Tag Archives: united kingdom

Discover Cornwall, England

At the southwestern tip of England lies a sea-surrounded county called Cornwall. Lined with coastal towns and cliffs, this small yet beautiful corner of the United Kingdom provides the setting for PBS Masterpiece’s latest hit, Poldark. As is often the case with my ritual (some might say addictive) viewing of BBC and Masterpiece, I have become a little bit obsessed with my newly discovered English countryside. Although I have yet to watch Poldark, I’m looking forward to it soon, so I’ve been doing my research. The result: Cornwall has been added to a very lengthy list of places I need to visit in the faraway land of England.

Gunwalloe Church Cove

Gunwalloe Church Cove, Cornwall ~ image by Tim Green via Flickr

This view of Church Cove in Gunwalloe, Cornwall has the romantic tangling of open ocean and vivid green cliffs that I associate with the English coastline. This beach on the Lizard Peninsula was used in filming Poldark.

The rolling hills of Boscastle, Cornwall image by JUweL via Wikimedia Commons

The harbour town of Boscastle was once a home for Thomas Hardy. Not only did the landscape inspire some of Hardy’s literary endeavors, but Hardy also met his first wife here, according to cornwall-online.co.uk.

Idyllic seaside village of Mousehole, Cornwall ~ image via Wikimedia Commons

Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, called Mousehole “the loveliest village in England.” And one can see why: the small harbor filled to the brim with fishing boats, the village houses arcing the water and spreading up the hill. It looks like a lovely Saturday afternoon spot.

Cape Cornwall ~ image by Judithili via Wikimedia Commons

This piece of land looks almost like it is floating on the Atlantic. Cape Cornwall looks peaceful in this photo, but I imagine it could be a dangerous place in a wild sea storm.

Land’s End, Cornwall ~ image via Wikimedia Commons

Land’s End seems to be just that: as far as you can go southwest in England. I would love taking a rambling hike along this coastline.

Chun Quoit, Cornwall ~ image by Jim Champion via Wikimedia Commons

These ancient stones were built as a Neolithic tomb. The dolmen of Chun Quoit is evidence of the long and eventful history of England. It must be amazing to witness that connection across thousands of years.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall ~ image by Maniple via Wikimedia Commons

Tintagel Castle looks like it has emerged straight from the mythical past. Indeed, legend has it that King Arthur of the Round Table was conceived at this location, prior to the construction of the castle.

Lands End Cliffs

Land’s End, Cornwall ~ image by Chris Combe via Flickr

Like other English places, Cornwallt has that magical mix of historical significance and natural beauty. You could spend days hiking the cliffs, swimming at the beaches, and exploring the quaint villages. Maybe someday I’ll do just that.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of Cornwall. Stay tuned for a review coming soon of Poldark!

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Interview with Peggy Seymour from The Mymble’s Daughter

Around the time of my birthday this year, I received a bubble-wrap envelope in the mail. What made this bubble-wrap envelope more than ordinary was the lovely postmark that read “United Kingdom”. I knew it was from a very good friend of mine who knows me better than most anyone and who always sends me the best of birthday presents. Excited and curious to see what piece of England would be hidden inside the envelope, I opened it to discover a beautiful necklace depicting one of my favorite characters from Alice in Wonderland: The Gryphon. I loved the necklace so much, I had to look up where it came from.

the Gryphon necklace ~ photo by Rose West

Let me introduce you to Peggy Seymour from The Mymble’s Daughter, known on Etsy as adorapop. Peggy, master jeweler and artist extraordinaire, is based in Wales, though she’s actually from London. Her profile on Etsy talks of dragons and castles, leading me to believe that I’ve found something of a kindred spirit across the pond. A brief glance at her Etsy shop reveals that Peggy puts her heart into her work, creating beautiful and unique necklaces, pendants, sketches, and more. A little Victorian, a little steampunk, and a little fairytale, The Mymble’s Daughter has it all! There is a wide selection of jewelry, with themes from Alice in Wonderland to Charles Dickens to the Royal Wedding. The Signature Collection features jewelry depicting the birds that Peggy is so inspired by. She also sells a collection of beautiful bird sketches. You won’t want to miss checking out The Mymble’s Daughter – there’s sure to be something to catch your eye, either for yourself or for a gift for a friend.

Peggy graciously agreed to an interview, and I am pleased to be able to share with you.

The Interview

Rose West: Where do you find your inspiration when creating new jewelry?

Peggy Seymour: Anywhere and everywhere. Most often I’ll just be reading, or watching a film and inspiration just pops into my head. I am most inspired by birds and Victoriana so I try to surround myself with as much of these things as possible.

Red Riding Hood necklace ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: Is there a story behind your name, Mymble’s Daughter?

PS: It’s a mistranslation of a character’s name from one of the Moomin books written by Tove Jansson. Her name is Mymlan in the original Swedish but somehow she ended up as the Mymble’s Daughter in one of the English translations and I’ve always loved the name.

gold-plated Thaumatrope Steampunk necklace ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: What is your most popular item or collection on Etsy?

PS: I think it’s got to be either the Thaumatrope necklace or the Decision Maker necklaces. I guess it’s because they go with just about any outfit and they’re fun to play with. My most popular pendants are the ones with cats on them. Who doesn’t love cats?

sterling silver Decision Maker necklace ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: I love your charming sketches of British birds. How has art affected your life?

PS: I’m so glad you like them! I had a bad art college experience which wrecked art for me for many years but I am just now starting to draw and paint again. I find it very soothing. Birds are my favourite subjects at the moment as they have such personality. Art is incredibly important to me and I’m so glad to have it back. I missed it!

Dunnock and Goldcrest print from Field Notes on British Birds ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: Do you do much business with Americans?

PS: Oh, so much! I’d say at least three quarters of my etsy customers are American and I would be lost without them.

Royal Wedding Special Edition Necklaces ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: I see from your profile on Etsy that you are originally from London but now live in Wales. Which is your favorite place to be?

PS: That’s quite a tricky question. I love Wales very much and have been coming here ever since I was a tiny child. It’s beautiful here and I have a quality of life I just wouldn’t be able to find in London at the moment. However, I think London will always be my favourite place to be and I don’t feel quite myself except when I am there. It’s home.

The Bird and the Empty Cage Bobby Pins ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: What are your favorite places to visit in London?

PS: I realise this may make me sound a little strange but I love the old Victorian cemeteries like Highgate Cemetery and Brompton cemetery (where they filmed some of the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film). There is also the most wonderful little toy museum called ‘Pollocks Toy Museum’ which I insist everyone must go to if they visit London. Oh, and ‘Liberty of London’ is a must.

Pirate Princess Locket ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: So does everyone in Wales really live in castles?

PS: Of course! Well, I do anyway :)

Marie Antoinette Masquerade Brooch ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: I confess, one of my goals in life is to learn how to ride a dragon. Do you think you could hook me up?

PS: If you’re ever in the area I’m sure we could work something out.

Steampunk Necklace Number VI ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

RW: This might seem like a strange question, but I need to know: What does Marmite really taste like?

PS: Hehe. It tastes a bit like thick soy sauce, I guess. Very savoury. I love it but I never know what to put it on. The Danish actually banned in a few weeks ago! Something about it being too salty. Weird.

image courtesy Peggy Seymour

Thank you ever so much for taking time to talk with us, Peggy! It’s been such a pleasure!

Be sure to check out The Mymble’s Daughter on Etsy!

Charles Dickens Quote Pendant ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

Edgar Allan Poe Cufflinks ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

Alice in Wonderland bracelet ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

Old House by the Thames bookplates ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

gold-plated lapel pin ~ image courtesy Peggy Seymour

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The Tower of London

The midnight waters of the Thames washing up the sides of the wooden boat and the steady beat of the oars is all that you hear in the darkness. A half-eaten moon and a handful of stars glimmer from too far away. You can see the darkness of the sky and the deeper darkness of stone-walled buildings that line the river. With hollow steps you find yourself out of the boat and on the landing, holding your now dirtied skirts with a ringless hand. One glance over your shoulder, and the stars disappear as you find yourself inside the hole that shudders darkly in the night. You are trapped in the Tower of London.

The Tower of London ~ image courtesy Kjetil Bjørnsrud via Wikimedia Commons

Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress

The Tower of London is more that just a tower – in reality, it is a full-sized castle, holding its historical stance on the banks of the Thames. For some reason, I always imagine the Tower in its darkest moments, when royal beheadings and imprisonments were commonplace, when its walls resounded with the cries of its victims: A young Elizabeth I with her disheveled red hair, passing the endless days of her imprisonment reading Latin books by a tiny window. Lady Jane, the nine-days-queen, wondering if she had been right after all in taking the throne. Mary of the Scots, fuming with anger at her cousin that she couldn’t manage to kill. Edward and Richard, the two little princes who disappeared and were found two hundred years later, buried under the staircase. Anne Boleyn, murdered because she didn’t have a son.

"The Princes in the Tower" by John Everett Millais

The passages and corridors are haunted, they say. The murdered and martyred are said to still walk the dank and damp stone floors.

In the Tower of London, large as life,

The ghost of Anne Boleyn walks, they declare.

For Anne Boleyn was once King Henry’s wife,

Until he had the headsman bob her hair.

Oh, yes, he did her wrong long years ago,

And she comes back at night to tell him so.

With her ‘ead tucked underneath her arm,

She walks the bloody Tower,

With her ‘ead tucked underneath her arm,

At the midnight hour.

~ from “With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm” by R.P. Weston and Bert Lee

Despite the bloody history of the Tower of London, its original purpose was not to be a prison only. William the Conqueror built the White Tower in 1078, and the royal family called the palace their home for hundreds of years. In its thousand years of history, the Tower of London has been used as an armoury, a fortress, and even the Royal Mint. For over six hundred years, the Tower was home to the Royal Menagerie, a collection of exotic animals such as tigers, bears, cheetahs, and elephants. During the reign of James I (1603-1625), some of the animals were made to compete in coliseum-type fights called baiting. The animals were eventually given to the London Zoo, and now the only captives in the Tower are the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which have been kept safe in the fortress ever since 1303.

The Crown Jewels ~ image courtesy Joseph Echeverria via Flickr

Today, the Tower of London is mostly a tourist attraction, and for about 20£ you can  see with your own eyes the White Tower, the Jewel House, the armor collection, and the Tower Green where Anne Boleyn was beheaded.

The White Tower ~ image courtesy Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons

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