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.
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:
Circa 1877
Birth Town:
Woodbury, Devon.
Resided Town:
East Budleigh, Devon.
Date of Death:
Killed in Action
Parents: Samuel and Jane Hill, of Woodbury, Devon; husband of Annie Hill, of Porch Cottage, East Budleigh, Devon.
Service Number:
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 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 a complete mystery to me. Very odd.