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.