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November 2019: A West Country Christmas – Dorset in December

Thomas Hardy’s celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
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Morridge’s Murderous Mermaid, Staffordshire

Morridge Moor is Staffordshire’s highest land; in the right (or wrong) light a creepy and comfortless place. Near the summit of Morridge Hill between Leek and Buxton the spookily-named Black Mere can be found, standing beside a pub more than pleasant inside, but with something of the “You be strangers round here” about it when you approach from a distance. The pub is The Mermaid , named for the legendary figure said to dwell in the mere: it celebrates its supposed neighbour, who makes a good topic for conversation over a pint of beer.
Naturally the mere is bottomless; no cattle drink from it; no fish put there survive; and no bird will venture to fly above it. Its waters are always dark, their shape somehow reminiscent of a black heart. But otherwise welcoming.
There are several variants of the mermaid’s tale: the darkest is that she is the shade of a woman drowned there as a witch, who as she was about to be done away with cursed her false accuser, and duly came back to kill him. It is said that if you are a young man and spy the mermaid at midnight on Good Friday you will have riches for a year, but then drown yourself in the pool. Equally it is stated that if you dare to near the pool at midnight of any other day, you will see the mermaid combing her long tresses; be entranced; and then dragged to your doom beneath the chill waters, or when she disappears you will be drawn to follow her, swimming down until all your breath has gone...

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However I dress it up, I was a spy and I am not proud of it - Christine Keeler
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1st Instalment of Encyclopaedia Britannica - 1768, Lloyd George becomes prime minister - 1916, Anglo-Irish treaty is signed - 1922, Tories Pick Cameron as Leader, - 2005
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