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The Sennen Cove Diary

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.

Previous Months:

February 20th - Tuesday

Yesterday, I suggested that the ill-advised missing of dinners and living off love alone might end in tears. I had not expected it to be my own that I had portended.

I was up early this morning because the Missus decided that this year we would dispense with fourteen years of tradition and hold ourselves up as the epitome of forward planning and preparation. For fourteen years we have promised faithfully to get the shop ready for opening in a steady and measured pace before the event; to clean shelves, stock shelves and plan deliveries well ahead of opening so that we are not panicked into mistakes or pressed into rushing about like headless chickens. Each year without fail, we are in the shop until late on the Friday before the opening day, cleaning, stocking and fire-fighting in an effort to make things ready or to paper over the cracks to provide some semblance of readiness the following morning.

This year, the Missus has been on fire, the shelves are cleaned and ready and the floors swept and mopped. On Sunday, she ordered phase one of our grocery order - the items with impossibly long dates. Sunday orders are delivered Tuesday morning and result in me being out of bed early to help unload the van. This morning, the van arrived just as I was about to take the bleddy hound out for her morning run, something that upset her equilibrium for the rest of the day, as she had to wait until I had finished unloading our groceries before she got to go around. It made no different whatever that she actually went around at her normal time, as I had got up earlier than I would normally do.

However, she was avenged shortly after we came home and I had given her breakfast. While I was in the kitchen I heard a rustling from the corridor. I had dismissed the notion that it was Big Sis up and about on her day off as it was the wrong side of the middle of the day. I discovered very quickly that I was wrong in this assumption and that, apparently, the lack of food from the previous evening had driven this unprecedented upheaval in her routine. I was about to offer, because I am that sort of grumpy shopkeeper, to sell them some breakfast items from the shop (not really; what do you take me for? We had some items in the kitchen that would have suited - I would have sold them those.) and rustle up some eggs on toast, perhaps. I was stopped in my tracks when I realised that Big Sis was donning her overcoat, it being a blustery morning, in order to venture outside. She then delivered the coup de grâce by telling me that they were going to drive to a well known fast food outlet, the one that insists that the content of its main ingredient comes exclusively from a cow, which anyone with any sense instantly dismisses as the ravings of a complete lunatic, because real cows do not taste like bleached cardboard.

It was early, I grant them that, but even so it would have been half past eight by the time they arrived in town, by which time many of even the half decent independent cafes and bakeries in town would be open. I did a bit of pleading, I even threatened and as a last resort threw myself in the road in front of their car, weeping in despair but Big Sis would not be deterred. All I could then hope was that a sign would appear, a big light or eagle flying to the left, perhaps, to warn them of their impending doom. I had heard that love is blind but I had not realised that it has no taste buds, either.

It has taken a turn for the colder today. It probably has much to do with the breeze, which started again from the north and northwest, but mainly the north and increased from the late thirties to the early forty miles per hour throughout the day. It was, however, bright and sunny that brought a range of people out for the day and onto the beach. We learnt last week that there are more half terms to come from across the country. I can only suppose that some schools are ignoring Easter and having the full term break when it is convenient to them; Easter is rather early this year, after all.

The weather did not bother me much today and certainly not so much in the morning. I spent a considerable time pinned to my computer screen keying in the new prices established from the invoice that arrived with our early delivery. Things have gone up across the board but not by very much, it would appear. We are, however, going to be lumbered with the sugar tax which comes into force right in the middle of the Easter break on April 6th.

Thankfully, the government has made a supreme effort to make it easy for small shops by not making the rules too complicated. Some drinks with added sugar of less than 5 grams are excluded altogether, while drinks with added sugar between 5 and 8 grams attract a low taxation rate. Those drinks with more than 8 grams of extra sugar per 100 millilitres will be taxed at a higher rate. Alcoholic beverages, with an alcoholic content of below 1.2 percent will be taxed too if they have added sugar but not all of them; the guidance handily fails to detail which, though. Oh yes, I almost forgot, milk drinks with more than 75 percent milk in them are exempt, such as milk shakes, I presume, and milk substitute drinks - no, me neither - with at least 120 milligrams of calcium per 100 millilitres and alcohol replacement drinks, too, are exempt.

Fortunately, one of the big drinks suppliers has written a handy guide and included it with one of the trade newspapers I receive. It seems we will have to add 10 pence to cans and 15 pence to bottles of pop with the higher levels of sugar. I will also need to get myself a stronger pair of spectacles so that I can read the sugar content panel on the drinks to determine which drinks are in and which are out, and which rate should be applied to each. I think I might be up quite late on April 5th.

Big Sis and her mate redeemed themselves in the evening by visiting one of the up and coming, fine eating hostelries we have in these parts. The Mexico Inn at Long Rock, the other side of Penzance used to be an ordinary drinking house but has transformed into something of a gastro pub, with dishes such as lark tongue on toasted rice bread with yak's milk porridge. They seemed to enjoy their meal and Bis Sis must really enjoy the place having been twice before. The Missus and I had a curry out of our freezer. We would have had the llama tail stew but the fermented black stork liver gravy had gone off.

February 19th - Monday

There was still some mist and wetness hanging in the air this morning, on our usual run around the block. It did have the feel about it of a better day than yesterday and as time progressed it did indeed become clearer, although it did not completely clear out all day. It was not until the last knockings of the day that the skies cleared from the west showing some sparkling and warm sun setting light across the bay.

I took myself down the road to the gymnasium before the rest of the household stirred and was back before anyone noticed that I had gone. When I returned, the bleddy hound assumed that I would take her down to the beach again, since I was dressed in a similar way to Friday, when I took her last. I was just explaining her misplaced excitement when the Missus explained that I could not take her to the beach as I was bringing the Christmas decorations up from the shop, as they had sat there in the way since I took them down in early January.

It was shortly after we had brought the various boxes and bags up and placed them at the bottom of the steps to the loft that Big Sis and her chum miraculously appeared. Personally, I could not see the point of putting them away - the decorations, that is, Big Sis and her pal are more than capable of putting themselves away, if they were not being so daft and sloppy around each other - as we will need them in another ten months.

I ventured into town early in the afternoon. The weather had cleared up there and it was a pleasant and warm walking the streets. I had gone via St Buryan, as we needed to fuel the van. I was just after passing the farm at the top of the hill that I came upon a huge flock of starlings sitting partly in the road with the rest in the fields either side. As I approached they took to the air and created a close up murmuration, which was difficult to take my eyes off. The clever little dash camera took pictures of it and, for the first time in eight years of Diary history there is a moving picture included today. There are some glitches, it being early days, first it is a silent movie, so perhaps if you have an old piano forte kicking about you might wish to tinkle a few notes as it is playing and, secondly the software that I hurriedly downloaded to edit the length film into something smaller was the least intuitive program that I have ever come across and somehow you have the footage twice.

When I eventually got there, it was very quiet in town and I was able to carry out my errands very quickly. I had timed my visit to avoid the queues that might form at lunchtime, particularly in the bank, although with its clever self service machines, the queues are only slightly longer than they would have been if real living tellers manned the place. My visit was due to a chance discovery in one of the trade magazines, which explained that the paper ten pound note slips into oblivion on 1st March and will no longer be legal tender. I am sure this has been made clear in other media outlets but I must have avoided them all, somehow. Fortunately, we did not have many left stuffed into our mattress.

I had met Big Sis and her pal in town but they had plans to go further afield. It was a pleasant enough day beyond our Far West boundaries, so they were gone for the rest of the afternoon. They insisted that we should eat without them, which we did, but I had not expected them not to cook for themselves when they got home. It may be the way of young love but as we all know, it will end in tears.

February 18th - Sunday

The heavy, continuous rain that was forecast for today was downgraded or perhaps upgraded to continuous light rain but instead we had mizzle all day. The fog was so thick at the top of the hill it was difficult to see more than 50 yards. Up at the range, the butts were vaguely visible at 25 yards.

Fortunately, the mizzle was not too heavy and at many times during the day, it was simply wet, hanging in the air. It was warm, too, and my choice of top covering was, at times, a little too much when dashing about resetting targets. Again, we were pretty thin on the ground up there and were able to get through the stages fairly quickly. It is also a day, as was last week, when the mix of types of shooting means I have to carry more than any other week, which makes for a difficult journey to the bottom of the hill to meet the Missus when she picks me up. I was quite worn out by the time we got home.

Although it did not look it, the sea state was a little worse than it was yesterday, as expected. The sea was lopping over the Harbour wall a couple of hours ahead of high water, which I do not recall yesterday when we were recovering the Lifeboat. The waves might have been banging up the cliffs on the other side of the bay but as we could not see the other side of the bay, we will never know.

We had a visitor arrive in the early evening. Big Sis has a chum staying for a couple of days. He took his time getting here, having picked up the fog quite a bit up the line, although he was not quite sure where. Perhaps they should teach navigation skills at school or maybe it is not quite so important in these modern times. In my early days of driving it was essential to know where you were so when the rusty bucket of nuts and bolts you were driving stopped working, you knew how far it was to walk home.

February 17th - Saturday

The day started out in the same vein as the last one ended, with sunshine and glory all about. It was still a mite chilly but nothing of particular note and the sea state had calmed sufficiently to let one of The Cove punts out to set a few lobster pots. Talking with one that knows, this is a high risk venture, as the weather could turn at any time and pots could be lost to a heavy swell. Because of this they were using old pots, just in case.

The bleddy hound gazed down the beach with interest and we stopped for a moment or two to watch the punt launch, laden with its cargo of shabby pots. I managed to wrest her away from the Harbour slipway without the same terrors that we had last time. We continued our routine circuit without issue until we came back down to the Harbour slipway on our return. I went one way and the bleddy hound went the other.

Despite one of her best pals approaching down the road, the bleddy hound became fixated with the pots waiting to be loaded, down at the bottom of the slipway. I managed to briefly draw her away when her best pal arrived, but she went immediately back to the pots, circling and sniffing. Clearly there is no greater attraction in dog life than the niff of six month old lobster and skanky mackerel bate. I had to lasso her and drag her off the beach in the end, so that she could come home for her breakfast.

Since I did little else for the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon I will furnish you with the photographs that I meant to include in yesterday's Diary entry but forgot. I only meant to put up two but I could not decide which, so you have them all.

Beach 1
We love being on the beach, it seems

Beach 2
With sharp eyes you can see the motor racers

Beach 3
Crystal clear out towards Cape

Beach 4
Still have sand at this end of the beach

The sea conditions were starting to get a little lively, but they were scheduled to be livelier tomorrow, so a Lifeboat exercise was planned for three o'clock this afternoon. The boat was out for a good hour and a half but we were entertained by two small dogs in the crew room and consequently hardly noticed the time.

The boat returned on schedule, an event for which we had prepared the short slipway, as the tide was coming in. There was a fair amount of swell at the bottom of the slip, so we kept the cable short and affected what was, almost certainly a textbook recovery. There was a minor flaw in our meticulous planning and that was that it had started to rain between launch and recovery, which we had not expected. Ever ready, we chose two of our number who were not there to get the wettest and sent them out when they arrived. We are, after all a very democratic, very excellent Shore Crew.

The fun and frolic did not end there, oh no. Later, after tea, I retired to the OS to meet with our friend with whom we had celebrated his birthday the day before. Tonight was also not his birthday but who was counting, anyway. It just so happened that a band was playing in the bar and while they were more than competence musicians, it was not quite our bag. Nevertheless, we had a night of jolly imbibement, after drying out in the warmth of the bar, and wandered home in the drier mizzle that has set in later in the evening. Odd, when the forecast for the three days until tomorrow had been dry. In days gone by, professional soothsayers and omeneers who got it entirely wrong, would throw themselves off cliffs in shame - and before anyone who had relied on their advice, caught up with them. Times have changed, I know, but we should still have standards.

February 16th - Friday

That rather 'ansum looking beach that was giving me come hither looks all day yesterday while I was painting, upped its game today. Under a clear - apart from a few fluffy white clouds - sky, the beach was looking resplendent as I headed for the gymnasium. It looked bigger and more alluring as I returned home, and it was beyond reason that I should ignore it any longer. Without bothering to change, other than to kick off my training shoes in favour of flip flops, I grabbed her beach bag and the bleddy hound and headed down there.

As we approached I could hear the whine of a small motor and, looking down, there was a family racing a couple of petrol engine, model buggies on the sand. The conditions on the beach were ideal, with firm sand and plenty of it; it looked like splendid fun and I was wondering if they would like to swap one of their radio controlled buggies for a small, ragged bleddy hound. They were settled just to the west of the OS slipway, out of the way of most people who head for the main part of the beach to the north. Bleddy hound and I normally slip away to the far west end, so rather than interrupt the racers, we headed down to the water line then skirted around them, which also allowed me to have a bit of a paddle.

We tossed a ball about for a bit and the bleddy hound did a bit of digging, too. The ball I took has lasted a good while but there comes a time when it grows a few tufts in the felt and the bleddy hound finds that she absolutely has to scrag it. This is a prelude to total destruction, where the felt is stripped and the ball falls apart. This was helped along by the interruption of two large Labrador dogs, one of which distracted her while the other nicked her ball. We got it back off the owner, but it had been squished quite comprehensively and lasted only a few more throws before the bleddy hound finished it off and left the felt lying about in strips.

She is getting used to the fact that our trips are being kept reasonably short and came off the beach without complaint. Our racing neighbours left at about the same time. I commented as to how much fun it must have been and how lucky they were to have such an open and relatively empty beach. They seemed a bit reserved and I wondered if they had been expecting complaint, instead. Apart from a bit of noise, which was not excessive, I cannot see how anyone might have been upset with their game.

With the day beaming upon us, it was once again busy in The Cove. The sea was much more moderate than it had been yesterday and there were some surfers willing to give it a go today. We met some regular visitors on the way home and had a chat and it was good to see people sitting outside Little Bo Café again. The Missus convinced me that we should get a breakfast sandwich from there when we returned home. Having gymed and beached I was quite happy to not have to make my own breakfast, thank you.

There was not particularly much else to do today, having packed my entire day's excitement into the first couple of hours of it. I went down to the shop to finish the last bit of counting and to count the additional write off products that will, unfortunately, end in the bin. We are still working our way through the mountain of bacon left over from our disastrous Christmas opening, so we do not want to keep anything else, thank you.

We had a cracker of an evening, attending the birthday party of a friend who had reached a significant senior age. Ordinarily he would not have made such a fuss, but his wife made the mistake of telling the rest of us who forced him to do something about it. We ended up at what is fast becoming the 'go to' place for gatherings amongst us, the Mexican restaurant in town. In the last so many times we have been, they have provided excellent and varied fare, at reasonable prices and with top service throughout. It was no different tonight with eight of us gathered.

The Missus did a gallant job of providing taxi service, a job that defaults to the only tea-totaller amongst us. Although we commenced at the early hour of seven o'clock, we managed to soak up the hours and eventually left at gone half past ten. My, we must have had some fun.

February 15th - Thursday

A brighter, sunny day than this would have been hard to imagine, or a one more apt for a project, for that. There was a breeze blowing through, which became a bit more pronounced into the afternoon but, by and large, it was just about right for a spot of painting in the big outdoors.

Every time I went upstairs the mould growing on the granite pillar irked, somewhat. I think that it was three years ago in the autumn that I last painted the white bits, or it might have been four. How ever many years it was, it was due for another lick of white paint, an event I had prepared for since the beginning of the week when the forecast suggested a prolonged dry period to wards the end of the week.

I did have a little set back when a heavy shower of rain passed through The Cove shortly before I took the bleddy hound around the block, first thing. Once this had cleared away the day returned to sunshine with big, white fluffy clouds dotting the sky. Shortly after returning from my run around the circuit, I set to with washing down.

I was quite happy with just using some water and a scrubbing brush to get rid of the salt and loose bits of paint and dirt. It was when my neighbour spotted me and the amount of mould clinging to the wall that he asked what I was using. Naturally, despite having employed DIYman for the job, using water was not quite right and perhaps I would like to use some parlour cleaner - the stuff their use in dairies to clean the floor and the milk lines. Of course, should I wish to go and slosh some in my water, it would be recommended to wear a full chemical warfare suit complete with face mask.

I availed myself of some of the cleaner, taking the necessary precautions, and found that it was very effective. It was not a few minutes into using it that Head Launcher dropped by. He looked for a moment at what I was doing and then suggested that he had just the thing to help me in my work, some parlour cleaner would be just the thing. He would go and get some that very moment for me to use. Goodness, how much of this stuff is just hanging around in people's garden sheds? If they ever look for WMDs here, they will have a field day.

I took a break after washing down to let the walls dry out a bit before I started painting. I did not have to wait that long as the breeze did a fine job in a very short space of time, but I managed to get some breakfast in and therefore have a clear run until tea time to get the job finished. I should report that most of the paint went in the right places, although some did not. I even managed to paint the high bit above the waste bins without falling off the ladder.

I was cleaned up and back upstairs by late afternoon with enough time to watch the tide race in like a raging bull. The sea was churned up and white across the bay and also in the Harbour, mainly from the waves thundering over the wall. The waves were also thundering up the cliffs on the other side of the bay and a few topping Brisons. When I took the bleddy hound around a bit later, waves were coming over the top of Pedn-men-du with a backdrop of a bright setting sun. The car park was busy with storm watchers, with a few climbing up to observe from the look out at the top of Mayon Cliff.

It was shortly after this that a big black cloud appeared to the north and, having closely observed the weather forecast that said there was to be no rain today, wondered what it was doing there. I then looked at the forecast again, well, more of a retrospect, which had decided that perhaps there would be some rain today, after all. I shall check in the morning to see if the paint that I meticulously applied to our walls is still there.

We mustered as usual for our Lifeboat training. There was an extreme unlikelihood that we would be launching the boat, so we decided instead to clean and polish the crew room, sorry, the very excellent Shore Crew room, to ensure that it was clean and sparkly for our next potential textbook recovery. With three mops and a clever bucket - it uses a centrifuge to exclude excess water - we cleaned the floor in record time. For this we require no accolades because we are, after all, a very hygienic, very excellent Shore Crew.

A number of us repaired to the OS for a spot of quizzing later. Here we learnt that quizzing should be left to people who know what they are talking about and that pretending can only lead to humiliation. Naturally, we lost by a huge margin and were humiliated, although we cleverly use an anonymous pseudonym so that we cannot be identified. Next week we will do the quiz from somewhere else which will fox them entirely.

It was somewhat less humiliating, but fortunately still unidentifiable, letting the bleddy hound loose around the block after we came home, even if she does wake the neighbourhood with her screeching. The stars were out and on our side as we walked around. It is not all bad on a Thursday night.

February 14th - Wednesday

A muckier day than this would have been hard to imagine, or a wetter one for that. Even when it was not raining, it was wet; the air was wet. We suffered a day with our head in the clouds, even down in The Cove we could not see the other side of the bay for much of the day but on the positive side, it was a sight warmer and less breezy than it had been for a while.

It was even worse when I trekked out to St Just in the later afternoon. It was as thick as a bag at the top of the hill and in St Just itself, visibility was down to about 50 yards. It was wet there, too, with big drips dropping off the gutters and the roof tops and it was this that made me look up. It is something that you do not often do in St Just as the pavements are narrow and to look anywhere else is to take your life in your hands a bit. I risked it anyway.

If you are ever there and there is not much traffic about, do the same. The houses in Fore Street are a mish mash of different styles. Quite how they came about to be all together is anyone's guess but even to my untrained eye they were from slightly different times; perhaps the newer buildings sprouted up between the older ones to make a continuous line. I would explain to you some of the detail that is there if I had the first clue about how they are called but it is a veritable wonder to gaze up at.

The very purpose of being there was to acquire another painter's kettle, for I cannot find the old one I had. I did, however, find the big brush I used last time I painted the front of the shop, just after I bought a new one. Time for this project is of the essence, in that the forecast shows three or four days dry weather and that cannot be guaranteed again before we open. It is absolutely nothing to do with feeling guilty about the Missus spending the whole day in the shop again, cleaning and polishing and finding more out of date goods.

I admit that I did not start looking at dates until I got half way through my task. I also omitted to include the biscuit side of the food aisle, as I always do when I am considering the food aisle. I have no idea why this seems to be my blind spot, but it is. The Missus managed to fill three baskets with the items she found, none of which are suitable for putting outside, particularly in this weather; they are destined for the bin, I am afraid.

With our year end approaching and administrative matters needing to be tied up before the end of February, I contacted the Laurel and Hardy Newspaper Company. Even when we are closed, they affect my life and lead me to waste time on them when I could be doing more useful or more enjoyable things. I might have mentioned that I discovered, thanks to a call from the very good man at the local depot, that we were still getting newspapers allocated to us. This has clearly now stopped, I think, but there are outstanding invoices from the beginning of January that we have not had sight of and there is the matter of being overcharged for deliveries.

I have telephoned every week since the beginning of January and at each call I have been told, variously, that the invoices are in the post/are being sent by electronic mail and that a 'call back' is being arranged for that very afternoon. Each week, nothing at all happens and I place another call. The most recent call gave me a hoot. Had I not been inured to the company's antics over fifteen years of abuse by them, perhaps it would have elicited despair or anger. The agent who, bless him, had not been recruited for his dynamism, told me that he would pass the issue onto his supervisor, so I asked if I might talk to the supervisor to cut out the middle man, as it were. He told me that this would not be possible because 'the supervisors have stopped talking to customers directly'.

One soupçon our man did tell me was entirely useful. He asked if I was a member of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, which I am not as I am not allowed to be as we are only 'part time', spelt 'seasonal' in this part of the world. As an aside, I spoke with representative of the NFRN a year ago or so who told me that things have changed since their membership started to take a dip and that I could now join. I told him politely as I could that I would not join a club that would have me as a member, or words to that effect.

Sorry, I digress. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, our man at the Laurel and Hardy Newspaper Company explained that there was a new branch of the company called 'Careline' that I could complain to, so I did. They must be very busy. I spoke with a very pleasant and sympathetic man, who took all the details and said how poorly I had been treated. I wondered for a moment whether I had called the right number. It remains to be seen, of course, whether anything happens or if this is just another national rate number that has been set up to glean a few quid off me.

I took the bleddy hound out for her last daylight run at about five o'clock. She had spent most of the day on her bed in the shop, looking out of the window, some of this through her own choice, as I offered to take her upstairs on at least two occasions. Nevertheless, I could understand that she might have been a bit bored and in need of a run around. However, a mucky day at full tide with piles of weed on the Harbour beach and a lively sea, were not the conditions that would allow her to run down there.

I had to physically drag her off the Harbour slip and pull her in the direction of the car park and our usual circuit. She was definitely not happy with this. If she had a teddy bear, she would have been dragging it by the foot and kicking cans down the street. She pulled me in directions that she is not allowed to go and moped about, refusing to pick up her feet. This was full spoilt-child-mode and I cannot imagine for one second where she might have learnt this from - spoilt children is a rank outsider, by the way. I left her in the RNLI car park to get over her sulk while I went on ahead. There was some semblance of recovery when we met a pal shortly before we got home. It is clear she needs a bit of a run but she is likely to have to wait a bit; there are plans afoot tomorrow.

February 13th - Tuesday

It had been rather inclement for the latter part of the night and the wind was still blustery in the morning. I had to untie the bin last night, it being bin man day today, and I was rather expecting it to have taken off when I got down there. Fortunately, the big winds overnight came in from the south west and did not veer round to the north west until later in the morning. When I took the bleddy hound around just before eight o'clock the wind was just coming into the west, though how it is that cold from the west I do not understand. As I beat the bin men to it, this week, I was able to run down after them and secure the empty bin before the wind got to it..

The day blossomed into something quite beautiful. The sea had decided that with such a captive audience this week it ought to make a big show, which it certainly did. It was thumping over the harbour wall for most states of the tide today. With the sun in its element the sea was also able to proudly show off its white bits as it churned in across the bay and danced over Cowloe.

I would have run out into all this - not the wet bit, obviously - but again work was calling. It is approaching the end of the financial year and the rest of the stock needs to be counted and accounted for. Sorry, did I give the impression that I had finished counting things in the shop? What I counted earlier in the year was all the things that we buy from the suppliers who pitch for business at the trade show in Exeter. The counting today was the rest of it, well almost, which is mainly the groceries, beer and wine.

To this end I spent three hours down in the shop moving and counting tins and jars. Even now, I have not finished the job; I just got bored and had come to a natural stopping point. As usual, there is a wealth of items that will not make it into the new year, due to their best before date either having expired during our closed period or will expire before we open in the middle of March. Again, as usual, much of this was the big bottles of Coca Cola, which I placed out on our newspaper bin outside the shop alongside a label that offers them, for free, to passing waifs and strays and also ordinary people. It is surprising the number of people who will eschew such an offer, possibly for fear that some hidden camera will catch them in some embarrassing act or that there is some sort of catch. No, it is free and there is no catch, just a grumpy shopkeeper, wailing and gnashing his teeth as he watches erstwhile potential profits slipping away. Before evening time all eighteen bottles disappeared.

The Missus also disappeared late in the afternoon. She scooted off to take Mother to see a show in the big city. The Hall for Cornwall was in the news today for controversially taking some public funding for a revamp. I do not know if Mother had to handbag her way through a sea of protestors when she arrived but she seemed to have a ball when she was there. The Missus took a 'selfie' photograph to paste on FacePage, which excited some comment I am told; I am not allowed on FacePage after the Missus did a risk assessment.

This left me to prepare tea for Big Sis and I. Since the Missus would not be there and we still have a bit of haddock in our freezer downstairs - the Missus hates fish -, I made up some fish finger sandwiches which were not too shabby if I say so myself. I am some left over for breakfast, too. Lucky me.

February 12th - Monday

It started out as a very pretty little day, although it was quite bitterly cold with a nagging breeze from somewhere in the west, making it feel even colder. It was a lovely day for visitors but not the best beach week for them, unless they want to be out very early or really late - after dark, in fact as the tides are all wrong. There was a fair few taking advantage of the reducing beach, golden in the low sunlight, when I came out of the gymnasium. I was almost tempted to go home and get the bleddy hound down there, but I had other plans today.

As I had run out of the bread that the Missus made to replace the loaf I bought from the independent baker in town, I needed to get another. I am sure that the Missus would have baked one but she had decided to set to some preparation in the shop and it would have been dangerous in the extreme to divert her from this purpose. I made some effort in clearing the shop of the detritus that had accumulated since Christmas by loading the Christmas window platform into the back of the van with the intention of taking it up to Shrew House. I also loaded the old paint cans that the Missus and I had used in our various painting projects, with the objective of disposing of them in an environmentally responsible manner.

The trip to town, via Shrew House, was uneventful and from there I drove on to Helston as the munitions factory required some supplies to keep it running. From there I struck out obliquely across country in the direction of Hayle. This made a welcome change from returning on the road to Penzance, which I detest with a vengeance. I have been out through Leedstown before, but not for a long time. There is very little of great interest to see casually along the way but the change in scenery was refreshing.

The purpose for heading in this direction was to pass the door of the much malign council's tip, sorry, household waste recycling centre. I was mindful that paint, particularly of the oil based variety, which most of ours was, needed to be disposed of properly and I was aware that the tip, sorry household waste recycling centre, had a special bin for these paints. I sought it out when I arrived only to find it locked with geet chains wrapped around it; I sensed that it was not to be used. I asked the much maligned council's nominated supplier man where I should now place my toxic waste that I am not supposed to place in our domestic waste bin, lest it be treated as general waste. He pointed me in the direction of a big skip with a big label that said, 'General Waste'. I will put it in my bin next time and save myself a few quid as well as saving the planet from thirty miles of driving in my polluting diesel.

I was back in the late afternoon when the Missus had managed to get half way through the cleaning and polishing of the shop. I dropped in the paint that I had bought to replace the ones I had disposed of and made my excuses; I believe the hamster needed its whiskers straightening and the cornflakes were the wrong way up in the box. I remained very quiet for the rest of the afternoon.

The Missus eventually surfaced well after our proper tea time. Thankfully I had cleverly cooked some cold meat from our roast dinner the evening before and the bubble and squeak does not generally spoil from being overcooked. There is more to do tomorrow, apparently - cleaning, that is, I do not think I could do bubble and squeak two nights in a row.

February 11th - Sunday

It perhaps would not have been quite so chilly today if the wind, from somewhere in the west, had moderated a tad. As it was, the man-sized blow gave the day an edge and, if standing in an exposed place, it was bitter.

There were few places today quite as exposed as half way up a hillside, facing west, which is where I was today at the range. Luckily, the range shelter faces east, which gave a modicum of protection but, nevertheless, it was pretty cold for most of the day. It especially did not help being regularly deluged with hail showers and one, short-lived, snow flurry, the first we have had here for more than nine years, although in fairness, it sensibly avoided The Cove.

Despite the adverse weather conditions, a great time was had by all. The 'all' was somewhat fewer than we normally have but it was a convivial atmosphere and we were able to keep warm by running about resetting targets. Unlike last week I was unable to wear gloves for the shooting part as the bullets were smaller and the working of the guns more detailed. The term cold steel comes to mind.

The dark stormy rain clouds persisted into the evening. Fortunately, they were small and came with short, wintry showers. Between the cloudy bits, the sun shone and lit up the white foamy sea and it crashed over Cowloe and ran, in a bit white apron, down onto the beach. The Harbour was the only part of the sea that was not flecked with white. It has not escaped the effects of the swell, however, as the Harbour beach is knee deep in oar weed and is strictly out of bounds to bleddy hounds. This has not stopped her standing at the top of the slipway, looking forlorn and wanting.

By last knockings we had stars again, with Orion up in the south west and the brightest thing in the sky being Sirus, which was appropriate being the Dog Star, just poking up above the top of the cliff to the south. Last night there was a bright star in the east. Since it was the wrong time of the year and I was not dressed for following celestial objects, I took it to be a planet but forgot to look it up. Although it was not visible tonight, it seems that it was another bright star, the brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere, called Arcturus. I have much to thank certain big computer application suppliers and online encyclopaedias for.

February 10th - Saturday

What a mucky day! It looked mizzly when I took the bleddy hound around but I very soon discovered that it was proper, wet type rain. There was also a bit of a breeze blowing in from somewhere out to the west and thankfully the bleddy hound did not hang about, as she is wont to do. It was something of a pleasure to get in out of the grey and wet and even more of a pleasure to stay there.

I have been putting it off, but time is racing and I have munitions to manufacture if I am to be able to place nicely with the other boys and girls at the range. As soon as I had had some breakfast I decamped downstairs and set about my work. I completed my production target and even did some more until my resizing die decided to swallow a shell and not let go of it. I am sure that there is some enterprising soul at the club who will be able to help me fix it but in the meanwhile I will have to make do with what I have, of that particular calibre, anyway.

Perhaps it was for the best as I had plans for the afternoon - although wrecking thirty quid's worth of precision engineering may not be the most cost effective method of meeting a schedule. There was a certain rugby game to be played and to be watched, which might be described as a grudge match after England narrowly beat the Welsh this time last year in a slightly controversial manner, as I recall. I repaired to the OS to watch the game - there is something about watching rugby in an alehouse. The home team did much better this time around as the one, very quiet Welsh person sitting by the television, might grudgingly admit.

It was all pretty quiet for the start of a half term weekend, although the OS became much busier than last week at this time. Either the main contingent has not yet arrived or the grey weather kept our visitors at bay. We are not tempted to open by this flash in the pan week as it is notoriously difficult to stock appropriately for such a short period. Looking at the numbers around today, it is a decision well made.

The mizzle had cleared up by the time I took the bleddy hound out for her last run and left us with a clear star spangled sky. Welcome to the half term.

February 9th - Friday

That howling wind was still howling first thing this morning. My shorts were flying all over the place as I walked around the circuit. At least it was dry and there was some semblance of brightness about the place, very possibly the beginnings of a pretty day.

By the time I had returned from the gymnasium it was nigh on half way through the day. I had not made any plans but I did rather hope to get down to the munitions factory today to do some work, but it was not to be. The Missus told me she was going shopping, which precluded any work downstairs, although the bleddy hound probably would not have complained, she will have to spent excessive amounts of time down there very shortly and I did not mean to rub her nose in it.

I busied myself with some chores upstairs until the alluring day lured me to put on my shorts and walking boots and head out abroad with the bleddy hound. We followed the same route that we ran a couple of days ago for the want of simplicity and although I wore the same clothes, the breeze was a bit more challenging today. It was fair whipping in across the hill, the other side of Carn Olva but, once again, the breeze diminished as we headed down the Valley.

Empty Beach
Just the one eejit on the beach just now ... and his bleddy hound

We tarried, as we did on Wednesday, down on the beach to toss a ball about. I had thought that the northwesterly breeze would make sitting around down there uncomfortable, but this was not the case. Under the sun we were pleasantly warmed, and the breeze was not a nuisance at all. We were, however, the only ones of a few complete eejits to venture out onto the beach in this weather. We do so like having the beach to ourselves. It was particularly pleasing to watch the ranks of waves, of battalion strength, rolling in one after the other. The white foam, luminescent against the blue-green (alright, it could have been any colour, I would not know, but I chose that one) of the rolling sea.

Rolling sea
Could have watched this for hours

Unlike Wednesday, we stopped by the OS on the way home. Once again I had to drag in the bleddy hound, kicking and screaming ... well, more masking herself in an epic sulk that kicking and screaming, as I think she was too tired for that. It was here that we met up with a Welsh person, newly arrived from the far side of the world. He is a Diary reader of some note: he has discovered the online shop, too, but since he is now domiciled here, I may as well close it.

We waited until late for Big Sis to arrive home. She had been forced to divert to a new route due to a nasty accident on the old route but still arrived here in good time. She is working tomorrow, a sign that our opening is not too far away. I might have to pull a finger out.

February 8th - Thursday

Not quite the full day we had yesterday, in fact quite the opposite. I think that the highlight was running the bleddy hound around the block and after that things became about as grey as the day.

At least the rain held off until later in the day. We had been promised rain all day long, but the big stuff waited until later, when I could not avoid being out in it, at least not without missing Lifeboat training and the OS quiz.

I amused myself in the morning by doing the administration bits associated with the continual influx of invoices for this and that. It is not quite so bad getting the invoices when we are open, as we have a modicum of income to pay for them - in theory. When we are closed the money comes from the pot you hope is big enough to last the winter and pay for the opening stock of the new season. It would have been useful not to have a broken heater in the van to fix, too.

The other thing on my to do list, which cropped up last night as Big Sis was trying to use her laptop computer is that her laptop computer was misbehaving. It was misbehaving to the extent that it required some serious action, such as rebuilding from the ground up. Half the problem last night was not being able to use the desktop in order to back up the files on it. We managed to get it connected to the network and we backed up from our main office computer - clever things, these networks.

The smoking ruins of the laptop sat on the living room table, nagging at me to sort it out. On the basis that I could not fix it with its own recovery partition, I decided to upgrade it to the latest operating system, downloading it from my computer first. This had its trials and took some time but there were none so surprised as I that it worked and the machine is purring like a well-oiled machine - let us hope it is supposed to purr like a well-oiled machine.

We waved goodbye to Big Sis again in the afternoon, even though she has only just got here. She discovered that she had a last minute appointment back home and will make a fleeting journey there and back for tomorrow. I had held off until this moment before going down to the shop to put the advertising plates back into the newly painted window. I was disappointed to note that there was already some staining on the window frame where the condensation had dropped onto it. I rather think that makes a mockery of painting it once every ten years, so I will not bother next time.

There are moves afoot to, perhaps, replace the lining of the keelway down the Lifeboat launch slipway. To this end it was incumbent upon us to measure the gap between the bilge … sorry, the skate like apparatus either side of the keel and its supporting plates on the slip. To affect this, we needed to drop the boat down the short slipway and carry out the measurements by hand. Naturally we could have waited and done this when it was sunny and dry but it is far more fun to try and measure it in the dark when it was blowing a hooley and raining. This amused some of us for some while, during which the others of us stayed in the dry and observed from afar. We are, after all, a very supportive, very excellent Shore Crew.

Naturally, after having rested some after such rigorous activity, we repaired to the OS for a spot of quizzing, where we failed miserably to make any headway on last week's disaster and, instead, drank heavily. I believe that it is worth noting that I might have been abstemious, and a fine upstanding Cornish Methodist had it not been for the OS quiz.

I might have redeemed myself, to some degree, by taking the bleddy hound, screaming away, around the block when I returned home. I certainly evaded the promised deluge, so that must be something. I did check later and it rather looked like there was no deluge, despite having been promised, but I missed the raging wind that followed it, so that was something.

February 7th - Wednesday

We managed to have quite a full day today, just how I like it, without having to put in too much effort about what to do; everything just happened.

It was my turn to get up early as the van needed to go into the garage again. I am beginning to think it is like going to the dentist, where you go once then have to go back to have something else done because the dentist rather naughtily left a drill bit in your tooth. This time the van's fan broke, right on cue for the cold weather and we have spent a week shivering in the seat.

Anyway, when I left The Cove first thing, the streets were dry and you would have been hard pressed to know that we were beset with hail storms all day yesterday. There was no mistaking this on the road to Penzance, as just beyond the village boundary I started to see white remnants of hail in the kerb and a little further on, slush in the middle of the lane. By the time I got to the top of the moor, the roads were pretty thick with it, well, for around here, at least. It is easy to forget that there will be drivers here that have never driven in icy or snowy conditions; it has not snowed here for nine years. When I returned, a car was being hauled out of a ditch close in to the village.

I went straight to the gymnasium on my way home. Once again it was bitterly cold inside the hut and it took even longer to get warmed up. It was not so much breaking a sweat as breaking the ice that formed when I did.

I took a breather for an hour or two after I came back. It had all the looks of a half decent day about it, although it was still rather cold, but at least the wind had diminished. I had not forgotten my promise to take the bleddy hound for a longer run and looking at the forecast for the next couple of days, today seemed the best day to do it.

We took a stank up Stone Chair Lane to start with, cutting off the corner with Mayon Cliff, and headed down Maria's Lane. The house at the corner of Esther's Field is coming along, with a geet steel pointed arch at the front, now installed. It is much higher than I expected and only just misses the telecoms cable that stretches out in front of the site. It will be another imposing monster when it is finished.

From Stone Chair
Bit grey from Stone Chair

We carried on through the usual route around Carn Olva and across the head of the Valley. It amazes me how there never seems to be any breeze down there and everything appears still and calm whenever we walk that way. We met some pals at the bottom of the hill for a chat but the bleddy hound is keen, ever so keen by this stage to get down onto the beach. I did not hold her back any longer.

Scilly View
Lumps on the horizon are the Isles of Scilly - honest, there are lumps

Sand scooped out at the back of the beach

Finding a convenient rock to prop myself against, we tarried and played chase and catch the ball for a while. The bleddy hound usually has a dig too but for some reason this was off the menu today - too cold or the sand too hard, who knows? I think I might have broken her a bit as she took an age to walk back home along the road.

Due to the tides, we did not leave the flat until later in the afternoon than I might have usually on one of our walks. In consequence, we were later getting home and I discovered that it must be another blue moon, as it was my turn to cook the meal again. Actually, there was utter confusion because I thought that to be the case and came up with some creative solution, only to discover when I got home that the Missus had also been creative. It was still my turn.

I found it a tad warm in the flat towards the end of the evening and thought it to be the result of my exertions, both abroad and in the kitchen. However, when I took the bleddy hound out last thing I discovered that the temperature had, indeed, improved by a good measure. I mentioned this when I came back in and both Missus and Big Sis said that they were warm but had not mentioned it to me lest I turn off the bar on the electric fire, the naughty things.

February 6th - Tuesday

I think that I would just about have managed to get around the block unscathed before the wintry showers started in earnest. As it was the Missus was up before me and took the bleddy hound around and she did not get wet either.

The Missus was scheduled to be around at Mother's early, one of the only things that will rouse her at that time. This trip was, once again, to do with the electric meter. The previous failed test that the company's own consultant electrician had carried out was apparently insufficient to prove the meter's unworthiness. The same electrician arrived today to install a parallel meter but very kindly insisted that it could not be installed for lack of space, without drilling holes in the kitchen wall. He too was incensed that the company did not put its hands up when he reported that it was very obviously faulty.

The upshot of this, after the Missus had explained to them, is that the company will install a new meter. I would have installed one, too, if the Missus had explained to me. However, we are unsure what its position will be on claiming liability for over billing for the previous however many years it has been doing so.

Meanwhile our wintry showers were becoming more frequent and more wintry and the wind, heading in from the north was also increasing. It is very difficult for us to maintain any sort of comfortable room temperature in these conditions, so I was forced to put a bar of electric fire on. Even I have to admit defeat when I do not have another pullover that fits over the two I was already wearing. There is the advantage, of course, that we can switch off the refrigerator as it is colder outside it.

It was none too comfortable taking the bleddy hound around in the middle of the day. She seemed quite insistent that she should be allowed to cavort on the Harbour beach. I was just as insistent that she did not first, as I was not certain that the break in the weather would hold and secondly, there is still a fair amount of oar weed on the beach and her tummy has only jus calmed down after the last meal of it. I have to commend her tenacity as she tried to lure me down the western slip when we got into the Harbour car park. I have made a mental note that I will have to take her for a major run before the week is out.

Those wintry showers were as tenacious as the bleddy hound and persisted well into the night. It was not the sort of afternoon for going out and exploring, so I did not. Instead, I was incredibly lazy and did nothing that will push the world on to greater things. Perhaps I shall do that tomorrow.

February 5th - Monday

It was one of those crisp and delicate mornings you felt you had to be careful walking through in case you broke it. It is very rare that we ever have ice in The Cove but this morning was one of those occasions and even then, I suspect, if I had breathed on it, the ice would have melted away. There was not quite so much clear sky as there had been the previous night but there was enough to let a few beams of rising sunlight bounce off the windows of the big white house on the cliff opposite and tint the clouds away in the north. I suspect that the big white house was built by the Druids, as it picks up the morning sun and the setting sun at certain times of the year.

It was icy in the gymnasium, too, also probably built at the time of the Druids. There is not much in the way of insulation in the hut with a tin roof and it took me a long time to warm up. Even by the end of the session - and I do not slouch when I go, no, really - I was hardly breaking a sweat.

Neither was it a morning for moping around, although I made an exception of the afternoon, so I made plans to run into town to do a spot of shopping in the excellent independent shops there. Running into town was probably not the best description as I got stuck behind a truck and trailer from the outset, which was taking its time. This was positively racing along by comparison to the next car we all were stuck behind. It took a while to discover that it was a learner driver we were behind, crawling at a top speed of 20 miles per hour all the way to Penzance and often slower. I appreciate that learners have to practise but perhaps on the main roads only when they have built up sufficient confidence to drive at sensible speeds. For half the journey we watched as a tractor and vegetable trailer, which pulled out ahead of us, accelerated away from the ten car queue we were in.

I had stopped in Newlyn to get some fatted clams; the Missus intends to kill them to welcome home the prodigal Big Sis, who has been away for six weeks or more, and it does feel like more. She got home just before tea, so we made a meal of it before slipping comfortably back into our communal evening routine.

There is a warning of snow tomorrow, which is daft for here. I suspect we will just get wet again.

February 4th - Sunday

We were warned about a drop in temperature today and the forecasters were not wrong. I thought that I would test my preparedness when I took the bleddy hound around and I reckoned that five layers would just about do it. What with two layers of trousers as well, that northeasterly breeze, well, I could bite my thumb at it.

Although we are quite active at the range, running around to reset the targets after each shooter, there is also much standing around while the shooters shoot. However, by the late morning I was quite toasty, apart from my fingers, and by early afternoon I had to strip off one of the layers. The pair of gloves I thought that I would test out for shooting are reasonably workable for shotgun but for anything else only bare fingers will do. Believe me, that requires some hardiness, squeezing rounds into metal magazines.

At least it was not raining and with a blue sky and sunshine, the day was a bit of a corker. The view from the hillside was a spectacular as ever and at kicking out time, in the late afternoon, there were shafts of light piercing the cloud above the Longships reef. Sorry, a picture would have needed a better camera than the one on my mobile telephone and, besides, I was carrying rather a lot of kit at the time. It does amuse me in action films where the hero hefts a big bag of guns and ammunition over his shoulder and runs around like a Dervish; everything is darned heavy.

Without my restraint, the Missus was free to launch into roast dinner making and this was in full flight when I arrived home. In fairness, she did offer me alternatives, but I am far too polite to demur. I still do not know what has driven my aversion to Sunday roasts; it certainly is not taste or texture. Perhaps I was a Spring Lamb in a previous life.

If I had been I would be happily gambolling under our starry night sky we had tonight. Until I got eaten, of course.

February 3rd - Saturday

Just when we thought that the wind was dying away, it came back with a vengeance overnight. It was still howling in the eaves when I roused myself and took the bleddy hound around the block. Our step outside was preceded by a heavy, but mercifully short, shower and we made it around unscathed other than being battered about by a fifty miles per hour wind.

Again, I had not particularly planned anything to see me through the day but the Missus resolved that by suggesting that the van needed fuel and she needed her smokes from Tesmorburys. I am sure she would have gone herself but how could I refuse a trip to the out of town supermarkets I love so dearly. The trip also ensured that I topped up our polluting diesel at the local station in St Buryan, rather than feeding the up country coffers of the big supermarkets.

The road out to St Buryan is usually very quiet; you have to be very unlucky to meet a car coming the other way. Today there were several cars parked in the verges with some creeping along, blocking the path. I surmised that these might have been hunt followers, although I saw no sign of the hunt itself. They were definitely not hunt saboteurs as they were not wearing full face ski masks to hide their identity, which I find odd if you are proud of your convictions. The next obstruction was another army of daffodil pickers decamping from their fleet of vans. You have to admire those boys and girls, out in all weathers to earn a crust. Finally, at a narrow stretch of road, I met a tractor and trailer coming the other way, with a couple of vans up behind me. That was fun.

I had expected Tesmorburys to be much busier and I managed to park only slightly further away than the car park is from the shops in town. There was no queue at the cigarette counter but when I went to pay for the two items from the supermarket shelves, there were queues at all the payment stations, including the bit where you do it all yourself. I do not know if it is frowned upon to only buy £1.80 worth of goods on a Saturday, but I got a very stern look at the till. Perhaps it was because I was paying with money instead of a card. I will never know.

I did try my best to pick a moment between showers for taking the bleddy hound around when I returned from town. Instead, we were caught half way across the Harbour car park and another shower belted in across the bay and had to shelter behind the toilet block until it passed.

For my swansong of the day I ran off to the OS to watch the last of today's rugby games. I am so glad I did because what a game it was, specially the last three minutes. How very exciting.

February 2nd - Friday

It was still a little sharp first thing this morning with that northwesterly still blowing. Of course, it was nothing but a light breeze compared to the blow we had the night before last and as the day progressed the wind lightened. It was also bright with only a few threatening clouds to worry about and the slightly waning moon still visible in the west.

I found our neighbour's bin on the way back from the gymnasium, which was handy. Someone had tucked it away in the drive of one of the holiday lets about fifty yards from where it should have been. I brought it back and stowed it.

The Missus had decided yesterday that she needed to go to Truro on a shopping trip in the morning. She also made arrangements to pick up a shipping order of curry from the only curry house in Cornwall that makes a dish she likes. She went shortly after I got back from the gymnasium leaving me to look after the bleddy hound.

I did not have any specific plans for the day but sitting on my chair by the window, the big open space of the beach looked rather alluring. With our supermoon comes super tides and as low water approached, more and more beach was opening out. It seemed churlish to refuse to use it, so I gathered up the bleddy hound, slipped on something a little more beach worthy and headed down the road with our ball launcher.

Shifting sands on a big beach

It was beautiful down on beach with the sun warming the sand and even after a paddle it was not too cold, although the wind kept it fresh on my hands and face. I have been looking at the movement of the sand for a while, after all our big seas. Up at the northern end the sand has been scooped out from the back of the beach and brought towards the sea to the extent that there is very little rock separating Escalls Beans from the main beach. However, under the black huts of Carn Keys, the band of rocks is getting wider by the day.

The scooping out from the back seems to be the trend all the way down the beach but is worst at the northern end. There is still sufficient at the bottom of the OS slipway to cover up the old wooden posts but the reef a little way off the base of the slipway is quite extensive. At the western end there is much more sand than we have been used to. Had I been wearing boots, I imagine that it would not have been too arduous to clamber over the rocks to the Harbour beach. I concluded that trying it in flip flops might be asking for a turned or broken ankle.

Big tide for Cowloe

Shorter hop to Harbour beach

As is the way these days, I kept our visit relatively short. Heading back to the slipway I noticed how soft the sand was, making it difficult to make headway at a reasonable pace, which was not a problem as I was not in a hurry. Neither was the bleddy hound, who made it abundantly clear that she thought we were heading home far too early. This, however, was short-lived as she spotted our post lady's van parked outside the OS and refused to go any further - our post lady comes with dog treats, you see. Unfortunately, the postie's visit was not a quick one and I had to drag the bleddy hound away, kicking and screaming. She did get her treats in the end but had to wait until after we got home and our mail was delivered.

It has been an obscene length of time since the Highly Professional Craftsperson and I have been to see to a decent band. I thought it high time we remedied the issue and took a punt on seeing Willie and the Bandits at the Acorn Theatre in Penzance. It is also a long time since we went to the Acorn but we were recognised by the barman and, now, general manager of the place who recalled our drinks. I do not know whether this says a lot about our man's recall or a lot about how we became so memorable.

We arrived bang on the schedule and enjoyed a cracking little set by the support band, Red Breakers or it could have been Rainbreakers. Whoever they were they were a very competent blues rock band, knocking out some decent tunes, which we thought to be their own.

If we were impressed with these boys, Willie and the Bandits knocked our socks off with strong lead vocals, who also played lead guitar, a six string bass and drums. They mixed genres from blues rock, heavy rock, folk - of sorts - and one song that was almost calypso. The bass was used as a lead on many occasions, the player switching to a modern electric double bass on occasion and lead guitar alternating between acoustic, electric and slide guitars. It was a mesmerising set, one minute screaming guitars and heavy drums and the next, soft melodies or drifting instrumentals. What a treat.

The Missus came and picked us up before we turned into pumpkins. We even managed to avoid the promised rain. I have no idea if it did rain later; it was well past my bedtime already.

February 1st - Thursday

The howling wind continued all night and into today. It was just as well that I moved our neighbour's bin as the banging and thumping would have gone on and driven us scatty. As it was, the television aerial was doing enough thumping by itself, bouncing around on the roof but at least that is at the front and away from where we sleep. Oddly, its demise does not seem to have affected the picture quality at all.

There was not much sign of devastation elsewhere in The Cove and the wind seemed much reduced for our walk around the block. The remedial strategy for the bleddy hound seemed to have worked alright and we both got out of bed at the proper time. She seems to be not bothered by the rice and fish diet at present and has not turned her nose up at her dish at all so far. Perhaps we should hold her up as an example to fussy children who will not eat their greens, or whatever, but on the other hand she also eats oar weed and scanky fish.

The Missus, in her tarting the flat up flurry, had bought a couple of wood blinds to replace the ones we currently have. The existing ones have the standard metal foil louvres, which rust in our environment after a year or two. The first blind was very simple to install and the old one went into the back of the van along with the cardboard packaging the new ones came in.

I had decided that today would be a good plan to run up to Hayle, an essential run to pick up some more beer from the cash and carry. Since I was heading up that way it seemed sensible to call in at the tip, sorry, household waste recycling centre, and get rid of the old blinds and packaging as well as the old, broken kettle that I forgot to take last time. Therefore, I set about replacing the last blind, which was in the kitchen with the new one. This did not take long at all and I headed off, dropping the Missus round at Mothers on the way.

Since I had deselected myself as volunteer chef, the Missus suggested I extract a couple of my award winning pasties from the freezer and have those for tea. When I looked, I could only find two, which might have been enough but probably was not, as we usually have one and a half each. I suggested that I supplement our stock with a bought pasty, especially as I was going to Hayle and would have the choice of Philps or Hampson, both of which, while not as good as they once were, are still pretty good shop bought oggies.

As good as my word, on the way back I called in at the, erm, household waste recycling centre to get rid of the blinds and packaging. I also brought a large plastic container that I could find no other use for at home and that both the Missus and I had failed to find a recycling receptacle for locally or at the Tesmorburys facilities. It quite surprised me that, at the tip, sorry, household waste recycling centre, there was only a bin for plastic bottles. When I asked, I was told to put in into the waste skip that was labelled for 'Black Bin Liner Waste'. The item I was toting around had the appropriate recycling symbols on it, so I was mightily disappointed that there does not appear to be anywhere to recycle it in Penwith. Good to see that the much maligned council is right behind the drive to rid us of plastic waste.

We duly arrived for a spot of Lifeboat training in the evening. It was a thin attendance after the exercise and shout earlier in the week, so we busied ourselves with once again testing headphones. We have a few good sets but at the exercise I found another that had gone duff. There are some spares in various states of operability, so we retested these to see which worked and which did not. It is a jolly good wheeze and we will doubtless find that some of these will not last the pace of practical use and we will have to do it all again another time.

Worn out by such activity, we repaired to the OS for a spot of quizzing. Here we valiantly tried to complete all ten of the last questions, which give bonus points if we get them right. It was disappointing to find that we had just one wrong, which wipes out the score for all the others. However, it would have been even more disappointing to discover that we got them right, had the bonus points and still lost - as indeed we would have done.

Fortunately, we were recompensed with a clear starlit sky on the way home. We could have done without the bitter wind slapping our faces but you cannot have it all.

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