Sunday, 27 January 2013

Chapter Sixty Four

Another bright and sunny day down here although it teemed down with rain last night and the wind blew a gale. As Linda pointed out; "The rain in Cornwall comes down horizontally and not vertical. In fairness though the rain died off fairly quickly but the wind blew all night. We awoke to the bird feeders lying down in the garden; a box of bits blown across the lawn; and the half a 'fat filled coconut' that was up the tree cannot be found. Is it still in the parish I wonder or has it landed in Devon? We shall never know.
The kitchen smells wonderful at the moment with the sharp tang of Seville oranges being turned into marmalade. Doris Archer a.k.a. Linda, is making things again. Yesterday it was stilton and cauliflower soup; which is now secure in the upstairs freezer; today is the return of the infamous 'rolling boil'.
Linda put in an hour or so at the farm this morning feeding various starving lifestock while I was up at the allotment unloading more compost. Nothing is wasted in this house. If it can't be turned into leftovers; converted into a new meal; or eaten in some other form; it is composted. Its such good compost you have to step back quick when you shove the seed in the ground in case the plant shoots up and hits you in the face.
The allotment is looking pretty good at the moment considering all the rain we have had over the winter. At least it seems to have drained well and nothing has blown away. The only water laying about is actually in the ruts on the driveway.
It has been an eventful week in the world of Royal Mail. I happily did St Mawes all week except Saturday when I did the driving job at Portscatho instead. I also helped out on three days in the week and did the walking job at Portscatho on two days and part of a walking job at Tregony on another day. The world of the old overtime is alive and well on occassion.
There has not been any snow in our part of the world except for a small peppering of the stuff a few days ago which only settled on lawns and roofs; it was gone by lunchtime. We've had a couple of cold mornings though and I've had to scrape the van twice. I felt sorry for everyone back 'up-country' who seem to have had it bad.
I saw from one of the guys that deliveries were cancelled in some offices in Surrey, including Farnham. I know just how annoying and frustrating that can be. A great pity staff aren't allowed to make their own judgements on things. Thats what being an adult is all about.
Sorry about that...I'm working myself up in to a rant so I will stop now.
My mum has been in hospital overnight for a 'Bronchoscopy' again. They kept her in because she has lost her voice and is struggling a little with her breathing. I know her lungs don't work to well. Being stuck in the house on cold days means she doesn't get much in the way of fresh air. I really think that might be good for her if she could get out more.
I spoke to both Fiona, and Lucy and caught up with their news. They don't seem to be struggling at all in the bad weather and are enjoying themselves.
We had a collapsing floor up in our spare room here. The floor suddenly started to dip and sag in two places. It worried me as I had visions of putting my foot through the downstairs ceiling. Linda told David about it and he came up on Saturday to fix it. The poor chap was busy for ages but made a good job of it. A firm floor once more and risk to ceiling nil.
Linda is now preparing a pheasant for Sunday dinner. It was one given to us by a friend down here. She was waving the wretched thing about in the kitchen while stood in front of the window. Percy, who is her tame pheasant who comes into the garden for grain saw this; he has now fled squawking in terror over the hedge and away. I suspect it may have been a family member...oh dear.
This was Percy quite happily strutting his stuff in the garden seconds before he saw his family member. I hope it wasn't his mum.
Anyway; Percy is over the hedge and beyond the creek; the other one is in the oven.
Just one final thing...I have another photograph to put in the blog. It is dated from September 1959.
I couldn't resist it. Its me on my first day at St Polycarps. Mum took it outside our cottage at Wishanger near Churt village. I was five years old. I have had to send a copy of this photo to a friend of mine recently. I found it in an old album of mum's that she gave me.
Modesty prevents me from saying that the good looks in the photograph are still very much there today in this boy. The thought does cross my mind that things haven't changed very much...I still carry a bag over my shoulder to this day, and I'm always wearing shorts. Ha Ha   

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Chapter Sixty Three

2013 has dawned bright and clear and life is pretty good for us down here at the moment. This January has two landmark birthdays in it for my Mum and Linda's Dad. My mum is 80 years old on the 2cnd and Ray is 70 years old on the7th.
Knowing my mum has reached 80 is a sobering thought. It reminds me that I'm on the way towards 60. Suddenly the years seem to be picking up the pace a little .
I was unable to get the week off of the beginning of January as Royal Mail refuse any leave in a week that has a December day in it. Mum's birthday week has the 31st of December in it this year so that week was denied to me. As it turned out, it was all for the best, as Carol arranged a surprise party for Ray and all the family for Saturday the 12th of January. Grahame, Therese, and I managed to organise a family meal for mum for the Sunday 6th of January. And Royal Mail let me have the week off connecting both dates.
And the even better news was that we would be able to see all those who could not get down here before Christmas...namely our children...Fiona, Lucy, and Roxanne, plus their partners. The whole thing could not have fallen into place better.
The weather down here is quite extraordinary at the moment; definitely warmer than 'up-country'. Practically nothing in the way of ice and positively nothing in the way of snow. This is probably why the daffodils were out before the New Year. Mum would have loved looking out of her bedroom window and seeing a sight like this.

 Its hard to believe its still only January.
Thanks to a mate swapping days off with me, Linda and I managed to leave home fairly early on the Saturday and head off to Surrey. We made good time and arrived at Grahames in time for lunch. We will be staying with them for the next couple of nights.
It was good to sit down over an excellent lunch and catch up with each other. All seems as right in their world as it is in ours. Lots of laugh's and general idiocy took place before we headed off to Fiona's.
So wonderful for Linda and I to walk into the flat and see all four of them there. Lucy and Jon were staying with them for the weekend and the whole room looked warm, cosy, and Christmassy as we all piled in.
It was like having Christmas all over again and there were gifts and prezzies for all. Just sitting and watching everyone opening their gifts was a lovely  moment and it made my Christmas complete. I'm glad the two boys liked their water bombs. I got a set for Brendan as well. I think they'll have fun with those.
We decided to eat out and got a meal in Farnham. A lovely evening and we all enjoyed it.
The following morning all families met up at the pub for Mum's birthday lunch. There must have been at least twenty five of us up there with the birthday girl. I know Mum enjoyed herself seeing everyone sitting down together and enjoying themselves. Nice to see everyone mixing and getting on. Oscar was very good and stole the show.
Once dinner was over we all returned to Grahames place and continued on in his conservatory for a while.
 If most of the adults were captivated by the Christmas grotto that Grahame turns it  into every year, you should have seen Oscar. Mouth open, he slowly spun around and gazed at everything. He then had to be shown how everything worked and listen to all the music. So much wonder in such a little was magic.
Grahame then brought down a box of toy cars and placed it on the floor. That was Oscar sorted out until he left to go home.
Lovely too, to be able to chat together and catch up with everyone. Apart from the evening before, we hadn't seen the girls for a while and it was great just talking, laughing, and being together. All to soon darkness descended and people gradually left. At least we will see everybody in a weeks time. We have to go back home tomorrow for a few days because there are things to do, but we shall return next Friday.
Grahame and I both noticed later that, Oscar had discovered something missing from the Nativity scene. All those years and the world had no idea. There wasn't just Mary and Joseph; or the baby Jesus; or the ox and ass; or even the three wise men ; or even the shepherds and a few lambs. Oscar realised that the most important member of the Nativity scene had been forgotten...and so he made it right.
    A hitherto unrealised central character in the stable...was Thomas the Tank did we not know? Obviously babies want more to play with than Gold, Frankinsense, and Myrrh. How come only Oscar knew that and none of the rest of us? I hope all future Nativity scenes show the little engine or you will have him to deal with. You have been  Oscar warned.
After the full english the following morning it was time to head off South West. Grahame is seriously thinking of opening his home as a Bed and Breakfast after our visit. He should do well. I believe he is to call it "The 'Otel Ell's Bell's." We are happy to endorse the place and would be only to pleased to give comments if requested. Favourable comments will be given for a silly, please ignore that word...large gratuity, paid by Grahame Fawlty (Basil to his guests).
We made good time on the way and stopped in Otter's garden centre to stock up for next Christmas. We managed to get several boxes of decent cards, candles, wrapping paper, and the like in their sale. Thats next Christmas sorted.
A busy week before returning up to Surrey once again. All appointments were kept and jobs done. We did have one day though were we thought we might go out for a walk. We headed up onto Bodmin Moor. We wanted to see the Golitha Falls and also some of the several thousand year old archeaology.
Golitha falls was beautiful and in great spate.
  However, the wet and windy weather of the last year and this winter in particular had played havoc with the surrounding area. This was one of many trees that had been blown out of the soggy ground. The conditions had even shifted one or two of the footpath bridges in the area.
Its amazing how all this happens.
The good side of the bad weather was the fact that the water was in full flow down the falls. The noise was amazing and exciting. Water seemed to be racing in every direction you could imagine although ultimately it was all heading downstream to Fowey. You would not have wanted to fall in.
A really lovely walk though. This is a favourite walk of Fiona's, and her and Woody have been here loads of times. So also have Lucy and Jon. It was their talking about the place that reminded us it was on our list of places to visit. I'm glad we went as it was well worth the trip.
While here we decided to go and see some of the prehistoric monuments that stand around in Cornwall.
There is a great deal to see but this is probably the best time of the year to be going to them. It was very quiet and with very few people about.
 We stopped for a look at the King Donierts stone before heading off to this old burial chamber called
Trethevy Stone. At one time it would have been buried under a mound but now it is exposed. Linda and I both saw one out in the west of Ireland a few years ago. Its amazing how they appear everywhere.
Most impressive.
It makes you wonder how they put all these things up. It must have taken a phenomenal amount of ingenuity and skill, never mind the vast amount of man power.This area is beside St Cleer.
Further along from here is another place called Minions. It has a site dedicated to a double ring of stones. It is called the Hurlers. I can only assume that these sites are for religious or astronomical purposes.
The Hurlers is laid out in two huge rings of stones in the shape of a figure eight. It is as impressive as Stonehenge or Avebury. The stones are not so huge but its purpose was probably the same.
  An incredible day which left us both feeling a little insignificant.
We returned once more back into the wilds of Surrey and this time stay at Linda's mum's. It was only a brief stay but we crammed a lot into it. We met up with Mum for an hour or two and had some time with her. She gave us some pieces to put into our glass cabinet at home. We had a laugh with her and she showed us the freezer that we had all bought for her.
I nipped off out Saturday morning to see if I could catch anyone from work. They were all to fast for me and I missed them all except Claire. It was good to catch up, and then I headed off to Susie's. I haven't seen her or the boys since we moved and I had a lovely couple of hours with them. I miss everybody and its nice to catch up now and again.
Linda and I then headed over to Frimley and saw Therese and Becky. That was fun and we had a meal and a catch up with them both at the White Hart.
All to soon we had to leave them and rush back to Brenda's. We chatted to them for a while before getting ready to go to the party.
This turned out to be a great evening and a fantastic chance for everyone to meet up again. Every body made it and it was a good evening. To the delight of all, Ray was completely surprised by his do and unprepared for all of us being there. He is a nice man and it was good to be able to show him that we all care for him.
After a lovely dinner, plus free Champagne, we danced the night away until late. Thank God I can still dance all night. A good laugh.
We didn't get home until after midnight which was very late for us chaps from Cornwall. I was afraid we would both turn into pasties at midnight...but we didn't.
The following day we met up with Fiona, Lucy, and the boys. Lucy was in the middle of her birthday weekend so we were able to join in with them all. More laughs and chatting all around including an excellent Dinner at the William Cobbett. A really good few hours, but sadly time caught us up. We headed home after a lovely weekend and are now looking forward to them all visiting and hopefully staying during the summer.
It was with great sorrow that we learned of the death of John Mulvin while we were up country. He was a cousin and great friend of my Dad's. He was a good friend to my was his wife Doris. 
Although John and Doris lived in Florida they all kept in touch with each other. And now both Dad and John have gone. I shall miss them both.
The other shadow over the trip was seeing the sad plight of poor Milo. A lovely little dog, but now, sadly ailing fast and not good. In fact, the decision had to be bravely met a few days later, and Milo was put to rest. A kindness...but Oh so difficult for both Brenda and Chris.
Roxanne and Steven followed us down home for a few days and that was good fun. Linda took them both all around the Roseland and they got a good sense of were we live. They could only stay a couple of nights but it was good having them with us.
Both of us are back at work now and things are going well. A friend of mine and I are meeting up once a week at a venue to encourage each other to do some writing. Hopefully, more of the old group will follow. I nipped across on the ferry and we metup at the 'Punchbowl and Ladle'. Much coffe and two hours of writing later and we had both made a really good start. Just the motivation we both needed.
The quiz nights are back on in full vgour. Linda and I may have been in a team of just the two of us but we did well. We didn't win...but we didn't disgrace either..
On Sunday Linda put in an hour at the farm and I put in a couple of training hours at the lookout. Good fun for both of us and a real sign of settling in.
 The weather over the rest of the country has been quite grim. Snow and ice in most area's has meant disruption and chaos across the board...with the exception of Cornwall. On Sunday we were bombarded with calls and textys of how cold and snowy it is; how icy and treacherous it is; and how dull and cloudy it is.
This was the view from our house into our back garden.
  No snow, no ice, bright with little cloud, a lovely day.
I have told everyone that we've had some very wet and windy weather during the last few days but Sunday for us was beautiful. I don't want to be too smug with you all so I am prepared to show a photograph of the weather at Portscatho on Thursday.
 The sea was breaking over the harbour wall and also crashing across our little slipway. We normally nip down here to get to the toilet but not today. Sea spray was actually hitting me as I unladed the van.
Half an hour later I was in St Mawes and getting my delivery prepared. The sea spray had come over the Idle Rocks Hotel and hit my van; the sea kept coming out of the harbour and swirling around my tyres; a wave somehow splashed water into the back of my van; and I got soaked at the same time.
AND I LOVE IT!!!     

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Chapter Sixty Two

Boxing day continued in a blur of little done except a bit of shopping. We drove into Truro to pick up fresh supplies because we have Katrina, Kevin, and Oscar coming down. on the 27th. We had another lovely day just chilling out and doing just what we wanted to do. Once again, that strange truth about Christmas came into effect by late evening.
That's the strange truth that tells me I am delivering the first Christmas catalogues in May; the shops start putting Christmas stuff out in August; that by the middle of October the whole Christmas commercial thing is in full swing; by mid December we are on a Christmas roller coaster thundering towards the big day; and after almost seven months of anticipation...its Christmas Day, and Boxing Day...and then its over and we both go back to work.
The build up is exciting and full of expectation, the two days are full of laughter and happiness, then life intrudes and work beckons.
We both dithered our way back to our respective offices on the 27th. Neither wanted to be there...but you have to go. I should have been on a day off but I broke the Golden Rule. You know the rule. Its the one handed down from one person to another, throughout the ages, since the boss cave man asked who would be the one to fetch water from the river. Old Ugg said he would...and five minutes later when the crocodile ate him...his last words to the tribe was a screamed... 'NEVER VOLUNTEER'.
 I said yes and ended up on a delivery in Truro when I could have been tucked up in bed with a good book. Linda also said yes and ended up in a lonely office when, she too, could have been tucked up in bed; with a postman and his good book. Such is life.
We both got home by three pm and found the three of them already in the house.
It was good to see them all. Oscar quickly made himself at home and discovered a talent for drumming with some old pots. Linda also brought in the guinea pigs and Oscar was surprisingly gentle and good with them. He seemed fascinated by them and was not shy in coming forward and stroking them.
Both Whiskey and Widget were quite happy with him as well. Widget likes to be stroked and cuddled a lot and she can be quite vocal which Oscar liked. She was happy to let herself be held by him. Whiskey however is a lot more shy of people and endured a stroke or two but didn't hang around for a cuddle. He's not a lover of to much contact with anyone except Linda...and even then he's not brilliant about it.

Needless to say we had our trillionth Christmas dinner with the three of them followed by a lovely evening and an early night. Oscar was very tired and that made him a little miserable. He finally went off to sleep and that was his last upset of the week. Its great having him in the house. No trouble at all and happy to do as he's told. We had lit candles in the room; Christmas stuff still out; my books at Oscar height; plus the Christmas tree...and he touched nothing. He was told not to and so he didn't. Considering he had harvested every chocolate hanging on his family Christmas tree and scoffed the lot...he never touched ours at all.
I did tell him I'd shove him head first in the cess pit if he touched anything, but Linda doesn't think that had anything to do with it. She thinks its just because he's a good boy. Typical Grandma thoughts as far as I'm concerned. I don't think you can beat the threatening Grandpa words myself although I didn't understand why he just grinned at me and hugged my leg when I threatened him.
Lovely boy.
He did make me chuckle when he did this. I remember Fiona and Lucy both doing the same when they were very little... I believe they're still doing it even today.

You should have seen the look on his face when he caught a tiny drop of wine from the bottle. I doubt he'll do that again until he's a lot older.
We had a wet and miserable start to the following day and things got no better through the day. Kevin and Katrina did go out but it was a wet old day. Linda and I worked and all of us were glad to get back home. It teemed down all night and Saturday morning was damp and miserable again, Funnily enough though things had cleared up by the afternoon so we took them all down to see the Mousehole lights.
It got nicer as the afternoon progressed and much drier. Parking at Mousehole can be very difficult at this time of year and the main car park only had one space left in it. We were stopped at the gate and the bloke told us, "There's nowhere left to park unless you can somehow get into that space. Many have tried and none made it."
Kevin likes a challenge when it comes to driving. Two minutes later he had us sitting snugly in the space and was helping Katrina get the buggy out of the boot. Linda and I were impressed enough...and so were the car park attendants. Mind you, they weren't that impressed as they made him pay the two quid for the privilege of parking there. They did congratulate him though and that pleased Kevin a lot.
The village was just approaching light up time and the lights were as impressive as always. Last year the tide was out when we went so we could walk on the beach a good bit. This time the tide was in but it was just as spectacular. There is something very magical about lights reflecting off the water. We enjoyed it very much and had a great walk around the place.

Every turn and little lane has lights in it. I have never seen such beautiful lights anywhere. The other highlight of the visit here is the fish and chip supper on offer at the local chippy. The queue can stretch some distance and an army of staff effortlessly supply all the visitors. I have eaten wonderful fish and chips all over the place and the ones supplied here rank in my personal top three.
It was a magical evening.
Oscar even learnt how to be a puppet master while we were down there. That'll teach Linda to lean over him while wearing that hat. He thought it was a great game.

By pulling on one rope and then the other he made her head turn fromside to side. You could hear him laughing all over the village.
The following day was Sunday and we had a nice family breakfast together before they all had to head back home. We've had a great time with them all and enjoyed having Oscar around the place. I swear this morning he awoke us all up doing the tune for 'Twinkle twinkle little star.' Just the tune, I don't think I dreamt it. Later on he surprised me by picking up his mums camera and operating it. I know they say the new generation of children seem capable of using anything electrical but it surprised me.

He switched it on and followed all the movements with the thing. I don't know if he's taken my picture so I took one of him instead.
Sad to see them go although we shall see them and all the others in a weeks time. I am so looking forward to seeing my two girls and I know Linda can't wait to see Roxanne.
We finished the day with a walk on Carne beach before settling in for the evening.
The following day was the last day of the year. The weather was apalling with strong wind and blustery rain everywhere. I brought my mail out to the van at St Mawes in a basket and the mail bag I placed on top to keep it dry simply blew away. It didn't get far; it just landed out of reach in the harbour.
I had to report it to the Harbour Master in case people thought there was mail in it. Thankfully that is Gary from next door. At least he laughed about it.
I then set off on my delivery, and fought and hacked my way around it, through some awful weather. As is typical for most posties...the minute I finished the sun came out. Charming.
The evening was spent in our local in Ruan Lanihorne. The Kings Head does a fantastic New Years Eve dinner and we enjoyed ourselves. Many of our friends and neighbours were in the place and it was a good evening. Sadly, just before midnight, Linda caught that bug that has been circulating and was sick in the toilets. So many people have had it and it creeps up without warning.
She was sick again a few minutes later and went home just a minute or two before midnight. I stopped for five minutes and then followed her home. She looked very pale but confirmed there was nothing else to come up.
We went to bed almost straight away and greeted the new year's dawn a few hours later. Apart from a  headache that lasted all week, she was fine. I got the headache and the stomach ache...but wasn't sick.
An odd end to the old year and an odd beginning to the new one.
Roll on the weekend when we get to see the kids.
Happy New Year to one and all.


Chapter Sixty One

As usual I spent some time on Christmas Eve looking out of the window. I've never missed a year yet. People may scoff; people may think I'm daft; people may think I'm child like; but we all need a little magic in our lives. And if a sleigh being pulled across the sky by eight reindeer and driven by an old man, dressed in red and white, with a white beard (the new one); or a white goat, being led by an old man dressed in green and white, with a grey beard (the old one); well if either of them turns up then I want to see them.
There is magic all around just have to look for it. And one day...
Christmas morning dawned after a comfortable time for us both; certainly nearer 08-00 than the usual 05-00 we were used to when there were children about. We even had a small filled stocking...I lie...a large filled sack of presents each at the foot of the bed. Proof, if proof were needed, that there really is some magic in the world.
The laziest day of the year then slowly drifted into life for us both. Ringing family and friends took up most of the morning, with both of us picking at bits of food and drink in the fridge when not on the phone ourselves.
More drifting continued with a vague watching of Chritmas telly, and old Christmas DVD's.
Then came real life action as we both saw the time(midday), and hurtled off to get showered and dressed. By one o'clock we were over the road in the pub with our friends. Going to the pub on Christmas Day is not something we have done before, but it was great fun and we enjoyed it.
The sun was out and the estuary and creek were shining so when we both left we decided on a walk to Sett Bridge. It was beautiful as you can imagine and quiet enough to hear a pin drop. Lovely.

Finally hunger drove us home and we had our umpteenth Christmas dinner.
This dinner was the left overs from Sunday...and made a perfect meal. Cold turkey and  cold ham; all the left over veg and potato's, (that we had left 'nuking' (is that a word) in the oven); and a pot of rich wine flavoured gravy that we quickly 'nuked' in the microwave. Delicious.
All washed down with some small libation from the wine cellar...'rack'.
A meal fit for a King and Queen.
We then collapsed on the sofa; watched the Queens Speech; and dozed through the rest of the day while still trying to watch the telly. It was perfect.
This was later in the evening on Christmas Day. Telly off, and Linda checking out the Christmas photo's on her camera. The prezzies under the tree are for the family when we get up country.
Merry Christmas one and all and God bless us, every one.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Chapter Sixty

The day has now dawned for the end of the world. The 21st of December. We seem to live in a world were people are determined that we shall see its end in our lifetime. This time they blamed the Mayans. I think I've lived through, probably ten 'end of the worlds' since I was born. It came as no surprise that we would all survive another one. 

This seemingly could be the reason, but I don't know. It made me chuckle though. I like to think the Almighty has a sense of humour.
Anyway; we are still here and heading for Christmas.
I'm glad things didn't end today because we had more family down with us for a few days. Mum came down to stay in our spare room and Therese, Brendan, and Becky came down with Eliza to stay in their usual holiday cottage just up the road.
Work is still quite busy for me at the moment and the Christmas Santa hat is firmly on the head as Im delivering. That is always a sure sign that it is the last week before Christmas.
Linda and I took everyone up to the pub at Tregony for a meal and it was really good. We have now had six Christmas Dinners and more are planned.
We had decided that we would go to Mousehole to see the lights on Saturday evening but the rain was pouring down again. In the end we decided to give it a miss but got in fish and chips from the van in Veryan. Really good fish and chips they are too.
We decided to have Christmas Day on the 23rd with them all and it went very well. Santa had obviously agreed to come out a day or two earlier because everyone was greeted with this fine row of stockings when they got into the main room.
There was even a stocking for Eliza.
What with presents under the tree and one thing and another we didn't sit down to our seventh Christmas dinner 'til late in the afternoon. Not that it mattered as the day was our own. It was funny though. As soon as Linda and Becky started bringing in the dinner and calling out that it was ready, everyone started picking up camera's.
At least Therese sat down. The rest of us just took photos. I guess thats just another odd Christmas ritual that grew up over the's of your dinner. Either that or nobody thought Linda could prepare one. Don't tell her I said that though...its our secret.

On a more serious note...there is no way out of Cornwall by rail at the moment because of the weather. Mum and Becky managed to get through on a train on doomsday, but since then the weather in Devon has got worse. Television pictures showed water pouring across the railway tracks just past Exeter. In fact; both lines are now under water since the Exe burst its banks.
Today is Christmas Eve and is the day they all return home. Brendan was prepared to attempt the trains and use busses were he had to, but even that was being frowned upon by the authorities. In the end they all piled into Therese's car and set off. They had a nightmare journey and did not get home until much later than hoped. At least they got home. Some train passengers never made it at all.
I had a bit of fun at work as well this morning. Amongst my mail was a mis-sorted item for Portloe. In the spirit of goodwill that is Christmas...I drove over to Portloe to deliver to them. I figured they would want it for tomorrow so didn't mind.
I got lost; not a great start. Then I couldn't find the address when I got there. Thankfully, a really nice lady took one look at me and could see the vacant confusion in my eyes. She pointed me in the right direction; and yes, I had driven right past it; and I was able to deliver the thing.
That was it. My last call of the day and my Christmas duties over for another year. Believe it or not... this was my 42cnd Christmas as a postman. I did my first one as a temporary student postie in 1971. I did my first official one in 1972...and I've enjoyed them all.

Chapter Fifty Nine

It is now the first week of December and I am going through a rapid and difficult learning curve. I started my old Bentley job ten years ago on the same date. Like now, there was mountains of mail plus packets to get rid of. Like now, it was dark, wet, and miserable  which sucked all the energy and strength out of you. But...unlike least I knew the duty.
This has been an incredible first week with an awful lot of learning  and understanding to take on board. I never realised I would struggle so much.
I am not a 'racehorse' on delivery; I'm more of a 'shire horse'. I don't train and work extremely hard for several months before putting everything I have into one big race. I'm the one who puts on his harness and plods; albeit I do this all day long and can keep going all day long.
Nothing has changed since I came down here; I still do a good job; but it takes all day.
My first week was one of bewildering facts to learn. I carried a book of maps and address rotations for the whole time. It did make me laugh though. What people must have thought seeing their postman clutching maps, diagrams, and a compass beggars belief.
Anybody delivering on the mail knows that you need to know far more than anybody else would expect. You need to know where every dog lives; where every small child might be playing; where you can drive; where you have to walk; where you can leave stuff; where you can't; where people are in; where they are out. You need to know the roads; the lanes; the farm tracks; the places you may get stuck.
On this one I deliver to a place with a drop, probably forty feet down, which is just a foot from the wheels to the rocks and sea below. Between the wheels and the edge of the drive, is just fresh air. There is no room to be complacent.
This does not make my duty unique; most delivery jobs have this sort of thing and they have to be learned. At times it was terrifying; most of the time it was difficult; at times it was too easy for words; but every minute of the time I loved it.
The first week was one of those that we all have to go through...and all hope its in the middle of Summer with decent weather and not a vast amount of mail. By Sunday I felt worn out and very old.
Linda spent the day wrapping up presents; sorting out the guinea pigs; and writing Christmas cards. And would you believe did I. Well; not the guinea pigs; I was entrusted with the bird feeders.
I also cleaned out the van from one end to the other and put my own stuff in there. Like my old van at Bentley,it now contains everything I may need for a days work. Its been personalised.
The maps, compass, and delivery bible got slung back into the frame on the Monday the 10th; and I have not looked back since.
St Mawes and St Just are two lovely places and right smack on the coast. I deliver right on the seaside one minute and right in the countryside the next. Its brilliant. With luck I shall stay on this until the re sign in April. Sadly then it looks like I will then lose it. My forty years service is not going to be honoured by Royal Mail so I am somewhat low in the pecking order of seniority. I went from the number one spot on deliveries to number 125.
But I'm enjoying things and thats the main thing.
Thankfully, things are also improving for Linda. She is no longer to be doing the work she didn't apply for. She will now revert to her role of being a support worker. Not before time in my opinion. She belongs out there with people; supporting them and helping them. I feel she was wasted by being kept in an office every day of the week.
The change in her has been amazing and her outlook has become very positive and focussed on the future. She really looks like the person I know best, and not the stranger I've been living with for a year. Its a brilliant way to end the year...positives all around.
Linda has joined a band. Thats her at the back beside the tree. Her red coat has two reflective panels on it because its my work coat!! She hasn't had time to get her uniform yet but looked good in what she had.
She joined a couple of weeks ago and loves it. They are a nice crowd and Linda fits in well. This photo was taken at St Mawes. Amazingly; only yesterday it was pouring down, and after hours and hours of cleared and we had a nice evening.
We had been in Mevagissey a couple of days before to see the Christmas Lights and have a meal. It was dry but very windy on a high tide. We ate in the litle pub on the quay and watched the tide lapping within two inches of the quayside. Twelve hours later the tide came over the top and flooded all the quay including the pub we had just eaten in.
Here we are now only a few miles away and you would think nothing untoward had ever taken place. It was a lovely evening, although a little cold, and the group played a long and noisy session. I went along to watch and have to confess that I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to see Linda when she graduates up to one of those big drums. By then she will probably deaf as well. She say's that on practice nights, the vibration from the drumming makes things fall off the wall.
We spent the rest of the evening in the pub opposite and joined in with some communal carol singing and folk songs. Great fun and a good laugh.
On Sunday we were in our local little church for the carol concert. That was great fun as well and we enjoyed that too. I've never been so busy at Christmas time.
Bit of a sombre moment now. 17th of December this year is exactly 50 years to the day and the date, that Sue was killed. Every year on this date I have put flowers or a wreath on her grave. Since moving down here, Fiona has taken over for me. I can never thank her enough as she did it as a gift to me.
The grave is a little old and battered now, and my dad is in there as well. Fiona put a wreath on there from Susan and put on a Christmas tree for my dad. As she so rightly said, "Grandad can't have a Christmas without a tree."
It means more to me than I could ever say.    

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Chapter Fifty Eight

The most excellent news at work, although tinged with more than a little sadness. This was a few days before the end of November. My friend Sophie, who delivers the St Mawes driving duty has decided to resign. She has been offered a better job with more regular hours at an office somewhere in Truro, and starts on December the 3rd. As you can imagine, this brought a mad panic to all and sundry at Royal Mail.
They turned...the management that the one man who could save the day. The conversation went as follows :---
                       "Liam, we need to ask you a big favour. Sophie is leaving in a few days. Can you help us out by doing the duty at St Mawes for the forseeable future...PLEASE?"
                        Liam stands passively; looking suitably as if he is being asked to throw himself in the harbour. Inside he thinks to himself..."YEEHAH!!!, but play it cool."
                        "It would help us out a great deal if you would Liam."
                        At this point Liam breaks and hurls himself at his manager; falls slobbering on her neck; swears undying fealty until the end of days; offers his body and anything else she would like; screams like a baby with extreme delight; before composing himself and saying, "OK then."
I am now on a forty hour week at the moment; in an area I absolutely adore; on a duty which means as much to me as my old Bentley one; with a decent bunch of people; and am feeling as if I am the luckiest bloke in Cornwall.
                         The days tuition was very tough and the first fortnights work even more so. It took me that long to find my way around without a map and compass. My customers are brilliant; Simon Stallard and Jemma are two of them; and I could not be happier. Its a wonderful job, very busy, and it takes me until 15-00 every day to complete it; but I love it. I don't care how long it takes; its what I do and I will stay as long as I can. I even get to pop into Portscatho as well.
I always swore I would never feed biscuits to peoples dogs, however, Sophie always did. After three days of dogs with sorrowful eyes; dogs throwing themselves in front of the van; dogs howling in despair; and dogs shamelessly making me feel bad; I BROKE.
The van now has a container in it of the little biscuits known as 'gravy bones', and all is right in the doggy world of St Mawes and St Just-on-the-Roseland.
We were expecting Grahame and Julie down for a long weekend in a day or two.
Because we are unable to get any leave time from our jobs except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, we will not be going up country until the first full week of January, so family members are coming to us.
Grahame and Julie...first weekend in December.
Therese, Brendan, Becky, and Mum...last weekend before Christmas.
Katrina, Kevin, and Oscar...the day after Boxing Day and that weekend.
We had our tree up before the end of November and decorated the downstairs of our cottage. Everything looked really good once it was completed. We hang the Christmas cards on strings from the ceiling beams and they make good ceiling decorations.
This was the rest of our main room in time for all the visitors to arrive.
Old Bing Crosby stands proudly beside the fire place and sings us a few Christmas songs from time to time. Its very cosy here at this time of year but we are hoping to ask David if we can incorporate a wood burner into the fire place. That should finish off the room a treat.
Grahame and Julie arrived safely on Friday 30th November. The weather has been its usual downpour of rain and has barely diminished for weeks now. We are still flood free ourselves but others around the country have not been so lucky. Its really doom and gloom.
Needless to say, the weather was quite nice when they arrived...well it was dry anyway.
While Linda was at work I had prepared a Christmas dinner for us all. I had been put on a different duty for the one day and found myself delivering up at Grampound. I didn't get home until 15-00. Fortunately, by the time they arrived everything was prepared and cooking away quite happily. We had cooked the turkey the day before so no problems there.
Our first Christmas dinner of the month went well and we had a laugh. Thank goodness everyone was a little tired though so we didn't stay up late afterwards. I was at work in the morning.
This was the day that Sophie showed me around my new duty. It was a long old job but suits me. I start in St Mawes and deliver up towards the castle. From there I deliver the top road to the water tower. I turn then and get rid of all the heavy and large packets for the other two duties before heading back out towards St Just.
The duty becomes very rural at this point although I am still in good view of the sea. The ground is as difficult and as rough as the delivery I used to have at Bentley. It takes me a further three hours to clear the rest of the duty. A long day but I love every minute of it.
A real coincidence though. My duty at Bentley was duty 91...the duty at St Mawes is also duty 91. I even drive the same kind of 'bucket of bolts' van that I had in Bentley as well. What hasn't fallen off or got damaged, is just waiting for it to happen anyway.
I got home before dark and the four of us headed for the torchlight procession at the Eden Project. We stopped on the way and had dinner at the Carglaze Inn. Very nice and relaxing there.
The Eden Project was all lit up when we arrived and looked beautiful. Thankfully it was not only dry but also surprisingly mild. We walked slowly down through everything and made our way to the Equitorial dome.
This really has to be seen in the dark. It is back lit as if my moonlight and is as close to magical as I have ever seen. We took ages walking through it as we gradually climbed to the top near the waterfall. Once again, I followed the others and made my way out onto the observation platform high up in the dome. It really does frighten the life out of me up there, but in the dark it is not so bad. Above this is the view straight down from the platform; the picture does not do it justice. There is such a feeling of space and primeval beauty. Its wonderful.
 This is another picture of space and primeval beauty...just don't tell her I said so. Linda seems quite happy and totally oblivious to the huge fall beneath her. She wandered about and took some glorious pictures up here. The whole thing looks so fragile as if it is only held up by a few strands of wire, yet she knows she is safe.
Me...I'm afraid to breathe. I did manage to unglue my fingers off the railing though for a picture with Grahame. Here we are Sherpa Mulvin and Sir Edmund Mulvin. The heroes upon high...I nearly broke his shoulder hanging on to him.
The climb back down was easy and we headed outside tothe place were the procession begins. We all got given lanterns and stood around like lemons for ten minutes before the band struck up and we walked through the site. I have to say it really looked good. The walk took about twenty minutes and then there was singing and dancing going on before we all stood back for the fireworks.
They used real flames to light up a fantastic display of Father Christmas and his reindeer. It was very spectacular. The Christmas tree was lovely as well. We had a little wander around that before heading up to the shop. The perfect place to get some of those last minute presents. We both feel very smug now as that is everything bought that we were after.
The following day we sent Linda to work at the farm while we prepared breakfast. As is kind of obligatory now with Grahame and was a champagne breakfast. Well, we had one back in the summer and decided it was to good a tradition to allow to got to waste.
Rather than stay at home for the day before saying goodbye to them both, we all decided to extend their trip down a bit by driving to Looe. Neither of them had ever been there so it seemed a good idea to go there and then let them continue on driving home from there.
Looe looked at its best as we arrived; all lit up and very quiet. They've had such trouble there with landslips and road problems, that it seemed even quieter now than in normal winters. We walked down the fish side of the harbour and out towards banjo pier. Very little was open but it was nice to mooch about.
We finished off our evening with them by having dinner at the 'Golden Guinea'. Linda and I love the place and would recommend it to anybody. We ate four sunday roast turkey dinners, and that became our second Christmas dinner of the month.
Sadly and all to soon, time caught up with us. It may have only been a short weekend but we crammed an awful lot into it. Goodbyes were said and we all headed back home; Grahame and Julie to Surrey...and Linda and I back here.
The good news is that next week I start my first full week at St Mawes as driver. I can't wait.