.Each year the villagers of the beautiful old harbour village of Mousehole in the far west of Cornwall, haul the boats from the harbour to fill the waters with floating pontoons of Christmas lights, dresses the ancient granite walls and welcoming the world to their tiny coastal community. Fundraising for the event will have started in the summer months and now for a few brief weeks they embody the spirit of Christmas.
Our visit to Mousehole on the twelfth night of Christmas
The glowing Christmas nights from the village of Mousehole have shone across Mounts bay to us each night over Christmas. And last night was the final night – the twelfth day of Christmas was our chance to visit.
The Mousehole Lights are simple lights that feature all of the traditional Christmas symbols of songs and folklore. For us, as the crowds subsided, the twelfth and final night it is the perfect night to reflect, to watch the lights rippling in the harbour and experience the atmosphere of Mousehole at its best.
A Christmas drive around Mounts bay to Mousehole
The drive around Mounts Bay is always lovely at night. The road passes the boats beside the wharf in Penzance harbour and before snaking on to Newlyn where the fishing fleet lies in the sheltered waters shot with moon light. Finally the first swags of Christmas light lining the road announced we had arrived at Mousehole.
We took the narrow lane down into Mousehole under a welcome sign garlanded across the road. A surprising number of people were making their way down into the village – maybe the stilling of the savage gales was a chance for a last hurrah of Christmas!
Exploring the lights of Mousehole harbour
There was a gentle glow on the worn granite underfoot that shone from the rain earlier in the day. The night was chilly for Cornwall and so clear with only the sound of the sea lapping around the harbour below us as we explored the traditional symbols of Christmas that cast long glowing trails across the oily still sea water.
Finally we made our way under the glowing bunting of lanterns towards the Ship Inn for another personal tradition – Fish and chips beside the sea.
Supper beside the harbour
The warmth of the pub wrapped us like a blanket after the delicious chill of the evening walking around the harbour. A blanket of the gentle lull of voices from huddles of people enjoying the well worn flagstones and fairy lights strung tightly along the blackened beams. We settled on a spot in a corner to watch the world go by and Charles joined the throng (and one happy golden retriever) at the bar, to order our supper before we settled down comfortably to watch the world go by. Families emerged from distant corners of the labyrinthine interior to depart, with silent children in tow, being given one last Christmas treat and new people joined the throng – the final twelfth night of Christmas in Mousehole.
Superstition and Christmas decorations
The twelfth night that marks the end of Christmas is always something of a mystery to me. Beware though, if you were to leave the Christmas decorations up a minute longer than prescribed, they have to stay up all year or a year’s bad luck will ensue
So timing the packing away of decorations is vital if you harbour even just a smidgen of superstition about your soul. Yesterday I spent the day carefully unpicking our decorations in the house and stacking them untidily into boxes before dragging the Trees out into the garden again – this left the evening free to enjoy a final Christmas celebration with a visit to Mousehole lights. It is all to do with the timing of Epiphany (A further church celebrations) you see that the Church of England holds to be the 5th and other denominations to be the 6th I’m still never too sure which day should see the packing boxes but I do know that the good folks of Mousehole will switch off their lights after the 5th.
Tonight when I walk back from the stables there will be no Christmas lights glowing across the bay from Mousehole until December when the whole process will start again and I will find my packing boxes of treasures in the loft.