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.
October 17th - Tuesday
It is quite incredible how quickly the sea state can change from big and stormy yesterday to quite benign today. Looking at the beach at low water it would seem that our thumping waves brought in a fair amount of sand, which was good of it. It did look rather more attractive yesterday under the bright and largely blue sky; it was a bit grey and bleak by comparison today.
The Missus packed herself off to town in the late morning. I gave her a sack of old pound coins to take with her. Since they cannot simply be changed, she was going to pay off our credit card bill with them, which should solve the problem. It has put an end to us accepting the old coins over the counter, though I know that some shops will continue to take them in. I understand that there are quite a few still in circulation, not helped by the likes of Tesmorburys who were happily still handing them out in change up until last week. There were a few people yesterday still trying to proffer them in payment apparently unaware that Sunday was the deadline. They are aware now.
We avoided the rain that seemed to blight the rest of the county, or at least the south easterly bit. However, it was unlikely that even with the rain it could get much quieter than it already was. It was so dull I even forgot to place the telephone calls that I had been waiting for a quiet moment to make. Fortunately, they will wait for another day.
See, and you thought that it was all excitement and derring-do down here.
October 16th - Monday
The first thing that struck me, as I opened the front door to the elements this morning, was just how warm the breeze was. Actually, the first thing that struck me when I opened the door was the frond of a tall weed that had fallen across the steps at head height. That being neither here nor there, the weatherman told us that it was twenty degrees in Camborne. That is what you get for living somewhere exotic, like the Far East.
Early on there was hardly any movement out in the bay. We were sheltered, too, with hardly a breath at first and then more of a strong breeze, especially in the Harbour car park and beyond. I had several customers ask when the storm was coming and I had to point out the slanting white caps out beyond the Cowloes and the reports of sixty miles per hour winds on the Islands. We could feel it a little more by mid morning and I thought that it night have come around a bit. A quick look at Gwennap Head's weather station showed that the windspeed had ramped up instead. By the end of the day we had a maximum gust of 79 miles per hour on the headland.
We were into the afternoon before the big guns turned up. These were serious waves out in the bay and banging over the Harbour wall. We have seen bigger but not often and any encroaching up our sea defences was largely negated due to the neap tides. At its peak it was topping the Brisons and geet lumps of white water were crashing half way up the cliffs at Nanjulian, under Gurland Farm. We were entertained for several hours by the sea's stormy antics in the bright sunlight and we were not the only ones.
Just before high water the railings were crowded with storm watchers and the road, with its cars parked both sides, was a calamity of traffic trying to move in both directions. A fellow very excellent Shore Crew member had been abroad during the day and reported that even half way through the morning the crowds were lining up in Porthleven, a well known storm watching spot. He had some cracking photographs of Longships lighthouse buried in monster waves, which I am sure would do well if he wanted to syndicate them.
One of the greatest surprises of the day was our new Lifeboat station alarm hooter - as heard on television - that was installed today. I was in the middle of serving some customers when they tested it. The horn is accompanied by a young lady's voice announcing loudly that the Lifeboat is launching and anybody in the vicinity should mind their feet, or words to that effect. As we had received no warning I was unsure whether this was a test or someone had implemented a new cost saving system, calling us to muster without the use of our pagers. Fortunately, it was the former. I do rather think that it would sound much better with a gruff Cornish voice telling us that the boat would launch dreckly and everyone else should begger off out the way.
If I needed any sort of affirmation that it had been a tad windy today I need only look to the shop floor. By the end of the day we had lots of outside inside and the counter was gritty with blown sand. I really have no idea where the fern leaves came from.
October 15th - Sunday
The mist had gone by the time I got downstairs to start work. So too had the swell in the bay, although I could not see that until a little later when it became lighter. I could have guessed it had gone because the fishing fleet went out for a spot more squidding. By the time I came back from the range, the mist was back and the fishing fleet were hauled up into the Harbour car park. I think there are expectations of great seas coming.
It was certainly mild enough down in The Cove. I confess to feeling a tad chilly up at the range but we were subject to a bit of a southerly breeze up there. It is probably to do with the altitude and my being used to living pretty much a constant life down at sea level. I am surprised I did not feel faint from the lack of oxygen.
There were enough people about during the day to make it reasonably good for business. We were not exactly mad busy but in the early part of the afternoon things were quite steady. Even with just a few families here it is sufficient to give it that air of holiday feeling. It was pretty short-lived, though. By four o'clock it had turned very gloomy and most of the crowds had evaporated into the mist.
I considered twiddling my thumbs but I did that yesterday. Twiddling my fingers just did not seem right so I idly watched a family in swimsuits jump off the Harbour wall for a while. This was hardly gratifying and since Sunday's newspapers, by and large, do not fit on the counter I could not read much of those either. Even bird watching was off the menu as the only bird I could see, because it was big enough to be seen through the thickening mist, was an off-course heron. It was at this point I felt it appropriate to give up for the day.
As a sop, I felt, I was allowed a glimpse at the stars when I took the bleddy hound around last thing. The mist had cleared, too, running scared ahead of a mighty breeze, we hear. I have nailed down our bin just in case.
October 14th - Saturday
It became abundantly clear very quickly that the holidays have started in some parts of the country. We were overrun by the little darlings from quite early in the day and the adults, also showing an increase in numbers, were in the vanguard for newspapers and the like first thing.
It was not the best of days to welcome new visitors, although the sun broke through at the end of the afternoon; the sky was overcast and grey for most of the day and the thumping surf had the beach red flagged from as soon as the Lifeguards arrived on scene. Before that a dozen or so hardy surfers had braved some pretty manly swell to show off a few moves on how to crash and burn. A couple more surfers, later in the afternoon, decided to defy the red flags and go out anyway. I am not an expert but I thought the object was to occasionally stand up on the surfboard and float gracefully towards the shore rather than bobbing about in rough sea.
It is also the object, and I am a little more au fait with the process, to have a shop full of customers buying things. Our customers seemed to evaporate during the afternoon leaving me little else to do but twiddle my thumbs; I had already finished any newspaper that fitted on the counter. I am supposing things might be a little more buoyant tomorrow and considered whether I should forego the range. If I go it will be busy and if I stay it will be a ghost town, for sure.
The Highly Professional Craftsperson and I had a similar dilemma around whether we should attend the OS in the evening for a bit of a banding. I know that we should not really be too fussy and it is really good of the OS to make the effort to have some local music going on but we did bulk at first. We had a look at the offering on the computer earlier in the week and after the first bar of music established that the band was a replica of a more well known group.
We were persuaded, against our better judgement, to come along and have some fun because we were being miserable tusses, or an assessment in that region. We went on the basis that most bands improve in the second half, particularly if the first half has been so bad as to drive the listener to increased levels of imbibement.
In fact, the Highly Professional Craftsperson did not turn up until the second half after a misunderstanding about whether we were going or not. It was a shame because I hate to suffer the first half alone. I was confused when they played the same song each time with different names and different lyrics. They redeemed themselves to a degree in the second half after a Travelling Wilburys number seemed to energise them. If they had played a good deal more of their own songs I would have been impressed, as the smattering they gave us were very good indeed.
I had expected the mizzle that was present when we sauntered home, more because of the condition than the accuracy of the forecast. It helped to show off the capabilities of my newly recharged torch as I ran the bleddy hound around the block.
October 13th - Friday
Even through the gloom of pre-dawn morning, the white foam banging up the cliffs on the other side of the bay was a clear indicator of a large swell in the bay. Later, with some short-lived blue sky, the big rolling lump looked majestic in all its deep blueness. It did not stop the fleet from going out; they are made of sterner stuff, although they were tucked up on the slipway before the worst of it came in.
It had started out grey and gloomy and apart from our hour or so of bright blue, it stayed grey and gloomy for the rest of the day. Trade followed suit.
As we roll towards the end of our season it is time to reflect on some of the things that we will miss. Such as a young fisher of the village dropping by with a geet bag of Cornish sardines, like he did yesterday. They had been swimming in Mounts Bay just a few hours earlier and by tea time they were on my plate. There were so many that Big Sis and I could not finish them all. The Missus was no help at all; the Missus hates fish. I mashed them up with mayonnaise and horseradish with a few olives and gherkins thrown in and had them as a sort of pate with some fresh bread for breakfast. 'Ansum.
It is the season for twitchers. The usual rules apply: Barbour-green rain coats, big field telescopes (with jacket), field binoculars and a great deal of patience, I assume. For the third day this week a number of such people have been lined up against the railings opposite the shop, gawking out into the bay. Thus far I have been distracted on other matters to determine exactly what they are looking at. Today, however, matters came to a head when they camped right opposite the shop for a long geek at a couple of birds that were obviously the target of their interest. I fetched my own modest binoculars from under the counter and had a geek, myself. There were definitely two sea birds with wings and things out there by the store pots.
Clearly, my nonplussedness was evident and one of the twitchers came over to the shop. "Scooter" said he. "Scooter?" said I, "Knaw," said he, "scoter; a sea duck". "Ah," said I. "Lottery?" said he. "Knaw," said I, "shop at the top of the hill, my 'ansum." "Right on," said he. "Knaw," said I, "left at the thatch and up the hill."
By early afternoon business had slowed to a crawl and later, it would have been outrun by a sloth. By just after five o'clock we are about the only shop open and must field questions from the occasional traveller. It is a perennial question as to why no shops are open when the enquirer wants a particular product or service from a shop which is closed. This is often accompanied by incredulity that shops should shut when there is business to be had. In tonight's particular case I asked if the traveller had noticed the tumbleweed running unobstructed down the deserted road. It is always gratifying to note the face of sudden enlightenment after which no further explanation is necessary.
October 12th - Thursday
I thought we were going to have a very short lived glittering day this morning. The dawn promised so much with a bit of colour in the east and a clear sky. It lasted no more than an hour before a big mat of thick cloud rolled over us from the west. I need not have worried; the big mat rolled away again and left us with a complete dome of clear sky, sunshine and wonderfulness for much of the day.
The sea had calmed a little since yesterday but was still slopping over the Harbour wall at near high water. The fishing fleet managed to get out today, though, sitting out in the bay in their catching squid formation. It was impressive to see them all return home in the middle of the day as a convoy.
There was an appointment to meet in St Just so I took a little trip out late in the morning and found myself in the middle of a police operation. I had noticed one police car down the first aisle of the car park but only spotted the two others once I had parked on the other side of the car park. It will take a few days before I find out what was going on. Away from the van a little later I could not remember whether I had locked it or not. After a moment's reflection I concluded that it probably did not matter too much.
I returned to a resurgent Cove in the middle of the day under a bright sun. There was enough surf in the bay to bring in a bunch of happy surfers and enough sunshine in the sky to bring in about everybody else. We had a busy time of it during the afternoon, the first in quite some time. Some brought the tidings that some schools up country were on half term holiday from next week. That would be good if we could have some more of this weather.
There was no launching of Lifeboats in the evening and there was no meeting of crews, either. Instead we all stayed at home and, later, some of us slipped away to the OS to do a spot of quizzing. I will spare you the details other than the fact that Samuel Coleridge Taylor and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are interchangeable and, having achieved a tie break, we lost to a team that knew when the Mardis Gras started.
I had expected a consolatory sky full of stars to wander home under but the mist had rolled in instead. Luck does not come much poorer than that so I ran the bleddy hound around the block and went to bed.
October 11th - Wednesday
Mid way through the afternoon I found myself wondering when the rain, that we were told to expect in the afternoon, would arrive. It only took a moment's look at the rain radar to establish that the first wave had already come and gone. There had been a bit of moistness in the air at one point but it was subtle and brief. It was the rainy day that was not.
It mattered not that the rain that we had was nigh on non-existent; no one turned up to find out whether it would or not. By the middle of the morning I had run out of invoices to record in our ledger, bills to pay and chores to do, including invented ones. It was a good job that it was a going to the gymnasium day, else by dinner time I would have run out of hair to pull out. Alright, I have already run out of hair to pull out but I was being metamorphic.
Talking of changes, I removed any reference to remote access off my router this morning in the hope that it might make some difference to my failed PCIDSS scan. I also - eventually - managed to talk with one of the technical support people at the supplier; it was a revelation. Here are some key points:
1. The reason why my scan might have passed last time was that they might have scanned someone else's router by mistake. Because someone else's router was looking good they passed mine. 2. Just because the list of errors I had last time pointed to my SSL Certificate being absent did not mean that it was the problem. 3. The failure was most likely to do with my remote access configuration - but the system would not necessarily pick that out as the problem. 4. Had I fixed the root cause it did not tell me about I would not have needed to spend more than £200 on an SSL Certificate.
Apparently, I should have called them the first time it failed. It took two days to talk to someone during a quiet period in October and after several telephone calls. The last time it failed was in July; I would have had no chance.
The scan ran again during the afternoon and it appears that I have passed with flying colours until next quarter. Or perhaps they scanned someone else's IP address instead.
Just when you thought it was all over, you meet a couple of PhD students that you met yesterday and our Diary world becomes a whole different place. I had a telephone call from one of them yesterday asking is we had any string that we could sell him. We did not have any on the shelf but, thankfully, I had some in the store. He asked how long our piece of string was so I asked how long he wanted it. He was not sure and the fact that the package did not tell me how long it was, did not help. He bought it anyway when he arrived a short while later.
He and a chum were working at the bottom of Castle Zawn (where the Mulheim came to grief) and needed to measure and set out sight lines. Perhaps it is because I am not clever enough to be a PhD student but I would have imagined that if you were going to go measuring cliffs you might have taken the appropriate equipment with you for the purpose. I think I might have taken a hammer with me too, just in case the local shop did not have one.
I spoke with them again today and discovered that they are both affable lads keen on their work. They explained that they were studying the effects of erosion, particular in regard to fissures in the rock. I asked why they did not look at a part of the coast where erosion happens a bit quicker than here on a granite headland. Apparently, that does not give the same results quicker. If you hit a fissure or crack on softer rock you can pretty much guarantee it will break in a particular way, the trick is to see how erosion happens in harder rock which might help understand the faster process as it occurs on softer rock.
I might have had the edge on them in terms of planning and preparation but I would say they could knock spots off me on the how cracks in hard rocks behave over time. We wish them well on their wat to becoming proper rock profs; I wonder if they are free on Thursday night for the quiz.
After such a glum day I am mightily glad that it is now safe to eat soft-boiled eggs again. Now, where did I put my soldiers?
October 10th - Tuesday
Despite assurances and a good bit of optimism that it would be brighter later, the brightness never materialised. The consequences of this was that customers stayed away in droves, which made for a very dull day.
There were only two things that injected some activity into the day and neither of those were particularly exciting, so do not get your hopes up, dear reader, but at least I will not have suffered alone.
I managed to break away from the gravitational pull of The Cove for an hour or so in the late morning. I needed some more ammunition from the gun shop in Helston and in getting some afforded me the opportunity to get rid of my old gun cabinet that I had outgrown. You would think that there would be a buoyant second hand market for them but while it could be sold for an 'ansum discount on a new one - about £200 - the carriage costs and logistics erode any advantage. It was just as easy to return it to where I bought it to be resold rather than take it to the scrap yard. Leaving The Cove for a short while made a pleasant change, too, although I am not sure I could really recommend an industrial estate in Helston as a destination.
Recommending the support organisation around the company that deals with our card payment service provision would be a tough challenge, too. The next deadline for having our router tested for security came up last night and I duly scheduled the test for after everything had been shut down. Since we had eventually passed the test last time and had not had any changes since then I half expected us to pass this time as well. I only half expected to pass because the whole set up around PCIDSS is a mess and nothing more than a money generating exercise for the companies involved. We failed.
We failed because the SSL Certificate that I purchased for more than £200 last time was 'signed by an unknown certification authority'. The signing company we used is probably the second biggest global supplier of certificates and is exactly the same certification authority that signed the certificate last time it was tested and passed.
We find it extremely hard to resolve this issues over the telephone because of wanting to serve customers during the day. For this reason I elected to use the company's 'chat' service, real time messaging on the computer. It took half an hour before the person at the other end announced that it was too technical and could I telephone technical support and gave me a telephone number to call. That might have worked out well, as the shop was empty at the time, but would have relied upon me being give the correct telephone number to dial.
After a couple of attempts I eventually managed to talk with a very pleasant lady in the right company, at least. Having supplied a wealth of identifying information I was told I would need to speak with technical support, which is what I had asked for when I first spoke with her. I was then told that they were busy and that they would call back. I said that would be difficult as I ran a shop and might have customers when the call came. The very pleasant lady asked what time would be best so I told her it would be when I did not have any customers. She asked when that would be, so I asked her when she would next get a call from someone asking about PCIDSS scans. I think she got my point. I asked if we could do the support thing via electronic mail, despite it taking longer, as I could answer questions when I was free. She told me that they do not do support over electronic mail. She told me that I could call after we closed as they work 24 hours a day but in the mean time I should wait for the call. I waited for the telephone call.
When I came back from Helston in the early afternoon I was still waiting for a call so I telephoned them again. I spoke with a different very pleasant lady who told me that technical support were still busy. I explained again how difficult it was waiting for a call that I may not be able to answer but I told her that I would call later in the evening. It was at this point she told me that the technical team finished at five o'clock but it might suit me to send them an electronic mail. I was going to tell her that words failed me but unfortunately words failed me.
Thank heavens for unnecessary security policies and rubbish support organisations. What would we do without them?
The bleddy hound and I were nearly bowled over by the breeze whipping around the Lifeboat station last thing. A change in the weather is on the way.
October 9th - Monday
It was an unexpectedly clement day for a change, although we were clouded in all day, it was like having a warm duvet over us. It was calm too, all that naughty wind banished for the day, which meant that the sea was as flat as a dish throughout the day. Quite what level of optimism graced the two surfers out by North Rocks in the middle of the afternoon, we can only wonder at.
The bleddy hound's visiting walker arrived over the weekend. The consequences may not have immediately sunk in as she gave her little howling, wagging tail welcome when they met. I think she must have spent the intervening day or so girding her loins before she was whisked off today up on the cycle track to Land's End. I am told she is not pushed too much on their walks these days, which was evident by the spring in her walk as I met her returning home. Years past she would have been crawling.
Despite the half decent weather we were not inundated with visitors, rather the opposite. We did, however, manage to sell our pasties and our bread ran out. There must be people here this week because we would have struggled to sell those numbers, modest though they were, last week. It might be that the Scots are on half term break - two weeks, I hear - which might lend a welcome boost. Yes, so far we have spotted one Scottish family; I think that the surfers' optimism may be infectious.
October 8th - Sunday
The forecaster yesterday morning dealt us a bit of a blow for today. The considered opinion was that it was be bright everywhere apart from the caveat of the Far West and the Isles of Scilly. This was amply demonstrated first thing this morning when it was obvious that the low cloud was still with us. Shortly after we opened the shop it did rather look like it might clear up and the online forecast showed a completely different picture to the one we had been told a day earlier. It looked like I might have to eat humble pie to all those people I had told that the weather today would be somewhat inclement. I need not have worried; by the middle of the day when the sun was supposed to break through we had a dose of mizzle close in.
It was during the thick mizzle period of the morning that the Lifeboat launched to help the Cape Cornwall National Coastwatch Institute with a spot of training. It was not the best of conditions to try spotting a white buff as it disappeared with the tide. It did not help that it had drifted out of sight behind Brisons at one point and even after the Boat Crew had opened their eyes - they do have to shut their eyes when they release the buff, to make it fair, you understand - it was difficult to track down. I ducked all responsibility for this particular launch but I heard it said that it was a textbook recovery up the long slipway. We are, after all, a very interchangeable, very excellent Shore Crew.
If our luck with the weather has been poor, it was matched up at the range. I had a Theresa May of a session where speed and accuracy were key. Unfortunately, I can do one or the other but not, it seems, both together. It is the first such session in more than six months so I am hoping that a bit more practice will help.
The mizzle cleared shortly after I returned to The Cove. There was still thick cloud cover but visibility was to the horizon. It was quite pleasant to be able to see to the other side of the beach. I could tell that North Rocks has had a wealth of sand bestowed upon it to the extent that there is very little 'reef' between the big beach and Escalls Beans, which I still have not established is the correct way to spell it. There is also sandy beach almost all the way to Aire Point on Gwenver at low water, for there are very big tides today.
This, no doubt, gave a couple of efficiency minded boat anglers the plan that it would be better to drive their kit to the water line than carry it all that way. This would have worked very well if they had a half decent all wheel drive vehicle with deflated tyres but they had a vehicle with thin, pumped up tyres which sink, quite successfully, into the sand. One of the occupants, despite the predicament, was unwilling to give up a 100 yards advantage and started to unload his inflatable boat. The other hailed the Lifeguards to assist in digging out the car. I had watched most of the proceedings but was distracted by a customer and when I looked again the car had gone.
Head Launcher joined me shortly afterwards for a jolly chinwag. Together we watched our fishers head off into the bay in their little boat with its little outboard engine chugging away. We watched again as it continued to chug passed the Cowloes and some more chugging later, out beyond the confines of the bay altogether. We watched them for a while between customers and had a chat with the Lifeguards to make sure they too had eyes on them. I suspect that the Lifeguards had quite enough of watching them drift and disappear occasionally in an increasing swell and sent the jet ski out to suggest that they came back in. When they came closer in it was clear that they were being towed. I think it was a relief for all of us.
I suspect that many of the marathon runners felt some relief when they eventually reached Land's End. Once again the annual three marathon run from Constantine Bay to Land's End has come around and heralds the last weeks of our shop opening. If I looked back in the Diary at this time last year I will, no doubt, have remarked just how quickly it has crept up on us, although, I suspect, we had distinctly better weather then.
October 7th - Saturday
The only good thing about today was that I managed to take the bleddy hound around the block before the mizzle kicked in. It was even quite pleasantly temperate for the time of year. It was completely different story when I went to take her around again in the early afternoon.
The mizzle came through shortly before I opened the shop and it came and went in varying intensities throughout the rest of the day. We had a good run of visitors during the morning, picking up newspapers and morning goods but after that business dried up almost completely. It was so quiet I managed to package and freeze a sizeable fish order without being interrupted once. Any customers that do venture out now will have their choice of hake and scallops in abundance.
I also had time to complete my re-application for mobile telephone top up services on our card payment machine. Ever since we had our machine replaced back in August we have been unable to service requests for telephone top ups. Since we were busy and have had very few requests it has not really been much of a priority to get fixed. I was spurred into action when a frequent customer could not be served a few days ago.
I have explained before that there are three companies involved in the provision of card services. I started with the mobile telephone top up company who were completely perplexed. The very pleasant man who answered my telephone call told me, after several return calls and some investigation, that our telephone top ups should not have worked before the machine was replaced, let alone after; he could not fathom how they had. Apparently on the original application form that we had completed, the merchant identity was incorrect. His remedy was that we should re-apply with the correct code but since this required our card payment machine management company placing the application with the mobile telephone company, could we contact them to ask for an application form?
I telephoned the management company, which shares offices with staff from its holding company. I spoke with one of the employees of the holding company who told me that the staff from the subsidiary company all go home and half past four o'clock and, although he would pass the message, he could not help and could I telephone back the following morning, which I duly did.
Despite the complexity of the organisation's organisation (and its short working hours!) communication between the two appear to be very efficient. The very pleasant lady I spoke with, the same one whom I had spoken with in the past, already knew the details of my query when I called. She told me that she would get the person responsible to send me an application form via electronic mail. A lynch pin of good customer service is the ability to do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it. True to her word I now have the application form complete with its impossible questions and intrusive request for my passport number, proof of residence and inside leg measurement. I can understand the reticence as, after all, there are so many crooks out there and we have only been doing business with the mobile telephone top up company for fourteen years. We have to wait until Monday before we can submit the form and maybe we will be able to do top ups before Christmas. For the estimated £3.50 (no, I did not get the decimal point in the wrong place) we make from the service each year, I am wondering if it is worth all the effort.
I am so glad that I had the mobile telephone top up story up my sleeve, even though I had intended to wait until its full resolution, else the Diary today would have consisted of a weather report and the size of next door's cake.
Maybe we can do that tomorrow, instead.
October 6th - Friday
The big moon was still hanging around over Pedn-men-du when I took the bleddy hound around the block. It was book ended by Venus in the east, which was set in a deep blue sky with a hint of sunrise beyond the crest of the hill. We get all sorts of pretty here and that was one of them. It would have been a grave disappointment if the following daytime was not bright and gorgeous. Thankfully it was.
There was no breeze to speak of and just enough surf left to appease the boys on boards. It was relatively busy in The Cove, although that did not translate that well into shop customers. What should we expect, heading towards the middle of October?
The quiet allowed me to slip across the road to the boathouse to assist the engineer who had arrived to check the winch and its cables. The boys had already been able to unwind the short slip winch cable, as it is not in use. Checking the long slip cable necessitated running the boat down to the bottom of the long slipway and bringing it back up again. During the process the engineer checks that the cable is long and cable-like. It was. My appearance permitted the coxswain and his chum to be on the boat in case it launched accidentally.
This, it transpired, was the highlight of the day, other than the weather that hung in until the last drops of it disappeared from view. We had a couple of last gasp customers who had asked where the best place to watch the sunset was. Since it now dips behind Pedn-men-du and the couple were clearly not that mobile, I told then Land's End, unless they wanted to trek over to Cape Cornwall both of which would probably incur a parking charge.
I thought of them as the clouds rolled in. Fortunately, at the last minute, the sun must have slipped below the cloud at the horizon and gave off a bit of a show. Our skies turned pink; another sort of pretty.
October 5th - Thursday
It seems I can at last hang up my nonsense writing pen and ease quietly into retirement with a smugly satisfied grin on my face; I have had a letter published in that venerable institution, The Times newspaper.
Oh, alright, maybe just a few more Diary entries, then.
It was a mucky morning and wholly expected since the forecasters seem, at last, to have got their collective acts together and got the forecast right. There was a fair amount of wind, too, banging in from the west at about forty miles per hour. Later, it moved around to the north west and then the north and back to the north west again and banged in from there. It had lost some of its punch but because we were less sheltered, it did not feel like it. The mizzle died away, thankfully, and left us with blue skies and bright sunshine.
I took the bleddy hound down to the Harbour beach in the afternoon, or more accurately, she took me. I rather wished that I had taken a ball as it was perversely sheltered down there and the sunshine quite warming. We tarried a while but a beach without a ball is like a fish without a monkey wrench or some other witty pairing. She did not even attempt to tuck in to any of the oar weed, which has been conveniently bundled into a couple of heaps.
There was no launching of Lifeboats in evening so we huddled around the virtual campfire to discuss operations and sing jolly songs before deciding that we would be better off drinking at the OS. As we stepped outside the boathouse door there was quite the largest moon ever sitting just above the hill at the far end of The Cove. This harvest moon would light us up all night long.
Naturally, we fell on our faces at the quiz but who cares when there is a bright moon to light your way home and around the block with an excited bleddy hound. Perhaps I will write a letter about it to the Falmouth Packet.
October 4th - Wednesday
After yesterday's sparkle, today turned out to be quite bland but at least it was dry and the wind had disappeared. Along with the downturn in brightness, we had a downturn in the number of visitors in The Cove, which was disappointing. No doubt they will all be back tomorrow to complain how wet it is.
There was a highlight of the day, if you like that sort of thing, where a DeHavilland Rapide flew by - twice. It was accompanied by a smaller, more modern, light aircraft (in case the vintage Rapide broke down?) and they flew from Land's End, along the beach and out towards Cape Cornwall. I discovered later that the small Cessna was filming the Rapide for the news, later. I can vaguely remember seeing Rapides at Land's End Aerodrome, as it was then, when they were in service; the Aged Parent is a keen aeroplane watcher and would have taken us there to be enthused.
I had read in the Western Morning News (did I tell you I twice had a review ) that it was the 80th anniversary of flights to the Isles of Scilly and Land's End, now, Airport. A fly past was being arranged to include the Rapide and the current aeroplanes flying the route but clearly the Twin Otter and the Islander were busy working. The first flight, in 1937, landed on the golf course, avoiding the greens we would hope, due to the fact that the aerodome was not built until 1939. Clearly a mistake in the project scheduling.
I had hoped to get a photograph but the newspaper did not mention when the fly past was and when it happened it took me by surprise. It came around a second time, which I was not expecting and that, too, caught me out. I telephoned the airport to ask when or if it might be coming around again and they did not know.
At half past two they ran a third fly past, this time with the Otter and Islander. I missed that too.
Fourth time lucky.
There was a fifth fly past, or more overhead, which was lower and more easily photographed but my camera was back in the bag by then.
After that excitement, the afternoon was monumentally tedious. This was likely to be because the afternoon was, indeed, monumentally boring rather than it being a comparative assessment. Wednesday must be going somewhere else for the entire day, day.
October 3rd - Tuesday
Alright, this is a little off piste but it made me smile as one of the more invented excuses I have seen for a while. It concerns the subtitle service at the BBC that put out, concerning the Newcastle United football team. 'black and white scum' during a sporting programme, adding the additional word to the commentator's dialogue. The BBC apologised and blamed it on the subtitling software that had inserted 'scum' instead of 'comma' spoken by the subtitler. It was a cock-up any software could have made or possibly the subtitler's Sunderland accent. I am sorry, that should have read 'a mistake any software could have made'.
So, back to The Cove and a stonking little day of sunshine and loveliness but accompanied by something of a chilly north wind. The north wind died away later in the day just as some clouds rolled in to give us some dull bits. Well, we probably were not ready for a completely good day.
The sunshine brought out a fair number of visitors who kept us ticking over quite nicely through the afternoon. It was in full view of this crowd that the bleddy hound decided to wee at the entrance to the Lifeboat station. I dragged her off in the direction of the slipway where she refused to budge further. We had a stand off for about five minutes after which I remembered that she was actually allowed down there during the day now. It was not as if there was very much sand, as the tide was almost fully in, but there was enough to have a quick run about. Running, however, was not what she had in mind and after a short mooch about she settled to chewing a stalk of oar weed. This is not the ideal snack for bleddy hounds and required a smart extraction. Thus ended her first legal daytime run out onto the beach in five months.
I had looked at the expanse of big beach during the morning that looked glorious in the morning sun. It was nigh on empty, too, until near the middle of the day. It had crossed my mind to do a recce before I took the bleddy hound down there just in case the Portuguese Man O' War were still about and if so, could they be avoided. As luck would have it a customer came in this morning saying that their dog had come into contact with one but had not been stung. Apparently, there were only a few scattered about, hopefully just remnants of the invasion a few weeks ago. It might have to wait until next week anyway as the tides are not helpful this week.
Time slowed down in the evening; I will have to change the battery in the living room clock tomorrow.
October 2nd - Monday
What a happy (mainly) and busy (relatively) little Cove we had this morning. It was dark again when I took the bleddy hound around the block and that is only going to get worse over the next few weeks but it was a little less dark than it was yesterday. This was purely down to the fact that there was sky in the east as opposed to thick cloud. As the day dawned we had brightness and customers who were not dripping and covered in waterproofs. It was particularly pleasant not to have to use bilge pumps after each visit.
This, of course, was a situation that could not last with remnants of hurricanes on their way. It seems that we are not permitted to have too many warm and pleasant days this year and I suspect that we have already used our quota. How come we always seems to get the bad imports from America and not so many of the good ones.
Another conundrum came to mind when the egg man delivered our eggs today. I had ordered twelve dozen but he only delivered ten and told me he did not have enough this week. I then wondered how he, or more particularly, the chickens, copes with the change in demand throughout the seasons. Is he out there at the height of summer giving motivational speeches and productivity bonuses to increase supply. What about in winter? How do you tell all those high achiever chickens to slow down and chill out? Perhaps there is a mass laying off, so to speak. Then how do you ramp up your production again for the busy peak of, say, Easter when all your ex-employee chickens blew all their redundancy on hard booze and recreational drugs and have since been scratching around pens, kicking out cheap eggs on piece rate for the likes of Tesmorburys? These are questions that matter.
Another question is what are we going to do with the old pound coins we are collecting? At the end of last week I encouraged the Missus to take our collection so far into the bank, as she was heading that way. My expectation, having had Big Sis do a trial run, was that we would get bags of shiny new coins in return for the old ones. Apparently not. Alright, there was in excess of £300, fifteen bags or so, but this is a bank we are talking about here; it is where you get money. Our bank flatly refused to change them, telling the Missus she had to bank them instead and the problem with that, strictly speaking, is that we should take them to our business bank in Truro. Bad luck if you have a big bottle of pound coins saved up and no bank account; I suggest you get spending, sharpish. Good to see everyone pulling together to make the transition smooth and easy for people.
There has been a bit of a transition on the beach this week. I went up to the post office to post a parcel after I had returned from the gymnasium this morning and when I got back the Lifeguard truck was in the RNLI car park. I think it was Saturday morning that Radio Pasty announced that Lifeguard cover would cease on some beaches today but five busy beaches would be covered until the end of October and the half term. The presenter read out a list, which included our beach here. I either misheard or misconstrued or some other mis because they are definitely not working the beach today. Given that the truck was still in the car park I can only imagine that a weekend service is still running here and probably a full service over the half term week. As to the facts of the matter, I have not a clue.
For the want of something better to do we decamped to the Trewellard Arms in Trewellard for some tea. It is every bit as fine an eatery as it ever was and pretty much down to Earth. It also serves more fish dishes than most and does them very well. Unfortunately, tonight I did not fancy fish and the Missus would not have any; the Missus hates fish.
Grumpy diner.: "What's in the curry?" Waiter.: "Pork ... or is it lamb?" Grumpy diner.: "!" Waiter.: "I will go and check."
Two minutes later ... Waiter.: "It is both ... and beef." Grumpy diner.: "Did you serve roast dinners yesterday?" Waiter.: "Yes, wasn't very busy though." Grumpy diner.: "No, thought not." [casting caution to the wind] "I'll have the curry."
It was very good and big, too. The other meals were pretty spot on as well. I do not think that you can go very wrong anywhere between St Just and Zennor for a bit of tea.
October 1st - Sunday
It was a day of two halves with rain and mizzle featuring heavily in the morning and drier, brighter conditions prevailing into the afternoon. Although I literally did not see much of the afternoon, when I came back from the range it could not have been a more different day. When I left for the range earlier, the mist became thicker the higher I climbed. I spent the next few hours with my head in the clouds, barely being able to see to the twenty five yard point.
In the morning it was quite desperate. There was hardly a soul about for the first few hours of the day. Fortunately, Sennen Surf Club had commissioned us to supply their pasties for the end of season Grommet (an endearing term for young surfers) meeting and AGM. Usually they would have all gone down to the beach for a barbeque but the weather rather put paid to that. I discovered that it was no simple task ensuring that fifty or more pasties were ready at the same time, especially when the combined capacity of our oven and warmer was insufficient for the total number. It was therefore particularly good timing that they arrived early to take one batch away while I finished off the remainder.
It did not take long after the parking restrictions were lifted, that is this morning, for a bunch of people to park in every spare spot along the road. Some do not care a jot whether their parking obstructs or if they encroach on a driveway to make it awkward to use. My leaving for the range could have been better timed; I met the bus - there are only three all day today - coming the other way. I would have been able to pass it while it let off and took on passengers but for the eejit who had parked his van on the 'keep clear' area opposite the bus stop. And so it begins.
Our mental anguish was soothed by the appearance, in the evening, of a rather sublime sunset. How lovely.