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The Sennen Cove Diary

Sennen Cove: the final frontier. These are the witterings of a West Cornwall shopkeeper. His seemingly interminable mission: to plumb new depths in literary rambling, to seek out the boring and banal, to boldly sink deeper than any Diarist has sunk before.



Previous Months:

Decemebr 15th - Saturday

Those forecaster wallahs warned us that the weather was going to turn pretty grim today, so we took them at their word, battened down the hatches and the wheelie bin and stayed in all day. This was not quite true because the bleddy hound needs to go out four times a day if we are going nowhere else and Mother called up in the afternoon because she had run out of medicine. Other than that, we stayed in.

Naturally, the day did not start off as bad as advertised. It was a little breezy in the morning but it was coming in from, roughly, the south, so we were relatively sheltered. When I checked later, it was quite timid during the morning and it was not until around two o'clock that it shifted to the south west where it has a better run up at the coast and started to pound in between 70 and 80 miles per hour. There was a fair amount of rain, too, which was mainly in the morning and I had to get togged up in full metal jacket waterproofs before setting foot outside the door, first thing. Obviously, by the time I had zipped up the last zipper - there are several - the heavy rain that I had observed out of the window, had stopped. I am sure that the bleddy hound was grateful, at least.

With nothing better to do … who am I kidding. We have loads of better things to do, including getting as much hardcore into the lane as possible but given the conditions that was not going to happen. So, with nothing better to do that could be done, I decided to reload some ammunition, a job that I had not touched since before we opened the shop at the start of the season. Shop opening and ammunition loading are mutually exclusive activities, since I use the shop counter for both. There is a school of thought that suggests loading rounds while customers are milling about might actually improve trade, particularly if I leave a method of setting them off casually within reach. I think it would have to be a pretty bad year to want to test that theory out.

I spent an hour downstairs topping up my most used calibre then knocked out some experimental rounds for use with my vintage bolt action rifle. My previous attempt left me unable to cycle the rounds from the magazine and I am happy to report that I have solved that problem.

I also spent a little time sweeping up and making the shop ready for Christmas opening. We are less than a week away from that happy day. I have taken a risk this year in opening on a Friday, so if the Laurel and Hardy Newspaper Company begger up our newspaper delivery I will be unable to do anything about it until the following Thursday, given the weekend and the holidays. We live on the edge and dine on a diet of danger; it must be my age.

The bleddy hound was keen to go down to the Harbour beach on her dusk run out. The breeze was quite punishing by this time and because of the nature of the buildings at this end, particularly the chunky Lifeboat station, it swirls a good bit. It was therefore something of a surprise, half way down the slipway, when a robust gust caught me from behind and nearly unbalanced me. Balance is not one of my strong suits and will probably account for my late development in bicycle riding and my complete incompatibility with high structures, like stools. Even when I was ready for subsequent slaps from the rear, I near toppled down the remainder of the slope.

I am sure the bleddy hound was also not too chuffed at selecting the beach for a short stroll. Despite the rain, the sand was dry and loose and blasting across the beach at bleddy hound height. She was not overly impressed and we did not tarry.

The wind had much diminished by late evening. A quiet night would be most welcome.

December 14th - Friday

Why not have some more cold, grey and wet to endure, with a similar bit of breeze heading out of the southeast that we had yesterday. The sea was still boiling, too, and while I had my camera today, the display was not quite as dramatic as it was at the same time the day before. It was doing a better job when I was in the gymnasium a little later on. I was looking out of the window as I manfully threw about some heavy weights, because I have that sort of devil may care attitude when I am tuning my highly toned body, you understand. The sea was dancing atop Cowloe for a while, almost as if it was resisting being evicted from its place by the dropping tide; it was quite determined.

After I returned, it struck me that I had completely forgotten one of the items I had gone onto town for yesterday. The Missus will have to move her tractor on Monday and the other tractor in the shed that we are looking after as they are both in the way of some work we are carrying out. The second tractor has a flat battery and we do not have any jump leads, a position that I was keen to rectify. Quite how I forgot such an important purchase, I have no idea.

A while later I found myself heading into town again. The small chain store at the bottom of town has all manner of motor parts and were able to recommend the best cables for the tractors. I had also thought to buy a strop just in case we needed to use the tractor to pull the truck that would be used on Tuesday to do the work at The Farm, out of the mud in the lane. Unfortunately, such an item was not available there and I was directed to the farm equipment store out of town. They did not have one either but as I took the long way back from there through Ludgvan, which is a pretty little village, it was worth the detour.

I collected Mother on the way back. Someone is building houses on a site to the back of her and I have been in awe of the speed of construction. One house has already almost been finished and today, just two weeks after I was there last, a semi-detached house has been erected. It is minus its outer cladding but in all respects, it is there in all its basicness. If they can build houses that quickly I must assume that it is the planning process that it is causing the log-jam.

Despite some first class entertainment last night, we thought that we would throw caution to the, considerable winds, and head off to the F&L tonight for even more. A very good person on the Lifeboat crew organised a bit of a Christmas beano for all of us, including a bit of tea and a couple of beverages, all for a knock down price, all thanks to the managing couple up there. The Missus's efforts in organising the Lottery bonus ball game had also raised a few pennies as had a short counter-top collection in the shop.

A telephone call from one of the young crew members - goodness, they are all young - asking where we were raised some suspicions, but I kept them to myself. All became apparent at the speech stage when the Missus was thanked for her crew fund raising efforts and was rewarded with a bunch of flowers and a hug from two of the young Lochinvars - do they not know I attend the gymnasium regularly. She likes to keep a low profile, but she was pleased as punch and I was very proud of her.

It was lashing it down outside when we arrived, and it was still lashing it down when we left, which I suppose is fitting having been lashing them down inside for a couple of hours. Mother had kindly stayed at the flat to look after the bleddy hound so we did not tarry at the party for too long. When we left, the boys had started to get on down, which was a good enough reason for going itself. All told, it was a splendid night, well organised and supported and a pleasure to attend. A jolly three cheers to those that were behind it.

December 13th - Thursday

It was a grey, damp and chilly day all through. I could hear the rain lashing at the windows for the early part of the morning but thankfully it had stopped by the time I took the bleddy hound around the block. I forgot to take my camera, but I probably would have missed the wave that exploded up the footings of Pedn-men-du and then thundered through the Tribbens before coming to an abrupt stop at the Harbour wall. It looked pretty mighty but the robust southeasterly breeze tore the top from it and made it look even bigger.

These waves persisted for most of the day but seemed to reduce in ferocity as the tide diminished. That south east wind, from which we are supposedly mostly sheltered, made all the waves seem twice their size. Over at Gwenver, it looked like the sea was smoking for most of the day.

I had decided that I would probably run out of bread by the weekend and would need some for sandwiches on Sunday. If I wanted the organic malthouse loaf that the small independent chain of bakers in this area produce, which I did, I would need to go into town. Since the Missus had kindly told me that the van needed to be fuelled up, I had to detour via St Buryan, which I would much rather do than use the Tesmorburys fuel stations in town. It is one of only two remaining petrol stations this side of Penzance that I am aware of and I reason that if we do not use it, we may well lose it, which would be highly inconvenient at times.

On the way to the shops, I dropped our quarter end paperwork off at the accountants. This meant that I would drive through the longer stay car park on the way to the one I normally use. It was full, when normally it is mostly empty, which suggested that I would have no chance of parking in the normal short stay car park. There, we have to be choosy given the size of the van against most of the car parking bays. Fortunately, I was lucky.

I asked in the butchers why the car parks were so full, which they were surprised at, since they had not found it so busy in the shop. I could only imagine, then, that someone told that I was coming to town. It was odd, because it did not look that busy in town, unless everyone was at the bottom end of Market Jew Street, at which point they would probably have parked in the Wharf car park. Perhaps it was West Penwith's park in Penzance and begger off day.

Twice during the day I took the bleddy hound down to the Harbour beach. She had kicked off late last night, which has previously been an indication that a seal has been down by the Lifeboat slipways, so it seemed a good idea to go and have a look. There was rather more rock down there than I remembered, even from a short while ago. It was more the case that there was rather less sand and it was clear that the recent big seas have scoured out tons of it from under the slips. Normally, I would have to duck, almost on hands and knees, to get under the last arch of the short slipway, but today I was able to walk at full height. The sand has probably been reduced by about three or four feet and the whole of the footings have been revealed on two of the piers. I do not think that the slipway is in imminent danger of collapse but some more sand in there at some point would make it look a lot better.

We gathered for a Lifeboat training session as usual and very quickly split between boat and shore. We shore based personnel dropped to the boat well and learnt about the operations of the first person to arrive on scene after a shout. To demonstrate the noise and alarm of the boat starting up in house, Head Launcher arranged for this to happen. I was blissfully unaware of this development and was midway explaining to some new recruits what would happen should the emergency be of such urgency that the boat launches from inside the boathouse when the engines sprung to life. To suggest that I was startled might be a slight understatement, but it adequately showed the effect of the release of exhaust fumes in a confined space that I was explaining not moments before.

As usual we repaired to the OS for a spot of quizzing but as is very unusual our normal quizmaster was absent. For some reason he passed the mantle to a grumpy shopkeeper, which seemed a most unlikely direction to pass it in. I had considered doing the quiz as well but thought that probably someone might notice and make a fuss. Instead, I saved myself a pound and concentrated on reading out the impossible names of foreign footballers, of which, fortunately, there were none. Why they cannot all have names like Nobby Stiles and George Best is beyond me.

I hoped that I had made a decent fist of it but even if I had not, I would have only upset eight people, although somehow, we managed to have a £9 quiz price - or I cannot count. I had never considered the complexity of quizmastering, the correct pause between questions, the explaining the rules, the adjudication, but could not believe quite how easy it was. No, I jest, because I know that our absent, usual quizmaster will be reading with intent. It is alright, RG, you still have a job to come back to, which is more than I can say for my former quiz team mates who showed no allegiance or sympathy at all at my absence.

It was still cold and a little breezy as we headed for home. Apparently, it was quite vicious up top in the teeth of the gale; those south easterlies were blowing in at more than fifty miles per hour. The Highly Professional Craftsperson confirmed The Cove's south east wind phenomenon for me, which was something of a relief as I had the notion that everyone I told thought I was bonkers. Coming to The Cove over the fields from the top, the wind was at his back. Over the brow of the hill, it diminished as you might expect in the lee of the cliff, but as he approached the bottom, the wind was in his face. I would love someone to explain to me how that happens.

The bleddy hound could not give a stuff about it when I returned to the flat at night. She was fully intent on waking The Cove as she shouts and spins herself up the slope and into Coastguard Row. After this she is quiet and happy to nose about. Such a strange bleddy hound.

December 12th - Wednesday

I have to say I felt remarkably chipper after my efforts of yesterday and quite ready to do it all again.

Starting off with a run around the block for the bleddy hound it is clear that the sea, that has been a bit more relaxed these last couple of days, has returned with a bit of a vengeance. It looked very much like spray was breaking over Brisons and there were big plumes running up the cliffs around Nanjulian Cliff and Aire Point. It was not quite so lively at the bottom of Pedn-men-du but there is time yet.

There was also a few spits of rain and I hoped that would quickly go away as it would not be the most comfortable having to shift hardcore in waterproofs. Fortunately, the morning brightened, which was exactly according to plan.

Before any shifting of hardcore happened, I had an inkling that I was expected to do a bit of shifting of Christmas cards. The ones that are deemed my responsibility had been left in a pile on my office chair by the computer so that they would not be missed. I moved them onto the table to do later, obviously, as doing it immediately would be far too compliant, even if I was on my own at that point. I did them before the Missus got up, I am not daft, but I knew I had shown her I was not one to be pushed around.

It was shortly after this that we left for The Farm. Some old Scotsperson once wrote that the best laid schemes o' mice and men often get beggared up by the rain, or something like that. How right he was. The rain from last night was certainly more intense than I had thought and there was lying water in all the potholes and the mud was more fluid than yesterday. I had spent some time yesterday laying my best schemes and considering which bits should be prioritised and now all that was topsy turvey. Areas that looked bad yesterday, seemed much improved, while areas that were fine, now were a mess. We slid most of the way up to The Farm; it was not pleasant.

We decided to press ahead, and I filled the trailer with wet, muddy hardcore. It took a while, but the Missus lent a spade to go with my Cornish shovel, which helped no end. I then leapt in the van and headed for the gaps. Well, I would have done had the van actually moved forward when I pressed the accelerator. I threw some hardcore under the front wheels and eventually got some traction but stopped again a few yards further toward the gate. It was not even muddy here, well, it was not before the van started slipping; it was firm grass. I reasoned that even if I did make the gate, there was a pretty good chance of getting stuck on the lane. This would not have been the end of the world as I could have unloaded the hardcore, but we cannot afford to drop the hardcore at places where it is not particularly necessary. I put it in mind to thank the boys for making the effort to deliver the hardcore in the first place. They probably would not have much of a choice, having entered the lane you are pretty much committed to going forward to a place you can turn.

I made the choice to abandon the effort for today. The forecast for the next few days is not good, so hardcore spreading will need to wait a while. I took the time to spread a few shovel's worth at the turn into The Farm that we had chewed up coming in, then abandoned ship on foot - now there is a metaphor to reckon with - leaving the Missus with the bleddy hound and a spot of gardening.

It was a pretty day for a stank out across the fields, although wellies are not ideal foot companions, especially down Stone Chair Lane. The fields were not muddy at all and there was a fair bit of blue sky, dotted with white cloud to admire. Coming over the brow of the hill, the bay spread out in front of me showing off some near perfect surfing waves rolling in. The cliff, Cape Cornwall and Brisons were picked out clearly under the bright light of the day and all was well with the world. As is quite usual, the walk took longer than anticipated as I bumped into a couple of people and stopped for a chat. Why would you not enjoy some convivial company in the glory of the day and pass some time? I had nothing else to do with it.


Bright Bay
Could be a summer's day

The failure to complete the spreading of hardcore left me at a bit of a loose end in the afternoon, despite my timeless saunter back home. Rather than fritter my time away, I decided to install the new spot lights to replace the ones that sit just above the hob in the kitchen. A while ago the lights shorted out the flat lights and we surmised it was damp from rising cooking steam that caused the problem. In recent weeks this has happened more frequently, and the system does not recover for a couple of days. It happens when the Missus has three or four steaming pots on the stove, predominantly on Sundays. After the last occurrence I decided to purchase some bathroom lights, which should mitigate the problem if not resolve it altogether.

I did have a bit of a struggle finding bathroom lights that were suitable for the kitchen but, at last, I found a selection and the Missus chose a style she liked. They arrived a few days ago and frankly had not yet reached the top of the priority list. Today was their lucky day.

I had hoped I could replace them with just the switch turned off so that I could work by the other lights in the kitchen. Despite checking that there was no voltage in the cables it soon became apparent that, even so, the lights shorted if the wrong pair touched. I had to work in the gathering gloom with a torch between my teeth.

Things were going well, in the main, until I dropped a screw from the terminal block. I have spare terminal blocks but this one was encased, helping to protect the connections from moisture. I used a spare anyway then dropped the screw that pins the splash proof outer case to the fitting. It was while searching for this screw that I found the terminal block screw. I could have left it all as it was, but it would be better protected with the terminal block that came with the light, so I dismantled the whole lot and started again.

The other light, the second in the chain, was much simpler because of the lack of a second set of wires. I also managed to do it without dropping any screws and by some miracle the whole lot worked when I switched them on at the end. I breathed a sigh of relief and took off my rubber wellies.

Fortunately, the Missus managed to extract herself from The Farm without getting stuck in the lane. We have some workpeople arriving next week to do some fixing up there, so I hope that the lane does not get any worse. It would have helped to have the hardcore in place for their arrival, but this is clearly not to be. The weather over the next few days is not to our advantage and the forecast has heavy rain on the morning before they arrive. Whoever said it was going to be easy?

December 11th - Tuesday

Today was our second completely dry day in a row, which set a perfect opportunity to load two tons of hardcore in the back of a trailer, drive down a lane and throw it all out again. These are long winters, you understand.

First, a small bleddy hound needed to be taken around the block, or down to the beach as she chose, with just enough sand to make it worthwhile. I was half way down the slipway when I turned around to see where she was, as she is usually ahead of me. She was nowhere to be seen. I called for her, though why I bothered I do not know, as she comes when she pleases, not when she is bid. She was gone a full minute, which is quite enough for her to get into a whole heap of trouble, then she sauntered down from the road with a what-you-going-on-about look.

There was a military helicopter circling about the headland, quite low with search lights on, which was interesting. I do not think they were looking for the bleddy hound, important as she thinks she is. At first, I thought it was one of those attack helicopters, but it was more like a Wildcat which is not apache on one of those. Sorry. It was gone shortly after, so I suppose we shall never know what it was up to.

My thoughts of dashing up to The Farm to spread the hardcore were dashed when the Missus told me she was taking Mother shopping. Since mother had a hair appointment in the middle of the morning, the run to the shops was more early afternoon. It gave me time, however, to sort some problems out with the Laurel and Hardy Newspaper Company, which has still not sent me the last invoices from our closing at the end of October. After the call I still had very little confidence that I would see the invoices. I also had to call our waste disposal company, for it too was playing up. You might recall that we switched to this company because the previous one was completely useless when it came to administration and we spent more time sorting out problems than it did collecting rubbish. Unfortunately, this same company took over the company we moved to and, low and behold, two months later we are having invoicing problems again. Alternative suppliers are thin on the ground at this end of the Duchy, so I think we may be stuck.

The waiting time also provided me the opportunity to create some burgers, something that I take great delight in, as I can work in all manner of exotic spices and goodies. I buy some ordinary burgers from the butcher for the Missus, who does not take delight in the things I find to put inside my beef burgers.

Such passing of the time did nothing but increase the anticipation of today's big event. When the Missus returned from shopping, I was just a blur leaving the flat and heading for The Farm. This was not so much eagerness but more that I had two hours before losing the light to shift two tons of hardcore and spread it at strategic points in the lane.

The lane was not as bad as I saw it the other day when I was up there collecting the ladder. It clearly drains quite quickly but there are areas of quite deep mud left behind which will form deep ruts, especially after a small truck carrying two tons of hardcore has been through it. I identified the worst areas as I drove in, which were bigger than could be addressed by the available hardcore. So, I distilled my mental list to the worst of the worst, which were still too large but, a start, at least.

The trailer is rated to take half a ton, it being a half ton trailer, so I reckoned that it would probably take just a little more and that I would be able to finish the job in four journeys. The only problem I have, other than the obvious one of a grumpy shopkeeper thinking he can shift two tons of hardcore in two hours with one Cornish shovel, is that there is no way of measuring the amount. It is all guess work. Time was pressing by the time I loaded the third trailer load and I would estimate that there was slightly more than half a ton left.

Despite this, I called the cheery supplier up on the moors just outside St Just and told then that since I had enjoyed the last two tons they had sent so much, could they possibly send another two tons tomorrow. They happily agreed and I, in utter delight at the anticipation of it all, drove down the lane with what I expected to be the last load this session.

I was right. By the time I returned up the lane with the empty trailer to return it to The Farm it was the darker end of dusk. I considered loading the trailer with the remainder of the hardcore to clear the way for the next load but thought better of it. First, it would have been nigh on impossible to reverse it into the shed - reversing small trailers is an art form - and leaving it in the open probably not a good idea. It was the right thing to do as it rained heavily through the evening and the trailer is not drained.

I had expected to collapse in a heap when I came home but although being tired, I did not seem to feel any aches or pains. This may be a different matter in the morning, but I have committed to the next lump tomorrow and have to move it before the next rain comes in. I may skip the gymnasium as I think shifting four tons of hardcore probably compensates.

The Missus has not been idle, either. Over the last few days she has decorated the shop Christmas window and put up the decorations in the flat. Last year, mainly because of her trips with Mother up country, everything was left to the last minute and some things were not done at all, such as Christmas cards. When I returned home from The Farm, the Missus had finished off rearranging the living room for Christmas guests and was knee deep in Christmas cards, which she was still doing when I went to bed. I did not know we knew so many people.

December 10th - Monday

We must thank you all for your kind comments about the Christmas window that had been flooding in all day. It was good to see what genuine appreciation looked like after the sympathetic murmurs I had after being forced to do the window myself last year. I can see now these amounted to the expressions of enthusiasm reserved for the school loser on sports day who comes third in the egg and spoon race but only because everyone else dropped out with flu that day.

Thank you all, too, for your best wishes regarding my left leg that now sports rather fewer operating veins than it did a week ago. I stress tested it this morning at the gymnasium and it seemed to work as expected without dropping off or spurting claret everywhere, which would have been embarrassing as well as giving me a cleaning up problem. It was immensely refreshing to get back to the exercise regime after a week of absence. If anyone out there is agonising about whether to start gymming or no, I can thoroughly recommend it. While I am unlikely at any point to end up looking like Charles Atlas at his peak, I am sure that bits of me continue to work where they might not otherwise, and I seem to have a little more energy, drive and enthusiasm to play with.

I had considered spending the rest of the day on the sofa watching television, since the shop will be opening soon. However, there was some detritus to dispose of after the roof work last week. Apparently, it is easier and cheaper, despite being costly enough, for me to dispose of the building waste, than our builder, I am told. This meant a trip out to the tip, sorry, Household Waste Recycling Centre, although quite how you recycle old and crumbling back to mud roof tiles, I do not know. There were also a raft of more domestic goods that I hoped that I could still dispose of domestically despite turning up with building waste.

First, however, I had to return the van to the garage to have the brakes fixed again. Apparently, our man had omitted to bleed the hydraulic system, which is an essential step in our particular vehicle as well as bleeding the brake system. I had not long returned from the gymnasium when we had the call to pick up the van.

On my way back I stopped outside the shop and loaded up the fourteen bags of tiles. We also had some old computer equipment and I spent some time drilling holes in the old disk drives as a security measure before loading the rest of the rubbish, sorry, recycling, into the back of the van. There was nothing else on my list of things to do, so I went directly to the, erm, Household Waste Recycling Centre.

There is a large amount of work being carried out at the junction to St Erth. You can no longer turn right there when travelling from the west, which is a sensible measure as it causes mayhem with the traffic and there is a convenient roundabout a short way ahead to swing around and take a left.

I believe that the work is to create the St Erth park and ride facility, so that visitors coming to St Ives and Penzance and park and watch other cars driving to those destinations while they wait for the sparse public transport to convey them thence. It is an odd arrangement, with some of the parking apparently on the A30 side of the railway line and some further parking on the other side. To get to that, traffic needs to negotiate a hairpin bend under the railway bridge, which seems odd. The car park on that side is coming along nicely, with the shape of the parking areas clearly visible. It has been prettily landscaped with areas of garden or grass between the parking bays. In fact, there seems to be more landscaping and grass areas than car parking spaces. Perhaps the planners do not expect it to be used, either.

I had to go and ask how to get shot of the chargeable waste when I got to the, ah, Household Waste Recycling Centre, which meant going to the site office. There is no knocker or bell with which to attract the attention of those within and the door has been painted with a hard and rough type of artex, which made knock on the door quite painful. I think it is part of a psychological plan to make you feel guilty about dumping, sorry, recycling waste you have to pay extra for. This will explain the gruff and humourless person who told me gruff and humourlessly that to recycle my chargeable waste was going to be chargeable. I said that I had some inkling that it might be, given the name, chargeable. This did not help.

Our man followed me to the van and counted our bags. Our builder had told us to expect £3 a bag but the much maligned council's definition of a bag full was one barely a third full. I was delighted, as you might imagine, when I was told that the bags were only £1.80 for roof tiles. It still left me light just short of £30 and I had to empty the bags myself. This left me with fourteen of those heavy duty plastic sacks that concrete and other heavy building materials come in and I toured the site looking for the contained that suggested heavy duty plastic bags could be placed within it. On failing to find one, I met with another sullen operative - I wonder if it is a condition of employment or merely a result of it - who told me that bags of that natured need to be placed in the "unrecyclable waste" bin. I was going to ask what such a container was doing at the Household Waste Recycling Centre but thought better of it.

On the basis that, once again, we had nothing for tea I stopped off in Penzance on the way home to visit some of the very good and high quality independent shops in town. The town has been receiving some bad press recently, occasioned by the opening of a shelter for the homeless. The local BBC television ran a whole week's worth of articles on it but seemed to focus mainly on the blight of some aggressive behaviour but some on the streets. It is true that the town has an unusually high number of street drinkers and dwellers and recent policy has pushed them out of the main streets and into the back alleys, which is arguably worse. However, it is a shame that it should completely distract from the dozens of clever independent stores that labour so hard to make the town an attractive proposition. I am very happy to support them and, despite my harping on, do get incredibly good service and top quality products that you would struggle to acquire, ahem, in other, bigger stores.

It was only at this point in the day that I was able to return to the sofa to be thoroughly lazy and watch television. The Missus and I subscribe to the jungle programme that has just completed this year's run. We were four programmes from the end when it all finished and were keen to catch up before anyone told us the result. By the end of it I felt like I had done a trial more intense than the contestants'.

December 9th - Sunday

At several points during the night I was awake to hear that wind howling again. It did not seem to ease off at all and in the background the sea was roaring. It was reminiscent of the boiling of a kettle that just continued to boil unchecked. I discovered later that the wind's average speed alone was 65 miles per hour and it was regularly gusting between 75 and 83 miles per hour at peak. That is an awful lot of wind and you have to wonder where it is coming from. We are used to the occasional day of high winds, but this has been persisting for three days. There must be a very big vacuum behind it by now.

Stormy Bay
Lively sea in the bay

It felt like it was raining in a horizontal sort of way as we made our way across the Harbour car park. There was not much in the rain clouds about so this was spray, and no mistake. When I went to collect the van for the trip up to the range, the windows were thick with salt. We have this on the windows of the flat and the shop, too, which is not making the best of the Christmas window display. Someone will have to hose off the window every evening if this breeze continues from its present direction, someone will.

Over Cowloe
Jumping over Cowloe

We were quite well sheltered up at the range, although we did have a couple of minor showers during the morning. I only stopped at the end of the first half of the day because the Missus had arranged to go with Mother to the switching on of the St Buryan Christmas lights. I decided not to go, as someone had to stay behind and look after the bleddy hound and, besides, I had seen a light being turned on before.

You might have noticed on your way to this very page that a little film of the Christmas window lights as found its way onto our front page. The Missus seems to have excelled herself and this year's theme is ribbon, for no other reason that it seemed a good idea at the time.

December 8th - Saturday

The breeze seemed to have dropped a little from yesterday, or at least the latter part of yesterday, and there was not quite so much howling going on overnight, although I was not really listening in the middle of a deep snooze. It was a little damp as we passed through the Harbour car park but that might well have been spray from the waves thumping over the footings of Pedn-men-du in quite a spectacular display.

Altogether, it was a much better day than yesterday, with no big squalls passing through. There was not so much in the way of brightness, though, and heading toward low water, the sea did not seem quite as raucous. This, it made up for later, approaching the late afternoon high water when the waves gathered momentum and came thundering into the bay.

The morning was filled with nothing in particular, although the Missus had expressed a wish to do the shop window Christmas display today. One of the first stages is to retrieve the platform from Shrew House where it has been since last year, gathering dust, among other things. It had taken until early afternoon for the Missus to be ready to collect it, whereupon she announced that the ladder, required to pull the platform kit from on high, was still up at The Farm.

On the face of it, this should not have seemed to be an insurmountable problem. However, we were aware that the lane had become exceedingly muddy in the recent rain, not helped by a dozen horses and a pack of hounds from the Sennen Feast hunt churning it up last Saturday. I suggested that we err on the side of caution, especially as we were late starting, and that we park at the F&L and walk over the fields to collect the ladder on foot. The Missus agreed that it was a splendid idea and that I should set forth without delay. You could probably have just fitted the edge of a postage stamp between my 'we' and her 'I', referring to me, in case you had missed the subtlety of it, too.

I took the bleddy hound in the full knowledge that I would almost certainly be scrapping with her to get her into the shower later on. In fact, the fields that we crossed were not too bad, being lush with grass. The lane was a different matter and several pot holes either side of the central grass were filled with muddy water. I suggested to the bleddy hound that she see just how deep and muddy they were, and she was keen to oblige. We discovered that there had not been too much damage to The Farm, although the roof of the big steel shed was creaking a bit. I was also ready with my camera just in case the barn owl was there again, but of course it was not, since I was ready for it.

The ladder we have is a collapsible one and folds down to quite a small package. This made it difficult to find in a shed full of all manner of, ahem, useful items. I called the Missus to make sure it was there before I spent ten minutes digging for it. Fortunately, it is also quite light and carrying it back down the lane and over the fields was not particularly arduous. The thing that made it more interesting was walking back into the wind that I discovered later had, again, peaked at 70 miles per hour at roughly the time we were exposed to it.

With the platform down in the shop, dressing the window could continue apace. The pace stuttered a little when it came upon the Missus that she could no longer staple decorations to the window frame, as we replaced the side window earlier in the year with a plastic frame. It then came to her that it would get no better when the front windows were replaced sometime in the new year. I did wonder for a moment whether I might have to cancel the work or ask them to put a wood covering around it.

Well, dear reader, that sound you just heard was the crust breaking off a couple of synapses as they sputtered into life. At the moment I wrote that last sentence, it did occur to me that a temporary wood frame may just be a possibility, to facilitate the hanging of decorations and Christmas lights. I will look at the options we have when the new frontage is installed. Gosh, I think I will have to lie down for a while.

There, much better. The bleddy hound was having none of going for a little walk just before tea and managed to complete her purpose on next door's flower pots having stretched herself to walk the minimum number of yards possible from her own front door. She had a better run than she had enjoyed for a while when we went to get the ladder, so it was not essential to walk any further. I would say she agreed.

I slipped away from the shop and left the Missus to it. It is one thing being useless and quite another standing around and looking useless; I could not even find a clipboard to hold. Instead, I put our curries from the freezer into pots for when the Missus decided it time to break free from the serious labours with the decorations. At least the bleddy hound ate when she was supposed to.

I will get around to putting some moving pictures on the website of the window, but I might wait until I am not blown half way down the street while making the film. It also proved difficult because the Missus had not finished it by the time I went to be, so I left her to it. Well, someone had to get up to take the bleddy hound around in the morning.

December 7th - Friday

The rain we were promised did come through in the early hours of the morning but was gone by the time I was up and about. Not only was the rain gone but the evidence on the street had gone as well; the wind that had been howling in the eaves for the latter part of the night had much to do with this.

The bleddy hound was not entirely convinced that it was a bright idea to run around the block, but she did reluctantly go. There was some showing of the heavy overnight rain further up where gravel had accumulated at the bottom of slopes like some 'O' Level demonstration of the process of alluvial river deposits in a river delta. This is very clear at the other side of the Harbour car park where the stony trail snakes down from the edge of the cliff.

The day simply got wilder from that point. Our wheelie bin made a bid for freedom in the middle of the morning, despite having carefully tied it up to its big brother at the bottom of our steps earlier in the week. This required some emergency tying up of the bigger bin to the shop wall on the hook put there for this very purpose. Both bins spent the rest of the day at the extremity of their tethers, slewed in the direction of the wind.


Just starting
Mid morning and just getting started

It was bright, however, and the sunshine lit up the white horses in the bay, which were legion. By and large through the day we were dry more often than we were wet but when the squally showers blew through, they were vicious and ferocious. One, particular stood out from the rest, with rain smoking through The Cove in billowing clouds, while the sky turned a light sepia with harsh greys at its dark centre. The street light opposite the shop was bouncing around on its steel arm as the rain alternated with bursts of hail that came in sideways down the street.

It was definitely a day for staying in, although the Missus decided it was definitely a day for going shopping, so she did. She arrived back with Mother and in the meanwhile I laboured at putting together the order for the supplier that we had seen last week. This was slightly more problematic than I had hoped for and I had to make several trips down to the shop to check stock, which was exacerbated by a discount offer from our wetsuit supplier that diverted me for a while. It took me, pretty much, the rest of the day to complete and we will need to check it again before we send it off.

I had taken a break to run the bleddy hound around the block in the early afternoon, but we got as far as the harbour before she wanted to come back. I took her again before it got dark and managed to get her to the Harbour car park where generally she will continue without coercion. The sea was incredibly lively by this time - fairly close to high water - giving rise to the wonder of where it gets its energy from. It was very difficult to tear my eyes away from it, to be honest, as it was so alluring in its fury. It is not often that you see it quite as angry as that and successive waves were burying the Harbour wall. It was not quite coming over the top of Pedn-men-du, but curls of smoking spray were wafting away up there from time to time. We were blown back down Coastguard Row by a wind that had topped 70 miles per hour at some points during the day.


Before Dark
Angry sea in the Harbour

Way back
and some more

Much as it was refreshing and bracing and all that to be out there in it, I could have quite happily continued to watch it from the comfort of the living room. I was clearly not that committed to this, as I was there taking the bleddy hound out again in the late evening. It was just as breezy then, as well.

December 6th - Thursday

It started out as a grey, uninspiring and somewhat mucky day and ended as a grey, uninspiring and very mucky day. I was grey and uninspired, for sure, but I did have a shower in the morning, so I deferred being mucky at all.

Our hire car was due to be returned to the shop this morning but with our van only going into the repair shop later yesterday, it was not ready to be picked up. Our very pleasant garage man sent us an electronic mail last night saying that he had ordered the parts and if they arrived as expected then the van would be ready around the middle of the day. There was a shortfall of a few hours that would have meant getting a taxi back from the hire shop and, later, a taxi to our garage to pick up the van. Hiring the car for an additional day would be cheaper and more convenient, so we decided to do that.

As an afterthought, I agreed with the Missus that I would call our garage first thing to see if he had a loan car, as we usually have one when our van is being serviced, but that is more of a planned event. When I called, we were told that a car was not available, so we decided to telephone the hire company. Before we could do that, our garage man called back and told us that if we could pick up another car that was parked in town, we could have that for the day. This was of benefit all round, as it would save him having to retrieve the town parked car himself and us having to extend our car hire.

This left us about half an hour to pick up the keys from our garage, which is on the way into town anyway, pick up the loan car and drop the hire car back at the hire shop. It was a bit of a rush to leave The Cove, but we managed to all arrive at the hire shop with minutes to spare.

With that excitement out of the way, we met up with one half of the husband and wife building team who was just finishing the work we agreed and installing the new roof tiles. The scaffolding will come down tomorrow morning, we are told. It looks very much like they did a good job and I suspect that by tomorrow morning we will find out if our rain water is being successfully carried away, rather than squirting over the pathway at the front of the shop. They were also were very pleasant people to do business with and we will have them back again next year to do the last remaining launders on that side, with a bit of luck.

We did not have to wait long for the van to be ready to be picked up. Our man had very kindly squeezed us into a busy schedule but on the journey back home I discovered that, while the brakes worked, there was too much travel in foot pedal and it will need to go back on Monday for more bleeding.

I spent some of the afternoon preparing the paperwork for our quarter end at the accountants, which was fun. In the meanwhile, the Missus went up into the loft to seek out the Christmas decorations. Last year, I threw away a fair few boxes of the old tree lights and still had more than enough to decorate the tree and to light up the shop window, such that it was a bright and gay and still have some left over. Remembering that I had made the disposal, the Missus informed me that she would have to go shopping tomorrow for more tree lights. Apparently, bright and gay is insufficient for professional shop Christmas window fitters and bright and gay and visible through smoked glass from Mars is the benchmark. I stood corrected and made a mental note not to tell her next time I threw some away.

It has always been a bit of an effort to shift the number of boxes and bags involved, from the loft to the shop and back again each year. Picture, if you will, one of those Victorian etchings of great African expeditions, with bearers stretching in a line for miles but without the bearers - bearers are not available in The Cove near Christmas, for some reason. This, however, is the last year that this will need to be done, as from the end of the season this year, we should be able to store them up at The Farm, providing the lane is passable. Perhaps I should not have mentioned that yet.

Once again, there was no Lifeboat launch in the evening as we do so dislike getting the boat wet and the very excellent Shore Crew, despite their hard men image, are not too keen, either. It is probably just as well, as I am still on light duties until Monday, and I know that the rest of the boys and girl would have hated to go ahead without me. Instead, we sat around the campfire and sung jolly Lifeboat songs about the old days when tin hats, steel toecap boots and protective visors were for wimps and if you were not covered head to toe in grease at the end of recovery, you had shirked.

Being campfire rebels is one thing but heading to the OS for a spot of quizzing is quite another. There is no singing for a start and the camp fire makes a bit of a mess of the carpet. There is beer and answering questions and some people do this quite well. Some make a career out of doing it quite badly and, most of the time, that will be us. Tonight was no exception but at least we managed to win the raffle to have a shot at the chase the ace prize. Obviously, we lost at that too but did have a fiver to go home with.

Two forecasts had predicted exceptionally heavy rain this evening. From ten o'clock the heavens were due to open and the rain radar looked quite supportive. Come the appointed hour to go home it was dry as a bone outside and a quick look at the rain radar showed that the rain was at least 200 miles north of us. It was dry, too, as I took the bleddy hound around the block. As I write, it remains to be seen if we get wet at all. You will, no doubt, we waiting on tenterhooks for the result.

December 5th - Wednesday

I had an exceptionally refreshing morning. The first part of this was to step out in the cascading rain to take the bleddy hound around the block. It really was most unpleasant and presumably pays me back for letting the Missus do the same yesterday afternoon. Perhaps I should be grateful that Karma does not subscribe to the notion that revenge is a pudding best served cold and I have had my comeuppance over and done with.

The second part of my refreshment came as I took the bandages off my legs and was able to have a shower. The dressings came off and the paper stiches underneath with very little encouragement. I still have to wear the full length stocking, which is something, but there is hardly any evidence at all that I endured prodding and poking with sharp instruments and needles.

Our building couple arrived in the middle of our morning downpour and started work, bless them. Happily, the rain gave up a couple of hours later and by the end of the day we had a few lines of new slates, some new felt and fascia and new chunky launders that will hold a veritable flood, which might be useful if the climate change people are accurate in their assessments. In the afternoon they invited me up the ladder, just a few rungs, mind, to see the rotten timbers of an upright section that the downpipe screws into, a combination that seemed somewhat obtuse. It did not surprise me in the least, as it does appear that much of the building has been bodged together over the years by a variety of people with big intentions and small pockets and of varying degrees of expertise.

As having two skilled craftspeople on site were not enough, our refrigeration maintenance man turned up to service our fridges and freezers. The word 'service' may be a little strong to cover the work that was carried out; our man spent no more than ten minutes on each unit. They used to turn up with a vacuum cleaner which was something. Now, I think, it is just a matter of making sure that they all work. It did give me the opportunity to clear the shop window of its advertising and the screen, which I forget to update when things change. The window is now ready for the Missus and her Christmas display.

There was a bit of a gap between doing things in the afternoon when nothing much happened. We were waiting for the recovery vehicle to turn up so at least one of us had to be here. I was minded that I had not read the instructions I had been given by the doctor and had been relying on remembering what he had told me to muddle through. It was interesting to note that the paper stitches and dressing covering them "should remain in place for 5 days" and "do not soak the wound in water for 5 days". Oops, I do hope that bit was not too important as I would struggle now to even identify where the wounds are. The Missus said she would try and stick something over them later, but she will need a strong light and magnifying glass.

From late in the morning the rain cleared away and by the middle of the afternoon we had clear skies. The sea state calmed sufficiently for the divers to go out and replace the Lifeboat channel markers, mind, they got pretty wet doing it as they carried out the work while it was still raining. The improvement in the weather, however, was very short lived. By half past four o'clock the weather suddenly closed in again completely foxing me with getting the bleddy hound out without getting wet again. The Missus took the last shift as she had to go into the shop. I do not have to feel guilty about that one.

December 4th - Tuesday

The waiting on leg and foot seemed to have come to a pretty abrupt end at half past seven this morning when the bleddy hound needed to be taken around. I just about managed to drag my sorry leg to the bottom of our steps and get around the block, like an Igor in a Frankenstein film. Alright, it was nothing like that and I bounded around the route like a young gazelle but after the long wait I had for the work to be done, one day of sympathy just seemed a little bit slim.

I was told by the doctor that it would not take long to be all good again and that by today it would be perfectly acceptable to start walking about a bit, so long as I did not mind a bit of swelling up to start with. He said that I would be running marathons in no time, which is quite amazing since I was not able to do so before the procedure. Yes, yes, I am here all week.

It was not long after I returned with the bleddy hound that the scaffold men turned up. They arrived in advance of our builder who we had commissioned to replace the fascia board and launders along the side of the building. For some time now, we have been chasing an overflow problem around. It started, during heavy rain, all over the steps leading up to the front door and after two lots of replacement launders, we moved it to the opposite corner. Fed up with the water cascading down the corner outside the living room window, we have waited patiently - well, I have - for the timely meeting of budget and finding someone decent to do it, which happened this year.

I was about to wander out to see if our husband and wife builder partnership wanted a cup of tea but was beaten to it by the wife arriving at the door. She had come to show me that in the process of removing the old fascia boards, they had discovered that the lower roof tiles were in a poor state of repair. Not only that but the roofing felt underneath was disintegrating to the touch. I urged them not to touch too much more but agreed that at least the lower tiles would need to be replaced. The husband told me that the ones we had there were Delabole slate and expensive, obviously, but if we were willing to slum it, they had some spare Spanish slates at home they could use as replacements.

I did not give myself time to consider these options. I am sure if I looked I would have discovered that Delabole slate lasts three times longer than Spanish slate but since we only had leave to have the scaffold up for a day, we had no time to mess about, so I gave them the go ahead to replace the lower slates with Spanish slate and put the considerations to the back of my mind. It was later in the afternoon when they attacked the roof that they reinforced their point by showing us a slate that crumbled to nothing in their hands. It rather suggests that the rest of the roof is in a similar state, but I would prefer not to think about that.

I have not yet been absolved from resting my leg as much as possible, today. That all changes tomorrow, thank heavens. In the meantime, I spent the majority of another day on the sofa interspersed with a bit of running the bleddy hound around. I convinced the Missus that I could not possibly do the later afternoon run because it had started to rain quite a bit and I could not possibly get my dressing wet. There was some truth in that, as it would have remained damp and uncomfortable for some while after I had been out but there was nothing really to prevent me from slipping on my waterproofs.

Fortunately, our builders had remembered to bring theirs. Despite this, they still look bedraggled when they returned the tea cups at the end of the day. With the additional work of replacing the foremost slates on the roof they were unable to finish today, they will return tomorrow to finish off the work. We have had no opportunity to discuss how much the extra work will cost but since the scaffold was the lion share of the whole job, the additional work should not be too scary. Besides, I have not told them how much we charge for cups of tea yet.

I did the last bleddy hound walk mainly because I felt guilty but also because it had stopped raining. I also feel guilty that she has not had much of a run out in the last few weeks and that time is quickly slipping away from us. There is also not much fun for either of us doing it in the rain, so we may be forced to bide our time and wait for all the snow to arrive.

December 3rd - Monday

We had our first early start for a while, this morning. It was so early that the bleddy hound was not at all keen to get out of bed and who could blame her; it was still dark outside. I resolved the problem by taking a shower first and supping a cup of tea to pass the time until there was, at least, the smallest glimmer of light emerging through the gloom outside. We avoided the beach, although there was no sign of the pup seal, I think, but it was still too dark to see properly, so I erred on the side of caution.

The purpose of such an early start was to get me to the hospital on time. I had a quarter past nine o'clock appointment and we needed to drop the bleddy hound off at Mother's on the way there. We had booked a taxi for the purpose, as the van is still out of commission, which would go on to drop the Missus at the car rental place to the east of town, so we had some transport over the next few days. I called our garage from the hospital and set the wheels in motion for the van to be picked up and fixed.

In the mean time it was my turn to be fixed. The story goes back more than a year when my foot inexplicably decided to leak in the middle of serving a customer, fortunately a GP. After much delay, much of it my own as I did not want to be laid up during shop opening time, I had been booked in to have something done to stop it happening again. It had been explained to me that the doctor would strip a bit of three core, slip it down the offending vein and plug the other end into the mains. This apparently kills off the naughty vein and somehow makes all the returning claret take another route up my leg. It all sounded very clever, although I did wonder what would happen if the blood got lost.

I was about an hour late going into the surgical room, which was happily at the West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance; a trip up to Treliske would have been a royal pain in the bottom, as well as the leg. Other than the late start, I was very well served and can highly recommend getting something that needs to be fixed and going there because they are very good at it. The surgeon was clearly a watchmaker in his spare time; apart from the little sting of the anaesthetic needle going in, I hardly felt a thing - apart from what you might imagine someone sticking something the six of a six inch nail into the soft parts of your leg with a sledgehammer feels like - apart from that, hardly a thing. There were two nurses on hand, one to help and the other who insisted I talk to her while she held me down. She was very brave, as I natter a bit when I am nervous and with all those wicked looking machines and equipment about, I was very nervous. I did ask if the lights dimmed when they turned on the big machine, like you see in the movies, but apparently it runs on LEDs or something which does not draw so much power.

So that it does not hurt - too much, that is, of course - the doctor pings some anaesthetic into the leg all along the route that the stripped three core is going through. It was a little disconcerting as he approached the very top of the inside of my thigh and I told him so. He told me to be concerted, as he felt most comfortable with being up there, which of course was a great comfort to me, too. On my riverside side, lying on my front, they gave me a pillow to bite on, which I though very nostalgic in a political sort of way. It was quite tender up the back of my calf as well and the nurse agreed that it was really quite painful approaching the back of the knee. She then asked the doctor where he had got to, which was just short of there. It was really helpful to have that anticipation in my head as he worked his way up.

It was all over far too quickly. How are they supposed to mend something as tricky as a couple of veins in less than an hour, it really is quite wrong. They wrapped my leg up in mummyesque bandages then added a big full-length stocking, which was the best bit, obviously. I was so glad that I had chosen to wear shorts and flip flops for the occasion because no one would have seen the large bandage all the way up my leg or the alluring hosiery and would have thought that I just went in to see a relative rather than bravely undergoing ground-breaking surgery - and having two nurses haul a long, alluring stocking up my leg.

I was set aside in a recovery ward afterwards, which was the best placed to be awarded a cup of tea and some gingernut biscuits. The Missus was allowed in, too, although she had to get her own beverage and was not offered gingernuts. I am glad, as that would have devalued my award and my bravery in the face of overwhelming odds.

When I was allowed to escape, I discovered that the Missus had managed to hire the ugliest looking car I have ever seen. To compensate for having to travel in such a daft looking machine, there were a few bells and whistles to play with. These took my mind off the stares, looks of derision and people openly pointing and falling around laughing as we drove home. The most exciting of these bells and whistles is the parking camera, which turns on when reverse gear is engaged. Not only does it show a view to the rear and a view to the front but it also shows a view from the top. I must conclude that when the camera comes on, a long pole, some twenty feet high, extends out from the roof or somewhere and runs a picture so that the driver can see the vehicle position relevant to the surroundings. Spatial awareness used to count for a lot when driving, now any eejit can get behind the wheel of the car and park like a pro - although I would not necessarily count on it.

I had been told to rest for the remainder of the day and to rest some more tomorrow. Tomorrow might be a bit of a problem as we have builders arriving and the van to be moved. I tried doing what I was told in the afternoon, but I do get irritated by not being able to do anything and have the Missus wait on me hand and foot, well, more just leg and foot, really. I shall let her do that again tomorrow, if she really insists.

December 2nd - Sunday

Being as I could not get to the range today, I enjoyed a very uneventful time doing not a great deal. This, of course, does not make for great copy, even less so that a day at the range. It was also grey and damp, which was no encouragement to get out to do things other than the obligatory walking of the bleddy hound.

The first of these exciting events led us to the Harbour Beach, or at least the top of the slipway, for that is as far as we got before I spotted the seal pup down on the beach. I made a mental note to return with a camera just in case the rescue people wanted to see what age the animal was, then dragged the bleddy hound around the block in the usual direction.

By the time I had walked and fed the bleddy hound, the seal had made its get away. There was a track coming up the beach and another going back, and I thought for a moment that there might have been two seals as the marks looked fresh but then though how daft that notion was. It would seem that the young seal had made its entrance and exit in quite a short space of time and I reasoned that it was probably quite fit and healthy to be able to do so and did not need rescuing. I could be wrong, especially as it had most likely been hanging around for at least a week, but, there again, it is difficult to rescue a seal pup that is not there.

I spent the afternoon tinkering with my music on the computer. I have a rather boring session to undertake tomorrow and it will useful to have some sounds going off in my ear 'ole to take my mind off it and to mask the sound of medical equipment whirring away. I do hope it works - both the music and the medical equipment.

December 1st - Saturday

We opened the curtains to another dank, grey day. The rain had dealt with the brake fluid spill and there was no evidence left when I ran the bleddy hound out. There was, however, a seal pup on the beach which stopped her in her tracks when she eventually noticed it. She backed up several yards and started barking at it. I had to drag her away in the end she was so transfixed.

It is Sennen Feast this weekend, which means the Feast clay pigeon shoot behind the F&L. Fortunately, I had a lift up there and arrived early to help set up the shooting positions and the farm trailer shelter. I was definitely not on form and would have had more luck throwing stones at the clays rather than shooting at them. It was all very good fun, though, even when the cloud descended into the early afternoon, making it a tad difficult to see the clays. It was good to have an excuse for missing them.

At least the rain proper held off, although there was plenty of wet in the air all about us. There was also a fair draft blowing around the trailer but it did not seem to affect the clays too much - not that it would have made any difference to my performance.

It was almost a relief when the last competition was over. I would normally hang about to give a hand putting everything away, but there was an offer of a lift down to The Cove, which in the closing weather was difficult to turn down. It did mean missing a nice bit of stew in the F&L afterwards but the handing out of awards might have been a little too much to bear.

I managed to remember to take the bleddy hound out before it got too dark, which was around half past four o'clock. She headed straight for the beach and a couple of her pals who were down there ahead of her. There was the evidence of the seal which disappeared much earlier with the high tide. All the dogs spent about ten minutes sniffing around the spots where it had been. I will keep an eye out for it again tomorrow, as the likelihood is it is the same one that was here last week. It is difficult to know whether it is hanging around because of a problem, or it just enjoys being in The Cove.

The Missus delivered her ramen noodle dish in the evening. Thankfully the chicken feet were used to make some stock and not included while. It was very toothsome and looked just like the picture on the box. She knows a thing or two about knocking out some grub, does the Missus.

I had persuaded the Highly Professional Craftsman to drop his hard man of rock image and follow me to a musical performance at the Acorn Theatre in Penzance. Tonight, there was a Celtic folk band whose examples on the Internet showed a little diversity, which I thought might be a pleasing interlude from the normality of life hereabouts. I think that we might have been forewarned by the age and social deomographic of people attending that I might have been slightly wrong footed by my research. It was only into the second or third song that we realised that this was an unswervingly Irish diddly music band.

It did not help that we were heckled on our way into the auditorium, having ordered a drink at the same time as we were advised that the performance was about to start and were moments late in arriving. There is nothing wrong with Irish diddly music until about three songs in, when they all start to sound the same. The final straw was when the leader related the tale of a visit to Disneyland during its Welsh week and they had to hurriedly download some Welsh songs that could try and emulate. They decided to play one that they came up with; it was the same as all the other tunes they played but they called it a Welsh name.

The Highly Professional Craftsperson told me that it was up to me whether we continued or not. It was only later that I reflected that I could have made him sit through the second half as a jolly jape, but realised that I, too, would have to have done the same and no jolly jape was worth that.

We retired to our favourite in town public house. The bar staff are attentive but not overbearing and remember your round, the clientele are normal and friendly citizens and communicate with each other in quiet and non-offensive conversation. It is a place where you can go, have a few pints and have a chat without fear of anything untoward upsetting your perfect peace - and no, I will not tell you which alehouse it is.

We had to ask our taxi company - the Missus' cab is out of service - to collect us from a different location and earlier than agreed. We are very fortunate that we have two excellent cab companies servicing The Cove and even more fortunate that we know them well, having sent business their way during the season. It makes such a difference knowing you are in safe hands especially as the low cloud from earlier had established itself all across the moors between Penzance and home.

It was still dripping rain when I got home, so the bleddy hound was not at all keen to traverse the block. I agreed, and we only spent a minute or two outside.

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