A very domestic magic has been wrought in the Cornish fishing village of Mousehole every winter since 1963, when artist Joan Gillchrest first put up a string of lights outside her house. Other villagers added to them until last year there were 7,500, including three illuminated ships sailing across the harbour. The official switching on is at 7.30pm on December 14, when the Mousehole male choir sing carols to the crowds gathered on the harbour wall.
A break in the cheerfulness comes on the evening of December 19 when the lights are turned off for an hour to commemorate the tragedy of the Solomon Browne, the Penlee lifeboat which was lost with its crew in 1981.
Another reminder that life has always been hard on this coast comes on Tom Bawcock's Eve, December 23, when villagers drink to the memory of the long-ago fisherman who, when Mousehole was cut off by storms, brought back a catch that saved the villagers from starving. The Good Food Guide recommends the Cornish Range (01736 731488) or the Old Coastguard (01736 731222). Details from Penzance Tourist Information Centre: 01736 362207; www.go-cornwall.com.