Sunday, 25 November 2012

Chapter Fifty Seven

Well this has been a mixed month for us both. There has been good things and bad things in almost equal measure.
Linda has improved steadily over the last few weeks at home and seems to have finally turned a corner with her depression. Her work definitely came across as being very good about things and realised she was trying to do far to much work in a day. As a consequence things have changed for the better down there and her phased return to work has been very productive and encouraging. Her friend Teresa has now been promoted to being her boss and Linda is hoping that all this will mark a new and more stable chapter in her work.
 I too, also had some good news about work. I lost my job at Grampound Road this summer as you probably know and have been doing all sorts of jobs in the meantime for Royal Mail. Finally I have been given more core hours and this has been a great relief to me.
25 hours a week contract now. I am still doing about 40 hours a week, but at least if I am off sick or on holiday I will get a decent wage.
However; I am now a reserve postman so I pick up all sorts of jobs...most of them blind. Because of my experience I have been able to pick up several rural duties. Its not been easy but I've enjoyed myself. Its a good way of seeing the area.
I doubt now that I shall ever be given a duty of my own because I have made myself a bit useful on the helping out front. We shall just have to see.
Jan and Jim Munro came down to Cornwall for a long weekend and popped in to see us on one Sunday. They are two good friends of ours and come from Bentley. They arrived during the Sunday morning and we took them out onto the Roseland. We had a decent walk along Carne beach followed by a tour around Portscatho and St Mawes. The weather was good and the company even more so. It was good to catch up and we had a good day. Sadly, all to soon, time crept on and they headed back to Hampshire. A lovely day though.
The weather has been very mixed this month but we still managed to get across to the Eden Project on a good day. We didn't go to wander over the place because we shall do that with Grahame and Julie when they come down at the end of the month. We shall make an evening visit of things when they get here and that will be good.
Our reason for visiting on this day was to renew our local tickets for the place. It costs local's £25-00 for the two of you...for two years. A brilliant idea and must pay them huge dividends. We had a one year ticket this year and I lost count of the visits we made. I used to pop in with a book and just sit reading in the peace and quiet for hours. Lovely. In variably I would have a coffee and a sandwich; on occasion I would buy something at the shop; so everybody benefits.
I wrote in my diary on the 17th of November that the ground is very wet underfoot. I also wrote that this saturated ground would not be able to take another huge downpour like the last one. That was quite prophetic.
 This last week has been one of the wettest I have ever experienced. The rain has teemed down for most of the week. Really torrential rain and quite relentless. When I first joined the post back in the '70's the old boys on duty used to have a saying. I have tried to live up to it as I know most postmen do.
They used to say...'When its raining; the milkman sits in his float and waits it out; the workmen climb into their tent or van and take shelter...but a postman turns up his collar and carries on'.
It used to be said with a sort of fatalistic sense of pride...but they meant it. I have lived by that code for the last forty years...but it was sorely tested this week.
At times it was as if somebody had turned a hose on me. Torrents of water have fallen and life has been difficult. The difference this week is that the water has nowhere to go; hence the flooding. There is water lying everywhere and it has become difficult to get around. Coupled with the very strong winds on Thursday something had to give.
On delivery the other day I helped an elderly lady who couldn't stay upright because of the force of the wind and rain. I carried her shopping for her and she held my arm. I swear it was only the pouch of mail slung around my neck that kept us firmly on the ground. I got her home safely so that was good. An hour later I was half drowned in the storm that broke over us all.
By Saturday afternoon our local river got up out of its bed and came up across the road. Linda and I were heading to St Cuby's church in Tregony to hear the Mevagissey Male Voice Choir do a carol concert. We couldn't get through and had to turn back.
An hour later, Linda and I were in the cottage next door with four other neighbours, and trying to help the old lady who lives there. Water was flooding in through the walls and swamping the downstairs of her place.
Just over two and a half hours later the six of us had managed to mop up most of the water, and divert most of the rest harmlessly past the house. We set up a runnel from the fireplace to the side door which carried a considerable amount of water straight through the house and outside. It was still running twelve hours later.
The other big divert was at the back door and we managed to divert the water around the house and away. I've never seen anything like it. It was only her cottage that suffered as well. The rest of us are not quite as vulnerable to the torrents of water pouring off the hill. For us...the water diverts itself through gullies and drains towards the creek. Her place is just to far away and a bit exposed.
Sunday morning found most of Cornwall counting the cost before the next lot of rain turned up. We couldn't use our road as the police had closed it so we had to go the long way around. We drove to St Austell to the huge market over near Par...and found it completly closed due to the lake of water covering most of it. Happy days.
As a final thing for the week I managed to get bitten by a Rottweiler on Saturday. The stupid owner only opened the door to see me while her dog was violently trying to get through the door at me. It bit my arm. Two things saved me from injury. My Royal Mail Storm Coat,,,and the wrist watch that my mates bought me just before I left Farnham to come down here. Thanks guys.
All else is quiet and we are looking forward to Christmas and seeing all our family members after the New Year.
I am not sure what sort of Christmas I am going to have as regards work...but I'm looking forward to it. We are watching old Christmas films and listening to Christmas songs and carols. If only our kids could be with us it would be perfect   

Monday, 5 November 2012

Chapter Fifty Six

Two weeks ago Linda became the proud owner of her own bit of Cornwall. Within the first week we were both up there and digging in. It is Linda's allotment and I will make no interference on the thing. It is best if I just quietly get on with digging out and clearing the ground for Linda to work it properly. I know my place. We put in a good afternoons work and there was certainly a difference to be seen afterwards.
This is the two plots just before we started work on them. The poles are to go in for the raspberries. Plot A is the one on the left and Plot B is on the right.
Linda has made up plans of how she wants the plots to develop and grow and it does look pretty good on paper. The left hand plot will consist primarily of soft fruits plus several rows of potatos on the lower half of it. The right hand plot will consist of vegetables and possible salad stuffs.
With all this in mind, the first job was to clear and dig over the section for raspberries, currants, and strawberries. Seemingly these can be the first crops to go in.
It went well and we did alright. By the end of the first day we had cleared, and dug over, and put in, two huge trenches for the raspberries, Nick has supplied us with two huge piles of manure, so part of that was dug into the trench and left to settle.
The following day we were back up there again to put in the six foot poles which will carry the wires. These wires will support the raspberry canes when they start to grow. Putting the poles in was hard work but we still had a laugh with it all. I'm not quite sure how we managed it but they all went in without to much of a problem...and remain surprisingly solid and upright.



The plots are well situated in a sloping field that faces south. All is very secure as the owner of the ground lives up there as well. He has his own growing places which supply his farm shop and he allows twelve plots to others in the area who want to grow their own.
Security is good as he is close by and there is also a decent water supply for our use as well. He will supply manure on request and also give you old pallets to convert into compost bins. There is also a communal shed that we share with the others.
Our field is quite large and split in two with a strong fence. There are cows in the lower half of it which I believe are the major source of the manure. The top half of the field, (the Northern end) is split up into the twelve plots. There does look to be room for more and these may be opened up at a later date.
Our two plots are to the right hand side of the field and close to a high hedge. This hedge protects all the plots from any north wind. We face south down towards the valley and with a hint of the sea beyond. There are two farms in front of us on the other side of the valley; one to the left and one to the right. They look lovely as we stand facing them. It is a lovely place to have an allotment in.
The soil is a basic clay type but with a good topsoil on it of about a spit deep. It seems well drained as well, so we are hoping for good things. Each plot is 32 feet by 16 feet (10 metres by 5 metres). There is a lot of work to do up there but Linda is very determined. I know I wont be doing a great deal to help as the whole thing is her baby really, but I will still contribute. My main contribution, with any luck, will be the eating of the crop...or watching Linda working.

Having said that; we were up there again today and cleared the last of the rubbish off the plots. It was a tough three hours or so but the difference once we had done was noticeable. Its going to look great in the future. Linda is very much the driving force behind this and you can see the difference we have made since we started. I must confess that I would never have bothered without her pushing things along. It is starting to look good though. Both of us have put the hours in up here as you can see...and I'm exhausted with it all. Thank God for wheelbarrows, that's what I say.

Linda is gradually metamorphosising (is that a word?) into a version of 'Doris Archer'. The kitchen is becoming a hive of industry as she is constantly making a variety of jams, jellies, and chutneys. Now she has discovered the secret of 'the rolling boil', the world is her oyster.
Dont ask me what a rolling boil is either. I'm a bloke and its a complete mystery to me. All I know is that when she discovered it... she felt like Dan Brown finding the Holy Grail...and was just as excited.
We now have cupboards full of pots of this and that; we have a freezer full of homemade soups and the like; and it wont be long before we have a cupboard full of home made wines. Its brilliant.
Thank God I have more hours at work or I would never lose the weight I am sure to pile on.
We had a lovely visit at the beginning of last week from Linda's mum. She had not been down here before but was able to get down for a three day visit. It was the perfect time really with Linda off work at the moment.
Her mum was unable to drive down here on her own so Roxanne and Steven brought her to Exeter in the van. We met up with them there and had dinner at the Barn Owl together before swapping her into our car and bringing her home. The two kids went back up country but promised to come back on Wednesday to collect her.         
Linda took her out on the Monday and took her all over the local area to give her a sense of were we live. They did the usual things of driving around the Roseland before heading on the King Harry Ferry across to Truro. Surprisingly, the rain held off for most of the day and they were able to enjoy the day.
Tuesday, in the afternoon, we both took her down to Mevagissey. This is becoming a favourite place of our's and we had a nice time just walking around the harbour and watching what was going on.
Sadly, all to soon her trip was over and on the Wednesday, Linda had to take her back towards Surrey.
They left early on Wednesday morning while I was at work and meandered slowly up country into Devon. Linda had planned on taking her mum to 'Otters' for lunch and a bit of a shop on the way. This they managed to do and had a great time before driving up to Ilminster to meet up with Roxanne. This is the halfway point on any trip from Farnham to Truro and we shall use it again.
Linda was able to get back in time to come with me to the quiz night at the local pub. That was our first one of the season this year because I have been at college every wednesday since it started. Thank God for half terms I say.
The weather has got colder now but still with a lot of sunshine about. We are experiencing some cold sharp showers of rain though, some of which can be very heavy. The ground is totally water logged after our atrocious summer and they are worried about flooding in the country at the moment. We seem to be OK at the moment though. We did have a hail storm on Friday though that made the whole place look snow covered.
This must have been a foretaste of things to come because the South West has been hit by an inch of snow already. Not here in Devon and Cornwall...but in Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, and parts of South Gloucester. Amazing.
Saturday 3rd November was a good day for us. The Coastwatch group I belong to had there annual lunch in Tregony village hall. Linda made a delicious sherry trifle for the event, and we also took a raffle prize along. It was great to meet up with the rest of the group and Linda and I enjoyed the whole thing. They are really nice people and I know I shall enjoy working alongside them.
As a side issue... I think Linda and I may be getting a little old. We had a great lunch and a drink or two before coming home, before both dozing off in our armchairs for a couple of hours. Would this be the first sign of us both needing the occassional 'afternoon nap'? Its a worry.
We were even too tired to bother going to the Tregony Firework Party that evening.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Chapter Fifty five

Much has happened over the last ten days or so. Most of it has been good and some less so. Those of you who know Linda well, will know how much she struggles against depression. Normally she can fight it and cope well, but on occasion it can knock her down.
Somebody famous once described it as "being bitten by the black dog".
In a stressful working environment of constant pressure and expectation, it is easy for someone who is a little fragile to struggle to maintain their own high standards. With Linda's hormonal imbalance due to the hysterectomy she had to have; plus the problems she is under from a strained colleague relationship; added to the pressure she puts herself under to continue with the high working standard she insists upon...something had to give.
The result at the moment is that she is off work for a while as she gets back on an even keel again. It's hard to explain this to those who have never suffered from 'the Black Dog', but believe me when I say it is very real.
The good side to all this means that Linda is at home now and away from the main source of all tension. This is slowly giving her some sort of strength to continue on the road to recovery. Our excellent doctor, who put me back on the right track, has got Linda improving daily. So long as she doesn't go back to early I think she will be alright.
As a side benefit to this being off...Linda has her own ideas about what therapy suits her best...and that is pottering about in the garden. Linda's idea of 'pottering' is most peoples idea of hard work, but she thrives on it. As a result over the last several days the garden has been transformed and pretty much dealt with for the winter. Even as  I write, a second load of granite chippings is on its way as Linda puts the finishing touches to the paths.

She put the first lot in this morning in barely an hour and a half.

As for me...I'm on the old blog.
For people who don't know us it must look very odd because it is Linda in our lifestyle who does all the physical work outside the house and me who tends to do the work inside the house. Of course we cross over in these things and share the work, but it does look odd to folk sometimes.
We have also had an excellent piece of news concerning getting an allotment for Linda. The ground here is not quite so good for planting as our cottage stands on a rock plateau which is only inches below the surface. Linda is desperate to start growing vegetables again, and I know she has missed the lovely garden she had back in Godalming.
We followed up a couple of leads for allotments close by, the nearest being at Portscatho which is about eight miles away. Sadly the waiting list for these was huge and we began to contemplate seeing if some elderly person with a garden to big for them to manage, would let Linda work a part of it.
That's when the local community stepped in. Word of mouth down here is so important, as is community spirit. People are just so happy to help.
My friend Claire who runs the poetry group I go to was the first to advise us. She told us that there were allotments in her village of Tregony, (3 miles from us), and gave us the name of the chap who owned them.
Linda rang him and it turned out he had a couple going spare. When we got up there to see him, he turned out to be one of the watch keepers at the NCI, and in fact, was the chap we met at the horse show who gave me the details for joining. Linda is now the proud tenant of two very nice allotments and is geared up ready to start production. Needless to say...I am banned from doing anything as this is her therapy project.
It seems I will be asked if I'm needed...thank God for that I say :)
This is me now in my uniform for the Coastwatch. It all finally arrived the other day and I was delighted. I wore it down to the watch house for a stint last Sunday afternoon. It feels good now to look the part although I am still only a trainee. Before I do anything I am going to have to get some ideas about taking bearings and the like. It is fascinating though and I feel as if I am contributing towards the community in my own way.
The new moon this month heralded some extremely high spring tides. Coupled with a very strong surge because of the high winds there was resulting flooding in several places along the coast. Poor old Lynmouth got it rough again up on the North Devon coast, while down here both Looe and Mevagissey in particular got flooded. For some businesses in Mevagissey it was the third lot of flooding this year.
The road beneath us was flooded as the tide crept across the quay and kept going. We waded back to our house from Sett bridge and that is over half a mile. The water came almost to the tops of the wellies in some places. Very eerie. The saltings became full of birds fighting for space on the reeds and marshland before they to had to fly away and sit the whole thing out on the banks of the estuary. I had never seen so much water out there in the year we have been here.
 Beneath the surface of the water here is the top of the quay. The water was over three inches deep here. To the left of the picture is the creek which is normally a foot or so beneath the quay at high tide. The whole creek depth here is about twelve feet. The road is to the right and the water was rapidly flowing over it. Straight ahead is a small view of the saltings and the estuary. The estuary gradually increased as the saltings were inundated.
Walking back later we started into the water on the road and it wasn't to bad. It was only as we neared the village that the road dips a bit and the levels became quite deep. It was good fun and very unusual to see.
 Normally to the right of were Linda is walking you can see grass and the like as the saltings edge across to the river coming out from under Sett bridge. Apart from a few tuffets, all has disappeared.
For those who didn't know...it was my fortieth anniversary of joining Royal Mail on the 18th of October. Sadly there was no official recognition of this as they made me leave Royal Mail and re-apply to come down here.
Even though I only had to leave for a short time; less than the leave time they made me pay back; it meant I lost everything. All my seniority went down the tubes along with 39 years of service. It hurts but it was my price to pay to get to Cornwall.
Having said that, some of my new managers and colleagues, plus some old friends from Farnham remembered and that was really nice. Linda and I celebrated with a meal out and a bottle of bubbly so I was pleased with that.
However; the following day I got even better news from my manager down here. My core hours are to be changed at last. I can work anywhere between twenty and forty hours a week at present but my core hours remain at 10 for the week. She has told me they will be going up to 25 per week in November. That has been a huge boost to me and I am delighted.
The weather here has been strange this week with glorious sunshine on Monday and a keen chill in the air so remeniscent of a beautiful crisp morning. That lovely day was followed by a fog on Tuesday, so thick, that it stopped me from seeing the sea. This as you can imagine was something of a shock as I am at Portscatho at the moment and the sea was only twenty feet away.
Still warm though.
Disaster struck on Wednesday however when Linda attempted to leave home and drive to Exeter to pick up her mum. Roxanne and Stephen were bringing her down to Exeter and Linda was going to collect her and bring her the rest of the way.
The bonnet catch on Linda's car stopped working and so the bonnet wouldn't close. Despite all our efforts it wouldn't stay shut but eventually I managed to close and secure it with some plastic ties. Success we thought, but sadly we were wrong. Because the bonnet wouldn't close down it meant that some of the electrics wouldn't work. This included the wipers. Its some sort of failsafe device.
As a result it meant that Linda couldn't go and collect her mum and the whole thing had to be postponed.
And then on Thursday it was my turn. I to, got bitten by the black dog. In my case it was a smooth haired labrador that chose to bite me on the arm. My first bite from a cornish dog since coming down here. In a sense it was my fault as I put my hand out to it to let it sniff me and make friends. It chose instead to bite first.
          I know it doesn't look much but it was painful and it bled. The end result was a visit to the surgery for antibiotics and a tetanus jab. Lovely, a bite on one arm and an injection in the other. As they say about Royal Mail...'if you can't take a joke, you shouldn't have joined'. They got that right.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Chapter Fifty four

Great excitement here the other day when my uniform finally arrived. I now have my Coastwatch kit to wear when I go down on duty. I am hoping to go on watch next Sunday afternoon with my mentor and will wear it for the first time. I know it sounds ridiculous but I can't wait to be on duty and kitted out properly.
At least now I shall look the part...even if I don't know anything. God help anyone who asks me for advice.
I am also enjoying a session of writing classes at Truro College. There are only a small group of us that turn up but its great fun and very informative. Sadly it is on a Wednesday evening so the quiz nights have had to take a back seat for the next eight weeks. Everything I seem interested in down here in Cornwall seems to be on a Wednesday evening. Even the NCI training nights are held once a month on that evening. I haven't been to one of those yet. Daft isn't it!!
However my poetry group that I go to once a month is on a Monday so I have been enjoying those. We meet up in the pub at Tregony and I really have a good laugh. They like my work as well so that's nice. I'm always a bit nervous of poetry that I write.
Linda and I went out on Saturday afternoon (13th October) and decided to go down onto 'The Lizard'. Incredibly the weather improved immensely over the week end and it was lovely down there. This was the view across the sparkly sea to a group of rocks; one of which is named 'MULVIN'.
Nobody has any idea why but it is on the Ordnance Survey map. I reckon a member of the family got sold it while the tide was out and thought they had a bargain. When the tide comes in it almost disappears.
My Uncle Tom had his ashes scattered here when he died and it is nice to be close by and remember  him. He was a lovely man and I loved him a lot. My Auntie Shirley said this was their favourite spot and its odd to think that we now live close by. Even more odd to have our family name connected with the place.
The light house is a favourite spot of mine and I like coming here and sitting on the cliff tops, looking out to sea. We must try and make more of it next year when the weather improves itself.
There is a real sense of the beauty of Cornwall as you sit above the sea. The sound of the wind; the call of the seagulls; and the crashing of the waves just fills your ears. For miles ahead all you can see is the water moving up and down and from side to side. Shipping is also very busy out there as we are not far from Falmouth either.
There is also a wonderful little pub that you can visit fairly close by. Not here at the Lizard but a couple of miles away at Cadgwith. An old smugglers pub sitting right in the middle of the cove. It is the most magical place you could wish to drink in.
Linda is trying to get herself an allotment down here. Not easy. We can't grow much in our own garden as the ground depth is only about six inches...and then solid rock. We are trying to get a plot fairly local so she can get back to growing her own veggies again. If it proves impossible, we thought of seeing if someone with a big garden they can't manage, would be willing to let Linda loose in theirs. They will get some free vegetables out of it and Linda will get her garden.
She needs a garden to work in, like I need a book to read. In other words...its ESSENTIAL.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Chapter Fifty Three

Almost two long months have passed since I wrote anything on my blog. I can't believe were the time has gone. Work took off for me in a huge way since I last wrote on August 13th. In fact...apart from my two week holiday when Linda and I walked Hadrians Wall and also visited family...I have not had a day off since that day. The holiday was hardly time off as we walked solidly for eight days and travelled and visited for the rest.
Finally there has come some semblance of order back into the old existence and I am back on more regular hours. Although I am still on a 'ten hour a week' contract, I am averaging weeks of forty hours worked. Its certainly been a big help to our finances and has helped keep our heads above water.
The work has not been easy because I have only had tuition on one of the jobs. Everything else has been done 'blind'. That's not really a problem because I do carry an A-Z of Cornwall with me wherever I go. I just feel a bit of an idiot when people walk past me and see me leaning up against a mailvan...and trying to see were I should be next.
When all is said and done though; I've had a brilliant summer on the post. I have been all over the place and learnt much. I've also met some wonderful people down here; both colleagues and customers. I couldn't be happier.
My next move in a year or so will be to buy myself a small van. I can't keep using the car on delivery as it is not really big enough in the storage space. We don't use our cars as mail vans; more as storage places to hold the mail as we deliver.
The boot in the back of my car contains my own mobile delivery office. I have---
One Basket which looks like it was once a bread basket
Seven delivery pouches including three full size and four half size
A folder containing information on each duty I have done
My A-Z map of Cornwall
My A-Z map of Truro
A bag of elastic bands
A roll of 'Gone Away' stickers
A box of delivery cards and 'While you were out' cards
And my jacket, my waterproofs, my flasks, and spare boots.
And spare pens.

The old adage from army life was never more appropriate as I am constantly switched around from office to office, and from duty to duty.
I quote...."Only trust the people you serve with; never trust anyone who outranks you; and never,ever, get separated from your kit."
I am flexible on the first two but absolutely firm on the last one.
It has stood me in good stead more than once.
The duties have been varied to say the least. My favourite ones are of course the ones at the seaside. I love doing both the jobs at Portscatho and also enjoy doing the three jobs at St Mawes. However, I have picked up several duties at Truro and have enjoyed all of those as well. I have done a lot of piecework were I have covered small parts of duties that could not be fully covered. This has kept me busy and all over the area. I've learned a lot. I also pick up a lot of van duties as well so the car is not always used. I can claim for fuel though.
I accidently ended up with three blogs called Linda and Liam in Cornwall. I can't seem to erase the other two, nor can I seem to change their titles either. I have decided to keep separate blogs of any walking we do and will put a separate blog up for each walk. I thought that I would keep the Liam and Linda in Cornwall title for all the blogs as I can't shift the title. However, when they are opened there will be a sub heading for each holiday and the chapters will be written out as a sort of diary.
I also fully intend now to put in at least an hour a day on the blogs until I catch up with myself.
I thought I'd finish this chapter by sticking a couple of recent photo's of us on the page. I think that Linda looks lovely as always...but the photo of me is a good reminder of why 'Taff' at Farnham office, always used to call me...'Gunner Shorthouse'. I can see the resemblance now. I look like Kitchener's last hope.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Chapter Fifty Two

The Tregony Heavy Horse Show.
This proved to be a great fun day out and we enjoyed ourselves very much. The weather was warm and sunny although a vast amount of cloud came over during the afternoon. In fact; the rain poured down in the evening just after the show must have finished. Very lucky for one and all.
It is just a couple of weeks now before Linda and I go on our holiday to Hadrians Wall. We are looking forward to walking across the country alongside the wall. A couple of years ago we did the Wainwright walk from St Bees to Robins Hood Bay (West to East), and now we are walking Hadrians Wall from Newcastle upon Tyne to the Solway Firth (East to West).
Incredible as it may seem I am actually in the peak of condition after almost a year of being a bag man in the wilds of Cornwall. I can now take steep hills in my stride and can walk for long distances without a problem. It is Linda, more desk and office bound these days, who is no longer at the peak of fitness.
That she is fitter than the average person goes without saying, but she has lost some of the toning that regular walking brings. On the strength of that, we chose to walk to Tregony from our place and then return. This gave us a round trip of about six miles.
We set off just after ten on Sunday morning and strode out of the village. The litter bugs have been out in force once more and I regretted not bringing a carrier bag with me. By the time we got to the Tregony Bridge and the first litter bin my hands and arms were full of paper, cans, glass and plastic bottles. Sadly, the blame has to be spread about a bit because the visitors are not here in the winter and there can be a lot of rubbish around then as well.
The show ground was alive with noise and excitement when we got there and we soon got heavily involved with all that was going on. As I said in the previous chapter I managed to find the NCI tent and got the information from there that I needed.
Linda found the dogs that were sitting in the back of the van waiting their turn in the ring. Between the shetland pony class and the heavy horse class they have a couple of demonstrations of how sheep dogs work.
These are all the dogs owned by one sheep farmer in the area and very entertaining it all was. There was a great laugh when the sheep had had more than enough of being chased around the arena; in the blink of an eye they spotted a gap in the crowd and disappeared never to be seen again.
They took so long to be rounded up that they brought in the dogs herding geese and ducks as a standby event. That was very skilful too, as the shepherd herded flocks of these birds through obstacles and the like. Very clever.
In another corner of the ground was an encampment of celtic warriors. They were very impressive and gave very good demonstrations of clothing, equipment, and fighting from celtic times. It seem's that 'putting the boot in' stems from the olden days when you had to make sure the enemy did not get back up behind you and kill you. The final kick in the side or to the head was designed to see if the victim was still alive. Because it is such a vicious and brutal thing to do, if the victim is still alive he will respond by a jerking movement or sharp intake of breath. If he did that the victor would stick a knife or sword into him to finish him off.
How sad these days that our so called 'great street fighters' who go out looking for trouble, invariably use this method of fighting as the very first resort. It can be a fatal blow.
     These blokes looked more than capable of taking care of themselves and each and every one of them handled axes, knives, and swords as if born to it. Especially that guy in the light blue shirt, third from left. When he started to swing that great big axe round and round...I ran like a deer. I should have been in the olympics if he'd been my coach.
The high spot of the day for both Linda and I were the heavy horses. Both of us have a soft spot for these wondeful animals. Such gentle giants and such beautiful creatures. I was so spellbound that I forgot to take any pictures of them at all.
 We returned home later in the day and walked into our garden past the 'Hanging Gardens of Lindylon'. Though it worries me when Linda puts water in the baskets; I'm always afraid the weight will pull them out of the wall; they have remained in place since I put them up there. I'm quite proud of that.
Finally in the evening, we had our own version of the great escape. Linda bought a small hutch to sit in the run for the guinea pigs. They have found it hard to master the slope leading up to their sleeping hutch so she got them a hutch to sleep in during the day.

This hutch stands at the back of the run and keeps them out of the weather...especially if wet. They can get sores if they lay on wet grass for to long. Linda wanted the run moved across to give them fresh grass to eat. Spotting Widget in the hutch and with no sign of Whiskey, she shut the door.
We carried the run across to its new site and Linda went back to lift up the hutch. She carried it over and put it down in the run. As she turned around she spotted Whiskey lying on the grass, underneath were the hutch had been.
And then he was off. Tearing across the lawn like a mad guinea he headed for the hedge. He had a look on his face that said 'There's a great big world out there and I'm going for a look. Goodbye'
I don't think he realised how quick Linda can move when she wants to. With all the grace of a startled deer and with all the focus of an arrow...she launched herself across the lawn and caught him inches before the hedge. I don't think he knew what hit him.
One minute its the hedge and the great wide beyond; seconds later its the wire and his hutch. It all happened so fast that Widget didn't even guess he had almost gone. We could guess that because she never scolded him which is her normal routine.
They are settled in now and are a welcome addition to the family.
I have to confess to being something of a child the other day. It seemed only right and proper to behave like a complete smug twit. The whole thing was very childish...but oh, so rewarding. It all started on my way home from Truro the other evening. I had just put in a twelve hour duty and I was a little tired. Coming up the road out of the city I had a sporty type of car practically up my exhaust pipe. I couldn't see his number plate for most of the journey home because he was so close.
Bearing in mind I was in a long line of traffic with no room for overtaking, his driving was a bit excessive. He kept dropping back and then surging right up behind me. Was it because I had stayed infront of him after passing him out as we came down the main road from Three mile stone. If he'd read the road correctly he wouldn't have got himself trapped in the wrong lane in the first place and I wouldn't have overtaken him.
All I could see in my rear view mirror was four faces alternately scowling or laughing in my direction.
Eventually after all this silly going's on, we finally got to a bit of a dual carriageway on a hill. The car then shot past me with the passengers practically hanging out of the windows, before the driver swerved back in front of me and applied his brakes. He must have thought I came down in the last shower, the idiot, because I was already slowing as I had anticipated that bit of old nonsense. He then tore off and I followed himup the road.
He must have been a tourist because the four of them paused from the gestures out of the window, to check for road signs.
Finally they turned off on the Tregony road, and as I followed them, blasted off . You can't drive to fast on this road as its a twisty old lane in places. I must have been 100 yards behind them when they shot around the corner and kept going. That's when I got my idea. The road at this point resembles a giant letterIn effect, they had now shot up the right hand leg to the point at the top, before then following the road down the left hand leg to the bottom; so I nipped along the cut through which would be the bar of the letter A.
Looking back up the road when I got through the cut through I could see them coming down the road. As they disappeared around the last bend before me I pulled out and chugged along the road to the bridge. You should have seen the look on their faces as they slowed down and pulled up behind me. It was so very childish I know...but it made my day. They looked so aghast, so stunned, then so angry... I laughed 'til I cried. Don't judge me to harshly. It had been a long day and they really deserved to be taken down a peg or two. I made them follow me along the now even narrower twisty road for about a couple of miles before I shot off down a side lane and went home.
No harm was done except for four ego's getting burst and the only danger had been when that clown had kept climbing up my exhaust pipe earlier on.
Silly I know, and childish, I agree...but the satisfaction at seeing their faces will stay with me for ever.
I can only apologise to you all.

Chapter Fifty one

The car has gone in for its MOT today so I am in need of diversion as I await to hear the result. She's a great little car and I know there will not be a major problem in her passing the test. My big worry is the rattling sound coming from the exhaust; the bald tyre; and the squealing brakes. I know all can be fixed...its just whether I have to sell my body to pay for it.
Anyway; enough of that.
Those of you who know me well will be aware of how much I wanted to live near the coast. It has been an all-consuming passion and dream of mine since childhood. As I have said before, the move down here has ticked every box save one. That was the box that said to move down to the coast while the children were young enough to grow up at the seaside. That was something that meant more to me than anything else; and with the best will in the world and the fact thay are both adults now, can never be.
There was however another box that has remained unticked. It has been part of me for so long, but in my heart I knew it could never be; I wanted to join the lifeboat service.
I have been passionate about lifeboats for over thirty years and always wished to be a volunteer. I have helped out with 'Shoreline ' and done the flag days. I have also helped raise funds when I can. Sadly though, living in Surrey doesn't give much opportunity to be a volunteer lifeboatman.
Moving down here did not further my dream of being on the lifeboats either. Aside from the fact that I can't swim; a minor detail in my view; it also seems I am now a little to old to be a new lifeboat crew member.
All that has changed now as I see an opening for myself.
Last year on the walk we became very aware of the National Coastwatch Institution. We didn't know much about them except that they were stations all manned by volunteers...and crucially, kept a watch out along the coast for walkers like ourselves as well as all types of craft at sea.
We knew of them, had even donated money to them, but never gave them much more thought otherwise.
Then last week it all changed. I had a letter addressed to Pednvaden Point, Portscatho. This is the NCI watchers station on our bit of coast. The other postman at Portscatho gave it to me and told me he always delivered it to a house in Portscatho itself. This I duly did.
However the chap who I gave it to saw me and gave it back the following day. He explained that the regular postman would often deliver these addressed letters to him...but he was nothing to do with them at all. He had been a coastguard many years ago but that was his only tenuous connection with this service. He did however, give me the correct address in the next village for the letter to go to.
I took it along on my way home, and small world, the man turned out to be the husband of the lady who brought the local parish magazines to my door for me to deliver. This was last Friday 10th August.
We had a brief chat and I continued on home. The following day (Saturday) in Truro...there was a flag day for the NCI and I contributed to that whilst marvelling at the coincedence.
And then yesterday (Sunday) Linda and I went to the Tregony Heavy Horse Show. One of the first stalls we came across was for the NCI..and they are recruiting for volunteers in the local area..
This was just the project I have been looking for. Linda has her volunteer work at Maria's Animal Rescue Shelter, and I have been looking for something for myself.
It may have been a bit of a pipe dream hoping to become a lifeboatman, but the NCI is a reality for me. On the strength of all these coincidence's and remembering how our move down here seemed meant to be...I have applied to be a volunteer with the NCI this morning.
There will be no more prouder or happier man in Cornwall if they take me on.
 
National Coastwatch Institution

 

Our WorkHistory of the NCI
The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) is a voluntary organisation set up in 1994 to restore a visual watch along UK shores after many small Coastguard stations closed. NCI is a registered charity managed by a board of Trustees with a Constitution agreed by the Charities Commission.

In 1994 when two fishermen lost their lives off the Cornish coast below a recently closed Coastguard lookout, local people decided to open and restore the visual watch. When the first station was opened at Bass Point on the Lizard, NCI was born. Today 46 stations keep a visual watch around the coastline of England and Wales, with more in the pipeline subject to available funding.
NCI stations have been set up along the coast from Rossall Point in the North-West, through Wales, to Sunderland in the North-East. Each station has a qualified and highly trained team to watch over its own particular area whether it is a popular seaside town, busy port or shipping area. Accidents will always happen at sea and along the coastline. Wherever there is an NCI station a watchkeeper will be looking out for danger and ensuring your safety on the water.
High technology and sophisticated systems such as radar and telecommunications have vastly improved safety at sea, but there is no substitute for a watchful pair of eyes. Accidents do happen and a computer or technology cannot spot a distress flare, an overturned boat, a yacht with problems, a water sports enthusiast in difficulty, or children or adults in trouble, or possible pollution incidents. That is why our lookouts and watchkeepers are an important service provider to all those who use our coastal waters, footpaths and coastline.
Work of the NCI
Each Station is manned by a team of fully trained and dedicated volunteers who keep a daylight watch up to 365 days a year. Stations are equipped with telescopes, radar, telephone and weather instrumentation as well as up to date charts. Close contact with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) aims to promote stations to Declared Facility Status in order to become an integral part of the National Search and Rescue Structure.
Watchkeepers come from all walks of life and offer a wide range of skills and experience. Full training ensures that volunteers reach the high standard expected by the NCI and MCA. Regular assessments take place at all stations and retraining programmes are held to maintain standards and keep watchkeepers up to date with the latest legislation or improved operational procedures.
Watchkeepers are the eyes and ears along the coast, keeping a visual watch, monitoring radio channels, using radar and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They remain vigilant at all times. Surveillance work is mainly routine but watchkeepers are trained to act in an emergency, report to the MCA and, if required, co-ordinate with the search and rescue services.
A log of all water-based activities is kept during each watch and, when requested, weather conditions can be passed to yachtsmen and fishermen before they put to sea. Also with the new generation of web cams we can identify sea conditions for those who wish to check on the weather or sea state prior to doing any watersport activity, hopefully reducing the need for MCA response and RNLI call-outs. During each watch other activities such as canoeing and diving etc are closely observed, as are bathers, walkers and climbers who use our shoreline.
Watchkeepers provide a vital link with all the emergency services and can provide an emergency contact point on land for both sea and shore users.















Friday, 3 August 2012

Chapter Fifty

I have added a little bit of an update to the previous chapter and popped a couple of photos on it.

Linda has been off work since the dentist got to work on her; but this was not unexpected. He told her that the bruising would come out after a few days. He also told her that she would suffer discomfort and pain as well. She is trying to control the pain with the tablets he gave her as well as fight off any chance of infection. Its not going brilliantly.
How to describe how she looks is not easy either. Suffice to say that, if I took her out onto the streets I think I would be arrested and charged with assault. She looks as if somebody had beaten her up. One side of her face is swollen up like a football and is heavily bruised. At the same time this side of her face has gone tight and has turned that side of her mouth down. You would think she had suffered a stroke as well.
The inside of her mouth is black and blue with stitches hanging out of the gums. Couple all this with the black bruising on her face and you can see why she doesn't want any photo's of it seen. Linda is not a person to sit doing nothing but she has barely climbed off the sofa for three days. You can always tell if she's not well when she just lays there and does nothing...even more so when she leaves the television on and watches that. Thank God for the Olympics. She has watched more television in three days than she has done all year.
Thankfully the dentist did say it would all get worse up until today and should then start to improve steadily over the weekend. Its not been pleasent for her though.
As for me, I have been enjoying myself at Portscatho again. I have had a great three days working there but ended up back in Truro at the end of the week. Not to bad though and I like some of the guys I work with.
Fiona will be pleased to know that I have finally got around to painting the garden gnome that she and Woody gave us last Christmas. As a child I grew up firmly believing in the wonder of fairy folk and other magical creatures...I don't think I ever grew out of it. I have always had a fondness for gnomes and studied many of the tales and folklore about them.
I must introduce you all one day to my favourite character who happens to be a gnome. His name is 'Conker Paintleaf', and he lives in a wood.
Anyway, I digress.
Many years ago when Fiona and Lucy were young enough not to be even at school yet, two garden gnomes came to live with us in our house. It was on Christmas Eve morning and I was driving my mail van towards Rowledge from Wrecclesham.
It was very cold and still dark as I drove along the Boundstone Road. I was peering out of the windscreen when suddenly, in the headlights appeared two garden gnomes. They were stood beside the bus stop at the side of the road and appeared to be waiting for a bus.
As I told the girls later, "They had probably been to a party and were trying to get home to Black Gang Chine on the Isle of Wight."
I then explained to the two girls that, "The gnomes remembered me and also remembered seeing the two girls when we had visited back in the summer and could they come and stay with us for Cristmas?"
This explained how the two garden gnomes ended up standing in our front room when the girls got up that morning. Nobody ever tried to claim them and so they stayed.
One finally passed on and went back to fairyland, but the other one still lives with me in our back garden. Fiona asked me about the gnome one day last year and I was able to tell her he had come down to Cornwall with us although I always felt he might be lonely on his own. Hence the new gnome.
He needed painting and the paints were supplied with him. Thank goodness there was loads of it, because the original gnome needed a good painting as well. The painting was done by my own very unskilled hands, but I enjoyed doing it.
The old gnome is on the right and I call him Bayleaf. Our newest addition is on the left and I call him Digweed. They posed for the photo between the guinea pigs run and our old pear tree. The log in front of the pear tree is a ladybird house. In the background is our old birdbath were Bayleaf and Digweed normally stand.
This is a gnomes eye view of the garden. The guineas live in the moveable hutch and run behind them and are shifted around the garden at regular intervals so they can mow the lawn for me. The greenhouse is in the background just behind our table and chairs. It is so quiet sitting out here and we really enjoy the peace and solitude that comes with living here. Linda as you can see is relaxing on her sun lounger. This is two day's after the visit to the dentist so she remains hidden from view.
The gnomes are now installed beside thebird table and will keep vigil there for the rest of the summer and autumn. They live in the greenhouse during the winter. We may have to leave the guinea's in there with them this winter as well.


Workmen at their best; one leaning on a broom; the other leaning on a shovel.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Chapter Forty nine

Those of you who know Linda, will remember the mouthful of disturbed teeth that she had. The dentist told her that her mouth is so small there just wasn't room for a normal amount of teeth. I can best describe the inside of her mouth as 'like an explosion in a cemetary'. Every tooth seemed to be fighting for space or leaning at a drunken angle.
A generous gift a few years ago enabled Linda to go through several years of discomfort and dentistry until finally her teeth are all back in place and all is well. She has been so happy with her smile that, now, at last, looks like a proper smile, and not like a shark waiting to pounce.
All that perseverence and all that discomfort...then she found out that the brace in her mouth would be there for life. The dentist never knew; Linda never knew; nobody knew; that her teeth would not be strong enough to hold a bridge to keep them all in place.
Sadly she was told that the only way to make it work now was to have a tooth implanted into the jaw bone and this would hold the bridge in place... then she was also told the fee to have it done.
Well that should put the dentist's children through Uni I must say. No wonder you never see a poor dentist.
I don't know what will be the most painful; the extraction of tooth followed by the implant...or the extraction from my wallet followed by the payment.
Finally we have scraped the cash together and finally she is going in to get the proceedure done.
It must be worse than I thought because they have said she might not be able to work for several days. She certainly wont be eating much or drinking a glass of wine really soon. I had no idea it was such a complicated thing.
So here we are; Linda is lying in a dentist surgery somewhere in Truro, thankfully unconscious; I am sitting in the library, wishing I was unconscious.
Its been a long road to finally get her teeth sorted, and this is now the final mile. Lets hope it works!!
The last week has been a glorious sunny one. I have never known heat like it. For the first time in years...I burnt on the beach.
My fault entirely. I get so used to being exposed in all weathers I forgot the bits that are invariably covered.
I normally wear boots and socks to work so my tan line stops about two inches above my ankle bone. When I take my boots and socks off it looks like I am wearing white socks. To counteract that, I have taken to wearing my sandals at every opportunity. This has resulted in my feet and ankles tanning enough to look OK. This week like an idiot, when we got to the beach...I took the sandals off. You can guess the result. The strap marks across my feet went from bright pink to burnt raw. Its taken a week to sort myself out.


Linda thought it was hilarious and offered to shave my head for me. She then said I could have the nice brown centre bit...like a monks tonsure...surrounded by a big white circle slowly changing from bright pink to firey red. Not the most sympathetic person my wife.
My two photos don't really do justice to the beach at Carne. If you can imagine two beaches; one called Carne and the other Pendower. They lay in a large bay and are seperated from each other by a mixed rock and sand area. That is the area we go and sit at. We don't mind walking along the beach full of people, but we prefer to find our own quiet place to sit and enjoy.
Both sandy area's can fill up quite quickly with people but the area we like stays fairly quiet, Its sort of seperate, but right in the middle of things, if you know what I mean. This place we try to get each time we come down, is bordered by low rocks with their pools and hidden places. It also has the most wonderful little carpets of sand that just cry out for people to sit there.
We can put the picnic basket in the shade; stand a bottle of wine in an adjacent pool; spread blanket and chairs; and make it home from home. Its great.  
Finally; I have entered a literary competition. Fingers crossed, but I'm really pleased with the story I sent. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Chapter Forty Eight

You can probably hear the cursing and shouting where you are. That would be me doing that. I have just lost the entire page that I have been writing for the last three hours. I have no idea what happened.
Oh well. I shall begin again.
A few weeks ago Linda and I became the proud minders of two guinea pigs. They are Whiskey and Widget. Whiskey is the male and is dark brown while Widget is the female and is a much lighter colour. We have got them a moveable run so they are able to get lots of exercise dashing about on the lawn. Above the run is their hutch. This is nice and roomy and gives them two areas to live in as well as the run itself.
             
                 Widget                                                              Whiskey
               


 
This is Widget, as usual, first to the food bowl


Sadly, neither of them has been able to learn that they can run down the sloping board to the run beneath. Both of them are able to gallop back up the thing to the hutch...but then they are stuck there for the day. We have had to buy a small day hutch for them that sits in the run. They can get in and out of that alright and it stops them getting ill through sleeping on the damp grass all day.
They really are a delight and spend a lot of time together, chirping at each other. I'm not quite sure if that is the right description of the noise they make, but that's what it sounds like to me. They seem to adore Linda as well and lie quite happily in her arms when she picks them up. They are lovely little creatures and we are fond of them.

 I did make the mistake of telling Linda that "they are  part of the basic diet of people in Peru and suchlike and wasn't that interesting?"
The icy stare followed by the even icier question of...
"And your point is what??"
reminded me to think more, before I open the old mouth. You would think I had learnt by now. Anyway; reassurances that I would not be eating the guinea pigs has been accepted and all is OK. I decided not to ask her what she thought they might taste like. It seemed best.
Last Saturday (14th July) some old friends of ours came down to Cornwall for a holiday. Mark, Tracy, and Harry; known to all an sundry as "the wheelies"; seem to have been able to make the jetstream go back to were it belongs. I assume this because as soon as they got to Cornwall, the sun came out and summer started.
Certainly it has come as some relief to people in Britain because that jet stream has brought nothing but death and destruction with it over the last couple of months. Hopefully that is now behind us and we can enjoy once again.
Mark had already spoken to us and also to Ian and Debbie who also live down here in Cornwall. Mark, Ian, Linda, and myself all worked at Farnham Royal Mail together for many years and we have kept in touch.
The upshot of all this was a beach BBQ at Portreath on the north coast. We all arrived at about seven that evening; Ian clutching a BBQ and loads of sausages and burgers. Mark and I were stood there with loads of bottles and glasses. It was a brilliant evening.


All seven of us carted everything down to the beach and soon settled in for a huge 'catch-up'. The evening was a delight as regards the weather, and absolutely fantastic as regards the 'catch-up'. We only came in when it got to dark to see.
In fatc we had such a good time we repeated the whole thing at Porthleven the following thursday; but this time at Debbies house.
It was a real 'postie' evening, made even more postal when Claire (postie) texted me from Farnham  and told us that Gary (postie) had just become a proud father again; this time of a son. It could not have been more opportune and we were able to 'wet' the baby's head.
The evening was such a laugh and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. There is nothing like a group of posties getting together to fill the evening with banter. Its normally pretty ridiculous but can also be very funny.
 You would probably have to have been there to appreciate the humour concerning 'Steven Seagull and Owl Pacino'...but if you could see this aggressive old herring gull squaring up to a large plastic 'bird scarer' owl, you would have laughed as much as we did.

        
Mark and Tracy                                   Liam and Linda                    Ian and Debbie

Harry did the honours for us all and took a brilliant photo of the six of us. Its funny how things go. We all met up after several months, and it was as if no time at all had passed...we just carried on as normal. Fantastic.
I reached the ripe old age of 58 on Wednesday as well. I still feel as if I'm only 28...Linda says I act as if I'm only 8; but I still can't believe I'm almost 60. Its a shock sometimes to even think on it...so I wont.
This is me wearing the birthday cake hat complete with candles. Linda said not to put the full amount of candles on it as the weight would damage my neck...how charming.

Work has taken on a decided learning curve and my hours have increased enormously. Sadly, I am still being wasted on a ten hour a week contract but I am putting in weeks of thirty hours or so at the moment. The biggest problem I find is to keep learning jobs blind. Its not easy and you never really get to know them properly. It has been fun working in Truro though and I have enjoyed it... however I still want to get out to my beloved Portscatho and St Mawes. Thats were I'm happiest.
I have been offered some bar work at the local pub (The Kings Head). I dont start until September and I am looking forward to getting a new skill under my belt. Its been nearly thirty years since I did some work at the con club at Farnham in that bar.
We are making the most of our weekends and evenings while the weather is good and have been going down to Carne Beach. Its been lovely to sit there or walk along the beach through the surf. Its what we came down here for and we love it to bits.
I think thats it. Most of what I had already written is now back down here again. If I lose this I shall scream.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Chapter Forty Seven

This is going to be another busy week leading up to our next weekend helping out with the fete and dog show for Maria. At least this time it is a little closer to home and is only up the road in Probus. Linda has taken the week off because of seeing Katrina and family. I am having a great time doing a different duty each day; all of them at either Portscatho or St Mawes. Brilliant and I can't wait.
My sister Therese and my niece Becky are coming down on Wednesday. They will be staying with us for ten days or so, to give Therese time to convalesce from her operation. Who needs a gall bladder anyway; thats what we say. Becky too is in need of a bit of R & R herself so hopefully Cornwall will be able to works its magic while they are here.
On Tuesday Katrina and co turned up and Oscar quickly made himself at home by throwing the teddies out of my old chair and taking possession once more. Its great to see that little chair in use again.
After dinner we took them across to Carne beach and had a walk on the sands. Oscar is more than capable of running around on his own although he wanted to make sure first that all was OK. He stayed close to his dad at first as Kevin brought him closer to the water.



 It wasn't long though before he followed us into the sea for a paddle. For him however; what started as a paddle ended up as a dip in the sea as he considered sitting in it more important than simply walking through.

You forget how much energy yougsters have until they go dashing off in all directions...and Oscar is no exception. He charged up and down the beach like a madman; exploring this and examining that; I didn't think he would stop. Going home a little while later...he was out cold in no time.
The following day dawned and by the afternoon Therese and Becky were down with us once more. They both look very tired and worn out so a week or so of doing nothing is on the cards. Linda and I are great believer's in letting people recuperate at their own pace. We will be here if needed, but will be there for them on their terms and not ours.
The weather has taken a little surge for the better and we have had three or four dry days. On the strength of that we decided to have a BBQ in the garden and invite Katrina and co along as well. The whole thing was a great success and the weather held out a treat.
Needless to say; the head chef, myself; produced a wonderful array of sausages and burgers while my lovely assistant produced everything else. Oscar however seemed far more interested in the guinea pigs and spent most of his time near them.
It was a nice afternoon and evening and the time flew by. Once again we found ourselves saying goodbye to people we care about deeply and it was sad to watch them drive back up the road; they go home in two days.
One thing you never think of when you move away is that there will always be wonderful hello's, but on the other side of the coin, also some sad goodbyes. I doubt we shall ever get used to it.
The weather took a turn for the worst the following day with strong winds and showers. Everybody down here has a car covered in dirt which the television has informed us is sand from the Sahara. It seems the strong winds have come from there and they scooped up tons and tons of sand on the way.  My neighbour swears he had it worst than most as he had heard a knock on his front door at 04-00 this morning. He says when he opened the door he found two arabs and a camel asking for the quickest route back to Cairo. Well I believe him even if Linda doesn't.
Sunday was the big day for Maria's event and Linda and I turned up early to help out. I have been put in charge of the book stall and am in my element. Linda has become greeter and raffle ticket seller at the door.
I brought more of my books along with me and was delighted to see them go off to some good homes. We found out later that by the end of the day Maria had made over £1500-00 for the charity. Not a bad days work at all. Linda made £300-00 on the raffle alone which kind of put my £120-00 in the shade a bit. We had a fantastic day even if a little exhausting. Therese and Becky were there as well and had fun hunting for bargains.
All things considered though it was a busy old day, so when it was all over we headed to the pub at Tregony for dinner. That wound up the day nicely.
This last week has been very mixed. Therese and Becky continued to improve daily and enjoyed watching Wimbledon on the telly. Linda was busy at work and travelled as far as Penzance one way and Plymouth the other.
As for me, I was delivering in places I had never been to before. One minute delivering close by, the next, I'm up on the north coast and working up there. If they can supply you with a van all is well. If not though they give you 45 pence per mile if you use your own car. I'd never heard of that before so I have a big belated claim to put in.
Its been fun though and I have met some lovely new people on my travels.
My uniform orders have finally caught up with me and at last some replacement uniform has turned up. The order went in three times as the first one disappeared completly. The second order arrived before the third order was sent in, but because nobody had heard of the name on the order form, it ended up on a shelf.
When my order for a cagoulle and new pair of boots arrived one of the managers spotted my name on the box. It read 'Liam Mulvin'. He suddenly chimed up,
"Thats similar to the name on the other box that we put up on the shelf thinking it was a new starter."
He found the box and brought it over. The name read as 'William Melvin'. When we opened it we found the other item I had ordered which was a new fleece. We also found a pair of brand new boots as well so I now have two pairs. It could only happen at Royal Mail.
 The rest of the country seems to be in the grip of some severe weather and it appears far more serious than ours down here. We have had some bad weather obviously, but our little corner of Cornwall seems to have been spared any flooding. The other day the forecast was for apocalyptic weather bringing floods and surface water to us all. On the strength of that and under darkening skies I joined the rest of the village in mowing our own lawns. Twenty minutes after the last mower was switched off and silence settled over us all...it began to rain.
It poured down all night and I was not looking forward to my delivery the following day; which was last Saturday.
My alarm went off and I peered anxiously through the curtains at the Armageddon that was surely awaiting me outside. There was no surface water and only a light drizzle falling. I drove to work and witnessed no problems anywhere. By the time I left Truro the rain had stopped; by the time I got to Mount Hawke I was driving into fog. When I left Mount Hawke I drove out of the fog into sunshine and headed to Grampound Road. It was sunny there but I did get caught by the lightest of quick showers.
While I had been at work, Linda, Therese, and Becky had gone down to the creek to see the start of the River Fal charity swim. It wasn't a race or anything like that; simply a bit of fun and group swim down river towards Philleigh.
Loads of people from all over the place took part and they seemed to enjoy themselves. Linda is determined to take part next year. There where several canoes and boats about for anyone in difficulties so it all seemed very well organised. The three of them enjoyed the whole thing and joined in with the banter as everyone set off. Perhaps Therese and Becky will swim it with Linda next year. I wont of course; I still can't swim yet no matter how hard Linda has tried to teach me.
By the time I got home the sun was shining and we all sat out in the garden. Linda had washing on the line which was drying and she was now pottering about. Therese and Becky were in the loungers reading and enjoying the sun; even the two guinea pigs were lying out on the grass and taking it easy.
That pretty much was our weekend. While other parts of the country flooded and drowned; and this includes parts of Devon and Dorset; we sat out and enjoyed it.
Sadly though, this weekend was the time for Therese and Becky to return home. We had Sunday lunch out in the garden before taking them both back up to St Austell. They are on their way home now and we are sitting back out in the garden again. Well I am; Linda is back to her pottering about.

It seems very empty here now they have gone. 

Chapter Forty Six

Two of our weekends have been taken up with running stalls for Maria. She is a lovely lady who has been running her own Animal Shelter for several years now. Finally, after a lot of effort, she has managed to attain 'charity status' and is hoping to move it on to bigger and better things. This is the place that Linda voluteers for and helps out with on alternative days on weekends.
The weekend of the 23/24 of June found Maria unable to go to the Cornwall Agricutural College Show so Linda volunteered us to help there instead. This is why we spent the weekend working on a tombola/bookstall/ homemade produce stall in Callington.
I couldn't get the day off work for the Saturday but Linda was ably supported by one of the other volunteers for that day.


This is a view of the stall just before the visitors would have descended on it. The two of them cleared most of this by the evening and we had to replenish it all for the Sunday. This was the day when it was just me and Linda.  





  Over the two days we raised over £300-00 for the shelter.
It was great fun.
Our stall faced out onto the goat pen but they turned out to be surprisingly decent neighbours. Loafing around their pen, they kept themselves quietly to themselves and caused little problem...unlike the pig family to our right who obviously felt that it was party time.
Much snorting and squealing came from this quarter as they slowly trashed their pen and stuffed themselves senseless on any food they could find. Most of what they ate should have come from a large container that they continuously butted to release the food. However; a large proportion of their food came from the young children passing by who fed them anything that came to hand.
If you should ever eat a joint of pork that tastes slightly of chocolate, ice cream, burgers, ice lollies, chips, various fruits, or (I cant believe the cannibalism of these creatures) hot dogs...then it was probably a joint from one of these.


Coupled with a group of ducks that could escape at the drop of a hat from their own pen it proved to be an exciting and vibrant pitch.
You will all need to sit down for this next snippet of news. I would reccomend a calming cup of tea to hand or probably just some asprin.
For those who know me well you will understand the outstanding nature of the news I am about to impart; no wonder there has been flooding and strange occurences ever since. Linda swears she saw the four horseman of the apocolypse peering out from a cloud and deciding whether to ride or not.
The cause of all this...full of enthusiasm for the stall...I DONATED SOME OF MY OWN BOOKS.
This has never happened since the dawn of time when I learnt to read. I never get rid of my books.
Halfway through the day I had to physically restrain myself from buying some of them back. God knows what people thought when they saw me tying myself to a gate post.
Seriously though, it was great fun.
The tombola went really well on both days and we cleared almost every prize on each of the two days as well. We adopted a policy of giving a free lolly to any youngster who didn't win anything. That kept the little ones happy and saved any upsets. No wonder Del Trotter enjoys working the markets; its brilliant.
We also had the added bonus of Katrina and Kevin turning up with Oscar. They are down for a weeks holiday on the north coast and will be visiting us when they can. It was great seeing them all again and especially nice that Oscar remembered Linda and I from his last visit. He is not saying Grandma or Grandpa yet but it wont be long.
I love Oscar's shirt. If Fiona and Lucy had been able to find shirts like this I swear they would never have been out of them.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Chapter Fortyfive

The weather down here is still pretty bad. When the sun comes out, it is really Cornwall at its finest. However just lately we seem to be living in the other Cornwall. The one of dank mist, driving rain, thick fog, lashing rain, strong wind, monotonous rain, chilly temperatures, and drizzle.
If one more person tells me the garden needs it, I swear I will chuck them in the sea.
Still; we did do our homework last year while walking through here and we knew it could be like this quite frequently... funny how you forget though!!!
The walk last year involved some appalling weather some days as well as brilliant weather on others. However, some days were just so bad that we had to allow discretion to rear its ugly head and abandon a section of the walk. One section of the walk last year was the few miles between Mevagissey and Charlestown.
The rain had lashed down all morning and by the time we had swam into Mevagissey we were probably the only two drowned rats still outside. On advice that 'the path is dreadfully overgrown for the next few miles' and also hearing tales of 'a landslip up ahead'...we caught the bus into St Austell and holed up in a hotel. We agreed to walk this bit another day.
A couple of Sundays ago became that other day.
It rained all night, but sunshine and a nice breeze greeted the day, so we headed off to complete that little bit of the walk. Linda checked the map and worked out a circular walk from London Apprentice into Mevagissey, then coast path to Charlestown, followed by back to London Apprentice on an inland section. We assumed a distance of eight miles based on my constant assurance that Charlestown is only about three miles from Mevagissey.
That assumption was our first mistake; the pleasure in the sunshine was our second.
It started to drizzle again after about three miles of walking; coincidentally starting just as we started on the SWCP.
The actual distance after more exact measurement turned out to total fourteen miles. Not to far at all if not partly on a coast path. Hard work when once again you are climbing up and down the equivalent height of Everest to travel less than twenty feet in a linear direction.
The undergrowth was still overgrown as well.
This is when a decision has to be made. Do you keep your walking trousers as trousers...or do you remove the legs and wear them as shorts? As trousers they get soaking wet and horrible as you are wading through soaking wet undergrowth; as shorts you risk getting stung by nettles and scratched by brambles.
Mixed views meant that Linda had sopping wet trousers flapping around her legs, and I was stung and scratched to within an inch of my life.
The pub at Charlestown was a most welcome stop. Two pints of Tribute for me and two large Pinot's for Linda put the stride back into our step. The sun finally coming out and staying out helped as well. It was good to get back into the old routine of walking again. Most of what we have done so far over the last few months have not been to strenuous. We do need the stamina to be built up as well with our walk on Hadrians Wall looming ever closer.
I have enjoyed my work for Royal Mail very much at the moment. I'm still not on full hours but I seem to be able to pick up a bit of overtime. I use the tried and trusted method of getting extra work. It stood me in good stead for many years and has never let me down. Very simply...grab what you can, when you can; refuse nothing. It does work believe me.
I have just had several weeks working at Portscatho and St Mawes. Not only have the extra hours been very handy but I have enjoyed myself immensely. It's been good to be back amongst the banter again. (That I miss my children so very much is not up for dispute. If it wasn't for facebook I think I'd go mad.)
Its just that I miss the group of people I used to work with in our corner of the office; the group I went to the pub with for our last meal together. It may surprise some people but they were the people who made my day's go so well; that made my working life so bearable; that made me happy.
Being at Portscatho and St Mawes brings back a semblance of all that.
The days have been busy and have also flown past. I have not only worked my days off, but I have done extra hours as well. Its been fun.
Linda has also been busy and has been enjoying her work as well. She is getting on much better now that things have been sorted at work. However, it is her work at Maria's Animal Shelter that she is really enjoying.
Which is why the last two weekends we have been working on stalls at fetes for her!!!