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.
December 4th - Sunday
The cold seems to have slowed things down rather. There have been fewer people milling about during the day and we have certainly been less active. Yesterday was pretty much a day off and today seemed to be going in the same direction. We will have to pull our fingers out next week as jobs are starting to pile up and time is getting short.
The fishermen seem to be the only ones taking advantage of the reasonable calm in the bay, but you can hardly blame them after effectively a month of being weathered in to port. They were busy launching when the bleddy hound and I went down this morning, which meant keeping her on a lead. It was probably unnecessary as she does not range any longer and at the speed she goes she would have been make a concerted effort to get run over. Still, there was no harm in being careful and means the tractor driver does not have to be wary.
It was cold again certainly, but I fancied that the breeze had eased off a little. It came back stronger during the day, but it gave us some small respite for our saunter down to the Harbour. It was also a good bit cloudier than yesterday and there was no sign of rain around, which is a good thing. After a few trips to The Farm, it was clear that running the mower over our usual walkways would be useful. We make frequent trips between the cabin and the barn, and it is amazing how much energy it uses up walking through long and thick grass. I had thought to do it yesterday but after procrastinating all morning, I did not have the time. Today would have been tricky as we both needed use of the truck at different times.
As it was, I would not have had the time today either. The Missus had been invited to go to church to see the rehearsals of the choir for the Carols in the Cove event. It is as well that I did not go as crossing the threshold of a church which would be tempting providence, or more likely retribution. I was instructed to go and collect Mother and while I was heading that way I could go and pick up a cold cure from Tesmorburys for a neighbour. She had called during the morning and had sounded particularly unwell. She had a request for a specific 'max strength' item that I was to get.
There are three Tesmorburys stores in Penzance and I visited two of them, mindful that I was under the clock to get back to get the Missus to the church on time. Given that I could not get myself to the church on time the last time we went together and had to be extricated from the nearest hostelry by the priest, I thought that I had better not be late this time, lest it seem like a habit - or reticence.
I was not helped by the first store only having one cold cure product on its entire range of shelves for such things. We have more in our shop, and we are only little. It was also the wrong product. I picked one anyway just in case I had the same problem at the next store I intended to visit. The store was relatively busy, so I went to the self-checkout which only a few people were using. The machine immediately went into error and advised that I should await assistance, which I did. None was forthcoming and neither did there seem to be anyone present to provide it, so I went to the next terminal which did exactly the same thing. I waited again and this time a very flustered young man appeared but said he was helping someone else and that I was not next on his list of people to assist. With time pressing, I left the product at the till and went on to the next store.
The next store was markedly quieter, had marginally better choice and had a checkout operator doing nothing but looking at her telephone, which she immediately put down when I hove into view. She served with good grace and a beaming smile, which was commendable given that she was probably bored rigid. Both the products I had purchased were not what had been asked for but were gratefully received by our neighbour. I told her that next time she felt like having a cold she should get one first so she would be ahead of the rush for cures. I also arrived back at home with just enough time to whisk the Missus off to church. What a happy result.
There was not much time between coming back and getting ready to go shooting clays up at the range. I had to be there at a specific time because today was the Annual General Meeting, which as a committee member, would have been rude not to attend. Now, what was it I was saying about it not raining? It was not listed on any of the weather forecasts for today, so it was obviously stealth rain but wet nonetheless. It rained, though not exactly in a downpour, for the rest of the afternoon and will call into question my mowing up at The Farm tomorrow.
It did not bother us much for shooting three rounds of clays and I did reasonably well by actually shooting a few and not hitting anything that I should not. We timed it immaculately, as it was just getting dark when we started to wind up and put everything away. I arrived back home just in time to see Mother and the Missus finishing off their tea.
Tonight is the lighting up ceremony of St Buryan Christmas lights and Mother has attended each year she has been there, however many years that is now. It was the best thing bringing Mother and father-in-law to St Buryan as they were close enough for the Missus to look after and far enough away for independence. Since Mother has been on her own, the community there has looked after her and served her very well. Attending the Christmas lights turning on us just part of all that. I stayed behind and looked after the bleddy hound, who does not appreciate such things but is quite happy watching me eat my tea in the hope something might fall off my plate. It never does but it might one day. She is a very optimistic bleddy hound.
December 3rd - Saturday
I definitely had trouble with my days this week as any sharp-eyed Diary reader will have noticed but at least we have now arrived at the day I thought it was on Tuesday. It is probably a function of not seeing newspapers every day, the cold or my befuddled brain not getting enough exercise. Yes, definitely one of those or, perhaps, something else.
If it was the cold, today did not do it any favours. As soon as we stepped outside the door, the brash northeasterly got a hold of us. I had wrapped up warm on top anyway and my legs do not tend to suffer in shorts. Oddly, it feels colder when wearing my rough work trousers, which I tend to put on most days. It was a bit more sheltered on the beach anyway and we had it to ourselves having beaten the fishermen to it today.
Whether it was the cold or just a day for general laziness, I do not know but I spent much of the morning on my behind responding to things and drawing logical wiring diagrams. I also wanted to get an order in for extra solar battery chargers for the lights that had old chargers attached. This was difficult to do since I still do not know how many we need, and they are not cheap. I had thought to buy a selection and use what we needed but a quick look at the price scotched that idea. I was also going to order the timber for a couple of raised beds but got around to it too late; the builders' merchant closes at midday on a Saturday.
It was by this time that the cold in the flat had started to make itself apparent. I had sat at the computer with my insulated hood up but even that was insufficient eventually. I definitely needed to get up and do something, which frankly was what I should have done a few hours before and then I would have completed a lot more today and been warmer into the bargain.
The wetsuits downstairs had been begging to be done pending arrival of the hangers I had ordered. The Doing Parcels Dreadfully company had advised that these would not arrive until Monday but this morning they change their minds and decided to deliver in the middle of today instead. It dovetailed nicely with my desire to get off my backside and do something and I was wetsuit in hand when the van arrived. I spend a good part of the rest of the afternoon printing labels and inserting hangers into wetsuits, 25 of them to be precise.
I had only done three when it came time to take the bleddy hound around. We were not gone long and returned to the shop where I carried on my business. The bleddy hound, who clearly does not feel the cold, elected to sit outside the shop for the next 45 minutes at which point she stuck her head around the door to indicate that she had enough. I collected her lead to guide her to the steps but she ambled by and headed back in the direction of the slipway. She is a little old lady now and you do not argue with little old ladies I have found - arguing with slightly younger ones is a risky business, too. I let her lead the way.
It was not a fast walk. We ambled every bit of the journey but went around the Round House and traversed the Harbour car park. This is the same bleddy hound that I had to forcibly drag past the Tinker Taylor cottage at the head of the slipway when the tide was raging in the Harbour and we could not get down there. We continued past the end of the car park and up to Coastguard Row, which has just reminded me that the water main that runs up there seems to be leaking again and I should report it - Stop the Drop, we are told.
As we crossed the car park, I noted that some work had been done to the old Coastguard office in Betty's garden and I wanted to have a better look from above. When I looked down on it, the corrugated plastic roof punched through with weeds, had been removed, the brambles and Japanese knotweed cleared and the building shell has been cleaned out. There is a planning application in for its development, which I suppose must have been passed. It is not a universally held view, but even if it becomes a holiday let, which it surely will, it will look better than it has these past fifteen or so years after Betty shuffled off, bless her.
Old Coastguard office gets a new lease of life.
The bleddy hound kept her own council on this exciting development but that might have been because she could not see over the hedge. We continued back through the RNLI car park on a route that we commonly took when the tide prevented us from using the beach. I am not sure why today felt like a good day to revisit this path at a random time of the day, perhaps she just felt nostalgic, but it was a pleasant enough jaunt.
I returned to the wetsuits and she decided the walk was enough outside time and went upstairs. It must be cold because the Missus, who has resisted putting up the heavy curtains that insulate the living room from the front door draft and the rest of the flat, had hung them unbid while I was downstairs. It was warm as toast in there later in the evening but if it gets any colder we will have to put the heating on, too.
December 2nd - Friday
There was a noticeable drop in temperature in the air this morning, but it did not matter because it was utterly glorious. There was no more than a few mare's tales in the sky, slightly lightened by a pre-dawn glow, the air was crisp and clean and all was well with the world - well, our little bit of it, anyway.
The fishing boats were heading out when we arrived at the beach, so me made sure we kept out of their way. That swell was still in evidence and even more so come high water when it was still launching itself over the Harbour wall. It did not bother the cold water swimmers who were down there in the middle of the day taking full advantage of the loveliness of it all.
I enjoyed a blistering session at the gymnasium again. The cold has not quite inveigled its way into the bones of the building, and it was still slightly warmer in there than the outside air. Once again, I took to the cycle to warm myself up and this time made sure I knew how long I was on there for. The cycling to start was slightly more necessary than it was on Wednesday and I was nicely set up for the rest of the circuit after that.
We waved goodbye to the in-laws who were in the shop when I came back for the gymnasium. I am hoping that the Missus frisked them before they went on their merry way. It was shortly after that the Missus launched into action on tree two, the memory tree, which has been promoted out of quotation marks. The boys from the Lifeboat station lent a hand moving the unsightly fencing panels that have been up against the railings since the roof came off the station in February. I have my eyes on these for use when our skip arrives to prevent any unauthorised use.
We moved the unwanted ones to the RNLI car park - the Missus used some for the backing decorations behind both trees - but when we arrived we noticed that a cable from a nearby post was down. At first I thought it was telephone cable but it was power as well and lower than the height of the metal fencing we were carrying. We gingerly moved away from it. The Coxswain took some appreciating photographs and called the electric board to make it safe. When I returned to The Cove a couple of hours later, it had been fixed.
The reason that I returned to The Cove was that I had ventured out of it on an errand in the middle of the day. One of our dining room chairs had suffered a broken leg and a replacement, two replacements because they only come in pairs, would be extortionately expensive. We discovered a furniture repair shop in Hayle and that is where I ran my errand to having made arrangements to be there at the appointed time. The man was most affable and told me, on examination of the article, that he would most likely be able to affect some sort of fix and hopefully before Christmas. I think we can manage at Christmas even without it, so I told him not to worry overly if he had more important projects to complete. I just hope that when it is completed and I go to collect it that I am not supposed to burst into tears and tell him how my dearly beloved ancestor who had a photograph of a similar one from 1823 handed down father to son, would have been so proud.
I indeed returned to The Cove a little while later where the Missus was piling through putting decorations on the tree and hanging various sorts of lights from the fencing behind it. She did day last year that she would ramp up the glitz this year and she has been true to her word so far. The memory tree has not quite the level of decoration as the other but there again, people need somewhere to hang their devotions and memory messages. The hangers will be available from the night of Carols in the Cove and thereafter by honesty box.
The memory tree, awaiting your devotions
There was not much for me to do after the initial preparation was done and acted as tea boy for the rest of the day. I did, however, set to with the repair of a set of lights that had a broken wire. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to test them as they will only come on in total darkness and only then if the battery is charged. Since the battery us sealed and I cannot apply my multimeter to it and even if I managed to manufacture some darkness, I will not be able to tell if it is not working because the battery is dead or the wiring knackered. A conundrum I shall work on.
I spent some considerable time researching a potential solution to our solar panel issue where half the panels allocated to business and domestic use are insufficient. The ideal solution, well, other than having a roof three times the size, is to use all the panels in concert and switch them between the business in summer and domestic in winter. I asked this at the very outset of this endeavour and was told it was not possible. Having been through the logical circuit diagrams, I cannot see why this cannot be achieved with a geet switch in front of the inverters.
Having looked at the theory and convinced myself, I impressed upon our installers that this is what we want done. The only thing to stop it really should be if there is a technological, legislative or safety issue. At their request I have searched the Internet for similar examples but, in reality, I cannot think that there would be many people in the same position as we. If the company's only issue is that it has not been done before, I will have to twist their arm and ask them to be frontiersmen, a feather in their cap that they can truly point to and tell other customers that they are innovative. Let us hope that it does not go wrong, then.
Must be time for a beer. Everything will be possible then.
December 1st - Thursday
December 1st, it must be Christmas tree day and will be why the Missus was out of bed with the lark, well, a lark that gets up a bit late, perhaps. I had already run the bleddy hound out and had some breakfast. My only contribution to the tree was helping to put it in place and to make sure it stayed there. Last year, as I recall, we had a big of a blow during the night after we put it up and learnt a few lessons about securing it. Hopefully, we have done it right first time this year.
We may not find out for a little while as there is no major wind forecast for a day or two. We, or at least the Missus, was blessed during the day as well whereas last year she was putting the decorations up with a bit of a breeze from somewhere in the north as I recall. We did not quite have blue skies all day, but it was bright and chilly. I had wrapped up to go help with the tree and wished that I had not after a while. I had found it quite comfortable in shorts earlier taking the bleddy hound down to the beach.
We also beat the fishermen to it this morning. I noticed later than one of the boats that had slipped around to Newlyn earlier in the autumn to try his luck there came back today. It is the squid season and word must have got around that pickings are good - at least that is my supposition.
While the Missus laboured with the Christmas tree, I carried on with labelling the wetsuits. We need to clear these out of the shop as they will be in the way else. I managed to clear another box or so, which was probably around twenty wetsuits - who is counting? - and then ran out of hangers and had to stop. I had a thought that there might be some up at the barn and since the completed wetsuits needed to go up there and the bleddy hound needed a run, I would go up and have a look. While there were no hangers up there, the bleddy hound had her run and before I left, the Missus called asking for more baubles for the tree.
There is a sizeable container in the barn for decorations. It is made of very thin steel and completely useless. The doors stick and the construction so flimsy if you lean on it, it dents. With so many decorations already shipped down to The Cove already I was surprised that I could not get the doors open because of the boxes remaining in the container had fallen against them; the unit was still two thirds full. When I eventually squeezed in, there were plenty of baubles to choose from, so I brought a further boxful down with me.
I had no further purpose down in the shop when I returned, so I came upstairs to the waiting in-laws and Mother who had arrived during the morning to watch as the Missus laboured away outside. I am sure they were delighted to come all this way not to see us - actually, that was probably a relief for them. Mother likes to watch the tree come together, anyway.
As ever, it took the Missus twice as long as it might due to constant interruption from members of the public asking what was going on and neighbours being friendly. The Missus takes the job very seriously and the end result is just as serious. She is very good at such things. The lights were the last thing to go on but we had to wait until proper darkness before they automatically start. It was then we discovered that the three sets of lights were working on different sequences of pattern and required some synchronisation.
This is not quite as easy as it sounds. I was despatched to do the job and discovered that I was not sure which controller controlled which sets of lights and even when one was changed, I needed to stand back to see whether it was the bottom, middle or top that had changed. I identified that the middle controller was the bottom set of lights and I had managed to synchronise its pattern with the middle set. I was now not sure which of the two remaining controllers controlled the top set. With a choice of two, I picked the wrong one. Eventually, with two sets in tune I had to stop as tea was calling and was then berated for not finishing the job properly. The Missus had at it later and we are now all very happy.
With cold setting in and the solar panels that charge the batteries not seeing direct sunlight, the batteries may not last as long as we hoped but they can be easily charged during the day from the mains if it becomes necessary. The 'memory tree' goes up tomorrow and we do it all again.
Fortgot the tree after all that. You would not believe it was pitch black - darned modern cameras
November 30th - Wednesday
Well, we actually made it down to the beach this morning after what seemed like a long exile. I am sure that the fishermen who had started to gather at the time we arrived felt exactly the same. The sea had apparently calmed completely but a closer look revealed still quite a heavy swell with a long period between peaks. It looked pretty ideal for surfing but when I spoke with one of the fishermen later, he told me it made coming in again very interesting.
The Missus had already told me that she intended to head off to Travaskis Farm today with another set of in-laws - mine, not hers - who had turned up this week to visit Mother. It is that time of the year when she feels it right to get all the meat that is required for Christmas. I am reasonably sure that there was a wider range of goodies that came back with her but I was not present when she returned.
The raised beds continue to haunt my dreams and my every waking hour. Alright, maybe not every waking hour; I have to eat. Nevertheless, the thought that I really ought to have a circular saw crept into my head so that I could saw straight edges for the project. In all honesty, the thought had occurred to me before and every time I have had to cut timber with the jigsaw and seen wobbly lines. Cast to the back of my mind during this process was the already somewhat tiresome load of four cases of tools I currently load and unload when we head for The Farm. There will be five if I added a circular saw.
I put all thoughts of this aside and headed to the gymnasium for a proper blistering session. When I got there I decided to be avant garde and jump on the cycling machine for a change. I usually use this to warm up quickly if it is especially cold in there and suspect that I might have to do just that on Friday. In this case I just wanted to mix things up a bit. I had omitted to put my earphones in and had not looked at the time, so I had no idea how long I spent on there, but it did me a power of good. I mixed up the rest of the session, too. Gosh, how avant garde can one person be, I must ask myself.
Coming home on top of the world, a spring in my step and a feather in my cap, I emptied the truck of all the decorations we collected yesterday and made it ready for the Missus' quick escape. I felt a good deed was required ahead of purchasing the circular saw that I convinced myself to buy while I was at the gymnasium.
It was while I was completing the purchase that a Lifeboat message came through reminding me that there was a launch at two o'clock. This threw me a bit because the last I knew was that one may happen but we would be given notice - I guess that was the notice. With the Missus absent, this meant taking the bleddy hound across to the station.
Quick run on the beach before launch. Much sand gone. Large swell, 15s interval.
I do fret about taking her with me. I have had to do it a few times when I have been home or shop alone with her and every time she clearly hates it. We now go every Thursday while the Missus collects payments for the 'bonus ball' competition that raises a few pennies for the comfort fund. I have to drag her kicking and screaming up the stairs.
If that was not bad enough, getting her downstairs to the very excellent Shore Crew changing room is even worse. I have to carry her down the stairs as she will not go in that direction else. If she was off the lead she would head straight for the front door. Once I get her down there, I then have to tie her to the bench that is there else she would be off up the stairs - that I normally struggle to get her to ascend these days - in a flash. I have no idea why that is but sometimes, like today, it becomes necessary as she will not do home alone either.
The launch was for the inspector's exercise as they are here on an audit. Everything has to be done by the book and we must be on our best behaviour. Fortunately, no one mentioned the bleddy hound being there, so it must be allowed. We had more than sufficient numbers for the launch, but they were a bit light on the boat. It is a function of holding an exercise in the middle of a working day, which sometimes, like today, cannot be avoided. We were lucky that the sea state had calmed enough to launch.
The launch went well enough, but it was while we were setting up and taking the span down to the bottom of the long slipway that things went a bit awry. I was following on from a recent crew member who suddenly took a detour from the walkway. He pointed out a gaping hole where once there was slipway and had taken the middle of the slip to avoid it but found that dangerously slippery. I had a look at the hole, as you do, and saw that it was, indeed, a hole. It could also not be safely bypassed, so I decided that we should switch to the other side for this recovery.
The plan was sound enough until we discovered that the path less trodden was as dangerously slippery as the middle of the slipway at the bottom. We deployed the new additional length of high pressure hose and gave the steps a wash down which was not as effective as we hoped. The other side had more wear, more washing and had been previously subject to chemical cleaning too. Perhaps several more cleans with the hose might help but it is a multi person job and can only be done at low water.
We trod very carefully while setting up and again when I went down to bring the boat in. I suggested to the Coxswain when the boat turned up that he arrange for a left-hander to toss the heaving line in the new arrangement; they have trouble getting the line accurately thrown even on the other side. As it happened, the thrower did a very good job and we had the boat hooked up in no time. From where I was standing, in the thick of it, it looked pretty much life a textbook recovery up the long slip from the wrong side too, which is something of an achievement. We are, after all, a very ambidextrous, very excellent Shore Crew.
It was quite late by the time we finished off. The Missus had planned to erect and secure the two trees she came home with but with burgeoning darkness, we thought better of it. The main tree that will sit opposite the shop is much larger than last year, I think. I asked the Missus if she had returned via Trafalgar Square - alright, perhaps not quite that big. They, including one for the living room which is a much more manageable size are currently sitting in the shop. Stand by for Christmas tree pictures tomorrow.
November 29th - Tuesday
Pitch black again and the earliest getting up time yet. I helped her get out of bed, noticed the time on my second bedside clock that is appropriately dim this time, and went back to bed myself, letting her stew for half an hour. Instead, I stewed wondering whether she actually wanted to go out or she was just fed up with being in bed. When I did get up, she did not seem bothered at all, so I proceeded with my normal routine before taking her out.
It was still dark out there, even then, apart from an exceptionally bright Mars out to the west. We probably could have got away with a run down to the beach as the tide was an hour behind the day before, but the waves were still quite boisterous and I did not think it worth the risk. I am sure we will be alright tomorrow, particularly as the sea seemed to have calmed a great deal by the time we came back from The Farm later in the afternoon. With high pressure building we might have some calmer - and colder - weather for a while.
Today, however was quite temperate and an ideal day to be messing around on The Farm. With the Carols in The Cove rapidly approaching, the Missus has her full focus on preparation and part of that is getting the Christmas decorations ready and part of that will be not one but two Christmas trees to gaze upon with wonder. All our decorations are stored up at The Farm in the barn, which as I have described before us chock full of cardboard boxes either full or empty. All these and the attendant mess needed to be cleared up before any decorations could be sorted.
It is a task tailor-made for the Missus. She dominates such tasks and they wilt before her like candles in a furnace. I left her to it, standing by for instructions to move this or that here and there - no, not there, here. The first aim of all this clearing and cleaning was to be able to move the large tipping trailer into the corner and out of the way. That was my task when the way was clear. It would have been much easier to use the tractor but that, unfortunately, still had the flayer mower attached and removing that and finding a place to put it would have taken too much time. I had to move the trailer with the truck.
Even going forwards this trailer is not designed to be towed by a truck. Going backwards is tougher because visibility is limited in the truck despite a reversing camera and the manoeuvre space is limited in the barn doorway. It took several attempts to line up properly, but it is now exactly where the Missus wanted it and at the time of putting it there was full of the Christmas decorations.
The next task was sorting the decorations out to set aside the ones required to take with us. This was a job that the Missus could only do by herself. Initially, I cleared an old workbench that has seen better days. With now gash tables in the polytunnel from the grow bag experiment, we had to find room for them elsewhere. One of them will replace the one I took from the barn and two more will help reorganise the wood store, which is an utter mess. I have no idea what I have in there unless it is sitting on the top and all I do is buy more. Do not worry, dear reader, I know I do not have any of the timber required for building the raised beds in there so that task can wait until more important ones have been done or when we need to find space for the spare tables/workbenches from the polytunnel.
Having got rid of the damaged table, I looked about for other things to do while I waited for the Missus. One of the support bars in the polytunnel has been in need of a nut and bolt for some time. I bought some appropriate nuts and bolts in a small bag and then lost sight of them last year sometime. I thought that I would have a quick look in the cabin where I thought that I had left them and strangely found them straight away. Well, that is one long outstanding job done if I need to point to any success at all from today.
One thing I will definitely not point to is the nettle sting on my wrist. It became a proper irritation for the rest of the day despite clapping some dock leaf on it as soon as it happened. Perhaps dock leaves are not what they used to be. I did not even realise that they were nettles I was pulling up as they were devoid of leaves. I was only doing it to pass the time waiting on the instruction from the Missus that I could load the sorted decorations into the truck, which came late in the afternoon.
After all that bitty, non-productive work we did not feel much like emptying the truck when we got back. It will wait until tomorrow when something will come up and it must be done in a big rush. Part of the load is some end of line wetsuits that arrived last week. I had labelled a couple of boxes to take up to the store but then noticed I had put shortie labels on the full-length suits. They will need to be done again.
Dipping in and out of the polytunnel yesterday and spending much time filling in waiting on instruction from the Missus had thoughts of the raised beds niggling at me. We do not have a huge amount of time left available to us and much of that time will be needed to clear the relevant parts of the flat - nearly all of it including the loft - ahead of the works. Now we have a design for the raised bed, I am determined to fit in the build of just one for proof of concept. I might just slip an order in tomorrow.
November 28th - Monday
The sea is still very angry about something. This has been going on for most of the month and high time that the sea got over whatever it is upset about. The bleddy hound for one remains very miffed that she cannot get down to the beach in the morning and today, particularly, it was dancing a merry jig down there and swallowing up the Harbour wall.
I mention in passing yesterday the movement of the sand in the Harbour. There is quite a bit missing and no particular surprise after what we witnessed this morning. It is also moving about on the big beach I noticed later when I was going past. It is difficult to remember from day to day because it does change so much but I would say that it has been scoured out again around the reef immediately at the bottom of the OS slipway. There is also a great deal more gone from under the dunes and there is a sizeable rock field exposed there as indeed there is on the other side of The Valley under Carn Keys, the black huts.
I had no great plans for today, but I was gently aware that I wanted to change my mind about the way I had set up the under-shelf lighting, fed from the top. It would look far better with the drivers and the extension plug hidden under the plinth. It was not until the Missus announced that she was going up to The Farm to collect the Christmas lights and could I drop her off on the way into town that I realised that I was going into town instread.
Well, I did know that I was going into town at some point, just not that it was going to be today. I thought, in an idle moment, that perhaps I ought to do one of my signature dishes to give the Missus the night off from cooking the tea. I mentioned this in passing to the Missus but did not specify a day. It turned out to be today.
I visited my usual haunts of independent shops, the greengrocer and the rather good butcher down Chapel Street. I also needed to visit the Asian food shop for some oyster sauce. Having sampled the real thing, it is difficult to go back to getting anything else, particularly as it is generally only available in Tesmorburys and I was not going there. I mentioned this visit to the Missus and asked if she wanted some crispy aromatic duck, like the ones you get in the Chinese restaurants, shredded which you roll into pancakes. In fact, what we buy is exactly that, frozen and just needs cooking in the oven for a bit. She did - want me to buy some.
The Missus also asked me to call her when I got in there as she is partial to the little pots of noodles they do - just add hot water - and she wanted to choose from what they had. She bought a lot, and I feared that perhaps I might not have enough cash on me for the volume I was stuffing into my bag. I asked the very pleasant lady behind the counter to add it up for me as perhaps I may have to put something back, which she very kindly did.
We discovered that I had enough with just a little left over. I mentioned that I thought that the total would be more, only really because of my limited funds but she assured me that they do try and keep their prices reasonable. Afeared that I might have upset her I told her that her shop was the only one in town for such goods and that she was welcome to charge what she liked, really. I also said that we had been visiting the shop for a number of years and had always been pleased with the goods and the service. Had the prices been extortionate, we would not have come back - probably. I was going to tell her that I did not care what she charged as long as they stayed open, but it sounded a bit like tempting providence, so I did not.
When I arrived back at The Farm, the Missus was still knee deep in cardboard and boxes of bodyboards. She had extracted some of the decorations she was after but the whole thing was a complete mess. She wanted to come back tomorrow when she would so some more clearing away and organising and have a better shot at getting all the things she needed.
Before we went, we measured up for the raised beds in the polytunnel. I had done some thinking overnight and looked again at what was on offer. Some of the kits were no more than the required timber cut to length and a bag of screws. Costing this from our local friendly timber merchant I can do the same - but having to cut the wood myself - for half the price. The Internet had a video of someone making a raised bed in exactly the dimensions we required, and it was much more straightforward that I had planned for. The information on the robustness of the design swayed me and we shall be going that route. We have enough available topsoil, two hundred tons of it at the bottom of the field courtesy of our neighbour. We just need to find the time to do it.
We repaired back home where I could get on with reorganising the wiring under-shelf lighting. I would really like to know who came up with the design for three pin plugs and sockets because there is never enough room for the wires. If you cut the wires to have just enough to fit then getting them in the little brass screw holders is near impossible and if you cut them longer to make that easier, there is not enough room to accommodate the spare wire. It took an age to refit the socket.
My next issue was dropping it down between the two back to back shelving units. Since the socket fitted between them at the top I rather assumed it would do so until the bottom, but not so. It got stuck somewhere. I ended up having to dismantle all the shelves, now wired with lights, and take the back panels off. It would not have worked if I had waited to fit the socket when the wire was down, either, as there would not have been enough weight in the wire.
It is all now safely done and looks much more aesthetic without unsightly spare cable and LED drivers stuck here and there. I stuck magnets on the underside of the drivers so that they would pin to the shelving legs off the floor. It has not happened for a while but we occasionally get flooding through that area - something I had not previously considered. I will have to get a small plastic pot to put the socket and connectors in and should do that soon, lest I forget.
I went straight from that to cooking tea. I had forgotten coriander and we did not have sesame seeds - we always have sesame seeds! Even had I remembered I did not have sufficient money on me. When the Missus complained I told her she had not given me enough housekeeping this week. That went down well.
November 27th - Sunday
I have become resigned to taking the bleddy hound out in the pitch black of the mornings. It is not so bad as long as I remember my head torch as it is pretty dim this end of The Cove without its streetlight. We are still not allowed on the beach; the sea was swirling around at the bottom of the slipway and coming over the Harbour wall at the near end this morning when we passed by.
Even by the bleddy hound's standard, we were up pretty early this morning. Deciding not to waste the time, I made a start on the remaining pile of invoices and got through most of them before I had to start the rest of the morning routine. Having done that, I went back to them and got up to date. I am not expecting any more in the next three days left to this quarter, so hopefully I am finished.
Mother has guests arriving tomorrow, so the Missus took her shopping at Tesmorburys. This has never been less than a three hour event so after I finished the invoices I did very little until they got back. I had thought to do the under-shelf lighting but it meant dragging the bleddy hound downstairs and she is never keen with the shop shut as she cannot see out. If I leave her outside, which she likes, I have to leave the first electric sliding door in The Cove open and we are clearly open for business because of that no matter the scene of devastation inside.
While we gain sand on the big beach we are losing it from the Harbour
It actually did not matter as I took her for a walk when the Missus came home and she refused to go upstairs afterwards, so I had to leave the first electric sliding door in The Cove open while I worked. Sure enough we had three visitors, the last of which had to clamber over my tool box and several cartons and piles of spent cardboard and collared me standing on a stool with a bunch of electrical wires in my hand. How that looks like we are open I do not know but he was Australian so perhaps things are different over there and the shops all have obstacle courses inside the entrance. I shall remember to ask our Tasmanian correspondent.
Just an aside, a New Zealander once told me an easy way to distinguish and Australian from a New Zealander. It is in the way they pronounce an 'e' as an 'i'. You just need to get the subject to say the word 'sex' and they are Australian if they punch you on the nose.
I digress, now where was I? Ah yes, the lights. I had to do some wire trimming to fit the adjoining cables into the junction box, which now looks quite neat. What is still a problem is the low voltage wires coming from the two LED drivers which is all over the place and looks a mess. On reflection, I should have led the spur from the lighting circuit down to the floor and fed the low voltage tracks from there with the drivers and the excess cable hidden under the bottom shelf. It is not too late to change it as I have not refilled the shelves yet, but I will need a longer length of mains cable.
Before the season started this year, we purchased some tables to go into the polytunnel so that the Missus was not having to spend hours on her knees picking individual leaves of lettuce for our popular mixed leaf bags. This turned out to be an utter disaster because the growing bags did not hold the moisture. Whether it was the wrong sort of bag or no we will never know because the Missus abandoned the plan and went back to growing them in the ground. Sadly, by the time they were growing again, everyone had gone home.
Not disheartened by this experience, the Missus was game to try again and this time with raised beds. If we maintain the soil contact, there should be no problem with moisture. The Missus had looked at the spare timber we have up at The Farm, but it really needs something like railway sleepers or two inch planks properly supported to be anything like robust enough. At a loose end after completing the lights I looked around on the Internet to see what was available and there are numerous kits around, although not all will provide for the nine metres of run that the Missus is after.
The kits would be useful because I would need to find an efficient method of cutting up sleeper size lumps of timber if that is the way we went and I do not have the tools for that. The disadvantage of the kits, of course, is that the ones that look the most robust and will cover the area we need are all quite pricy. It bears some further research, which I will do another day.
The trouble is I had started and my brain, what remains of it, continued to ponder it. It is more than likely that I will carry this to bed and shall be going to sleep on planks or, erm, sleepers.
November 26th - Saturday
We were very lucky this morning and beat the rain to our usual constitutional along towards the slipway. The sea was still looking tricky, but it appears to be calming just a little. It was the last time we were luck with the rain for the rest of the day.
I also was not very lucky with making sure I had some breakfast this morning and ended scaping together a few scraps from the fridge. My bread had gone mouldy, as it might after a week. I was hungry again by the middle of the day when the only thing left was the bleddy hound's biscuits until I remembered the anchovy banderillas I purchased last time I was at our favourite fish seller. I had to look up 'banderilla' and mostly it refers to the barbed dart that matadors use to slowly torture the bull to death in the ring. It may also refer to a type of tapas. Both of those are Spanish related but my banderillas come from Turkey where it means a strip of anchovy wrapped around a pimento stuffed olive soused in oil and vinegar and deadly chemicals used to achieve its six-month shelf life. Oh, they also has a small cocktail stick, a banderilla perhaps, binding two together which is invisible until the first bite. They were delicious on a small salted cracker and no bulls were hurt in the process, you will be pleased to learn.
I probably would not have needed to resort to such measures had the Feast shoot gone ahead according to plan. I am not in the least surprised that it was cancelled; it was enting down by the time I made my way up there. I appreciate that it would have been difficult issuing a timely cancellation notice, particularly if it was cancelled at short notice. I am sure that they would have made every effort to let it go ahead but in the end the lashing rain and 40 miles per hour head winds would have made it dangerous as the clays would have a tendency to fly back over our heads.
It did not take a great effort to get my gun out and slip into some serious full metal jacket waterproofs - and back out of them then minutes later, of course. It is a shame but that is what you get when your local village saint was either born or died at the outset of winter. Actually, St Senan died in early March, which is a bit too close to his mate, St Piran, but would have been much kinder for weather, I suspect. In any case, the shoot did not happen and I ended up with a free afternoon and my meagre breakfast and subsequent hunger got the better of me.
I did consider the pile of invoices that sit on my desk begging to be input into the computer system and also heading to the shop to finish off the under-shelf lighting. The considering lasted no more than a few minutes and I watched a film instead.