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.