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.
January 16th - Tuesday
I spent the entire day with one eye looking out of the window, as our apparently default weather conditions of high winds and roaring squalls has returned. We were averaging 50 miles per hour winds from the west with regular gusts up to 80 miles per hour during the day. It was darned windy. This, quite naturally, stirred up the sea somewhat and the bay was filled with white water, huge waves lumping over the wall and up to beach, no doubt causing even more sandy devastation.
Fortunately, it was not too bad first thing when I took the bleddy hound around the block, although it was very breezy, there was no rain at that point. Quite conveniently, we met the rubbish collection men doing their rounds, which allowed me to tie down our bin again having, last night, unfettered it so that it could be tipped. As it transpired, the bin man just pulled the black bag out without tipping it anyway but you never know.
I do know that our Christmas tree was not collected again. The instructions on the much maligned council website said that they would be collected on the alternate week to our normal recycling collection. This led to some confusion because the normal week was cancelled over Christmas, so it was not clear which week was which. I hedged my bets and put the tree out during the first week and it was not collected, so I assumed that it must have been this week instead. However, our recycling team arrived today, which meant that the Christmas tree collection should have happened last week, when it patently did not.
I called the much maligned council and a very pleasant lady in the Environment department told me it was my fault for getting the weeks confused; it really is quite simple, apparently, except for blockheads like me. I did try to point out that my tree was available for collection during both possible weeks but that, I was told, was irrelevant and it was still my fault. However, as a good will gesture, my name would be put on a recollection list and someone would be sent down, at great additional expense, especially for my tree alone, as everyone else got it right because they were not thick, like me. Quite amazingly, the tree was collected in the early afternoon. It seemed to present a problem that the stand - the sawn trunk of a larger Christmas tree -, into which the trunk was inserted, should have been removed prior to collection. I was going to give the fellow a friendly wave from the window but thought better of it when I saw he was struggling with the stand. In the end he gave up trying to remove it and took the whole lot.
While one eye was looking out of the window, the other eye was looking at my computer screen as I tried to make sense of the orders we put together at the trade show. It is very useful, waiting until we get home to place the orders as there are some things we miss, such as prices increasing exponentially from one year to another, and some suppliers offering the same goods as other suppliers but at a lower price. It is a tedious process, which took most of the day with some more left to do tomorrow. It is, however, very necessary to ensure we get our ordering right and so that we know what we are spending and when, after all, we all know that there is no magic money tree.
There a few trees at all in West Penwith and for a good reason. That gentle breeze, gusting to 80 miles per hour, upped its game in the evening. We could hear our television aerial, brought down by an earlier storm, banging about against the woodwork on the roof and our bin, that I had tied down earlier, had broken free and was scat across the road. I checked the wind speed again at Gwennap Head and noted 90 miles per hour and averages in the late fifties, early sixties. We would get windspeeds in this order once every few years, down here. This year we have had at least four such events in the last few weeks. If there was ever a time to buy that classic Aston Martin I have wanted since Goldfinger and to hang the consequences, this is it.
January 15th - Monday
We were a little bit on the clock today because I had an appointment at Treliske hospital, in Truro, for four o'clock in the afternoon. With what we had to do today this was very achievable, so we let the appointment stand when we received it a few weeks ago.
With any fine tuning there is always a fly in the ointment or two, just to make it interesting and the first of these that it was raining heavy when we first threw open the black-out curtains. This was not a huge problem as I had built in some additional time so that we did not have to hurtle everywhere at break-neck speeds.
There was so much time built into the schedule that we managed an unscheduled stop at Been and Queued hardware supermarket, where the Missus was able to buy some beading and some eyelets at highly inflated prices. I also looked for some graphite powder, which I was sure that I had seen in the online version of the store. This is a dry lubricant that I need for making my most recent calibre rounds that are misbehaving when I put them through the press. I asked at the main counter and was told that it was probably in the building section and when I got there, and could not find it, I asked again. The very pleasant lady who offered to help spent some time thumbing through the catalogue for me and eventually looking online herself. It was a level of service that you do not often find outside small, independent shops and it pleased me greatly, even though we concluded that Been and Queued did not have the product I was looking for.
Our next stop, interrupted by visits to the various costalot coffee emporia en route, which goes without saying, was less than half an hour up the motorway and, handily, right next to it. We have been doing this routine so long we are almost able to go around the store with our eyes shut, although that would clearly be very silly. We both know what will go, what will definitely not and what needs some discussion. At the end of our tour we have a long list that we formalise and check when we get back home before sending it in.
The company lays on food, should we want it, which we never have and there are sweets at strategic spots along the route that we, sorry, I indulge in from time to time. We had had half a sandwich each, for the sake of expediency, on the way to the supplier but we both felt a renewed peckishness when one of the assistants brought down a couple of sandwich platters that looked very appetising. Nevertheless, we girded our loins and went on.
We made it back to Truro, through rain and past one accident that had only just happened, in plenty of time, while driving at a sensible pace for the conditions. With a little time at hand the Missus suggested a visit to the new Tesmorburys store on the outskirts of town, which has a Cornish food hall attached to it. It seemed churlish to refuse, especially as the vision of attractive sandwiches was beginning to weigh heavily on our minds.
The Cornish food hall is pleasantly arranged but had little that we had not seen before. They, did, however, provide freshly made sandwiches so I had a smoked chicken and avocado, which was top gear. I have no idea whereabouts in Cornwall they grow the avocados at this time of year, but it was very tasty, thank you very much.
We hear much about long delays at the main hospital in Cornwall, so I was prepared for a bit of a long haul. I was there to have my veiny leg scanned for improper use of blood flow, a process that involves a supermarket bar code scanner and a lot of lubricating gel. I arrived about twenty minutes before the appointed time and registered at the desk. The lady behind the counter had a poorly elbow and she is not the first medical worker I have seen with something medical wrong with them. You might think that they would get some sort of staff discount to encourage them to get mended quickly, as it is not a very good advertisement. Perhaps it is some sort of psychological deterrent - "so you think you're ill?".
Sorry, I digress. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, I had just registered and was in the process of taking my jacket off - hospitals are such hot places, no wonder you feel ill - when a lady, standing behind me, called out my name. There were about twenty other people sat waiting who looked rather miffed at my immediate selection. I asked how I had been seen so quickly and she told me that she had been waiting for some in-patients, who had not turned up yet, so her time to spare and my early arrival dove-tailed quite nicely.
Anyway, the very pleasant lady talked me through what we were looking at as she scanned my leg. She told me I had the deep veins of a twenty year old and, thankfully, the twenty year old did not want them back. There were minor issues with a couple of lesser veins but nothing serious, so my bleeding event was a bit of an unlucky incident. I now await the consultant's final judgement, which might come before Christmas, unless he finds he has an unexpected loose end.
Despite dustbin lid shower heads and central warmth of the hotel room, it is still good to be back home.
January 14th - Sunday
Many years ago, I worked in the computing world, when computers were big and needed their own air conditioned rooms and many people to make them work. At one point I had occasion to be in the room with some big computers made by the company, International Business Machines. These computers were accompanied by manuals that were commensurately huge, held in ring binders, so that they could easily be updated.
... now, bear with me, there is a point to this and it is coming very soon.
These manuals, full of technical descriptions and diagrams, preferred to start a new section on a facing page. To facilitate this, throughout the manual, would be pages marked "This page intentionally left blank." I have seen this also in more recent manuals, clearly written by gentlemen of a certain age and keen on nostalgia.
We visited a trade show today, with long lines of supplier stalls and endless conversations about what the last season was like and what we are expecting this coming year. I did not even see what the weather might have been like to offer you a modicum of interest. Therefore, in deference to those old IBM manuals ...
This page intentionally left blank
January 13th - Saturday
There, the Diary is officially away on holiday, well, not exactly holiday, as we are here to work. It is not work as you will know it, dear reader, but it is not lying beside a pool drinking pinacolanders, being rubbed down occasionally by an oiled attendant with a wet sardine, either. This is, at least from tomorrow, visiting a whole bunch of hopeful suppliers to see if they have wonders that we might acquire, to tempt you beyond endurance when you visit us on your holidays.
It was not a pleasant trip getting here. It had been raining for quite a bit of the night, it would appear, and was certainly doing so when I ran the bleddy hound around the block; it was a full metal jacket waterproof requirement, that is for sure.
Our first call was to drop off said bleddy hound at Mother's, as she will be looking after and spoiling - if it is indeed possible to spoil her any more - the animal for the duration of our absence. It was arriving in St Buryan when the Missus realised that she had left the bleddy hound's evening biscuits back home and since these are top-dollar-only-available-at-specialist-stores biscuits I had to go all the way back and get them.
While you are waiting for me to return, I should tell you that the picking of daffodils is in full flight at the moment. When I went to take the van into the garage on Thursday, I was met, coming in the opposite direction, with about thirty white mini buses - it is essential they are white, I think - and a few big coaches, ferrying the pickers from where they are billeted, to the fields. I mention this because on the road to St Buryan there were eight such mini buses parked along the side of the road. This is roughly 60 pickers all working in one field. It would have been quite pleasant to be out in a field on Thursday, maybe not so much for the picking of daffodils, but I cannot imagine that it was at all pleasant today, in the pouring rain today.
Alright, I have got back to St Buryan, now, with the bleddy hound's dinner, and we can strike out in the direction of east of Camborne. I suggested to the Missus that we leave relatively early so that she could spend some time shopping in Exeter but she turned me down. Yes, I too suffered a moment of stunned silence when she told me last night. The sort of stunned silence you might expect if you hear the world is, indeed flat, that night followed night or toast would henceforth always land butter side up if you dropped it. As a consequence we left much later in the morning and so late, indeed, that it was too late to stop at Smokey Joe's roadside café for a breakfast.
It was a thankless journey undertaken in some miserable conditions. There was an excess of standing water on the roads and the amount of spray produced the effect of a thick mist. This was still insufficient encouragement for some motorists to turn on their lights and there were occasions when cars passed me before I even knew they were there. The weather cleared considerably about ten miles from our destination but it was still grey and overcast with showers.
We were pleasantly surprised by the luxuriousness of our room. The hotel is one that we have stayed at for the last five years and they stalwartly refuse to acknowledge our loyalty with even the most minor of perks or upgrades. This year they placed an offer in the black Friday sales, which I took advantage of, to upgrade to an executive room in their newly built extension. I had to pay there and then for it but we have so far never failed to turn up for this trade show. This paid off very nicely, with a very well appointed room and top shower. It even has a bed, a big one with clean pillows, ooh, the sheer luxury of it.
January 12th - Friday
The Missus took the bleddy hound around the block this morning. This was very welcome. However, I had to get up anyway at a reasonable hour to get my gymnasium session out of the way before one final effort to get the stock count cleared up and the data entered. Yes, it really is that long a job.
After our clear sky of yesterday, the temperature here has dropped a notch or two, but we are still warmer than the rest of the country, I believe. The chill was definitely noticeable in the gymnasium and I had to work extra hard to warm up before losing my sweatshirt for the main part of the session. Why do the bars on the dumbbells have to be metal? They were freezing!
I spent a little while yesterday researching the connection my telephone has with our new car radio. It gave me a few pointers but also some bad news that the operating system people had issued an update just before Christmas and this had stopped a large number of mobile telephones that were previously working. I went and had a play after I came back from the gymnasium and had some measure of success. The screen, however, refused point blank to mirror that on the mobile telephone, although I can make hands-free telephone calls, which is the important bit - if I ever find someone that I need to call.
I had thought that we were going to see some rain today, but it kindly held off. It was pretty much overcast come the early afternoon when I took the bleddy hound around the block and it was still chill, but maybe not quite so much as this morning. As I went on my way I met a workman working on the Round House cladding. He had several planks removed and I was able to see the construction, which is a simple wood frame with planks nailed on, they do not even seem to be tongue and groove, just planks. The girls who work there during the year quite often complain about the cold in there - I can see why now.
It must be the day for working because an old chum was in the gig shed painting the inside of one of the gigs. This really is a labour of love, as the boat is full of tiny ribs and cross beams and is 32 feet long. Our man was about a third of the way along and I encouraged him that there was not so much left. This is when he explained that he was only on the first coat. I did not tarry long and keep him from his work, but I did not offer to help, either.
Mother joined us for tea, which was pleasant. She is looking after the bleddy hound while we go on our sojourn to our annual trade show. So comes the standard, cautionary note that there may well be interruptions to the normal run of Diary publication, but we shall see how it goes.
January 11th - Thursday
Another stunning, but slow, day down here in The Cove. The morning was just as bright and sunny as it was yesterday but there was definitely more chill about it. I was a mite earlier than I was yesterday but that would have not made all that much difference. I think we will just settle for it being another dry and pleasant day, thank you very much.
I had to do another run out to the garage regarding this darned new radio in the van. A single wire had not been connected correctly but even after that was fixed my mobile telephone does not work properly with it; if anything it is even worse because it will not now play my music, which is did before. I think that it is time to give up, at least for a while.
I returned to my desk to do the data input for all our stock taking we have been doing over the last couple of days. We still have not finished downstairs but at least this is doing something different. After four hours of doing the something different, I wondered which task was actually more tedious, the counting or the inputting.
Alongside this, I resolved the issue of our excess order of magnets. What had happened was that the order I had placed in 2016 had been rolled over into 2017. Instead of taking my 2017 order and filling it with the 2016 stock, which had arrived, they ordered an additional 120. I said some choice words to them and we have now agreed to take half the stock at this year's cheaper price and the balance for free. I do love it when a plan comes together.
This, dear reader, was almost as interesting as it got had I not remembered that the bleddy hound will be staying at Mother's the weekend and therefore deprived of serious exercise. To remedy the situation, I whizzed her down to the Harbour beach for a spot of chase the ball. The tides are a bit smaller this week and even a couple of hours after high water there was quite a bit of sand to play on. The sand was new and soft and ideal for running about on and digging up and the bleddy hound took advantage of both.
Still rough but looking good
There was no Lifeboat training tonight, on the basis that we had only convened on Monday. Instead we went directly to the OS at the appointed time to have a bit of a quiz. It has been a while since the Missus attended but I told her that we would be short handed with the Head Launcher and company absent and Prof having gone home last week.
Talking of Prof, I am sure you will remember the episode about grasshoppers becoming locusts and swarming and such like. Prof sent me a message with a link to an eminent scientist's paper about such things that I read with great, erm, interest. It said that locusts swarm because the locusts next to it rub the hairs on its legs. I think this must be like being on a crowded tube train, when everyone is brushing up against you. Eventually you get so irritated, you get off at the next stop and everyone else follows you because they felt the same. There, locusts swarming in two sentences; eat your heart out Prof.
Cleverness with locusts swarming did us no good at all in the quiz and we, once again, lost by several lengths. I do not know how many more lengths we can go to, but whatever the distance, we are falling short. We walked home under a star dotted sky and a bit of Milky Way hanging there, which was something. It was a tad chill, especially for the Highly Professional Craftsperson who had gallantly given up his woolly hat. I would like to say that it was for a fair maid, but it was for a bald bloke. What a top man.
January 10th - Wednesday
What an absolutely rip gribbling day for roughly the middle of January. The sun was shining and the sky was blue and the sea had enough blinding surf for a couple of surfers to have a right good time half way through the morning. The bleddy hound and I met up with a couple of our friends on the Harbour beach, first thing. We quite often see them as they are on approximately the same walking schedule as us. It is a shame that was the last I saw of our bright new day as, once again, I was in the shop generating pages of stock numbers.
I did stop to try and sort out a supplier that insists we have some stock being held for us. For the second year running the company failed to deliver what we asked for in time for it to be of any use. Now it wants us to take the stuff that turned up late. In an added twist, I checked the numbers and found that we did not even order what we are told is waiting. I am waiting on the agent coming back to me with confirmation of what we ordered last year and hopefully that will be an end to it.
The Missus came down to help after she had come back from shopping. Together we just about nailed the last few bits and are now ready for the trade shows and meeting of new and old suppliers for next year's stock. What super excitement; we can hardly wait.
January 9th - Tuesday
It was very clear that the bleddy hound has been used to our recent early starts and assumed that it was the new norm. Fortunately, for both of us, it was not too early, and I did have a lot to try and cram into today.
That intense wind has disappeared, and the sharp cold gone with it. Instead, we were left with a nondescript, grey day which turned to rain for a period during the afternoon. I missed most of the raining bit as I was in the shop doing some more stock taking. This took up most of the day and will necessarily mean, for the next few days, that Diary entries will be brief.
Last night one of the other very excellent Shore Crew noticed that one of the van's brake lights had stopped working and came over to the van to check which one it was, as he could not quite remember. I am very keen than such things should be corrected as soon as possible, so I took the van over to St Buryan garage to purchase another bulb. I did not check first what type or size I wanted but rather assumed that the garage, which is a service centre as well, would have a selection and someone who knew what type was required. As I was heading out that way I also wanted to check my tyre pressures because I had noticed the two front tyres looked a bit soft. I also assumed that St Buryan garage would be able to furnish me with the correct information about the right pressure for the tyre type and van.
It turned out that I was wrong on both counts, they did not know what bulb I needed nor did they, despite offering a tyre changing service, know what tyre pressures I should be using - either that or were too busy to find out. One mechanic suggested that there should be a label on the door pillar in the van.
Finding the right bulb size was fairly straightforward and was sorted out by taking in the broken one and asking for a replacement. I did check for the label and even found it, but it did not list the exact tyre model that I was using. I decided that I would use the nearest example and knock a few bars off the recommended maximum load numbers that they had detailed. I drove home without the tyres exploding and without the van's handling being adversely affected. I took to the Internet when I got back and could not find a definitive answer anywhere. On one of the forums, where other van users share information, it seems that I was not alone being mystified. However, one or two of the contributors shared their tyre pressure experience and it does rather look like I might have got mine close to the consensus for the type of tyres our van has.
The other thing that I discovered was that my mobile telephone still does not connect to our all singing and all dancing new car radio. Annoyingly the Missus' Bramley device connects with no problem at all and I suspect that our radio was expressly designed to work with her mobile telephone, while the implementation for mine is a bolt-on. Again, with the manual being next to hopeless on the issue, I found out from another Internet forum that the root cause was probably that the radio was not connected to the handbrake switch, a safety feature to ensure that the telephone is not being used when the van is being driven. Obviously, it does not care if Bramley mobile telephone users drive and use the mobile telephone at the same time. The upshot of this was that I called the garage again and the van is booked in to have the appropriate cable connected.
There, I promise you that all that was a lot less tedious that me telling you all about the various items that I counted in the shop today ... but there is always tomorrow.
January 8th - Monday
We must have concluded that there were not enough hours in the day again today as we were up before the light again, this morning. There was a point to it, thank heavens, that the Missus needed to return the car she hired to take her and Mother up to town and back over the weekend. It has been picked up at eight o'clock on Friday, so to avoid a further day added to the bill it needed to be returned before eight o'clock this morning, which she duly did.
I followed on to give her a lift back home but first I had intended to wait until it became light so that I could take the bleddy hound around the block. As it was I made the fatal error of setting out her breakfast in her bowl with the intention that we should take it with us, as she and the Missus were heading over to see Mother on the way back. I set the bleddy hound's breakfast out in the kitchen with two doors shut between her and me. I could have done it in a vacuum on the dark side of the moon and she would have still noticed. When I say, noticed, this is something of an understatement, as she became highly animated and insistent that it really should be had now, if not sooner.
With our cunning plans lying in ruins, I took her out before it became light and gave her the breakfast on our return. This delayed my departure and the Missus was left to wait out in the cold at the car hire shop until I got there.
I am afraid that the rest of the day was not half so exciting as the first hour, unless you include having two power cuts of about five minutes each and one just seconds before I was about to have a shower, which was strangely a relief. It is that time of the year again when I lodge myself in a cold shop and count everything that does not move. Each year I forget just how tedious this process is but, at least, I do not have to worry about Shrew House, as the Missus sorted that into a ledger at the tail end of the season last year.
What was arguably more exciting was the hurried arrangement of a Lifeboat launch in the expectation that our wicked seas would become slightly less naughty today. Fortunately, the sea behaved itself long enough for us to be able to launch the boat into a benighted bay on exercise at around half past six o'clock in the evening. I busied myself down on the beach while all this was going on, launching the little boat.
They were back inside an hour. Although the sea had calmed significantly there as enough chop to make life very uncomfortable for the little boat. After just short of an hour of having icy water thrown into their faces, the boys called it a day. I can understand to some degree because I suffered similar in the tracked vehicle, except I had a big windscreen that the waves slapped against.
With the Inshore boat washed down and put away, I returned to the rest of the crew, waiting for the return of the big boat. This had far more fun in chasing down coasters and other such derring do but was limited to return after two hours of exercise to meet the tide for the short slipway. With a bolstered number on shore, we were more than enough to meet the challenge and we brought the boat up the short slip in what was clearly a textbook recovery, despite not having had the experience for some time. We are, after all, a very unforgetting, very excellent Shore Crew.
I returned home at around nine o'clock after passing far more pleasant and interesting hours than I would have done, pressed into the sofa in front of a television set, where the programme makers had forgotten to schedule anything half decent.
January 7th - Sunday
Having whizzed the bleddy hound around the block first thing I knew exactly what I would be in for today: a big freeze. It was cold to start with but with a vicious north easterly blast, it was enough the flay the skin off your bones. I imagine this is how a pea feels in a blast freezer, but it has less bits to fall off.
It was no better up at the range and while my five upper layers did the trick it did rather inhibit movement. I felt it was a pretty good excuse for a somewhat lacklustre performance all day. I am very glad it was a shotgun day because the gloves I have work well with shotgun cartridges but not so well with anything smaller. It did warm up toward the middle of the day, with the sun beaming down from a clear blue sky but when we first arrived up on the hill there was ice on the ground.
I had a further play with our new radio while I waited for the windscreen to demist. It does not do the things exactly how they are set out in the manual but with a bit of fiddling I have now managed to navigate around most of the onboard features. Where I am becoming unstuck is the voice control, which, in theory, should let me access all manner of applications that sit on the mobile telephone in my pocket. I have been able to activate the voice control screen but when I issue instructions it completely ignores me - perhaps the Missus had a hand in programming it. I suspect that it is the video recorder of the Aged Parents' generation and I simply need to find a 12 year old child to tell me how it works.
Mother was waiting at home when I arrived back home, a sure indicator that we have moved back to our normal routine. I took the bleddy hound around the block after I had unloaded the van and was surprised to see how light it was at half past four. We had light for a good hour but it did get dark very quickly soon after.
It was a very full day and it was very pleasant to sit down and let everything stop. I think I have another tomorrow and miss the shop being open, when there was rather less to do.
January 6th - Saturday
I awoke this morning in the expectation of attending the Lifeboat station for an exercise at ten o'clock. When I looked out of the window, after I dragged myself from my pit and made myself decent - well, as decent as can be expected at that time of the morning, - it was very clear that there would be no exercise or, at least, no recovery. The sea was big, strong and lumpy and in no condition to be taking Lifeboats out on a mere exercise.
Lifeboat exercise cancelled
This gave me an additional three hours to wonder what to do with myself. While I could have sat on my thumbs or, indeed, twiddled them absent mindedly, I elected to endeavour to find a replacement dish washing machine.
The existing machine, that went belly up last night, had lasted us some twenty years, so it was reasonable to replace it with the same make, although I had no preconceptions that a new one would last half as long. I had identified a possible contender last night and had sought approval from the Missus, who gave it her blessing. Thus encouraged, I dug deeper into the details and discovered two similar models twenty pounds apart. On further analysis it appeared that the cheaper model was unavailable unless we could wait ten to twelve days.
Having spoken to the Missus in the morning, she had made it perfectly clear that she was not prepared to do a single day of manual washing up and that I should affect the replacement with due haste. Obviously, this mandated that the more expensive machine should be purchased. While I would have ideally purchased from a local, independent supplier, such a resource was unavailable, at least this side of Camborne, so I bought it from a big national chain that would happily deliver on a Sunday, for a small(ish) consideration and would also take away the old one away.
One bolt-on option that I eschewed was the decommissioning of the old one, which I imagined would be a straightforward operation. While you, dear reader, were expecting several painful paragraphs of detailed removal woes, I can assure you that the process was, indeed, a straightforward operation. The only small fly in the ointment was the attachment on the waste pipe, which refused to be extracted and needed to be cut away.
You will, no doubt, be delighted to note that the old machine is sitting in the living room, awaiting its transport away and that all the necessary preparations have been put in place for the arrival of the new one tomorrow. Everything was in perfect alignment until the Missus telephoned to tell me that she would be home tonight and that I could go shooting tomorrow. I thought that I would wait until her return before explaining that she would have to cope with the delivery and installation of the new dishwasher on her own tomorrow.
With such a bright and seriously beautiful day abounding it would be churlish to refuse the bleddy hound a run up the hill and down to the beach. It has been a while since we headed up to the look out, despite her best efforts to temp me that way during her walks around the block recently. Sadly, she knows that I have the ball thrower with me so that the walk up the hill and along the top is mere preamble for a run on the beach. Still, I enjoyed the run up the hill and along the top and down through the valley, even if the bleddy hound's focus was elsewhere.
Middle of the day, view from Mayon Cliff
I had judged the conditions absolutely right, with shorts and just a few layers. I had to take my hat off in the more sheltered spots as it was so warm under the sun. We tarried on the beach while I chucked up a few high ones for the bleddy hound to catch. There was an inordinate number of dogs and walkers around but I had not thought through the fact that it was a Saturday. While I was there, a family, clad in wetsuits, headed for the sea. Of a mile of tide line available to them, they headed for the bit where the biggest, crashiest waves were thundering in on a sand reef just offshore. I wondered had they really avoided the plethora of social media and television warnings about the dangers involved.
Just before Christmas, or possibly just after, I had topped up our stock of lemons and limes in case we had a rush of gin drinkers during the holiday. Either the gin drinkers had stayed at home or they had brought their own; we were left with a surfeit of the fruits. I took them with me with the plan of stopping by the OS just to drop these in rather than throwing them away, with no intention of imbibing, of course. What can you do, however, when the landlady insists that you have a beer in recompense for the kindness? Exactly; it would have been rude to refuse.
I had a welcome visit from the Highly Professional Craftsperson; a ragged traveller passing by in the middle of the afternoon. We waxed lyrical on many subjects but when he was about to propose that there was possibly a simple remedy for our ailing dishwasher, I suggested that he might want to talk about something else instead, especially as I has already ordered a new one.
By the end of the day, the Missus was home and normality had been restored. It is always good to find ourselves on an even keel once again.
January 5th - Friday
For some reason it felt like a Saturday today and with no newspapers to guide me, who was to say I was wrong.
The Missus certainly did not say anything, mainly as she was up long before I was and ready to take her taxi to pick up the hire car at Penzance. I found out later that everything was tickety boo with the journey and she reached London town without any bother at all. It is not a pleasant duty, so not having additional worries is a blessing. The aunt shuffled off later in the evening, so at least Mother had the chance to wave cheerio.
It was still a little blowy when we made our way around the block, later in the morning. There was some rain in the air, too, which I was unprepared for. Thankfully it was light, which is more than I can say for it later on. Right through to the middle of the afternoon we were beset with heavy showers that randomly showed up just when you expected them least. I was lucky in all my forays into the open air that I missed all but one and for that I was togged up appropriately - unfortunately, the bleddy hound was not.
The Missus very kindly took down the decorations in the living room last night. This was after my sudden realisation that they would need to come down while she was away at which I expressed an involuntary cry of dismay. This still left the decorations in the shop window to dismount, a task that I found rather more tiresome that putting them up. For a start, strings of fairly lights that came out of a neatly packed box do not return to the same box as neatly and nearly not at all. The same applied to the plastic Christmas tree that folds up its arms so that it becomes more slender, and breaks down into three sections so that it is more able to fit into its original packaging - except that it does not. It took me three attempts at inserting it, trying different orientations and even then there are six inches of it sticking out of the top of the box.
The de-decorating was my swansong for the day, apart from cooking my tea. I had waited all morning for the call from the garage to say that the van was ready to collect. This call came at around midday. I bundled the bleddy hound into the loan car and headed for town. I really had little time to play with the new radio box but established that it would play Radio Pasty on Digital Audio Broadcast, which was relatively easy to arrange. What was less easy was activating the reversing camera when I came to park in town. We have been parking vans for quite a number of years, so the addition of a reversing camera is really a bit of a gimmick. I decided to give up trying to find the right button to press and parked regardless, without hitting anything.
My trip into town was solely to collect some comestibles for consumption over the next few days while the Missus is away. This gives me carte blanche to misbehave in the kitchen and throw into my meals things that the Missus would shy away from, such as beans, capers and fish - the Missus hates fish. Tonight, I continued to finely tune my burger mix with pesto, chillies and grain mustard accompanied by sweet potato chips, dusted with Cajun spices (we usually use paprika) and cooked to the point of caramelisation. It was some 'ansum.
It was just before I started on my tea that I discovered that the dish washing machine had failed to wash the dishes on the last cycle. At first, I thought that it was user error but soon found out that it has decided not to use water in the washing process. This is something of a disadvantage and renders the machine rather less useful than it used to be. It also meant that I had to rediscover the art of washing up by hand and the grotesque recollection of just how tedious drying cutlery is.
Still, the advantage of spending an hour in the kitchen was that it was an hour less spent in front of the television. The holiday has certainly come to a juddering conclusion with three fifths and five eights of not an awful lot on the box to watch. Thank heavens for Big Sis and her subscriptions to streaming content - even if it was in Finnish.
January 4th - Thursday
Well, how about that, we are absolutely racing into the new year; the fourth already. Christmas soon.
It turned into quite a pretty day, all told, especially if you were prepared to forgive the continued force nine to ten winds blowing in from the west, once again. I do not know when it returned from the south, where, for us, it is quite harmless but it was certainly there to greet the bleddy hound and I on our regular trip around the block, first thing. The sea looked particularly alluring as it crashed and churned over Cowloe. I would have taken a picture, but I expect you are fed up with them after yesterday and, besides, I did not have a camera with me.
When I repeated the process with the bleddy hound in the early afternoon I noted, with some satisfaction, that the Harbour beach had been cleared of all the rocks that had accumulated. I am sure this was for the benefit of the fishermen, whenever they might be able to get out next. However, the resulting beach was, apart from tractor tyre marks, quite pristine, free of weed and ready for bleddy hounds to cavort upon. Our particular bleddy hound will need a day or two rest before she does any more cavorting.
Once again, I was out of the blocks, early doors. I had booked the van into the garage so that they could install our new, all singing and all dancing in car entertainment system. The Missus had been convinced that this was a requirement after experiencing a similar system in the hire car that she used to transport herself up country before Christmas. I did remark that I was unsure how much use she might get from a hands free telephone and a link that would echo the mobile telephone's satellite navigation system on a bright panel on the dashboard; the journey to and from St Buryan really is not that complicated or long.
I put up the semblance of resistance to the idea, particularly when the model she at first suggested only connected to the Bramley smart mobile telephone make that she owns and had only a Digital Audio Broadcast radio on it. We have difficulty receiving analogue radio here, so with this device we may as well have installed a brick for all the radio stations we would hear. Being a push over for any new technology toys, I did some research and found a model that would work with both our telephones and had an analogue as well as DAB radio on board. Thanks to a certain relief Lifeboat mechanic, I was also persuaded to acquire a rear facing camera, which will permit us to see little old ladies lurking in our blind spot while reversing. Not that I believe we have previously run over any little old ladies lurking in our blind spot, but you never know.
I had to call the garage at the end of the day to discover what the situation with the new radio was. Apparently, he was close to throwing it into the river, it had caused so many problems. He told me that he would have another pop at it tomorrow, after he had calmed down a bit. This became problematic a little way into the evening.
The Missus had a call from her cousin to tell her that the aunt that was very poorly before Christmas but had recovered after the Missus arrived, had once again fallen ill. It seems that this was proper poorly and necessitated the Missus reprising the sojourn to the big city. Once again, she organised a hire car, this time with the correct company, and suggested that I carry her and Mother hence in the car on loan from the garage in the morning. This seemed eminently sensible until I realised that the bleddy hound's seat, a legal necessity for taking bleddy hounds in motor vehicles, was in the van that was at the garage. We organised a taxi, instead.
I scurried across to Lifeboat training, avoiding the heaving showers that were blowing through. We briefly discussed the ability of the Lifeboat to launch in the conditions that we had experienced of late and new crew members were shown things to hold onto when such a launch might happen. Others of us went to look at the detritus that had built up on the launch slipway during the storms. We collectively assessed that it was not worth even our dispensable souls to venture out on the slipway in high winds and ferocious sea to clear it and instead wrote a note on the station health and safety board. We are, after all, a very health and safety minded, very excellent Shore Crew - especially when it comes to our own health and safety.
Naturally, after such an intense evening, we repaired to the OS for a spot of quizzing. It was busier tonight that it was between Christmas and New Year but we still managed to come second. Alright, the Highly Professional Craftsman noted that it was in fact fourth as three other teams, on the same score mind, beat us by one point. As if that were not enough, the winning team won the chase the ace raffle as well. It is just as well it was not raining on the way home, as I might have thought that the whole world was against us. Fortunately, it was the whole world but not the weather that was against us.
January 3rd - Wednesday
Inexplicably, I awoke early but it might have had something to do with the crashing sea and howling wind. It was just about light enough to take the bleddy hound around the block and it was quite exciting stepping out into the maelstrom. It did look like we were pretty much unscathed, here, although I did notice that one of the antenna on the Lifeboat station had toppled off its perch. The sea was such a white boiling mess it made all the other times I have said it was a white boiling mess, look like I was exaggerating.
Remnants of a big moon in the west
Still, having set the bleddy hound up for the time being I headed off down to the gymnasium for the first time since last Friday. It was a most satisfying session and I came back envigored and ready for the day. Actually, I came back envigored and ready for a bacon sandwich that I had been fantasising about for a few days. However, I managed to resist for long enough to take the bleddy hound down to the Harbour beach for a bit of a run around.
Yesterday, when I took her out in the middle of the day, she made it very plain that she had expected to go further than just around the block. Out of the door she turned towards the big beach and when I scotched that plan, at the end of the car park she headed up the steps onto the Coast Path. I did promise her then that I would take her out for some proper exercise at some point during the rest of the week.
The Harbour beach, towards low water, had a very nice layer of sand on it, a sight deeper than it had been of late. As a small aside, I had noticed, too, that the big beach has extended opposite the shop, almost to the Lifeboat slipways. Previously and for many years, it struggled to reach to the chip shop, fifty or sixty yards further along. Returning to the Harbour beach, the sand was strewn with rocks, large and small, thrown up by the huge seas of the last few days and particularly last night. One was about a yard long (three and a half inches short of a metre, to you Millennials) and a couple of feet high; you really do not want to mess with these waves.
Beach strewn with big rocks Anyway, we had a whale of a time down on the beach, throwing and chasing a ball. I had to throw the ball at a low angle and upwards on the beach to achieve anything like a straight trajectory. Even then it skewed and ran down the beach and when she dropped the ball, it ran away so fast she had trouble catching it up. I was just about to blow the whistle on our session when a squall blew in. It started off with a bit of playful wintry hail at which point the bleddy hound gave me a begger-that-for-a-game-of-tin-soldiers look and headed up the slipway. Before we got to the top we were caught in the full fury of a 70 miles per hour rainstorm, although it was difficult to tell if it was rain or hail, it was hitting us so hard. I am glad I was wearing shorts and flip flops else I would have been soaked through from the waist down.
Still banging in across the bay
I had two, or possibly three other tasks to complete in the afternoon, one was even for me. I had nearly run out of shotgun cartridges after the St Just Feast and Boxing Day shoots and we have a shotgun day when the shooting club reconvenes on Sunday. This necessitates a run out to Helston, which is never a pleasure, not that there is anything wrong with Helston but the road that runs out to it from Penzance is tiresome.
The other errand I had been tasked with was to order the carpet that I spent time on the telephone yesterday evening trying to nail down, so to speak. The shop was in Pool, near Redruth, which is dangerously the wrong side of Camborne but due north of Helston. I had checked the previous evening regarding a route from one to the other and concluded, in the absence of Sherpas, that I might have to employ the services of a satellite navigation system. Rather cleverly, one such device sits on my mobile telephone but requires me to switch on the 'data' function that incurs an enormous charge but without it, renders the satellite navigation system, somewhat impotent.
Since I had checked the map - for you young readers, if indeed there are any under retirement age, it is an old fashioned device with symbols and runes, which guides a traveller, trained in its use, from one place to another, quite often without ending in a field or a pond having been misdirected - unless someone of the opposite gender is doing the navigation (the opposite gender being either male and female in this example - he added swiftly).
Sorry, I digress, now where was I? Ah, yes, since I had checked the map, I roughly knew the way from Helston to Redruth but needed some detailed assistance for the final run in that involved back street and local roads. However, once you are on the path, directed by the insistent voice of 'sat nav man or woman' it is very difficult to ignore their advice (especially if you have been trained through years of conditioning to just reply 'yes dear' (again, gender optional)) and take the direction you know to be true. Such a thing happened half way to my destination when I was inexplicably directed off the main route down a single lane track. I knew very well that this was not correct but took it anyway, mainly for interest's sake. For those of you able to follow my path on a map, I was directed off the A3297 to the lane that runs out to Black Rock and then onto the B3280. Perhaps, to artificial intelligence logic this looks like a direct route. If so, heaven help us when it starts diagnosing health issues, that I saw on the news recently - headache; remove right leg - oops. Fortunately, it redeemed itself in the back roads of Brea and Heartlands and got me to my destination without other issue. I managed to find my own way home.
I think I might have broken the bleddy hound; she was not at all keen to go out for a comfort break at the appointed time in the afternoon when I got back. She was a little happier in the evening when our 80 mph winds had dropped to hardly a breath and from the south. Apparently it is coming back later; something to look forward to.
January 2nd - Tuesday
As grey and mizzly days go, this one was grey and mizzly and there was not particularly very much more to say about it. The sea was as calm as it was ever going to get between storm systems but a large swell kicked in later on and spoilt at least one surfer's day. I stayed in for much of the day but not necessarily by choice.
I had a couple of orders to follow up, first thing. One I needed to make sure arrived tomorrow and check that I had ordered the correct parts and the other went wrong when I placed the order and there was no one at the other end to help. It was while ordering new paper rolls for our new card processing terminal, which I discovered, takes smaller paper rolls than the previous machine. This was particularly irritating because I had only just purchased five boxes of the larger ones to fit the old machine.
It was while I was reminding myself of the order reference numbers from the confirmation electronic mails that I noticed a message from our accountant. This requested the information required to process our end of quarter VAT, which I had though was due at the end of December. It took an hour or two before it clicked that the message title expressed the end of quarter being the end of November, at which point I panicked.
The rest of the morning was spent preparing the quarter end paperwork and filing the invoices. The Missus had gone shopping by the time I worked out my big mistake, so I had to wait for her to return before I could get the van to take the papers into the accountants in town.
The Missus has discovered a redecorating desire, deep within her, that has lain dormant until now. Since it has surfaced it requires to be sated immediately and she returned from town with paint in abundance. She also expressed a desire to re-carpet - yes, this is a serious redecorating beast that has arisen - and returned announcing that the carpet shop she went to was closed and would not be open until next week. When you have an urge to re-carpet, it just has to be now.
Since I was heading into town I told her that I would poke my nose into the two independent carpet shops in the town centre. Having spent my 90 pence to park, I discovered that both carpet shops are closed. It seems that there is a traditional carpet shop holiday that runs for two weeks over the Christmas period. Sorely disappointed, I had to let the Missus loose on a national chain of carpet shops, which were open and had carpet.
I spent the evening - yes, not only are they open but they open into the evening - negotiating delivery times and pricing combinations. The store cannot deliver the carpet until the week after next because it has to be ordered in but at least they use local fitters. I did wonder if we waited for the local shops to open whether they might have in stock carpet and hence be faster to deliver but it was something of a risk for which I surmised I would end up covering with something soft and tender.
With storm warnings on the way, I ensured that I had tied down our bin. It was a good plan because our big picture window was warping quite nicely by the middle of the evening and the wind was singing in the eaves. This was just the warm up session, I believe.
January 1st - Monday
Oh. That did not start too well.
I had organised all my clay pigeon shooting gear last night, before I went to bed. After the shoot on Boxing Day a farmer up St Just asked if I would like to come up to the shoot he was casually arranging there. It was hard to refuse such a kind and generous offer. I had assumed that it would start at the same time as the Boxing Day shoot, eleven o'clock, and made arrangements with the Missus to look after the shop while I was gone. It was just as well, therefore, that another shooter dropped in for some milk at around ten o'clock, who confirmed that the shoot would actually start at one o'clock. Unfortunately, I could not justify being gone towards the end of our opening hours as I had a number of duties that I wanted to conclude before just before we closed. I hung up my boots and repacked my gun.
The only positive to emerge from this mess up was that the temperature had dropped overnight and the remaining breeze had turned quite bitter. The field earmarked for the shoot in on an exposed hillside to the southeast of St Just where brass monkeys would only be the half of it.
On the other side of the coin, that same breeze had shifted during the night and was now swirling through the shop doorway. I cannot imagine that it is too welcoming for customers to met by a grumpy shopkeeper peering out from the cowl of his hooded jumper; I must have looked like Marty Feldman in the moving picture, Young Frankenstein - 'what hump?'. If you are unfamiliar with the film, search on the actor and the film name in your favourite search engine on the Internet. See what I mean?
I ought to hold my hands up, since I banged on about not embracing the contactless card payment technology recently. You may recall that we were forced to change our card payment terminal as the previous one would cease to work when new legislation came into force recently. The new machine has the ability to process cards contactlessly and the majority of card payments we have taken over the Christmas period have been using that method. We were told by customers that the main advantage for them was the speed of the transaction. Our card company has managed to quite successfully knobble this ambition by providing a machine that processes the transaction in record time but has onboard the slowest printer known to man. I could chisel the details in stone more quickly.
There have been some high points with the new machine. A smart young man smugly offered his mobile telephone to the box to pay for his goods. Even more smugly I told him that the day before a customer had paid using his watch.
It was difficult to know where to look when I took the bleddy hound around the block at dusk. Out to the right, the sea was a boiling mess, ahead the same sea was smoking over the top of Pedn-men-du and crashing around the footings. On my return, rising over the cliffs, was our first supermoon of the year, apparently called a wolf moon. I am not entirely sure we had so many names for moons in all the time I have been watching them. This one is named by the native north and eastern Americans, as it rose at the same time wolf packs roamed around in winter. This seems just a tad tenuous and it may as well be called warm hat moon or miserable grumps moon after the people that wander about in January. I will grant you that it was quite chunky.