Saturday, 31 August 2013

Chapter Seventy Seven

Life is good down here at present and we are enjoying ourselves. We had a visit yesterday from Derek and Sam from up country. It was good to see them both again and we had a good old chat. Derek got me up to speed on some of the things going on at Farnham. I can only say how much I miss being part of the workplace up there. I miss my work mates in the office almost as much as I miss my family.
It was good seeing the big man again and we all had a laugh together. However; Derek did pick me up on one thing...and he was quite correct. Fiona and Lucy have picked me up on it as well. I am not keeping up to speed on this blog as much as I should. I shall try and correct that.
Work has been very busy at the moment with the first signs of Christmas in the air. Not bad when its still the summer holidays. We are delivering more and more packets at the moment and that is a good Christmas indicator. Normally they start increasing in September as people start getting gifts and stuff bought on line. This year it has come in a month earlier.
Its probably due to the amount of charity magazines and catalogues coming through. All of them are pushing Christmas. I have had three catalogues addressed to me showing Christmas cards and gift ideas. It does seem odd delivering stuff with Santa Claus on the front cover and a snow scene, especially when I am stood, basking in summer sunshine, with sparkly sea around me and people in swimwear sitting on the beach.
I had an unusual day at work the other day. Firstly, I was asked if I could drop off a registered item to a friend of mine on the Roseland. It was no problem as I was heading out that way anyway...but it was something different. Secondly, two hours later I was helping a lady herd three small cows along a lane. The daft perishers had made a run for it so I got out of my van and was able to stop them. That was fun herding them back along until we could put them back in her field.
Then thirdly, a small boy met me in a garden and told me his granny had fallen on the floor. I investigated and found the lady on the floor and unable to get back up. She was alright but just not strong enough to get back on her feet. I was able to help and got her up and sitting on a stool in no time at all.
It was an unusual day and I felt like a story in Postman Pat.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Chapter Seventy Six

This month has shown us the Cornwall that everyone dreams about. We have had several weeks of clear skies; blue seas; hot sunshine; and extreme heat. This is the Cornwall I used to dream of when working back in Farnham. It has been stunning.
The only down side to the weather has been the lethargy that has come with it. Two writing sessions produced a heap of work...and all of it such gibberish I threw it away. I have also felt tired and even a little old at times...a good sign that the heat is getting to me.
But it has also been incredible watching the world go by in St Mawes, and seeing the cornish countryside and beaches relax into summer mode.
You may have guessed that the only person in the whole country who seems least affected by the heat is Linda. As the rest of us have slipped into lethargy and relaxation, Linda has turned into a human whirlwind of activity. The garden is blooming like a small paradise in its own right and the allotment has become a cornucopia of veggies, fruits, and flowers. I grant you that most of this is done by mother nature...but without Linda's help, nature would have let herself down.
The well at home is pumped both morning and evening so that Linda can water everything. She whirls around the garden, watering cans pouring, before attacking any weeds foolish enough to grow in her borders. With secataurs flickering, she 'deadheads' and trims the plants; she has even taken over lawn mowing duties. It would be dangerous to sit to long in the garden when she hurtles by. You would find yourself trimmed, tidied, and possible planted in a corner of the garden as she watered you in.
The allotment has become like a food basket and she does a daily harvest. At the moment it is spuds, carrots, peas, beans, and courgettes which are filling our freezer and storage spaces. She is even giving some surplus away to the neighbours.
The farm shop has been selling small bunches of her flowers for the last month as well.



 At the same time as this is going on, Linda is also holding down a fulltime job; caring for the two guinea pigs; volunteering to walk peoples dogs; playing in her samba band; doing extra work helping people with dementia; and according to her...looking after me and the house.
We did have a couple of family visits as well this month which was great fun. We had Lucy and Jon down as you would remember and had a great time with both of them. That was at the end of May. Now in quick succession we have had Katrina, Kevin, and Oscar down for a week, and two days after they left, Lindas mum came to stay for a few days. She was brought down by Jayson and Tracey.
The day Katrina came down was a Saturday. This was the day my 'Cam chain'??? went in my van and it stopped working. I could not have been further from civilisation when it happened...and I was out of signal area.
It meant abandoning the van and walking almost a mile up to the main road; it was a blistering day. After phonecalls to Royal Mail and the RAC, I settled in at the end of the lane with a book to await the outcome. Fortunately one of the managers got out to me within an hour and gave me his van. He then waited at the end of the lane for the RAC pickup. This was midday; he was towed past me later on at 1530. Needless to say I was late home as well.


Oscar has grown into a proper little boy now and it was a delight having him around the house. Most of their holiday was spent going out and enjoying Cornwall but we got to see them all in the evenings. It made for a lovely week and we all had a good time. I got a great kick out of hearing Oscar call me Grandpa.
Somehow he turned the house into an extension of himself, but never caused any problems. The lovely thing for me was when he would come to me and have a chat. Some youngsters can be a bit wary of people but he was quite happy to hold my hand and go for a walk; or to ride on my shoulders; or even to just watch what I was doing. I had a great time.


This certainly seemed the best spot for him to sit and play. He had great fun and enjoyed getting dirty.

 Here he is helping carry stuff off the beach. I was impressed with the fact he was prepared to help out.
No sooner had they gone home than Brenda arrived for a few days. Jayson brought her down to stay with us, and he and Tracey stayed at a small B&B. It was the first time we had met Tracey and we thought she was lovely.
Again, both Linda and I were at work, but we both managed to get one day off with Brenda and we took her to Looe. It was a scorching day and Looe really looked at its best. We had a nice walk around and enjoyed ourselves. Brenda used to go there on holidays, years ago when she was little. She enjoyed her walk down memory lane.
I had some sad news as well through facebook when I heard that an old friend of mine had died. Barely sixty he collapsed and died from a heart attack. Robert Breare; a bit of a maverick, but also an utterly charming man. He was Susies ex husband and father to the three boys. As it said in his obituary...he could be exasperating; yet you couldn't help liking him. I shall miss him.
Something of a shock as well when my 59th birthday dawned bright and clear. Its that sudden realisation that the next one is the 60th. Still, I don't worry or care to much. We had a check up and medical test at work recently and I was told that although I am metabolic age is only 43. So long as I remember that I am a 43 year old with 59 year old parts I should be fine. HA HA.
For some reason I decided to wash my mail van. It was absolutely filthy but I am not known for bothering to clean vans. I can see why now. Every bump and scrape has now appeared in glorious gleaming silver against the red paintwork. Most of these are not mine, and most of them were on it when I got it. It has to be said though that it looks pretty bad.
I did do something else in the last few days that surprised me.
Most people who know me will understand how much I hate being tested on anything. I really don't like being watched when I'm working. That I can do what I am supposed to be doing is not an issue. The problem is the old one of having no self confidence. Both Fiona and Lucy brought out my confidence as a dad and I love them for it; I found my own confidence at Royal Mail by hiding behind the uniform; and Linda has encouraged me in self confidence with my life today.
I just let myself down by being doubtful.
Having said all that, I realised the other day that I am holding myself back with the NCI. To test myself, I spent a couple of hours in the lookout over the two afternoons that we are closed and did my own unofficial watches. At the end I realised that I can do the job and need to be assessed.
I e mailed my mentor, Bob, and told him I felt ready to give it a go.
The upshot was that last Sunday found me in a state of complete panic as I made my way to my assessment with the station manager, Patrick. I was as prepared as I could be. I had my watch preparation in my bag, I knew what to do, and I was up to speed with my competencies...yet still I was nervous, and still I was doubtful.

So you can imagine my delight, when just before the end of the watch, Patrick handed over my new epaulettes with bar and congratulated me on passing my assessment. I was really pleased and even more so when he pushed the volunteer watch bill at me so that I could pick my first solo watch. I will be on duty on the 18th August on the mid-watch. Really pleased.
This has been a huge thing for me and I am delighted to have qualified. Slowly, all the things I ever had on my 'dream list' have come true over the last few years. The walks I wanted to do; the trips to Ireland I wanted to make; the stories I wanted to write; the classes I have been to; my writing which has been published; and most importantly, moving to the coast. All these have been achieved.
Number two on my list; which was second only to being the father of two daughters; was to end up as a lifeboatman, or coastguard, or cliff rescue, or anything to do with saving lives at sea. Now I am in the NCI and I could not be more happier.
Yes there are still more things on my 'dream list'. Some I can achieve; some I cannot; whatever, they are my dreams and this is one of them.
I am now.............. An 'NCI Watch Keeper'.