Sennen Cove: the final frontier. These are the witterings of a West Cornwall shopkeeper. His seemingly interminable mission: to plumb new depths in literary rambling, to seek out the boring and banal, to boldly sink deeper than any Diarist has sunk before.
March 18th - Sunday
There was a definite chill in the air this morning; it was even colder when I went outside. Shutting off our outside tap was a wise precaution on Friday night as all the puddles in The Cove had frozen over and there was a lovely slippery surface on the slope approaching Coastguard Row, where a spring pops out and runs down the hill. Our newspaper man suggested yesterday that if he could not get down the hill this morning, he would leave the newspapers at the shop in the village. I did not tell him that if he could not get down the hill it was highly unlikely that I would get up it to fetch the papers and I just put the huskies away for the summer.
For the first time in a few weeks I ventured up to the range. I was expecting it to be exceptionally cold up there as the wind was forecast to be coming in from the northeast. Fortunately, for the time I was there, the wind decided not to blow. After a while, under some bright sunshine, it warmed up a bit and was not half as chilly as I was expecting. It changed a bit toward the end of the session when the sun was blotted out and my fingers seize up.
We had reports of the snow as it crossed the Duchy from the east and it eventually reached us at 3pm, exactly as forecast, which was a big surprise. It was quite a sudden arrival, too. The first I saw was mist descending the cliffs out towards Cape, the Cape disappeared along with the Brisons and a flurry of snow came in horizontally down Cove Road as the breeze picked up.
We felt it best to postpone Mother's usual Sunday visit as the forecasters could not decide whether the snow was going to be heavy or light. I pointed out as carefully as I could that we may be able to go and get her, but we may not be able to take her back home again - not, of course, that we would mind at all having her stay the night.
As it happened the snow did not settle on our roads, but the cliffs and surrounding fields were white with a dusting. It was still trying to snow later when I took the bleddy hound out for her final run. It was bitterly cold, too, with a very vicious wind blowing in from the east.
March 17th - Saturday
It was supposed to rain all day today, bit it did not; I managed to avoid it for the morning run around the block. It stopped later, against the forecast, but it got increasingly colder throughout the day. Oddly, we had a delivery but it did not give me enough impetus to stay warm, especially as it was a delivery of frozen goods.
With the rain piling in from the east I had to shut the shop door again for the first couple of hours of the day. I opened it after the rain went away, which was probably a mistake, as the breeze picked up and even with a woolly hat and extra layer, it was a tad chilly.
Given the date it was always going to be a waiting game until the rugby started. I took myself down to the OS to watch it, as there is nothing quite like public punishment. I asked if the rugby was going to be show before I ordered my drink and was told that the chap who was sitting in front of the television with his computer and paperwork was an important chap from the St Awful beer company doing an important job and would not be happy at being disturbed. I suggested that I was a customer and very possibly an important person too, which did not seem to hold much sway. It is such a cliché but in the face of impossible odds I had to suggest where she thought his wages might arrive from. Our man moved very shortly after that.
With my public humiliation complete I rolled back to the shop where I finished the last hour of opening. I am pretty sure there were no customers and if there were I can only apologise. The rest is something of a blank.
March 16th - Friday
What a morning to behold, so I beheld it - lots. I even let the bleddy hound drag me down to the Harbour beach on her run out, first thing. Well, she spotted her pal down there, so I could hardly refuse. At least her pal had come out with her owner in tow, this time. It was blooming marvellous down there and what had seemed like a chill and bright morning was suddenly quite clean and fresh and not so cold after all.
I had to drag the bleddy hound off the beach in the end because she was getting a little too interested in the lumps of oar weed stems that poked up through the fresh sand. As we climbed up the slope toward Coastguard Row I caught the familiar scent of tri-corn garlic wafting on the air, although I could see none in bloom. As I looked back there was a single stem out toward the middle of the patch, but I guessed there was probably more as the scent was quite strong. Spring is coming, after all, even if we have to get through more snow first.
Yes, the forecast that I saw yesterday showed the weather warning extending only as far as the Tamar and perhaps a little further. When I listened to the forecast this morning they had changed their minds and snow is now forecast to fall on Bodmin moor, which is no surprise, and the coasts, particularly in the Far West. Happy days.
It was certainly a happy day for the bleddy hound. Some visitors in Little Bo Café noticed her loitering outside the shop and came and introduced themselves. It seems that had that certain something and the bleddy hound took to them straight away. The visitors returned when they had finished in Little Bo Café and asked the Missus - I was at the gymnasium at this time - whether they might take her down to the Big Beach for a bit of a run and a chase of the ball. On the basis that no one in their right minds would want to abscond with the bleddy hound, probably not even if I paid them, the Missus handed them the lead and a ball. Besides, the bleddy hound had already heard the b-e-a-c-h word and in her head, she was already there. She had a whale of a time, it seems, covered in sand and completely worn out for the rest of the day. It is not true what they say about people; sometimes they are very kind - although they did bring her back.
They could not have had a more pleasant day down there on the beach. Our sunshine hung on in there for all of the day, although there was a bit more cloud in the early part of the afternoon. We had been warned of rain, but this never materialised, here at least; someone told me it poured down in St Ives, which I am sure was a shame.
Unbeknown to me, it was national 'deliver a lot of packages to a Cove shopkeeper day' today. We had five deliveries of differing sizes, mostly arriving in the afternoon. I did reasonably well in clearing them and putting the overstock boxes in the back of the van for the Missus to take up to Shrew House at some point. Our shelves are looking a little more interesting, with biscuits as well as the Cornish peanut butter. We just need the fudge bags and postcard boxes to arrive to complete the offering and we are away.
We were paged yesterday to tell us to be at the Lifeboat station in the evening. When I asked, we were told to expect an announcement so we were all on tenterhooks the day long. It is no secret that the station is looking for a new Coxswain, having worn out the last one. The remaining contenders, including one from our own fold, were interviewed intensively yesterday by a team of professional interview types from up country so that there could be no accusations of nepotism or bias. I was waiting for the puff of white smoke from the boathouse chimney, but since we do not have a boathouse chimney we all had to wait until the evening today to find out. It seems that our boy ticked more of the right boxes than the others in a fair fight for the prize. We now have, or shortly will have, a new Lifeboat Coxswain and we wish him all the very best. Of course, this will have little effect on one discrete team of old grinders who carry on regardless without fear or favour. We are, after all, a very unpartisan, very excellent Shore Crew.
March 15th - Thursday
There was a big lump of blue sky awaiting me as I descended the steps to get the shop ready, this morning. It stayed there until the middle of the day, which was rather good of it, but cloud and rain followed that, which was not. Our sunshine promoted a few visits from customers and the Little Bo Café next door had little groups of people enjoying their breakfasts outside, which is how it should be.
We have been getting electronic mails from a delivery company, which is world famous but no so much seen down here. While it had our company name and delivery address, the sender's details, which contained a very Italian sounding contact name and company were unfamiliar. It advised that we should expect a delivery before 6pm today. I deleted the mail, thinking it a scam, as so many are, or that an advance party of the Mafia were trying to goad me. We then had another on the same day and a further two today. I had expected, as our more regular delivery company does, state a more accurate delivery time but, no, each mail was exactly the same with our delivery expected before 6pm, which was hardly useful and why send so many emails all saying the same thing? I had, by this time worked out that it was a genuine delivery. We had placed an order with a new supplier through an agent, so the company name was not immediately obvious to us. It may still be the Mafia, so I will pay the bill on time, just in case.
It did not take long for the band of rain to pass through, but it took a while for the visitors to return after it had gone. I was kept busy with a couple of deliveries, which will only increase over the next week or so, as will our collection of cardboard. Our waste company picked up one load this morning but I have already filled another box. I can feel another collection coming on for next week, else we will be buried.
There was no Lifeboat training in the evening; things are afoot with changes to the management due. It was straight off to the OS for a spot quizzing with a cut down team. A little paring down clearly did the trick as we only lost miserably this week.
With the skies cleared again there was a slight chill in the air as we returned back down The Cove. The bleddy hound obviously does not care about such things and kept up her traditional wake-the-neighbours screaming run around the block.
March 14th - Wednesday
Oh my, what a complete change of fortune. I was very much consigned to watch the appalling weather from the shop window with hardly a soul to converse with all day. It was not too bad in the morning and it allowed me to slip off to the gymnasium without getting too wet. It was the afternoon that set in heavy, with continuous rain and empty streets. By all accounts we got away light. A lady who had taken a friend down to have a geek at Lamorna and Penberth reported that the weather was banging in there something wicked. A quick look at the Gwennap Head weather station showed winds in the late fifties to early sixties in miles per hour.
In my absence, the Missus had a field day of ordering and we will have biscuits, fudge and Cornish honey being delivered in short order. We made a fairly good job of running all such things out at the end of the last season with just enough left over to cover Christmas, which was a big flop to be honest. Our shelves look very stark in their empty nakedness and it will be a delight to have them brimming with stock again, although I will have to steel myself against the subsequent arrival of the invoices that normally accompany such things.
After all yesterday's excitement I quite forgot to mention our vicar's visit. She was on her pastoral rounds - she was in uniform - and full of the joys of spring. This is not necessarily and indicator of the season, as she is always full of the joys of spring. We chatted a while and she told me that she was preparing some sixteen sermons for the coming Eastertide and I suggested that 'cut and paste' might well be an option. I think she eschewed the idea on the basis that some people come to more than one service, so I suggested that she might like to plunder some of the back catalogue of Diary pages. I said that there may well be something suitable amongst the drivel, at least there would be a lot of words to choose from. Again, she feared that there may not be too much about resurrections and ascensions, but I suggested that, with some imagination, a broad application of metaphor might work. I do not think she took me very seriously.
With nothing much else to do I placed an order for a bunch of buckets and spades in the hope that the weather at Easter might be conducive to such beach activity. I probably need not worry too much on that score. A few days ago, in the mizzle, grey and cold a family dropped by and bought range of such beach paraphernalia for the two young boys in their charge, last seen heading for the Harbour beach. The Missus also reported that she spotted a small child down there having fun in the sand, which is probably not what his parents thought about it. Whatever happens we shall be prepared.
I think I was reasonably prepared for the printing off of the end of day till reading, particularly as I had not seen anyone other than a small child with a pound in the whole of the afternoon. I was very pleased that our card payment machine offered me the option of not printing a null report at the end of day as I suspect the cost of the paper would have taken us into a negative return for the day.
March 13th - Tuesday
Oh deep joy! The Laurel and Hardy Newspaper Company has excelled itself. Just when you think that the level of incompetence has sunk as low as it can possibly get, the boys and girls pull out all the stops to dig just a little deeper. So, despite a letter to a board director and the consequential kicking of bottoms down the corporate food chain, my delivery charge for the first invoice of the season was still incorrect when I opened the package this morning. I still await the credit note promised me from the last set of overcharges. I have a man working on it. To its credit, the company has delivered all the right newspapers in the right volumes since we opened, though, to the uninitiated it may seem odd to celebrate its ability to delivery newspapers correctly, its core business.
At least the weather was with us today. We had bright sunshine from the very off and it stayed that way for much of the day, though high level cloud rolled in later in the afternoon. The bleddy hound and I cavorted through it in the morning, enjoying the warmth on our backs, although there was rather more chill than warmth, to be honest. I warmed up soon enough, however, when one of the bleddy hound's best pals hove into view. It became apparent very soon that she had taken herself out for a walk this morning but efforts to get her to follow us back to her home proved fruitless and she headed for the big beach alone. She came back and knocked on our front door, as she is wont to do on occasion, and I once again tried to take her home, but she was having none of it. Having lost the telephone number for her owners I traipsed up there to inform them. I then met her rolling home as I came back down the hill. I will just leave her be next time, though it is hard to avoid answering a dog knocking on your front door.
Since the sun was out we were a sight busier than we had been over the last few days, but not so much to keep me wholly employed. The Missus came down at lunch time, which permitted me to slip into town to pick up the other half of my new spectacle order, my reading and screen glasses. I also dropped by the really very good butcher for some shin for the bleddy hound and with my errands run, returned home using my new driving glasses for the first time. They are not very good driving glasses; I had to press all the pedals and turn the wheel myself.
I came home to discover that the castors that I had ordered yesterday had arrived. It is surprising the numbers of times my orders arrive next day, despite refusing to pay the extra for next day delivery. Fitting them was not quite as straightforward as I had hoped. The shank on one caster came out as I unscrewed it and required some jiggery pokery to remove it from the bolt. When I put the new castors on I discovered that one leg was slight longer than the other causing the table to rock, probably due to the shank not going fully into place, although the castor did look flush against the wood of the leg. Rather than risk stripping the thread on the shank, I elected to lengthen the good leg by placing a washer or two between the castor and the wood. This probably would have worked famously had I a washer of the right dimensions. In the absence of a washer I cast about for alternatives and settled on the costly option of placing two pennies either side of the bolt. I dropped one under the freezer, so it cost me five pence in the end but worked marvellously.
The only fly in the ointment is that the castors are marginally larger than the last ones and the table is at a very slight angle, not that you would notice. Naturally, after broadcasting this soupçon, I now expect customers throughout the season to offer smart comment upon it.
It was on this very day, some score of years ago that I made the ultimate sacrifice and married the Missus. It was dark, I was drunk and she was willing, as I vaguely recall and it has been sweetness and roses ever since, as you might imagine, dear reader. I even bought some flowers and went to some lengths to purchase a china vase to put them in, as I am led to believe that china is the thing for this particular anniversary. Well, it is pottery, really, but it is the thought that counts, I reckon, and having searched high and low in the emporia of Penzance, found the very thing in one of they charity shops. It set me back 50 pence but after twenty years, I thought she was worth it.
We were told that we should go out to a restaurant to celebrate. We agonised over such a venture and examined the menus of some of the finest places within striking distance and, to be honest, we are spoiled for choice. The problem that we have is that because there are so many, they all try and out special each other. Where we would probably stretch to trying a lark's tongue terrine, for example, there seems to be a perceived need to garnish it with vomit fruit zest and fermented loganberry jus.
After deep consideration we ended up choosing the North Inn in Pendeen where they do a cracking homemade curry - not for the Missus, clearly, the Missus hates curry, although I did avoid the pickled llama sweetbreads madras with wild kumquat and dried dock leaf rice. (In truth, if you fancy a curry while you are here, dispense with the normal everyday ones you can get at home and head here; they are legendary.) Mother and Big Sis came too, as we felt that after twenty years it would be a tall order to expect us to talk to each other. What a splendid night it was, too. One thing is for sure, that we know how to throw a party and we reminisced about it over our cocoa almost until bedtime. I will probably not be worth a button tomorrow.
March 12th - Monday
It was raining again, first thing, while I put out the front of shop display. Fortunately, as the day progressed, we went from mizzly to grey and uninspiring with occasional bright bits. The wind considered it options for a while before eventually settling in the north west, but it had set up a chill inside the shop that had me reaching for my hat half way through the morning. It was still throwing some cool breeze through the shop doorway half way through the afternoon, but I had been to the gymnasium by then and was up for the challenge more than I was in the morning.
I had lent my copy of the Pendeen Outreach newsletter to some neighbours, who very kindly brought it back this morning. This is the paper with a wealth of local craftspeople listed in between its covers that can prove immensely useful from time to time. Naturally it does not say whether these people are any good or not but, in the main, they are local so if the worse comes to it you can always go around and say rude things to them through their letter boxes.
I called in a drain man, first, who sounded perfectly reasonable over the telephone but cannot attend until next week. The television aerial man arrived in the early afternoon, which makes him not very busy for a reason or incredibly efficient. We hope the latter. He discussed some options and now he knows what he is up against, including our difficult to access roof, he will return with equipment to do the job. We are very much hoping that he can re-site the aerial, as it will only come down again in the next high wind no matter how good a job he does.
One thing that I was particularly pleased about was the replacement castors for a heavy table stand, which currently supports the clever jewellery stand that I made a couple of years ago. Yes, thank you for asking, it is still as good as new, although it looks old as it is supposed to, and provides sterling service. The castors on the table underneath it, however, have fallen apart after just twenty or so years of service. I had to look a little further afield for the replacements and returned to the company that supplied the wheels for the old shopping trolley that glides effortlessly wherever we send it now. They had the very thing listed and without me having to look very hard. I can utilise the existing bolts that hold them in place, too.
I thought that I might have to invent a job or two for the afternoon but the first delivery of postcards arrived, right on cue, and kept me occupied for an hour or so. The temperature appeared to drop quite significantly after that and sent me scurrying for my hat again. I had quite forgotten how cold it can be when we first open the shop.
March 11th - Sunday
A more wet and miserable day you would not wish to contemplate, although having said that we did get a few hours of slightly drier conditions that let a few desperate shoppers out. I was even lucky enough to get the bleddy hound around the block between the very early showers and the ones that arrived a little later in the morning.
One of the biggest problems with today was that it combined the worst attributes of wind and rain and sent cold showers through the shop doorway and all over the counter. It is in these conditions alone that the shop door must be closed against the elements, which causes consternation amongst hitherto sensible and competent folk. To lessen the impact, I write a big yellow sign "PUSH THIS SIDE" and stick it on the window in the appropriate place. Even this does not often help, with people pushing at the door in every location but the right one and some passing by completely, assuming that the shop is closed. Paradoxically, had this door been pushed closed outside our normal hours, say, while I prepare the shop for opening, with the blinds down and a big "CLOSED" sign prominently displayed, the world and her great aunt's step daughter would be pushing their way in because 'we thought you were open'.
Despite these challenges we had a few stalwart types come and visit us and at least one reasonably substantial purchase. Oddly, though we get quite used to it as it happens quite often in the colder days, we had several requests for ice creams. These we had to send next door as we are not yet fully stocked in our frozen department. The Missus made strenuous efforts in this area today by sorting out the ice cream freezer. This had been used over the closed period to hold just about everything that we could not fit into the store's chest freezer. By rationalising our use of freezers in this way we save a veritable fortune in electricity usage.
Hopefully, by the end of the week we shall be back to normal. It will be the first foray into using our new frozen food supplier after the last one went into administration toward the end of last year. I suspect that we will wish that we had made the change earlier, as the new supplier, while slightly more expensive, will deliver daily on a next day basis, rather than waiting for more than a week if we were lucky.
Given the lack of customers to play with, I managed to clear the remaining parcels from the store room and salt away all the items we cannot immediately put out on display. I also went through the book list of our regular local interest book supplier, something we have been meaning to do for years. Usually we ask for a repeat of the previous year's stock, which means we end up with some slow sellers and books not quite up our street. I have now been able to be more selective as well as include some books that we had previously ignored or been unaware of. It was all quite exciting, really.
As with the morning, I put the outside display items away in the rain. While it rained as heavily today as a few days ago, we experienced no leakage into the shop. It cannot possibly be anything to do with wind direction, surely. Nevertheless, I shall seek out a drain cleaning operative tomorrow, if I possibly can.
March 10th - Saturday
I had expected to be doing mopping up duties for the first part of this morning's getting ready session. Strangely, and although it had rained overnight, there was no river running across the shop, despite evidence that there had been earlier. It is the randomness of it which is unhelpful. Out of five days of rain, say, only one of those might flood us. Fortunately, for flooding and for business, too, the weather turned to bright and sunny about mid morning, which made all the difference,
Still, it was sublime getting back into the saddle again. Our enforced break is welcome after a long season but by late February I am keen to get back into it again, especially after being warmed up by trade shows and a flurry of ordering.
It was the latter that had produced some deliveries in the weeks preceding. One particular order had been expected, as we had a special deal for early delivery. The other set of boxes came from an order that we had asked to have delivered next week. We were quite busy in the morning, but I managed to work my way through the various cases during the rest of the day, which has cleared up some of the clutter in the store room.
I am pleased to report that the Laurel and Hardy Newspaper Company excelled itself in delivering all the correct newspapers in the correct volumes. I am cautious that one delivery does not a reformation make and I will wait a week or so to make sure that the deliveries continue. Despite having only opened at Christmas, it takes a little while to get used to the prices and I also note that the Guardian newspaper has changed format and now looks very much like The Times. I shall have to be vigilant as there is a £1.20 price differential.
What struck me most was the number of people who dropped in to say hello, both local and regular visitors. I had been wished good luck for our 'grand opening' by a reader, earlier in the day and I was going to say that our openings are never that grand. I think, however, I can quite rightly say that with the numbers that dropped by - and even spent some money - our first day felt very grand indeed.
We should spare a thought for the Aged Parent, who rather carelessly broke a wrist yesterday, with no one to shoulder the blame but herself, unfortunately. The other Aged Parent has gone out on a limb and is lending her a hand, but it would be good if we can cast our best wishes her way.
March 9th - Friday
It was grey and just a bit mizzly when I ran around the block with the bleddy hound. It set the scene for the day, which became more mizzly, then developing into proper rain as the day progressed.
I really wished that I had not left the last finishing touches to getting the shop ready until today. Our drains at the back have been crying out to be fixed for some time and since I have done nothing about it, they are weeping incessantly. If I had not been in the shop for the majority of the middle of the day I would have been blissfully unaware of the river running across the shop floor. As it was, I kept having to stop to mop up the latest seepings, which became increasingly irritating as the hours wore on. I shall consult the Pendeen Chronicle on Monday, or whatever it is called, which has a list of all manner of work people in its pages, for a person willing to stick his arm down a mucky hole to clear it out.
Before I started in the shop I made it down to the gymnasium. I was in good enough fettle to carry out a full circuit but half way into my routine I remembered that I had agreed to meet our new peanut butter supplier in the morning. Since I did not have her telephone number on me I was forced to do whatever I could and terminate my session with sufficient time to get back to the shop for the meeting time. She was waiting for me when I arrived, but fortunately had not been waiting long. She brought some samples with her which I tried later. If you like your peanut butter, this is top gear.
Big Sis's chum took to the hills in the late morning. We swapped him in the later afternoon for Mother, who came for tea. Later, I did nothing but gird my loins for tomorrow's change of gear.
March 8th - Thursday
The bleddy hound was being restless, this morning. Since the fidgeting and huffing and puffing takes place at various points around my body and much on top of it, it is difficult to resist for too long. Most of it is to do with the sun, which now lights up our little world from quite early on and is a bleddy hound indicator for not needing to be sleeping any longer.
It was a pleasant enough day to be out and about in, but chilly again. The sun was in command of much of the sky, with only a few clouds that might have held a spot or two of rain. The bleddy hound had dragged her feet around the entire block, even the back stretch, yesterday at her last walk around so, thank heavens, she had decided to pick up the pace once more.
We had been told to expect our plumber quite early into the morning but as it wore on he was nowhere to be seen. He telephoned not long after the appointed time - he is good like that - to say that he had been diverted away and would be back in the middle of the morning, instead. Rather than wait for him, I decided that I would head into town, as I had intended to go after his visit but probably thought that I would be back ahead of it, anyway.
We are, once again, short of tea time ideas, so I thought that I would make something out of my own head, which would necessarily mean shopping for ingredients in the local independent shops, as I knew I would be able to get top quality produce at reasonable prices there. Just before I left we had a call from the opticians to say that our new spectacles were ready for collection, except for my reading glasses, which would arrive later. I also wanted to drop by the small, independent electrical shop at the bottom end of the high street.
The electrical store was the first place I visited when I got into town. I asked there about dimming LED lights and they agreed that it was an area fraught with difficulty. It was best to be avoided, they told me and with that expert advice ringing in my ears, I decided that I would not even bother trying to make our lamps dimmable.
My new, all singing and all dancing spectacles are a wonder. They are varifocal to such a degree that I can wear them for driving, or just gazing into the distance but also read small print close by. I never knew such wizardry was possible, although I am not sure that I will wear them in the general run of things. They will be useful, however, for things such as the trade shows where I am constantly having to take out my reading glasses and put them away again, which is irritating to say the least. Having said that, I completely forgot to put them on while I was driving home. I am very glad, however, that I went back and insisted on having a separate pair for my screen work as the all singing, all dancing ones get a sore throat and a limp when it comes to penning the Diary.
Our plumber man arrived shortly after I got back home, which was handy. He was here for all of five minutes fixing our burst pipe and waited only to check that there were no other leaks and collecting his cash. He told us that he was so busy that had he not been able to fit us in today we may well have had to wait six weeks or more.
With the pipe fixed and the hose pipe working again, the Missus set to with the pressure washer outside the front of the shop. It is the sort of detailed and pernickety work that is right up her street - she does jigsaw puzzles, for heavens sake, and enjoys it. While she was at that, I did some more cleaning behind the shop counter, although I did not quite finish it off as the bleddy hound needed taking round again. I decided that the rest of the work downstairs could wait until tomorrow as I do not like having to disturb the Missus while she is in full flight; it can be dangerous.
Instead, I went back upstairs to update our pricing signage. Unfortunately, some of our foodstuffs have increased in price this year, such as pasties and bread. Stamps, too have increased in price, as they seem to do each year, with the international ones particularly badly affected.
It was far more exciting to trip across the road and take part in a Lifeboat exercise, since the sea conditions were just right for a launch. We pushed the boat out, or at least we let a Devonian visitor do so, as a special treat. He demurred about joining in later, when the boat came back again. It was probably just as well, as we brook no shady practice when we are executing a textbook recovery up the short slipway. We gave the boat a special wash down, as we are expecting a prospective coxswain to visit the station in the next week, our own retiring shortly. We left the boat is first class order, after all, we are a very exacting, very excellent Shore Crew.
Unfortunately, our standards seem not to extend to our delivery in the OS quiz and we had a frightful night. Our Devonian friend wiped us out in the last round, which made matters even worse. We shall not be inviting him again in a hurry. It was something of a relief, therefore, to be heading back home in the reasonably mild night.
March 7th - Wednesday
Big Sis and her chum escaped before I had even considered getting out of bed, but I heard the door close, which piqued my interest, after which I had to get up. I was on something of an alert, anyway, as the fish man was possibly due to bring some clams that we ordered yesterday, and I did not want to miss him. As it happened, they could not get any, so I had waited in vain.
There was a rain shower passing to the north of us, but I took a risk and ventured out with the bleddy hound relatively unprotected against the elements. It was a pleasant enough morning with a definite chill in the air, but we got back unscathed from any wet stuff.
For the first time in over a week I decided to risk a visit to the gymnasium. Everything was just tickety boo, though I did not try and break any records, but I did manage my full circuit without issue. Perhaps I have just been pretending to be poorly, in a fear of shopkeeping sort of way. I cannot imagine that to be the case as it is getting to the stage when opening the shop will be most welcome and I can lurch from my mainly sitting lifestyle to my mainly standing lifestyle.
The new LED floodlight arrived yesterday afternoon and I took some time to try and retro fit it into the existing halogen uplighter that I am quite fond of. It took a bit of effort to deconstruct the floodlight, as the circuitry had been glued to the metal frame, fortunately not altogether permanently. The next problem I encountered was that the old wiring is not coded in anyway as to the live and neutral wires. This was easily resolved by the use of a coin, which indicated that heads meant the right hand wire was live. I understand that this is how professional technicians decide.
While the implementation will not win any art awards, the guts of the light cannot be seen, as it is above head height. The problem arose when I plugged it into the mains and discovered that, while the dimmer worked, it made a terrible high pitched whine and when I switched off the dimmer control, half the LEDs remained lit. I am not a professional electrical engineer, but I do happen to think that when you turn something off it is supposed to stop working. Given the hour, I unplugged it and put it into the too difficult pile.
Today, having agonised over the issue for hours, I decided to try and reverse the polarity of the wires, assuming that my coin deciding tool had gone wrong. Slipping on my rubber wellies before plugging it in as a precaution, I was disappointed to discover that the change made no difference whatever and the same fault manifested itself, with half the LEDs remaining lit after switching it off. There was a good bit more agonising and looking at the Boy's Book of LED Dimmer Wiring for inspiration, which is handily on the Internet.
The most likely issue, it seems, was an incompatibility between the dimmer switch and the type of LED driver installed on the floodlight. I had taken care to order a dimmable light but was unaware that there are several types of dimming technology, which must match in order for it all to work properly. However, from what I could gather the most common dimmer switches were of the type that I had inadvertently ordered with the floodlight. The best way of testing this was to reconstruct the floodlight again and test it without a dimmer; it worked fine.
My next plan was to seek to find a replacement dimmer switch for the lamp, one that was compatible with the LED driver. This proved illusive and not even when I called the company supplying the switch could they tell me what type their dimmer switch was.
It was time to take a rest and do some real work in the shop. I took an hour out to clean the entrance mat and the one behind the counter. The Missus would normally have used our pressure washer to clean these but, as I reminded her yesterday, that particular plan was scuppered because our hose pipe is out of action due to the burst pipe. Instead, I beat them with a broom, which is quite satisfying when you are being frustrated by a standard lamp, and mopped the floor where they usually stand.
Having taken this time away from the problem at hand, and in a flash if inspiration, I decided that the lamp would be as useful without a dimmer as with it. We nearly only ever use it on full power, anyway, because on anything less, it buzzes. I removed the dimmer from the equation and reconnected the wires through a terminal block I had purchased for the project but found that I had not yet needed. The lamp works perfectly but will need an in line switch installed as we cannot normally reach the socket that it is plugged into. I love it when a plan comes together.
I called our plumber in the later afternoon expecting to have to wait some while to get to the top of his waiting list. He telephoned back in the evening and told us that he could see us tomorrow morning. This is good news but also means that the Missus will want to set to with her pressure washer tomorrow, besmirching my lovely white paintwork at the front of the shop. I shall look the other way and drink heavily.
March 6th - Tuesday
After all the excitement of yesterday's St Piran's celebrations, today was only going to be a disappointment and it did not disappoint. Our first disappointment was checking that the weather forecast promised blue skies and sunshine and discovering that it was hammering down with rain when I went to bring the van around to the front of the shop.
Each year at this time, the week before we open, we make our sojourn up to the Royal Cornwall Showground at Wadebridge to visit a catering and food trade show. It usually throws up something of interest, although that may not have been the best use of a verb I could think of. This year we came away with some new products from our St Ives cider people that we will be experimenting with during the year.
Unsurprisingly there are many more gins on the market now. We spotted at least half a dozen stalls just showing gin and a few more with gin as an additional product. We may try one more Cornish gin to compliment our current four varieties but the bottle is a little large, so we shall think carefully. Additionally, we will start to sell Fever Tree tonic, which is a cut above the 'you know who' brand, although it has not used that slogan for decades, that we currently stock. In terms of food, there is nothing new and we already have included Cornish peanut butter in our expanding Cornish range.
We discovered on Monday morning that the Missus had forgotten to place her second order with our cash and carry supplier for delivery. This rather meant that if we wanted the goods, we would have to go and get them ourselves, so we scheduled a visit on our way back from Wadebridge. We had been lucky to avoid any rain while we were at the show but when we got inside the warehouse at Hayle the heavens opened. I suppose that it was appropriate that it thundered down with a hail shower while we were there, made to sound much worse by the metal roof we were under at the time.
Fortunately, it had desisted by the time we loaded the three trolleys into the back of the van and made our way back to pick up the bleddy hound. We had left her with Mother, in the company of whom she is most comfortable. I would have stopped for a cup of tea, but the Missus was keen to get back to start to shelve the boxes that we had picked up. It would be well past our tea time by the time she had finished. It is a good job that we had stopped at Smokey Joe's for a proper breakfast on the way out this morning; we find that it is much better to visit the food show on a full stomach. It also meant that we were still not that hungry by evening time, so a late tea was not unacceptable.
The later afternoon was quite pretty and the threat of rain had moved further north, where we had come from. I took the bleddy hound around for her last daylight run, to discover that the boys had taken the seine net for a dip. I asked one that knows and discovered that it was one of the run outs where they find the fish and show them the net so that the fish know what to avoid next time they see it. I think that is extremely fair of the fishermen and it is extremely unfair that their activities should attract such criticism, on occasion. I think that I might avoid sharing that description with any of the syndicate on the grounds that they might mistake me for a grey mullet, on a dark night.
March 5th - Monday
Our de factor patron saint has obviously got a sense of humour because it rained all morning and into the afternoon, descending upon the marchers and celebrants of St Piran's Day celebrations across the Duchy. I did not join in, I am sorry to report, as the nearest march was in Truro, although Penzance had a bunch of flags about the place, which looked very effective and gay.
The Missus had arranged to sit around with Mother for most of the day waiting on an electrician turning up to replace the meter, which eventually everyone agreed was a wrong 'un. I was chastised for getting the timing wrong and being in the shower when the Missus wanted to leave, as I thought she was going later. I managed to turn it around pretty quickly and I do not think that there was too much damage done.
I came straight home again as I was too early to head over to St Just for an appointment. I managed to slip away a bit of breakfast and head over there, visit one of the rather good local butchers there and still get into the surgery for my appointment. I had barely put my bottom on the seat when the nurse called me in to measure me up for a stocking thing that has been recommended to me to save my bloody leg from becoming bloody again. The nurse was a friendly and chatty soul and kept me entertained while she poked, prodded, took my pulse and listened to my heartbeat through some sort of audible scanner. It was all very involved for just a stocking.
The Missus still was not ready to come home after I emerged from the surgery, so I ventured home instead, which was a lot easier than the last time I made the journey in the snow. With time to spare I prepared the bits and bobs for our evening meal and repaired downstairs. With only a few days to go before the shop opened I needed to round off the last of the munitions manufacturing and put the kit away, as it sits on the counter and might cause a bit of a stir with some of our customers. It only seems a short while ago that I was putting it out. I still need to clear up behind the counter but that is not a great deal of effort, especially the way I do it. If the Missus is watching, it will be a great deal of effort, as I will have to do it properly.
The rain had stopped by the time I went back to pick up the Missus. She was spitting feathers when I arrived; the electrician had not turned up, mixing up his days. The customer service team had been less than helpful, and the next appointment will be in a month. I listened as she let off steam; it saved having the heater on in the van.
Tea worked out all right. We have Big Sis's chum back for the week, so it was lucky that I managed to get the portions right and cook enough. On reflection, we should have had award winning pasties. Maybe next year, then.
Gool Peran lowen onen hag oll.
March 4th - Sunday
Another perfectly pleasant day, at least to start with. There was a bit more swell about, first thing, although this diminished somewhat towards low water. The Cove busied up a little, as well, in the middle part of the day and, no surprise, as there was plenty of good looking beach to explore and no howling winds to contend with.
By the middle of the morning I had made the decision not to head up to the range again this week, the last full week I will be able to go before the end of October. This left the Missus carte blanche to go shopping and was duly gone for a few hours, leaving me to twiddle thumbs.
By the middle of the day, the bleddy hound was showing clear signs of cabin fever and I was tempted to take out for a run. I decided to leave it an hour by which time it had started to rain, which I had not anticipated. Fortunately, it stopped half an hour later with the possibility of an hour's break before the next lot came it. I delayed no further and ran her down to the Harbour beach for a spot of chase the ball. There were a few families about and other dogs but they kept well clear and we were able to play uninterrupted for a good while. Runs out are now a rare commodity and are to be savoured.
After a while I decided that it was time to come away, before I ran out of steam and she out of leg. We met the Missus when we reached the front of the shop and helped her up the stairs with the shopping just as the second wave of rain started to fall. We love it when a plan comes together.
It rained on and off for the rest of the day and into the evening. This rather meant staying inside and not doing a great deal and even I can only make so much silk purse out of a sow's ear. Good night.
March 3rd - Saturday
There was a proper tropical feel to the air, today. I did get togged up to go around first thing but quickly discovered that it was entirely unnecessary. We had been promised some rain passing through but it never came during the day and we had the best and warmest day that we had enjoyed for a while.
It seems that further up the line people are still suffering and that we, very much, got away lightly. We still have some of the hang overs from the snow and I was called to another burst pipe, this morning. This one had some lagging on it but the joints were exposed, which seemed to have been the problem.
The water company put out a message on FacePage last night to expect water to be turned off in our area. We filled some buckets and water bottles, just in case, but had proper supplies all day. Others have not been so lucky and the social media I have seen is inundated with reports and cries for help and advice. One woman had asked if it was alright for her husband to defrost her frozen pipe with a blow torch. The man at the water company responded in horror and suggested that the best thing to do was to insulate the pipe with professional lagging so that it did not freeze. It is a shame I did not have his inspiration when Big Sis got stuck in the snow, I could have told her to go to somewhere where it was not snowy.
The rest of the day was filled with doing not a great deal. First, I do not feel like doing a great deal and secondly, there is not a great deal to do as we wait until the shop opens next week. Instead, I did a lot of looking out of the window at the perfectly flat, calm sea and the view out across the bay that was clear as crystal, today. I ventured out again in the middle of the day with the bleddy hound and it was completely pleasant to wander about in the fresh air, although I did not repeat the experience.
It rained after nightfall. All a bit of a let down from the excitement of the last couple of days, thank heavens.
March 2nd - Friday
Well, the adventure just keeps coming and I do not know if I can gird my loins for very much more. I really did not sign up for this sort of thing, so as soon as we can get back to normal, the better, thank you very much.
The snow down here had largely melted away overnight, with just the deeper piles hanging on. There was some clinging to the cliff tops and up the slope at Gwenver and all over Carn Barges by the black huts. When I looked up the hill it was apparent that Cove Hill was also clear, as witnessed by the number of cars heading into The Cove in the morning. I felt that it was probably safe to pick up the van from the top and take Big Sis to pick up her car from Tregonebris.
There was a good gathering of folk over at the Lifeboat station and one, very pleasant chap, took me to the top of the hill in his chunky four by four. There was still a tricky bit on the brow of the hill where the wind had blown in across the field and just one side of the road was open. Even then it was just two tyre tracks in the deep snow but passable at a steady pace and I had no trouble bringing the van back to The Cove.
I had more trouble getting Big Sis out of bed, but we got on our way at around ten o'clock. There were obvious signs that a plough had been along the A30 but even then some of the road was single file, mainly as there was not enough ditch to dump the snow into. We came across her car almost at the top of Tregonebris Hill, which surprised me. If it had not been for the couple of cars stopped ahead of her, she would have made it over the brow. The rest of the trip home would have been relatively easy.
When we returned, the much maligned council were in attendance, clearing the snow from the top of the hill. I think that we can say our two days of isolation in the frozen waste are now over.
I only wish that I could have said that for the continuing surprises that keep coming our way. It was when Big Sis and I went down to the shop to raid our freezers for something for tea that we chanced upon a visitor who was staying in the flat above Little Bo Café. He told us that a pipe had burst on the outside of the house next to the flat and did we know who owned the property. We went and had a look and, sure enough, the water was spurting out under some pressure from an outside pipe, just like it had with ours the previous night. We know the owners but have no idea how to contact them as they do not live there. I also had no idea where the stop cock was, as it was not, as you might expect it to be, on the street in front of the property.
After a search, we found a likely contender at the rear of the house but discovered that it only fed the garage block to the rear. It was as we returned down the slope that I spotted the correct stop cock, about two feet from the leaking pipe, which was about three feet up the wall, down a narrow gap between the house and the adjacent driveway. To get at the stop cock would require a certain amount of contortionism and a certain amount of getting wet. Big Sis had the brilliant idea of turning on the tap at the end of the pipe to relieve the pressure a bit, which reduced the amount of spray generated by the jet of water hitting the retaining wall opposite. Job done, though, and we will happily accept cake by way of thanks, or, at least, I will. I did manage to contact the owners later on, thanks to some other neighbours who had the number.
The shadow of the Black Death still hangs over me and such exertions knock the stuffing from me. Consequently, I rested for the remainder of the day, which I have discovered can be quite pleasant as long as there is something to occupy the mind, which there was not which left me climbing the walls. Never mind, the shop is open in a week and I will have no such excuse.
I noticed that a young lady on the Lizard who had posted some footage of the storms there on a social media site had been approached by all sorts of news media for a copy. First, Cornwall Live, which is effectively The Cornishman online, then CNN, a Japanese news agency, The Daily Mail and a clamouring queue of other glittering illuminati followed on to which she freely gave access to her work. I was amazed how quickly the story had spread and assume it was mere chance that brought her such acclaim. However, later on, something eerily similar happened to me. After seeing the snow pictures in the Diary, a keen weather watcher in Penzance asked for copies for his bulletin. What a spooky coincidence. Naturally, a grumpy shopkeeper in the Far West cannot afford such altruism as giving away such important records and I have asked for seven shillings and six pence a copy; he assured me that the cheque would be arriving shortly.
I am sure our man will not mind if you have a peek at the Penzance weather here
Just to add a bit of interest to our proceedings and to give that extra cut-off-in-the-wilderness feel, our water went off sometime during the night. I quickly discovered that cessation of service was reserved for random inhabitants of The Cove, probably those with shallower incoming supply pipes.
I did not bother the water company with our problems, mainly because its website suggested that it was busy with other calls, but mainly because we would be unlikely to see anyone here before the thaw.
On that subject, I also considered calling the much maligned council to ask advice about leaving Big Sis's car abandoned on the A30. Its website also suggested that it did not want to talk to anyone. This was not a temporary solution to high volumes of calls due to the weather but a business as usual policy where the only telephone number was for emergencies only. Looks like we might be on our own on that one, then.
There was very little action down in The Cove today. Snow was still on the ground, compacted in some places, which forced me to watch my step as I went around the block. The bleddy hound's enthusiasm for the white stuff has completely waned, which thankfully means less snowballs on the carpet and sofas.
We did the sensible thing all day, which was to stay in and wait for some sense to come to our surrounding world. We discussed whether we would prefer to do without electricity or water, to pass the time. Big Sis and I said that, since we had lasted most of the day without water in the tap, electricity would be most missed. She reminded us of the last lengthy evening power cut we had, which had resulted in us actually having to talk to one another.
Our snow, here, turned to rain in the latter stages of the evening. We had been warned that this would just result in ice on the roads but ours stayed wet as the temperature rose. Just before I went to bed the toilet cistern came to life and the tap we had left on in the kitchen started working. It was shortly after this, after I had tried to work out what the hissing was that the Missus came in and said that the pipe leading to the hose outside had split. I turned it off fairly sharpish, but it has leaked quite a bit into the shop. It was not a disaster and we can manage without a hose for a while.
I am not sure that I can manage yet another day of such excitement.
As a bonus, the last few pics from Wednesday afternoon for you.
February 28th - Wednesday
Oh my, golly gosh. How completely humorous it was today with two of us being caught out in the unexpected heavy snowfall and one of us having to abandon our vehicle, to some degree because people are unused to driving in these conditions. I do not mean that as any sort of criticism, as we have not had snow in this volume for nine years here and even then, it was only for a day or two.
I had set forth for a dental appointment, one that was actually kept by the surgery on this occasion. I was well aware that snow had been forecast and was grateful that my appointment was early in the morning, hopefully early enough to get back home again before the flurries. I was not even slightly tempted to postpone this appointment after the last had been cancelled and it had taken three months to get another appointment, occasioning two warning letters from the surgery that I was in danger of having my membership terminated. I was also working on the principal that the forecast was for light snow, the worst of it coming overnight and into tomorrow.
After a swift geek, twenty quid, kerr-ching and an 'aye thang yew', I was told I had to make another appointment to fix a receding gum, but at least I have until after Easter to save up for it. I dropped down the hill afterward to collect a terminal block from the electrical shop - tick tock - for my retro fit of the LED uplighter in the living room and, yes, Aged Parent, I promise to keep my fingers out of the socket and be super CAREFUL. I also visited - tick tock - the opticians to sort out the order I had made under the influence of the Black Death on Friday.
I was concerned that I had made an awful and expensive mistake, with one pair of expensive spectacles apparently capable of all sorts. After some discussion I managed to downgrade the all singing and dancing specs to a cheaper model and add a general purpose reading only pair for the same price. I may still have to throw myself on the mercy of the dentist after Easter but, at least, I will be able to see him pour scorn on me. Tick tock.
In truth, I had expected the snow to have arrived by this time. I listened avidly to the radio reports that suggested there was a blizzard on The Lizard, which is better than it raining heavily in Penryn. Helston was buried under a mountain the white stuff and it had also landed on the Islands, which is nigh on unheard of. It was only a matter of time before it reached us, as it was pushing north all the while.
Due to the last remaining effects of the Black Death, the one effect that is keeping me from a beer, I decided to look in on the doctor, although, clearly, not on the pretext of the beer aversion. As I entered the surgery - tick tock -, the sun was still shining and the skies, relatively clear. It was while I was being told by the doctor to man up and stop snivelling, that she informed me that it was snowing outside and that I should run along home. I rescued my pride by hitting her with the smokescreen that I was really there to arrange to be fitted for a sock thing to aid and abet my bleeding ankle issue from a while back and that Black Death symptoms, I bite my thumb at. I think it worked and I now need to go back another day to be measured up. Tick tock, run out of time.
I stepped in the surgery's ante room, and this is where the story really starts, to discover a good bit of snow, blown in through the automatic doors. I could not see further than the doors as the snow was blowing in so heavily it blotted out the view. By the time I got to the van in the car park, about three minutes, I looked like a snowman but without the carrot nose - alright, in my opinion.
As I reported earlier, I had not expected a deluge of snow of such ferocity. It was already several inches deep on the roads but, fortunately, it was fresh enough that it had not been compacted or become too wet and slippery. I was reasonable confident, at that stage, that I would not have too many problems getting back but that Cove Hill might present something of a challenge. This was before I got to Boscawen Hill, just outside St Just on the road back home. One of the key aspects of going up a snowy slope is not to stop, and it was clear that at least one of the vehicles had done so or had misjudged the pace at which momentum would be sufficient for a successfully climb.
Having seen the issue I feared that I might have problems on the hill out of Kelynack if it was blocked. It was not, and I sailed up it. When I passed by the airport the blizzard had ceased, but it came back with a vengeance shortly after, making it difficult to see very much at all in front or in any other direction, for that matter.
The long incline out of Sennen proved to be the next obstacle with several cars stuck and a big, articulated lorry stopped at the bottom. The snow now was the best part of a foot deep in places and, while I was leaning towards giving the hill a try, I turned off to stop and consider the options for a moment.
It was at this point that an anxious Missus called to tell me that Big Sis had ventured into town, quite late in the morning, and was now stuck at the bottom of Tregonebris Hill, the longest, steepest climb on the route. She was in good company but pretty much stuck, all the same. When I spoke with her she was in the queue to be towed up the hill by a helpful chap in a four by four. Uncomfortable about getting the rest of the way in such conditions, she teamed up with a pal of ours who was fortuitously only a few cars behind her. I said that I would wait at the top of the hill for her and we would walk down together, as that, it was clear, would be the only way, now, of getting home.
As I sat and slowly cooled down in the van, the next notification I had from Big Sis was that she was comfortably ensconced at our pal's house with a nice big, steam cup of tea. I cheerily responded for her to take her time, enjoying her cuppa, as frostbite had not yet set in and having waited an hour or so, another half an hour probably would not make much difference. Oh, how I chuckled about that with her later.
Blizzard coming on, Top Path
I had enjoyed plenty of time to consider the best way to walk back down to The Cove. As Big Sis was the other side of the Valley, I concluded that the most safe and sensible route was down the Valley and along the Coast Path. I waited for one blizzard to pass before stepping out along Top Path towards her. I was no more than a few yards into this when another blizzard came through. I have seen similar images of lost souls in blizzards in the moving pictures; who could forget Jack Nicholson freezing to death in The Shining. Like Jack, I was not wholly dressed for it either, although I was wearing stout walking shoes and had several layers on me. However, I was missing the essential waterproof layer, which would have made life a little more comfortable.
Could almost be Hawaii
Cove comes into view
Very definitely Whitesands
Not finished yet
Nevertheless, the walk down was pleasant enough, as we found that that the Valley was, once again, a place of shelter. At the other end, the Missus had made her way to the Beach car park, with the bleddy hound doing a good impression of being a snow dog - she did not have a carrot nose either. What she did have was small snowballs attached to her fur, all over her head and legs. It put me in mind of our last snow when I ran her up to Land's End nine years ago; she looked the same then, too, except she was smaller and the snowballs bigger.
Later in the day, we spotted the Highly Professional Craftsman dressed like he had got lost coming back from the winter Olympics. He carried with him a snow board, almost as big as he, and told us that he had been snowboarding up atop Carn Olva. I recalled the vision of the bleddy hound who had been playing the snow, then at the Highly Professional Craftsperson, who carried not a flake. I suspect that he is a very clean snowboarder.
The bleddy hound was a little more circumspect when I trudged around the block later on. The sun was setting and bouncing all sorts of lovely colours around the bay. The skies were blue, but we are told worse is on the way. We are running out of hatches to batten down.
February 27th - Tuesday
There you go, the sun is out and it makes all the difference. The fact that it is a couple of degrees colder than yesterday is neither here nor there.
Into these somewhat Arctic conditions and at first light, too, the Missus bravely ran out to take Mother to a last minute appointment in the big city hospital. We suspected it must have been a cancellation and, despite the early hour, should not be sniffed at. It was at this point that she discovered that I had omitted to purchase screen wash to include when I last topped up the screen washer water. She improvised by throwing a bottle of water over the windscreen when she got to St Buryan, which froze on contact. When she left Truro the washer bottle had defrosted, presumably from latent heat from her journey up there; that too froze on contact. I might have to buy some screen wash tomorrow.
The burden of the Black Death, for that surely is what it was, has begun to be lifted, thank you for asking. I will know that it has proper gone when I fancy beer again; it is the litmus test of wellbeing. Oddly, my appetite has been little affected, although I am more comfortable with smaller portion sizes and eating more has a more than usual adverse effect. That is something that would be an advantage to continue. It is rather hard when living in a Duchy with such a burgeoning pedigree of top grub available in the local, independent outlets hereabouts.
Talking of top local produce, it appears to be the time of year for shady looking fisherfolk to gather secretly at strategic points along the front, muttering in audibly to one another and pointing at dark shadows in the bay's grey waters. Of course, you did not hear this from me; I will deny everything, you know.
I tested the air temperature later, in person, when I took the bleddy hound for her last daylight walk. I had put on warm clothes, but they quickly got cold and the Missus inexplicably chose the coldest day of the year so far to wash my best hat. Fortunately, I have several others, but they are obviously not as best as that one. There was me thinking that, perhaps, it was not quite as cold as I had anticipated, when I came across a puddle that did not just have ice on it but was frozen through. There are pictures of a frozen river at Truro and icicles on the beaches further up the line. It is cold, for sure.