Speke Hall ( http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/speke-hall) dates from 1596 and became derelict in the 18th century and the wonderful Great Hall was used as an animal shed. But it's been restored and is marvellously creepy, full of secret panels and priest holes and sloping floors that make you feel as if you're very drunk. My friend C and I went on Sunday morning and I got a shock when I came face to face with an Elizabethan lady (actually one of the volunteers in period costume).
That's my friend, just in the photo on the left. Just look at all those wonderful Elizabethan timbers. (On the house, not my friend!)
About five years ago, my dear late friend Louise co-opted me into the Falmouth Shout shanty group to sing at the Newlyn Fish Festival. On the same bill were Fishermen's Friends, who were about one million times better than us (sorry, Shout!) and I just couldn't get enough of their singing. They already had a cd out, but hadn't hit the bigtime like they have now. Indeed, they recently had an entire hour-long TV documentary devoted to them. Here's their website: http://www.fishermansfriendsportisaac.co.uk/ where you can listen to some of their music. When they sang Andy Barnes' The Last Leviathan, I couldn't stop crying, as that was the song Louise always sang so beautifully. Do look it up on YouTube. It's about the very last whale in the world that has just been harpooned and is dying. It's just about the most moving song I have ever heard and I'm getting all teary just writing about it. Think I'll go and grab a reviving coffee now.