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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:

November 19th - Tuesday

It had been bitterly cold overnight, much colder than we are used to in The Cove, to the extent that there was ice on the truck windscreen. This had started to form just after we arrived home last night and was still there when I awoke, which was a little later than the bleddy hound allows. By the time we vacated the hotel, the ice had gone away, so perhaps it was not quite as cold as we had thought.

Given that it was a good way into the morning by the time we got away, the Missus stopped at the sandwich bar in the high street. The Aged Parents had explained that the building in which the shop resides had been sold the last time we were here, so I was quite surprised to see it still in operation. We were rather pleased that it was because it is a very good sandwich shop and the lady makes very good sandwiches. They are made to order with wide array of filling choices that can be selected to make almost an infinite number of combined fillings. The thing, though, that impressed me most was the speed in which they were prepared, despite being the only one in the shop and no pressing need to hurry.

The Aged Parent takes an afternoon nap and brooks no change to this routine. Envious though I was, I took the Missus away for a short outing. At one point some while ago when I was visiting on my own, the Aged Parents took me off to Sherborne. The town is notable for its architecture and its abbey amongst other noteworthy things, like a posh school. I shared these nuggets with the Missus who asked what shops were there, so I gave up sharing nuggets and drove here there, instead.

The road there passes through some very alluring villages with quaint names such as Hopplethung Charlton and Pothelthwart Limpbadger, filled with cottages made from Bath stone - at a guess - and looking impossibly twee and biscuit tin lidish. I drove carefully through these homesteads because there were signs bearing rustic images asking, most politely, if we would.

The sign to the town centre car park in Sherborne is best read without thinking, it would seem. Those of us who notice that the route leads away from the town centre, turn around at the earliest opportunity and head back in a more direct direction. In doing so a second town centre car park sign became more obvious, so it was clear that the object was to direct traffic away from the more congested streets of the town. We managed to find somewhere to park, nevertheless. I was a little disappointed to note that we had selected a 'short term' car park, which tend to be more expensive, which makes a distinct difference to your pocket when parking in Cornwall. It did strike me, however, that we were only going to be there for an hour or so, so it probably did not matter. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the more expensive parking rate in Dorset is considerably less that the more rate in Cornwall and that the parking bays are of a size that accommodate a car adequately while allowing egress from the vehicle by opening the doors. What a progressive thinking, I thought.

As our time was limited to the length of a long snooze, we cruised up and down the main shopping thoroughfare. It was good to note a good number of independent shops among the more nationally recognisable names. It is quite an upmarket shopping street, no doubt driven by the frequency of visits by parents of children at the very posh school here. Even the hardware shop, that we were seeking, had some very posh log holders blotting out the window, which led me to believe that it was not a hardware shop at all. I needed to find a hardware shop to replace the Aged Parents' downstairs bathroom light pull cord, which was broken and had I now been wrong-footed. It was not until we got back to the truck that the Missus looked up hardware stores and noticed that it was the one we had walked by. I duly had to walk back and found that they had light pull cords in abundance.

Later, while we waited to head out for our tea, I examined the light cord and discovered that, in fact, we needed a new rose fitting as the upper part of the cord, where it had broken, was integral to the switch. I will have to go out tomorrow and get one.

It was always the plan to stay in and have a meal, but we reflected that the Aged Parent was probably bored of staying in for meals and our presence present the perfect excuse to eat out. He agreed, so we went out again. I mentioned yesterday that the restaurant and hotel down the road was not pressed for competition, so there was a bit of scratching of heads as to where we might end up. It was at this point that the Aged Parent recalled that a small inn in the town centre had acquired quite a good reputation and that perhaps we should try there.

The venue is called the Nog Inn and the Missus searched in vain to see if she could establish why it was called 'Nog'. I surmised that it was probably the simple play on words that made the decision, which is a building term. It also evokes a children's story series from 1960s or 1970s television, Noggin the Nog. I would prefer to think that this was the true reason and, being of a certain age, it is the first thing that popped into my head when I heard the name.

I had intended to ask when we got there but the meal we had was so delicious, it rather diverted our interest. A large plate was placed before me containing a large lump of sage and Gruyere stuffed chicken, rosemary potatoes and tarragon sauce; I wondered if I had time to eat it. The Aged Parent had the smallest burger they did, which towered above the plate and the Missus was over the moon with a lump of excellently cooked belly pork on a brick of colcannon. Top marks all round for the Nog, I believe.

We had walked to the restaurant, which was a blessing as the walk back provided the opportunity to walk off some of our excess. By the time we arrived back, I felt quite comfortable especially having slipped into my new woolly slippers that we had purchased in Sherborne. Ah, the luxury of it all.

November 18th - Monday

It took a little while to leave The Cove, this morning. In fact, the first part of the morning looked exactly the same as every other day apart from the fact that there was a lovely blue sky up above us and hardly a breath of wind. There was a great deal of activity down on the slipway as the fishing fleet, nearly all of them prepared to set sail. My guess is that they were on the squid today because the squid hunter was there, trying very hard to start his boat engine that had not been used in some time. They all left en masse, heading for the back of Cowloe. It was like watching the Spit Head review, well, sort of.

The remainder of this part of the morning was taken up with throwing washing kit into a bag and a few clothes into another bag. We are only away for a few days and we know how to travel light. Light, that is, if you do not count the several weeks of prepared meals, carefully accumulated and frozen and destined for the Aged Parent's freezer. Maternal Aged Parent has been a brae bit poorly so the occasional meal will relieve the burden for a couple of days a week, we hope. These meals filled a couple of big cold bags which would survive nicely in the unheated luggage area of the truck. We now have room in the shop freezers for quite a lot of other things. The Missus does not stint when making food parcels.

We got as far as St Buryan, where the bleddy hound is being billeted with Mother for the duration. The in laws are heading in her direction to provide close support in our absence; it is all meticulously planned, you understand.

While the Missus was settling in the bleddy hound I head off around to the garage where they have a truck washing facility. Its trips to The Farm have taken their toll and the vehicle was caked in mud and other things. It did not seem fitting to arrive at the Aged Parents with the truck in this condition, so I thought that I would honour them with a washed one, because I am a thoughtful and dutiful offspring. Alright, that was laying it on a little thick - I washed the truck because I did not want to be told off for not washing behind its ears, so to speak.

Again, we did not get very far before we stopped for some croust at Smokey Joe's. It is hard to pass by and not have one of their excellent breakfasts, so we stopped and had one. While we were there the in laws arrived to surprise us, which was a surprise and they tarried and had a cup of tea before we all headed on in different directions.

The journey passed quickly and surprisingly we arrived before dark, so either we made good time, or we left earlier than I supposed. It was all then arriving and greeting and catching up and going there, there to the poorly Aged Parent before repairing to the hotel to get checked in a ready for the evening bought. Since by this time it was quite late it left little time to prepare a home cooked meal, so we went out.

It is an ale house that is large enough to have sprouted rooms, although it may have always had some. It has a large dining area and while it does food that is not fancy it is good whole fare in good portions and, for that, reasonably priced. There is not a huge amount of competition in the locality, so fair play to them and something our own providers could learn from.

At home, we conversed into the evening, but we did not stop too late. Aged Parents need their rest, it seems, and I can identify with that as grumpy shopkeepers do not stay up late during the season, either. It is what keeps me going and maintains my youthful good looks, I presume; I have never asked. I did have time, however, to help the Aged Parent reduce the excessive volume of his reserve of malt whisky. It was the least that I could do, since we are here for such a short visit.

November 17th - Sunday

Our run of good weather - this is a relative term, roughly to do with the latter half of yesterday and a little bit of the morning today - allowed me quite pleasant to stroll around the block with the bleddy hound. I might well have been mistaken about the fishing boats yesterday but there was definitely a small group of them heading out of the Harbour at around eight o'clock under grey, cotton wool skies.

Those cotton wool skies were not so soft and cuddly we discovered when we were rain on up at the range. It could have been worse as some of the big lumps of showers passed us by, but we did not get away Scott free. By the middle of the afternoon a deep chill had settled about the place, much as it did last week. It can be quite tiring, trying to stay warm. It may well have been the reason that my afternoon performance was not up to scratch, although last week I topped the table in one of the stages, so I was not too disheartened.

It was getting dark by the time the Missus came and picked me up. Looking out over the whole of the last tip of the Far West peninsula, there was still some brightness in the south west, left over from a half decent sunset, glowing through the bubbling cumulus clouds. The lights of Sennen twinkled in the distance and everything in between was taking on the form of silhouette. With better eyes that mine you could probably pick out The Farm or it might just be over the brow of the hill. With a pair of binoculars, you could near enough pick out our truck as it made its way toward me.

The Missus had been up at The Farm all the afternoon doing the stock take. This is something of a mammoth task and she did well to finish it in a day. We are meeting one of the major suppliers toward the end of the week and we need to update the stock sheet so we know what we have used and what we might wish to reorder. It also meant that I spent a good deal of the evening doing the updating, but it is far better finished off, else it might be prone to being left until the last minute.

Because we had both spent a good part of the day away, we had nothing prepared of even planned for tea. There was a fair bit of quick thinking to be done when we arrived home together and a fair bit of rummaging around in our freezers. We are well used to such desperate meals through the height of the summer and for all that it was pretty decent.

After a few last showers, the skies must have cleared as there was a full canopy of stars to gaze upon as the bleddy hound and I took our final perambulation of the day. Out to the east, a half moon was rising through the only bank of clouds in the sky, bright as a button. That is always some sight to be going to sleep on.

We are away deep for a few days from tomorrow, so Diary updates may be delayed depending on access to the Internet and such.

November 16th - Saturday

It was another lazy day confined to barracks, which was a shame because it was as decent a day as we have been likely to get recently. One thing that I have noticed from the lack of a stank or two around the moors and footpaths is that the cold really gets into the bones. I think that there is really nothing for it but to go out without the bleddy hound in the short term, which will be odd.

There was plenty of other people taking the air today. There was the noticeable lack of breeze, which was good, and only a few sporadic lumps of rain passing through from time to time, reserved for the Far West and the Isles of Scilly, it would appear. With a big spring tide, there were a couple of dozen people down on the big beach wandering about or walking their dogs.

Since the bleddy hound is still under a no exercise regime we went down to the Harbour beach for her middle of the day functional wander. The big seas of late have thrown up a good scattering of oar week and the tractor has been down there clearing some of it to the sides. It is entirely possible that the fishing fleet went out today but if they did, I missed them. It was not just oar weed that had been heaved up from the deep. The beach was liberally dotted with bits of plastic so, as I was there with little to do but keep an eye on the bleddy hound, I filled a small plastic bag with the rubbish from the beach. Two minutes beach cleans are quite a thing down here and I can see how effective they must be if everyone who visits the beach does it.

I was not entirely lazy because there was the continued inputting of invoices to be done and I managed to finish the job and be thoroughly up to date. I also managed to prepare tea and do some vacuum packing of the pasties that I put into the freezer nigh on a week ago and forgot about. It is not exactly a stank across the moors, but it is a small achievement of some sort. It is just a shame that it does not warm you up at all.

I returned to utter idleness for the rest of the evening and saved myself for the last run out of the bleddy hound. She seems determined, since she cannot go down to the beach in the mornings at present, to engage in a midnight stroll instead, although it was not midnight. I noticed that there was a distinct increase in temperature during the day, so it was not unpleasant to wander about down there. I suspect that all she really wants is to make a statement as there was no alternative reason for her visit other than a sniff about. I think we were both quite grateful that we could be out and about without getting drenched, frozen or blown away.

November 15th - Friday

We were granted a rather better day than we had yesterday, although it is hard to imagine it being much worse. The wind had dropped and there was markedly less rain, but the temperature was much the same.

With the tide the way it is, a round the block run was required first thing and then a usual run up to the gymnasium. The Missus had in mind a number of errands, so I had endeavoured to get my tasks out of the way as early as I could. Had I realised that she had not intended to start her errands until the early afternoon, I would not have bothered to rush.

It did mean that I had plenty of time to make more inroads into the rekeying of this quarter's invoices into the new computer system. It is something of a hard slog, especially having to manually calculate the various categories when splitting invoices with disparate items on them. I will get faster at it with practise, but the manual calculations are there to stay. I managed about half the volume of the remaining documents in the time I had before the Missus came back from St Buryan.

We have been awaiting the opportunity to make a quick dash up to The Farm, as the generator has sat in the back of the truck since we picked it up a few days ago. Yesterday was not the best day to be travelling up there, so we went up with the bleddy hound and Mother today. This afforded the bleddy hound a quick run around and for me to unload the generator and put some fuel into it. Our friend who is engaged to repairing the stable block was there ahead of us and has made good progress with finishing off the roof of the first section. Now all we need is the back wall repaired and we will have one shed to use.

When we arrived back, I noticed that the new wireless switch for the shop lights had arrived in the post. I reported a short while ago that the existing switch is possessed and is turning on and off the shop lights at random intervals. It took half an hour to dismantle the old one and wire in the new. It is quite an impressive device and seems to just work without any fuss or complication - other than the fact it lasted just a year before breaking, but other than that.

Mother had mentioned, in a conversation that I was not party to, that fish and chips would be the thing to have for tea. The Missus had heard good things about the shop in St Just and was keen to try it for a change. It is a long time since we have had fish and chips, mainly because the batter no longer agrees with me, but I was happy to try since it has been a while. I do realise, dear reader, that an explanation is due, because as you well know by now, the Missus hates fish. It is a conundrum, I confess, for which there is no adequate explanation. You must just accept, as indeed I have been forced to over the years, that while the Missus hates fish, she will eat fish and chips, those quite horrid fish sticks and fried cod roe. Go figure, as they say in America.

I am pleased to report that the meal was, indeed, quite as good as they say - whoever they are. I am not a great lover of chips, but these were quite enjoyable and the fish was a decent sized slab of cod, the only available fish, which would be my only criticism. North Sea cod is on the decline to the extent that the Marine Stewardship Council has removed its blessing from the species. Although cod from the south west has not been included in the concerns, I feel it should be up to purveyors of fish to be educating and guiding the general public that other species are available, such as MSC certified hake landed at Newlyn. I do understand that this must be hard to do and, as a business, you do not want to be turning off customers who do not like change, but the drive has to start somewhere. There, I have done my bit.

November 14th - Thursday

I was quite prepared to do battle with the elements, first thing in the morning, but my information on the weather was obviously a bit previous. Fully togged up I was met with reasonably mild conditions and no rain. I met a neighbour, with the bleddy hound's best pal, similarly togged up, clearly in possession of the same rotten intelligence as myself.

With a long reach, the waves were washing the cobbles at the bottom of the slipway down to the Harbour and it was the bleddy hound who decided that it was best not to go down there. We went around the block instead.

I was a little pressed for time this morning as I had an appointment with our accountant - two appointments, in fact. The first was to learn how to use the new software system we are sharing with a view to me doing all the invoice inputting that I currently do on a spreadsheet. My current process is relatively simple, with one entry per invoice but the new requirement is to have a line per cost type, such as food without VAT, off licence goods, pasties and so forth. I spent an hour with the lady who currently deals with our business, inputting various entry types until I felt happy to do the work myself.

The second meeting was the regular annual meeting with the main man, who can tell me where I have been going wrong all these years. We meet every year and, so far, I have yet to elicit the key information so that I can do it right next time. We had a bit of a bumper year last year with all that lovely sunshine during the summer, so the main man explained just how much of it I now owed the Government.

I had taken the precaution of taking a full set of waterproofs with me and although I did not need them on the way in, they were very necessary on the way out. The wind had increased from the north and had brought with it a guts of rain. By the time I had returned to The Cove with Mother in tow, the wind was thumping in at fifty miles per hour, throwing buckets of rain in every now and again for good measure.

Collecting Mother was part of the grand plan that the Missus would take her up to The Farm to continue the ongoing work. On seeing the state of the weather, the Missus promptly changed her mind about heading off to The Farm and we battened down the hatches for a stay indoors. This transpired to be a very good plan as the wind speed increased steadily through the afternoon, gusting across the bay at us at over seventy miles per hour. The sea joined the maelstrom with a large swell, wind blown into white streaks across the whole bay and boiling over Cowloe and exploding over the Harbour wall toward high water. All this combined with a leaden sky and a frequently disappearing horizon as the squalls drove in, made it a none too comfortable day for sitting and gazing out at it.

It is just as well that there was a Lifeboat crew meeting in the evening, else what would we do with our time. Much was said about the latest technology of being able to alert the station in advance as to our availability. We can signal by mobile telephone or computer just exactly where we will be and when. It is all very clever, but it was very disappointing to learn that one of our star, very excellent Shore Crew has applied to join the Boat Crew. It is a good job that I will be writing her reference, else we might lose her altogether.

We repaired to the OS for a spot of quizzing. What fun it was writing down answers that were different to the answers that the quizmaster had. On a wild and stormy night, it was quite alarming the number of teams that had found their way to the bar, many of which beat us into insignificance.

It had mainly stopped raining and blowing quite so hard by the time I journeyed home. When you are quite togged up against the weather, it can be quite therapeutic wandering about in the storm. I decided to share this strange experience with the bleddy hound and I found her a willing student. I am not entirely sure that she saw it that way, but she came with me, nonetheless and indeed, she led the way. With the rain gone it was not half so bad and the cloud was clearing, showing off an old full moon, which has something to do with woodcocks this month, I read. How we long for a good old fashioned full moon that was just called a full moon.

November 13th - Wednesday

It felt much warmer this morning, or perhaps just less cold. I did not feel the least uncomfortable in shorts and flip flops down on the Harbour beach and did not quite have to button down quite so much. When I checked the Gwennap Head data, the temperature had not changed at all, but the wind had gone around to the south west and had made all the difference.

I took advantage of the apparent hiatus and headed for the gymnasium, early doors, where I undertook another blistering session. I had added in a ten minute bicycle ride on Monday, just to warm me up before I divested myself of my sweatshirt. Having included another element to the session, it is very difficult to go back without good reason, so it seems the addition of a cycle and another round of weights and steps will be there for some time.

It was clear when I got back that this would be another sit around and do nothing day. This Missus had made plans to go and visit our neighbour who has been in hospital for a couple of weeks, now. We had expected her back late last week but that did not come about, hence the visit today. As the Missus would have the truck, that left Shank's pony and since rain was expected in the middle of the day, I could not force the poor animal out in that, now could I?

I did check the rain radar shortly before the Missus left at one o'clock. A geet band of rain was on the doorstep of the Isles of Scilly and would be here, I estimated, in 45 minutes. I resigned myself to taking the bleddy hound out into it but as luck would have it, the band of rain passed through quickly and by the time we had geared up to go out, it was dry again.

There were showers that followed on, but we avoided those on our short walk about. Quite unexpectedly, the skies brightened just as a big shower blew through turning everything a weird yellow colour and throwing up a rainbow in the middle of the bay. The most apparent change after the passing of the weather front was the sudden drop in temperature - five degrees in twenty minutes less the wind chill factor, as well. My, it was bitterly cold down on the beach and I was glad to come back to the flat.

We then watched the showers pass through, wintry I think is the word, as they were laced with hail and on the second lump, the skies blackened again. The wind had come around once more and by the time we went out again at half past five o'clock, it was not only cold but windy was well. The bleddy hound was not at all keen about having a walk around in that and we came back not long after we left.

The Missus was late in returning. She was held up by an oil spill in Crowlas and traffic backed up on the Hayle by-pass. Since we had not planned for such an occurrence, we settled for another take out that she stopped for in Penzance and we ate late. We have rediscovered an Indian restaurant that we once frequented. As is often the case, these places change hands or lose interest and the quality declines and we move on to another. This one is back in favour and has now become Nepalese and serves what it professes to be traditional Nepalese curries many of which contain coconut.

Alright, I confess that I was just about to make some smart remark about Nepal and coconuts, that I imagined only came from places like the Caribbean and South Pacific regions, where they have one tree per small island. Au contraire, mon petite brave. Nepal coconut production peaked in 1993 at nearly 7 kt, although more recently this has ebbed to mere domestic levels. Compared to the big boys, Indonesia at 183 mt, it is small fry but still has enough to put into curries. Nepal, my sincere apologies.

It is best I go to bed now, I think.

November 12th - Tuesday

I was a little more animated today and actually achieved something, which made me feel big and worthwhile even though what I did was small and insignificant. I suspect that I might relapse again having looked at the weather tomorrow, but it is a step in the right direction.

The new day was aided and abetted by the bleddy hound who did her usual trick of laying across my legs when she reckoned it was time to get going. She did afford me an extra half hour, which was good of her, but had spent the previous half an hour fidgeting, so I was awake anyway.

Our incessant wind from somewhere in the north has now been blowing for 24 hours, incessantly and without deviation. It is rather wearing and necessitates quite a bit of wrapping up before venturing out. It made for a very pretty bay, all white flecks and boiling over the Cowloes, although I fancy rather less ground sea than there was yesterday. Falmouth Divers must have thought so, too, as they turned up to reinstall the channel markers. I was not around at the time, but it looks like they changed their minds after doing the first one because they were gone by the time I came back.

It was the Missus who suggested that we had not had an award winning pasty for a while, which is true, since I have not had the time to do any since the shop opened in March. With that seed planted, it did not take too long before it blossomed, which meant a voyage out to a few local independent shops for the necessary provisions.

Since St Just has all the local independent shops we need for a pasty, I went there. Stones, the grocery and delicatessen, is very good with vegetables. They also have all manner of spices, dairy products, flours of many kinds as well as a very pleasant lady behind the counter whom I see only a few times a year. Despite that we natter like old pals and share an idea or two. Today, she suggested to add some suet to the pasty contents, so I did.

There are two very good butchers in St Just and the Missus and I use both for various items. Mr Olds in Chapel Street provides much of our fresh meat in the shop, while Mr McFadden does excellent pies amongst other things. Both have their own cattle herds that they draw from and there is not much to choose between them. We are very lucky to be so well served. We favoured Mr Olds today and I added to the meats for the pasties by getting a lump of shin for the bleddy hound. I hope that she does not come to expect it.

While I was out, I had a call from the Missus to pick up Mother from St Buryan, who dines with us on Tuesdays, and from the hire shop in Penzance to say that our generator was ready for collection. Since I needed fuel for the truck, I travelled from St Just to St Buryan to pick up fuel and Mother, then headed to Penzance with both. I am the very personification of efficiency, you understand.

There were plentiful showers during my journeying both up in St Just and on the journey to and from Penzance. We had not had any in The Cove but when we started down the hill it was clear that the sea was a bit upset at missing out. It is no wonder that the Falmouth Divers did a runner, as the sea was a white mass over the rocks and around the cliffs. Later, as the tide increased, there was a large amount of banging over the Harbour wall and large waves crashing on through to the beach.

I missed much of this because I confined myself to the kitchen. As usual, I managed to generate about double the amount of vegetable than I required and a little more meat. These have all been heavily peppered, so they are of little use for any other purpose. The meat will freeze to be used again. The veg will, too, but will need some careful defrosting so that they do not become soggy and unusable. For once I have written down how much of each I need for nine pasty rounds, which is what I can get out of a kilogramme of flour. All I need to do now is remember where I wrote it down next time I am making an award winning pasty.

Regardless of the potential food waste, I did manage to cook them just right. They were bleddy 'ansum and one day I might even forgive Mother for putting brown sauce on hers. She is from somewhere east of Camborne where they eat eels in jelly, so I have some sympathy.

November 11th - Monday

The temperature picked up in the early hours of the morning, so I noted, but unfortunately, so did the wind. It sneaked around from the south west, too, and so came full circle in the period of 24 hours.

The change in temperature was noticeable as I was out in shorts and flip flops, although I did take a warm jacket with me. If it had been any colder, I would have put it on. The bleddy hound seemed rather keen to get out into it but when we got out, it was not apparent why. Perhaps she is just keen to get out anywhere having spent most of her time indoors because of the exercise embargo she is under. The same is true for me, although I could quite easily go for a walk without her, it just does not seem right and would feel a little aimless while I strode about.

I made up for the gymnasium session I missed on Friday. I added in a bit of exercise bicycle to start with as it was quite cold in the hut with a tin roof; there was no way I was removing my sweatshirt until I had warmed up a bit. It was a blistering session and I was mightily aglow by the time I left but got cold again in the head on breeze.

It was a day when I could have done anything but, clearly, I chose to do nothing instead because it was easier, which is why it is useful having a fit bleddy hound that provides some incentive. It is not that doing nothing is such a bad thing after eight months without a day off, but by the time I get to the end of the day I feel very guilty and think that I should have done something during the day, just to say I did it.

Of course, it was not exactly nothing. I did catch up with all the invoicing and admin from the last days of our opening and was pleased to note that we came out roughly the same as we did last year, which given the last 40 days of rain was quite an achievement. It is most likely that the three week half term during October was a great help in that regard, so I am a somewhat less grumpy shopkeeper than I would have been otherwise. It still did not make me feel any better about not getting out and about, especially in a day that had very little in the way of rain.

What we did have, despite the increase in temperature, was a relentless wind from somewhere in the north that chilled to the bone and blew through no matter how many layers you put on. Even the bleddy hound was not encouraged to go very far in it for her middle of the day walk out. She got as far as the top of the Harbour slipway and dug in her heels. I did think at the time that this was my once chance at going out and getting some air instead of gluing my backside to a chair all day and was consequently a bit miffed - other than having an excuse for getting out of the battering breeze.

She redeemed herself, and me, later by doing the full walk around the block. I had chosen to go out a little earlier than normal so that we could walk around in the light, at least. I also had to move next door's bins down and I prefer doing that in the light so that I can see what is in them; the empty ones I leave where they are.

Thank you to LH of 'Through the Gaps' newsfeed, who posted this up today and brought it to my attention. For those who have not seen it, here for you now. Written by Eileen Mahoney, apparently 90 at the time, and of whom not a trace on the Internet can be found.

In ocean wastes no poppies blow,
No crosses stand in ordered row,
Their young hearts sleep… beneath the wave…
The spirited, the good, the brave,
But stars a constant vigil keep,
For them who lie beneath the deep.

'Tis true you cannot kneel in prayer
On certain spot and think. "He's there."
But you can to the ocean go…
See whitecaps marching row on row;
Know one for him will always ride…
In and out… with every tide.

And when your span of life is passed,
He'll meet you at the "Captain's Mast."
And they who mourn on distant shore
For sailors who'll come home no more,
Can dry their tears and pray for these
Who rest beneath the heaving seas…

For stars that shine and winds that blow
And whitecaps marching row on row.
And they can never lonely be
For when they lived… they chose the sea

©Copyright October 11, 2001 by Eileen Mahoney

November 10th - Sunday

There were still some showers about first thing when I took the bleddy hound down to the Harbour beach. We managed to time our walk to fit between them; the bleddy hound and I seem to be mainly lucky that way. It was still blowing a fair deal, but it had gone around to the north. Before the day was out, we would have it in the east, the south east, the south and the south west. It was almost like it was trying out to see which direction it liked best.

We therefore started out quite chilly up at the range. For the first time since the shop opening in March, I was able to spend the entire day up there. As the day progressed, I was able to dispense with my coat and through the middle portion of the day, it became quite temperate. I might have been a tad early in congratulating myself that I had selected the right combination of layers as the later afternoon became quite damp and cold.

There were not too many of us there today, which kept us moving about a little more than with a greater number. I have to say that I had the most splendid time making hole in targets and pasting them over again. We were there until the last light faded away and we had to come home as there are no lights up there.

The first thing I did when I got back was to take the bleddy hound around the block. The tide was in so that Harbour beach was out of bounds. The Harbour car park was empty but for two cars, so I let her off the lead to gently amble round the circuit at her own speed. We have been advised not to exercise her, but her functional walks need to be of some length to be effective. I am going to assume that around the block is acceptable.

I had reached my optimum warmth at this point and was most comfortable. It was such a pleasant walk around, even though it was mainly in the dark by that time. The bleddy hound does enjoy a good sniff and poke around on her way, especially up Coastguard Row, where there is more sniffing and poking to be done than anywhere else on the walk.

The rain had started to seem back in by the time we were out again at the last knockings of our day. The wind was still somewhere else, for which we must be grateful as we were for the bleddy hound's brevity in the necessary part of her walk. Thankfully, the Missus remade the bed on Thursday last and inserted my electric blanket. Gosh, what a delight it is to have that back again. When it gets really cold, I shall turn it on.

November 9th - Saturday

There was nothing about today that provided any temptation to set foot outside the door, so I tried very hard not to. There was a howling draft coming in from the north west, which is not our favourite direction and brought with it vicious squalls that threw buckets of rain at our windows. I succumbed to putting on the heating in the front room but managed to hold out until the tips of my fingers were just beginning to turn blue.

Even the sound of the wind made it feel a few degrees colder than it actually was. Perhaps this is why the bleddy hound gave me a lie in for an extra hour this morning. Actually, it was most likely due to the anaesthetic yesterday, which we were told would make her sleepy for a few days; I did not think that we would notice the difference to be fair. Even the additional delay did not make the eventual going out any more palatable, but we did manage to evade the showers, which were a bit more frequent in the morning.

I glued myself to the computer screen through the morning to take advantage of the free trial of this new software that I am using for our inventory. It was a bit painstaking as we have more than one thousand individual items on our current list. Fortunately, I was able to upload and convert most of what we have already. It took a little brain work as well, which was a novelty and I discovered that I could actually remember how to do a nested 'if' formula. Who would have thought that knowledge would become useful one day.

It was while I was congratulating myself that ex-Head Launcher turned up for a brew. He had not long returned from holiday at the seat of King Arthur. I do hope he moved over a bit. For someone who looks after a number of holiday lets himself, he has extremely bad luck selecting somewhere to stay. A few years ago, he ended up in a small, damp cottage on a bus route and this time in a splendid apartment that had no heating or hot water. They were rehoused the next day and had similar problems there, too. We advised that he stay home next time he was thinking of going away. Despite his tales of woe, it was exceedingly pleasant to see him, as although he drops into the shop from time to time, it has been some while since we have entertained him in the more relaxed environment of the flat.

The flat remained a very relaxed environment for the rest of the day, which can be roughly translated as we did begger all for most of it. When it came time for tea, we could not even be bothered to cook something, so I ventured out to St Just to collect a Chinese meal. We have not done that for some time, so it was a bit of a treat really. It also helped us to forget the wind for a while, which was still gusting in at close to seventy miles per hour. It has not been one of our better weather days, that is for sure.

November 8th - Friday

Never has a Friday seemed more like a Saturday and I have no idea why. It might be because I missed a trip to the gymnasium as there was work to do instead. It might be because a day on The Farm is timeless, out there on the land with the wind in your, ahem, hair and the sun on your back.

It almost certainly was not anything to do with the bleddy hound's x-ray appointment that had been scheduled for quite early on in the day. She was not allowed to eat anything before hand and I had thought that I would get a lot more fuss from her because the breakfast thing is wrapped up in a bit of a routine of tea making before I sit and see if the Diary makes any sense at all before I send it off. As you may have noticed I do not actually do anything if it does not make sense, it is just that I need to know.

We had contracted a works person to repair the stables up at The Farm. He is more of a friend after several years of using his services. You may recall, dear reader, that we paid someone to take all the naughty asbestos away, which left the stable block roofless. Our man had already leapt forward in installing the rafters and had planned to put the steel roof on today. He had noted, however, that our 100 miles per hour wind from the other week there had loosened the back wall of the section he was working on. Given the state of it even before the wind, we were both amazed that it was still there at all.

I agreed to meet him at The Farm to help with the roof panels, which are relatively heavy and easier with two people. I had also agreed to bring up the generator so he could cut the sheets to size, so the Missus dropped me up there on the way to the veterinary doctor with the bleddy hound. The loose wall was a bit of a set back and he had to secure it before progressing with the roof but before he left, in the early afternoon, most of the work had been done.

The Missus returned to make sure that I was behaving myself and to finish off insulating the cabin. I joined her and installed the wiring for the lights that I had bought to go in. I wanted to get the wiring done before the inner wall panels go on, after all we really do not want surface mounted wires spoiling the dark oak wainscoting and rococo architrave, now would we.

It was not all hard work up at The Farm. I was able to enjoy the warm sunshine and eat a bit of croust while sitting in a chair outside the cabin. It was so warm in fact that I had to shed a layer or two. I am not often able to laze about in the sunshine and just because it is November, I saw no reason not to take advantage. I shall be quite amazed if I do not have a sun tan by the morning.

We would have stayed a little while longer, but the veterinary doctor called to say that they no longer wanted the bleddy hound and could be have her back, please. She had done very well under the anaesthetic and the x-ray revealed an inflamed cruise ship ligament - odd name, I know, but I am sure that is what he said - and that her back leg is a little loose in the joints. The veterinary doctor explained that he did not want to operate, which was a relief - both to the bleddy hound and our bank balance, I would imagine - and has given her a course of anti-inflammatory pills to take. She is under strict instructions not to exercise, which will be interesting.

After such a busy day, it was pleasant not to do very much in the evening. It remains to be seen what day tomorrow will be.

November 7th - Thursday

It seemed particularly chilly this morning and I was tempted to ignore the bleddy hound lying across my legs, her failsafe way of waking me up. When I got out of bed, I confirmed that it was particularly chilly today but soldiered on bravely, as the bleddy hound would brook no delay in taking her out.

It was particularly chilly on the Harbour beach, too, and had clearly been quite breezy down there as the sand had blown over the oar weed all over the beach. I suppose that could have been from yesterday as the tides are very small this week, but I was not really paying attention. I can tell you that any stiff breeze that there might have been had gone, leaving just a light blow that was not causing too many problems.

Although penned in as the only good day this week (month?), I did spectacularly little about going out into it. I shall just wait until it is horrible and mucky and go out in that instead. There was actually a reasonably good reason to be in and pinned to a computer screen for most of the day - other than sheer laziness - and that is that I have found a new toy to play with. It is like a spreadsheet crossed with a database and sits out there in the ether and therefore is accessible from near enough anywhere. This makes it particularly suitable for being used as an inventory tool so that the Missus can update it live from the offsite store. It is much cleverer than a normal spreadsheet and can incorporate pictures as well as store documents related to individual products or suppliers. I spent the day trimming our current inventory spreadsheets so that they can be uploaded and converted to the new system. After this, I shall play to see what it can do.

I did get off my bottom to venture into the shop - I know, I did have to lie down afterwards - which was ostensibly to get some dinner out of the freezer for tonight. While I was there, I wanted to investigate our light switch, which has become possessed, it seems. Random pairs of lights switch themselves on, randomly; we can hear the buzzing sound they make from the flat. The other possibility is that someone is trying to gaslight us.

Last year I installed a wireless switch - which the Highly Professional Craftsperson came later and installed properly - that has served well and been most useful. Previously, we had to flail about in the dark trying to find the switches which are away from the door (did I mention it is the first electric sliding door in The Cove and possibly the first and last in the country?), behind the counter, now we can turn them on remotely. I thought that cutting the power to the switch and rebooting it might work. It did not. I have another on order.

The Missus was a bit more productive and she also managed to get out of the flat for a jaunt. She spent the morning in the kitchen cooking things and then took the bleddy hound to the veterinary doctors - again. It was toward the end of last week that she had dropped to her worst limping and lolloping so we had decided to escalate the investigation into what is wrong. Of course, this week she has been improving, but we decided to take her anyway. The upshot of this is that she will need x-rays, so will have to go again tomorrow.

After the veterinary visit, the Missus called in to the hire company in Penzance to see what the situation was with our new generator order. The upshot of that was it still had not arrived by the time she got there in the middle of the afternoon. This was exceedingly disappointing as we will need it tomorrow to finish the roof. It is not often you can say this about large chain stores, but the customer service ethic was exemplary. In the absence of our own generator, they lent us one of theirs and said that they would prepare a free extension cable for the new unit so that we can plug in a three pin plug. We will drop the loan unit back tomorrow when we have finished with it. How very civilised.

Talking of being civilised, we all gathered for a spot of Lifeboat training in the evening. There was no launch planned due to the sea state that had been lumpy and agitated all day. It was even surfable in some places but generally messy and unhelpful. We did, however, demonstrate which switches turn on the leading lights and which ones were not working. If you recall, we had problems on Sunday night which meant that the boat could not come back. Hopefully that will not be an issue again.

We were released quite quickly after our meeting and after some errands at home I repaired to the OS for a spot of quizzing. I was not aware at the time, but our arch quiz rival was not present. I was quite chuffed when we won but knowing he was absent rather took the edge off it. The Highly Professional Craftsperson also won the raffle but managed to choose the wrong card and only came away with a fiver.

The bleddy hound was keen for a run around the block when we came home. The rain had drifted off somewhere and there was only some damp in the air on the way around. It was quite pleasant after the chill and wet recently. There were even stars in the sky. It could be a bit chillier tomorrow morning but the Missus, bless her, dressed my bed with the electric blanket while I was gone.

November 6th - Wednesday

The bleddy hound was once again keen to get me out of bed early. The first time because she wanted a drink and could not be bothered to get off the bed to get it herself and the second time because it was the usual, shop open, time to go out. I cannot do much about the water issue, but the plan is to slowly get her out later and later. This comes to grief at Christmas time when the shop re-opens and we have to go out earlier again.

At least it was fairly temperate when we stepped out. There was a little rain in the air but not so much as to require any waterproofs. The big winds have diminished, which was a major relief; if they had stayed in the north with rain on the way, the shop would flood out as it blows under the shop door. Did I mention that it is the first electric sliding door in The Cove and very probably the first and last electric sliding door in the country?

As it was, the big rain we were promised today never materialised, or at least not until the middle of the afternoon, after we had largely finished doing anything that required doing outside. In fact, when I looked at the weather radar just before I took the bleddy hound out again in the early afternoon, it looked like someone was holding a big umbrella over us and the rest of the Far West peninsula, with rain all around outside a five mile radius. From the middle of the afternoon, it came down in buckets, ceaselessly and without stopping. It was that persistent.

The Missus was off shopping again in the late morning with Mother in tow. I had asked her to drop into the tool hire place in Penzance as we need a generator to finish off the reroofing of the stables. I was in the process of completing the online form when I discovered that I was just about to purchase a generator instead of hire one. I was a little confused because the purchase price was less than I expected to hire one. So surprised was I that I had to telephone the company to make sure that it was not an error. It rather went against my basic principle of buy cheap, buy twice but I took the risk anyway and we will have to foray out to Penzance again tomorrow to pick it up. We shall probably discover that it can light a bicycle lamp, on a good day, downhill with the wind behind it and I shall look very silly.

I took the opportunity to whizz the bleddy hound around the usual non-beach route before the rain headed in. She was looking much better on her pins, although made a bit more heavy weather of it uphill, which is probably familiar for many of us. I had left her at the foot of our stairs (to be read in a Northern accent, of course) with instructions to stay and made a fuss of her when I returned for doing what she was told - for once. I promised her a treat and sent her to the steps, expecting to have to carry her up as we have for the last several weeks; she sprinted up by herself. I have been trying her on turmeric pills for about a week. I am rather hoping that it is they providing the miracle cure, especially as they are relatively cheap.

Talking of cheap, the much maligned council, after discovering that it could not afford its new waste collection arrangement, has cut its coat according to its cloth to reach its stated aims of increasing recycling rates and found that it can make a matinée jacket - a size too small and without buttons. Now, it is proposing that both refuse and recycling collections will go to fortnightly with a new food waste collection weekly. In other words, a reduction in service from what we have now from which it insists that it will achieve its 50 percent recycling rate - which is hardly an inspiring target for a council that has agreed a climate emergency.

In a scary moment of utter genius, to afford the weekly food waste collections, it is taking out the remaining recycling points across the Duchy. It is an error of monumental proportions for the much maligned council to tender for a Rolls Royce service when it could only afford a Robin Reliant, second hand.

The new contract starts in April 2020, when the recycling points will be closed, but the new collections will not start until April 2021. It was hard enough to recycle anything if you were not a householder and now it will be nigh on impossible. If the much maligned council really wants to increase its rates it will need to make recycling easy for people and this comes nowhere close.

Some good and bright news to end today. Some of you who visited in the last weeks of our opening will know that the Missus cooked up the idea of knitting poppies designed to hang on a dog collar or harness. They flew out to the point the Missus found it hard keeping up. On the basis of the donation we asked for I calculate 40.3 recurring left the shop. The Missus dropped the collection of £121 to the collecting man in Tesmorburys and got a certificate to prove it. Thank you so much all who had one or donated anyway.

November 5th - Tuesday

Well, I must say that this is not a very good holiday; it has rained every day since we got here.

I am rather glad, though, that we were not recovering the Lifeboat today. I was slapped in the face by a fresh fifty miles per hour wind from the north when I opened the front door, first thing. While we were out, bleddy hound and I, one of the many sharp squalls blew in whipping us with needle-sharp rain. The sea seemed quite upset by it all and waves around five feet high were rolling onto the long slipway and spray was regularly smoking over the top of Brisons. I had to be quick after the bin people had been through to right and tie up our wayward wheelie bin, as it was starting to depart after it had been emptied.

I decided to concentrate on clearing up some of the administrative tasks that were outstanding as they did not mean going out into the elements. Sadly, these did not last too long so I suggested to the Missus that we would go and have a crack at moving the big rock that had fallen into the lane. I told her to go via our building supplier at St Just on the way back from picking up Mother and getting a couple of jemmy bars to help lever the rock out of the way.

While she was gone, I took the bleddy hound out for a run around the block. She is still lolloping a bit but there does seem to be some improvement and my mission since we have been closed is to get her exercised a bit more. This would be much easier if it would just stop raining for a bit. The sea was using most of the Harbour so I took her around through the Harbour car park. Here I witnessed the rare event of someone parking in the car park and paying for a ticket. I had thought to tell her there were plenty of drives to park across and buses to obstruct on the road, but she seemed quite happy, so I left it.

As normal, we headed back along Coastguard Row and were pleasantly surprised by the state of 'Betty's' garden, which had been cleared. Since her demise and the selling of the house, the once pristine garden opposite the cottages has been left to go its own way. Quite by chance, a long time visitor and one time friend of Betty sent me a message yesterday telling me that Betty shuffled off in 2012. The garden has been growing wild since then. All the garden has been cleared of weed and dead things and the shrubs have been pruned right back. The granite steps down to what was the thatched cottage at the bottom have been painstakingly cleaned up and all the wees removed. Although it is winter and nothing is in bloom, the garden is looking spruce once more.

Call me a cynical grumpy shopkeeper, if you will, but I cannot help thinking that the clearance was not done for its own sake. When the plot was sold originally, planning permission was sought to rebuild the cottage and was turned down. I have not checked but I am assuming something is afoot in that direction again.

The Missus picked me up on the way back and we headed out to the lane up to The Farm. I walked ahead with the larger jemmy bar that the merchants had lent us. The Missus had said that it was probably heavier than the rock we were about to move and when I started sinking in the mud on the way to the rock, I though she might have a point; it was some heavy. I walked ahead of the truck as I would have struggled to get out in the narrowness of the lane and discovered that the rock had already been moved. We had asked a friendly farmer if he could sort it out for us, which he had clearly done and not told us. It was very kind of him. The lane would still be difficult to traverse in an ordinary vehicle, flooded in places and deep in mud in others, so having the truck is paying off.

The heavier rain had gone but the north wind was still blasting in across the fields filled with moisture. We were very exposed up at The Farm and stopped only to try and start the tractor, which we were unable to do. We were going to leave it with the local garage to give it a good service and repair but have now asked them to collect it instead. We also noted that the 100 miles per hour winds lashing across there have damaged the rear wall of the shed that we were trying to repair. I think we were surprised that the whole of the stable block had not been flattened.

The rest of the afternoon was a very sedate affair, which I think included a bit of a zizz. I have missed my middle of the day 'power breaks' so I am hoping that I can make them a feature of my holiday. I suspect, however, that the list of things to do, some hanging over from last year's off season, may scupper my plans. Four months of no shop suddenly is looking very short.

November 4th - Monday

LifeboatIconWe had a fair turnout on the shore side for our launch of the Lifeboat at half past two o'clock but it was a little light on the boat. The call was initiated by the Coastguard which had identified an EPIRB emergency beacon signal, bleeping away somewhere south of St Buryan. Oddly, but not uniquely, the signal was coming from dry land but because the services must allow for a ten mile radius of error, both Penlee and our own Lifeboat were called to search the area of the circle that was in the sea.

Two hours of fruitless search later, the boats were stood down and returned to station. Heading towards low water, there was still some rough water on the slip and combined with a problem with the onshore leading lights, it was decided to put off recovery until daylight and high water in the shelter of the Harbour. The boat slunk off to Newlyn for a while and we waiters retired home for a few hours then mustered again half an hour before the expected arrival time of half past eight o'clock.

There was rather more movement at the toe of the short slip at half past eight o'clock but at least the swell was coming in head on rather than across the toe. We set up and hoped for the best. At the time that the boat arrived, the conditions were poor but not too challenging and we affected a textbook recovery up the short slipway, which is what you need on a day like today. All that while we avoided the heavy squalls that lashed through every hour or so. We are, after all, a very adaptive, very excellent Shore Crew.

We were clear early enough to allow me to slip off to the gymnasium, although today there was no particular hurry, but I do prefer to not leave my gymnasium sessions too late. We did have great plans to have a look at the rock that has fallen into the lane and preventing us from getting to The Farm. The temperature has dropped a few degrees since Saturday, which would not have presented a problem but the frequency of the squalls blowing through offered no great incentive to get myself off my bottom and out of the door. The only thing to do that was the bleddy hound who has a more pressing necessity, although come the appointed time she was far from keen to follow me out.

I am not particularly surprised, as each foray out of the door was preceded by five minutes of togging up in full metal jacket waterproofs, for me that is, she has a fur coat. I became a bit more proficient at the togging up bit by the third time of running out with her.

We foster an environment of creativity and innovation here at The Diary, although I can imagine that it may not always be that obvious to the casual observer, of indeed, ever. This is why I felt that I should point out that there is a new page on the website that sets out the chronological list of events in The Cove. I have creatively called it the Sennen Cove Timeline and innovatively put it on its own page. While I realise that this may fox some, dear reader, who are still blissfully unaware that there are other pages apart from The Diary, I am sure that in time they will work it out. Indeed, I may well celebrate its finding by the event's own entry in the Timeline.

The Diary realises that there are other events of momentous importance that have been left off the Timeline. Here we encourage readers to send in relevant facts, which can then be added but we do urge participants to ensure that the suggestions can be evidenced. If you would be so kind to avoid instances of Aunt Mabel losing her teeth on the beach in 1982, or young Johnny's first hang ten I would deeply appreciate it.

November 3rd - Sunday

I was slightly concerned at the information that the breeze was heading to the north west, the most uncomfortable direction for us in terms of wind strength. It was much diminished from yesterday but with nothing to stop it, we would get the full brunt instead of just gusts around corners. When I stepped out first thing and down to the Harbour beach with the bleddy hound, the gusty breeze that jumped over the wall to get us was heavily laced with fine rain. I had prepared, as I knew there were showers about, but it was still quite a sudden slap in the face.

The weather improved quite a bit during the day - the wind stayed in the west - and by the middle of the afternoon we had some sporadic sunshine. The sudden showers persisted, however, but did not deter the smattering of people who were determined to come out regardless. The sea, too, was much better behaved today despite the evidence of a heavy rolling swell underpinning it all. It also receded a fair bit more at low water, which was very good of it.

Just for tradition's sake I had three occurrences of people apologising for handing over large notes. It should be well known by now that we do not care how large the note that we are given as long as people do not stop doing it. I was told that it must be a complete nightmare being given a twenty pound note for two pasties. I disagreed and told the lady that being given a five pound note for two pasties was a nightmare; it is not enough. I think she saw my point.

It seemed strange not going around the shop determining orders for the next day - almost wrong. I had to turn away our pasty lady who called in the middle of the afternoon. I will teasingly get these calls for a few days before word gets around to all the order takers. I also had to make a note of the things that will go out of date before our Christmas opening. We will give these items away to the poor and needy of the parish. Obviously we do not tell them it is because they are poor and needy - people can take umbrage at such things - but if you have us dropping by with some cans and bottles, dear reader, telling you it is because we are nice people, it is not.

Stop press. I have just finished my check and there is not very much at all. Most of it will be fine for our Christmas opening, especially if I can change the date label a bit, so I am afraid the poor and needy of the parish will just have to hang on a little longer.

I was so distracted come six o'clock that I almost did not close on time. I need not have worried too much about going out of date stock as the Missus took Mother down there just before she went home and between them split up all the freezer worthy goods.

Since I do not have to get up early in the morning, other than for the bleddy hound, I can afford to stay up a bit later. I tried this but felt far too sleepy to do it for long, so went to bed about half an hour after normal. This worked out to be the correct plan of action as my Lifeboat pager went off at half past two o'clock to a launch into pretty poor conditions.

November 2nd - Saturday

There was some air in the damp this morning ...

We were told the wind would reach 80 miles per hour here and it did but that was just on the way to 112 miles per hour, recorded at Gwennap Head at six o'clock in the morning. The bleddy hound was not overly impressed and took some cajoling just to go across the road for two minutes. I cannot say that I blame her.

Grey Bay
Oh what a grey bay.

I did manage to get some of the outside display out, firmly tied to the wall. It just gets in the way if it is left inside. I made an exception of the windbreak stand, not because it is too flimsy but due to the polythene coverings that rattle in any wind and become seriously irritating after a while.

Needless to say, we were not overcome with customers. There were not many storm watchers around, either. It might have something to do with various roads being closed thanks to fallen trees and the like and a general warning not to go out unless it was necessary, contributed. Largely, I would have thought that it was a widespread desire not to go out in it and be satisfied to watch what was going on through the window.

Mother had a clear view out of her window of her greenhouse being taken apart. I telephoned her early on because I had heard that there were power outages there. She had been advised early on by her experienced friends that you cannot have a greenhouse in St Buryan, as amply demonstrated by Mother's two successive greenhouse failures and the film, Straw Dogs, where the greenhouse glass was smashed to pieces by naughty locals. I seem to recall some comment that a member of my family ended up with the greenhouse frame and its original, unbroken glass but they lived in Pendeen, so that was alright.

The blown out, heavy swell provided some entertainment for most of the day. At the outset there was a bay full of white water. Seven Stones Buoy had the swell between 20 and 30 feet at various times, but it had lost some of its power by the time it reached us. Come low water and there was not a great deal of difference as the tide, having expended much energy getting in, refused to go out again - from the beach, at least. We lost another channel marker, washed into shore just below the shop. I had thought that I might venture down at low tide and pick it up, but someone must have got there before me.

There was a bit more action in the afternoon with some new arrivals investigation the shop's stock. They were, of course, immediately disappointed to find out that we were only open for just one more day. I have little doubt that the remaining days of this week will be about as busy as today was, which would make our overheads more expensive than the money we took over the counter. Time to call a close, I am afraid.

When I dragged the bleddy hound out last thing, there were stars sparkling above us. Had it been during the daylight hours we would have had a nice big sunshiny day but since I was able to venture out in some slack trousers and a hooded top instead of full metal jacket waterproofs, I will settle for the view of Polaris.

November 1st - Friday

There was some damp in the air as the bleddy hound and I went out into the world this morning. She dillied and dallied all the way around, which I did not mind too much as we were a tad earlier than usual. I do like to have all my senses awake and aware as we walk around as there is so much to see, hear, smell and feel and every walk can be subtly different. This morning I especially noted how naturally quiet it was; there was not a human sound to be heard. All that was there was the sound of the sea and a single robin chirping away and it was sublime.

We had a bit of rain pass through early on in the day. There was not very much to it at all, but it left us grey and mizzly until the next, heavier lump of rain came through later in the afternoon.

It left us particularly quiet. Many people left today and many more who were due to leave tomorrow decided to leave today as well, ahead of some beefy winds on their way overnight. One family, staying in a caravan said that the sixty miles per hour winds during the week were a little testing but they were not sure they wanted to try out the stronger winds coming overnight.

We are asked regularly now when our last day will be as there is a general expectation that we would close at some point. People also say that I must be looking forward to having a rest and jetting off somewhere. I am certainly not jetting off anywhere; I could not think of anything less restful. I am, though, looking forward to a bit of a rest before all the other jobs that have mounted up over the season kick in. I have mixed feelings because I miss the interaction we have with customers and seeing regular and new people arrive. Even if we did not close from Monday it is unlikely that I would see many people new or regular arrive to speak with.

Some of the highlights of these meetings are included here for your delectation, dear reader, and it put me in mind of a moment of curious interest yesterday when two small, accompanied, children came into the shop. The girls bought a surf bracelet each and wanted them in separate little bags, which I was very pleased to do. The bags were, of course, pink as we do like to maintain those gender stereotypes while it is not yet a crime to do so.

As the bags were identical, the first small child took out a pen and wrote her name on the bag, watched with great interest by the other, smaller child. When I handed the smaller girl her bag she too wanted to write her name on the bag but bigger child would not let her borrow the pen, so I lent her my special work pen - it is pink with a large diamond at the top, which for some reason none of the delivery drivers has thus far walked off with, but I digress. Smaller child had clearly not yet completely learnt the art of scribing but gave it her best shot. Her name evoked Switzerland and the Alps, which she wrote with great confidence and accuracy … from right to left, complete with reversed letters.

Intrigued, I asked the parent if that was something small children learning to write did. I thought that maybe she was left handed but had not quite worked that out yet. Sadly, the parent was just as in the dark as I was. I had a little geek at the Internet and discovered that it was a common phenomenon. I do not care; it tickled me pink.

There were smatterings of leavings and a few arrivals during the day and overall none too shoddy for a second to last day of being open. The expected heavy rain never materialised but it was not exactly dry all day. Toward closing time, the promised winds had just started to warm up. I am expecting tomorrow to be quite bleak.

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