I have always had the sneaking suspicion that my cat thinks she owns me and not the other way around. In the Mousehole Cat, Antonia Barber tells the legend of Tom Bawcock from the perspective of his owner, the cat, Mowzer.
Mowzer had “an old cottage with a window overlooking the harbor, an old rocking chair with patchwork cushions, and an old fisherman named Tom.” Tom spent his days in the most useful way possible, catching fish for Mowzer’s who was very particular about his fish. On Mondays they made morgy-broth, on Tuesdays they baked hake, on Wednesdays they cooked kedgeree, on Thursdays they grilled fairmaids, on Fridays they fried launces, on Saturdays they soused scad and on Sundays, they made star-gazy pie.” My children were definitely inspired to try different types of fish as we explored old recipes and traditional Cornish fare.
Mowzer led an idyllic life, well tended by Tom with no reason to complain. All was well until one winter there was a terrible storm that did not end as the Great Storm-Cat raged outside of the harbor walls. With the storm raging, boats couldn’t get in or out and the town slowly ran out of food. Just before Christmas, Tom talked to Mowzer and told him that “no man can stand by at Christmas and see the children starve.” He would be venturing out to face the storm and catch fish for the town. Mowzer knows that men are no more than mice in the Great Storm-Cat’s paws and determines to go with him. They will face the Great Storm-Cat together.
Nicola Bayley’s beautiful images of the storm cat playing with boat are beautiful as is the language used to describe the actions of the storm toying with the boat as Mowzer and Tom work to save the town. Mousehole, Cornwall is a traditional fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall between Penzance and Land’s End. The Guardian put together a list of things to do in Cornwall with children a few years ago. There’s lots to explore in Cornwall including a castle on the Island of St. Michael’s Mount and a nearby Bronze Age Lanyon Quoit and of course giant sand dunes and caves along the coast with time to stop to try one of Mowzer’s favorite meals.