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.
April 25th - Wednesday
It was a bit of a Belisha beacon day, with blue skies one minute and a cloud cover the next. We were warned of showers about, some heavy but we did not get to see any, or at least none that I saw until late in the afternoon. The breeze was up from the west again which kept the temperatures down, as well as the visitor numbers.
Both our usual deliveries of milk and pasties were a little late this morning. Our milkman had upset a crate of milk, fortunately he did not cry about it, as that would have been no use. The accident highlighted what we shall all, no doubt, need to get used to again as suppliers scrabble to join the no plastic bandwagon and switch back to good old-fashioned glass. I shall also need to spend longer hours down the gymnasium to put additional strength in my arms and back as the glass bottles weight several times as much as the plastic ones.
Fortunately, there is no glass involved in the delivery of our pasties or plastic, either, unless you count the reusable trays that they come in. There is, however, a modicum of accurate communication required to ensure, say, that we do not get large pasties when we have ordered medium ones. Clearly there was such an issue sometime between my order and the delivery, as large pasties is what we got today. The fault lay with the order taker at head office who is new and not yet used to the system. Despite having a check sheet, we stated that we normally have medium, cooked and unwrapped, she still managed to get it wrong.
Sadly for me, the accounts department did not forget to charge me for the large pasties we had. Since we only had a small quantity, I did not bother with changing our signage just for the day so there were a dozen lucky people who had a large steak pasty for the price of a medium one. I had to be a bit careful when I was serving them as I did not want my tears to fall onto the paper bags.
We had the usual day of quietness, although most of the pasties sold. The fact that these fallow periods happen every year make them no less palatable. In years when Easter is late the quietness occurs before the holiday. This year, with an early Easter, the quietness follows it and will probably last until the middle of May unless we have a major heatwave or Poldark comes and visits for a couple of weeks.
The Missus was off galivanting again, although it involved banking cash and the like, so was too late to prepare a tea for us. On the grounds that we are fed up with quick make-do meals we ordered in a Chinese meal from town, which will be banned soon if the Government get their hands on controlling what we eat. A few years ago I ran with a cynical tale of having to buy your pasties 'under the counter' and it is quite scary just how prescient that was; it is coming folks, get your legal pasties now, before it is too late.
April 24th - Tuesday
As you know, dear reader, the Diary only publishes verifiable, factual statements - honest guv - so you will know that there is hardly a hint of fabrication when I tell you that there is some sort of conspiracy going on with the buying of helicopters around here. First, Mr Tresco announced that he was backing a revived helicopter service from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly starting in 2019 using a new all singing AugustaWestland AW139 helicopter. Pipping them well before the post and introducing a bit of a spoiler was the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, with a service from Land's End Airport - yes, it really is an airport - using a slightly more downmarket AugustaWestland AW169 helicopter.
Alright, what I am hearing is that the AugustWestland AW series is a very good helicopter; the company website says so. It also might have been that Mr IoS Steamship Company caught wind that Mr Tresco was buying an AW139 ...
Mr IoS Steamship Company posing as child helicopter enthusiast.: "Hello, is that Mr Tresco?" Mr Tresco's Secretary.: "No, he has a deeper voice. I am his secretary." Mr IoS.: "Maybe you can help, then. I am a small enthusiastic child with quite a deep voice, and I am very enthusiastic about helicopters. I hear Mr Tresco is buying a helicopter for his new very clever plan to fly from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly, with people on board." Mr Tresco's Secretary.: "Oh, I'm really not supposed to say. It is a big secret." Mr IoS.: "But I am only a small helicopter enthusiastic child who wants to finish his 'Boys' Own Helicopters That Run Between Penzance and Isles of Scilly Scrapbook Collection'. Oh pleeese, Mr Tresco's Secretary. I promise I won't tell. Cub's honour." Mr Tresco's Secretary.: "Oh, I suppose it won't hurt to tell a small helicopter enthusiast child who has given his Cub Scout honour not to tell. He is going to by an AW139 from those very nice AugustaWestland people." Mr IoS.: "Cor blimey, thanks missus. I'll tell the board I mean I'll stick it in my Boys' Own scrapbook right away and not tell anyone - honest, Miss."
Of course, it might just have been that Mr IoS Steamship Company read it in The Cornishman newspaper like everybody else. Also, while it may seem that Mr IoS went for the higher number model, the AW169, the AW139 is actually bigger. Both come with Sat Nav and a nice radio/cassette player but the AW139 has a CD player as well, passenger as well as driver airbags and more seats.
However, this is not the conspiracy to which I allude, although it might have been but did not look like one at that point. What really gave it away was the announcement that the Cornwall Air Ambulance is starting a campaign to attract funds for the new helicopter it wants to buy to replace the old one which is coming to the end of its lease. Shall we guess which helicopter they have decided upon? Yes, dear reader, another AugustaWestland AW169 - the cheap version. This is too much of a coincidence for me.
Interestingly, in the battle of the flight paths, Mr Tresco has opted for the more expensive aircraft with an additional five seats. I have done some back of a fag packet calculations and reckon that if I was going to take Mr Tresco's flight I would want to be in the first ten on board. Because of the additional cost of the aircraft for the added five seats those extra five passengers are going to be paying £6.25 per flight on top. What a liberty.
You might have guessed, dear reader, that it was a bit of a slow day today. We started off with some unnecessary mizzle followed by some very unnecessary mist. There was some semblance of it clearing by the early afternoon, but it was replaced by a robust westerly, which was also quite unnecessary. A neighbour complained that I said that it would not rain today. I contended that I was right, as everyone knows that mizzle is just wet air. I am not sure that we could agree but the main bulk of proper, heavy rain piled up the Bristol Channel and we were spared that, at least.
I do not know about you, dear reader, but I am coming under increased bombardment from companies that wish to gain my approval for continuing to contact me. It has been triggered by the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation or more commonly seen as GDPR, which means that anyone who wants to hold any data at all about you must have your express permission. There is not a corner of life that remains unaffected by this and even the merest hint of a photograph of someone's second cousin's cat counts as personal data.
The much maligned council offered a glimmer of hope. Yes, I was surprised, too but then I was not. The agency it has set up called the Business Regulatory Support team, which is anything but, sent out its regular(ish) newsletter and offered a basic computer based training course to get businesses through the maze of GDPR rules. I was quite impressed until I followed the link and found that the course is £25. Great help, that. I used the free resources that are littered all over the Internet, thank you.
The mizzle, which is not rain but wet air, returned in the later part of the afternoon and saw off the few visitors who had dared to turn out today. It was not too much of a problem for us as we had already seen our allocation of half a dozen customers for the day. More would have just been plain greedy. We also had some enquiries about walks and where it was best to watch a particular football match this evening. For the latter I made enquiries in St Just. Since the last bus in that direction leaves at quarter to two in the afternoon that left a fair few hours to find some amusement other than sitting in the public house waiting. I pointed out a circular walk down to Cape Cornwall, then along the Coast Path to Cot Valley, which even in the weather we had today would have been reasonably pleasant. I also pointed out Geevor Tin Mine, which is not to everyone's interest but is a wonderful resource in my view and has some wild rugged scenery all about it, thus giving it a wider appeal than just industrial heritage.
Yes, I know that I sound like a travelogue, but it is sometimes difficult to be truly objective when suggesting visits. It is also difficult to match someone's interest when they perhaps do not know what they might be interested in. I have seen some unlikely visitors captivated by Geevor or the Telegraph Museum when that is the last place you might have thought of sending them. It also helps relieve my boredom on days like these.
We also have not had much luck with crab and lobster orders. It is early in the season anyway but there are reports of a shortage of brown crab. There were not too many about last year and this year availability is even worse. Our customers have therefore fallen back on lobsters, which are at an all time high price and currently quite small. One customer at Easter changed their minds when they found out they would have the faff of dealing with eight smaller fish rather then four big ones. Today another order fell by the wayside because the sea state over the next few days is set to deteriorate. Our customer is around for more than a week, so hopefully there will be an opportunity during that time.
You will have to trust that it is busier tomorrow, dear reader, which will give me less opportunity to write yards of drivel. My fingers are quite sore, so you might be lucky, anyway.
April 23rd - Monday
We were told to expect some fair and some bad weather this week as things turned a little unsettled. Today was clearly one of the fair days, although we started off somewhat grey and, when I walked the bleddy hound around first thing, there was a little mizzle in the air. Things perked up in the afternoon but there were very few people about to enjoy it.
The Missus went over to Mother's early on to sit while the electrician changed the electric meter. This was the third appointment and fortunately, this time, the appointment and the electrician came together. Mother now has to wait to see what her normal usage is with a meter that, hopefully, is accurate so she can claim arrears for the last five years or more of overcharging.
Due to the appointment, I had assumed that I would not be getting to the gymnasium today but the Missus was back by nine o'clock, so I revised my plans and got changed to head down there. While it is sometimes necessary to miss my sessions at the gymnasium, it does throw my week into disarray if I do not go, not to mention the effect it has on my perfectly toned frame. There is nothing worse than coming into a shop to see a grumpy shopkeeper not quite at the peak of physical fitness, I am sure you agree, dear reader.
The session was also necessary because a round of Curds & Croust, Miss Wenna Cornish brie had gone out of date and needed to be consumed or thrown away. It would be something of a crime to dispose of such a top Cornish product, so, despite the possible influence that it might have on my midriff, I did the honourable thing and ate it with a hunk of bread and some Cornish ale, grain mustard that is also out of date. Sadly, although not for me, there were about eight jars of Cornish ale, grain mustard that went out of date before the new season commenced and I have been trying my best to work through them. I have discovered that it is the perfect accompaniment to ham, chicken, cheese, pork pies, beef and bacon. I have also stirred it into a Cornish rarebit (with sardines) and had it on toast. I have not yet tried it on scones or on a bit of hevva cake. This may become necessary as there are four jars left plus the one I just started with the Miss Wenna, this morning. It is a selfless act of waste reduction that I am pleased to be a part of, well, all of really.
It was another dire and deathly quiet day for business. It reinforces the notion that there were still some schools on holiday last week and that now we are paying the price - rather than our customers. While the quietness provides time to restock and do things that are impossible when it is busy, finding the impetus to actually do any of them is a test of will. It was well into the afternoon before I managed to haul myself away from the newspapers and other mind numbing activities and refill the sunglasses display. I progressed to other gift shelves and replenished the playing cards, the octopus tentacle pens, the lanyards and the tactile chickens that light up when bounced. I felt very righteous, even in the knowledge that most of these things will still be in their places when the end of May school holiday starts.
The Missus returned from a foray into the wilderness - it is what the wives of grumpy shopkeepers do, I am told - with additional stock items that I had asked her to pick up from Shrew House on her was back. This sorted out our sadly depleted ball display and the holes in the buckets and spades that the good Easter weather had occasioned. However, by the time she returned, my enthusiasm for stock replenishment had waned, rather, so I shall leave those items until tomorrow, except the balls, which I inflated with the compressor while the shop was quiet.
The Missus and I had one of our cosy evenings, snuggled up around a pile of invoices that we had let pile up for an unreasonable length of time. The Missus did the counting and I did the collecting and keying in. It is amazing that after twenty years we still can find time for romance. All that was missing was the melodic trilling of a cash register, played at our table by some bohemian artisan of the craft. Brings a tear to the eye, dunt it?
April 22nd - Sunday
A cold front definitely moved in this morning. There was a little rain pattering on the skylight first thing but by the time I arrived downstairs to set up shop, it had gone away again. The warmth of yesterday has evaporated in a trice but I have gone past my personal Rubicon of shorts wearing and there is no going back. No, there is almost certainly no going back. Yes, on the balance of probability, there is a strong to middling likelihood there is no going back. Maybe.
There is also uncertainty surrounding the going forward of the young lady from yesterday who said she was going to paddleboard to John O'Groats. I am sure she said she was going today but there is nothing on her media pages less than two days old. One of the pages stated that she would be wearing a tracker, probably a good idea as she is doing it unsupported, but there is no link to it anywhere I have looked. A lone paddleboarder left yesterday, accompanied by the angling boat I mentioned but it was difficult to determine whether it was she or not, quite apart from the fact she left from The Cove and not Land's End, unless she did that bit earlier, or maybe over land. If that was her going, the Diary wishes her well, although we cannot help feeling that she would do her cause, Paddle Against Plastic, much more good if she told people about it.
In contrast to yesterday's relative busyness, the morning was deathly quiet. There were a few walkers passing through and that was about it. I left for the range at around half past one o'clock by which time it was beginning to show a little more spirit but by and large today was not a raving success, it seems. While I was away, the sun broke through and it was a very pleasant afternoon, but even that did not persuade the flocks to come flocking.
They did some minor flocking at the five minutes to closing period, which was not actually too far off when I came home. The Missus ran off to make our tea and I took the bleddy hound around the block after we closed. For a day labelled as pretty poor, the walk around was pretty pleasant. We even had a sky full of stars at last knockings, too and it was Venus in the western sky; it had a label on last night.
April 21st - Saturday
A little mobile city seems to have sprung up overnight in the Harbour car park. When I walked through this morning there were camper vans of all types and ages scattered about. The gentleman who had been staying there all week, camped out in his car, almost on his own, seems to have been crowded out. He cannot have gone very far as he has booked his car into the garage at the top to have his cam belt replaced.
The garage at the top seems to have had some business from visitors over the last few weeks. I sent a gentleman up there just before Easter as his car had broken down shortly after arriving here. Yesterday, a lady dropped by for some going home souvenirs, who seemed to have had the unluckiest time. Her mother, who was due to come with her, shuffled off shortly before the holiday, her turbo charger broke on the way down and she had to be recovered by one of the breakdown companies and shortly after she got it back again, she had a flat tyre. I wished her luck on her way back as I think she might need it.
It was a rather splendid morning, with the sun sparkling in a big blue sky right from the word go. For the first time this year I did not need a jacket when I took the bleddy hound around in the morning and for the first part of the day, I did not need it in the shop, either. It was in the early afternoon that the breeze backed around to the south east and freshened. For some reason this blows straight in the shop doorway and sent me scampering for my jacket again.
It still looked pretty, out in the bay. For the second time this week the gig was out on the water. I think it was braving the swell on Thursday, which was the first time this year, so it looks like they are taking full advantage of the current soft conditions, especially today. Soon after they came in, a sizable angling and trip boat from St Ives powered across the bay and anchored up. Out by the Brisons for much of the day, a lone yacht was circling about - actually, on reflection, it might have been several yachts passing by that I saw at different intervals. Later in the afternoon there was a big schooner out to the west but too far to identify it.
Confirming that the time of year has come to mess about on the water, a young lady poked her head into the shop in the early afternoon. She had a large nautical looking bag on her back and was carrying something else vaguely waterproof. She asked if she might leave her bag with us overnight as she was heading off to paddleboard to John O'Groats in the morning. She was exceedingly miffed when I refused the request on security grounds, insisting that it was only a paddle and some paddleboard related equipment. I sort of suggested that she would say that, would she not, if it were not paddleboard related equipment, which did nothing to placate her.
My refusal may have been a little over-cautious, I know. Perhaps it stems from being brought up and working in a city when "mind me wee parcel" used to clear a public house in moments. However, I imagine that paddleboarding several hundred miles through some exceeding treacherous waters, requires some highly detailed planning. Somewhere in that rigorous preparation, I might have thought to find 'where will I keep my kit overnight?' as one of the items to plan for and with prior notice, we would have been happy to help.
I am quite good at helping. People come to the counter all day long and ask where the milk is, do we sell coffee - only in jars, perhaps we have clothes pegs somewhere or those little elastic bands to hold your hair back - yours, obviously, not mine. The most common is do we have newspapers, then toothbrushes and soap, oh, and do you have a band-aid. A what? It is called a plaster over here, luvver, although I will grant you that the first person who asked for one today was Australian, which is almost American. I did have to hold back from asking what part of New Zealand they came from; I was not sure what passed for a sense of humour south of the equator.
That is a bit of a red herring, as we were talking about calling plasters; band-aids. The other two people who asked were both English, or at least had middle English accents. I then recalled seeing a newspaper headline that pointed out that the latest Royal couple had used the term in some context or other and it occurred to me then that it had now become fashionable - after three days. Gosh, are we really that impressionable or is it just a fever that will hopefully pass at the end of May.
The Missus went off with Mother and the in-laws to eat at the restaurant where you eat with your fingers off a wooden plate in the dark, which I am none too keen on. Just because she put my sweet potato chips in the oven before she went triggered a bunch of late shoppers arriving five minutes before closing. They all bought quite a bit, which makes sacrificing sweet potato chips easier to swallow, as it were. As it happened, by the time I had taken the bleddy hound around in the late afternoon warmth and sunshine, fed her and got my act together, the chips were just about right. In fact, they were bleddy 'ansum dusted in cumin, Old Bay spice and paprika along with some goujons of haddock I just happened to have about my person. Thank heavens that I do not have to slum it too often with a hastily put together TV dinner.
I consoled myself with another starry night to gaze upon at the last bleddy hound walking of the day. I fancied there was rather more haze in the sky than previously. Change coming.
April 20th - Friday
We were somewhat bemisted when I first took to the streets this morning. It was one of those mists that can come and go all day and within a short while it showed signs of going. It got as far as Carn Gloose, which is almost all the way to Cape Cornwall before it started coming back again. It did that several times during the first part of the morning until it settled just this side of the horizon, which is a bit daft to say as if it settled just the other side of the horizon I would not have been able to see it. It stayed there all day, just as the weatherman on the television said it would last night, in a stunning, but rare, moment of accuracy.
As promised, I slipped into a pair of Florida shorts that the Missus bought for me when she was there last year. They are a little less, erm, interesting that the pairs of shorts that I have purchased for myself previously, but I think that was the idea. Anyway, I should be grateful that they did not come with motifs of giraffes or goats, given her latest fixations. The shorts were a bit of a risk as it was quite sharp first thing and the cooling northerly persisted throughout the rest of the day. I reasoned that it was time to man up, and besides, my new bloody leg stocking with the toe holes kept one leg warm.
Despite the sunshine and the failure of the mist to return, we were exceptionally quiet today. This persisted throughout the day until I had to make a couple of telephone calls when, of course, we had a string of customers one after the other, some practising some marathon browsing techniques and others wishing to engage in conversation because they had not spoken with another living soul for a decade. The person who I was calling must have been confused or irritated by the number of calls that rang off before they could answer because a customer had walked in. I did manage to make the call in the end, but it came pretty close to the close of business, theirs not ours.
We were blessed with another spectacular evening. The wind dropped through the afternoon, I thought, and by the time we closed it was quite pleasant, even on the shady side of the street and in the shop. It was when I stepped outside to bring in the street furniture that I discovered that the breeze had actually increased but changed direction. I was pretty sure it was now in the north east but appeared to be coming from the left of the shop, the west. Anyway, it was a tad sharp as I took the bleddy hound around the block.
When I took her our again last thing, the night was quite still. There was a crescent moon and, probably, Jupiter out towards the west, although it could have been Venus; it did not have a label on it like I am used to. One of these nights I will be run over by an electric car I did not hear coming as I spend the entire time with my neck craned back. I expect that there are far worse last sights.
April 19th - Thursday
It was a half and half sort of day today and although we were told that there would be some mist around the morning were we not at all sure that it would clear. Regardless of the lack of clear sunshine, the warmth of the day came through quite quickly into the morning. It is just a shame that there were few people about to enjoy it.
It was also the sort of day that a grumpy shopkeeper would ordinarily have slipped into something more comfortable, namely a pair of pastel shorts that had been purchased especially for such days by the Missus and transported hence from one of the far off regions of the world. Sadly, I am consigned to wear a tight stocking to assist in preventing a repeat of my bloody leg situation of about this time last year. The item, carefully measured and fitted for me and my leg only, does not have the facility to fit the toe post of a flip flop sandal between my toes, thus I am restricted to wearing long trousers only, since I do not like not wearing socks with shoes and the Missus will not permit me to wear socks with shoes with shorts.
I had ordered a couple of similar stockings that are cut off at the toes and thus permit the flip flops to be worn with gay abandon. While these did arrive in the post this morning, they were not available when my advisor put together today's fashion statement. All I can say is, look out world tomorrow and shortly before it gets cold and unshortlike again.
It did not matter too much today because there were not many people around in the morning. Shortly after midday, our Lifeboat pagers went off to alert us to launch both boats to an incident just around the corner where a climber had fallen off a cliff. She had fallen around fifteen metres, which is far enough to fall, and while she was on a ledge there was still some way to descend. The boats were tasks to standby in case anything needed to be done from the bottom up.
The Coastguard rescue team were in attendance and their helicopter came, too. The boats were gone for hours, so the lady was either in an awkward position or very poorly, or possibly both. She was shipped away by the helicopter to Treliske where we heard no more for now.
Since I initially launched the Inshore boat, it seemed sensible that I recover it too. Had it arrived back half an hour earlier, I would have struggled to collect it from the Harbour beach due to the tide, despite the Harbour tractor being deployed to clear some of the accumulated rocks and debris from the recent storms. As it was, there was just about enough water there to float the boat onto the trailer, although it was a bit of a bumpy ride hauling it back over the rocks.
I had finished with the little boat with just enough time to observe the last throes of the big boat recovery. It was pretty obvious from the satisfied faces all around that the boat was brought up the long slipway in something of a textbook recovery, which is always good to see. After all, we are a very multi-talented, very excellent Shore Crew.
I arrived back at the shop just in time to help the Missus down from the walls where she had been climbing for the last couple of hours. The Lifeboat shout had interrupted her in full flight, cleaning a bedroom and she hates to be disturbed during such activity. I soothed her furrowed brow and told her that I would make her birthday tea, which she should have had yesterday had time not slipped away from us. Since she was keen to return upstairs I suggested that she could cook her birthday tea while she was there, as I had suggested it and bought two of the ingredients that go into it. She said that it was a jolly good idea, although not exactly in those words.
Naturally, the evening weather just got better and better, now that we were close to closing and everyone had gone away. Still, it was pleasant to enjoy it and to watch the haze turn a sepia colour in the setting sun.
It was doing some of that still when I made my way down to the OS for a spot of quizzing. Lifeboat training had been abandoned, since a good many of us were thoroughly overtrained in the afternoon. The OS was another place to overtrain doing something, since we are rubbish at the quiz. It was good that the stars were out on the way home; it gave us something to aim at that was roughly in the direction of home.
April 18th - Wednesday
An avid Coast Path walker dropped by the shop this morning to ask for advice on parking and the community bus. He told me that he was going to walk from Pendeen back to The Cove. I told him that the best advice that I could offer was that he should not start from here, as Pendeen was miles away. The quizzical silence that followed should tell me to avoid any jocularity at such an early hour, or possibly at all. It was similar to when a lady came and asked if we had any of those noodles that can be attached to glasses to stop them from falling off. I said that we had run out, but we used to sell them, no strings attached. I topped it off when a regular visitor said that he had, for the very first time, seen dolphins on the Island walk in St Ives. I said that it was very unusual as they are normally in the sea. I only added that one because he told me not to. I think that the one liner cracking gentleman who stayed last week may have infected me.
On a more sober note, the mist and grey were still with us first thing in the morning. Kevin, the weatherman, assured us, however, that by mid morning the sun would be breaking through and the grey skies would be banished forever, and we could put on a happy face. The weather always does what Kevin the weatherman tells it to do and thus, by mid morning, those grey skies turned to blue and the sun popped out. Phwoar, what a scorcher, apart from the chunky east wind.
Mind, that chunky east wind kept the surfers happy for much of the day. You had to be a fair way out the back but there were some big but decent waves being enjoyed by a handful of hardy surfers. Our neighbour could hardly contain himself, but he was rather stuck with a team of fresh staff to train. I sympathised and told him that several people had come in to say how good it was and how much they had enjoyed it out there, so he was right to be upset. He went back to work then; I have no idea if it was something I said.
Well, it was only yesterday that I we were donating our furniture to a good cause. It seemed churlish to stop there and today, in the post, I had a letter to confirm that I am a confirmed organ donator. I tell you, I have pulled out all the stops - sorry. The letter told me that I was now a registered organ donator. It surprised me a little because I went through this process some years ago when they combined a campaign with driving licence applications, I think, or it might have been something else. Anyway, I registered then so I rather thought that the letter would come back saying that I was already on the register. I can only surmise that they lost the first registration, which is just a little remiss, so I thought that I would tell you, dear reader, in case they lose the new one too, and if you want my bits, preferably after my demise, you are quite welcome.
It did cross my mind that it might be a little cruel donating some of my organs, as I probably have not taken quite the care of them that perhaps I should have. Alright, there are some that have been roundly abused over the years and are probably not worth passing on but there was not a tick box for that, so I will have to risk it, not that the risk falls to me, exactly. Good luck, whoever you are.
The other news I had in the post today was altogether not as welcome. It was from our insurance company who carry the risk if anything should happen to the shop, we hope. The package was arranged through a broker in Penzance with whom I would converse just once or twice per year. I got the impression of him being a kindly soul but he would never use one word when 130 would do, which was often a problem as the insurance falls due at one of the busiest times of the year. Anyway, the letter I received from the insurance company was to advise me that I need to arrange a new broker as the poor old boy has shuffled off.
It was a bit peremptory and I would have thought the broker company might have sent a letter out, at the very least. It is likely that our man had some forewarning of his demise as he had recommended another Penzance broker to take on the task. While I never met him, I shall miss his quirky ways and trying to politely engineer a more timely end to our telephone conversations.
By the middle of the afternoon, most people had disappeared. It stayed fine all through the day and it was entertaining watching the surf, which was nigh on perfect if you like that sort of thing. Later, the Missus and I slipped off to the fields behind the village at the top for a mooch around with the bleddy hound. I had expected the ground to be waterlogged but it was not too bad where we were and the bleddy hound enjoyed a proper run about, the first in some while, and actually without getting lagged in something horrid. What a pretty end to the day.
April 17th - Tuesday
We were told we would have a miserable, mizzly day, so we were miserable and the mizzle stayed with us for most of the day and with the not mizzly bits, grey and uninteresting. Were we downhearted, though? Well, actually, yes. It was not a very inspiring day to be running a bright sunshiny shop in a location that runs on sunshine.
It was also not the sort of day to take delivery of several hundred pounds worth of sun lotion. Had I a long line of people sheltering in the shop from the blistering sunshine outside, desperate for some bottled protection, I might have seen it slightly differently. In fact, the only slight association that the lotion might have had with the weather today is that it is water resistant.
I thought that the arrival of a big tumultuous sea might have provided some entertainment but at no state of the tide during the day did it show any real muscle, although it was not exactly calm, either. A somewhat more satisfying prospect was the removal of some items of furniture from our flat. The Missus had spent some considerable time on the Internet working out what items of furniture could be purchased to replace the items that she intended to get rid of. At least one of the replacement items is smaller than the item it replaces and the number of items leaving is slightly larger than the number coming in, which is good.
The Missus made contact with a charity group called, Good Old Furniture Available or GOFA for short. We have donated items before but have taken them to their difficult to find warehouse in Penzance. Today, because of the number and size of the items, they came out to us. They were a friendly and energetic bunch of volunteers to a man. We had not dismantled the largest wardrobe on the basis that they may wish to remember how it came apart so they could put it back together again. The delay in doing this did not bother them at all and, in fact, I think that they rather enjoyed the challenge. They told us that there was a lady who has after the very article and that it would be redistributed straight away. They kept thanking us like it was us doing them a favour, when we thought that it was the other way around. What a very pleasant bunch.
The bosses at the RNLI head office have long encouraged the twin services of Lifeboats and Lifeguards to work more closely together. Indeed, last year we saw for the first time a Lifeguard area manager be appointed to look after all the Lifeboats and Lifeguards in the area, where previously they were managed separately. It has taken a little time for the traditional friendly rivalry to develop into a homogenous service, with similar goals, objectives and operating imperatives.
Today, the product of these efforts came to fruition when the Lifeguard four wheel drive truck, with its specially reduced pressure tyres, became stuck in the soft, big beach sand. Without the slightest smugness, smart comment or tittering, a pair of Lifeboat mechanics despatched the Inshore boat tractor along to tow the truck out of its hole. Clearly, this will only ever be mentioned in the spirit of oneness, camaraderie and cooperation and never, not even once, will there be a titter or smart comment, ever.
Subsequently other signs of entertainment lapsed after this excitement. I read several newspapers, though probably not the right ones to help with the OS quiz, and I completed a very complicated application form related to an old pension that needed the dust kicking off it. I then had a look at some of the electronic mails that had arrived in the interim.
Along with everyone else in the world who has an electronic mail account we get unsolicited mail from spurious quarters. Probably, we get rather more than some, as we have our business address out in the big wide world on purpose and this attracts a particular type of "spam" mail. Many suggest that our website can be improved/re-rewritten or whatever by experts in the field. It irritates me that if these were serious then they would have looked at our website first, which, given the vanilla content of their mail, they clearly have not. This is not so bad if they subsequently go away but one enquirer continued to harangue me for weeks until I replied with a blunt put down. We also get many mails that ask to stay in our lovely accommodation; it is a scam, clearly, as we have no accommodation, but the made up names they use are sometimes amusing and the spelling, atrocious.
One of today's random offerings was a beauty. It offered panoramic webcams and the various bits of software to go with it, so that panoramic images could be displayed on our website. It started with a, insert-customer-location-here sentence that read, "Sennen is a diverse and cultural rich city with lots of activities, exciting sights and shopping to choose from. Why not show this with a 360 degree panorama camera with VR?" I am cutting and pasting that onto our home webpage now as it is bound to attract the sort of customer that we are eager to welcome. It is probably best if I do not include the 360 degree panoramic shot, though.
Had I been paying attention, a panoramic picture of the sea might have been quite handy in the latter stages of the afternoon. While I was dozing, the sea had upped its game in the stormy stakes and was fair thundering over Cowloe and tearing up through Tribbens with monster waves. It was also crashing up the footings of Pedn-men-du, although it could not quite muster the power to come over the top. It lost most of its thunder by the time it got in front of the shop, which I why it took a visitor to point out what was happening further up. I should really get out more.
April 16th - Monday
I should admit that I was not mightily overjoyed by the prospect of having to go to the dentist this morning. I had gone for a check up in February and the very pleasant chap they have there as my dentist told me that I needed to have some work carried out to protect the top of a tooth that had become exposed. He had told me to go to the reception and book an appointment for as soon as they could manage, which I duly did. Because I did not have a scrap of paper, or for that matter a pen, I did what any modern man, au fait with the wonders of modern technology might do and wrote it in blood on the back of my mobile telephone. No, alright, I did not. I did manage through the wonders of modern medical science that keeps my brain close to ticking over, to work out how to key in the appointment on a special application designed for that purpose.
Today being the very day that my mobile telephone suggested was the very day that I had inserted the appointment I made the appropriate preparations. I ensured my last will and testament was up to date and made sure the bleddy hound had a good run around the block. I dressed in my best blood proof smock and waterproof trousers, against the possibility of spatters, you understand, and put on a pair of old wellie boots.
It crossed my mind that the dental practice usually deluges me with electronic mails and text messages a good month before such appointments and continues this practice every half an hour, just to be on the safe side that I do not forget. It seemed a sensible precaution therefore that I telephone the dental practice, just to make sure nothing had gone awry. After twenty minutes of queuing - because they were experiencing a high level of calls - I spoke with a very pleasant receptionist who informed me that they knew of no such appointment. I asked how that could be, since I had stood at reception and been belittled for my poor knowledge and capability of making an entry in my mobile telephone's calendar function for which they had no answer. I wondered if I had blundered and penned in the incorrect date but no, there was no appointment at all, on any date, made in my name.
The very pleasant, but clearly incompetent reception person telephoned back having spoken to the dentist on the matter. He had confirmed that some work had indeed been required, which clearly made no difference whatever. I was offered another appointment in the middle of the Whitsun holiday; I told her that I was a grumpy shopkeeper and appointments for anything other than serving customers, or a chronic bought of death, were complete madness. Since we become increasingly busy after Whitsun I suggested an appointment in November. She told me that should I experience any extreme discomfort because of the delay, I should call again. I asked how that might help if the next appointment she could manage was six weeks away, at which point she must have felt that I was a little too grumpy for a Monday morning and politely terminated the call.
When the Missus came downstairs I sent myself off to the gymnasium where I could vent my frustration on a rowing machine and a bunch of heavy weights. Gosh it felt good. By the time I came back my urge to tear down big buildings with my bare hands had dissipated a little, although, I did have to avert my gaze from the small shed in next door's garden.
I would not say that we were busy today but there were a fair few people about, considering. Fortunately, we had the weather to help us along and it was quite warm this side of the coast.
Customer.: "Wow, you are so sheltered here. It is really windy up at Land's End." Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "Yes, wind is in the south and quite blustery today." Customer.: "Wow, what's it like here when the wind is in the other direction?" Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "Er, windy."
It was not all sweetness and light in The Cove. Later in the afternoon we had a shower or two of rain pass through, unaware that it had not been forecast and should not have been here. It finished the day off quite nicely at four o'clock, so a jolly good job that we now close at six.
April 15th - Sunday
On a day when we had some fun and an excellent service from some vintage buses, some bad news has emerged. It seems that a European court - why is that not an European court? Same reason as an hotel, I suppose. Sorry, I digress. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, a European court has ruled, after an objection by a commercial bus operator, that community buses must work under the same rules as the big boys from now on. This will mean that all the volunteer drivers will need commercial bus operating qualifications and the buses will come under commercial bus scrutiny rules.
I can see their point, but it is likely that most community bus routes will cease to operate. The cost of commercial bus ticket alone would be enough to see off most of the services; the one here works with a network of several drivers who work short shifts between them. The only saving grace might be that if the community bus service can demonstrate that a commercial bus operator could not run the route, they are off the hook. Since the last commercial operator, Western Greyhound, went belly up running the St Just route, amongst others, I hope we stand a good chance of keeping our community bus, which is something of a lifeline for some of the older residents around here.
A band of rain passed over us during the night, which was rather decent of it. We were warned that we would be peppered with showers during the day, but they did not amount to very much more that an occasional sprinkling. The forecast did not seem to bother many people as the few that were here were out and enjoying themselves. The sun broke through now and again, actually more again than now, that added to the lustre of the day quite a bit.
There was a flurry of activity in the Harbour as the fishermen hauled their punts up to the top of the slipway. There is a large lump expected to arrive from the body of the Atlantic, driven in by a big low pressure system out there. It will drive north of us but deliver some hefty south westerly and southerly breezes in the early part of next week; a large swell will come too.
Given today, I can hardly wait for all that excitement. It was boredom central for most of the day, with only a smattering of visitors to have a chat with and most of them were not keen to hang about. Towards the end of the afternoon I contented myself by counting the balls of tumbleweed rolling down the street in the increasing breeze. By the time we came to close at six o'clock, the sea had begun to flex its muscles and was banging half way up Brisons and lumping over the Harbour wall. With any luck it will bring a few storm watchers in, although I suspect the bigger spectacle will be on the south coast.
April 14th - Saturday
Today was billed as being sunny and dry. It was dry, at least. I could not blame the forecasters for it, really, the sea mist was very tenacious and while we had a few hints of blue sky it never really happened for us.
Late yesterday evening, our Lifeboat pagers went off announcing a hurried launch schedule for this morning. There had been some problems with the radar on the boat during the exercise on Thursday that needed to be resolved urgently. Parts had arrived from Poole yesterday and needed to be configured with the boat afloat, so a launch was organised.
The Coxswain insisted that he would be out for twenty minutes or half an hour at a push, so we waited in the boathouse for him to return. An hour later we went and had a cup of tea, as there was no sign of the boat returning, last seen heading for Porthcurno. We managed to have our cuppa, but the boat returned shortly afterwards.
We were not over manned on the shore but probably just enough to be comfortable. It was almost dead low water when the boat came back, so I sent an expendable (and younger) man down to the bottom of the slipway to receive the heaving line from the boat. The RNLI is dragging us avant garde, derring do types, kicking and screaming into the tightly controlled world of health and safety and our new operating procedures require the boat to be drawn up to a safe position on the slipway so that the person at the end of the slipway can return to the safety of the boathouse before we proceed. We play the game, obviously, but we still keep the top button of our oilers undone as a symbolic act of defiance. With all procedures followed to the letter, we executed what was very likely to be a textbook recovery up the long slip. We are after all, even in short numbers, a very compliant, very excellent Shore Crew.
It was quite busy in the shop when I returned. I should have savoured it more, as it stopped being busy shortly afterwards. There were still families about, indicating the possibility of some school holidays continuing, but nothing on the scale of last week. Against expectations we have had a bumper time for an early Easter, the second week being better than the first. I must now force myself to recalibrate my expectations and my ordering, as we will have excess bin fodder, else.
The quiet did enable me to read a couple of trade magazines, though, and one article threw up some evidence in support of my personal little crusade against Tesmorburys. The article referenced the new sugar tax on soft drinks that came into force on April 6th. It seems that the big stores applied their increases well ahead of the due date and by much more than the tax demanded. I will not comment further.
I managed to survive the boredom of the last few hours, heartened by the fact that we will close an hour earlier tomorrow. Cheekily, the sun broken through for a short while before we closed but I do not think that there were many around to see it - just me and our resident wagtail.
April 13th - Friday
The much maligned council is up to its dirty tricks again. In last week's The Cornishman newspaper there was a big spread about the victory for common sense and that from 1st April, a significant date, all its car parks would be free in the evening to give businesses a boost, well, the few business that are open in the evening, of course. There were pats on the back and rounds of applause for such a selfless act on behalf of the much maligned council.
Roll forward to this week and I noticed a letter on the letters page from 'Angry of Sennen', complaining about the hike in prices at the much maligned council car park in Penzance. The under one pound charge for one hour, permitting shoppers sufficient time to buy their goods in the high quality and reasonably priced local independent stores, has been increased by more that 65 percent. There was an inference, somewhere that I read, that the price hike is just for the summer - you know, when it gets busier and the local shops hope to gain an edge against the slow winter months - now capped by a profiteering and mindless much maligned council.
But, heigh ho, the much maligned council has opened a park and ride - not for the town, you understand, but for the Scillonian service. It is the product of the Section 106 agreement, signed when they let Tesmorburys build all over the old heliport. The new much maligned council administration openly admit that the agreement was a load of pants, messed up by the previous administration, mainly the same people that are there now but called something else. It is difficult to work out what agenda the much maligned council is working to but it is enough to make your teeth itch and a grumpy Diarist to start a sentence with a conjunction. I met 'Angry of Sennen' this morning; my, my she was angry.
Away from the trials and tribulations of big city life, it was still a little hazy in The Cove this morning. The breeze had dropped out completely, or gone somewhere where we could not feel it and as a consequence, it was quite temperate. The dive team, that were probably scared off by the increasing swell yesterday, were back today to finish installing the replacement channel markers for the Lifeboat. The channel markers go missing each year, their moorings wrenched up from the deep by the force of nature, and end up in a channel marker graveyard somewhere. Some are recovered from the beach; others just disappear. I once had to manhandle the breasting buoy off the rocks and down to the big beach where we lumped it onto the tractor to bring it back. If it happened today, I would need to personhandle it, I expect, with a risk assessment.
Despite the clement weather it was plain that someone had let the visitor bathwater out of the plughole, as The Cove emptied of all its busyness all of a sudden. I had anticipated a downturn but rather hoped we would make it to the weekend first. It became a little more lively in the middle of the day but the writing was certainly on the wall for the end of the school holiday main.
We closed the shop for an old Cover who had his shuffling off ceremony in the afternoon. He was a happy gent with a tale or two, a thick accent, a dry wit and a deaf ear. We would while away quiet moments in the shop shouting at each other, in a kind conversational way, you understand. He knew the ins and outs of fishing and the waters hereabouts from a lifetime of experience and I would say the world here is all the poorer for him leaving it.
The service was very well done, led by our dynamic vicar who is a little gem. It made a pleasant change that the family had chosen some hymns that I actually knew, although the people in front of me may not share that view. The church was packed with the great and good of the parish; I imagine every business and farm for miles around was shut down for the duration.
We returned to The Cove straight after the service. It was as well because The Cove came alive in the later afternoon with much buying of going home presents as well as provisions for those still hanging about for a while. We were also visited by dolphins, although, once again, I did not get to see them. I wondered if they had been playing in the surf, as there was rather a lot of it. The swell had picked up with large splashes heading up the side of Aire Point. Closer to home, there were large breaking waves thundering over Cowloes until about an hour after high water when there was a return to some semblance of normality. It all came with the final brightness of the day and, no doubt, a cracking sunset, which I would have seen had I not been having some tea that involved a little lump of MSC certified hake and cold beer. Hard life, ain't it.
April 12th - Thursday
I had no idea what to expect from the weather today, as I have given up looking at, or at least taking notice of, the weather forecast. Naturally, this meant that the Meteorological Office were spot on, for a change. We had equal measures of mistiness and brightness throughout the day and if it were not for a wicked little breeze from somewhere in the north, I am sure that it might have been quite warm, too. As it was, it was chilly and from the direction that squirts it through the shop door.
I will spare you this week's resident comic's offering of the day; it was a pretty poor effort. I told him he needed to sharpen up his act or I would have no choice other than to banish him. On reflection, I might banish him anyway.
Although this was not the busiest day that we have had, it did have its moments. In the morning, with the chill wind still blowing in, we sold quite a few hooded sweatshirts, most notably to youngsters who had, presumably, ignored advice about wrapping up warm on such a day. It was clearly the sort of day for venturing out in small groups as we had busy peaks followed by periods of quiet that seemed to rumble on at length. Overall, it was certainly not a day to be displeased about.
I have been pressed by a number of people over the Easter break about the likelihood of a Lifeboat launch. In the first week of the holiday, the sea state was none too conducive, although we did have the 'shout' on Easter Sunday but given that it as raining, few people saw it. I had rather given up hope for this week as the sea state today was set to get poorer from today. So, imagine my surprise when our pagers went off advising us of a seven o'clock launch this very evening.
The pager message was twofold: to inform us of the launch and to tell us that some assessments would be taking place from four o'clock. Unfortunately, I misread the message and concluded that the launch was at four, which is what I told all and sundry who asked. Luckily for me we were called to muster by an emergency tone on our pagers at just about four o'clock. It did not completely save my embarrassment, however, as the launch request was for the Inshore boat.
Despite the launch of the big boat being at a more shop friendly hour, I had only just closed for the day. There were plenty of happy volunteers, so I let them carry on without me. I heard that the boat was brought in up the long slip in what was described by those present as a textbook recovery. Even without a full complement, we are, after all, a very resilient, very excellent Shore Crew.
Those of us able, joined at the OS for a spot of quizzing after completing our respective duties. There, without the supportive element of a Prof to guide us, we did miserably as usual and wandered back home under a starless sky. The bleddy hound did her bit to chase the clouds but it was to no avail but we are grateful for a bit of dry.
April 11th - Wednesday
Our man on Radio Pasty warned of a band of rain passing through the West and then added that it would arrive in a minute. With that still ringing in my ears I rather thought that I might get wet as I ran the bleddy hound around but it rained after I got back and not very much at that. Apparently, all the bad weather this week has been reserved for the east of the Duchy, so that is all right, then.
I noticed yesterday that the tri-cornered garlic is out along Coastguard Row at last. It has clearly been keeping its head down until the weather showed signs of improvement. It is disappointing, though, to see that the tree mallow along the top of the wharf has not recovered from its poisoning last year. At some point last year, I reported that the Parish council had sent a somewhat enthusiastic weed killer person out to keep Stone Chair Lane clear. Whoever it was also carried on into the Harbour, whether by request or over-zealousness. I suggest that the person comes back and now clears up the product of his destructive spree because the dead branches of the mallow look like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. From a personal point of view, the living mallow trees looked much more attractive than the dead sticks that are there now.
Talking of barren wastelands, this is how my pasty boxes looked this morning. For the first time this week our pasty man turned up on time. Unfortunately, he did not have our order of pasties and bread on board and he told us that the order had not been passed on. I telephoned the bakery and they confirmed that the order that I telephoned in yesterday that was taken by a very pleasant lady, had not been processed.
Fortunately, we did not sell as much white bread as we thought yesterday, so there was some left for today, and the brown bread has hardly moved these past couple of weeks - small children prefer white, apparently. The pasties, however, were a completely different kettle of parsnips. Very kindly, Kevin at the bakery - all the right people here are called Kevin - told me that they would bake some pasties especially just for us and whizz them down as soon as they were ready. I cannot see too many suppliers being so responsive in an emergency.
As if this morning could not get any worse, our resident stand-up comic arrived when I least expected him. He told me that there was lots of meat floating about in the bay and that perhaps it was a bit choppy. Further, he said that he thought about starting with his chimney jokes, as he had stacks of them. Look, dear reader, if you think that I am going to suffer alone, you have another think coming.
I managed to exorcise some of my demons down at the gymnasium later in the morning. While still a couple of degrees colder in there, it is not half as uncomfortable as it was a couple of weeks ago and requires far less effort before I build up some inner warmth. Gosh, how I glowed today.
It is the warmth that panicked me a little, this morning. As you may be aware, I am compelled by the Environmental Health people to conduct some food safety checks each morning. This includes ensuring that our refrigerators and freezers are operating at the correct temperatures for their contents. Food freezers need to be less than -18 degrees centigrade to meet requirements, so you can imagine that I was particularly alarmed when my clever little infrared temperature measuring gun showed a result of only -9.4, which is way out of specification.
I checked twice more with similar results and then looked at the power light on the freezer, which is keeping our ice creams in good order. The power light was off. From my recent experience with our payment card terminal, the first recourse I tried was to turn the freezer off, then back on again. The freezer made no satisfying motor starting noises and neither did the power light come on.
I resolved to call in our maintenance people but first I thought that I may as well complete the temperature checks of our other equipment to make sure that they were operating properly. When I got to the food fridge, alarm bells starting ringing, not literally because the food fridge does not have an alarm. Metaphorically speaking, then, alarms bells starting ringing when my clever little thermometer gun registered 40.8 degrees and it was at this point that I concluded that I had inadvertently switched the clever little box from centigrade to Fahrenheit. My how I chortled at my silly mistake and I consoled myself that it does not have a switch for Kelvin. I also made a mental note to change the power bulb on the ice cream freezer, which is clearly broken.
Our cygnet of a day blossomed into quite a pretty little swan by late morning. The initial chill that came with a bit of north easterly breeze, drifted away and the day warmed quite nicely. By the time I came back from the gymnasium there were throngs of happy shoppers milling about and buying things. That was encouraging. It was less encouraging in the afternoon as our busyness appeared to drop off a cliff. Quite what happened I do not know but there did not appear to be a host of people on the beach. Perhaps they had all gone on long walks.
It is a day late, or two, since the Diary is always a day behind - which explains many things - we should wish my brother-in-law a happy significant birthday. He has reached the age when his local authority hand him a free bus pass, which will permit him free travel on buses because there are buses where he lives, which is handy. I do not know if there is a historical bus society where he lives; it would be quite poignant to have a vintage bus for my vintage brother-in-law.
Here, bus passes are not so handy, especially during the winter when the white rhino is more prolific than the bus service, unless you live in Truro. I am surprised that the much maligned council has not cottoned on to this and only issue bus passes to citizens of the city, as they are a waste of time and money for everyone else - the bus passes, not the citizens of Truro. I now wish I had not mentioned that; it will be policy next week.
April 10th - Tuesday
When Tim Rice wrote 'Oh What a Circus' I am not entirely sure he was referring to the weather forecast but it was entirely apt today. I had looked at the Meteorological Office website weather last night and it had indicated that we would have no rain at all today. Its rain radar prediction backed up this position, for once. It was at odds with all the other forecasts for the last few days that had Tuesday as being showery, at best, and biblical floods, at worst - possibly.
I reported yesterday that I had already decided against putting too much reliance on the weather forecast for my ordering, which was probably the right thing. I checked the forecast again in the morning and, lo and behold, miraculously the Meteorological Office had found some heavy rain for us starting half way through the morning. I do not wish to be mean, but they even had the wind direction completely the opposite of where it actually was.
The reality was that a fairly substantial band of rain, heading in from the east, spared us at the last minute and all we had were a few spots here and there. No one had thought to tell the sea that the poor weather had been postponed and it pounded into the bay on the run up to high water, in a blinding rage. Unless the weather station at Gwennap Head was different to the bay, the wind was coming in from the south east and holding up these mammoth waves, making them very surfable until it suddenly veered to the west and spoilt everything.
There did not seem to be that many people about but those that were must have been very hungry. Lucky for me that I had ignored the forecast and ordered in a sensible volume of pasties. I had been told that it was quite chilly out but if everyone had been used to the last couple of days it might just have been comparative. One family arrived from Porthcurno and told me that it was as warm as toast down there, which really surprised me since the wind had been banging in there - alright, gently wafting at ten miles per hour - all the morning. It must just be weird weather day.
At least we have something to look forward to on Sunday. I read in the Western Morning News (did I tell you I once had a review ) - yes, the afternoon was a bit slow in places - that the vintage buses will be back on the number 1 route this coming Sunday. The good news keeps coming, too, as in previous years they have torn up the usual three buses timetable and put on a proper decent service for the day., just a shame they could not be here for the last two Sundays.
All turned quiet later in the afternoon with just a few stragglers here and there. I should saved something constructive to do at times like this but since I did not, I read another newspaper instead. I also took the bleddy hound around the block for a quick run out. On the way back I met a gentleman whom I recognised as being a visitor from last year but could not quite place him exactly. It was when he told me that he had a joke about a building site that he would tell me tomorrow, as he was still working on it, that I remembered him immediately. He said that he would be down for a newspaper first thing; I may not open the shop tomorrow.
April 9th - Monday
It was a day just as sparkly as the previous one, although there appeared to be a little more cloud out east, which we rather hoped would stay there. First thing, however, it was a tad sharp outside the patches of sunshine, but it did not take long to warm up. This sudden heat wave, as some national newspapers might put it, drove our customers to acquire hats and shorts and sun lotion and the like, as they had only thought to bring woolly jumpers and gloves with them. Luckily, we had invested in all manner of such things, with the possible exception of sun lotion, the offering of which looks a bit thin.
What I had not invested sufficient sums in, yet again, were the number of pasties for sale today. Whether it is the new sign we have outside, extolling the virtues of our particular brand of pasty, or no but it does seem that we are selling a few more than we usually do in a busy day. I know that in years gone by people would comment that they did not know we did pasties when they drop in later having bought one somewhere else. I have upped my numbers for tomorrow, despite the forecast for rain and we shall see what happens. On the basis of the previous week, it may well be that the day is dry and bright, anyway.
It is a bit of a shame that we have hit this good weather this week when the tide is in for much of the day. It was not until well into the afternoon that a decent amount of beach was opened up for the sand dwellers. I noticed earlier that little knots of people were gathering above the high water line and up in the entrance to the valley. Although there was some migration down the beach with the receding tide, this was mainly water revellers of which there was quite a number. It was almost certainly a perfect day for messing about on the beach with stuff you have bought from the local beach stuff shop, I would say.
They must have been having far too much fun down there, as everything went a bit quiet in the later afternoon. We entertained a few visitors for drinks now and again and for the occasional ice cream, but it was certainly not as busy as it was yesterday. Maybe we were being taught a lesson for running out of pasties early again.
Speaking of being taught a lesson, the much maligned council has not thought to empty the public bin across the street today and by the middle of the day it was overflowing. This, of course, did not prevent people from stuffing more and more into it, and then, on top of it. It is a bin that is roundly abused; I know of one holiday let owner who does not have a bin of his own and uses it for his exclusive use and I have seen many holiday makers from other properties without bins stuff it with big refuse sacks. Yesterday, two burly bin men were there selectively emptying it into refuse sacks and I can only presume that the much maligned council, too, has noticed the abuse and is investigating.
It would be something of a disaster if the bin were to be removed as the amount of legitimate litter that fills it every day during the season is to be wondered at. Having our recycling bins back would be a tremendous help, but that is not going to happen as I am convinced the much maligned council sees visitors as a problem to be discouraged. We have enough people already trying to use our commercial and private bins for litter with a public bin ten yards across the street. If it were to be taken away because we have been naughty, I will have to nail the lid of ours down, as the tiny lock on it currently will stop no one.
While I contemplated these weighty matters in the late afternoon, we saw the red and raw beach people head for home. It is part of the reason for our late opening hours and we saw quite a few people drop by for a last ice cream or a hurriedly thought of tea. This was late July in April and most bizarre and also most welcome.
April 8th - Sunday
There was a little bit of mist left hanging about early in the morning. It was clinging to the tops of the cliffs and it looked quite thick in places once you got to the top of the hill. Some high level cloud kept the sunshine hazy for a bit but we had some decent spells of sunshine through the day.
We had a few leavers come through for gifts in the mid morning, which was a bit unusual, but a good crowd of breakfast shoppers gave us some confidence that there were a few families about for the coming week. It seems that others had confidence that it was going to be a good beach day and came in for buckets and spades, towels and kites and the like. At least one of the beach shelters I would see down on the sand later in the day would be ours.
With the sea in its most benign state for more than a week two of the fishing fleet were out taking full advantage. While one came in early after a morning on the ray, the other arrived back in the bay after targeting pollack, escorted by what appeared to be the entire gull population of West Britain. They will, no doubt, have had a good feed off him as he gutted a sizable catch on the way back into the bay.
It is not very often, alright, it is the rarest thing since rocking horse teeth, no, in fact if you were struck by lightning three times in the same place it would be more likely than me extolling the virtues of a supermarket, particularly an online one. However, the story I picked up from the trade press filled me with all sorts of hope and struck me as a blindingly inspired idea. The online retailer has challenged small children, who we know have all the best ideas because they are unencumbered by the ridiculous restraints of reality, to come up with solutions to household food waste.
The supermarket has joined forces with an organisation called LittleInventors.org that encourages small children to upload and share invention ideas online. The plan has been made into a competition with the winner's idea being made into a real invention. On the down side, the winner will also get £250 of supermarket vouchers, which I presume is the compensation for getting to sign away the Intellectual Property on their idea and the multi-million pound profits they might have had from creating their invention themselves.
What I really need is a machine that will churn out pasties to order. I was about to congratulate myself when I ran out of everything we had in the pasty department at about half past two. I would have been quite happy with that had it not been for the continuous flow of visitors who came in afterwards and asked if we had any pasties. We could easily have sold another fifteen or twenty, which was annoying. There will be no patting myself on the back today, I fear.
I consoled myself with yet another fabulous evening to behold, out across the bay and out to the west. Later, another host of stars were available for a quick geet at while I took the bleddy hound out for a last run. All a bit special, that.
April 7th - Saturday
After a slow start we very quickly found our pace for the day, which was all rather pleasant. The early rain cleared away long before the first customers appeared, or perhaps the first customers waited until the rain stopped - we shall never know. Nevertheless, we saw the tail end of the leavers and quite a lot of the arrivers as they arrived for breakfast goods and, thankfully, pasties a little later. As the day progressed some warmth spread into The Cove and the skies brightened, followed by the demeanour of our customers.
Between the little knots of busyness in the morning I was able to carry out some research. A regular visitor had been over to Porthleven the previous day and had dined at one of the top class establishments that have recently blossomed there, although she told me that they had something less of a top class experience - string in the dinner and it was not even spaghetti. While there, she wondered at the numerous large houses and obvious signs of wealth of a time gone by. She asked me what I knew of the town and I confess I knew very little.
Never being one to shy away from a challenge, and being intrigued by such things anyway, I did a little digging into the history of Porthleven and to why there may have been such a proliferation of big expensive houses built up in the town. I did some rough notes for our visitor but thought that you, dear reader, would feel left out if I did not, at the very least, provide a small synopsis of what I had discovered.
It seems that Porthleven had some very humble beginnings and played second fiddle to its big neighbour, Helston, until the Cober silted up. This put Porthleven in a fairly prime position, although it seemed to fail to capitalise on its position for a few hundred years, concentrating on subsistence fishing. In the 1700s it started to become a little more industrial with china clay, silver and lead on its doorstep, but it was not until early in the next century when things began to look up.
An Act of Parliament in 1811 saw the harbour being built, which, because of some tricky engineering challenges, took fourteen years to complete. In the middle of the 1800s, Harveys of Hayle bought the harbour and things began to motor. The town hit the industrial big time and the inner harbour was completed along with the wooden harbour gates which only came to grief in the 2014 storms. The latter part of the 19th century saw boat building, fishing, fish processing and mine development and export making Porthleven one of the major ports on the south coast. It was during this period that the big infrastructure changes occurred in the town when the smart money moved in.
Obviously, Porthleven made the classic schoolboy error of failing to adapt to technology changes, not helped by running out of steam on china clay and minerals and faced some decline in the early 20th century. Happily there was always fishing, followed by tourism and flogging off the big houses to second home owners from up country. Now, they have a food festival each year to show off the town's top tier restaurants, where you can get string for £60 a head. Ideal. The End.
Here in The Cove, we are far less pretentious but there again we have never reached such previous dizzy heights. We do, however have standards that we care to maintain, which brings me to a startlingly tasteless request from a customer early on in the day. The couple claimed that their search was on behalf of their daughter who had broken the previous one and were retracing her steps in order to find a replacement. They seemed a bit reticent to detail exactly what they were searching for, so I pressed them and rather wish that I had not.
They told me that the daughter had not long purchased a mug that carried a facsimile of an actor playing the part of the Winston Graham book character, Poldark. I shuddered for a moment and asked how they might have the temerity to search for such an article in our obviously cultural emporium. Did they perhaps think that it was sat between the alluring small pink and green pottery rabbits and dolphin shell ornaments, or maybe nestled amongst the glass pirate map bottles filled with genuine sand that sit above the plastic sharks with a leg sticking out of its mouth? No, indeed, not. I sent them thither with a flea in their ear, which may have been residing in our velour Cornish pasties with 'Cornwall' written across the front. I suggested that they might find more success further up the north coast, where I hear, such tat is commonplace, not that I am suggesting for one minute (he added, just in case).
What we did end up selling were quite a few pairs of sunglasses that quickly became in vogue in the bright sunshine. It was warm, too, I am led to believe and evidenced by the number of people wandering about in t-shirts and light clothing. The sea and the beach suddenly looked ideal places to be and many people appeared to think so too by being there. There were even a few beach shelters and windbreaks popped up along the upper reaches, which sadly did not seem to be ours.
While our sales of some items seem to be going well I was somewhat blindsided by our decision to offer recharging cables for modern mobile telephones. We had been asked on many occasions last year for such items and thought it a good idea to stock some of the more popular types. Many of these things are the preserve of the youth as they are the ones who seem incapable of being without their mobile devices for more than a few seconds at a time. This, in itself, should have rung alarm bells, but I did not foresee that along with the offering of youth related products we would also be faced with demands for youth related payment methods.
The young person who asked today if we had a mobile telephone charger was delighted to find that we had one and immediately snatched the compatible item off the shelf. He arrived at the till with his mobile telephone in hand, all prepared to pay for his selection but was sore disappointed when I told him that, first, the under three pounds device did not meet our minimum electronic payment criteria. The second impediment to a successful conclusion to our business was that he asked if he could use 'Android Pay'. Being a modern, switched on sort of grumpy shopkeeper, I had heard of this witchcraft, but since we had only just been bludgeoned into having a machine that took contactless payments, against my better judgement, we are shirt, tie and trousers away from having the full suit of payment methods available on our machine. The youth left, muttering under his breath something about third world.
No matter, the end of the day here was a rather pleasant affair and it was good to see the sun set in view of The Cove. It was quite late, too; we still had some light beyond half past eight. Gosh, it must be almost summer.
April 6th - Friday
It was a day full of big pauses as the change over process got underway for a number of families. It was as if one family could not get into The Cove until a family had left and it was holding up proceedings. All week it has been slow getting started each day and today was no different, helped along by a band of rain that lasted through until the middle of the day.
I had taken a bit of a gamble on the number of pasties to order, given that we were a bit short the day before. With the quiet and the wet in the morning I was beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake when the new influx came along and put my mind to rest. All I have to do now is guess correctly for the weekend and I shall give myself a well-deserved pat on the back - if I can reach.
Our new arrivals were welcomed by a warming and bright day, albeit a little cloudy. The sea has calmed considerably since Wednesday, although there was still white water up against the cliffs at Nanjulian and around Porth Nanven to suggest that the swell had not entirely disappeared. I noticed yesterday that one of the fishermen had gone out, which was brave given the conditions, but with so much poor weather over the winter period I imagine he thought it worth the risk.
I was pleased to entertain a local dignitary in the afternoon; he is a member of the Parish Council. Things were going well until the Missus, in an accusatory tone, asked why The Cornishman had stated that the big beach here would be closed to dogs from Easter Day. I intervened and told her that this only applied to the much maligned council run beaches and on our beach, the dog control order still applies from 1st May. It caused some consternation when our man at the Parish said that our beach was a much maligned council beach, which I then queried on the basis that the much maligned council would not pay for our Blue Flag when it did for its other five beaches. A quick look at the much maligned council's website made the matter no clearer at all so our man will raise the question at the Parish Council meeting this evening. I do not think the date of the dog restriction on the beach is likely to change, whatever the case; the much maligned council would have to spend money on changing the sign, although it would doubtless make the Parish do it from the precept.
I wrapped up in the shop with signs of the new influx growing in numbers. We might have a bright week ahead.
April 5th - Thursday
I was beginning to wonder if we were going to reprise yesterday's ghost town impression, as it was exceeding quiet again in the morning. This was a shame as it was the last time we saw the blue sky for a while on the only day of the week that the weather had been forecast with any accuracy. By mid morning some high level cloud had rolled in and spoilt the pristine day but left us with rather less breeze than yesterday but a dry and bright day nonetheless.
Fortunately, by the middle of the day our visitors roused themselves from wherever they had been reposing and took to the streets. It started with a trickle and ended with happy throngs, or possibly throngettes, wandering about. After yesterday's pasty disaster I modified our order for today. Quite obviously I ran out early in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day disappointing people. While I would prefer not to, I am quite inured to the process; I have spent a lifetime disappointing people commencing with the Aged Parents, whom, I long suspected, would have preferred a banker or a lawyer rather than a grumpy shopkeeper. No wonder the Aged Parent threw herself off a stool and broke her wrist; it was a cry for help.
We were busy for the most of the rest of the afternoon. Later, the sun popped out, which made it even better and we had a bit of an ice cream fest, well, I did not but several families did. After yesterday's running out of cash in the till I ordered a cessation of our 'cash back' offering. I discovered that either word got around and people did not ask or there was less demand today. Either way I had enough in the till to pay for a sizeable beer delivery that came in toward the end of the morning.
We had sold quite a few beers and ciders over the Easter period and since we did not start with the shelves overflowing, we were quickly in a position of having to restock. There have been small increases in all the beer prices since we last ordered, which would have been before Christmas, but there was a big hike to the price of the beer from the biggest company that sits in south east Cornwall and sounds like St Awful. I cannot imagine why their beer in particular needs to be head and shoulders more expensive than all the rest but I shall be delisting it as soon as we are through the case that has just been delivered. There are plenty of other beers about which are no doubt as good if not better and there is no need to fuel greed.
Talking of unnecessary increases, I spent quite a bit of time yesterday and toward the latter stages of today preparing for the soft drink price hike, thanks to the sugar levy. From tomorrow there will be three different prices for cans and two different prices for bottles, which will be fun. I have also prepared a crib list for the till so that I can remember what is what.
I did not head across the road in the evening for Lifeboat training as the shop was still open when they started. As they decided not to wait for me I thought that they could carry on without me for once, or twice as the same thing will happen next week. Instead, I met with the motley remnants of crew at the OS for a spot of quizzing. We were joined by Prof for a one quiz night visit. It was good of her to take time out of her busy schedule of four weeks off. With some academic resource on the team we managed a fitful second place. We should have been first as the team that one, 'Cream First', should have been instantly disqualified.
There was still a pleasant, if chilly, walk home. As the bleddy hound did her usual it was time to spend a moment to reflect on the old fishing Cover who slipped quietly away this afternoon.
April 4th - Wednesday
I imagine St Ives had a good thumping today, if all the people who said yesterday that they were going, actually did. In any event, it was as quiet here as a Trappist convention in a library. No one even turned up when I took my breakfast out and it was not a bad day at all.
There were some remnants of the overnight rain, first thing, but the gloomy grey soon disappeared and we were left with a somewhat bright day with a bit of a sharp north west breeze to cool things down. Nevertheless, I think that the smart money was down on the south coast today, or indeed, in and out of the emporia of St Ives.
Perhaps it was a bit of a blessing because we had a couple of large deliveries to deal with. The Missus dealt with the grocery order that came in yesterday and, later in the afternoon, we had a delivery of wetsuits and beach shoes. In this delivery we also had our new 'active sole' slippers which are multi use foot covering that can be worn on airplanes and trains, for relaxing in, taking yoga, water sports and something called shoe relief. I ask you, dear reader, it is not whether you can afford a pair it is whether you can afford to be without a pair. I never knew that there were such things and now we have them in our shop for sale. They only have foreign sizes on them, which will give me a headache as I cannot remember how they convert, except for my own, and I do not think everyone will want a size 10.
We muddled through the rest of the afternoon, resisting the sudden boredom of not having customers every few minutes. I think I might have read a newspaper or two so I feel at one with current affairs. The Missus took Mother shopping and came back late in the afternoon, laden with groceries that I shall probably never see. The street was still pretty much deserted when I closed the shop at seven o'clock and I did not even have a five minutes to closing rush. I am concerned.
I was less concerned when I took the bleddy hound out last thing. During the latter part of the afternoon the temperature had dropped like a stone and by night it was particularly chilly, with the breeze still evident. The skies, however, were crystal clear and the firmament glittered with a million stars. Alright, there were probably more but I had to stop counting somewhere, else I would have been there all night and, as I just said, it was cold. We expect great things from tomorrow's weather; let us hope we do not have to enjoy it alone.
April 3rd - Tuesday
We woke today, well at least I did, to the beginnings of a glorious morning, which then bloomed into something more glorious.
It must have been good because the seals thought it an excellent day to do a spot of fishing. A local lady alerted me to their presence but was concerned that it might have been human snorkelers instead as there was a splash of silver and reflected light when she caught a glimpse. I contended that it might have been a seal wearing goggles. To resolve the issue I resorted to my binoculars and discovered two beefy seals enjoying a large fish - the silver, shiny item spotted earlier. Mystery solved. Only one was wearing goggles.
After the big clear out of the 'office' part of the store room in the shop, the Missus has been happily shredding all the sensitive paperwork that we found that we no longer have to keep. It includes till rolls and card payment receipts in the main, as well as old invoices. After three days of shredding, in which she had wait every so often for the machine to reset after overheating, we have at least seven huge garden waste bags of shredded paper adorning the living room. I was wondering what the best way of getting rid of it was when the Missus suggested that we load it up with the waste cardboard.
It was an excellent plan, since it would likely cost little or no extra on top of our regular cardboard collection, although I was a bit concerned that we had put it in plastic waste bags. I called our collection company, which we contracted last year, to ask how we should proceed. The previous company we were with would have mounted impossible challenges, with special bags to use that we had to buy from them and extra charges galore. When I called our current company, nothing was too much trouble. They will pick up the shredding with no problem and no extra charges, even despite the fact that they would have preferred it in clear bags. What a delight and how refreshing; makes you want to give them a hug.
Our loveliness continued the day long, so I have no idea what day the weather forecasters were thinking of, clearly not this one. Perhaps the Russian state has hacked the weathermen and is making them give false predictions to wreck the seaside economy. If they are it is working, as while there were plenty of happy souls around today, we might have expected more.
If I had a family here, I might have thought it was a beach day, too. We sold bucket and spades and nets in abundance, then there were soft drinks and nibbles, too. A few bottles of wine slipped out and later, many beers, but our gin stayed put, which was a shame as we have just bought some more.
The chap from Long Rock, Pocket Full of Stones Company, arrived today; he had said Tuesday and I had assumed he meant last Tuesday, when he meant this Tuesday. My, how we chortled about me getting the date wrong. He showed me two different types in half bottles, which for new gins we prefer. He said that I could have the two for sampling purposes, which I will do, but it was a little early in the day to try them then and there. I bought half a dozen of the original and another half a dozen of the cucumber infused, Midsummer Dry Gin, which now adorning our shelves next to all the others. We must hope that everyone suddenly does not start liking whisky instead.
Even at seven o'clock, when we closed, there was no sign of any rain. The Missus, who was sitting closer to the window in the evening said that it had rained quite heavily before ten o'clock, but it had stopped by the time I took the bleddy hound out. I knew several people who had gone to the Minack Theatre for the evening performance, so I hope they managed to miss the downpour. I shall, no doubt, find out about it tomorrow.
April 2nd - Monday
Yesterday, someone asked me what the weather would be doing today. I had not looked beyond the evening when I largely expected the big lump of rain we had to have passed through. I had heard, however, in the morning forecast that today was supposed to be half decent but with the chance of showers. I thought I had better check the forecasts online, just to make sure. I wish I had not. The Meteorological Office had it that we would have some rain in the morning and brighter skies with showers in the afternoon and the BBC suggested the end of the world or, at least, a biblical flood for the rest of the week.
Call me foolish, if you will, but I decided against dashing outside to build an ark. I told our customer that I thought that tomorrow would be mainly alright but to expect some showers here and there. I should be a weather person; we had a mizzly weather front pass through in the morning but when that cleared out, we had a bright, if cloudy, main part of the day and later in the afternoon some more rain pushed through, but nothing in the style of yesterday.
It was warm, too, once the mizzle had gone. People came flocking to our street, gathering in little knots and moving on. They were hungry, it seems, as all our pasties plus our reserve stock disappeared in the early afternoon. It was plain that I had seriously under ordered but in my defence m'lud, I was acting on flawed data, vis a vis the rubbish weather forecast. We did not do too badly and as a passing local said to me walking his dog this morning as I dumped the over stock of pasties from yesterday, 'it is a terrible thing for a Cornishman to have to do'. It was an even worse thing for a grumpy shopkeeper.
There was a good crowd on the beach by mid afternoon. Judging from the small groups, the surf schools appeared to be doing all right. There were a good number of surfers in the water, too, mostly out towards North Rocks and quite a way out. The swell has diminished quite a bit in the last few days, so it looked like there was more waiting for the right wave than surfing. One of those surf schools had a bit of a boost yesterday when the BBC One Show came down to film. They caught the Sennen Surf School carry out a beach clean and managed to raise around 200 volunteer screen luvvies in quite short order and the beach should now be sparkly clean.
I am very pleased that the Parish has not followed suit with the much maligned council in setting the dog control order around the Easter Sunday - I checked. The beaches will go quiet again straight after Easter and there will be little reason for dogs not to enjoy the sand alongside the few other people without, and there will be few children to be concerned about. Even our date of the beginning of May is a little premature, in my opinion, although I appreciate that it would be difficult to make it later, with Whitsun half term in the middle. Not that the bleddy hound has much chance of getting down there now that the shop is open.
The lump of rain that we were expecting either some time in the late afternoon or early evening was easily tracked as it came it from the south west. It had the good grace to wait until almost closing time before coming in and giving us a short soaking. I got a little damp as I went upstairs after locking up, which is preferable to getting a lot damp coming down the stairs in the morning.
April 1st - Sunday
There was a red sky in the east this morning and we all know what that is supposed to mean. It was pretty much spot on, too. By the time we opened at half past eight o'clock the blue sky that we started with had completely gone, covered over by some light grey cloud. This became darker as the morning continued and the rest, so they say, is very wet history.
The rain kicked in towards the later part of the morning and stayed. To make matters worse it became heavier and wetter and more nasty as the day progressed. It did not stop everyone from coming out and there were a surprising number of people who came here prepared with full metal jacket waterproofs, bless them. The final box of pasties, that I thought we would be stuck with, was largely used up, so it was not a complete disaster day.
It was, however, a day for cake, or at least it seemed like a good idea at the time. As you might have read, our cake making mole in the Little Bo Café has left; she knew what I liked and more importantly, what I did not. It was therefore something of a disappointment when I visited today. The table next to the cake display extolled the virtues of the blueberry cake. It sounded all right, so I looked and discovered that it had been made with almonds; I cannot abide bleddy nuts in my cake, with the possible exception of hazlenuts - on a good day. The chocolate and raspberry had walnuts and the only other cake, I cannot remember now what it was, had no glutens in it; I do so love my glutens. This only left the rocky road slabs and if there is one thing that the Little Bo Café does well it is rocky road slabs, so I had one of they. I got it back to the shop where some customers were waiting for me, so I served them first; my level of cake anticipation soared. Eventually I got to have my cake and eat it, too.
Who in their right mind puts desiccated flaming coconut in rocky road? I was picking the bits off my tongue for hours after. Needless to say, the rest of the slice was consigned to the bin. I may have to look elsewhere for my sugary, cakey needs in future.
Feeling weak with a lack of blood sugar was not the best time for the Lifeboat pagers to go off for about the second time this year. The National Coastwatch Institute people at Gwennap Head had spotted a yacht struggling, in the punchy south easterly wind, around near Porthcurno and Logan's Rock. With few of the very excellent Shore Crew able to make a swift launch, the boat launched from inside the boathouse, filling it with clouds of exhaust, which was refreshing. There was then a pause while the Lifeboat, Rescue 924, the Coastguard helicopter, and Land's End Coastguard Team searched for the vessel. It was making its own way back to Penzance, which would have been a bit of a struggle, so the Lifeboat shadowed it all the way back.
We were called to prepare for its return at around quarter to six o'clock. The Missus was unable to cover me in the shop, so I closed for the rest of the evening. If anyone missed our being open I would have been very surprised as the rain had learnt how to rain properly by then. We received the boat on the short slip as it was near high water in relatively benign conditions.
From my vantage point, it looked pretty much like a textbook recovery to me. I understood that it was cold in the rain out on the slipway. I empathised from my warm, dry snug in the winch room and did not make any smug and wicked jokes at the rest of the crew's condition at all. We are, after all, a very united, very excellent Shore Crew.