Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Chapter Twenty one

The New Year started off with quite a bang. We spent the evening of the 1st of January at the firework party at Portscatho. Great fun and a very good display. Mulled wine flowed and the atmosphere was very good natured. The back drop of this little seaside village, coupled with the darkness and the Christmas lights made the display even more special.

It never entered my head I'd be working there for three months before January was out.

There has been many offers of overtime at work and I have taken full advantage of those. It's a good way of keeping myself in the eye of the management, while at the same time earning a bit extra. I have worked several days off and also done extra's on the day's I am working as well.

The most invaluable thing has been to learn about various places in the area. At least I can find my way around a bit better now. At last the town is taking shape and I am learning some of the cut through's and connections that a good postman needs.

I can still make mistakes though. The other day I drove out onto the A30 with the intention of driving a couple of miles before turning off. That would've saved me a few minutes; and a few miles. It would have worked to except that I turned onto the A30 further along than I thought and never realised until I was about five miles further on. I then compounded it by turning off and attempting to go back on myself.

What a shambles!! It felt like I had reached Edinburgh before I finally made sense of were I was and got back on track. My little shortcut cost me twenty minutes or so and about fifteen extra miles driving. Thank God it was a mail van and not my fuel.

Anyway...I think I have finally convinced the management down here that...

A/. I am not some bone idle, union rabble rouser Luddite from the darker side of London.

B/. I am not about to collapse in exhausted bewilderment on the side of the road because I am expected to walk with a pouch over my shoulder.

C/. I am quite capable of coping and making my own judgements if I'm asked to pick up a round that I have not done before.

D/. Although I consider myself a 'service' and not a 'business'; there is no conflict on delivering the mail or doing my job.

As a result things have happened that I have only ever dreamed of.

On Tuesday 10th of January I found myself waiting outside the little office at Portscatho. It stands about twenty feet above the sand and eight feet from the edge. They told me that if the tide is a 'high spring tide' and the wind is a 'harsh easterly wind', then you have to judge when to run at the door to get in as the waves can land on the roadway. On occassion the sea will come in through the door so we keep it shut in those conditions. It must sound quite eerie when you hear t
he sea crash against our door on really bad and stormy days. These are very few and far between though so thats a blessing.

Today I stood in the early morning dawn light and gazed out on a calm sea. Lights bobbing in the distance indicated a few fishing boats already out and hunting. The sea whispered across the sand and nudged gently against the harbour walls and the rocks below. Seagulls called overhead as they started their days efforts with a hunt for breakfast.

I was completely transfixed.

Every dream, save the one were my kids were with me, has now come to pass. I was going to work at the seaside.

The small cellar type place we work in is remeniscent of a fishermans net store and has a charm all its own. The lady I am to work with for the next three months or so is called Ellie. She is a delight.

Tim taught me his job which I will do four days a week while he is away. Meanwhile, leading me by the hand, Ellie taught me her round. Infinitely more complicated, it is a driving rural job that I shall do for one day a week.

It is so long since I learned a rural driving round and I had forgotten how much there is to find out. At least a willing teacher had found a willing pupil. Between the two of us we managed to distil something of her knowledge into my brain. Normally it's a case of 'in one ear and out the other'. Thankfully some was retained this time.

I had the tuition over five days; two days on Tim's round and three on Ellie's. I needed every minute of those days as the following Monday and Tuesday I was doing them both on my own. Tim's Monday; Ellie's Tuesday.

The first day on Tim's round would have gone better if I hadn't let a dog out. I was only on my fifth call. I opened the gate and walked into the little front garden. These houses are on one side of the road and the sea and harbour is on the other. I walked to the front door and opened it to place the mail on the floor.

As quick as lightning a small brown flash hurtled past me, flew down the path, and shot out of the gate. By the time I got myself down to the gate he was racing across the sand...He didn't come back for four hours.

I was mortified; his owner phyllosophical; the dog ecstatic. Did I have a red face or what? It was made even more redder as my duty progressed. Various people would come out and speak to me on the round.

"How are you doing? Have you found the dog yet?"

"How's it going? I hear you lost a dog!"

"Are you settling in well? Don't you worry about that old dog."

"Keep smiling my 'ansum, that bloody dog'll find its way 'ome."

And so it continued all around the rest of the duty. They must use a system of mental telepathy in these parts because I swear I heard no drums beating, or signal flags flying. Either that or they whisper it to the seagulls who pass the messages on. Whatever, and by whatever means; the whole village must have known in seconds.

When I walked back to the little office I noticed a note under my wind screen wiper on the car. It read..."Don't panic. Dog home safely.Good luck tomorrow on that old driving job."

"How did they know that?... How did they know its my car????"

I swear I'll be hearing 'Duelling Banjo's' next.

The following day could have been so difficult but Ellie had written out a list of all the houses in delivery order. That list really saved the day. I stumbled a little on her duty but the list kept me on the straight and narrow.

As I drove along in the sunshine the sea was a constant backdrop for me. The views were breathtaking and I could not have asked for more. Tidal rivers opened up beside me and below me. One minute I would deliver to a farmhouse with a view far out to sea; the next I would be at a cottage with the beach just below; then I would find myself reversing the van around with the sea inches from my wheels on a slip way before I drove back up the road again. Pure magic.

By the way...I found out why a slipway is called that. While waiting for Ellie to turn up the other day I nipped down the one outside the office to head for the public loo...and I slipped. The seaweed, and the slick stones already soaked from the retreating tide, turned a slipway into an ice rink.

I went down like a sack of spuds straight onto the concrete. Not only was it painful...I chose to go down right in front of the open, empty mouth of the land drain. I've got that wrong as well; it wasn't exactly open or empty; it was full of water gushing out and landing on the slipway.

Well it was until I fell right there...then it was landing on me. I shot back up in the air...and fell back down again. This time I rolled over and finally managed to stand up.

Water poured out of my clothes as I stood shivering in the January wind coming straight in off the sea. The good news was that nobody saw it happen. The bad news was that Ellie must have guessed because she warned me later that morning not to use the slipway as a short cut.

"Its called a slipway and you wouldn't want to slip there with all that old water pouring out of the drain. You could end up soaked."

I stood soggily in front of her and dripped quietly onto the stone floor,

"I'll remember that, thankyou."

Other than those two little mishaps the work at Portscatho is brilliant. Every day is a delight and a reminder of just why I wanted to move to the coast originally. I will never be able to thank Linda enough for making that possible.

Linda to, is making her mark down here. Her work is her great passion and she is totally committed and dedicated to the Alzheimers Society. For three years her role is being paid for by Tesco's who have nominated this charity as the one they will support.

Linda has been heavily involved in all aspects of the charity including the 'memory cafes'; singing for the brain; organising the volunteers; and helping and encouraging those people directly affected by the illness.

As you know, last year we walked the South West Coast Path as a charity walk for this Society. We both enjoyed it and were proud to have made a contribution towards their funds.

This year, Linda has found another charity event to take part in for the Society and intends to do the event and make them money at the same time. She will; on 25th February and with some others; be doing a sponsored sky dive.

Once again Linda has decided to let herself be strapped to the front of someone...and then jump out of a plane.

The first time Linda did that was several years ago and she made the jump in tandem over Hampshire. Up until the flight up to the jump off point...Linda had never actually flown in a plane in her life.

Once the jump was over she became the only person I knew of, who had taken off in an aeroplane...but had never actually landed in one. There can't be too many people in the world with that little gem on their CV's.

Speaking as someone who can feel dizzy looking down while standing on the edge of a pavement; it will come as no surprise to learn that I will not be jumping out with her. My heart would give out gratefully as they slid the door open, believe me.

I instead will take on the crucial role of support. In other words, I shall look after her coat and handbag. We Mulvin men are not without giving support however and I will give plenty of encouragement you understand. Hand on heart, although I'm scared stiff for her...I shall be giving this fully.

That I am very, very proud of her goes without saying. She is one in a million.

The jump will take place over Perranporth. Hopefully that is were she will land. The wind here is quite strong so she could land anywhere really. If she lands in Ireland I have promised her I will come and pick her up...any excuse to visit Ireland thats what I say.

We like Perranporth a lot and have done some walking along the beach several times since we came down here. So long as it doesn't end up with a Linda shaped hole in the sand, I'm sure I will continue to like it as well.

I have sent out a link to all my friends to let them know so that they can sponsor her if they are able.

We have spent several days this month visiting more Cornish places. We wanted to ensure that although we live here, we will endeavour to do all the holiday things that visitors do. Were we are lucky is that we can do these things when its quiet.

Luckily the last two Sundays have been beautiful as regards the weather so we have gone out.

The first Sunday we took advantage of our National Trust cards and visited Trellisk Gardens. They are just above the King Harry Ferry and are in a lovely position on the Roseland.

We walked all around there while Linda took photographs. A very pleasant day, though chilly. We shall go back again and see the gardens when all are in full bloom.

The next Sunday was equally lovely and we drove down to the Menack Theatre. I suppose 'stunning' is the best word to describe this place. Although we walked past here on our walk we had never been in before. What an incredible place to find.

There is no doubt we shall be down here to watch a production sometime this year. It is both inspiring and humbling to stand here and visualise the vision and the work that went into making it possible. Excellent.

Finally, and this brings me right up to date, I had my eye test today. For some time now I have noticed a bit of a problem with my eyes. On my last visit to the optician he told me I must see a specialist because he thought I may have cataracts.

He was telling a bit of a porkie though because he had guessed what was wrong but wanted confirmation. It seems I was born with a deficiency in the fluid sack, containing cells, which sits behind the coloured bit of the eyeball. As these cells slowly decrease in old age a change may be noticed.

Let us say you start off with 100,000,000. As age sets in these cells start to go; but you only need about 40,000,000 to function properly; so few people are aware of any changes. From the age of fifty it can take twenty years before you notice a change at all.

In my case...I was only born with about 60,000,000 of these little it is hitting me a little quicker. They are still functioning without problems at present but sometimes if a direct light shines in my face, the light diffuses.

Imagine someone shining a torch onto a window. There is a beam of light dirctly in front of you. Imagine that same torch shining onto a frosted toilet window. The beam breaks up and blurs right across the glass. Well thats what my eyes do. Its annoying but not threatening.


Who would have guessed it. I have been reading over the last year and had to take the old specs off because I couldn't focus properly. It turns out that this is excellent news as my vision is now perfect and unstrained to a distance of almost 15 inches. This is not a lot I admit...but priceless to somebody who reads and writes as much as I do.

We also took an e mail the other day from an old friend of mine, Simon Stallard. He is the youngest son of Brian and Eve Stallard form Farnham. Its a very small world when all things are considered. Brian and Eve have been good friends of mine for nearly thirty five years. Brian also worked at Royal Mail for a number of years. That is were Linda met him.

Linda has a daughter called Katrina who is married to Kevin...and Kevin is Brian's godson. All of this came to light at the wedding when Kevin and Katrina got married. I hadn't seen Brian's boys in some time but they were there as well. We then found out that Simon lives in Cornwall and he and his partner have a thriving business down here. It is a wonderful eating place called 'The Hidden Hut' and is just on Porthcurnic beach which is near Portscatho...which is were I am working now.

It was only when we moved down onto the Roseland that we discovered that they also lived on it as well. We spotted them on the television on the Caroline Quentin programme when she spent some time at the Hidden Hut filming a documentary. Simon and Gemma are making quite a name for themselves in the food industry, and I would urge anyone coming down here to pay them a visit. Don't take my word for it...try it yourselves.

Anyway; Simon invited us both around for Sunday lunch as Brian and Eve were down as well. It was a lovely afternoon and evening with excellent food and excellent company. It's amazing just how much there is to talk about.

All to soon it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes and made arrangements to meet up at our place before heading off out into the darkness. I was back knocking on the door two minutes later looking for help.

I had only gone and left my lights on. The battery was as drained into uselessness as it could get. Thankfully, with my jump leads and Eve's car we got it running and made it back home. I hope nobody feels I have let them down by having a set of jump leads in the car. I also have a spare wheel; a spare set of light bulbs; and a small tool kit. You're quite right; thats not what I'm known for. If it's any consolation...I didn't have a torch and we had to borrow one. Street lights are few and far between in the rural areas.
A great reunion though and loads of fun.

We also had a nice bit of news from up country. The 'Aged P'; my mother; made a valiant entry into the world of the 21st century the other day and has been Skypeing would you believe. We have family members in America who mum and dad met up with whenever they could. John and Doris Mulvin and their daughter Dorothy (Dottie).

Thanks to Dottie and my sister Therese, the skype connection was made and Mum, John, and Doris were able to chat to each other and see each other. I know my mother comes from a time when messages could only be carried by a fast horse or a racing pigeon but she enjoyed it very much. Skypeing is now something I must explore because I have no idea about it at all. Perhaps I am some old Luddite after all.

But all things considered; since coming down here; life is really pretty good and we are moving on.

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