The Sennen Cove Diary

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

Previous Months:

May 17th - Tuesday

It was a bright a sunny morning, enough to fill the heart with joy and lift the spirit to the heavens. Then some smart Alec on Radio Pasty tells you that rain has already reached the Islands and will spoil your day until at least the middle of the afternoon.

The bleddy hound and I were forced around the block by the tide this morning. It was a bit of a surprise, which only means that I had not been paying attention. There were no other surprises on our journey around other than the bleddy hound is much more inclined to follow and sometimes lead the run. We note with some disappointment that no further work has been carried out in Betty's garden. However, both there and at the start - or end - of Coastguard Row, the seemingly dead and bleached bones of the chrysanthemums (no spell check required, I will have you know, dear reader) are sprouting into life. It is the most fascinating thing to see new leaves poking out from something that is ostensibly dead.

New Life
Blooming 'eck

Talking of ostensibly dead, the rain came roughly in the middle of the day. Ostensibly dead is also a reasonable description of our business day.

Earlier, when there were still customers about, I called the structural engineer we had used to do the original drawings for our steel work at the front of the shop. It has been three weeks since I first tried to make contact by electronical mail and two since I spoke with his business partner who told me he was on holiday. I was very pleased to get through straight away this morning but rather less so when he told me that the company does not do the sort of work we were asking for any longer. I told him that it would have been enormously helpful if his colleague or someone at the office could have told me that three weeks ago. We will doubtless have to join a waiting list for someone who will do the job and we will have wasted that time. I was not happy but fortunately, our lead on the build who I am warming to with each new contact, has someone who might fit the bill.

Yesterday, I wrote to the head honcho of Visit Cornwall to ask if the organisation had any analysis regarding the lack of visitor numbers and short term projections. If anyone had any idea, it would be Visit Cornwall who run surveys of its members and are closer to the issues than anyone else. I was surprised when he responded that same day. Perhaps he was having a slow day as well. It was to some degree of comfort to understand that we are not alone with our experience in the far west and that people are staying away in droves from the whole Duchy and the wider South West in general. He had no answers but suggested that it might be the boom of the last two years and the busyness that brought might have put people off. Reading between the lines: keep our heads down, pull in our horns, mix as many metaphors as we can and hold on for a bumpy ride.

The rain cleared through by three o'clock and we started to see a few people sticking their head out to see what was going on in The Cove. By four o'clock it was if it had not been raining at all, the street was drying quickly and the day was bright and clear - and humid too with all that rain evaporating into the atmosphere. There was still a fair amount of cloud about, but it was far from dull.

Out in the bay, the sea had begun to act up somewhat. The white water was dancing at the footings of the cliffs all the way from Gwenver to Cape Cornwall. There was a background of roaring from its activities over Cowloe and along the shore below us and there were some fine upstanding waves for the surfers out towards North Rocks and beyond. There must have been a bit of breeze from somewhere because the spray off the waves on Brisons was fair near over-topping the rocks.

There were even bigger waves marching into the big beach in short sets near high water. There was a number of surfers still in the water for it and a small crowd on the lower slope of the footway up to the Beach kiosk, there for a geek. It was a marvellous backdrop for 50 junior school leavers to sit opposite the shop and have a fish and chip tea. They had come all the way from Reading, just a bit east of Camborne, for a reason best known to themselves. I was just calculating the enormity of the benefit a pound each on sweets would bring us when a teacher came in and bought six bottles of pop. We are grateful for small mercies, you know, dear reader.

May 16th - Monday

Veritably a day of two halves. I tell you, dear reader, we do not know where we are with the weather over the last few days. None of the forecasts have been particularly accurate - oh, I should really stop soft soaping it: the weather forecasts have been entirely wrong other than using the word 'unsettled' to cover their behinds. It is not just me who had been fooled, either. One of our fishermen came by this morning cursing that they had expected enough ground sea to keep them on shore but looking at it this morning, there was no swell at all. At least not on the north coast.

It definitely did not look the best first thing but, as it turned out, that was the better bit of the morning. I was told later that it has rained heavily in the night and it was trying very hard to when I stepped out to ready the shop in the morning but despite that I did not bother with a rain jacket to head down to the beach a bit later. Rain just did not seem imminent.

That changed somewhat while I was at the gymnasium that I successfully got to this morning. It still had not looked very much like rain when I set out but at some point during my blistering session some low cloud had drifted in and brought some rain, heavy enough that it leaked through the leaky tin roof of the hut I was in. The last information that I had was that the trustees had been awarded a grant to fix it, so I have no idea why it has not been fixed. Either they have not been able to match the funding, or they have as much trouble finding someone to fix it as I did.

It was not long after I came back that the day brightened considerably. By the middle of the afternoon we were gazing up at the wispy cloud above us and shading our eyes from the strong sunlight. That fierce easterly - southeasterly to be accurate - from yesterday had moved to somewhere in the south and was not bothering us at all. Sadly, by the time the sun came out, decisions had been made and any volume of crowds that we might have expected had beggared off to St Ives or an under cover museum somewhere.

The, hopefully, temporary cessation of hostilities allowed me to progress some administrative matters that were pressing. This first was to pay an initial deposit for our solar panels, so that is not going to be a reality at some point when work gets that far on our roof. I also ascertained that the new cash and carry company that we had been trying to engage with had eventually lined us up to start ordering from them. This is handy because, despite the diminished trade, there must at least have been some because we are running out of a few essentials and will have to place and order this weekend.

The last thing on my list was to progress replacement of the polytunnel door. Both were blown off in a fierce southeasterly earlier in the year and while I managed to roughly cobble one back into place, the other was too bent to be usable. I crow-barred it back onto the door frame but it is stuck in place and now the weather has warmed up the Missus needs a fully operational pair of doors back, although we will have to bodge something to form a runner for them at the bottom. I telephoned the exceedingly helpful polytunnel company because I could not immediately see the single door replacement on the website. The very pleasant gentleman listed to my requirements and picked the right parts from his list. I had thought that by complimenting the resilience of his polytunnel in the face of an eighty miles per hour wind he might waive any charge in place of using us as an example of the quality of their product. Clearly, they are in no need of such endorsement and he charged me full whack.

My quiet reverie was rudely interrupted at around four o'clock by a sudden influx of customers wanting to buy things. Having accustomed myself to a life of solitude and meditation, I was most put out. I even had to tear myself away from the counter to ply a customer with a sample of Pilgrim and Galaxy hop gin. Thankfully, she bought a bottle else I might have been really upset. The busyness continued for the best part of an hour and included the arrival of a coach party from foreign parts, somewhere the other side of Camborne. Had I only known, I would not have bothered opening the shop until the late afternoon and taken the morning off.

May 15th - Sunday

We awoke to a bright and glorious morn and for once it was still bright and glorious when I went down to prepare the shop for opening and again when I took the bleddy hound down to the Harbour beach. Here, the increasing tide had done its thing and removed large amounts of the oar weed that had accumulated during the couple of stormy days that we had mid week. There is still a fair bit of weed down there but the big clumps are gone. I met up with the bleddy hound's best pal and walker later in the morning and I heard that there is a large area of week covering the big beach, too. Best pal was not keen walking on it which occasioned a large detour to avoid it.

Disappointingly, we were not quite as busy as we were yesterday but, looking on the bright side, we were busier than we were last Sunday. The brightness very quickly went out of the day, which probably had much to do with it and there was a briskness to the wind coming in from the east somewhere. This would have pleased the surfers no end had the swell not slipped away a bit today. It was not all bad and points should be awarded for sheer determination of the thirty of so on boards strung out across the beach. They were there in numbers on Gwenver, too, where it looked to be a little more rewarding. Later in the afternoon some light rain moved in and really stuck the boot into business.

The Missus headed up to The Farm in the afternoon for a few hours. She had fallen for the old forecasters' trick of making people believe that it was going to rain all night just because they had forecast that it would. Of course, having decided not to water the outside vegetables on this basis, the Missus was sore disappointed when it did not rain and the forecasters changed their website to match what they could see out of the window. Before she made amends to the irrigation situation, she dug up some of our Cornish earlies that she noticed had come, well, early. Also, with some lettuce that was ready too, we have the basis for our tea tonight. Our plans for self-sufficiency seem to have taken another leap forward, although producing beef and lamb might be a bit of a stretch.

Thanks to the rain the later afternoon coasted by very slowly. The street had been empty for some time and our customers were the occasional few from cars stopping as they passed through. It gave me time to top up the drinks fridge, which was about the only place we seemed to have made a reasonable dent in the stock. Earlier on the day I had put out the remaining two big boxes of shoes that the Missus had brought down, so I was not exactly idle, not all day anyhow. I made amends during the evening and remained idle for all of that.

May 14th - Saturday

I had an inkling yesterday afternoon that there seemed to have been a step change in the busyness of The Cove. By mid morning today, I was a little more convinced of it, although the numbers were hardly likely to set the world alight.

At first, I was met with a couple of parties wanting sandwiches. I had toyed with the idea of ordering some in for the weekend but dismissed the idea since on the last two weekends they would have ended up in the bin. Quite coincidentally - and probably a portent of some kind - the new sandwich man turned up to introduce himself. He arrived just before we opened and will be delivering directly to us from now on since our pasty company decided not to act as intermediary with them any longer.

This, of course, was no good whatsoever to our sandwich seeking parties who found themselves without and at that time in the morning we had no pasties to offer either. It did perplex me rather because the representatives of both groups told me that they had planned particular walks today. I am sure that they researched the correct bus journeys and the times they should leave and what time they would be expected back. With all that planning, why leave the food until the last minute and to chance. Pretty Poor Planning leads to Pretty empty tummies come dinner time. I did suggest taking some of our rolls, butter and ham that they could make something of on the journey, which did not find favour.

Mind, if they had made arrangements with us for food collection they may also have been disappointed. There is no fixed agreement with our pasty supplier as to the time of their delivery but generally speaking they are here before nine o'clock and often much earlier. Today, the van rolled up at gone ten o'clock, long after our walkers would have been on the path. It was not hugely inconvenient and does not happen very often, so there was no need to say anything.

The morning was, indeed, a little busier than we have been used to but the early afternoon, when it has been busiest of late, was particularly quiet again. It gave me the opportunity to work through the shoes that the Missus had eventually brought down from The Farm. They were in one of the earlier deliveries and had been buried in the subsequent boxes that turned up since. I am sure that it pleased her immensely when I sent a message to tell her that I had finished with that box of shoes and needed the next one brought down. In fact, she 'voiced' her thanks in a message using those emoji pictures everyone is so fond of using instead of language. This one was a face in a bright shade of red when all the ones I have seen are yellow. Perhaps the colours get brighter, the happier the sender is.

The day had started out quite bright when we headed to the beach in the morning. The bleddy hound met up with her best pal down there and for the first time in ages she was doing a bit of running around. The injection that she had earlier in the week has really kicked in and been very effective. She is walking without lumbering along now and it has been a long time since she was game to frolic with her pal. I am a bit wary of pain killers as they just mask the real problem but at 14 years of age, I think she deserves a bit of a break.

It stayed bright for some while but became a little overcast in the middle of the day for a few hours before brightening again in the evening. One of our fishermen told me that the waves were breaking over the Harbour wall this morning at high water and there was a fair lump in the sea. It was not all that apparent lower in the tide but looking more closely at the waves breaking on the shore under Aire Point and along to Creagle it was still there. Heading towards the afternoon high water, it provided some entertainment for the surfers. There was a whole army of them in the sea from the middle of the beach out towards North Rocks getting some pretty good action for a while.

We returned to busyness after a couple of hours break in the early afternoon. It is all change, it seems, which is very heartening and I am hopeful -or desperate, perhaps - that it is set in now through to the half term. Even the weather appears to be playing cricket by introducing the rain, which I knew nothing about until someone mention it in passing, during the evening and night. One local lady even heard that there were thunderstorms that the national BBC had spoken about. The Meteorological Office appeared to disagree, however. Frankly, my dear, I will be in bed pushing out the 'Z's and could not give a stuff.

May 13th - Friday

The days seen very good at repeating themselves, it seems. When I peeked from our window first thing there was blue sky and loveliness. By the time I came downstairs to prepare the shop for opening, the cloud had rolled in and stayed.

It has been a while since we had a big fish order but surprisingly, I whizzed through the vacuum packing last night like a man possessed. The weighing and pricing can be fiddly sometimes, fine tuning the best price and printing off individual labels but I managed to get that done as well, all before we opened. We now have a full stock of hake, haddock - that I was very tempted to smoke a bit of - whiting and a geet pile of smoked mackerel, some of which had breakfast tomorrow written all over it.

Sadly, the only bit of fish that had been ordered by a customer did not turn up in the delivery. Because of the mis-communication with the supplier, I did not find out until late in the day yesterday but was able to order some from an alternative supplier but would arrive a day later than agreed with the customer. To add insult to injury, the fish that did turn up during the morning was a size down from the size ordered, so, in all, not a happy result. Unfortunately, it is not something we have very much control over. A fish listed as available when I order it may not be available the next day for delivery largely because the fisherman did not catch it. It does not make the disappointment any less disappointing.

For the rest of the day the blue sky did battle with the cloud. For a long while it was tantalisingly just off to the north of us and occasionally it managed to break through above us as well. What was not so welcome was what appeared to be a fog bank riding up behind it but fortunately it came to nothing, while we were still awake, at least.

It had been quite busy in the street for some of the afternoon. Up until the later part it did not seem to translate to custom in the shop and I had been coasting for some time. It took the decision to go out into the store room to pack away some newly delivered king prawns into smaller bags and, hey presto, a shop full of people. We had quite a flurry of activity for an hour or so, which was most gratifying.

After that had died away, I looked to the gift food stock on the shelves and went to fill the gaps left by the departing few, laden with going home gifts. Now, here is a funny thing, I was checking the clotted cream shortbread offering, which for the second time since we have opened has gone up in price. I left some old priced items on the shelf and the new stock arranged behind it. When I went to look to see what was needed, the old priced stock was still there. Customers had deliberately pushed the cheaper stock to the side to get at the more expensive ones at the back. I can only assume the belief was that there was something wrong with the lower priced ones. It was a most odd discovery.

After five o'clock the crowds thinned to not being there at all. When I surveyed our bread shelf I discovered that it was empty, which I had not expected and pointed to a bigger influx than in previous weeks - with any luck. Naturally, it comes just as I had slimmed down the weekend bread and pasty delivery in an effort to throw less away come Monday or Tuesday as I have for the last few weeks. I suspect that now we will not have enough.

May 12th - Thursday

There is a build up of weed again on the Harbour beach. It started off yesterday as the swell started to increase and yesterday's bashing brought even more along. We are heading in the direction of spring tides, so it should be gone by the other side of the weekend. I do wonder how much longer it will be before the cost of harvesting it, which I am assuming was a large reason why farmers stopped using it for fertilizer, drops below the increasing cost of bought fertiliser. Perhaps there is just not enough of it now for the larger farms, as well.

The day was sparkly and bright when I first looked out but by the time we got onto the beach the cloud had rolled in. It took until the early afternoon before the sun came back out again and brought a reasonable crowd with it. They did not seem in the mood for shopping much but we picked up a few going home orders. With so many walkers about, we also picked up a reasonable trade in pasties, although 'reasonable' is a comparative term at present. We had a couple of walkers leaving early who had placed their order the day before. This is helpful as we are able to wrap the pasties with a bit more insulation and they should still be hot at dinner time.

By the middle of the afternoon I should have been knee deep in fresh fish but was woefully bereft. I telephoned our man at the fish company to make sure that the order had been received but somehow he had missed it. When he telephoned back there were sounds of frantic filleting in the background as his team struggled to put the sizeable order together. He told me that he would have it with us inside the hour, which turned out to be nearly three. By the time it arrived I was sorely pressed to finish the packing and pricing to the extent that I will have to do some of it tomorrow. It was a package of fine looking fish, however, and very much worth the wait. I know where two meaty lumps of hake are going as well - Mother and I will have them on our tea plates tomorrow evening.

Ordinarily, I might have been tempted to work into the evening to finish off the packing, but some bright soul had demanded that we launch the Lifeboat on a training mission at half past six o'clock. Most of the big swell had left the bay by the time evening came and we were cruising toward low water by the time the boat came back in again.

This week we had suitable numbers to perform our tasks and as the boat approached two of us strolled down to the end of the long slip to make final preparations for its return. As expected the tide was a good deal lower down the slipway than we had been able to get earlier, so we had to drag the cable and the span the remaining distance to the new water line. In doing so we uncovered a particularly tricky snag in the span cable which took time to unravel.

The operation was hampered somewhat by the build up of weed, only newly treated to get rid of it, and exceedingly slippery. Given our pedigree, we efficiently untangled the snaps, although to the casual observer I can imagine it looked rather like Laurel and Hardy moving a piano. Of course, it was nothing of the sort and we were in perfect control of the tangled mess of ropes and cables over our shoulders and around our legs seemingly becoming worse instead of better for a while there.

Soon, but less soon than we had hoped, we brought the boat up the long slipway in what was a textbook recovery with rope entanglement procedure - a true classic and rarely practised. We are, after all, a very talented, very excellent Shore Crew.

May 11th - Wednesday

I may not be having too much luck with the shop lately, but we did not do too badly in the morning's rain. It was not raining at all when I went down to get the shop ready and to do the milk and papers but by the time I came out, it had started to rain again. It was particularly light for the short while the bleddy hound and I were down on the beach then it eased off again as I headed down to the gymnasium, I did have to break out my light waterproof for the run down to the beach for the first time this year but the rain at that point was hardly likely to soak us.

The forecast had it that the rain would clear away to the south before the middle of the day after which the sun would come out. Well, slap my thigh with a stick of celery, it was bang on. There was I in the early afternoon looking out on a sparkling bay with the high tide thundering onto the beach. The prediction for the sea state was pretty accurate as well and that was more than 24 hours in advance. They are getting a bit sharp, these forecasters. I do not know where I should go for a bit of fun poking if they keep on being right.

It was a truly blistering session at the gymnasium in the morning. I felt fit to take on the world when I came back until I had eaten my very wonderful Vivian Old's pork pie, after which I did not feel quite so confident. They are quite big, after all. We are quite blessed in having such fine food suppliers on our doorstep practically. With our freezer looking a little sparse for fish I have called in a mountain of it from our special, non-restaurant fisher in Penzance. The cuts from him are not delicate and trimmed portions but are roughly hewn chunks and actually look like they came from a fish. It will keep me occupied for some time on Thursday when it is due in.

Now that the Lifeboat station has its new roof complete and has been signed off as watertight - they think - the powers that be sent in a team of cleaners, starting with the carpet. This was a serious crew with very serious bits of kit including a van with a long fireman's hose coiled up inside. They spent the day pumping product through their hose, scrubbing and shampooing with their compressor running for most of the day. Crickey, was it ever noisy. I struggle to hear our customers even with my false ears on and turned up and today I could not hear them at all. Fortunately, they could not hear me either, so at least it was a balanced failure to communicate.

The Missus decided not to head off to The Farm today, so I was bereft of my shoes or very much to do at all, other than listen to the constant racket from across the road. I did have a go at stocking the grocery shelves but to start with we have not sold very much and secondly, there is not that much overstock in the store room, especially of what we have sold. There were a few telephone calls I could have made but I would not have heard very much, so I put that off until tomorrow when, if things run to normal, I will be too busy to make them.

If there is one thing I do know, it is when I am beaten. I have a lot of practise and experience in that area.

May 10th - Tuesday

There were signs of a brighter day when we headed for the beach this morning. There was still plenty of cloud but it was giving way to more high level stuff and bits of blue sky were visible here and there. I could have done without the jacket, but it was useful for the pockets.

The tides jumped and we are sitting in the middle of the neap tide, which is a very small neap tide indeed. If I were the tide, I do not thing I could be bothered with coming in and out at all for all the distance covered. A good half of the available beach has not been touched at all and the sand is all churned up by the action of the tractor and the boats coming and going.

The day brightened up just as it looked like it might but it still did not bring me much to do. The swell in the bay perked up a bit and gave the surfers something to do. It would have been ideal had the wind stayed in the east, but it had shifted around to the west this morning, just to prove that it could ruin a good surfing day too. It had rained overnight, so I assume that there must be a weather front or two out there to the west somewhere. I did not look too closely as I do not think it was likely to make much difference to the run of play at present.

The long barren days lead grumpy shopkeepers into bad ways. The customer who came through the first electric sliding door in The Cove first thing, with it wide open, the curtains put away and all the shop display out the front, who asked if we were open yet got away with it. I had, by that time, not yet reached my boredom threshold. I should however know my audience, perhaps, as things can go awry. When a lady pointed out to me that it was JMW Turner on the back of the £20 note I told her that he was my favourite and that I had all his records. She looked blankly at the confirmed eejit behind the counter. I concluded such wittiness maybe does not translate well into Polish culture.

I was saved from further disgrace by the sudden influx of customers in the early afternoon and we sold some pasties, too. I have at last got the measure of the required volumes even though they fluctuate widely, and will be caught out, no doubt, when it all suddenly changes one weekend. I was trying to determine which weekend that might be and in my research remembered that the half term week, which is the most likely, has been put back until the first week in June. I had hoped a busy week would come a little sooner, if indeed it will be busy. We will have to hang on a little longer.

With plenty of time later in the afternoon to look out across the bay, I watched as the swell stepped up a level. The forecast is for an even bigger lump out there tomorrow, which should make for a bit of a different day. The sea was already enjoying itself over at Aire Point, leaping up at the big outcrop at the bottom. The water was turning increasing white over at Gwenver and the rest of the shore break was catching up fast. I had been told earlier that there was a fair amount of breeze from the southwest for most of the day, although we could not feel it our side of The Cove. Those who had taken the open-top bus ride today came into the shop wrapped up and freezing but I suspect that they chose the right day, nonetheless.

The Missus missed my message about bring down a box of shoes for me to put out tomorrow. I shall have to find my own entertainment again, so I shall have to resort to my cutting wit and repartee, which the Missus tells me is best enjoyed when I am in a locked room by myself.

May 9th - Monday

It was a day that really did not know what to do with itself. As I looked out first thing we had a hazy, grey bay, dull as ditch water as just about hanging onto cool. The wind had gone around to the south and spared us any further drop in temperature and I was back to wearing a jacket on the beach with the bleddy hound.

The morning was quiet again, although there are a few more around for breakfast good than there was last week. After that initial burst, however, we returned to the sporadic visits of the wandering few all the way through until the early afternoon. When I stepped out of the gymnasium late in the morning, there was not a soul to be seen in either direction on the street but the day had brightened considerably.

I am sure that all this quietness is infectious. There must be a host of things I could do in the absence of customers, but I cannot even be bothered to think of what let alone do it. I suspect it must have affected the Lifeguards as well because when I looked out in the middle of the afternoon, their swimming and surfing flags were several feet deep in water. It would have taken some effort to put them there, for sure, but on a falling tide they would not have to return to them for several hours or possibly not until they were retrieved at the end of the day.

The Missus was a little more dynamic. She had arranged another appointment at the veterinary surgery for the bleddy hound as if torturing her with one journey in a month in that direction was not enough. Our post lady had told the Missus of an injection that would help her arthritis. It would also furnish the veterinary practitioners in further luxury to which they, no doubt, had become accustomed after 14 years of milking us over the bleddy hound. I shall be expecting the bleddy hound to be dashing about like a young gazelle in no time else I will be looking for our money back.

Of course, if it works it may not all be good news. It has taken years before I could keep pace with the bleddy hound. If she is on springs again, I would never to be able to catch up. I recall when she was quite small, she decided to test herself against some cantering horses on the beach. She kept a respectable distance but shadowed them right across the tide line. If she is able to start doing that again I will take myself off to the vet.

There was certainly no dashing around in the final hours of shop opening. The afternoon had been slightly more animated than the morning but even so, we were nowhere near being pressed. Any more of this and we will go to a three-day week and I will tout my services as a garden spade for hire.

May 8th - Sunday

LifeboatIconIt has been some hours, less than twelve, since we have had one for the big boat, so it was about time we had a pause from shouts and the timing could have been way better. I was about to slip into something more comfortable, opening the shop, when my pager went off summoning me to the station.

A converted fishing boat had shut down its engine after discovering that all the oil had run out of it and were adrift in the TSS, Traffic Separation System, between The Cove and the Isles of Scilly. This is a potentially tricky place to break down with big tankers and container ships piling up and down it at frequent intervals and casualty vessels need to be removed with some haste. So, the Lifeboat only paused to load some cans of oil for the stricken craft before we launched it into a calm sea with the sun shining and the birds singing. Alright, the gulls were not exactly tuning up for the Apollo Choir but just take it as a metaphor for one glorious day.

The mist had rolled back to the horizon during the evening yesterday but was now sat out in the distance like a ghost at the feast. This was vaguely the direction that the Lifeboat headed in searching for its casualty, some six miles to the northwest of The Cove. Down on the beach with the bleddy hound this morning it was jacket off and basking in the sunshine time and that looked set to continue. It was still glorious on the slipway some hour or so later as we set up on the short slip again, nearly twelve hours after the last time we were there.

I had kept tabs on the operation from the shop, listening to the radio and watching the progress on the ship finding program on the computer. It was a fair bet that the boat would either be fixed at the scene or need to be towed to Newlyn, therefore, either a one hour wait or four to five hours. We just needed to know which one so we could plan recovery. An hour later the Lifeboat started moving towards The Cove but the speed it was going suggested that it was either towing or escorting the fishing boat. It turned out to be the latter. It was not long after that, as we watched the Lifeboat discontinue its escort duties after seeing the boat around Land's End, with very little notice, we hurried back to the station to set up to bring the boat back in.

The conditions and the state of the tide were almost identical to those for the recovery the previous evening - except one was in the dark. Given that we had successfully brought the boat back in with a similar amount of water on the short slip we had better confidence in the clearly textbook recovery that happened shortly afterwards. We were also blessed by a surfeit of keen volunteers. Not only did we have sufficient for a crew but we had spares, too. We are, after all, a very numerous, very excellent Shore Crew - sometimes.

Well, we had all morning of glorious sunshine and, for the first time in what seemed like forever, we had people on the street and they were frequenting the shop. By eleven o'clock I had taken orders for pasties into the early afternoon and it was plain that we would run out pretty swiftly, so I pulled the reserve stock out of the freezer. This was clearly what the small gods of grumpy shopkeepers were waiting for because soon afterwards the mist started to roll back in and the easterly breeze that had been there since early morning, freshened. It was not so bad with strong sunshine beaming down but as that turned to haze, the breeze felt a bit chilly driving the visitors to seek some shelter.

Although it brightened later on, the mist never really left us, choosing to drift in an out and, with the breeze, kept a lid on the temperature. Despite the drop in numbers during the afternoon, we had the busiest day that we have had for a while. The OS, according to the chefs who drop by for refreshments in the middle of the afternoon, was packed for most of their day. By contrast, the beach was near enough empty for much of the day, clearly not warm enough for sitting out on it and the waves being negligible, not much use for surfing either, offshore wind or no.

Talking of wind, what must be the unluckiest sailor is back in The Cove, I noticed. The yacht was in the Harbour car park and I could see the mast poking up above the buildings on the wharf. This was the yacht that parked up on the beach on Thursday night and left for the Isles of Scilly the next day in a fresh westerly. He must have come back today, delighted by the fresh easterly he was faced with.

We puttered to a close in the evening with hardly a soul about. We looked out on the placid and peaceful scene as the tide closed in on the beach, slowly enclosing and covering the sandbars at the near end of the beach. There were a few solitary dog walkers using up the last few minutes of available sand and their dogs charging about in the shallows. Sometimes the bay is filled with sea birds vying for space on the rocks and the bobbing waves. This evening there were hardly any, in fact, there were more collared doves and feral pigeons that have made their home around the Lifeboat station than anything else. Probably a sign of something really important, if only we knew what it was.

May 7th - Saturday

I am sure it was a glorious morning, if only we could see it. The mist was sitting on the top of the hill when the bleddy hound suggested that we go out earlier than normal. It was a fortuitous move because she met her best pal at the top of the slipway. There was a cooling breeze blowing in from somewhere towards north, which was rather pleasant in the humidity.

By the time I came down to do the newspapers and open the shop, the mist had descended and blotted out the view. Radio Pasty had nailed it a couple of days ago, promising that the mist would clear to leave behind a perfectly sunny day - except for the Isles of Scilly and the Far West of Cornwall, of course.

Perhaps we should have more fog. It is the first morning in a while that we had a bit of a rush of shoppers arrive. I do not know if they were newly arrived or if they had been here all week and were just leaving, having decided at the last minute to have a quick geek at the local shop. It would be good to think it was the former and the evidence, buying breakfast goods and newspapers and not presents to take home, was such that supported the theory. We also started to get a little pressure on the pasty sales, which was about right because for the first time in weeks I had decided to let my optimism slip and drastically reduced the number I bought in. Sacre plume and nomme de bleu as they say in parts of Finland.

The Missus was away up to The Farm early this morning. Our friendly neighbourhood bobby had been pressing her about the length of the grass in the field. The subtext of this particular concern was not the length of the grass particularly but his desire to be the one on the tractor mowing it. This was the sole reason for the Missus hanging around at The Farm last evening to attach the flail mower to it. The Missus would enjoy doing it herself, as would I, as it is quite relaxing as well as satisfying but she has enough to do else and it was very useful having a willing volunteer to do it.

After she had set him up and running, she came back to the shop to collect yesterday's delivery. Together we packed that into the truck, leaving behind what we could set out in the shop straight away and she was gone again. It was just as misty up at The Farm as it was down in The Cove, but the Missus was mainly working inside, so it probably did not matter too much.

Sadly, the afternoon did not measure up to the morning's potential. It was possible that I was wrong about the earlier contingent and they had gone home but more likely, the fog put many people off. I lost count of the kind souls that pointed out to me that it was bright and sunny on the other side of the fence. Even St Just got away with it over us, which was unnerving.

It was not until gone half past four o'clock that the mist finally cleared off sufficiently to make it look a bit sparkly down in The Cove. It was very much the case of 'look what we could have had'. It did nothing to improve our customer throughput and one look towards the beach and the empty car park above it told its own story.

LifeboatIconIt has been some weeks since we had one for the big boat, so it was about time we had a shout but the timing could have been way better. I was about to slip into something more comfortable, my bed, when my pager went off summoning me to the station. Someone had spotted a red flare over on the south coast around Porthcurno, so we launched the boat in a bit of a hurry at around ten o'clock.

Such calls are more often than not false alarms but need to be treated as urgent up until they are proven not to be. With this in mind the launch crew stuck about at the station to witness developments because in all likelihood, the boat would be back sooner rather than later.

There were various reports of human activity around the area, some fishing and some tomfoolery, so the Coastguard suggested a shore line search along the coast to see if anything could be found. Unfortunately, red flares seen from the shore could have been fired from just about anywhere and are notoriously difficult to pin down. We all rely on experience and reported evidence to try and make sense of it. In the end, after the best part of an hour, the boat was stood down leaving us on shore with a bit of a dilemma.

The timing of the launch and the subsequent recovery was such that it entered the time when the tide was between slipways. There was just too much water on the long slip to bring the boat in there and the available water on the short slip was fast diminishing. I had a look at the long slip first and determined that even given the 20 minutes the boat would take to come back there would still be too much water there and there was also a fair bit of movement. I decided in the short slip. There the level of the tide was already below my marker of what I would consider the ideal lowest point but thought that there would just be enough clearance albeit with a bit of sand kicked up. After all, it is not our boat and any scratches on the bottom when we handed it back could be down to, erm, barnacles.

We were precious few on the shore to carry out our work and one of those was still in training. We welcomed the boat back at around half past eleven o'clock and brought it up the short slip in what was clearly a textbook recovery. It and I was all tucked in the boathouse and ready for launch again by midnight o'clock. We are, after all, a very timely, very excellent Shore Crew.

May 6th - Friday

Phew, what a scorcher. Well, sort of. It was a bit milder than we have been used to today and by the time I came back from the gymnasium it was worthy of a short sleeve shirt in the shop - I had other clothes on as well. I had exchanged my session on Wednesday for a trip to see the bone cruncher, so it was good to be back to having a blistering session again, throwing a few weights around and rowing for miles - virtually.

We are hoping that the couple of chaps heading to the Isles of Scilly today in their yacht will not have to do too much rowing. I had a chat with one of them last night as we waited for the boats to come back in. They had left their small yacht on the beach in readiness for the trip this morning and my acquaintance was concerned if they had brought it far enough up the beach to be safe from the high tide. I assured him that he would have plenty of room where he was over by the Harbour wall, but we would be there at high water, anyway, to keep an eye on it. I am not sure we could have done much about it if we were wrong but at least we could have borne witness to it floating away.

Both yachtsmen were on the beach in the morning when I headed down with the bleddy hound. The previous evening, I had remarked that the wind was not being helpful for them but at least it was not too severe. Perhaps I should not have mentioned it because the westerly had freshened by this morning making it even worse for them. They had looked like they knew what they were doing and one had even remembered to climb under the boat to make sure the bung was properly in. Sure, they will be fine.

After a bit of a super day yesterday we are back in the doldrums, it seems. I had foolishly finished off setting out the keyrings in the morning while there was no one around and left myself nothing to do when I came back to the shop after the gymnasium. I eventually remembered some sew on patches that arrived yesterday but that was a short-lived pleasure. It was not until gone four o'clock that the pallet delivery that I had been waiting for arrived. The Missus found herself ensconced with attaching her flail mower to the tractor at The Farm and was unavailable to collect the delivery, so I ushered it into the store room. Fortunately, it was not a huge delivery.

In the meanwhile, we did have some customer activity and some of it was quite worthwhile. Hooded sweatshirts, swimming costumes - the brave souls - and some bottles of premium spirits left wrapped up and paid for. At one point two Asian gentlemen arrived seeking postcards. They were most amiable fellows and we had a little chat about the place. They asked if there was a post office nearby, which we distilled to the requirement for stamps, which we could supply. I made the cardinal sin of judging my book by its cover and offered international stamps; they were both from Edinburgh.

The Missus was fearfully late coming back from The Farm. She had some struggle with the flail mower as the top bar would not extend long enough to allow the connection. Without that in place the mower would just scrape along the ground. Having already taken the tipping trailer out of the barn, full of boxes, she was a bit committed. Happily, perseverance is her middle name, which is odd to have as any sort of name, although I suppose it is not a great deal different from Prudence - except it is spelt differently. Sorry, I digress. Where was I? Ah yes, perseverance. The Missus hung in there until she had fixed the top link into place and rearranged the order of things in the barn. It meant late tea, but that is a price we pay. Thank heavens there is beer.

May 5th - Thursday

It was still a little hazy in the morning, but it was bright and mild. I got the impression that there was a bit of breeze blowing in from somewhere in the west but it was not bothering us at all when we headed to the beach. Our man with the hydrofoil was at it again when we got down there. He is getting quite proficient and is doing turns and almost returning to the beach. I had a brief chat with him and he told me that he would be out practising in the bay with his wing had there been any appreciable wind.

Not even the paddleboarders were out there today; it was flat as a dish all over. All told, it was a pretty fair day and it brought some visitors out to play. There were moments that we were actually busy through the day (busy adjective: having more than one customer in the shop at any one time.) and there were a fair few milling about in the street for several hours.

We are clearly going to have to do a course on written communication. Some of our signage around the shop seems to cause confusion. A case in point is the signage around our fridge magnets. We have two types, plastic and metal and there are different prices, the plastic being a pound cheaper. To make matter even more complex we offer a 3 for £5 on the plastic ones.

Customer.: [holding up a metal magnet] "Are these three for a fiver?"
Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "No, just the plastic ones, sir."
Customer.: [Still holding the metal magnet] "But this one is next to all the plastic ones."
Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "Yes, sir. Still think you will find that it is metal, though."
Customer.: "Oh, it was just that it was in the place where the plastic ones were."
Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "Yes, we don't really have a special place for plastic and another for metal. We rather hoped that our bright customers might be able to tell the difference between the plastic and metal without them being labelled. Apologies. My mistake."

Our "Cash only under £3" replaced one that said, "Cards only over £3" but it appears that both cause equal discombobulation, so I added another that says "Minimum card payment £3". We still regularly get asked if people can only use their card for payments that are under £3 and a fair few more who only read the word "cash" and think that we do not take cards at all.

I am also going to have to change our pasty sign because it says, "steak pasty" and the number of people who walk out because they were looking for a Cornish pasty is legion. Similarly, we have got into the habit of telling people that they have purchased sparkling water when they bring it to the till. The number of people who have not read the sign on the front of the fridge or indeed the bottle itself are numerous. I rather suspect that there are just far too many signs in the world and life is too short to read them all.

An afternoon of rigid tedium was saved by the arrival of a small delivery. This came from a small outfit up in Taunton, somewhere east of Camborne which does an attractive range of keyrings and small souvenirs. I was just enjoying leisurely putting them out on a display that I had put together for the purpose when a thunking great delivery of fudge and biscuits arrived. This required far greater effort in unwrapping, pricing and putting out than the key rings did. There is also rather a lot of smaller boxes that need to be found room for in the store room but fortunately I had thought ahead for this delivery and reserved some space.

Being such a calm and peaceful day out in the bay, some bright spark insisted that we take the Lifeboats out for a spin. We were spread thin on the ground for launching and I took the tooltrak and the small boat down through the narrow gap in the scaffolding down to the beach while the other three launched the big boat. The spring tides are diminishing and were not very big to start with, so there was a bit of beach to launch from, which was a relief. It is always a bit tricky launching at the angle from the slipway straight into the water.

As soon as the Inshore boat was away, I returned to the boathouse to help set up the short slip for recovery. We then kicked our heels and engaged in lively debate on matters of great import until we realised that we did not know much about matters of great import and we resorted to casual banter instead. I had stepped outside on sighting the Inshore returning to the bay when the Aged Parent called for a chat. Luckily, the boat passed by for a charge around the surf on Gwenver but I had to cut the call short when it returned to practise recovery with the trainees on board.

Short Slip
Very excellent Shore Crew draw lots to see which will get their boots wet this time.

Finally, we recovered the small boat and I ran it up the slipway for a washdown before tucking it away in the shed at the top of the car park for another day. While I was doing that, the big boat was being received on the short slip in what was clearly a textbook recovery. I made it back in time to help wash down the boat, bring it back into the boathouse and return the cradle to the launch position for another day. We are, after all, a very multi-tasking, very excellent Shore Crew.

May 4th - Wednesday

It was one very glorious morning when I poked my head outside first thing this morning. It was still that way when I ran the bleddy hound down to the beach, too. There was a big blue sky and the sun was splitting the hedges, so that was nice. Half an hour later, the cloud rolled in, mizzle happened and up on top you could not see a hand in front of your face unless you opened your eyes and found that there was thick mist as well. The low cloud blotted out the sun for the rest of the day, although we did have some brighter bits and it was warm and quite humid.

Blue Skies
Our false start.

The day followed what is now a familiar pattern of quietness interspersed by visits from regular visitors and, today, the ex-Head Launcher dropped by for a chat. In between those times there was still plenty of yesterday's deliveries to work through and to put away either on the shelves or shoe-horned into the store room. It is quite remarkable just how quickly the free space in there has been used up. Some of it should have been transported up to The Farm but we have already filled up that space to the point we can get no more up there.

The Missus left halfway through the morning to go and try and tidy up some more space and to water the plants that need watering and to pick a bit more produce for the shop. I did not quite manage to finish the automatic watering system I had intended to put in place. In Fact, I had not even started it other than a discussion with the expert man in the industrial irrigation shop in Helston. It reminds me that I still need to get the various bits to join the two IBCs at the barn. At present one is working alone to collect all the water off the barn roof and one heavy shower a month or so ago alone almost filled that. We have not had much rain since then, so there may well be more room in it now.

She returned in the middle of the afternoon to allow me to head into town for an appointment with my bone cruncher. The finely tuned athletic physique, maintained by regular trips to the gymnasium, occasionally needs a little outside help to keep it on the straight and narrow. Crumbly old frames probably need a bit more, which is why I went. I am glad it is expensive because I do not think it would do much good if it was cheap.

Talking of expensive, our front numberplate dropped off a few days ago. It suffered from the seaside disease - rust, and the last flakes of it holding the bracket on eventually gave up on the task. I had tried to remove the last bits of the bracket so that I could fit a new one but the screws are also so rusty they refused to budge. Even after several applications of copious amounts of easing oil, they remained resolutely in place despite encouraging them with heavy screwdrivers and pliers.

I decided that it would be a good idea to stop by our garage man on the way back to the shop to see what they thought. Obviously, I had hoped that our man would say he would resolve the issue there and then, which happily he did or rather did not. It was not for the want of trying and one of the screws gave up and came out without too much fuss. The other refused and our man, unable to easily get to the back of it gave up on the basis that it would need the front removed to get to the back. Since we need some welding done at the back to ward off failure at the next MOT test, I agreed that we would book the truck in for that and while it was there, they could come up with a cheap and dirty solution for the number plate. We will just need to avoid automatic number plate recognition installations until that time - or reverse past them.

In what is now a familiar routine, we coasted through to closing time finding things to do in the absence of serving customers. We must have a few people buying things because I am having to place reasonably regular orders for milk and groceries. It is the devil's own job trying to keep on top of the fresh vegetables and making sure they are not going rotten in the fridge and how much to buy to replace them with when they do. It is quite a relief to close the door on it all for a while.

May 3rd - Tuesday

After yesterday evening's sunny exit I had expected a clear start, but it was all misty, damp and grey. The tides are clearly not up to much this spring tide and there was still a sliver of beach big enough for the bleddy hound. She is not keen any more even to saunter around the block, although I feel there is no harm in forcing her no and again. She will thank me for it one day - or perhaps not.

Despite the dourness of the start of the day, it was reasonably mild. Radio Pasty reported that one of the red top newspapers was suggesting hotter than Crete at some point in the next few day. It is a shame that Crete is expecting such poor weather. Our day was set to improve, however, and it certainly did from the middle of the morning. Although there was still a fair amount of cloud cover, it was warm and a tad humid and bright enough for us to sell a few sunglasses.

We had sold a total of two pasties yesterday, which was something of a record, and had thrown away a lot more first thing this morning. Determined not to have so much waste today, I took care to bring pasties out in small batches. This could have gone horribly wrong if demand had picked up considerably but, in the event, it worked quite well, and we sold a few more today with less to throw out tomorrow.

I had a lady in today who asked if we had any fresher bread. What was on the shelf still had two days left of its best before date, so I told her we would get more in when the current bread had sold out or its date expired. There is still much concern over 'best before' dates, which it is felt is leading to unnecessary food waste. Most products are good to eat a good few days after the expiry and some bigger suppliers are experimenting with removing the date, recommending customers use their eyes and nose to establish edible worthiness. Perhaps I should try that here.

We have had an electronic mail from the Diary's International Correspondent (Australasia Branch). We have not heard from him in a while, and I assumed those fierce Tasmanians were not even letting messages out. Those Mediterranean types are very strict, you know. Our friend tells us that the island had spent a considerable time free of the dreaded lurgi but since the borders have been opened, the rate has climbed astronomically and he has been keeping his head down. In fact, he had kept his head down at their summer residence at the beach with his extended family, being mainly pets. I was intrigued to find out that the parrot was named Clarence Froghorn Henry, although Clarence has been renamed Clarrie after she started laying eggs, a fact that made me chuckle for a while.

Apparently, it was too hot on many days to sit out in the sun from mid-morning until late in the afternoon, a situation that we are most familiar with here on perhaps one day of the year when it is 20 degrees cooler than our Correspondent is used to. Still, give it time; we are nearly there.

Our International Correspondent clearly does not let the grass grow under his feet and in the interests of 'copy' and a good story, risked exposure to the dreaded lurgi by venturing out to the Fingal valley. Who knew Fingal had a valley as well as a cave? He tells me that it is a mining area for coal, unlike much of the UK's industry it is still active and being invested in.

The mining area here and the town that sits in it is called Cornwall after the large number of diasporic Cornish miners who were attracted to the area and settled. The geology is mainly granodiorite, which is similar in qualities to granite and so the Cornish miners were particularly suited to extracting the coal here. Today, it is recognised as high quality product. This is just as well because the Australia Institute suggests export from the island costs $100,000 more per shipment to any of the usual northern Asia ports than exports from New South Wales.

Cornwall, Tasmania
Cornwall somewhere else.

Sadly, our Correspondent reports, the Cornish miners were just as exploited in Tasmania as they were at home and found just as much poverty in their new home. There, and who said that reading The Diary was not an education? (We do know that Tasmania is not in the Mediterranean. That was a joke. We do not want to upset our New Zealand buddies, now do we.)

The Missus had left in the middle of the day. She had an appointment for the bleddy hound at the veterinary doctor's surgery in the late afternoon and went over to Mother's first to lull her into a false sense of security. Before she went, she gave me a hand with the deliveries. We had already had the main grocery delivery that arrived halfway through my morning cup of tea for the first time this year. It is useful for both parties that it arrives at that time, which is a plus point for the status quo. When or if we move to the new supplier, the delivery details we have much to do with whether we switch or not despite the £40 charge for it. It was late in the morning that the frozen and the second grocery delivery arrived both together. I needed some help in getting the frozen away before it started to melt. It put the Missus too late to detour to The Farm as she intended, so ended up waiting at Mother's. The bleddy hound was still a quivering wreck on the trip in, regardless of the different direction.

The bleddy hound may have had her nose put out of joint - not to mention the opposite end - but the Missus was late enough to stop at the local curry house in Penzance on the way back. We have not had a take out curry in a very long while. Gosh, what a treat and the Missus bought extras for the freezer, too.

May 2nd - Monday

There was just enough beach this morning to run down and have a stomp on, which pleased the bleddy hound no end. She was not the only creature happy, either, as our friend with the hydrofoil was there as well. The first attempt we witnessed ended very quickly in disaster again and I feared that there had not been much improvement since Saturday. The next attempt, however, saw him bounce without too much effort out to the end of the Harbour wall before he fell off. Given that the tide was mainly in, that was a respectable distance and I congratulated him heartily when he paddled back to the shore. A remote friend had also watched him on the Harbour webcam and reported that he had subsequently made a couple of circuits of the Harbour without falling off. I have no doubt we will see him with the next breeze out in the bay … falling off heroically.

For some reason best known to myself, I had expected some blue sky and sunshine today but it was still overcast and grey when I went down to sort out the shop. The forecast from Radio Pasty suggested that there would be some showers, too, through the day, which was very disappointing especially as I had told myself it was going to be a good day. That will teach me to be optimistic.

I am not going to mention business being poor, the lack of customers or how quiet it is for the time of the year. Not a word. Promise.

I woke this morning in a state of confusion. I was rather thinking that it was Sunday but my shorts, gymnasium for the use of, were hanging on the beam by our bed ready for me. It was only this that convinced me that it must have been Monday - or Wednesday or possibly Friday. Happily, all the deliveries were present when I came down to prepare the shop, ahead of taking the bleddy hound out. I do like it when that happens because it means I do not have to time my return to the shop to take care of any late arrivals and can sup my cup of tea at leisure.

It was only when I came back from the gymnasium, after a particularly satisfying and blistering session, and went to the bathroom that I realised something odd was afoot. My towel was damp and so too was my shaving brush. It occurred to me that I had already showered early in the morning which I do on days that are not gymnasium days. The task was so automatic that I had not even realised and, after I came back from the gymnasium, I could not immediately recall doing so and had to rely on the evidence to convince me. I think I may have to lie down for a bit, drink heavily or possibly both … sequentially.

The Missus left for The Farm as soon as I returned. I should have gone with her; no one would have noticed - oops, don't mention how quiet it is. She went to start to sort out the barn and the store shed to see if we could actually find any of the stock in the mountain of stock there. At some point we might actually see some customers - oops, don't mention the lack of customers - then we will be stuck about how to find the bits that they had bought to replace them. I did offer to come up in the evening and lend a hand. We could have sandwiches on the veranda afterwards. My genuine offer of assistance was spurned on the basis that I am useless at such things and would only get in the way. I could not possibly argue.

The highly professional craftsperson dropped by in the later afternoon, which passed half an hour. We stood and admired the bright sunshine and blue sky that had broken through toward the end of the middle of the afternoon, just after the few people who were here had beggared off - oops.

May 1st - Sunday

Well, the merry month of May here so soon and already we have the threat of a guts of rain descending from the north and a cancelled charity cricket match that the Missus was making sandwiches for.I do not know how many were in this 'five-a-side' style match, RNLI versus the fire brigade, but she had clearly decided it was probably around 50 people and had already made sausage rolls for 75 of them. The notice of postponement was a little late in coming but, happily, most of it will freeze for the rearranged date.

The complete silence of our mornings had been replaced by the familiar rush of waves against the shore, today. The tide had only recently left the beach and I suspect that we will be pushed off it in the coming days for our first walk of the day. Nature may not have been quiet this morning but there was not another soul about in any direction and I rather hoped it was not setting a trend for the rest of the day.

The weather had been pretty fair in the morning but there was a hint of damp in the air. It has also clearly rained a bit at some point shortly before I went down to prepare the shop in the morning. There was no particular hint of more rain to come, although it was heavily overcast and misty. I had quite forgotten about the possibility of rain and Radio Pasty had been reasonably dismissive of anything serious on the way here. The Meteorological Office begged to disagree with warnings of heavy rain from the middle of the morning, which failed to materialise, and it did seem for a while that the jury was still out. The forecast had clearly put off any rush to the café for an outside breakfast and there was very little in the way of visitors in numbers anywhere along the street.

The rain had taken its time moving southwards and when it did come in the early part of the afternoon, it settled in for the rest of the day. Any notion I had of a reversal of fortune and an increase in customers from this weekend were washed away with the rain.

On the occasions that we have had customers, we are increasingly asked if we sell belts. I have always found it odd that it appears to be a staple of the seaside giftshop in the larger resorts. I recall with some regret wandering the streets of Newquay where every other shop had rotating displays of belts of many varieties. At the trade shows we attend, any stall that is remotely connected to seaside trade or gift and crafts has belts hanging up alongside umbrellas and snow globes and I have never understood the connection. Do people's trousers suddenly fall down when they arrive at the seaside? Stocking belts is not something that we have ever considered and until recently the subject has rarely come up save for the odd holiday wardrobe emergency. I shall keep a weather eye on demand and possibly venture into stocking them but until then, we have the twine I tie up the newspapers with.

Talking of being helpful, I thought that it might be worth pointing out a small matter of etiquette. It is to exclusively be used at time when it is patently obvious that the shop is closed. For the avoidance of doubt, the key indicators of this status are that the curtains are in place and the door is closed - and also that the hour of the day lies outside those stated on the 'shop opening hours' notice on the door. There are occasions, however, when an emergency might overtake you and you find it necessary, within the margins of a politeness either side of our open hours, to throw yourself on the mercy of the grumpy shopkeeper still therein, to seek extraordinary service measures. Such emergencies might include a sticking plaster for a recently inflicted minor wound, sustenance for an infant that could not have reasonably been purchased before the shop shut and emergency need for beer. Of course, all excuses may be superseded on the presentation of a brown envelope stuffed with shekels of the realm.

The etiquette, the framework for which is set out in the previous paragraph, should be employed upon the door being opened to a request satisfying the conditions above. The quickest way to being refused such a request, and a clear breach of etiquette, is to commence with the phrase, 'Are you still open?' when it is plain that we are not. The most effective and endearing gambit would be to start with, 'I know that you are closed but …'. This may be followed up by any excuse that comes to the caller at that moment, the more inventive and far-fetched earning additional points for bravery and barefacedness.

I trust that this has cleared that up. We are only here to help.

With the rain persisting through the afternoon, the pace was sedate but at least there was a pace, for which we are very grateful. There were a fair few walkers geared up to meet the conditions and a fair few nomadic individuals in need of rainproof ponchos that we were happy to supply for the required compensation. As noted previously, there was a greater proportion of foreign nationals than of late visiting the shop. Many of these, I would guess were Spanish or at least Spanish speaking. It demonstrates that there are at least some modes of transport operating in this direction from abroad even if the poor souls cannot easily get back again.

We ended the day with a small group of young people looking for the entire ingredients of a roast dinner including the joint. Pitifully poor planning precedes pitifully poor performance - other versions are available. They were also hampered by not having any personal transport and staying in Mousehole where I do not think that there are any proper shops left. After admitting that they were not going to get to Tesmorburys by bus in time - they would be closed in any event - they settled for local butcher sausages, Cornish potatoes, local onions and Boathouse Farm parsley, arguable a much better quality meal than they would have procured at Tesmorburys, even if they had executed better planning. I imagine they will not look back after finding such fine local epicurean delights.

April 30th - Saturday

It was all very still again in the early morning. Frankly, after a small flurry of newspaper buyers came and went, it was still for the rest of the morning, too.

I met up with Ronnie and Reggie (not their real names but suitable nonetheless), some more of the bleddy hound's pals, as we headed for the beach first thing. It was the sort of time that you might take your brand new hydrofoil board down to the Harbour to practice how to get onto it for the first time while there was no one there to watch you fall off … erm. It was very hard not to titter. Not so much at the chap falling off but the fact that he probably hoped he would be on his own while he did it. We were only there for ten minutes and by the time we left he had perfected his technique; you have never seen such fancy falling off.

There was a good deal more cloud about today, but it was still perfectly pleasant. Again, there was no appreciable breeze from anywhere but there was some movement in the water towards the middle of the afternoon. I saw a group of surfers catching a small shore break the far side of the beach and another on a sand bar just off North Rocks. It was also starting to look a bit more positive out on Gwenver but I did not trouble myself to look closer. Everywhere else it was still flat, apparently.

Business in the afternoon seemed to pick up for a bit. That was clearly enough for the small gods of grumpy shopkeepers who immediately sent a power cut. Fortunately, it did not last very long but it had affected all three businesses at our end of the street. Once, we might have managed to stay open but with the numbers of people not carrying cash anymore and the payment card machine inoperative, there is probably little point. It demonstrated just how fragile our business existence is now, where once we would have stuck a few candles out and carried on regardless.

Still, after we resumed, we continued with the upbeat performance. Later in the afternoon we even had the buying of groceries such as would make tea on the first day of arrival, so perhaps things are looking up. There was also a lot more traffic moving about in The Cove and the car park at the big beach end looked fuller than it has been for a while. I secretly nursed some hope for the coming week.

I mentioned previously that we have seen an increased number of foreign visitors for the first time since the dreaded lurgi struck. I bit the bullet and ordered in some postcard stamps of the appropriate value for sending abroad - oddly the Post Office insists on an airmail sticker for such post but will not supply me with the labels. I may have mentioned before that the new stamps are about three times bigger than the normal stamps that we have been used to for some time. This will play havoc with postcard sending, especially for long addresses, as it reduces the amount of address space.

The reason why they are so big is that they now contain something similar to a QR code along the side, a computer or mobile telephone readable code that directs the reading machine to carry out a particular action. It is used by the Post Office for tracking but, a long-standing customer and conversationist, tells me, it also has another purpose. Using the appropriate app on your smart mobile telephone you will soon be able to link a message to the unique code that the recipient, using the same software, will be able to read. Clearly, it also means that anyone getting their hands on the item being sent will also be able to read it - unless there is some clever security involved - so it is unlikely to be used by secret agents or their enemies to convey covert messages. Currently, I was told, it carries a short Shaun the Sheep video by way of example and you can also track the item's progress through the post office.

Naturally, in the interests of Diary integrity, I had to try out this rather bizarre innovation and downloaded the rather chunky Royal Mail app. Sure enough, reading the code brings up the Shaun the Sheep video. Given the Royal Mail's rather long list of things that they would rather not transport, I wonder how they intend to police content of the messages, which may contain pictures of contraband sent, as it were, by proxy. Utter anarchy.

Talking of anarchy, the Highly Professional Craftsperson and I broke out of our self-inflicted cocoon in the evening to go and see our favourite band. It is, in fact, the only band we have seen in the last two years, which has seriously narrowed our focus where once we might regularly see numerous bands on the local circuit. Hanterhir has almost released a new album and appears to be going from strength to strength. The band also has a new video out to go with their latest single release, which is an incredible work of psychedelic fantasy and colour. It is on the You Tube facility on the Internet.

It was a most enjoyable foray back into the real world and the band were excellent, as ever. They had no new t-shirts but I purchased some of the old ones in my new size, having shrunk in the wash recently, against the wishes of the Missus, - purchasing the t-shirts, not shrinking in the wash - who believes I have sufficient. I stuffed them up my jumper so she would not notice and will later pretend that I have had them forever. Obviously, no one here will spill the beans, now will you dear reader.

April 29th - Friday

My friend and neighbour told suggested this morning was a proper rip gribbler. I fancied that he was probably right, although it all went a bit hazy and chill later, which took the edge off it rather.

It was certainly pretty looking when the bleddy hound and I were on the beach first thing. It was also perfectly still. We were joined very quickly afterwards by her best pal who had made a bid for freedom after being told by my friend who walks her that she was only allowed a functional trip out. Bleddy hound's best pal had employed the tired but ever successful, 'I dropped my ball and had to chase after it' routine and had spotted the bleddy hound on the beach from the road at the top. My friend was late for work, so she was very grateful that the bleddy hound and I were just on our way back. Even so, best pal was clearly not that keen to go home and we had to walk halfway back up the hill to encourage her in the right direction.

Fortunately, it does not matter all that much if I am late for work, especially at the moment when there are so few people about to notice - apart from one, of course. There is always one who thinks it a jolly wheeze to form a queue of one outside the first electric sliding door in The Cove before we open, piling the pressure on an already fraught grumpy shopkeeper.

It did not get much better later in the day, either, as we ran out of pasties in the middle of the day. Wednesday, I think we sold half a dozen and yesterday four. I ordered ten for today on the basis that The Cove had been spurned by pasty eating humans for the best part of three weeks. I am convinced of a conspiracy to drive me even further to the edge of sanity.

If I am heading that way, it was an extremely pleasant day for which it to happen. The sea is now on its third day or so of placid flatness, which made it ideal for Falmouth Divers to steam around on their flat-bottomed platform. They arrived in the middle of the day and anchored up to service each of the Lifeboat channel markers. These had been temporarily fixed in place by local fishermen and had lasted well through the last set of storms. We shall see how long they last this time.

We sank to new depths of desertedness in the afternoon. There were a few people sitting at the benches opposite and on the ones further down the street, eating ice creams and watching the entertainment laid on by Falmouth Divers. The big beach was pretty much devoid of revellers and even the paddler boarders had given up pretending it was exciting. Actually, I saw one early yesterday morning and I imagine the quiet and tranquillity out on the bay at that time was very much worth the effort.

There was a bit of excitement in the last hour of opening as a few customers tried to brighten the business day up. It was most appreciated. The others will just have to try harder.

April 28th - Thursday

The bleddy hound was a little more keen than normal to get out today. It turned my morning schedule on its head, but I survived the trauma of it and still managed a cup of tea and to open on time. It is the sort of dynamic, quick reaction, grumpy shopkeeper I am.

The day had started off a little chilly as it had on previous days of this week. However, by the time ex-Head Launcher and his dog turned up for a bit of a chat it had warmed up considerably. I had not noticed until we decamped in the absence of customers and went and sat on the benches opposite the shop. While the sun was not exactly beating down, it was bright and most comfortable for a while. I had to return to the shop a few times during the period and the last time I came out, the cloud appeared to have thickened and a breeze had struck up from the northeast. It started to get chilly almost immediately, which we accepted as time to both go about our own business.

It had passed an hour and the Missus had provided tea and coffee halfway through. By the time I returned to the shop there was a more positive flow of customers, although it could hardly be labelled as being busy. There was not even the little peak of going home present buying that we might expect from today but if few people had arrived this week they would not be going home, either.

With little else particularly to do during the bright and sunny afternoon, I stepped out to take some air and have a closer look at a vintage motorcycle that had putted into The Cove a few minutes earlier. Two other motorcycle enthusiasts with their modern machines had already engaged the new rider, so I did not approach closer. From looking at pictures on the Internet I believe that it was a mid 1920s Royal Enfield in the process of being restored. It started first time, so at least the chap had the mechanics soundly fixed.

It was while I was outside, I noticed a large shape on the horizon. It could have been the superstructure of a large ship but did not seem to fit the bill somehow. I had a quick look on my ship finder app on my mobile telephone and it told me that it was S. B. Gladys. Gladys is a London barge or spritsail barge built around the turn of the last century and is absolutely massive for its type. More than 80 feet long and twenty odd feet wide, the mast was nearly as high as it was long. At a rough estimation there was 300m2 of sail involved, so no wonder it was so visible even at around five miles distant. It was a glorious sight through the lens of binoculars, and it was fair bowling along, too.

The roofing boys have really pushed ahead with their work over the last few weeks and today announced that they had finished. They spent the day clearing up out of which we gleaned a few spare pallets for The Farm. They are a friendly bunch and have spent a few shillings in the shop since they have been here, which has been much appreciated in our doldrums.

Talking of doldrums, with the wind but a mere light air and the sea looking like a dish it was high time to launch the Lifeboat on exercise. Clearly, I was not the only one who thought so and we pushed the boat into the rippling water at half past six o'clock or thereabouts. We also launched the Inshore boat and while they were gone we used the Tooltrak vehicle for some training.

Having completely churned up the pristine sand on the Harbour beach we returned to our stations to be ready for the return of both boats. They had not been out long and had taken along with them the foreman of the roofers since he had been working so long above the boat. With the tides being quite small this week the tide had receded enough so that we could set up on the long slip. There, at the bottom of it, the waves were gently lapping at the concrete, and it made for quite a casual return of the big boat as it went astern into the keelway lit by the sun dropping to the horizon out of a perfect sky.

As the conditions change with the seasons and ebb and flow of the tides, so too does the condition of the concrete tow of the slipway. Today, it was covered in a layer of green seaweed slime that made it excessively slippery. I could not even rest a hand on it to push the cable to the centre of the dip without slipping away with it and stepping out on it, as we occasionally do, was out of the question. However, it allowed the boat to glide effortlessly up the tow, in what was clearly a textbook recovery when it usually judders a bit with the friction.

Both boats were pulled in, washed down and made ready for the next launch all by around eight o'clock in a well-attended session. We are, after all, a very complete, very excellent Shore Crew.

April 27th - Wednesday

There was a bit more cloud around in the morning when we stepped out but that easterly, ever-present breeze is still present - as ever. It makes for a proper chill in the air, and it is probably no surprise that our visitors are keeping a low profile currently. They will, no doubt, be here in abundance when it goes south westerly and the temperature increases - just before the rain arrives.

With that wind banging through the first electric sliding door in The Cove I was particularly grateful that it was gymnasium day. When the Missus came down to relieve me, I scurried off down the road for a blistering session to get the blood circulating and the cold out of my bones. Because the ambient temperature is not too bad, it is not so cold in the gymnasium which is pretty draught proof since the windows were replaced. They just need to look at the roof to stop the rain coming in and it will almost be like one of those luxury gymnasiums they have in the big cities, but with a tin roof - and no air conditioning - or bar.

The Missus waited until I got back before heading into town. She needed to get to the bank to deposit the pitifully few shekels we had earnt over the barren Eastertide while I stayed behind penning begging letters to Elon Musk - rumour has it he has a few pennies. If I had garnered some small morsel of hope from the small uplift in business yesterday, it was dashed against the pavement of the deserted streets. Once again, it was exceptionally quiet in The Cove with just a few walkers passing through and a handful of trippers popping in for a postcard. I have now ordered the international stamps, which should bring the foreign visitors flocking in when they find out.

We also had a chance visit from a salesman. With his polished car and sharp suit. I was thinking, 'he'll be lucky' and hoped he was heading into the café next door but he came to the shop instead. He told me that he had just been up to Land's End and offered me his calling card with a gilt logo on it and I thought, 'he'd have to be especially lucky because whatever he is flogging is probably expensive'. He did not offer me a brochure and only gave a brief description of the sort of things that his company provides. I suspect that he had taken one quick look at the shabby little shop and decided that he really was not that sort of lucky. He left pretty smartly after that.

Later, I took time to look at his card. His gifts were to do with history and heraldry according the card but when I looked at the website it was anything but. Oddly, the first pages of the website oozed class and expense but after selecting the option for the gift products each section looked like it would be more at home on the advertising pages of a tabloid newspaper. All of the products, however, come on huge rotary displays that we would not have space for, but the enquiry passed a few minutes.

As did opening the boxes that had arrived from one of our giftware suppliers. We had already had an initial delivery from them before we opened. This was the balance that was not available earlier and includes our net bags full of mixed seashells. We have stocked these for years and they are a regular best seller. Quite surprising, too, is they have not increased in price like everything else despite being shipped from abroad and being heavy and fragile.

Someone at the company has a sense of humour, which is comforting. I had asked why we only had 11 out of 48 of the glass bunnies that we ordered previously. I said that it was unusual for bunnies to reduce in number. The fellow wrote back and told me that they were not as hardy as the feral bunnies and were therefore quite fragile; they had become extinct on the journey here.

We have had a breakthrough on our mission to find a different cash and carry supplier given the current one is trying to rid itself of us. Fed up with the lack of response from the new company - actually, just fed up generally - I telephoned the customer service centre to break the deadlock. I was answered by a very pleasant man who I had trouble understanding. He had a very strong foreign accent, which I understand the people of Perthshire use to ward off unwanted advances from people of the South. Mainly using sign language, which is quite a skill on the telephone, we managed to discover that the company would indeed like to do business with us despite the miles between their deport and our shop. I would need to find the application form on the website and go from there.

All is now in train. We have to send some identification and some proof that we are trading - the actual instruction was to drop into the depot but that was waived because of the distance involved. I shall see to all that tonight as well as delivering our track and trace numbers to show we are a licensed vendor of tobacco products. With any luck we will be able to place our next grocery order with them, although at present that does not seem very imminent.

The street was utterly deserted for the last couple of hours that we are open. I am beginning to feel like a hermit. Any more of this and I will grow a beard and start being grumpy with people. Oh.

April 26th - Tuesday

It was a very pretty day to be gazing out upon and was pretty reasonable when you were out in it, too. The cool breeze persists but, find some shelter and it was probably quite warm in the sunshine.

We met up with the bleddy hound's best pal down in the Harbour when we went and were suddenly joined by a crowd of other dogs and their owners heading for a dip in the sea. They have been out in worse and colder waters so today must have been a proper treat.

I had not long got back to the flat and was just preparing the bleddy hound's kedgeree and smoked oyster breakfast when my pager went off. It is a sound that we have not heard for many weeks but one that it is not easily forgotten. We were called to launch the Inshore boat to a local fisherman whose engine had failed out in the farthest edge of the bay. It was only the second time this year he had been out in my reckoning.

It is a tight corner at the top of the slip and even tighter when someone puts their wheelie bin out on the drive. I had not thought it would be an issue when I ran up to the boathouse else I would have moved it but had to lean to the right a bit to compensate for it and took out one of the plastic barriers on the other side. At least I left the scaffolding where it was.

There was not blazing hurry for this shout as the fisherman was in no immediate danger. It gave time for an experienced helm to choose four of the new recruits to take with him. The sea was benign, and the task was routine, so it was excellent experience for the youngsters on their first shout where they could be involved at an unhurried pace under no pressure.

The process gave me sufficient time to return to the flat to have the cup of tea that I was in the middle of making when the pager went off. The Missus had fed the bleddy hound and I just had time to post The Diary from the previous day, so I apologise if it seemed a little rough around the edges. Sorry, rougher than usual around the edges, dear reader.

Half an hour later and I returned to bring the boat back in. I had already prepared by opening the side door on the station and getting the hose out for one of the Inshore Boat Crew to wash the boat and tractor down with. I did not knock anything over on the return to the Inshore boathouse and I was back to the shop only shortly after the Missus had stepped in to open it.

The day followed the usual pattern of extreme quietness until late in the morning when something strange happened - people started to arrive. I had been contemplating another day of not ordering anything but had to revise my ideas after several people started buying pasties. Of course, as soon as I placed the order they would stop but that is all part of the game, so I placed the order anyway.

A shopkeeper in Perranporth interviewed on Radio Pasty this morning, said he was really busy over Easter, which is encouraging to some degree. Also uplifting was the arrival of a few European visitors over the last few days. There was even a German coach pulled into The Cove yesterday, although it did not disgorge its passengers even to just walk on to Land's End. I should take the hint and purchase some international postage stamps, which I have been resisting to do until there was a positive need. It looks like there might be, now.

Happily, people had not stopped buying pasties after my order and we sold more than we had for the last couple of days. Naturally, now that I had customers in and out a delivery arrived. Since I knew another was due later and another tomorrow, I thought that I had better work through it between customer visits. We now have a full jewellery stand ready for the bank holiday weekend and some alluring gifts they are, too.

I can hardly say that I was pressed but it was at least a bit better than yesterday. It was most likely that the sunny weather attracted people in but that chilly wind persisted through the day. As usual, it seems, it picked up quite bit towards the end of the afternoon, which made it a little uncomfortable when it came to bring in the outside display, but I consoled myself that it still looked good. Apart from the wind ripples on the surface and the occasional flick of white horse, the sea remained flat and calm and once again a playground for our man on the wing surf board. He falls off much less now, and mostly makes it look quite effortless.

The Missus reported back on her progress up at The Farm during the day. She had clearly been busier than me and had planted out all the broccoli and broccoli with a fair bit of broccoli of two types as well. If you are not Cornish that is translated as she planted broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages of two different types. We will now see just how well the bunny proof fencing works. We have already had some lettuce and rocket selling well in the shop. If all goes according to plan, we should see some vegetables for sale too during the summer months. How very exciting.

April 25th - Monday

Another daring day of dynamism in The Cove today to sink our teeth into. Would that it were true but there was hardly a thing dynamic about it and my teeth are hardly up to the job of sinking into very much there days. We shall just take it as it comes for the foreseeable future, I think.

At least we had better weather to be alone in. It was a bright morning and although there was quite a bit of cloud it was up high and very thin. It was not the warmest with the wind now in the southeast, which I had to discover when asked early on in the morning. Usually, from that direction it blows in through the first electric sliding door in The Cove but for some reason it was not today. It did keep the temperature down, though.

The better weather brought out a few more people during the day, which was hopeful. Still, by no stretch of the imagination could it be regarded as busy, not even in the street let alone in the shop. All that down time is bad for a person and gives them too much time to think. I was thinking what I might do if push came to shove and I had to find gainful employment outside the ranks of grumpy shopkeepers.

The week before last I had been asked by a holiday let owner if I knew of anyone who could do a couple of hours a week looking after the garden, just keeping to tidy really. I drew a blank among the short list of contacts and even their contacts were already far to busy to help out. A neighbour came to us at the end of last week to ask the same because her regular man had retired. The Missus set about looking at a bigger list we found and when the neighbour drew a blank with the half dozen or so the Missus had found I cast the net a little wider. Still no joy.

So, there I was thinking about plan Bs when the solution was as plain as the nose on a wellington boot - I could do gardening. The fact that I have no training or experience is a mere detail and need not stand in the way of a sparkling second career. In fact, it could quite easily have been my first career. As a lad, I worked Saturdays for a local seed merchant. Together with a pal, we mixed rabbit food, cleaned the yard and humped 56 pound bags of compost to customers' car boots. We were there for a fair few years, earning some pocket money and came to know and be friends with the owner - though heaven knows we drove him near bonkers with some of our antics.

When I was about to leave college and look for a proper job the owner made me a very attractive offer to go and work with him. He would pay my way through gardening college, give me his old Hillman Hunter, which was in incredible nick for its age, and I would work with him and his brother in the shops, one of which was is up-market Wimbledon. But for one fateful decision the world would not have the faintest clue who Alan Titchmarsh was and I would not be considering bluffing my way around the gardens of The Cove's various house owners for a few quid.

Sorry for the long pause between paragraphs just then. I had a person walk into the shop and it took me a while to recall that they are called customers. It took some further searching in the annuls of my mind to work out that we are supposed to try and sell something to them. I will have to write a check list of what to do because it is easy to forget when there is such a long time between each one.

While the wind is still offshore, the wave have almost completely disappeared now that the naught low pressure system to the south of us has moved on. This has somewhat disenfranchised the surfer community, although many have clearly got wise to the problem and purchased paddle boards as well. Our local wing surfer with the hydrofoil ski was out during the middle of the day. He should have waited until later when the wind freshened, which I discovered as it started blowing straight at me. Even so, it made no discernible difference to the state of the sea, which remained flat as a dish the whole day.