All rights reserved Chris Jelley
Storywalks have been created primarily with support from Toy Ahoy Minehead and Number Seven Dulverton. With additional funds from Creative Pathways Professional Development Project funded by Somerset County Council CIDF and also LARC funding (Local Action for Rural Communities)
He pushed out his little boat into the sea to go fishing as he normally did, but this time when far out in the fishing grounds he looked into the inky depths and then took the key from his apron and dropped it into the brine never to be seen again.
So a wedding was had and it was a fine affair with love in both their hearts for he had enchanted her with his own magic. But as they walked home they passed beneath the Oak Tree who's leaves had withered and died, and the bark turning white perhaps from a casket hidden in the roots.
In the following years two strong boys came, for she had learned to love her new husband and his kindness. The boys grew into men but little did they know of their mothers true home or the story which had brought their parents together, until one dark winters night when a cold hard frost froze even the seaweed on the rocks their mother had not returned home.
The boys set out to search for her, 'Go down by Heddons Mouth boys, for I fear that's where she'll be on this cold night' the father had said, and that's exactly where she was found white with fever as if she had been wild swimming. They nursed her best they could but some illness was a foot that did not seem human, and in her fever she talked of her children of the ocean and her long lost husband pining beneath the waves. The two boys watched her fade away over the next few weeks, and then buried her in the graveyard in the family plot, where they would lay their father only one month later.
'But before our father passed away' said the Uncle, 'and joined again with his love in heaven he told us this tale, and we did not believe him for he seemed to fade so quickly after loosing her.'
'One day,' he said, 'the box will return from where I hid it beneath the Ghost Tree, and when it does you should retrieve the key from the ocean and then you will see. I know that I did wrong to steel her tail, but she gave me joy in life, and two strong sons.
I always think of the family she left behind, and am sad for their loss, for they lost their mother long before you did. But she never forgot them for she wove corn dollies with mermaids tails on their birthdays and tucked them in rock pools at low tide. When the waters rose her family would collect them, I would often see the seals rolling in the surf calling to her to join them'
The Uncle then said to the girl,'But the proof of all this will be inside that casket, for you saw the fish bring forth the key, and you found the casket beneath the Ghost Oak, and you will now open the lid and we'll see what's inside and settle this tale for truth.'
So the little girl held onto the box lid and wondered if any of this could possibly be true, then she opened it and there was indeed a fishes tail garment large enough to wear. She pulled it from the box and it glimmered like fishes tails do only brighter. It hung like fine chain mail and seemed a supple as ever even after being locked away for so long.
'What am I to do with this?' she asked
'I think you should visit our blood relations' said her father.
But before she did, she wove three corn dollies like her father had taught her, and he said they were the finest ever made, she then took them to the beach to visit her distant relations. Some say she took so well to the water that she made her home there, and often visited her uncle whilst he fished in his little boat. Others say the tail did not fit and she was half drowned trying to cross into the water world. Rescued by seals and then beached on land she left the valley returning to leave corn dollies with mermaids tails all along the valley down to Heddons Mouth.
If you search you may find weavings of many materials, some were made by her and her family from both side of the water, others by walkers like yourself wanting to become part of this tail and add to the enigma. Some braids of grass are simple, others knotted on dollies, some ribbons, some from weeds others from sheep wool and sea kale, but all have a thread of hair from the maker twisted in amongst the knot. When your fingers start weaving, perhaps you should leave a little of yourself here too.
Thanks for walking 'The Key in the Cod' I love to hear feedback so send me an email through the website, www.storywalks.info and tell every one about these storywalks.