Tom Bawcock’s Eve and the Star Gazey Pie

Winter is a fabulous time to stay in West Cornwall, when the weather is likely to change quickly through the day, and you can experience a whole range of it in a single day.

I’m writing this in the middle of the night and ten minutes ago I took the dog out in cold crisp moonlight – now the rain is lashing at the windows and I’m glad there was some life left in the fire. I just popped another piece of wood in and it soon had  its lovely orange and yellow flames brightening the room with colour and warmth.

Many of the villages this far west do a great job with Christmas lights. I love to drive up towards Leedstown, then down to Godolphin Cross and wind along the narrow back road through Carleen and Sithney to Breague to see the simple displays.

The jewel in the Christmas lights crown though has to be Mousehole.

Go for the switching on of the lights which is a couple of weeks before Christmas, the 16th this year.

But then go again for the pretty festival of Tom Bawcock’s Eve, on the eve of Christmas Eve. Enough eve’s there? That’s the 23rd.

The streets are filled with children’s processions, singing and merriment celebrating the legendary feat of old Tom who put to sea and caught a bumper catch of fish when the saving the village from starvation after weeks of storms had kept the fleet from fishing. Star Gazey pie was then made for all, and this is symbolised by fish shaped biscuits given out on Tom Bawcok’s Eve.

I’m not sure I fancy the pie much – seven whole pilchards with their heads and tails sticking out of a pastry crust – but as i haven’t tried it i guess I shouldn’t judge.