Sennen Cove: the final frontier. These are the witterings of a West Cornwall shopkeeper. His seemingly interminable mission: to plumb new depths in literary rambling, to seek out the boring and banal, to boldly sink deeper than any Diarist has sunk before.
June 15th - Tuesday
We, that rather made my day. Not only was the sun shining and the birds singing - if we had any I am sure they would have been - but I am not as out of date or behind the times as might have been thought.
We had already had our moment on the beach where, in a reprise of yesterday, we met with bleddy hound's best pal and watched the brown-grey fog in the west hanging in silent menace. Once again, I forgot my paddling feet but the sea was a lot less inviting today having been stirred up by some unseen hand and throwing a bit more swell at the beach. It was still some 'ansum down there in the sunshine and I am not sure that the bleddy hound wanted to come away this morning. I cannot blame her.
Come away we did and like a smoothly oiled machine our deliveries were delivered on time and our big grocery order was in and sitting in the store room by the time we opened. One of our first customers was a young man dressed in familiar garb, to me at least.
"Captain Scarlet?" I enquired. The gentleman with our clearly hip and a la mode becostumed friend explained that I was close, but it was another Gerry Anderson creation, Thunderbirds. "FAB", I thought. I was nearly right on. The older gentleman explained that the young man had watched all his old tapes of Thunderbirds going back some and had been enthralled. He also explained, and this is really important, that the show had made a comeback and was entirely current. So, that is me. Finger on the pulse, all round trend setter and man of the moment. Thunderbirds are go.
Just a quick footnote to this revelation. I asked the young man which one of the Thunderbirds he was and he told me he was Alan. Alan? Really? All he did was float around in space a lot. Surely you would be Scott or Virgil, someone who actually got in on the action. The lad clearly has a lot to learn. Anyway, Captain Scarlet was much better.
Given there was a bit of sunshine about, the flocks gathered around and many headed for the beach. We were upbeat and busy for most of the day as people perhaps got wind of poorer conditions from tomorrow. The Missus certainly had and rallied around making preparations for a barbeque up at The Farm later in the day. Mother had family staying, which was all the excuse she needed.
Meanwhile, back in the shop, business heated up in the afternoon. Fortunately, there were sufficient gaps in the traffic to permit me to vacuum pack the large fish order I had called in from our favourite supplier in Penzance. We now have an abundance of hake for the first time in about six weeks along with haddock aplenty. Some of it was for a customer or two and the rest has gone to the freezer. If it does not sell, which is unlikely, it will form part of our winter stock for Mother and me. The Missus hates fish.
We are still seeing a good number of walkers come through The Cove, which is quite late in the year for that sort of thing. I imagine it is perceived as a safe(ish) sort of pastime in the days of the dreaded lurgi. I do try and have a little chat with some of them to see what is happening up the line and perhaps to give them some levity and encouragement on their journey. Enter stage right a couple of the more senior walkers we see on the route and certainly so determined as these. The first lady told me that she had walked from Minehead. "Gosh, today?" I asked in my best jovial tone with my very best twinkle in my eye. She retorted that it was 280 miles and therefore most unlikely, stupid boy. She did not actually say 'stupid boy' but it was definitely there.
The Missus came and got me out of more trouble late in the day and transported me to The Farm. My, how things have grown - mostly weeds. The lane is a marvel of foxgloves, pink campion - which always triggers, 'wonder horse' in my head - and cornflowers. There is enough grass growing up the middle to clean the mud off the bottom of the truck, though perhaps it needs to be a bit stiffer. I suggested that we need to call our man to cut it all back, but she stayed my hand and suggested that it should be after 'no mow May' - it being May in nature not on the calendar. I think the Missus is spending too much time in the wild.
The Farm was no different and the growth had been abundant. It is mainly weeds that are noticeable even in some of the growing areas, they are invading. These are not the only pests and there is evidence in as much abundance as the weeds that bunnies have been at work. All the flower bulbs appear to have been got at along with the peas and beans. A strategy is required, and this may include firearms.
On the positive side, the greenhouse is alive with growing things. They would be better growing in the growing areas but you cannot have it all. Some of the potatoes appear to be coming along but the real success area is the polytunnel where everything is growing like topsy. The Missus has implemented a watering system fed from the IBC. It is evident that we are going to have to get a bigger cabin to feed the container as it is down to a few tens of litres from the 1,000 when I last saw it. Some rain would clearly be welcome.
The top and the bottom of it all is that we are learning as we go along. It is becoming certain that a second, probably bigger, polytunnel would be a good idea. We also need to address the bunny problem. While shooting the beggers is an idea, it probably would not be that effective; they can breed faster than I can make bullets. Some clever fencing is probably the answer.
I can see my winter schedule shaping up nicely.
Yes, I know, T of Bristol, photographs would have been nice. Sorry
June 14th - Monday
What a rip gribb oh, it went.
We met with the bleddy hound's best pal down on the beach this morning. She and the owner were paddling and I felt a pang of regret that I should have come down in my feet and joined in. The weather was sublime at seven o'clock in the morning, the sun beating down and the clear, clear water; we could have been in Barbados. Out to the west, though, lurked a dreadful spectre - fog coming.
By the time I opened the shop, we were fog bound. A big lump of it was sitting on the top of the cliff and stayed there for the duration of the morning, By the middle of the afternoon, the fog had mostly cleared but it left us overcast and grey, What is that? High level fog?
As is always the case, our trade suffered because of it. Having said that, the Missus seemed particularly busy when I left and when I returned from the gymnasium in the later morning. It went a bit quiet after that so I busied myself with clearing the store room ahead of the two big grocery deliveries coming tomorrow. It only seems like a day or two ago that I cleared the last of last week's order, which the Missus usually does on Wednesday. I cannot remember exactly what got in the way of that. Perhaps I ought to keep a diary so I can look back to remind myself.
Some things, however, make the whole day worthwhile. One of our current regular visitors who, a day or two ago, purchased one of Colwith Farm's most excellent bottles of vodka made from Cornish potatoes, enquired as to whether the vodka with seaberry or sea buckthorn, if you prefer, was worth a tipple. I have tried, in the interests of customer care and safety, you understand, all of our current brews apart from this one. Last time we purchased from Colwith Farm I asked if they might send samples, which they very kindly did. I had forgotten until this moment that I had a miniature of the seaberry vodka smuggled away in the store room. It was time to bring it forth.
Far be it from me to make a customer do something that I am not prepared to do myself. I thought it would be incredibly rude to let our friend sip alone so, against my sworn obedience to complete sobriety during shop opening hours, I joined him in just a toothful. It is quite some time since I sampled the original vodka; I remember the falling over afterwards. My word, what an 'ansum tipple it was, quite sweet and ever so smooth. I shall, of course, have to beat myself with birch twigs and sacrifice a fatted pasty (calves and lambs are so hard to get hold of these days) to the small gods of shopkeepers for my lapse in protocol.
The Missus was very late heading up to The Farm today. She still has pressing work in getting the second hive ready for the bees she captured the other day. There is still no sign of sensible amounts of honey being available, so everyone will just have to be patient.
Being late going also meant she was late coming back and she brought with her the stock I had requested for the shop. There was quite a bit of it. The whole process of unloading and a five minutes to closing rush forced us to be late closing and after that there was the restocking of shelves to be done. Those long summer work hours are beckoning and this is just practise. We can hardly wait.
June 13th - Sunday
We have had all manner of excitement today and all of it very pleasant, I am sure. Throw in a proper rip gribbler of a day and we had the recipe for a super day.
We had a few visits yesterday, but the place was crawling with police today from time to time. I could have done with them yesterday for one rather unsavoury customer, especially the British Transport Police who turned up armed to the teeth, which is an assumption as I could not see their teeth. They looked very intimidating, which I suppose is the plan, and would have done very nicely in ejecting my pal. I had thought to tell them that it is against the law for on duty officers to buy things in shops, but they had guns, so I guessed that was going to be just fine.
Later we had the Metropolitan Police, who just had a stick and handcuffs and supplemented his weaponry with stick of rock from our gift food section. The early lot had been billeted in one of the caravan parks in Hayle and what with the sunshine it must have felt like a proper beano. No wonder they were buying rock.
The day could not have looked or been more glorious. There were blue skies brightening up the bay and at low water there was a smooth glassy sea with just enough surf over at North Rocks and a bit of a shore break opposite the Lifeguard hut to keep the surfers and aspiring surfers happy for the most of the day.
You will gauge from that, dear reader, that I had a bit more time on my hands to gaze about today. It was a proper rip gribbler profile to the day with heavy shopping during the morning and a lull during the afternoon while everyone was at the beach except on this occasion, we did not get run over in the rush coming away from the beach. We were better off on the beer front, too, since I had time every now and then to top up the beer fridge. The wine, however, took a real beating and my stock room cupboard is bare. We will have deliveries tomorrow, but I can see this running and running for now.
Later in the afternoon we were treated to a show by some American car enthusiasts. I only saw two but I understand there were a few more. One was a Dodge Charger and the other I could not tell you except it was massive with tail wings. They revved up going past on the way out and made everyone jump - alright, they made me jump.
Our day was quite as busy as yesterday, but it was filled with pleasant customers and we really could not have had better weather. I think I shall settle for that.
June 12th - Saturday
Phew, what a scorcher - possibly. Well, it looked very pleasant and was not too bad when the bleddy hound and I hit the beach in the morning. Then, there were still signs of the mist hanging around and the sky to the east was still a bit grey and cloudy. By the time I opened the shop, however, bright sunshine abounded and very pretty it looked too. That was about the last time I saw outside until well into the afternoon.
It did not take very long for the hordes to amass. I missed them amassing and it was not until a customer asked when pastie might be available I looked up to check how busy it was that I noticed that they had amassed. Pasties were ready very shortly after my wake up call and soon we were inundated with visitors. This busyness persisted into the afternoon as if they had never been away, hiding from the mist for three days.
I did think that I had been quite clever in calling in the fruit and veg that needed weighing ahead of our opening. I also called in more stocks of fudge bags and biscuits but after being distracted by newspapers and pasties arriving my clever plans crumbled to dust. The fudge and biscuits were still in the store room half way through the day.
The fact that the OS is closed has become more common knowledge now. I felt it a bit uncharitable to break the news here first, but they had a case of the dreaded lurgi and shut down as a consequence. This has left the residents high and dry but I understand that they have been compensated although those staying are struggling to find meals. As one resident put it, there are only so many times you can have fish and chips.
What I did not immediately recognise was the impact that this would have on us and after the second time that our beer fridge was emptied, I started to have a clue. The thirsty hundreds descended on us and our friends next door - remember those pumps he had put in, clever lad - and started to strip us of alcohol. We were already struggling to find any 'flavour of the year' cans of Sharps Offshore because it has suddenly become very popular, now we are out of other lines, too. We shall have to wait and see how this pans out during the week as the smart money is on the OS being shut for ten days.
Out of all the busyness came some familiar and very welcome faces. I think I am right that they missed last year and were sorely missed. I could be wrong as time has little meaning here and years roll together. They very kindly bought most of the shop for their stay and came back several times for forgotten items. Had we only known I would have doubled our grocery order last week and bought in extra tonic.
It was well into the afternoon by the time I was able to have a quite geek down on the beach. As you might imagine, it was busy down there with tents and windbreaks, although with little in the way of wind ours stayed resolutely in the stand. The big swell from yesterday had moderated a little but there were still heavy waves running in at high water. At least I could see that there was no particular big spray running up the cliffs across the bay today.
The Aged Parent had sent me a message when I looked up my electronic mails at the end of the day. He was chuffed to tell me that the Duchess of Cambridge and Mrs Biden visited his old school at Connor Downs, which is now, proudly, an Academy. He said that when he went there in the late 30s and his father before him in the early 1900s the institution had earth toilets. That is still the case for our half of The Cove, but he trusts things have moved on for the school. At least his school is still standing. They flattened mine, I think in an attempt to airbrush that sort of establishment from history.
June 11th - Friday
Our thick mist continued into today and persisted once again. We are definitely in May, but no one has told Time yet. I cast caution to the wind, and there was a fair bit blowing up from the Harbour beach, and left my rain jacket behind. It did do the same as yesterday and come to heavy, fine rain but not until we were safely off the beach.
The day started with a bit of a coup; a success; a feather in my cap and a stunning breakthrough. The air compressor that I purchased, ball inflation for the use of, arrived with an incompatible connector to the air hose that I decided to keep from the other machine. This presented a bit of a problem.
Before I placed the order, I reasoned that should this happen, I could always change the hose later. That was fine until I discovered that the shortest replacement hose was ten metres long, which was a bit much. I then looked for adapters and purchased one that, on paper, was correct but the thread was too short to work. I set about looking for alternative adapters until my logical thought process ended up thinking that the screw fitting on the old machine should, in theory fit the new machine. It took some concerted effort to remove it but it fitted perfectly and I now have a working ball pumping up air compressing machine. What a clever sausage, I am.
We had a fairly straightforward morning. Things took their time to get going as seems to be the way of it these last few days. It took until into the afternoon for business to properly perk up and by that time I had gymmed and had my foot lady attend my feet. You know when you have made it in life when you have a foot lady to do your feet. May you aspire to having one, dear reader.
When I returned, walking on air, the joint was really jumping. It must have been a mix of joiners and leavers given the sorts of things that were being bought. At some point it reached fever pitch but I could not tell you exactly when and in the middle of all this, deliveries arrived. I had thought that I was getting ahead of the posse on the boxes that had arrived on Tuesday, but I am now way behind again.
Into this melee came a telephone call from a customer who had arranged a grocery delivery. It is not something that we generally do but the customer had made a good case and we were happy to help. The request came several weeks ago and the list contained mainly goods we stock regularly. Despite the advanced notice and a reminder last week I had completely forgotten it. It was doubly fortunate that we had nearly all the goods in stock and that I had a few minutes to run around the shop with a basket in one hand and the list in the other, collecting the required items. Gosh, it felt good to be living on the edge.
The Missus cleared off to The Farm despite it being quite late in the day. A little time up there is better than none at all especially when there is so much to do. She came back with a bit more salad, mainly because a neighbour asked if we had any. Things are clearly growing fast up there.
For the first time since the morning I was able to look out to see what was happening in the bay. I saw earlier that there were a few surfers in the shore break having a good time but it did not really register with my consciousness. It was only when Mother mentioned later, when I went up for tea, that the sea had become a little boisterous that I noticed the quite rapid change. Sure enough, a fairly sizable swell had somehow appeared unnoticed, to me at least, and was providing some serious surf waves for the boys and girls who were up to it. I would tell you about big waves lumping up the cliffs but I could see no further that the end of the wall by then.
We do hope that will be the last of mist for a while.
June 10th - Thursday
Our new neighbour in the Sennen Cove Café dropped in during the early part of the morning. He asked if we would like to join a sweepstake for Euros. He is such a personable chap that I did not like to say no, so we bought one each for me and the Missus. "One more thing", I asked as he left, "what's a Euros?"
It was the sort of day for a punt on the horses, the mist we had yesterday had turned to fine mizzle. I thought I had better take a jacket down to the beach with me but spotted my rain jacket that I had left downstairs. It was most lucky that I chose that instead because while we were down on the beach that fine mizzle turned into fine but heavy rain. The bleddy hound was less than impressed but found that she could not make the speed up the slipway that she would have liked in the circumstances.
It was not all doom and gloom, sometimes it was just doom. In the latter part of the morning the skies brightened somewhat through the mist. I am guessing that is not when the sun's partial eclipse was happening, which I only heard about in the morning on Radio Pasty. I am guessing we did not give two hoots about an eclipse that we could not see as long as it stopped raining.
It often happens that after a period of poor weather that seems to be persisting, people give up hiding away and brave the elements. So it was today, and the street thronged with happy, if slightly reticent, revellers. There were a few tents dotted about the beach but gone were the collection of little camps strung out along the high tide mark. There was very little in the way of surf but a few of the hopeful gathered in the shore break. Most were buying going home presents because I had to stop working my way through the groceries in the store room to top up the fudge and biscuits.
You will gather from that, the Missus made off in the direction of The Farm, having not been able to go the day before. I do lose track on what she is up to but there seems to be a constant cycle of planting and harvesting and cutting the grass in between. She brought back some baby leaf spinach today, some of which was for our tea but the bag for the shop sold before it was even labelled.
With no sea running and it being Thursday you might have thought that someone would have suggested a Lifeboat exercise. Well, you would be absolutely right. They did. It was organised for a six o'clock muster, which is a bit tight for me but the launch was at a quarter past, so I was able to be there for it and to send the boat down the slipway. There was not much slipway for it to travel down as high tide had just passed but there was enough water there for us to set up the short slip for recovery.
The boat was not out for long as it did not want to miss the short slip window. There is a gap between the last moments the boat can come up the short slip and when it can use the long slip for recovery. Miss the shop slip and it is a bit of a wait on the moorings.
Happily, the boat came back well in time for the short slipway. We had been a bit previous in setting it up and had to make adjustments for the drop in tide but when the boat came back, landed on the slipway by a trainee coxswain, it looked to me to be very much a textbook recovery. We are, after all, a very adaptable, very excellent Shore Crew.
June 9th - Wednesday
The Missus and I were really up against it today but it did not start out that way and it was the last thing I imagined on a day such as this.
It started after I drew back the virtual curtains in the living room and wondered if I had drawn back the virtual curtains or just imagined it. The view was the same with them open and shut. Overnight, someone had invited the mist into The Cove and much of the coast, I understood later. As usual we were better off than up the top and it was quite clear that, as usual the mist was sitting on top of the cliff. It came and went during the day and at one point we had a shower of rain, but it cooled most people's ardour for beach sitting and promenading, here at least. I must assume St Ives was heaving all day.
When the Missus came down to relieve me, I took my time to do a full blistering session at the gymnasium as there was precious little business about. The situation was not a great deal different when I came back and we were both ambling through a quiet day. The Missus had brought the business equivalent of knitting down to the shop with her and was busy doing the books for our quarter end submission. All was quite sedate and tripping along in a mist covered day sort of way.
It was shortly before I came back down to the shop that I noticed a van outside delivering. I wondered what it could be because I had not ordered anything apart from a large back order from our main beachware supplier. I had only sent that off yesterday and there was enough for a pallet, so I expected a pallet truck to turn up.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, after I got downstairs to find the outside of the shop littered with delivery boxes. I must have caught them on the brink of a run down here in their own truck, which they try and do as much as possible to save costs. It left us with a bit of a mountain to climb to clear the order and move it up to our store at The Farm and distribute what we could to our shelves.
When I arrived downstairs, the Missus set to with a vengeance, opening boxes and pricing the contents so that it could be whisked away. Unfortunately, the back of the truck already had some body boards in it and the Missus's strimmer which she had brought down to ask me to try and dislodge the bramble cutter so she could put the strimmer head back on. I gave it a go but it clearly needed some clever trick to loosen the fitting. As luck would have it two lads were in the shop, employees of a company that do garden type work. We bribed them with pasties and pop and they had the blade off in no time.
Customers started to emerge from the woodwork once it had become clear that the weather was not going to improve and that we were both busy with unpacking boxes. As it became busier, our unpacking slowed to a crawl, fitting in opening, pricing and distribution between bouts of customer serving. The Missus is a powerhouse when it comes to bulldozing through work like that but it still took until well into the afternoon before we were even close to finishing. Even then I had to pile some of the unfinished boxes into the store room along with the remnants of the grocery orders that still had not been touched.
The last hour or so of opening descended into mizzly desolation. There were a few hardly souls about including one senior television personality who I only confirmed as who I thought she was after she had taken off her mask outside. She looked very much smaller than on television and you would have thought it the other way around unless you have a very big television.
Our work continued into the evening as we finalised the end of quarter counting and invoice inputting. That was the easy one to do. What a comforting thought.
June 8th - Tuesday
Well, I am not so sure I remember when a plan came together quite so well as it did today. We had the weather to go with it, too, with proper warmth from the very outset of the morning as we patrolled the beach, bleddy hound and me. I had got out of bed a full twenty minutes earlier than the alarm going off, which helped tremendously and meant that I was not watching the clock all morning before shop opening.
The big grocery delivery arrived early and, even better than that, arrived with two crew. We shipped everything inside way before we were interrupted by any customers. On top of that we had a frozen food delivery and our secondary grocery supplier delivered a little later. The frozen having arrived in the middle and at the time the Missus was getting ready to head off, was perfect as it meant we had room and manpower to get it away quickly. The only fly in the combined consommé was that our big grocery supplier is back to its old tricks of not having sufficient retail stock and we were shorted on some key items.
Our secondary grocery supplier put forth a message last week that Marmite is back in stock. It is with them, although the big national supplier has yet to make it available. My understanding was that it came into short supply because the brewers had stopped brewing. Presumably Tesmorburys, which had it throughout, has some sort of priority over the available supply.
I had avoided some of the gaps in our offering by using the supplier that we usually use for stationery. It also does a good line in household and toiletries, which our big supplier has stopped doing and at a good price. This delivery also arrived in a timely manner and by the time the Missus left, I was able to start unpacking and putting out on the shelf. The timing and sequence of deliveries really could not have been better. I will, of course leave the man bulk of it for the Missus to do tomorrow. I just know how disappointed she would be if I did not.
Radio Pasty reported this morning that West Cornwall had been treated over the last few days to some free air displays courtesy of various military providers due to the G7 meetin in St Ives. We tend to get more than our fair share in The Cove with a regular visit from a Merlin helicopter from Culdrose on training flights. Today was was our turn to be treated by the out of towners and we had a Chinook seeing just how low it could fly through The Cove. Carn Olva is 90 metres and it was flying well below that. I could not say exactly how close in it was on the first pass but the pilot had brown eyes and as wearing Aramis aftershave.
Chinook, bit further out on the third pass
There was quite a bit of big, fluffy white cloud about but that warm sunshine persisted throughout the day. The bay looked sublime with its mottled colours and cloud shadow here and there across the cliffs and people amassed - well they would have done had they been in bigger numbers - on the big beach. From around half past three o'clock I was quite taken aback by a sudden increase in customers. The numbers increased somewhat and became a constant flow almost until we closed. I was confused at first but then noticed the sea and concluded that our big wall of customers were refugees from the beach having been chased off by the burgeoning spring tide.
The sudden influx made quite a difference to a fairly standard day at the office. My last remaining long term pal sent me a birthday gift that came to me a little late. It would seem rude not to try a nip before I retire tonight, to celebrate the day, you understand.
June 7th - Monday
Well, there has to be something wrong with the lot we have this week; they do not seem to eat pasties. I mean, what are they doing in Cornwall if they are not going to eat us out of pasties every day. Yesterday, I sold about half a dozen and today did not seem much better. I was a tad alarmed when I returned from the gymnasium and the Missus had sold through the pasties I had left with her but after that, nothing not a er sausage roll. They did not sell, either. I am going to order in a sensible number for tomorrow and if they do not go, we are going to have to have serious words.
It was such a cracking day for a pasty, too. The sun was beating down from early doors while the bleddy hound and I and her best pal were down on the beach this morning. It was the sort of morning you could have just stayed there until it became too hot to want to anymore. I am sure it did get too hot later. It was doing its best when I walked down to the gymnasium. It is the only time I get to be in the sunshine so I make sure I have my hooded sweatshirt on and my long shorts. You can never be too careful, you know, although I cast caution to the winds between my knees and my ankles. I do hope I do not regret it later.
While I am still in a playful mood, I should share with you that the Missus dropped our friend R off a couple of celery plants. You may recall that R is the one with the excess earth we moved up to The Farm. I have no idea why she chose the celery. Perhaps it is because he is such a good stick.
We became quite animated in the afternoon and I was hardly left alone for a minute. Naturally, in the quiet moments before, I had taken it upon myself - mainly because there was no one else to do it - to clear the store room ahead of the two large deliveries we have coming tomorrow. This task took the rest of the afternoon and was not helped by the arrival of an unexpected delivery of fudge and biscuits. As luck would have it, the space usually allocated to those boxes had just become free having been used up by something else when they ran out. It is the way of the store room that as soon as a space becomes available, no matter how important it is to keep free for the thing that usually sits there, it will be filled by something else.
I managed to complete my task at the last gasp, while our teatime pasties cooked in the oven. This allows the Missus some precious extra minutes up at The Farm to finish whatever it is she had to do during the day. Apparently, beetroot, courgettes and chard have gone in, which reminds me of a parlour game (something we used to play before televison, children) played at one particular great aunt's many years ago. If the world burnt down what would be the last place left standing?
June 6th - Sunday
There was every chance that it was going to be a bright and sunshiny day but when I opened the virtual curtains there was still mist on the hills. It was perfectly dry, windless and warm outside and the sea at low water was particularly quiet. I think that the bleddy hound would have stayed out a bit longer because it was cool in the slight breeze and better than being indoors.
It took until the middle of the day for the mist to clear away and, sure enough, the sun came out in lovely blue skies. It was probably busy, but it was difficult not to judge by last week and the whole day seemed slow by comparison. The wealth of pasties I had in for the weekend hardly moved at all today and ended up in the freezer just in case we are short another day,
The Missus did not get away at all yesterday, especially in the mucky weather of the afternoon. Today, she was out early to collect Mother and spend the day up at The Farm. She was half way through tomato planting last time she was there, so that had to be finished and to attend to the new bees. She had to return to our friend's garden as he had discovered some more bees there. We think that they were part of the same colony she took away earlier and had been left behind. The Missus had used a cardboard box as a temporary hive and put a couple of frames in it. Our friend rather bravely, or foolhardily, took them up to The Farm himself yesterday but they would need to be reintroduced to their pals properly today.
It took me nearly all day, but I put together the grocery orders for next week. I am surmising that it must have been quite busy today because it does not ordinarily take that long to compile the list. It involves filling the shelves and checking the store room for stock and that cannot be done with customers in the shop, so I must have had a few. I will hand it to the Missus so she can check my handiwork.
It is unlikely that I will get another chance in the shop to complete the inputting of the invoices, so while the Missus attended to the grocery orders, I did my invoices. I would rather not use my evening for work, but needs must, and we are already a week delayed on doing it. I suspect the next one will be even harder and I will have to make sure it does not all get left until the last minute.
The Missus's efforts up at The Farm have certainly paid off. She came back with a veritable forest of salad leaves and we now have fourteen bags of mixed leaves in the fridge. Clearly, it would have been better to have fourteen bags last week, so we will have a word with nature and see if she can't get her timing a bit better next time.
We had the leftovers for tea with a beef baguette. The Missus did not grown the beef but there is still space up there at The Farm for a bit more production.
June 5th - Saturday
What a happy result, I had some concerns all morning that we had rather over-ordered on our bread. It is quite a common occurrence each year for the first busy period when I order more and more each day to try and gauge demand for the next day. It gets to a point when the demand very suddenly drops away and the bread we have ordered to cope with the next day's demand, starts to pile up. I think we had nigh on twenty loaves of white bread in the morning. Then, quite by chance, the chef from the OS turns up with a bit of a bread emergency and took ten loaves, both brown and white and two minutes after he left, the chip shop turned up for another three white. Solved my problem in a stroke.
I caught a bit of the weather forecast on Radio Pasty yesterday. For the first time in a while they noted that the weather was expected to be fine, except for the Isles of Scilly and the Far West of Cornwall. They were not wrong. First thing in the morning I was met with a light mizzle, which was not unpleasant to be honest, then later in the morning, a thick mist descended and enveloped the top of the cliff all around. I suspect it was as thick as a bag up the top.
Probably not all to do with the weather but we did have a marked drop in the number of milling about people. We picked up some trade from the last of the leavers and then there was a lull from the middle of the day as we waited for the new arrivals to appear. Things might have improved later in the day as more arrived but the mizzle that was still swirling about became heavier and chased nearly everyone away. It would not have been so bad had we been closing at six o'clock again, but it was the last day of our extended opening.
At least it gave me a little time to process some more invoices ahead of the quarter end submission. It also reminded me that I had mislaid the invoice for the digger. I recall the Missus handing it to me but could not remember where and neither could I find it anywhere. I was pretty sure that it would turn up and I was right, too. It was when a customer placed an order for some cold pasties for tomorrow and I wrote a reminder on a piece of paper I tore off a sheet that I found it. Oops.
I had just finished putting the invoices into date order, and gluing the torn one back together, when our fish order turned up. I had given up hope of it arriving and had informed the customer not to get over excited about a fish supper. It was quite timely as the customer showed up shortly afterwards and was delightedly surprised. To bolster the order, I had added some pollack and what arrived was prime fillets. They are now vacuum packed and will be ready for the shop freezer tomorrow.
It was a pitiful end to the shop day and an exceedingly busy week, interspersed by the arrival of some familiar faces, which was pleasant. Some of these people we have known for nearly twenty years and count more as friends that customers. Sure, we only see them once or twice a year but quite often it seems much less. If I ever need to wonder why I am doing this strange job ...
June 4th - Friday
Ah, you have to just love it. The latest call of the maskless warrior is, "it's alright, I have two jabs." This clearly absolves the claimant from having to obey all the laws of the land. "Yes officer, you are right. I did throw a brick through that jeweller's window and rob all the contents of the display, but it's alright. I've had my two jabs."
There, that is much better off my chest, thank you.
We were presented with another glorious day and first thing, down on the Harbour beach and it was oh so still there. It was so quiet I thought that I had gone deaf er. Not even the sea was making a sound as it rippled against the shore. I could have had a paddle had I been wearing the right shoes and the bleddy hound was not too fussed about going in despite being so hot recently she has been continually panting.
The day was markedly quieter than of late as the majority made an exodus. We waved goodbye to our friendly families, including the hordes of children as they left sporadically during the day. I met with people just arriving who spoke of lines of traffic, nose to tail in all directions east. I am very glad that I rarely have to travel further than Penzance and even then, mostly during the winter.
I kept my gymnasium session brief again because it was unclear how the day would pan out. As it happened, I could have had a full blistering session but I shall make up for it next week. The Missus ran off to The Farm soon after I came back. There are plants flowering in the greenhouse because she has not been able to keep pace, but she did manage to plant the 200 turnips - swedes to you - that will come to fruition after we close at the end of the year. I think we might have to run an online vegetable service in the winter, else I will have my work cut out making pasties.
Before she went I just had enough time to identify and purchase our new air compressor. If my calculations are correct, I will be able to inflate twenty footballs a minute, should I so desire. To achieve that rate I would have to be rather nifty at finding the valve on each ball and taking the needle out of one for the next. It is more to do with having a machine that I am not waiting to catch up while trying to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
While it was much quieter today our customers strung themselves out throughout the day so that I was never alone, which was most thoughtful of them. This meant that any restocking and other ancillary tasks, such as making sure we had a constant supply of pasties, was difficult and sometimes impossible. I was grateful, therefore, near the end of the afternoon that things went quiet. I seized the opportunity to get some drinks into the fridges half way through which task I was descended upon again. I gave up and will have to get up early to do it tomorrow morning.
It seems that there was an army of late leavers who decided to come and get their leaving presents and holiday let restocking in the last half hour of our opening. They were joined by some early arrivals stocking up for the week ahead. At least this denuding of our shelves happened before I placed orders for tomorrow. I think tomorrow morning is going to be a bit busy, even before we open.
June 3rd - Thursday
I was up with the lark this morning, probably. Since we do not have any larks here I can only surmise, but it was jolly early nonetheless. It was already bright with sunshine, although there were quite a few big, fluffy white clouds about and warm, too.
I wanted to get a jump on the day, to fill up the soft drinks fridge and to blow up the few balls I had left in the shop as extra stock. In the time I was there the newspapers turned up along with half my order from a grocery supplier. For some reason our access to Cornish sea salt has been very limited this year, which is disappointing.
It was even more disappointing to discover that our twenty year old or more air compressor was about to give up the ghost. They just do not make things to last any more. In truth, I knew it was on its last legs as it keeps on firing off the pressure value instead of stopping. Today, I turned it off half way through the job while I opened some packaging, and when I turned it on again it wobbled and went silent. I eventually found a reset button on the side, but it will need to be replaced, indeed, not just the button, the whole machine. This means learning a bit about compressors so we can get the right one, which I do not have time to do just yet.
Much refreshed from our 'day off' yesterday we were almost ready for the onslaught of another bright and sunny day. This included a tsunami of going home present buying in the afternoon leaving us short of fudge boxes and all manner of gift stock. I shall bear in mind that when we order next. I should think of a really big number, then double it.
I left the Missus to it in the morning while I ventured into town for the appointment I missed on Tuesday. I managed to re-book my dreaded lurgi injection part two without any of the hassle that I had the last time, and was very determined not to miss it no matter how busy it was.
The journey into town was as slow as I had planned for and managed to get there on time. The traffic heading in the direction of Land's End was fairly continuous and I was very pleased that I had a morning appointment and was heading the other way. I missed the entrance to the new clinic at Penzance on the first pass as it is marked only from the direction of the A30. Coming from town, the sign is for a new housing development as the site shares an entrance. This foxed me and I sailed past it, Fortunately, I had a bit of spare time.
I was struck first by how quiet it was when I was expecting queues of people out of the door. This was the set up that was so efficient that they were asked to slow down. The process was very slick and left me as last in the queue staring down a long corridor to an open door at the end. I was only waiting a couple of minutes before a nurse at the end of the corridor beckoned me down.
I thought that she had taken one look at me and was going to usher me through the out door but there was a small room with another lady at a computer who asked all the questions. It was a ruse I spotted right away that as I answered the questions the nurse was in my blind spot preparing a nasty looking needle. They had made the fatal error of having a mirror on the wall that gave the game away. They got me anyway but that was beside the point, I sussed their game.
The traffic had not bothered to try detouring via St Buryan, which is the way I went back to pick up Mother. The lane from there back to Sennen is full of bloom and it was a pleasure to drive back that way. We picked up the traffic again at the Sennen end of the lane and arrived back in a very busy Cove. It stayed that way for the rest of the day, too. I could not possibly tell you when the five minutes to closing rush began and ended because we did not really get a lull until a few minutes before we closed. I took that as a signal and closed the door quick.
A Lifeboat exercise had been planned for half an hour before we closed, so I left it to my compatriots to carry out the necessary duties. The launch drew quite a crowd and gave me enough of a breathing space to haul in the outside display before I was inundated again. The next time I took a breath and looked out of the window, it was all over. I can only assume that in my absence the boys stepped up and carried out a textbook recovery up the long slip. We are, after all, a very inter-reliant, very excellent Shore Crew.
June 2nd - Wednesday
The weather forecast became a self fulfilling prophecy, or at least the results of it were. I rather suspect that the majority of our potential customers beggared off to St Ives thinking it was going to be rainy all day.
As those of us in the know expected, the rain had all blown through The Cove by the time I took the bleddy hound down to the beach first thing. It was still clouded over then but the sun was breaking through the cracks and it was perfectly bright anyway. The way the sand was eroded at the bottom of the slipway spoke of some very heavy rain that we had avoided.
Typically, when we started out at a very sedate pace and did not need the bread to be quite so early, it arrived on time. It was a tight fit on top of the two grocery deliveries from yesterday, soon to be added to by another drinks delivery today. We were going to get another fridge especially for pasties at the start of last year, but it never happened. It was a mistake not to make it happen this year as I needed somewhere to put the first fish order in a while and the fridge was already nearly full of pasties.
The fish order had been an utter embarrassment. It was supposed to arrive yesterday but our lovely supplier in Penzance let us down. It was not so much that he was unable to deliver the fish but he failed to let us know that he could not and so we were unable to order from one of the alternatives. Still a bit miffed with our Penzance man, I ordered from one of the alternatives, some haddock for a customer and some hake for the freezer. Cod arrived and albeit rather good looking cod, it was twice the price of what it should have been. The supplier explained that haddock was off the menu and they did concede a bit of an error on the pricing, which was a relief. Happily, the customer let me off light after twice letting him down.
The heavier clouds gave way to light, high level clouds by the middle of the afternoon and the day blossomed. The wind had gone around to the south west by the middle of the day and brought with it warm, moisture laden air, which promptly turned to mist when it met the cold waters of the bay. It is a phenomenon largely reserved for May but it seems we are running a couple of scats behind what nature intended this year. Fortunately, it cleared out before it became too established and was last seen keeping Carn Gloose in a cloud all its own.
We were nearly half as busy as we were for the last few days, which was a bit of a relief to be honest. It is hard to think that we could have sustained that pace for too much longer and kept the shelves full. We will have to become much more organised for the summer and put in place some better ordering procedures and somehow cut out some time for restocking.
What busyness there was petered out towards the end of the day, save for the usual five minutes to closing rush that now starts half and hour before closing. Unbelievably, I was taking enquiries to see if tomorrow was going top be any 'better' (in terms of weather) than today. I was a bit flabbergasted as today was perfectly warm and dry but maybe not just as sunny as the weekend. Only last week we were praying the rain held off for the holiday. How quickly we all forget. Now, what was I about to say?
June 1st - Tuesday
The day presented itself as a proper bright and shiny one, warm from the outset and that easterly breeze properly dropped out. It was a proper rip gribbler for a while there. It was the absence of breeze that made it, a breeze that had told people that it was not really that warm and that sun cream was merely a precaution for the nervous. It was those people who near enough cleared us out of after sun lotion over the last few days.
Down on the beach from at least high noon, the place was a picture of summer delight. Windbreaks, tents and small camps lined the high water line while down at the water's edge and into the shallows, the swimming area was packed with wet revellers. The surfing action was out towards North Rocks as it so often is and a lone wing surfer practised his art, courtesy of a revived easterly breeze, out in the middle.
It might be superfluous to say that our day was as busy as the last few. It somehow seemed even busier in the morning not helped by the lack of bread until late that caused confusion and return trips. At times it was chaotic but most of the time it was much worse. It was extremely fortunate that our big grocery delivery arrived way before we opened and that both the milk and newspapers were early. It all came together like clockwork but the delivered items stayed put in the store room for the rest of the day untouched.
The Missus came down on the middle of the day to give me a break and after, went off to collect the bees. She took them up to The Farm, their new home, where they will work from the collecting box for now. The Missus will prepare the new hive and build the frames for it, which will now become a priority.
One of the staff up at the Land's End Visitor Centre had a sparkling moment of clarity during the afternoon, which given that they must be as busy as we, was commendable. They had a bag handed in containing passport, credit cards and keys and a potentially ruined holiday without it, I imagine. It had been found up at the coastguard lookout at the top of Pedn-Men-Du but the finders had taken it to Land's End. It was a smart move, therefore, to call us or someone down here to say where it was, and W deserves a lot of credit for thinking of it. No more than half an hour later I had a young girl arrive asking about it and mother arrived soon after visibly relieved.
We stayed busy right until the last knockings, so much so that I lost all track of time and missed an appointment in town. I had such great plans to stop in to the accountant and drop off the end of quarter paperwork having finished it the previous evening, too. I had already missed the finishing the paperwork bit and clearly it was in my subconscious to do the double. It had me spitting feathers because it will be a proper hassle to try and rebook the appointment but when I do, I shall be mindful to do it next week rather than later in this. Doing anything but serving customers will be a challenge I suspect.
I have told a few people who have asked that this week is all about stress testing our systems for the summer. It has found them wanting but I really do not know what we can do about it because busyness this extreme is unprecedented. I am not even certain that hiring in help will be helpful as it would be an additional task on top of everything else to train and manage the help. We really need a Big Sis here as I could not imagine anyone else being so in tune with how everything works.
There is only one thing for it, open a beer.
May 31st - Monday
Serving customers and taking in deliveries was not the blistering session that I had in mind when I put my gymnasium clobber on this morning. Unfortunately, once again the milk was late and today the baker was very late causing me to delay my departure. By that time it had become exceedingly busy in the shop and abandoning the ship at such a moment seemed a little ungentlemanly. So, I went upstairs and had breakfast instead, although I did wait for a better moment to escape.
It is difficult to compare one with another but if felt slightly less busy today but was still pretty full on, nevertheless. The Missus headed for The Farm in the early afternoon as there is picking to be done there and we hoped to have salad on our shelves tomorrow. Instead, a pal called to tell her that there was a swarm of bees in his back garden and could she come and take them away. Buying a swarm of bees can cost a lot of money and since we have a beehive almost complete and waiting for bees, she was up there like a robber's dog. She has never collected bees from the wild before, but she has a bee suit and looks the part. She got them and will collect the box she put them in tomorrow when they have calmed down from feeling silly about being caught.
By the middle of the afternoon, I gave up on being concerned about what we were running out of. I could not do very much about whatever it was anyway. I could not even see what was disappearing, although I could garner an opinion from what went across the counter. There was no point in the afternoon before about six o'clock that I was on my own in the shop. As one customer left at least one other came in. It was only after that I was able to get around for a damage report - beer and soft drinks in equal measures, devastated.
The weather was once again sublime, which will account for the flood of people who were here all day. When I was able to look at the beach, it was thronging with colourful tents and windbreaks - most of them ours I suspect. I could not tell you about the surf as I really did not have much time to notice. What I can tell you is that the easterly breeze was still with us and was exactly the best time to launch a light inflatable kayak if you wanted to be in the Isles of Scilly without any effort.
The Lifeguards decided that it was probably best if they went and advised the family that they were being whisked away by which time, I think they probably knew. Unfortunately, the Lifeguard jet ski was not able to tow the kayak back so the Inshore Lifeboat was tasked. I drove the tractor down to launch the boat and left it to my fellow very excellent Shore Crew member to hang about and bring it back in - as well as performing the washing down and putting away. He was clearly delighted that I would share the work and expressed it in words I could not quite catch. His is fom Liverpool, you know, which is a bit north of Camborne and they speak a different language there.
The Missus rescued me in the later afternoon by clearing the store room of the drinks that I had ordered in and had been unable to do anything with since they arrived in the morning. We can at least start the day tomorrow with full fridges, although beer is not being delivered until tomorrow.
Apologies, dear reader. Diary entries are not likely to be up to the same dismay standard that you have come to expect and will be a bit patchwork in nature this week. I am a tad distracted.
We also note the very sad departure of a friend and neighbour who will be sorely missed.
May 30th - Sunday
It was not the ideal start to the shop day. Both the milk and the newspapers did not arrive until just about on opening time. I had to delay opening until after I had shelved the milk as it would have been impossible to do with customers in the shop. I was also quite keen to get the bacon in the fridge. We had run out of our butcher's bacon yesterday after I forgot to place a second order in the week to coincide with the weekend. Luckily, our milkman saved our bacon by having some. After all that, everyone must have had their bacon fix yesterday as we only sold one pack all day.
I managed to get the newspapers stuffed as customers were rolling in through the door. It was just about the last opportunity I had to do any backroom stuff for the rest of the morning as we had an almost continuous flow of customers from that point.
Right from the outset, the weather was darned near perfect for a bank holiday and half term, with exception of a bit of a blow coming in from the east someplace. Clear blue skies persisted the day long and down on the beach, on the sliver of sand available to us, the air was the warmest that it had been all year. There was still some power in the swell from yesterday and the spray was making it up Aire Point by quite some way and further down at Creagle. There was white water dancing a bit on top of Cowloe but other than that there seemed to be not a wave in the bay.
That easterly breeze did no end of good to our windbreak sales during the day and our stand was empty by the end of it. I eventually lost track of all the changing robes, hooded sweatshirts, wetsuits and beachware that went out of the door. I do know that I had to do a rapid order for the Missus towards the end of the day for collecting from our store to replenish the shelves. I had started our grocery order yesterday and made some headway with it while I was waiting for the milk and newspapers. After that it got abandoned and had to wait until the end of the day to be picked up again.
That easterly breeze also did no end of good for the surfers out there as the swell kicked in with some half decent waves around the low water period. Most of the action appeared to be out towards North Rocks and being low tide, pushed the surfers way out back. It looked quite spectacular from afar with the tops of the charging waves peels back by the breeze casting spray out behind like smoke against the pure blue of the sea.
The Missus came down in the middle of the day to give me a break. By the time I came downstairs again all the pasties bar a few cheese ones had gone as had every one of our spades and most of the buckets. The Missus concluded that a run up to our store was required and I could not argue with her. We also sold out of windbreaks, which came as no surprise, and we even have sold some in advance for collection tomorrow.
The day had followed the expected pattern but the lull in the middle of the day was just a period of less busy. It took a little while to ramp up in the morning but after that we were pretty much up against it for the day. The beer fridge was emptied twice and we have now almost run out of cans of lager beer until Tuesday. We are a bit better off for ales as most of these are supplied locally and we can get more tomorrow. We were expecting to be busy and, I admit, we could have been better prepared in some areas, but even then we were bowled over by the numbers today.
When it came to counting the pennies at the end of the day it turned out that we just had our busiest day ever by turnover, even allowing for inflation. I knew that anyway because there are various bits of my creaking body telling me that it was. We restocked as well as we were able with a bit more to do tomorrow after deliveries. It is entirely expected that we will be in the same position at the end of tomorrow as well. We had better man up.
May 29th - Saturday
It was a day of western promise right from the outset. Our usually solitary walk around the block was dotted with other outdoor users right from our door. The overflowing bin in the Harbour car park, with rubbish strewn all over a twenty feet square area was more to do with a policy of emptying it every fortnight than the number of people around. It will only get worse this week.
We were stalked by the early risers and just arrivals from half an hour before we opened the shop. While we still had a cloud cover it was bright and there were definite signs of warming up. It was not long before we were busy with breakfast shoppers and newspaper gatherers but I would not say that we were particularly overrun, There were tales of the roads down being extremely busy and the going slow, although it seems that some travellers got away with it.
Our baker was understandably a little later than usual this morning with the world and her husband's third cousin and his three dogs all demanding excess products for a busy weekend. It may, however, have eased production slightly had we not had a bit of a misunderstanding over farmhouse baps. The price list I have lists the baps at a price that clearly is for one, so when my customer required twelve that is the number I requested from the bakery. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when our delivery driver turned up with twelve packs of four baps, requiring a tray all to themselves. I reasoned that it was probably as much my fault for not asking as theirs for not telling me, so we kept them and put them out on sale. We were lucky that it was barbeque type weather and these baps ideal for burgers or sausages. We had sold most of them by the time we closed.
The day entered what I am sure will become a familiar pattern for a good weather day. We had some busyness to start the day and while people gathered what they needed for a day on the beach and dipped into a sedate pace until going home time. It was our first day of extended hours, too. I have often wondered if it provides any benefit to either us or the customer. We will be quiet for an hour before closing while people have their tea then a five minutes to closing rush. Perhaps we should hold a survey to see if people would be just as happy to have their five minutes to closing rush an hour earlier and we can avoid an hour in the doldrums.
The Missus missed all the fun by heading over to Mother's after giving me a bit of a break before she went. She had intended to mow the back garden yesterday, but it was still wet after our little bit of rain. Today looked better, so Mother's garden front and back are now fully presentable and the Missus can get back to The Farm.
Through the middle of the day a fair swell kicked in across the bay. Over at North Rocks sizeable waves were rolling in and the sea was full of surfers and swimmers doing their stuff. Later, towards high water and evening time, the sea appeared to flatten out a bit and a mist developed. I am sure it was only there to set off the setting sun and looking good for our new arrivals. What a floosy our bay is.
May 28th - Friday
Our warm and bright morning yesterday looks like it might have been a bit of a flash in the pan. This morning was grey and damp and the bleddy hound could still not get down to the Harbour beach and in fact there was less than yesterday. She will be disappointed tomorrow, too, although I have not told her yet.
Fridays this season have tended to be quite sedate as it must be a major going home day. We took the spoils of it yesterday in going home presents and had a pretty good day. It seems we must share it with Friday. We also expect it to be the calm before the storm. While the jury is still out on exactly how busy it might be we have taken the unprecedented step of ordering pasties and bread for the weekend over two days. Not only does this ease pressure on our supplier but also means we will not be getting a super huge order on Saturday morning when we are likely to be up against it a bit.
Into the afternoon, the skies started to clear and the sun came out. It seemed to coincide with quite a rapid increase in the numbers of people gathering in the street and the numbers popping in for a shop - mainly pasties. As this came after I had placed my order for tomorrow, I spent a nervous few hours wondering if I had made a mistake in spreading the pasties over two days and sharing the volume I took in today. I am sure it did not make an awful lot of difference and I was certainly not going to deliberately throttle pasty sales today in favour of having them tomorrow when I may not sell them.
Our sunshine - and the rush - lasted a couple of hours but it was most welcome. I think that it demonstrated quite nicely that things will hot up at the weekend as expected and that we should gird our loins accordingly. I am reasonably sure that all our ducks are in a row and that we are as fully stocked as we can be bearing in mind the trouble we have getting hold of bodyboards and wetsuits.
So certain was I that there was nothing further to be done, I cast caution to the winds and went to a music concert in the evening with the Highly Professional Craftsperson. I had booked the concert in the November of last year for a date at the outset of the new year. It was subsequently postponed twice but the tickets still honoured on the third occasion.
There is still reason to be nervous about going to such things, especially after so long of not going out. For example, what did I used to wear when I went out and do I really care? I had gone to the trouble and expense of booking all four seats at a table, bearing in mind this was going to happen in January, and saw no reason to change it for now. When we arrived, the table position was diametrically opposite to where it was when I first booked it and we found ourselves next to the stage on the right instead of being near the door at the back.
The band was Hanterhir, of course, and the lead singer was genuinely delighted to be back singing live again. It is a band that expands and contracts at will and tonight they had swelled to seven members including a new rhythm guitar that made their wall of sound even wallier. They presented a couple of new songs from a forthcoming album but had not had the opportunity to practise more. It was good to note that their propensity to invent wildly different characters and sounds has not diminished.
It was a cracking good evening that I enjoyed immensely, and the venue had managed the dreaded lurgi protect aspects extremely well. The grumpy shopkeeper in me was especially pleased that the concert started and ended early and I was back home not long after my usual bedtime. If all bands pandered to aging, grumpy shopkeepers thus, I would probably go out more.
May 27th - Thursday
It was not quite into rip gribbler territory but this morning as we walked around the block, the sun was shining through a hazy sky and there was some real warmth to it. The bleddy hound had spent an unhealthy amount of time sniffing the air from the top of the slipway in a regretful sort of way because the tide preventing her from investigating the pong at close quarters. She expressed her dissatisfaction further by slow marching her way through to the Harbour car park.
That haze developed a little during the day and clouded out the sun. It was still bright, however and the warmth remained. I was not long in the shop when I realised that wearing a mid layer was entirely unsuitable and swapped it out for a shirt. By this time of year I would ordinarily be in little boys' trousers and flip flops but I think we are a way off that yet. We shall see how the weekend develops, I think.
Mask wars took its first casualty today. It was disappointing to see that attitude still persisting after a year. Our rather unpleasant character was affronted at being asked to wear one and started to tell me in aggressive tones what I could and could not ask people entering my shop. I deployed this year's grumpy shopkeeper policy by cutting him off and telling him that he and his unpleasant attitude were unwelcome. Thankfully, he left without further argument. We spent far too long last year arguing the toss with people who failed the attitude test, so this year, no more Mrs and Mrs Nice-Guy. Alright, no more Mrs Nice Guy and no more Mr Borderline Tolerant Grumpy Shopkeeper Guy.
The Missus hauled herself off quite early to The Farm for another day of re-potting and planting. The bags of mixed leaf disappeared off our shelf very quickly indeed and I wonder at whether we will be able to service that sort of demand. In fact, that was demand during a particularly quiet time, it will be a least threefold that come next week. Like last year was an experiment at seeing what we can grow, this year will be the seeing how much we can grow and can we grow it fast enough.
In another example of the small gods of grumpy shopkeepers having a better sense of humour than me, our temporary freezer shelves arrived a day early. The rub was that they arrived at the end of what was a lengthy quiet period when I could have easily installed them. Subsequent to them arriving there was a continuous trickle of customers. While very welcome, of course, I was unable to deploy the new shelves and the trays that arrived shortly afterwards until much later in the day. The small gods know full well that there is no point in having new stuff if you cannot use it right now. Yes, I know that they were only freezer shelves and nothing really to get excited about, but I do not get out much.
I did get out right after the shop closed to head to the Lifeboat station for a bit of launch training. We are quite adept at launching Lifeboats but a little practise in maintaining a textbook operation does no harm whatever. It is also difficult to demonstrate our textbook recoveries without first doing a textbook launch.
Today, we had yet another new member keen to join the very excellent Shore Crew, which of course comes as a surprise to all of us. Actually, he came to join the Boat Crew but lives too far away to meet response time. Having a new member around means that we have to ensure that everything is done by the book even if we round off some of the more stringent rules later - and we had to hide the hookah pipe. Everything went extremely smoothly and the boat launched down the slip at just after high water at around twenty past six o'clock.
When we came to operate the cradle to set up for short slip, we discovered that it did not work. We tried all our normal checks but it was adamant that it was not going to move by the usual rules of engagement. There is a fall back method by activating the system and turning the hydraulic values manually. We have to be on our game for this as the cradle will not stop automatically when it reaches the correct points in its movements. This can be a little tricky because the person operating the values cannot hear to stop and start commands because it is too noisy at the pump. We have to operate a chain system with someone with a radio yelling in his ear 'ole, which necessarily introduces a delay. The whole procedure relies on a high degree of training and expertise, so we rely on trial and error and pot luck.
Happily, before the boat returned we discovered a breaker that had flipped off, which resolved the problem immediately. We were match fit when the boat returned to The Cove and we took it up the short slip in what was clearly a textbook recovery. Acting in well practised unison, the boat was settled back in its place and swung back to the long slip for the next launch. We are, after all, a very well coordinated, very excellent Shore Crew.
May 26th - Wednesday
The octopi down under the wharf have begun to mature. They were humming as I tried to dissuade the bleddy hound from sticking her nose into them. Give them another week and they will be just right for her
There was a bit of light rain around first thing but that cleared away by the middle of the morning and brought on a half decent day of brighter skies and light winds from somewhere. The better weather was followed by better crowds of people and they thronged the street from the middle of the morning until well into the afternoon and we did a little trade, which was good.
I confused myself about the new whisky that we had become party to its launch day. We placed an advance order with the promise that we would have the whisky when it was first available. A friend and regular shopper asked about it first thing and it struck me that the launch was 24th May but I do also distinctly recall it being on a Wednesday, which of course did not fit. Not long after he departed, the very pleasant young lady from the distillery who looks after us came in bearing a big case of the new whisky including a couple of tasting bottles.
I thought it best not to partake at that moment given that it was shortly after nine o'clock but rather more because I was heading to the gymnasium shortly after. However, it seemed churlish not to imbibe a small quantity, so I limited myself to just half a bottle. No, of course I did not. I did however have a sniff and wet my tongue with it. The aroma is pleasant enough and does not force the sniffer to snap their head back in shock, which was a good sign. It is also none too harsh on the tongue and although I did not have sufficient to describe the taste at the time, the aftertaste was entirely delicious but I would say that anyway, would I not?
I did have a proper nip just before we closed and it was every bit as good as its promise. It is from the stable of our squid ink gin in the copper flask. They may not have had any prizes yet for their product, which in my view they are worthy of, but they should definitely get top prize for continuous innovation.
After the world calmed down the other side of the café closing, I had time to look again at our mugs. Another big box of them arrived earlier and there would have been no room on the shelf had I not put a few out. We now have a display full of new and alluring fine bone china mugs to choose from. We have sold these since we first arrived and our predecessors did, too. They are a bit of an anachronism amongst our general stock but they continue to sell well each year, a bit like the hooded sweatshirts. I have to say I have never looked back after using one for my morning tea; it just tastes so much better out of fine bone china.
The weather became quite glorious into the early evening and we have high hopes for the coming days. The Missus will be hoping for rain - overnight, or course.
May 25th - Tuesday
If you go down to the beach today you are in for a big surprise. Fair play to the bleddy hound for finding it, so I have no doubt that her nose was not playing up yesterday and the two octopi under the old wharf arrived recently. They were bleddy huge dustbin lid examples of the animal, just recognizable from the few tentacles and the coat button size suckers on them. It was a bit odd as the tide would not that reached that far last night. I am rather hoping that they meet the theory they were by-catch from some passing trawler and washed up in last night's big seas. I discounted the theory that they came from above on the basis that I would not like to meet the bird that dropped them.
Our morning constitutional was conducted under blue skies and a bit of a breeze still from the northwest. We had rather expected that to last at least half the day, or all day if you were to believe one of the forecasts I looked at yesterday. I subscribed to the view that we had until the middle of the day, probably, but in reality the poor weather ran in not long into the morning, heralded by increasingly grey skies. Things had been looking up to this point with early indications of busyness. It was probably that everyone had seen the forecast and was getting their shopping done early to avoid it.
Had I only known, I would have done my enquiring today instead of trying to squeeze it in between customers yesterday. When our new freezer arrived we were disappointed, to put it mildly, that it only had four shelves and rendered about a third of the freezer space within, unusable. I made enquiries then about getting some more shelves and was put on a back order list, I thought. I telephoned the company again a week into May as I had been told to expect delivery late April or early May but then discovered they had not arrived.
Having just taken delivery of a frozen food order and finding that we had little space to put it, I decided to telephone the company again to get an update. I was told that not only did they now have an expected delivery date of end of June but also I was not on the back order list. I explained that since I had been waiting since March and had telephoned twice as well as sending the initial electronic mail, I was a tad miffed that they had not put me on the back order list. After apologies all around I was told if I wanted to be on the back order list, could I pay for the goods. I thought this to be more than a little objectionable but on the grounds that we cannot get the shelves from anywhere else, we had little choice.
In the meanwhile, we have ordered a couple of universal shelves off the Internet and will put some trays on top to compensate for the shortfall in their size and also to fix the slipping off the shelf problem for the shelves that are the correct size. Hopefully, we will have some more product in the freezer ready for the half term.
Despite the rain there was still a trickle of customers stopping by for this and that. Most of the pasties went, which was a surprise, but I understand that the OS is still unable to cater for its demand. Even this trickle tailed off later when the rain set in properly and did not stop until after we closed. This gave me plenty of time to sort out the new mugs that arrived quite late in the day. I will have to wait until tomorrow to put them out as I ran out of time.
This dealing with deliveries as they come in and putting them neatly away is a luxury that will almost certainly evaporate at the end of the week when numbers of customers improve exponentially - we hope. It will then be slinging things into a corner and hoping for the best, a bit like I would have done today had I not been monumentally bored.
Just a last message for P who requested a 'Sennen' cabbage. The cabbage is with us and I have sent a text message twice - we possibly have the wrong number. We will have to sell it tomorrow, so please get in touch as soon as possible.
May 24th - Monday
It looked half decent as I looked out of the window in the morning if you ignored the random clouds that looked like they might drop rain on us at any moment. I knew that was a real possibility because it had dropped rain on me while I lay in bed on a couple of occasions during the night through the open Velux window. Yes, it might have been a good idea to close the Velux window but when the first shower stopped shortly after it started, it was easier to pass it off as a one off rather than get up.
My expectation of weather pleasantness was dispatched very quickly when we rounded the corner of the Lifeboat station and had the full force of a very chill north west breeze. It propped us up on the way down the slipway and pushed us back up after our run around. At least we did not get wet, which seemed more than a bit of a lottery for most of the rest of the day.
The combination of northwest breeze and sometimes heavy showers met the two out of three criteria that trigger the turning on of the first electric sliding door in The Cove. We would not have bothered for just the one shower, unless it was a particularly lengthy one, but these showers were lined up to the north west as far as the rain radar could see. That wind must have been some fierce because the showers were through before we knew it.
The sea was not playing ball either by the look of it. The inshore was completely blown out and with burgeoning springs the tide was piling in, pushed by the wind. The Lifeguards assessed it as being unsuitable for human consumption and labelled it with a red flag even from low water.
The Missus recks not the occasional shower and headed up to The Farm early doors to fight off the guys coming to collect her beloved digger. She thought that she might get half an hour in to finish off what she had hoped to do yesterday. Later she told me that the company had arrived late and that she managed to get done all that she intended. She celebrated by planting some Chinese leaf cabbage and picking some more salad leaves.
When she returned in the middle of the afternoon she had emptied the truck, which had become increasing full of boxes and cardboard towards the latter part of the weekend. This meant that I could reclaim the remaining space in the store room just ahead of the next delivery and using up all the space I had freed. She also came bearing leaves. These were mixed leaves of baby leaf, lollo rosso, rekkord and something else, which we bagged and are now in our refrigerator with 'Produce of Sennen' on them. It will be a bit of a learning experience on how we bag and price them, but this is a good starting point.
Business during the day had been as unpredictable as the showers that continued to blow through. We had quite a steady flow of customers in late morning but into the afternoon that seemed to dry up for a bit. There were a fair few people promenading but it was not ideal weather to be messing about outside and many people were hurrying to get to the next point of shelter, I would suggest. They did not even hang around to watch the sea that once again picked up its game as the tide increased.
Increasingly, in the afternoon, the clouds rolled away or more likely were blown away and we returned to blue skies and a vicious wind. There were fits and starts of customer business and the whole day strung together as none too shabby by the end of the day.
There was a very pretty view from our upstairs window in the evening after we closed. It was quite hard to draw myself away from it. The Missus had to slip into town for a late appointment which left me to prepare a bit of fish from our freezer for my tea. Well, if anything was going to tear me away from the window, a bit of fresh fish, quickly fried as goujons with a bit of salad leaf would do it every time.
May 23rd - Sunday
There was plenty of beach to cavort on first thing in the morning, so we cavorted, bleddy hound and me. Just down on the waterline, a small gull - it might have been a kittiwake - had found something in the water it was trying to nab. After a few attempts, it succeeded and landed a sizeable something on a rock nearby. I watched fascinated as the gull pecked at it and quickly backed off, gathered enough courage and had another go. I do not know what it had landed but it was clearly not used to its breakfast fighting back.
The expected rain very kindly waited until we had sold most of our remaining pasties and came in during the late morning. Once it had become established it stayed for the rest of the day and pelted us with some quite heavy wet stuff. The Missus had thought to finish off the last few bits with the digger at The Farm but once she saw how heavy the rain was, she abandoned the idea and went to collect Mother for a stay in and do some knitting.
Once the rain had set in business went down the drain with it. For once, rather than idle my time away I set to with the shoes and shorts in the store room and with some help from the Missus finished both and bagged and boxed the excess for shipping up to The Farm. Bursting with enthusiasm, but mainly fear of boredom, I continued to tidy up the store room which has become a woeful mess since new stock has been arriving. I am also aware that we have mugs arriving any day now and the space that was reserved for them has been used up with other things. The trick will be not to be tempted to use the space again before the delivery arrives.
Come the appointed time, I was quite happy to close the doors and wrap up for the day. The rain, however had other ideas and stopped half an hour before we closed. This was clearly the signal for all those would-be shoppers who had been staring glumly out of their windows, to break cover and head for the shop. We were busy right up until closing and even then I cautiously eyed a couple of passers-by as I closed the first electric sliding door in The Cove - manually - in case they made a bid for the last few inches of openness.
Sat at the table for tea, we watched as the evening blossomed into blue skied loveliness for the last few hours of daylight. I could just hear the small gods of grumpy shopkeepers snickering into their goblets of ambrosia at such a jolly jape and the shags took turns to dive for fish. Bottoms up all round.