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.  

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