Friday, 6 December 2013

Chapter Eighty Five

Christmas is very much all around us at present and we are right in the swing of things. Life is becoming very busy for us both and we are both tired out in the evening. I find I am working a physically active day for the best part of twelve hours...and Linda is doing the same. We stagger in and eat dinner but are normally heading off to bed by nine pm.
Fortunately for me, Linda is an absolute powerhouse on her days off. Whereas I will use my day off to try and get some energy back...Linda dives straight in to other things. This is why we have...
1/. All the presents bought.
2/. All the presents wrapped.
3/. The house all prepared for Christmas.
4/. The garden and allotment neat and tidy.
5/. EVERYTHING DONE!!!
My contribution seems to have been to make tea; keep out of the way; read books; and be taken the rise out of.
Amazingly; and to both parties delight; this system works.

We have had a couple of good evenings out though over the last couple of weeks. Truro has a 'Parade of Light', in the evening as a start to the Christmas down here. We drove into town, parked up, and walked through to Lemon Street. There was a good place to stand that we knew of, and we found ourselves standing on the side of the road with a huge crowd of people.

Although noisy and cold we enjoyed the whole thing very much. The parade was full of bands, but the main attraction were the huge paper lanterns, in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and lit from within. They must put a great deal of effort into making them.

It was a good evening.
The next evening I was up at Tregony WI and giving a talk on Royal Mail. It was great fun and I enjoyed it. A lot of post has been delivered since I last gave a talk like that. When I was forbidden to do them ten years ago..."We're a business not a service."... I swore I wouldn't do any more and I have stuck to that. Since then though I have decided that I don't really care about that anymore. If people want to hear a talk about Royal Mail, they can have one.
It went well and we all had a bit of a laugh. They say you can tell if a talk went well by the amount of questions you are asked. Judging by this evenings questions...it was a good one.
We also had a brilliant evening in Grampound at a 'Folk and Cajun' evening.
The folk band were very good and one of Linda's friends was playing and singing in it. Great fun. There was a meal as well of something called 'Gumbo'. Very nice dish and tasty with it. Seemingly it is a cajun meal from the everglades.
It tasted great anyway. The Cajun music was very good too and we were soon up and dancing with everyone else. A very good evening.
Linda has spent her days off bringing her new business up to speed. She is to be found designing things and organising stuff at every opportunity. She is busy at the home as well and has now settled down into their working pattern. She is actually enjoying herself there which is good. I hope that when the time comes she will be able to combine both the home and her own business. So long as she is happy with what she does, she tends to stay balanced and focussed. It is then that she makes such a brilliant impact on those around her.

St Mawes has still been a delight on my deliveries. I saw this huge ship coming out from Falmouth the other morning. Fantastic.
I was able to check out her number on the side and look her up on the computer. I do love this little world of mine.
My own work is going well although there is the old dark cloud on the horizon. I never thought it would happen again but I have grown as fond of this duty and the people living on it as I did with Bentley. I am very aware that in the new year there will be a re-sign taking place and I may lose the duty. I have made so many friends over the last year and been so very happy at St Mawes. I don't think I can face staying on if I lose it. I'm not sure; at present I really don't want to think about it...but it bubbles up into my head now and again.
On the plus side though; the work is now starting to come in thick and fast and I am enjoying myself very much. I do love Christmas Duties. This will be my 43rd Christmas as a postman. I have done a Christmas duty every year since I was seventeen.

We have got the Christmas tree up and the decorations are all around the house. Old favourites have been brought out and new ones bought. It is all very festive and the cottage looks a treat. We even have three cards up already and I have had a £25-00 tip already. Our main room reminds me of my childhood and the Christmasses we had in 'Wishanger'. Sadly there is only me and mum to remember that time though. I wonder if she will think it when she gets here.

I have just got over a really bad cold and infected throat. Its been years since I had a cold or sore throat like this one. I didn't take any time off work, which didn't go down well with the blokes I work with. I managed to give all three a mild cold of their own. I felt really lousy for about ten days and am only now starting to improve. I have to confess that being out in the fresh air has certainly made it more bearable. Once I get rid of this catarrh I should be up and running. Its not been pleasant though.
We did have a lovely time this Sunday though and we enjoyed ourselves very much. One of Linda's friends invited us both out to dinner at his club that he goes to. We joined him there and had a lovely meal and a catch-up with him. It was a lovely few hours and he refused to take any contribution towards the bill. When he went to pay the bill Linda reminded me that she had told me he would never let me pay anything towards the meal.
She then changed the subject and asked me how old I thought he was. He had been very spry and with all his 'marbles' intact. To look at he seemed very fit and active. The only honest answer I could give was to say he was in his mid seventies; probably 74 or 75.
Linda told me that was what she had first thought...but in fact he is 94. An amazing and wonderful old man.
When we got home we went for a little walk down to the creek. While we were there Linda told me she wanted to collect some moss and dry it out. Two days later I got home off delivery and found she had revitalised my crib. It looks really good now.

This is now the sixth of December and the workload is increasing. Linda has just gone up-country for a few days to see her family. The home Linda works at insisted she have a week off before Christmas...or lose the week all together.
I am not allowed any time off in December by Royal Mail, unless it has been certified by a coroner, so I have been left behind. I would love to have seen my kids this weekend but it was not to be.
Linda will stay with her parents for the weekend and will be coming home on Monday. She will be bringing mum down with her to hopefully have a little bit of a convalese with us both.
Although today is my day-off and I am in to work tomorrow and again on Monday. Sunday is going to be the day I complete all the Christmas cards.
Today I have a haircut to get done and shopping for the week to do. The weather is good and so the guinea pigs have been put out in the garden for some fresh air and a bit of sun.
Finally, this morning, we awoke to the news that Nelson Mandella died last night. This is a man that very few will ever forget. There's not a lot I can say... but on this occasion I think David Cameron got it right when he said...
       
                                              "A light has gone out in the world."

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Chapter Eighty Four

Sorry everybody; I'm getting worse in the old memory stakes each passing day. I thought I had written on this blog on the 12th of November. It turns out I wrote on my other one concerning the Coastwatch.
Here's the 'catch-up'.
Linda has been extremely busy in her new life. Those of you who know her will understand that her idea of relaxation is to be just as busy as normal...but by doing something different. For a good part of the year she has been taking me for walks on Carne beach. ( For Gods sake...I made that sound like I'm an old labrador or something).
I'll start again. Linda and I have been going for walks on Carne beach when we can. I normally take alomg an old mail bag or two and fill them with any old plastic that has been washed up. This always looks better in our recycle bin than cluttering up the beach. Linda meanwhile, has a sack of her own that she collects driftwood in.
 This is her searching amongst the rocks on the beach.
Her artistic talents are amazing and she has been making all sorts of things that rival any of the driftwood articles found in local gift shops. She was selling bunches of flowers during the summer at our local farm shop. She'll be selling these at local craft markets next.
Her other talent has been for the making of jams, chutneys, jellies, and other preserves. I feel like an extra in an episode of the 'Archers'. Its only when you look in her craft room that you can see how busy and how amazing, she really is.
Thankfully, I to am not letting the side down.
I grant you all, that whole praries of grass can grow under my feet before I do something. I also agree that my idea of relaxation is my backside firmly planted in a chair and my eyes locked firmly onto a book. For all that I am getting some writing done. I had my sixtieth article printed in the Western Morning News this week in their Country Notebook section.
It makes no money for us...but it does keep my profile out there for other's to see. Several times, people have stopped either Linda or myself and asked if I am the writer of these pieces. That can be good and any day now I expect to see my name up in lights.
PERHAPS NOT!!!
My name is up on a board in Tregony this week for a different reason however. I was asked if I would give a talk on Royal Mail to the local WI. I used to love doing that years ago but gave it up when things got so bad at Farnham. This time I couldn't resist giving it another go and agreed to give the talk. Thats tomorrow and I am more nervous than I ever expected to be.
I was on delivery the other morning when I saw this beautiful looking vessel sitting in the Carrick Roads. It was enormous. Suddenly a large helicopter flew away from it. The helicopter must have been inside the thing because I never spotted it on deck. I did think, I've worked hard all my life, and I couldn't even afford to buy the ships wheel...never mind all the rest of the package.
 
The weather has turned a little chillier in the wind and the guinea pigs are now back in their winter quarters. This consists of living in the greenhouse. They seem quite happy in there, although on sunny days, Linda puts them back out in their run in the garden for a few hours. Its hard to believe this is our second Winter with them.

Both of us are a little tired at the moment and I think a lot of that is to do with our jobs. Linda finds it very busy in the residential home although she enjoys the people she looks after. Trying to get her own business off the ground is hard on her too.
I am finding it busy at work as well. Although the perceived impression at Truro is that the jobs in the SPDO's are fairly easy...I rarely finish my duty before three in the afternoon. I do work a full eight hour day with no proper break. I love it though and it doesn't bother me at all.
Christmas is showing evidence of itself more and more at work as well. Loads of packets coming through, plus the millions of catalogues that fill the letterboxes at this time of year. I swear that advertising alone must consist of seventy per cent of all mail posted.
Still no talk of industrial action at present so that is a worry put firmly at the back of the mind.
We went to Tregony for the Rememberance Sunday service. As usual it was very well attended and we were happy to take part. The whole thing was very moving and I left a cross in front of the memorial for my my great grandfather.
Linda and I had a chat about things and I told her I would like to commemorate his service during the Great War. As it is 100 years next year since the war began, I told her I would like to go to the war memorial with his name on it in East Budleigh in Devon. I want to go each year for the next five years as a way of commemorating him personally. It means a lot to me.

First Name:
John
Surname:
Hill
DOB:
Circa 1877
Age:
40
Birth Town:
Woodbury, Devon.
Resided Town:
East Budleigh, Devon.
Nationality:
British
Date of Death:
26/09/1917
Fate:
Killed in Action
Information:
Parents: Samuel and Jane Hill, of Woodbury, Devon; husband of Annie Hill, of Porch Cottage, East Budleigh, Devon.
Rank:
Private
Service Number:
46490
Duty Location:
France And Flanders
Campaign Medals:
Victory Medal

victory medalLike many service personnel of World War One, John Hill was entitled to the Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal. This medal was awarded to all who received the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star and, with certain exceptions, to those who received the British War Medal. It was never awarded alone. These three medals were sometimes irreverently referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

Eligibility for this award consisted of having been mobilised, fighting, having served in any of the theatres of operations, or at sea, between midnight 4th/5th August, 1914, and midnight, 11th/12th November, 1918. Women who served in any of the various military organisations in a theatre of operations were also eligible.

British War Medal

british war medalAs with many Armed Forces personnel, John Hill was entitled to the British War Medal for service in World War One. This British Empire campaign medal was issued for services between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918.

The medal was automatically awarded in the event of death on active service before the completion of this period.

Great grandad was an ordinary man who went to war. He didn't have to...but he did anyway. He has always been someone for me to look up too.
I have been at Portscatho for a few shifts this last couple of weeks. I've been doing Ellies job and covering for some of her holiday. Its been a nice change and I've enjoyed it. Her job can be finished earlier than mine because it starts earlier. Nice to be home before two on a couple of days.
Last Saturday was our NCI lunch and I managed to swap my duty with Stephen so that I could finish earlier. It was great fun and I spent time with Chris and Sue discussing the training programme. I am hoping to be able to help out with it in the future. I still find it hard to believe I am a qualified coastwatcher.
Really pleased.
I managed to become the victim of road rage the other day. I instinctively answered my phone while driving the other day. I can't think why because I normally won't answer when behind the wheel. I know it was foolish...but it really upset the bloke in the car behind me.
Although I had long since terminated the call, he followed me off the main road towards a little village, and as soon as I pulled up, blocked me in and really went off on one. He was obviously very upset about me speaking on my phone and issued all sorts of threats. I managed to calm him down and agreed with everything he said. It didn't mollify him but it stopped him from doing something stupid.
I heard a conversation the other day between two ladies in a shop talking about the same sort of incident. It happened to one of them. Methinks there is some sort of vigilante group starting up. I have to admit I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by himself...but not perhaps in the way he delivered it. I leave my phone in the back of the car now so that I can't answer it. Its daft really...I wouldn't dream of making a call whilst driving...yet instinctively answer when rung.
Just a little word once more on the weather before I finish. A cold snap has settled in bringing bright clear skies and a bitter cold wind. Although I was quite happily delivering in my shorts as usual...I was wearing a woolly hat and a fleece as well. It must have looked very odd.
Having said that; on the same morning I found this beautiful agapanthus growing beside someones front door.
I love these plants and as far as I can make out, this must be one of the last ones standing.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Chapter Eighty Three

Linda and I paid a visit to the church at St Just the other day. I don't know why it has taken us so long to go there. I park 100 yards away from it every day when on delivery but I had never been inside.The Sunday dawned bright and clear so we decided to go for a walk. I drove us over to St Just and we walked through the village and followed the footpath down to the creek beside Penpol.
Linda was delighted with the amount of black berries and rosehips still out and has made a note to come back here again. We followed the path alongside the creek, through Tregorland and around to the church. One of my ladies is moving from the area and we had seen a photo taken of her property from the air. It was this photo that made me realise just how much was down here alongside the Bar.
As we approached the Bar, we saw this wonderful old church sitting across the lagoon in all its glory.

  To the right of this picture is the Carrick Roads and it leads in on this bit to the creek at St Just. Between this picture and the sea is a spit of land which is an extension of the ground that the boat yard uses. This spit of land is called 'The Bar' and is what has formed the lagoon in front of the church. Part of the lagoon is full of boats which are either stored here for the winter or worked on from the boatyard.
Sadly the tide is out in this picture but it is still a lovely place.
 I imagine it can be a busy and bustling kind of place in season with holidaymakers walking around the paths and through the churchyard. There would also be the work of the boatyard going on, which must surely be noisy at times. On this day however it was very still and peaceful. The only artificial sound close by was the sound of ropes slapping against masts in the fitful wind. This is a sound I could listen to for hours; so evocative of the sea it overwhelms me as much as the cry of a seagull or the sound of waves crashing onto a beach. Perfect.
Needless to say, Linda and I adopted our usual routine when exploring places like this. Linda moved silently around the place, admiring the nature and the fabric of the place while taking photographs of much better pictures than I can. Meanwhile I absorbed the history of it all and drifted in my mind through the time and place it showed me.
It really was a brilliant afternoon.
I did feel a little guilty though. All through the year, I have been stopped by holiday makers walking through St Just who have asked me where the nearest cafe or pub is. Repeatedly I have told them that the nearest chance of a drink...either tea and coffee or alcohol...is in St Mawes. Imagine my shame when Linda and I finally walked into the church and found they have tea and coffee making facilities laid on for people who call in. All the makings are there and you just put a donation in the box.
I had a red face for hours.
The rest of the next week was taken up with work and so on. My van door finally gave up the ghost and I could not open it from the inside. I had to leave the window permanently open and reach out through it to open the van door from the outside. That was a very long hour and a half I must say. I spent the rest of the week driving a reserve van. This van was resplendent in Royal Mail insignia but was white instead of red. This confused many people who thought it was yet another downside of the privatisation of the business.
Mum also got the 'all-clear' from the hospital concerning her suspected cancer in the stomach. We all know why they were so concerned but it turned out to be a large hernia. Thats a weight off the old mind.
I also received my copy of Tricia's book about St Polycarps in Farnham. It is a wellwritten and interseting book and I have enjoyed reading through it. Needless to say...I am in the book in a photograph. It is the one of me on my first day at school aged five. Its hard to believe it was in 1959.
The innocent days of my childhood had barely three years left before the monsters came...but this photo is a reminder of the happy times I had as a child in 'Wishanger'. Wonderful
Most of the rest of the week was taken up in preparation for the big storm that was brewing out in the Atlantic.
This storm was certainly a huge one and, as it turned out, deadly and damaging to much of the country. People were sadly killed, and there was much damage to property and much disruption. Like everybody else we made all the preparation necessary, and viewed the approach with some misgivings...then it avoided us anyway.
The Saturday was quite a breezy day and it got very windy in the evening when Linda went to work. Fiona and Woody are down and staying in Polgooth and I was concerned for all three of them. Linda had battened down the garden, including making sure the guinea pigs were safe. I helped by rushing out side and saving my three garden gnomes. Linda came in and found all three of them huddled in the porch and safe. Strangely...she was not impressed.
 I shall probably keep them in now until Spring. I haven't told Linda.
The early wind from the storm howled around the house until almost midnight when it suddenly stopped and became quite peaceful. It was still like that when I woke up and got ready for my last watch this season at the lookout.
Linda got home off her night duty and said that it was blustery at Portscatho but quite clear. When I got to the lookout I discovered it was blowing a force 6 or 7 with occasional gusts of gale force 8. The skies were clear however and it was quite dry. It was still like that when Fiona and Woody turned up just before the end of my watch. It was good to see them and exciting in the strong wind...and that was the extent of our storm of the century.
The following morning I awoke to no power cuts, no damage, and barely any wind at all. I left for Truro twenty minutes early so that I would not be to late if there were any problems...and all that happened was, I was twenty minutes early into work. It appears that the main force of the storm didn't really landfall until somewhere further east in the Plymouth area.
It was a narrow escape as all day long I listened to reports of problems from the rest of the country.
That evening Linda and I had a couple of visitors in the shape of Derek and Jayne. They are down for a long weekend and so we met up and had a meal with them. It was as if the storm had never taken place.
I saw Fiona and Woody twice through the week...both times in a pub and both times taking part in a pub quiz. We called ourselves 'Farnham meets Ruan Lanihorne' and it was a good laugh. Sadly Linda couldn't join us as she was working a week of twelve hour days.
My very good friend Fleetwood Butland surprised us the other day. His wife, who I sadly never met, was called Nancy. By all accounts she was a lovely lady and was a nurse for all her working life. I told Fleet' that Fiona and Woody now had a niece born the other day who was also called Nancy. It is an unusual name to be called these days and neither of us could think of anybody else that we might know that was called it.
Fleet was delighted though to hear of a new baby with the same name as his wife and gave me a picture of his Nancy, in uniform, and holding a baby at a local hospital.
 He then told me a little story. He and Nancy had never had children of their own but Nancy had always bought little gifts for babies that she was closely connected too. He told me that he had  looked through some of her things and had found a small silver christening gift that Nancy had bought for someone, but she had died before giving it.
He told me that it would please him very much if Woody and Fiona could pass it on to the new baby Nancy, from his own Nancy. All three of us were deeply touched by this and I know Woody will never forget his kindness. He is a really lovely man and a very good friend.
The week has now drawn to a close and this is my long weekend off work. I did go in on Saturday for some overtime and did the driving duty at Portscatho. It was great catching up with old friends and I had a great day. I must admit though to a touch of sadness as I looked across to St Mawes from St Anthony Head and realised just how much I wanted to be delivering over there.
  Not the worlds greatest picture I know, but it is a good view of my usual delivery.
I felt a little despondant as I drove on and continued on my round on this side of Percuil. I have to say though that my mood lightened considerably when, just a few minutes later, I saw the most amazing sight on somebodies gatepost. I don't know about anybody else but I have never seen anything like this in my life before. I had to smile.
What they are doing and why they are doing it...is a complete mystery to me. Very odd.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Chapter Eighty Two

Well its been a bit of a busy time in the last ten days. Linda's work is progressing well and she is enjoying being with her residents at the home. She is very good with people and has a natural rapport with the elderly and infirm.
At the same time she is slowly pushing forward with her own business and is hoping to start things moving fairly soon. The main joy for her at the moment is staying on the Roseland and not having to drive through to her old job every day.
They don't seem to unhappy now she has gone and there has been no contact from them since she left. I know its probably a good thing, but she hasn't even had anything sent to her that she was told had been collected for her. A strange place.
We paid a visit to the Eden Project the other day. It was lovely to just wander about in the sunshine without to many people being there. The equitorial dome has had some new walkways installed out over the canopy of the trees and is worth a look. They also have butterflies native to these regions that have been released into the dome as well. It is all very beautiful.
There also seems to be a lot of new plant growth in both domes as well.The dry dome has some new structures and features in it now. For both of us, this dome is a great reminder of our holiday in Rhodes. It is all very impressive.
Royal Mail has now; VERY SADLY; been sold off. The current thinking seems to be that the government undervalued it and sold it on the cheap. Certainly, the shares that I was given to keep my mouth shut, seem to have doubled in value. Let us hope in later years that the country doesn't suffer for the last thirty years of selling off the 'family jewels'.
I was in the lookout on Sunday and did my first opening watch. It was really good although I was a little concerned that the flag would blow away after I hoisted it. Thankfully it stayed were it was supposed to. I will say no more about the NCI at the moment as I think I will keep a seperate blog on the subject. Am making a start and will hope to publish soon.
Talking of publishing. A very good friend of mine has just had a book published in the last few days. Below you will see the book and it has to be a must for any old St Polycarpians to read.
There's even a photo of me in it so that should be good for a laugh if nothing else.
Welcome to the
Farnham & District Museum Society
 


Our next publication will be launched on Friday 18th October at 2pm in St Joan of Arc's Centre, 19 Tilford Road, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 8DJ.


ST POLYCARP’S CATHOLIC SCHOOL

The Bear Lane Years 1891 -1962

Written by Tricia Knight


 I don't know the price of it but I am sure it will be great value for money.
Avery odd thing happened the other day which I just have to write about. I don't know how it happened but it was quite odd. For the last week or so I have been looking for my car keys. I was unable to find them and I searched in all the places they should have been; all the places the could have been; and all the places there was no chance they had been. I couldn't find them. I've been using my spare set ever since.
Linda came in from the garden and saw me poking about in the cupboard and asked me what I was doing. I mentioned my keys and said I still couldn't find them.
"Funny, you saying about your keys,"  she said, "I had a dream last night that I found them in my rucksack. Now why should I dream of something as random as that? I haven't used my rucksack in the last three months."
Then a thought struck me and I looked at her.
"No", I said, "but I used mine the other week when I went to the lookout for my watch. I don't normally but I had some extra stuff to take with me."
I rushed upstairs to the cupboard to check...and found the keys in the side pocket of the bag.
We are both still amazed by all this because Linda had no idea I had used my rucksack...and I had forgotten. Weird wasn't it!!!
I have just spent the last three days of this week at Portscatho doing the driving duty there. It wasn't as difficult or as long as my round at St Mawes but I enjoyed myself very much. It was certainly good to catch up with some old friends again.
 This was the view from Truro office on the day before I started at Portscatho. On both the Portscatho duty and the St Mawes duty I have to go into Truro to collect the mail. The Portscatho duty does the first wave and the St Mawes duty does the second. Fortunately this sunrise was on the Tuesday when I was doing the slightly later second wave. It was a beautiful sight and a lot of the blokes popped out to take a picture.
I have two friends in St Mawes post office who are sisters; Lauren and Mickey. Below is the picture that Lauren took from the shop doorway out across the harbour.
 

 It has to be a lot better than mine...but doesn't it show what a beautiful world we live in.
Talking of a beautiful world, I have in my world a beautiful lady who I share my life with. One of my customers gave me a load of cooking apples the other day. I brought them home and peeled, cored, and cooked the lot of them. I left this enormous bowl of cooked apple in the kitchen.
When I got home from duty yesterday, Linda had bagged the lot of it and put it all into the freezer...except for the amount she put into a pie for me. And here is the pie she baked.
  

BRILLIANT!!!




Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Chapter Eighty one

This has been a week of mixed fortune. All sorts of things happening; some good; some bad. Fortunately, on the whole, the bad has been outweighed.
The beginning of October marked the sixth anniversary of my death of my dad. It seems such a long time ago sometimes...and on other times it feels like only yesterday. I still miss him very much.
From a purely selfish point of view, I wish he could still be here to witness the achievements that Fiona and Lucy have had over the last few years. To see them grow up into two talented and lovely women would have pleased him so much.
Again, I also think he would like to have seen the achievements that Linda and I have had as well. Dad was a great one for wanting little, except seeing his family happy. I think he would have been delighted with what my small section of his family have done.
Watching his other grandchildren getting on and enjoying their own lives would have pleased him as well.
Mum has not been to good this week and she received bad and good news from the hospital. The bad news was to tell her that her scan had revealed a shadow, indicating a mass of something, in her usual danger area. Once again she displayed her fortitude in the hands of fate and refused to let the news upset her in any way. This was proved to be the right course of action as the consultant has now confirmed that the mass has turned out to be her stomach muscle which has slipped out of place.
The consensus is that the muscle has been moved due to mum's continuing cough. I told her she was lucky she had never been a smoker. If as a non-smoker she has dislodged the stomach muscle...imagine what she could have achieved if she had been a smoker. She could have dislodged everything and turned herself inside out.
This bit of enlightened news was greeted with the words that she has an idiot for a son. I protested that Grahame shouldn't be called an idiot because of something I said...so she called me a berk.
How charming.
Linda has now completed her last week for the Alzheimers Society and was delighted to leave the company last Friday. Of course she will miss the friends she made there, including other staff members, the volunteers, and the clients.
However, she will not miss the antics and the nastiness caused by the trouble makers in the office. Finally getting those two people out of her hair has proved a godsend and she looks happier already.
She has just completed a two day induction at her new job and is enjoying the fresh challenge. It seems strange seeing her working in a uniform again, and even more strange to have her working a twelve hour day. she only has to do three or four days a week so she is happy with that. This will give her the chance to work on her own projects and hopefully get her own business up and running.
Work for me has been really good although last Thursday was a huge shock to the system. It didn't just rain all day...it thundered down like a monsoon. Eventually the van seat developed a puddle of water in it. Every time I sat down...I splashed. What was also a huge surprise was the following day. We were greeted with blue skies, a gentle breeze, and a warm sunny day.
It was like living on two different planets.
I have done several watches now at the lookout. The first one was a busy and sunny day and there was lots to write up. The next two watches were totally different with fog all around me. I could barely see the sea and it was all very eerie. It is still important to be there so I stayed on duty quite happily.
Last Sunday though, the weather turned out to be so much nicer and I could see right out to the horizon. It was a busy watch and I had a good time there. This Sunday will be my first watch that I shall open. I have only done one of those watches and that was with a mentor. This will be my first on my own.
I have done mid watches and last watches on my own. So getting an early watch under my belt will have me competent on them all. I want to work towards my Senior Watchkeeper status now. That will give me two bars on my epaulettes.
Today is is our first day off together in the midweek for some considerable time. I'm not sure what we are doing but I shall write another chapter in due course.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Chapter Eighty

Linda and I had a day off last Saturday together; so we went down to St Ives. It was really nice down there. We stopped off first at Godrevy and parked opposite the light house. There is a flight of steps down to the beach. The last time we walked this beach was the last day of our coast path walk two years ago, when we wore full packs.
The weight then had been dire and we were glad to send the tent and stuff back. If the weather had been better it wouldn't have bothered us, but all that rain was to much. Funny how that day two years ago was the start of a week of sunshine though.
Anyway; the walk was a lot easier the other day, and we enjoyed the walk. We only went as far as the rocks in the centre of the beach and then turned and walked back. That was the best part of a three mile walk anyway.
Driving on we dropped down into Lelant Saltings and went on the 'park and ride'. The 'ride' part is on the little train into St Ives. It was good to visit there as we haven't been for a while. The harbour beach has certainly not changed since about a year or so ago. The sand has banked itself up very high. The flight of steps leading to the beach with about twelve steps in it...is now showing two steps. A couple of years ago if you wanted to climb up onto the mole with its lighthouse you either climbed a long flight of steps or a ladder bolted to the wall. Now you can just step up onto it from the beach. Amazing.


We had a lovely walk around the town and a nice meal in the Union Inn. It was a good day.
The following day Linda turned into an 'earth mother'...and turned the kitchen into a production line for making jams and chutneys. By the evening we had pots of plum jam lined up in the kitchen as well as pots of onion chutney. The freezer is also stocked with veg and the cupboard contains bags of potatos.
While all this endeavour was going on I was able to keep busy before I beat a hasty rereat down to the lookout. I had the end watch and arrived in good time. The lookout resembled 'Englands Last Outpost' as it stood there hidden in the fog. At least the Union Flag was still fluttering bravely...but that was as far as I could see.
I took over the watch and settled in for the next few hours. Binoculars were useless and I spent most of my time listening out instead and chatting to walkers. I could not even see the sea; but I could just hear it as it broke on the rocks beneath. I felt like the captain of the Flying Dutchman, so I did some spring cleaning instead.
I may not have been able to see much out to sea; nor did anything happen to need my attention; but I got the floors cleaned and swept. I also got the mats beaten and the windows cleaned down. If the sun should ever shine down here...the person in the lookout will need dark glasses just because of the glare off the windows.
Work was a rewarding business this week with all of us working our days off. That came in handy and we are doing the same next week as well.
Sadly next week brings the very real threat of privatisation closer as it looks as if the Government will be selling the shares in the next few days or so. Why is it that I feel like the boy standing on the burning deck? Is there any use being defiant anymore when all around have fled?
I don't know, but it makes us very despondent. We even sold out ourselves and agreed to take the shares when offered. It makes something of a mockery accepting the shares and then fighting against privatisation.


On a lighter note, I did have fun on duty as normal, and a good chuckle the other day.
I was walking back to my van when I noticed a short pair of legs sticking out below the open door. Above the legs a tail was wagging. I looked around the door and spoke to the small border terrier standing with his front legs on my van seat. Immediately the tail wagged faster and his whole body shook as he looked excitedly at the tin containing the dog biscuits.
I opened the tin and gave him a biscuit. That was wolfed down in the blink of an eye as well. I then told him to go home...so he sat down. I took a step away to my next call...he leapt up and followed me. I told him to go home again...he sat down wagging his tail and tongue hanging out.
I then bent down and scooped him up into my arms...he licked my face all over before settling down for the walk home.
What people must have thought seeing a postman walking along the road with a pouch around his neck and a daft dog in his arms I shall never know. The dog seemed delighted and enjoyed himself very much. As I approached his house a lady with a worried expression rushed out of the front door to go looking for him. She was pleased that I had brought him home anyway.
To some people, being a postman is not perhaps the best job in the labour market but nobody could ever say the work is not varied. I love it!!
Yesterday, when I got home from work, I thought Linda looked a little tired. There is just a handful of days before she leaves her old job and starts her new one, but I think the strain is setting in. Of course there are many people that Linda will miss in her work, and who will miss her. 
Its the two denizens of the 'blasted heath' with their 'hubble bubble, toil, and trouble' that she wont miss.
Funny how the two of them got what they wanted with Linda and are still making life awkward. I think they'll both be on their own in there before long.
Anyway; I digress. What I meant to say was, I took Linda out for a meal to the little pub in Tregony because she looked like needing cheering up. As usual, it was a lovely meal and it was wonderful to just both sit there and relax.

This morning on Facebook we discovered that our friends who own the pub next door to us have sold up. Nice people, they made us feel very welcome when we first came to the village. They have been good friends to us and we have enjoyed visiting the pub...especially on quiz nights. I suspect they may not stay in this area as they consider the whole world their back garden and feel at home wherever they are. We can only wish them good luck and bon voyage.
Linda put the guinea pigs out in the garden as usual this morning. They will soon be moving into their winter quarters( the greenhouse), but at the moment they are still in the run outside. A few minutes later I heard Linda calling to me..."Look at Widget. I put fresh food and fruit out for them both and look at her. Whiskey has his face buried into a tomato and is scoffing that...Widget has galloped straight past the food and is now eating a dead leaf that fell out of the tree and landed in the run. The mind boggles".
                                                                     WIDGET
I never said a word, but the thought did go through my mind that..."Whiskey is a lot like me and Widget is a lot like Linda."
                  I've just noticed that Whiskey has a bald spot like mine as well. Ha ha.
                                                               WHISKEY
Don't tell Linda I thought that though will you?
I also had the mid- watch today at the lookout. Once again it was a misty day, as well as being cold and wet. Another watch under my belt now...and still nothing to be seen on the high sea's. Oh well!!! at least I'm there

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Chapter Seventy Nine

Yesterday would have been my dad's 87th birthday. Still miss him a great deal. It would have been lovely to have brought him down here to Cornwall for holidays and the like. If the driving was to much, he could always have used the train or the plane.
It would have been good to show him around the area; I could have even taken him to the lookout.
We had our weeks holiday at the beginning of the month and really enjoyed ourselves. The first few days were spent down here before we took mum back home. Linda and I then stayed in the sheltered accomodation that mum lives in. They supply a double room for visitors visiting family up there. Its a lovely room and laid out very like a Travelodge or Holiday Inn place. The only thing missing is the TV.
Linda feels it is good for me to stay in a place like that as it gives me a taste of what it will be like when she finally puts me into a home. Charming...Oh how I laughed... saucy bat.
Mums nebulizer never did arrive down here and I had to get her one on loan from our surgery. When Linda chased up the delivery of the item to us the delivery company...sadly NOT Royal Mail...confirmed that the item had been delivered and signed for at our address.
Very odd that; especially as our home overlooks the road and mum was home all day. We all know what me mother is like. There is no way anybody is going to go by, that she wont spot. What was even more strange was the delivery man confirming to his bosses that, "Yes, I delivered the item to a bungalow in Ruan High Lanes". They took that as proof that it had been delivered to us even though Linda pointed out that we live in a 'HOUSE' in 'RUAN LANIHORNE'.


Once again excellent work from a private courier company. I know we're not perfect at Royal Mail...but we do things better than that.
Linda had loads of work to do at home on the Tuesday so I took mum down to St Mawes before taking her across on the ferry to the Lizard. I managed to drive right down to Lizard Point and we had coffee and dessert in the little cafe overlooking the sea. It is lovely down there and Linda and I do pop down here when we can. My Uncle Tom's ashes were scattered here by my Auntie Shirley, so it has a real meaning for me.
There is also a little island just around the point which is called 'MULVIN'.
Mum did ask a chap down there if he knew how it got the name. He had lived there all his long life and told her it had always been called mulvin, but he had no idea as to why. Our information about it being our family name from Ireland was news to him as he had never realised that mulvin was a surname.
He speculated that perhaps somebody of our name was washed onto it from a wreck years ago; or perhaps somebody surveying in the area had named it after himself. No nearer to finding the truth about it though.
The Wednesday saw us driving up to Surrey and settling in at Farnham. The few days up there went so quickly but we managed to catch up with all members of the family and that was good. We seemed to eat a lot with people this time. We had dinner with Fiona and Lucy; lunch with Katrina and Oscar; dinner with Ray and Carol; coffee with Fiona and Woody; birthday lunch with Roxanne and all the family; and finished off with dinner with Grahame and Julie.
It seemed to be a full week of catching up...and eating.
I was delighted to meet two people who are very dear to me. The first was Sandra Ellen. We bumped into her in Forest Lodge. She is an old friend of mine and it was great to catch up. I have to say she looked great as well.
Then a few minutes later and looking equally as good; there was my old mate Graham Bonner from Farnham Post Office. That was great to catch up with him and we had a real old chat. The rest of our rota at Farnham used to refer to us as 'The Old Farts'...or 'Statler and Waldorf' from the muppets. Charming people to work with I must say. When the Royal Mail Territorial Army unit called in to the office on a recruitment drive...even they referred to us both as 'Dad's Army'.
So much for any form of respect for two old work horses. Ha Ha.
I took a walk early one morning while up there so that I could get a couple of photos that I wanted. The first one was of a plaque that Woody was asking me about. He had seen something about it up at Westminster and mentioned it.
 The other thing was I picture I wanted before some clown decides to get rid of it. I managed to prevent Royal Mail ripping it off the wall about twenty years ago. The building's manager at the time came into our office and said they wanted to get rid of it. I pointed out that it had been a gift to the company by the former West Surrey College of Art and Design. I also pointed out that it was a modern art representation of the town and was completely unique. Much arguing later...he pushed off and left it alone.


While up in Surrey we did do a couple of things that we were pleased with as well. We visited Susan and Dads grave and cleaned and tidied that up. We got cleaning stuff from Dyas's and bleached the grave back to cleaness again. That was a little job I had planned on a while ago. Fiona always takes flowers down there for me at Christmas , and so I try, when I'm around, to keep it clean for everyone.


We also went to Rays old yard to see the final demolition of everything. Ray has closed the business and sold the site. Its the end of an era for the family, but he felt the time was right. Sad to see it go though. I managed to get a photograph of the last sign up on the place before this bit to got knocked down.


On our return to Cornwall, Linda instigated the biggest change of all to our living down here. She has finally resigned from the Alzheimers society and is now just working out her four weeks notice. It is a good move for her to make as the society has not been a highlight in her working career. The job they employed her to do...she was not allowed to do for the first year as they wanted her to do admin work.
Then she finally got out amongst the community only to find that the more she did of her job, the more barriers got put in her way. Told to do this, or told to do that; she would do it very successfully and then be told she was basically to successful and was going beyond her remit. There comes a time when you just realise that banging your head on a brick wall is doing nothing except harming yourself.
Then she and a colleague fell victim to a Machiavellian volunteer who has the company ear...and it seemed best to leave. By this time the choice was quite simply...'you had better jump because we are pushing'.
Thankfully it has meant that Linda can now go and do exactly what she does best. She has found work in the community and has now got the chance to expand her own ideas as well. With her skills and enthusiasm she is hoping to set up her own company and devote herself too helping and caring in the worlds of dementia and alzheimers.
Personally, I think she will do well at it.
My work too is going on a pace and I am very happy at the moment. The very real threats of strikes and the even more bigger threat of being privatised is shaking Royal Mail to the core...but I am keeping my head down and rolling with the punches. I know it wont make a scrap of difference whatever I say or do, so I am just enjoying my days at St Mawes and trying to keep out of trouble.
The weather is still quite good at the moment and the summer is slowly turning into autumn. I walked down to Sett Bridge the other evening to see the high tide coming in. It was pretty good and the water was over the road again. What did catch me was the roar of a combine harvester bringing in the last of the harvest.
They have been very busy down this way and the tractors and farm machinery have been rushing around the lanes getting their work done.
All hours of the day and night you can hear and see the work going on. A week ago when the weather was threatening to break, they were working in the fields under lights. Everyone is doing a great job.


I saw this combine working in the field just behind us. It sounded like it was actually beside me, the noise was so loud. When it came into view it looked like a small house on the move. Its brilliant to see it all though.    
   

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Chapter Seventy Eight

The weekend of the 9th of August was another special one for us. This time it was Fiona and Woody who came to stay.
I was on delivery in St Mawes and met up with Fiona running along the road to reach me, just outside the post office. The weather was good and it was great to see her and Woody on the quay. It didn't take long to park the van up for the weekend and join tnem in the pub. We had a good catch up before heading up to St Mawes castle for a tour around that. I would reccommend the audio tour to any visitor coming here.
It is a lovely little castle and in the perfect place. Overlooking the Carrick Roads and Falmouth it must have been a brilliant posting.
Fiona and Woody are standing on the roof of the castle here and overlooking Falmouth.
Strangely enough; it is a quarter the size of Falmouth Castle; overlooked by high ground; and must have had  less chance of survival...yet it was never taken. The castle at Falmouth was taken a couple of times; notably by the Spanish; but they failed at St Mawes.
Spanish records of the time, even say, 'not to' attempt to take St Mawes castle. They considered it a tough little place to attack and preferred the easier target of Falmouth. I love the history of it all. We spent some time mooching around the castle and the grounds before heading back home.

It is a lovely place to have a castle and I would have loved a posting there during any war.
Dinner at Tregony to follow, and a good day all around.
The following day was very different as regards the weather. Dull and cloudy, with a fair bit of rain. We went walking at Portscatho and I took all three of them to the lookout. We had intended to walk along to Carne beach but the rain poured down.
We returned to the Hidden Hut instead and bought pasties and coffee. Then the sun came out. We walked back to the car and drove around to Carne and walked there instead. We had a nice walk and chat together before heading back to Ruan Lanihorne for the village fete. That was fun with a lot to see...but the rain poured down again.
I ended up doing the BBQ under the huge umbrella that normally sits over the table. It was fun though.
Sunday arrived so quickly and the kids had to head back up-country.
We all had time to go to the Tregony Heavy Horse Show before they left though.
It was very good there as always and we enjoyed the walk about the place. We saw Nick and Derek on the NCI stall. Hard to believe it was just a year ago today that I took the paperwork and joined the NCI.
All too soon the two of them had to leave. They decided to call into Mevagissey on the way home. We popped on to the allotment...and a lovely weekend was over.
A couple of days later I got a surprise phone call on delivery to let me know that an old friend of mine was down from Surrey. Mick Yuill was down for a week at Looe and he had popped over to St Mawes to find me.
It was brilliant to see him and we had a good old 'catch-up' outside the St Mawes Hotel. Between the two of us we've had over ninety years service to Royal Mail. There was lots to talk about. The scary thing was discovering the amount of blokes we'd worked with who have now passed away. A lot of good memories were brought up though and I really enjoyed his visit.

Linda has been to a few gigs with her 'Samba' Band. I met up with her and her mates over at Tintagel. The drumming is really very good and Linda enjoys herself very much. This time they not only played several static sessions, they also marched in the procession as well. It looked great fun and its nice to see Linda doing something a little frivolous.

The next weekend saw the house being turned into something resembling 'Doris Archers' kitchen. Being married to Linda is like being married to the fictional Doris. The house and garden were all tidied and sorted out; the allotment had been given a harvesting; and the house was full of fruit and veg being preserved and cooked.

The shelves are gradually filling up with chutneys and jams; the freezers are filling up with assorted veg and soups;
the shed is filling up with trays of onions and bags of potato's; and I am filling up with home made and home grown food.
 Linda has taught herself how to plait and string the onions and garlic so that they can hang down and stay dry. I'm thinking of buying her a beret and sending her out on a pushbike to sell some of the onions herself. A little cornish madamoiselle onion seller.
Linda even finds time to put together some bunches of flowers and sell them up at the local farm shop.
Sunday 18th August was a 'red-letter' day for me.
Today I did my first watch on my own as a qualified watch keeper. I had the mid-watch and I could not have been more proud. It was fairly busy as the weather was good and I enjoyed myself very much. Funny how so many things are coming together for me at the moment. I feel very lucky.
August bank holiday brought us a houseful of folk. Therese and Becky came down with Eliza for the weekend. They also brought mum with them and she will be staying with us until we go back up-country on our holiday.
Linda and I both have a week off from the 1st of September and will take mum back home mid week. The house was full and it was great fun.
It took them a long time to get down on Friday because of the holiday traffic, and they didn't arrive until  midnight. Good to see them all though.
This little chap appeared on one of Linda's tubs out in the garden. There is a fairly substantial, although discreetly hidden, population of Stick Insects on the Roseland. I found a dead one over in Portscatho last year. This is one of the more common varieties and it was alive and well and munching on Linda's daisies.

The following day I was working at Portscatho. It was a very busy day as Tim was off sick and Ellie needed her day off. At the same time the Portscatho Regatta was taking place. A really good fun day and I felt very much part of the local scene.
Sunday was spent visiting the market at Par before a long gentle laze around out in the garden. We did do a BBQ though and that was fun. Monday was equally as laid back and we all enjoyed being together before Therese, Becky, and Eliza headed home.
The weather seems to have settled into a dry patch this summer and we've taken advantage of a lot of that.
I got into work on Tuesday and was given a nice surprise. After two years down here I have finally been offered a permanent contract with Royal Mail.
No matter what work I do down here, my contract with Royal Mail is my main contract. I have just spent two years on a temporary 10 hour a week contract...now it is up to a permanent 20 hour a week contract. Good news if I decide to stay. The future is still a little up in the air at the moment.
It certainly is for Linda at present. A volunteer at her work has been making life very difficult for her. Nasty accusations and a lot of spite has resulted in Linda questioning her own worth and re-evaluating her position. Although the accusations have been proved false it has left a nasty taste in the mouth. I really wish Linda would just leave there.

Mum came with me when I visited the lookout to put my name forward for three watches. She managed the walk across to the point and sat in the lookout with me and enjoyed the view. At least she has an idea now of were I am and what I'm doing when I talk about it.

I took mum up towards Looe on my day off this week. As a surprise I took her to see the Woolly Monkey Rescue Centre. It is a brilliant place which cares for several different breeds of monkey that have been rescued.

There is a lot of room for the animals to live quite naturally and it is a beautiful location.

Mum has become very fond of watching programmes about the monkeys so I thought she would enjoy a visit to here. She had a great time.

By the weekend however a problem had developed for mum. Her nebulizer is not working as it should do and a spare part is needed. Much to-ing and fro-ing on Saturday; including a visit to Treliske has not produced any favourable results.
It is now 05-30 on Monday morning and I am waiting before I head off to try and sort things out. Either the part she needs will be waiting at Truro Royal Mail...or it means a visit to the Probus surgery.
Still, who cares, its the first day of our weeks holiday and I am looking forward to the break.