Vyvyen Brendon book-signing in the Breakwater Brasserie


Book-Signing in the Breakwater Brasserie

Many thanks to Rupert, Chris and Kelly for making all the arrangements for my book signing at the Falcon on 4 September. Cornish rain meant that we had to do it in the Breakwater Brasserie rather than on the terrace, as planned. But it was a pleasure to sit in the freshly furnished wine bar opposite a wall featuring Uwe Ackermann’s brilliant  photograph of the breakwater (above) which for nearly 200 years has protected ships as they enter or leave Bude harbour.

The Ceres leaving Bude harbour. This trading vessel is the subject of a forthcoming immersive exhibition at the Castle Museum. See museum website for details.

Piers and Vyvyen Brendon and grandchildren, Lucas and Eliza, who relish the breakwater come rain or shine.

Local Faces and Friggin Riggin

It was also a great pleasure to welcome and sign books for such well-known Bude residents as Karen Gregory, Past President of the Inner Wheel and Tim Browning, who did so much to modernise the Falcon.

Tim’s presence reminded me of a time when it was still possible to  listen to choirs, as we did last year in the Coachman’s Bar when he played his accordion and sang with the Friggin Riggin group.

Two of their sea shanties resonate particularly with characters in my book. I think of my great-grandfather, Captain Charles Davis ‘Bound for South Australia’ on a clipper ship, of Marine  George King sailing into the Cove of Cork to visit the ‘old home’ he had shared with his late wife, or of Captain Charles Barlow who longed throughout his maritime career to be ‘Home from the Sea’.

Morwenstow Church

On nearly every visit to Bude we go to Morwenstow Church and to the cliff-top hut built by its Victorian parson, Robert Stephen Hawker, a biography of whom Piers published in 1975. We have told our sons and grandchildren about Hawker sitting in the hut to watch out for the shipwrecks which were so common on the rocky north Cornish coast – and also for mermaids. We would explain that he buried the sailors whose bodies were washed ashore. And then we would point out the figurehead of the Caledonia, marking the grave of that ship’s captain and crew. In later years these walks have helped to stimulate my own interest in the experience of sailors in those perilous times.

Vyvyen with George and Oliver Brendon, 1976

So, I was delighted to sign a book for Jill Wellby, who has lived for over thirty years in the vicarage built by Hawker, keeping alive the memory of that eccentric parson/poet and gathering valuable new evidence about him. She even bought an extra copy to give to the current vicar of Morwenstow Church.

The isolated church and vicarage at Morwenstow

Vyvyen signing a copy of ‘Children at Sea’ for Jill Wellby, with Piers’s edition of Hawker’s ‘Cornish Ballads’ also on display.

Vyvyen Brendon signed copies (price £13) on Friday 4 September 2020 at the Falcon Hotel.

If you missed out, please contact the hotel and we can let you know how to get a copy.

reception@falconhotel.com  or phone 01288 352005.