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' 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 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.
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 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 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 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'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 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.    

Monday, 17 October 2011

Chapter Four

Hi there everyone Sorry this has taken such a long time to be updated but we never got online until the other day.
Well here we are; made it; and moved in, but what a rollercoaster of a few days it has been. My last few days at work were very difficult and very sad. I have been a postman all my life since being thrown out of school at seventeen and a half. My headmaster and I didn't see eye to eye on many things and eventually there came a parting of the ways. From his side I cannot answer but from my side, I thought he was an idiot. School failed me as much as I failed it.
Remember of course that as a teenager you are A/. never wrong, and B/. you have all the answers. With that thought in mind I threw up two fingers at the school and marched out head held high. Keep your exams; keep your qualifications, and most importantly; keep your bloody advice to yourself because I'm going to be alright.
Six weeks later I was still looking for work...and nobody wanted to employ me. I didn't want to work inside and the things I was interested in needed qualification's. I was going nowhere fast when my mother announced she could get me a job working on the post for Christmas. This was christmas 1971 and I said "I'll do it."
I entered work on the monday morning at the Lower Bourne sub office and, at a stroke, found my vocation. Life was very simple it seemed to me; the longer hours you worked; the harder you worked; the more wages you got. For three weeks I was in a new world. Start at 6.00 am in the dark...finish at 6.00pm in the dark. Work hard, but most important of all, have a laugh.
This three weeks brought me more fun and laughter than I had known since my sister was killed nine years before. For the first time in my life I seemed to become the person I wanted to be...I was in control of my life ...and enjoying it. Shadows gone and a destination to aim at; it was brilliant. This was to be my new life and I revelled in it.
Then on Christmas Eve I was laid off.
"Sorry son," the inspector told me sadly,"I'd take you on tomorrow and be glad of it. We're short of staff in Farnham and you've got postman written all over you; but you're not eighteen yet. Come back when you are, if you're still interested."
Seven months later after labouring on building sites and earning £12.00 per week, I passed my 18th birthday on the 18th July. I re-applied and exactly three months later on the 18th of October 1972, I marched back in as full time postman on the princely some of £14.32 a week. On my very first day I did overtime,(docket), and  I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT FOR 29 YEARS; and then our ideals began to change.
We went through some tough times in the changes wrought after Royal Mail "became a business...not a service" in the 21st century and I yearned for things to be as they were when I first joined. I found I couldn't change and become part of the new way of thinking. I was not a business...I was still a service. I took a delivery at Bentley and thought I would just keep my head down.
To my delight I discovered I wasn't alone. Most postman are quite prepared to follow old fashioned service ideals and do the job as they remember it. Of course there are those that wont work and prefer to sit on their backsides and play with their phones, or go "walkabout" while others do the work for them. Its amazing how much coffee is drunk, how many fags are smoked, and how many conversations about football take place, when others are busy sorting. But these are not the people I missed then or now.
It is those others that I was glad to be a part of...and those in my corner of the office that made it such a pleasure to come into work to be with each day. These were the people I cared about most who seemed also to care about me...and I miss them and the banter more than I can say.
And then there is the community of people I delivered to. All became friends very quickly and some, to my delight, became close friends. I delivered to them in the way I was taught years ago. Not perhaps in the way that Royal Mail today would approve of, but very much in the way that my customers approved of. It's a very simple system that I used and its the one that was drummed into me all through my early days. Its the one that means that, and hand on heart you can't bring costs into it, 'customer first'. I loved my last few years at Farnham delivering the post and Bentley delivery was were I wanted to be. They became people I looked forward to seeing each day; people I cared about; and people who cared about me. I hated saying goodbye.
The last week had been very hard and the last day was very difficult,but I got a good send off from my friends at work. It took nearly half an hour to put my van back to rights...but it was a laugh. The delivery however was painful and took a long time to complete. Every body was very kind but it still felt like a bereavement. It was harder and harder to say goodbye to everyone...and even harder to say goodbye to the office.
When I got back, and I was the last postman back that day, only my manager remained. She was very good and let me walk around the place and take one final trip down memory lane before heading off. We said our goodbyes and I walked up the yard and drove out of the gate. It had been 38 years and 11 months to the day.
And then I got home and dived straight into the move.
The next few days were a frantic round of saying goodbye to friends and family before the removal men came on Tuesday. Saying goodbye to our closest friends was very difficult; saying goodbye to our parents and siblings was very hard; saying goodbye to our children was the toughest thing we have ever done in our lives.
I was bereft and sobbed bitterly as the painful goodbyes took place. I know we aren't far away...but it was still as high ranking in my emotions as the loss of my sister and the loss of my dad. Somehow you manage to square your shoulders afterwards and keep busy, but it was not easy.
And then the last day dawned and the biggest lorry in the world pulled up outside our house.
Several hours later we watched the lorry disappear up the road, "with our home packed in it."
The floors echoed loudly as we walked from room to room, and gave a final check before saying a final farewell. It had been our first real home together and we had loved living there. The two of us had turned it into a home and it had become our escape and our refuge. Now it was just a shell. The garden looked like a scene from the battle of the Somme...there was even a trench across part of it...and Linda could hardly recognise it.
Linda tearfully looked around once more before getting into her car and heading for Petersfield. Even on moving day she had one final appointment at the dentist to finish off three years of treatment. I had one last use of the toilet before I got into my car and headed off to the council offices to hand the house keys back in.
It is so hard to believe that just four months ago we had just started the South West Coast Path walk. That really had proved to be a longer journey than either of us had thought. I released the handbrake and headed for Petersfield.