blog posts.

The podcasts are part of the project led by artist Emma Smith, commissioned by Cornwall Council. The artwork is part of the EXPERIENCE project which promotes experiential tourism and sustainable economic growth during October to March. The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme under the Natural and Cultural Heritage funding category.

The Pull of the Sea- Digital Stories

Posted on: 10th August 2021 No Comments

With thanks to a commission from Cornwall 365, we’ve recently had the joy of making a series of digital stories that explore our relationship with the sea. This is a huge subject with people relating to the sea in so many ways, so this commission was very much like dipping a toe in a vast ocean of stories. Working with 4 fabulous women who find solace, joy and connection in the sea, we ended up making 4 digital stories.

Swimming in the sea has always been part of Cornish culture, with people developing their own unique routines and rituals around swimming. This digital story shares the personal experiences of 4 women, of different ages, who are all drawn to swim in the sea.

Benenes an Mor - Women of the Sea | Storylines

What a joy it was to spend time with Gemma on a beach in Swampool! This digital story shares Gemma’s passion for swimming and her experience of setting up ‘She Swims’ during the pandemic. She Swims is a group that helps people connect with others and swim in a supportive and safe way. The past year has highlighted to us all the increasing need for mental health support in Cornwall and many people have been seeking solace in the sea. As people come together to brave the cold ocean, connections are made, experiences are shared and troubles are eased. Gemma’s story highlights how new communities are formed and our culture in turn evolves.

She Swims - Storylines

Living by the sea infiltrates many aspect of daily life. This is particularly true for the lovely Tricia, who is forever grateful to have the sea on her doorstep, but also grapples with how this might change as she gets older.

Tricia's Story - Storylines

Joy, now 90, learnt to swim in Sennen at the age of 9. This digital story shares some of her memories of time spent on and in the sea. Whether on a boat as a Sea Ranger, lancing for bait behind her father or in Newlyn Harbour for the annual sports day, Joy’s love for the water has played a large part in her life.

Joy's Story - Storylines

These digital stories were commissioned by Cornwall 365, thanks to funding from Arts Council England Culture Recovery Fund, and Cornwall Council Creative Cornwall Calling.

Our adventure in Bude begins…

Posted on: 8th July 2021 No Comments

Last Friday Storylines had the privilege of visiting Bude, a first for all of us. The visit will be the first of many as we embark on a new and exciting project with the Bude Climate Partnership to capture  memories and reflections that explore the heritage, culture and environment of the Bude area.

We met under a beautiful blue sky in Crooklets carpark, with much anticipation for the day ahead. We’d arranged to meet Vicko, otherwise known as Mr. Bude. So set off to the Surf Life Saving Club in search of a man in a kilt. As you can imagine there are not too many men hanging around in kilts, but even without the kilt Vicko was unmissable. It was such a treat to spend time with Vicko, hearing all sorts of wonderful tales about Bude, past and present and learning about its vibrant community.

It turns out it was not just a big day for us, as lady luck would have it, the final stage of a transatlantic cable was being buried on the beach that very same day! The cacophony of noise from the heavy machinery would present a headache to the most able of sound technicians. Thankfully, we were able to use Vickos beach hut to shield some of the noise, with us just outside to keep everyone safe in these strange Covid times.

We also had the pleasure of being warmly welcomed into Bude Sea Pool, gaining some insight from the wonderful employees there of the Sea pools near demise, and impressive rescue by the community. Which now means that the Sea pool is open all year round and is free to use for everyone, relying on donations and a raft of dedicated volunteers.

In the afternoon in our excitement to meet some people from the Repair Café, we found ourselves on an accidental bear hunt. What had looked like a relatively straight forward walk turned into a trapse across the golf-course, through scrubland and barbed wire, woodland and long grasses…. But what better way to get to know a place than through getting lost!

It was well worth the sweat we had worked up. Eilidh’s community spirit and passion for the environment that led her to set up the Repair Café was so inspiring. Providing an invaluable community service and meet-up space, that is purely donation based, and even includes Eilidh’s notorious cakes. We also spoke to Mike, who gives up his free time to come and fix anything electrical that people bring in for him, hearing about the friendships he has formed and what he gets from the experience. We then spoke to John, a regular visitor to the café, who is the proud owner of many items that would normally have ended up in landfill, that are now back-up and fully functioning thanks to the Repair Café.

Needless to say, our first trip to Bude far exceeded our expectations, with such a warm welcome, we were literally tripping over interesting stories and people everywhere, and cannot wait to get back and follow these up. A very exciting start to a very exciting project, which will see us make a series of digital stories that will form the heart of innovative resources. The aim of these resources is to help KS3 children and the wider community think about what’s important to the community, learn about the positive things that are already happening locally and consider how climate change might affect the area.

Clay Country Kemeneth book

Posted on: 9th April 2021 3 Comments

Clay Country Kemeneth book 2021

We’ve absolutely loved receiving people’s memories and reflections of the Clay Country Kemeneth (community), contributed through the story-sharing packs we sent out last year, and have now finished putting together this special community book. These books have been posted out to everyone who contributed and we have been delighted to hear how well received these have been. Contributors have been proud to see their stories in print, joyed by the stories of others and reminded of more of their own memories.

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As this is our first book, it’s been a really good learning curve for Storylines and another thing we can now confidently incorporate into future projects. Thank you again to everyone who shared with us and to Feast and the Big Lottery Fund for funding this project.

If you would like to buy a copy then visit Wheal Martyn Museum shop or the Spyrys a Gernow website. 

Malcolm’s Memories on the Longships Lighthouse & Sennen

Posted on: 7th February 2021 No Comments

Longships Lighthouse- Malcolm's Memories

We sure have missed sitting down with people to record their memories, but what a delight it was to spend time listening to Malcolm’s childhood spent living on various lighthouses and his fathers stint on the Longships Lighthouse off Lands End. Combining some of this conversation with some of Malcolm’s photos we’ve put together this digital story to share this fascinating insight into a very different way of life.

Sennen School Stop Motion film

Posted on: 27th January 2021 No Comments

Sennen School Kemeneth

We thought it would be nice to make a little film to share some of the children’s responses to the Kemeneth project packs we delivered to Sennen School in winter 2020. We’ve loved going through children’s responses and it’s been brilliant to be able to collaborate with PK Porthcurno and learn more about the local history of the cables at Porthcurno and Sennen.

This project was funded by Feast and the National Lottery Fund.

Children Consider Kindness and Communication

Posted on: 14th January 2021 No Comments

Laying the cable in Sennen

It’s not that long ago that people communicated via telegram to countries around the world via submarine cables that landed in at Porthcurno and Sennen that would revolutionise global communication. It’s staggering to think about how fast our means of communication have changed and the perfect time to reflect on this as the pandemic forces us to find new ways of connecting.

These changes were one of the themes that children at Sennen School explored as part of our collaborative project with PK Porthcurno. Delving into their local history, children learned about the laying of the cable into Sennen, constructing stories that imagined what this event must have been like through creative writing and weaving words along colourful wool cables.

Messenger Boy

Of course, telegrams still needed delivering, which is where the Messenger Boys and Girls came in. Dressed in smart uniforms and often straddling a bicycle, these Messengers delivered the telegrams to people’s homes. For this project children became Messengers themselves, writing telegrams and thank you letters to family members, friends and the community.

As part of the project children also explored the theme of kindness, writing and drawing on cheerful yellow parcel labels to share their stories. It’s been heart-warming to read about the gestures that children recognise as kindness, as well as read their thank you letters. It’s so important to take stock of what we’re thankful for and what kindness we have been shown, especially right now.

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If you’d like to share with us your stories of kindness or community, we’d love to hear from you by post or email on

Thank you to PK Porthcurno, staff and children at Sennen School and to Feast and the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund who helped fund the wider Kemeneth Project.