Beach hut cushion suitable for a seaside themed room, conservatory or just as part of a collection of scatter cushions. The design is stitched embroidery and applique and the cloth heavy cotton. Plump compact at 37cm x 26cm x 15cm deep.
Thus plump seahorse themed cushion could adorn your conservatory seat or living room sofa or any room for that matter. The design is printed in two colours on hard wearing cotton. The cusion sits at 48cm x 30cm x 16cm deep.
Sennen Cove: the final frontier. These are the witterings of a West Cornwall shopkeeper. His seemingly interminable mission: to plumb new depths in literary rambling, to seek out the boring and banal, to boldly sink deeper than any Diarist has sunk before.
June 19th - Tuesday
I was quite pleased this morning to be told that my missed 33/1 bet was probably for the national team to win the whole tournament rather than just last night's result. This seemed sensible, although my friend may well have been just placating me but either way I felt better about not splashing out my fifty pence like that.
Mind, I would have rather bet on England winning the cup than it not being misty down here again. It is low cloud rather than mist and has affected the whole of the peninsula randomly over the last few days. I have had reports of it being misty on Lizard, clear in Marazion and thick as a bag in Praa Sands. When I was in Penzance yesterday it was relatively clear, or at least the cloud was not as low as it was in The Cove. Kevin the weatherman had suggested that it would be clear by tomorrow but on the forecast this morning he changed his mind to Thursday without a word of apology. I am going off Kevin the weatherman quite quickly.
However, he may have bought himself a reprieve, as half way through the morning the skies started to clear from the west. You would not have wanted to be in St Just or Pendeen, I suspect, as the cloud did not clear completely, but here in The Cove we had a cracking little few hours of warm and sunshine.
The window of good weather brought out the visitors - how this happens so swiftly, I do not know. Surely, they cannot come flocking from afar, as they are here too quickly and if the weather had not perked up, they would not have appeared. It is baffling, to be honest. It meant that our meagre supply of pasties - it has been more than enough for the last few days - ran out in the middle of the afternoon. It was probably just as well because shortly after this, the cloud started rolling back in again and we were doomed.
News filtered in later in the day about an addition to the population of The Cove. This seemed to cause some excitement, but I must confess to some trepidation. For the first few years she will not have any money. For the following five years she will be turning up at the shop, having mastered the art of 'cute', telling me how she lost her pound for sweets/Mummy did not leave me any tea/just going swimming and had nowhere to put my money/etcetera, and watching me roll over so she can clean me out of sweets and pasties. Bless her.
Despite the low cloud returning, it was bright as daylight when I took the bleddy hound out, last thing. Must be nearly summer.
June 18th - Monday
It was not the most glittering morning that we have seen recently but at least we did not get wet doing our morning constitutional as we did yesterday. While it is a joy to see the wild flowers blooming along the edges along our walk, I cannot help feeling that Coastguard Row could do with a little care and maintenance. There is rye grass growing along the borders, tall lanky weeds sprouting in the flower beds at the front of the houses and the spurs from the rose bushes in Betty's old garden have been allowed to supplant their hosts they have grown so wildly. As the holiday let owners along there splash some paint from time to time to pretty up their investments, it would be pleasing if they could turn a little attention to a little horticulture as well.
It is not as if there was much else to do today. The weather did not start off quite as grimly as it did yesterday, but it was still not overly inspiring for this week's visitors. It was clear from the slow burn start we enjoyed and my uninterrupted breakfast again.
It was probably just as well that we were a little slow as I had an appointment in the afternoon with my vein doctor. It had taken a while to get to this point, which our man later apologised for, as their scanner had broken and it had caused a bit of a log jam. It must have been frustrating with all that hard effort in vein. Sorry.
I gave myself plenty of time, as I usually do for these things, even though it was in Penzance this time rather that Truro. After such a long wait I did not want to mess it up by missing this one. It was probably just as well, too, as I was directed to follow the blue dots to reach the outpatients department. This led me through a labyrinth of corridors, some of which I would swear that I had been through twice. Eventually I came to the end of the blue spots where a small group of people were sat in a small area off the corridor. I asked them that since the blue dots had finished, I supposed that I was at my destination or were they too just fed up with following blue dots. One of the waiters got up and pointed up a short flight of stairs to a square blue sign that suggested a further journey. The man at reception had said nothing about square blue signs, but I thanked my fellow traveller and continued on my way.
Eventually things became much clearer and it was hard to mistake a big sign that said OUTPATIENT RECEPTION. After that journey, I was expecting fluted champagne glasses and canapes but the only thing there was a counter with a lady sat behind it. I was registered and pointed at the 'yellow waiting room'. When I found the area - it was not a room - it was painted yellow and had big signs saying YELLOW WAITING ROOM; they must have known I was coming.
I did not have to wait long until a very pleasant nurse sporting an accent from the city of Liverpool asked me to step into her office. She seemed to know and awful lot about me, apart from my weight, which she had to measure, and it was just after she mentioned the shop that I knew her to be a neighbour - out of context, see. I did not recognise the doctor, either, when I was called in to see him. The previous chap, who used the same name, was an Asian gentleman and this man was not. He told me he was the real doctor named on my appointment page, so I rather had to believe him. Secretly, thought that they probably give all the doctors the same name to help with patient confusion.
Actually, with this in mind, I was offered a questionnaire to complete that asked if I was satisfied with the service. It was slightly odd that I was given the questionnaire before I had enjoyed the service, but no matter. I completed it kindly until I got to the point where it asked if I would recommend their service to family or friends. It was already a hard question because I do not have very many of one and even fewer of the other. What made it particularly difficult to answer was would I really recommend vascular surgery to any of them - anywhere, not just at Penzance?
Alright, alright, I know that some of you have to get back to work or life or whatever. I will get to the point, which is that I am booked in to have hot rods inserted into my legs to make my sad and sorry veins regret forever that they deigned not to do their job properly. Apparently, I will not feel a thing and will walk out of the hospital moments after the job has been done and never need to look back or bleed in public again. Sadly, I also believed in Father Christmas, once, and also when my headmaster said 'this will hurt me more than it will you' as he wrapped me across the knuckles with a yard ruler, although I suspected something when I did not seem him wince and say 'ouch'. I am booked in for November, which is ideal.
I returned to a somewhat busier shop than the one I left. It was fairly steady throughout the latter afternoon. The Missus decamped to The Farm; she was showing signs of withdrawal having not been up there for the entire weekend. I am not quite sure what she was doing up there, but she did make it back in time for tea.
There was some sort of sporting event in the evening that precluded anyone watching anything else, so I unpacked our slide projector and looked at pictures of Mr Sanderson's rather excellent back catalogue of wallpaper samples. Oddly, as I strolled the streets of Penzance, I saw an advertisement offering 33/1 for our football team to win. I was tempted because everyone else I met today expected them to lose but I was not blessed with time. I wish I had bothered now.
June 17th - Sunday
Well, the weather made a bit of a mockery of my pasty order and breakfast was consumed in a trice with hardly any interruptions. We should not take it too badly as we have had remarkably good weather up until now. It does seem it may not be that good for the rest of the week, but we shall take it one day at a time since the forecasters have been less that accurate for a couple of months now.
The other upset we had this morning was our fruit and vegetable delivery. We have started using a company that we used to use some years ago. They are very good at what they do, normally, but we stopped using them when we could no longer get loose mushrooms and the punnets they replaced them with were too large and overly expensive. We started to use them again because they are the only company we can now get a supply of Cornish peanut butter from. As we discovered, we can also get Cornish Sea Salt and some of our other regular products from them at the same price as from the original supplier, which is useful on occasion. Because of this we have also ordered some fruit and vegetables from them, particularly as they delivery on Sundays.
Today was one of those days where we had unexpectedly run out of tomatoes and bananas, staples that we obviously cannot manage a day without. I duly called in three kilograms of bananas and two of tomatoes for this morning alongside some small pots of yoghurt and some little gem lettuces. What we got was six kilograms of tomatoes, 450g pots of yoghurt, no little gem lettuces and a geet box of eighteen kilograms of bananas. More intriguing still, a note on the invoice stated that there was no stock of bananas and we had not been charged, we were only charged for three kilograms of tomatoes and of the yoghurts, we had been charged for six and only received three. While the overcharges and undercharges may have balanced out, it is unlikely that we would have sold eighteen kilograms of bananas, which represents roughly six ordinary deliveries. I left a message for the company to pick them up and will chase the invoice issues when there is someone there to talk to.
Today was one of those days where we were unlikely to need tomatoes and bananas, in reality. The grey, mizzly weather kept our visitors at bay for most of the day. We had a little excitement in the afternoon, while the Missus looked after the shop and I dozed fitfully in my chair upstairs, but other than that it was pretty bleak business. It was the sort of day for a geet slice of mascarpone and strawberry cake from the Little Bo Café, which very thoughtfully did not include any desiccated coconut or almond slices, which as we all well know, dear reader, is exactly the way it should be.
I ran a little errand up to the top shop in the middle of the afternoon. It was even more bleak up there and you could hardly see 100 yards. It was good to have a chat with a fellow shopkeeper and know that they face similar issues to us. It would be better to do it more frequently and with a wider group as, working in isolation even with the amount of industry reading I manage to squeeze in, we still miss quite a bit.
I pondered these great thoughts in the quiet of the later afternoon, along with whether to eat my cake from the thin end to the thick or vice versa and strawberry first or last. It was a great afternoon for thinking great thoughts.
June 16th - Saturday
A selection of newspapers were late arriving this morning. I do not know how the printers can live with themselves as the knock-on effect threatens the sanity of many across the region. My first customer today, and I have no idea how long he was waiting for us to open, was visibly shaken when I informed him that the Telegraph was not yet available. Even his emergency reserve option of having a copy of The Times was blighted as that had not arrived either.
Our man was not alone, several customers throughout the first part of the morning displayed reactions that suggested the newspaper had some sort of life dependency attached to it. I was contemplating setting up some sort of support group or therapy centre, mainly for grumpy shopkeepers bombarded with daft questions such as what precise time would the papers arrive and which other shops had newspapers.
It must have been a morning for daft questions. If I am asked where a visitor might get a breakfast in The Cove before Little Bo Café has opened my reply would be considered and accurate, in this case there is nowhere else. Was I sure that there was not another restaurant 'up behind somewhere'? Well, yes, I am pretty sure that I did not mention the chain of McBreakfast bars, the Pret a Mangler and the Joe's greasy spoon mainly because they did not exist.
It might have been the mizzly weather that set everyone off. There was even a bit of real rain for a short time this morning. That was the time I decided that I could not stand the build-up of sand in the door mat any longer and took it outside to beat it. It is an industrial mat that absorbs the dirt and sand and does so exceedingly efficiently. It takes a lot of beating, quite literally, and still retains much of its sandy content. Each year the Missus takes the pressure washer to it outside the front of the shop. She then has to take the pressure washer to the front of the shop where most of the mat's contents end up.
Although we were not mad busy today, there is a definite undercurrent of busyness rising in The Cove. We are certainly seeing many returning faces, which is always a pleasure, alongside a healthy contingent of new ones. If that wicked westerly breeze had calmed a little I think we would have seen a fair few more, too.
As if to prove this theory, I did a quick round of the shop noting down the items we were missing from our shelves and despatched the Missus to pick up replacements from Shrew House. It was a sizable list and the Missus returned reporting that we were running out of some key products up there, too. I shall have to spend some time making a new list for our suppliers as, before we know it, the holidays will be upon us.
It is a good job the holidays did not start today as the weather was not the best. We saw some improvement as the day went on but going from wet and grey to just grey is not the improvement that we had hoped for. It is best we draw a veil over it and look forward instead.
June 15th - Friday
It was not quite the bright start that the Kevin the weatherman told us about yesterday. Perhaps he was talking about somewhere else. There was still some life in the sea and when I walked around the block this morning it was still topping the wall. The day brightened after a fashion by and by and we even saw some blue bits. It was a fine enough day, although a far cry from a real rip gribbler.
The morning was a fairly quiet affair with just a few departing visitors buying their going home presents. Others, I would guess, were making the most of the last day or last few hours of their holidays.
Given that business was a little slow I set about putting out some more of the goodies that arrived in the recent orders. We have fairies and mermaids, of course. What self-respecting holiday store does not, I ask you? What we appeared not to have was a mermaid and fairy shaped space on our shelves in which to put them. This took a little ingenuity to engineer, after shuffling about some other items down in the children's black hole area. It is called this because small children gravitate to this corner of the shop and many are never seen again. I have often wondered whether parents bring their children here on purpose.
I was interrupted during my drive to clear the storeroom by the arrival of another delivery, this time boxes of fudge. Now that we are busier we are able to take on bigger orders of such things. This, of course, presents its own problems when trying to find space in the storeroom in which to place the overstock. It is also difficult to spend time putting it away as I cannot see anyone arriving at the till from in there. Still, it all got done.
Also getting done was my single handed effort to stir up the payment card industry. I have reported our little authorising issue to the Financial Services Authority to see what the boys there make of it. One upshot that I had not considered was upsetting the payment card people so much they cut my machine off. At least if that happens I will not have to contend with young children asking if I will take payment for a 65 pence pot of candy floss by card.
The Missus spent most of the day over at Mother's but at least she took the bleddy hound with her. Mother is a brae bit poorly, so the Missus will be spending the night, leaving me to fend for myself. I was forced to extract a lump of hake from the freezer and throw some vegetables at it in a foil parcel in the oven. I know, I know, but I really do not mind suffering as long as Mother is being looked after properly.
June 14th - Thursday
Things went swimmingly this morning and I was comfortably ahead of the posse until I tried to access our stock list on the computer. The file is held on the upstairs computer and for some reason the downstairs computer would not let me play with it. I then discovered that the downstairs computer would not let me play with its own files, either, and after some testing I concluded that it was broken.
This was a tad irritating as I had spent some time a short while ago rebuilding it from ground up. After that it had worked remarkably well and was also a lot faster than it had been for a year or more. Just to prove the point I installed the laptop belonging to the Missus in its place and it worked just fine. A new laptop is on its way.
All this malarkey put me back an entire morning. The deliveries that arrived yesterday and that I had intended to spread about our shelves so that they might look alluring to our many customers, were still boxed awaiting attention. Not only this but because I had not unboxed them, I missed the cardboard collection and will have to wait until next week.
Still, delayed though I was I made a valiant effort to catch up. Now that I could see the prices on the computer, I was able to unbox and price the new objects many of which will throw our customers into a spin of desire, no doubt. Some, though, will be winging their way back to the supplier as they were not quite what we expected. So much not quite what we expected that they were completely different objects to the ones we ordered. Above all, our French ladies will be very pleased as we have received additional volume of our boule à neige.
While the morning was a bit grey, watery and blowing for a while, the afternoon blossomed into quite a pleasant day, with acres of blue sky and, in the later afternoon, a big brash sea to gawp at. We have not had quite as big a ground sea for some time and it seemed to chase most of our surfers away. It did not seem to faze the Lifeguards any as they did not red flag the beach, well not until the very last knockings.
With Lifeboat training behind us yesterday, it was straight to the OS for a spot of quizzing at the appointed time. Our team was short the additional members that come with Lifeboat training, but we soldiered on regardless. I have no idea why we soldiered on regardless, perhaps we have an unhealthy regard for any vestiges of self-respect that we may have left or just have started to enjoy the humiliation. Who knows? We lost anyway.
It was far too bright for lots of stars on the way home. We settled for a bright Venus in the western sky and some high on the southern extremes of where we can look. It was enough to see us, the bleddy hound and I, around the block on a temperate, windless night.
June 13th - Wednesday
I was ready for them this morning, those early shoppers lurking around the corners for the second that the shop doors opened. I even opened five minutes early, according to my Woolworth's Timex, which has not lost a second since I bought it with seven shillings and sixpence given me by my great aunt Bill (we were never allowed to ask) in 1970. When did my first customer arrive? Yup, a full ten minutes after we opened.
It was a cracking day on which to be let down, the sea was as flat as a dish, it was warm and the sun was very bright - behind some high level and thickening cloud. There was a little surf about but if you were an experienced surfer you would have been mightily disappointed, I feel.
My schoolboy French was tested to the extremes in the afternoon. After a fairly sedate start, business picked up after lunchtime. I already had a fairly steady arrival of customers when a walking group of French ladies of the more mature sort rocked up together. They set about purchasing postcards and all together bought quite a number. When they came to the till they all wanted stamps and with a fairly limited scope of conversation I managed fairly well. Even the English lady in the queue behind them commended me, which gave me a little confidence. It was even better that the French ladies did not fall about laughing and some even pretended to understand me in a patronising sort of way.
My confidence was severely knock, however, when one of the group came back and started trying to ask if we had a specific item. I got 'ball', which was close, but we came to an impasse, so I handed her some paper to draw the offending item. If the direct translation of snow globe was boule de neige or similar I might have stood a fighting chance (it is, but that was not what I was hearing). The drawing clinched it. At the end, her friend saw the drawing and laughed. She explained that her friend was a well-known artist at home and the drawing was, to say the least, a little basic. Perhaps I should keep it, just in case.
Just for a bit of midweek excitement, our new Lifeboat Coxswain decided to run an exercise starting at six o'clock. It is probable that the seas conditions tomorrow would have been unsuitable, so the exercise was called in for Wednesday. The exercise was to be run in conjunction with St Ives Lifeboat up at Portheras so that some members of the crew could pass their towing another boat badge. Because there were crew members on both teams that needed some training, this took some time.
At first, we expected the boat back at eight o'clock when the short slipway would be the ideal slipway to come back on. When this time slipped by we had to move all our setting up to the long slipway, where the boat returned to at gone half past eight o'clock. We were a little short of numbers on the ground but sufficient enough to execute a textbook recovery in the fading light. We are, after all, a very patient, very excellent Shore Crew.
It was bed time when I came home, so I went to bed.
June 12th - Tuesday
Well, today was a day I could well have done without. Not so much the day itself, but its content, at least.
It was not the best of starts when I was bowled over while opening the shop in the morning. Obviously, a group of customers, unwilling to enjoy the comforts of their accommodation by remaining in bed just a little longer than they would otherwise at home, decided to gang up on me and mob the shop even before we were officially open. Of course, there is always one with a Woolworth's Timex timepiece that 'had never lost a second' since it was purchased with two bob 'from my great aunt Gladys' in 1957 that showed it to be three seconds past our advertised opening time. It was like the opening day of the Harrods sale.
It was a shame that the rest of the day did not live up to such early promise. I think our customers had exhausted themselves by such an early and sustained attack and failed to rally.
Our big grocery delivery went without a hitch and was so early it slipped in just after the milk and newspapers. We carried it out with such frightening efficiency that my tea, that I had poured out just before I realised the van had arrived, had neither stewed too much nor gone cold. I looked back on that cup of tea with fondness as an oasis of peace in a Kalahari of a day.
My next moment of joy arrived when a customer attempted a simple contactless transaction. Many customers are so used to this process that they are out of the door before my machine announces that it had approved the payment. On this occasion our customers were a little less in a hurry and were still present when the machine posted a message that it required me to authorise the transaction by telephone on this occasion.
This appears to be a random process employed by the bank to vex a grumpy shopkeeper and provide maximum disruption to his business. It required me to telephone the 'auth' centre but failed to provide any information on how that might be achieved. I have two telephone numbers to choose from and, as it turned out, it was neither of them. Fortunately, the person on the end of the number I did call was able to transfer me to the correct number and also tell me what it was for future reference.
The call centre that I was transferred to provides a service to customers across Europe and I was answered by a Frenchman, judging by the accent, a point that will become relevant, dear reader. I was asked to provide the customer's card details, which, because it was a contactless transaction that had not completed, I did not have. My protests were ignored, and I had to ask the customer to let me have his card so that I could read out the details. I felt some trepidation in doing so, as the delay had caused quite a queue at the till, and reading allowed the customer's personal information did not sit well in this age of fraud and deceit. When I was asked to read out the three digit security code, I refused.
This, apparently, caused consternation, quickly followed by 'all 'ell up' as they say around here. The Frenchman was sympathetic and understood my concern but could not proceed to authorise the transaction fully. The next step was to contact the customer's bank so that it could speak, through the Frenchman, to the customer. This process might take three or fifteen minutes, and this was only the estimate of how long it might take the bank to answer the telephone, in the Frenchman's experience. I did not doubt it.
If I was paying for a car, or a diamond ring, or some high value article that I desperately wanted, I might have been inclined to wait for fifteen minutes to attain the object of my desire. However, £9.17 of groceries - perhaps not. Our customers were probably willing to wait but, since I knew them to be residence visitors, I advised them that I would sort out the problem and let them know the results next time we met, so that they could be on their way with their groceries to enjoy the day.
The Frenchman advised me that he could force through the payment and duly did so. It was a mere few seconds later that he asked, with some concern in his voice, which currency I had taken payment in. I told him that it was pounds sterling, which seemed to elicit something of a panicked response; he had put the payment through as Euros. He was able to stop it and I later collected cash for the goods.
The process is designed to be a random security check, I think. It does not seem right to ask a customer to trust that I have telephoned a secure organisation and then to read out his card details in a shop full of strangers. Further, to then ask the customer to wait for fifteen minutes to talk to someone that I have told him is a representative of the financial sector who is conversing with he bank seems as insecure a process that you can possibly get. I might take this further.
As if I had not suffered enough, I voluntarily elected to call the pair of companies that I am trying to get to transfer some funds from one to the other. One insists it has sent the proper request; the other insists that it has not received that request. The sending company appears to be the one at fault and has demonstrated its lack of integrity by telling me that I live at a different address to the one it has been sending its statements to for the last fifteen years. It transpires that it has two systems, and old and a new, and that of the two telephone calls I made to it today, the agent checked my security questions against the wrong system.
I spent an hour trying to resolve the problem today and have requested the receiving company to send the request by guaranteed next day delivery. It happily complied, and I have the tracking number. I have warned the sending company that it should complete its part of the transaction within 24 hours of receipt of that request or I will inform the Information Commissioner that it is holding data on me that I have asked it on many occasions to delete. I was a tad irritated at that point and had no cat to kick.
I think, but am not certain, that the northerly breeze that had become a little more vicious overnight, abated a little in the afternoon. I would have checked but it seems our weather station at Gwennap Head is not working at present. All became clear later when the Missus suggested a barbeque up at The Farm in the evening.
We had a fine barbeque at The Farm. It is an oasis of calm and peace and was just what I needed after the day I had just had. The only fly in this ointment is the view of the ramshackle buildings that will need some attention before the winter sets in and my mind kept wandering as to how this might best be achieved. I also had the opportunity to examine the Fordson Dexta tractor that we are likely to purchase once we have acquired The Farm. The Missus demonstrated her new-found farming skills by driving the beast around the field.
Just to ensure that we were not having too much fun, we tipped the last of the hardcore onto the track on the way out. There is a specific area that becomes thick with mud when it rains. I had singled this out for particular attention but now, in the dry, the precise location is not so clear. I will go up to the supplier next week for another couple of tons and carpet the general area for good measure. A robust bit of manly work will make me feel much better I am sure.
June 11th - Monday
We had a few spots of rain overnight and in some places in was heavier, I am told. It is the best time to have a spot of rain; rain should only be allowed overnight.
It left us with a bit of a grey morning, first thing, but out to the west it was blue and I rather hoped it was coming rather than going. Fortunately, it was coming, given the full day of hazy sunshine we were awarded. There was a bit of a breeze coming in from the north, although when I stood outside the shop it was definitely coming at me from the west.
It was a day of some busyness, although we are not yet packed to the brim. Shall we say that trade was steady with some quiet bit sins in the afternoon. These I used to restock our shelves and to clear the store room ahead of the grocery delivery tomorrow. I had attempted to clear some of it earlier in the morning but had run out of time. Like eating a breakfast, it is a sure fire way of attracting customers, too, except you cannot hear them coming up behind you when you have your head in a noisy chiller.
The wind increased throughout the day, although it was not at all obvious in the shop; northerly winds tend to blow past the counter, rather than onto it. When I retired upstairs at the end of the day, the Missus had closed the door and windows that had been open all day. This was not the only indicator. When I went downstairs later, our bin had overturned and although it was empty, it takes a bit of a blow to knock it down.
A jacket was definitely required against the draught, later, when I took the bleddy hound out for her last spin. She was once again keen to procrastinate and wander. I let her have her head for a short while but made sure I kept her on her lead this time. I wonder what is driving her, so. Yesterday, she was taken by a neighbour up to Land's End and was on her knees when she came back. It is not as if she has been housebound all day today, either; the Missus lets her wander The Farm for half the day while she is there. Perhaps she just likes vexing me.
June 10th - Sunday
It was a right rip gribbler of a morning. It was just a shame that by the middle of the day some dark clouds rolled in. Still, it was worth getting up early just to bask in half a day's worth of loveliness. While the afternoon was a bit on the cloudy and grey side, at least it was dry and very warm of the humid kind. It was so humid that further up at Bodmin and Newquay they had some thunderstorms bubbling up here and there with some heavy rain by the look of it.
I took the risk of heading off to the range but cut my session down so that I came back early. Judging by the pasty wasteland, it looked like there had been some action during the morning, although the Missus did say that she had been able to complete four orders before I got back.
It was not exactly full on for the afternoon, but it was busy enough in places. The tides are not perfect for beach dwelling at the moment, with high water in the middle of the afternoon, so there were equal numbers down on the sand and milling about on the front. The Little Bo Café looked busy and while watching, the notion of cake for some reason, entered my head.
For a while now we have been wondering about the Cornish boiled fruit cake we have on our shelves. It is not something I am familiar with, although it is a traditional cake; the Aged Parents obviously sheltered me from such temptations during my youth. Given that I have subsequently over-indulged in nearly all of the temptations they shielded me from in my youth, I thought it about time to try out the Cornish boiled fruit cake - with Cornish butter; all good cake must be capable of being consumed with Cornish butter.
My, what a treat I have missed all my life. It is a cross between fruit and ginger cake but maybe a little drier than the latter. It is rather tasty on its own but with Cornish butter, it is bleddy 'ansum. I made the mistake, or perhaps it was just as well, of removing a slice and sending the remainder up for the Missus and Mother to try. I would have eaten the whole lot, else.
The other thing that I discovered today was that it was warm and humid enough to switch in the Dyson fan. This is the fan that was purchased for the bleddy hound to use during the hot nights, after all, we would not have spent a couple of hundred quid on keeping me cool in the shop, now would we. I have an agreement with the bleddy hound that I can use it during the day as long as I remember to take it upstairs for her during the night. The other thing that I discovered is that I had forgotten that, after an extended period of non-use, the fan should be pointed at the floor or outside on initial start up because it ejects a cloud of fluff and dust all over anything in its path, including grumpy shopkeepers.
One of the things that make shopkeepers grumpy is the re-emergence of the phantom newspaper tidier. We had this last year on selected weeks during the season. I place some newspapers on the floor, as there is insufficient room on the shelf for all the titles. Some helpful soul insists on picking them off the floor and placing them on top of the newspapers on the shelf. The problem is that this then obscures the title that they are placed upon, leading other customers to believe that we have run out. Not only is this an irritation but it affects sales and I have to send back more newspapers than I would have done else. I shall have to make more regular checks of the newspaper aisle and possibly move the new camera so that it covers that area.
There are other things, though, that gladden the heart such as kind acts and a perfect evening. I would not embarrass the lad who rendered the kind act by elaborating so I shall just say that it was a perfect evening. I took the bleddy hound out for her last run in almost daylight at ten o'clock. It was a brae bit cooler than the inside of the flat, which is why, I think, she decided on a walkabout on the Harbour beach, ignoring all calls to come hither. She did eventually, when she saw I was not coming to join her, and if she had a teddy bear she would have been dragging it by a foot up the slipway and scuffing her paws.
June 9th - Saturday
The day managed much better than yesterday to fulfil some of its potential and blossom into full loveliness. The only fly in the ointment was an easterly breeze that blew in through the door the whole day long scatting papers hither and thither.
For the last few days the gulls have been out in the bay, spread over a large area of water. They do not appear to be anything particularly special, just a bunch of herring gulls. There is no reason why they should not spread themselves about a bit, after all, there is plenty of room, but it has seemed a little unusual. There have been dolphin visits this week, which might have something to do with it, but I have no idea what. The dolphins have arrived in pods of large numbers and two of three times during the week, so there might be a change in the food chain supply.
It could show that there has been a return of the sand eel or lance, which have been absent from these shores for a little while. They seem only to exist to be eaten and their absence might explain the lack of mackerel this year and much of last year. They also make fishing bait of choice for many sea anglers, who have been starved of it over the winter months. One local angler scoured the Duchy and the West in general and found none. Even resorting to the Internet, it was thin on the ground, until he thought, in desperation, to call one grumpy shopkeeper in the middle of his closed season.
This grumpy shopkeeper was unaware of the dearth in supply until he was apprised by said local angler and had been sitting on a freezer full of the little silver lovelies. This grumpy shopkeeper is also the proud possessor of an A Level in Economics of which he remembers very little but, oddly, the laws of supply and demand suddenly came flooding back to him. It was, of course, a pleasure to demonstrate our good customer service ethic by opening the shop expressly on the behest of this local angler. Naturally, there was some adjustment required in the price of sand eels so as not to undermine the market forces at play. Goodness, Miss Simpson would never have forgiven me.
Perusing the newspapers while I gaily stuffed the supplements into them this morning, I was rather shocked to discover that I had been awarded a CBE. Apparently, there was uproar about it, of which I was little surprised, as it could hardly have been awarded for my services to literature - or even literacy for that matter. There were calls for the award to be rescinded, which I understood, after all the trouble I had caused but I quickly realised that while my surname had been used, I was not, as far as I remembered, the chairman of a railway management company. I have to admit, I did breathe a sigh of relief, as I am not an awards sort of person and I know nothing about railways, although in this case that appears not to matter very much.
It certainly did not matter very much to a bunch of holiday makers and trippers camped down on the beach throughout the main part of the day. The fact that there were a few decent waves out towards the north of the beach probably made the army of surfers out there care less as well. The topography of the middle and southern end of the beach is a bit curious at present with a long sand bar some 100 yards off. At mid tide the swimmers and paddlers can wade out a fair way and enjoy a bit of a wave break when they get there. It looked ideal for junior boarders.
The Missus spent most of the day up at The Farm. Our neighbour, from whom we are buying the field, has a couple of vintage tractors there and promised to help the Missus cut the grass, as the field has sprouted in the short time she has been there. After a demonstration that included cutting the grass over half the field, the Missus was let loose on the other half. I have a horrible suspicion that we might be vintage tractor owners in the very near future.
June 8th - Friday
It seemed like the day had some potential for greatness when I walked the bleddy hound around the block in the morning. There was brightness, in a hazy sort of way, and some proper warmth that made me thankful that I could not be bothered to retrieve my jacket from the shop where I inadvertently left it last night. Sadly, our ugly duckling of a day failed miserably to develop into a beautiful swan but we cannot complain, really, though many did; it stayed warm and dry in the main.
Whatever the weather it must have been a day to be industrious. In the Harbour car park this morning were two RIBs with unfeasibly big engines. I think it was a dive team preparing for some serious exploration somewhere. Also preparing to set out were a small group of students. They were consulting a map to ensure that heading up the hill by the steps was the right way to go. I had thought to tell them to just head out and keep the sea on the right, but they seemed to be enjoying working it out for themselves. I spoke with their teacher or responsible adult of some kind and asked where they were headed. She told me that it was roughly in the direction of Penzance but seemed a little vague. A strange smile seemed to play across her face as she happily waved them off and took pictures and when she had told me 'roughly in the direction of Penzance', it occurred to me that equally she might have said, 'who cares'.
I had a chat with one of the divers later in the day. He said that one of their number was waiting for the opportunity to dive on Epsom Shoals, between Runnel Stone and Wolf Rock lighthouse. It is seventy metres deep there and there is a huge expanse of flat, sandy sea bed. In the middle of it is a pinnacle of rock covered in sea anemones and quite a wonder to behold, so he told me. The tides these last few days have been ideal, apparently, and they had an unparalleled good time. I think that would be jolly fun but will wait until I have grown some gills; I am not sure that I would have much confidence in an iron tank of air and a few rubber tubes and remembering not to breathe through my nose.
It was a bit of a strange business day. There were plenty of people about, but it did not seem very busy. We sold most of the pasties we had ordered, so there must have been some action in the shop. In the quieter times, of which they seemed to be plenty, I placed some orders and sliced up some bubble wrap - it comes in a big roll, which is not very convenient to keep behind the counter.
I had hoped to find out what had happened on the big beach yesterday when the air ambulance turned up to whisk off a casualty. It is unusual not to hear anything. It does sometimes seem that there is a huge gulf between one end of The Cove and the other. Right at the last knockings today I did glean a little information that a paddleboarder somehow managed to end up on North Rocks and suffered a punctured lung. This is hearsay, you understand, but whatever his condition, we wish him well.
It was a beautiful end to the day, after everyone had gone home. We had some blue bits that many people had been craving all day. In the last hour of opening we sold six pairs of sunglasses, so it was not all bad. Sometimes you just have to wait for the good times to arrive.
June 7th - Thursday
I was a little pressed for time this morning. I had agreed to an appointment at the Cape Cornwall clinic for them to conduct my annual blood letting. As if I had not let enough last year with my bleeding leg; I would have thought that they could allow me a year off. On top of that they have started to take three bottles rather than the usual two, so you will forgive me if the Diary was a little late this morning.
I expected to see the streets running with water, after last night's forecast had us deluged with thunder showers. This missed us by a few miles to the south and we had no rain at all. We did not see any of the heavy showers expected during the day, either, but I suspect if they happened at all they would have been reserved for the Royal Cornwall Show at Wadebridge. The Missus has not been for a few years, probably because she and her pals can no longer sneak in through the exhibitor's gate.
You may have thought that I would need a lie down in a darkened room to regain my strength having parted with so much of my essential claret. Not so, I tell you, and on the contrary I was full of vim and vigour, conducting a number of tasks that needed to be undertaken ahead of our next busy time. I had noticed yesterday, well, actually I had noticed some time ago, but only yesterday decided that something needed to be done with the poor display on the greetings cards stand. I have had a card order for one of our regular suppliers since the start of the year but it was a bit big, so I thought I would leave it until cash flow had improved. The only problem with waiting is that a number of the cards are now out of stock, but not disastrously so.
I also took a look at our local book collection. One supplier provides most of the titles, which include walking guides, local interest and historical books. Most are under five pounds and they sell well; we have stocked them since we first started. We used to have a man turn up twice a year and manage the stock for us. He knew his trade and what would sell in each of his locations. Sadly, such services are deemed too expensive by managers today, although I am sure we topped up with more books under his management than we have ever done doing it ourselves. So, it was a rarity for me to get down with a list and a pencil to organise a mid season order.
The Missus disappeared up The Farm half way through the morning, with Mother and the bleddy hound in tow. This left me in a bit of a pickle when a PR and filming launch of the Lifeboat was called for half past three o'clock. My only recourse was to shut the shop for an hour, as from previous experience mid afternoon launches can be poorly attended if not emergencies. We had not been busy all day, so I do not think business suffered greatly. Most people are pretty sympathetic when the grumpy shopkeeper closes the shop for such a reason but not so much so when the sign says 'closed for a session at the boozer'.
I was very glad I did not close before I had seen my favourite Mother Superior. She arrived with her companion, looking as chipper as ever, and thanked me for the book I gave her last year. I could not remember the book I gave her last year. She also remembered my name and the name of the Aged Parent, for whom she sends up a prayer every now and then, as they both belong to the same club. Mother Superior has at least once weakness: candy floss, which we sell in small tubs.
The Lifeboat effort was for a chap who has decided to row around Britain in a sponsored sort of way and some of the funds will come to the Institution. I partially heard about it on the local news a week or so ago and it took some searching for anything about it on the Internet. His boat is named Spirit of Ahab, which I presume, or rather hope, is a reference to the fanatism of the Moby Dick character. The other option is the biblical reference, which is slightly less endearing and even stretches to demonic possession. If you wish to research this rower's activities, dear reader, I strongly advise that you place the word "boat" after the name in your search bar. I thought that it was billed as a paddle around the UK, which I thought might prove problematic when it came to Northern Ireland, but I am sure that has been thought through.
The boat was gone for the best part of an hour, escorting the rowing boat around the corner. During this I reopened the shop. We were told the boat would return at half past five o'clock, so I closed the shop early and went to attend to bring the boat up the long slipway. There were a few of us present, enough, though, for a thoroughly textbook recovery, during which we discovered that we had a resurgent problem with our helmets and the headsets that we have.
We launched again in the evening for regular crew training; we were getting the hang of things by then. We had already agreed that because of the difficulty with the electronic communications system that we would resort to the use of coloured signal flags. We tried this out during what seemed to be a textbook recovery up the long slipway at around eight o'clock. It worked perfectly satisfactorily, although at night this might prove to be difficult. We unpicked these issues during our post-operation de-briefing and agreed a course of play. We are, after all, a very adaptable, very excellent Shore Crew.
So adaptable are we that we managed to adapt ourselves into a losing OS quiz team later in the evening. Unlike last week we did not even come close.
We had avoided the suggested rain all day, bar some mizzle late in the afternoon. While there were no stars that we could see in the sky above us, it was a perfectly pleasant evening to be dejected and miserable. It was therefore such a joy to wake the neighbourhood with a screaming bleddy hound as we made our way around the block, last thing.
June 6th - Wednesday
Well, that is a bit more like it. Alright, it was still cloudy but it was warm and dry and after yesterday people were willing to make the best of it. Things took off a little after I had slipped off to the gymnasium; the Missus said that business was very brisk while I was gone. When I came back I noticed that she was right. It was a two hour breakfast day, for sure.
A two hour breakfast is nothing compared to the time it now takes me to get to talk to someone at our bank. I explained two days ago that my three hour call back had not happened even after 24 hours had passed so I was mildly surprised that I did get a call in the early afternoon from Joe. Unfortunately, I had customers at the time and we had to curtail the call. I did ask that he drop me his contact details, including his direct line. He did send me an electronic mail but the telephone number he gave me was the main switchboard.
Undeterred, I gave it a go trying to contact him when I returned from the gymnasium. I waited some time in a queue before being answered by one of the foot soldiers who put me through the wringer, asking security questions before I even had a chance to ask for our man, Joe. Five minutes later he assured me that he was transferring me to Joe but the person that answered the telephone was female. I suggested that she probably was not Joe and she agreed. She told me that she needed to ask me a few security questions. Now, I wholly agree that banks should be security conscious, probably more so than many other institutions, but to be asked three times - the initial telephone system asked for a code - so that I could have a not very confidential chat with a bank manager was asking a bit much.
Since there was no way I could progress without answering the questions again, I complied but I am afraid with not very good humour. She then became confused, thinking that I was Joe and a bank employee, which made me wonder what she was checking my security answers against, and it took a few minutes to disabuse her of this notion. A full twenty minutes after I initiated the call I was transferred to Joe. He was not in. I now await a call back, but no one was offering any timescales.
The Missus left me soon after I came back downstairs. She has an appointment with Gary who she thinks is a rather pleasant chap. I am not so sure and there are others who say he has been playing fast and loose with his tax affairs. Mother was due to go too but was not feeling up to it. Luckily, the good people at the Eden Project, where Gary Barlow, who used to be in a musical band of some sort, is playing a concert, let the Missus go anyway, even if she no longer had Mother to look after. Frankly, I think Mother had a lucky escape. Obvious I could not go, what with running the shop, which was, of course, a bitter disappointment. We did ask the Highly Professional Craftsperson if he wanted to go instead but we told him that he would need to go in a wheelchair. He said that was about the only way that he would go and would need to be strapped in and I must say, I can see his point. The Missus went on her own in the end.
We had a bit of a brighter time of it towards the end of the afternoon. It had been busy throughout the day, which was rather welcome. We had another contingent of German walkers today, which rather scotches my statement of the other day that we had been deserted by our European friends.
It was a pleasant end to the evening again, but we have been promised thunderstorms overnight. I shall probably sleep through them.
June 5th - Tuesday
The morning could not have been more different from yesterday and it was rather disappointing to see a return of the grey and the banal, and the weather was not much better, either. The weather just got worse throughout the day, so clearly I was delighted that I had upped the number of pasties yesterday to meet the increased demand. I am sure the pasty sellers in St Ives did very well.
There was a bit of running around in the morning, as the largest of the grocery deliveries arrives on Tuesday, although it is nothing compared with the deliveries we have during the summer rush. I also found things to do during the first part of the morning that kept me occupied until a contingent of German visitors fell upon us and actually came into the shop to buy things; usually the German coach parties pass by on the other side like a bunch of biblical wrong doers.
The Missus came down in the middle of the day to clear the grocery delivery, so I decided to go upstairs and torture myself by telephoning some impenetrable corporate contact centres. This is great sport if you are an advocate of self-flagellation and beating of your head against solid objects. I have raised the ante, too, by telephoning two corporations with a view to get one to send the other some information. I started this process in early May and so far each has claimed that the other has not send the necessary forms, or that the necessary forms had not been completed properly. I promise, there is little left out there that provides such a deep feeling of frustration, dissatisfaction and helplessness.
The worsening mizzle did nothing to brighten my melancholy, an odd word that would be better suited to the hybrid of a fruit and vegetable. Strangely, however, we went through most of the pasties, which was something.
Given the dearth of customers I unwrapped and started to install the new CCTV cameras we have recently purchased. Naturally, as soon as I commenced this activity, customer started arriving in dribs and drabs making it almost impossible to get a good run at the work. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, one was installed and working, which replaced one that died a death toward the end of the season last year. It has produced a blind spot, which I discovered that I missed seeing into.
There is an additional camera this year, which required me to buy a new router as the original one had reached capacity. This new camera covers the till area, which was always a bit of an omission in this day and age, although we hope not so much down here. If for no other reason, it will give me succour in the quieter months and during the winter; I will be able to watch recorded footage of customers parting with their hard earned shillings, and the sound of the till trilling will fill and brighten my most empty of days. Do remember to smile, dear reader, should you find yourself at our counter during the season.
June 4th - Monday
There was another bright and glorious morning awaiting me when I awoke this morning. I was equally confused as last night, however, because there was no bleddy hound to run around the block. I rather missed that part of the morning and was considering walking around anyway, especially as it was such a glittering masterpiece of a day. I then considered a cup of tea and forgot the idea.
It was such a good day that people flocked to The Cove from far and wide. It was sunny and warm, except at first with the south easterly blowing in the doorway - it is still a mystery how it does that. Outside, I was told, things were warming up nicely but since I did not leave the shop for the whole day, I would not know about that.
I do know that I should have ordered about ten more pasties. I realised this after I had already placed our order for tomorrow and telephoned them again to up the numbers. We will, of course, be bereft of visitors tomorrow who will all find something better to do.
It is probable that I will not have time to do something better, as the European Union has found yet another administrative task for us grumpy shopkeepers to undertake. No doubt, our own government will then add another layer of complex bureaucracy to an already darkly detailed system, just for good measure.
It comes under the title of European Tobacco Products Directive that brought us minimum pack sizes and plain packaging, which apparently has done nothing to reduce the numbers of smokers as it was promised to do. What it has done, allegedly, is increase the number of illicit products on the market as the pirates find it easier to replicate the plain packs - never saw that one coming, obviously. To combat the new terror, the EU, in its wisdom, has introduced 'track and trace'. Grumpy shopkeepers will, from 20th May next year, have to apply for an 'economic operator infrastructure code' (EOIC) as well as a 'facility identifier code', which has an unfortunate but probably entirely appropriate acronym, for each outlet you have before you can order tobacco products from whichever legitimate source you buy them from. The packs, the cartons and the crates will all have secret and well as overt security tags to fox the smugglers, who doubtless will find better ways of getting around it.
There are spotty graduates in Whitehall offices already rubbing their hands with glee, conjuring up dastardly rules such as only being able to apply for licences on the sixth Sunday after Sexagesima while standing on one leg, whistling the National Anthem. I have absolutely no doubt that it will come with a hefty price tag and be messed up and administered by the much maligned council which still will not be able to provide a proper receipt.
With such joys to come, it is a wonder how I contain myself. Each day is filled with tricks and surprises and new things to appreciate. Without doubt the greatest of these is what the weather will bring each day and will it be anything like the weather that we were told about the previous day in the forecast. This afternoon turned a little dull, which was not expected, for example. Another is our bank, which has done away with the role of Relationship Manager, whom I knew by name, in favour of a Direct Banking Centre, which has not the first idea of who I am or which part of the country I hail from.
I called the body this morning as I needed to complete a direct debit mandate, which asked me to provide the address of my bank manager. Since my bank has closed the only branch in Cornwall and provided me with a telephone number instead, I had no idea which address I should put. To elicit this vital item of information I needed to pass some security questions which ascertained my date of birth, address, inside leg measurement and my favourite flavour of peanut butter. I must have passed as they gave me the required address, erm, in Manchester. I just know that this direct debit mandate will just disappear into the ether and have me chasing it for weeks on end.
Whilst I had my new, very helpful central banker on the telephone I thought that I had best ask about the progress of a conversation with my former Relationship Manager. He had assured me that the details of our agreement in principle, would be filed away so that the new central body would have full record of it. My new helpful central banker knew nothing of this conversation and there was nothing recorded on our file, which came as no surprise whatsoever. He promised faithfully to make enquiries and I should expect a return call within three hours. I made the call at eight o'clock in the morning and as I close this page at eight o'clock the following morning, I have had no such response. This came as no surprise, whatsoever.
We eased into a quieter evening by taking the bleddy hound down to the Harbour beach, where she frolicked in the sand - after seven o'clock dog ban hours, of course. We watched the sun go down and marvelled at the quietness of it all. It is a good job we have this, else I would have had to go home and kick the cat - if we had one.
No, not a seal pup, the bleddy hound rolling
June 3rd - Sunday
I had quite high hopes for today. The sun was shining first thing, and all was well with the world. I did not think that we would be as busy as yesterday, as we lost the rest of the holiday contingent; I was right. We waved goodbye to them with their little packages of sweets, crisps and biscuits for the journey.
With a softer day in prospect I decided to slip away to the range for a spot of shooting. Out of the cooling breeze on the hillside it was quite furnace-like. The hillside is alive with colour and the views down the hill and out to the Isles of Scilly, particularly today, were sublime.
I have a new pair of prescription protective spectacles for my shooting. They were not overly expensive, like the glasses I was advised to buy for my driving. I had worn these while driving up to the range but as they are varifocal (so that I can see the instrument panel, I was told) they lose definition when I look to the left or right when turning. The range was live when I left, as I try not to be away from the shop over-long, so I was still wearing my cheaper protective glasses. Since it was a bit of a faff to change them for driving, I continued to wear them as I drove to pick up Mother. It probably would have been better that I did not, as I discovered that they were much more comfortable and clearer for driving than the pair that had cost me an arm and a leg. While they are unlikely to win any fashion prizes, they also come with a polarised clip on and a yellow tint clip on for the odd occasion that it is sunny. How irritating.
Business was a fairly sedate affair for the rest of the afternoon after I returned. There were little moments of busyness interspersed by longer quite periods. Most of the customers are now couples rather than families and the only families are those with under school aged children and many looked after by grandparents. We have some foreign visitors and I have noticed quite a few Australians about. Most notably there seem to be fewer German and other European, or perhaps that is my imagination. You should know, dear reader, if you are from yonder field, as I know some of you are, we still love you really.
Mother has been a brae bit poorly of late and the medication she has been given has not helped. The Missus elected to stay with her overnight so that various things can be sorted early tomorrow morning. She took the bleddy hound with her, which left me ever so confused last thing when I normally take her out. I am sure I shall be equally confused in the morning, so we should wish Mother well to stop me being confused.
June 2nd - Saturday
I just about had my act together before opening today. The newspapers arrived just as I was taking the bleddy hound out and the milk was a little late. Fortunately, I can still move at a blistering pace when pushed, so everything was ready on time.
This year we have more types of bread on offer than ever before. This morning we had the usual white and wholemeal sliced loaves and the new low GI - whatever than means - brown cobs, which I love tearing chunks off and eating with cheese or just about anything, as long as there is loads of Cornish butter involved. On top of that we also home bake half baguettes and bloomers and a new white cob, so it was something of a surprise to hear from the first customer of the day, "Is that all the bread you do?".
It was an interesting day; a day of discovery. If we are in the middle of a busy period, we know, by and large, that it is going to be busy and we stock accordingly. At the end of a busy period we cannot really tell if it will drop to nothing straight away or whether we will get a gradual decline. What I am really trying to say here, is that we ran out of pasties shortly after lunchtime. The demand was similar to that we were getting in the middle of the holiday week when I had expected it to dip as everyone went home.
Having said that, we were not that busy, other than a bit of a scrum for pasties that largely came all at once. This demonstrated that I was right in one aspect, that everyone had gone home. We did see an arrival of visitors, which is much in line with the expectation that although we will see a dip in busyness, it will not dip down to the level were at prior to the holiday. The arrivals included a pair of land locked Staffordians, who brought me a gift of a t-shirt with Staffordian runes on it. They did explain what they meant but I shall wear it in Penzance to maintain an air of mystery about me.
The whole thing was helped along by the weather, which remained dry and warm the day long. There was a fair bit of cloud but nothing really to spoil the general feel of loveliness. It was even brighter first thing in the morning and any vestiges of mist were long gone by the time I got up.
As we had not expected to be very busy today, the Missus went up to The Farm to do some more of what she has been doing up there. Mother went too and busied herself with cutting back the gorse on the hedges by hand. I am not entirely sure that either the Missus or Mother have appreciated that a three acres field is not just a very big garden and requires an approach on a somewhat bigger scale. Cutting back gorse on hedges with a pair of secateurs is likely to be a very long job indeed but at least it keeps Mother off the streets.
Happily, the Missus managed to tear herself away to be back in time for tea. I fear that if the projects and aspirations grow, I may be forking out for a residence up there in time.
We had a little bit of a treat in the late afternoon, but you would have needed to be sharp to spot it. I happened to be descending our steps and looked out to the north where a two masted vessel was sailing by, just on the horizon. By the time I reached the shop I had a customer and forgot all about it, so I had to resort to the AIS programme on the Internet to see what it was. The Phoenix was originally a mission ship built in 1929, though why they did not build a more modern vessel for the purpose, I have no idea. The engine room was damaged in a fire and it was converted to a brigantine by the new owners, so what it looked like originally, I have no idea. I only saw it far off and it looked pretty impressive now in full sail.
We had a few stragglers come through in the evening, but I really should remember to rein back our opening times from the Friday, not the Saturday. I am sure I thought the exact same thing last year, but I generally just look at the previous year's times when preparing the current, so I have no doubt I will forget this clever thought in February next year.
It is entirely possible that February next year will be closer than I think. We had some visitors in yesterday that I immediately remembered as regulars. I welcomed them, as you do, and was told that the last time they were here was six years ago. Gosh, tempus fugit, and all that.
June 1st - Friday
The Cove was a little damp when I came down to prepare the shop first thing this morning. I was not aware of any rain in the night but it has been very humid these last few days. Still, it was warm enough and as the mist pulled away we brightened up, but it was way into the morning by the time that happened. The mist played a part throughout the day and after teasing us with some brightness, it came back with a vengeance half way through the afternoon and blotted everything out with its chilly blanket.
Misty Mountain Bottom
We were busy enough in the morning with a band of leavers picking up leaving presents. I made off for a short session at the gymnasium and when I came back we were still pretty busy. Those staying behind started to dwindle during the day and made the best of the afternoon with the mist coming and going. There was nothing like the crowds of yesterday on the beach and those that were down there had plenty of room.
Our bull in a china shop delivery man was here again today. We had been informed by our supplier that our very alluring logo key rings would be arriving. He duly pulled up outside the shop at the appointed hour but whereas normally he would have been inside the shop with the package in a flash, he spent an inordinate amount of time in the back of the van. He eventually appeared in the shop, looking a little flustered, to tell me that he could not find the package. He asked me what it looked like to which I replied that I did not know because I did not send it, but it would not be very big. This, apparently, was not helpful at all and he returned to the van to rummage a bit more.
Eventually he emerged again with the packet, thumped onto the counter. I was serving a customer at the time and had his electronic gadget stuck under my nose for me to sign. I ignored him until I had served my customer. I do not think he likes me very much. I would like him much more if he stopped throwing my parcels around and adopted a pace more suitable for safe package delivery.
There were a lot of fare-thee-wells in the latter part of the afternoon. It is not every Cornwall resident's view, I know, but I like the way The Cove comes alive during the holidays. We occasionally get a wayward soul, but by far the majority of visitors add to the general beat of life that flows into every aspect and facet of our little world. Tinged with a little sadness though it is to see it come to an end, it is the see saw nature of the cycle that makes it so vital.
There are two small children who come with such ferocious regularity that they are most familiar. They love seeing the bleddy hound and we allow them to give her treats, or more, they insist. The little girl is visibly crestfallen when I tell her that the bleddy hound is still in bed or has gone out for the day. Therefore, when they came to say goodbye today and the Missus was up at The Farm, there were nearly tears. I resorted to technology to save the day and called the Missus up on a video link. It all sounds very grand but once you have hoist up the aerial on a kite to the required 150 feet, wound up the dynamo and tuned in the crystals, it all works very well. The small children seemed to think it was just the thing and I rather think they left happy. They will be back in a few weeks, anyway, when it will all start again.
Towards the back end of the afternoon we started to get some increased 'cash back' requests. It seems that the new card machine in the café next door had stopping working. I noticed that our own card machine was working very slowly and assumed that there was some busyness on the network with increased volume of card transaction of people buying and filling up cars before travelling home. It was not until late I the day that a lady came in to tell me that the card machines in the petrol stations in town, which are part of the supermarkets, had stopped working, too, and also in the OS. I have no idea how ours had continued working but with so many outages across the area I have no doubt that I would have struggled to reach any assistance if our had stopped too.
Of course, it was not until after we shut the shop that the news seeped through that the whole of Europe suffered card problems. The whole of Europe, that is, apart from one small outpost run by a grumpy shopkeeper in the Far West of Cornwall. I always knew we were special ... and somewhat oblivious.