Monday, 2 June 2014

Chapter Ninety Two.

There seems to be a real mixed bag of weather around at the moment although it is basically warm and dry. It would be a braver man than me to not be prepared though. I am still carrying all my waterproofs, plus my fleece, plus anything else that would protect me on delivery. I am slowly going as brown as a berry at work, but it is not all down to the sun. Its amazing just how brown you can become because of the wind blowing against you. I look very fit and tanned...although looks can be deceiving.
We had a day out at St Mawes the other Sunday. I took Linda for a visit around the castle. It is hard to find a more magical castle in Cornwall and it could easily be lived in. Defensible it is not, but dependable it is. It stands proudly opposite Pendennis Castle and is a real favourite of mine. A veteran of several wars including both world wars, it is a fascinating place for a look around. Its main claim to fame is that it was built to protect England from the Spanish...and they never took it. Unlike the much larger and much stronger Pendennis opposite, which was taken a couple of times.
One up to St Mawes over Falmouth I think.

We spent the rest of the day just lying and sitting quietly on Carne Beach. It was very hot and sunny and both of us got a little burnt by the sun. It would have been worse without the old factor 15 on both of us. I found last year that my skin dried out very quickly last year due to the sunshine and the wind. This year I have taken Linda's advice and not only do I drink more water, I also moisturise in the morning. Don't mock it...it works. I've never felt or looked so well as I do at the moment.
Work has been quite busy with all the election material, but that election has now been and gone. UKIP seemed to take the lions share of the vote around the country and have had very good support in the South West; the Green party did well too.
The other party who did well were all the postman who managed to 'trouser' a good few pounds from delivering this old election stuff. They can call an election every couple of months if they like.
Linda is still typically working very hard. She is working long hours at her job and her idea of relaxation is to do lots of work at home and up at the allotment. I do understand the premise that she enjoys these other things and gets great pleasure from them. I also understand how she doesn't think of it as work when she is busy doing loads of personal tasks for herself. But I do feel that, for a good work/life balance, there has to be time when you just sit down and rest your body. I fear something will give if she doesn't find this balance...and she doesn't find it quickly.
Having said that; I was very pleased for her when she became the secretary of her Samba Band. She is now enjoying herself by organising things and I know she enjoys that.
We are looking after Magic at the moment. He is the cat that lives with Gary and Jeanette next door. They are in France for a couple of weeks and I have become as much his servant now as Linda is the servant of two guinea pigs and countless wild birds.
I go across the garden to their house twice a day and feed his lordship a fresh sachet of cat food. If he condescends to be generous, he permits me to stroke him and scratch him behind the ears. We get on though and he is a lovely cat. We both work hard in the great war against the rat. He has caught some and got rid of them that way. However I am not sharing the credit of one of them. I shot and killed it. Magic coming into our garden; picking its body up and carrying it around to his back door; and then looking smug as if he caught the thing himself;...not on!!!
We had a nice bank holiday weekend last week, but as usual, Linda had to work it. It does upset her as it eats into our time together.
The same has happened this weekend with it being my long weekend off. Linda had Saturday and Sunday off, but had to go to work on Monday. Unusually, I had overtime Saturday and so I worked that day, but I had Sunday and Monday off. Typical isn't it. As you can guess...we made the most of Sunday.
We drove over to the Lizard and had a good walk around the place. We parked up in the village and, after a coffee, walked down the path to the coast path. We came out halfway between Kynance Cove and Lizard Point.
We turned left there and walked around the coastpath until we came to Cadgwith. It was good to see that the Chough's have fledged and flown away from the old Lifeboat station at the point.
We also saw the island known as Mulvin.

God knows how it got our name.
Linda and I were stood up on the clifftops and she is pointing at the Island of Mulvin. It is the larger of the three. Rumour has it that somebody sold it to an ancestor of mine when the tide was out; like now...because when the tide comes in its about the size of a dustbin. We may have been diddled here ha ha.

We then had a drink at Cadgwith before setting off across country towards Kynance. We had the drink at Cadgwith to remember an old friend of ours, Bernie Cooper. He was a work colleague and friend of both Linda and I. Like Lin, he to was bitten by the old Black Dog on more than one occassion. Depression is a cruel trick and he suffered with it, and usually alone.

 He had a good sense of humour on him as this picture will testify. Nobody knows more than me the stressful nature of working in that cage he's standing in. He should never have been put in there. This photo used to be put up on the door when he was struggling with his work. He was a good lad though and we were all sorry when he got bitten by a bigger and different dog from which it is very hard to survive. Sadly our old friend passed away the other day, and Wheelie organised a 'raise a glass for Bernie' through photos on facebook.
This was ours to an old pal. We both wish there could have been a third glass on the table Bernie with you there to share it. We chose Cadgwith and the Lizard as it is a favourite spot of ours and somewhere we will go back to again and again. We miss you but won't forget you.

On the way we stopped off at a lovely old church at a place called 'Grade'. A lovely old 13th C church but beginning to show its years. If I ever win the lottery, I swear I shall help that place benefit from a bit of cash. It is lovely.
After leaving there, we walked across the common and got to Kynance just in time for a cup of tea before the cafe closed.
Fortified we made our way back along the coast to Lizard village and finished the day off with a bag of chips each. It really was a perfect day.
I am waiting now for two old friends of mine to appear. They are on holiday in England from Australia. We have not seen each other for nearly fifty years; certainly 48 years anyway.

They are a brother and sister, Malcolm and Maureen Shackleton, who used to live along the road from us. Their mum and dad were lovely people and I loved going around there. Ted and Elsie have died; Elsie very recently; and so only my mum is left of that generation from Tilford Road. It'll be good to see them.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Chapter Ninety One

A quiet couple of weeks behind us at the moment. The weather has been very mixed although it is warmer than of late. We have had some amazing sunny days, but also days were the wind would cut you in two. Linda is working very hard and is settling into a pattern with her job. She has her regular people to see and is making friends all over the Roseland.
The nicest thing for both of us is that we keep bumping into each other when out at work. Its nice to meet up for a few moments during the day and just be with each other. Especially if we are stood overlooking the sea. We met up the other day in St Mawes on the quay. It was lovely having a few minutes chat while we watched the fishing boats going out and saw the ferry coming in.
We both know just how lucky we are.
Linda is at her busiest at this time of the year with much work going on in the garden and at the allotment. Trays of plants are coming out of the greenhouse on an industrial scale. Some are flowers and plants for the garden, and the rest are vegetables and potatos for the allotment.
I wish I could do more to help, but it doesn't take much to put my back out these days. I keep getting lower back pain, especially after doing something stupid like a bit of digging, or a bit of lifting. Its not incapacitating or anything...its just sore for days after.
Where I can help out though, I do. So I mow the lawns and allotment grass; I fill the buckets and watering cans with water; I even put in and tied up all the runner bean poles the other day. 
Linda's allotment is a great success for her. Nick gave her all the manure she could use and she spread it over the top of the allotment at the beginning of last winter. When you consider how tough the whole allotment had been to dig when she first took it on 18 months ago...the difference now is amazing.
The manure has done its job and so has Linda.
That first year she dug the whole thing by hand and cleared all the weeds out of it. The ground was hard and full of clay; the weeds well entrenched; and the weather not good at all.
 This is as bad as you could let an allotment go. Its the one closest to us but shows what ours looked like a couple of years ago. The next four photos beneath show just how much Linda has achieved and the work that she has put in. It has been amazing and I am so proud of her.

From that early start she now has both plots well worked with vast amounts of manure; she has had some weeds return but these have been shallow and very easily removed; And the beds are now more clearly defined and established.

She is a typical country girl and is insistant that preperation is key.
I joined her the other day and gave the grass its third cut of the year. She has nice neat paths all around both plots and also a decent sized cleared area at the top. Its not the biggest contribution in the world but she is delighted with the way it all looks.

Meanwhile the plants and the seeds are going into the prepared beds and the whole thing is taking shape. Just like I remember it back in the fifties and early sixties; folk eating food that they grew in their own gardens. Brilliant.

My own work has been pretty busy with the election material coming through. All bar one of the main parties have posted election material so that was seven different lots plus the poll cards to deliver. A busy time. I finally got my old van back. She is going well at the moment and I hope it will continue into the distant future. The van and I seem to be slowly wearing out together. Its a coin toss to find out which one will lose a part next.
We are no nearer getting a reserve postman out here. The lad who came out here to start the job has been sacked. The last nine in to Truro have all had their contracts terminated during their probationary periods because we had to many people on our books for the work load. Very sad, although not unexpected. As they keep telling us..."We're a business, not a service." It should keep the shareholders happy I suppose.
Its not all doom and gloom though, because I have to confess I have never been happier than when I'm out on my round.
All else is right in our little world; we have family coming down during the year so that will be good; we are making more of our time here as well and trying to get out more; and we are both having fun with stuff. I have the NCI, plus Poetree and writing;  Linda has her Samba Band, plus the garden and allotment; people know who we are; and we are settling in very well.
Our local lane edges and banks have been a profusion of wild flowers just lately. I managed to pick Linda a bunch of these just before the grass cutter came through and cleared the side for Health and Safety purposes.

We are also part of the front line troops in Ruan Lanihorne in the Great War between The Village...and the Rats. The wretched creatures are moving into the village, as they are over most of Cornwall, in their hunt for food. There is a lot of them about this year in Britain and it seems to tie in with the enforced savings that the councils have had to make.
The cut in services such as pest control has had a devastating effect on some places...and don't get me started on the 'pot holes' in the roads. I shall disappear down one any day now, van and all.
Anyway; we are at war with the rats. Neighbours are laying down poison which is having a great affect. Gary and Jeanettes cat, 'Magic'; known as 'The Bandit' in some parts of the village due to his antisocial behaviour is also catching and killing some of them.
Magic is a great favourite of ours and is very good with Linda and I, plus the guinea pigs. We have no problem with him as I think his view of us is as, lower members of his pride. Jeanette and Gary are his main pride members...but he knows we feed and look after him when they are away.
Anyway...he is a good little hunter.
I am not so bad myself with my trusty air rifle. Bought back in 1973 for 50 pence off a friend of mine it is now finally getting some useful use. I bought it so long ago, I was able to carry it back home in full view through the streets of Farnham...and nobody said a word. I even walked quite happily past the police station without a problem. Try that today and see how far you would get.
What is good news is, my contribution to the war effort is a very useful average of three dead rats a week. We all do our bit. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Chapter Ninety

The 14th of April saw my last full week working for Royal Mail as a fulltime postman. As of the 21st I go on my new hours of 27 hours and 30 minutes, per week. I can't complain as I never expected to be on full hours at all. The ethos in all businesses today seems to be part time work. Our company works a strict policy of 'costing and savings before everything else'. Again...this is like other businesses.
I don't have to like it though...AND I DON'T...but I do have to live in the real world.
Anyway; I got a whole eighteen months out of Royal Mail as a full time duty at St Mawes so I did do alright. The change on my duty is that I no longer have to go into Truro and pick the mail up in the morning. This is a saving of two hours for the company a day. I assume the other saving of half an hour a day is because I don't deliver the 'heavy and large' for the other two duties. They have a shared van for all that now.
You all know my views though. In 1972 I joined a service industry. It was called that because you were a service and that ethic came first. Now we are no longer a service, we are a business. I don't practice that ethic at all and service still comes first for me. The only difference now is that, I absorb the cost to do it and not Royal Mail.
The first week of the new duties was something of a disaster however and it did not go well. For a week we did not get our last lot of mail until between 10-00 and 10-30. You can imagine how late this meant five deliveries were; our three and the two posties at Portscatho; especially as this mail shoul;d have been with us at 09-00. Late finishing and upset all around. The only cheery bunny was me because I got in a good hour or more reading a book outside on the harbour wall.
Thankfully, last week went much better and the mail arrived as it should do. Surprisingly; the whole thing is now almost working. We get our mail in good time. I am out on delivery within minutes of 10-00...and I am finishing within minutes either side of my correct finish time.
When you think I have spent the last year finishing up to an hour later most days; and was too scared to claim overtime in case I got taken off the duty and returned to half pay; this has been a welcome bonus.
The only problem with not claiming and not being seen to be doing...is that nobody has accounted for all the jobs I did that they were not aware of in Truro.
Their impression was...He drives in to Truro, he picks up the mail, he leaves, and he drops off the mail on his way back. No accounting has been done for; returning the empty trays, returning the unused D2D's, checking for missorts, doing walksorting, taking out stores as required,etc.
Still; all credit to them; they are slowly addressing these things. I'm just niggled that someone must have really thought I was doing very little while in the office.
The good news is that my customers are getting their mail earlier than they thought...and that is really all that they seem to want.
Linda is working all sorts of strange hours but is really enjoying her work. She comes and goes at all hours and is always busy. If she has a gripe at all, it is that we don't get a lot of time together. She was dashing around the other day and left her calling card in the front of her car.
In itself this is not a problem at all. The only problem I found was that she left it in the car while it was parked in our drive. It needs no telling as to who people would think the elderly/disabled client should have been.
Funnily enough though, we do see a lot of each other when we are both at work. Linda has been given a patch to work on that takes in Portscatho and also St Mawes. There is nothing nicer than being on delivery and having a car pull up nearby; especially when the driver is your wife. It does give us time for a quick chat before we head off again. It is good though.
We met on the quayside the other day. The sun was cracking the paving slabs; there was a cooling breeze; seagulls called from the rooftops; and the siren on the ferry was calling out as it left to go to Falmouth. We both stood there looking at the sea and the sand. There are no prizes for guessing that 'YES, we do know how very lucky we are'.
We had a busy weekend over the Easter bank Holiday. Needless to say, we both had to work chunks of it. I used Good Friday as a clean-up day at the garage at St Mawes. A rat ran out from under my van last week. So that was it. Several hours later, the accumalation of several years rubbish was bagged and taken home. There was lots of it I must say. The garage is now empty, clean and tidy, and safe to enter.
Saturday was spent with me on delivery and Linda doing loads in the garden and the allotment. I was late home as I wanted to get the office ready for the new working arrangements. All now done and two weeks on, the office at St Mawes is an easier place to work in.
In the evening we drove over to Gerrans for the pub quiz for our own local NCI at Portscatho. We raised a good sum which will go on the new gazebo we ordered. We shall look very smart at our next 'meet and greet' for the public.
Easter Sunday dawned nice and clear, but not an egg in sight. I'll buy my own next year. An hour later it began to rain steadily, and this continued all day. We made two trips to the dump at St Austell and got rid of all the rubbish from the garage and from the house and garden. We did a couple of quick jobs up the allotment and then headed home. Minutes later, Linda got a call from work and ended up doing a four hour shift for the afternoon. When she got home she then put in a few hours doing paperwork and the like for the Samba Band...she is secretary for that.
The thing was, not only had we been together for about nine years today...it was also Linda's 49th birthday. She certainly spent it in an unusual fashion.
Easter Monday was also a working day for Linda and she spent most of it out and about.
It was also the day that Jason and Tracy came down to stay with us for a few days. It was good to see them and we had fun.
No sooner had they gone home than disaster struck the family finances. Nothing to do with them I hasten to add. Linda needed two new tyres on the front of her car...and the washing machine gave up the ghost resulting in a new one being bought.
Incredibly...I managed to plumb it in on my own and the new one is working perfectly.
The guinea pigs have settled down well with each other and seem very happy and contented out there. Linda did change the name of our new one. We couldn't keep calling her 'Penny', as we know to many people of that name. Linda has changed her name to 'Pebbles'.
 Whiskey is on the left of this picture and is the male. Pebbles is on the right and is a much younger female. The main visual difference between them both is that little smudge of white, just above Pebbles' nose. It is easy to see how Widget ate herself to death, when you consider that the two of them now eat that food slowly through the day. Widget used to bolt it all in the first five minutes...and attack Whiskey if he tried for some.
I also brought out three old friends of mine and placed them back under the pear tree in the garden. Bayleaf is the one on the left. He is the gardener and is sweeping up the leaves and tidying the lawn. Next to him is Digweed. He also is a gardener and uses his spade to dig weeds up wherever he finds them. The other one is Jasper. He too is a gardener and grows stuff. Like Linda, he is proud of his produce which is why he has a Carrot in his arms.
 Just go with my imagination. Linda has too.
This last week has run a lot smoother for me. I got overtime which has helped a bit. Linda also went to work on Sunday afternoon...and didn't get home until Monday afternoon. That was a busy weekend for her. She had to stay on a sleepover with a client.
I have contacted my pension people and am hopeful all will be in place on my birthday in July. That will be a boost to the old finances and will supplement my pay at St Mawes.
I had a little shock as well about becoming sixty in July. I received a letter from the NHS as normal telling me my 'assisted prescription' card will need renewing. So far, so good. They then went on to say that I only had to renew it for three months because when I get to sixty I get FREE prescriptions.
                                                "I'm too young to be that old." 
A pleasant shock...but still a shock. Am I becoming a 'coffin-dodger'. I'm only a boy.
I have been up to the allotment twice now this year with Linda to work there. I don't do a great deal because it damages my back and my neck. I can manage the mowing though. Linda has done a smashing job of digging the whole thing over and planting out. It looks fantastic and I know she is pleased with the way things are going.
My job is to cut all the grass around the plots and trim all the paths. It may not seem much but Linda is pleased with my efforts. It keeps the weeds down and stops the plants on the edge from being choked. It certainly looks very tidy I must say.
The rest of my duties mean I am on call when needed and close by for company. To keep me quiet, Linda is always delighted to allow me the peace to read a book...its a 'win-win' for us both.
We have a visitor on the Fal river just above the King Harry Ferry. Back in the bad weather a ship got into difficulties just off the Lizard. The crew were all rescued and the ship saved. Unfortunately, the crew are now back home and our authorities are having problems with the owners over some bill paying. At the moment the poor ship is moored up-river while the arguments continue.
She is called the 'SEABREEZE'. Poor old girl. She's been in all the papers and on television. She deserves better than this. I got this picture of her when I crossed over the other day from my writing group session.
Starting tomorrow now, I am beginning a new part-time job to try and supplement my income. I will be getting up early in the morning and getting some stories and writing done on a more commercial level. I shall try and put in at least three hours each day and hopefully achieve something.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Chapter Eighty Nine

Back into the blog once more. Its been a bit up and down over the last couple of weeks. Our sad news has been a couple of deaths we could have done without.
When Katrina got married, I had the great pleasure to meet up with her grand parents on her dad's side of the family. Both came across as very nice people. Her granddad, John, was a delightful chap who had been a postman at Godalming for most of his working life. He and I got on very well together, and were soon swapping yarns and chatting about our work as postmen always seem to do.
Our careers had both overlapped in years although we never worked with each other. Between us both though we had been both working on the post for about the last sixty or seventy years. We chatted away quite happily for a good hour or more and I found him delightful.
We only had a brief time together in the great scheme of things but I always wanted to see him again. Sadly, with us now in Cornwall and them down in Sussex, we never met up again. And now John has passed away. Linda and I shall both miss him, and I really wish I had got to know him better.
He really was a charming, gentle man. I think he would have loved doing my delivery as much as me.

Talking of postmen, we had a lovely visit for a few hours from Gary Horne and his family. Gary is a mate of mine from Farnham Royal Mail and we worked together for over thirty years. His wife Liz is lovely; far to good for him we all say; ha ha. They popped in for the evening with Francesca and Tod. Two lovely kids; Francesca is delightful and Tod is a typically busy, almost two year old boy. It was a wonderful visit and catch up, both lively and entertaining. It was great to see them. 
Our other loss is a bit closer to home, and though not on the same level at all, has hit us a little hard. Poor old Widget, our female guinea pig, has died as well. She had an endearing way of whistling at you when she saw you, and both of us miss that as we walk out into the garden.
Just lately, she has become something of a voracious eater and has been consuming vast quantities of food. Things got to a head recently as she began to take food off Whiskey as he was trying to eat. Constantly bloated and devouring vast quantities of food she eventually ate herself to death. Like the two medieval kings who died of over eating; one from a 'surfeit of Lampreys', the other on his toilet still stuffing his face with fresh strawberries; she was not well at all.
The vet told us she was not going to make it and would never survive an op. He had only one thing to try, but sadly it was all to late. Thankfully, Linda is the most consumate country woman I know, and is both practical and knowledgeable about dealing with things.
Linda did her best but natural kindness in the end, meant she had to put Widget down.
She really is a very remarkable woman.

Life has had to move on. Guinea pigs do not like living on their own and will quickly pine away and die if lonely. Linda went back up to see Maria and came home the following day with another guinea pig. She is a female called Penny, and is identical to Whiskey in colour. The only difference between them both is that Penny has a white smudge just beside her nose.
 I believe Linda will be changing the name of Penny very soon...but I don't know what she will call her.
There has been no more new developments at work at present. The new way of working has not been without its problems and, although some of the changes are working, others are not. Here at St Mawes we have managed to adapt the whole thing ourselves and have made it work by dint of common sense and local knowledge. We have been luckier than most though, as has Portscatho...and I put this down to our isolation.
However, I am still on full hours at present as I am still going into Truro each day to clear the second wave of mail. The money is useful and it is no problem to me. It just means I am still not getting any writing done.
We have got the office into some semblance of order though and I have worked hard to sort out my corner of the place. Its taking shape.
We are using the Quay to park the vans first thing in the morning and that is an unusual sight.
I have been watching the shipping going in and out of Falmouth and spotted quite a few different vessels in the Carrick Roads. I managed to see this yacht as she was leaving. She has been there over the winter. The mast on her is the tallest mast in the world on a mono-hulled yacht. It is so tall it has to have a permanent red light at the top because of air traffic. Seriously; she could be trouble for helicopters because they can come over quite low to the water.

Life for both of us is exceedingly good at the moment. Linda is enjoying her work on the Roseland as much as I am. Both of us feel very much part of the local community. Linda is more heavily involved with the Samba band now and has become their secretary. She is organising and dealing with things as only she knows how. Its what keeps her sane.
The other morning I was opening the curtains and was struck by how beautiful the colours looked on the wall beneath us. There is a lovely stone wall between us and Gary and Jeaneattes house. There is a camellia bush and a blossoming tree, plus a display of blue flowers. I couldn't resist taking a picture. I even managed to take it with Magic sitting in the back ground.


Please forgive the quality of this photo. It was the pallette of colour I was after.
I am on duty today in the Lookout. Its my first watch of the new season. I shall write about it later on in the other blog.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Chapter Eighty Eight

Linda has obviously gone to work today. She now has to work every other weekend. I get a long weekend every four weeks so we both have a long weekend together next week. However today is a working day for her; and something of a marathon too. She had to leave this morning at 07-00 and will not get home until close to 22-00 tonight. It wouldn't matter so much, but she has not physically got time for a break. A bit over the top I feel.
Still, she is loving the work and loves some of her people that she cares for. Her big worry this morning is that some of her people may have forgot the clocks went forward last night. She is dreading finding complaints from all sides that she is to early.
St Patricks day has been and gone without a great deal of celebrating from our side. I used to go out on a St Patricks day night, but haven't done so for years. Just had a whiskey or two at home. Very nice.
The following day was Kacey's birthday. Always a great favourite of mine and my god daughjter as well. I can't believe that little scrap I held in my arms and told her first joke to, ( she definitely smiled...it wasn't wind), is now thrty five years old. That was a surprise. Tempus fugit.
 I couldn't resist putting this picture up for you all to see. It was at the Eden Project. I can think of a few vehicles driving around which should have this number plate. A van I used the pther day when mine was at the garage was a case in point. It took half an hour to clean out the inside. Mind you, I had the last laugh; there was nearly four pound in loose change on the floor, under the carpets, and buried in amongst the rubbish. How thoughtful of someone to leave me a tip.
I quickly found something to put this contribution towards as well.
Unfortunately, we had a bit of a fail with the washing machine which resulted in a chap coming out to fix it. I have to say he done a terrific job and fixed it in no time. A useful bloke to go on our list of local craftsmen.
Friday found us enjoying the first day of spring. It was a glorious sunny day and I was helping out at Portscatho. I don't mind Portscatho at all and enjoy working there. I was doing Ellie's round of course as the only other chap who know's it was on holiday. Had a bit of an upset though when I discovered they are putting me on Lemon Street next week for one day.
Since they told me the St Mawes job was mine, I have been dragged off it at least one day a week for four weeks. I had no idea how much it was getting me down until Linda mentioned it. She told me that my temper was becoming uncertain; I was very pale around the face which was making me look old; seemed very miserable and stressed; and was taking it out on those around me.
I was shocked at first... but a little spark in me told me that she was right. I confess that she usually is.
I have also been having trouble with a chap who can be so nice...but is also uncertain in his behaviuor. One minute he is good to be with, the next he is a nightmare. I have never met anybody so keen to upset people. I didn't believe all the others at first when they told me...but I have found it to be true.
He really enjoys the power of 'mucking people about'. We had a bloke at Farnham just like it, but I never expected to find another.
You all know my view at work...'customer first' at all times...I was brought up on that. This blokes antics show us to be poles apart. I can normally rise above that sort of nonsense from people like that, but, due to a touch of the bite from the black dog, I found my stress levels rising.
Suffice to say, Linda brought me up short and we were able to deal with the problem. Thankfully I am now back to good humour and moving on. I have to confess, a wise head at Truro realised I could not possibly do Lemon Street after the new duty had changed so much. Leaving me at St Mawes now has completed the cure.

Talking of which; my new duty hours, and those of my two pals at St Mawes start in a weeks time.
I saw a couple of photo chances over the last fortnight and managed to take a couple of pictures from my delivery.
All my life I've wanted views like this on my delivery...and now I get them.
 Two totally different vessels but both good to look at. No prizes for guessing my favourite.
We had another day out at the Eden Project last Sunday. We have our local tickets which makes it a very economical day out. As ever, there were lots of new things to see and lots more photo opportunities for Linda. We spent all morning there and did not leave until about 14-00. We then nipped across to Charlestown and had a mooch around there. Lovely place and well worth a stroll about. We even had our Sunday dinner in the pub, (cheesy chips). We never really eat properly on a Sunday.
Linda is still going to band practice and is enjoying that. They have some gigs for the year to look forward to. I start the new season of Coastwatch in a fortnights time. I am on the first watch of that Sunday. It has worked out well with Linda's work and I should be able to do two watches a month on the Sundays she is working.
That's about it for now. I am going to start up my other blog on the Coastwatch as well this week. Thats my blog entitled...Liam and Coastwatch...snappy huh!!
I also have a host of little paperwork and tidying jobs to do at home here as well as getting things organised for work. I have put up a list of postcodes and streets in the office. I am also preparing a list of phone numbers; a list of our days off each week; and a general stores and information centre at the office.
I couldn't resist this picture. The ferry to Falmouth with the other boat in the background. I thought it looked magical.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Chapter Eighty Seven

A fair bit of excitement this last month or so. The main topic of news was the birth of our second grandson, Samuel. His mum, Katrina, had approached full term and was just waiting for things to start. On Sunday morning, 2cnd of March, she had twinges of pain and rung the hospital. They advised her to rest but not ring again until the waters had broken or the contractions started much closer together.
In a very short while the waters broke, and Katrina could feel the babies head. Before the midwife and the ambulance could arrive...Sam entered the world under his own steam. Kevin was able to catch him and hold him in his arms just as the ambulance crew arrived. A real home birth, with all the family, even if it was on the bathroom floor.
Oscar walked in on the entire thing and saw his brother. He looked at both his parents and simply asked, 'is this my baby?'   From that moment on, he has been totally in love with him.
Needless to say, Kevin rang us straight away and Linda's face said it all. She is one very proud Grandma.
The following weekend was our seventh wedding anniversary. Although we had been invited to a family party in St Mawes on that Saturday, I had already arranged to take Linda away for a night for a meal and an anniversary break. Very quickly this has now turned into a lightening trip up country to see the new grandson.
The following Saturday found us both in Linda's car and steaming up the A30 towards Surrey. She must have been anxious to get there because we only took four hours...and stopped off for breakfast on the way up as well. I never got near the steering wheel.

It was a fabulous weekend and we crammed a lot into it. We first got around to Katrina's, and Linda was soon holding the baby. Kevin and Oscar were out so it gave us a chance to see Sam without any interuption.
As is usual in the world of babies, I was eventually put in charge of 'holding the baby'. Very quickly he had dozed off in my arms and we were both curled up on the sofa...just like I used to do with Fiona and Lucy.
When Oscar and Kevin came back it was very clear that all three of them had the same look of pride in their faces. Lovely to catch up with them.

Then followed one of the fastest visits in Liam and Linda holidays. We rushed off to see mum and had an hour and a half with her. Great fun and a real surprise for her I think. We then shot off from there and nipped across to Linda's mum and had an hour and a half there. Jayson and Tracey turned up as well so that was great fun.
We then bolted from there and headed across country towards Wrecclesham. Here we caught up with Roxanne and had a meal with her in the Forest Inn. All to soon that time was up and we shot back to our travelodge and fell fast asleep as soon as the heads saw the pillows.
T he glorious weather held over to the following day and we were up and running out the door by ten. We met up with Katrina and the three boys at a nice pub in Fleet and all had breakfast. This was followed by a walk around Fleet Pond. I got put in charge of 'pram duty' and pushed Sam around for the entire time. Oscar was a delight and is proving to be a delightful; youngster.
We then left there and shot across to Farnham to meet up with my two. Jon was unable to be there as he was having driving lessons but we were able to catch up with Fiona, Lucy, and Woody. The two girls looked beautiful as always and it was so good to see them and have lunch with them. Woody is looking very fit as well with all his running and training that he does. They all put Linda and I to shame.
Sadly, our time with them was short and we had to leave. I think Woody may have been pleased as it meant he could get home to the England game in the Six Nations. It is not my place to now send him any grief over the fact that it is Ireland who have won the whole thing, and England who got pushed into second place. He's bigger than me for one thing ha ha.
Linda then got into the passenger seat of the car, exhausted, and was asleep in short order. I drove us home and we got back in a fairly reasonable time. It was a very hectic, yet very rewarding weekend.
Thursday the 27th of February is now the day I shall never forget on Royal Mail. This was the day that Louise, the DOM of our area, came out to St Mawes to get us all to sign for our duties. Although I knew it was a 'done deal' I knew I would never be happy until my name had been signed on the dotted line. That day was the day it happened. I was so pleased I almost burst. Being a postman is what I am; it is my world. To be a postman at the seaside has always been my dream; and to be the postman at St Mawes is really the icing on the cake.
Now it is all signed, sealed, and delivered. I can stay here until I chose to leave. As a small coincidence to all this...it was also Fleetwoods birthday today...he is 83.
He is very pleased for me and I am delighted that my customers all seem to feel the same way.
Two of my closest friends from Bentley are down in Cornwall for the weekend...by chance the weekend Sam was born...and we went out for a meal with them on the Friday evening.
The four of us had a lovely walk around the hotel they are staying at before we headed off to Mevagissey for a walk around there. A lovely evening and a real sense of the beginnings of a change in the weather. There is still a lot of rain about but the good patches are lasting longer.
We had our dinner at the Polgooth Arms were I had dinner and played in the quiz with Fiona and Woody. It was good to see them and we had a nice catch up.
The new working arrangements are now taking place in the Truro area and you can imagine the chaos in Royal Mail. All the new changes and working practices HAVE to be implimented. The word from on high is very simple...IT HAS TO WORK...END OF STORY. As you can imagine, this makes for a very difficult situation. What they are saying is basically...whether it is workable or not, you must make it work.
For St Mawes this has been a particularly ridiculous idea. It will never work on the plan Royal Mail want. It is neither cost effective, sensible, safe, or workable. Historically, our tiny village office has worked brilliantly since the time of Rowland Hill. If any changes to improve had been required, they would have been done. With this thought in mind, we decided that a simple tweaking would keep both sides happy.
Thankfully, we have been granted a degree of latitude to adapt the whole thing to our office. To the amazement of myself and the two Davids...the adaptation has worked...and worked well.
We are delighted and Royal Mail seem pleased that at least one of their Truro SPDO's is working well.
I am continuing with my job exactly as before, so no problem there. The two boys however have been given a van to share. One of them pops out early with the van and delivers all his heavy and large packets, plus most of his 'sign for' stuff. He also drops off his secondary bags at the safe houses. Meanwhile, the other lad walks around the quay and harbour area and delivers all that. He is never more than two minutes from the office so he just keeps nipping in and out. The first lad gets back, grabs his first pouch, and heads off on delivery.
The second lad then drives out with his heavy and large and 'signed for' stuff, and delivers those. He too drops off his secondary bag at an ex postmans house safe drop. He then returns the van to the quay and parks it on the harbour. He then heads off, walking along the parade and continues with his round.The second postman finishes at the top were his car is parked and can sort himself out before going home. The first postman does his circuit and finishes back at the post office were his van is parked.
The beauty of the whole thing is...its simple, safe,secure, cost effective, and its workable.
I have done two stints on Lemon Street over the last fortnight and I enjoyed them. I have to say though that I hope I don't get called back in to help out again.  Nice to say a goodbye to that duty, but I'm a St Mawes man now.
Linda is enjoying her life down here as well. She is very happy working out in the local community and meeting local people. She is also very busy in the garden and on her allotment. A constant ball of fire, she is never happier than when she is doing as much work as possible. With a bit of luck now, she should be in a position to start promoting her own business soon.
Now that my new duty hours are changed all Royal Mail staff get a long weekend every four weeks. Linda also works alternate weekends...and the coincide. This means we alwayswill have a two-day weekend, every four weeks. We plan on camping out during the summer months and visiting parts of Devon and Cornwall.
A mate of mine down here, often goes camping with his wife and they walk in different places or go kayaking. We hope to do the same. It should be fun.
One final thing. This year is the anniversary of the start of 'The Great War'. My great grand dad was killed at Passchendaele in 1917. I have never forgotten him, although I never met him. Recently I was approached to see if I had any memorabilia concerning him. This is for an exhibition which will include focus on all soldiers killed from the 'Budleigh' area of Devon. I was delighted to be asked and very proud for great grand dad as you can imagine.

Below is the chap who contacted me and I have included the name and address of the museum. Has anybody else reading this got any information you can send Michael? I bet he would be pleased to hear from you.
Look up Fairylynch Museum anyway. The exhibition starts in April and should be fascinating. Linda and I will definitely be going, and hopefully we will take mum as well. If any of you are down this way on holiday I think you will find this worth a visit. Just look out for Private John Hill.  

Michael Downes
Secretary and Publicity Officer Fairlynch Museum and Arts Centre
27. Fore Street,
Budleigh Salterton,
Devon
EX9 6NP
01395 442666
'Something's happening at Fairlynch'

facebook.com/Fairlynch
 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Chapter Eighty Six

Hi there one and all. As you can see, I have not been near the blog for two months. I've been very distracted at the moment because of so many things. Christmas took up much of our time; Linda starting a new job; going up country to visit family; and worry about my job at St Mawes.
As most of you know...I am a postman through and through. I love my work and love my own duty. Bentley delivery was my passion and my delight for so many years and I was devastated when I left it and came down here. Don't get me wrong...I love Cornwall...I just missed my job and my people. Over the last year I have been in the temporary post of driver at St Mawes. I have been well aware that when the new duties start I will have to join in with the re-sign. I am also aware that it would be a very lucky day if I got St Mawes. 
What I did not suspect was just how very much I would grow to love the duty and the people on it. I have made some lovely friends and once more found myself giving as much to this duty as I did to Bentley. I am also well aware that the re-sign is set for the beginning of this year. The fear of losing this job has eaten away at me for most of last year and has really intensified over the last few months...hence the lack of writing.
Anyway, four days ago the new duties, resign positions, and seniority lists went up on the board. My manager was there and she spoke to me and showed me the board.
To my absolute delight...I am transferred to St Mawes as my new office. I will now stay there with the two David's and nobody can take the job off me. The rules state that each office has its own employee's and they get first refusal on their office duties. Both the boys want to keep their jobs and I get to keep mine.
One of my biggest dreams has come true. Not only have I got a job on Royal Mail working at the seaside,(something I've wanted for over forty years), but I shall be able to keep it until I decide to retire. I am beyond happy.


Its been a long old road but...YEEHAH!!!
I should return to the last couple of months though.

CHRISTMAS.
                       This was a very busy time of the year for us both. Linda was instructed by her company to have a week off work, so she was able to pop up country for a few days and see all the family. She had a great time and brought mum back with her to spend a few days with us. Therese, Becky, and Jamie came down a couple of days later and they stayed in a nearby holiday place. The house was all decorated as you know and so we had an early Christmas with them all.
It was great fun as we celebrated Christmas together on the Saturday. One of the beauties of living down here is that we can have several christmasses each year.
They all went back home on the 15th and Linda and I settled in to a busy work pattern right up to Christmas Eve and beyond.
Linda had to work over a part of the Christmas as well as her normal days. Thankfully the gave her Christmas Day off. However she did end up working the late shift on the 24th; the early shift on the 26th; and would you believe it...the late shift on New Years Eve and the early shift on New Years Day.
The bonus of all this was that we didn't go anywhere and got to spend a lot more time together. That was brilliant.

I worked nearly every day in December apart from the first two Sundays. I also got Christmas day and Boxing day off. I have to confess I loved every minute of it. My customers were more than generous with my Christmas boxes. I must be doing something right for them because I collected more than had ever been collected on that round before.
It was a lovely time and very much like the Christmasses I used to have on my old Bentley round.
I was unable to get into work at Truro on Christmas Eve by the direct route. The road was flooded at Tresillian and I had to find a diversionary route. This stood me in good stead in January as the bad weather over this time proved to be a harbinger of the weeks ahead.

LINDA.
             Finally Linda has managed to get a job doing what she does best. She is now working for a local company and is back out in the community where she belongs. This is the work she is so good at and this is the community she wishes to work with. At the same time she is hoping to promote her own business and offer a service for the help of dementia sufferers here as well. She has already started some of her shifts and we are finding that our paths are crossing over as we both go about our respective work.
Linda is also showing another side to her considerable talents. As well as the garden and the allotment, she is also showing a practical side as regards craft work. She has been collecting driftwood from the beaches and has been making driftwood models. She has a real talent for this so we shall not starve if her other work goes under.

It's funny how both of us have taken to our new lives down here. I am the postman at St Mawes and play a part over there. I am also in the NCI and playing my part in that. At the same time I am involved in a poetry group and a writing group.
Linda is now working on the Roseland and becoming a part of the general life over here. She is also in the local Samba band. Both of us in our own ways are being slowly absorbed by Cornwall. Its magical.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
                                          We paid a flying visit up country a week ago to see family. Because I could get no time off in December we turned it partly into a mini christmas as well. Both Fiona and Lucy looked gorgeous; never mind 'biased' I hear you cry; they did. I hope they can visit us again this year.
All of our children are settled and living their lives. We are both very proud of all five of them. Although three of them will always be Linda's own children and two of them will always be my own, we both find ourselves pleased and anxious about all five.
They'll never be the 'Brady Bunch', but at least they all get on and like each other.
Anyway; we had a fine time seeing everyone and we had a lovely mini Christmas at Fiona's house with all my gang. This Christmas has been a little bit special for us all, with the amount of 'home-made' gifts, and the amount of gifts that showed caring and thoughtfulness in their choosing. It was good.
We also spent a little time with Oscar who recognised his grandma and Grandpa straight away...thankyou SKYPE...and wasted no time in coming to us for 'play and chat.' He is looking forward to the birth of his new brother or sister soon. Katrina has not long to go before the due date.
We managed to see Roxanne and Ian for an hour or so before we came home. That boy has certainly shot further up in height. He towers over me. Roxanne is looking fit and is taking part in some of these 'brutal' runs. I think Woody and Jon do some of those as well. Roxanne is different as she also does them linked to one of the dogs. I seem to have grown more fond of just sitting quietly and cheering these fit people on.
It was also nice to catch up with Grahame and Julie. We had a meal with them and even got to see Alexander and Emily for a brief moment. We also saw Therese , Becky, and Brendan. Although we had seen them recently. we had not seen Brendan for a year or more. It was good to catch up. We also managed to see both mums as well. Not much of a rest but great fun.
I was also able to catch up with, and introduce Linda to Susie. Susie is a long standing friend of mine from Bentley. I have watched her boys grow up into fine young men and we have shared much over the years. I was also delighted to meet up with Helen, who was my tutor and mentor for writing. She taught me much and gave me great encouragement. She and her family were down in Cornwall for a week and we met up for a meal together.
Friends from abroad have also featured more and more. I am back in touch with Chris who I worked with years ago and has since moved to Canada. I am also back in touch with brother and sister, Malcolm and Maureen Shackleton. We grew up as kids together back in the sixties. Looking forward to seeing them when they come over from Australia this year.

THE WEATHER.
                         This has been the main talking point; not only in this country; but all over the world. The North American continent has been frozen almost over the entire landmass. Bitter cold temperatures left them struggling for some considerable time.
Australia has been burning up with temperatures that I have on my oven as settings for making dinner's. There have been Typhoons, Hurricanes, Cyclones, Tornado's, and giant storms as well in other parts of the world.
Here in the British Isles, we have had snow, wind, and rain...but it seems to have been in biblical proportions.
The South West and Wales has contended with high tides, driving rain, and strong winds that have brought destruction and misery in their wake.Thankfullywe have been relatively unscathed at our house. The tide comes across the road on a high spring tide anyway, although it has come in a little further recently. Fortunately no properties have been flooded.
  This was the tide out and below was six hours later.

The high winds and gales don't quite reach us down here in the valley and so we have managed to avoid any damage. The odd tree across the road or the odd bit of road flooding with run-off from the fields has been the main problem. We've been lucky.
However, St Mawes has taken a battering. The biggest hotel was damaged by flying stones in the waves and flooded out. The harbour wall took some damage and shifted four inches. The flag poles and rubbish bins are somewhere out in the Carrick Roads I think. Even the trusty old mail van has had two cracked windscreens in as many months. Both caused by wave damage. I had no idea such big stones could fly up in the waves.
In the rest of Cornwall there has been much shifting of sand off the beaches. Some have now got to much...others have none.
Cliff falls have been wide spread and places have had to be fenced off. Its been a nightmare for some victims who have been flooded for over six weeks. There is no railway line into Cornwall either until they fix the huge damage at Dawlish. We only walked along there a few years ago.
This is a view of the road below us at high tide.


WRITING
                 Life has taken on new meaning for me, now that I know my job is secure. I feel invigorated and ready to get back to some serious writing again. I still send off two stories a week to the Western Morning News. I sent a couple of stories to Ian Hislop to read and he kindly gave me a small critique on them. I have  two books of stories ready to be pushed out as well. Each week I go to a small writing group consisting of just me, Paula, and Sarah. Both of them are good writers and keep me focussed on my own work. All and all...life is good and I can't wait to see what this year brings.