Sunday, 31 March 2013

Chapter Seventy

Well here we are once more. Happy Easter to everyone out there. Its a cold and grey day today; totally unlike the gorgeous sunny and warm day yesterday. More on the last few days in a moment.
We have been very lucky down here over the last fortnight with only one tiny snow shower which came to nothing. We have watched with astonishment the level of bad weather and snow storms which have affected the rest of the country.
The last time I saw scenes like those was in the winter of 1962/1963 when I was a boy. It all looked incredibly beautiful until you realise that some of the lumps in the snow were peoples houses. One chap actually was pictured standing in six inches of snow... but under those six inches of snow...was his single decker bus. It looked like a flat field that he was standing in.
As I say, we have been incredibly lucky; little rain; no snow; just a biting wind and bitter cold in exposed areas. My car has had the luxury of being hidden safely away in a garage while I am using my mail van. Very handy.
Sadly there has been some trouble down here though. Some parts of the west country have suffered from heavy rains and a lady was killed in Looe when a landslide swept her house away. Another lady was tragically killed when her husband got out of the car to take pictures at the King Harry Ferry. He forgot to apply the hand brake and the car rolled down into the estuary. It is over thirty foot deep there and the car, with the old lady in it sank quickly. Poor soul. A sad old week down here.
On a brighter note, our 'Poetree' group took part in the 'World Poetry Day' and we read out some of our work to a lovely audience at Roseland Parc. Great fun.
After several very easy days at work because of the problem of getting mail down here through the snow, the last few days have been quite busy on a 'catch up' basis. I have enjoyed myself immensely at work and really don't care how much mail I have to deliver or how long I am out for. Its been brilliant.
Good Friday offered something of a respite from work however and Linda and I set off in the morning to see and photograph some of the daffodil fields down on the Lizard. Sadly the weather was a little miserable, and what fields had anything left in them were barely worth stopping at for a picture.
Nothing daunted I saw a roadsign saying we were only five miles from Hayle...so we went off to St Ives. It was good to get back and see the place. The conditions were quite bleak by this time but we enjoyed our walk around the place. The town was full of holiday makers but very few on the beach. 
 
 As you can see from this photograph...the sand has filled up the beach area quite a lot. The wall to the right of the photo normally has sand about six feet lower than that...and I have never seen the sand that high behind the little chapel in the centre of the picture. The house on the left is normally ten foot higher than the beach. You could almost see through his window.
 As you can see from the clothes that 'Eskimo Nell'...my mistake...Linda is wearing, it really was bitterly cold. Even I was in long trousers. The steps that Linda is standing on; and she is on the fourth step; are normally a flight of about ten steps. Further to the left the sand has actually drawn almost level with the quayside. It was a very impressive thing to see and I wish Fiona and Lucy could have been there. It would have surprised them as well.
Yesterday though, Easter Saturday, was a most amazing day. The amount of mail to deliver bordered on the insane. At St Mawes we are used to an average twelve trays of mail and four bags of packets between us. Heavy days can be as much as sixteen trays and six bags of packets. Today...we had twenty eight trays of mail, and so many packets and parcels that the bulk of our mail was brought out in a sherpa van on a special trip.
We got out on delivery two hours later than normal...and I didn't finish until 1700 that evening. Thankfully, the day was warm and sunny and I enjoyed myself very much.
There are two square rigged ships anchored off Falmouth at the moment; I saw 'Mercedes' come in the other day; and she is a beauty.
I got around to the castle on delivery and she was sailing back out for a day trip.



 This is her sailing out. By chance the smaller sailing vessel was coming towards her and it made for a good picture. The one with the red sails always reminds me of a thames barge but I don't know if she is or not.
 I was able to take these picture from the road as I was delivering the post. I have said it before and I will say it again...I am incredibly lucky to have the chance to do a duty at the seaside. I wanted this all my life.
She is a beautiful ship.
A little later I was down in the square delivering a couple of very large parcels to somebody. I stopped for a quick mouthful of coffee out of my flask and a sort out of the van. My delivery normally consists of two four foot long containers and one two foot container full of bundles of mail and packets. Today the trays were just full of bundles of letters. The packets were set in all around them on the floor of the van. It was so full and constantly needed sorting out as stuff shifted.
It was while I was setting in the next section that I looked down the square and saw the little boat sail into view. It hasn't come out that well and I can't seem to make it any bigger, but here she is. 
The down side to my day has been my back. The volume of mail was terrific, especially as it was full of very heavy catalogues. The seat has collapsed in the van and so I have bought myself a riser seat from an orthopeadic company to put in the van to raise me up. You will remember that I had an accident last year because I was unable to see out of the van properly.
Anyway; I only ordered the seat a day ago and it has not arrived yet. As it is I have used the collapsed seat for the last few months and it has been making my back sore.
I fear I ordered the seat a little later than I should have done...as yesterday the combination of excess mail, excess lifting, and bad sitting tipped my back over the edge.
It appears I have now aged enough to have a bad back...I've never had one before...and it hurts like hell!!!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Chapter Sixty Nine

Linda is off to Maria's this morning to feed the animals and clean up a bit. This has given me the chance to sit down on my own and tackle the old blog once more.
Its been an amazing week as regards the weather. The sun has shone more often than not and it has been quite warm in sheltered places...but God help you if you are out in the wind. It has been blowing a vicious gale at times and it chills you right down to the bone. Couple that with rain or hailstones, and it is a torment devised to hurt.
I can only imagine what people must have thought yesterday as I walked around Harbour View at St Just. Twenty nine houses, so I leave the van and walk around with a bundle of mail and sometimes a mail bag slung around my neck as well.
Yesterday the weather had been mixed. One moment it would be bright and warm sunshine; moments later a black cloud would sweep across and it would rain for about five minutes before the sun came out again.
When I'm driving my van I never bother much with a heavy waterproof. I normally only wear the thing when I'm on 'walkabout'. I never do the zip up; simply put it on and just 'popper together' the top two poppers. I am covered then to the waist. Although my arms are in the sleeves I tend to wear it like a cape. By doing that I can hold the bundle of mail under the front of it to keep the letters dry. It may sound daft ...but it works.
I was walking along delivering, but keeping an anxious eye on the sky. A huge cloud coming across from the west was as angry and as black as any cloud I've ever seen. It got overhead...and then the heavens opened. Hail fell down in torrents and swept towards me. I saw the builders bolt for their vans, and watched two kids sprint into a house, and I, like countless other posties, pulled up my hood and kept going.
Then the pain of the hailstones stinging against my legs came into focus. It really hurt and felt I was being sandblasted. To compensate for my bare legs I crouched down a little in my oversized storm coat and carried on walking. I must have looked a bit like a postal Groucho Marks but it worked. Two minutes later, and to my total astonishment, the cloud moved on and the hailstones stopped. I straightened up and carried on walking more normally.
One of my older ladies on the other side of the road called out to me that she thought a Hobbit was doing the delivery today and then burst out laughing. Very nice I must say!!!
Last Tuesday was not a brilliant day though and I confess I got a little tetchy with Royal Mail. After a century of being allowed to change our own wheels if we should get a flat tyre...we have now been stopped from doing this. Its not so much Health and Safety; which I respect; but more 'fear of litigation'; and that I despise beyond measure.
Anyway...on pain of the full force of the conduct code we now have to get the RAC to change our wheels for us. We posties could not be more embarrassed.
It was almost three pm when I got a puncture in my mail van. Eight calls left and my tyre is like a pancake. In the normal course of events I would have changed it and been on my way in about twenty minutes. Not this time.
Ring the RAC.
Brilliant...no phone signal.
Can't walk to a farmhouse and ring from there because the RAC will want to ring you back on their phone. Besides, I doubt they would want you sitting in their house waiting. Imagine if they were going out.
Alternative...Risk rimming the tyre and ruining it by driving to a signal area.
Finally got a signal on the main road and pulled in beside the water tower.
Tyre now destroyed and I find I have no Number in this reserve van log book for the RAC.
Ring 118118 and get number. Ring number given, which wasn't Freephone, and watch money drain out of my mobile as I wait five minutes before finally speaking to someone.
RAC very helpful but can't promise me a mechanic for at least two to two and a half hours. But I am assured I am a priority because I have mail on board.
Frozen stiff now in a biting wind I get back in the van. Interior warm and then I remind myself that, for the first time in years I have forgotten both my flask and my book.
Boredom sets in and I fall asleep for an hour and a half.
I awoke frozen to the very core with my mobile ringing. It is a very kind lady from the RAC worrying about me, but delighted to tell me they have got somebody from Perranporth to come out. He will be with me very soon.
Really nice bloke, he was with me by half past five and had the tyre changed in fifteen minutes. I couldn't fault their service and I fully accepted that broken down vehicles on major roads...plus vehicles with small children in take priority over me. I'm not insensitive and I would not have had it any other way.
I finally finished my delivery at six pm.
I had no grievance with anything that happened that afternoon except for one thing.
If it had happened three weeks ago, before this new ruling came in, I could have done what posties have done since the PO started. I would have changed the wheel and been on my way with no extra cost to Royal Mail at all; there would have been no call on all these extra resources; and people would have had their mail on time.
I don't condemn Royal Mail, but I do condemn the society we live in today that allows and actively encourages people to sue someone at the drop of a hat. What a ridiculous afternoon to live through, because somebody, who wasn't born before I changed my first puncture, is deemed more qualified.
Ridiculous.
Gary next door is converting an old garage in his garden into a art studio. He is a talented man, especially with his art, and also very skilled as a handyman. I have been able to help him in putting the huge windows into place. Heavy old things but they are now all standing upright and making one wall of the studio. It looks fantastic. At least I feel like I have helped in some way.
Linda brought the guinea pigs into the house yesterday and let them have the run of the ground floor for an hour or so. They are great fun to watch and real time wasters for us both. Eventually they exhausted themselves and settled down for a rest.
They have a small sleeping nest thing each which they curl up in and rest up. All was quiet in the kitchen and I went out to check on them. Widget was curled up in hers and watching me from inside, but whiskey was not in his.
She then turned away from me and gazed over at Linda's coat which had just been chucked on the kitchen floor. She had left it there to grab and put on when she took them both back out to their hutch later. I looked around for him...and there he was...
He obviously thought this was a better option than his own little nest and so he moved in.
They really are so funny to watch.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Chapter Sixty Eight

It is Mother's Day today and our thoughts are with our mum's far away. Linda has had a couple of nice cards from Katrina and Roxanne...plus presents. She is really delighted.
Its been a busy old week but has gone by very quickly. We both had Tuesday off but poor old Linda had to go and visit the dentist for a last major working with her teeth. As that took care of the morning I didn't mind volunteering to do the walking job at Portscatho. Nice to get back there for the day.
My own round at St Mawes is really taking a hold on me and I'm enjoying it very much. On the whole this week the weather has been lovely and it has been a pleasure to be out on duty. It got so lovely and hot on Friday and Saturday that we actually had people out sunbathing in the sunshine. I grant you the people I found were in very sheltered spots and out of the wind, but even so.
Linda has been very busy in both the garden and on her allotment. The green house is now up and running as it should be with the guinea pigs living back out side in the garden again. They both seem quite happy to be back outside again and are making great inroads into the grass.

I know you can't see them at the moment because the little perishers have decided to stay in the little house. It was raining at the time though.
I hope they can't see into the greenhouse because we have a small heater in there at the moment to take the chill off the cold nights. Although we have had two or three lovely warm sunny days this week the next few weeks are supposed to be very cold and bitter.
Linda has stocked up all sorts of plants and is bringing them on in the warmth at the moment. Katrina sent a bunch of flowers to Linda this week and they were left in the greenhouse. The florist described it as 'your lovely greenhouse', so she was impressed with it.

I know it doesn't look like a lot is going on in there but it is really.
After the occasional high winds of this winter we now have our pear tree containing all the bird feeders. The feeder poles we were using both fell down this winter and we felt the tree is a little more stable.
Linda did give it a very hard pruning this year which it desperately needed. I am looking forward to seeing it in full leaf this year. Its a nice tree and very old. I don't know how it survives there considering the depth of soil under it. It can't be very deep at all.
It has become a great place for all the birds to congregate and feed from though. Sometimes the whole tree can be covered in all sorts of different varieties of birds. They are permanently hungry although we have seen them eating loads of wild stuff as well. I'm hoping that when the tree gets its leaves on it the birds will still be able to get in there and eat.
At the moment we have a couple of hawks who are using our garden as a 'fly through fast food outlet'. I'm hoping the birds will have a bit better chance of survival in the summer because of the leaves.  Behind the pear tree is Linda's spring border.

This border is what brought out her famous phrase last week. And to think it is me that worries about wether I'm losing my mind or not. When I got home it was obvious that Linda had been hard at work in the garden. She had rung me about an hour before to see what time I was getting back and also mentioned her work in the garden.
What she told me was..."Hiya Mully, I've dug over the lawn and mowed the border." It did confuse me for a moment but when I got home I was able to confirm she had done it the other way around. The lawn was neatly mowed and the border looking neat and tidy.
 The two garden gnomes; Bayleaf and Digweed; were supposed to be out there beside the bird bath but they are in the house at the moment. With Linda wielding her spade and fork like a person possessed over there I feared for them. I had visions of finding them in pieces. She had already made them filthy by keep moving them while she was wearing her muddy gloves.
I rushed out and brought them into the house; cleaned them both up; and put them upstairs in my study room/ library. I think they are reading some of my books but I wont tell Linda. She already thinks I'm daft enough as it is.
I had some paperwork to do yesterday though and I did go out and sit in the sunshine to do it. Linda was once again hard at it in the green house. Seemingly, 'pricking out' was the name of the game yesterday. As for me...I needed to count up every address on my delivery and sort out my calls for our 'door to door' service.
Suffice to say it kept me busy for an hour or so before I settled down with my newspaper. Here is a picture of our little suntrap in the back garden.
I know its not sunny at the moment, but it was yesterday. Its a nice little spot there and we use it when we can. Last Sunday was so hot and sunny that we ate our breakfast out there.
Well, thats about it for this week. I have written a couple of poems for 'Poetree' tomorrow and I have also sent a piece off to the local newspaper. I hope they print it.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Chapter Sixty Seven

Its been a couple of 'topsy-turvy' weeks down here. The biggest surprise has been the almost total lack of rain for half the month. The ground has dried out surprisingly quickly. We were talking about it last night and Brian said it was due to the east wind that has blown across us for the last couple of weeks. He said its a cold wind and also a drying wind.
A lovely man Brian; one of the nicest people we have made friends with down here.
Jeanette and Gary had a group of us around for a meal last night. They only live next door so it wasn't far to travel. Brian was there as well and also another lovely couple called Jane and Tim. It was a lovely evening and we were spoiled rotten. Plenty of food and drink and lots of conversation. Really had a good time and didn't get home until after midnight. For Linda and me...that was very late. Great fun.
Royal Mail has been behaving in its own odd way as well over the last fortnight. I was totally euphoric two weeks ago when I got a temporary change of hours and position. I could not have been happier when they made me the new St Mawes postman and told me I would be working out there for the foreseeable future.
I was absolutely delighted for the whole week...and then on Friday 22cnd... they told me that I would be on Grampound for the next week. It all felt very shortlived and certainly upset a few people at St Mawes; including me.
Don't get me wrong though. I really love the Grampound duty. It is a large rural van duty and the whole village and its surrounding area is done by this one job. It is the closest duty I have had to Bentley since moving down here. Its just a shame they got me to do it so quickly after telling me about St Mawes. Anyway; I have had a great week on the Grampound job and enjoyed every minute of it, but I am even more delighted to say that I am back on St Mawes duty tomorrow. Its a real feeling of going home.
Also out of the blue this week I got a facebook enquiry from my old friend Pete Towns who used to work at Farnham Royal Mail with me years ago. It was good to get back in touch with him and hopefully we will continue to do so. Pete and I did the London to Brighton Cycle Ride a couple of times back... *%&£"@+!...good grief...almost thirty years ago.
Where did those years go???
We had a day of panic as well in the last week when Linda had a breast cancer check. A large lump was found which caused a fair degree of anxiety. To our huge relief it was discovered to be a benign cyst and was removed straight away. Everything now all clear so thats positive news all around.
Jay and Natasha came down for a couple of days and that was really good. We had an evening at the pub for dinner. A choir were also present called 'The Philleigh Shout'. They were really very good and Linda and I enjoyed ourselves very much. Jay and Natasha went back to our place as it wasn't really their thing.
Not sure what hjappened to the weather last Sunday morning, but it got so hot that we ate a 'full English'...or should that be a 'full Cornish' out in the garden. Breakfast 'al fresco' in Cornwall in February. Not a usual thing at all.
Linda took full advantage of the weather and put in some quality time up at her allotment. I headed for the dump and got rid of loads of waste and stuff so it was a profitable day. Linda was pottering in the green house later and got the Guinea's back out living in the garden again. She told me she was going to come in for a bath and could I run it for her.
By the time she got in the bathroom I had it all decked out with tealights and candles. It looked fantastic and she loved it. Us Mulvin men know how to spoil people.
I have taken a few pictures of my duty in St Mawes and have posted them on the blog.

  This is where I start my delivery at St Mawes. That is the harbour which Gary is in charge of. This was just before the ferry came in.
This is almost at the top of Lower Castle Road and shows the ferry coming in from Falmouth. The land behind it is St Anthony's Head which I deliver too when I am on the Portscatho duty.
This is the castle I deliver too. It sits on this side of Carrick Roads and its sister castle is on the far shore. These were the main protection for Falmouth and its harbour for many years. Nice place's to visit
That is Falmouth with its harbour and industry. There are quite often some large ships moored up here. The other week an oil platform was towed in and had some work done on it. I love it.
 Its not all sea views on this duty though and a fair bit of it is quite rural. Some lovely farms and places hidden in the folds of the ground. One of my farms looks a little old and almost looks unused. Like time has stood still. Then you walk past the kitchen window and see a bottle of washing up liquid or see ketchup and a sauce bottle on the table and you realise these are proper working little farms. This is a ruined buiding on one of them that I really think looks lovely.
 This is one of the loveliest places on the Roseland. It is the village of St Just-in-Roseland and I deliver to all of it. This little church is so nice with its bells and view of the estuary. I could sit and look for hours. Just below it is a boat yard I deliver too and the road goes right down into the sea.
I deliver to the house opposite about two hours later.
This is the main part of the village and it is just out of sight of the sea. The main road that winds through is both narrow and unsighted. It is the main road to St Mawes and is full of twists and turns, plus hidden turnings leading off. I remember one of the old posties in Farnham referring to a road like this as 'screamer alley'.
Thats because you have to inch blindly out into the road; you can only see a handful of yards in each direction; and as soon as you commit yourself to going, you pull away just as some idiot, belts around the corner.
Your foot floors the pedal as you try to get the van to an instant speed of sixty miles per hour to keep you in front of whats galloping up behind you. The 'screamer'bit is you... as your mouth drops open and a weird high pitched noise keens from the bottom of your lungs. Believe me when I say its exhilerating.

This is my poor battered old van. A real old work horse with a collapsed drivers seat and dirt all over it. Half the trim is missing, and she is dented front and back. No... they aren't all mine either; only one of them. That's my flask on the bonnet as I had just stopped for a mouthful of coffee.
Anyway...that is a brief look at my duty. I am a very lucky man