Gracey Briney

A friend came across these newspaper clippings during some house history research – she lives now in what used to be the Pick and Gad, a pub frequented by miners working in the Redruth area. Watch out for future songs from us about the extraordinary woman depicted in these portraits!


Her story is fleshed out in more detail  by Lynne Mayers in her books about bal maidens (women mine workers) but here’s a quick summary:

Grace Hitchens was brought up in the workhouse. From a young age she was sent to work in the mines and was given the task of working the horses while the kibble was landed (a complex and skilful operation raising the kibble (bucket) of ore from the mine to the surface). Gracey fell pregnant; it is not known what became of her child. After that time she had a personality change and emerged as the strong, eccentric and unconventional woman described in the news cuttings. She moved from working the horses to becoming the kibble-lander herself, at the other end of the same task, a job usually reserved for men. Women often worked at the mines (they were known as bal maidens) but were usually restricted to work on the surface, breaking up lumps of ore and preparing them for market or working in the counthouse. There is plenty more information about women in the mining industry here:


Dementia: a prayer

In weakness or in strength,
we bear your image.
We pray for those we love
who now live in a land of shadows,
where the light of memory is dimmed,
where the familiar lies unknown,
where the beloved become as strangers.
Hold them in your everlasting arms
and grant to those who care
a strength to serve,
a patience to persevere,
a love to last,
and a peace that passes human understanding.
Hold us in your everlasting arms,
today and for all eternity;
through Christ our Lord.

Attribution unknown.

And……. relax

I have tried this today and am posting it here because it works. Extracted from Beat Stress by Dr Bill Munro and Frances Munro. It’s written for the Christian market but I guess you can use whatever words you find helpful at the end, or just go with ‘I am perfectly relaxed.’

Preparation for the exercises

1. You should practise the exercises for five minutes three times a day, with a fourth time in bed at night if you want to use them to get to sleep.

2. You need a quiet place where you will be undisturbed. You may need to take the phone off the hook.

3. Sit in a comfortable chair with your head either supported at the back or allowed to fall forward. Rest your hands gently on your thighs. Or you can do the exercises lying on your back on a couch or bed with your arms by your sides.

4. Take off your glasses if you wear them, loosen any tight clothes and kick off your shoes. This will give your brain the message that you are relaxing.

5. Relax as far as you can; don’t set yourself any targets. Some people find it very difficult to relax: the harder they try, the more tense they become. SO DO NOT TRY TO RELAX. JUST FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AND LET THE RELAXATION COME. IT WILL HAPPEN BY ITSELF.

Remember, you are not practising the exercises in order to relax or sleep BUT ONLY to become good at the technique.

6. Read through the exercise notes carefully and then practise the exercises with your eyes closed in order to cut out distractions.

The relaxation exercises

1. Having closed your eyes, imagine that your arms and legs are heavy, DO NOT TRY TOO HARD but just become aware of the weight of your arms and legs. Say into yourself several times:

‘My arms and legs are heavy’


2. Imagine that your arms and legs are warm. Feel the warmth flowing down your arms from the shoulders, down the arms into your fingers – and similarly down your legs into your feet and toes. Say into yourself several times:

‘My arms and legs are warm.’


3. And then let your breathing deepen. DO NOT PURPOSELY TAKE BIG DEEP BREATHS – LET IT HAPPEN. Say into yourself several times slowly:

‘My breathing is deep and regular.’

4. Before you finish, say several times into yourself slowly:

‘My neck and shoulders are heavy.’

and repeat to yourself a phrase like:

‘The Lord is my shepherd; or
‘Be still and know that I am God’ or
one of your favourite promises from God or
simply something like ‘God really loves me’ or
‘I am at peace with God’ or
‘I am perfectly relaxed’ or
‘God has everything in hand.’

You can say these words either silently or aloud.

5. Sit or lie with your eyes closed for a few minutes if you want to and enjoy the relaxation.

6. It is important to finish this exercise properly. Before you open your eyes and get up –
– clench both fists tightly;
– bend your arms at the elbow and tense your arm muscles;
– strech your hands above your head;
– take a deep breath.

Note – the only time you need not go into this closing routine is when you are doing the exercises last thing at night in bed – but in any case you will almost always be asleep before you finish them. Do not try to stay awake to go through the closing routine!

Ethical Fashion: Truro Shoppers Guide

Or download the printable pdf version.

This is by no means a comprehensive guide but is meant to serve as a prompt for people who want to shop in a way that makes a difference to those bearing the hidden cost of our ever-increasing desire for more and cheaper clothing.

There are things that we can do as consumers that make a difference – this guide highlights some of the ways to take positive action, including asking brands ‘Who made my clothes?’, buying from ethical companies (there are some great Cornwall-based clothing companies who work with the people who make their clothes to ensure that everyone gets a good deal), and buying second-hand or vintage clothing.

I wrote this to support the showing of The True Cost on 18th March 2016. The event was generously hosted and supported by Epiphany House, Truro who also gave me some time to prepare this guide.

The role of the artist

From Robert van de Weyer: Celtic Gifts

Are artists the people who break down the invisible walls which divide the Church from the wider community? In the Celtic period, and right up until relatively recent times, all art was religious; and there was no division in people’s minds between the religious and secular aspects of their lives – all life was permeated by religion. Now those who hold a clear religious faith are in a minority, and religion is widely perceived as a separate sphere of activity, a kind of hobby which this minority pursues in their leisure hours. Yet artistic creativity knows no barriers; artists draw their inspiration from every kind of source, making no distinction between religion and the rest of life; and good music, poetry, painting, architecture and sculpture can be appreciated by everybody, regardless of religious affiliation – or lack of it. So just as the Order of St Brigid is concerned with the healing of individuals, the Order of St Columba* may have a particular role in the healing of society.

* Instead of the conventional structure of the Church of England, van de Weyer imagines a new model for the church in which both clergy and lay people are elected to ‘Orders’ which bring together those with particular gifts for the church, e.g. preachers, pastors, healers. Each Order is named after a Celtic saint. The Order of St Columba is for artists.

The True Cost – trailer


This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing? Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva.

Watch the film on Netflix, iTunes or buy/rent from

“Thy face is a rough as Morvah Downs”

“Thy face is a rough as Morvah Downs that was ploughed and never harved (harrowed) they say, but I’ll have thee for all that and fill up with putty all the pock-mark pits and seams; then point them over and make thee as pretty as a new wheelbarrow”

From an old Christmas play, ‘Duffy and the Devil’, found in Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Second Series, by William Bottrell, 1873.

Sailors boot stick instrument

No instagram filters will turn this into a good photo but the instrument itself was quite unusual – a 4ft wooden pole tucked into an old sailor’s boot, decorated with jingling metal bottle tops. Played not only by stamping it on the floor but also hit with a notched stick to make guiro type sounds. Seen in action at Looe folk club this evening. Quite fascinating!