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.
February 27th - Thursday
It was a some 'ansum day, if a little chilly, so what did we do all day but stay in and ignore it. That is a little unfair as many things restricted us today, the main one in the morning was waiting on a supplier's visit.
I had taken the bleddy hound around the block. For once I had to drag her out of bed after waking me up early all the week so far. We had to go around the block because the sea was sitting in the Harbour and not letting anyone else play with it. Going around is not so bad as it does make a welcome change from the Harbour from time to time.
It had come upon me in the middle of the night that I would not be able to simply put a tin roof on the cabin and that I would need a frame first. This gives its own problems in that there will be a two inch gap between one roof and the other. I have no doubt that the wind would not be able to rip off the steel roof once installed but there would be unnecessary stresses on it in high winds and at the very least, it would probably whistle through the gap. It did strike me that with a frame and a double skin roof we could probably have put the solar panels up there - too late now.
I ordered the wood as soon as I could this morning in the hope that it would get up there in the early afternoon. There is no chance that the steel panels will arrive soon as they are cut to size and hence have a bit of a lead time. However, the frame alone will probably ease the problem of the felt lifting in the wind. The reason for the hurry was that I had previously looked at the forecast. While it can be taken somewhat lightly, the prediction is for a guts of rain tomorrow followed by sixty miles per hour northwest winds on Saturday. The winds will stay high well into next week, which will make fitting the frame exceeding uncomfortable. Having spoken to our supplier, they were not at all hopeful that the wood could be delivered today and if they could, it would not be early enough for me to complete the frame.
It was a day of telephone calls; it did not stop ringing all day, well, obviously it did now and again, but it was very busy with calls. One was very welcome, from a fish supplier of which I had high hopes. Sadly, it was not to be, as they did not have a current delivery route in this direction. The very pleasant man on the telephone suggested a courier delivery but this would add £10 to each order, which would not have worked. Our options for providing a fish ordering service, even a much adapted one, are diminishing fast. Having spent several years developing what was becoming a popular offering, it would be more than a shame to lose it. We have one last option that we will explore tomorrow.
I ventured out a further two times with the bleddy hound. In the middle of the day we made it to the Harbour beach and in the late afternoon we traipsed around the block again. It really was a bright, sunny day with large amounts of blue sky to wonder at and it was a delight to be out in it. It really was a shame that we could not organise better use of it but a run around three times during the day was better than not at all. It was certainly better than joining the Missus on an extended shopping trip with Mother. The Missus had identified that our cupboard was bare and urgent action was required; she was gone for three hours.
I fought my way through the wall of groceries to the Lifeboat station for spot of training for the evening. With deepening weather, there was not much doing, so we refuelled the winch and tested our resolve; we were not found wanting and having assured ourselves, we repaired to the OS for a bit of quizzing.
We struggled against a short field but managed to remain in the upper quartile. Sounds good, does it not. We lost, which is more accurate. We did, however, have our raffle ticket picked to have a crack at the £200 chase the ace prize. Sorry, did I say we? I really meant me. Yes, after possibly a year of not being picked, I maximised the chance I had and won the big prize. What do you mean, there is no "I" in team?
There was a pleasant view of the crescent moon and Venus behind me as I walked to the OS but, we walked back after winning £200 - sorry, did I mention that already? - there was not a star in sight. Rain coming.
February 26th - Wednesday
I eschewed my usual visit to the gymnasium today in favour of waiting on the man from the shed company's visit. As luck would have it, the installation team were working in the village and it would be one of these boys who would have a geek at our shed. I thought it unlikely he would arrive early - I could not see him turning up in a loaded truck or interrupting the build - but I could not take the risk.
The boys called just after eleven o'clock and just as I was making a cup of tea. Curiously, I was just thinking that they would probably call while I was making it and was not wrong. I met them at the back of the F&L, as that is where we met before, and I led them down the lane. The younger of the two was on the roof of the cabin as quick as a flash; I did not even see him get out of the van. He informed us that the felt was all lifted up and had popped the clouts. I did ask why they did not use longer ones and was told that they would go through the roof OSB. I must admit that I doubted it as they barely went through the felt, but I kept my own counsel. We will proceed to add a steel layer on top which should negate the problem altogether.
It was bitterly cold this morning and it was even colder outside. The bleddy hound and I had to go around the block as the waves were lapping at the bottom of the slipway in the Harbour. The walk warmed me up a bit, but a gymnasium session would have made a better job of it. A bit of manual labour at The Farm was the only alternative, so we repaired up there after the shed boys had departed.
The first job for me was to install the big red and yellow switch while the Missus painted a mural in her robustly built convenience. There are strict rules in place about its use - the convenience, that its, the switch can only be used in two ways - that demand only a short time therein, so quite why distracting paintings are required on the wall is a bit of a mystery. We do not speak of it, of course. It was, however, pointed out to me that my alluring big red and yellow switch was ugly, and could it not have gone in the cabinet with the other workings. I told her that to do so would require an ugly grey junction box in its place and another line of trunking up the wall. I was going to suggest a mural to disguise it but thought better of it.
With the switch in place there was nothing to stop us pushing the cabinet back against the wall, other than it was heavy and awkward to move from one side. We managed with a brief pause to mark out and cut away a lump to accommodate the trunking. There then followed much screwing and unscrewing of nuts to attach various wires to batteries and batteries to each other. It did occur to me that perhaps we could use a switch to isolate the batteries, but I did not have another big red and yellow switch. It will conveniently sit in the cabinet with the other workings but I might just put it on the wall next to the other one, just for fun.
With everything in place and the batteries connected up I set to with playing with the solar charger. It connects to my mobile telephone, which is entirely overkill for such a small installation but much more fun that just seeing a few lights or a dial. It was relatively bright for a cloudy grey day, so the panels were ticking over with just enough to charge the batteries without any load. When I turned the lights on, they struggled to pick up the pace but this is largely expected during the winter and we hope that there are enough days without us there so that the batteries stand a chance to recharge before we use them again. I will also have to adjust the wiring for the lights as they are taking too much current. I thought that I could get away with wiring the two circuits together, but clearly not. It will not take much to separate them again and have two switches, which should cure the problem.
It was late when we came away, although still light. I had managed to discover I was a joint short of finishing off plumbing the waste pipe but at least the soak away is complete. I even managed to put away the Christmas decorations stage that we use in the shop that has been propped against the barn door since early January. While the mural is still a work in progress, I call that a good day's work.
February 25th - Tuesday
It is a disaster of cataclysmic proportions; a calamity; a catastrophe and not to mention a right pain in the bottom. The cabin roof at The Farm is leaking again.
I had dropped the Missus up there in the morning on my way to the bone cruncher. I had noticed that I am a little squint, in that my left side is slightly off-centre and has caused some issues, though not quite so bad as being only able to walk in circles. Hopefully, I am now cured. On the way back, I picked up Mother and together we returned to The Farm and a distraught Missus, wringing her hands and a sodden cloth out the cabin door.
Naturally, the leaks - yes, leaks plural - are not exactly where they have dripped through the ceiling, but we are reasonably sure that it will be the loose and too small clouts at the heart of the problem. I took the immediate stance that it will be best to install a more sturdy roof and, flushed with my success with the wall of steel, I proposed we used some of the remaining sheets to do the job. I quickly measured the roof and walked down to the barn to see if we had sufficient panels left to complete the work. We did not.
This leaves us with a bit of a problem. We only need two sheets and the one company that we know do not mind driving up the muddy lane, does not supply such roofing. I called them later and they suggested two roofing companies that might be able to help. I was told that if the companies would not deliver, to have the material sent to them and they would take it up there. I cannot get over just how good these people are.
I was keen to crack on with the job there and then but with wind gusts piling in at between 50 and 60 miles per hour and frequent squally and heavy wintry showers coming with it, fixing the roof today was never an option, really.
I had arranged to meet our builder at the shop just after the middle of the day, so we had to up sticks from The Farm and come home anyway. Before we left, we pressure tested the plumbing, as at least the journey up would not have been a complete waste of time. After an initial flood, the source of which was quickly fixed, we had a successful flush and left with some sense of having achieved something.
We had a good meeting with our builder about replacing the windows and roof at the front end of the building. He understands completely the need to supply a fit for purpose solution and we agreed the outline plan. He will return once we have agreed with the structural engineer the size of the corner returns to support the roof properly and carry out detailed measurements for the new windows. Our work is scheduled to start straight after the Easter holidays - provided that we can afford to pay him.
After he left, I called the shed company that built the cabin for us. They offered, without being pressed, to send someone to have a look tomorrow morning. I will need to be on standby to meet with him from early doors as we do not have a time for his arrival.
Our squally conditions persisted into the afternoon. Mother had heard that it would be a mainly dry day, but the evidence suggested that it was the other way around. We sat upstairs looking at the dark clouds, large enough to fill the sky, driving in across the bay from the north west. The wind increased and the sleety rain lashed the windows. As the sea lumped over the Harbour wall, the wind caught the tops of the waves and blew the spray down across the front, smoking past our windows and obscuring the boiling bay. In between, we had moments of brightness and expanses of blue sky. It was a most peculiar day.
Grumpy Father Neptune,
throwing his waves over the Harbour wall.
The bleddy hound was not in the least enamoured with the thought of a walk around the block in the late afternoon and settled for a quick foray to the head of the Harbour slipway and back. I cannot blame her, as the wind was increasing, and we were being buffeted.
By the end of the day we had achieved quite a bit that needed to be done. It is just that it did not feel like we had done anything at all but sit around at home. Hopefully, we will be able to do more physical work tomorrow and end the day feeling more replete. I do not know where this need to fill each unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run has come from, but I know that I feel that sitting on my behind and doing begger all is a bit of a waste. I just cannot make up my mind whether that is a good thing or not.
February 24th - Monday
The regularity of wind increasing overnight and rain during the day is now beyond tedious. Of course, it is much worse even than that up country where there have had significantly more that we and up there it has not run away. It might well be that in the longer run we might be permanently wet when the sea comes up to meet us.
It was doing a fair job of get here today, especially at high water when it was throwing itself over the Harbour wall and thumping up the cliffs opposite. Even then, we have had much worse recently and today was probably more sabre rattling and show.
We had plenty of time to have a look at it, too. Today was a staying in day, although I did venture out twice in the rain. Naturally, the first trip was to the gymnasium and it is not often that I have to take a rain jacket with me. The second was to slip into town to get a rotary switch so that I can separate the solar panels at The Farm from the regulator. It will also look pretty cool to have a big red and yellow switch on the wall next to a box with flashing lights on.
There were not that many visitors here for the half term holiday, but The Cove seems much emptier without them. The work at the OS seems to have stepped up a gear and a couple of what could be the downstairs rooms materialised over the weekend. For those of you unaware of the changes, the old apartment block has been scat down and ten new rooms are being built in the middle of the car park. The artist's impression showed the block in all its glory with a dozen or so cars parked in front of it. I might suggest that a dozen cars might be a little optimistic and two or three might be more of the order of the day. For the many few people who bemoaned loss of the apartments because they were dog friendly, my early information is that so too will be the new rooms. It will be best to check with the OS, though.
Further up the hill, the shuttering is going on the huge wall of steel reinforcement in preparation for the first retaining wall being built there. The plans are to push a driveway up the slope that then doubles back and up to what was Myrio, high above the road. It is some feat of engineering and it makes me wonder that if you did not want to walk up to a house on a hill, why not buy that was not on a hill in the first place.
I pondered these great questions later in the afternoon while I finished off the last of the munitions production down in the shop. Actually, there may be just a little more to do but largely it is all finished in time for me to start clearing up the mess that has accumulated down there after Christmas. With just a couple of weeks left until opening, there is much work to do but as tradition has it, we will not start that until the afternoon of the last Friday before we open. So lackadaisical have I been regarding the reopening that I almost forgot to alert the Laurel and Hardy Newspaper Company of our impending date. I gave them two months' notice of our Christmas opening and they still messed it up, but I do not want to give them any excuse to mess it up this time as well.
February 23rd - Sunday
It seems our local winds are keen to blow in the morning and ease off in the afternoon. It was not quite as severe as it was yesterday morning, however, and we managed to get onto the beach. The sea was raging a bit and I suspect that we will have to walk around the block tomorrow. It is a good job that we did not do so today as a friend we met later advised that a seal, very possibly the same as a few days ago, was resting up by the Round House.
Not only was the wind blowing and the sea upset but we had a heavy mizzle blowing through from time to time. In between, we had light mizzle. This cleared up in the later afternoon, but it was pretty much grey and bleak all day. I took the bleddy hound around the block when I returned from the range and by that time, the sea was raging.
Given that I was huddled on a hillside, exposed to the elements - apart from the shelter of the shooting point, which is largely uninteresting to many, I shall deploy the last portion of Mr PC's memoirs of holidays in the area.
Village life and Pastimes Early Cornish Holidays were not just confined to exploring the lanes and spending many hours on the sunny beaches. My mother who was, to say the least, a gregarious woman and an avid churchgoer, believed in immersing us as a family into village life. From accepting invitations from the Rectors wife, Mrs Croft, for tea and scones at the Vicarage, to "Feast" days, beetle and whist drives and many other local activities based in and around the Village Hall.
Opposite Mrs "T"'s house was the St Buryan village football field and cricket pitch which was shared by a herd of cows. As boys we could not resist in being amongst the spectators at the football matches. On Saturdays the cows had to be hearded into a nearby field and the shovel and bucket brigade would have to remove all the cow pats and remark the lines! The best match to be a spectator was when St Buryan played the "St Justers". In those days there was not the branded fancy gear of Adidas or Nike with branded lightweight colourful footballs. Football boots were made of heavy leather with rock hard toe caps, so shin pads were a priority. The football was brown leather affair with an internal bladder usually inflated by a bicycle pump and pulled together by a wicked lacing system. The ball was then usually anointed with "dubbin" to prevent the ball getting too heavy on a wet day. The only other gear that accompanied the match was usually a galvanised bucket of cold water parked on the halfway line with the "magic" sponge immersed into its chilly water. There was usually a strong waft of Sloan's liniment the aroma of which still lingers in my memory nearly eighty years later. As well as that "gear" there was usually a cobbler's last with someone with a pocket full of leather studs and and hammer to effect replacement of studs lost during the game. There was usually quite a crowd of spectators who encouraged the battling teams with ribald barracking and various verbal witticisms. It is not too difficult to understand where the celebrated Cornish comedian "Jethro" (who was born in St Buryan) and his fictional cohort "Penberthy" got their inspiration from!
The old pitch is now a small housing estate and the facility has moved to a more permanent site in the village.
In those days if you did not play football or other sport at the weekend then the chances were that you went rock fishing for mackerel. This takes me back to the grove of giant bamboo canes at Lamorna Mill that I mentioned earlier from our walks through the Valley.
Sometimes on Saturday afternoon we witnessed, coming down through the village, a posse of noisy cyclists with wrist thick, tapering 15 foot long bamboo canes (harvested from Lamorna), strapped to their cross bars. Apparently, they were all heading for Porthcurno to catch the rising the tide and cast out their feather baited hooks and lines from the rocks into the azure sea in search of mackerel. Enroute the young men called at various cottages to pick up kitchen waste which hopefully contained fish guts! Generally, Fridays were, in some Cornish households "fish day". The waste was collected into buckets. That waste was mashed up for ground bait or "rubby dubby" as it would be affectionately known. That mixture would be cast into the sea hoping to lure in mackerel towards the reach of the bamboo canes suspended out over the rocky outcrops. A far cry from the modern day sea anglers and their sophisticated gear. Sometimes if we were on Porthcurno beach you could see this happy band reeling in their catch with the mackerel glinting in the sun light!
Perhaps I should mention the fish cart which, in the late 1940s, visited St Buryan and other dwellings once a week. The pony drawn cart set out from the old Newlyn Fish Market laden with an array of freshly landed fish, making its way with the assortment of fish iced down in boxes. I can recall waiting to buy a pilchard for a few pence to bait my hand held fishing line before trying my luck on Sennen breakwater!
Conclusion Sennen Cove, or Porthsennen as I believe it was known back in the pages of time, is a place where very often the sea runs wild and the fierce Atlantic winds blow in fury. Seasons come and go but, in my mind, very little changes in the Cove in what the "Diary" labels as "the final Frontier". The fabric of the village remains almost timeless with houses clinging to the cliffs and the modernised but historic Lifeboat Station reminding us of character and grit of the inhabitants. All this embraced by the wide arc of Whitesand Bay with the whole package tethered to North America by its little known Transatlantic cable.
However, the perennial problem of the indigenous population being disenfranchised by costly developments and a housing market beyond the average person's pocket will continue to test the resolve of Cornish folk both young and old alike. May be some bureaucrat will, in the not too distant future, devise a scheme that will fairly address the supply and demand of local housing. A matter I believe that St Ives at least is endeavouring to solve! And it is not only the coastal communities that are at risk but Cornwall's hinterland as well. I can well remember as visitor in the late 1940s that when walking the lanes even the modest hamlet was generally rented or owned by local people.
Cornwall then, from the River Tamar, circling around the Isles of Scilly, and then north to Bude is a destination that can mean different things to different people, from the local population to surfers, walkers, sailing enthusiasts, sea anglers, beach lovers, gourmet foodies and even archaeologists who continually probe and analyse its earthworks and standing stones. It is an experience, despite the burgeoning micro breweries, that cannot be bottled!
Countless novelists like Daphne du Maurier have endeavoured to romanticise it. Historical aspects have been fictionalised in TV series like Poldark, whilst its people and modern day life have been portrayed in TV productions like "BBC Coast", "Saving Lives at Sea" and lately "Cornwall: This Fishing Life". At the other end of the literary scale Cornwall is fantasied by Antonia Barber in her children's book "The Mousehole Cat" and the legendary Stargazey pie. Also, modern day writers like Richard Larn in his recent and most readable book, "Sea of Storms", reminds you how unforgiving the sea around Cornwall can be! Historical commentators are always keen to remind you of "Trelawney and the 40,000 Cornishmen" who are immortalised in the "Song of Western Men". Other chroniclers like to refer to Dolly Pentreath, a Mousehole woman whose name is carved in granite close to Paul Churchyard, and said to be, "the old matriarch of the of the Cornish language". It is gratifying to see besides the well rooted idioms in daily use the Cornish language is showing signs of resurgence. All this made possible because of the humour, resilience and fortitude of Cornwall's people, who have recently put the kibosh on Greggs trying to invade the Duchy beyond Saltash. A tenacity which the "Diary", with a big smile on its face, is keen to reminds us of on a daily basis!
I would like to thank Mr PC for his insight into a life of Cornish holidays past and the interesting little details of the countryside and its people around The Cove and St Buryan. Also, for getting me off the hook when I have been sore pressed to deliver due to time or desperation. Unfortunately, that is the last of it - for now.
February 22nd - Saturday
I was a bit concerned about finishing off the back wall of the wood shed today as it had blown a hooley for much of the night. It was still pretty fierce when the bleddy hound and I hit the beach first thing. Not that she cared; her best pal was down there already.
We headed off to The Farm fairly early, which was just as well. By the time we got up there the wind had shifted and diminished and the skies brightened to a certain extent. It was definitely not as chilly working out in the field for most of the day as it was yesterday. Having found a bit of a routine with wall building yesterday, it was pretty much plain sailing erecting the last three panels. I did find that I had to extend the frame slightly at the end, as the 3.6 metre lengths were just short of the full width. The end result was a very much robust steel wall that will give the solar panels a bit of a run for their money in producing glare when the sun eventually breaks through. It will not last long before the rust sets in and takes the edge off.
There are signs afoot that the season is about to begin as we have started taking calls from visitors requesting information. My attention will be diverted more towards the day job over the next couple of weeks. The latest enquiry, yesterday, asked about accommodation that might suit a couple intending to walk the South West Coast Path. Their plan was to find a campsite on a bus route that would facilitate their walking from St Ives to Lizard over the course of their holiday.
This is usually one of the simpler questions, as the bus routes are familiar to us, as are most of the campsites that sit on or near them. It was while I was talking with the lady on the telephone that I remembered that the bus services in the Duchy are set to change. I had no time yesterday to investigate the issue but found some time this morning before we headed off to The Farm. I discovered from the much maligned council's website that a new contract has been awarded to Go Ahead, a national firm, that will set up here as Go Cornwall. We are told that the much maligned council intends to modernise and improve bus services across the Duchy. I am just hoping that this is not the sort of 'improvement' we had with waste services that has halved collections and removed all the recycling points.
There is no detail on the much maligned council website and there is no information or website yet for Go Cornwall. Since I cannot recommend a campsite on a bus route to a visitor if that bus route may change, I sought help from the much maligned council councillor who is in charge of the changes and sent the man an electron mail. I wait with bated breath for a response.
Having finished off the wall at The Farm, plumbed in the new sink and finished the last bit of lining in the cabin on the door, we found that we had run out of time. There was also very little time to prepare any tea, even if either of us could be bothered to make it or that we had considered at all what we might have. We could have done with a couple of the Aged Parents' ready meals for times like this. Instead, we elected to eat from the local Chinese restaurant and hang the consequences.
Gosh, it must be time for bed, now.
February 21st - Friday
It was not exactly a day to write home about but at least it was not raining and the forecast suggested no rain throughout the day. It was a dull day with heavy, grey clouds hanging low in the sky and a fresh breeze was blowing from the south west and persisted all day.
The bleddy hound's nose was placed well out of joint from the very off, this morning. A seal had beaten her down to the Harbour beach and although it had made its escape, we were not far behind it. She stopped half way down the slipway and was diverted to the further side to have a sniff. It clearly upset her because after momentarily poking her nose around the trail in the sand, she returned to the slipway and made to go back home. I managed to encourage her to come around the block instead, but it just is not the same as a gambol on the sand.
I cut away early to have my first gymnasium session in a week. My body did not seem to complain at all, and I completed a full session with no cheating. There are still quite a few visitors about judging from the random parking along the street, although they seem to favour parking on the corner by the OS, just to make progress there just a little bit more difficult for everyone. It also seems the thing to do to park on the keep clear signs by the bus turning point. If I had not just had a blistering gymnasium session, I might well have been bothered by it.
All this exercise and running about was nothing more than a prelude for heading up to The Farm to have a crack at putting the back wall back on the wood shed. It has been missing since the asbestos collectors took the old one away. Our friendly building man has finished the new rafters but has not been back to put on the roof and I must say, I cannot blame him; the weather just has not been right for it. Today was the first day that we could get up there to work. We were lucky that our building supplies supplier was happy to come up and deliver the wood I would be using else I would have been coming straight home again.
My plan was to use some of the left over metal roof sheets but before I could deploy those I had to build a frame to hang them on. I used the existing telegraph poles that the old wall had been attached to, although they required some work to get a flat run across the back. Putting up the frame was remarkably straight forward after that, although that was the easy part, to be fair. The hard bit was going to be cutting the metal roofing sheets and attaching them to the frame, or at least I expected it to be. It required the use of my new angle grinder, which is a proper manly tool and I must report that I did, indeed, feel very manly using it.
The hardest part of the whole operation was moving the sheet from where I had sliced it to size to the back of the wood store. As soon as I picked it up, I was taken by the wind blowing in across the field and pushed back several paces. It did not seem possible to turn the edge into the wind to make it less of a sail as whichever direction I turned, the wind would get me one side or the other and turn me side on again. After a short battle, I made it to the wall site but while manoeuvring the sheet into position, I managed to get between it and the frame and immediately found myself pinned to the wood. I had wondered how I would hold the sheet in place while I drilled in the fittings but the wind did the job for me and I considered not bothering with the fittings at all as I could not move it off the frame.
I managed to get just the one sheet up before I ran out of time. I had found all the parts of the job went remarkably smoothly, which is unusual for me, even as DIYman. It dawned on me that I had purchased a professional tool bag while I was away, having got fed up with being unable to find anything in the old camera bag I was using for the last so many years. I concluded that, of course, having a professional tool bag would have made all the difference and I should have purchased one long ago.
It was half past four o'clock by the time we came away. It was Mother's day to come for tea, so the Missus had to go and prepare it else we might have stayed longer and worried about eating later on. Maybe we will do that tomorrow, although I have only a further three sheets to hang, so it will not take long; I am quite familiar with hanging three sheets to the wind.
February 20th - Thursday
It was a morning of farewells at Wincanton, including a goodbye to the 'ansum sandwiches from the small independent shop purveying them. You may choose a combination of any of the many ingredients listed on the six feet tall board and have brown or white bread, rolls, paninis and wraps to put them in. It seemed churlish to leave without taking a last one with us each.
We left the Aged Parent waving a hankie at the door, we were not sure if he was waving goodbye or had some fluff to get rid of. It had been a pleasant, if short, stay and it will be some time before we can come back up again.
Our journey home was broken by an enforced visit to the Swedish furniture shop in Exeter. Fortuitously, I had spotted the list that the Missus had written but knew that with only five items on it, there was some sort of ruse going on. This became more evident was I was told to remain in the car while she went and collected the goods. If there were five items, I must be seeing at least double but at least I managed to head her off at the pass regarding table legs at £12 each.
Given that I am sure you do not want to hear about a long and tedious journey, I will hand you over to Mr PC for the next instalment of his visits to Cornwall as a youth. This excerpt is rather shorter than the others but will leave you with some homework to follow up on.
St Loy and Boskenna House Another adventure to the Coastal Path was on yet another of those Cornish mizzle days when Mrs T suggested to my father to take the boys to St Loy which was the nearest coastal access, reputed to be only a "stone's throw as the crow flies" (2miles to be exact) from St Buryan. So, armed with directions about public rights of way across the fields and over the granite styles we set off on another Cornish stank. When we got to Boskenna we could not find the pathway and ended up in the grounds of Boskenna House to be confronted by a burly Cornishman and a posse of gardeners. The Headman was just about to bawl us out when a grin appeared on his face and he said, "Oh it's you Curtis where are you going"? Apparently, they were both frequenters of the St Buryan pub, run by "Big" Jim Grenfell. Anyway, we were put on the right track and my father was told to pick a few apples for the boys as we exited the orchard onto the almost obscure public right of way. St Loy was a sight to behold, remote with enormous rounded boulders littering the foreshore and beyond.
Today of course St Loy is a bit of a mecca for walkers and tourists. Well signposted, car parking and B&B accommodation in one or two converted cottages and barns close by. In season it is carpeted with daffodils and bluebells.
When we arrived back later in the afternoon to Mrs Tregurtha and related our tale of getting lost, she remarked "good job you did not run into Colonel Paynter"!!!
The significance of that remark did not mean anything to me until many years later. I did an internet search on Colonel Camborne Haweis Paynter, to give him his full name. Besides being a generous local benefactor and holding public offices he appeared to have had a reputation of being a "bit of a lad". I leave readers of the "Diary" to research his name and come to their own conclusions! Boskenna Estate as an entity, no longer exists, having been sold off on the demise of the Colonel. However, the next Cove on from St Loy is still "mapped" with the Paynter name.
Then we went to the OS after a short Lifeboat training session that taught us how to use a ladder properly. Suitably apprised, we repaired to the OS for a spot of quizzing and learnt that we are not quite as daft as we thought we were. We won. So surprised were we that we spent the next half an hour wondering what we had done right.
All that nonsense was set aside on the journey home as the clouds had parted and the stars studded the sky. You have to wonder if nature is taking the Mickey by offering clear skies by night and rain by day. Still, it was a perfect pleasure running the bleddy hound around the block for the first time since the last time I did it. It has been only been a week since I did it last but our time away has seemed longer than it actually was. Most peculiar.
February 19th - Wednesday
The streets may be lines with precious metal up country but at least they are getting the same rubbish weather that we are getting back home. It is of some comfort.
We woke this morning to another grey and damp morning. During the day it became increasingly wet and some of it was quite heavy. It was supposed to clear after a couple of hours, but it was wet through the most of the day. This was of no comfort at all.
There is a farm shop not too far distant that apparently required a visit, so we visited today. It is a farm shop of prodigious proportions and is stuffed full of good and wholesome produce, even if the fish did come from Brixham. They have made a very good display of it all, with segregated islands of various categories of foodstuff or by supplier and sometimes both. There is a fine butcher's counter with every sort of meat set out on display that must take some time to set out each day. I commented to the fishmonger that I was surprised that he managed to get much produce at all given the recent weather and he admitted that it had been a bit thin in recent weeks.
The delicatessen counter was a wonder with cakes and savouries spread across a long L shaped counter. If I were still consuming cake, I would have been hard pressed to ignore the thick chocolate cheesecake and the rocky road on display. It was an unusual sight for us to see pasties crimped along the top, but I am sure, along with everything else available, that they would have been of excellent quality - if a little small and not quite award winning.
For a casual visit, I am not sure quite how we managed to fill a trolley, but I am certain that the Missus would only have been stocking up with essential goods, unless she knows of an impending famine that the rest of us are unaware of. The same must have been true of the very excellent butcher in the Wincanton high street. We drop by each time we are here and normally leave with two voluminous carrier bags full of meats of every description. I cannot think why, but the shopkeeper remembered us from twelve months ago, for his eyes lit up and a beaming smile stretched his face. The Missus assured me that we only needed the breast of lamb, which are the very best, apparently, but she took two big freezer bags in with her from the truck, which made me suspicious. We left with both full and were promised that our next visit would be eagerly awaited - because we were such happy customers, no doubt.
There were no curtains to hang or shower doors to fix when we came back to the house of the Aged Parents. This, of course, left us at a very loose end until tea time, though we managed a rough discourse on all sorts of matters of great import, though what they were I have no idea.
I already explained yesterday that we had booked again for the Nog Inn because it was so good. I had hoped, judging from the weather forecast, that we would be able to walk around today but the rain persisted despite the weathermen's insistence that it would not. It would have been oh so tempting to have the same meal again but I forced myself to choose another and was once again, not disappointed in the least. It makes a great deal of difference when a restaurant or café uses quality ingredients, which I would wager are all local. With a great butcher shop around the corner and a top green grocery even closer, it would not make much sense to ship in inferior product from a more remote source.
We highly recommended it on the popular travel review website and hope that they prosper. It would be awful to think that they were not here the next tie we venture forth in this direction.
We spent the rest of the evening putting right the world's woes with the Aged Parent. By half past nine o'clock we were all rather weary from our exploits during the day and knocked it on the head. It will be a morning of farewells tomorrow, so we should prepare ourselves we felt.
February 18th - Tuesday
Last night with its clear starry sky was a fitting last night on Earth for our friend, wit, author and sometime bird man; the visited on the Missus's many trips to hospital over the last weeks. This morning as I finished off the Diary, he quietly shuffled off.
Our day started off grey and cold but at least it was not raining. We met up with the Aged Parents and enjoyed a sandwich from the very good sandwich shop that, despite fears of it closing, is still going strong. It is the sort of sandwich shop that you are glad is not around the corner from where you live because if it were you would rarely eat at home. It was also good to note the opening of a green grocery down a little alley way. The owner is quite a live wire and has an adjoining wholefoods shop, a cornucopia of seeds, potions and brews of all manner, which is a wonder to observe, even if not consume. Both stores are exactly the sort of shop that you would like around the corner from where you live.
In the middle of the day we ventured off to Yeovil, mainly because the Missus announced that she would like to go there. The Aged Parent warned against it, mainly for all the reasons that the Missus wanted to go; it has shops in abundance. He was concerned where we would park our bus, since it is of dimensions not conducive to town centre parking. The multi-storey car park was definitely out of bounds because the parking spaces were marked out when Model T Fords occupied the streets and are far too narrow for the modern motor vehicle, let alone our big lump of steel. The first open air car park that we had discussed had plenty of spaces and several with outsize markings, which was very convenient.
The High Street had many shops and a couple of modern shopping areas had many more. One of these is a large purveyor of homewares such as curtains, rugs, throws and kitchenware to name but a few. We had been tasked to acquire some curtain hooks and this emporium was just the place to find them. Quite how we came out with two cushions, two throws, a bunch of plastic flowers and a rug, I have no idea, but it gave us a very large bag to cart around the rest of the shops. I discovered that two can play at that game and found a hardware store where I found a tool bag and some pliers I did not know that I needed. Actually, the tool bag will be most useful as it takes ten minutes to find a screwdriver in the current bag.
We came to Yeovil across country, rather than take the main roads. There is all manner of small villages to wonder at as your drive through the countryside. Here, even the walls have a story to tell and one in particular caught my interest. It was at the gable end of a cottage but ranged at least ten feet above the cottage it was attached to, in the village of North Cheriton. While the wall had been settled into the adjoining building, it did not seem part of it and was buttressed while the rest of the building had no such structure. I had seen this feature before but had forgotten to ask about it.
This time I brought it before the Aged Parent who told me that it was a wall for playing 'fives' against; a ball game of Tudor origin. On deeper enquiry, it seems that this was a popular game over several centuries and is still played at Eton, Rugby and a few other notable public schools. The ball is played by hand against a wall and was often played against the buttressed walls of churches, in the absence of a purpose built court. The latter practise was outlawed by the Bishop of Bath & Wells in the mid 18th century, which presumably resulted in more purpose built walls appearing, largely in Somerset. Our wall at North Cheriton was mentioned.
Such investigation is tiring, as you may imagine, dear reader, so after a cup of tea we sallied forth in the rain to the restaurant in town that we were turned away from the previous night. We ate there the last time we were visiting and found it most welcoming and the meal toothsome. The décor is left unrefined but displays quite an ancient building and the lack of refinement may well be the result of formal protection; we did not ask - again.
Our meals were first class, unfussy fare, which we hugely enjoyed. We enjoyed it so much that we booked to go there the next night as well. The tables were frequented by locals known to the Aged Parent, which must say something about it and the service informal but attentive and pleasant. If you find yourself eating at Wincanton, I highly recommend the Nog Inn, but you would be best to walk to it a parking is limited.
We had been interrupted before we left doing some home maintenance. We had purchased some curtain hooks for the living room curtains as the current ones had become brittle. This was huge fun previously, but after a few libations at the Nog, it was a scream. I can highly recommend that, too.
February 17th - Monday
It is entirely possible that I could have cut and pasted the entry I wrote for the last journey in the direction that we travelled today; I doubt that I would have been rumbled. I did not, by the way, just in case you are checking.
We were no way as timely as we were the last time and did not clear our way from St Buryan until gone half past eleven. I had taken the time, while the Missus settled the bleddy hound with Mother, to go and wash the truck. We should, perhaps, visit the Aged Parents more often; the truck would be cleaner. In any event, I must be getting better at it as not only did I do it in less time than previously, but I also missed less bits.
The journey was reasonably uneventful, as long journeys can be. I did notice that even on quieter roads, many drivers are not very proficient with their skills. Some are in just too much of a hurry, while others do not give enough room after passing before they cut in. Three cars effectively cut me up during the journey, which was tiresome, others insist on speeding up while being passed then take umbrage and have to pass you in return, then slow down once they have done so. Miraculously, we arrived unscathed.
We had stopped for breakfast, that was closer to dinner, at the Smokey Joe's Café at Scorrier. We would stop there during the run up to Exeter last month, but that is on a Saturday and it is busy enough during the week. I do not think that there is a living soul in the area, who enjoys a bit of breakfast, who has not been to Smokey Joe's and it is of no surprise; it really is a most enjoyable repast.
Since the maternal Aged Parent is a tad under the weather at present, the Missus spent some time before we came away creating some packages of ready meals to grease the wheels a bit. I do trust that it is not come to be expected but I fear that it is too late.
Just so that we are not eating into these supplies while we are here, we pottered off to a local restaurant for a spot of tea. The first place we tried in town was full to the gunnels so we had to go elsewhere. The first choice of venue, close enough to walk to, was cunningly decided upon because it was not raining tonight, according to the forecast, whereas it would be on the other nights we are here. This, of course, did not stop it raining while we walked there and back again.
Later on, as we came away from the second venue, the skies were clear and the night sky vaulted above us revelling in its splendour of millions of bright points of light formed into wondrous constellations.
February 16th - Sunday
If yesterday was mucky then today was just filthy. It was raining from the outset, although the bleddy hound and I got away lightly as the intensity of rain had diminished. Instead, we were nearly caught out by the tide.
There was enough beach to have a run on when we headed out that way, but the tide was on the push. I reasoned that we had enough time and were not particularly pressed, but the sea had other ideas given that the swell was quite robust. There was one rather longer run which pushed up as far as the western slipway, a good twenty feet from the other incoming waves. Fortunately, we had kept well back but it is easy to see how the less mindful could be caught out.
It was abysmal at the range; the rain was relentless and quite heavy at times. Thoughtfully, the organiser had provided some laminated targets after our experience from last week but even then, kept it to just the one. It is the first time there that I kept my jacket on, else I would have been soaked in short order when resetting the targets. The skies brightened in the afternoon, which was predominantly a target shoot. We had just pinned up the paper targets when the heaviest shower yet blew through. It was a proper squall but lasted much longer than was right and proper. Happily, it cleared up again, but the temperature had plummeted, so I continued to keep my jacket on.
Mother was feeling a little delicate and decided, given the weather, that she would stay put in St Buryan. It was probably a wise decision because although the rain had gone and given over to bright skies, the wind increased. At Gwennap Head, the average wind speed was 65 miles per hour with gusts peaking between 80 and 90 miles per hour in the late afternoon. When I took the bleddy hound out at around half past five we were properly slapped across the face as we rounded the Lifeboat station corner. We were going to have a run on the Harbour beach but a seal pup got there first, gamely lolloping up the beach by the Harbour wall. There did not seem to be much wrong with it given the speed it was going, so I assumed it was just taking a break from the hammering waves.
We were just heading back home when a neighbour told me that the door to the Round House had blown open. Fortunately, I was able to find the owner's telephone number and gave him a call. I was alone with the bleddy hound so I could not stay around to discover the outcome. There were enough people to help, so I must conclude all was resolved.
I am hoping that the weather will calm down a bit for tomorrow because we are off to see the Aged Parents for a few days. This may disrupt Diary posting, although I have managed previously and can disrupt it without going away. Nevertheless, you will be hearing about foreign parts if I have managed to drag myself up the hill and broken free of The Cove's gravitational pull.
February 15th - Saturday
I am a lucky grumpy shopkeeper. Three times I took the bleddy hound for a walk today and three times I managed to miss the rain.
It had not started in the morning when we went out, but it did not take long to sweep in from the west. The wind was far less scary than expected, even though it was from the south west, and in fact I would have said that Thursday was far worse. It did rain quite consistently until two o'clock when it fizzled out and ended up just mizzly for the rest of the day. I spoke with a neighbour who told me that a tree had come down on the road between Penzance and Sennen forcing her daughter for re-route via St Just. A tree blocking the road is utter irony in a place that is largely devoid of them.
Even though Dennis was a bit more wimpy that expected, it was not the sort of day for venturing up to The Farm. We are fast running out of days to finish our work up there and will end up having to go in whatever the weather throws at us soon. The Missus took our neighbour visiting again, so I repaired to the shop to play with the munitions factory. I managed to get quite a bit done but will keep doing some more right up until we reopen to make sure I do not run out.
There has been another outstanding job in the shop that I kept promising myself that I would do but have not yet done. During the hotter months and after heavy rain, we detect a nasty niff in the store room. It comes from the very back and we have long suspected that we have a manhole cover under the staging that is there.
It did not take too long to remove the pile of toilet rolls and wetsuits that sit atop the staging, although moving them and making sure I could get in and out did take some arranging. Fortunately, I did not have to empty and deconstruct the shelving that sits on the staging to the right as there was a panel in the top to the left. It seemed clear that the panel was there for access although it had been nailed down. Some light work with a screwdriver prised it off to reveal a proper metal, bolt-down cap to an inspection chamber. The cover is on a raised section of a concrete shelf which is clearly at the same level as the access path outside. In the past we have had water ingress from this area until our friendly builder fixed the drains outside. The cover seemed in good order but a squirt of silicon sealant around the edge would not go amiss and hopefully we will have time to do that before we open. It also would not hurt to make a new cover but that will certainly have to wait for another time.
The Missus arrived home at around one o'clock and, since I had come to a natural break point, we both retired upstairs for a cup of tea. I had brought the bleddy hound down with me, as she would not be left on her own in the flat, and I had placed her on her bed so that she could look out of the window. It is a place she will get more used to in the months to come, for sure, but she settled in as if that was her place in life. She will sit there, uncomplaining, for hours if need be.
I had left it a little late to return to my work but went down anyway because I did not think it would take that long. It did. I ended up rushing to take the bleddy hound out before tea when it had become quite dark outside. It really had been a proper mucky day.
February 14th - Friday
Today was a somewhat lazy day for me, although not entirely, but I could have pulled my finger out and done quite a bit more, perhaps.
The Missus was taking our neighbour up to Hayle again, so I was a little rushed to get a gymnasium session in before she disappeared. This meant whizzing the bleddy hound around the block, although whizzing is definitely not the word these days. It was, however, an exceedingly pleasant walk around with little in the way of breeze and quite comfortably temperate for a change. The sea state had moderated quite considerably, though calm was not a description you could use.
I did a truncated version of my gymnasium session and was back before the Missus left. I have tried going with the bleddy hound before now, but she was less than helpful and did nothing but interrupt. It does not help that she cannot see out and there is nothing there particularly that she can lie on comfortably. It was fortunate that today was a little warmer, which meant I could spend less time warming up. The term 'warming up' in the context of exercise usually means to get the muscles used to working before more strenuous activity. At the hut with a tin roof, warming up means just that; getting to a body temperature that makes daring to take off the last layer of thick clothing vaguely acceptable.
The Missus left shortly after I got back home, so, after wiping the sweat from my brow (and, of course, washing my hands afterwards) I set to finishing off the award winning pasties that I had started yesterday. I am getting better at estimating the amount of vegetables required, whereas previously I was left with a big bowl full of highly peppered turnip and tatty, pretty much useless for anything else. Strangely, I have never found the meat to be a problem that way, although I do weight it now so that each pasty has the same amount and I do not run out before I get to the end. Gosh, any more of that lark and I might go professional.
I had very good intentions to return to the munitions factory afterwards, but decided on a quick cuppa while I caught up with business. I promptly went off on a little zizz and awoke to a knocking at our door. The caller was a waiter from Little Bo Café who came to ask if our electricity was off or not. Similar to Wednesday, the flat was off but the shop was on, so I suspected a repeat of the single phase fault.
I telephoned the electricity board and reported that we had a problem. While I was on the telephone, the Missus came home and went straight by me to the kitchen. She came back slightly puzzled and told me that some of the power was on but some not, so I checked the breaker board to find that one of the breakers had tripped. She then reported that she had spoken to the neighbour's electricians who were on site there and they had told her that one of the electricity poles had done a reasonable impression of a Roman candle and the big wire had fallen off. It happens more than occasionally here due to the salt air getting into the works.
Once again, I telephoned the electricity board to update them on the latest news. I also told them that while we had resolved our problem, Little Bo Café was still limping along with some of their outlets working and some not, despite all the breakers being switched on.
I have been very impressed by our region's electricity people, who seem to have their communications absolutely sewn up. Their website lists known problems right down to individual postcodes and gives an estimate of the fix time. When I telephoned, its interactive voice response system automatically logs a fault. When I have spoken to the telephone agents, I have never had to wait long for them to answer and, one they have my mobile telephone number, they provide regular text updates.
When I returned from a quick run out to the Harbour beach with the bleddy hound, the Missus was off again. This time she went off shopping and took Mother with her. At some point during proceedings the power went off again, but this was clearly an outage. I checked the electricity board's website and sure enough we were listed with a recovery time of eight o'clock in the evening. I was about to call the Missus to let her know we would be dining out this evening when she arrived home.
It was while we were discussing options, particularly having realised that it was Valentine's night and tables at restaurants would be at a premium or just not available, when the power came back on again. We debated whether this was a permanent feature or just a flash in the pan and bet our money on the former. We surmised that the worst that could happen was that we would end up with a Chinese or fish and chip meal by torchlight in the cold. Come to think, that would be pretty bad and a tad uncomfortable.
Fortunately, the power stayed on long enough for the Missus to prepare a decent bit of tea. During our meal the electricity board called twice - I had spoken with two agents - to tell us that the problems were all over and to thank us for reporting the incident. It is a shame that they did not call until after tea as I think we were enjoying the edgy atmosphere of an imminent electricity failure. We really do like living on the edge down here.
February 13th - Thursday
I was caught out this morning by a nigh on 90 miles per hour wind blowing through The Cove. Well, it was 89 miles per hour at Gwennap Head and south westerly, so knock ten miles per hour off that by the time it got to us. It still near enough knocked me off my feet as I rounded the Lifeboat station corner. The bleddy hound has a lower centre of gravity, thankfully, but is a whole lot lighter than me. She did a Biggles impression with her ears and managed. It was the storm that never was. There were no particular warnings of it and the weather people admitted later that they were caught out.
I awoke to the wind whistling in the eaves but, happily, no rattle from the launders but a high wind and a very high wind sound very similar. Very high winds tend to be accompanied by the sound of bins and small houses moving about, I suppose. The sea, just past high water, was very upset indeed and throwing itself over the Harbour wall. Waves were running well up the main slipway and later I heard that they had topped the sea wall on the Beach car park and landed debris on the tarmac.
All the rain had gone by the time the bleddy hound and I set out, but only just. I had taken the precaution of wearing full metal jacket waterproofs that do a pretty decent job against the wind, too, so I was grateful I had them on. Down at the end, the waves were dashing over Pedn-men-du leaving a constant trail of spray swirling in the air. It might have looked like something from further back but, close up, it was nothing but a grey mass - and a bit wet.
Once again it was cold and damp in the flat, it was just plain cold outside if you were standing there doing nothing. I found out when I bumped into one of the sons from the photograph I mentioned yesterday. I took the opportunity to fetch the frame and show it to him. He had seen it before and was able to name all the participants - the photograph only had initials and surnames - and who they were and what happened to them. Many were famers, and I learnt that they prepared the field themselves and that it was opposite the F&L. The shape of the hut can still be seen on the wall up there, I was told. It seemed best to part company with the object since it was more relevant to our man than me.
It is my theory that the high winds blew away half of today. I had spent some of the morning keying invoices in the new computer system and some, into the afternoon, making pasty rounds for some award winning pasties. It was my intention to then repair downstairs to continue the munitions production but when I looked at the clock, it was close on four o'clock. I am not happy at all with this fleeting time lark. I managed to prepare one box but had to give up.
There was no Lifeboat training as there is an inspection going on. It is called an audit in the modern lingo but apparently, it is much the same as an inspection. There was some plan to launch the boat either today or yesterday, but the weather put paid to those sort of aspirations. Presumably the auditors will mark us as satisfactory or must try harder until the next time.
The 'must try harder' could easily apply to our quiz team, especially on this evening where we filled in nearly all the spaces but still came third from last. I think we might have done better if we had filled the spaces with correct answers.
Still, we had a clear sky and plenty of stars to gaze up at as we made our way home. The bleddy hound was ready, willing and able for a run around the block, so we did that. I found that I had to keep on turning off my torch to have a look skywards and then immediately wondering how it could be so dark when I looked back. My, it was dark without a torch. Even the bleddy hound stood still until the light came back on again - I could not see her but realised she was in the same spot when I turned it back on again.
It was probably the best night we have had in a while.
February 12th - Wednesday
I do not often feel the cold too much, but this morning seemed especially chilly in the flat and damp, too. Outside, with a brisk pace, it can often feel more temperate but, unfortunately, the bleddy hound does not do brisk any longer. At least the breeze seemed to have died down and we were no longer being slapped around.
We made a relatively early start to head off to The Farm. The forecast had given today as the best day of the week, although it did not have to do much to be that. It was the sort of day that we had to be grateful that we were not getting blown over by the wind or soaked in a sudden heavy shower. Not that we were entirely shower free. It had rained a little as we left and again, later in the afternoon, just as I finished with the inside work at the cabin and was about to migrate outside.
All the electric wiring in the cabin is now in place. There is a hole in the back wall for waste water and another, further up, for the tubing to the water pump to feed the sink. The electric tap caused me the greatest difficulty in that it is designed to sit in a much thinner work surface, so I had to gouge away a sizable hole under the work top so that I could attach the nylon nut to the central spindle. Clearly there will be a bit more work to do when the washing machine, tumble drier, food mixer, ceramic hob, extractor hood and 50 inch flat screen television arrive next week.
The reason for stepping outside the cosy confines of the cabin was to finally connect up the solar panels. This connection was for test purposes today. Production will commence when the Missus has finished painting the walls and we can push the Swedish kitchen unit back into place. I was very impressed that even on a dull, grey day we were making full voltage out of the panels. Even with the electric usage we might have during the summer months, I think that I may have over done it with two big panels.
Work was halted early as the Missus had agreed to take our neighbour over to Hayle. The poorly patient had been moved earlier in the day to a new bed closer to home. She dropped Mother and I at home and sped off, hardly missing a beat.
I knew that something was up as it took some effort to open the shop door - the first electric sliding door in The Cove; I do not know if I have mentioned that before. It took a few moments for me to realise that the reason that the brakes were on was that the power in the shop was off. I went upstairs to suggest that the Missus take Mother, as it would get cold in the flat soon enough, but the electricity in the flat was unaffected, which left me somewhat confused.
Going next door to Little Bo Café, they were in the opposite situation where the flat was off and the shop was on. Having checked their mains board and our own and discovering nothing particularly amiss, I resolved to call the electricity board for help. Their website very helpfully told me that they were aware of a problem at our specific postcode, which was very useful, but I was intrigued as to how shop and flat were not affected together. The very pleasant man at the electric board explained that they had a problem with one phase and that the other two phases of supply were fine. This roughly meant that one in three properties would have a problem. All we could do was wait.
During this episode, we had a knock at the door and a gentleman handed me a package. We had met in the shop earlier in the summer and he had explained that he had found an old photograph of Sennen Cricket Team in a second hand shop up country. He asked if I knew anything about the team, which I confess I did not. He told me then that he would purchase it and bring it next time he was down here, which was today. The event had completely slipped my mind, as so many such events do these days, so his appearance was a complete surprise and it took a few moments rifling through my short-term memory, to recall what had passed.
As you know, dear reader, we rarely use real names in The Diary, but Mr M will know who he is and that we are very grateful for the donation. The picture shows the 1938 team in which many of the names are familiar, including the fathers of some people living and breathing in The Cove today. Quite what we will do with the picture, I do not yet know. The OS would be the obvious place if it were not run by a faceless, South East Cornwall entity, which would be oblivious to the value of such an artefact. I will consult with the sons of the people in the picture to see if we cannot find a suitable public display for it.
Sennen's fiesty cricket team of 1938
February 11th - Tuesday
With the tide still at play in the Harbour, the bleddy hound and I were consigned to running around the block again, first thing. It was breezy in an in-your-face sort of way and I was very glad that I had togged up in my full metal waterproofs despite there being no rain. It was necessary, however, from the spray of the waves still smoking over Pedn-men-du. The bleddy hound was clearly not impressed.
I was in two minds about today. Since the Missus was heading up to Truro again, I considered that she could leave me at The Farm on the way and pick me up later. I would have the opportunity to finish what we started at the weekend. I also need to get ahead of the posse in the munitions factory, else I will be left wanting during the season with no option for making any more until November when we close again; I think our customers might raise an eyebrow being served amongst the production of live ammunition.
It was still windy with a good chance of those wintry showers blowing through and since some of the work at The Farm was outside, I reasoned a day at home would not hurt, especially as the replacement computer disk was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon. It arrived rather earlier than I planned so I was a little delayed going down to the shop and as a consequence got somewhat less done than planned.
I also broke away to take the bleddy hound down to the Harbour beach in the early afternoon. It was a bit windswept but with far fewer showers about than yesterday at least we did not have to pick our time. Despite a big spring low tide, the bleddy hound did not venture too far down towards the water. An almost continuous stream of wind blown sand hung just inches above the stuff just lying there, as it should. It almost looked like there was a layer of sand suspended in the air but if you stood still long enough a wall of sand would build up your trouser leg. It is more likely, however, that the two or three feet of sand missing from the beach was scoured out by the heavy seas of the last few days. There are rocks visible that have not seen the light of day for many years.
Our benchmark rocks completely revealed.
Do not recall seeing these for a while
The slippery slope
The Missus arrived home towards the later part of the afternoon, which gave me an excuse to stop everything and have a cup of tea and a small zizz. I had actually achieved some things today, although it would be rather more satisfying to get the work up at The Farm finished. I contemplated such weighty matters as I finished off making our tea and walking the bleddy hound around the block again.
I get the fearful impression that time is not on our side.
February 10th - Monday
The wind howled its way through the night. In the small hours of the morning we had another 92 miles per hour squall blow through, which I confess I knew nothing of until I checked the overnight wind speeds. The bleddy hound and I had to traverse the car park in the morning, but we noticed no appreciable damage, just a few misplaced bins about the place. Even at mid tide the waves were breaking over the footings of Pedn-men-du in quite spectacular fashion.
I actually made it to the gymnasium this morning. It felt like I had not been for some while, although it was only last Wednesday. I managed to get there before the next squall headed through and each of these today was heavier than the last, it seemed. There was some lightning and thunder about, too, accompanied by a rather intense hailstorm. There is nothing quite like being in a hut with a tin roof in a hail shower.
I hurried back as I had plans, plans, I tell you. It may just be a shopping trip to you, dear reader, but I do not get out much. It was also spread out quite a bit, some of it in town, and some further out, although not all of it was shopping. We still had the old fluorescent tube lighting in the shop from the replacement project a few weeks ago. There was no way that I would get away with taking them to the much maligned council's tip, sorry, household waste recycling centre and I had already established that our electrical wholesaler would take the tubes for recycling. The units themselves were metal and Wheal Alfred in Hayle is pretty good at taking anything of that ilk, so I took them up there.
It is quite surprising how much time such a trip with many stops takes. I did not arrive back at The Cove until nearly four o'clock. It was close on high water and the bay was a boiling mass of white water. The Harbour wall was almost continuously buried and Pedn-men-du was just plain showing off with waves exploding over the top. Once again, on such occasions, I did not have my decent camera with me, so you will just have to believe me. When I took the bleddy hound out a little later it was still smoking over the top and despite some blue sky, it felt like it was raining as the spray blew across us.
Making a mess mid-tide
Smoking over Pedn-men-du
We have noticed that since the new launders have been put up, in certain winds they make a flapping noise that is reminiscent of a small child running a stick along railings. We do not notice it during the day and so nothing has been done about it. Unfortunately, we only remember when we are about to put our heads down at night and it becomes quite an irritation that is difficult to filter out. Since it flapped all night long last night and woke us at irregular intervals it became a priority.
I had thought to insert a small wood wedge in place but making one so small as to perfectly fit the gap was more than difficult. I had a search around and found some small plastic trays that might do the job and tried one out with glue on the back. When I tested it out before fixing it is place, it seemed to work perfectly as it stopped the noise immediately. When I returned with glue on it, naturally I discovered my test run was a fluke. It a fit of pique, I bound two trays together and forced them in the gap. Not only did they stay up there without a fixing but they stopped the noise - I think. Tonight will be the acid test.
While not quite as bad as some, we have had the occasional power outage. One of them fried a computer disk in my backup array, which is £50 I would rather have spent on something else. It happens more than rarely and I have considered an uninterruptible power supply but they are bulky and heavy items, not to mention expensive. Perhaps I may have to reconsider.
Our blowing seems interminable and accompanied by the roar of the sea makes quite a combination. It also brings down the temperature in the flat, the blowing, not the roaring - although I am sure there is a psychological aspect to it - and along with losing our only source of heat in the power failures, it was pretty chilly in the evening. I think I will look out some more winter woollies and, perhaps, put another bar on the fire if this continues.
February 9th - Sunday
Worst storm in a decade, we were told and since we have only just started a decade there was not much to compare it with. Frankly, it was not living up to all the hyperbole at this end of the country, though all the rain and some of the higher winds went north. The Meteorological Office got it completely wrong on the rain front, suggesting we would have a few downpours here. When I looked at the rain radar, there was nothing for miles.
It was not until we arrived at the range that it got a bit mucky. We were in the clouds up there and a heavy mizzle set in, swirling about in the strong winds that were not quite in evidence down in The Cove. It soaked our cardboard targets, eventually making them fall off their backing. Even the hardboard targets in the afternoon could not stand up to the punishing wind. It had been increasing through the day and peaked around 80 miles per hour. By the early part of the afternoon the wind was averaging 60 miles per hour. The afternoon dried out considerably, but we were reduced to using metal plates for targets and even they kept blowing off their stands.
The Cove was stacked out with storm watchers by the time the Missus drove me back in the afternoon. Clearly, storm watching is not worth a couple of quid to park in the car parks for an hour or two, so the streets were lined with parked cars. This included encroaching on the bus turning area and across people's drives. It was just like high summer.
Out in the bay the sea was having a field day. It was quite lively in the morning at near low water but by high water in the afternoon it was banging away over everything in its way. The first fifty yards offshore was nothing but white water and there was a fair amount, too, in the middle of the bay and over Cowloe.
Later in the evening we had a few squalls blow through. One, just before the Missus took the bleddy hound out for the last run of the evening, was particularly vicious and was preceded by a couple of lightning flashes out to the north. The rain was smoking past the Lifeboat station and the electricity pole opposite swayed like a metronome. On consulting Gwennap Head weather station, the wind at the time reached 92 miles per hour.
As I have nothing further to add and as I sit here listening to the howling outside, I offer you part two of Mr PC's memoir for your delectation.
Lamorna Cove and Auxiliary Coastguard Joseph Chapple Talking earlier about the Coastguard Service facilty in Sennen, reminded me of a boyhood story from the late 1940s about Joseph Chapple an Auxiliary Coastguard who lived in Penberth and was well known in Sennen Cove to the fishing and maritime community.
We were heading for Lamorna Cove one day having caught the Western National Bus from St Buryan to the Lamorna Gap and then walked through the Valley past the Lamorna Wink to the harbour wall and small beach. There was nobody in those days exercising ownership with hefty car parking charges.
Lamorna valley, like most Cornish lanes, was then, as now, heavily shrouded by typical Cornish flora of various ferns and bracken, foxgloves wild crocosmia, wild garlic, honeysuckle, fuscia and succulent wild blackberries, etc. There was also an amazing grove of large bamboo canes at Lamorna Mill, the utilisation of which I refer to later in this article. Having mentioned Cornish blackberries it would be remiss of me not to mention Mrs Tregurtha's apple and blackberry pie which she also produced with home-made rubbed pastry out of her Cornish range, and usually served as "afters" (with home-made cream) to her legendary Cornish pasties referred to in my earlier contribution to the Diary. Clearly, despite the invasion and creations of the modern day chefs' dishes, homemade pasties and fruit pies were then and still are, to my mind, "the real taste of Cornwall"
Having eaten our sandwiches and tired of usual pebble skimming activity we decided to explore the cliff path where we came across a memorial stone to Joseph Chapple a wartime auxiliary coastguard who apparently lost his life in a cliff fall on 11th December 1944 in the vicinity of Carn Barges. At the time he was patrolling his wartime beat from Penberth (where he lived) to Lamorna Harbour. Later in the day when we arrived back to Mrs "T" in St Buryan we mentioned the memorial, she reacted by stating "he did not fall but must have been pushed" (Joesph Chapple was her brother in law!). There was a local feeling that Joesph Chapple who had a reputation of being a sober level-headed, sure footed man who knew the Coastal Path like the back of his hand would never have placed himself in a perilous position. Amongst the rumours circulating at that time there was strong belief that he may have confronted an "enemy agent" who had landed from an offshore boat!
Before including this event within this memoir, I decided to research newspaper reports and coroner inquest findings of 1944 to see exactly what the "official findings" were. Alas, despite enquiries with the Coastguard Association, Cornwall Coroner's Office, Kresen Kernow (Cornish Archives) and the online local newspaper archives of the Cornishman and the Western Morning News, held at the British Library in London, there appeared to be, at the time of writing this article, no archival trace of the event!
If any Diary reader can shed any light on the mystery of this tragedy then please write in! Joesph Chapple was interred in St Buryan cemetery and because he was deemed to have lost his life on "active service" his name proudly sits with other Cornish servicemen on the "Roll of Honour".
Footnote: the matter of unidentified boats off the Coast of Cornwall can be given some credence because of another event in the 1940s which was explored in some detail in an episode of BBC Coast. It highlighted the escape of more than a hundred people from the Breton island community of Île de Sein who fled the German invasion in a number of fishing boats and made their way unchallenged to the Cornish coast and landed in the vicinity of Newlyn!
February 8th - Saturday
Golly gosh, where did today go? It started out as normal as you like with a bit of a romp on the beach under a blue sky and little in the way of wind. The Harbour boats have all been pulled into the car park ahead of the expected weather on Sunday, where they will probably stay for a while. From there I would be hard pressed to say what happened and when because I was too busy concentrating on what I was doing.
We arrived at The Farm to continue our labours there, at which point our neighbour called to ask if we could transport her thence to the hospital for another visit. We had intended to pick up Mother for another day together but all that went out of the window and the Missus dropped the bleddy hound out with Mother and went and collected the neighbour.
Our aim today was to complete the sturdily built privy and to install the last of the electric. If there was sufficient time I would also plumb in the sink and the electric pump tap - a complete breeze, of course. The Missus took off almost as soon as we arrived, leaving me to progress alone.
I applied myself and set the bus bars and fuse box out on the wall and connected most of the required wires. I had omitted to get one of the leisure batteries out of the van so I could not test my handiwork but as fortune would have it, by the time I had completed the wiring, the Missus had come back. Very oddly, my first attempt to connect the wiring to the electricity was almost a complete success, apart from one light in the series that refused to light. It took moments to realise that it was the first one that I had wired a little while ago and was still wired in series. Even after I fixed it, the whole chain refused to light, which was infuriating. After some time of testing using the multimeter that I had, by chance, remembered today, I discovered that it was an errant fuse.
While the Missus worked on the sturdily built privy, I continued my labours by transforming from electrician to plumber with the sink. These Swedish sink makers must be inscrutable because it took me the best part of half an hour to work out the latching mechanism to hold it in place. It took me longer to work on the waste pipes and to realise that a 32 millimetres pipe could actually do with a 40 millimetres hole. My largest hole maker was 32 millimetres. This seemed to be a repetitive problem with every hole I had to drill that I was a couple of millimetres short in every case. The frustrations continued when I discovered that most of the items I had to install through the holes expected a much thinner surface. This resulted in having to widen the obverse side of the hole to make fixings work.
I had hoped to finish off so that we could push the sink unit back against the wall, but it was not to be. I did manage to drill a big hole in the back wall, 8 millimetres too small, of course, and fit the waste pipe but we did not have the time to finish it off. The fact that we had electric light in the cabin clearly fooled us and it was darkening outside.
With both of us hungry, it getting dark and the bleddy hound over at Mother's, we decided to collect a take away pizza from the St Buryan Inn, since we had enjoyed the last one we had there so much. The Missus dropped me off. I had completely forgotten about the Six Nations rugby and, in fact, had missed last week's match completely. I arrived in the bar - the public bar obviously, as I was in my DIYman outfit with wellies on - with it full of rugby watchers. I was told food was not to be forthcoming until the rugby had finished, which I sympathised with completely. I knew a few of the attendees and soon fell into company with them. Of all the public alehouses hereabouts, the St Buryan Inn is probably the one that represents the qualities of community more than any other. I felt most welcome.
By the time food was ready, we were very keen to return home with it and the Missus had the truck running for me outside. We are unused to evenings of spontaneity but this one worked out exceedingly well. I am unconvinced, though, that we should attempt it more frequently.
February 7th - Friday
We had been led to expect that we would see the tail end of the sunshine and that the cloud would come and mar the day late in the afternoon. It was very disappointing to see that it was already clouded over from the start of the day. Never mind, it was not that chilly and, in The Cove, the breeze was not getting to us.
There had been signs of seal movement on the Harbour beach earlier in the week. On Monday there was evidence that a seal had camped out for a couple of days possibly, on the far side of the western slipway. Yesterday, I think, another - or possibly the same one - spent a couple of hours nesting at the bottom of the main slipway, my first sighting of seal poo. Just thought that I would share that soupçon for you. The bleddy hound was overly interested in the seal trail and followed it several times down to where it joined the sea again. Oddly, if the seal is present, she will bark her head off but is much more restrained when it is just the remaining scent.
I forewent my usual gymnasium session today so that we could get an early start on work at The Farm. We needed to pick up Mother and after the Missus's travelling yesterday, needed to refuel the truck. I had thought that we might head over to our builders' merchants in St Just but felt it better to drop the Missus and Mother up The Farm first so that the Missus could crack on with her work.
After I had dropped them off, I returned to St Just. We only needed a couple of items including the bigger screws the Missus required but as soon as I got inside the store, I completely forgot what the other item was. Fortunately, I remembered before I left as it was a rather crucial tub of roof fixings that our friendly builder needs for fixing the roof on the wood store.
By the time I returned to The Farm, the Missus was in full swing with the stud partition in the cabin. As I reported yesterday, this is to be the cabin's privy. I offered up some of the three by two I had ear-marked for the back wall of the wood store. This is rather overkill for a bit of partition, but it did the job admirably. In fact, the privy could not be more robust if it were brick built. By the end of the day, the Missus had completed the stud work, clad it with OSB and insulated it - to assist with sound proofing, you understand. Clearly, you would not wish to be distracted with conversation if you were concentrating on other matters, I am sure.
I had intended to put up some wood to disguise some of the gaps between the walls and the ceiling. When I came to start on it, I discovered that I did not have sufficient quantity of the wood I intended to use. Instead, I decided to switch my attention to installing the long-awaited solar panels having been flushed by the success of getting the electrics in the store room working.
We worked until dusk, almost; we cannot work later at present because the lights in the cabin are not installed. I had spent most of the afternoon in the open in an increasing wind and I can confirm that it was bleddy chilly. The solar panels are in place, as is the wiring from them but they are yet to be installed. I had considered the threatened winds for Sunday that will cut across the field at 80 miles per hour or more and wondered if, perhaps, I should delay the work. However, I reasoned that at some point the panels would have to stand up to that sort of punishment and if my fixings were not man enough for the job then we had best find out sooner rather than later, when I might not be able to do something about it.
If the weather is happy to let us, tomorrow I may get the internal wiring completed. Things are progressing nicely, it seems.
It took me a while to thaw out after we got home but a couple of cold beers helped, I am certain.
February 6th - Thursday
You lucky, lucky people. Today, not only do you get a futile preamble from me but you have, following, the further adventures of Mr PC who, if you recall some while back, gave us his childhood recollections while his father laboured at the St Buryan radio station, which I believe was part of the chain home radar facility at Land's End. This is only the first part of PC's submission, which is just far too good (and long) to be delivered all at once. Expect more later when I am busy, at a loss or just plain cannot be bothered.
Since my earlier contribution to the "Diary" pages detailing some of my childhood reminiscences of holidays in Cornwall in the post war WW2 period I have been probing my memories of that period and realised that there were many other happy times as a family we so enjoyed. When the war years finally gave way to peace, the RAF Radio Station in St Buryan eventually became redundant and my father was posted elsewhere in the UK where his skills as a Radio Operator monitoring military aircraft movements were still in demand. So, his sojourn to Cornwall came to a conclusion and he was posted to Stornaway which in some respects was as far as you could get from the idyll of Cornish living. Be that as it may, as a family, having been initiated into the ways of Cornish life, we continued to holiday for many years in St Buryan and West Penwith with Mrs Tregurtha.
When the Royal Blue Express Coach Company recommenced their countrywide post war services we gravitated from rail to road and then in later years to car hire and car ownership which may have been in some ways less arduous but did not live the same thrill of a steam train journey usually abroad the GWR "Cornish Rivera" which had been part our the early holiday experience. Strangely, now that am in my later years, armed with my Senior Citizens Rail Card, I have rediscovered the eccentric nostalgia of rail travel, particularly along those well remembered stretches of railroad with the occasional glimpses of sea and river estuaries, and over bridges that were laid out by Brunel who pioneered the way West and to Cornwall.
Land's End and Lighthouses Sennen Cove continued to be a favourite beach. When we wanted to make a change to the sandy beach routine, we would walk along the seafront to the magic of lifeboat station with its compelling listed record of saving lives at sea. We would then climb up the cliff path past the coastguard cottages, up to the fully manned Coastguard Station, to pause, hoping that the Coastguard on duty would invite you in to peer out of the powerful binoculars towads Longships Lighthouse and the Isles of Scilly and beyond. Then we would clamber on, up to Land's End, for a tea and homemade scones at the First and Last Cafe. In those post-war days there was very little at Land's End just the Hotel, Cafe and a couple of other buildings which had been requisitioned by The Ministry for defence purposes, and a rather forlorn wooden signpost with pointers to New York and John 'O Groats.
Cornwall's Rock lighthouses from the Eddystone to Wolf Rock out to Longships and beyond to the Bishop's Rock off the Isles of Scilly, from their granite construction in the Victorian era, to the present day have withstood the test of time. Many boats and artisans set out from Cornish ports in challenging circumstances to plant those edifices out in the perilous seas.
I can well remember, as a boy, looking out from the back bedroom in St Buryan and seeing the flashing lights from the Lizard Point to Land's End. Also, on a stank, looking out from Gwennap Head to marvel how on earth the Wolf Rock was built on such a sliver of a sea washed rocky reef! In the War years the illumination of lighthouses, although still fully manned by Trinity House keepers, were under the strict control of the Admiralty who decided when and in what circumstances the lights could be dimmed or turned on. Tom Nancollas, in his recent publication "Seashaken Houses", more than adequately explores the construction, manning, servicing and consequential automation of these magnificent reminders of yesteryear.
Returning to Land's End; when Peter de Savery bought the area from under the nose of the National Trust there was much trepidation from the local residents. However, when it was realised that the proposed development of a "Theme Park" would bring with it much needed jobs for the community then opinion became divided. I can well remember Mrs Tregurtha being very agitated about the whole process. Be that as it may, today Land's Ends is what it is with a gated entry and car parking charges. However, anyone can, I believe, walking the South West Costal Path legitimately, access Land's End without charge as we did many times in later years. It was, so to speak, a feeling like you had "scrumped" the biggest apple in the orchard!
Thank you, PC.
You may be relieved to hear that we all passed out of our casualty care course with flying colours. You may not be so comfortable with the notion that we now have full licence to practise our new-found or revived skills on the unsuspecting, visiting public. It may be of some comfort to understand that the Institution has a pretty comprehensive insurance policy, provided they paid the premium this year.
After three days, despite a break yesterday, we were all pretty much worn out. The scenario role play sessions in the afternoon were the coup de grâce as far as most of us were concerned. It was therefore quite a surprise when one helmsman attending the course suggest launching the Inshore boat soon after we had finished. Since there was just the one very excellent Shore Crew member in the near - or far - vicinity, it fell to me to launch it and hang about until after they returned. I did rather less hanging about than cleaning up the abundance of fake blood under the cradle in the boat hall.
The Missus had not returned from hospital visit duty by the time I got back, so I had my tea while I waited. She had made a repeat trip in the afternoon and by the time she came back, she was somewhat weary, too.
Never mind, you must know that it is quiz night, for heaven's sake. Tonight, with Top Gun and much recovered Highly Professional Craftsperson in attendance we managed to reach the dizzy heights of mid field; a pitiful performance by a once unbeatable team. Yes, I think that was us, but it seems so long ago now.
We were charmed, however, by a clearish sky and a view of a myriad of stars. There was also a strange cloud formation highlighted by a bright moon. Earlier, we had witnessed the brightest and reddest Venus ever just about to sink into the sea in the west. As we made our way home it was bright enough to make out the features of the bay. There was also sufficient light to run a strangely athletic bleddy hound around the block.
So up was she that she put up no complaint when I requested that she run up the steps when we arrived back home. I suspect it is the drugs, but she is also on a homeopathic remedy for joint issues, which would be a happier result and probably cheaper, too, though only just. It is typical that she might enjoy some pain free exercise just when we are getting close to being unable to provide it.
Whatever the case, she was in bed before me so I am guessing that whatever it was, it must have worn her out.
February 5th - Wednesday
We have a day's respite from the rigours of learning casualty care and bringing people back from the dead, mending near severed limbs and relieving slight headaches. The courses have been full days, so even if I thought that you may have any interest in the details of such things, I would have had precious little time to write them down.
We awoke to a fantastical morning, sporting a few high clouds in an otherwise blue early day sky. It was cold, although the cold we had was static, which was a pleasant surprise after the cold brought on by a stiff north westerly yesterday. Monday was just plain unpleasant, with rain and mizzle all day.
I headed for the Harbour beach with the bleddy hound, first thing, where we met a small pal who wanted to play and could not stop herself running all over the beach then returning to jump all over the bleddy hound. She is quite used to such things and very patient with the young ones. I had a pleasant conversation with the owners who were visiting from St Ives, but I did not hold that against them. They had not heard of the relaxation of the dog restrictions on many beaches and I must admit that I am still confused as to exactly what happened.
What I believe to be the case is that Blue Flag beaches will still have dog access restrictions but from ten o'clock to six o'clock in the evening, shorter than now. All other beaches that are currently under some sort of access restriction will now have the same hours as Blue Flag beaches but only during July and August. It followed a consultation by the much maligned council that attracted the biggest response ever; they could hardly ignore it this time. However, the oversight committee recommended that all affected beaches be restricted for the new hours to ensure parity, effectively overriding the overwhelming public support for less restrictions. The much maligned councillor in charge, sensing that he may well be lynched if he strayed upon the streets of Cornwall, decided, to go with the flow. The Cove's big beach is, of course, a Blue Flag beach after a brewery up Padstow way stepped in to pay for it. I am reasonably sure that this does not apply to the Harbour beach but given that everyone ignored the restrictions anyway, I would suggest - no change.
The Missus was very keen to get up to The Farm today, so keen, indeed, that she told me to drop her up there before I went to the gymnasium, which I was happy to do. She had it in mind to build the stud partition for the privy without the aid of DIYman and was champing at the bit to get on with it.
By the time I arrived up there in the middle of the day with Mother, one wall was complete. Even without the aid of pink overalls, the Missus had done a sterling job even though the screws that I told her to use were too short for the purpose. Instead she had used some geet nails, which seemed to do the job admirably.
I left her to it and went to finish off the electrics in the store room. This, I regarding as a straightforward job that should take no longer than half an hour. It took an hour and at the end of it, when I at last attached the positive battery lead, absolutely nothing happened, which was somewhat disappointing. More disappointing still was the realisation that I had left my multimeter behind, yet again.
The time had also arrived to head back to The Cove to attend the Lifeboat station where I was required to launch the Lifeboat on exercise. When I left, the boat was out on the slipway having some work done to it by various engineers. Also, in the bay, some more engineers, diving ones, were busy working off a floating platform repairing the channel markers - again. Whether our seas are particularly rough or our engineers particularly poor at anchoring channel markers, I do not know. Whatever the case they were gone by the time I arrived at the station at nearly three o'clock.
Fixing channel markers
The sea conditions were pretty benign for a jaunt out to Longships and some man overboard drills. The work was partly to provide experience for a new potential crew person and to support international relations by offering a trip to a USA paramedic who also has close family ties in these parts. The boat was gone for the best part of an hour and a half during which time a crew of very reduced numbers set up the long slipway for its return.
While the sea conditions in the bay were benign, the sea conditions at the bottom of the long slip were quite lively with a rise and fall of about fifteen feet at times. I had set the cable and span up shortly after the boat left with the understanding it would be back inside an hour. By the time we returned to the slipway, the tide had receded further than expected and the cable and span needed to be pulled down further. It was also important not to give too much slack as the boat would have to be hooked up and hauled in short order given the movement of the water.
Standing at the bottom of the slipway with waves breaking over your ankles is probably not the best time to remember you have a hole in your right welly. I recalled after about the third wave; it is not a very big hole. Despite the adversity of the conditions and my less than protective clothing, we managed a textbook recovery with, now, a comfortable complement of four of us. We are, after all, a very resilient, very excellent Shore Crew.
It was only after we finished up that I remembered that I had left Mother and the Missus up at The Farm and it was now getting a tad gloomy. I hurried back to discover that the Missus had finished the stud work and attached the door, and both were sitting watching the field get darker. It took a few minutes to tidy up the work I had left in such a hurry. I will have to test the wiring another time.
For now, I must gird my loins for the last of the casualty care course days tomorrow. There may well be an entry tomorrow as I have been sent some reminiscences by PC, whose work I have published here before. Stayed tuned, just in case.
February 2nd - Sunday
Today was flagged up to be cloudy and bright. We managed cloudy but you could hardly say that it was bright and there was a hardy breeze blowing in from the south west that chilled things down a little.
Lat night, the bleddy hound was shouting at something that may have been down on the rocks below us. It was possibly a seal as she dislikes them and there was unlikely to be anything else there. When she stepped out this morning, she gave a bit of a shout again but it was unclear whether this was because the scent was still there or she had not finished shouting from last night. Whatever the case, I managed to persuade her to come with me down to the Harbour beach where the tide had very kindly parted ways with the shore enough to let us down.
Soon after, it was off up to the range for a spot of shotgun shooting. The afternoon clay shoot was particularly good fun and for once I was on my game. It was a bit gloomy and misty up on the hill and in the later afternoon a chill settled about us. It also did not help that for the clay shoot we had to come out of the shelter of the shooting point and gather in the open.
Talking of open, it is good to see that the Little Bo Café has reopened again after a couple of weeks of revamping the interior. It actually opened yesterday, and I neglected to mention it. At least they are putting in the effort to keep The Cove alive during the winter months unlike these shops that cannot be bothered to open until early March. What layabouts.
There may be more laziness over the next few days from your Diarist. We have a casualty care course running at the Lifeboat station over Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, which will have me ensconced and incommunicado from dawn to dusk, or somewhere thereabouts. Unless something terribly exciting or interesting happens, there may well be nothing to report. Yes, I know, that has not stopped me for the last ten years but this will be even less interesting and exciting than normal. Please expect a few gaps in Diary days this week.
February 1st - Saturday
What a marvellous start to the day. There was a bay full of noisy and big seas under a pure blue sky and it looked quite spectacular with all the white foam glowing in the sunshine. It was quite a pleasure to run the bleddy hound around even if we could not get onto the Harbour beach again.
Today, I had furnished myself with my absolutely determined head and a view to installing and completing the lights in the store up at The Farm. I made certain that I had my head torch for my absolutely determined head and even had a backup torch, just in case. I collected all my tools and cable fittings and had the Missus drop me up there as early as I was ready to go.
It was a tad tedious reaching over the high shelves around the walls to tuck the cables in and for some places it was nigh on impossible to wield a hammer in the confined space. I wired each of the lights as I went, which broke up the monotony of hammering in cable clips. I had chosen to wire the lights in series but was aware that there might be an issue with the voltage over so many lights - six short LED strips. Come the moment of truth and I flicked on the switch absolutely nothing happened, which was not an entire surprise. What was an entire surprise was that after all the preparation and checking of what to take with me, I had forgotten my multimeter, so was a bit stumped about what to do next.
I called up the Missus who was in town shopping and asked her to stop by the shop on the way back and collect it. In the meanwhile, I repaired to the cabin so that I could install the lights there. In the store I had reeled a bit at the lack of fixings for the ceiling lights. I remedied the omission by using large cable clips, which were of the perfect size but not ideal. In the midst of looking at the website where I got them the previous evening to see if I could find a data sheet on them, I noticed that they were supplied with fittings. I found these in the box they came in today. What I did not find was a screw with a sufficiently small countersunk head so that it did not interfere with the light sliding into the fitting. Once again, I was flummoxed by the lack of the correct bits and made a mental note to get a box with lots of screws, nuts and bolts of every size and dimension and never use any of them ever again, obviously.
By the time I had reached my dead end the Missus arrived with my multimeter. Sure enough, I had 12 volts at the switch and at the first light. After the first light, the voltage dropped by half meaning that after the second there would have been no voltage at all. Rather than run through every combination of options, I called the Highly Professional Craftsperson for advice. I think he looks upon me as a small cack-handed child trying to do an Airfix model with the tip of my tongue sticking out in concentration as I get everything wrong. He said he was at a loose end and would come up dreckly, though I made it sooner than that by going to get him.
It took ten minutes of fiddling about with ammeters and wires to establish that the lights required a full 12 volts each and would therefore require to be wired in parallel. Rather than leave me to it, he set about stripping wires and re-assigning connections. He did allow me to finish off the last few wires on each light, like letting me put the transfers on the model he finished gluing together for me, after telling me exactly where they went and which side up to stick them.
There was some worry that the cable I had been provided with by the supplier of the lights may now not be sufficient for the job. With the lights in parallel, the amperages would be multiplied across the six lights. I had intended to buy some additional bus bars and another fuse box for this operation, which should protect the circuit adequately once in place. However, with all the lights on they do just the job of lighting up the inside of the store.
I had intended that a bit more than just the store lights be completed today but it seems I am confounded once more. I will not have time next week to do any, which will leave just the week after that during which I expect the weather to be foul.
The Missus checked on her bees before we left. I was dubious about even being in the truck as she drove down to have a look, but she told me that they would all be sleeping - probably. She opened up the top of the hive and apart from a couple of insomniac bees, the rest were quietly snoozing. The fondant food the Missus left for them was untouched, so either they do not like fondant food, have sufficient honey left to feed on during the rest of the winter, or have left a recording of bees sleeping while they begger off to warmer climes.
January 31st - Friday
The mizzle that moved in yesterday was still with us this morning. A little later a few showers passed through but, really, it just seemed like heavier mizzle and they could easily have been missed. The walk around the block was just as refreshing as the one last night, except in reverse as we always go anti-clockwise during the day. This is not an obtuse tradition but rather it avoids running the bleddy hound, who is off her lead on the last half of the walk, heading around the blind corner by Tinker Taylor and into unseen traffic.
I managed to make it to the gymnasium today, which shook the rust out of the system in one blistering session. I even managed to get there at a reasonable hour but, even then, I ended the day trying to squeeze about five hours work into a couple.
There were great plans to install the lighting in the shed today. I felt that was a bit more achievable than installing all the solar gear up at the cabin as there is quite a lot of work involved with that. First, though, I had to venture out to get some conduit that I should have got a couple of days ago but forgot. I then decided that I would, after all, need a crimping tool for big wires, which was irritating as I had gone to some lengths to ask the solar regulator people to provide pre-made cables so that I might avoid buying a crimping tool for big wires. Just at the last minute before I left, Mother called to say that her shed door was hanging off its hinges and she was unable to get inside. Hinges got added to the list.
It took a little while to negotiate the circuit of hardware and electrical suppliers, mainly trying to chase down a suitably priced crimping too for big wires. I had no idea what size gate hinges to get, so I guessed and headed back to Mother's armed with tools and DIYman suit.
The hinges were a little small for the job, but they would do for now. I managed to install them with the door still in place as it did not budge when I removed the old ones. Even with the new hinges in place, the door refused to move, which is when I worked out that not only was it a little swollen in the weather, but the door was locked. I tried turning the key but it was having none of it, so I asked Mother if she had some easing oil to use on it. She told me she had some in abundance and when I asked where it was she pointed at the shed.
I resorted to brute force and used a screwdriver to turn the key, hoping that it would not shear in the lock. I was lucky, though not that lucky because the door remained firmly closed as if the deadlock was still in place. Mother told me that she had been telling people that the lock needed to be replaced but no one had listened. I told her to tell me next time as I would listen but could not guarantee to hear. We abandoned our efforts as it was clear that the thing would have to be broken to gain access and, quite wisely, Mother said that we should wait until we have a new lock to put in place. This was the first failure of the day.
I transferred Mother back to ours where she stops for the afternoon and a spot of tea on a Friday. I intended, and did, head up to The Farm with a view to installing the lights in the store. For now, these will run off a stand-alone battery, recharged from the solar panels by the cabin but it is a meaty battery and may well last the summer without recharging. Eventually, I will install the remaining solar panel by the barn to create a separate system there but that is quite fraught as it is a long run to the store shed.
Gathering a range of tools, cable stripper and the like, I headed off to The Farm full of enthusiasm and cable clips. After months of preparation and fiddly work, at last we would have something completed. I installed the small strip lights on the ceiling where I wanted them and then started running the cable. It is exceptionally gloomy in the cabin, even with the doors open, so I reached for my head torch and immediately remembered that I had forgotten it. I took a moment to appreciate the irony that I could not complete the installation of the lights for the lack of light. It is moments like that which make you realise that carrying a stuffed cat about with you would be useful, so you could kick it.
It was pretty bleak up at The Farm with the mizzle swirling about and the wind making a racket in the roof of the shed, for some reason. It was the ideal backdrop for some sort of horror movie or ghost story. I am rather glad that I have only just thought of that else I would have come away much sooner.
It was a big mistake to check on the Internet to see if wiring the lights in series was a good plan. I spent the rest of the evening fretting whether the lights will draw too much voltage, especially as I have no idea because there is no data sheet for them. Next year, if we do any projects at all, I will check in advance if they are complicated or not and if they are, not do them.
January 30th - Thursday
It is probably because I have set myself some things to do before we open that the days are piling by faster and faster. It would be quite pleasant to stop for a breath but I dare not, although everything is relative and I am sure that if I moved a little faster I could get much more done in a day. It is just that it does not seem right when I am 'off work' so to speak.
One of the more pleasant duties is running the bleddy hound around, although there are better days and much worse days for doing so. I togged up a little bit as I had no idea what outside felt like; it looked pretty grey and dismal. When I stepped outside, I discovered that it was grey and dismal but apart from a cooling breeze, it was exceedingly mild. This persisted through the day but was laced with increasing mizzle as the afternoon pressed on.
The Missus did another dash out to hospital with our neighbour from late morning and was gone for most of the rest of the day. This constrained me to doing things that I could do from home and it had struck me at the last weekend that I had not taken the dust sheets off the munitions factory since they went on just before we opened the shop last year. I had survived with just enough spares for my attendance through the year but the time has come to replenish stocks. I had not actually factored this into my list of things to do, so I have rather more than I thought I had. It was probably best that I get on with it.
It is odd how you forget how to do things if you do not do them very often. It is the same with making rounds, and I have to relearn much of it all over again because they are rather unforgiving items if you get it wrong. However, much like anything else, once remembered the process becomes routine very quickly; I am able to knock out 100 rounds in 20 minutes, which is probably quite slow for the more practised.
I set to with the job after taking the bleddy hound down to the Harbour beach for a run around in the middle of the day. While I was keen to get going and the clouds of wafting mizzle dampened my trousers very quickly, it was oddly pleasant down there in the mild temperature. We tarried a while and I rather wish I had taken a ball as I think, despite dickie legs, a little gentle play may have been just the tonic for both of us. I will try and remember for another day, when obviously it will be cold and lashing with rain.
It is this sort of excitement, dear reader, that makes it all worthwhile.
Talking of excitement, we repaired to the Lifeboat station in the evening for a spot of Lifeboat training. The tide and sea conditions were not conducive to having a launch, so instead we concentrated on ensuring our launch procedures for the Inshore boat were up to scratch. This meant a dummy run down to the top of the slipway of the big beach, because occasionally we have to launch from there. During the off season this is not too much of an issue, but in high summer the beach strewn with small children absorbed in their games. We are told that it is the done thing to exercise extreme caution moving the tractor and trailer about. I have done this only once and discovered that we are invisible to small children chasing a ball, for example. What a jolly wheeze it was.
I have found that too much of a jolly wheeze cannot be tolerated by ordinary people and I felt in need of humiliation and the ignominy of losing an OS quiz. Fortunately, the OS hosted such a quiz this very evening and some of the other attendees, were more than happy to provide the humiliation and ignominy I so craved. Unfortunately, they tried to be kind by allowing us to be last this week, even if we had not wiped out in the last round. I find that if we were last every week, it would not matter too much but being allowed the opportunity to think we might just get the top spot by being second or third and then have it snatched away is much more effective.
We might have looked upon it as the loss of the Highly Professional Craftsperson that allowed us to come to grief, but, in his sickness, he was replaced by the equally capable Top Gun, a fellow Lifeboat crew member and sometimes Scilly pilot. No, we are just born to lose.
Now, some may think that a walk home in the heavy mizzle would be less than welcome but somehow, in the temperate climate, it was obtusely pleasant. I introduced the bleddy hound to it and she too seemed to think it highly acceptable as she sauntered around the block, unconcerned. Maybe it is something to do with the peace of it all. I will settle for that.
January 29th - Wednesday
Today was a bit of a rush from the outset until almost evening time. I think that I may be trying to do too much all at once.
I had hoped that I would get up to The Farm today to install the solar panels and finish off the rest of the work, although that might have been a tall order. It was penned in as being the only good day this week, which is why I chose it. As it happened, there were a few heavy showers in the middle of the afternoon but I doubt if they would have interrupted my work much. It seems that you can have only so much luck in one week and that was yesterday with the shop front.
The main delay I faced was finding all the right cables to link all the bits of the solar electricity system. Part of the problem is that by looking on the Internet for help there are as many bits of advice as there are pages and all of them conflicting. I am painfully aware that by working with 12 volts, the amperages can zoom up quite easily by just adding some seemingly innocuous goods, like a fridge. To cope with high amperages you need bit thick cables, else they are prone to getting hot and melting. The trouble with big, thick cables is that they do not fit into nice neat connectors very well.
In the end I telephoned the supplier of the solar regulator and asked for assistance. They very pleasant person I spoke with was very understanding and most helpful. He offered to make the one pair of cables that I was finding difficult to acquire from anywhere else and at a very reasonable fee, too. With this nicely squared away I was able to venture out to collect some other components, or at least look for them.
I had already dismissed the notion of going to the gymnasium as I would not have had sufficient time. Before I could go anywhere, however, I had to stop at St Buryan to fuel up the truck as I had a sojourn of Marco Poloesque proportions to undertake. From there I headed off to Helston, where there is a gunsmith and as I have found myself short of certain sorts of bullets that seemed a good place to go and get some. The shop is not a stone's throw from an auto parts centre, so I went there first.
One of the items on the list was a couple of bus bars, the purpose of which, if you are not in the realm of wiring things up, might have eluded you through life. In the context that I am writing about it is a metal bar with screws along its length. By connecting a single electrical source to one end, it may be shared across other products screwed to the bar. It is a common enough part in cars, or used to be, and still is in caravans and boats. It is something that I imagined your average motor parts supplier to be conversant with and have in some abundance. It therefore surprised me greatly when the young man behind the counter, after repeating the words several times, confess to knowing nothing about. I visited two other places, that might have been likely, but had the same reaction from the people at each. I gave up and went and got some bullets, instead.
There was really only one place to chase my product wishes and that is the very marvellous emporium that is Macsalvors. If you can think of anything vaguely hardwareish that they have not got on the shelf, you must be thinking of something very weird indeed. Not only did Macsalvors have bus bars, it had a choice of bus bars. It also had all the cables I required - more of which in a moment - and a very pleasant person behind the counter who knew what to do about everything. It is the sort of place that you end up perusing all the shelves and buying things that were not on your shopping list and probably never would be. They just seem like a good idea at the time.
With a bag full of goodies and most of my shopping list complete, I still had two stops left to make, although one of these was spur of the moment as I found myself passing the much maligned council's tip, sorry, household waste recycling centre. We have been carrying around the cardboard that the Swedish kitchen came in for weeks and I felt it high time to get rid of it. I half expect a 'what did you do with that cardboard I was saving ' but I had a devil may care attitude today. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a cardboard skip. Usually everything goes into the general waste, recyclable or no, to feed its hungry furnace that sometimes generates electricity.
I bumped into our local electrician when I stopped off at the electrical wholesalers at last. I thought it a jolly good plan to ask him about cables and wished that I had not because I ended up doubting that the other cables I had purchased at Macsalvors were correct for the job. I am now back to the position I was in before I left; not knowing what cables to use where and also with the challenge of how I will put a small ring connector on the end of 10 millimetre cables.
There was only one thing to do about it all, and the reason that I had to rush around on my errands before picking up Mother on the way back, and that was to make some award winning pasties. I reported yesterday that I had made the pastry rounds, all I had to do now was to fill them with meat and vegetables procured from local independent suppliers.
Dear reader, I cannot tell a lie; I excelled in my award winning pasty making. They were more bleddy 'ansum than you could possibly imagine, if I say so myself - the Missus and Mother agreed, so I must be right.
January 28th - Tuesday
The was a wondrous looking sky to gaze up at as we made the circuit again the morning. The cloud formations were lit by the rising sun and made a splendid scene above the boisterous sea. It was very difficult to tear my eyes away but a wandering bleddy hound needs to be kept an eye on.
Big sky; big sea
She was doing her best to make progress as slow as possible. It is not a big problem while the shop is closed and since she spends most of her day inside now, she deserves as much time as she wants, no matter how frustrating it is from the walker's point of view. So distracted was she that when we arrived back at the steps to the flat, she wandered off into the road while I was distracted with our waste bin that was trying to escape in the wind. When I turned around to see where she was, she was staring down a car that had to stop for her. When I shouted at her to get upstairs, so surprised was she that she bolted up there without assistance. We have had to carry her up for the last few months due to her dickie legs. I think she spent the rest of the morning hoping that I had not noticed in case I made her do it some more.
I mentioned yesterday that the structural engineer was turning up today along with our builder for a pow wow. The structural engineer was an affable lad of about twelve years old but definitely knew his onions. He was also pretty astute about our needs and constraints and after quite some time of investigating, announced some very good news. The front of the shop does not need much further bolstering, or at least does not need replacing as we thought. The proviso is that we replace the windows with some that are load bearing and the corners and in between each window we have a support of some sort. Unfortunately, we had to cut a hole in the wall under the windows to establish we did not have to cut holes in the wall under the windows. We will have to replace that bit, now.
So elated was I with the news, I decided to leap up and make some award winning pasty rounds. The Missus had run off to take our neighbour up to the hospital visiting again and left me at a loose end. We are having some award winning pasties tomorrow and I prefer to make the pastry in advance as it is better after a night in the fridge.
I was also killing time until the Missus got back so I could venture out and collect the batteries that we will connect to our solar panels at The Farm. I had hoped to get the cables, buzz bars and remaining components from the auto parts shop in Penzance but they did not have them in stock. I had also forgotten my list, which did not help, and by the time I got to the electrical wholesaler I had no idea of what I wanted. I shall go again tomorrow and take with me the components that I already have so I can size the attachments I need.
We were in the last realms of daylight by the time I got back to The Cove and time to take the bleddy hound around the block for a pre-teatime run. It was chilly and breezy but not quite as severe as earlier. Also, most of the heavy showers, that mainly missed us anyway, had gone away, leaving a bright clear sky. As I walked towards the car park a big wave exploded over the footings of Pedn-men-du. When I got close enough I pointed my camera in that direction, which guarantees that the sea will behave until the very moment I put your camera back in my pocket.
Nevertheless, it was a pleasant, if chilly, walk around the block after a busy day. The bleddy hound took even longer to traverse the route than she took in the morning. I told her to run up the stairs when we got back and she just looked at me. Clearly it was just my imagination that she had done it this morning.
January 27th - Monday
We were chased off the beach by the tide this morning as it took its time to recede. There was some sand down there but the sea had decided to get all shirty and boisterous again after a week of being utterly calm. We walked around the block, instead, which made a bit of a change - for me at least. The real positive of the whole walk was that we did not get rained upon.
The rain waited quite patiently until it was time for me to head to the gymnasium, then lashed down. Happily, it was just a short shower and by the time I got outside it had largely stopped. It was a blistering session to expunge the excesses of the weekend, despite there not being much excess to expunge, being a clean-living sort of grumpy shopkeeper. While I was there, the rain started up again and I enjoyed a proper soaking on the way home.
It is curious that we seem to have been host to the main telecommunications contractor hereabouts for some while. I cannot remember a working day over the last couple of years that there has not been at least one of its vans in The Cove. I cannot imagine that everywhere has the same attention as the company would be huge, so I must conclude we are special.
Today, was one of the days when we attracted several of the vans together and for some while in the afternoon there were two parked outside the shop. Perhaps, being so far west, we are the terminus for all the telephone wires in the country, after all, you must suppose that they end up somewhere. It is definitely not that we have more people with telephones than anywhere else, but it might be that the few people that are here have more telephones each than anywhere else. If they are delivery superfast broadband, I can tell you they are being superslow about it. I really cannot fathom it but will keep my ear to the ground for you, dear reader.
It is a mystery on the scale of where our supposedly cash-strapped, much maligned council seems to have found a sudden bonanza of wealth. I can only conclude this must be so because in the last few weeks it has announced some major initiatives that must have cost a mint. Less recently, we have been told that the new waste collection service has been decided upon. It is not quite as bells and whistles as the much maligned council had hoped, for it initially wanted to have a weekly recycling and waste food collection but to pare back our general waste collection to fortnightly. It seems that they offered threepence ha'penny per head for doing all that and expected a rush of eager suppliers to bite their hand's off.
Instead, there was a hushed silence. Someone must have whispered in the much maligned council's ear that they were asking a bit much for so little, so it decided to drop the weekly recycling to fortnightly as well to fit the budget. This rather means that the good people of the Duchy will endure a worse service than we get at the moment by, presumably, paying more. Additionally, the much maligned council boasted that it was in the process of itself purchasing new state-of-the-art waste collection trucks and, shortly after, announced that the current provider - that already had a big fleet of trucks performing a weekly waste collection service perfectly adequately - had won the contract. Now, clearly, I am just a mere lay person when it comes to corporate waste collection but on the face of it we are now paying more money for half the same service from the same supplier and have bought the supplier a new fleet of vehicles to do it with.
While I am still reeling from that head-banging set of thoughts, I must also report that the same much maligned council is advertising for hundreds of new bus drivers. It makes no secret of the fact that it is buying a bunch a new buses that it intends to revitalise and extend the bus services across the Duchy - except for the Isles of Scilly and the Far West of Cornwall, I rather expect. The new bus services are clearly to be welcomed but for a much maligned council that claims at every turn not to have money for even some essential services, I cannot help but wonder where all the new cash is coming from.
There, that feels much better. I have not had a pop at the much maligned council for quite some time. It is the modern and acceptable form of going home and kicking the cat to let off steam. Perhaps I should have saved it for tomorrow after the structural engineer has been to tell us that we need to rebuild the building we live in at some alarming cost.
While we still have a roof over our heads, we sat inside and listened to the wind mount an attack from the west. It was a mere breeze by comparison to some we have had over the last few months and topped out at 72 miles per hour. Later, it threw a pile of hailstones at us, clattering about the tiles and the skylights and making quite a racket. How snug we felt waiting for the roof to fall apart.
January 26th - Sunday
Having got up early last week and found that I was pressed for time, I got up even earlier, this morning. It was of some help but then fate intervened and I was late again going up to the range. It was also raining heavily when I first got up and required the application of fully metal jacket waterproofs. It had naturally stopped by the time I got out the door.
The retiming of my morning does interfere a little with the running out of the bleddy hound. The last thing that I want to do is to retrain her to get up early, especially as I have just got used to getting up later myself. I risked a quarter to eight and hoped that she would not notice too much. We headed down to the Harbour beach where I was surprised that the tide was in so far. There was enough sand for a quick run, so we headed down anyway. It was on the way back that the bleddy hound noticed a large juvenile seal up on the hard with its nose pressed against the wharf wall. It did not look in the best condition and possibly had a rope around it but with the bleddy hound now kicking up a fuss, I could not get close enough for a good geek. I also reasoned that any properly well seal would not be out in the rain getting wet.
When we got back home, I called it in and, presumably because it was a Sunday, I was redirected to call the marine rescue people. They obviously share the duty call amongst them and I ended up speaking with a very pleasant lady rather distracted by a small, screaming child in the background. She told me she would pass the message on, presumably after she had bound and gagged the small child, and asked if she could use my telephone number, which I told her she could but I was going out shortly and the call might be answered by the Missus.
The process lost me around ten minutes as I had to call the seal sanctuary twice to listen to the answering service message, as I missed the duty number the first time. I was almost out of the door when the marine rescue man called to confirm where the seal was. With two people now knowing the details, I guessed that I could go to the range and leave the seal's fate in good hands.
Despite a second wave of heavy rain, we had a good session at the range in the morning and because I do not take part in the muzzle loading part in the afternoon, I picked up Mother instead and brought her back to ours. When I got home, the Missus suggested I take the bleddy hound out, so I assumed it was my turn again. There was rather more beach this time, so I let her loose to wander off at which point a very pleasant man in a duffle coat strode purposefully toward me. He pointed out yet another seal pup over by the Harbour wall and I guess that it was not there looking for sea glass. I put the bleddy hound back on the lead more to placate our friend, as she would go nowhere near it as she is scared witless of them. In fact, she did not even see it and just wondered why she was not allowed to roam.
I asked the very pleasant man in a duffle coast if he had called it in at which point he told me that he was from the marine rescue group. So I enquired what happened to the seal from the morning but he knew nothing about that one. This must be a very dedicated bunch because he returned to the top of the western slipway to take up his vigil again. At a guess, I would say that the tide was another hour away from where the seal was and how long he had been there before that, I have no idea.
For me, his lonely vigil was symbolic of the time I had procrastinated over buying a solar regulator for The Farm. Part of that was making sure I had the right one, sure enough, but there is being careful and there is avoiding the truth, so I took the plunge and ordered one. I also ordered some extended connectors for the batteries that we have not yet acquired but will drop into the car parts specialist in Penzance during the week to see if they have some. They are also likely to have the cables and connectors I need and I wondered why I had not thought of that sooner.
We do love it when a plan starts to come together.
January 25th - Saturday
DIYman does not get too much time off these days and today he was back at it. Today, however, he requested some assistance from the Highly Professional Craftsperson and together spent much of the day up at The Farm.
Well ahead of that was a run out down to the Harbour beach with the bleddy hound. It was a fine morning, although grey and overcast yet again, and perfectly temperate for a potter about down there. I have had a further enquiry about the activities of beach visitors from the lady who was curious to know why people gathered at the wall side of the beach. This time the enquiry was more specific about what the people, bent double and rooting about in the shingle, were looking for. She had a fanciful theory that a drunken Dutchman with pockets full of uncut diamonds spilled them on the beach long ago. Now, if you are going to have a fanciful theory, you may as well make it as detailed and complicated as that, certainly.
This time I can at least offer an answer that in the balance of probability is likely to be correct. I know of at least one visitor who comes to this beach, among others, to seek sea glass - miniature pieces of long ago broken glass that has been smoothed and polished by the sea. These are often fabulously arrayed ranges of colour, some opaque, some still transparent and in all shapes and sizes of small. The collected items are often used in jewellery or encrusting objects that lend themselves to that sort of thing. These free materials are then sold for inflated prices in the gift shops of St Ives and the like. Of course, other theories are available.
With hopefully at least one satisfied reader out there, I shall return to The Farm where I ended up having picked up the Highly Professional Craftsperson from his house, along with a truckload of tools and equipment. The next phase of the work in the cabin lining project required two people and, more specifically, a second person who had access to some ceiling props.
I was quite pleased that we made some very quick progress, aided by the use of a circular saw that can cut straighter lines that I was achieving with a jigsaw. The work was made a little more uncomfortable by the arrival of some mizzle, which occasionally became heavier and more like a light shower. The forecast that we heard on the digital radio that is kept up there told us to expect sporadic showers and the occasional mizzle. So much for that, then.
It was just as we got to the last bit of ceiling that I noticed we had some water dripping in at the low end of the roof. The Highly Professional Craftsperson tried to placate my concerns by saying that the OSB we installed had got wet before we put it up, but this was new water and far too much of it. We wondered if the nail gun that had made light work of fixing the panels in place had somehow penetrated the roof. The Highly Professional went up to check and discovered quite a few of the clouts used to attach the felt had come loose, leaving a hole in their place, which was likely the cause. He suggested that the nail gun impact had perhaps loosened them but also offered that they were too short for the job. Unfortunately, I had left the slightly longer ones I had purchased to fix Mother's shed felt at Mother's, so we had to return to the Highly Professional Craftsperson's abode to get some. These were also the too short ones but were better than none at all.
We returned to The Farm and the Highly Professional Craftsperson once more launched himself aloft and hammered in the new ones and thumped the existing ones for good measure. While he was engaged with that I returned inside the cabin to start putting up the Swedish cupboard units that were destined to be attached to the wall above the Swedish kitchen unit. The back panel of the units is basically hardboard and neither of us felt that it was man enough to support the weight of the shelf. Additionally, with only eleven millimetres OSB to attach it to we decided to run a bat a geet lump of timber, screwed into the nearest uprights and to hang the unit on that. It is ideas such as this for which having a Highly Professional Craftsperson is necessary and I maintain that every home should have at least one lurking about somewhere.
The roof is now temporarily fixed and the shelves more permanently so until the Missus decides that we did not put them where she wanted them - which will be when she gets up there next. I can do that when I go up to install the lights and the new solar regulator, which I have not yet purchased. We also need to buy some batteries and having just about established now, without much doubt, that we will not be able to run a proper fridge, we will not need very much battery power at all.
Today my life was all achievement. I have no idea how I will keep up the pace.