The Sennen Cove Diary

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


Previous Months:

August 14th - Sunday

The bleddy hound and I walked around the block for the third day running. That is the thing about the lowest tides of the year: they also tend to be the biggest. We were caught up by the bleddy hound's best pal yesterday as we traversed the car park but we were mainly on our own today. There was still enough cloud left from overnight to stifle the sun as we went around, that and it had not properly risen above Escalls Cliff at the time. It was still quite warm but not uncomfortably so. That would come later.

Later on, it became uncomfortably warm. The fan we have behind the counter is good, but it is not that good. I did fancy, though, that it was less uncomfortably warm than it was yesterday even if it did look exactly the same as yesterday once the cloud had melted away. I could not see much of the beach for most of the day because some buffoon had parked his bleddy geet camper van right opposite the café, impeding their ability to service the tables opposite and more importantly my ability to describe the beach to you, dear reader.

We had a late run on pasties. I was beginning to fear that we would be left with a surplus and I had already called in a fairly large order for Monday, anticipating that we would sell through most of what we had. The run caught me by surprise and left me playing catch-up, baking off several trays one after the other. The trick is, not seeing how quickly we can bake as many pasties as possible but knowing when to stop. The risk is, of course, that the run on pasties ends with too many waiting to be eaten in the warmer.

It is all part of the rough and tumble of grumpy shopkeeping, which we have come to know and love, along with fully grown and educated adults thinking that having a second item worth £1.20 will get them above a £3 card limit. This still causes consternation among our shoppers who do not seem to be able to get past the 'cash only' phrase on a notice that continues with, 'under £3' but we persevere.

I alerted the Missus, halfway through the morning, to the fact that our visitors were systematically clearing our shop of everything beachworthy. We had started from a position of being poorly stocked and it was getting to the stage that urgent action was required to fill our widening gaps. She formulated a plan with Niece to head up to The Farm where they would work in unison pulling the stock from the store, pricing it there and loading it into the truck. They headed off in the early afternoon.

We fell into a reasonable cycle of busyness after they had departed without being too pressed at any point. There were also moments of quiet where I was able to replenish some stock and make my list for our upmarket food supplier. We decided to use this company when we were unable to get many items from our regular suppliers. It has been some success and we have slowly grown a premium range that sells quite well among some of the more general groceries that we have. I also found the time to order stamps that I had been meaning to do for some days without success.

The Missus and Niece returned in the later afternoon, the truck stuffed to the roof rack, though not actually including the roof rack. They jointly unloaded and rushed everything into the store room while I catered for the typical rush that we have whenever we try and deliver anything into the shop. It will we great fun trying to get the huge dairy fridge in next month - we can hardly wait.

We remained busy until the end of the day including a traditional five minutes to closing rush. Niece topped up the soft drinks fridge best she could, but we had exhausted the stock that we had called in on Saturday designed to last the weekend. Later, I had a call from the local cash and carry telling me they had no large bottles of water left. They expected a delivery on Monday but were being rationed by their supplier. No wonder everyone is drinking beer.

It was when I opened the first electric sliding door in The Cove again after finishing off the ordering post closing that it was clear there was a change in the air. A thick mist had formed along the top of the cliffs at Carn Gloose and along to Cape Cornwall and appeared to be spreading. This did not bother the host of youngsters in the Harbour having the time of their lives at high water, jumping off the wall and turning somersaults off the long slip - the naughty soldiers. There were whoops and cheers and games aplenty. You had never seen so much joy and laughter concentrated in one place at one time - what a delight.

It was not quite such a delight to find that we had to do our ordering and administration work sitting at a screen while eating our tea. Still, it is probably the last big order before the end of the shenanigans and with a change in the weather on the way we may see a downturn in business. Since I was sitting in the window, there did not seem to be much downturning on the day , let alone the future week; the street was heaving. Oddly, there was not one hint of regret that we were not open into the later evening. I must be weakening - or just plain worn out.

August 13th - Saturday

The heat generated in the last few days has been building, probably made hotter by all those additional bodies that have been hanging around in The Cove. It was warm through the night and hardly diminished at all by morning. When I opened the first electric sliding door in The Cove for the first time, the heat flooded out. This was going to be a warm day, I could tell.

It was also a busy day, which was first hinted at by the number of people falling in when I opened the first electric sliding door to the public. It was late opening, too, due to late newspapers and a timely delivery of pasties in abundance. It was very helpful having the pasties arrive so early, thanks to this particular driver preferring to start early. Another half an hour and they would have arrived in the middle of the melee that was the morning rush and it would have been exceedingly stressful.

There was enough of a lull after the initial half an hour of rush for me to eat a bit of breakfast, piecemeal between customers. Another advantage of the early pasty delivery is that it allows me to respond positively for requests for hot food that have become earlier and earlier over the last few weeks. I had set them up in the oven as soon as they arrived and turned the oven on for the required twenty minutes as soon as we opened. Twenty minutes later we had our first order. Pasty for breakfast - madness, I tell you. A miner might have once done the same but only because he probably did not know what time of day or night it was.

We have our summer visitor here again, Niece, sans dog or boyfriend. She has come at this time for the previous few years and makes herself useful about the shop, stocking shelves and helping with the grocery order. Her visit is quite timely on two counts, the first being we do have a grocery order this week and the second is that our shelves were beginning - no, have for a week or more looked like they have been stripped by locusts. They required a concentrated effort of time, which they did not get with the two of us and by the end of the day, we started to look like a proper shop. It is a work in progress, as the stock that is kept at The Farm is looking a bit thin. That will be tomorrow we hope.

In the middle of the day, I retired upstairs for a break. I took time to gaze out across the vista we have from our windows and the scene was sublime. It was also the epitome of a British seaside scene, possibly, with glassy still waters, paddlers and people exploring the rocks of Cowloe on one of the lowest tides of the year. The air seemed clear and a little hazy at the same time, which was odd. I would suggest it is a sign of rain coming ... or possibly not.

Summertime
High summer at the OK Cove

Summertime
Points West ... er NW

We remained bust through the day again with a little remission during the middle of the afternoon. The beer drinking onslaught seemed lighter than of late but the soft drinks suffered considerably. Not only are we finding it hard keeping with the restocking of the fridge, our suppliers are finding it difficult to keep us restocked. We are having to range around to find replenishment and will have to find space for stock if we need to order from our fortnightly cash and carry order. Things are getting tricky.

Niece came back at last knockings to refill the soft drinks fridge as I inflated some balls for our denuded stand, so we were in a good position to start the day tomorrow. The cash and carry order is already done and we are streak ahead of the posse, which only points to the fact that we could use some help during the summer months from someone who knows what they are doing - not an easy find.

My beer was, though, and I did not have to leave it half way through tonight, either.

August 12th - Friday

I tell you, dear reader, who would not be a grumpy shopkeeper. I would wager it is not many of you who get told you are a 'good man' by a trio of small people under 4 years old for looking after shopping for them while they go for a stroll with dad. It is also a fair bet that I will get a 'thank you, old boy', when they come and pick it up.

We pretty much hit the ground running again this morning. There was a lot of preparation to do before we opened what with the beer fridge being empty and all. I also remembered that there were some scallops in the fish fridge - it is a couple of degrees lower than normal fridges - that needed packing and freezing. The going home biscuits and postcard boxes also needed topping up as they took a bit of a beating yesterday, despite getting some attention in the middle of the day.

The jewellery stand has also taken some punishment over the last few days. I did get it to a point where it was pretty full a few days ago and it is still looking reasonably fit for purpose now. However, this did not stop a young lady from telling me that we had 'no anklets at all' on the stand and that all we had left was bracelets. Alarmed, I went to the stand and perused the twenty or so anklets adorning the hanging pins. Confused, I pointed this out to our customer who conceded that, yes, there were 'a few' anklets but none with only one or two shells on.

She had me bang to rights, I could not deny that of the twenty or so anklets on display only one had shells and that one was all shells, not just one or two. I have no idea how I could have been so remiss and sought to redress the situation by running to the store room - first, to beat my breast in supplication of forgiveness - and second to get the jewellery overstock bag. Therein, very thankfully, were two anklets with one or two shells as part of their decoration. It must have been my lucky day because one of the products found favour with our shopper. I asked for £3.99, the price of the item. "Are you sure, I thought it was £2.99". I do hope what I gave was a benign smile as I corrected her expectations.

It was another hot one, of course. There was a bit of breeze here and there in the morning but by the afternoon it had given up entirely. It looked like there might have been a wave or two out towards North Rocks as the tide pushed in during the middle of the afternoon. All the other many oiks out there had to make do with a bit of surf breaking on the shore but there seemed oblivious to their condition and once again, the beach was packed.

The Missus made a mercy dash to the cash and carry at Hayle in the afternoon. I had made it to the gymnasium in the morning but severely curtailed the session to give the Missus more time. This was somewhat aided by the gig club removing the last fully working rowing machine. There is one left without a monitor, which makes the process so much harder. Fortunately, I have been doing it so long I can determine my pace without it but the timing function is still necessary. The session was more of a blist and I shall have to catch up with the erring later.

When the Missus returned in the later afternoon, we were still busy and brining the large delivery in was a bit of a labour. There was a wealth of additional beer to see us through the weekend and many things that we cannot get from our alternative cash and carry supplier. The Missus stayed around for most of the rest of the afternoon putting it all out and filling the soft drink fridge before she went to prepare tea.

This was most helpful as I did not have to hang around too long after closing and managed to consume half my tea before our Lifeboat pagers went off calling us to duty.

LifeboatIconSomeone had spotted a paddle boarder off Cape Cornwall signalling for help. Both boats launched in a bit of a hurry to the scene to discover that our man on the board waving his hands around was handlining. He was also drifting a fair bit and after some advice both boats returned to the bay. On their way back the Inshore was called to a casualty on the big beach. A young child was suffering probably heat related effects and was given first aid by the crew. The ambulance had been called but we gave advice that it would probably be quicker for the parents to take their child, who had improved a small measure, to the hospital themselves.

A very depleted very excellent Shore Crew had initially set up on the short slip, which would have worked out fine had the boats not been redeployed. We switched to the long slip on the rapidly falling tide, welcoming home the boats some time later after the sun had set and darkness looming. As you might imagine, with such experience at hand, we conducted a textbook recovery up the long slip and tidied the boats away in their respected houses. We are, after all, a very slimmed-down, very excellent Shore Crew.

August 11th - Thursday

There was a 'ansum breeze blowing about the place when we first stepped out in the morning. It was there too when I sat down for my cup of tea a little later, blowing in through one of the front windows and all through the living room. I am sure that it would have blown through the jasmine in my mind had there been any. Indeed, had there been a mind at all.

That breeze disappeared sometime during the morning and made matters incredibly sticky all around. I was not too badly off in front of the fan behind the counter, despite the pasty warmer not being too far away. It was when I went into the store room or some other part of the shop it got a little warm. This still has a few days to run and I think that we are talking a proper rip gribblerwave, here.

I am feeling very conflicted. Radio Pasty was telling us all to conserve water as best we could; I would share a bath with a friend if I had one - bath, that is … or friend. In the next breath they are telling us all to drink plenty of water. They are also telling us to avoid alcohol, which I am also struggling with as I work next to a beer fridge. I have to go all the waly around the shop to avoid it.

After our 'day off' yesterday, our visitors came back in numbers to prove that they had not gone very far. I suspect that they went somewhere to regroup and adjust their strategy to ensure maximum grumpy shopkeeper impact. They achieved this, first by emptying the soft drinks fridge. I managed to get a few minutes during which I replenished some of the large water bottles and a case of small bottles. Any further topping up would need to wait until after we were closed.

Next, our body of happy and thirsty visitors went after the beer fridge. We were still being mobbed at half past six, which was testament to our visitors' best efforts to avoid alcohol during the heat of the day. By late afternoon, clearly all semblance of resistance had been broken and a free for all - just a figure of speech, you understand - ensued, emptying the beer fridge completely. There was no hope of replenishment largely because I was too busy selling beer to put any back and the beer fridge turns off at half past six o'clock.

The Missus is going to have to journey out to Hayle and the cash and carry their for additional supplies as our two week plan has fallen short a few days ahead of schedule.

I was little more use than a damp dishrag by closing time, so I avoided joining our hearty Lifeboat crew for an exercise launch. They had all been assembled a half hour before due time thanks to a visitor who had fallen ill on the Harbour wall. A member of the public had, quite rightly, called the Coastguard and in short order our end of The Cove was filled with an urgent mix of Lifeboat crew, Coastguard cliff team and Lifeguards hot foot from the beach all impeded because of the camper van and three cars parked opposite the shop on double yellow lines.

I was still working when the boat returned towards nine o'clock. It skirted around the two yachts that had arrived earlier in the afternoon and moored not far off the Lifeboat launch channel. My expert eye discerned that this was indeed a textbook recovery up the long slipway. We are, after all, a very supportive, very excellent Shore Crew.

Assure that the boat's launching and recovery are in safe hands during my absence from the training scene, I allowed myself a small but excellent malt whisky before bedtime. It will fortify my soul against the next onslaught tomorrow.

August 10th - Wednesday

It was probably the last time cool happened when we were on the beach first thing. It was a fleeting moment, but it remained with me the rest of the day.

The bleddy hound suffers so in the heat and boy, was it hot today. Apparently, it is going to get hotter towards the weekend and drop like a stone Monday. I have kept this from the bleddy hound as it will only upset her - the getting hot bit, not the getting cool on Monday. She has no concept of Monday but she is rather keen on Wednesday.

The surveyor, the one we need to make drawings before the planning consultants and make plans and take them to the much maligned council, arrived unannounced today. He had made this arrangement with our project manager who failed to plan to tell us. Indeed, he also failed to carry the plan that he did not do out. I told him of our surprise. "We are surprised," I told him. He then announced that his clever laser measuring tool could only be used if people did not get in front of it when it was measuring. We would have to stop people moving around in the shop for the best part of an hour for it to work properly.

It took me a few minutes to find exactly the right words to express just how that was not going to happen in the middle of a sunny day in August. I think that I managed to convey my sentiments quite successfully. The problem, of course, is that we are already tight for time and a further delay may affect the start of the work. Fortunately, he was happy to come back on Monday before we opened (I did not ask if this meant double time or unsocial hours rates) but I gave him a free pasty and hoped for the best.

We let him loose in the flat for today and he did the outside as well. He was gone for hours, so I imagine the drawings will be very detailed. It will be good to see the finished article but quite what we would do with them, I have no idea.

As rip gribblers go, this was definitely one of them. It steadily became warmer as the day drew on, which displeased the bleddy hound immensely. She was even more put out when she had to stay in the shop with me for several hours while the Missus went on an errand in town. After trying out outside, the bed by the door, under the counter and back to the bed by the door she eventually settled for the bed by the door, which was more a relief to me than her.

When the Missus returned and had dispersed the groceries she returned with to their respective locations, the bleddy hound and I went upstairs for a quick cup of tea - the bleddy hound had water; she does not drink tea, only coffee. Usually, the front room remains reasonably temperate and often collects the slightest breeze. In the late afternoon it was baking hot in there and most uncomfortable, so much so that I cut short my break and went back to the shop.

We were nowhere near as busy as yesterday, although busy enough. We went through sixty pasties yesterday so I called in seventy today. We sold about forty but because we have to order early for the next day we have another sixty coming tomorrow. I always aim to have zero at the end of Thursday so that I may better plan numbers for the weekend. That is not going to happen this Thursday, I am willing to lay bets.

I had asked the Missus to bring back some more stock from The Farm on her return from shopping. Unfortunately, she did not have all the keys with her so could only bring back a subset of my order. Never mind, the very pleasant people from Doing Parcels Dreadfully brought some more boxes instead. These were from a company that should have sent us these boxes back in April. They said that they had been victim to poor timing as their order to China, from where all good things come these days, had coincided with an attack of the dreaded lurgi. When their order arrived China had a notice on the door saying 'Closed. Please try later' and consequently our delivery was delayed until now. I am sure we shall sell some of it but the rest will wait until next year.

There was not quite so much of a hole in our soft drinks fridge today. I managed to plug the gaps sufficiently that the Missus did not have to come back down in the evening this time. I should have time in the morning to complete the rest. I note that we are running out of our best selling lager and because we can no longer get cans of coca cola that fit in our fridge - they changed the shape of the can - we will have to take some action before the weekend and running out.

What a hectic life. Time for a beer.

August 9th - Tuesday

Customer.:"Is this the only lip product you have that has a sun protection factor?"
Grumpy Shopkeeper.: "Yes, madam. The only one we have."
Customer.: "What about this lip balm on the counter. Has that got sun protection?"
Grumpy Shopkeeper.:"!"

It was still breezy in the morning but by the middle of the day we were looking into the teeth of a proper rip gribbler. Even when I came down to open the shop just after eight o'clock, the sun was warm and the breeze, such as it was by that time, was warm also. It set the benchmark for the day from which it just got hotter and more glorious, if you like that sort of thing.

The thing about glorious weather, at least for the first few days of it, is that it brings out the crowds. The beach fills up and the sea becomes the general playground even if there is not a hint of a wave to be seen anywhere; people improvise.

They also buy things, from things to do on the beach to keep them occupied to things to eat and drink. In the later part of the day, the focus turns from drinks that stop you being thirsty to drinks that make you fall over. Unlike the previous days, there was no let up in the buying from the middle of the morning until close to closing time, although we got away lightly on today's five minutes to closing with a gentleman wishing to choose a sun hat just as the sun was going away for the night.

I confess that most of the day is a blank. I can tell you that I was laid siege to behind the counter with the only forays out being those of utter necessity. Topping up shelves was a distant aspiration, and it was not until after we closed that we were able to attempt it. That kept us occupied until long after darkness fell, although we did it in shifts so that we would not have to bring down the bleddy hound.

There is a certainty that the day was much more exciting than that - a small child that I mistook for a girl child leaving the store with a hat of ours on that it had not paid for and returning later under better scrutiny - that sort of thing, that a better Diarist may have taken time to comment upon. Sadly, this Diarist, ran out of time somewhere along the line. Better luck tomorrow, eh.

August 8th - Monday

The morning air was quite cool, aided and abetted by a firm northeasterly that had persisted for a day or two. It went around to the north a while later, just to be different. I looked up to the clear blue yonder and it was clear blue and definitely yonder with not a cloud or contrail to spoil it. We will definitely have one of those, I thought.

It was the sort of day when a grumpy shopkeeper knew instinctively that he had not ordered enough pasties. He knew that yesterday when we used up all the pasties from the weekend. Grumpy shopkeeper's expectation was that at best he would run out in the early afternoon and running out in the early afternoon was indeed the best he managed. A hefty uplift in the numbers has been arranged for tomorrow when everyone will have had enough of pasties for a day or two and look for something else to eat instead.

I have explained before how our fickle customers lead me astray on my ordering by purchasing increasing number of white loaves until I have a surfeit in anticipation and then suddenly switching to brown. Well, clearly that is now an old game to which I have become wise. I have a store room shelf filled with plain scones that had been the focus of a feeding frenzy over the last fortnight. This week our customers have favoured fruited scones all of a sudden. We have a fruited scone shaped hole on our shelf currently.

We seem to have hit a regular pattern of busy mornings and quiet afternoons. The afternoon today was particularly deserted for a while that allowed me time to do a bit of filling in here and there. I had often compared keeping the shop stocked to the circus act, spinning plates. It is easy to focus on the popular items like the body boards and buckets and spades but then there is an almighty crash as the grocery aisle plate stops spinning when the ketchup runs out.

I discovered such a broken plate today when I took a look at the non food grocery that includes the medical and cosmetic items. Shower gel was depleted to almost empty and we are short sudocrem, which we sell a great deal of. It is less an epidemic of nappy rash and more wetsuits rubbing on necks that is the problem there, I think. I managed to get a few hole repaired and we now have toothbrushes and toothpaste on the shelf but the store room is so crammed, it takes as much time extracting the desired item as it does transporting it to its place on the shelf. It is not long before a renewed rush of customers crushes the master plan altogether and then it is forgotten until the next crash of plates.

I am not so sure it is forgotten as not properly thought through in the first place. Our new streetlamp remains stoically dim, I discovered when I joined the Missus taking the bleddy hound out for her last run. I had gone down to take the rubbish out and the only light we had came from our own daylight sun floodlights at the front of the shop. Power to the light used to arrive by overhead cable from the house opposite. That solution, Heath Robinson that it was, is deemed no longer appropriate and will not be reintroduced. The only solutions on the table at present are a digging up of the road to deliver a new cable underground or nicking it from the Lifeboat station. It seems a bit rash of the much maligned council to press ahead with a new pole when a better solution might have been siting it somewhere else. We await developments.

I had a very late five minutes to closing rush today. People were piling in through the door like their lives depended upon it. At the end there was one gentleman of advancing years left in the shop down the back somewhere. I had seen him come in through the crowd but I closed the first electric sliding door in The Cove after the last of the rest of the customers left to prevent a further influx.

The gentleman emerged soon after asking if we had a mirror in which he could assess the suitability of the straw hat he had chosen from our now sparse collection. He was a gentlemen we had the pleasure of entertaining before, although usually earlier in the season and shortly after the event he puts on every now and again further up the line.

I welcomed him back and suggested that he had chosen a particularly busy time in The Cove when he could have selected a quieter time, now he is retired. He gave me a generous smile, one that his face is clearly used to, and he asked if I recognised him. I said that he did have rather a famous face and we fell into conversation about his festival at Glastonbury, you know, dear reader, the big one with music. I told him that it was quite a legacy and that he should be particularly proud of the dreams he had fulfilled and the memories he had created. He told me that it was 50 years long and around 3 million people had been there. We could have chatted a while longer but we both had places to be. He looked on with a bit of a question in his eyes as I pulled aside our heavy portal. I smiled back and told him that it was, indeed, the first electric sliding door in The Cove. I think we both parted better men than we met.

August 7th - Sunday

It was an 'ansum sunny morning, the temperature pinned down by a more than robust easterly again. There was no one else around this morning to enjoy it, so I enjoyed it twice as much to compensate.

It did not take long for our visitors to mobilise. I had anticipated their every move today and got my breakfast in before the fight started. If they get any earlier, I will have to have my breakfast the night before - no flies on me, thank you. Once the ball had started to roll it was difficult to see it stopping very quickly; we just got busier and busier. There was much gearing up for the beach despite the beach diminishing as the minutes went by. High water has slipped into the afternoon and the beach will not reappear until late after that, although the tides were one of the smallest of the year, I noticed from the swathe of dry sand on the Harbour beach in the morning.

With no beach and no swell, what is a poor boy to do? It seems that paddleboarding and jumping off the Harbour wall were the prize alternatives today judging from the crowd lining the wall for much of the high water period. I do not know if the breeze was a factor, but there did not seem to be much in the way pf paddleboarding past some initial interest in the morning.

Perhaps they were all too full of pasties. I had put a bit of a dent into our prodigious stock during the morning. We were down on our uppers for cheese pasties as I had simply underestimated the demand for such a thing. When I came back from a break in the middle of the day, the Missus had ploughed through most of the rest. I had not counted the pasties we had available at the start of the weekend, but it would have been more than 150. We ran out completely at around three o'clock, so we were not that short of the finish line but it was still frustrating to turn business away however small.

While one branch of our business withered another bloomed. It is the way of it. However, on this occasion, I began to suspect something was afoot when half way through the afternoon I sold our fifth tube of super glue. I asked the sixth person if I should expect to see a number of people hanging off the St Ives bound Coaster by their foreheads in some protest or other. They denied everything, of course, but six tubes of super glue in a day cannot just be coincidence - there were another two after that. I await the next news broadcast with bated breath and if anyone starts asking awkward questions about where the glue came from, I too will deny everything.

It was heading towards four o'clock before there was any action in the water off the big beach. Stepping in off the high water is uncomfortable with rocks and stones at the moment and not very clever for surfing either, even when there is surf. There was quite a crowd in there bobbing about for about an hour after which it thinned out along with the density of tent city. As everyone else was leaving, the wind surfers and a solitary kite surfer took over. I had expected to see them much earlier but I guess they were waiting for it to become a little quieter out there. They too were not there very long but the beach was occupied for some while into the evening as people enjoyed the fullness of the day and, perhaps, the beach they did not get in the morning.

They were most welcome to it because I had my thoughts on my sofa (which, I discovered yesterday, does not bleddy work in a power cut!), legs up reading a book. Even then I was late home because of the big dent in the soft drinks fridge which needed topping up. There was so little time after we closed that I only managed half a dozen invoices keyed in. It is like trying to empty a bath using a bucket full of holes with the taps turned on. Oh, the frustration of it all.

August 6th - Saturday

It was not the best start to the weekend. The milk and the papers were late and as I was just finishing the tail end of the newspapers moments to go before opening, the pasties turned up. While I was helping to ship them into the store room and put them away, the sandwich man arrived and customers started to come in. Just after we opened, the power went off for a few moments causing mayhem with the card machine.

Otherwise, the day had started out well. The bleddy hound and I patrolled the beach as the first of the early bird snorkellers padded into the water and the first of the early bird photographers ventured onto the slipway to record it for posterity. I also recorded it because it struck me that we were just as early as we were normally but the sun was getting behind with its shining. Only the top part of The Cove was sunlit as the morning rays struggled over Escalls Cliff.

Sunrise
The sun taking a bit longer each day to get over the cliff - I know the feeling.

It is not only snorkellers and photographers who are early birds, it seems this week's contingent and those about to leave also wanted to get a march on the day. We were busy almost from the moment we sort of opened the door, although I had only done that to let in the pasty man. They gave no quarter and the breaks between them were few and far between. I abandoned my breakfast as my bread was going hard it had been left for so long. It was clear that the flow was unlikely to change.

I had noticed last night that the spades and buckets in our first aisle were looking a bit sparse. I told the Missus that we would need an early run up to The Farm if we wished to maximise our sales and not disappoint any little cherubs after doing a bit of digging and sandcastle making on the beach. I had managed to slip some spades from the back of the truck which was a delivery earlier in the week that the Missus had not yet taken out. The rest needed to be gone and got.

She was gone and getting for ages and arrived back around the middle of the day with the truck stacked to the roof. I was there when we made the list and it did not seem like that much at the time. We were still busy in the shop when she came back and thankfully was able to park outside. Ferrying the goods into the shop between customers we just threw it into the already packed store room brimming from the morning deliveries that I had no chance to process hitherto.

The water company sent me a rather pleading note yesterday, but I only got around to reading it today. Apparently, the person employed to go around and read the meters is too busy to go around and read the meters - could we do it for them, please. I am reasonably certain that this happened last year as well with the same outcome. It is somewhat more than irksome that a company that has someone specifically employed to do the job feel it needs to ask me, someone who has a different job that currently is consuming all my time, to do the job for them. I was not able to do it in time last year and it is highly unlikely I will be able to do it this year either. The outcome is an estimated bill, which I probably will not look at.

The Missus did the vast majority of the putting out of the stock that she had brought down and returned near the last knockings to replenish the soft drinks. There was a period during the afternoon that we were comparatively quiet but do not ask me when that was. It always makes me smile when people tell me that I am lucky having an office with such a view. The view I enjoyed the most of today was the couple of square feet of counter in front of me while I was serving people. The occasional glances I did get of the beach showed that it was crowded, even after the tide had receded and offered a little more space. I am not sure what the surf looked like but we had an easterly blowing in varying amounts all day, which would have helped.

The power failure in the morning had been quite severe. It had not lasted very long but it had taken several minutes for all our computer equipment to come back online. The two drinks fridges are controlled by it too and did not come back on at all and the main computer upstairs needed some serious TLC to get it working again. I thought that there might have been more to it than the electricity simply stopping, possible a spike or something more sinister.

We had a second chance to consider it in the evening, although it was kindly timed to coincide with the end of our closing routine. We even had salad for tea so that was not affected by the second outage that arrive at around quarter past seven o'clock. We reported it as more widespread but when I was asked to double check I found that the houses in the mews behind us had power and two door along to the east also. Strangely, these must have been affected later because we had calls from distant owners an hour later when the visitors must have complained from the very houses I checked.

We came back on around nine o'clock, which was useful because I was just losing sufficient light to read my book. That would really have ruined my day.

August 5th - Friday

There was no mistaking the north wind this morning. It was in our faces as we headed to the Harbour for our regular run out first thing. We were quite on our own on the beach and were it not for the wind I suspect it would have been entirely peaceful. At least it was not raining, nor was there any sign that it might, and it did not, which was helpful.

The beach day did not really get going until late in the morning due to the tide not letting go of the beach. It is reasonably typical that we eventually get some beach weather but then no beach to go with it. Despite that, we were busy from the off again and my breakfast was relegated to sporadic bites between clumps of customers. There was no real let up in the flow until much later in the afternoon with a mix of purchases from breakfasts and going home presents to things for a beach day ahead.

It is the end of the first fortnight when many of the families that we have known longest leave for home. It is still quite scary seeing the children we have known since they were that high are now a lot higher. We used to give them 'care packages' of sweets for the journey home but it is difficult to know whether they are a bit old for that now. Of course, they now probably think we are proper grumpy shopkeepers for not asking.

Our beer fridge is not being emptied with the same voracity that it was a few weeks ago. It makes a lot of sense since there are predominantly family groups here now and the small children do not drink as much beer as the adults. The soft drink fridge, however, is being emptied on a daily basis and it is quite hard keeping pace with that. We have now almost completely switched to getting all our soft drinks from our local cash and carry. This is a bit of a price penalty for doing so but it is more than compensated for by the fact that we can get replacements six days a week. If the local boys ever went out of business we would be in a whole heap of trouble, so we use them as much as is practical.

Like yesterday, we were busy through to the end of the day, so sneaking in a bit of topping up in the last hour is out of the window for now. I spent about half an hour after we closed doing some of it because there would have been too much for the morning alone, especially as it is a Saturday with additional things to do and big newspapers. It makes the two hours left before bedtime somewhat sacred and woe betide anyone crashing that space - even if I have had to use some of it for Making Tax Difficult and inputting my invoices. I have some special words saved for the person who came up with that bright idea if ever I meet them.

I shall no doubt dream of buckets, spades and bleddy postcard fudge boxes again tonight. It is a wonder that there any vestiges of sanity still visible in this grumpy shopkeeper. Perhaps there is not.

Only another four weeks to go. [FX: sound of manic laughter fading into distance.]

August 4th - Thursday

It was another wizard day in the offing as we headed to the Harbour in the morning - well, apart from the rather suspicious inky black cloud out to the northwest. I considered it a little too far off to be of concern and, anyway, it was not going to rain today, surely.

I was knee deep in topping up the drinks fridges when the newspapers came and only noticed when I glimpsed the van through the gap in the curtain when I headed to the store room for more supplies. I had thought it was the milkman so I diverted my attention to going outside to collect the delivery, which is when I found out that it had just been raining quite heavily. It was here and gone before I discovered it, and the day brightened subsequently, just like it should.

We were busy all through the day today. It seemed like someone dropped a mini coach load early on in the morning and it looked like they were part of one group. They filled the shop for fifteen minutes and were joined by other parties. We were a hive of, erm, milling about not buying very much for a while there and then they were gone. They were but the vanguard and arrived in the very slim window in which I cram my breakfast. Consequently, breakfast was a very long, drawn out affair today.

It took a while for the beach to clear after the high water of the morning but after it did a fairly substantial township of tents and windbreaks popped up above the tide line. The windbreaks were a very necessary accessory today with an increasing blow coming in from the northwest. I hardly felt it when we were down on the beach first thing but by the middle of the day when I took a break upstairs, the wind was fair whistling through the front doorway. I fancied that it eased a bit during the later part of the afternoon but it was chilly being exposed to it out of the sun. I wondered how the beach was so crowded with the wind so brisk but I suspect it was the last day for many and despite the wind, it was one of the better days this week.

The Missus disappeared off to The Farm for a good part of the day. While she was gone the Doing Parcels Dreadfully lot delivered the shoes and rash vests that we had been waiting for on our newly 'upgraded' service. So special was this service that they had to deliver the three medium sized boxes in two separate drops, two hours apart. Gosh, we now know how the upper crust feel about the services they get.

When the Missus returned at half past five o'clock, she brought back some much needed bodyboards that had at last been selling well. The shop was jumping still, even at that time, so she leant a hand and topped up the near empty soft drinks fridge. Fortunately, she was not cooking tonight as, once again, we dined off the evening menu from next door. It continues to be an enormously popular affair but because it is the same staff as were there all day, they can only do this once a week. The food is truly professional class and the portions legion, the two of those normally being mutually exclusive. Frankly, we are blessed, even if it is only once a week. My hake was perfectly cooked (like the Missus cooks it, ahem) on a bed of roast baby potatoes. The Missus had something else; the Missus hates fish.

August 3rd - Wednesday

That weather is a naughty tease. Our view was completely blanked out when I looked out of the window first thing. We could not see the beach let alone the cliffs or Cape Cornwall. A few hours later and the sun was splitting the hedges. Had it been the other way around, there would have been trouble, I am sure.

Due to it being sunny and the first nice day for a while, we were busy, which did not exactly dovetail well with the arrival of our biggest grocery delivery of the year. In an ideal world we would close the shop for the half an hour that it takes to ship it off the cages and into the store room. It is, of course, the real world where small children jump into your path when you have close to 30 kilograms of beer in your arms and customers crowd around the entrance oblivious to your plight. It takes a little longer and before you know it the store room is a no-go area because you simply cannot go in there.

It really was a glorious day again, not quite a week since the last glorious day and I am sure it was much appreciated. As you may imagine, the beach was the place to be and it was heavily populated for a good part of the day. The sea was just as crowded and later in the afternoon, all those patient surfers were bowled over by some pretty significant waves rolling in. They did not look particularly useable with the westerly breeze behind them and any action at all was to be had out the back. However, if you like a face full of water with several tons of weight behind it, today was your day,

The Missus spent the day in the store room and emerged victorious after battling packing and polythene to put goods on the shelf. I had spent some time earlier crowbarring cases of beer into the cupboard reserved for the purpose. We call it the beer cupboard but that is just our way. It was fortunate that another beer delivery had not materialised due to the beer having not been canned. It will arrive at the end of the week and we shall hope that we have shifted some of the others by then.

At some point in the day I had sufficient time to send an electronic mail to our provider of large numbers of shoes. I explained about Doing Parcels Dreadfully missing out our delivery and I had a reply by the end of the day from both the supplier and Doing Parcels Dreadfully. The supplier apologised profusely and assured us that the problem had been resolved. Doing Parcels Dreadfully sent a message telling us that we had been 'upgraded' and that our parcel would be delivered tomorrow. I cannot express just how privileged we feel.

The surf jewellery that we were expecting did arrive on time, by a different courier service, and I managed to get some items out and to stop our display looking quite so sparsely populated. As with all of our best intentions at this time of year, the slightest change in busyness upturns the apple cart and the job will now have to wait for another time. It is not a quick job either as each pack needs a bit of preparation before being hung. I have long since omitted to price individual items as it is very time consuming and the price tag falls off all too easily. Judging from the discarded packaging I find about the shop from time to time, the price does not matter anyway to some people.

The day remained pleasant well into the evening. When I stepped out on an errand at gone half past eight, the Harbour was still busy with revellers splashing about and jumping off the Harbour wall. Yesterday, we entertained one young lad in the shop for whom jumping off the Harbour wall was to be the absolute highlight of his holiday and was very keen. I explained that it might be advisable to wait until there was some more water in the Harbour as it looked a little low just when he asked. My sage advice took a bit of a knock when the distant sound of a splash made it clear some clever Dick had jumped off at that moment. I stood my ground and explained it would be much safer later on, for which at least his parents sounded grateful.

Shifting 30 kilogram cases of beer does take its toll of an aging body, so I suggested the Missus get some rest. Ahem. You can never be too prepared, and after that, I think I might need to be.

August 2nd - Tuesday

I do not know how our visitors feel about it. They seem to be putting on a good show of enjoying themselves and very few, so far have complained much. It must be more than a little disappointing to once again realise that the vista you will see all day is a grey and somewhat dull one. To be optimistic, it is an improving picture each day but only by margins and those margins are extremely narrow.

It was quite early on that our cash and carry company telephoned to tell us we would not get our big delivery until tomorrow. They had suffered a power failure that had interrupted the flow of operations. The feeling was that of having a painful dental procedure put off for a day. Mind, there are not that many around here who remember what that was like. Getting a dental appointment in Cornwall is like, well, pulling teeth, which you have to do yourself if it is required. It was something the ancients talked about around the campfire at night, how they used to go to a special place and a person in a white coat would root about in your mouth with special tools to fix unhappy teeth. Oh, those halcyon days.

Never mind, we had plenty of other deliveries instead. They just kept piling in except for the large order of shoes that Doing Parcels Dreadfully decided not to deliver today despite telling us that they would. Soon, we were neck deep in even more cardboard and wrapping including those awful nylon straps. When I (hopefully) eventually pop my clogs, I am going to ask that I be carried off in cardboard packaging wrapped in shrink wrap plastic just to make me feel at home. I might ask Doing Parcels Dreadfully to do the delivery as that might give me an extra few days, but on reflection, they might also drop me at the wrong place.

We did not quite get the brightness that we had yesterday, although, when I looked, the beach seemed to be just as busy as it was yesterday. I thought that we were busy as well, until at the end of the day when it transpired that we were not. There was hardly a soul in the shop before the middle of the day and then we had a rush for an hour or so. I think that our busyness came in short blocks altogether that made it look busier than it was, that and the fact that I was trying to juggle clearing the deliveries while serving.

The Missus managed to head off to The Farm in the absence of our big grocery delivery and came back near last knockings with a truck full of stock to put out. Naturally, as soon as she arrived, we got busy again, so she stopped by and helped put out the stock she brought down and filled the drinks fridge for me. We are a pretty good team as long as we do not think about it.

August 1st - Monday

Oh calamity. Another day not fit for purpose.

It was not really that bad and it all depends upon your standpoint. If you were after blue skies and a blistering skin, it was not your day. It was however, after a bit of a shakey start, dry and warm and perfectly pleasant. It was good enough for a host of people to descend upon the beach and set up camp, even in the tide zone with no tide being expected until much later in the day. The waves so prevelent yesterday, eluded our surfers today, although it was not completely flat calm for them.

When the bleddy hound and I first went down to the beach, the mist was still clinging to the tops of the cliffs all the way along to Cape Cornwall. Pictureque as it was, it was hardly the sort of thing that would foster a blindingly good day at the till for a grumpy shopkeeper in his seaside shop. I was very happy that it dissipated half way through the morning and I am sure most of our visitors felt so too.

Today was 'clear out the store room' day to make ready for the mammoth order we have called in for tomorrow. Naturally, the frozen order that we tried so hard to make for a different day is also coming tomorrow - hopefully at a different time - and I have just had notification that the large shoe order - that is a large number of shoes not a number of large shoes - is also coming tomorrow but, as yet, I do not know what time. My guess it will arrive in the middle of the big grocery delivery, just for fun.

We had a reasonable day on the visitor shopping lark. There are plenty of families around looking to entertain their children and older children wishing to come and buy sweets, more sweets and anything else sugary they can get their hands on. It brings me to my annual observation of just how many parents have a sense of utter trust in their offspring that suggests that they may wonder the aisles of the shop unsupervised. It is also my observation quite often just how misplaced that trust is.

Little Tommy Not-His-Real-Name - it is surprising just how common that surname is; you hear it on the news quite frequently - was a case in point this afternoon. His very trusting parents thought it no matter at all to wander off down the shop leaving him behind to peruse our collection of balls in the rack at the front of the shop. Perhaps they felt that they grumpy shopkeeper was doing little else and could look after little Tommy in their absence.

I did indeed look after him as he took a ball from the rack and almost immediately lost it under the ice cream freezer. He was a little shaken when he realised that I had seen him do it but not so much that he did not return a few moments later to repeat the offense. I fleetingly wondered if grumpy shopkeepers playing the surrogate parent role were permitted to clip little Tommy across the ear 'ole but I demurred on the basis that I probably would struggle to edit the evidence from the cctv footage in the event that I was not. I suspect that educating parents is the solution but me learning about photo editing is probably more likely.

By the end of the day, I had managed to clear the store room sufficiently that our order should slip in quite easily. It is only three days since we had our waste cardboard collected and we already have another five boxes awaiting disposal. If you think that is a good indicator that suppliers are using less plastic in their wrapping I also have three large refuse sacks of mainly plastic wrapping in the bin outside.

It is hard to know what the solution is because the production of cardboard is just as damaging to the environment as the disposal of plastic, I have read. Probably our best larger in world that is in our fridge that does not sell very well has been repackaged to reduce plastic. The cans are stuck together in fours with a spot of glue. Unfortunately, the glue breaks down in the cold leading to the packs falling apart with quite disasterous effects when they are picked up. I have had to put a warning label on the fridge not to pick up the cans by the handle. We might get it right one day but I cannot help the feeling that we should have started an awful lot sooner.

I hesitate to say 'quiet' but our not so busy day ended as it has for the last few days with a bit of a rush toward teatime at around six o'clock. It seems that our visitors are clever enough not to have to do five minute to closing rushes and do all their buying in the last hour. It suits all parties it seems and helps that I can clear away the outside display unhindered. It is still exceedingly pleasant to flop down on the new electic sofa at the end of the day even if I do have to discipline myself to do at least ten invoices before bedtime. I think I am just about ahead of the number of new ones arriving each day. It does help me to sleep at night knowing that. I am, after all, a grumpy shopkeeper of simple pleasures.

July 31st - Sunday

The mist was even thicker this morning and, the darned cheek of it, had invaded The Cove in part. It did not take long to back off once it had seen my hard stare and by the time the bleddy hound and I reached the sand we could see Brisons again. As for the last couple of days, there has just been enough sand there to cavort upon thanks to the tide. We were just ahead of it today and had a bit more space.

The weather once again had a detrimental effect on business, especially during the morning. In fact, the morning was so quiet I was able to top up the entire stand of small sweet packets that had nearly been picked clean in just over a week. It remains a subject of utter confusion where some of the bags are the old price and three for £1 and some at 50 pence each. We separated the two onto separate stands which did nothing to lessen the bewilderment. We have got to the stage where there are not sufficient old priced ones to fill one stand, so I have mixed the two and be darned. The dear of thems will have to learn to read the label if they do not want to pay extra. Coming to our shop is also an eduction.

My dedication to shelf topping up was cut short as we started to get a little busier towards the middle of the day. It got even better in the middle of the afternoon, which was a real surprise given that the weather was messing everyone around. Some brightness broke through here and there but as soon as soon as jackets came off and sunglasses went on, the mizzle moved back in again. This apparently did not phase the small crowd on the beach camped out and obviously not those frolicking in the water. For all that the weather could throw, it was not a bad afternoon - and the surfers loved it again.

The quiet of the morning also played into my hands for getting hold of the right expert at the payment card company to fix our machine. It took me two hours to get hold of someone because there was a problem with their telephone system that let me key in all the dozens of numbers its asked for but then dumped me like a cheap date when I was about to get through. I tried again after a spate of busyness and eventually got to speak with someone. It took the very pleasant man just a few minutes to fix it but by that time we were so far into the day using the backup machine it was not worth changing over.

The Missus did the grocery order for this week. We deliberately aim to run for two weeks this time and have ordered extra of the things we know sell quickest. This, of course, will be a disaster. It has only worked this far because it was unintended and worked by the grace of the small gods of grumpy shopkeepers. They will throw a meaty spanner in the works with us doing it for ourselves.

One anomaly is that water is still being rationed. During the big scary heatwave that lasted two days up country and caused mayhem, we were advised to drink plenty of water. Both of our suppliers decided that the best way to help was to limit supply. When we came to do the order this week, our new supplier had even run out of our usual brand of water and we had to carefully select another that might fit in our drinks chiller. They were also out of stock of baked beans. I am beginning to wonder if we had jumped out of the frying pan and onto the hot plate - no one cooks on a fire anymore, unless you are a Cub Scout.

Once done with the ordering, the Missus ran off to The Farm before we could change our minds and then off to Mother's. Ordinarily, Mother would join us for tea but she has another daughter coming to whisk her off on her hols for a couple of weeks. Her appearance here three times a week ensures that we have a proper meal on those occasions, but we will be living off snacks now for a fortnight.

Maintaining normality are the arrival of our regular visitors who have not been here for a while. The children, some two years on, are different people altogether now. I confess that I have completely lost track of those who have and have not been absent but just enjoy the fact that they are here at all for a friendly chat and a bit of fun. Some people are known for not being here at all - until today. You may recall - it was some while ago, February 2020 if my memory serves me well* - that we had a Diary contributor who gave me a welcome break from filling column inches by providing his own. His entries were very PC because those are his initials, as we do not reveal names in The Diary. He provided two images drawn by a relative, one of which I still use today - when I remember - for Lifeboat shouts. It was pleasant to meet the man in the flesh.

Our five minutes to closing has seemed to arrive at a more convenient time over the last few days, giving me sufficient time to close up in an orderly fashion. The main bulk of it came and went in the last hour but I did get a few stragglers up to the final minute, which delayed my placing orders for the next day. I was very ready for my tea when I eventually arrived upstairs and an evening of entertainment ordering groceries and inputting invoices into the computer system. Living the dream, here, I can tell you.


*It did not. I cheated and looked it up, but I bet you were impressed, dear reader, until you got to the footnote.

July 30th - Saturday

Well, that was a little disappointing. Peeking through our virtual curtains this morning we were presented with a scene of greyness and mist clinging to the cliffs all about. Mercifully, we were mistless in The Cove and the air was still warm enough to step out without a jacket. We clung to this soupçon of hope.

Radio Pasty assured us that brightness would abound in the afternoon if we were very good. Clearly, we had not been good enough and the sunshine eluded us even to the end of the day. There was even some light rain in the air during the morning, which became wet enough for the few people who came to the shop to ask for plastic bags to keep their newspapers dry.

We are now in the second year of plastic bag charges for small shops, I think, or was it only this year. Anyone, my point is that despite a ten pence charge, there is, amongst a wide range of people and more worryingly, children, a continuing casual attitude toward taking one. I once subscribed to the notion that for small shops it was difficult to do without them because of the high percentage of impulse buying but I am wavering. Many of our shoppers know that they are coming to buy large quantities of beer of arms full of groceries and still fail to bring a bag. An outright ban on plastic bags would focus the mind especially if you weighed the risk against your beer swilling down the drain because you dropped it on the pavement.

I had time to consider such things today. It was so quiet that it was like having a day off. I would have preferred not to have the day off, mind, but I used it wisely by topping up the drinks chiller with the huge quantity of soft drinks that were delivered this morning. I also took the last of the surf jewellery we had in the store room and put it out on the denuded frame. Inspired by how denuded it still looked after I had finished, I made the effort to order a whole lot more to replace it. This took a while because the company is clearly so busy there were large numbers of out of stock items. It really was not too much of an issue because whatever we buy will sell and sell well; it is a very random approach to product selection.

It was a pretty random success that we got our replacement card payment machine late into the afternoon, as well. The company cleary felt guilty for not having a spare machine at the appointed time and sent me two. Having been quiet for most of the day, the delivery driver arrived in the middle of the one busy spell of the day. Had it been just a case of delivering the item and running away, I would have been fine but the existing terminal needed to be returned and because I was not sure whether the company had sent just the handset or the charger as well, I had to open packet and check.

I had to call the Missus down to cover for me while I dealt with the swap. To give the Doing Parcels Dreadfully driver his due, he was most patient even though I know that they are on a tight schedule. It turned out it was just the handset - two of them - so I returned our broken one and one of the two arrivals, knowing that whichever one I sent back, I should have kept the other.

And so it was that when I configured the new terminal between customers, it produced an error and will not take payments. I waited until we were closed and called the helpdesk, which I must applaud for being very responsive if not always helpful. Because it was the nightshift, the very pleasant lady was not authorised to carry out all the more complicated actions that would fix our configuration and we would need to wait for a dayshift starting at nine tomorrow morning.

We had intended to start using the replacement machine from tomorrow as it is messy using two payment terminals in the same session. It leaves some of the transactions on one system and some on another. Now we will have to wait another day or have some messy administration - all supposing the dayshift can resolve the problem and I get time to call them.

I decided that since most of the bottling up had been done, I had spent fifteen fruitless minutes trying things on the terminal with the helpdesk and it was well past closing time that it was most definitely time for a beer.

July 29th - Friday

Now we are talking rip gribbler. The sun was hiding behind some cloud first thing, preparing for its big reveal a little later in the morning. Of course, it waited until there were a few people around first; they was no point in doing a big reveal to one grumpy shopkeeper, a fisherman and a practising hydrofoil boarder. Each of us was otherwise engaged by more important things at the time.

Yes, it was a day of great sunshine and warmth; of great shopping for things to go home with; for eating pasties on the beach; for dipping in the glass-like sea. The beach, available for most of the day, was strewn with tents and windbreaks along with the usual camps higher up on the sand. There were nearly as many in the water and more paddleboards that you could shake a paddle at. There must have been a large shoal of something out there halfway between us and Aire Point during the afternoon. You could tell by the number of gulls distracted to a frenzy, fluttering atop it. I wonder why they were so animated because they do not feed off the fish. Perhaps the fish tickle their feet causing them to dance about.

We must have cleared the best part of 80 pasties today. Given that I have ordered 80 for the weekend - which were to go with the overstock from today - I think we may be in trouble.

It was a busy day, although we did have some quieter periods in the middle of the afternoon interrupted by the occasional order for large numbers of pasties. Yesterday was busy enough but today capped it by some margin, I thought until I saw the numbers later on. It was less busy. In any event it made calling our payment card machine company particularly harrowing as I was on my own when I needed to chase them about delivery of our replacement machine. It seemed likely that they had missed our delivery today but it took an age to get an answer out of them. Apparently, they had a 'restocking' issue, which meant that they did not have a machine to send me, which was somewhat remiss. It will arrive tomorrow by Doing Parcels Dreadfully, so I do not hold out much hope of getting it then, either.

Once again I enlisted help from the Missus to top up the soft drinks fridge. I had been unable to see what stock we had the previous day because of the state of the stock room and was unable to order appropriately. We were therefore short of stock in the fridge for the day and the new order arrived after I was able to do anything about it. I asked her to draw up a list for orders for the weekend and we will have a prodigious quantity arriving tomorrow. Just as the weather turns from cold refreshing drink to warming coffee, no doubt.

The Missus had gone to The Farm to attend to the crops in the afternoon and was late back to help with the drinks. We had been cleaned out of soft drinks and beer by then, the day being that sort of day. It had turned into a glorious afternoon and the way the tide was meant the Harbour wall was crowded with young dare devils jumping off and making a big splash. I have no doubt, though I did not get to see it, that the Harbour was full of families, swimmers and all sorts enjoying the day.

Many of these were there for our five minutes to closing rush. Luckily, I had made in roads into our ordering before that. I usually wait until the last moment but whatever I ordered in and in whatever quantity, we would need it this holiday. We can do this all again tomorrow if you like.

July 28th - Thursday

There were still showers passing through when the bleddy hound and I walked out first thing. I thought that it was just wet but the raindrops were still falling - very lightly. I did not bother to go back for a jacket. The showers continued until just before we opened, which was a happy coincidence. During the holidays, it is only allowed to rain here overnight.

Our opening was followed shortly after by the arrival of some of the much maligned council contractor lorries and vans. I surmised, correctly as it transpired, that they were here to erect our replacement streetlamp in the forecourt of the Lifeboat station. The post that was here before it was toppled by the station roof was a wooden affair and doubled up for use by the electric company. The replacement is a modern, slim steel job, galvanised against the salt air, with a LED light atop it. They had it fitted in no time at all but I believe we await the power being fed to it by the power company as it was not lit last night.

Despite the rain of the morning, there was plenty of blue sky and brightness even then. This became more prevalent during the day and although it was some distance from rip gribbler status, it was a pretty good day for beach dwelling. This was not just my opinion, either. The available sand was crammed full above the narrowing high tide line on the big beach and the only draw for watersports being a bit of paddling and paddle boarding on the perfectly flat water.

It should have come as no surprise that the store room was a disaster area but I had clearly wiped the trauma of it from my mind during the night. I made some inroads into clearing the top of the freezer before our pasty order arrived because it is from there that I transfer them into the fridge and the bread onto the shelf. It was the shelf that I had not yet cleared presenting the problem when everything arrived, and I had to use the floor instead. It was coincidentally quiet in the shop for which I was grateful, as it took me a while to sort the mess out after the pasty man had left.

I had some further time before the fight started to clear the trolley that was stacked with various items of beachware and toys, which started to make a visible difference. After that I was pinned down behind the counter as it started get busy.

It was not until the Missus came down that we began to make a real impact on the mess but even then it took until late afternoon before it was clear. When I say clear, we swapped the piles of full boxes and bags for boxes of flattened cardboard and bags of squished up plastic wrapping. Happily, the rubbish man is coming tomorrow to take it all away and then we can do it all again, probably not next week, but very likely the week after.

We were exceedingly lucky that the Sennen Cove Café next door was doing its evening cooking again today. The food is a blinding example of food cooked like it can be and we indulged once again. The menu was the same as last week and I had the same again because it was so good last time. The Missus could not decide on the chicken or the prawns, so ordered a half and half.

That was the grand plan, at least, because when we got there shortly after seven o'clock, they had run out of everything. News of their success last week clear had circulated and this week they were inundated. We had repaired back to the shop to gather what we could for a quickly prepared replacement meal when one of the boys from next door came around to tell us that they could cobble together a meal each for us out of scraps and leftovers. If scraps and leftovers were indeed what it was, I am sure I could not tell the difference. They put together a half and half, chicken and king prawn dish that could have adorned any top class restaurant table - except there was a proper meal's worth there - and it was bleddy delicious.

Meanwhile, over at the Lifeboat station, my compatriots carried out a training exercise without me. The launch was scheduled for after we closed by I have enough to contend with after the shop shuts that I cannot do both unfortunately. I listened to the boat return as I was eating my tea and could tell from the engine notes and the scrape of the hook along the keelway, I could instantly tell that this was a textbook recovery up the short slip. We are, after all, a very consistent, very excellent Shore Crew.