Thursday, 22 December 2011

Chapter Seventeen

Just had to write down my latest bit of good news. I have felt a little abandoned by Royal Mail as you may have guessed. Its all I know really and it has been hard to be on my own and away from the work I love to do. The advice from workmates at Farnham; and friends and family; has been pretty consistent.
"Keep your head down; just do your job; and see what happens."
Thats good advice too, that I have always given out myself, and that I have always tried to follow. I was delighted so many people felt the same way and I've knuckled down and got on with it.
Surprisingly yesterday; I got a letter from Royal Mail Truro telling me that my first three months are also up and I have to go in for an appraisal. They also seemed pleased in the letter at my work level so far...I dislike the phrase so much but it seems..."I have ticked all the boxes". Eugh...that even made my skin crawl just writing it down; BUT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE LEAVING FARNHAM...I FEEL POSITIVE ABOUT MY WORK.
Today is my day off and as usual it felt strange to not be working especially at Xmas time. I have not been considered for any overtime since my arrival and it has felt very strange. I was aware when I had my interview three months ago; and it was never said but simply implied; that it was considered that my age went against me as did my working in "London".
There is a misconception down here amongst a lot of people in Cornwall that there is only two postal regions...West Country or London...and London is were the militant, cowboy, and lazy easy jobs postman come from. In vain I kept repeating that I wouldn't know about that because I never came from London. In vain I tried explaining that we are nearer the Devon border here than I was to London in Farnham but the impression is still there.
Anyway...three months along...finally I have managed to prove I will work in all weathers; not collapse in a gibbering heap if my mail pouch has a packet in it; always be on time; and that other horrible phrase...eugh..."I will always go the extra mile."
And today I have been asked to go and do a delivery on my day off. Yeehah; at last. Not only have I been asked to do some overtime on this delivery...they have said that when I have finished, to come into Truro because there is more 'docket' if I want it.
They seemed so nervous asking, as if I was going to bite their proverbial heads off. If only they could guess how pleased I am to feel needed and how happy I am to be working. At least I feel I can hold my head up at last. I have also applied for three more delivery jobs down here as well so hopefully they will take the application seriously.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Chapter Sixteen

Its been a while since I wrote anything and I apologise for that. We seem to have been busy with Christmas and before you know it...the time has run away with you. There have been some memorable moments though since I last posted.
I managed to trip over a small six inch wall on delivery and landed heavily on my left knee. It was the knee I damaged a few years ago when I slipped and fell at Bentley. The one that took two years to heal. Needless to say it has been damaged right back to square one. It is ok to walk on and even to run on; but touching it cripples me.
I knelt down to tie my boot laces and nearly screamed as my knee touched the floor. It is as if I have a knee full of slivers of glass. Even the knee cap feels loose. Anyway, I have kinda sorted it out. I dont kneel on it; I barely touch it; and I'm now ignoring it and hoping it will get better on its own.
Someone once said that 'a man who is his own doctor has a fool for a patient'. Probably right but I'm going with it. I dont think I get sick pay at the moment and cant afford any time off work.
I'm really starting to enjoy my delivery. The people are nice and I'm making friends on my round. I've still put in for another three job vacancies in the area however and hope to hear by 16th January. If nothing by then I shall have to consider other work outside of Royal Mail...or leaving Royal Mail altogether and doing something totally different.
Linda had an overnight stay up in London at the beginning of December. It was for training purposes and several of her colleagues went as well. It seemed very odd being left behind when she left.I also came across something at Truro that I have never known anywhere else. Truro station has a policy of only allowing people on the platform if they are catching a train. We didn't know and I was left at the gate, trying to buy a platform ticket as Linda went through, and so never got the chance to say goodbye.
The bloke at the gate said I could only go on the platform if I could convince him the person I was saying goodbye too was vulnerable or incapable. I mentioned this at the pub quiz that evening and found out more.
This policy is only at Truro for some reason. No other station seems to have a similar restriction. Any other platform you can just walk onto and say goodbye or greet people without a problem. One person at the pub said his 80 year old mother came down on the train to visit him. The people on the gate did not consider her to be vulnerable or incapable and told him he couldn't go on the platform. When he kicked up a fuss and said she would need help with her case and everything; plus a hand to the gate he was told..."She can always ask someone to help her who is getting off here."
In mid argument the train arrived and eventually his poor old mum arrived at the gate with a couple of students who had taken pity on her and helped her out. The boy was carrying her case and the girl was letting her lean on her arm. Distress all around yet the gestapo on the gate couldn't see a problem..."I said someone would help her".
When the old lady went home a couple of weeks later the bloke took her to the next station up the line. He was able to walk onto the platform and even step onto the train and put her luggage aboard. When she got to Reading her other son was waiting on the platform and got on the train and helped her off, luggage and all. One wonders why Truro has to be so awkward.
I've caught trains all around the country and never known that proceedure anywhere else. I assume that if I buy a ticket to the next station from Truro then I can enter the platform that way. I wont use the ticket but at least I can help my old mum when she comes down...but what's the difference except they've made a bit more profit that way. St Austell station for us in future I think.
Linda rang the following morning though to say she couldn't wait to get back home. She had forgotten how much traffic there is up-country and how many people. She really missed the peace and quiet of our village with its no street lights and its no police sirens; and also the stillness.
I picked her up from St Austell that evening at about 2130...and she was very relieved to have got back.
We've done a couple of local walks round about and its been great to explore the place. Linda has got her mountain bike ready and I have just bought myself one as well. (Linda's Xmas present to me.) We should be able to cover a lot more ground. We both need to get a bit of fitness back and at the same time we can visit a lot more out of the way places. Roll on the good weather. We've had so many hail storms down here that we've lost any enthusiasm for wandering about at the moment.
We use the cars instead.
Both our cars now look like all the local ones. Mud and filth to the roof line with only the lights and the number plate cleaned off. The locals told us there's no point in cleaning them because you would have to do it every day. Suits me.
Linda has been on local radio giving a chat about the Alzheimers Society. I didn't hear the show because I was at work but I'm told it went well. I've never seen anyone so scared though as Linda looked as she went off to work that morning. For someone who never stops talking I thought it would have been a doddle for her...but she was terrified.
Then when she got home a new terror had opened up in front of her. It seems her boss was delighted and congratulated her by saying..."Now you've done that you will be able to do more of them and perhaps some presentations to large groups as well."
It was not what Linda wanted to hear.
The medical profession have assured me that the that haunted look on her face should disappear over time and there is a good chance that some colour may return to her cheeks by the new year. If anybody out there has a liking for a sound skin and a pain free existence it would probably be advisable not to mention 'local radios'or 'presentations' to Linda.
"My God"..."Have you seen the price of stamps these days?"
Needless to say; Royal Mail have managed to save even a few more quid on me; when they made me start again. It seems I didn't qualify as a new entrant...so I didn't get any Xmas stamps off them this year like we posties are used to. Coupled with the fact that I couldn't pop the local cards into the frames at work like we do... 'I HAD TO GO OUT AND BUY MY OWN STAMPS'.
As you can imagine this came as something of a shock. I decided I needed my usual ten European stamps to Ireland and discovered these had gone up from 68p per item last year, to £1-00 an item this year. I then discovered that we had to pay postage for just under fifty cards as well. My sheet of fifty second class stamps cost &18-00. What with all this plus my one card to Australia the postage alone was just over £30-00.
No wonder people are using e mail more and more.
Big day for us today as the first members of the family came down to spend a long weekend with us. My sister Therese brought her two youngsters down with her; Brendan, and Becky; and also my mum. Mum stayed with us and Therese and the kids, plus Eliza the jack russell, stayed at a farm cottage up the road.
It was good to see them all. There are so many holiday cottages on the Roseland that you can be spoilt for choice but the place they got at Tregossick Farm was lovely. We have one double bed in our spare room and mum had already earmarked that for herself.
Its only four and a half hours down from Surrey and they arrived before three pm. I met them up the road and took them to the farm before leading everyone down to our cottage.
Linda and I had got the place decorated and ready for Xmas so it all looked very festive. It was just getting dark as well so when we pulled up in the front, the whole place looked very welcoming. The lights were on and the tree and decorations could be seen through the window.
The evening ended all to quickly and Therese and the kids headed back to the farm. Mum settled into her room and all was peaceful.
The following after I finished work and got home, we all headed off to Mevagissey. It was a perfect afternoon with the weather even if it was cold. The sun was shining and it was dry. We walked out onto the harbour wall and walked about the place. The others hadn't been there before and Linda and I thought it a good place to show them a typically cornish harbour.
We had dinner in a little pub on the quay as darkness settled all around. Then we headed back out onto the harbour wall again. This time all the Xmas lights were lit and it looked magical. With all the lights reflecting into the water it made for an enchanting evening. I knew mum would love it and she did. We just wished dad could still be with us to see it as well.
It summed up all the reasons why I had wanted to move to the coast when my children were little. Not only is it like being on a permanent holiday, but it also feels so safe and secure. I would have given much for them to have grown up in a place like Cornwall or the Isle of Wight...but we never made it.
Still; as my mother said to Linda after I mentioned that..."Well Linda, at least you can watch Liam grow up here over the next few years."
Charming!!! Good old mum; She'll bring you back to earth and put a smile back on your face... and to think I let her hold my arm all the way around the harbour so she wouldn't fall. I told her,
"I'd push her in for her cheek."
"You do that son but I wont let go of your arm until we both hit the water."
Very nice! Mum can swim but I can't. She's get out and I'd drown. She kissed me on the cheek and grinned at me so I decided to quit while I was behind.
It was a lovely evening.
The following day we all headed to Carne beach for a good walk and a buffeting from the wind. We had been on the beach two minutes and were enjoying the strong wind and fresh air when the heavens opened. It lashed down so we sloshed back to the cars and came back home again.
A Xmas film on the telly and a glass of something warming brought us all back to life as dinner slowly cooked in the kitchen. I prepared Xmas dinner for us all; and with the exception of the disaster known as 'the yorkshire puddings' it was very good and we all enjoyed it.
We had gifts under the tree and crackers with silly hats and it all went very well.
I put the yorkshire puddings out for the birds and the squirrels. They didn't want them either. In fact the birds wrote to the RSPB and lodged a formal complaint at my behaviour. The squirrels contented themselves with scolding me from the safety of the hedge.
Little beggars. Not a word of thanks from the 3,000,000 birds that eat here every day. Nor from the squirrels that share the food with them. But put out a few rock hard, burnt yorkshire puddings to have a go at...and they have a go at you instead. Very nice.
All to soon the weekend was at an end and when I got back from work on Monday pm we had a coffee together before they headed back to Surrey. We will see them all again in just a couple of weeks when we go up so it wasn't to bad saying goodbye.
This last week has flown by and the weather has been amazing. In a two hour span the wind was blowing hard enough to freeze you; then it darkened and we had a ferocious hailstorm; then the sun came out and it was as bright and warm as you would like. Before the two hours were up though it hailed again and the wind felt as sharp as a knife.
For all this odd weather though, the garden is looking strange. We have a tree with no leaves on it, yet there is a camellia blooming alongside it. There is a daffodil out in the corner of the garden; a rose bush with bud's opening alongside; and apple blossom on the tree in next doors garden.
A week ago we saw bumble bees and butterflies...yet we are halfway through December and Xmas is only a week or so away. It really is very strange.
We visited the Eden Project yesterday evening for the torchlight procession. It is a wonderful place at any time of the day but takes on a magic all its own in the dark. They supply food under a honesty system. Self service for bowls of soup or stew,(and help yourself to lumps of bread), plus pastries and drinks as well. The idea is, when you leave the eating area, you tell them what you ate and pay then.
Basically, most people are very honest; as the queue's to pay testified; and the system works.
We walked into the equatorial rainforest section and the only lights were soft ones showing you the path's, and a few on the displays. Right up in the canopy of the biome hangs a large round light which glows like a full moon in the sky.
It was breathtaking.
We walked through and it really was enchanting. Gradually we climbed higher and higher until we got to the waterfall. Just along from there is a path that leads to the entrance for the canopy walk. I wanted to go up there with Linda so we gave it a go.
We had to sign a piece of paper to say neither of us had high blood pressure or suffered from vertigo. I chose to sign it on the understanding I have both of these things but would be responsible for myself and come down if I couldn't make it.
I wish I had realised that the walkway and platform; a/ sways as you walk on it; and b/ is a mesh floor surface. You could see straight down to the floor about 9,000 miles below. Linda is very good with me over this and we held hands as we walked up. I kept my other hand on the railing and looked straight up at the ceiling. Only stumbling twice I finally got up onto the platform.
The view, thankfully obscured a little by being dark, was simply brilliant and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. Confidence grew and I wandered around a little on my own; at one point I walked right across the middle of the floor.
Heights never used to bother me; and still don't if I'm on a mountain or a hillside; but somehow I developed vertigo. I can't face looking straight down.
Linda has been very good though, as have my two girls, and with their encouragement I have now climbed to the top of St Pauls; walked across the glass floor of the Spinnaker Tower; looked out of plane windows once up and flying; and now this.
It still makes me feel sick to my stomach; still makes me want to cry like a baby; still makes me want to scream; and still makes me so dizzy I think I'm falling over...but I am facing it, and I am dealing with it.
This evening we drove across to St Micheals Mount. It's not open at the moment but we wanted to walk along the beach with the tide out and enjoy the moment. The views were amazing and Linda got some great photos in as we walked. Eventually we reached the causeway and clambered onto the island.
It was getting quite dark by this time and that turnmed out to be rain clouds sweeping in. We had a quick look around and then headed back to the car. This was the point when the heavens opened and it poured down. It felt like being sideways on in a waterfall. Cold, wet, and half blinded the rain lashed down for all of five minutes...when it stopped as suddenly as it started and the cloud blew over.
No one could say it warmed up at this point but it certainly felt warmer to us; definitely drier anyway. Once we had got back to the car we headed across to Mousehole.
We like the village very much and thought we would have a look at it and see if there was any lights up for Xmas...Linda and I must be the only people in Cornwall who had never heard of the 'Mousehole Lights'. When we arrived at six pm the place was busy and with no parking anywhere.
A local man and his wife directed us up a side road which skirted the back of the village and took us up towards the village above. We parked up there and walked back down into Mousehole.
What can I say? The lights were bloody incredible. Everywhere you looked there were displays and the harbour was simply a bowl of light. The whole thing was gorgeous; the best I've ever seen anywhere.
It looks like the whole village takes part with homes decorated with lights and Xmas trees standing on roofs and in gardens. It was well worth the visit; if just for seeing the delight on the faces of the children; and some of the adults; me included.
We celebrated the evening with one of the best fish and chip suppers we've had in ages. You cant miss the chippy in Mousehole. It's right in front of you as you turn right, to go down to the harbour. Don't take our word for it...try some yourself next time you're down.
We wandered down into the harbour itself and along the sand. It was there we met these two little boys running around. One was called Ben. We know he was because his mate kept yelling at him as we walked past. The little lad doing the shouting,(he must have been about ten years old), had the deepest voice I have ever heard on a human being in my life.
In the end we decided that...he had a cold...he was part grizzly bear with a deep growl...or we now believe completely in reincarnation and in a previous life he must have been Barry White. I was to embarassed to speak in case he thought I was Joe Pasquale.
We left a few minutes later and walked back up the hill and out of the village. In the darkness we heard this low rumble and we still don't know if it was this kid clearing his throat; a fog horn; or thunder.
A brilliant ending to the week end though and its now just one more week until Xmas day.  

Monday, 28 November 2011

Chapter Fifteen

We have had a busy week or so since I last wrote anything. About ten days ago we went across to St Austell to see the torchlight procession. After a breathtakingly boring bit of shopping we headed off to the square by the simple expedient of following the sound of the drums. It was fantastic when we got there as the band use only instruments made out of waste materials.
It made for an energetic, yet surprisingly musical, event. They quickly got all the kids involved in drumming and belting out a rhythm on anything that came to hand. Linda was using two bits of rubber piping and drumming with them on the stair railings. She had as much fun as the little boy who stood beside her bashing on the same bit of pipe with his rubber piping.
As darkness descended the evening was made more special by the fact that we met up with Ian and Tanya while Linda was drumming. Ian and I led the four person exodus into a nearby pub were we had a drink or two before heading to see the parade.
Credit were credit is due. Tanya not only knew the best spot to stand in but also got us there just as the parade came into view along the street. It was a brilliant parade with much music and noise, plus some brilliant floats and costumed walkers as well. The theme was obviously Christmas and the lights and the colours made it especially momentous. Great fun.
Before we came home we had coffee with them both in their cottage. A lovely little place, tucked away, yet right smack in the middle of town. The best of both worlds. It was good to see them both again and the evening was great fun.
Although a little chilly the weather has been amazing for November and it was no surprise on Sunday to find the sun shining out of a clear blue sky. We headed for our beach, and though it was warm enough that some people were paddling in the water, we wore our wellies and headed along the beach to go rock pooling.
The tide was coming in but all was perfectly safe as we scrambled around the place. Eventually we walked along the shoreline and waded through the waves to the beach beyond. Sadly we never made it and had to turn back as the water depth was now increasing just a tad. We noticed this when a wave rolled in and poured most of itself into my boots. Its funny what Linda finds to laugh at.
As it turned out the water was not as cold as I expected and we walked back to the car without any bother. I sat on the wall beside the car and took the boots and socks off. Not much water poured out of the boots but gallons of it fell to the ground as I wrung out me socks.
Surprisingly, just sitting there in the shelter of the wall but in direct sunshine, my feet dried off very quickly. It was lovely relaxing there and reading the Sunday papers and reminded us once more of the reasons we came down here to live.
All to soon it was time to head home and get back to some sort of reality. I was quite content to sit in the armchair with my face firmly wedged in a book but Linda had some jobs in the garden needed doing.
For once all went according to plan and my jobs were done easily and without fuss or bother. I must have been using somebody else's head because as most people know...this is not normally the case. In fact; and it is without any question quite possible; that Linda and I must have swapped heads with each other. This became apparent quite quickly on.
I was happily putting the last of the garden box together and just debating whether to get the old drill out and put up the shelves and hooks in the shed when all hell broke loose. The effing and blinding from the shed were Linda was working would have put a squad of postmen to shame. At the same time as the diatribe of bad language filled my ears my eyes witnessed the sight of an empty paint pot spinning out of the shed and landing in the hedge.
As the shed wobbled and bounced in a frenzy of movement I crept fearfully forward and peeped in through the door. Linda stood there seething in a pool of paint and still clutching the handle of the paint pot which had snapped off as she lifted the pot up into the air. The lid of the paint pot lay quietly on the floor as if to scared to move, probably because it had just seen Linda drop kick the pot out through the door.
Discretion being the better part of valour and my own personal liking for a sound skin outweighing everything, I quietly withdrew and left Linda alone. I had thought of a couple of merry quips I could have used or even whipped up a couple of little jokes to ease the situation along...but thought better of it.
The Mulvin men in the family are not cowardly really, but through the ages have developed a keen sense of survival. Pragmatism is the watchword we go by and the family motto supports this...
'He who turns and runs away...lives to run away...another day.'
Actually...that might just be me. Anyway, I legged it.
By teatime all was cleaned up and restored as it once was. I knew I had made the right decision not to get involved when Linda told me I'd made the right decision and hadn't got involved. So there you have it. Call it discretion; or pragmatism; or just being a wuss...its best to keep out of the way when the wife makes any sort of error. That's good advice that is so remember it.
Had a brilliant day yesterday with the weather still good. We decided to go along to the 'Eden Project' and get our yearly membership tickets. If you live in Cornwall you pay just £5-00 per person and get free entry for a year.
We had a great time wandering around the place and seeing the gardens. They have built a giant Xmas tree entirely out of plastic bags and it is amazing. Ever so clever.
We also walked through the allotments that they have and picked up some ideas to use back at our place. What astonished us so much was the fact that the weather conditions at the moment in Cornwall have resulted in the daffodils coming out. We never thought we would see daffodils flowering alongside a bed of leeks and a bed of cabbage. A real example of nature being very unsure at the moment. There were even bumble bees droning past as well fluttering butterflies. All very odd.
The highlight of the trip however is of course the Equatorial forest inside the largest of the biomes.
The heat in there was terrific and very quickly you find yourself stripping off to the minimum. Considering it is still November, the heat of the sun combined with the humidity inside the biome, had made it unsafe to walk up on the aerial walkway. The staff said there was a real fear that people may faint up there and they actually opened the doors to suck colder air into the place to help.
A good day out though and we finished off by driving over to Looe and having our dinner in the Golden Guinea restaurant.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Chapter Fourteen

The phone has now been replaced with the cheapest thing I could find in the shop. That's the third phone in two years. The first phone threw in the towel on me and quietly died after several years of good service. The second one only lasted a short while before I killed it. In my defence it wasn't murder or even manslaughter...it was a pure accident.
I was parked in the car park at work and I remember some health and safety nutcase of a manager bawling at me from the dock. He was stood there with the heath and safety nutcase of a union man and they both felt the urge to remind me of the perils of being in our yard without by flourescent jacket on. Bear in mind that these two people are the ones who worry because there is no sign in the fuel store to remind staff  'NOT TO DRINK THE ENGINE OIL'. Believe me, you couldn't make it up.
As for the flourescent jacket in the yard; there have been postmen working out of that yard for over 100 years and not one has ever been run down by van, by lorry, by pushbike, by trolley, by horse and cart, by meteorite, by tidal wave, by act of God, BY ANYTHING.
The one exception to this is Gary Horne...AND HE WAS WEARING A FLOURESCENT JACKET... and he was fine.
Anyway, back to the two muppets bawling from the dock. I call them muppets because they looked like the two old fools in the Muppet Show that sat in the balcony and had stupid opinions on everything.
They bawled at me to put my tabard on. I ask you; as one of the postman once said, "If you can see me without my flourescent on...then why do I need one?"
In disgust I tore off my jacket and threw it in the van; grabbed my flourescent jacket; and slammed the van door shut as I put it on.
To my surprise the door didn't close but banged and bounced open. I shrugged into my flourescent and looked to see what had happened. My coat was hanging a little way out of the doorway and there was now a dirty line across the pocket. I lifted the jacket up, put my hand in the pocket, and lifted out the half a dozen pieces of phone which now remained. Smashed beyond repair I did manage to save the sim card on this occasion.
Hopefully this will last until I get an upgrade, or whatever it is that Linda said would happen in a few months when the contract runs out. I'm still a little confused at this point I must say.
Sunday dawned bright and clear with plenty of sunshine. I was awoken by the sound of a mug of coffee being put on the bedside locker. I heard movement and then the curtains being drawn back but I kept my eyes shut.
Then Linda spoke, "Blimey, we've got a garden full of tit's."
In my confused state this was a guaranteed way of getting me out of bed and I hurried to the window. It was with a certain sense of bewildered excitement that I looked out of the window but all I saw was a multitude of little colourful birds swarming over the bird feeder's and stuff. Gradually coming to, I reached out for my mug and took a sip of coffee. Sheepishly I said 'Good Morning', and we both stared out at the busy birds beneath us.
Linda is passionate about birds and really know's her stuff. I like them well enough but I am not an expert like she is. What I do know is...they scoff a huge amount of seed, fatballs, peanuts, and anything else we hang up in the garden. If it runs out there is even a couple who will tap on the windows with their beaks as if to let you know.
Constantly, the garden seems full of all manner of finches, tits, sparrows, and robins. All the little birds. It is a delight to see them eating us out of house and home as they consume vast amounts of sustenance. God help them if the buzzards start to use our garden as a supermarket and decide to feed off them. The little birds are eating so much they will become flightless any day now. They will never waddle away quick enough.
"Lets go and take some photo's at St Mawes while it's quiet."
"Yes, lets..."
"Good, we can go now."
"Wha'!!"
So much for sarcasm; we were in St Mawes by 07-30 and Linda was enjoying herself immensely. She is a skillful photographer and takes some good pictures. I'm just a happy snapper but she has a real talent.
It was certainly a good time to be out and about with very few people moving around. We pottered about and even paid a visit to the 'King Harry Ferry'. That is a chain link ferry connecting the 'Roseland' with Truro. It's a lovely ferry and typically Cornish. We loved it.
With time pressing on we then returned home to get ready for the rememberance day service up at Tregony. The day continued bright and clear and we enjoyed the simple ceremony held at the village memorial. There was a decent sized crowd of people there and once again I was pleased to note that all generations were represented.
The vicar must be either very skilled or just very practiced because she read out the little service for about fifteen minutes and was spot on with the timing. After all had been spoken we all said the Lords Prayer. As we all said the final 'Amen', a second later, the bell began to toll for eleven o'clock. Very impressive.
There was a different touch to this one that I had never seen before. A tray of sand stood in front of the memorial and after the wreath's had been laid we were all invited to place our poppies in the tray. We all did so and it made a brave sight with this splash of red poppies fluttering in the breeze. We liked it.
After lunch we drove down to the beach at Dodmans Point for a walk around there. It is both sandy but edged with rocks and the resulting rock pools. It was brilliant walking about and, once again, it confirmed to us both just why we had come down here.
Linda found a starfish stranded on the beach and popped it back in a rock pool. I found a scallop wedged firmly between two rocks and unable to free itself. I couldn't eat the wretched thing but managed to free it and put it back in the water.
We also tried to rescue a crab but I think it was pretty far gone.
Both of us then headed up the coast path and onto the cliff for a walk around the point. The views were sadly, not as clear as the morning but great fun just the same.
We have noticed something down here though. Scotland seems to have its high road and it's low road; but down here we have our 'high lanes' and our 'low lanes'. Not the greatest revelation in the world I must admit but we have noticed it.
Back to work this week and I got my final goodbye from Royal Mail for my 39 years service. They didn't transfer me at all and my contract was terminated on about the 16th of October. I was issued a new contract as a new entrant starting on the 31st October.
It seemed very odd getting a new pay number and realising a new chapter was beginning in my career. All the things I used to pay into have ceased and I am beginning again.
As I say though...I received a final goodbye for my previous service time in the form of a bill for £901-25p because I owed them for the leave I used when Linda and I did our charity walk around the South West Coast Path. It seems if you have all your leave time before you quit service then you have to reimburse the company. Granted, this bill also included the money for a weeks pay that I owed because they paid me the week I moved down here in error...but it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Its not really as if I wanted to leave as I was fully prepared to take on any work for Royal Mail in a transfer. That they have offered several part time jobs showed there is work here.
The times I have heard people tell me that..."Your just a number to Royal Mail, Nothing else." I used to hear that and always refused to believe it. I have always believed that the work you do is your mark on any organisation and you are judged accordingly. I could never accept that anybody is just a number...and now I know just how stupidly wrong I was.
They say you're never to old to learn.
As for any letter of thanks for my efforts for 39 years...I guess it got lost in the post.

Chapter Thirteen

It was with great stupidity that I managed to start my day. You will remember that had I put on the clothes that I dumped in front of the washing machine the night before. This was the pile of washing brought back from our weekend away and Linda decided to leave them and put them through the wash this morning. Of such tiny acts 'does life lurch along'.
I put on a grubby pair of jeans and a filthy t shirt with my intention being that I would dump these back on the floor when I nipped up with Linda's cup of tea and took a shower. It didn't go to plan.
Six o'clock came and I suddenly remembered that Fiona had a job interview today. Our phones dont work in the village but they do work about a mile up the road beside the barn. I put my mobile in my pocket; quietly let myself out of the cottage; and quickly drove up to the barn to send the text.
Sitting in the dark it didn't take long to send the message and I duly returned back to base and slipped back in.
I now had five minutes left and quickly boiled the kettle and made two cups of tea. Just as Linda's alarm went off I skinned out of jeans and t shirt; grabbed both mugs; and went back upstairs to say good morning. Linda was just sitting up and did look a little startled as I entered the room wearing nothing except one pair of glasses and two mugs.
I explained that I couldn't sleep and been up for a while writing. Linda showered as I shaved; I showered as she dressed; and I dressed as she came down stairs. When I followed her down I could hear the washing machine whirring away and Linda preparing breakfast. We chatted as I made something for myself and we ate before getting ourselves sorted out for work.
Linda was just preparing her lunch to take to work when I gathered up my things for the day. It's not a lot; wallet, coin wallet; notebook; keys; and mobile...and I usually can't find something
"Now where's my mobile?" I thought quietly, " I last had it in the car. I've left it on the passenger seat...idiot."
I went out and opened the car door; "No sign of the thing, did it fall on the floor? Nope; is it in the door holder? Nope; Where did I put it? Think you idiot; you sat in the car; sent the text; did I put it back in my jeans? Probably; yes I did; it's in my jeans."
"OH MY GOD, MY JEANS ARE IN THE WASHING MACHINE AAAARGH".
I dived back in through the front door and ran into the kitchen. Linda looked a little startled as I switched off the machine and waited for the water to drain out.
"What's the matter?" She asked anxiously.
"Nothing love," I replied equally anxiously, "I may have left something in the pocket of my jeans."
"That's alright, " she smiled at me, "I know what a numpty you are so I checked them last night; all empty."
"I know love," I bent down as the door clicked and I was able to open it, reach in, and pull out the sopping wet jeans, "But I put them on this morning when I was writing and I left this in them."
I turned around and held up the phone. Water dripped onto the floor out of it as I stared at her, resigned for the next, and frequently used comment, "Mully!! You idiot!!!"
Even the sim card was ruined.
I had to replace the lot.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Chapter Twelve

Here we are, back home at last and once more in our little cottage. It is 03-00 in the morning and Linda is up in bed asleep. It would be lovely to suggest the sound of her snores are reverberating throughout the house and keeping me awake...but it would not be true. All is quiet and all is peaceful. She is laying curled up under the duvet and dreaming the dreamless sleep of the child-like.
Up until ten minutes ago I was laying beside her, curled up under the duvet and wishing more than anything that I could fall asleep. The urgent summons to the bathroom an hour before had awoken me and since then I have just lain and looked at the clock. Eventually the excitement of watching the seconds of my life tick away into the night proved to much, so I got up.
That in itself can be complicated as certain criteria have to apply... criteria mainly consisting of self preservation. This involves trying to get downstairs without waking Linda up.
Me, I could sleep through World War Three if I had too. Years ago when my children were toddlers, we had a two week powercut in the depths of a freezing cold winter. The four of us decamped into the sitting room and kitchen area downstairs to sit it out.
The kitchen had a working gas stove and the living room an open fire place; the bathroom and toilet beyond relied on any heat from these two rooms to keep functioning.
With a good fire blazing; hot water and food from the gas stove; batteries to keep the radio and torches working; and a mattress, pillows, blankets and quilts to cover us when asleep ... we survived.
But for part of that time I was doing a night shift as well which meant I had to sleep during the day.
I was able to sleep soundly for six or seven hours; on the floor; in a room being shared with two hyperactive toddlers playing; with a radio permanently on...and I never heard a thing. Once I'm asleep only two thing's will awaken me; my alarm clock, or the distressed cry of a child. Everything else I sleep through. It's even worse now I'm deaf in one ear. If the deaf ear is aimed upwards and away from the pillow, then I could probably sleep through armageddon.
Linda, on the other hand, has ears like a bat. She can hear a mole scratching itself under the lawn; can hear a squirrel turn over in its drey; and I bet she could even hear a sparrow fart in its nest. I really think she hears me dreaming. She walks like a cat; sees like a rat; and hears like a bat. She can even irritate like a gnat...and that's that.
Imagine my astonishment then, when I smoothly rolled to one side and slid out onto the floor, and I discovered she hadn't been disturbed at all. I checked she was still alive and breathing, and to my relief found that she was. Holding my breath I blindly gathered up my empty coffee cup, my diary and notebooks, and my glasses, and slipped out onto the landing.
I hadn't put anything on upstairs and thought I would do all that once down stairs. Moving like a naked shadow, and avoiding the creaking stair, I ventured downstairs and into the kitchen. I put several things on then as it felt fairly safe to make the odd sound. I put on the light; I put on the kettle; I put on the computer; and I put on the dirty clothes I had taken off the evening before and dumped into the washing basket.
I then settled down, put on my writing head, and returned to our story.
We have just spent the weekend away from home and back up in Surrey. Linda was very tired on Thurday evening and so I drove up while she slept. It is only a four hour trip and is easily done. By 20-00 we were settled into our Travelodge; we had one hot drink each; and by 21-00 we were both asleep.
Friday dawned bright and clear before settling into cloudy and dull. One 'full English' later we headed into Farnham and started visiting. Linda had the car (it is her's after all so I didn't argue) and she dropped me off near the town centre. I started visiting and it was good to see everyone although, one at least didn't want to see me.
I was chatting happily to some of my mates when the 'poisoned dwarf ' ignored his way past me, spoke to the other's, before returning from whence he came. Ah well, not everyone likes everyone. It was good to see and catch up with old friends though and I enjoyed myself. Sadly I missed a couple of them but I will hopefully see them at another time.
Derek seemed genuinely pleased to see me after the debacle with the biscuits when he visited us the other day, because when he squeezed my jaw in his 'vice-like' paws, he didn't dislocate it this time. He must have mellowed in his old age. I was able to speak quite clearly again within the hour so that was nice.
The weekend turned into one long round of visiting family and friends and was great fun. Linda and I divided our time between our own children to give ourselves a chance of seeing everyone but in future we will see them together. It gives us all a bit more quality time to catch up in if we do.
I met both my girls on the beginning of the weekend with Lucy coming down from London to spend bonfire night in Farnham with Fiona.
I hope both of them and their partners enjoyed the display because we never saw a bit of it. We were so busy visiting by the time we remembered about bonfire night it was all over.
Many years ago I once took both my girls down to Portsmouth on the off chance of seeing some sort of display down there. We stood on top of the round tower, in total darkness, and peered all around. There was nothing, not a firework to be seen, not even a sparkler.
Eventually, over the Isle of Wight, a lone spark of light silently curled into the air before showering red and green sparks at the world and vanishing. That was the sum total of that lonely November the fifth all those years ago. That rocket that evening proved to be more than we saw this Saturday.
Hang on though; I've just remembered; somebody did try to involve us in the world of fireworks on Saturday. We were all stood outside Farnham railway station at midday when somebody sent a rocket up into the air. I'm not sure who the numpty was but they obviously had more money than sense. Its sole contribution to the day was to crackle across the sky. Most people looked up on hearing the noise but nobody saw a thing. Its not sensible really to fire pyrotechnics into a midday sky... unless its midday... in winter... in Scandinavia.
Sunday proved a very busy day with a walk with Roxanne over the common with her dogs before lunch. She is Linda's youngest daughter and is just starting up her own business. Her life has always revolved around dogs and horses and now she is putting all that to good use.
If you need your horses looked after or exercised; or if you need your dogs walked or 'house sitted' then she is the person for you. ACTI-DOG is the name of her company so look out for it.
The afternoon was taken up with the first birthday party of Oscar. Linda's eldest daughter had a baby boy which has given Linda and I the new names of Grandpa and Grandma. He is a lovely little boy; we bought him a bike.
Its a little wooden four wheeled thing...not a mountain bike or a touring bike. In fact its more like a post office push bike. It has no brakes or pedals or chain. He simply sits on it and pushes himself around the floor. Hours of fun there.
Monday we came home and a miracle happened. Linda thought I might like to stop at a couple of garden centres and see their Christmas displays and asked if I would like to go. They always say beware Greeks bearing gifts or Greeks borrowing money. Never mind the flaming Greeks I say, beware the Lindas offering visits to Christmas displays is what I say.
I rushed out to check the car for damage but it was alright; I dived at the 'hole in the wall' and checked the account and that was alright; I even rushed to A&E for a full and complete medical checkup and I was alright.
I didn't have to pester, or nag, or hold my breath, or stamp my feet, as is my usual tactics so I don't know why or where or what the offer was all about. I'm still nervous 24 hours later of whatever sting in the tail awaits me.
However, with great delight, I dashed into the first garden centre and launched myself at the displays. On every side stood Christmas trees covered with baubles and lights. Colours glowed everywhere as I stood entranced in a world of my own and gazed about me. Linda left me playing happily with the other children while she went off and did some shopping. I wrote my letter to Father Christmas and posted it before turning and skipping out of the door and back in amongst the gift displays.
In front of me was a display of signs; one of which read...'Kissing under the mistletoe---practice here'.
I grabbed it and picked it up. I spun around and saw Linda standing about 20 feet away with her mum and Chris as they were watching me. Grinning at her, I held the sign over my head, closed my eyes, and puckered up to start the practice.
Nothing happened; Linda never hurtled across the floor and threw herself onto my lips; so I opened my eyes to see why not.
One thought hurtled through my stunned brain as my eyes opened and focused on the coach party of old ladies that stood between me and Linda,
"Where the bloody hell did they come from?"
Most of them looked at me in a bemused sort of way but some seemed to be anchoring the false teeth firmly in their mouths as they began to pucker up themselves. With what shreds of dignity I had remaining (and it wasn't much), I dropped the sign and dashed over and hid behind Linda.
She called me a pillock; I agreed.
Later, after we had escaped and driven as far as Devon, we popped into 'Otter's Garden Centre' and had a look at their displays. It was fantastic and once more I was turned back into a child as we wandered around. I didn't pick up any signs this time because Linda insisted on holding my hand as we walked around. She gets embarassed easily I think.
By the way, I think I may have good news for the farmers; the government; and anybody else interested in the culling of badgers. I have taken no sides in the argument because I really don't know enough about it. I don't like the idea of killing things any more than anyone else and I really wish there was an alternative solution to stopping the spread of 'bovine TB'.
Would laying out food for the badgers with some sort of agent in it to destroy the TB help? I know its not practical to inject each one but an oral solution may work. It's just a thought anyway.
I digress; the reason I mentioned badgers is because of the amount of dead ones we saw on the side of the M3, A303, and A30. Can there be any left in the entire south and south west of England. We didn't see one or two...we saw dozens. There must have been another dead badger at least every three miles or so, all the way home.
It must be carnage out there for them. They'll be extinct by Christmas at this rate. Pretty soon they wont need culling; they'll be up there with the Great Panda, the Elusive Tiger, even the Caring Postman; they'll be another endangered species we could lose.
I just needed to say that. 
It wasn't very long before we got home after that and we settled in for the evening. We both agreed it was good to be home. The evening quickly passed and we were in bed by 22-00. Worn out we were both asleep in moments and dead to the world.
Its now almost 06-00 and Linda is still sleeping like the dead. She gets up in half an hour. I've been awake for four hours and up for three. I get up in half an hour officially as well and I seem now to be awake like the dead. I'm ready for bed now and its time to get up...DOH!!! 

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Chapter Eleven

Once again I'm back to being Postman Liam. I started work on Monday morning at 0830 to find a very different postal world down here than I'm used too. I am the most senior one in the office by at least three years...but it doesn't mean much. In this office I'm pretty much the lowest form of life on the lowest rung of the food chain.
My round is literally two hours long. It is thrown off for me, prepped and tied up for me, and then brought out to a small village called Grampound for me to deliver it. In the future I will start at 10-30...and be home by 12-30. I can't believe that this is all Royal Mail want me for.
I deliver to one road and three estate roads. At least I have my foot in the door although sadly, I never actually go into the office. I collect my delivery from the back of the mail van belonging to the post lady doing the rest of the village. I am hoping to be trained up as the relief postman for St Mawes and Portscatho as well in the future. This will give me more to do and be more what I'm used too. At least I will get a van and a proper delivery.
The clocks went back this weekend and we managed to remember to change them in good time. There have been times in the past when I forgot but it never caused too big a problem. I wonder who will change the clocks at Farnham delivery office now?...it was always my job in the past.
My new postal duties are very simple so let me take you through my delivery so far.
We use our cars down here. I park my car in a little estate and take out the first of three pouches. I then head for the main road. Helpfully, the first two houses I go too have no names up...I take inspired guesses at this point as always. The main road is typically Cornwall---no traffic compared with Surrey--so this is a nice bonus. Just as well to because there is no pavement in places, and where there is pavement there is cars and lorries parked on it.
I go up one side and, yes, you've guessed it; back down the other. Return to car; first pouch delivered.
I then take out my second and largest bag and head into the estate. Nice houses and easy to deliver I am around it quite quickly and back at my car in no time at all. Third pouch comes out and I head to the next estate and deliver that one.
I don't deliver any Special Deliveries. I do deliver the Recorded Deliveries though and return my card to the village post office when I've finished. I then drive home. Its an odd way to work and not something I'm used too.
That in a nutshell is my Royal Mail working career at present.
Linda is very busy and is constantly on the move. She is hard at work with the 'Singing for the Brain' activity that is going down so well. That involves her heading off to various venues all over the county. She is also visiting the memory cafes were various sufferer's of dementia and their carer's can meet up and chat. She enjoys it and covers all of Cornwall pretty much on her own.
She was in Penzance on Monday...she's in Plymouth today...and in between roaring around the Duchy...she is also in the office and working from there.
It makes her tired though.
Saturday morning I awoke at 06-30 and made us both a cup of tea. I drank mine and carried on reading my book until 09-00. All Linda did was collapse back asleep, did not drink her tea, and slept until 09-00.
Then she woke up and unleashed the 'dogs of domesticity'. In a frenzy unheard of on my side of the bed she sallied forth and conquered the house. In the time it took me to get out of bed and downstairs Linda had stormed the bedroom and removed the sheets and pillowcases for washing; had attacked every carpet in the place with the 'dyson' and proceeded to beat, sweep , and clean her way from top to bottom of the house.
The assault on the main living room was over by the time I got down stairs but there seemed to be a renewed counter attack on the bathroom. I stepped across the cleanliness of the main part of the house and carefully lowered myself into the armchair. I knew I should do this as Linda had already put a mug of coffee beside it for me. This unspoken signal of the mug of coffee reads as follows...
"sit down, read your book or watch the telly, do not get in my way, this 'IS' my idea of fun and I enjoy it, and I love you Mully".
As the final mopping and cleaning of the bathroom faded into the distance, 'the charge' was sounded and Linda galloped into the kitchen. It was like a scene from 'the charge of the light brigade'...but with only one person in it. Better still; has anyone ever seen the wonderful picture of the wild eyed 'charge of the greys at the Battle of Waterloo'? This was the picture in my mind as Linda gathered herself before charging into the kitchen and doing battle in there.
The whole house was actually in good shape as I had sorted it all out myself in my role as househusband...why I bothered I do not know.
If asked Linda will relate the tale to you of the dirt on the kitchen floor back in Godalming. It went thus:...
"Oy Mully, I know you hoovered up for us, but have you swept the kitchen floor."
"No love I haven't. Its not dirty."
"Yes it is; its filthy."
"Whats wrong with you, its clean."
There then followed the sound of a broom being whipped around the floor and knocking against the walls and cupboard's. This was followed by:...
"Oh Mully, could you come here a minute."
I made the tactical mistake of wandering into the kitchen. Linda stood there with the broom in her hands and a small pile of dirt on the floor. I then followed this tactical mistake by opening my big mouth and making another one.
"Blimey love," gesturing at the pile, "Whats all that stuff?"
"What my darling; this little pile of stuff here? Oh its nothing really; this is the dirt you couldn't see on your 'clean' floor."
I slunk back to the living room feeling crushed and now I just let her get on with it.
To return to this tale of domestic bliss down here in Cornwall. Linda went through the kitchen like a whirlwind. I never saw what might have been cleaned because I stayed on my chair, in the safe zone, with my face wedged into my book.
Later that evening I discovered that all the shelves and cupboards had been re-arranged, including all the drawer space, so that she would now know were everything is. Linda is happier with it now and I am busy re-learning were everything has now moved too. What fun!
In the peace of the rest of the morning and early afternoon she also made more 'home-made' soup than you could ever imagine and filled the freezer upstairs with bags of the stuff. She's a great one for laying in supplies of anything 'home-made' for the winter...and it tastes superb.
We had a visit later from my oldest friend, Tess and her daughter; my god daughter; Kacey. Kacey lives down here at Summercourt and its great to know there is someone else here who know's us.
Tess had come down for a visit and agreed to come over and give me a hair cut.
I've told everyone down here that I wont need the local hairdresser's number because my hair dresser will be coming down from Surrey every six weeks or so to cut my hair. I dont think they believed me.
It was good to have them both around and we had a nice afternoon together chatting and catching up.
The weather has been wet and miserable but we have had some lovely days inbetween as well. There is still quite a bit of warmth in the old sun if the wind is not blowing. We took advantage of the dry weather and the warmth and took another walk along our beach on Sunday. It wasn't to busy and it was good to do a bit of rock pooling and watching the waves roll in.
I have entered another competition with a couple of stories and this time I have included a couple of poems. I hope they do well.         

Friday, 28 October 2011

Chapter Ten

Another beautiful day dawns down here in Kernow Land. Linda woke up and turned the light on this morning which lulled me into a false sense of awareness. She was just hanging up her dressing gown and getting back into bed; beside me on my bedside locker amongst my pills, prosthetics, and various other parts that I can't sleep with but can't live without, was a steaming cup of tea.
"Morning love," say's I; "Morning Super Stud Sex God Mully," says she. I sat up and realised she had actually just said, "Morning Mully,"...but I'm sure the thought was probably there.
She reached over and picked up her word search book and started to work on one of the puzzles.
Awake now it dawned on me there seemed to be no urgency with Linda getting up and I glanced at my clock hidden behind the tea mug.
"Quarter to five!!!", I yelped now completely wide awake, "Wassup?"
"I couldn't sleep love so I went down stairs and made us both a cup of tea," she smiled, "I knew you'd want one."
"But I was asleep quite happily," I thought as I politely said, "Thank's love; very kind of you."
"Bang goes an hour and a half's kip," I thought as I picked my book up and opened it. The tea  tasted good though.
Fifteen minutes later with her mug of tea drunk and her puzzle finished Linda was fast asleep beside me, while I, now completely wide awake, sat glued to my book and lost in the prehistoric world of the latest in the "Clan of the Cave Bear" series.
When the alarm eventually went off, my refreshed and rested wife dashed about and busied herself in her morning rituals for getting ready for work. Meanwhile I staggered from the bed giving off jaw cracking yawns, before attempting my morning rituals, before another tough day keeping the home fires burning.
Refreshed with the first of many coffee's of the day I slumped into my armchair and watched the local morning news before burying my nose back into my book. All too soon Linda headed off to work and I was abandoned once again.
This time yesterday I went off for a walk in the rain towards the estuary. I cleaned out the surface water drain as I walked down the hill towards the creek, before turning right and heading along the road to the Quay and the estuary beyond. There was a huge deep puddle of water in the road at the bottom of the hill and I assumed it was the run off water.
It was still raining as I got around the head of the estuary and stood on the little old bridge that crosses our river. It was very wet out but also quite beautiful with the sense of peace and quiet all around. I did my good deed for the day as I used to do in Bentley every day.
My old mail van always had a box in it and I would pick up any bottles, cans, or newspapers dumped on my delivery. If you do it daily it doesn't amount to very much and I used to dump the lot in the bottle, can, and paper bank almost at the end of my round. It just keeps things nice and is good for the old recycle.
Sure enough, along the road to the estuary is the isolated can, or bottle(both plastic and glass), and paper. It takes no time at all on the way back to pick these items up and take them home in a bag. Our recycle bin looks very varied sometimes...not that I leave it out for the recycle people.
I still can't make heads or tails of when they call for the stuff and neither can Linda. One week its paper; the next week cans and bottles; the next is plastics; or is it the other way around. It matter's not anyway...monday is always weekly rubbish day so that's not a problem. Friday is my shopping day and I dump the lot in the recycle bin's at the supermarket. I've met several other people doing this as well because they can't make heads or tails of the system either. I never thought I'd say it but there does seem to be something to be said for uniformity in council rubbish and recycle disposal.
Anyway...lets forget that load of rubbish...chuckle..."load of rubbish", "nice pun Mully", I hear you shout. " Let's forget that load of rubbish and turn towards today.
I said goodbye to Linda and became aware of the blue skies and sunrise going on. There was barely a cloud or breath of wind so I nipped back into the house and came out five minutes later, warmly dressed and welly booted. Turning down the hill I headed back onto yesterdays walk.
You remember I mentioned the huge deep puddle of water yesterday. Well it was gone when I came back and I assumed someone had rodded the drain into the creek and the water had run away. To my surprise the water was back there today and just as deep...but it wasn't raining. Then it dawned on me. That's how come the road floods on High Spring tides. The water wasnt 'runoff' rainwater; it was the tide filling up our creek and pushing through the drain pipe up into the road. I was right as well, because the tide was just on the turn back out as I started my walk and when I came back an hour later and the level of water in the creek had dropped nearly four feet...all the water in the road had gone.
I walked along quietly listening into the silence of the morning. I say 'silence'...it was anything but...the natural sounds were all around me. The water was trailing back through the marshy grass in little unseen streams towards the main creek. The water was unseen, but not unheard. It chuckled and giggled its way along and made a music all its own as it drained away.
Our creek enter's the water of the estuary to the left of us as you walk along the road; the much bigger river enter's towards the right. It wonderful to watch with the sun glistening on it and is well worth seeing. Today there was also the added bonus of a mist curling its way up as well.
Overhead and all around is the constant call of the birds. Geese honking loudly predominate at the moment as do the seagulls. Because of our position though we get both coastal birds and countryside birds. The sounds of owls calling around our house competes with the harsh squawk of pheasants. The garden is full of the usual garden birds, with a few birds of prey keeping an eye on the bird table and treating our garden as a free supermarket. The occasional swoop and spiralling feather attests to that.
Walking along today I could here that wonderful call that wading birds come out with; very evocative and lonely in their calls, it is a reminder of our different home life now. One flew overhead, with its long curved pointed beak and headed towards the reeds. An Egret or a Curlew, I think; as they are the only two names that I know, its a little difficult to identify them I'm afraid.
I walked a little way out into the wet grass and water and picked up a couple of soft drink and beer cans chucked in there; obviously from passing cars I would think. That was exciting as the ground quivered and shook beneath me.
I even found an old glass bottle as well and some sweet corn cans...sadly it doesn't take a genius to work out who dumped those. Not all anglers are as caring as they should be although, thankfully, most of them are.
I enjoyed the walk though and it was a lovely time. On the way back up to our house I had our local pub, 'The Kings Head' directly in front of me. It is a brilliant 'free house' selling good beers and serving superb food. Andy is brilliant in the kitchen and is a fantastic cook as well as very nice person. Nikki is more front of house and is also very nice as well. She keeps the pub and restaurant in order and running smoothly with her able staff.
Don't take my word for it...come down for a drink and a meal...its as if you've been invited into someone's home; its brilliant.
We took Jan and Jim in there yesterday after they had come down this way and managed to find us. Great to see them both and a happy reminder of good days on my old delivery. Dinner was a delight and we really enjoyed the evening. As with all good things, it had to come to a reluctant end and we said our goodbyes.
Nikki thought it very decadent that they would come all the way down here just for dinner, so Linda and I plan on taking more of you across there in the future.
I also received a phione call yesterday morning from Truro Royal Mail. The manager down here is a Louise Buckley and she rang me to ask if I could start work on Monday at 0830. It looks like I'm back in the fold and ready for the off. My biggest fear now is that the old shorts might not go around the manly tum.
There has been a surfeit of pasties and 'full Cornish' breakfasts, and sadly, some small decline in the exercise. Still, no problem; I shall soon take on the usual body of the 'bronzed Greek God' with a slimness akin to a racing snake. "You'd have to be mad not to have noticed the similarity", he said with tongue in cheek.
Linda is enjoying her work very much and seems to be travelling to all points of Cornwall to do her job. Looking happier and more relaxed than I've seen her in a long while, I think she is getting as much out of this job as she is putting in. I'm very proud of her, knowing especially how she does lack a certain confidence. You wouldn't think it at the moment though.
The saga of the spare bed is slowly coming to an end. I have rung up and demanded to know, demanded I say... no I didn't, I wussed out. I rang up and asked were the bed was and would it be coming soon. I spoke to three people and got put on hold several times before they told me there wouldn't be a bed in the area like the one we ordered until next Monday. They said they'd ring us when they could deliver it. No apology for the lack of response to phone calls and e mails; no apology for the complete 'dogs dinner' of a service they supplied; and no apology for the  loss of the original bed that didn't arrive. I reared up to the full height of my wrath, wussed out again, said 'thankyou very much, I'll wait for your call' and hung up. I'm sure they sneered at me afterwards.
I also found out what 'sniggling' is. Who would have guessed it...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Chapter Nine

Here I sit in the happy home playing the good old cornish game of 'Keep an eye on the Weather'. Its a great game and I'm sure you would love to play it.It involves being taken in by the blistering warm sunshine and decent blowy breezes... so that, for brownie points all around, you put the washing on. Seconds before the washing machine finished its cycle it started to rain.
As you can guess that left me with a machine full of washing that needs to be dried. Nothing daunted I found the clothes horse and two little plastic things covered in little dangly pegs...and hung the whole lot up in the kitchen. Ten minutes after sitting back down and trying to think of inspiration in the story line...a great beam of sunlight shot through the window and blinded me.
Groping my way to the kitchen and waiting for the flashes and dazzle in my eyes to stop I saw bright sunlight and blue skies. At a single 'Linda like' bound I was out of the door and sticking the old rotary line up in its hole. I dashed back in and rushed back out with the two plastic peggy thingies and hung them on the line.
I then dashed back into the house and shot back out with the clothes horse and pegged the washing out on the line that was now glowing in the sunshine. Not straight away I admit because I forget the pegs...but one more gallop in and out of the house took care of that.
 The washing fluttered and swung gently in the breeze as I went back indoors satisfied. I took off the wellington boots I'd put on to go out, and realised that every journey in and out of the house had involved me wearing them. The result was a small trail of leaves and pebbles on the carpet.
I hoovered that up and then thought I would keep going. The house is now hoovered from top to bottom and that was when the game started. I noticed it had got very dark; so yes, youv'e guessed it; I started to 'keep an eye on the weather'. So far I am winning but I've been in and out three times already. The clothes have gone in and out more times than a wooden cuckoo in a clock.
"What hours of fun..." I hear you cry.
I have made mention of the old wellington boots and it has reminded me of a little offer we can make to some lucky soul out there. What am I bid for a pair of ladies wellies, size 39 (I think it may be a six in English measures) colour black although a little muddy? One careless owner (Linda) who managed to put a fork through the right one.
Please don't be alarmed, all the blood has been washed off both inside and out, and 'Long John Linda' is getting around just fine these days. She doesn't have a parrot because we couldn't afford one but she has a stuffed seagull she can wear on her shoulder if she wants it.
These boots would suit anyone who only wants the left one...or anyone who wants them both and has no worries about the right one letting in water.
Sealed bids only to our address will result in the winner getting a bargain once the cheque has been cleared.
We had our first visitors find their way to Ruanlanihorne yesterday. All the way from Royal Mail Farnham via sunny Crondall, postman Derek and his young lad Sam arrived. We have open house for any friends coming down this way and it was a delight to have them both turn up. No expense was spared as I pushed the boat out and put the kettle on...several times. Sorry old mate...I forgot the biscuits and Linda told me off later. No need to pull one of my ears off ok...I'VE BEEN TOLD.
It was great having visitors though and we enjoyed a good old chat and gossip about all sorts of things.
We even had a chat about everybody back at the office. It was good to catch up and yes...I have missed the banter more than I ever realised.
Derek also brought down the photos from my leaving meal. Who was the bloke in the tweed waistcoat? Did anybody recognise him?
Thanks for the pictures though Neil, I really appreciate them and they brought a lot of happy memories with them.
As one or two of you may be aware, and I know I cover for it well, I am a bit of a technophobe. In fact its probably fair to say, if something is working...I dont have a clue as to how.
Facebook and the communication highway is a case in point. I can read stuff on facebook, but had no idea how to make a comment back to people if required. Also, when someone is on line and says hello, I don't know how to reply.
And its no use bawling at me that its easy; or its simple; or anybody can do that; or even, "are you a complete numpty or what Mulvin?" Because I still don't know...so yesterday I asked Derek.
I admit Sam looked at me as if I was an idiot but Derek took it in his stride. As he said, and there's more than a grain of truth in it
"Its not Liam's fault Sam. His head is somewhere back in the stone age." and with that he grabbed me by the ear and led me to the computer. I am delighted to say that with a patience I wasn't expecting and no pummelling at all, Derek showed me how to do these things.
"I can only say thankyou old pal as I have now posted my first comment on a facebook page and I am poised ready to chat if someone goes on line. I also say thankyou for not hitting me or squeezing my chin."
It was Derek, completely understanding how mystified I am about cars, who reccommended a mechanic down here for us both, before we even left Farnham. Without his advice, without a doubt, we would have been ripped off as I can be like 'An Innocent Abroad' when it comes to cars.
I remember years ago when buying a car, I was shown the engine. I might as well have been shown an advanced mathematical equation written in hebrew and chinese for all my understanding of it. The only thing I ever thought I knew about car engines was...they are always in the front.
This one incontrovertible fact was all I ever knew until the day, on delivery in West Street, a pretty young lady, in some distress I might add, asked me if I knew anything about engines as her car wouldn't start.
Always eager to help, our hero replied, "Let me have a look for you."
I walked to the front of the car and asked her to open the bonnet and I would take a look. In an unimpressed tone she pointed out that the car was a 'Hillman Imp'. My blank face must have spoken volumes because she followed that intelligence by telling me, "They're like Volkswagen Beetles...the engine's in the boot."
 I didn't like to tell her that I didn't know that either, and as her voice had got a little shrill I thought it best to say nothing. Fortunately at that moment a scruffy looking mechanic type walked past and asked if everything was OK.
I left the young lady and 'Mr Opportunistic' to each other and carried on delivering along the road. A few minutes later she drove by in the now perfectly functioning vehicle and, although I waved, she ignored me. Charming!!
Linda and I were delighted to have our first visitors down here though and we look forward to seeing many more. It was easier saying goodbye this time knowing that we can stay in touch.
Tomorrow we will welcome our second visitors when two of my special customers off my delivery come down here; Jan and Jim from Station Road, Bentley.
As for today, the sun has been continuous now for a couple of hours so I think I have won the game. The washing has dried as I 'kept an eye on the weather'. YAY!!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Chapter Eight

Well the weather has finally changed down here and is giving a good example of summer being over. It tipped down last night with a vengeance. Rain constantly plus high winds. Very nice. Today has dawned as a bleak and miserable morning. I have to confess to being kinda glad that I'm not out on delivery in this.
Saturday was a lovely day but we spent most of it at home putting up pictures and curtains around parts of the house. Needless to say it wasn't my idea. I hadn't thought much further than curling up in a chair and reading a book.
Linda and I have very a very similar yet totally different view on what a day off is for. Our joint view is that you should use your day off to catch up with all the things you couldn't do while at work. There is no argument over this and we are of one mind. It is the application of this view which breeds discontent.
My view is very simple... do very little and take it easy.
There we go; now how difficult is that. In layman terms its very uncomplicated.
Long lie in; get up; lick and a promise from the flannel; give shaving a day off; dress in favourite sloppy clothes and stagger down stairs. Have a long talk with the kettle and instruct said appliance to fill itself, boil itself and make a coffee every hour on the hour. Instruct the mug to arrive within elbow room at appointed hour and to be hot, steaming, and sweet (a little like myself he thought chuckling quietly). Linda to fill in if this proves to difficult.
Now all that is needed is ten hours of peace and quiet to enable the old book to be read  and all is right with the world.
Linda to be quietly attentive to my needs as she waits patiently and in anticipation for any instructions.
Incredibly this day off has yet to materialise and I have never had one like it.
Linda has a slightly more oblique view than mine on days off.
There is a short lie in before launching herself out of bed. She lands at the bedroom door in one single bound, washed, dressed and ready to assault the day. Have you ever seen the trick were someone pulls out the table cloth and leaves the place setting sitting on the now clothless table.
Linda does that with the bed. Somehow she has managed to strip the bed of sheets, pillow cases, and duvet cover...and I am left lying there, on the mattress, with nothing but my book and my glasses for company. It's not a vision of delight I must say.
She hurtles downstairs, hoovering and dusting as she goes before landing in the kitchen; the sound of the washing machine goes on as the hoovering continues in the rest of the house. There is the rattle of pots, the click of the kettle, the swishing open of curtains, clattering in the fridge, followed by a spoon dipping in and out of a bowl of porridge.
To the sound of the radio, is added the sound of the peg basket and washing basket being rushed to the washing line...moments later I can hear a full rotary line of clean washing turning in the breeze.
I finish off the coffee that Linda brought me up earlier and stagger off to the bath room. As I pick up the flannel for the old 'lick and a promise' a Linda shaped whirlwind hits the bathroom.
IT IS GONE IN SECONDS.
And as it leaves I find myself standing under the  shower at one end of the bath; a shower gel soaked flannel in one hand, and a razor in the other. Stuck in the centre of my shaving foamed face is a mouth clenched on an electric toothbrush. The toothbrush is whirring madly.
Showered, shaved, shampoo'd' and shiny teethed I walk back to the bedroom to find the bed made and my book and coffee mug gone.
Dressing myself (because I can), I stumble downstairs to make some toast and another mug of coffee. The house is now looking neat and tidy and Linda has launched an attack on the garden. Somehow she is operating 47 tools all at the same time including the lawn mower and the hedge trimmer, both of which are power tools.
Dinner is already prepared and ready in the kitchen...all it needs is switching on at the required time and we can then eat a bit later...and outside the bird table too is set for an avian banquet. By the time I've eaten my toast and drunk my coffee, the garden has gone quiet and the shed is clattering as its door is being closed.
Being a new man I am content to wash up my plate and mug and, once done, I turn away from the sink and head towards my book. Before my backside connects with the arm chair there is a ripple in the space/time continuum and I fnd myself in the car.
The seat belt is on and we are reversing out onto the road. I look across at Linda who turns towards me and smiles before speaking softly and slowly as she does when she wants me to agree about something..."We don't want to sit in the house all day doing nothing Mully do we? Lets go off somewhere.It is a day off after all. What shall we do?"
She's already done more work in an hour than the rest of us do in a day but she doesn't want to be  sitting down doing nothing for the rest of it.
My suggestion of a beach to lie on, or a pub to sit in is given short shrift and I wonder why I am asked in the first place. Linda's suggestion's of lets climb the Matterhorn; or lets swim to France; or lets walk the entire coastline of mainland Britain for the rest of the day, are reduced down to... a good walk across the cliff tops on the one hand...or shopping on the other.
How much of my life is spent being given choices that really are 'no' choice.
So that is why I spent Saturday running around with my drill putting up blinds, and pictures, and curtains. It does look good though. Even more homely than it did before.
We did go to Mevagissey again in the late afternoon and early evening. Breath taking in its role as a fishing harbour it shows off much that is wonderful about Cornwall. Fishing boats bobbed quietly in the inner harbour as the last of the sunlight shone warmly down. Large boats with names like 'Ocean Harvest' from Stornaway jostled with local rowing boats like 'Mary Sue' from Fowey. Crab boats lay alongside drifters as rope, fishing line, floats, and 'pots' lay tidily on the quay side.
A decent harbour quietly waiting for the crews to go out again and hunt for their food; its a humbling thought. Seagulls called overhead and two large swans bustled around the harbour ignoring those of us who took their pictures. You can see how idyllic it can be.
Its only when we walked around to the end of the outer harbour and we saw the sea throwing itself at the sturdy walls surrounding it, that you can see the dangers. I take my hat off to fisherman everywhere and promise to never complain again on delivery when its pouring down with rain. Its not quite in the same league is it?
Sunday was spent at Trago Mills. Favourite home of my two daughters it stands foursquare on the side of the A39 just outside of Liskeard. We got there at 10-30 and it was busy yet peaceful; by midday it was packed out and manic. Linda got what she needed too get , and was glad finally to make her escape with me in tow. I too, bought what I needed to get, and couldn't get out fast enough. Linda spent £130-00...I spent 80p. In fairness Linda did buy for the house or christmas presents...I just bought for me.
Trago Mills is a fantastic place and I do like going there...we just gotta find a quieter time.
A brilliant Sunday lunch was enjoyed at a very nice pub. Two large turkey dinners with loads of meat, veg, and potato's all washed down with a large Pinot and a pint and a half of 'Tribute'...all told £25-00. Very nice.
Sadly, all was ruined on my return home to discover that in the Manchester derby; United at home, were beaten 6-1 by City. Hopefully United will do better against Aldershot next week or I can never return to Surrey again.
I have heard no more about my job at Royal Mail although I have rung and left a message. I have also heard nothing about the missing bed either although I have rung and left a message there. I am assured that this is life in Cornwall...get used to it.   




  

Friday, 21 October 2011

Chapter Seven

This post has taken me up to the present now and I have finally caught up. Before I go any further, I owe you all an apology. Sorry about the misery over Royal Mail...none of you deserved that. It was just me having a grump with them but I didn't need to heap it upon you all. There's to many good things going on for a start.
Our closest neighbours here invited us over to our local, "The Kings Head" on the 12th to take part in the weekly pub quiz. It was great fun and we met a good section of the population of the village at the same time. Lots of very nice people who have all made us feel welcome. I booked Linda and I into the New Years Eve do up there yesterday lunchtime  but couldn't remember our phone number. One of the bar staff called across and said. "Don't worry, Liam's a local. We don't need his phone number because we know were he lives and can always pop across."
It was a brilliant feeling, as we now feel accepted.
I broke my glasses the other day and have had to make do with my old ones. As they couldn't be fixed and I can't read with them on anyway, I decided to make an appointment to see the optician to get my eyes tested. Hang the expense thought I...it has to be done.
When I went in he observed that he seen me reading my book yet holding my specs in my hand. I told him I was having a problem reading close up with them for some reason.
He then examined right into the eyes and asked me had I noticed a problem driving at night. "Yes says I; even Linda has noticed. I can't see when I get caught in the glare of approaching headlights. My eyes feel as if all I can see is a bright wash of light and nothing else. It can be scary sometimes."
He then asked was I constantly cleaning my glasses because of the blurring on them...as if they've got mucky. "Yes says I", in a surprised tone wondering how on earth he knew that. Then he really surprised me.
"You've confirmed what I thought. You've got cataracts."
I'm now booked in for an appointment to get referred for an op. Thankfully its nothing serious and they said the op is very easy to perform but flipping heck...I've kept out of hospital for over fifty years, yet in the last few years I seem to have had to go in at least once a year.
Linda says she's waiting for the loud crash when I completely fall to bits and have to be brought home in a bucket. She advised that I try not to cough in case my failing body can't stand the shock. Very nice I must say. I'm afraid to sneeze now in case something shoots off me face and lands in the garden.
She already thinks that more of me is left on the bedside locker at night than actually gets into bed.
Cruel gibes, but I can't deny the truth of them he he.
We had a brilliant day last Sunday and spent it mooching around St Ives. The weather again was glorious and we spent a good chunk of it sitting on the beach. We had a breakfast consisting of pasty and coffee on the beach before finding a sunny spot to sprawl.
It was very lazy and great fun. I did go off for a paddle in the water and was shamed by the small children jumping in and swimming about like seals. It's incredible just how warm it all was though.
We are now approaching the end of our first month down here...I lie...today is exactly a month since we moved down here. It has gone past very quickly but has been absolutely fantastic.
That we miss you all is obvious; but that we are happy here is also obvious.
Linda is settling in nicely in her job and is finding her feet at last. I have written up some competition entries and posted them off. At present I am like some sort of house husband but I am getting a fair bit of writing done. My book about the walk on the coast path is virtually complete; just the photo's to pick and a little more polishing and then I'm going to try and find a publisher.
My own day is one long round of housework and toil.
I am forced to get up with Linda at 0700 and make cup's of tea. I then get myself ready for the day before going downstairs and getting in her way until 0800 when she goes to work.
Then its the drudgery of the housework...bed made and a quick whizz around with the hoover. At 0815 I sit down at the computer and have a quick surf before dealing with the e mails. Then I get another coffee and start writing for five hours. Every hour I have to make another coffee, so it's a busy day.
At just after 1400, I multi task with a vengeance and prepare dinner while also eating a couple of sandwiches. Who says men can't do two things at once. Veg prepared and in steamer; meat defrosted and sitting in a dish; me worn out and sitting in a chair by 1415.
It's time for some 'me time' so I read  until I know that Linda is nearly home.
Then its up and look really busy as she comes in home at about 1730.
Exhausted with all the housework and the rest of the day I slump into an armchair for an hour. Then I cook the dinner and serve it up before collapsing at the table and eating it...the dinner, not the table.
I do the dishes and fall almost senseless into a chair and read until bedtime.
I don't know how I make it through the day...I find the best way is to lie about it.
Finally; I have some news on the job front. I received a call from Royal Mail at Truro. I have been offered a job on the usual Part Time six month contract that is offered these days.
I shall be working a lot less hours than 99% of the posties at Farnham..."no change there then", I hear them cry, but which I shall ignore.
I have been offered a delivery span on a five day week from 1100  to 1300. A whole ten hour week.
That's the offer and I will take it. As the feller said when I spoke to him...take whatever they offer. It gets your foot in the door and the hours will quickly climb.
It does mean sadly, that I don't think my 39 years service time will be allowed to continue. I will be a new entrant and starting afresh. It saves them a couple of dinners for the forty year bash I would have gone to next year I suppose...it's saved them a gift as well, so it looks like they are already quids in on my employment.
Funnily enough it doesn't matter. I'm shall be back doing what I like doing the best, and thats being a postman.  

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Chapter six

I forgot to mention that our first day in Cornwall, the day we moved in, was Wednesday 21st September. That was my dad's birthday and he would have been 85. A real coincidence. The cards have been coming through the door thick and fast from both family and friends. So many cards now up "Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas", as the song say's.
The house has now become a home and its lovely. Very dark at night though with nary a street light for miles.
We popped into the churchyard and found the grave and saw the memorial stone for the man who used to live here. We've introduced ourselves to him and I told him we had moved into his house. The sun shone down and a gentle breeze blew and it seemed to indicate that all was right with the world. I hope he would have been pleased anyway.
Linda started work on Monday 26th and has dived straight in at the deep end as regards her new job role. She is understandably nervous and very much out of her comfort zone now but I know she will be OK. Everything has to be 'just so' with Linda or she struggles a bit. It will take her a couple of weeks but it will be alright. Her job is very varied with the Alzheimers Society but I know she can adapt. She seems to be heavily involved with the volunteer's; the 'Singing for the Brain' activity, and the Memory Cafes. I know she will enjoy the challenge.
Her first week behind her we ended up with a whole weekend off together. Saturday was brilliant because we went into St Austell and met up with ex Farnham postie...Ian Sawkins and his partner, Tania. The pub sold real ale and it slipped down the old throat very easily. There was loads to talk about and we were there for almost six hours. With all that talking no wonder we developed such a terrible thirst. I even had to go out twice to feed the meter in the car park. For those of my colleagues who are interested in such things you will be amazed to hear that I bought a couple of rounds...and with my own money.
Sunday 2cnd October proved to be the record breaking day as regards the weather. We had hit the beach by 0930 that morning on a falling tide and sat out happily in the sun. Linda was in a bikini like so many others and I was wearing just a pair of shorts.
 It was so hot that we were in the sea along with everybody else by lunchtime. Linda enjoyed her swim and I enjoyed my paddle...I can only swim with both feet firmly on the bottom so I dont bother going out of my depth anymore.
We have been incredibly lucky to have the chance to move here and have already had a couple of evening walks in places like Mevagissey and St Mawes. As Linda say's, "That's what we moved down here for." It really is like being on holiday every day.
Several evenings have gone by with us both out walking. Just below us is the road on part of the estuary. We can take a stroll along there and past the quay to the old bridge. Its beautiful just watching the sun going down like that. There are birds everywhere and Linda seems to know each one...well their breed's that is. The colours and the sounds, the bird song and calls, the feel of the wind and the sense of time. It really is a delight.
Linda is taking to her work like a duck to water and enjoying life. It was with great excitement that I too found myself with an appointment for an interview for a job with Royal Mail. Sadly my 39 years counts for nothing and I will not be able to transfer down here. It seems that the only jobs Royal Mail offer these days are part time and on a six month contract. According to the person I spoke to this meant they could not accept a transfer from my old full time non contract job to a part time six month contract.
I have been told that the loyalty I showed in staying with Royal Mail for all those 39 years counts for nothing and I must apply for a job as a new entrant. I even had to take a sorting test. I haven't done one of those since 1972.
Anyway...I passed that.
Then I had to have a job interview to see if I was capable of doing the job. I haven't had one of those since 1972 either.
Anyway...I passed that.
The interviewer was a little surprised that I had to go through all this rigmarole because he had just read my CV and it was a good few years longer than his. But he was a very nice chap and he wished me every success in the job down here.
A week later I received an e mail telling me that I HADN'T GOT THE JOB. There was no reason given but there didn't need to be really.
All I know is that I have never felt so crushed, so lost, so unwanted, or so devasted in my entire working life. There was a crumb of comfort on the note to say I could possibly be considered for another job in Truro in the next three months and I may be chosen then. Its something anyway.
But the hurt of that decision has cut me deeply. I may, and I wish it more than anything because its all I know, be employed by Royal Mail in the future. I will treat any customers down here with the same 'customer service' I did in Surrey and I will enjoy my work with my colleagues as I did before. I will work hard for Royal Mail again and be proud of the job I have...but I will never trust Royal Mail as I once did; that I can't do. Now I know the meaning of corporate loyalty, the trust has sadly...disappeared     

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Chapter Five

The final dental appointment over and a coffee and panini under the belt's, we headed for our new home in the West. It was with very mixed feelings that we drove away as the Farnham area has been our home for so long. We are leaving too many people behind who we love and its made the move all the harder. It didn't help being in two cars as we had nobody to talk too.
I don't know what Linda listened to on her radio but I settled in with a good book as I drove down here. "The Mayor of Casterbridge". I've always wanted to read that book as its a real classic that has passed me by. Sadly I have discovered that reading a book while you are at the controls of a car is bad for the old health. Its funny how many things can interfere with your life when your face is buried between book covers.
My dad always observed that I was born reading the midwives newspaper, and never stopped reading after that.
Not allowed a book at the breakfast table resulted in me reading the cereal packets instead; told to go out and play in the sunshine resulted in me hiding in friends houses while I read their books; told to go to bed and sleep resulted in me reading by torchlight under the covers; even waiting at 04-00 in the morning for a lift into work resulted in me reading a book under a streetlight. So it was well understood that I would find a way to read a book while driving...even if I cheated a bit.
Audio books, the perfect book in a car. The hours whipped past as I listened to the story...brilliant.
The cars bustled their way down the road to the west; the A303 eventually becoming the A30. Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, and then into Devon...my old family home on my English grandfather's side.
It was as we passed through Exeter on the M5 and went back onto the A30 again that it dawned on me that this was not a holiday; that this was a move. We pulled up on the hard shoulder just short of the Devon/Cornwall border to decide about dinner. We were only an hour from our hotel (Travelodge) and so decided to keep going and eat there.
In torrential rain that quickly turned to fog we arrived. It was dark; it was miserable; it was bleak; "What have we done?" Welcome to Cornwall the sign said on the border...they must be joking.
And it just goes to show you how wrong you can be....
The smile on the face of the young girl at the Travelodge shone out like a beacon. Within moments she had given us the key and got us both organised for dinner in their pub. The welcome in there to was fantastic, along with the invite to join in with the pub quiz. On every side friendly faces smiled and chatted to us as we settled in. It was then Linda spoke, "We're home Mully." It was a good feeling.
The sun was cracking the flagstones the following morning as we drove off to our new home. Armed with a map, a satnav, and our inbuilt navigational skills brought on by our walking...we headed off into the outback. Within an hour we were pulled up on the side of the road and completely lost. That we were in the right area was a given fact; that we couldn't find the village was also a given fact; and that the removal people and landlady with the keys and waiting for us, was also a fact.
I then did what every British male the length and breadth of the country does. I said to Linda, "Its this way." and pointed along the road, "Just follow me." And with that I drove off and hoped I would see a sign to put me in the right direction. This is a ploy used by every husband...and it does seem to work. Today was no exception and driving hither and yon, I eventually spotted a sign saying Ruan Lanihorne. 1 mile.
We were there in no time at all and sure enough, the landlady and the removal men were already there and waiting. As we walked up towards them I whispered to Linda, "I told you I knew were I was. I said I'd get us here, no problem." Her reply was unprintable but I have the shrewd impression that she didn't believe me.
Within three hours the removal men were gone and we were now the proud tenants of a new home.
Our little village has barely 37 houses in it; with one beautiful church and one brilliant pub as well. The creek on the lower road is tidal and fills up to thumb level twice a day; and regularly, when conditions are right, it overflows. The estuary our creek runs into is so beautiful and a haven for birdlife, and surrounding us are green sloping fields and trees. The Roseland Peninsula is beautiful, and our little corner is exquisite.
Our home is painted white and stands just behind the old village pump. It stand's detached, in a comfortable, open garden and on a little twisting footpath that feeds into the houses around us.
One large living room downstairs with its beamed ceiling and open fireplace, leads into a delightful kitchen with its large windows and view of the garden. Upstairs we have three bedrooms and a bathroom with toilet. Our bedroom faces south and east giving us wonderful views and sunshine. There is a spare room with double bed for any visitors who can find their way here, and the last bedroom, with its view over the churchyard, is my library and my study. Never did Linda and I ever think we would live in such a place.
If our home could be likened to a favourite jacket to slip into; then the village itself takes on the role of a comfortable secure coat.
The people we have met have all been friendly and very kind. All are happy to stop for a chat and make us welcome. Our immediate neighbours are a delight and have taken the trouble to make us feel as if we have belonged here for years. The pub too, is a jewel in any crown. Good real ale, plus exceptionally good food make it an oasis for anyone...and their garden is the other side of our hedge.
The village is also incredibly quiet and peaceful which is such a change from Godalming. We have not spotted any youngster's here under the age of sixteen and this may give a clue to that. Those young people we do see all seem to be busy working, or studying, or whatever. It really is a lovely place and we do know how fortunate we are.
Putting the house into some kind of order took a while but it is now all done and looks great. There are just a handful of boxes unopened in the spare room, but Linda assures me they simply contain stuff to get rid of on E bay. The family photo's are out and the pictures are up on the wall. I even took leave of my senses and went out and bought myself a new electric drill. You should have seen the blood drain out of Linda's face when I walked in with that under my arm.
"Oh my God...NO!!!", were the words uttered. It bothers me not a jot as I've heard those words a thousand times before from a thousand other people. I can understand the fear and trepidation that unfolds, because people are well used to my inept use of any form of technology. I'm even more useless when the technology is making a loud noise; a car engine for example. Anyway...all holes drilled that needed drilling...all things up that needed putting up...all things have stayed in place were I put them. Success; although the fingers are still crossed on the saucepan rack.
Linda had us out in the garden very quickly because the weather had become so unseasonably good. Weeds were rooted out and destroyed; plants were heeled in and planted; the bird bath and bird table were installed; and I eventually managed to mow the lawn. I say eventually because boosted by my success with the drill I let things go to my head. Ten minutes into the grass cutting I put the mower over the lead; big flash and spark; no more merry sound of the mower; me looking bewildered; so without more ado,I swung into action and spliced the lead back together again.
I even remembered to unplug it from the mains as well.
Linda, gentle kindly soul that she is, lets me get on with these things. She has no confidence in my ability at all, but feels I should be allowed to sink or swim now at my age. She does worry though, and I do understand why.
Years ago; 38 to be precise, a neighbour asked me "Could you connect and join an extension on my  washing machine for me."
"I've seen it done," I said confidently, "No problem."
Grabbing her husbands tool kit; I wasn't allowed a tool kit of my own because nobody else I knew trusted me with one; I set to work. With the precision of a neurosurgeon and all the confidence of a 19 year old I spliced the correct wires together and applied the insulating tape. As she brought me out a cup of tea I plugged the whole thing in and said, "All done," before pushing the switch down in triumph.
The loud explosion and flash of light caused us both to leap back in shock. It also caused the machine to leap into the air and my cup of tea to leap out of her hand and onto the lino...were it broke. The smell of burning filled my nose; her shrieks filled my ears; and the bits of shattered wire filled my eyes.
Looking back now I know were I went wrong...I forgot to insulate each coloured wire individually. I had connected them individually but then wrapped the lot in insulating tape without separating them.
I paid the bill for the repair; promised to pay others to do any DIY jobs that the future may hold; and promised never to do anything more technical in my life than winding a clock or a watch in future. I went through quite a lot of clocks and watches before the day of the battery dawned.
As they say though, "you learn a lesson from your mistakes."
As Linda says, "Yes, but why do you need so many lessons?"
How cruel.
Ashen faced she watched me grab my tool box; I have four now plus the box with my new drill in it; so I grabbed the lot. With much puffing and my tongue sticking out between my lips I finally got it all to work. It lasted a full five minutes before it fell apart and I had to do it all again. Eventually though it was smiles all around as I got the lawn cut; the repair stayed as it should; and I stayed alive.
"Oh ye of little faith..." is all I have to say.