Merlin’s Last Journey


I might have neglected to say that I’ve brought my father along on this trip. Not the full blown article I hasten to add which would be rather difficult as he’s been dead for over 10-years.

I have with me the very last of his cremated remains which for the last decade have sat in my safe at home contained in an old 35mm film canister with a simple white label that reads ‘Merlin – Taj Mahal’. For it was one of his last requests that some of his ashes be scattered at a particular spot in the garden surrounding the Taj Mahal in India where he had placed some of his own mother’s ashes. The rest of his ashes are in Cornwall: some in the beautiful garden that he created around a 600-year old house that we as a family restored; some on our favourite beach; and the major part? Well, when people ask “where’s your father?” it always gives me joy to reply “all over North Cornwall”. Having been an inveterate pyromaniac, blacksmith, rocket builder, cannon maker and general all round lover of things that exploded it only seemed fitting to do the same with him. I purchased the largest rocket possible and at the end of an evening which had been full of laughter and tears we went out into a field behind the house and sent him skyward. I recommend this method highly as it provides a very visual and emotive image as a finale to a man’s life. When that rocket lit up the night sky it not only put a very visual final full stop in the last chapter but the thought of him being up there, even if not quite with the stars but at least closer to them, all around, in the atmosphere, is strangely comforting. He would have approved too.

So yesterday down by the lake I thought of him and how he would love this place. Not just sitting by this lake but getting involved with the community on all sorts of levels. And boy could they use a polymath like him: he’d sort out the scary electrical system and look into ways of generating it for free; the plumbing would be re-configured as would rainwater harvesting and irrigation; animals would be better utilised; construction techniques updated; there would be wifi and home-built computers; a library and resources for study; horticulture would be taken to a whole new level (!) with cash crops for funding new projects; he’d probably try to plant a vineyard and even show them a thing or two about how to cook curries. And then as I wistfully considered what an impossible dream this was I thought that the next best thing would be to leave a little ‘Merlin spirit’ to work its magic. So before I go I plan to scatter a small amount from my little canister in a favourite place of mine here at Somnath. He would have approved of this too I am sure as I trust are my siblings. (see photo at top – taken the morning of the scattering).

Written in his will and oddly Buddhist in tone was the following: ‘In this world of constant change, nothing which comes stays, and nothing which goes is lost’.

4 thoughts on “Merlin’s Last Journey

    • Thanks Pam for those kind words. We have moved on and it is very good to be on the road again. After 5-weeks of dormitory living we gave ourselves a little treat and for the princely sum of $30 a night are sleeping in a room above the main gate to a 17th century fort beside the River Narmada. A glorious setting and the riverside is a joy to walk along at any time of day. We explored the royal palace pre-dawn yesterday in a thick mist which was very special as we were totally alone – a rare occurrence in India. On again today to a high plateau that was once the seat of a minor principality – fabulous Pathan architecture in store I am told. Love, David x


  1. How incredible! It’s truly commendable that you fulfilled his wish even if ten years down the line. Also, extremely touching that he wanted his ashes scattered where he left his mother’s…


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