I’m back to attempting a more regular blog as I have had to stop working for awhile to look after my elderly uncle who is suffering from metastatic lung cancer. The bright spot of my mornings in these sad days has been reading my daughter Miranda‘s new venture with her friend Rachel at old fashioned girls, and I realised (again!) how much I missed blogging myself.
There has been a great deal of waiting around in hospitals and sitting up in the night, and I’ve been eagerly pulling out old favourite comfort reads. I love Molly Hughes’ marvellous series of memoirs that starts with A London Child of the 1870s. Adam Gopnik wrote brilliantly on their appeal in this article, but I’d forgotten her account of her mother Mary and her Aunt Tony’s life in mid 19th century Cornwall in Vivians (first published in 1935) which has a charm and sadness all of its own. The mystery of why Molly’s father was killed “crossing the railway at that odd station of Barnsbury”, as she is (wrongly) informed by the servants is eluded to, as well as her Aunt Tony’s tragic engagement, Molly’s mother’s rash first marriage and a much fuller picture given of the Cornish connection of the family.
The view to Carn Brea where Molly’s Grandfather Captain Vivian owned his tin mine
To say Molly came from a family of strong women is no exaggeration. The Vivian family home, essentially rebuilt by their father (owner of tin mines in the area) mid nineteenth century, Reskadinnick House, Cambourne is currently for sale. Although obviously very much altered and modernised, it’s fascinating to see the photos here. As long as Tony lived, Molly visited Reskadinnick regularly and brought her own children there for their summer holidays. Molly also describes in fascinating detail her own childhood visit to a Bazaar at nearby Tehidy House, the first of its kind where she helped out at a stall:
Various aunts had made special aprons for the girl sellers – all befrilled and embroidered, and endowed with pockets for putting the money in. There was a preliminary day for setting out the stall, as full of bustle and fun as decorating the church, with picnic meals. Molly was busy stuffing her bran-pie, and printing a card for it – 6d. a dip.
image from here