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.
October 18th - Thursday
As exceedingly long and tedious days go, this one was exceedingly long and tedious. We had insufficient newspapers delivered today to even make a dent in the tediousness, mainly because the newspapers all contained the same stories except one that made the shocking assertion that the cost of living for couples with children is greater than those without. Who would have thought it?
I also discovered that in the world of plumbing, some measurements relate to bore of the pipe and some to the external measurements. This will explain why we have a water meter and in-line valve that has 25mm fittings, external, and the pipe work up at The Farm that has 25mm internal measurements. I understand that there are adaptors available to join the two systems which will leave us with eight joins in the pipe in an eighteen inches stretch. No chance of leakage there, not at all.
The Missus went up to The Farm early doors. It must have been serious, not just because it involved those early doors, but she also took the bleddy hound over to Mother's and left her there along with Mother. I have no doubt that there will be tractoring, strimming, harrowing (yes, I am sure you were waiting for some harrowing pun) and other such activities that are not in the least bleddy hound friendly. A cursory glance around last evening with our potential shed building man, showed that much clearing of brambles and undergrowth has been carried out in the last few weeks.
The afternoon transformed, at least in terms of the weather. The morning was a pretty grey affair with a north east chill blowing in the shop doorway. In contrast, the afternoon sky brightened into a largely blue affair with white fluffy clouds and the wind slowed and veered to the east. It did bring visitors, some by coach from somewhere north or Camborne, although they had only come from St Ives today. It did not exactly make it busy but having two customers would have been busier than this morning's disaster.
Fortunately, for the entertainment of the terminally bored, the Second Coxswain - the First in on his holidays - ordered a training launch of the Lifeboat in the evening. Due to the continued poor temperament of the sea the timing was brought forward so that the recovery was as close to low water as possible. So, the boat was launched at six o'clock, while I was still being a grumpy shopkeeper and could not attend. I also missed the setting up but was there in time to see the boat come home again at near seven o'clock. While I was there to see it come in, it was a good half hour earlier than I expected it and was half way through my tea at the time. It is one of the disadvantages of not being at the launch that you do not necessarily get to find out what time it is coming back.
Anyway, from what I saw the crew who did turn up on time managed to execute what appeared to be a textbook recovery up the long slipway under the new flood lights. I could have put our own flood lights on to help but it has been a very long time since a Lifeboat came to our doors and we thought it best not to re-start the process.
I did attend the post recovery briefing to learn if there had been any changes or notices in my absence. It was the least I could do to bolster the spirits of my fellow team members. We are, after all, a very supportive, very excellent Shore Crew.
I still had some shop type things to do before I repaired to the OS and it was still quite early by the time the recovery work had finished. I joined our compatriots a short time later in preparation for the OS quiz. Obviously we lost miserably but we had the moon and the stars on the way home, which is worth more than a hundred quiz wins and well worth wading through today's tedium for.
October 17th - Wednesday
Well, I cannot say that I was expecting the sea to suddenly become a raging bull, thumping into the bay from the middle of the morning. It looked perfectly normal first thing, well, the little I could see through the gloom, at least. We even had some bits of blue sky break through the cloud giving us an almost reasonable morning.
It certainly served the increasing number of bird watchers heading up to Treeve Moor to look for the catbird. I am afraid I cannot take 'catbird' seriously. It sounds like the latest character from the Marvel comic stable or something for the five o'clock Sunday afternoon television slot for children. I had a twitcher in asking for directions to the moor this morning and he was most surprised that I knew anything about it. I showed him the front page of the Western Morning News (did I mention I once had a review ) which demonstrated just how big the news was - or how little of any other news there was. I told him to go to the top of the hill and turn right, keep going until he sees about one hundred cars parked up on the pavement.
I had little time for such casual dealing this morning. I had omitted to complete the process that starts with my 'birthday bloods' at the medical centre earlier in the year. It was partly because it had started to get busy and partly because I was afeared of going back. The young lady who did the extracting of my life-force was none too gentle and I ended up with a bruise the size of a dinner plate for three weeks. I had a billet doux in the next prescription asking me to go back because the blood letting needed to be redone for some reason, so I ignored it.
Come the end of August they sent me another and I promised faithfully to return in September, which I did not. They sent yet another note in my latest prescription threatening to kill the first born of the village if I did not respond and worse still, to cut off my supply of life maintaining drugs. I had no choice, I could not have them cutting off my supply of life maintaining drugs. I booked in for this morning, sacrificing my morning cup of tea.
I had mentioned my ghastly experience to the receptionist, so very kindly she booked me in for another phlebotomist, who I must thoroughly commend. Before I knew it, the needle was in and moments later it was all over without me feeling a thing. I reminded her that it was normal to say I might feel a 'scratch' just before inserting the needle. We agreed that it was a silly thing to say because it was nothing like a scratch and they should reinstate 'prick' and ignore all the schoolboy sniggers at the back of the class. In fact, she said, why say anything at all; you would have to be pretty naïve not to expect some pain. A good point well presented, I felt.
I stopped by the gymnasium on the way back because once you have accepted pain into your life you just have to keep at it. It makes a man of you, so I am told, and one day I might find if that is true. Anyway, it was most acceptable because I had missed the Monday session due to the lights installation and I shall miss the Friday session as I have to go back to the nurse to see if my blood is still red and whether it is supposed to have a head on it. The session felt all the better for being the only one this week.
The visit to the phlebotomist (which worries me because it is not that far off a lobotomist) and the trip to the gymnasium turned out to be the highlights of the day. However, there is one more event that crowns it and demonstrates that our faith in human nature and generosity of spirit should remain undoubted.
Our harrow arrived today, all 80 kilograms of it. The delivery driver and I struggled to get it off the van, despite my tune up session at the gymnasium. I left it on the ground outside the shop so that the Missus and I could ship it up to The Farm later. Cue, a young Boat Crew person and local tradesman arriving for a can of pop to fortify him before his next appointment. He sees the harrow and without any prompting tells me he will take it up to The Farm as he had half an hour spare. When I demure, he insists so I help him with it onto his van at which point I discover, half way through the lift, that I am not actually holding any weight.
I will leave it there for you to ponder hope and goodness in the world.
October 16th - Tuesday
I made sure that our lights were on and shining at the start of the day. The deliveries from our milkman - actually, it is a milkwoman - and our newspaper man - he has not told me that he has elected to be anything else, so this is an assumption - have become earlier in these quieter times. Normally, in the busier times, I would get to see them and be able to ask them what they thought of our new alluring luminescence. On the basis that I did not hear any screaming, I must assume that they enjoyed being able to see to carry out their duties.
The lights are certainly bright. The very pleasant gentleman from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, whoever they are, said that they had woken up their Opportunity Rover, which they had not heard from since June 10th following a Martian dust storm, apparently. I was expecting to be chastised but he said that the Administration were most grateful because they thought that it had stopped working and, by the way, where did we get the lights from.
It is the sort of optimism and can do attitude in the face of adversity that we like to see. In the Western Morning News today (did I ever tell you I once had a review ) there was an interview with a Cornish farmer. The article was all about climate change and how scientists at the University of California said it would push up the price of beer by reducing the availability of barley. The farmer, who supplies barley to Skinners brewery near Truro and another already over-priced bunch down the south east somewhere, was quoted as saying "We could take a lot more heat and drought than we've had so far." He also added that if the price of barley went up he would not be complaining too much or as another bar room sage once remarked, "I don't care how much they charge for it as long as they don't stop making it."
It looked for a while like our suppliers of beachware had stopped making it for a while in the summer. It left us looking a bit thin in some important areas, but we just about made the end of the main season with what we had. With half term coming and the suppliers restocked we took delivery of a small order of beach goods today to see us through half term. I never thought we would be doing that at this time of year. It gave me something to do in the quiet of the afternoon.
Quiet it certainly was, although we expect better next week and possibly the week after, except we will be closed. We are already being deluged, alright, I have had one complaint, alright, one person expressing slight disappointment that we will not be open during the following week. It seems alright that the schools board or whoever it is these days can mess about with this holiday but refuse point blank to do the sensible thing with the summer holiday and spread it over a greater period. We are sorry we will not be here for you, SN.
It looks like you will also miss bird of the year, which has landed up near Land's End (note the apostrophe). It is a Grey Catbird, which looks like a grey tit but a bit bigger and had attracted the world of bird watchers to the area. It seems that it was thrown off course by the latest storm and should really be in Australia or somewhere.
I am afraid all that excitement has quite worn me out.
October 15th - Monday
It was a bit grey but at least it was not raining, and we kept that chilly breeze from the north east just to help things along. Again, it was not one of our busiest days of the season, but we had another grocery delivery today, so someone must be buying things.
We have waited a while, and I should have had them done much earlier in the season, but our local DIH man (Do It Himself), came along today to replace our decrepit flood lights on the front of the shop. I have been in need of these for the past couple of weeks and I can hardly wait to switch them on tomorrow morning, when it will make work much easier for all of us early workers.
I was a bit concerned about pulling the cables through the wall but I need not have been; they came through very easily after I had worked out that the existing ones were anchored by some silicon gel to stop the draft coming through the holes. I did the inside wiring myself, as it was straight forward and I could do it while our man addressed the next lamp in line. I had deliberately chosen low rated flood lights as the previous ones could be seen from space and were a hazard to shipping. However, unboxed, the new ones seemed to have a LED array four times the size of the old ones but given it was daylight it was difficult to tell.
The Missus was champing at the bit to leave for The Farm during this process. She has not been up there for several days and is suffering some sort of withdrawal. There were plans, I understand, to attack the big pile of hardcore that has not been touched since it was delivered last week. I have also been informed of the need for a trailed chain harrow, which breaks up the ground, clears the dead grass and aerates the soil. It resembles a very loose mat of chainmail that is dragged behind the tractor. In her absence I carried out some research to see what our options were regarding this essential piece of kit and whether one can be rented or if second hand ones are available.
I was interrupted in this process by a grocery delivery that required me to work in the store room. I can generally hear customers arriving from there even over the rustle of onion skins being smoothed off the new delivery. We find that left to their own devices the tray containing them can be more skin than onion and occasionally they need to be sorted out. It is a very educational task leading me to know our stock intimately; I find that our customers like a grumpy shopkeeper who knows his onions.
Yes, I do have far too much time on my hands for my own good. So much so that I made the decision to purchase the chain harrow, as it looked like so much fun. Already good value, I felt, I was delighted to understand that I could now get a further twelve inches depth for the same money - it was like they were giving it away. The Missus will also, no doubt, be delighted when she finds out, although not quite so delighted as to return home in time for tea. Fortunately we still have a good selection of fish in the freezer, which her absence gave me the opportunity to exploit; the Missus hates fish.
I flicked the outside lights on when I took the bleddy hound out last thing. They are quite bright; it was like having our own personal daylight just outside the shop. Our man has done a good job of angling them downwards, so we do not have too much trouble with shipping passing by. We have more goodies coming tomorrow; it is just like starting the season all over again.
October 14th - Sunday
It was raining again, but not too hard, when it came time to take the bleddy hound around the block. It was dark, too. She was once again not keen, so this time I did not press her and brought her back after a short spin out. She was happy to be heading back in the direction of home but being an obtuse bleddy hound, rather than going back home as quickly as possible, she stopped to sniff every weed and blade of grass on the way.
I took her again just before I headed off for the range. It had completely stopped raining and although it was a mite colder than yesterday, it was perfectly reasonable for a run around the block. Clearly not for a bleddy hound who chose to drag her paws every step of the way until it was clear it would be quicker to carry on than return the way we had come. The next customer who comes into the shop and tells me how sweet and lovely the small doggie in the window is and how they wish they could take her home, can.
The sun emerged while I was up on the range and it turned into quite some 'ansum day. At some point during the night, the wind had gone around to the north, then the north east, which will account for the sudden drop in temperature. It was a brae bit breezy on this coast but thankfully not like it was the last two days. For most, it required a jacket but in the direct sunlight and a bit of shelter it was beautifully warm. The sea state had moderated, too, which had taken most of the surf with it. There were still a few surfers out there, but I suspect the hardcore boys were a bit disappointed.
The upturn in the weather conditions did not translate into an upturn in busyness and the afternoon, at least, was a very quiet affair. On the bright side it gives some hope that the week after the half term here, when we will be closed, will also be quiet. It is only recently that we have been told that some schools have elected to take the first week in November as their half term holiday. It would be a disappointment all round if it were busy that week.
I quietly wound up proceedings for the day and did not count the unsold pasties, lest it make me grumpier. I was cheered but the delivery of a MacFadden's - the butcher in St Just - meat pie for tea. They really are very good. You should try one, too.
October 13th - Saturday
It was pretty gloomy, often spelt dark, when I took the bleddy hound around this morning. I do not know if it would have been much lighter without the heavy black clouds hanging over us but at least it was not raining this morning. The bleddy hound was still quite reticent, however, but with a little coaxing, we made it completely around the block. Yesterday was definitely mild but today, standing in that car park with a robust southerly in my face - how can it do that facing west? - it was positively balmy.
The sea was a mess in the Harbour itself. It was difficult to see further out at first but, later on, it was just as much as a mess out there, too. Like yesterday, once the tide started to slip away the sea calmed to the point that you might never know that it was angry at all. There were a couple of surfers about at the early stages of the day but I think that was through hope rather than calculation. It improved later and there were quite a few out there chancing their arm.
There was little else by way of entertainment today, so we had to fall back on the much maligned council's efforts at furious back-peddling over the parking rates it publicised early in the week. The much maligned council councillor in charge of car parking told the press that it was all a big mistake. He had failed to notice in the seven page report, the 23 uses of the word 'proposal', because this was a discussion document instead and the numbers used were just "indicative". Quite how indicative numbers of what is to appear in a proposal makes any difference to the end result is beyond me, but it does appear that the report has been quashed, for now. Clearly failing completely to judge the public mood on the subject, the much maligned council councillor went on to joke that at least they were guaranteed a good response to the consultation. A good response is to be welcomed, I am sure. It would be even more welcomed if someone at the much maligned council actually reads it.
Talking of taking note, some six years ago I highlighted in this very journal my surprise that the National Health Service, while ensuring I signed my life away when being lent a set of crutches and a Zimmer frame, made no record of them being returned. I do believe that I was not even thanked for the effort. At the time I thought that this seemed to be wasteful, as I imagined that such items did not come cheap. In the news today, some bright spark at the NHS has recognised that if they get back the various crutches and walking aids they hand out after people have finished with them, they might save a few shillings. Some people dismiss The Diary as a worthless rag - alright, it is a worthless rag - but if our bright spark had read it six years ago the NHS could have saved six years more wasted shillings.
Another thing that should have happened is a deluge of rain spoiling our afternoon. Instead, nothing happened, but visitors avoiding us because they had been told there would be a deluge of rain spoiling our afternoon. Some rain did arrive much later at around closing time but a deluge it was not and the only thing it dampened was my spirits.
I made up for this later by attending the OS to meet with the Highly Professional Craftsperson. We gathered along with the Quizmaster to watch a songster who has been around these parts for some years. He is a clever guitarist more usually playing in a band and using an electric guitar. However, he made an excellent job of entertaining us with just two acoustic guitars, playing some blues rock covers that were definitely more obscure than the usual fare.
We did not even get wet on the way home, which I am sure the bleddy hound was grateful for when we took her screaming and shouting around the block. It was the second time today she had been around in the dark. I hope she does not get too used to it because I do not intend to continue the practice after the shop is shut.
October 12th - Friday
Wind back 24 hours and repeat. It was just as rainy this morning as yesterday, probably more so. The bleddy hound hesitated before stepping out and once she was out, decided that she really did not want to be and dug in her heels. I should have named her Woodbine as I had to drag her through to the Harbour car park where she made a final stand and won. This clearly stuck in her mind because in the middle of the day, after I had returned from the gymnasium, when I tried to take her again, once more she objected, and it was not even raining. I managed to tempt her in the end by letting her go down on the Harbour beach.
I cannot really blame the bleddy hound for not wanting to go out; it was a foul morning and I, at least, had full metal jacket waterproofs on. We did not suffer too much in The Cove as the blow, which was clocked on Scilly at 76 miles per hour, was coming from the south. Even out in the bay, the sea did not look too upset by it all. It was a little different further off, though, and there were a lot of white caps out there.
Our miserable weather led to some miserable business. Quite why I thought it a good idea to order pasties, I will never know but we did manage to sell a few. The quietness did allow the Missus to attend to a young pigeon, although it could have been a dove from above, it was hard to tell and it was not saying. It could fly a bit but failed to get higher than a few feet. It was a bit small for tea so we handed it over to the Cove's bird man who was once to be seen with a jackdaw on his shoulder. He will no doubt be able to nurse it back to health and feed it some then we will eat it.
The sea had been relatively benign through the lower reaches of the tide in the day. Come about five o'clock, it started to stir and throw some bigger waves into the bay. It made for some usable surf for the more experienced surfers of which there were about four willing to brave it. This turned to one and then, at around six o'clock it started piling in, thumping over the Harbour wall and up the cliffs on the other side of the bay. It was fascinating to watch from the safety of the flat and quite mesmeric. Even the lone surfer had disappeared, hopefully home to his tea and then it suddenly got too dark to see. We could still hear it, though.
A note for those that like their data early: we have the 2019 Tide Times book available in the shop and online. I still have not updated the picture since 2011.
October 11th - Thursday
It was a cracking good morning but only for the crew that is trying to sell us some launders for the side of the shop. We contacted them a couple of weeks ago because, after a long period of dry, we have once again been reminded that the existing guttering shoots water out over the path at the front of the shop. Ideally, the contents of this particular length should go in the other direction down towards the down pipe half way down to the rear of the shop. It was been pointed out by more than one craftsperson that our fascia boards are not deep enough to give the correct angle for optimum waste water flow.
Today, with the skies leaden and the heavens issuing forth the heaviest and most sustained rainfall we have had for months, was the optimum day to post the quotation to our electronic mailbox. In it we are told that the majority of the substantial sum is made up of the cost of scaffolding. Anywhere else on the building the work could have been done from the top of a ladder. Along the side, with its slope up to the mews behind, scaffolding is required, which I do not dispute.
The morning's rain made for very slow business until the skies brightened up half way through the day. Even then, we were hardly what you might call busy. I did not get to find out what it was like later on in the afternoon as I had to slip across the road for the second half of our casualty care training at the Lifeboat station. Here we learnt how to strap our fellow course attendees into various forms of stretcher and just what practical jolly japes we could have with them once they were immobilised. The course ended with an open book multiple choice questionnaire in which I managed to get two wrong. Clearly, visitors should avoid having those two complaints when they visit this end of The Cove, just in case. I suggested that the questions could have been better written, a comment that the course instructor agreed with. I asked where I could send a letter of complaint and she told me to send it to "Who Cares at Nobodydoes Street", which is uncanny as it is the same place the Missus tell me to write to.
We would normally have our windows open in the flat but with the poor weather this morning, we chose not to. This will have foxed the visitor we have had a couple of days this week who likes to come in and nose about for a while. We only knew he was there because he left a calling card, which on the first occasion, I dismissed as a bit of a mystery. Yesterday, I caught the fellow in the act and had to chase him out, which was not at all easy.
I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see a small robin sitting on the back of one of our dining chairs. I suspect that he was as surprised to see me as I him and he panicked a bit, trying to get out through a mirror on the wall. I turned to open a window on the far side of the room to create as many escape routes as possible and when I turned back I had a fleeting glimpse of wings slipping out of the door and across the outside of the side windows.
We tend to leave the side window open all day on dry and warm days and it is through here that we surmise he gains entry. The previous time he obvious let himself out but this time I clearly caught him by surprise after he had ventured down the corridor and explored the kitchen before returning to the living room.
This, of course, did not deter me from attending the OS for a spot of quizzing. It did not help a great deal being one man down and another not caring of the predicament we had been left in and not turning up. It did not do our score profile any good at all, but we did acquaint ourselves with a viable recruit who might prove useful in future sessions.
We made a swift exit home where a ragged bleddy hound was waiting for a run around he block. I suspect that she will not be so keen in the morning; rain coming.
October 10th - Wednesday
The mandarins at the much maligned council must have too much time on their hands. I think, too, that they must have had too much cheese before bedtime with the ideas they have dreamed up recently. Not only are they intent on sticking some more boot into the high street they now want to ask council tax payers to voluntarily pay a bit more.
This follows a news item that one officer was caught with an unauthorised overspend of £2.5 million. If it had been overspent on some project beneficial to the community it might have been bad enough, but this was an overspend on a business case. We wonder just how much the rest of the business case cost. Here in The Cove we have already had to 'voluntarily' pay double our precept to keep the Beach toilets running because the much maligned council did not want to pay for them anymore. For this wasteful bunch to come around with the begging bowl beggars belief, to be honest. Oliver Twist it is not.
Leaving behind the real world, I should tell you that we enjoyed yet another stunning morning today. There was no sign of the hundreds of sea birds that we had yesterday, although there was a flock of cormorants - yes, they were cormorants, not shags - fishing close in amongst what appeared to be large shoals of something, across the bay. Later on, about half way between Cowloe and Brisons there was a bit of a feeding frenzy going on. Every bird from The Cove and for miles around must have been there, concentrated into an area maybe a couple of hundred yards across, some diving, some just waiting on the surface for morsels. They were out there, bashing away at some hidden shoal, for more than an hour.
I might have missed it had I not been down on the Harbour slipway in the morning. Some brave soul in the RNLI elected to come down and show us how to drive the Inshore Lifeboat tractor properly. The Institution has been given special dispensation to allow its current tracked vehicle drivers to continue the practice despite not all of us having passed the relevant driving test. Any new drivers, however, joining the RNLI will have to attain the H category pass before they are allowed to drive. While I may legally drive the Inshore tractor, it has been decided that it would be sensible to put me, and other aspiring drivers, through the H test, anyway. Interestingly, if I should pass my H test using the small, tracked vehicle that we use to launch the D class Lifeboats, I will have the perfect legal right to drive a Chieftain tank up Cove Hill.
So, it was that I found myself with another couple of likely suspects on the Harbour beach putting the tractor through its paces. For those observing, we made light of some casual driving without the trailer and some 'getting ourselves out of a hole', before re-attaching the trailer and practising some figure of eight manoeuvres.
It was a very pretty morning to be out there playing, erm, practising expertly and probably the first time that I have spent any length of time exposed to sunlight for quite some time; I do hope that I did not get sunburn. We did make quite a mess of the tractor, however, and it took an extra long time under the warm sunshine, to wash off the accumulation of sand, honest, guv.
I returned to the shop to twiddle my thumbs and read some more newspapers during the afternoon. I had quite forgotten what it is like to have quiet weeks and just how mind-numbing and tiring it can be. I need a suitable hobby because, as we know, the devil makes work for idle hands and as if to prove it, the only thing I could thing of doing was to write a letter to our local much maligned council councillor. I had considered writing to the local paper and was torn as to which would have the greatest impact. I considered this matter long and hard and came to the conclusion that both would be an utter waste of time, so writing to our councillor would, at least, waste some of hers, too.
Very soon after we closed the shop I had to repair to the Lifeboat station again to take part in a training launch of both boats. We normal train on Thursday nights but with casualty care training scheduled last Thursday and this, the days had to be changed around, plus tomorrow's sea state did not look conducive.
For once I was not assigned to launch the Inshore boat. While we currently have a shortage of drivers, last night there were enough of us to cover both boats and give me a change. The boats launched around half past six o'clock and was largely out to give experience to some new and prospective crew members. With no real training involved, the boat was back by half past seven for which we had arranged the short slipway to bring her back in.
It was a particularly high tide, which comes in and goes out rather rapidly. In the hour that we spent between setting up the slipway and the boat returning, the tide had receded a couple of metres from where we left the equipment and we had to reset. Naturally, this was a seamless operation and the boat was brought up the short slipway in what was clearly a textbook recovery. We are, after all, a very adaptive, very excellent Shore Crew.
I had a late tea after I returned. I spent the rest of the evening on the computer. I have found a place that sells Chieftain tanks at a reasonable price. One is a runner with an activated main gun. I wonder if my firearms licence covers that?
October 9th - Tuesday
What a very bright day to behold. Fresh was definitely the word to use about the morning, first thing, with just enough chill to make it feel clean but not uncomfortable. When the sun climbed higher, breaking above Carn Olva, the whole Cove lit up in that brave, yellow light. Later, when the sun was higher still, it picked out the white wave tops and spume against the cliffs like some old toothpaste advertisement.
I think Kevin the weatherman has been playing consequences in the weather room. Each of the team imagines the next five days of weather and he has to read out the next page in turn when his weather slot comes up on the radio. It is such a jolly wizard game but not a great deal of help if you actually would like to know what the weather will be over the next few days. Like a television serial that you discover is rubbish after the second episode, I am only listening to find out what happens in the end.
I discovered from one of our local news feeds that the much maligned council intends to consult on increasing parking charges yet again. Not only will this deal another blow to the high street by deterring shoppers, its proposals also show a 500 percent increase in the annual season ticket prices. I can see the reasoning, with no shoppers in town, because they are all shopping in the free parking at Tesmorburys, there will be fewer workers in town needing parking as all the shops go out of business and thus the council's revenue will reduce. It needs to find the shortfall from somewhere, but I would have thought that they would be able to recoup the loss by building second homes on the unused car parks. Perhaps I should point that out.
I should also point out something far more pleasurable. With the tide ebbing away, there was a finger of beach at the far end, towards North rocks. It was in shade but not far off being lit up by the rising sun. They were not immediately apparent but when a chasing dog ran into them a sizeable host of herring gulls took to the wing and were immediately lit up by the sun flooding down the valley. I am sure that there was a cacophony of gull squawks to accompany the throng, but you could not hear them here on this side of the bay. Quite what had drawn them all to that spot was not clear, as they did not appear to be feeding. It did not matter very much, it was just an impressive sight.
For a bright day it was not very busy. Perhaps one of the iterations of the weather forecast had it dark and raining today. Things did improve slightly in the afternoon, but I was still able to read two newspapers almost cover to cover. When I looked up again it was nearly high water with a big tide and a big swell. The Harbour wall was almost immersed without the waves breaking over it and behind it, the sea was boiling over the Cowloe reef. All this and brightness, too, it was a wonder to gaze out upon and lifted the spirits no end.
A panorama for a bright day
October 8th - Monday
The street was relatively clear when I headed for the gymnasium, just after ten o'clock this morning. When I emerged around an hour or so later - how dedicated am I? - there were cars parked in every scrap of space, up on pavements but fortunately just the one side of the road today. I was lucky coming back from the range yesterday because the public bin collection was going on and the mini refuse truck had blocked all the traffic coming the other way. I would not have been able to pull in for more than 100 yards. One clever couple today maximised their savings; not only did they avoid a £4 charge for parking for the day they also managed to launch their kayaks without paying the launch fee. Fortunately, the Harbour does not need those additional funds to cover maintenance or anything.
Nobody but we is paying for the maintenance of the lane that runs to The Farm, either, although it is probably a fair point that nobody but we is using it. The Missus used the last of the hardcore yesterday, so I called up the supplier to get some more. The Missus asked when it would be delivered. They are very good and will have it there either today or tomorrow at the latest, so I told her that it would almost certainly arrived at the same time as she was driving down the lane in the opposite direction.
The dull weather today did not stop the Missus from heading up to The Farm, even without there being hardcore up there to play with. She did take Mother to an appointment first but then came back, collected the dog and headed up there for the rest of the day. She also took the in-laws who are staying with mother and are trapped here as their car is misbehaving and needs to be fixed before they can go home. The Missus is, quite rightly, proud of the progress she has made in clearing the site around the shed of its overgrown brambles and monster weeds. Much of it needed to be done by hand as not even her meaty, beaty, big and bouncy petrol driven strimmer is up to the task. Some of the work is required to allow the builders access all around the big shed so there is a time limit, as hopefully they are arriving in a couple of weeks.
We did have a few customers coming through from time to time, but we were definitely not busy. During these sorry times, anything to alleviate the boredom is welcome. On occasion it is fruitful to read the aphorisms and slogans on people's clothing. Some of it is quite amusing and some is just interesting. Today we had "Wittering Surf", which was probably both. I asked if there was any part way decent surf at the English Channel holiday spot and learnt that there was sometimes but generally it was just windy. It put me in mind of a sketch by the comedians Hale and Pace some while ago, performed in their 'the management' guise. One said that he was not keen on people going on and on, "I hate wittering". The other, after a comic pause, says "I hate all south coast resorts." Yes, you probably had to be there, really, or be a grumpy shopkeeper in the doldrums after a busy season.
I have just read that dad jokes are back in fashion, although we just called them jokes, without any swear words or rudeness in them. Good.
I had considered telling you a dad joke but instead I will tell you that the sea woke up today. It was quite placid yesterday but this morning I could hear it before I opened the door. It did not stop the fishing boats from going out earlier, presumably after all that mackerel out there, but later on the swell increased. By high water in the late afternoon it was fair thumping into North Rocks between the big beach and Gwenver. It was also floshing over the wall, so it was not the biggest sea we have had. I was happy that the two free-loading kayakers were in long before the sea started to show its hand. Late on a couple who had strayed too far down one of the slipways told me they had a soaking. At least there was some excitement at the end of the day.
October 7th - Sunday
There was a complete change to The Cove as I took the first airs in the morning. The sky was clear apart from a few clouds dotted here and there and, most importantly, there was hardly a breath of wind. How quickly it all can change. Hovering over the cliff out to the east was a perfect crescent moon, just hanging there in the deep, dark blue sky. An hour later, after I had finished my morning chores, there was no moon to be seen at all. If I had stayed in bed I would have missed that.
It was a day for nature, it would seem. Early in the day, with our shop doors thrown open again after the high winds, a friendly robin hopped in to have a little geek. I did try and warn him that it probably was not such a hot idea, but he ignored my good advice and settled on our postcard display. It was not long before he confused our large window for an exit, fluttering against it. I went outside for one of our large fishing nets, which would serve the purpose to guide or, if necessary capture, and set about the task. Fortunately, the bird made a sensible turn and suddenly found the open door again.
Later we heard all about the wealth of mackerel in The Cove from a kayaker who had been out for much of the day fishing. He spoke of the bay being alive with fish of all sorts, pollack and wrasse among them as well as porpoises and, he was pretty sure, tuna. He said that while he was reeling in some mackerel something far bigger took his catch and bent his rod double under the boat before the line snapped. He put this down to a shark of some sort. The presence of so many big predators in the area may have had something to do with the mass stranding of mackerel on Gwithian beach yesterday.
Had I known this before the event I may have postponed my visit to the range this week in case I missed something. I did not go last week in favour of the surf club's pasty order so I am glad I went anyway. It was a spectacular day to be up on the moors in perfect conditions and clear visibility. The white of the beaches on the Isles of Scilly could be seen clearly underlining the defined shapes of the individual islands. I can also look down on The Farm from there, although I would need much better eyesight to pick out any detail. Perhaps I will paint the shed a gay colour so that I can identify it from afar or perhaps ask someone to put up an array of wind turbines that would make it obvious to spot.
My, my how time flies by. I probably wrote this same passage twelve months ago, but it really only seems like a few months ago that I was telling you about the super marathon runners running, walking or staggering by. It is the time of year for the three back to back marathons starting somewhere up near Padstow with staging posts at Perranporth and St Ives. This last section is probably the toughest, due to the passage between St Ives and St Just, which is a challenge when walked. The leaders - you could tell they were the leaders as they were still running - came through The Cove in the mid afternoon. One of them dropped into the shop for a can of pop. He told me that I could charge £10 for them and he would still pay it. I was tempted; it is a long winter. He confirmed that this last leg was 'brutal', whereas the others were merely vicious.
The stragglers were still coming past us at near closing time at six o'clock. I imagine that there is a mopping up operation that picks up those crumpled in a ragged heap along the way.
Just for fun I thought that I would seek out last year's entry for the marathon. "If I looked back in the Diary at this time last year I will, no doubt, have remarked just how quickly it has crept up on us, although, I suspect, we had distinctly better weather then." We did, too. I checked. Perhaps I will just cut and past the previous year's entries into The Diary and just add the weather, you will never notice the difference.
October 6th - Saturday
Yes, the days are back on track again - I do get confused, so thank you for pointing it out.
It is as well that I am comfortable with my own company as I had little choice today. This was especially so in the morning, with the wind blowing a force six to seven in the front, laced with proper rain. In truth the rain was not that severe but combined with the wind it was blowing straight in the door of the shop and would have drowned everything had I not had the foresight to drape a refuse sack over the important stuff. The rain was gone by eleven o'clock, but the wind remained and the damage to our busyness was already done.
It gave me the chance to watch the kite surfer whipping to and fro across the bay. He was joined a little later by two wind surfers who were only marginally slower. The kite surfer was out for more than an hour, which I am sure would have been quite wearing, and explored out as far as the back of Cowloe before racing back. We met later when he came into the shop and I was quite surprised as he was no young daredevil. I asked him what sort of speeds he got up to in conditions like these but he said he never thought to measure it. Between us we guessed that it was probably more than 20 knots. At that sort of speed, stopping suddenly probably hurts a bit, so you would have to be very proficient, which our man clearly was.
The Missus was up, early doors, again this morning. There are no guesses what was afoot; it is the call of The Farm. The bleddy hound was left behind on this occasion as small bleddy hounds and tractors, however vintage, do not mix and Mother was not invited this time to look after her. I just continued my lonely vigil behind the shop counter. [Diarist pauses for reader to wipe tear of sympathy from eye.]
As the rain cleared away, there were a few brave souls that ventured out, many were dog walkers who had no choice. We continued to be battered by the increasing winds from the north that had nothing to stop it as it bowled across the bay. I had taken the precaution of tying up our wheelie bin to its bigger commercial version behind it. By the middle of the day both bins had migrated to the front of the shop. At a convenient moment I secured the big bin to the wall to stop it running away again. It really was not the sort of day to be out without purpose. On the bright side, it stress tested the new netting on the ball stand, which held up marvellously.
The main event of the day was being invited to a wedding. That is a very big event at a time in our lives when funerals are more common. Clearly, we are still connected with the younger generations, unless, which is more likely, we were felt sorry for. The young man is an integral part of Lifeboat life and the young lady, obviously, far too good for him, although if you know him well enough, he has earned his place through merit.
The party had already started by some time when we arrived, although we were not that late. There were generations of all ages there but to see the bloom of youth so confident, free and worthy of respect is enough to assure us of the brightest of futures - even if they did take off their shirts and dance the devil's dances.
The bleddy hound could not be ensconced elsewhere on this occasion and had to come with us. Initially, we left her in the van, which we took for this very purpose, but she does not do on her own and we asked if we could bring her into the venue, which we could. It was the lesser of two evils for the bleddy hound as I imagine the loud booming music did her sensitive ears no good at all and it took her a while to settle. The DJ made a fuss of her when we left as he was right by the door. I told him she had to leave because he had started playing 'dance' music and she only does disco. He said he would bear it in mind for next time.
October 5th - Friday
The main thing about today was that it was warmer than some summer days that we have had. Not this year, perhaps, but other years in the not too distant past. We also had a bit of a sky, first thing in the morning, that had caught the tint of the rising sun and turned the whole Cove with its rosie glow. That cloud lowered during the day but did not quite blotting us out altogether, choosing rather to sit on the top of the cliffs out toward Carn Gloose and Cape.
Looking at The Cove through rose tinted glasses
I was ushered down to the gymnasium much earlier than I would normally be relieved of my shopkeeping duties. The Missus had arranged to take a friend for a ride on her tractor and I needed to be gymed and back so that she could get away. It has prompted the thought that perhaps this could be leveraged to take small children on rides around The Farm during the summer at £5 a go. I have made enquiries of some insurance companies, already. Maybe we could invest in some geese and fluffy bunnies, too, which would then solve the Christmas dinner problem later in the year. I may not break it to the Missus just yet, but I may drop some hints by and by.
Once again, I became a farm widower for the rest of the day. We were relatively busy but the Little Bo Café was heaving all day long. Other than the OS it seems to be the only show in town. It is unfortunate that I seem to be getting more than a few complaints brought to me about what was The Beach restaurant. I do not know why people are coming to me, it would be more effective to complain to the management there, but I get the impression that the comments are falling on deaf ears. I cannot comment as I have not eaten there but it seems to be piling pressure on the other establishments, which are creaking under the strain at busy times. Hopefully it is a temporary aberration that will not taint The Cove's reputation too much in the long term.
On the basis that I had exercised quite vigorously in the morning, I felt it only just that a little Little Bo Café cake should be applied as a reward. Because it was busy, and I could not quite get a proper look at the cakes on offer, I left a note on my paper plate along with some money for some crumble cake, which glimpsed looked just the ticket. It was delivered shortly after along with a mug of tea, which was also most welcome. I discovered that it was a cake without a filling and while it was perfectly pleasant, I could not help but feel that a geet lump of Trewithen's Dairy finest clotted cream would just tip it from a good cake to a great cake. Being something of an expert in this field, I discovered, without surprise, that I was absolutely correct in my assessment.
Since the Missus stays at The Farm until the last failing light, I was left to prepare my own tea. This will be less of a problem when the nights draw in and when the shop is closed, as making tea will be more of an adventure and less of a chore. I accept this as one of the consolations of having to close the shop. It appears that the Missus had a fine day with her new tractor friend helping with laying the hardcore. It seems that he enjoyed it too, so I might look at the insurance again and put him on the payroll, which is a bit of a misnomer, as there will be no pay involved. Obviously, being given the opportunity to be a farmer for a day is payment enough. Hold on, I have just had another idea ...
October 4th - Thursday
Kevin the weatherman stuck his neck out today and promised us some more mist again tomorrow. He confirmed what we already knew that we had mist again today, reserved especially for us in the Far West and the Isle of Scilly. We had a long line of customers yesterday who had travelled far and not so wide who delighted in telling us how sunny it was in Penzance and St Ives. We must be some special because on top of the mist today we had a very cool south easterly breeze. I have mentioned before how, inexplicably, this comes over the fields, down The Valley and squirts straight in the shop door. It was enlightening, too, to understand that it is at this time of the year that farmers revitalise the soil by spreading a fertiliser consisting of natural products, as evidenced on the breeze.
It was not all bad during the day. The mist lifted in the middle of the day just to prove that the cliffs the other side of the bay were still there. We were quiet again, of course; the smart money had probably slipped off to St Ives or anywhere further up the coast on either side. I was expecting the mist to descend again, like it did yesterday, and particularly as we had been told it would still be here tomorrow, but it never did. The day became brighter and clearer as it progressed which was a pleasant surprise, even if all our customers had beggared off somewhere else.
I ran and hid in the Lifeboat station in the afternoon where, coincidentally, we were treated to the first part of this year's casualty care course, module two. It is a clever consideration on the part of the Institution that instead of running the full course every five years, a module is rolled out each year, thus keeping our knowledge fresh and the training up to date with the latest thinking. This module covers injuries and comes with some rather graphic photographs displayed on the big screen in glorious Technicolor. "Here is a picture of a person whose insides are largely outside. Discuss." What a jolly time we had.
Meanwhile all sorts of work people have been attending the station. I noticed a big tower of scaffold on the outside a day or two ago and another was raised again today, requiring the Lifeboat to be placed on the slipway in case it was needed. The floodlights have been upgraded to LED and are very bright and shiny and also very white; the last ones were very yellow. Also, a radar man had to be called in because the boat's radar was not spotting things that it should, which is a bit of a problem if you want to avoid rocks and big lumps of land.
New watchtower for the very excellent Shore Crew to spot the boat coming back
It was towards the end of our casualty care course that the radar man told us that he had finished his work and that everything was tickety boo. Not that we did not believe him, but our Coxswain suggested that we launch the boat for half an hour to determine the accuracy of the tickety boo assessment. Since we had sufficient crew, just about, on the casualty care course the decision was to launch without alerting anyone else.
We launched the boat at four o'clock and half an hour later were set up awaiting its return. With a skeleton crew, meaning that there were not many of us rather than those that were there were very thin, we brought the boat up the long slipway in what to me looked like a textbook recovery. It should have been after only practising the same procedure less than twenty four hours earlier. We are, after all, a very well-practised, very excellent Shore Crew.
There was an evening shift at the casualty care course, too. Fortunately it finished ahead of the OS quiz in which we triumphed to second place; we only aspire to second place with a master quizzer in the room. We returned home under mainly clear skies, which was rather lovely. It gives us something to look at while trying to ignore the loud, shouty bleddy hound.
October 3rd - Wednesday
The darned mist got us good and proper today. Kevin the weatherman had it bang on when he said that the Far West, the Isles of Scilly and probably a bit of Lizard would be shrouded in mist today. Mind, he did tell us this morning when the Far West, the Isles of Scilly and a bit of Lizard were covered in mist, but it was accurate, nevertheless, it just was not really a forecast.
It did not stop me from heading down to the gymnasium for a jolly good session, late in the morning. What with setting up the shop and serving our early customers, I did not get much opportunity to complete my investigation into which pressure washer to buy. One good thing about the gymnasium sessions, apart from the main objectives of going, is that I get time away from everything to soar away in my own little world and cogitate on all manner of matters. This is especially true of my half hour rowing exercise when counting and timing is all done for me by the machine.
Therefore, with all my thoughts collected, later on in the afternoon I was able to conduct one last check and select the machine most suitable for our needs. This included a facility to actually pump water from a static source as opposed to being gravity fed. I suspect we would have found it hard to elevate the source sufficiently to provide enough pressure. Right or wrong, it is now on the way and before the end of the week the Missus will have everything in sight washed and scrubbed or disintegrated under the 3000 pounds per square inch jet.
That was the good news. A letter arrived in the post from the company that processes our card payments. It is this company that insists we carry out Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCIDSS - I could not remember what the other 'S' stood for and also could not be fagged to look it up, either) checks, which involve jumping through pointless hoops and setting up my router so that the company can ping it to see if it is secure enough for them. Most of the security issues across the wire could be overcome by the industry encrypting the data at the machine and not printing the full card number on the ticket. Instead they elect to charge me £4 per month for the privilege or £25 a month if I choose not to comply. They wrote to me today to tell me that because they had spent lots of money making their website prettier, rather than fixing the real problem, they would now charge me £6 per month. This obviously filled me with boundless joy and made cats grateful that I did not own one.
So joyful was I that I slipped across the road at quarter past four o'clock to help launch the Lifeboat. Today, one of our long serving crew members is being passed out on the final leg of his Coxswain examination. It is a bit of a formality, as he is already a qualified driver of commercial and private yachts, not quite the size to have helicopters land on them, but that type of thing but a bit smaller. We quickly set up the long slipway for the boat's return later in the evening and I returned to the shop to finish off there.
There was a bit of ordering to be done but we had such a quiet day not a great deal had been sold. Most of it could probably have been ordered yesterday but it is worth stringing things out at this time of year to prevent over stocking, especially of goods that might go out of date. Thus, I spent the short time before closing and a return to the Lifeboat station to await return of the boat.
We had been told to expect the boat to be back at half past six o'clock but at this time it was still steaming east at Lamorna. We cleverly calculated that it would not be back at the station at half past six o'clock because we are quite a deep thinking bunch, although you would not think it to look at us. Happily, the Coxswain telephoned to tell us that there were a few more tests to conduct and that the boat would be out for another half an hour or so. We comforted ourselves with Mr Milton's fine words that we also server who only stand and wait, despite the fact that we were sitting and having cups of tea.
Soon, however, the boat hove into view. During the tests, the tester will sometime throw in some googlies, such as an engine failing or such like. It may well have been this that delayed its return. However, we are ever vigilant and on guard and such matters matter not a jot to sterling sorts such as we. The boat was recovered up the long slipway not long after low water in what was, quite possibly, a textbook recovery including the textbook procedure to untangle a tangled span on the first attempt. We are, after all, a very ever ready, very excellent Shore Crew.
October 2nd - Tuesday
The mist came back to plague us today. It was supposed to begger off in the afternoon but it stayed with us the whole day. We should be grateful, as it was lingering mainly on the tops of the cliffs and would have been much worse on the moors. Oddly, when I came down the stairs first thing, it was noticeably warmer, almost entirely due to the wind having gone around to the west, I would say.
It was a day of anticipation. I was anticipating having my feet cared for by my foot lady and specifically having the corn on the sole of my left foot, that had given me grief all summer, sorted out. I can confirm that it is not true that all the pleasure is in the anticipation; there is a good bit after the fact, too.
Another thing that I was anticipating was having a shop laptop that actually did what it was supposed to, so I spent most of the morning finishing off the rebuild. It was quiet enough to be able to dedicate some time to the task and the machine is now operating normally again, although some of the graphics look suspect. It would have been quiet enough to do it in the afternoon as well, since the only time we had the slightest glimmer of busyness was just after I acquired a lump of biscoff cake from next door. It rather ruined the moment, as I only got the cake because I was bored and when the customers started arriving I was no longer bored.
Much of my time in the middle of the day was caught up in researching petrol driven pressure washers. Our previous electric one gave up the ghost at the start of the year and we decided not to replace it until we had some time to dedicate to the task. With the buying of The Farm and the clearing out of the shed, having a pressure washer that did not run on electricity became a little more urgent. The other factor that had to be considered was the availability of a good water source, something of a pressure washer 'must have', we concluded. Not only should there be a water source, but, without being picky, we felt it should deliver water faster than the machine could process it.
My own opinion was that the water supply at The Farm was probably of dubious quality in terms of the pressure it could muster. However, I drew up a shortlist based on quality, price and throughput and then investigated to see if alternative water sources could be employed in the absence of mains pressure, such as the use of a water butt. My favourite from the selection fell at this hurdle as did another. Although it is much cheaper than the others, the last remaining on the shortlist did not fill me with confidence that it is a worthy contender, despite ticking all the boxes. It also appears that it can only be purchased from the online trading company that brings to mind muscly women, which delights me even less - the bit about the trader, not necessarily the muscly women, although that too leaves me a little cold.
I was considering capitulating against my better judgement when a random, last minute search threw up another contender I had earlier dismissed as too expensive. It seems that the expensive model had a cheaper sibling in the fold that meets all the criteria, I think. I will have a check tomorrow and hope for the best.
The Missus returned from The Farm after I closed the shop to take me up there to examine her handiwork of the last few days. The big shed is almost clear, apart from a pile by the door that she cannot shift until the last trailer load has been cleared. I particularly wanted to see the space left by the clear out in the dry area of the shed - there is a big hole in the roof of the wet area - to see if it was sufficient for our storage needs. It was, but there are two bits of steel roof dangling precariously from above that suggest a hard hat might be sensible and thus rendering the space unusable for now. We are desperate to get a builder in there to sort the roof out so that we can move on but finding a decent one that is available sometime in the next decade seems impossible. We might have to settle for an indecent one, instead.
It has started to get a bit mizzly towards the end of the day. I had thought we were expecting the weather to improve. I might have to give up anticipating too much.
October 1st - Monday
In the Harbour this morning
Welcome to traffic chaos month. I noticed that the much maligned council rather cynically sent a parking sheriff down here yesterday on the last day that our yellow lines were active until the start of the next season. From today, people will eschew the car parks to park in the road like complete eejits on every square inch of space, across driveways - or so close as to make them inaccessible -, on blind bends, up pavements and opposite each other. What joy.
Traffic was not the only chaos of the day. Almost from the outset a rather nasty technical problem visited the shop laptop, which resulted, after a lengthy troubleshooting exercise, in having to flatten it and rebuild the darn thing. This takes a little concentration and dedication to the task and it is not ideal to try and do it while customers are coming in and out. Naturally, there were more customers while I tried to do the finicky bits and less when the machine was doing its own thing with little need for interaction. The rebuild is the easiest part of the operation. There are still all the applications to install and configure. More joy.
When the Missus came down, I slipped away to the gymnasium to exorcise my frustration. It did not work as the frustration was still there when I got back. It was gratifying to note that we almost had the number of pasties right, mainly as the numbers of visitors appear to have diminished this week. It was still a half decent day but out of the sunlight and away from a spot of shelter it became quite chilly at times. With big lozenge shaped clouds about, the sunset was a little corker.
I am fast becoming a farm widower as the Missus took off up The Farm again today. There is much to do up there to get it up to scratch and suitable for our needs. Our needs are having a dry and reasonably secure storage facility, but I think that the Missus has additional ideas about needs that include raised beds, poly tunnels and fences for goats. Negotiations continue.
Whatever happened up there, it kept the Missus there beyond teatime and had her return home looking like a tin miner, although the red was rust, not tin. Clearly this was no time to start cooking, unless I wanted something red, so we elected to call in a Chinese meal and have it delivered. It took a while to get through and we place a larger order than we need to meet the delivery criteria. At the end of all this, the very pleasant lady told me that the delivery would be between eight o'clock and nine o'clock, which is a bit late for tea. She suggested that I picked it up, which rather defeats the object, especially as I had ordered more on the basis of it being delivered. There are times when it is easier to capitulate, like after a long day at the tin stope with a broken computer, so I told her I was on my way.
I am really quite surprised that there is still so much traffic on the roads; it is October, for goodness sake and supposed to be quieter. Nevertheless, as it was a rare trip away from The Cove it was actually quite enjoyable, once I had left my anxiety of getting past the top of the hill out of the way. When I got home with our huge Chinese meal, most of which will be frozen for another time, I discovered that I really was not that hungry and a toasted sandwich would have done. Still, there was a very pleasant sunset in my rear view mirror on the way out and still remnants of it on the way back. It is not all bad, you know.