Beach hut cushion suitable for a seaside themed room, conservatory or just as part of a collection of scatter cushions. The design is stitched embroidery and applique and the cloth heavy cotton. Plump compact at 37cm x 26cm x 15cm deep.
Thus plump seahorse themed cushion could adorn your conservatory seat or living room sofa or any room for that matter. The design is printed in two colours on hard wearing cotton. The cusion sits at 48cm x 30cm x 16cm deep.
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.
May 24th - Thursday
It was early. That is my excuse and I am sticking with it. A man came into the shop this morning and apologised for not having sufficient change and needed to pay with a note. He blamed the meters that gobbed up his loose coins and complained that there seemed to be meters for everything. I told him that I blamed the European Union and that when we left we could go back to feet and yards. Yes, as I said, it was early.
Perhaps it was the patter of tiny raindrops on our skylight that drove me askance this morning. I was not quite expecting rain and dismissed it as an aberration. I discovered that I was right to do so because it did not return for the rest of the day. Instead we had equal measures of misty cloudiness and brightness, when the mist thinned a little. It was a fair enough day and warm with it. Kevin, the weatherman, seemed almost apologetic about the forecast weather, which pretty much amounted to a week of warm rain.
The quiet flow of the morning was interrupted by the dulcet tones of my pager going off. Some of the other crew were already arriving when my launch request came through. It seems we did not all get the pre-request which alerts us to impending doom, else I would have been there first with the doors open. As it happened, my pager going off coincided nicely with the Missus coming down stairs, so it was not all wrong.
Both boats launched to a possible faller off the cliffs between Land's End and Gwennap Head. A passer by had discovered some unattended dogs and had called in the Coastguard. It was not at first clear whether the dogs were found looking over the 'edge, which would have been a waste of everyone's time, or looking over the edge, which may have meant the owner had fallen down the cliff - the latter was assumed, just in case.
What actually happened was ...
Fido, Rover and Gaspard, a misfit, are roaming their territory.
Fido.: "Hey lads, there's some walkers coming." Rover.: "Yup, I see 'em." Gaspard.: "Got dogs with 'em. Ideal, I'd say." Fido.: "Yup, let's do the looking over the cliff, distraught game. It's a real hoot." Rover.: "Oh, yes. Love that game. See if we can get both Lifeboats and the Coastguard this time."
We were pretty light on the ground for the launch and were still pretty light when the whole thing was called off as a false alarm with good intent, when the farmer whose cliff edge watching dogs they were, turned up. There were in fact just the two of us at first to set up the short slipway. This proved a little problematic as one of us had to go and recover the Inshore Lifeboat. However, being a very adaptable very excellent Shore Crew, while I recovered the small boat my compatriot set about putting out the quarter stoppers and the span. When I looked up from the Harbour beach I could see that some of the cavalry had arrived, who were joined shortly by volunteer crew from the Inshore boat, once I had landed them.
It all worked out marvellously and when I returned to take the shore helm, everything was almost set up. I called in the big boat that had been waiting patiently in the bay and we executed what looked to me, pretty much like a textbook recovery up the short slipway. With the boat tucked away, I then went and put the Inshore boat back into its boathouse at the top of the RNLI car park. Despite being thin on the ground we gave a professional and slick operation. We are, after all, a very slimline, very excellent Shore Crew.
We were not exactly overrun with customers in the shop during the rest of the afternoon. However, I had called in some extra cases of beer for the weekend that needed to be shoehorned into the small available space we have left in the beer cupboard. On top of that the extra sun cream that I panic bought yesterday came in and the adult flip flops that I asked for earlier in the week. The flip flops will wait until tomorrow, but I managed valiantly to complete the other tasks.
As if one Lifeboat launch in the day were not enough, we gathered just after closing to do it all over again but this time on exercise with the Lifeguards. I took a back seat on this occasion and only launched the Inshore boat and let the others play the big boat game. I made sure to observe proceedings from the Harbour beach to make sure that we executed a textbook recovery, this time, up the long slipway. We are, after all, a very tireless, very excellent Shore Crew.
We came pretty close to some success in the quiz at the OS, which was a bit of a surprise. We would have been in a tie break had some fool not messed up the name of an Indiana Jones film. Instead, the fool won the chase the ace raffle and walked off with a wodge of bank notes. Ah, well.
May 23rd - Wednesday
Now, that is what you call a proper rip gribbler and no mistake. Right from the outset, it was warm and sunny with only the merest hint of that evil northerly that plagued us yesterday. Our visitors started arriving quite early in the day and I was hemmed in behind the counter for much of the time before I ran off to the gymnasium.
Naturally, it was during this busy spell that our frozen order arrived. Now that we have moved to our new supplier we do not have to order such a huge quantity all at once, which is a blessing. Nevertheless, there was enough today to have me running around madly trying to fit boxes into the freezers between customers. To cap it all the bread rolls that come in a big plastic bag fell out of the bottom through a large tear. This is just what you need when you thought that you could just squeeze that one task in between serving two customers.
There was trouble in the RNLI car park this morning, too. The regular mechanic was waiting in his car outside the barrier, which once again had become stuck in the down position. It has not long been fixed but seems to break down with clockwork regularity. I suggested that he recommend the Institution install a manual barrier with a sentry box for an attendant to stand in against the weather. Some wicked wag who shall remain nameless, suggested that it would be an ideal job for a retired Coxswain.
I am glad that all our deliveries came yesterday, as we were busy for most of the day today. I did have the stationery order to clear but I could do that piecemeal. It was during this piecemeal putting away that I noticed that instead of ordering 36 small pots of suncream, I had ordered just 6, which is about as much use as trying to put out a bonfire with a water pistol. I had to quickly put together a second order that met the supplier's minimum value, making sure it was things we actually needed, which was quite hard because I had included all the things we actually needed the first time around, except for the missing 30 suncream pots.
The afternoon disappeared in a flash with still a fair few people milling about. It must have been a busy day for all because a couple I sent next door for sandwiches said that they had already tried there, and they had run out of everything. It was a sublime evening, which the Missus spent up at The Farm putting the finishing touches to her compost heap. We have now joined the Green team and all of our food waste is now recycled. My only concern is that the Missus gets a little impatient and starts recycling our food before it becomes waste, given the size of the composter that she had built. I also have the feeling that DIYman might be out of a job if she carries on like this not to mention having to find someone to help out in the shop.
May 22nd - Tuesday
Today was a day of deliveries, the biggest of which came in from the north in the form of a breeze that carried with it a fearful chill. The other three deliveries were a little more welcome and, at least, I had asked for them.
The first was our regular grocery delivery, which rather fortunately came before we opened. It had been coming at all states of the tide since we opened, so I have no real way to plan for it. I am very pleased that we managed to get it out of the way before the start of the business day.
I picked away at it during the morning, as we were not that busy. By the middle of the day I found that I had shifted quite a bit away and that the storeroom had some space in it once again. This worked out very well for when the other deliveries arrived almost all together in the afternoon. Our gung ho friend delivered one of them and for once he was a bit more careful than usual. Perhaps my pleas have eventually been taken to heart or he felt guilty about nearly scatting over the little old lady, yesterday. No, I doubt it, either.
The combined parcels kept me busy until we closed, although there were some that were shifted straight up to Shrew House without even being opened. These are the over-stocks of parasols and beach tents that we hope will be flying out of the door from next week. I think if I had opened the double doors this morning, they would have been flying out of the door today, courtesy of the brisk northerly, which persisted all day.
At least the sun shone down on us, with increasing intensity as the day wore on. It was a battle that it was never going to win today, and the chill wind came out on top, keeping down the visitor numbers. Where yesterday I ran out of pasties before one o'clock, the additional pasties I ordered in today because of that, were surplus to requirements by some margin.
In that sparkling sunshine the new Isles of Scilly helicopter gleamed resplendent in the skies above us. Yesterday, it came and left for the three flights it was allowed to have, out to the north of us. Today, and I only saw it once, it came in over the top of us to land into the wind, up at Land's End Airport. There had been some concerns regarding the noise that the aeroplanes might make, mainly from residents in the vicinity of the airport itself. From a purely objective perspective, it seems that we in The Cove can more clearly hear the fixed wing aircraft as they push forward the throttles to take off. If I had not seen them yesterday, I would not know that the helicopter had taken off at all. While it was overhead this afternoon it was entirely unremarkable; we have so many helicopters coming and going, from Trinity House, the Navy, the Air Ambulance, the Coastguard and occasionally the National Grid, one more made no difference, at all.
Noise issues aside, it was never going to be an easy ride for the Isles of Steamship Company after they threw a spanner in the works of its rival helicopter bid, the one out of Penzance. The company managed to raise a judicial review for the plan then promptly announced that it would run its own service out of Land's End. We have not seen such skulduggery down here since Perkin Warbeck landed in 1497 or possibly when the much maligned council stitched up the Parish over the Beach car park toilets. Far be it from me to suggest that there is anything suspect, but it would be easy to construe, if you were conspiracy minded, the Isles of Scilly Council raising the last minute need to conduct an environmental study, was somewhat politically driven.
The Missus offered that we retired to The Farm in the evening. I admit that it is bleddy 'ansum up there at any time and especially so on a bright sunny evening. However, having been standing up behind the counter and unpacking boxes for the best part of eleven hours, having to decamp to a rickety caravan with a ham sandwich was not what I had envisaged of my evening. Hopefully, after the half term, things will have calmed down sufficiently to make that possible. I have also not lost sight of the fact that another two tons of hardcore needs to be laid down and probably another two tons after that and evening time will be the only opportunity to get that done. I had best gird my loins.
May 21st - Monday
I do not know quite what we have to do to spur The Cove into action, but we had a half decent day, which was not at all as advertised; the breeze had diminished to light airs and the sun was bright enough through hazy, high level cloud. What more could you possibly want from a beach holiday? Well, a beach, I suppose; the tides are not kind this week with high water working its way to the middle of the week. However, looking ahead, there will be plenty of beach available for the half term.
Despite the general lack of visitors to go around, we ran out of pasties, so the people that were here must have been hungry ones. There certainly were more people about when a reasonable size delivery of windbreaks and spades arrived in the middle of the day. Fortunately, the Missus arrived back from taking Mother to an appointment just in time to load up the van and take the additional boxes up to Shrew House.
I am surprised that the delivery got here in reasonable condition; our delivery driver is one of the most slap dash I have seen. A week or two ago I had to explain to him the meaning of the label 'FRAGILE' on a parcel that he had just dropped on the floor. He told me that the two he had brought in were heavy, so I suggested that being the case he should try just carrying one at a time. Today, in his haste, he threw back the nearside rear door of the van and thumped a passing lady pensioner. I suspect that a third negligent event will require something a little more robust and formal than a friendly word of which we have had a few.
I doubt that there would be many friendly words if we started stocking the latest pasty from the Posh Pasty Company. In the news today, Mr Strawbridge's latest creation, which includes crab, clotted cream, samphire and presumably a few Amazonian lark's tongues. It can be yours for a recommended £10.95, although the Padstow Pasty Company, who presumably know a thing or two about selling pasties to a well-heeled audience, will be knocking them out at £8.75. I know at least one couple who will not be trying one. The pair arrived hot foot from a landmark attraction not far from here telling me that they wished that they had bought a pasty from us. The one that they had purchased at the attraction was nigh on a fiver, they told me. I think that they are the same pasties that we sell, so that must have hurt.
By late afternoon, the beach had broadened out but clearly, at that time, it was not at all enticing. The Lifeguards and their flags were probably more numerous than the visitors enjoying the beach. The surf cannot have been very exciting, either, as I counted only two hopefuls going into the water at five o'clock. What cannot be denied is that it looked remarkably pretty in the sepia lowering sun that is creeping ever further around from Pedn-men-du each evening.
I would, perhaps, have gone and had a little geek at it later in the evening but having done very little all day long, I was a tad weary.
May 20th - Sunday
The day started in a blaze of gloriousness, with bright sunshine and that impending warmth you get with strong summer days. We had great expectations. I do not know what the dickens we were thinking.
I was in two minds about going up to the range on the basis that we were probably going to be a tad busy, given the weather. I went anyway as the Missus rather insisted that she would be fine. It was pretty much as glorious up the hill as it was in The Cove and we all basked while popping away at tin targets and lumps of wood. I made sure that I was first to go in the last round so that I could make good an early escape. By this time some high level cloud had rolled in and when I left the shelter of the range, I noticed that it had become a tad more breezy than it was earlier.
The cloud thickened very quickly after that and the breeze, a wickedly chilling easterly, increased in ferocity. It rapidly brought to an end what the Missus told me was a fairly steady run of busyness throughout the morning. It did give rise to a few hooded sweatshirt sales, mind, to a few ladies who had dressed for the weather we had earlier. Even these dwindled as the afternoon wore on and on occasions there was not a soul to be seen up or down the street.
I had picked Mother up on the way back from the range and no sooner than I had delivered her to The Cove, the Missus whisked her away again up to The Farm. The ensuing quiet that I was left to gave me sufficient time to scrabble together the flip flop order that I was remiss enough to forget in my hurry to restock for the half term. It was then, from the stock book, that I noticed that we had some still in Shrew House so I asked the Missus to bring them back on her return. It is almost certain that the over-stock is of the sizes we have most of, but I thought it best to check anyway.
The over-stock was of the sizes we have most of, so it was a complete waste of time checking anyway. Some of the children's 3-4 size went out leaving just an addition four of the 5-6 we have a few of. The adult men's over-stock is a little more extreme with something like twenty size 11-12 piling up. When the order arrives, we will simply add to this as we are unable to buy block sizes and I have looked extensively. We either have a unusually large proportion of the flip flop buying population with feet sized 7-8 visit West Cornwall or the people who arrange the spread of sizes they put into the packages have got their numbers very wrong.
I put these thoughts aside as I finished the last pages of that book that I was sent from our publishing visitor. I do not only read Boys' Own type books but have in the past read some girly type material such as Possession, which I liked, and Oranges are not the Only Fruit. 'Wrecker' was a bit of a bodice ripper, which was a pleasant enough but unchallenging read, but with a bloke writing female first person, it gave me an underlying discomfort, like kissing your sister. 'Tain't right, 'tain't proper, as they say on the television.
May 19th - Saturday
The first proper rip gribbler of the season, I reckon. Early on there were signs that we would have some general busyness, but I suspect that the competition from two other events that had captured the public imagination was a little too fierce today.
I had toyed with the idea of a jacket when I took the bleddy hound around the block, but I really did not need one. I needed one even less by half way through the morning when the sun got into its own and provided some real warmth - on the other side of the road, obviously.
The Missus was nowhere to be seen for the morning but showed up in time to take the bleddy hound around in the afternoon. By this time I had a bit of a list of stock that we required from Shrew House and the boxes from two deliveries to take up there. With a bit of luck we may possibly be ready for the half term holiday when, hopefully, some eager hordes will be descending upon us.
I thought that I had filled all the gaps with our recent ordering, but a lady came to the counter having perused our shelves and asked if we had her size in flip flops. It is at moments like this that the colour can drain from a grumpy shopkeeper's already pallid face in the sudden realisation that we have not ordered ladies' flip flops. Looking over the flip flop stand at the pitiful display I did wonder why I had not noticed previously. Perhaps it is because the weather has only just blossomed into something worthy of the flip flop sandal. The issue will be addressed first thing on Monday morning when an order will wing its way to our chosen supplier.
As expected, the afternoon was desperately quiet. It did pick up a little towards the middle and late afternoon, which I suspect was bored ladies escaping the big football match. We picked up several enquiries about dog friendly beaches and a complaint that most of the websites, the much maligned council and the Visit Cornwall's, do not have a map. The lady said that it is all very well having a list but if you do not know the area you would not necessarily know where a particular beach was. We used to be able to print off a map from the 'Cornish coast' website but that no longer seems to be an option. Just about everything is online, which, if you are touring and exploring with dog in tow, you need good mobile Internet access which is not always available. I sent her the link to the map anyway; she will just have to do some advance planning, which I suppose is better than planning in arrears.
My planning in advance for tonight's big event was pitifully thin and I only found out about it after it was sold out. Fortunately, we have a very good man on the inside who procured tickets for the Highly Professional Craftsperson and I. We ventured into town to see the German comedian Henning Vehn. He played in Penzance before and we missed that opportunity, too. What I did not appreciate was that comedians such as he play small venue to try out new material and that was what this performance was all about. He was very good, although understandably some of the jokes fell a bit flat but that was the point of it. He was actually exceptional, when you consider that I cannot speak a word of German, let alone entertain a bunch of Germans in their own country for a couple of hours.
Afterwards, the Highly Profession Craftsperson suggested that we repair to an alehouse at the bottom end of town in one of the backstreets that neither of us had attended before. It is the brewery tap for a small brewery on the back road to St Ives and is a proper, traditional pub with a chatting and affable maid behind the bar and a snug with big leather sofas out the back. There were no pretentions about the place, no clever coffee machine and it did not even do food save for the odd packet of crisps. It is the sort of public house that other public houses that are unsure whether they are public houses or coffee bars with the character ripped out of them could learn lessons from.
It was difficult to tear ourselves away but we could not keep the Missus waiting, who had kindly offered to bring us home. With the bleddy hound coming too, there was no running around the block screaming to contend with, either but, sadly, we were too late for a repeat of last night's stunning skyline.
May 18th - Friday
Marco Polo had nothing on me. I escaped The Cove for a whole hour and a bit this morning and what a smashing day I chose to do it.
Knowing that the Missus would be chomping at the bit to get up to The Farm, I elected to slip into town as soon as I came back from the gymnasium. I intended to drop into our accountant's office and the conveyancing solicitor, who had demanded completed paperwork before they proceeded, both of which close for lunch, which is something of a foreign concept to us hard-working shopkeepers, alright, shopkeepers. If I had waited, it would have been long into the afternoon by the time I had finished, and the Missus would have been climbing the walls.
I arrived in Penzance just before noon, which is normally when things begin to get busy on the streets. The car park would ordinarily be almost full at this time and particularly given the weather; it was about a quarter full. It seems that the much maligned council's strategy to rid the town centre of pesky shoppers by hiking the parking charges by 66 percent is working a treat. I think the plan is to move all shopping to the out of town stores, which will then become the in town stores, which allows it to flatten Penzance so that build millions of houses and ship people in from up country to pay lots of council tax.
I picked up Mother on the return journey, which meant that I could once again traverse the back lane from St Buryan, home. This is a delight at this time of year, as it is a mass of colour from the blues of proper native bluebells, the white of hawthorn and tri-cornered garlic and the yellows of the gorse and buttercups. While this was a veritable visual feast it was not complemented by the aroma of the pool of slurry I had driven through, dropped by some passing tanker. The whole experience was enhanced by meeting two tractors, one towing a tank of slurry, both at the narrowest parts of the road. It is a blessing that I learnt how to reverse early on in my driving career.
The Missus ducked out almost as soon as I had returned and got changed. She omitted to say that our t-shirt order had been delivered and sat waiting for me in the store room. There were eight boxes, as we have to order a few hundred at a time. Even after filling the gaps in our shop display with them, there were still eight boxes left that will have to be shipped up to Shrew House.
As if this were not enough, we had notification that the order of bodyboards that I had asked to be delivered next week would be delivered after we closed today. This was a tad inconvenient and part of the reason why I asked for them next week. Naturally they arrived as tea was being put on the table, so I had to break away to ship them out of the way in the store room. Along with the eight boxes of t-shirts, they are doing a magnificent job of clogging up proceedings in the store; they cannot be shipped off to Shrew House quickly enough.
The delivery made me a little late for a soiree that had been planned to celebrate the retirement of our Lifeboat Coxswain. The OS laid on more food than you could shake a vol-au-vent case at and glasses of bubbly something were handed around to toast the old skipper with. There was a healthy crowd of well-wishers, which is not the same as a crowd of healthy well-wishers demonstrated by the fact that we drank well and ate most of the food. It was a pleasant gathering of the great and the good and I ducked out early before the fight started.
The most stunning part of the night, however, was when I stepped out into the street and gazed to the west. Here the last glow of sunset was looking like a Dulux colour chart as it went from burnt yellow, through orange to a succession of blues. Resplendent in the western sky were a crescent moon and a big bright Venus, which the photograph I took with my cheap mobile telephone does nothing at all for. Still, with a half decent firework display going on over at Gwenver beach, it was one of those special evening and the bleddy hound thought so too as she barked her way around the quiet end.
Somewhat grainy pic of something that was not.
May 17th - Thursday
My, my, what an industrious chap I was today. First, there was the Cornish sea salt order that I had left yesterday and needed putting out on the shelves. After this it was groceries, crisps and drinks, all of which I had let diminish without attention. I managed these essential duties while serving an increasing number of customers. The increase was slow and incremental, such that it was an almost imperceptible rise, marked only by the fact that it had taken two hours to consume my breakfast.
You might have determined that this sudden reversal of fortunes from yesterday was entirely due to the arrival of some sunshine. It came out in the early morning and persisted until the latter part of the afternoon when it clouded over a bit. By this time, it mattered not to the little crowds of visitors who were mainly promenading, rather than beach dwelling.
There were some down on the big beach, mind. I was told yesterday that I was some optimistic putting out my windbreak display in such weather as we had. All I can say is who is laughing now, as we sold half a dozen first thing this morning, aided and abetted by a robust easterly breeze that held in until the early afternoon.
Fortunately, the Lifeboat Crew found a willing volunteer amongst their own to launch the Inshore Lifeboat in the late morning. One of them was being passed out on his Helmsman examination and I am pleased to say that his mum will be sewing his Helmsman's Proficiency Badge onto his sleeve tonight. The tracked launch vehicle had to launch the boat from the big beach, although clearly one of the very excellent Shore Crew would have found no water in the Harbour to be only a minor obstacle to overcome. Anyway, I am glad that they found someone else to do the launch, as I would have struggled with my conscience to close the shop on such a busy day, not to mention the floods of tears and remorse.
The big boat was launched at a far more acceptable hour in the evening. It was gone for the best part of a couple of hours and returned to be brought in up the short slipway, which we had cunningly prepared earlier. It was an exemplary recovery, some might say textbook, and the boat was washed down and put away in good time. There will, however, be no sewing of badges on sleeves and not because we are undeserving of such recognition but because we cannot afford sleeves. We are, after all a very threadbare, very excellent Shore Crew.
With so very little time to spare, we repaired to the OS where the quiz was just about to start. We quickly came to grips with the questions by completely failing to answer them. We then proceeded to lose by a margin, a very wide margin at that, and returned home happy in the knowledge that we had done at least one thing right. If we needed any further cheering, the stars glistening up above would have done the trick nicely.
May 16th - Wednesday
I woke up to quite a vicious northerly, banging into us and gusting up to fifty miles per hour. The sea was whipped up into a bay full of white caps and our bins, including the full big one, were scat over the road. The man on radio pasty told us that the weather is improving; for the middle of May it could not get much worse.
That breeze was a bit of a Tartar all day as it slowly backed round to the east. If there was any hint of a comfortable temperature, it had been well and truly dampened by the chill from the wind.
I warmed myself by heading down to the gymnasium for a session. I found myself in remarkably good shape after my exertions of the previous day and I was of the impression that I had got away with it. It was not until I lifted the weights and my right arm fell off that I realised that things might not have been quite 100 percent. Being a resilient sort and an eejit who does not know when to stop, I carried on and just reduced the number of lifts. I am still standing, so it cannot have been all bad.
We were exceptionally quiet today, except when I took out my breakfast; I cannot imagine what people were thinking. It gave me some time to finish off unpacking the order that arrived a couple of days ago. It did give me time to do that but instead I read the news paper and made a few telephone calls, which was far more fun.
The most fun was trying to resolve a problem with a factored out invoice that I was being chased for payment. This is an invoice created by a third party that looks after one of our suppliers' accounting. There was a telephone number on the letter but when I called, it offered three options. One put me through to an automated payment system, the second told me to look at the company website and the third, any other issue, told me to look at the company website. With no other option I looked at the company website and chose the option to "connect with us". I was hoping that this did not require any surgery and selected the option. It then displayed a button to start a 'chat' session, which seemed the only way to 'connect' on offer.
I typed that I have an overdue payment, which was not overdue and wished to resolve the matter. I was asked what I found this on, which was an odd turn of phrase but stated that it was on a statement that they had sent to me and offered my customer number. This seemed to instil an air of panic at the other end - personal information on an insecure chat line - and I was instructed to terminate my session immediately and login using my secure online banking account. A tad bemused, I offered that I did not have an online banking account, which resulted in the advice to call telephone banking. It must have caused utter mayhem with the tightly proceduralised 'chat' system when I admitted that I did not have one of those either and, in fact, was not even a customer.
It had become apparent to me, but clearly not to the agent, that this was completely the incorrect contact point for my issue. A somewhat desperate agent now suggested I contact business banking. No, I was not a business customer either and spelt out that the company that the agent was working for offered a service to businesses to manage their invoicing and accounts for them. It was the most generous hint that I could provide. The system general works well until, of course, it does not and then there is no way of asking for help.
I will give the person - I have no idea if the name was male or female - their due, they persevered long after I had given up and starting amusing myself by asking more questions. Even batting the issue to a team leader bore no fruit, so I gave up too and ended the session but gave the agent a good score for being a sport even if the session was a complete waste of time. In the end I called the company with which we do business and left the issue with them.
The distraction gave me enough impetus to finish off the giftware unpacking that I should have done earlier. I needed to get it done as our cardboard is collected tomorrow and I did not want to be left with large boxes for another week. There were some very alluring bits in this order and I might try and put some out on the online shop in a bit. Who knows, some lost and wandering soul on the Internet might find them and actually buy something.
May 15th - Tuesday
Well, so much for the largely sunny week that we had been teased about since before the weekend. The forecasters must be rolling about thinking that they had us believing that we would have sunshine all week long.
The fog descended last night, and it was humid and dank when I took the bleddy hound out last thing. The fog had lifted by the morning but there was a definite chill in the air and we had total cloud cover without a hint of the sunshine we were promised.
It probably worked out for the best as it happened. Due to the nature of the hardcore that we had delivered, we knew that it was important to bag it and deliver it to the potholes sooner rather than later as it has the tendency to bed down if left. Therefore, as soon as the Missus appeared, I slipped into my DIYman frock and headed for The Farm. I had no real idea how I was going to tackle delivering two tons of hardcore to the potholes in the lane but reckoned that I could probably work it out on the fly.
Luckily, one of the bigger holes in not far from the field gate. We had some heavy duty compost and concrete bags from the work carried out on our drains last week, so I used them to fill with easily liftable quantities of the hardcore. I carried the first four, in two trips, to the hole and poured them out. I looked again because I was sure that I had just emptied about thirty shovels full into the hole, but the hole appeared to be as deep as it was before. I stepped things up a pace by filling as many bags as we had, about eight, and loaded them into the back of the van. I then drove to the site and unloaded all eight at a time.
While a little more efficient, it took a long time to be effective. After returning several times the hole was finally filled with about one third of the two tons delivered. I then moved on to the next holes further down the lane. The further I got the less efficient the process became, and it was clear a new approach would be required for the potholes furthest from the field. Nevertheless, the basic principle of using the hardcore appears to be working. We shall see how this behaves over time and after a few heavy showers but already the journey is a little more comfortable and less harmful for the van's suspension.
Moreover, it was good old fashioned manly work; the stuff that puts calloused on you hands and makes you sweat like a proper bloke. I had rather wished that I had worn a wife-beater vest and flannel shorts with my big boots but was mighty glad that it was not sunny and that there was a cool breeze wafting about. I thought that the continuous bending and lifting would have played havoc with my back but, on the contrary, I felt exercised and envigored, which was a tad confusing. I would be very happy to do it again.
It was a bit of a disappointment to return to the shop and more sedate activities. Rather cleverly, I had ordered large amounts of fruit and vegetables and a box load of fish, which was probably not that clever knowing what I had to do today. It took me quite a while between customers to bag the fruit and vegetables and vacuum pack the fish and I finished only just before we were due to close.
The mist was swirling a bit while I was up on the hill - The Farm is deceptively high up - and when I returned it was quite thick in The Cove. This was entirely disappointing and even more so as the number of people who came by to tell us than the weather was fine just about everywhere else. Those locusts are circling; I just know it.
I had despatched the Missus into town, as for the last few days I have hankered after a curry house curry. She returned with several pots of it so that we could freeze some for the next time I had a hankering and she had also been shopping. I received a text message to ask me to lend a hand when she returned, so I waited by the window with eager anticipation. When she arrived, I was down the steps like a shot and opened the passenger side door to get at the dinners therein. Immediately, I was standing amongst a collection of silver trays with curry leaking out over the pavement. The bag had fallen against the door in transit and were just waiting for some eejit to open it. Fortunately, we managed to salvage most of the dinners, although my garlic chilli chicken seemed a little grittier than normal.
I am sure there was a lesson in all that somewhere and one day I will work out what it was. Eat more salad, perhaps.
May 14th - Monday
It was an awe-inspiring joy, listening to the weather forecast this morning. It would be a day of happiness and light, with sunshine the day long - except for the Isles of Scilly and the Far West of Cornwall, where high cloud would increase to blot out the sun through the day. Later it would remain clear and lovely - except for the Isles of Scilly and the Far West of Cornwall, where the cloud would lower to become mist and fog.
Tomorrow would be an even better day - except for the Isles of Scilly and the Far West of Cornwall, where the fog would linger, a blackness would fall upon the land, crops would fail, and rains of frogs and plagues of locusts would beset the pitiful population and a powerful tsunami would sweep the human detritus from the land, purging it of its wicked sinfulness. Alright, I made some of that up, but I suspect we are being made to pay for avoiding the fog last weekend.
We made the best of it, however, and I threw open the double doors from the outset. I eschewed the gymnasium, as it seems I have twisted something at the weekend that would have been better left untwisted. Instead, I went to see a man about some hardcore. This is nothing to do with the wicked sinfulness I spoke of earlier but is much to do with filling pot holes on a bit of track.
I should explain, and I will try and be brief, that we are on notice to pack our bags and leave Shrew House. I know, how sad, never mind. It is not so much that we are being evicted, although the there is uncertainty just how much longer we could use it, but it is becoming more dilapidated as time goes on and to have somewhere a little more permanent would ease our minds. To that end we are investigating a plot at some secret location at the top of the hill, which comes with an even more dilapidated shed. The advantage of this is that the shed is bigger and can be fixed and it will be ours. The disadvantages, of which there are many, include that it comes with three acres of land, which we have not got the first idea what to do with and it is at the end of a dirt lane with potholes the size of an Olympic swimming pool and often contain as much water.
So, there it is in a crabshell, which is a bit larger than a nutshell. It was the Highly Professional Craftsperson who suggested that the potholes might be moderated by filling them with hardcore of the 803 or M1 type. Since the Highly Professional Craftsperson is always right about all such things, it is why I found myself over at the builder's merchant that sits on Penwith Moor a few miles south east of St Just asking about type 803 hardcore.
Now, I have explained before about the intimidation a non-highly professional craftsperson can feel in such places. It is why I also try and go to one dressed as DIYman in the hope that they will be fooled by the disguise. In truth, much of the intimidation is imagined, I am sure; most of the people working in such places are upright and helpful souls. The merchants on Penwith Moor, however, are in a class of their own. I was not even dressed as DIYman and the help and service I received was exemplary. They could not have been more helpful in suggesting solutions and how they might deliver the two tons of rock that I had ordered. Despite having run out, they told me that some more was due at some point during the day. They delivered it later in the afternoon. 'Ansum.
We have not secured the deal on the field yet, but the Missus has been spending every waking hour there, preparing, strimming and digging. Oh, and she also has a caravan that has seen far better days - no, let me rephrase that, it is a rusting heap of vaguely connected sheets of tin and rotten plywood that roughly resemble the shape of a caravan - there, that is better, that she is doing up with gaffer tape and chewing gum so that she has somewhere for a cup of coffee as she goes about her preparing. It has not been labelled yet, the location, not the caravan, which if we gave it a name would probably have fallen off by now, but she has been calling it her farm.
With the Missus up The Farm all day with Mother, she missed the explosion of busyness that we had soon after she left. The flood of visitors, presumably brought on by the good weather - although ours was not quite as good as that a few miles up the line, of course - appeared out of nowhere and brought a liveliness to The Cove not seen since the last time it was this busy. We were upbeat all day long, which kept me busy, especially as I took in two deliveries as well during that time.
Later, and shortly before we closed, one of the aspiring Helmsmen asked me if I would launch the Inshore Lifeboat on a training session, as there was an inspector due in the next few days and he wanted to get some practice in. By the time of the scheduled launch at half past five arrived, our busyness had dwindled, so shutting the shop for ten minutes was not a huge problem. They told me that they would be gone for an hour, so I had time to come back to the shop and close down properly.
I had barely closed the shop and put my tea in the oven when the Inshore boat came into the Harbour and the crew waved at me forlornly. I left the bleddy hound to howl for ten minutes while I went and brought them back in. It was the sort of recovery that they write textbook entries about and was over in a flash. With the boat washed down I returned to my tea. I am, after all, all by myself, a very solitary very excellent Shore Crew.
May 13th - Sunday
What a beautiful day to behold and right from the very outset, as well. There was acres of blue sky and sunny sunshine to go with it. The sea was blue and all we really needed was a bunch of happy visitors to set it all off.
I did not wait around to see if the bunch of happy visitors turned up but instead ventured off to the range, where I had latterly become something of a stranger. I passed on last week because we had become busy over the holiday weekend, so I was fairly determined to make it this week. It was sunny up on the hill, too, and despite there being a bit of a chill that high up, it was a glorious morning to be burning some holes in large lumps of cardboard.
When I returned from the range, The Cove was all sorts of busy. Not mad summer busy but busy for the time of year and once again proving that all we need is a spot of sunshine to grease the wheels.
There was a fair few sunseekers down on the Harbour beach, I noticed as I passed by, taking the bleddy hound around before I started back in the shop. There was a flag posted in the sand announcing some water sports company or other and I had noticed a couple of fast boats coming and going in the harbour. One followed a chap in a kayak in from the bay, but it was not until a lying down paddleboarder and a stand up paddle border also came in escorted that I realised that it must be the annual Celtic Crossing event.
This is the day that a number of people whose grip on reality has slackened sufficiently to grant them the notion that it would be a ripping wheeze to paddle board, or kayak or paddle in some manner, from the Isles of Scilly to The Cove for a spot of fun. It was supposed to happen on Friday, but they cited the 30 knots wind from the south east as making it impossible for the safety boats to launch - not the paddleboards, you understand; paddleboarders clearly pay no heed to such things. It was rescheduled for today, with a helpful ten to fifteen knots west to southwesterly to help them along. Never mind the heavy ground sea but, phew, that had moderated from a ten feet swell to a gentle six to eight feet for today. Even then, I understood from one of the watchers, that some of the support boats refused to launch so their charges had to cancel.
We had a reasonable trickle of customers through the afternoon, which was quite pleasing. We even sold a bottle of Tarquin's Seadog. At 57% it is a strong one, but the buyer told me the stronger the alcohol the more you can taste the ingredients and who am I to argue. It also struck me that we are only two weeks away from Whitsun, so I need to pull my finger out on the ordering from next week. I have already started but there is much to do.
May 12th - Saturday
We were not entirely sure what to expect from the weather today. The forecast for the weekend was poor but the sunshine in the early morning seemed to say otherwise. There was a band of rain sitting over the Islands which did eventually come onto the mainland from the south. It was supposed to deliver showers, but we ended up with a sustained period of quite heavy rain just before the middle of the day, then a few showers later.
I do not know if anyone had correctly forecast how good the surf was going to be today but those who turned up for it had a whale of a time. There were big waves breaking out towards North Rock, forming well out the back where the majority of surfers who knew what they were about were bobbing about. Even the surf school closer in and on the main part of the beach had some half decent waves to practice on. The south easterly breeze that was making all that possible was not the most welcome for grumpy shopkeepers, however; it was more than just a tad chilly in the shop. It also kept flicking the pages of the newspaper I was trying to read.
It did the same with all the newspapers I tried to read, which goes some way to explaining that it was an incredibly dull day to be a grumpy shopkeeper. It was dull and cold, especially not doing anything. I did make some vague attempts at filling up shelves but when you are not selling very much there is not much to fill up.
There were hints of sunshine later in the afternoon but even this failed to attract much attention. What it did do was highlight the fields up at Boscregan Farm where the purple viper's bugloss blooms. I fancied that the fields there looked a little purple and was about to launch into a vivid description of the bugloss and how it stands out among the other fields on the cliffside. I thought that I better have a closer look first and pulled out our shop binoculars. It was as well that I did because the purple I could see was, in fact, newly ploughed fields; a dark earth colour. It is a good job that the flowers are called purple viper's bugloss and yellow corn marigolds else I would never know what colour they were.
We had a little spurt of busyness towards the latter part of the afternoon, which gave us a little boost. The second band of rain that had threatened a return, thankfully passed us by and ran further up the Duchy; it was, after all, their turn. It became something of a pleasant evening, just right for plopping down in front of the television screen and discovering the horror that a certain singing contest had swallowed up the schedule. I read my book instead.
May 11th - Friday
It had already begun to spit a little bit when I came downstairs to set up the shop this morning. It held off long enough for me to take the poorly bleddy hound around the block, fortunately. She met up with one of her best pals shortly into the walk and I thought that perhaps she had a bit more spark in her today, however, when we got back she was still uninterested in her breakfast. The Missus booked her into see the veterinary doctor later in the day.
The rain had become heavier by the time I ran down to the gymnasium, but it never did really get into its stride. It was fairly constant throughout most of the day and kept The Cove empty but for a very few souls who decided to brave it. By three o'clock the rain had gone, the sunshine popped out and, miraculously, people emerged from wherever they were hiding until that moment. It was a bit too late to do very much good and we ended up with the day that never was.
Luckily, it seems that the general temperature is slightly increasing, although still a tad cool. This has brought about a hiatus in the regular clearing out of our kiln dried logs stock. This is just as well because our local cash and carry, where we source our supply, has run out. I have called on a few occasions to ask when the supply might be refreshed but to no avail. The last call our man sounded vexed and pointed to difficulties getting hold of some and did I perhaps think they grew on trees. It is good to have a supplier with a sense of humour, even if they cannot supply.
The Missus went late to the veterinary doctor who told her that there is a bleddy hound bug going around and that the bleddy hound would be right as ninepence dreckly. It is possible that he might have advised this over the telephone but perhaps veterinary doctors also like the merry jangling of a till to keep them warm at night.
There was nothing particularly warm about our night, especially as our till did very little jangling today. There was, however, a clear sky and Venus shining bright out to the west. It has been there for some time when I expected it to shift a bit. Perhaps it has been pinned there for my delectation.
May 10th - Thursday
The bleddy hound has been a bit under the weather since yesterday morning. We can tell; she does not eat. She spent yesterday wandering about in a bit of a daze and this morning was not much interested in a stank around the block. She had a couple of spoonfuls of normal breakfast having stuck her nose up at the Missus' effort to woo her with some chicken and rice. When I took her around the block in the early afternoon she had a bit more about her, so hopefully she is on the mend.
It was a shame about the run around first thing as it was bright and beautiful. It stayed that way all day and brought some much-needed life back into The Cove. There were a couple of senior citizen coach parties dropped in to swell the ranks and there was much licking of cornets and buying of postcards.
The sea was the main attraction of the day, stirred into a white-capped rage by the low pressure system out to the west. There was white water fair banging up the cliffs at Nanjulian and over at Aire Point and, down on the big beach, the Lifeguards had red flags flying all day. At this time of the year youngsters on holiday tend to be of the small variety and would be fair game for the big and powerful waves running up the sand. It was only right and proper that they should be warned against going near.
It was much the same reason that there was no Lifeboat launch in the evening, although we all attended our training meeting. While it might have been worth sacrificing a few very excellent Shore Crew to the weather, it is frowned upon to put the poor Boat Crew through such trauma. Instead we pretended to do things and polished brass and swept floors, in a metaphorical sort of way, you understand.
After such excitement it was utterly necessary to attend the OS quiz and be completely demoralised by losing pitifully. We are always so grateful for the experience as it makes men of us, or so we are told. Imagine our surprise, therefore, when we only went and won the quiz. Sadly, this was less to do with our stunning intellect and more to do with a dearth of other competitors and especially the usual protagonists; such a hollow victory.
Good then, that the bleddy hound felt up to a screaming run around the block to assure us that things are still relatively normal.
May 9th - Wednesday
Oh calamity! Well, not quite. It is just that you get used to a run of good weather and it is quite upsetting when it comes to an end. Still, it could have been a lot worse; we might have had the weather that the Meteorological Office forecast we would have. The forecasters there predicted a geet lump of rain around dinner time, which never materialised. We are rather glad it did not, largely because of shopkeeping but also because our man with the concrete turned up.
He had been here before, clearing out our drains. It was then that I asked if he had any bright ideas about how we might best keep them clear. He made some suggestions that seemed completely sensible, so we asked him to come back. The main focus of the work was removing some of the dirt that had assembled around the drains. Once this was removed, he poured in some concrete to help stop it from coming back again. He was here for much of the day for a very reasonable fee.
It is always good to hear feedback from customers, even if is not about us. This particular bit of feedback came from the reliable source of KP, the Diary's gardening correspondent and go to expert on anything horticultural. Obtusely, this was nothing to do with flowers at all, although it had a lot to do with pedals, as she and her husband hired electric bicycles for the day. There is a company in Marazion that calls itself Land's End Cycle Hire, which will rent you an electric powered bicycle for the day.
Our reporters cycled a good distance from Marazion, along the south coast as far as Lamorna and a bit more before striking north to Botallack and exploring bits of the north. One advantage was that they could visit down into coves without the fag of using pedal power to get up out again. Another advantage was to get along tracks they might have avoided in a car and to see things they might have missed while driving at speed. They must have covered a good mileage in a day before returning the bicycles to Marazion. Naturally, you would have to pick your day, but that sounded like a ripping wheeze to me, without the wheezing.
It was not wholly awful today, either, although it was grey all day and the heat that we enjoyed some of for the weekend has turned to chill. The promised rain came back in the late afternoon, just before we closed the shop and stayed for the evening. The temperature dropped sharply, too. How confusing.
May 8th - Tuesday
The weather was not doing exactly what I had anticipated it doing this morning. I could tell, mainly as the morning was still visible when I had expected thick fog, as forecast. We did get some thick cloud, but it was where it should be, in the sky. Fortunately, it had decided not to start to rain until after I had returned with the bleddy hound and after all the outside display was out. It then mizzled for the duration of the morning.
We also enjoyed some unexpected peace and quiet to go with it, which frankly we could have done without given the number of pasties and loaves of bread I had ordered in. I had anticipated a drop in custom and had adjusted our order accordingly, but I had not expected it to go as flat as a dish.
At almost exactly noon, the clouds cleared from the West and the sun broke through. At exactly the same time visitors began to flood - perhaps trickle - into The Cove and we had our first customers. Interestingly, these were part of a delegation of French lifeboat people, Les Sauveteurs en Mer, and had been welcomed to visit the station here.
With almost spectacularly classic timing, our big grocery delivery arrived just as my entrance was blocked by half a dozen burly French lifeboatmen. I had taken time to warn the delivery driver the first time that he was late, that when we became busier he would find it increasingly more difficult and more time-consuming making deliveries to us. He would also be doing it on his own, when I would normally help. I trust that this little demonstration served to illustrate my case.
It was my mistake, in the quietness of the morning, to think that I would get away with rebuilding the shop laptop. It had become increasingly slow over the last week or so and by yesterday had become too much of an irritation. There is not a great deal of data on it, so it did not take too long to prepare. What I had not realised is that the laptop is older than I thought and that when I recovered it to factory settings it popped back up as a Windows 8.1 machine, when I had fully expected Windows 10. It then took most of the rest of the rest of the day to bring it back to where it was previously.
My labourers were then confounded by the increase in customer traffic throughout the afternoon. I also set about putting out some of the stock, so in the end I had a very industrious day. We even had a little five minutes to closing rush that we have not seen for a little while. It is a little too early to say but it would be pleasing to think that we are starting to climb out of the pre-holiday doldrums.
May 7th - Monday
It was not quite as busy today, but we did not really expect it to be. Nevertheless, we had a big bag of sunshine and were once again unaffected by the mist. It did its best to encroach but other than getting a bit hazy, we were clear all day. We did, however, start the day with a bit of a meaty northerly blow, which kept the temperatures down below the warm we had yesterday. I do not think it made a great deal of difference; people were glad that it was not misty here.
Our periods of busyness came in waves, which gave me ample opportunity to top up some of our shelves. As you might expect, our soft-drinks fridge and our beer fridge emptied quite quickly several times. Just as an aside, I would not normally hyphenate soft-drinks but I would not have you thinking that our drinks fridge is soft. It is not. It is very hard, and I know because I have thumped my elbow once or twice when topping up the drinks. I thought that I had best clear that up. Anyway, soft drinks are not hyphenated, they are carbonated - sorry, it was begging for that.
Sorry, I digress. Where was I? Ah, yes, waffling about topping up the shelves. I was waffling, mainly because very little happened today. As the afternoon wore on fewer and fewer visitors were left and the quieter it got. I had to do something to fill the void, so I topped up shelves as much as I could and when I had done that, I gave up and read the book I had been given.
By the time we closed, the road was empty and the big beach nearly so. We have learnt not to make too much of the first May bank holiday as it is normally a bit of a damp squib. While this one has ended up as quiet as all the others, it has been a blinding few days and no mistake. We will have another one of those, thank you.
May 6th - Sunday
Our wayfaring paddleboarder made it to St Ives after picking a kinder tide and leaving yesterday evening, one of our Lifeboat boys heard through the grapevine. From her FacePage thing, the Missus found for me, she had placed quite a kind report of her mishap to Land's End on Friday, thanking the fishermen and the Lifeboat for their help and advice. She did make it there and back yesterday morning, without incident. Sadly, the world will never know as there still does not seem to be any press coverage. From visitor reports, it seems that she struck some more bad luck this morning as St Ives was fogged in. Hopefully, it will have cleared by the time she leaves at three o'clock this afternoon.
There was no such mist here in The Cove this morning, neither did it come back to haunt us later. It is pretty fair to say that it was a rip gribbler, right from the start. Later, when I took the bleddy hound around in the middle of the day, the Harbour beach was a scene out of high summer. The big beach was not slouching, either, with its encampment up at the high water line. Despite the still cool water temperatures, there were a host of people enjoying the sea. The surf was not exactly challenging, although there was a bit of usable swell out towards North Rocks and onto Gwenver. It did not seem to matter very much; people just got on with getting wet.
It was due to the beach-nature of the day we found it quite sedate during the afternoon. We had our fill of beachware buying in the morning and a fair hit on the pasties. It was the first time in the year where the floor got wet from anything other than mopping and it was also the first time of the year where I got to finish my breakfast at dinner time.
Later in the afternoon we became busy again as people retired from the beach. There was quite a bit of present buying and a few more pasties left the premises. There have been quite a few families about and the youngsters, often quite young, come into the shop by themselves. It is a thing here, as they are quite safe, apart from the risk of being fleeced by a grumpy shopkeeper. To this end many, even the very young, have equipped themselves with the rudiments of arithmetic and are thus very difficult to hoodwink. They very cleverly calculate, before arriving at the till, how much they have spent and how much change they might expect.
It is when these small children cross the boundary into teenagerism that things seem to go awry. Their ability to calculate even the simplest of sums has apparently evaporated and they rely solely on the grumpy shopkeeper to provide a reckoning of their change, thereby delivering the ability to discover whether they have enough to buy something else. Dear reader, there follows an example.
Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "That will be one pound, forty-eight pence, please, Young Person." Young Person.: "Here, that is one pound forty, there." Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "Perhaps I was not clear. That is £1.48 in numbers." Young Person.: "?" Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "You only gave me £1.40." Young Person.: "Oh. Is that not enough? How much more do you want?" [There is a pause while the Grumpy Shopkeeper assimilates young person's inability to determine the shortfall between 140 and 148.] Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "!" [Grumpy Shopkeeper finds he is unable to form words and takes ten pence from Young Person's hand and replaces it with tuppence.] Young Person.: "Thanks. I am not very good at maths." Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "!"
In the defence of the teenagers here, I will say this: to a boy - or girl - they are polite and well mannered. While not ideal that they cannot count, it is the best way around to have it, I think.
The mist tried to make an incursion late in the afternoon but was spotted and turned back by sheer willpower. I was watching to the north, but it flanked me and came in from the west instead. Some visitors from further up the coast told me that it was thick as a bad as far as Hayle. A reader who has been watching everybody on webcams, although that probably sounds more sinister than it is - hopefully, tells me that this was the situation up to Port Isaac and another reported the same up to Bude, too. It seems that we have been very lucky.
There were no other major dramas and our busyness slowly petered out towards the last knockings of our opening. It was the end of a particularly good day and one of the best early May holidays we have had here. Some more of the same tomorrow would be handy.
May 5th - Saturday
What a big, bright sparkly day to behold first thing in the morning. It was a double door opener right from the word go and I fair near broke into a light perspiration as I took the bleddy hound around the block. We were better off than the folk on Cape Cornwall and over St Just, as they were enveloped in a thick blanket of fog.
Foggy bank up north
Our sunshine, however, brought to life the slopes of Mayon Cliff, which is currently covered in tri-cornered garlic. I do not recall it being so prolific, although that might be more a function of my memory or lack of it, but perhaps it is because it is so late this year. There are clumps all the way up to Sennen Heights apartments, which in itself is a feat as it has displaced the all-pervading montbretia. I have been meaning to mention it for a few days, so I thought that I would atone with a photograph of it.
Abundance of tri-cornered garlic
Our paddleboarding maid gave her Land's End to John O'Groats bid another shot today. She started at the same tide as yesterday, which was disappointing, and I just caught her rounding the Harbour wall on her way out. I was minded to give the NCI watch at Cape a call to keep an eye on her but when I looked, the Cape was shrouded in fog. Our maid was back two minutes later, signalling to someone on shore, then she came back into the Harbour again. I never did find out if she had gone out again or had postponed the effort once more, but we did not get a Lifeboat shout and the fishing boats seemed unperturbed.
The good weather was matched by a sudden upturn in the number of visitors arriving in The Cove. By late in the morning I was hearing reports that the Harbour car park was full, which is very good news indeed. Earlier, I had dashed upstairs to replace my fleecy top with a shirt, as it was getting a little warm. By the time I came downstairs, the mist had rolled in and brought a bit of a chill with it. As is often the case during May, our day was punctuated by the coming and going of the mist but it had no real effect on the business for the day.
That mist had entirely gone by the middle of the afternoon, although there was a bit of a cool breeze from somewhere. I am sure it would have been perfectly warm on the other side of the road, in the direct sunlight; over on our side it was just slightly chilly. Never mind, just looking at its bright splendour was enough and the gentle, continuous trilling of the till put a special warmth into my heart.
May 4th - Friday
On a bit of a misty morning, a moderate swell on the sea and a song in your heart, what better a notion than to launch your paddleboard and commence a journey from Land's End to John O'Groats. Yes, the young maid who got a bit shirty because I would not look after her kit for a while, started her lonely sojourn at around eight o'clock this morning. She is clearly one for a challenge as she selected high water to get her to Land's End in slack conditions, just before turning back to continue her first leg against the tide.
There is still no link on the Internet to the tracker she tells people she will be wearing, so I had no idea of her progress. In fact, I wonder if I might be the only person even vaguely aware of her intentions, as there was no press to hand to mark her departure or to highlight her cause. If she aimed to make this a clandestine approach to the fight against plastic waste, she is doing a fine job of it.
I discovered later from one of The Cove fisherman that she ran into a spot of bother after she reached Land's End. With the tide against her she was making more headway backwards than forwards. A few minutes later and she would have been pulled back further where the fishing boat would have had trouble reaching her. She was properly equipped and had an emergency locator beacon, which she was clearly reticent about activating. Our fishermen brought her back safe and well where she was welcomed by our Lifeboat Operations Manager. He imparted some friendly advice, no doubt, warning of currents and tides in that area and the inevitable result of being unprepared for them. She is trying again tomorrow.
The misty start cleared by the middle of the day and with clearing skies, we saw signs of magnificence. We are hoping that this will last into the weekend as, although it is not usually a big holiday, we could do with a bit of a boost.
It augers well for the 29th World Gig Rowing Championship on the Islands this weekend. Certainly, the lady who dropped by for some sunglasses, all the way from Portland - the Weymouth one, not the Oregon one - was looking forward to it, particularly after last year. She had camped there in howling winds and had booked into a hotel for this year. I would have booked a hotel, too; I find camping very intense.
Our day improved in leaps and bounds and some proper warmth crept into The Cove. There was a moment there that I though that I might have to strip out of my thermal string vest and fur lined girdle, but I felt it too early for extreme measures. By the end of the day, just as I was queuing on the telephone to complete some administrative tasks, there were signs of visitors coming into The Cove. Families were purchasing crabbing lines, buckets and spades and the manner of paraphernalia associated with holidays. Dare I let myself believe in a small upturn in fortune?
May 3rd - Thursday
The urgent attention I lavished upon myself last night seemed to have done the trick to a degree. There were not too many small children about, this morning, thank goodness; the wide staring, bloodshot eyes seem to disconcert them somewhat.
We had a smashing bit of weather to start with and even that wind had calmed down. It did start to cloud over from the north east during the day. You see, it just cannot help itself. It was to no avail, anyway, as it did not seem to increase the number of visitors any.
We had a page later in the morning, advising us that the Lifeboat would be going out on exercise in the evening. Given my current delicate condition that not completely been driven off, I had decided that it would be beyond the call of duty to attend, even though I cried off last week due to a far less honourable reason. It therefore served me right when the Lifeboat pagers went off shortly after the Missus had given me a sympathetic half hour off shop duties for a little zizz.
I thought that it would be far less energy sapping to offer to take the Inshore boat out, as the worse that requires is an uphill jog to the Inshore boathouse at the top of the RNLI car park. Even that ended up as a swift amble and bitter disappointed as I discovered that the boathouse was locked. This required a less than gainly stride back down the slope, up my steps to fetch the key and a pitiful stagger back up the hill again. It was pure joy to find myself sitting in the driver's seat until I realised I actually had to drive the thing with some speed - given the delay - and accuracy, down to the Harbour beach.
We discovered after the launch that the boats were tasked to another potential cliff faller over by Botallack. The Coastguard announced to the helicopter that the person had fallen 200 metres. We thought that unlikely, unless he had fallen out of the helicopter which had not yet arrived, but even so the cliffs thereabouts are big enough and unforgiving.
The boats were gone for some time; there is no rushing in trying to stabilise a casualty before whisking them away. We discovered later that the fall was more in the order of 30 feet, which was a relief but clearly not to the person who fell. There was also very little in the way of radio chatter for us to determine progress. We had to keep an eye on the AIS picture which shows where the boats are with only a small delay to the real time. It was this that alerted us to their impending return. They had been out for about three and a half hours, which is lot of bobbing about doing nothing.
I had gone back to the shop, so my compatriots prepared the long slipway. I went back over and stayed with the Inshore boat in the hope that it would be slightly less telling on my frail being. With the Missus off out, I had to close the shop but at least there was no one in it this time. I could not see but I was assured that the big boat was hauled up the long slip in what could only be described as a textbook recovery. I could say the same for the Inshore boat, although I am far too modest. Both boats were tucked away at roughly the same time, at around four o'clock. We are, after all a very synchronised, very excellent Shore Crew.
It was not just the boats that I should have been keeping my eyes on. I had a conversation a while ago with one of the Lifeboat fundraising ladies who look after the shop. The conversation, for some reason that currently eludes me, had come around to choughs; she had regular visits from them to her garden at the top of the hill. It minded me that in the fifteen years of being here I had never seen a chough. The same lady came over to the shop in the afternoon between launch and recovery. She told me that she had heard choughs just a few minutes ago in The Cove and thought of the conversation we had. I found that an exceedingly decent thing to do and told her so. In fact, I was choughed to pieces - sorry. I still have not seen a chough.
Later, I decide to throw caution to the wind and head for the OS quiz, which was a mistake because there was no wind. I decided that if I were to suffer that I may as well do it well and so I suffered a beer, then I suffered some more with another. As if I had not suffered enough we took part in the quiz and suffered a bit more. I felt so much better for it.
May 2nd - Wednesday
I missed the last of the rain by a whisker, this morning. Being a few minutes later than normal, coming down to the shop, paid off quite handsomely, perhaps I shall do it again. The bleddy hound certainly appreciated it not being raining. She normally procrastinates about her business when we are out and about but yesterday, in the rain, she would not even go past the Lifeboat station and was back in her bed in moments.
Not long into the morning, the clouds parted and the sun broke through. It is really struggling at present to just be a nice day and has come with strings attached each time. Today, it came with a robust north westerly, which swirled about me behind the counter. Once again, the weather kept our customers to a minimum.
Something very pleasant did happen today, though. I received a book in the post, called Wrecker by a writer called Noel O'Reilly who plays the saxophone and lives in Brighton. I only found that out because I wanted to find out if he was a he Noel or a she Noel - or are they spelt differently? - anyway, no matter because he is a he Noel, although even that can be a bit of an assumption these days.
Anyway, I digress. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, I received a book in the post as a gift, with, as far as I can tell, no strings attached. The sender is a publisher, who has very sensibly given a grumpy shopkeeper and his daft scribblings a wide birth, but also is a liker of gin. It seems the book is a thank you for selling her some gin; it is gesture that has cut some important ground. If you have bought something in the shop which you have subsequently liked, it is now de rigueur to buy the purveyor a gift. If you cannot think of anything else, then money is perfectly acceptable and not in the least tasteless.
I had a notion that we were, perhaps, a little busier than yesterday. It might have been that I was just wishing it to be so. It was certainly busy for me because our Cornish biscuits and Cornish fudge both arrived within an hour of each other. It could have been far busier because in previous years the Missus has ordered practically a year's supply of each at the start of the season. In order to preserve our cash flow and my sanity, I have asked her to rationalise the ordering and we will do it in small quantities but more often instead. I am glad that I was at the gymnasium in the morning because the Missus dealt with our little sweet bag delivery, which consists of a lot of little bags of sweets. I am very glad I did not get that one.
What I did get, though, was a return of the bug that I had just before the start of the season. I am rather hoping that I can see it off overnight with a cocktail of drugs and half a bottle of Teaninich single malt whisky, which is not the best way to consume Teaninich but desperate times and all that ...
May 1st - Tuesday
It was a much more peaceful morning in The Cove as the breeze, still a punchy 25 to 30 miles per hour had slipped around to the south west, from which we are largely sheltered. Unfortunately, when the wind is in the south west, it usually brings with it some moist air. The moist air that this particular southwesterly was bringing with it was very moist indeed, although it kindly held off until the early afternoon.
If we felt that yesterday was quiet for the time of year, then today was deathly. With the wind in a different direction we could not even be amused by the tumbleweed rolling down the street and had to make do with an expanse of big beach on a spring tide, low water. For the last few days it has been possible to walk to Gwenver across the sand, with the passage open for at least an hour or more either side of low tide. It seemed unfair to have that vast expanse of sand for six people and not dogs; the dog ban has cut in today, limiting access to before eight o'clock and after six o'clock.
It may be that the quietness here is due in part to 'Obby 'Oss Day in Padstow. Now there is a conundrum: as the capitalised letter has been replaced with an apostrophe, should the remaining first letter then be capitalised? Strictly not, I suggest, but it does not look right starting the word in lower case. Sorry, I digress. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, Padstow May Day kicked off early in the day and will go on until late. It is likely that most of the 'ossing about had all occurred before the rain set in proper, from later in the afternoon, by which time not many people probably cared very much.
Since there was little else to do, the Missus had a smashing idea to gather all our wetsuits together, take them out of their store boxes, count them and put them all back again. It was not quite as ridiculous as it sounds because having changed suppliers a few years ago, it has taken a while to settle on the best ranges. This has resulted in having different sizes in different ranges across long and short wetsuits and it was getting confusing about what we had and what we did not. The Missus did sterling work labelling and boxing up again; I read a newspaper or two. I did have my turn when the van needed filling back up again. It was raining by then.
We finished late in the day and the Missus did not relish any cooking, so I was sent to the OS for a carry out. Fortunately, I remembered that I had a voucher, won in the heady days when we used to win things in the OS quiz, that entitled the bearer to two free meals. I employed this for our take away meal and it was so much the better for not paying for it. I shall endeavour, with renewed vigour, to win another.
April 30th - Monday
It seems we have a new food outlet in The Cove. Head Launcher tells me he decided to try it our yesterday as it was advertising a bacon and egg roll for a fiver. Still not put off he approached and was told that his fiver would buy him no bacon, or egg for that matter, as the new food van at the top of the OS slipway is a vegan fast food purveyor. I will give Head Launcher his due, he went ahead anyway but was not overly impressed.
I do struggle with the concept of why, if you are dead set against eating anything to do with animals, you would want to emulate having a meal that is both an animal and an animal product. It is a bit like being against big game hunting and covering your house in fake animal heads, mounted on the walls. If they were promoting a vegetable ragout in a crispy wheat cornet, or some such clever innovation, I might be tempted. If, however, I want an egg and bacon roll I will have one with eggs and bacon in it, thank you.
I was not overly concerned about bacon rolls, first thing this morning. It was more about how hard the wind was blowing and from where and whether I could put my flags out the front or not - it was 'or not'. I had customers yesterday all set to dig big holes to shelter in because they had looked at the forecast and seen that big heavy rain was going to fall, doom would arrive, and civilisation would be clinging to the wreckage for millennia afterwards. There was some semblance of disbelief - because the forecast could not possibly be wrong - when I tried to reassure that the apocalypse would stop short of Penzance. In fact, it stopped short of the Isle of Wight, which is not what it said even yesterday. That is not really a forecast, is it.
Perhaps the Beatles - it was a boy band from the last century in case you are struggling - forecast the latest events in St Ives with their lyrics 'Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire', except they got the town name wrong. We are not entirely sure what they really meant by that but at least they were not guilty of the most contrived link between paragraphs as the tenuous one I have just employed. To explain: a shaft appeared in the middle of a car park in St Ives over the weekend after some curious resident poked a dent in the tarmac with his broom handle.
The shaft drops down forty feet and is certainly a mining related; the other certainty is that it will not be the last that appears here or there. It has been decreed that the adjacent houses are in no danger, although by the looks of it the person coming out of number 3 should avoid coming home in drink. It will be a rather expensive hole, too. Car parking spaces in the town run to about £150,000. Of course, there is always an upside: the newsreader on Radio Pasty was able to say that mining experts are looking into it.
Here is another sound bite, well, it was written in a newspaper so a light bite, perhaps. It concerns the yacht, Elfje, which has sailed into Plymouth for some reason, perhaps they were not looking where they were going. Plymouth is a port somewhere left of Falmouth from the land. The yacht is owned by one of the super rich, the wife of a Google chairman, and is a super yacht. It is not, however, one of those super yachts that you can land your helicopter on the back of, this one is a proper job; a ketch with a couple of big sails and a jib for sailing in the wind. It is, we are told, an eco-friendly yacht, "designed to save fuel". Perhaps it uses the wind more economically than a cheap yacht.
It would have been most welcome to the wind we had here, banging in from the north. It backed around to the north west later in the day that made it slightly more bearable. It was, however, colder than yesterday behind the counter and kept our customers at bay for the entire day. I think I should find a hobby for days like these.
April 29th - Sunday
It was a pretty little day and no mistake. If it were not for the sharp north easterly, it would have been nigh on perfect. As it was, the few visitors who turned up today did not hang about for long and were in no mood for an al fresco pasty, either. We did not sell one pasty all day.
I had high hopes, half way through the morning, when a coach load appeared out of nowhere. They piled into the shop and made us look busy for fifteen minutes. Between about twenty of them they managed to club together to buy five fridge magnets and two pens. I was tempted to close for the rest of the day.
By the middle of the afternoon, just when I thought that the tedium might get me, an unfortunate walker injured themselves up on Mayon Cliff. They were not badly hurt but according to the Coastguard Rescue Team they were in an awkward position and required helicopter evacuation. Quite why the Air Ambulance, which was on scene, was not good enough for the job, I have no idea, but the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter, 924, was tasked for the job. There was a moment of confusion when one of the ground team gave the wrong map reference for the helicopter. The residents of Sunnybank Hotel, to the east of the village, might have had a bit of a shock with a sizable aircraft landing in their garden. Fortunately, the mistake was picked up early on and disaster averted. In all, two cliff teams, two helicopters, a land ambulance and a doctor all arrived to help out. I think if I ever injure myself on the Coast Path, or anywhere else for that matter, I shall keep quiet about it; I might die of embarrassment being the centre of attention for all that lot.
A couple of hours later it was all over. It did not take long to return to the sedate pace that I had become used to over the rest of the day. I was asked a few times about what the fuss was about up the hill. I amused my imagination with tales of an escaped marmoset that had bitten a walker and the authorities were worried about rabies or that a small child had discovered an irrational fear of castellated structures and had been rooted to the spot in front of the old Coastguard lookout. The parents had been to afraid to move the child in case it traumatised him in later life. Well, it kept me distracted for a moment or five.
I was quite relived to close after nine and a half hours of standing in a cold draft. I think that we are expecting more of the same for tomorrow, so I might find some additional layers and put in some extra effort at the gymnasium. If it gets any cooler I might have to temporarily rescind the order of the shorts.
April 28th - Saturday
Well, that was an altogether more refreshing start to the day with a less punchy draught than yesterday and some sunshine here and there. Now all we need to do is have our baker make a more timely delivery and we will be away. In fairness, he is new to the job and is from Liverpool. It was also Trevithick Day in Camborne that caused some delivery problems and some knock on effect down to us.
It is not often that the Diary has to deliver bad and shocking news. In fact, we try hard to avoid it and leave it to someone else. It was such a surprise that I had to dig a little deeper in case I was hoodwinked into relaying maliciously incorrect news. It seems that I am not. There is no easy way to break it to you, so I shall just flatly announce that bastion of Cornish culture, that champion of Cornish production in many fields, Cornwall Today (did I tell you I once had a review ), is about to turn turtle, throw in the towel and fold its pages for the last time. It was like hearing that the St Piran flag is going to be red and white from now on. The biggest surprise is that it is owned by Trinity Mirror, who knew, which presumably has decreed that it I not making sufficient money. The last edition will be June's.
Something that was opening instead of closing was Penberth Gardens. I think it opens for just one day a year and used to host an RNLI funding day. Now it opens to the public for its own sake and given that it is pretty and the sun was shining, the Missus took Mother down there for a geek. Apparently, the plants, which it is selling, were not up to much, maybe because of the weather. Still, Mother has a whale of a time, which was the whole plan, anyway.
Whales are not so much the problem in the shop at present, it is more crabs or rather the lack of them. We are starting to get enquiries regarding when brown crabs might be available. It is still a little early in the season for the local boats to be picking them up as they will still be in deeper waters - the crabs, not the local boats, although with the quotas available for the small boats they could be in hot water before long. Even in the main season last year there were few brown crabs about. Many people are happy to have a pot of white crab meat rather than the whole crab, kicking and screaming, and we call these in from the crabber fleet out of Newlyn. This year it seems even the big boys are having problems and we have been turned down for orders twice now. It would not be for the lack of trying as the family business we buy from had boats out all over Christmas and in some of the poor weather since then, too. We are hoping that this is temporary and due to the colder than usual waters this winter. There are lobsters about but they are at an all time high price.
The geography and the lack of too many other flight paths about here lends itself to having odd aeroplanes about from time to time. A Hercules transport plane practises low passed over Land's End Airport now and again and, quite regularly, a Navy helicopter plays there, too. We were passing on our way to St Just the other evening and it came down and hovered about ten feet off the tarmac for five minutes. The Missus nearly put the van in a ditch so we could stop and watch. This evening, and a bit more of a rare occurrence, we had two Apache helicopters come in low across the bay. They were so low they had to climb to get over Mayon Cliff. It was either the military having a play or Mr IoS Steamship Company read my bit on the AugustaWestland helicopters and changed his mind about what to fly customers out to the Islands in.
April 27th - Friday
Let us clear up Lifeboat matters a moment. Apparently, the boat suffered some engine difficulties last night during training, which could not be resolved at the time. I think, though I have not heard officially, that the boat was taken off service while matters were resolved.
On the bright side, the heavy rain that I awoke to this morning stopped for just long enough for me to take the bleddy hound around the block. This would have been even more convenient had the rain ceased before I had geared up in my full metal jacket waterproof clothing. Happily, and just in time for shop opening, the rain returned with a forty miles per hour easterly so that it could squirt through the open door and onto the counter. I will pull no punches: it was a tad cool standing at the counter first thing.
I was looking forward to warming up at my gymnasium session but willingly swapped it for a session with my bone cruncher instead. I have said it before that there is a price to pay for the transition from sitting most of the time to standing and in the last few days, the price has gone up a bit. I managed to get a cancellation and whizzed into town for the middle of the day. I cannot say that it provided the warming up that I was seeking but at least all my bits are now aligned for a summer of standing up behind the counter.
I collected Mother on the way back from town. Naturally, I arrived at her bungalow just as a heavy shower arrived over St Buryan. I waited in the van, as she will normally spot me turning up and come out to me but for some reason, possibly the hacking rain, she waited until I ran over and rang the door bell. Fortunately, there was a couple of minutes lull in the heavy stuff and I managed to get her installed before it started up again.
I had not had any breakfast in the morning because I was waiting to finish my session at the gymnasium. When that did not happen there was insufficient time before I left for the bone cruncher, so by the time I came back at around half past one, I was a mite peckish. I had called ahead and asked the Missus to bake one of our frozen baguettes in readiness; it was still warm when I arrived. Eating it, however, was a different issue because the Missus told me that my presence was required at the Lifeboat station as the engineers had identified the fault raised last night and wanted to run the Lifeboat out to test its readiness to be brought back on service. I hurriedly consumed the knob end off the baguette with a lump of butter and ran across the road, still chewing.
We launched the boat for a short run and we set up for recovery. While it was gone I ran back over the road with some hopes of having a little more breakfast. When I arrived, the Missus informed me that the bleddy hound needed to be taken around, which I duly did. When I got back to the shop I went straight for my baguette, whereupon the Missus told me she could hear the boat approaching, so I went back across the road, giving my roll a soulful look over my shoulder as I went. It was a false alarm and the boat went off again. I waited for a few minutes then returned again to the shop. I had just taken one mouthful when the boat came back again and this time lined up on the short slipway; I returned to the boathouse.
We had just sufficient numbers to work the short slipway comfortably and we brought the boat up in what was clearly a textbook recovery. Each team member knew instinctively what was required without confusion or the need for command and we washed down, hooked up and shut down like a finely tuned machine. We are after all, a very well oiled, very excellent Shore Crew.
This very excellent Shore Crew member was also very hungry by this time. I eventually managed to start my breakfast properly at just about three o'clock in the afternoon. My, it was a welcome baguette, with ham and, of course, Cornish Ale grain mustard.
The Missus was keen as mustard, herself, to get away to do the shopping for our tea. When I am working in the shop she becomes hunter gatherer, although I do not condone her hunting grounds. I am sure that she does it on purpose. I reciprocate, of course, by examining the goods she comes back with and telling her just how much cheaper and better quality they could have been and with far less unnecessary plastic wrapping if she had purchased them in the very good, independent shops in town. While steps have been taken to mend a rift in the Far East, this conflict is set to run and run.
The rain returned in the later part of the afternoon. With the wind backing to the north east, it was unseasonably cool, too. I hope the sun cream we just bought has a long date on it.
April 26th - Thursday
We were told that this would be the last good day ahead of the weekend, so I spent the morning avoiding the heavy showers that passed through the bay. This gave us a bit of a slow start, although it picked up marginally later in the morning and into the afternoon. We saw no more of the rain and the sun made several appearances but the strong westerly breeze, once again kept temperatures at a minimum.
It was yet another sedate day. The most exciting moment of the day was when a customer noticed that she had lost her newspaper voucher when she came to pay for it. She went back and looked in the car and in a jacket that had been left behind but to no avail. They paid cash for the newspaper in the end, thus depriving me of my extra one penny administration fee for processing the token. It was only a short while after they had gone that I noticed a bundle of tickets on the floor, including the expensive weekend ones. I did try and track them down at the OS but to no avail as the barman did not really have the first clue what I was on about. I also telephoned the newspaper's subscription service, but they were not willing to help for only four vouchers. I do hate it when a plan does not come together.
Oh, perhaps I should have not said that was the highlight as you have probably stopped reading now but, wait, there is more. Alright, there is not, well, not much, anyway.
I can tell you that the Lifeboat launched on training at around seven o'clock in the evening, but I had already arranged to head into town with the Highly Professional Craftsperson and thus missed the excitement. There were shenanigans and the boat was out until around eleven o'clock but at the time of finishing this page off, no news has filtered down. I am led to believe that the team muddled through without me end the end and, by some trickery, managed a textbook recovery up the long slipway. After all, even with members in absentia, we are a very excellent Shore Crew.
The Highly Professional Craftsperson and I had acquired tickets to see a couple of ladies sing songs at the Acorn Theatre in town. They were not really Highly Professional Craftsperson's cup of tea, but he came along anyway to make up the numbers - I had bought two tickets. It was a charity evening in support of St Petroc's homelessness charity and four acts had piled in. The first, while a mediocre three piece, learned their song writing in the Motorhead school of writing songs; they were all the same but not awful. There was then a poet chap who put his poems to music on an acoustic guitar. We heard the first half and retired to the bar until he was finished as he was awful.
With our suffering over, a pair of very accomplished musicians, her on violin and he on acoustic guitar, played tunes that evoked thoughts of Bohemian Gypsies in underground cafes, playing at the tables. Alright, I have an awkward and lively imagination, but they played tunes from across Europe and were very, very good at it. They were called Ekohead.
Lastly, the pair of ladies kicked up a storm with foot stomping tunes they made, accompanied by foot drum and foot tambourine and a couple of guitars and occasionally an electric piano. Their voices were strong and complementary, banging away songs that were fast and furious with clever harmonies and wickedly intricate lyrics. If you think a less Irish slanted Mumford and Sons, you would be somewhere there but to suggest they were a female version of that band would be to decry their originality and talent. They must have been some good because the Highly Professional ("I don't like female harmony") Craftsperson liked them.
Being a school night for the Highly Professional Craftsperson (it is always a school night for me) we indulged lightly and it made a pleasant change from losing at he OS quiz. To top it off, we were warned that it would be raining heavily by the time we left the theatre. It had rained heavily but had desisted, especially for us as we left. How very good of it.
April 25th - Wednesday
It was a bit of a Belisha beacon day, with blue skies one minute and a cloud cover the next. We were warned of showers about, some heavy but we did not get to see any, or at least none that I saw until late in the afternoon. The breeze was up from the west again which kept the temperatures down, as well as the visitor numbers.
Both our usual deliveries of milk and pasties were a little late this morning. Our milkman had upset a crate of milk, fortunately he did not cry about it, as that would have been no use. The accident highlighted what we shall all, no doubt, need to get used to again as suppliers scrabble to join the no plastic bandwagon and switch back to good old-fashioned glass. I shall also need to spend longer hours down the gymnasium to put additional strength in my arms and back as the glass bottles weight several times as much as the plastic ones.
Fortunately, there is no glass involved in the delivery of our pasties or plastic, either, unless you count the reusable trays that they come in. There is, however, a modicum of accurate communication required to ensure, say, that we do not get large pasties when we have ordered medium ones. Clearly there was such an issue sometime between my order and the delivery, as large pasties is what we got today. The fault lay with the order taker at head office who is new and not yet used to the system. Despite having a check sheet, we stated that we normally have medium, cooked and unwrapped, she still managed to get it wrong.
Sadly for me, the accounts department did not forget to charge me for the large pasties we had. Since we only had a small quantity, I did not bother with changing our signage just for the day so there were a dozen lucky people who had a large steak pasty for the price of a medium one. I had to be a bit careful when I was serving them as I did not want my tears to fall onto the paper bags.
We had the usual day of quietness, although most of the pasties sold. The fact that these fallow periods happen every year make them no less palatable. In years when Easter is late the quietness occurs before the holiday. This year, with an early Easter, the quietness follows it and will probably last until the middle of May unless we have a major heatwave or Poldark comes and visits for a couple of weeks.
The Missus was off galivanting again, although it involved banking cash and the like, so was too late to prepare a tea for us. On the grounds that we are fed up with quick make-do meals we ordered in a Chinese meal from town, which will be banned soon if the Government get their hands on controlling what we eat. A few years ago I ran with a cynical tale of having to buy your pasties 'under the counter' and it is quite scary just how prescient that was; it is coming folks, get your legal pasties now, before it is too late.
April 24th - Tuesday
As you know, dear reader, the Diary only publishes verifiable, factual statements - honest guv - so you will know that there is hardly a hint of fabrication when I tell you that there is some sort of conspiracy going on with the buying of helicopters around here. First, Mr Tresco announced that he was backing a revived helicopter service from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly starting in 2019 using a new all singing AugustaWestland AW139 helicopter. Pipping them well before the post and introducing a bit of a spoiler was the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, with a service from Land's End Airport - yes, it really is an airport - using a slightly more downmarket AugustaWestland AW169 helicopter.
Alright, what I am hearing is that the AugustWestland AW series is a very good helicopter; the company website says so. It also might have been that Mr IoS Steamship Company caught wind that Mr Tresco was buying an AW139 ...
Mr IoS Steamship Company posing as child helicopter enthusiast.: "Hello, is that Mr Tresco?" Mr Tresco's Secretary.: "No, he has a deeper voice. I am his secretary." Mr IoS.: "Maybe you can help, then. I am a small enthusiastic child with quite a deep voice, and I am very enthusiastic about helicopters. I hear Mr Tresco is buying a helicopter for his new very clever plan to fly from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly, with people on board." Mr Tresco's Secretary.: "Oh, I'm really not supposed to say. It is a big secret." Mr IoS.: "But I am only a small helicopter enthusiastic child who wants to finish his 'Boys' Own Helicopters That Run Between Penzance and Isles of Scilly Scrapbook Collection'. Oh pleeese, Mr Tresco's Secretary. I promise I won't tell. Cub's honour." Mr Tresco's Secretary.: "Oh, I suppose it won't hurt to tell a small helicopter enthusiast child who has given his Cub Scout honour not to tell. He is going to by an AW139 from those very nice AugustaWestland people." Mr IoS.: "Cor blimey, thanks missus. I'll tell the board I mean I'll stick it in my Boys' Own scrapbook right away and not tell anyone - honest, Miss."
Of course, it might just have been that Mr IoS Steamship Company read it in The Cornishman newspaper like everybody else. Also, while it may seem that Mr IoS went for the higher number model, the AW169, the AW139 is actually bigger. Both come with Sat Nav and a nice radio/cassette player but the AW139 has a CD player as well, passenger as well as driver airbags and more seats.
However, this is not the conspiracy to which I allude, although it might have been but did not look like one at that point. What really gave it away was the announcement that the Cornwall Air Ambulance is starting a campaign to attract funds for the new helicopter it wants to buy to replace the old one which is coming to the end of its lease. Shall we guess which helicopter they have decided upon? Yes, dear reader, another AugustaWestland AW169 - the cheap version. This is too much of a coincidence for me.
Interestingly, in the battle of the flight paths, Mr Tresco has opted for the more expensive aircraft with an additional five seats. I have done some back of a fag packet calculations and reckon that if I was going to take Mr Tresco's flight I would want to be in the first ten on board. Because of the additional cost of the aircraft for the added five seats those extra five passengers are going to be paying £6.25 per flight on top. What a liberty.
You might have guessed, dear reader, that it was a bit of a slow day today. We started off with some unnecessary mizzle followed by some very unnecessary mist. There was some semblance of it clearing by the early afternoon, but it was replaced by a robust westerly, which was also quite unnecessary. A neighbour complained that I said that it would not rain today. I contended that I was right, as everyone knows that mizzle is just wet air. I am not sure that we could agree but the main bulk of proper, heavy rain piled up the Bristol Channel and we were spared that, at least.
I do not know about you, dear reader, but I am coming under increased bombardment from companies that wish to gain my approval for continuing to contact me. It has been triggered by the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation or more commonly seen as GDPR, which means that anyone who wants to hold any data at all about you must have your express permission. There is not a corner of life that remains unaffected by this and even the merest hint of a photograph of someone's second cousin's cat counts as personal data.
The much maligned council offered a glimmer of hope. Yes, I was surprised, too but then I was not. The agency it has set up called the Business Regulatory Support team, which is anything but, sent out its regular(ish) newsletter and offered a basic computer based training course to get businesses through the maze of GDPR rules. I was quite impressed until I followed the link and found that the course is £25. Great help, that. I used the free resources that are littered all over the Internet, thank you.
The mizzle, which is not rain but wet air, returned in the later part of the afternoon and saw off the few visitors who had dared to turn out today. It was not too much of a problem for us as we had already seen our allocation of half a dozen customers for the day. More would have just been plain greedy. We also had some enquiries about walks and where it was best to watch a particular football match this evening. For the latter I made enquiries in St Just. Since the last bus in that direction leaves at quarter to two in the afternoon that left a fair few hours to find some amusement other than sitting in the public house waiting. I pointed out a circular walk down to Cape Cornwall, then along the Coast Path to Cot Valley, which even in the weather we had today would have been reasonably pleasant. I also pointed out Geevor Tin Mine, which is not to everyone's interest but is a wonderful resource in my view and has some wild rugged scenery all about it, thus giving it a wider appeal than just industrial heritage.
Yes, I know that I sound like a travelogue, but it is sometimes difficult to be truly objective when suggesting visits. It is also difficult to match someone's interest when they perhaps do not know what they might be interested in. I have seen some unlikely visitors captivated by Geevor or the Telegraph Museum when that is the last place you might have thought of sending them. It also helps relieve my boredom on days like these.
We also have not had much luck with crab and lobster orders. It is early in the season anyway but there are reports of a shortage of brown crab. There were not too many about last year and this year availability is even worse. Our customers have therefore fallen back on lobsters, which are at an all time high price and currently quite small. One customer at Easter changed their minds when they found out they would have the faff of dealing with eight smaller fish rather then four big ones. Today another order fell by the wayside because the sea state over the next few days is set to deteriorate. Our customer is around for more than a week, so hopefully there will be an opportunity during that time.
You will have to trust that it is busier tomorrow, dear reader, which will give me less opportunity to write yards of drivel. My fingers are quite sore, so you might be lucky, anyway.
April 23rd - Monday
We were told to expect some fair and some bad weather this week as things turned a little unsettled. Today was clearly one of the fair days, although we started off somewhat grey and, when I walked the bleddy hound around first thing, there was a little mizzle in the air. Things perked up in the afternoon but there were very few people about to enjoy it.
The Missus went over to Mother's early on to sit while the electrician changed the electric meter. This was the third appointment and fortunately, this time, the appointment and the electrician came together. Mother now has to wait to see what her normal usage is with a meter that, hopefully, is accurate so she can claim arrears for the last five years or more of overcharging.
Due to the appointment, I had assumed that I would not be getting to the gymnasium today but the Missus was back by nine o'clock, so I revised my plans and got changed to head down there. While it is sometimes necessary to miss my sessions at the gymnasium, it does throw my week into disarray if I do not go, not to mention the effect it has on my perfectly toned frame. There is nothing worse than coming into a shop to see a grumpy shopkeeper not quite at the peak of physical fitness, I am sure you agree, dear reader.
The session was also necessary because a round of Curds & Croust, Miss Wenna Cornish brie had gone out of date and needed to be consumed or thrown away. It would be something of a crime to dispose of such a top Cornish product, so, despite the possible influence that it might have on my midriff, I did the honourable thing and ate it with a hunk of bread and some Cornish ale, grain mustard that is also out of date. Sadly, although not for me, there were about eight jars of Cornish ale, grain mustard that went out of date before the new season commenced and I have been trying my best to work through them. I have discovered that it is the perfect accompaniment to ham, chicken, cheese, pork pies, beef and bacon. I have also stirred it into a Cornish rarebit (with sardines) and had it on toast. I have not yet tried it on scones or on a bit of hevva cake. This may become necessary as there are four jars left plus the one I just started with the Miss Wenna, this morning. It is a selfless act of waste reduction that I am pleased to be a part of, well, all of really.
It was another dire and deathly quiet day for business. It reinforces the notion that there were still some schools on holiday last week and that now we are paying the price - rather than our customers. While the quietness provides time to restock and do things that are impossible when it is busy, finding the impetus to actually do any of them is a test of will. It was well into the afternoon before I managed to haul myself away from the newspapers and other mind numbing activities and refill the sunglasses display. I progressed to other gift shelves and replenished the playing cards, the octopus tentacle pens, the lanyards and the tactile chickens that light up when bounced. I felt very righteous, even in the knowledge that most of these things will still be in their places when the end of May school holiday starts.
The Missus returned from a foray into the wilderness - it is what the wives of grumpy shopkeepers do, I am told - with additional stock items that I had asked her to pick up from Shrew House on her was back. This sorted out our sadly depleted ball display and the holes in the buckets and spades that the good Easter weather had occasioned. However, by the time she returned, my enthusiasm for stock replenishment had waned, rather, so I shall leave those items until tomorrow, except the balls, which I inflated with the compressor while the shop was quiet.
The Missus and I had one of our cosy evenings, snuggled up around a pile of invoices that we had let pile up for an unreasonable length of time. The Missus did the counting and I did the collecting and keying in. It is amazing that after twenty years we still can find time for romance. All that was missing was the melodic trilling of a cash register, played at our table by some bohemian artisan of the craft. Brings a tear to the eye, dunt it?
April 22nd - Sunday
A cold front definitely moved in this morning. There was a little rain pattering on the skylight first thing but by the time I arrived downstairs to set up shop, it had gone away again. The warmth of yesterday has evaporated in a trice but I have gone past my personal Rubicon of shorts wearing and there is no going back. No, there is almost certainly no going back. Yes, on the balance of probability, there is a strong to middling likelihood there is no going back. Maybe.
There is also uncertainty surrounding the going forward of the young lady from yesterday who said she was going to paddleboard to John O'Groats. I am sure she said she was going today but there is nothing on her media pages less than two days old. One of the pages stated that she would be wearing a tracker, probably a good idea as she is doing it unsupported, but there is no link to it anywhere I have looked. A lone paddleboarder left yesterday, accompanied by the angling boat I mentioned but it was difficult to determine whether it was she or not, quite apart from the fact she left from The Cove and not Land's End, unless she did that bit earlier, or maybe over land. If that was her going, the Diary wishes her well, although we cannot help feeling that she would do her cause, Paddle Against Plastic, much more good if she told people about it.
In contrast to yesterday's relative busyness, the morning was deathly quiet. There were a few walkers passing through and that was about it. I left for the range at around half past one o'clock by which time it was beginning to show a little more spirit but by and large today was not a raving success, it seems. While I was away, the sun broke through and it was a very pleasant afternoon, but even that did not persuade the flocks to come flocking.
They did some minor flocking at the five minutes to closing period, which was not actually too far off when I came home. The Missus ran off to make our tea and I took the bleddy hound around the block after we closed. For a day labelled as pretty poor, the walk around was pretty pleasant. We even had a sky full of stars at last knockings, too and it was Venus in the western sky; it had a label on last night.
April 21st - Saturday
A little mobile city seems to have sprung up overnight in the Harbour car park. When I walked through this morning there were camper vans of all types and ages scattered about. The gentleman who had been staying there all week, camped out in his car, almost on his own, seems to have been crowded out. He cannot have gone very far as he has booked his car into the garage at the top to have his cam belt replaced.
The garage at the top seems to have had some business from visitors over the last few weeks. I sent a gentleman up there just before Easter as his car had broken down shortly after arriving here. Yesterday, a lady dropped by for some going home souvenirs, who seemed to have had the unluckiest time. Her mother, who was due to come with her, shuffled off shortly before the holiday, her turbo charger broke on the way down and she had to be recovered by one of the breakdown companies and shortly after she got it back again, she had a flat tyre. I wished her luck on her way back as I think she might need it.
It was a rather splendid morning, with the sun sparkling in a big blue sky right from the word go. For the first time this year I did not need a jacket when I took the bleddy hound around in the morning and for the first part of the day, I did not need it in the shop, either. It was in the early afternoon that the breeze backed around to the south east and freshened. For some reason this blows straight in the shop doorway and sent me scampering for my jacket again.
It still looked pretty, out in the bay. For the second time this week the gig was out on the water. I think it was braving the swell on Thursday, which was the first time this year, so it looks like they are taking full advantage of the current soft conditions, especially today. Soon after they came in, a sizable angling and trip boat from St Ives powered across the bay and anchored up. Out by the Brisons for much of the day, a lone yacht was circling about - actually, on reflection, it might have been several yachts passing by that I saw at different intervals. Later in the afternoon there was a big schooner out to the west but too far to identify it.
Confirming that the time of year has come to mess about on the water, a young lady poked her head into the shop in the early afternoon. She had a large nautical looking bag on her back and was carrying something else vaguely waterproof. She asked if she might leave her bag with us overnight as she was heading off to paddleboard to John O'Groats in the morning. She was exceedingly miffed when I refused the request on security grounds, insisting that it was only a paddle and some paddleboard related equipment. I sort of suggested that she would say that, would she not, if it were not paddleboard related equipment, which did nothing to placate her.
My refusal may have been a little over-cautious, I know. Perhaps it stems from being brought up and working in a city when "mind me wee parcel" used to clear a public house in moments. However, I imagine that paddleboarding several hundred miles through some exceeding treacherous waters, requires some highly detailed planning. Somewhere in that rigorous preparation, I might have thought to find 'where will I keep my kit overnight?' as one of the items to plan for and with prior notice, we would have been happy to help.
I am quite good at helping. People come to the counter all day long and ask where the milk is, do we sell coffee - only in jars, perhaps we have clothes pegs somewhere or those little elastic bands to hold your hair back - yours, obviously, not mine. The most common is do we have newspapers, then toothbrushes and soap, oh, and do you have a band-aid. A what? It is called a plaster over here, luvver, although I will grant you that the first person who asked for one today was Australian, which is almost American. I did have to hold back from asking what part of New Zealand they came from; I was not sure what passed for a sense of humour south of the equator.
That is a bit of a red herring, as we were talking about calling plasters; band-aids. The other two people who asked were both English, or at least had middle English accents. I then recalled seeing a newspaper headline that pointed out that the latest Royal couple had used the term in some context or other and it occurred to me then that it had now become fashionable - after three days. Gosh, are we really that impressionable or is it just a fever that will hopefully pass at the end of May.
The Missus went off with Mother and the in-laws to eat at the restaurant where you eat with your fingers off a wooden plate in the dark, which I am none too keen on. Just because she put my sweet potato chips in the oven before she went triggered a bunch of late shoppers arriving five minutes before closing. They all bought quite a bit, which makes sacrificing sweet potato chips easier to swallow, as it were. As it happened, by the time I had taken the bleddy hound around in the late afternoon warmth and sunshine, fed her and got my act together, the chips were just about right. In fact, they were bleddy 'ansum dusted in cumin, Old Bay spice and paprika along with some goujons of haddock I just happened to have about my person. Thank heavens that I do not have to slum it too often with a hastily put together TV dinner.
I consoled myself with another starry night to gaze upon at the last bleddy hound walking of the day. I fancied there was rather more haze in the sky than previously. Change coming.
April 20th - Friday
We were somewhat bemisted when I first took to the streets this morning. It was one of those mists that can come and go all day and within a short while it showed signs of going. It got as far as Carn Gloose, which is almost all the way to Cape Cornwall before it started coming back again. It did that several times during the first part of the morning until it settled just this side of the horizon, which is a bit daft to say as if it settled just the other side of the horizon I would not have been able to see it. It stayed there all day, just as the weatherman on the television said it would last night, in a stunning, but rare, moment of accuracy.
As promised, I slipped into a pair of Florida shorts that the Missus bought for me when she was there last year. They are a little less, erm, interesting that the pairs of shorts that I have purchased for myself previously, but I think that was the idea. Anyway, I should be grateful that they did not come with motifs of giraffes or goats, given her latest fixations. The shorts were a bit of a risk as it was quite sharp first thing and the cooling northerly persisted throughout the rest of the day. I reasoned that it was time to man up, and besides, my new bloody leg stocking with the toe holes kept one leg warm.
Despite the sunshine and the failure of the mist to return, we were exceptionally quiet today. This persisted throughout the day until I had to make a couple of telephone calls when, of course, we had a string of customers one after the other, some practising some marathon browsing techniques and others wishing to engage in conversation because they had not spoken with another living soul for a decade. The person who I was calling must have been confused or irritated by the number of calls that rang off before they could answer because a customer had walked in. I did manage to make the call in the end, but it came pretty close to the close of business, theirs not ours.
We were blessed with another spectacular evening. The wind dropped through the afternoon, I thought, and by the time we closed it was quite pleasant, even on the shady side of the street and in the shop. It was when I stepped outside to bring in the street furniture that I discovered that the breeze had actually increased but changed direction. I was pretty sure it was now in the north east but appeared to be coming from the left of the shop, the west. Anyway, it was a tad sharp as I took the bleddy hound around the block.
When I took her our again last thing, the night was quite still. There was a crescent moon and, probably, Jupiter out towards the west, although it could have been Venus; it did not have a label on it like I am used to. One of these nights I will be run over by an electric car I did not hear coming as I spend the entire time with my neck craned back. I expect that there are far worse last sights.
April 19th - Thursday
It was a half and half sort of day today and although we were told that there would be some mist around the morning were we not at all sure that it would clear. Regardless of the lack of clear sunshine, the warmth of the day came through quite quickly into the morning. It is just a shame that there were few people about to enjoy it.
It was also the sort of day that a grumpy shopkeeper would ordinarily have slipped into something more comfortable, namely a pair of pastel shorts that had been purchased especially for such days by the Missus and transported hence from one of the far off regions of the world. Sadly, I am consigned to wear a tight stocking to assist in preventing a repeat of my bloody leg situation of about this time last year. The item, carefully measured and fitted for me and my leg only, does not have the facility to fit the toe post of a flip flop sandal between my toes, thus I am restricted to wearing long trousers only, since I do not like not wearing socks with shoes and the Missus will not permit me to wear socks with shoes with shorts.
I had ordered a couple of similar stockings that are cut off at the toes and thus permit the flip flops to be worn with gay abandon. While these did arrive in the post this morning, they were not available when my advisor put together today's fashion statement. All I can say is, look out world tomorrow and shortly before it gets cold and unshortlike again.
It did not matter too much today because there were not many people around in the morning. Shortly after midday, our Lifeboat pagers went off to alert us to launch both boats to an incident just around the corner where a climber had fallen off a cliff. She had fallen around fifteen metres, which is far enough to fall, and while she was on a ledge there was still some way to descend. The boats were tasks to standby in case anything needed to be done from the bottom up.
The Coastguard rescue team were in attendance and their helicopter came, too. The boats were gone for hours, so the lady was either in an awkward position or very poorly, or possibly both. She was shipped away by the helicopter to Treliske where we heard no more for now.
Since I initially launched the Inshore boat, it seemed sensible that I recover it too. Had it arrived back half an hour earlier, I would have struggled to collect it from the Harbour beach due to the tide, despite the Harbour tractor being deployed to clear some of the accumulated rocks and debris from the recent storms. As it was, there was just about enough water there to float the boat onto the trailer, although it was a bit of a bumpy ride hauling it back over the rocks.
I had finished with the little boat with just enough time to observe the last throes of the big boat recovery. It was pretty obvious from the satisfied faces all around that the boat was brought up the long slipway in something of a textbook recovery, which is always good to see. After all, we are a very multi-talented, very excellent Shore Crew.
I arrived back at the shop just in time to help the Missus down from the walls where she had been climbing for the last couple of hours. The Lifeboat shout had interrupted her in full flight, cleaning a bedroom and she hates to be disturbed during such activity. I soothed her furrowed brow and told her that I would make her birthday tea, which she should have had yesterday had time not slipped away from us. Since she was keen to return upstairs I suggested that she could cook her birthday tea while she was there, as I had suggested it and bought two of the ingredients that go into it. She said that it was a jolly good idea, although not exactly in those words.
Naturally, the evening weather just got better and better, now that we were close to closing and everyone had gone away. Still, it was pleasant to enjoy it and to watch the haze turn a sepia colour in the setting sun.
It was doing some of that still when I made my way down to the OS for a spot of quizzing. Lifeboat training had been abandoned, since a good many of us were thoroughly overtrained in the afternoon. The OS was another place to overtrain doing something, since we are rubbish at the quiz. It was good that the stars were out on the way home; it gave us something to aim at that was roughly in the direction of home.
April 18th - Wednesday
An avid Coast Path walker dropped by the shop this morning to ask for advice on parking and the community bus. He told me that he was going to walk from Pendeen back to The Cove. I told him that the best advice that I could offer was that he should not start from here, as Pendeen was miles away. The quizzical silence that followed should tell me to avoid any jocularity at such an early hour, or possibly at all. It was similar to when a lady came and asked if we had any of those noodles that can be attached to glasses to stop them from falling off. I said that we had run out, but we used to sell them, no strings attached. I topped it off when a regular visitor said that he had, for the very first time, seen dolphins on the Island walk in St Ives. I said that it was very unusual as they are normally in the sea. I only added that one because he told me not to. I think that the one liner cracking gentleman who stayed last week may have infected me.
On a more sober note, the mist and grey were still with us first thing in the morning. Kevin, the weatherman, assured us, however, that by mid morning the sun would be breaking through and the grey skies would be banished forever, and we could put on a happy face. The weather always does what Kevin the weatherman tells it to do and thus, by mid morning, those grey skies turned to blue and the sun popped out. Phwoar, what a scorcher, apart from the chunky east wind.
Mind, that chunky east wind kept the surfers happy for much of the day. You had to be a fair way out the back but there were some big but decent waves being enjoyed by a handful of hardy surfers. Our neighbour could hardly contain himself, but he was rather stuck with a team of fresh staff to train. I sympathised and told him that several people had come in to say how good it was and how much they had enjoyed it out there, so he was right to be upset. He went back to work then; I have no idea if it was something I said.
Well, it was only yesterday that I we were donating our furniture to a good cause. It seemed churlish to stop there and today, in the post, I had a letter to confirm that I am a confirmed organ donator. I tell you, I have pulled out all the stops - sorry. The letter told me that I was now a registered organ donator. It surprised me a little because I went through this process some years ago when they combined a campaign with driving licence applications, I think, or it might have been something else. Anyway, I registered then so I rather thought that the letter would come back saying that I was already on the register. I can only surmise that they lost the first registration, which is just a little remiss, so I thought that I would tell you, dear reader, in case they lose the new one too, and if you want my bits, preferably after my demise, you are quite welcome.
It did cross my mind that it might be a little cruel donating some of my organs, as I probably have not taken quite the care of them that perhaps I should have. Alright, there are some that have been roundly abused over the years and are probably not worth passing on but there was not a tick box for that, so I will have to risk it, not that the risk falls to me, exactly. Good luck, whoever you are.
The other news I had in the post today was altogether not as welcome. It was from our insurance company who carry the risk if anything should happen to the shop, we hope. The package was arranged through a broker in Penzance with whom I would converse just once or twice per year. I got the impression of him being a kindly soul but he would never use one word when 130 would do, which was often a problem as the insurance falls due at one of the busiest times of the year. Anyway, the letter I received from the insurance company was to advise me that I need to arrange a new broker as the poor old boy has shuffled off.
It was a bit peremptory and I would have thought the broker company might have sent a letter out, at the very least. It is likely that our man had some forewarning of his demise as he had recommended another Penzance broker to take on the task. While I never met him, I shall miss his quirky ways and trying to politely engineer a more timely end to our telephone conversations.
By the middle of the afternoon, most people had disappeared. It stayed fine all through the day and it was entertaining watching the surf, which was nigh on perfect if you like that sort of thing. Later, the Missus and I slipped off to the fields behind the village at the top for a mooch around with the bleddy hound. I had expected the ground to be waterlogged but it was not too bad where we were and the bleddy hound enjoyed a proper run about, the first in some while, and actually without getting lagged in something horrid. What a pretty end to the day.
April 17th - Tuesday
We were told we would have a miserable, mizzly day, so we were miserable and the mizzle stayed with us for most of the day and with the not mizzly bits, grey and uninteresting. Were we downhearted, though? Well, actually, yes. It was not a very inspiring day to be running a bright sunshiny shop in a location that runs on sunshine.
It was also not the sort of day to take delivery of several hundred pounds worth of sun lotion. Had I a long line of people sheltering in the shop from the blistering sunshine outside, desperate for some bottled protection, I might have seen it slightly differently. In fact, the only slight association that the lotion might have had with the weather today is that it is water resistant.
I thought that the arrival of a big tumultuous sea might have provided some entertainment but at no state of the tide during the day did it show any real muscle, although it was not exactly calm, either. A somewhat more satisfying prospect was the removal of some items of furniture from our flat. The Missus had spent some considerable time on the Internet working out what items of furniture could be purchased to replace the items that she intended to get rid of. At least one of the replacement items is smaller than the item it replaces and the number of items leaving is slightly larger than the number coming in, which is good.
The Missus made contact with a charity group called, Good Old Furniture Available or GOFA for short. We have donated items before but have taken them to their difficult to find warehouse in Penzance. Today, because of the number and size of the items, they came out to us. They were a friendly and energetic bunch of volunteers to a man. We had not dismantled the largest wardrobe on the basis that they may wish to remember how it came apart so they could put it back together again. The delay in doing this did not bother them at all and, in fact, I think that they rather enjoyed the challenge. They told us that there was a lady who has after the very article and that it would be redistributed straight away. They kept thanking us like it was us doing them a favour, when we thought that it was the other way around. What a very pleasant bunch.
The bosses at the RNLI head office have long encouraged the twin services of Lifeboats and Lifeguards to work more closely together. Indeed, last year we saw for the first time a Lifeguard area manager be appointed to look after all the Lifeboats and Lifeguards in the area, where previously they were managed separately. It has taken a little time for the traditional friendly rivalry to develop into a homogenous service, with similar goals, objectives and operating imperatives.
Today, the product of these efforts came to fruition when the Lifeguard four wheel drive truck, with its specially reduced pressure tyres, became stuck in the soft, big beach sand. Without the slightest smugness, smart comment or tittering, a pair of Lifeboat mechanics despatched the Inshore boat tractor along to tow the truck out of its hole. Clearly, this will only ever be mentioned in the spirit of oneness, camaraderie and cooperation and never, not even once, will there be a titter or smart comment, ever.
Subsequently other signs of entertainment lapsed after this excitement. I read several newspapers, though probably not the right ones to help with the OS quiz, and I completed a very complicated application form related to an old pension that needed the dust kicking off it. I then had a look at some of the electronic mails that had arrived in the interim.
Along with everyone else in the world who has an electronic mail account we get unsolicited mail from spurious quarters. Probably, we get rather more than some, as we have our business address out in the big wide world on purpose and this attracts a particular type of "spam" mail. Many suggest that our website can be improved/re-rewritten or whatever by experts in the field. It irritates me that if these were serious then they would have looked at our website first, which, given the vanilla content of their mail, they clearly have not. This is not so bad if they subsequently go away but one enquirer continued to harangue me for weeks until I replied with a blunt put down. We also get many mails that ask to stay in our lovely accommodation; it is a scam, clearly, as we have no accommodation, but the made up names they use are sometimes amusing and the spelling, atrocious.
One of today's random offerings was a beauty. It offered panoramic webcams and the various bits of software to go with it, so that panoramic images could be displayed on our website. It started with a, insert-customer-location-here sentence that read, "Sennen is a diverse and cultural rich city with lots of activities, exciting sights and shopping to choose from. Why not show this with a 360 degree panorama camera with VR?" I am cutting and pasting that onto our home webpage now as it is bound to attract the sort of customer that we are eager to welcome. It is probably best if I do not include the 360 degree panoramic shot, though.
Had I been paying attention, a panoramic picture of the sea might have been quite handy in the latter stages of the afternoon. While I was dozing, the sea had upped its game in the stormy stakes and was fair thundering over Cowloe and tearing up through Tribbens with monster waves. It was also crashing up the footings of Pedn-men-du, although it could not quite muster the power to come over the top. It lost most of its thunder by the time it got in front of the shop, which I why it took a visitor to point out what was happening further up. I should really get out more.
April 16th - Monday
I should admit that I was not mightily overjoyed by the prospect of having to go to the dentist this morning. I had gone for a check up in February and the very pleasant chap they have there as my dentist told me that I needed to have some work carried out to protect the top of a tooth that had become exposed. He had told me to go to the reception and book an appointment for as soon as they could manage, which I duly did. Because I did not have a scrap of paper, or for that matter a pen, I did what any modern man, au fait with the wonders of modern technology might do and wrote it in blood on the back of my mobile telephone. No, alright, I did not. I did manage through the wonders of modern medical science that keeps my brain close to ticking over, to work out how to key in the appointment on a special application designed for that purpose.
Today being the very day that my mobile telephone suggested was the very day that I had inserted the appointment I made the appropriate preparations. I ensured my last will and testament was up to date and made sure the bleddy hound had a good run around the block. I dressed in my best blood proof smock and waterproof trousers, against the possibility of spatters, you understand, and put on a pair of old wellie boots.
It crossed my mind that the dental practice usually deluges me with electronic mails and text messages a good month before such appointments and continues this practice every half an hour, just to be on the safe side that I do not forget. It seemed a sensible precaution therefore that I telephone the dental practice, just to make sure nothing had gone awry. After twenty minutes of queuing - because they were experiencing a high level of calls - I spoke with a very pleasant receptionist who informed me that they knew of no such appointment. I asked how that could be, since I had stood at reception and been belittled for my poor knowledge and capability of making an entry in my mobile telephone's calendar function for which they had no answer. I wondered if I had blundered and penned in the incorrect date but no, there was no appointment at all, on any date, made in my name.
The very pleasant, but clearly incompetent reception person telephoned back having spoken to the dentist on the matter. He had confirmed that some work had indeed been required, which clearly made no difference whatever. I was offered another appointment in the middle of the Whitsun holiday; I told her that I was a grumpy shopkeeper and appointments for anything other than serving customers, or a chronic bought of death, were complete madness. Since we become increasingly busy after Whitsun I suggested an appointment in November. She told me that should I experience any extreme discomfort because of the delay, I should call again. I asked how that might help if the next appointment she could manage was six weeks away, at which point she must have felt that I was a little too grumpy for a Monday morning and politely terminated the call.
When the Missus came downstairs I sent myself off to the gymnasium where I could vent my frustration on a rowing machine and a bunch of heavy weights. Gosh it felt good. By the time I came back my urge to tear down big buildings with my bare hands had dissipated a little, although, I did have to avert my gaze from the small shed in next door's garden.
I would not say that we were busy today but there were a fair few people about, considering. Fortunately, we had the weather to help us along and it was quite warm this side of the coast.
Customer.: "Wow, you are so sheltered here. It is really windy up at Land's End." Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "Yes, wind is in the south and quite blustery today." Customer.: "Wow, what's it like here when the wind is in the other direction?" Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "Er, windy."
It was not all sweetness and light in The Cove. Later in the afternoon we had a shower or two of rain pass through, unaware that it had not been forecast and should not have been here. It finished the day off quite nicely at four o'clock, so a jolly good job that we now close at six.
April 15th - Sunday
On a day when we had some fun and an excellent service from some vintage buses, some bad news has emerged. It seems that a European court - why is that not an European court? Same reason as an hotel, I suppose. Sorry, I digress. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, a European court has ruled, after an objection by a commercial bus operator, that community buses must work under the same rules as the big boys from now on. This will mean that all the volunteer drivers will need commercial bus operating qualifications and the buses will come under commercial bus scrutiny rules.
I can see their point, but it is likely that most community bus routes will cease to operate. The cost of commercial bus ticket alone would be enough to see off most of the services; the one here works with a network of several drivers who work short shifts between them. The only saving grace might be that if the community bus service can demonstrate that a commercial bus operator could not run the route, they are off the hook. Since the last commercial operator, Western Greyhound, went belly up running the St Just route, amongst others, I hope we stand a good chance of keeping our community bus, which is something of a lifeline for some of the older residents around here.
A band of rain passed over us during the night, which was rather decent of it. We were warned that we would be peppered with showers during the day, but they did not amount to very much more that an occasional sprinkling. The forecast did not seem to bother many people as the few that were here were out and enjoying themselves. The sun broke through now and again, actually more again than now, that added to the lustre of the day quite a bit.
There was a flurry of activity in the Harbour as the fishermen hauled their punts up to the top of the slipway. There is a large lump expected to arrive from the body of the Atlantic, driven in by a big low pressure system out there. It will drive north of us but deliver some hefty south westerly and southerly breezes in the early part of next week; a large swell will come too.
Given today, I can hardly wait for all that excitement. It was boredom central for most of the day, with only a smattering of visitors to have a chat with and most of them were not keen to hang about. Towards the end of the afternoon I contented myself by counting the balls of tumbleweed rolling down the street in the increasing breeze. By the time we came to close at six o'clock, the sea had begun to flex its muscles and was banging half way up Brisons and lumping over the Harbour wall. With any luck it will bring a few storm watchers in, although I suspect the bigger spectacle will be on the south coast.
April 14th - Saturday
Today was billed as being sunny and dry. It was dry, at least. I could not blame the forecasters for it, really, the sea mist was very tenacious and while we had a few hints of blue sky it never really happened for us.
Late yesterday evening, our Lifeboat pagers went off announcing a hurried launch schedule for this morning. There had been some problems with the radar on the boat during the exercise on Thursday that needed to be resolved urgently. Parts had arrived from Poole yesterday and needed to be configured with the boat afloat, so a launch was organised.
The Coxswain insisted that he would be out for twenty minutes or half an hour at a push, so we waited in the boathouse for him to return. An hour later we went and had a cup of tea, as there was no sign of the boat returning, last seen heading for Porthcurno. We managed to have our cuppa, but the boat returned shortly afterwards.
We were not over manned on the shore but probably just enough to be comfortable. It was almost dead low water when the boat came back, so I sent an expendable (and younger) man down to the bottom of the slipway to receive the heaving line from the boat. The RNLI is dragging us avant garde, derring do types, kicking and screaming into the tightly controlled world of health and safety and our new operating procedures require the boat to be drawn up to a safe position on the slipway so that the person at the end of the slipway can return to the safety of the boathouse before we proceed. We play the game, obviously, but we still keep the top button of our oilers undone as a symbolic act of defiance. With all procedures followed to the letter, we executed what was very likely to be a textbook recovery up the long slip. We are after all, even in short numbers, a very compliant, very excellent Shore Crew.
It was quite busy in the shop when I returned. I should have savoured it more, as it stopped being busy shortly afterwards. There were still families about, indicating the possibility of some school holidays continuing, but nothing on the scale of last week. Against expectations we have had a bumper time for an early Easter, the second week being better than the first. I must now force myself to recalibrate my expectations and my ordering, as we will have excess bin fodder, else.
The quiet did enable me to read a couple of trade magazines, though, and one article threw up some evidence in support of my personal little crusade against Tesmorburys. The article referenced the new sugar tax on soft drinks that came into force on April 6th. It seems that the big stores applied their increases well ahead of the due date and by much more than the tax demanded. I will not comment further.
I managed to survive the boredom of the last few hours, heartened by the fact that we will close an hour earlier tomorrow. Cheekily, the sun broken through for a short while before we closed but I do not think that there were many around to see it - just me and our resident wagtail.
April 13th - Friday
The much maligned council is up to its dirty tricks again. In last week's The Cornishman newspaper there was a big spread about the victory for common sense and that from 1st April, a significant date, all its car parks would be free in the evening to give businesses a boost, well, the few business that are open in the evening, of course. There were pats on the back and rounds of applause for such a selfless act on behalf of the much maligned council.
Roll forward to this week and I noticed a letter on the letters page from 'Angry of Sennen', complaining about the hike in prices at the much maligned council car park in Penzance. The under one pound charge for one hour, permitting shoppers sufficient time to buy their goods in the high quality and reasonably priced local independent stores, has been increased by more that 65 percent. There was an inference, somewhere that I read, that the price hike is just for the summer - you know, when it gets busier and the local shops hope to gain an edge against the slow winter months - now capped by a profiteering and mindless much maligned council.
But, heigh ho, the much maligned council has opened a park and ride - not for the town, you understand, but for the Scillonian service. It is the product of the Section 106 agreement, signed when they let Tesmorburys build all over the old heliport. The new much maligned council administration openly admit that the agreement was a load of pants, messed up by the previous administration, mainly the same people that are there now but called something else. It is difficult to work out what agenda the much maligned council is working to but it is enough to make your teeth itch and a grumpy Diarist to start a sentence with a conjunction. I met 'Angry of Sennen' this morning; my, my she was angry.
Away from the trials and tribulations of big city life, it was still a little hazy in The Cove this morning. The breeze had dropped out completely, or gone somewhere where we could not feel it and as a consequence, it was quite temperate. The dive team, that were probably scared off by the increasing swell yesterday, were back today to finish installing the replacement channel markers for the Lifeboat. The channel markers go missing each year, their moorings wrenched up from the deep by the force of nature, and end up in a channel marker graveyard somewhere. Some are recovered from the beach; others just disappear. I once had to manhandle the breasting buoy off the rocks and down to the big beach where we lumped it onto the tractor to bring it back. If it happened today, I would need to personhandle it, I expect, with a risk assessment.
Despite the clement weather it was plain that someone had let the visitor bathwater out of the plughole, as The Cove emptied of all its busyness all of a sudden. I had anticipated a downturn but rather hoped we would make it to the weekend first. It became a little more lively in the middle of the day but the writing was certainly on the wall for the end of the school holiday main.
We closed the shop for an old Cover who had his shuffling off ceremony in the afternoon. He was a happy gent with a tale or two, a thick accent, a dry wit and a deaf ear. We would while away quiet moments in the shop shouting at each other, in a kind conversational way, you understand. He knew the ins and outs of fishing and the waters hereabouts from a lifetime of experience and I would say the world here is all the poorer for him leaving it.
The service was very well done, led by our dynamic vicar who is a little gem. It made a pleasant change that the family had chosen some hymns that I actually knew, although the people in front of me may not share that view. The church was packed with the great and good of the parish; I imagine every business and farm for miles around was shut down for the duration.
We returned to The Cove straight after the service. It was as well because The Cove came alive in the later afternoon with much buying of going home presents as well as provisions for those still hanging about for a while. We were also visited by dolphins, although, once again, I did not get to see them. I wondered if they had been playing in the surf, as there was rather a lot of it. The swell had picked up with large splashes heading up the side of Aire Point. Closer to home, there were large breaking waves thundering over Cowloes until about an hour after high water when there was a return to some semblance of normality. It all came with the final brightness of the day and, no doubt, a cracking sunset, which I would have seen had I not been having some tea that involved a little lump of MSC certified hake and cold beer. Hard life, ain't it.
April 12th - Thursday
I had no idea what to expect from the weather today, as I have given up looking at, or at least taking notice of, the weather forecast. Naturally, this meant that the Meteorological Office were spot on, for a change. We had equal measures of mistiness and brightness throughout the day and if it were not for a wicked little breeze from somewhere in the north, I am sure that it might have been quite warm, too. As it was, it was chilly and from the direction that squirts it through the shop door.
I will spare you this week's resident comic's offering of the day; it was a pretty poor effort. I told him he needed to sharpen up his act or I would have no choice other than to banish him. On reflection, I might banish him anyway.
Although this was not the busiest day that we have had, it did have its moments. In the morning, with the chill wind still blowing in, we sold quite a few hooded sweatshirts, most notably to youngsters who had, presumably, ignored advice about wrapping up warm on such a day. It was clearly the sort of day for venturing out in small groups as we had busy peaks followed by periods of quiet that seemed to rumble on at length. Overall, it was certainly not a day to be displeased about.
I have been pressed by a number of people over the Easter break about the likelihood of a Lifeboat launch. In the first week of the holiday, the sea state was none too conducive, although we did have the 'shout' on Easter Sunday but given that it as raining, few people saw it. I had rather given up hope for this week as the sea state today was set to get poorer from today. So, imagine my surprise when our pagers went off advising us of a seven o'clock launch this very evening.
The pager message was twofold: to inform us of the launch and to tell us that some assessments would be taking place from four o'clock. Unfortunately, I misread the message and concluded that the launch was at four, which is what I told all and sundry who asked. Luckily for me we were called to muster by an emergency tone on our pagers at just about four o'clock. It did not completely save my embarrassment, however, as the launch request was for the Inshore boat.
Despite the launch of the big boat being at a more shop friendly hour, I had only just closed for the day. There were plenty of happy volunteers, so I let them carry on without me. I heard that the boat was brought in up the long slip in what was described by those present as a textbook recovery. Even without a full complement, we are, after all, a very resilient, very excellent Shore Crew.
Those of us able, joined at the OS for a spot of quizzing after completing our respective duties. There, without the supportive element of a Prof to guide us, we did miserably as usual and wandered back home under a starless sky. The bleddy hound did her bit to chase the clouds but it was to no avail but we are grateful for a bit of dry.
April 11th - Wednesday
Our man on Radio Pasty warned of a band of rain passing through the West and then added that it would arrive in a minute. With that still ringing in my ears I rather thought that I might get wet as I ran the bleddy hound around but it rained after I got back and not very much at that. Apparently, all the bad weather this week has been reserved for the east of the Duchy, so that is all right, then.
I noticed yesterday that the tri-cornered garlic is out along Coastguard Row at last. It has clearly been keeping its head down until the weather showed signs of improvement. It is disappointing, though, to see that the tree mallow along the top of the wharf has not recovered from its poisoning last year. At some point last year, I reported that the Parish council had sent a somewhat enthusiastic weed killer person out to keep Stone Chair Lane clear. Whoever it was also carried on into the Harbour, whether by request or over-zealousness. I suggest that the person comes back and now clears up the product of his destructive spree because the dead branches of the mallow look like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. From a personal point of view, the living mallow trees looked much more attractive than the dead sticks that are there now.
Talking of barren wastelands, this is how my pasty boxes looked this morning. For the first time this week our pasty man turned up on time. Unfortunately, he did not have our order of pasties and bread on board and he told us that the order had not been passed on. I telephoned the bakery and they confirmed that the order that I telephoned in yesterday that was taken by a very pleasant lady, had not been processed.
Fortunately, we did not sell as much white bread as we thought yesterday, so there was some left for today, and the brown bread has hardly moved these past couple of weeks - small children prefer white, apparently. The pasties, however, were a completely different kettle of parsnips. Very kindly, Kevin at the bakery - all the right people here are called Kevin - told me that they would bake some pasties especially just for us and whizz them down as soon as they were ready. I cannot see too many suppliers being so responsive in an emergency.
As if this morning could not get any worse, our resident stand-up comic arrived when I least expected him. He told me that there was lots of meat floating about in the bay and that perhaps it was a bit choppy. Further, he said that he thought about starting with his chimney jokes, as he had stacks of them. Look, dear reader, if you think that I am going to suffer alone, you have another think coming.
I managed to exorcise some of my demons down at the gymnasium later in the morning. While still a couple of degrees colder in there, it is not half as uncomfortable as it was a couple of weeks ago and requires far less effort before I build up some inner warmth. Gosh, how I glowed today.
It is the warmth that panicked me a little, this morning. As you may be aware, I am compelled by the Environmental Health people to conduct some food safety checks each morning. This includes ensuring that our refrigerators and freezers are operating at the correct temperatures for their contents. Food freezers need to be less than -18 degrees centigrade to meet requirements, so you can imagine that I was particularly alarmed when my clever little infrared temperature measuring gun showed a result of only -9.4, which is way out of specification.
I checked twice more with similar results and then looked at the power light on the freezer, which is keeping our ice creams in good order. The power light was off. From my recent experience with our payment card terminal, the first recourse I tried was to turn the freezer off, then back on again. The freezer made no satisfying motor starting noises and neither did the power light come on.
I resolved to call in our maintenance people but first I thought that I may as well complete the temperature checks of our other equipment to make sure that they were operating properly. When I got to the food fridge, alarm bells starting ringing, not literally because the food fridge does not have an alarm. Metaphorically speaking, then, alarms bells starting ringing when my clever little thermometer gun registered 40.8 degrees and it was at this point that I concluded that I had inadvertently switched the clever little box from centigrade to Fahrenheit. My how I chortled at my silly mistake and I consoled myself that it does not have a switch for Kelvin. I also made a mental note to change the power bulb on the ice cream freezer, which is clearly broken.
Our cygnet of a day blossomed into quite a pretty little swan by late morning. The initial chill that came with a bit of north easterly breeze, drifted away and the day warmed quite nicely. By the time I came back from the gymnasium there were throngs of happy shoppers milling about and buying things. That was encouraging. It was less encouraging in the afternoon as our busyness appeared to drop off a cliff. Quite what happened I do not know but there did not appear to be a host of people on the beach. Perhaps they had all gone on long walks.
It is a day late, or two, since the Diary is always a day behind - which explains many things - we should wish my brother-in-law a happy significant birthday. He has reached the age when his local authority hand him a free bus pass, which will permit him free travel on buses because there are buses where he lives, which is handy. I do not know if there is a historical bus society where he lives; it would be quite poignant to have a vintage bus for my vintage brother-in-law.
Here, bus passes are not so handy, especially during the winter when the white rhino is more prolific than the bus service, unless you live in Truro. I am surprised that the much maligned council has not cottoned on to this and only issue bus passes to citizens of the city, as they are a waste of time and money for everyone else - the bus passes, not the citizens of Truro. I now wish I had not mentioned that; it will be policy next week.
April 10th - Tuesday
When Tim Rice wrote 'Oh What a Circus' I am not entirely sure he was referring to the weather forecast but it was entirely apt today. I had looked at the Meteorological Office website weather last night and it had indicated that we would have no rain at all today. Its rain radar prediction backed up this position, for once. It was at odds with all the other forecasts for the last few days that had Tuesday as being showery, at best, and biblical floods, at worst - possibly.
I reported yesterday that I had already decided against putting too much reliance on the weather forecast for my ordering, which was probably the right thing. I checked the forecast again in the morning and, lo and behold, miraculously the Meteorological Office had found some heavy rain for us starting half way through the morning. I do not wish to be mean, but they even had the wind direction completely the opposite of where it actually was.
The reality was that a fairly substantial band of rain, heading in from the east, spared us at the last minute and all we had were a few spots here and there. No one had thought to tell the sea that the poor weather had been postponed and it pounded into the bay on the run up to high water, in a blinding rage. Unless the weather station at Gwennap Head was different to the bay, the wind was coming in from the south east and holding up these mammoth waves, making them very surfable until it suddenly veered to the west and spoilt everything.
There did not seem to be that many people about but those that were must have been very hungry. Lucky for me that I had ignored the forecast and ordered in a sensible volume of pasties. I had been told that it was quite chilly out but if everyone had been used to the last couple of days it might just have been comparative. One family arrived from Porthcurno and told me that it was as warm as toast down there, which really surprised me since the wind had been banging in there - alright, gently wafting at ten miles per hour - all the morning. It must just be weird weather day.
At least we have something to look forward to on Sunday. I read in the Western Morning News (did I tell you I once had a review ) - yes, the afternoon was a bit slow in places - that the vintage buses will be back on the number 1 route this coming Sunday. The good news keeps coming, too, as in previous years they have torn up the usual three buses timetable and put on a proper decent service for the day., just a shame they could not be here for the last two Sundays.
All turned quiet later in the afternoon with just a few stragglers here and there. I should saved something constructive to do at times like this but since I did not, I read another newspaper instead. I also took the bleddy hound around the block for a quick run out. On the way back I met a gentleman whom I recognised as being a visitor from last year but could not quite place him exactly. It was when he told me that he had a joke about a building site that he would tell me tomorrow, as he was still working on it, that I remembered him immediately. He said that he would be down for a newspaper first thing; I may not open the shop tomorrow.
April 9th - Monday
It was a day just as sparkly as the previous one, although there appeared to be a little more cloud out east, which we rather hoped would stay there. First thing, however, it was a tad sharp outside the patches of sunshine, but it did not take long to warm up. This sudden heat wave, as some national newspapers might put it, drove our customers to acquire hats and shorts and sun lotion and the like, as they had only thought to bring woolly jumpers and gloves with them. Luckily, we had invested in all manner of such things, with the possible exception of sun lotion, the offering of which looks a bit thin.
What I had not invested sufficient sums in, yet again, were the number of pasties for sale today. Whether it is the new sign we have outside, extolling the virtues of our particular brand of pasty, or no but it does seem that we are selling a few more than we usually do in a busy day. I know that in years gone by people would comment that they did not know we did pasties when they drop in later having bought one somewhere else. I have upped my numbers for tomorrow, despite the forecast for rain and we shall see what happens. On the basis of the previous week, it may well be that the day is dry and bright, anyway.
It is a bit of a shame that we have hit this good weather this week when the tide is in for much of the day. It was not until well into the afternoon that a decent amount of beach was opened up for the sand dwellers. I noticed earlier that little knots of people were gathering above the high water line and up in the entrance to the valley. Although there was some migration down the beach with the receding tide, this was mainly water revellers of which there was quite a number. It was almost certainly a perfect day for messing about on the beach with stuff you have bought from the local beach stuff shop, I would say.
They must have been having far too much fun down there, as everything went a bit quiet in the later afternoon. We entertained a few visitors for drinks now and again and for the occasional ice cream, but it was certainly not as busy as it was yesterday. Maybe we were being taught a lesson for running out of pasties early again.
Speaking of being taught a lesson, the much maligned council has not thought to empty the public bin across the street today and by the middle of the day it was overflowing. This, of course, did not prevent people from stuffing more and more into it, and then, on top of it. It is a bin that is roundly abused; I know of one holiday let owner who does not have a bin of his own and uses it for his exclusive use and I have seen many holiday makers from other properties without bins stuff it with big refuse sacks. Yesterday, two burly bin men were there selectively emptying it into refuse sacks and I can only presume that the much maligned council, too, has noticed the abuse and is investigating.
It would be something of a disaster if the bin were to be removed as the amount of legitimate litter that fills it every day during the season is to be wondered at. Having our recycling bins back would be a tremendous help, but that is not going to happen as I am convinced the much maligned council sees visitors as a problem to be discouraged. We have enough people already trying to use our commercial and private bins for litter with a public bin ten yards across the street. If it were to be taken away because we have been naughty, I will have to nail the lid of ours down, as the tiny lock on it currently will stop no one.
While I contemplated these weighty matters in the late afternoon, we saw the red and raw beach people head for home. It is part of the reason for our late opening hours and we saw quite a few people drop by for a last ice cream or a hurriedly thought of tea. This was late July in April and most bizarre and also most welcome.
April 8th - Sunday
There was a little bit of mist left hanging about early in the morning. It was clinging to the tops of the cliffs and it looked quite thick in places once you got to the top of the hill. Some high level cloud kept the sunshine hazy for a bit but we had some decent spells of sunshine through the day.
We had a few leavers come through for gifts in the mid morning, which was a bit unusual, but a good crowd of breakfast shoppers gave us some confidence that there were a few families about for the coming week. It seems that others had confidence that it was going to be a good beach day and came in for buckets and spades, towels and kites and the like. At least one of the beach shelters I would see down on the sand later in the day would be ours.
With the sea in its most benign state for more than a week two of the fishing fleet were out taking full advantage. While one came in early after a morning on the ray, the other arrived back in the bay after targeting pollack, escorted by what appeared to be the entire gull population of West Britain. They will, no doubt, have had a good feed off him as he gutted a sizable catch on the way back into the bay.
It is not very often, alright, it is the rarest thing since rocking horse teeth, no, in fact if you were struck by lightning three times in the same place it would be more likely than me extolling the virtues of a supermarket, particularly an online one. However, the story I picked up from the trade press filled me with all sorts of hope and struck me as a blindingly inspired idea. The online retailer has challenged small children, who we know have all the best ideas because they are unencumbered by the ridiculous restraints of reality, to come up with solutions to household food waste.
The supermarket has joined forces with an organisation called LittleInventors.org that encourages small children to upload and share invention ideas online. The plan has been made into a competition with the winner's idea being made into a real invention. On the down side, the winner will also get £250 of supermarket vouchers, which I presume is the compensation for getting to sign away the Intellectual Property on their idea and the multi-million pound profits they might have had from creating their invention themselves.
What I really need is a machine that will churn out pasties to order. I was about to congratulate myself when I ran out of everything we had in the pasty department at about half past two. I would have been quite happy with that had it not been for the continuous flow of visitors who came in afterwards and asked if we had any pasties. We could easily have sold another fifteen or twenty, which was annoying. There will be no patting myself on the back today, I fear.
I consoled myself with yet another fabulous evening to behold, out across the bay and out to the west. Later, another host of stars were available for a quick geet at while I took the bleddy hound out for a last run. All a bit special, that.
April 7th - Saturday
After a slow start we very quickly found our pace for the day, which was all rather pleasant. The early rain cleared away long before the first customers appeared, or perhaps the first customers waited until the rain stopped - we shall never know. Nevertheless, we saw the tail end of the leavers and quite a lot of the arrivers as they arrived for breakfast goods and, thankfully, pasties a little later. As the day progressed some warmth spread into The Cove and the skies brightened, followed by the demeanour of our customers.
Between the little knots of busyness in the morning I was able to carry out some research. A regular visitor had been over to Porthleven the previous day and had dined at one of the top class establishments that have recently blossomed there, although she told me that they had something less of a top class experience - string in the dinner and it was not even spaghetti. While there, she wondered at the numerous large houses and obvious signs of wealth of a time gone by. She asked me what I knew of the town and I confess I knew very little.
Never being one to shy away from a challenge, and being intrigued by such things anyway, I did a little digging into the history of Porthleven and to why there may have been such a proliferation of big expensive houses built up in the town. I did some rough notes for our visitor but thought that you, dear reader, would feel left out if I did not, at the very least, provide a small synopsis of what I had discovered.
It seems that Porthleven had some very humble beginnings and played second fiddle to its big neighbour, Helston, until the Cober silted up. This put Porthleven in a fairly prime position, although it seemed to fail to capitalise on its position for a few hundred years, concentrating on subsistence fishing. In the 1700s it started to become a little more industrial with china clay, silver and lead on its doorstep, but it was not until early in the next century when things began to look up.
An Act of Parliament in 1811 saw the harbour being built, which, because of some tricky engineering challenges, took fourteen years to complete. In the middle of the 1800s, Harveys of Hayle bought the harbour and things began to motor. The town hit the industrial big time and the inner harbour was completed along with the wooden harbour gates which only came to grief in the 2014 storms. The latter part of the 19th century saw boat building, fishing, fish processing and mine development and export making Porthleven one of the major ports on the south coast. It was during this period that the big infrastructure changes occurred in the town when the smart money moved in.
Obviously, Porthleven made the classic schoolboy error of failing to adapt to technology changes, not helped by running out of steam on china clay and minerals and faced some decline in the early 20th century. Happily there was always fishing, followed by tourism and flogging off the big houses to second home owners from up country. Now, they have a food festival each year to show off the town's top tier restaurants, where you can get string for £60 a head. Ideal. The End.
Here in The Cove, we are far less pretentious but there again we have never reached such previous dizzy heights. We do, however have standards that we care to maintain, which brings me to a startlingly tasteless request from a customer early on in the day. The couple claimed that their search was on behalf of their daughter who had broken the previous one and were retracing her steps in order to find a replacement. They seemed a bit reticent to detail exactly what they were searching for, so I pressed them and rather wish that I had not.
They told me that the daughter had not long purchased a mug that carried a facsimile of an actor playing the part of the Winston Graham book character, Poldark. I shuddered for a moment and asked how they might have the temerity to search for such an article in our obviously cultural emporium. Did they perhaps think that it was sat between the alluring small pink and green pottery rabbits and dolphin shell ornaments, or maybe nestled amongst the glass pirate map bottles filled with genuine sand that sit above the plastic sharks with a leg sticking out of its mouth? No, indeed, not. I sent them thither with a flea in their ear, which may have been residing in our velour Cornish pasties with 'Cornwall' written across the front. I suggested that they might find more success further up the north coast, where I hear, such tat is commonplace, not that I am suggesting for one minute (he added, just in case).
What we did end up selling were quite a few pairs of sunglasses that quickly became in vogue in the bright sunshine. It was warm, too, I am led to believe and evidenced by the number of people wandering about in t-shirts and light clothing. The sea and the beach suddenly looked ideal places to be and many people appeared to think so too by being there. There were even a few beach shelters and windbreaks popped up along the upper reaches, which sadly did not seem to be ours.
While our sales of some items seem to be going well I was somewhat blindsided by our decision to offer recharging cables for modern mobile telephones. We had been asked on many occasions last year for such items and thought it a good idea to stock some of the more popular types. Many of these things are the preserve of the youth as they are the ones who seem incapable of being without their mobile devices for more than a few seconds at a time. This, in itself, should have rung alarm bells, but I did not foresee that along with the offering of youth related products we would also be faced with demands for youth related payment methods.
The young person who asked today if we had a mobile telephone charger was delighted to find that we had one and immediately snatched the compatible item off the shelf. He arrived at the till with his mobile telephone in hand, all prepared to pay for his selection but was sore disappointed when I told him that, first, the under three pounds device did not meet our minimum electronic payment criteria. The second impediment to a successful conclusion to our business was that he asked if he could use 'Android Pay'. Being a modern, switched on sort of grumpy shopkeeper, I had heard of this witchcraft, but since we had only just been bludgeoned into having a machine that took contactless payments, against my better judgement, we are shirt, tie and trousers away from having the full suit of payment methods available on our machine. The youth left, muttering under his breath something about third world.
No matter, the end of the day here was a rather pleasant affair and it was good to see the sun set in view of The Cove. It was quite late, too; we still had some light beyond half past eight. Gosh, it must be almost summer.
April 6th - Friday
It was a day full of big pauses as the change over process got underway for a number of families. It was as if one family could not get into The Cove until a family had left and it was holding up proceedings. All week it has been slow getting started each day and today was no different, helped along by a band of rain that lasted through until the middle of the day.
I had taken a bit of a gamble on the number of pasties to order, given that we were a bit short the day before. With the quiet and the wet in the morning I was beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake when the new influx came along and put my mind to rest. All I have to do now is guess correctly for the weekend and I shall give myself a well-deserved pat on the back - if I can reach.
Our new arrivals were welcomed by a warming and bright day, albeit a little cloudy. The sea has calmed considerably since Wednesday, although there was still white water up against the cliffs at Nanjulian and around Porth Nanven to suggest that the swell had not entirely disappeared. I noticed yesterday that one of the fishermen had gone out, which was brave given the conditions, but with so much poor weather over the winter period I imagine he thought it worth the risk.
I was pleased to entertain a local dignitary in the afternoon; he is a member of the Parish Council. Things were going well until the Missus, in an accusatory tone, asked why The Cornishman had stated that the big beach here would be closed to dogs from Easter Day. I intervened and told her that this only applied to the much maligned council run beaches and on our beach, the dog control order still applies from 1st May. It caused some consternation when our man at the Parish said that our beach was a much maligned council beach, which I then queried on the basis that the much maligned council would not pay for our Blue Flag when it did for its other five beaches. A quick look at the much maligned council's website made the matter no clearer at all so our man will raise the question at the Parish Council meeting this evening. I do not think the date of the dog restriction on the beach is likely to change, whatever the case; the much maligned council would have to spend money on changing the sign, although it would doubtless make the Parish do it from the precept.
I wrapped up in the shop with signs of the new influx growing in numbers. We might have a bright week ahead.
April 5th - Thursday
I was beginning to wonder if we were going to reprise yesterday's ghost town impression, as it was exceeding quiet again in the morning. This was a shame as it was the last time we saw the blue sky for a while on the only day of the week that the weather had been forecast with any accuracy. By mid morning some high level cloud had rolled in and spoilt the pristine day but left us with rather less breeze than yesterday but a dry and bright day nonetheless.
Fortunately, by the middle of the day our visitors roused themselves from wherever they had been reposing and took to the streets. It started with a trickle and ended with happy throngs, or possibly throngettes, wandering about. After yesterday's pasty disaster I modified our order for today. Quite obviously I ran out early in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day disappointing people. While I would prefer not to, I am quite inured to the process; I have spent a lifetime disappointing people commencing with the Aged Parents, whom, I long suspected, would have preferred a banker or a lawyer rather than a grumpy shopkeeper. No wonder the Aged Parent threw herself off a stool and broke her wrist; it was a cry for help.
We were busy for the most of the rest of the afternoon. Later, the sun popped out, which made it even better and we had a bit of an ice cream fest, well, I did not but several families did. After yesterday's running out of cash in the till I ordered a cessation of our 'cash back' offering. I discovered that either word got around and people did not ask or there was less demand today. Either way I had enough in the till to pay for a sizeable beer delivery that came in toward the end of the morning.
We had sold quite a few beers and ciders over the Easter period and since we did not start with the shelves overflowing, we were quickly in a position of having to restock. There have been small increases in all the beer prices since we last ordered, which would have been before Christmas, but there was a big hike to the price of the beer from the biggest company that sits in south east Cornwall and sounds like St Awful. I cannot imagine why their beer in particular needs to be head and shoulders more expensive than all the rest but I shall be delisting it as soon as we are through the case that has just been delivered. There are plenty of other beers about which are no doubt as good if not better and there is no need to fuel greed.
Talking of unnecessary increases, I spent quite a bit of time yesterday and toward the latter stages of today preparing for the soft drink price hike, thanks to the sugar levy. From tomorrow there will be three different prices for cans and two different prices for bottles, which will be fun. I have also prepared a crib list for the till so that I can remember what is what.
I did not head across the road in the evening for Lifeboat training as the shop was still open when they started. As they decided not to wait for me I thought that they could carry on without me for once, or twice as the same thing will happen next week. Instead, I met with the motley remnants of crew at the OS for a spot of quizzing. We were joined by Prof for a one quiz night visit. It was good of her to take time out of her busy schedule of four weeks off. With some academic resource on the team we managed a fitful second place. We should have been first as the team that one, 'Cream First', should have been instantly disqualified.
There was still a pleasant, if chilly, walk home. As the bleddy hound did her usual it was time to spend a moment to reflect on the old fishing Cover who slipped quietly away this afternoon.
April 4th - Wednesday
I imagine St Ives had a good thumping today, if all the people who said yesterday that they were going, actually did. In any event, it was as quiet here as a Trappist convention in a library. No one even turned up when I took my breakfast out and it was not a bad day at all.
There were some remnants of the overnight rain, first thing, but the gloomy grey soon disappeared and we were left with a somewhat bright day with a bit of a sharp north west breeze to cool things down. Nevertheless, I think that the smart money was down on the south coast today, or indeed, in and out of the emporia of St Ives.
Perhaps it was a bit of a blessing because we had a couple of large deliveries to deal with. The Missus dealt with the grocery order that came in yesterday and, later in the afternoon, we had a delivery of wetsuits and beach shoes. In this delivery we also had our new 'active sole' slippers which are multi use foot covering that can be worn on airplanes and trains, for relaxing in, taking yoga, water sports and something called shoe relief. I ask you, dear reader, it is not whether you can afford a pair it is whether you can afford to be without a pair. I never knew that there were such things and now we have them in our shop for sale. They only have foreign sizes on them, which will give me a headache as I cannot remember how they convert, except for my own, and I do not think everyone will want a size 10.
We muddled through the rest of the afternoon, resisting the sudden boredom of not having customers every few minutes. I think I might have read a newspaper or two so I feel at one with current affairs. The Missus took Mother shopping and came back late in the afternoon, laden with groceries that I shall probably never see. The street was still pretty much deserted when I closed the shop at seven o'clock and I did not even have a five minutes to closing rush. I am concerned.
I was less concerned when I took the bleddy hound out last thing. During the latter part of the afternoon the temperature had dropped like a stone and by night it was particularly chilly, with the breeze still evident. The skies, however, were crystal clear and the firmament glittered with a million stars. Alright, there were probably more but I had to stop counting somewhere, else I would have been there all night and, as I just said, it was cold. We expect great things from tomorrow's weather; let us hope we do not have to enjoy it alone.
April 3rd - Tuesday
We woke today, well at least I did, to the beginnings of a glorious morning, which then bloomed into something more glorious.
It must have been good because the seals thought it an excellent day to do a spot of fishing. A local lady alerted me to their presence but was concerned that it might have been human snorkelers instead as there was a splash of silver and reflected light when she caught a glimpse. I contended that it might have been a seal wearing goggles. To resolve the issue I resorted to my binoculars and discovered two beefy seals enjoying a large fish - the silver, shiny item spotted earlier. Mystery solved. Only one was wearing goggles.
After the big clear out of the 'office' part of the store room in the shop, the Missus has been happily shredding all the sensitive paperwork that we found that we no longer have to keep. It includes till rolls and card payment receipts in the main, as well as old invoices. After three days of shredding, in which she had wait every so often for the machine to reset after overheating, we have at least seven huge garden waste bags of shredded paper adorning the living room. I was wondering what the best way of getting rid of it was when the Missus suggested that we load it up with the waste cardboard.
It was an excellent plan, since it would likely cost little or no extra on top of our regular cardboard collection, although I was a bit concerned that we had put it in plastic waste bags. I called our collection company, which we contracted last year, to ask how we should proceed. The previous company we were with would have mounted impossible challenges, with special bags to use that we had to buy from them and extra charges galore. When I called our current company, nothing was too much trouble. They will pick up the shredding with no problem and no extra charges, even despite the fact that they would have preferred it in clear bags. What a delight and how refreshing; makes you want to give them a hug.
Our loveliness continued the day long, so I have no idea what day the weather forecasters were thinking of, clearly not this one. Perhaps the Russian state has hacked the weathermen and is making them give false predictions to wreck the seaside economy. If they are it is working, as while there were plenty of happy souls around today, we might have expected more.
If I had a family here, I might have thought it was a beach day, too. We sold bucket and spades and nets in abundance, then there were soft drinks and nibbles, too. A few bottles of wine slipped out and later, many beers, but our gin stayed put, which was a shame as we have just bought some more.
The chap from Long Rock, Pocket Full of Stones Company, arrived today; he had said Tuesday and I had assumed he meant last Tuesday, when he meant this Tuesday. My, how we chortled about me getting the date wrong. He showed me two different types in half bottles, which for new gins we prefer. He said that I could have the two for sampling purposes, which I will do, but it was a little early in the day to try them then and there. I bought half a dozen of the original and another half a dozen of the cucumber infused, Midsummer Dry Gin, which now adorning our shelves next to all the others. We must hope that everyone suddenly does not start liking whisky instead.
Even at seven o'clock, when we closed, there was no sign of any rain. The Missus, who was sitting closer to the window in the evening said that it had rained quite heavily before ten o'clock, but it had stopped by the time I took the bleddy hound out. I knew several people who had gone to the Minack Theatre for the evening performance, so I hope they managed to miss the downpour. I shall, no doubt, find out about it tomorrow.
April 2nd - Monday
Yesterday, someone asked me what the weather would be doing today. I had not looked beyond the evening when I largely expected the big lump of rain we had to have passed through. I had heard, however, in the morning forecast that today was supposed to be half decent but with the chance of showers. I thought I had better check the forecasts online, just to make sure. I wish I had not. The Meteorological Office had it that we would have some rain in the morning and brighter skies with showers in the afternoon and the BBC suggested the end of the world or, at least, a biblical flood for the rest of the week.
Call me foolish, if you will, but I decided against dashing outside to build an ark. I told our customer that I thought that tomorrow would be mainly alright but to expect some showers here and there. I should be a weather person; we had a mizzly weather front pass through in the morning but when that cleared out, we had a bright, if cloudy, main part of the day and later in the afternoon some more rain pushed through, but nothing in the style of yesterday.
It was warm, too, once the mizzle had gone. People came flocking to our street, gathering in little knots and moving on. They were hungry, it seems, as all our pasties plus our reserve stock disappeared in the early afternoon. It was plain that I had seriously under ordered but in my defence m'lud, I was acting on flawed data, vis a vis the rubbish weather forecast. We did not do too badly and as a passing local said to me walking his dog this morning as I dumped the over stock of pasties from yesterday, 'it is a terrible thing for a Cornishman to have to do'. It was an even worse thing for a grumpy shopkeeper.
There was a good crowd on the beach by mid afternoon. Judging from the small groups, the surf schools appeared to be doing all right. There were a good number of surfers in the water, too, mostly out towards North Rocks and quite a way out. The swell has diminished quite a bit in the last few days, so it looked like there was more waiting for the right wave than surfing. One of those surf schools had a bit of a boost yesterday when the BBC One Show came down to film. They caught the Sennen Surf School carry out a beach clean and managed to raise around 200 volunteer screen luvvies in quite short order and the beach should now be sparkly clean.
I am very pleased that the Parish has not followed suit with the much maligned council in setting the dog control order around the Easter Sunday - I checked. The beaches will go quiet again straight after Easter and there will be little reason for dogs not to enjoy the sand alongside the few other people without, and there will be few children to be concerned about. Even our date of the beginning of May is a little premature, in my opinion, although I appreciate that it would be difficult to make it later, with Whitsun half term in the middle. Not that the bleddy hound has much chance of getting down there now that the shop is open.
The lump of rain that we were expecting either some time in the late afternoon or early evening was easily tracked as it came it from the south west. It had the good grace to wait until almost closing time before coming in and giving us a short soaking. I got a little damp as I went upstairs after locking up, which is preferable to getting a lot damp coming down the stairs in the morning.
April 1st - Sunday
There was a red sky in the east this morning and we all know what that is supposed to mean. It was pretty much spot on, too. By the time we opened at half past eight o'clock the blue sky that we started with had completely gone, covered over by some light grey cloud. This became darker as the morning continued and the rest, so they say, is very wet history.
The rain kicked in towards the later part of the morning and stayed. To make matters worse it became heavier and wetter and more nasty as the day progressed. It did not stop everyone from coming out and there were a surprising number of people who came here prepared with full metal jacket waterproofs, bless them. The final box of pasties, that I thought we would be stuck with, was largely used up, so it was not a complete disaster day.
It was, however, a day for cake, or at least it seemed like a good idea at the time. As you might have read, our cake making mole in the Little Bo Café has left; she knew what I liked and more importantly, what I did not. It was therefore something of a disappointment when I visited today. The table next to the cake display extolled the virtues of the blueberry cake. It sounded all right, so I looked and discovered that it had been made with almonds; I cannot abide bleddy nuts in my cake, with the possible exception of hazlenuts - on a good day. The chocolate and raspberry had walnuts and the only other cake, I cannot remember now what it was, had no glutens in it; I do so love my glutens. This only left the rocky road slabs and if there is one thing that the Little Bo Café does well it is rocky road slabs, so I had one of they. I got it back to the shop where some customers were waiting for me, so I served them first; my level of cake anticipation soared. Eventually I got to have my cake and eat it, too.
Who in their right mind puts desiccated flaming coconut in rocky road? I was picking the bits off my tongue for hours after. Needless to say, the rest of the slice was consigned to the bin. I may have to look elsewhere for my sugary, cakey needs in future.
Feeling weak with a lack of blood sugar was not the best time for the Lifeboat pagers to go off for about the second time this year. The National Coastwatch Institute people at Gwennap Head had spotted a yacht struggling, in the punchy south easterly wind, around near Porthcurno and Logan's Rock. With few of the very excellent Shore Crew able to make a swift launch, the boat launched from inside the boathouse, filling it with clouds of exhaust, which was refreshing. There was then a pause while the Lifeboat, Rescue 924, the Coastguard helicopter, and Land's End Coastguard Team searched for the vessel. It was making its own way back to Penzance, which would have been a bit of a struggle, so the Lifeboat shadowed it all the way back.
We were called to prepare for its return at around quarter to six o'clock. The Missus was unable to cover me in the shop, so I closed for the rest of the evening. If anyone missed our being open I would have been very surprised as the rain had learnt how to rain properly by then. We received the boat on the short slip as it was near high water in relatively benign conditions.
From my vantage point, it looked pretty much like a textbook recovery to me. I understood that it was cold in the rain out on the slipway. I empathised from my warm, dry snug in the winch room and did not make any smug and wicked jokes at the rest of the crew's condition at all. We are, after all, a very united, very excellent Shore Crew.