The Sennen Cove Diary

January 31st - Wednesday

We had an unexpectedly full day today and actually did things and had lots of unexpected things happen, to boot.


It was the Missus who did the unexpecting first by telling me that we would go to The Farm to sort out the barn and burn the cardboard today. I reported on Monday that we had eschewed Tuesday as the day to do the work as it was Mother’s day and likely to be too cold up at The Farm. This prompted an unexpected response from Mother saying that she should not carry the blame for us not going. This rebuke seemed to fall at my door, but I should like to point out in my defence, that I was not the canceller. I merely reported the cancellation. Etiquette forbids me to say exactly who did the cancelling, of course, and I am not stool pigeon either and would never drop the Missus in it like that. 


The meeting I had with the builder, and had cancelled my blistering gymnasium session for, almost did not happen. He sent me a message near the appointed time to tell me he was still in Camborne. I cannot imagine what he might have been doing on the edge of the known world like that but no wonder he was going to be late. I told him that if he was not here by eleven o’clock, we would reschedule because we were keen to get going up to The Farm.


It was not quite the eleventh hour that he turned up, just half an hour before it. I managed to elicit from him the expected duration of the various tasks ahead. I will transfer this to a calendar shortly to see where we will be and when during the weeks ahead. He came bearing good news, too. The steel will be ready a week ahead of schedule. I will wait and see.


We left for The Farm just as soon as the builder had gone. The last time we were both there together was during the stock count and I discovered today, that we still had elements of the count still to do as some of it was buried in the mess littering the barn floor.


The Missus was keen to get burning as soon as we got there, around noon o’clock or thereabouts. There was already quite a bit of cardboard sitting at the front of the barn and I pulled that out and dropped it by the incinerator. The incinerator is the drum from an old industrial tumble drier. I think we had it from the Ice Cream Kiosk when they did their renovations there last year or the year before. As bizarre as that sounds the Ice Creak Kiosk used to be The Cove laundry and the driers were the last things to be taken out.


I noticed when I was at The Farm last that the incinerator had a hole in the side, worn through over-use. I had already reported this to the Missus, and she spent some time initially winding some metal mesh around it to contain the expected ash. I had to return to The Cove for a couple of forgotten items and by the time I returned, the Missus had got the fire going.


My job in all this was to provide the fuel for the fire. I had already dragged four big boxes of cardboard from the barn to where the Missus was working, which was plenty to keep her going for a while. It was plain that my part in all this was going to be over sooner that the part the Missus had. Rather than complete my rather tedious job all at once I broke up the boredom by attending to the triffid sized weeds in the polytunnel. 


Some were ferns, which I could easily identify but others looked more like outsized spinach and possibly were. Others resembled hogweed, and I treated it as such just in case it was. I filled two stalls of my homemade compost shed with the resulting foliage, which was very satisfying if not entirely efficient: they will grow back by the time the Missus comes to plant anything.


When we had headed out of The Cove in the late morning, there was mist swirling about. As we ascended into the heavens of Sennen village, the mist thickened. So thick was it that some drivers felt compelled to put on their parking lights, but it clearly needed to be completely opaque before the majority of drivers felt any illumination at all was necessary. It seems to me that the philosophy of ‘I do not need my lights on because it will not help me to see’ rather than ‘I need my lights on to help others see me’ is a metaphor for modern living.


The mist had added a chill to proceedings at The Farm, which was only evident when I stopped working. The Missus in front of her furnace probably did not feel it at all. The mizzle that greeted me first thing and had initially put me off coming up at all left us pretty early on. The breeze, that was the other factor affecting our plans – that the Missus ignored completely – was nowhere near as brisk as was threatened and did not give any problem with the fire as I feared it might.


I returned to my cardboard duties and produced more fuel for the Missus’ fire. At the same time, I uncovered other stock items that we had not counted. The bodyboards, which as you might expect are the biggest and bulkiest items in the barn were sorted into their different sizes as I went along. It took a while but all the bodyboards are now stacked in orderly towers and the stock that we did not know we had, is counted and recorded.


Most importantly, all the gash cardboard has been removed from the barn. At the end I was left waiting for the Missus to finish the last four boxes of cardboard – all my work done and more. It took four hours or more in all, which is a great deal of burning. I suspect that we could have heated half the village had we been clever enough to contain the energy we expended. We shall look into this for the next time we do it. 


In between my part in this downfall, I de-weeded some of the polytunnel and the raised beds, hammered in the windbreak protecting (or not) the back end of the polytunnel, fixed the water pump feeding the cabin sink, loaded the truck with items destined for the tip, sorry, Household Waste Recycling Centre and walked ABH around the field. 


Throughout the half day or more that we were at The Farm, ABH wandered here and there, explored, reacquainted herself with the taste of rabbit doings and explored some more. She got herself wet from the outset in the long grass and as the day progressed got a little cold. She is smart enough to realise this and sought shelter occasionally, but the world is far too interesting a place to remain out of it for long. We did not quite realise just how filthy she was until she climbed into bed later. She even smelled like freshly dug earth.


All told, she had a very long afternoon of being busy and putting her nose in here and there all over The Farm. It was only half an hour or so before we wrapped up that she showed signed of slowing down. Normally, she would have rests between exercise during the day and, I have often worried, that she spends extended periods doing nothing at home. I put her in the truck as I was clearing up near the end of our work. I took her out having moved the truck because she looked like she wanted to. The next time I looked, she had jumped back in and nestled in her car seat. Later, when we got back home, she took herself upstairs to bed and we did not see her for the rest of the evening.


I had collected a couple of sacks of rubbish from The Farm, the product of my cleaning up as I went through the barn. I slung these in the back of the truck with the intention of dropping them in our big commercial bin at the front of the shop. There were two things wrong with that. The first is that one of the bags snagged as I took it out of the truck and deposited a geet pile of dust into my shoe that I had placed there when I changed into my wellies. The other was that the bin that I intended to drop the bags into, was no longer there.


It immediately crossed my mind that Basho had exacted some terrible revenge and had come and taken the bin hostage. That, incidentally, still remains a possibility. The other option was that our new company wanted to provide us with a new and shiny bin at the start of the contract, which given the economics of these things was highly unlikely. I sent a message to the Highly Professional Craftsperson to see if he remembered which company took it away but he told me it was already gone when he arrived in the morning.


This presents something of a mystery. I do not recall when I last used the bin, but it was fairly recent. I was reasonably sure it was there during the day yesterday, which means that it either disappeared late in the day or early, before eight o’clock, in the morning or even more unlikely, during the night. By the time we came home, it was too late to call the new company or Basho to establish if it was either of them or just some thief in the night. Whoever it was took a bin full of rubbish, which was some advantage, I imagine. If both companies deny responsibility for its disappearance, I shall need to report it to the police as theft, if only for insurance purposes. That, I am sure, will be an interesting conversation – theft, you say; a bin full of rubbish, you say; have you been drinking, sir?


I shall go and contemplate the bottom of my crystal whisky glass, I think.

January 30th - Tuesday

We had a very slow morning. Perhaps it was the drop in temperature. Yesterday we were being roasted in a steamy thirteen degrees and this morning we were down to six. Even after the sun had a chance to warm things up, we still only reached seven degrees and that was without adding in the wind chill from a firm northerly breeze.


I was not wholly idle. There was the preparation for the meeting with the builder in the late afternoon, which was later commuted to the following morning. I needed to make sure I had covered everything and roughly knew most of the answers to the questions I had intended to ask. The only unknowns were the length of time each task would take and whether they could be carried out concurrently and those were the critical factors.


We also have a frequent supply of invoices arriving, which passes the time pleasantly. The builders have cart blanche access to our builders’ merchant accounts – I am not sure how many grumpy shopkeepers keep two accounts with builders’ merchants -  and the first I see of their spending is when the invoices arrive. I am keeping detailed tabs on project spending, not because I do not trust the builders, I do, but the budget is tight. All the invoices are recorded against the available funds, so I have a real-time view. I know some people have model railways for amusement, but this is much more edgy.


At last, I also managed to send off our early bird order to the beachware company I visited before Christmas. It was only after I came back that I learnt that I could have combined that visit with the trade show visit earlier this month. I probably could have done it without an extra night away, so I will make a note for next year.


By the middle of the day, the Missus was ready to go and collect Mother from St Buryan. I told her that I would make ready with ABH for when she came back so that she could drop us off at Land’s End for a stank back. We both felt that the little girl had already had quite a bit of exercise this week and going to and from Land’s End might be a bit much. We made the mistake of making such decision about ABH’s welfare without consulting her, which proved to be something of a mistake.


I had elected to be dropped at the end of the cycle path as the easier route of the two to come back on. ABH at first seemed quite keen to get out of the truck and have a geek at the Shetland pony in the field there. It was only when the Missus was pulling away that she decided that she did not wish to be parted from her and chased after the truck. She was too late. For the first half of our journey back home I had to constantly drag her to get her to move in the right direction. It was not that pleasurable for either of us.


It did get a little easier eventually and she began to sniff at the hedgerows again after a while. There was one spot in particular that she did not seem overly keen to be parted from. It took me a moment or two to determine that it was the severed head of a bird. I dragged her away and while she feigned interest in other things she kept being drawn back to the same spot. A sort of bird’s head revisited, if you will. It was a war of attrition but not a very even war. I won in the end because I am bigger and have better puns.


We soldiered on, which seemed appropriate, and I decided that it would be cheating to cut across the moor and down the cliff. I opted to head down Maria’s Lane and Stone Chair Lane for a change and also because it is a little bit longer. It is also a cracking good view as you descend the Lane and all The Cove and the bay is laid out below you. There was a lone paddleboarder just to the east of Cowloe where there were some decent waves rolling in. Oddly, with such reasonable surf for a change, he was the only one out there across the whole of the bay.


It is the sort of view you could stop and gaze at for a long while, especially on a day like today. I was not the only one to think so and we stopped to chat with a builder and Lifeboat crew member who was doing just that while his batteries charged – real ones, not the metaphorical sort. The view is the reason why some happy soul decided to build a memorial stone chair – not the one that gave the lane its name – right at the top with the best view. Oddly, I have never seen anyone sat there and we were certainly not going to as ABH was far to keen to get home.


We came past the shop on the way back. The boys had cracked on today and were shipping out the granite from the walls. Some of these blocks are at least a couple of feet square and must weigh a ton. It crossed my mind to add them to the notice we put out across the locality regarding the availability of our windows. The Missus had already dissuaded me from offering those as memorabilia, the original windows from the one-time Lifeboat station 1876 – 1896. It would be slightly less disingenuous to say the same for the granite blocks, but I think the moment had passed and I did not dare ask again.


The boys were dropping the heavy granite blocks down timbers laid down the steps. It was unusual for the Highly Professional Craftsperson to play so fast and loose with his welfare. He admitted that he had forgotten to wear steel toe-capped boots today. I offered him a pair of mine while he was moving the granite but he turned me down. Since I might well be liable to accidents on site, I told him not to come running to me if a block fell on his foot. Having offered suitable protection and in front of witnesses, I told him than in court he would not have a leg to stand on.


Come, come, dear reader. You would not have expected any less of your Diarist, surely.


Talking of heavy things, my weights turned up today, earlier than I anticipated. The two parcels were a combined weight of 30 kilograms plus the cardboard. Therefore, it bemused me rather that the delivery man arrived at the door having marched up the slope from the road not even breathing heavily. I mentioned the weight and the smug begger just shrugged it off having carried all of the weights up in one. I waited until he was gone before I picked up the two packages separately and dragged them indoors.


Far be it from me to suggest that any user of the gymnasium apart from me is dishonest. However, I did feel that marking each of the weights with the name of the shop would be a sensible idea, even just in case the owner of the set that was there before brings his back and they become confused. I put together the set that I would be using and put the spare weights back into the box they came in. Seeing me load them into the back of the truck, the Missus questioned why I was not walking them down to the gymnasium. I was about to suggest that perhaps she might like to demonstrate how that would go but thought better of it as she probably would.


The bright sunshine of the morning had not lasted long and high level cloud provided more of a hazy filter for the rest of the day. This allowed for some spectacular sunset scenes later with large portions of the sky in oranges and reds as the sun dived away.


On our last walk out as the Missus took Mother home, it seemed much warmer in The Cove. All the time that Mother was with us we did not have to light the fire as indeed we had on Sunday that, on record, was a warmer day. It was a bit of a paradox, but it was most likely because the northerly breeze had dropped right away in the latter part of the afternoon. We shall have to see what exciting weather we have tomorrow. I can hardly wait.

January 29th - Monday

Gosh, Monday already and nearly the end of January. My, my how time flies.


Mind, you would never think it was January. If I had woken up without the recollection of the time of year, I might have thought that I was in full spring. I have no idea if hibernating creatures are driven by air temperature or by some other arcane knowledge of the time in a season. If it is the former, they will no doubt wake in a state of utter confusion. From my personal experience, it is something you get used to.


There was no fear of icicles at the end of my nose while I carried out my dutiful 5,000 metre row in the morning. I thought that I was quite early when I got down there and as if to prove it, the room was still gloomy in the hut with a tin roof. Fortunately, I do not need much light and the screen on the rowing machine that tells me where I am in my row, has a backlight. I might have my heavier weights by the end of the week, and I shall look forward to tossing them about and giving my arms a proper workout. 


I stopped just after my row and opened the door to let some addition breeze through, such as was available in The Cove this morning. Even after a further half an hour of as much air as I could give it, I could still see the damp on the floor and the metal rungs of the machines were moist to touch – as indeed was I. Nevertheless, apart from the lack of weights, I still felt like I had enjoyed a proper blistering session as I made my way home.


As you well know, dear reader, I am bludgeoned into taking a certain young lady for a walk as soon as I get home. Happily, by that hour there was plenty of beach to run about on and so, we did just that. Well, she did. I watched from a vantage point in a largely stationary condition. There were no seals to be wary of and, in fact, very little of anything on the beach at all. It had been scoured clean by the still not insignificant swell, leaving just a few sticks and fronds of oar weed about here and there.


By the time I got back and had some breakfast, it was pushing the middle of the day. I had done a few work like things while I sat around but it did not take long before I felt that I was missing the opportunity of doing something a little more useful. I was more thinking aloud than talking to the Missus but when I mentioned finishing the count at The Farm and clearing up the cardboard, she said she was happy to run ABH out if I dropped her at the top of the hill. That was settled, then.


It took me almost as long as it took the Missus to give the little girl a good run, a couple of hours. The counting of the stock was the minor part as the pile of cardboard was mountainous. It was still mountainous when I had finished but at least it was all flattened. I had favoured having the local waste disposal company come and take it away, but the Missus was more in favour of burning it. It struck me that her option would take a fair bit of time, but she is confident that it would be a breeze. It is the breeze, however, that is the problem and the only day this week free of it is tomorrow, which is Mother’s day and it looks like it will be a bit chilly up there for her.


It is not quite a simple as that, either. Everything in the barn will have to be hauled out so that we can get to the cardboard that is piled up behind. It will also enable us to put back what is going back in some reasonable form or order. Hopefully, we will be able to move in there again after that and find things, too.


Perhaps I should qualify the previous statement. When I say “move in there again” I meant that there would be sufficient space in there to move about rather than use it as living accommodation. Although, the way things are going that may be a possibility.


I brought back a refuse sack full of rubbish, which was a little way in the right direction. We will have our first commercial waste collection at some point during the next couple of weeks. It will be the litmus test whether the new commercial waste collectors are any better than Basho. I cannot imagine that they could be any worse.


While in the mood for waste disposal and while we have a skip at hand – which is filling up fast – there are some items of detritus down the side of the flat that have been crying out for clearance for years. I do not remember when a local chap came along to sort out our flooding issue at the back, but he also removed an old iron drainpipe at the same time. That has resided there since then along with a couple of satellite dishes loving discarded by the satellite company who did not think it their job to take them away when they replaced them. There was also a hanging basket stand and our flat’s earth rod, which should have been replaced years ago. (Makes a mental note to include it in the work schedule when the electrician comes back to put our wires back in the living room.)


Hauling out the iron drainpipe was a labour indeed. The bend at the bottom of the pipe was buried in weed and earth and since I did not know the bend was there made me wonder why it did not come up as easily as I anticipated. In the end I had to hold on to various dilapidated structural bits to lower myself down until I could get a decent grip on it. My, it was heavy too. Perhaps I should have retained it for my weight training.


That was the sum total of today’s achievements, which did not seem to be very much at all. It was better than not doing them, but I cannot help but feel everything is contingent on what is happening down at the shop and the flat above. I have arrange to meet with the builder tomorrow to see if we can piece together a schedule for the coming weeks. We will know then just how deep in the mire we are and will feel much more comfortable, I am sure.

January 28th - Sunday

I had missed the last two Sundays at the range due to the trade show and the Missus going away. There was no need to be particularly determined about this week, but I was not going to miss a third in a row as I only go in the off season.


It was looking a bit bleak and gloomy outside the door and not much better when I was outside. There was a bit of drizzle in the air, but I had to wait until I had got to the top of the hill for it to turn to mizzle. Up at the range, it was smoking through, borne on a smart breeze from the southwest. I was the first one there but largely because the normal organisers are away on holiday. There are limited amounts I can do as I do not have a full set of keys. 


Some others arrived after I had been there about half an hour which is roughly what it took for me to do all the things that I could. This included climbing to the top of the quarry to fly the red range flag. It is a cracking view from up there but not so much today.


Despite the light mizzle that disappeared after a while, it was still unseasonably warm, and I found that I had to strip off a couple of layers. This was due in part to the running around I was doing helping to set things up. Unexpectedly, as the morning wore on, it became colder and colder until I relented and put my layers back on again. It in no way spoiled the enjoyment of the session that was well organised but with fewer attendees that we have been used to. It was over quicker, too, and I was back in The Cove in the early afternoon as the second session at the range was for something I do not do.


Since it is only half a day, I get to pick up Mother from St Buryan. I was going to drop into the shop there for milk until I remembered that they do not open on Sunday afternoon. Instead, I dropped into the shop at the top. You may recall, dear reader, that I was aghast to discover that the Co-Operative store in St Just was charging a phenomenal £1.35 for its milk. I was interested to see how much the shop at the top was charging and was pleasantly surprised that they still sell it at under £1 per litre. That is cheaper than I can currently buy it at wholesale price, but they operate under a fascia group and get better pricing through them.


It did not take me long to pack all my kit away and take ABH around the block for a spin. The Harbour beach was deserted but had clearly seen some action during the morning as it was all churned up. We ran around there for half an hour or so, giving ABH a small lesson in tides coming in as she found herself momentarily cut off on a rock on the tide line. 


As we walked up the slipway, we fell in with one of the local fishermen doing something to his boat there. We chatted for a good twenty minutes, much to chagrin of the little girl who had to drum her toenails to indicate her displeasure. I do know how she feels because I can still remember walks out with the Aged Parent when I was little and the ensuing interminable chat after bumping into someone we knew. It is probably the reason I have such an active imagination as I used to escape to a world inside my head to ward off the boredom.


Even at the weekends, we do not have respite from the building work going on at the shop and flat. I had received a message from the water board asking if I could do a meter reading for them. Last year they asked the same as they were inexplicably short of staff. I assumed the same this year but reading on, it told me that they could not get access to the meter. It crossed my mind that the workpersons had put something across it at an inopportune moment but when I went down to look, the scaffolders had placed one of the feet over the cover.


Clearly, this presents a potential problem as we have no way of turning off the water supply if we have a leak. In the normal run of things this may be low risk but with work people brandishing big drills and heavy work tools, the risk is somewhat higher. I can think of two solutions that do not involve taking down the scaffolding one involving an angle grinder to slice off the offending portion of foot and the other a sledgehammer, a hard hat and a fast pair of running shoes. I will progress this with the builder on Monday morning as a matter of some urgency.


Sunday afternoon fell into a doze of laziness with the occasional walking of ABH around the block. I will have to stir myself to action next week because, once again, this inaction is becoming attractive, and things are not being done. I might find that I review that position on Monday morning, which I really should not. The trouble is, as you get older and less flexible, it is increasingly difficult to kick yourself in the behind.

January 27th - Saturday

Our windows on the world, or out on our small part of it, at least, are gone. They are not gone far, just the other side of the road and we are hoping scavengers or other needy sorts take them away so that they do not fill up our pricey skip. Oddly, the little pile sitting there resting against the skip do not look enough to cover all the gaps left behind. Apparently, the windows were in the way of making the concrete pads for the steel works. The boys turned up this morning to get them out of the way.


It was a lovely day for it too, although I doubt that they boys would agree being stuck in a dusty room prising windows off their perches. We had clear but a little hazy skies from the outset which lasted most of the day. They might have lasted all day, but I did not take note of the latter stages of it.


ABH was late up again having plagued us in the night. She wakes me up then decides that she really does not want to go out. Last night I left her to it, but it took her ages to settle again, probably just as long as it took me to go back to sleep. It is difficult to know if there is something wrong or if it is just teenage angst. Anyway, by the time we went out half the morning had gone, and I had spent much of that time researching weights and dumbbells. I eventually selected some that will allow me some flexibility in their use and pressed the buy button later in the day. It was a weight off my mind.


Low water on spring tides is in the middle of the day moving through the afternoon as the week progresses. It meant taking the girl out a little sooner than I might otherwise have done as another beach walk was on the cards. I sense that she is becoming less enamoured by our walks across the big beach, and I think it is because there is not a great deal to do other than walk. There are no nasty niffs to sniff at or verges to explore. With that in mind, we headed left at the bottom of the OS slipway into the maze of rocks and rockpools exposed at low water. It was more interesting for me, too, twisting and turning around the rocks and looking toward the flock of gulls sitting among the rocks further along.


Since there is a limit to how far you can go in that area and how much interest can be garnered from a bunch of rockpools, we backed out and walked out across the beach. ABH was definitely less interested in this although she did find a small friend to run around with. Unfortunately, small friend was rather more interested in his ball that chasing ABH, so we parted company.


Seeing how things were going, I headed in the direction of the dunes around about where the Lifeguard hut is. I was contemplating going up the hill at this point and striking back on the Coast Path, much as I did the last time we were here. We skirted along the dunes for a short way while ABH took interest in every rock and bit of weed along the way. A few yards into the sniffing ABH came across a long deal conger eel. I think that I actually got away lightly as all she wanted to do is sniff it a bit. I pulled her away, but she went back. Pulling her away again she followed me on which probably saved me a rolling around in it. We were lucky that we did not head to the Harbour beach instead. We missed a seal that was subsequently picked up by the people who pick up sick seals. Apparently, it was barking and snapping at its rescuers, by no means happy about being saved.


We headed straight up the dune by the Lifeguard hut. The first part is a slope up the dune where the path forks. The left is the Lifeguard hut and to the right, the path up the Coast Path. Some Lifeguard weary of people taking the wrong turn has put a rock at the fork with “This is not a path” with an arrow pointing to the path on the left. If I had a suitable pen on me, I would have written below it, “This is not a rock”. 


The steps leading away to the right are deeper than they should be having been, eroded over time and difficult to mount. The same applies to the steps on the Coast Path as we descended towards The Beach car park. This will need some attention soon as at least one of them is not far off collapse.


There is still a fair bit of ground sea about, despite my prediction that it would ease off. I noted some spray lifting up on the footings of Pedn-men-du earlier, shooting high into the air. There were good clean waves coming across the big beach in the middle but over on Gwenver, the waves were big and tumbling in on the beach noisily. They were fun to watch and it was a shame we could not sit and watch them for a while but I do not think that ABH was in the mood for hanging around.


Our sterling workforce was just finishing off when we arrived back. One of them had some pictures of the unfortunate seal kidnapped off the beach. It will probably be released off one of the Cove beaches when it is deemed to be fit again. When we headed past the Harbour beach later on, I noticed that someone had written “SEAL” in big letters in the sand, which would have been very helpful when it was still there.


There was certainly not much doing during the afternoon. The Missus went off to visit a friend which put ABH in a mood. The Missus was gone for hours and arrived back shortly before teatime. She had gone off shopping to Hayle and tumbled through the door laden with bags brimming with foodstuffs much of which had to be put away in the shop.


This was probably quite fortunate as we would not have realised until later that the boys working in the flat had left their lights on. The great bulk of our polythene covered scaffolding was lit up like a giant Chinese lantern. I spoke with some neighbours who live on Maria’s Lane when I met them later on who said that it was quite impressive and was exceedingly prominent from above. Had the work been more timely, we could have put different coloured lights in there and had them as a Christmas display. I had to call the Highly Professional Craftsperson in the end because I could not work out where the lights had been plugged in. 


It had been a pleasant day all through, although perhaps a little cooler than during the week. When I went down to turn the lights off, it transpired that I had chosen the only fifteen minutes of the day when it had decided to rain quite heavily. Maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket.

Spot the dog

Lifeboat end

January 26th - Friday

I am told that we are world famous in the Duchy. A local radio station broadcasts the status of our scaffolding among other notable examples. I do feel that each should be rated in its own class. I cannot think that we should be compared to the Penzance Lloyds Bank building, but with something more suitable. We could win a prize.


Well, the storm with no name was a storm in a tea cup. It was all over by the morning and as for grey skies and mist, pah! We bite our thumbs at grey skies and mist when we have a glorious blue sky to admire.


Once again, the little girl was not keen to come out early doors with me. Who can blame her when she had me out of bed at four o’clock in the morning after having the Missus up at half past midnight o’clock. I think she is after having a right laugh at our expense. I spent the entire day requiring scaffolding for my eyelids.


It seemed like a good idea to head to the gymnasium to see if I could inject some life into my system. I was in a trance like state all the way along the road and could not have told you that the sea was starting to behave itself. It had rather less power in the ground sea than was evident over the last couple of days but this was yet low in the tide. This I discovered on the way back after a blistering session had knocked some sense into me and awoken my zest for life – for all of an hour or so.


I was a bit hampered for things to do today because I had a spectacles appointment in the early afternoon and the Missus had to run over and collect Mother in the late morning. I had already taken ABH out for a run after coming home from the gymnasium and other than that there was not much time for anything else.


We had visited the Harbour beach, of course, because there was lots of it. The sand was clean, and we were probably only the second visitors of the tide – three if you wish to include the sea. It had scampered off shortly after high water at around the same time I was taking ABH out in the small hours. She will normally find something to play with and today was no different. It only needs to be a lump of oar weed stalk or a cuttle bone, of which there are plenty, and she will dance around it and throw it in the air for ages.


Once again, the sea was an azure blue, reflecting the sky above it and much less flecked with foam than of recent days. There was still much churned up water around Cowloe which was whiter than a box full of Hollywood actors’ teeth. Occasionally, a high spurt of white water would rise into the air as a wave caught a rock just right, just to prove the swell was still there.


There was not much doing before I headed off to town in the afternoon. I dropped the Missus at the end of Sunny Corner Lane so she could walk ABH down the Valley and across the beach back home. It was a cracking afternoon for such things. It was not so much a cracking afternoon for heading into town and rather just go in for my spectacles, I headed to the ear ’ole man to see if I could get shorter tubes for my false ears. The current ones seem to be too long, and I shall try shorter ones to see if it makes a difference.


I also wanted to drop into the sports shop there to see if they stocked the weights I was looking for. The owner of the weights I use in the gymnasium, I assume, has reclaimed them leaving me with weights that are not heavy enough. The shop in town has some online but when I went in to ask, they apparently prefer to send such things in the post. I did remark that this seemed very unkind to postpersons but it did not seem to spark any concern.


Stepping away disappointed, I decided to try one of the outdoor activity shops of which there used to be an abundance in town for some boot socks. My current ones are showing signs of wear beyond usefulness and need to be replaced. I noticed that the Mountain Warehouse shop was closing down last time I was in town and when I visited today, they had fulfilled their promise. The Trespass shop which stood next door to Millets, had gone some time before. I was going to step into Millets and congratulate them for seeing off the competition but when I got there they too had closing down signage all over the place. 


Undeterred, I mentioned this to the very pleasant shop assistant who told me that they had been informed last year. It is another nail in the coffin of the high street and it is unlikely that these large shop premises will be easily filled again. She showed me some socks at very good prices and if I bought another pack, it would only be half price. Despite reminding me at the till just how much money I would save, I pointed out that I would be spending more not less by buying another pack and I was already not sure that I would ever use two pairs of walking socks, let alone four.


Having used up my excess time waiting for my spectacles appointment, I went and collected my new ones then headed back to the car park. Because the places I was visiting were at the bottom of town I parked in the Wharfside car park for convenience. There has been a lot of noise quite recently about the price of much maligned council car parking because they put all their charges up. I have found, certainly during winter when it makes concessions, that the prices are entirely reasonable. On the several occasions recently when I have parked at the bottom of town, I have paid a pound for one hour which has been more than sufficient time. Well done much maligned council. It may seem that I am always on at them but on the rare occasions they do something right, I am more than happy to congratulate them.


I could not be fagged to fiddle with my new false ears when I got back home. That will wait for another day. I did try out my new spectacles that will take some getting used to, I am sure. I then tried out my feet again while the Missus took Mother home and walked ABH up the road almost to the OS.


I met a neighbour of the way back and we stopped for a chat and catch up. It is the oddity of The Cove that during the summer there are people in abundance, and we are forever meeting and talking. During the winter, there are precious few of us about and we can go weeks without seeing even a close neighbour. In fact, today I was luck enough to see three, although two of those were at the same time.


It was a spectacular night with an almost full moon just rising to the left of Carn Olva and spreading its silver path out towards us across the water. Out in the bay the sea did rather look better behaved than we had seen it earlier roaring down Tribbens in front of an appreciative audience. The waves seemed to be just as big as they had been a day or two ago but probably not. They were coming over the wall as the tide fell away from high water and the Harbour itself was terribly unsettled. I had the feeling that this was probably last gasp as high pressure is building for the weekend, but I will reserve judgement for the morning.


You may have seen this before, dear reader, for which I apologise. It just seemed appropriate.


Dreams of Sun and Moon


The forest deep and silent blessed;

Wild flowers in mottled sunlight dressed

Stir with fragrant cooling breeze,

To kiss the moss clad bark of trees.


Trod we softly through the veil

Of fern and forest flower bell,

To rest in verdant pastures strewn

With multiples of coloured bloom.


As sunlight feeds the hungry spires

Of pine and ash and thicket briars,

So nourished by the moonlight gleam

Your eyes burn radiance through my dreams.


For we have had the moon;

Seen it shine;

Bathed in its silver light;

Kissed its carpet on the sea.

Just have I kissed,

With all the light around me wrapped,

In silver dreams,

The very light upon your lips.

And drunk with Neptune's arms around me

The cup of ocean in your eyes.

And I have stood untouched

Upon the Sun's most blasted plateau

To burn my body

In the furnace of your soul.

January 25th - Thursday

It was a day that was much the same stamp as yesterday but perhaps a little greyer and a little colder. I tried not to let that bother me until I spent an hour in the flat printing invoices and organising the despatch of a hooded sweatshirt purchased from our website. I wonder if you knew, dear reader, that there is, indeed, an online shop nestled close to the pages of The Diary on our website.


The flat has become a cold and unwelcoming place since we moved out. Before it was just cold. I fear that it will take a while, long after the builders have left – hopefully having completed their job – for us to settle back in again. It was always cold in the flat during the winter but the cold that is there now is a special damp and searching cold that works its way into the bones. I was happy to finish my work and leave.


It made me late for breakfast. Ordinarily, this would not have mattered but one of the options on offer today was to be dropped off at The Farm where I could have completed the stock count and broken down some of the many cardboard boxes that are sitting about in the barn. They originate from the rather odd ‘no dig’ philosophy that the Missus follows in her gardening. 


Very roughly, the plan is to lay down cardboard to stop weeds coming up and put compost on the top. I am sure it works just fine in a small garden or where the gardener is blessed with a fortune with which to purchase bags of compost. It just does not work sufficiently well when you have to put soil from the field on top of the cardboard that probably contains weed seeds in abundance. You only have to look across the field where we have disturbed the soil, the great forests of stalks grown up.


Still, I do not know why I mentioned it because I missed the bus because of my late breakfast and the Missus went off to Mother’s without me. She was going there as moral support for Mother who had surveyors attending – again. Mother was telling me that she had been beset by a plague of visitors surveying the ventilation, the electrics, the garden fences, the paintwork and anything else a team, different teams, of course, might be employed to look at – with the notable exception of shed doors that Mother must have fixed herself.


The surveyor visits are also notable not only for their proliferation but also the lack of work that follows on from them. Someone, somewhere is wasting an awful lot of money generating bits of paper for little or no purpose at all.


What I did have time for was a stank out across the beach big with ABH. Low water was roughly at the time the Missus left to go to Mother’s and I left for the beach about an hour later. We prefer to keep the long walk of the day to the middle of the afternoon so that the little girl is not left to doze too long with nothing to do. I am not sure that it works like that, but our theory is that she needs to be tired come bedtime. It is a bit like ‘no dig gardening’, a great theory on paper – or cardboard.


I had considered my lessons learned from yesterday and my too many layers. I then considered that I was still feeling the chill from sitting in the flat and put on all the layers I was wearing yesterday again. I reasoned that a walk across the beach was a tad less strenuous than up hill and down dale walking, albeit not very extreme, and thus I would not generate the sort of heat I did yesterday. It turned out that I was correct along with the fact that it was a mite colder today.


We were not long on the beach when we ran into a couple with their four month old French bulldog. The fellow works in the café next door and is very best pal of ABH especially as he brings sausages every now and again. Best pal gets the best pal treatment whenever he is encountered but today, ABH was a little perturbed by the presence of the bulldog. I mentioned before that her confidence has been knocked but I did not think it would stretch to the threat from a small puppy. It took a short while, but the two dogs started playing and chasing before long, which was good to see. It was also short-lived as the young lady with best pal had to get back to work.


We went on across the wide open spaces of the beach but progress was a little lacklustre. ABH kept her eye on another couple on the beach a good way closer to the dunes than we but who clearly required observation at all times. Other than them, it was just us on the beach which was a great opportunity to range all the way to North Rocks. It was not to be, however. Whether it was the presence of the two other dogs that put her off or she was still a little weary from what was a very long walk for a little girl from yesterday, today she was not inclined to walk far.


By the time we got in line with the Lifeguard station, she was making it clear that we should head back. I considered heading up the dunes and going back on the Coast Path, but my legs and especially my dickie knee made it clear that they were not inclined to walk up the hill. We went back along the beach at a steady stroll and back over the reef. 


There was rather more reef than there had been the last time we passed this way. That is not to say that the sand was all out and not in because the rocks up by the Lifeguard station were mostly covered as they were at several points along by the dunes. I had noticed on the Harbour beach, too, some more sand gone, particularly from under the two slipways where it seems sand is more susceptible to major changes. 


It was not until later in the tide that it was possible to discern any changes in the sea state from yesterday. There was still a strong ground sea pushing into the bay again, but it was no way as pronounced as it was yesterday. By that time, in the later afternoon as we walked around again, the mist was beginning to gather again. In truth, it had never really gone away during the day but was hardly noticeable unless you looked further out. It was probably a combination of mist and spray on reflection, but it was thickening quite quickly in the air above us. 


I expected to be surround by swirly wreaths of mist as I walked to the Lifeboat station for a spot of shore based training but it had not reached ground level. We did not care very much anyway because we confined ourselves inside the house. We played with the turning cradle again for the benefit of those absent last week. There will be more repeats in future as a much more ordered training regime comes into force in the Institution. For the first time it will be just as rigorous for very excellent Shore Crew as well as Boat Crew. After nearly twenty years in the job, I never thought that I would actually have to be serious about it. I will have to pull my socks up but I had best darn them first or they will be up around my knees.


It was quite a surprise when ABH came in from her last walk of the evening with the Missus soaking wet. The rain had come on quite suddenly in a heavy shower. It did not last long but was followed by a mighty wind ratting the sheets on the scaffold again. It had ramped up quickly to 40 miles per hour at Land’s End (73 miles per hour at Gwennap Head, windiest place in the universe) and stayed for the night. No one seemed keen to mention this storm that had sneaked in like a stranger in the night. The very worst kind: the storm with no name.

January 24th - Wednesday

Dear reader, as they are rather more photographs today I thought that I would play with the page format to spread them around a bit. This will occasion rather bigger gaps between bits of The Diary than I would like but is unavoidable. I am sure you will let me know if this way of displaying photographs is better than always having them at the end.


There was a marked difference in the sort of day on offer today. It was none too shabby at all. It was the sort of day that you would not mind taking home to your mum.


The first I get to see of the new day is when ABH eventually gets up and I take her for a short but purposeful walk. Today, she was content to lie in bed having done so all night. I waited a while but in the end went off to the gymnasium for my blistering session without having attended to her needs. I shall remind her of her fortitude next time she tries to get me out of bed at two o’clock in the morning.


I was able to take in the glory of the day as I strolled to the gymnasium. It was grey again with the sort of clouds that are just one big blanket with no discernible edges. It was not in the least cold, in fact quite the opposite for the time of year and even the wind was behaving itself. I had to open the windows in the hut with a tin roof as it was ever so damp in there and needed a good airing.


I needed a good airing when I came back. ABH was keen by then for a run out as she usually is when I come back from a session. The beach was clear again but had lost a little sand. It was no surprise looking at the substantial ground sea that was active in the bay. Huge waves were rolling down Tribbens again, tumbling into a white cascade just before the end of the wall. I was not paying all that much attention to the water in the Harbour. 


We were about half an hour off low water at the start of the latest spring tides and the little girl went to investigate at the water’s edge with me a few metres behind her keeping an eye on proceedings. She dashed up the beach after some Quixotic quest – I suppose that makes me Sancho Panzer or Passport To, I can never remember which – so I turned to watch her, still keeping my eye out. Despite not wearing my new false ears, I heard the rattle of approaching water and instinctively moved up the beach. It was just as well. The Harbour was filling and emptying with the passing waves with a bigger swing than a banana republic election. I watched the next draw, and it was as if some sea giant was breathing great lungs full of sea in and out.


Photographs taken minutes apart show the huge tidal surges.

Entertaining though it was, there is always a time to move on. We headed out across the Harbour car park where some Newlyn fishermen were mending nets and some of the local fleet were taking the opportunity to pressure wash their boats. There was work going on in the Harbour public conveniences again with some timber being installed. It was a scene of huge industry as it might well have been 150 years ago but with rather more power tools.


We passed by our own building site where our boys have near enough dismantled our granite walls on the first floor. I knew that a section would be carved out and replaced with a concrete pad for the steel but I was not aware that so much granite was going out. According to the Missus who spoke with the builders, much of it will be going back again. Do not ask me to explain; I am just a grumpy shopkeeper.


There was some administration pending for a little while that I had to take by the horns. The inventory is coming together although we missed a few things. I can now concentrate on some of the important orders that need to be made ahead of the new season. The one item I had been putting off but could put off no longer was our income tax bill. As bills go, it was more of a William, and I had to lie down in a darkened room for an hour afterwards. It is done now.


With the day outside looking fit to be indulged in, I thought that I should step outside and indulge in it without further delay. The tides are not on our side for a stank on the beach so it made its own mind up that we should head up the hill and to Land’s End again. What I should have done is gone to the flat for my walking shorts and also left my jacket behind. Had I been a bit more lassiez faire about my clothing, I would have discarded items at the path side along the way. Gosh, I was warm. Instead, I suffered and had to step in an ice bath when we got home, which was tricky as we do not have a bath.

Again, it took nearly two hours to do a one hour stank. It was not so much a stank as a stroll but a very pleasant one, apart from the overheating. The ground sea I mentioned earlier was much more noticeable from our lofty position halfway up Mayon Cliff and also all the way along Gamper Bay to Land’s End. Everywhere we looked, big waves were rushing into shore, curling over before collapsing into a boiling mess of white water around the rocks. At the base of Pedn-men-du the collisions between sea and land were even more pronounced with giant spumes of white water launching skywards.

For the first time since we had been coming to the cliff top, we were able to pass across the top of the Irish Lady. Her skirts were shrugging off the persistent waves leaving trails of white like glimpses of frilly white petticoats peeking out below. More often than not she was wreathed in mist, airborne spray hanging suspended all the way along the coast.

Teams of choughs circled about set in motion by ABH keen to go and play with them. I do wonder if she can see the unicorns as well. They were not the only wildlife we spotted or heard. We paused at the top of Castle Zawn where doubtless a few more chunks of the SS Mulheim were being knocked off by the heavy seas. So quiet was it at that point that we could clearly hear the sharp and tinny single tweet of some unseen bird. As we walked forward, we came in line with the cheeky fellow making the din, unperturbed by me until it saw ABH and scarpered. I am not a world expert on bird types, but it was probably a Heather Dester or a Scotch Bunnet at a guess – perhaps it might have been a Gorse Cood; you see them dotted about, dashing here and there.


Gosh, is that the time. I should move on.


There were precious few other walkers on the path. We saw a few people milling about at Land’s End and met a few travellers coming the other way on the cycle path. From there it is possible to see much of the Coast Path and there were more people on it as we ambled back. Everyone we saw seemed to be standing looking out to see and I really could not blame them. It was a wonder to behold.

We did not bother with Stone Chair Lane and cut across the moor and rejoined the Coast Path near the end, or beginning depending how you look on it. We stepped down the Cliff away from the lookout, me at least eager to get back to divest myself of my overly hot layers. It was two hours well spent, especially for ABH who had again walked it twice and stuck her head into every hole alone the way. We were, after all, not in any sort of hurry although it crossed my mind at every delay whether we were in fact destined to get home in daylight.


The little girl collapsed in a heap after having her feet washed and spent the rest of the afternoon chilled out on the sofa or on one of our laps. We will no doubt be doing that again but hopefully with rather fewer layers.


After an afternoon of doing not a great deal, we only stepped out to go around the small block once more after tea. It was just as temperate then as it had been through the day. Mist or spray was gathering in the air to lend to the mystery of it all and while we had not moved the world forward any today, it felt like we had achieved something even if it was just satisfying the taxman.

January 23rd - Tuesday

It was a grey, breezy and mizzly day with not a hint of brightness about it at all. It was unpleasant to be out in, so we kept going out into it to a minimum. I did not look like ABH was at all upset by that.


I had set my heart on a ham salad sandwich over the weekend using the very lovely wholemeal bread that I had purchased in St Just. I had hankered over it for three days but was hampered in my quest by the fact that I did not have any salad. The Missus brought home the requisite components yesterday, so I spent twenty minutes this morning constructing the breakfast I had hungered after. The trouble was, after three days of dreaming about it I had raised the dish to exalted status in my mind and it did not quite live up to my unreasonable expectations.


It set me up for the day, however, and in particular a counting session in the shop to finish off the job. By the time I finished it only left the hooded sweatshirts, which I could not countenance and the groceries, which the Missus always does when she is washing down the shelves before we open. I am not sure what happens with stock this year as our business year is extended. We will have had our first grocery delivery of the year by that time and quite possibly some gift stock too. I shall have to ask the accountant.


I went and had a chat with our workpeople, who had unexpectedly arrived to start more demolition in the flat. It turns out that they had not had the same conversation with the fabricator that I had and, had they done so, they probably would not have come. The builder expressed surprise regarding the timescales but told me that the fabricator was probably just erring on the side of caution for me. The way the fabricator had put it to me, in some detail, I did not think so but was not going to gainsay the builder now he was here and working. I would much prefer he finish the preparation and have to wait for the steel that leave it too late and have the steel sitting there while he finishes the preparation. 


I collected a calendar from the shop on my way back to the house and I intend to mark out our key dates, such as shop opening, and fibre move – which presupposes the wiring of the living room is done too. I will then invite him to run through in detail the timescales for each part of the build to see where we get to. Had I known that he was so poor at project management I would have done it sooner and we would not be in this mess.


Ordinarily, by the time I came back to the house, it would have been time to take ABH around again. Mother had arrived by this time and the little girl was wrapped around her neck when I came in and showed no signs at all of wishing to venture out into the mizzle. So, I left her and had a little zizz myself.


Some books had arrived for me in the interim, for which I was grateful as I had nearly finished the one I was reading. The only other book I have is out of sequence of the series I am reading. I had already started it before I discovered this. The number of books I go through I am glad that I found the online resource that recycles used books from charity shops, else it would cost me a fortune. The company is very good because I only ordered the books at the weekend, and they all arrived today. The books are recycled again into the shop when I am finished with them for our countertop collection.


When ABH could be bothered, I took her out again but only around the big block and into the teeth of the wind. She paused at the corner of the Lifeboat station with the accelerated wind there ruffling her fur. We watched the waves in the Harbour and over Cowloe as they misbehaved. Huge rolling waves had been charging down Tribbens earlier in the tide and now, as we approached full tide, they were throwing themselves over the Harbour wall with abandon and no doubt a few rocks. The waves were rolling about on the beach too and you could see the sand stirred up in the mix. The little girl – and me to be fair – stood there for some while mesmerised by the angry sea.


She did not hang around for long after that. An errant wheelie bin was spinning around in the wind up Stone Chair Lane that spooked her a bit. Thankfully, it was still when we came past it a little later after practically running back along Coastguard Row.


Just for a change, I took Mother home because the Missus had her very important meeting at the Lifeboat station – her being Events Manager and all. Quite how their meeting extends to two hours is a source of wonder but it is the only ‘club’ she is a member of and quite enjoys the company. The journey over to St Buryan was uninterrupted by any other traffic and there appeared to be no wildlife around either. It was still mizzling and very, very dark along the lane where there is one farm and the occasional house, mostly dark also. 


January and February in The Cove are pretty bleak times of the year anyway. We really did not need a day like today to rub our noses in it.

January 22nd - Monday

Though the wind was much reduced today, it was still quite punchy out in the open. It has also gone around to the west, which meant we were more exposed than yesterday. We were, however, treated to blue skies and loveliness, particularly in the morning and the beach and the bay were an exquisite picture of beauty – if you like that sort of thing.


I did not get to see as much as I would have liked until much later in the morning. I was surprised by the arrival of the Highly Professional Craftsperson at reasonably early doors. Surprised, certainly, as it is a surprise when any of the workers turn up to do any work. I was therefore not surprised when he told me that he was not there to do any work but merely because he is the nominated keyholder and the fabricator man wanted to check some of his drawing measurements.


Thinking that I might get some straighter answers from the steel man than the builder, who is always telling me that everything will be fine and dandy, I arranged to meet him. Sure enough, it was a bad as I thought that it would be, and we are for certainly three weeks behind. Not only will we not have windows when we move back in, it is looking increasingly like we will not have a roof either. 


It took them two man-days to get to the point where the measurements could be taken, and it did not require the scaffolding in place. It would have been difficult for me to know that would be the case, but the builder almost certainly could have worked that out. If that had been carried out in December, we would have saved that three weeks. I am trying hard not to think about it.


I took myself off to the gymnasium for the first time in a week. A blistering session was just the thing that was required when builders start mucking you about. I discovered that someone else has been in there using things, quite possibly the gig club because we have sprouted another rowing machine. While we gained a rowing machine, we lost the heavy weights that I use. Of course, they can be replaced but I am trying to remember what weight they were. The weights that have been left behind are too light and cannot be configured any heavier. I did more of the lighter weights, but it is not quite the same.


There was no getting away from having to take ABH around the block when I returned. The tides are such at the moment that we can get onto the Harbour beach during the middle of the morning. The action of the ferocious sea last night had scoured the sand and there was not a single scrap of plastic waste to be seen, just a few stalks of oar weed scattered about.


There was also no sign of the large conifer cone that had been there last week. I meant to mention it but away from the beach, forgot about it. There are no fir trees hereabouts, not of the size required to drop cones like I saw. Given the prevailing currents, it is more than likely this cone came all the way across the Atlantic and took several years in doing so. Who knows where it is off to now.


For all that scouring and movement, there was again more sand in the Harbour than there had been previously. Look again tomorrow, and it will probably be a different again. For now, there was more than I had seen in a while and precious few footprints on it. With the sun as high in the sky as it gets this time of year, everything was looking bright and clean. The white water, of which there was an abundance, stood out against the blue of the ocean like virgin snow in a coal scuttle. Nowhere was this more true that all around Cowloe where the water danced and jumped and nowhere did it jump more that around the footings of Pedn-men-du. All across the bay the sea was flecked with white with large rolling waves thundering through it. What a glorious scene.


Just before I went off to the gymnasium, the Missus suggested that I might like to drop over to Mothers taking DIYman with me. The wind over at St Buryan had been fierce and had dealt a death blow to her shed door. Actually, Mother is a two-shed household and I had been meaning to go and fix the door on one of them since she had pointed out that the door fell off one of its lower hinges when opened. Naturally, the shed with the broken door was not the shed with the wonky hinge. I thought that I had better fix both while I was there.


Most of the tools that I needed were up at The Farm, so I made a detour on my way over. I was pleased to see that the windbreak I had put in place the other day was still there, largely where I left it. One of the posts will need some attention but today was not the day for doing it. I collected my tools and left.


The job at Mother’s was more straightforward than I had even hoped. The door that had come adrift had come away with hinges intact. They were attached to a batten acting as a stick on door frame and the whole lot had parted company with the main part of the shed. Neither shed is particularly robust and the doors on both are as thin as they could probably get. They need to be because the rest of the shed would not support anything more substantial. I had some trouble finding screws short enough not to go entirely through the door and getting the sliding bolt to line up was something of a trial, but both now work better than they did when I arrived.


I came home just as the Missus was heading out with ABH for her afternoon walk. They headed off down to the big beach end while I dropped off the tools into the shop. It was too late to head back to the shop to start on the stock count, so I will have to get to that early tomorrow and try and get it out of the way.


This left not a great deal to do in the afternoon. There were some administrative matters and some bills to pay but after that it was time to kick my heels and do begger all. The little girl joined me in just that venture when she returned home a little while later on. It is becoming something of a routine for her to settle on my lap in the afternoon and for both of us to have a little zizz. I am getting far too comfortable with this not doing a huge amount during our fallow months. I might have to slap myself about a bit to stop all this laziness.


While I was sitting around, I learnt that there was another storm on the way hot on the heels of the last one. It is storm something beginning with J that I cannot remember. It is not set to cause much trouble in the Duchy else they would have called it storm Jethro. I think that we might see some elevated wind speed but it has gone around to the south again.


After our Arctic winds of last week, we now have tropical winds that have increased the temperature into double figures. The change was very sudden, over a matter of hours during the weekend, I believe. We still needed to wrap up against the wind, but I was cooking nicely underneath towards the end of our walk on Sunday. This must be very confusing for hibernating animals. Imagine meeting a grizzly bear woken up two months early.

Big, blue and bouncy

January 21st - Sunday

I spent some time this morning using a metaphoric sledgehammer to fix the errant Internet. It is clearly the router, and it is as flaky as a St Buryan snow drift. After deleting everything I could find associated with the box, which is locked away next door, and setting it all back up again I managed to at least connect to it. I had to reboot it twice before it settled. 


The reason why I had so much time at hand was after an initial walk out this morning, ABH went back to bed again. I had to prise her out of it at midday to go for a stank before the Missus got back. Even then, she was not exactly keen to leap up and get going.


She did not get up when I did first thing, either. The only thing that had her bounding downstairs and enthused was that the Missus called me up on my mobile telephone. We generally use the video messaging service and ABH is familiar with it and recognises people she knows on the screen or by voice or both. She nearly knocked the telephone out of my hand last night when the Missus called and, having seen her on the screen, went behind it to see if she was there. That is using logic and for a small dog, that is quite clever. 


I had not been particularly aware that there was geet lump of rain on the way as I had not seen a forecast in the morning. The news contained notice of storm Isha on its way, which made me wonder what yesterday’s wind was, and that it would get breezy later in the evening. It was only that I met a friend and neighbour from the top of the hill, brother of the Highly Professional Craftsperson, that I was informed rain was on the way. It would not have mattered much since I was dressed for it but would been a bit more cleaning up of ABH when we got back.


It was time for a change after several beach walks during the week and the Land’s End walk yesterday. I took her up the Coast Path along the back of The Beach complex and up to the Valley. It is a narrow path and on a Sunday, quite busy, too. It was very probably the super-rich on their way to dine at the OS. We ordinary folk hang around the kitchen door hoping for scraps. I did not tell you, dear reader: 8 for soup. I think they meant eight pounds but are saving ink by not printing the £ sign. I suppose that might be reasonable because they do have to pay someone to open the tin. The ink might not seem a great saving but when you are only charging £4 for a side salad, every penny counts. I must thank our friend and neighbour who sent me the menu. It has taken me a week to collect myself. He said it was all very good before he went back to his yacht in Nice.


We did not detour to the beach because there was little of it. Instead, we went up the Valley and across the top by the footpath. I had intended to pop out on the road and head back to Maria’s Lane as I did not fancy walking around the hill to Carn Olva. We then passed the stile that leads onto the top car park which is closed at this time of year. It seemed safe enough to let her off the lead there. I think that probably she would be safe off the lead over most of the walk that we did, but I am erring on the side of caution for a little longer.


From the Coast Path behind the big beach, the sea state in the bay could clearly be watched. There were some clean waves rolling in on the south side of the main beach mostly turning to white water the further north you went. It was looking good out the back at Gwenver, too. A couple of experienced surfers were out on the big beach taking advantage and doing well with them. It was even more obvious from the top of Stone Chair Lane, but the good conditions were breaking up very quickly. When we went around the block a few hours later, the sea had deteriorated into a boiling mess of large waves and big white water thumping into the air around the bottom of Pedn-men-du.


With the Internet back up again, I was able to finish off what I had started yesterday. I will need to go back to the shop again tomorrow to finish off the counting. That will be the work ended for the last financial year, although not quite. 


The Government, in the interests of Making Tax Difficult, its flagship policy, has ramped up the cause and to make things even more difficult for us has ordained that all business financial years shall commence at the start of April in line with their own. For us, whose natural business year begins when we open the shop just before Easter, this messes us up completely. This means that some of the new year’s trade will be tacked onto to the end of the old year and to get us in line, the last quarter is four months long. 


There could not have been a worse year to do it either, as I will not see the VAT back from some of the building work until the middle of April. Instead of using my rebate to pay for some of the remaining building work, I will have to find new money instead. All because of some spotty oik with OCD who thought that having everyone’s business year start at the same time would look neater.


The Missus was much later returning that I had anticipated. The wind was ramping up quite considerably by then. She had passed through the rain in mid Devon. I missed it almost completely as ABH and I had spent the afternoon lazing about. ABH went wild when the Missus came back in again and spent the next half an hour calming down.


She was not at all happy about heading out into the dark and I am not surprised. The wrapping around our big scaffolding was making some fearful sound. I would not at all be surprised if we end up with a noise complaint from our neighbours for keeping them up all night. We were not overly concerned about the structure; the sort of money we spent on it buys a lot of security and comfort.


I am sure you are all on the edge of your seats anyway, so I will put you out of your misery. The Big Wind of storm Isha reached a not so scary 65 miles per hour at Land’s End in the last couple of hours of the day. Of course, Gwennap Head, windiest place in the universe, was not to be outdone at 94 miles per hour.

Waves still reasonably orderly just ahead of high water.

January 20th - Saturday

The Missus was up with the lark, sort of, today to head off deep to a place called Bracknell, which is east of Camborne. She has taken Mother with her. Her nephew is 50 years old today and the family had organised a surprise party for him, which is why I could not announce her absence in the Diary before. I almost let it slip yesterday but had checked at the last minute. No one had thought to tell me it was a surprise birthday party.


That just left me and the little girl to fend for ourselves for the weekend and is the reason I went and did a little light shopping yesterday. While I could have indulged myself in a little experimental cooking involving things that the Missus does not like, I elected to take a couple of meals out of the freezer instead. In truth there was probably less electing and more not thinking as other more pressing matters are clouding my head at present. Still, I was sure we would have a rare old time.


To show just how laid back she was about the whole arrangement, ABH promptly went back to bed as soon as the Missus had gone, and I did not see her again until near the end of the morning. I have to leave the living room door open when she is upstairs and I am down which lets all the warmth out of the room. When she eventually came down, I decided to light the fire so that it could re-warm the room while we went for a quick stank around our end of The Cove. 


That was the plan, at least, until I discovered that the Missus had used the last match yesterday to light the fire for Mother while I was out collecting her. Tell me, dear reader, what sort of person uses the last match and keeps quiet about it. I was outraged and matchless to boot. It is just as well that we have a local shop selling such things and although it is closed at present, it opened just for me.


It was probably not the best time to be starting raging fires, but it was pretty darned cold just sitting there doing nothing. I was already planning a longer stank out, which was not going to include the beach because there was very likely not going to be any. I did not want to leave early and then find we had to sit around doing not a lot in the afternoon, but ABH was starting to get restless at about two o’clock, so I booted up and we headed out.


Since the beach was out of bounds due to the tide, we headed up the hill. It was a bit of a risk given the weather warning for high winds, but I checked the Land’s End weather station before we went and it was only gusting to around 40 miles per hour. Nevertheless, we skirted around the Irish Lady, crossing just inland from there and carried on up the path. I had decided that the little girl, now eleven months, was probably up for the full walk to Land’s End and back again. The bigger question was, was I. 


I am not as sure of foot as I was the last time I walked out that way, a good couple or three years ago. There seems to have been quite a l lot of work in making the path a bit more sustainable by laying yards of cobbles down on the worst worn parts. It has to be one of the most walked sections of the Coast Path with thousands of people passing that was each year. During the summer, it is probably thousands each month. I am not altogether certain that the new surface made the going easier or more difficult, but there again that is not what it is there for.


This is the work of the National Trust, and they certainly do a great job in parts in protecting the path for the good of all the uncaring thousands passing along it. It is my view, and I am not alone, that they could have done much more to preserve the remnants of the chain home radar installation. It lies just to the left of the path (and parts underneath it!) near Land’s End and was arguably worth saving or at least marking for posterity.  


The journey also took remarkably longer than I remember it taking, too, there and back. This was largely to do with ABH who I would guess walked twice the distance I did. I do not think that there is a patch of ground along the route that she did not cover at least twice.


The breeze was quite punchy along the way going to Land’s End. It was strong enough to blow my hood back once or twice, but it did not seem to bother ABH very much. We returned along the cycle path which was much easier going under foot. The breeze was behind us all the way and I only really noticed it when I turned around to watch the little girl going back again – and again, and again. At the last we headed along Maria’s Lane meeting some old friends along the way and headed down Stone Chair Lane, purely because I did not fancy coming down Mayon Cliff with the wind pushing behind me.


We only ventured out briefly after that as the rain had pushed in and the wind ramped up. It made 50 miles per hour at Land’s End, or 64 miles per hour at Gwennap Head, the windiest place in the universe, if you prefer. We were, by that stage, about the only living souls circulating in The Cove although there are signs of new visitors having arrived, they were clearly not predisposed to stepping outside.


Earlier in the day, I had actually started getting to grips with the stock and the ordering of the early bird offers from one of our biggest suppliers. Obviously, the small gods of shopkeepers were keen to throw a monkey in the duck pond and took away the Internet. This is not the most effective Internet provision at the best of times but usually when it dips out, it comes back again a few hours later. This time it had gone properly and leaves us without telephone. I will have to run down to the flat if you are to see The Diary in the morning. Hold onto your hats, dear reader.

January 19th - Friday

Well, that came around a bit quick. Maybe it was all the cold weather and maybe it was waiting for the builders to turn up each day, but it was a slow week in which not a great deal got done.


I tried to make amends today by slipping down to the shop between ABH walks and getting some counting done. I had already input all the numbers that we had from The Farm and was keen to get the job finished. Not that it was going to happen today because I only spent an hour down in the shop and that barely scratched the surface. I realised quite quickly that there was a bit more to do than I at first thought and there were boxes of decorations in the way of some of it and our living room furniture in the way of some more. Still, it was better than doing none at all.


It was clearly not as cold today as it had been during the week and particularly the last couple of days. The weather warning for snow and ice for us was a little wasted, although there were some ice patches here and there in the shade. I elected to go and collect Mother from St Buryan because I also wanted to detour to St Just for food on the way back. In St Buryan, which is set on high ground, there was plenty of evidence of snow and the ice remained on the roads where the sun had not yet got to it. 


St Just is a pretty fair place to do a spot of shopping. There are two butchers and I availed myself of the services of one for some breakfast options that we had run out of at home. I had also run out of the bread that I had squirrelled away every time one went out of date in the shop. For this I stopped into the greengrocer in the square that also sells all manner of other things now. There is also milk there but the only whole milk they did was from the Trink dairy. 


Trink is a very small local dairy farm out St Ives way and the milk is top notch. It is also about £2 an inch and a bit too top notch to be putting in tea. I think you are supposed to bathe in it in a gold plated bath. I went over to the Co-Op opposite but was somewhat taken aback when the very pleasant lady at the till told me it was £1.35. This is more than 20 pence more expensive than the local milk we sell in the shop when we are open, and I had not heard of any major price increases recently. She asked me if I wanted a receipt. I declined, telling her that I did not wish to be reminded of what an eye-watering price I had paid.


I delivered Mother back home and shortly afterwards took ABH for another spin. She chose the beach again. There were far more people down there today and less beach if we wished to avoid anyone. As it happened, she did the avoiding. I sense that she is much more cautious after the incident with the big black dog a few weeks ago. It seemed to have knocked her confidence rather more than I had thought at the time. Another larger black dog, a young one, approached her today and she did her best to pull back where previously she would have gone in with all guns blazing. While it is probably a good thing overall, it is sad to see that she had lost that innocence she started out with. I had to pick her up a couple of times because she needed some comfort and even after meeting a dog more her size. Hopefully, she will get some confidence returned the more we go out.


After a brief interlude, I stepped out again. Not too far this time. I had used our windscreen washers rather a lot on the way back from east of Camborne at the beginning of the week and had been meaning to replace the fluid I had used. I thought it a good idea that I do it sooner rather than later lest I forget altogether. The only donut in the salad bar was that I could not remember where the windscreen wash liquid was. I had an inkling that it was in the shop when we had to empty the truck for the Christmas trees or some other reason that now eludes me and thankfully it was easy to find.


The reason I mention it was that I had to go down to the shop and when I did so, ran into the builders. They had turned up to move the skip, which was a relief because I thought they had forgotten. It had been moved already by the time I pitched up, which was another relief because I did not have to lend a hand. It looked full, too, but had been filled from the front end first for reasons I am sure were utterly professional. I did lend a hand putting some of the plasterboard from our living room ceiling into it, which I will deduct from their next bill – not that I have had one yet, but I am sure that it will not be long before I do. 


I think they are a bit scared of submitting a bill when they have missed so many deadlines. We have only today had the CAD drawings completed, which means that the steel can be ordered, and the window plans completed and ordered. I await with trepidation the date for the window delivery. It is academic, really, because it is now certain that we will have to move back into the flat before the windows are installed. We are hoping for a warm and windless spring.

January 18th - Thursday

Sapristri monkeys! It was cold out there today and definitely not a day to be a pawnbroken.


It is very rare that we have ice in The Cove. Today, nearly the middle of it, there was still an icy puddle down Coastguard Row and the concrete steps leading up to the Coast Path were glistening a warning to be very careful if you were daft enough to be heading that way. I was not. I was just daft enough to be taking a small ABH out for a very slow walk and stood standing while she sniffed every inch of ground between the RNLI car park and the end of Coastguard Row.


My banking lady caught me very soon after I had got home and divested myself of my warm clothing – well, it was warm before I went outside in it. She was after another set of paperwork in support of my request for temporary money. This required that I put all my layers of clothes back on and ventured over to the flat to use the computer and scanner there. This took me rather longer than I anticipated which meant sitting around not moving very much in a very cold flat. 


On my way over, I had contemplated turning off the water heater as we are not using any hot water there at present. I had completely forgotten about it because it is the sort of thing you set and forget normally. After five minutes of hanging around in the flat, I abandoned the idea as it is the only thing in the flat producing any warmth and I reasoned it may just produce enough to stop our pipes in the house from freezing in our absence.


What delayed me even longer in the icebox, was the window man telephoning to tell me he was on his way. This is the one crucial element of the build that could make or break our project completion on time. We should have had the window order in at the latest the beginning of January, but it has been waiting on completion of the detailed plan and measurements that could not be done until a certain stage of the demolition.


The window man and I chatted and sorted out some details while we waited on the builder to arrive. Many of his questions were highly technical and left me dumbfounded. When the builder got there, they started talking to each other in a different language. This I did not mind too much as they seemed to understand one another. The problem arose when they stopped talking to each other and looked at me for an answer, which I found hard to provide since I did not understand the question in the first place. Ordinarily, a chap could probably get away with a yes or a no. I suspected this would be grossly inadequate in the current circumstances. 


After they managed to convey to me in signs and drawings what they were on about, I managed to fashion a reply or two. I have only a vague idea of what I agreed to or the option I chose or the consequences they might have but I do know whatever it was, we will have to live with now.


One of the imponderables was the porch. The builder did not think this was within his remit, although the Highly Professional Craftsperson had said something needed to be done with it after he had finished laughing over its current state. One of the things that is for sure is that we need to keep the current door. A new one would be smaller than the old one as they do not make that size any more. If we go any smaller, the furniture will not fit in. That decided that, then.


By the time the discussion was over, my feet had started to go numb. They had been cold, and I reasoned that going numb was a progression in the wrong direction, so I went home where the Missus had started the fire. Once there, it took some effort of will to gather myself to go back out again as I had not quite finished in the office and needed to shut everything down.


The other great effort required was to move our skip. I had left a big gap on the opposite pavement for it to be placed there. It was supposed to arrive yesterday afternoon but had failed to materialise and when I took ABH out in the latter part of the morning, I saw that it had been delivered in the early part of the morning – unfortunately in the wrong place.


I lent my weight to it, then put some effort into it but failed to shift it. It had been dropped on the road in front of the shop, which according to the pavement licence is legal, but not very convenient. It does not have lights for a start and since it is there in my name, I assumed I might be liable for someone running into it. The builder and his muscly men will apparently be there later or tomorrow morning to haul it across the road. 


The other problem with its current placement is that I cannot put fencing around it. Without fencing it is very likely to be full by morning with all manner of things dropped in it by unscrupulous Herberts from here and there. It is probably not so much of a problem here as it might be in a town or city, but I would rather not take the risk as it cost rather a lot of money. Later in the afternoon I ventured down and put up the fencing for it. At least that is done and out of the way, even if the skip is not.


Talking of money, my very pleasant lady at the bank telephoned in the afternoon to tell me that the temporary money had been approved. She had organised it in such a way that it will save us several thousand pounds in interest, bless her.


The Missus took ABH out when I arrived back after meeting the builder and the window man. They went off in the direction of the big beach while I massaged some warmth back into my toes. It was actually a fine day, despite the cold and we had got away completely from any snow falling on us. Mother told us that St Buryan got a dusting and then news arrived of other places that had suffered much worse. The window man told the builder and me that he gave up trying to get down into Perranuthnoe earlier as his car was starting to slide around. There were more reports of heavier falls around Penzance and further up into mid and North Cornwall. Lucky, int we.


In the evening we attended a sparse Lifeboat meeting. There was enough of a crew to take the Inshore boat out for a spin and we provided one of our top experts to drive the Tooltrak. Well, that is what we told our driver anyway. We needed some incentive for someone to go out in the cold and do it. The rest of we very excellent Shore Crew stayed in the relative warmth and played with the newly serviced turning cradle with the station mechanic. We are, after all, a very mutually supportive, very excellent Shore Crew.


The fact was that the temperature in the evening was a very balmy couple of degrees warmer than it had been the previous evening. According to the Land’s End weather station, we had soared to five degrees during the day and did not did below two degrees into the night. I am not one to argue with hard data, but I was having trouble convincing my fingers and toes not to through the day.

January 17th - Wednesday

I knew that I would be stuck trying to get an unwilling ABH out of bed this morning while I was trying to get out of the door myself. It is alright if the boot is on the other foot, and she is trying to get me up, but woe betide anyone trying to do the same to her. I had to drag her kicking and screaming out of the bed nanoseconds before I was due to leave.


As it was, I was slightly early for my appointment at the false ear shop. Little did I know that I was the first appointment of the day which was timed for when the shop opened in the morning. I was therefore stuck on the doorstep in the freezing cold waiting for the doors to open. There was not even an opportunity to drop into any other shop since they all did not appear to open until nine o’clock. I do not blame them in the least; the street was largely empty apart from people heading to work and some workmen doing the modern-day equivalent of leaning on their shovels. 


If we thought that our scaffolding was a serious piece of work then what they have at the top of town is, by comparison, one of the seven wonders. It covers the large Lloyds Bank building that dominates the town from the top of Market Jew Street. Knowing how much ours cost, I shudder to think what that bill looks like. I would wager, however, that pole for pole, it is much cheaper than ours.


It took half an hour before I could feel the warmth seep back into my bones. The shop was at moderate temperature, which was pleasant, but the consulting room was like a furnace, and it took my breath away. The consultant apologised and turned the heater off, which was alright at first but by the time we had finished, I was shivering in my boots again.


He must have had years of experience. At the end of the session, he told me I was hard of hearing and could use some hearing aids. He then spent an inordinate amount of time tuning them to my particular hard of hearingness. Presumably satisfied with his work he turned them on for me and said some soothing words that nearly took my ears off. I went to see Motorhead once and they were quieter than that. He apologised and tuned them down a bit after which they were much more acceptable and a marked improvement on the old pair that I was used to.


Talking of getting used to them, the new ones have a different tube that sits inside the ear canal whereas the old ones sat just outside. Either the tubes are a bit long, or he pushed them in a bit far but after an hour with them in they had progressed beyond uncomfortable to bordering painful. No, they were painful. Especially when I moved my head, so I stopped moving my head unable to do much else as I was driving by the time they reached that stage.


I had already taken them for a spin to the bank. You may recall, dear reader, that I had difficulty last time trying to pay a card off with cash. The lady who served me today had no such trouble, so heaven knows why two sets of cashiers had issues with it last time. I was doubly grateful. Not only did she process my transaction without any problem, but she reduced the volume of our conversation to a whisper, which was much more comfortable.


As I walked back to the car park, I was amazed that I could hear conversations in the street around me. It worried me slightly when I heard someone drop a handkerchief. Perhaps someone had turned me into the six million dollar man when I was not looking or was unknowingly bitten by a werewolf. There is an adjustment button on the back of them but by this time they were too sensitive to the touch to press the buttons. I hope that it is a case of not pressing them in too deeply and getting used to them as it would be such a fag to have to make another appointment.


I had been mindful that in all the time we have had off we had not progressed the stock count any further than what was in the shop. Despite threatening to several times, I had not even finished the stock room and there was very little in there to count. I spoke with the Missus last night and she said that she would head up to The Farm after I came back from town, and I would look after ABH back at home. I dropped her off up there an hour short of the middle of the day.


What we failed to remember to take up was some water so that she could make a cup of coffee. This looked like it was a major omission when we discovered just how cold it was up there today. There was precious little sunshine either, so the cabin had not warmed up to provide a place of respite and the barn, in which she was working, was colder still.


I returned home for a spot of croust having left home too early for breakfast. An hour later, I was considering lighting the fire since the temperature in the house was dropping away. I am a grumpy shopkeeper, so I would make it clear that deciding to run up to The Farm with the water for the Missus’ coffee was not me being a big softy. It is simply that even a grumpy shopkeeper knows which side his bread is buttered and ABH needed a run out anyway and what better place than a couple of acres of grassland.


It was as well that I did because the annual ‘I am sure we counted these swimsuits last year’ raised its ugly head again. Each year we come across bags that have not been opened in the twelve months since they were counted last time. The problem being that certain sizes do not sell. They must sell somewhere because the suppliers insist on providing the same cross-section of volumes to size each year. 


For example, we have 32 size 16 linen ladies’ shorts. I know because I just counted them. The item itself is very popular in every other size except 16 but when I asked the supplier, we are apparently alone with this problem. It seems that ladies requiring shorts in size 16 do not visit The Cove for their holidays. Alternatively, ladies of size 16 who do visit The Cove have purchased their linen shorts elsewhere. Or ladies of size 16 who visit The Cove prefer a different style of shorts. 


I have considered two options. First, set up an online exchange with other retailers who sell this style of shorts and swap their excess sizes against ours. The other choice, which would cut me to the quick, it to hold a size 16 linen shorts sale. I suspect, though, that this would only work if it was a price sensitivity issue. I cannot see that ladies of size 16 should be more or less price aware than, say, ladies of size 14 or 18. It is a conundrum.


Anyway, I digress. Now, where was I? Ah yes, discovering previously counted items in the store room. Normally, I would be able to tell by looking at last year’s count to see if the same numbers had been recorded. Oddly, the values against stock that I suspected had not changed in the year, were zero. I think what may have happened is that we did not count them last year and I forgot to bring forward the stock numbers from the year before. 


Rather than over-think the issue for too long, having brought up the water and a bright lamp to make the counting easier, I threw in my lot with the Missus and helped her finish off the count.


While the Missus was finishing off the loose ends in the barn, I took ABH around the field for a bit of a run. Somehow, she managed to find a three course meal of things around buried here and there to feast on. I did not dare look to see what half of it was. Some things are better off unknown. It was when I came back in the direction of the polytunnel that I remembered the big hole in the western end. I had intended to temporarily plug it with a windbreak, so I headed back to the barn to pick one up. It was not quite as tall as I had hoped but the majority of the hole is now covered and will hopefully make a difference.


That cold northeasterly was certainly making its presence felt. It was biting in the face as we walked up the length of the field. In the barn, the still temperature was not much better and when we retired back to the house it was to immediately rekindle the fire. The temperature continued to drop through the evening. At Land’s End it fell five degrees in four hours to go just below freezing before recovering slightly a couple of hours later.


The Missus took the late turn with ABH and said that it was bitter outside, especially as the breeze had got up in the later afternoon. It had largely died away by midnight when ABH had me up again but I was too sleepy to notice if it was still cold, even with shorts on.

January 16th - Tuesday

It seems we have relapsed into laziness mode again. Normally, we would be up at The Farm given every opportunity, doing things and making it ready for a growing season. I also had high hopes that we could get at least a couple of beehives built and get a start on honey production again by summer. None of this looks likely at the moment and I suspect it is because of the monumental distraction that our building work poses. 


I do feel that I need to stay on top of the project overview to ensure that there is no excuse for slipping behind. Keeping the pressure on the builders, so that they understand the now urgency of the works. The builders have stopped work at present as they await final measurements for something or other and for the scaffolders to return to seal off the eastern face that they left exposed. There is a fear that they cannot take out the windows in case we have a bit of a blow and the structure tents out. I cannot help but feel they are being over cautious, and if the delay extends beyond tomorrow, I will be raising a flag.


So, with nothing better to do in the morning, I largely did nothing at all. That is not to say that I did not think about nothing at all. In fact, I thought great thoughts right up until it was time to take ABH for a walk.


She had gone back to bed after our initial run out in the morning and I did not see her or the Missus again until the morning was nearly over. It was a bright looking morning, and we were blessed with some sunshine down on the beach. It was, as we had been warned, cold and I had taken the precaution of wrapping up in DIYman overalls, coat and gloves. When you are ostensibly standing around doing nothing, which is what happens when you are attending ABH exercising herself, it is exactly what is required. It gave me time to look out over the bay and near flat water glistening in the sunshine.


It was ideal weather for the fishing boats to head out. They had left on the dropping tide not long after high water, so had been gone at least three hours. It is likely that they are still on the squid and very unlikely that they are on the pollack which has had its Total Allowable Catch (TAC) reduced to zero for 2024. It is a major blow for the inshore day boats that predominantly target lobster and pollack. Mackerel come and go erratically, and the bass catch is severely limited which does not leave much room to sustain a living. 


The recommendation is that they target another species, but it is hard to see what that might be and even if established might require investment in equipment, which might be hard to come by. I will keep an ear to the, erm, slipway cobbles and see what happens next.


What happened next for me was to go and collect Mother from St Buryan. The Missus would normally go but DIYman was required to fix a table lamp on which the switch had broken. The Missus had purchased the appropriate bits and it looked pretty straightforward to replace. Ah, do I never learn. The two halves of it clip together with a bayonet arrangement with two lugs fitting into two holes. It was hard enough getting them out and pretty much impossible putting it back when I had rewired it. The rewiring itself was an oddity, I expected a screw fitting but the two wires clamp in once inserted into the holes. Getting them out intact was ridiculously fiddly.


I gave up with fitting the two halves together and brough the whole assembly back for the Missus to do. She is good at that sort of thing and has patience. Ten minutes of that faff with me would have seen it flying out the window. The Missus does jigsaws for relaxation, you know. I could think of nothing less relaxing. Trying to fit together little bits of shaped cardboard to form a picture and generally not a very good one then breaking it up again. What is that all about.


Leaving the Missus armed and dangerous with tools for the job, I took ABH out for a spin. I left it up to her if she wanted a stank on the big beach, which she had done yesterday before I had arrived home, or go up the cliff. She chose the big beach, so off we went in that direction.


The big beach was largely empty, which was a good thing as it meant no distractions. There was one couple throwing a ball for three large dogs while a fourth was on a lead and another couple further on, dogless. I cast caution to the wind and let ABH off the lead as soon as we got to the bottom of the OS slipway. We had to wind our way through the reef to get to the main part of the beach to the north but was not a difficult task. Plenty had headed that way before us, and I followed the footprints; ABH followed her nose.


I was very impressed with the little girl’s discipline. The last time we were on the big beach wild horses would not have held her back from chasing after the other dogs there. Today, she was bounding towards the four down by the tide line and a good distance off but stopped on command. It was plain she was tying herself in knots wanting to go and play with them, but it looked high risk, especially when the one on the lead saw her and barked. We walked past at about 100 yards distant and ABH obeyed each time not to run off after them. She has definitely come on some.


We walked and she held back now and then so she could run after me and eventually made our way to North Rocks. I had last been there with the bleddy hound several years ago and had needed to throw a ball ahead of me every step of the way. Spending a little while there I left her wander around the rocks and do so mountain climbing while I rested against a rock.


I decided to walk back along the top of the piled up sand at the back of the beach. Here the sand is drier and softer, although still inside the high tide line and more difficult going. I will not be able to get to the gymnasium tomorrow, so I felt it was a good alternative and marching across it I could feel it tugging at my quads and calf muscles. I avoided the next level behind that which had not seen water in a very long time. I was not that keen for extra exercise.


It would have been handy if ABH also avoided the next level behind because she would not have discovered something to roll in. She would not come away either; the new-found discipline clearly only goes so far. I thought I had better go and see what it was and thankfully, it must have been the ghost of something unsavoury as I could not find anything there when I looked. She picked up something unidentifiable a little further on, just as a ‘blow you for spoiling my fun’ but I was not going to chase her for it.


We rejoined the main part of the beach after that as we had run out of sand at the upper levels. The sand at the bottom of the OS slip has neither come nor gone since we were last there. I suppose that it could have done both, but it was certainly the same as our last visit, put it that way.


Coming home to a real fire burning in the hearth, well, log burner, was pleasant despite having to near strip off because I had warmed myself up on the journey back. We did not venture out again until after tea and even then ABH was not much interested in staying out long.


I reflected on a day of doing nothing, although I had achieved a couple of things. I had gone and had a chat with the much maligned council contractors repairing the railings opposite the shop. I was concerned that they would be in the way when our skip arrived, which was either today or tomorrow. They were friendly souls and most accommodating and told me that they would be gone by the middle of the day tomorrow if they did not finish today. I had called the skip people and asked them not to arrive until the afternoon tomorrow and they were happy to do so. I find this with smaller local companies generally: things are so much easier to do.


The other call I had been meaning to make was to book the truck in for its MOT and service in March. I try and give as much notice as possible because they are busy souls. I think that they do not take on any new work of this sort as they specialise in souping up Land Rover Defenders into huge works of art. We have been a client for around fifteen years, so they still keep us on. One day I will pick it up and there will be bug shiny chrome exhaust pipes up the side of the windscreen and white-wall tyres all around.


I have an appointment in town early doors tomorrow and will have to gird my loins to drag ABH out of bed if she has not been up by herself by then. For a little soft dear of her, she can be mighty scary when she has a mind for it.

January 15th - Monday

Unless you are looking for a mile-by-mile account of my journey home, this could be a very short Diary today.


I took my time leaving the hotel. They have a gymnasium there which I made use of to get a blistering session in before I came home. I followed it up with a full English breakfast for balance – or ballast, maybe both.


The journey home was very quiet. Just how I like it and there was hardly any nonsense at Chiverton Cross where all the roadworks are. Including that I probably averaged 60 miles per hour all the way to Penzance without being hardly naughty at all. 


There was a spot of shopping to do at Penzance and then at the shop at the top of the hill where there have two sets of new double doors. Previously they had a set of double doors and two singles, an ‘in’ and an ‘out’, that would sometime stick open and let the draught in. There are not of course electric sliding doors, but even if they were we would still have the first and only electric sliding doors in The Cove.


The small gods of grumpy shopkeepers welcomed me back in West Cornwall with a few rain showers, saving the heaviest of them for when I was unpacking the truck. It did not interrupt the view as I drove down Cove Hill which is always the best part of any journey back home. I noted with some pleasure that sand has returned to the southern part of the beach and there is now some sand almost as far as the chip shop. It has been some number of years since we had that much sand along that stretch. 


The much maligned council were out in force along Cove Road. They were camped out at the top of the OS slipway when I drove past. Later they had migrated to outside the shop where there was a portable toilet set up in the corner by the Lifeboat station. Initially, I thought that it was our builders who had put it there, which made me wonder what was wrong with ours inside the flat. It soon became apparent that the much maligned council had come to fix the railings where the Lifeboat station roof had landed just short of two years ago.


I had spotted them last week surveying the scene while I wrestled with unravelling the Christmas tree lights. I thought then that it was typical that they chose to do it now, just as we were expecting a skip to be delivered to that exact same spot. It would have been there now but for the very same much maligned council deciding it needed ten days to agree a pavement licence for the skip to be put there. 


It was not long after I came back that I fell back into the routine of taking ABH out for a walk. She had welcomed me back with much enthusiasm, much the same as when I come back after taking the bin out, just a little more sustained. With the tide mainly out, it was down to the Harbour beach with her for a run around and to eat very small crabs – crunch, crunch. There was no particular change in the condition of the beach from before the weekend and the sand that has come back further along does not seem to have impacted here.


It is sad, though, to see the lines of colourful plastic chips at the top of the beach where the tide ended last. I cannot imagine that there is any way that these can now be filtered from the sea and taking them off the beach is near impossible too. I suspect that while the state of the ocean is widely broadcast it is no more than a fleeting worry to most of those living miles from it or visit once a year. It is the juxtaposition of seeing it in a couple of yards of sand on one of the most beautiful beaches the country has to offer that the scale of it is so stark.


Tearing ourselves away, we checked the state of the rest of The Cove on the way around our walk. It was fearfully quiet – if you could possibly discount the pneumatic drill chattering away in the grounds of Tinker Taylor – and we saw not another soul. I had quite forgotten how cold the breeze was and regretted not bringing my gloves with me. I did not forget when I went out later when the temperature seemed to drop away sharply. The log burner blazing away was very welcome. Perhaps the boys will build us an Inglenook in our granite walls at home if we ask nicely.

Big wide open spaces and a small ABH

January 14th - Sunday

There was a perfectly simple explanation for the heating system in my room misbehaving, after all: it is possessed.


There is no other reasonable excuse why a computer controlled system would allow you to set a sensible twenty degrees on the panel but when you come back to it an hour later, it is set to 27 degrees. This went on all night. Thankfully, the system might allow a setting of 27 degrees but cannot produce it and it hits its ceiling at 24 degrees, which was warm enough. 


Having plagued me all night I discovered in the morning that it had set itself at twenty degrees and the room itself was 21 degrees. Since it has turned a little colder in the room by morning – I had dispensed with the oil-filled radiator – I set the system to 23 degrees. I checked it again before I left, meaning to turn it down while I was out. It has reset itself to twenty degrees. I am sure I heard demonic laughter as I shut the door.


I spent the sum total of four hours at the trade show. We discussed last year whether it was worth a two night booking at a hotel when it had taken a similarly short time to traverse the aisles, twice. I cannot remember what we agreed then but had booked two nights again this year without giving it much thought. I could drive up on Sunday morning and spend the night or spend the Saturday night and drive back after the show. 


Either of those choices would introduce some pressure to rush around the show and I do not think that I would relish driving home after spending four hours perusing show stands and speaking with people. The additional cost is less than £100, so it is probably not worth worrying about. The real clincher is, though, I would have to decide between burger and fajitas and that does not bear thinking about.


We have spent some very cold weekends in Exeter over the years including having a dusting of snow. I was rather expecting that this year after the week we have had and up east it has always seemed much colder than back home. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not have to de-ice the car, although the windows did need the dew washed off them before I could proceed.


It was fortunate because it meant that I could leave my jacket in the truck and just wear my hooded sweatshirt when walking between the car park and the show hall. Everything else was tucked inside my rucksack, which was useful last year for putting brochures and the like into to save carrying them around. We used to amass a vast collection of free carrier bags, pens and other freeware but those days are long gone. Even at the entrance they have done away with the plastic pouch you put your visitor card in. There is just a lanyard with a clip on the end now – and some unidentifiable boiled sweets that I avoided.


When we first came to Exeter for the trade show that had moved on from Torquay, there were three big halls to walk around. Very often we would need to come back on the Monday morning to finish going around. There is only one hall now and that is more spread out that last year. When I spoke with some of the stand holders they were a bit disgruntled that the organisers would not let them have bigger stands for the same cost, after all, it would have helped fill the place up.


Each year I try an objectively view whether it is worthwhile coming along. Each year I normally find one or two suppliers that I would not have seen or know about had I not been there. Looking in a catalogue or online is alright, but there is nothing quite like a bit of hands on with some of the products. Some look just fine on the screen or page but in the flesh are of dubious quality and occasionally, vice versa.


I kicked my heels for the remainder of the day. In the past we have ventured into the city centre but driving in heavy traffic is no pleasure at all and trying to park a big vehicle in small parking spaces even less so. We have taken a taxi in the past just to avoid those issues, but I really thought it to be a bit of a fag since there was nothing I really needed to purchase. There is an advantage to coming on my own; it is cheaper. I even avoided having to visit the big Swedish superstore that you can never leave.


The bar and restaurant were excessively busy, even in the early evening when I arrived. The venue is extremely popular with local businesses who book their Christmas parties there. I guess it is so popular many have to have their parties after Christmas. We always seen to get caught up in at least one when we visit and it seems on this occasion we had one each night. Sunday night was the busiest I have seen the place and I had to sit in the foyer for a free table. 


Since last year, the hotel has replaced all the bar tables. While I applaud their continued investment they might have done some better homework. The tables are a good deal higher than the previous ones. The dining chairs they have for the two seater tables seem fine but the lounge chairs at the bigger tables are far too low for dining. I am not particularly short but sitting, the table height was level with my upper chest forcing me to eat with my elbows elevated. It would probably work for some food that could be shovelled into the diner’s mouth but for making fajita, not so good. Surely someone should have checked.


I have always waxed lyrical about the hotel because the service and attention to detail has always been exemplary but this year, they seem to have taken their eye off the ball a bit. I will mention it in my review that always follows a stay here, but I shall be kind lest they put me in a room with no heating at all next year. 

January 13th - Saturday

It was quite a pleasant day in the offing if you like your days overcast, cold but a bit bright. As days go, I felt this one was entirely passable and wrapped up warm. A fair day to be out and about in.


This was just as well because I had to go to the flat to publish The Diary this morning as the Internet in the mews was broken again. I have come to the conclusion that it is not the connection that is suffering by the bit of kit hanging off the end of it. If it was just the broadband connection, I would still be able to login to the router, which I could not. Also, so far, it has come back all by itself – just not when you have wanted it to.


Happily, that was the only thing that went wrong with the morning and before long I was busy packing my toothbrush and spare pair of St Michael’s into a small rucksack – I travel light - for my journey yonder. I also remembered to bring business cards that I always forget, although that does not mean I shall remember to take them to the trade show, and the Missus prompted me for a few other things but thankfully I had also remembered them.


There was no particular hurry; it only takes two and a half hours to go east of Camborne. Perhaps it is because I only ever go to the same place east of Camborne but I am sure someone will tell me if it takes longer to go somewhere else. Anyway, it meant that I had plenty of time to take ABH around the block before I went, which turned out to be just as well because she took her time.


We visited the wide open spaces of the Harbour beach first. I mentioned yesterday that there was an abundance of sand but when we explored around the bottom of the short slip, we found quite the opposite. In fact, I do not think I can recall a time when so much sand had been scoured out. At first, I thought that there had been a massive change overnight, which I thought unusual because the sea state was not severe. However, the excess sand that we had noticed at the top of the beach was still there. It was a most peculiar state of affairs.


Having explored as fully as we might, we moved on through the Harbour car park where work has resumed on the toilets. We met a couple of new best friends on the way and then some more as we were passing the bottom of the Coast Path. As my luck would have it, as the couple we saw ascended there was another couple just coming down from the lookout at the top. ABH does insist that no matter how far off an approaching new best friend is, she must wait until they arrive where she is. She sits very patiently with her eyes on the approaching couple and watched as they went by. Had they approached, she would have made a fuss of them, I am sure. It was only then that we could move on.


By the time we got back, it was time to pack up the truck and head out. I made a couple of small detours, one to drop off the memory tree money at the station treasurer’s house and the other to drop our smart modern heater off at Mother’s. The heater I looked at yesterday and tried to make work responded to my attention for a short while and then became recalcitrant again. We will have to report the heater to the housing people on Monday but in the meanwhile, our smart heater should suffice.


Before I left, I checked on of those journey planning sites on the Internet to see if there were any major hold-ups on my route. It reported that the entire route was clear. It did not even flag up the works on A30 at Chiverton to Carland Cross which I assumed was because it was taken as read. I was a good way to that very location when Radio Pasty nonchalantly reported that the A30 was closed in both directions between the two roundabouts and diversions were in force. As discussed before, there are no meaningful ways around the area, so I proceeded as planned.


There was fairly significant delay as we approached the last Scorrier turn off as two lanes merged into one. It might have been less congested if more than several eejits had not decided it a good idea to charge down the outer lane to make the merging more troublesome that it could have been. Once we were through the turn off, the traffic going east miraculously evaporated and just passed Chiverton there was only me and one other car following the diversion to the east bound A30. The entirely of the hold-up and diversion cost an extra hour to the journey and since I was not in a hurry, it did not bother me one hoot.


What bothered me a little more was the temperature of my hotel room when I got there. No one had thought to put the heating on ahead of my stay but worse than that, the heater, when turned on, did nothing to heat the room. It started off at fifteen degrees and twenty minutes later, after setting the controls, it was still fifteen degrees.


I called reception for assistance and five minutes later some arrived. The very pleasant man in a nice suit pressed a few buttons much as I had done and told me to leave it ten minutes. I left it twenty minutes and checked that our man's intervention had indeed helped. The room was now one degree warmer. I called again.


I was provided with a small oil-filled radiator, still warm having been wrestled from some poor unfortunate who was required to make the sacrifice for a guest. I did ask to send back my apologies, not that I really meant it, but it seemed the right thing to do. It might have been one of the kitchen staff I deprived, and I had not eaten yet. An hour later and it was starting to take the edge off the chill in the room but it never did get to warm before I returned from tea.


It was not all that much warmer in the bar, which was probably a good thing as I would have stayed there until I got kicked out. Instead, I had my tea and went back to my room and dived under the covers. 


My teas at the hotel are a thing of legend. I have the same ones each year – burger on Saturday and fajitas on Sunday. I have occasionally considered doing those the other way around but tell myself not to be so silly. We have stayed at the hotel so often now that I have tried all else on the menu that I might like. These two dishes have consistently served me well and I like them. Do not look so disapproving, dear reader. It is once a year, not once a week.


I took a small nightcap back to the room with me, the sort that warms the inside. I probably did not need it as the room had eventually reached a reasonable temperature. I then had to make the decision whether I left the small radiator on all night and took the risk of roasting or left it to the meagre warmth from the hotel system. I did not come away for the weekend to have to think, so I turned the radiator off and hoped for the best.

January 12th - Friday

There must be something in the air because we were all on slow time this morning and it seemed to set the mood for the day.


I did not stir until after eight o’clock and it was not ABH who woke me up; I did that by myself. She had already had me up at three o’clock and had gone back to bed again, with a little encouragement. There was absolutely no encouragement, cajoling or enforcement that would get her shift out of bed in the morning and I eventually managed to capture her interest at half past ten o’clock. That just left the Missus and that was not even worth an attempt.


Those great plans I had yesterday that were transferred to today were in the same tatters as they were yesterday morning at about the same time. You have to know when you are beaten and to stay down where you clearly belong.


One of the things that I was eager to do was to get the essential three bits of computer equipment currently sitting in the flat’s bedroom working again. All the Internet kit is downstairs in the shop and the two parts of the network were connected by a single cable and a clever box situated in the living room The smart box and cable fell to the builder’s axe at the beginning of the week and since then the three pieces of essential kit in the bedroom have been isolated.


What was required was a wireless bridge that would connect the router downstairs with the switch upstairs. I had thought through some solutions and tried them out with the technicians at one of the suppliers. They, of course, had a clever bit of kit that they said would do the job, and logically looking at it, it should. I discovered this morning after the best part of an hour mucking around that it did not.


I was under the clock a bit by this time as the Missus wanted to go over to Mother’s to be there when some housing people arrived. The plan was that I would drop her over there on the way into town so that I could fuel up the truck in anticipation of tomorrow’s journey and pick up some wood and kindling. We the housing visitors completely, but I abandoned my computer efforts to drop some shopping over at Mother’s on my way into town and to look at her heater that was playing up without the Missus coming along.


The trip did not take very long. January and February are the quietest months of the year in West Penwith. The roads were relatively empty, there were no queues at the petrol station, and I was up at the wood merchant before I knew it. At least they had some logs this time around but there was no kindling again, which is what we are in short supply of. One of the builder’s mentioned that I should have taken some of the roof timbers before they were shipped off, but I felt sure there would be some kindling at the merchant’s yard. On reflection, I doubt that I would have found the time to make the kindling from it, anyway.


The Missus had taken ABH out again but only strayed as far as the Harbour beach, which is where I had been in the morning. I forget to take my camera, which was unfortunate because I had taken some pictures when much of the sand had been scooped out and today it was back in abundance. 


We came back past the toilets again but there was no work going on today. The building is just a shell ahead of the complete refurbishment and remodelling. It is to be more open plan in there now, mainly so that all the modern facilities can be fitted in. I understand from a source that there will be one cubicle for men and another for ladies, three for other sorts and a litter tray in the corner for those identifying as cats.


The mechanics of it are also up to date and rather than risk adding to controversial Combined Sewage Overflows into the bay, there will be a pit dug up behind. It will mean the loss of some unofficial parking there, but we cannot expect to save the planet without some sacrifice. This will form the basis of a composting toilet and arrangements will be made with the National Trust to spread the eventual waste up near the lookout at the top of Pedn-men-du. It is thought that the near constant breeze up there will carry away any residual smells.


I believe that the Harbour Commissioners should be commended for their forward thinking and efforts towards inclusivity. Between you and me, dear reader, I believe that design awards beckon.


The day was overcast again but brighter than had been forecast and, I felt, a tad warmer than it had been although that chilly breeze from the northeast was still making it feel very cold.


It is also very cold in the flat and hat and coat are required inside when I am doing things there. I would worry about the damp but there is plenty of ventilation at the moment with only half a roof and the rest open to the sky. The builders have done a good job of sealing off the rest of the flat from the exposed areas for a bit of security, which is good of them. Essentially, though, we just have our bedroom left and this is where I returned after I came back from town and before I divested myself of my warm clothes.


I had a second thought about our wireless bridge to get the Internet active, using some existing kit. It was while I was mucking about with that, I replaced all the cables into the switch to make sure it was not just connections. It was at this point that it struck me that the computer would probably have a greater chance of talking to the new boxes if it was actually connected to one of them. After that, everything worked just fine, although the cables look like Mother’s knitting after ABH has been at it.


There was just time to have a cup of tea and one of the Missus’ rock cakes that she insisted on making yesterday before I headed out again with ABH in tow. That is factually inaccurate: ABH headed out with me in tow. As she sometimes does, we headed right at the road and headed for the OS. It was a very pleasant evening for a stroll after all the running about I had done during the day and achieving very little. We could stank up the road with nothing in our heads and also achieve very little.


There was some underlying swell still in the bay. Looking back at Cowloe it was evident by a patch of white water over the reef and the occasional small plume of spray. There were white traces along the cliffs too but in the main the water looked reasonably placid. It cannot have been too bad as one of the fishing boats had gone out in the morning some time and was out there for quite a while. I assume they are still squidding with the occasional bass thrown in judging from the odd baby squid on the beach and piles of large scales here and there.


One of the things you get when walking ABH around here and there is plenty of time to let the mind wander and to look at things you might not ordinarily look at. I cannot remember all or even much of what I was thinking about or looking at as these thoughts are but gossamers on the breeze, fleetingly here then gone immediately. One thing I do recall, however, was in The Beach car park as we sniffed around the upper reaches just below the bottom of Cove Hill. There is quite a thicket of shrubbery shielding the car park from the road and this runs a good way up the hill, masking Cable Cottage, top and bottom. I looked up some of the old photographs kindly provided on the postcard collection of SM, a regular visitor. The shrubs are definitely a recent addition to the scenery, though it is difficult to say exactly when but certainly the latter quarter of the 20th century. They have certainly taken very well and might have looked incongruous at first.


It was one of our longer short trips out as we dallied and sniffed everywhere. I did not check the time exactly, but I do believe that the light is lingering noticeably longer in the afternoons now. It still drops to darkness very quickly after that, especially on a bit of a cloudy day. I am hoping for reasonable weather on my trip out tomorrow and be back ahead of some threatened snow heading this way. It is already scary enough east of Camborne without scary weather as well.

January 11th - Thursday

It seemed just as cold this morning as it did last night but apparently not, according to the Land’s End weather station. It reported that the temperature had increased a degree last night at ten o’clock, again at ten o'clock this morning and up to a sweltering four degrees at one o’clock in the afternoon. It will be shorts and t-shirts tomorrow for the gymnasium, I reckon.


I had great plans today to slip into town, fuel up the truck ahead of my sojourn on Saturday and do the shopping the Missus wanted me to do that she did not do when she was shopping yesterday. I might even try the bank again to see if they had learnt how to take cash in again. 


There are all sorts of aphorisms and sayings about plans. All those management course trainers have books full of them: chance favours the prepared mind; no plan ever failed due to good planning; always plan ahead, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. Not one of them said anything about your builder turning up at the door saying that they had unexpectedly found that they needed to break through into the shop ceiling. This would occasion the need to move lots of things out of the way so that two bleddy geet lumps of concrete could be installed where all my boards are stored and all the computer and CCTV equipment is on the other side. Obviously, I would then need to find some alternative space for those things. And when was this going to happen, I asked. Now, of course.


To move things, it is helpful to have a place to move them to. When we took down the decorations, we threw them into the shop as a temporary resting place using up the remaining available space that the builders had not used to keep their tools. It was clear that the decorations, or a good proportion of them would have to be shifted up to The Farm. Since we were pressed for time, we would not sort and box the decorations into their respective boxes but take them thrown together and sort them out later. 


I decided that this would not include the lights, some of which we knew did not work and would need to be thrown away. I then spent the next hour trying to separate the lights from each other and the various lengths of tinsel, strings of beads and chains of Christmas shapes. The chains of Christmas shapes proved to be the worst of all and would tangle with the other items just by looking at them. When I thought that I had done enough to clear space, I loaded them up in the truck and whisked them up to The Farm.


In the meanwhile, the Missus took ABH out along the big beach for a stank. The weather was not quite a bright and cheerful as yesterday with significantly more cloud about. While those temperatures had apparently risen, it still felt very cold out especially in the northeast breeze. ABH and I were down at the water’s edge earlier, that breeze brought a sting to the face and a tear to the eye. When it is this cold we would normally feel a degree or two increase but certainly not today. Even ABH put her foot down about going out in it. Our normal walk out after tea involved a quick run around mews and back home as soon as she was finished. You could almost see the thought bubble above her head, ‘begger that for a game of one-armed whist’.


Despite the cold outside, we had felt it perfectly temperate in the house for most of the day and had only thought about lighting the log burner towards the end of the afternoon. I maintain my thought that it is no less expensive than any other heating type, although I have no experience of ground source heating. Logs are very expensive no and what I did not consider, are difficult to get hold of. We have only ever had to buy them in the shoulder seasons and the summer for the shop and have had no issue with supply. I have been twice to our new supplier in Penzance now only to be told they did not have logs or kindling. Perhaps I thought they grew on trees.


I will have another crack at making plans for tomorrow and see how that goes. Failing that I shall drink heavily and start writing my own aphorisms and sayings about plans. I will not be kind.

January 10th - Wednesday

I awoke to the sound of tiles sliding off our roof. That was a bit of poetic license and complete nonsense, but our happy team of frozen workers were there very early this morning. By the middle of the afternoon there was no roof there at all, so they really motored on with it.


It was bitterly cold first thing in the morning and, once again, it took much will power to get my behind moving in the direction of the gymnasium. The cold has had time to seep into the fabric of the building and although it was better in that out in the icy draught, it was still very cold in there. On Monday, I had dispensed with my hat early on and my sweatshirt a few hundred metres into my row. Today, my hat had stayed on until halfway through and my sweatshirt was on throughout the whole session. There were no records broken, in fact I fell well behind the benchmark time, and while I aimed for blistering, we got lukewarm.


Nevertheless, it had blossomed into a crackling little day. We would be very happy with a day looking like that in the middle of summer but feeling a bit warmer, of course. There was very little in the way of cloud hanging about and the sun was shining everywhere after about fifty yards out to sea. ABH and I needed to be right down by the waterline for some sunshine when we ventured down after I returned from the gymnasium. I rather wish we had not ventured down that far but ‘sniffer ABH’ was on the trail of a not so long gone seal that had spent some time up on the slipway overnight, I would venture. I narrowly managed to stop her rolling in something very unsavoury that the sea had left behind just before it entered the water.


Mother was on the edge of her seat when we came back. She was leaving today to go back home via the hospital to get her arm replastered with a proper lightweight cast. It is not that she is keen to leave us, although I suppose she might be, but if there is a plan then she is anxious to get on with it. It is the same when she comes over for tea three times a week; as soon as tea is finished, the shoes are on, and she is ready to go. She will manage very well at home on her own because she just will. A small thing like a broken arm is not going to stop her doing what she wants – apart from knitting and sewing, that is. Even then, she has been resting a cross-stitch frame on her cast, using the spare space as a pin cushion.


They were gone shortly after the Missus came downstairs. This was well ahead of the appointment, but they wanted to put the heating on in her bungalow and head into town for a spot of shopping first. The Missus was gone until late afternoon.

Being as it was such a lovely day, I thought that I would take ABH up the cliff again for a shortish run around the circuit up there. She had no complaints, so in the early afternoon, we booted and suited up and headed for the Coast Path via the Harbour beach. We stopped again to speak with two of the workers on the toilets project, which is just as well as the young lady there told me my telephone was ringing. I would never have heard it myself nor felt the vibration. It was fortunate because it was the very pleasant lady from the bank working on our short term loan. There appears to be a sort of negotiation between her and the credit people in the bank and she has been back several times to ask for pertinent details to help the process along.


I know that it is done for the best of reasons but getting hold of money is a very fraught process. It seems that provided you have plenty of money and are earning even more money, they are more than willing to lend you some. If you are short of a few bob and just getting along, they are particularly reticent. I shall bear it in mind next time to make sure I have plenty of money next time I want to borrow some.


ABH was very patient while I answered the telephone call but was keen to run up the first four steps of the Coast Path after I had finished. She then proceeded to sniff every blade of grass and consume every rabbit dropping (apologies if you are in the middle of your Coco Pops) causing us to take a good half an hour to get up the rest off the cliff. I would not have minded so much if she had procrastinated along the top, which she did, but on the way up the cliff we were in the shade, and it was cold. At least I had a particularly glorious view to gaze out upon.


We are still not keen to run her too far and too hard yet. Land’s End and back I think will still be a little too much, so we kept to the usual circuit across the moors, back on the cycle path and down Stone Chair Lane. There it was good to see that the electricity board has filled in the big hole they left. It is, however, only filled in with earth and a good pelt with rain will wash it away in no time. Mind, we have had a good pelt of rain recently and it is still there, unless it was done after the rain at which point, I could still be right. It feels good to be right but on this occasion, I would rather not be.


There were not many people about today, which given the brightness of the day was perhaps surprising but at this time of year we are not blessed with a surfeit of visitors. When I bumped into a neighbour yesterday, he told me he had met some Coast Path walkers out by Nanquidno Valley who had camped overnight. That we felt was quite extreme given the temperature last night. The usual visitors at this time of year stay in the OS or have a holiday let and are seen around the place dog walking.


I met another neighbour just before turning off over the moor and there was a couple in sight as we came past Irish Lady, but they must have gone the other way as we did not see them again. That was it. Other than the thatcher working on Tinker Taylor, there was not another living sole abroad in the bright mid-afternoon.


That thatcher was just putting the finishing touches to the block ridge. It looks very fancy and bright compared to the rest of the roof. I have no idea if that is it or the rest of the roof is being done. To my logical mind, I would think not as the block ridge would be the last thing to do but, there again, I am not a thatcher and who knows what the order in which they do things is. Probably other thatchers. I will report dreckly.


I was roused in the late afternoon by the Highly Professional Craftsperson reporting that they had finished removing the roof. As we already knew, he confirmed that the tiles turned to mush when removed. Tomorrow, they were moving into the kitchen and the opposite bedroom which we had been using in the extended delay of them starting. The kitchen cupboards we had agreed could remain full of what they were full of but apparently, they changed their minds. I had to make a rapid move to empty cupboards and move ironing things from the bedroom with one very confused ABH wondering why she could no longer walk down the hall into the living room which was boarded off.


We finished off with much of the content of both rooms now in the bathroom and took ourselves around for a walk. The last remnants of a perfect looking day were still hanging around in the sky to the west. There was enough light left to see us around the block unaided, but the cold seemed to be settling in again for the night.


The Missus eventually returned bearing shopping at shortly before tea time. She had spent quite a long time at the hospital with Mother and had made sure she was capable at home before leaving her. Mother has her new cast and is more than happy at being at home again. We do like a bit of home. It would be nice to have one with a roof. 

January 9th - Tuesday

Those scaffolding boys were here early doors again this morning. I cannot fault their dedication to the cause. The whole thing has been meticulously planned by a third-party company that specialises in that sort of thing. With 80 miles per hour winds quite possible while the assorted collection of steel poles, corrugated steel sheets and fixings is in residence, they could not afford to take chances.


The whole structure is now in place and complete. Despite the meticulous design, the scaffolders had to make some changes. Much like our polytunnel, once the wind gets in one end, the pressure inside can quickly escalate. There were fears that the same could happen to our structure now that the covers are on. If the wind got underneath, the whole edifice could lift off. This is why we had the additional shelves at the bottom that displaced our newspaper box. The shelves now have around a ton of breeze blocks holding it down.


We are not alone in transforming The Cove into a building site. There is Tinker Taylor, the thatch two doors down, where scaffolding has been erected so that the thatcher can get to the roof. Around the back, the owner is making a more robust feature of the conservatory, although what that will look like, I have no idea. Today, there were clouds of concrete dust blowing out across the beach as the concrete plinth on which the old structure sat was being cut up.


In the Harbour car park, the reconstruction of the toilets is in full swing. The windows are out, and men in brick dust covered overalls were wielding sledgehammers and wrecking bars. At least the Harbour did not have to wait four years for a builder to turn up; they are doing it themselves. I stopped for a chat with the lady who had driven down the big telehandler from the farm at the top. She said that she would have preferred to stay in her nice warm office up at the farm which I found it difficult to argue with.


Once again today, the temperature was icy cold. I had made the first trip around the block in shorts but made sure that I had double layers on the next time I went around. There was evidence of frost again on the flat roofs that we could see, but at least we had avoided any snow. Family in North Devon said that they had a bit, but it did not linger.


Today was fairly well packed with things to do but most of it was meeting people, spending money and not actually producing anything worthy. I had dropped down to the shop at the appointed time to meet the electrician and when he arrived. I called the builder as he knew what he wanted from the electrician. While we waited, I had some words regarding the putting everything back, especially concerning the foot lights that I want installed down the steps at the front. I am going to attempt to do the channelling out myself and now I know what cable to put back, will install that too. 

The afternoon was completely full of things to do. We had arranged back-to-back appointments with the optician as the Missus knew she was in need and my bi-annual test was due. The plan was that we would all go, including Mother to look after ABH while we were ensconced but threw that out when it became apparent that Mother would probably be an icicle by the time we came out. We left ABH with Mother at home with enough logs on the fire to last a little while and headed off in the direction of town.


First stop was to pick up the battery I had ordered when I had the wheel balancing done. The team there impressed me yesterday with their efficiency and today they did not disappoint with their common sense. Although there were other people waiting, two of the more experienced ones did our battery swap first. We all knew it would only take a minute and with two of them on the job making sure the temporary feed to the truck remained in place as the battery was exchanged it was a smooth operation. It was not a cheap operation but having just paid for the scaffolding, it was a mere bagatelle by comparison.


I was very nearly scuppered by some overly safeguarding procedures employed by my bank. All the money is in the personal account and when I came to pay, it told me that I had exceeded the limit of what I could pay out during one day. When I reduced it, it told me that I had exceeded the limit that I could pay to new payees, which left me in a pickle. I had to transfer what I could to the business account and borrow from one of those accounts to pay the bill. 


Having taken the maximum amount from my personal account for the day, I was well and truly snookered when a bill came in for the first of the skips for the waste. I had to once again fall back on the business account to pay that. I will have to make detailed notes so that I can unpick the pickle when I am in a position to do so. Who thought it would be so complicated. I will have to move some more money to the business account over the next few days because the steel deposit will be due soon.


It was better news from the optician. It seems I have the same eyes that I had two years ago, which is gratifying. I still needed new glasses, however, because I somehow managed to put a scratch on my scratch resistant lenses. The Missus needed new driving glasses, but she knew that anyway. The whole operation had almost arrived in parallel to a conclusion, so the Missus, who went in forty minutes ahead of me, did not have to wait too long until I was finished. 


I was very pleased to meet an optician with a sense of humour. We had a pleasant chat as he put my eyes through their paces. It is far more thorough than the old days of reading a single printed chart on the wall and now employs all manner of clever technology. Right at the end, though, I was shown a printed chart with short paragraphs typed upon it in diminishing font sizes. He asked to read out the bottom line if I could, so I read out ‘J Smith and Son. Printed in Birmingham’. Oh my, my, how we chortled over that old chestnut.


It was dark, very cold and I was out of pocket when we left the optician. It was also what passes for rush hour in Penzance with everyone unavoidably complying with the twenty miles per hour restrictions there. I am sure it is a far cry from the sort of rush hour traffic that occurs east of Camborne at five o’clock of an evening. It was bad enough twenty years ago. I shudder to think of what it feels like to be in it now. 


There were only two cars to worry about in The Cove and both of those were parked – on double yellow lines. We will not have to worry about a rush hour here until July I would reckon by which time building works and scaffolding will be a distant memory. I hope.

January 8th - Monday

We are not used to being cold, despite it being January and that sort of thing is supposed to be normal. There has been so much mild and wet that we have become accustomed to it, and it has certainly saved on the electricity and the wood bills. So, you can imagine that it was something of a shock to have a temperature in low single figures. Even single figures have been a little unusual this winter.


It was also a bit of a stark reminder that I should have been paying attention and turned off the outside hose tap before we got a frozen pipe disaster as we did a few years ago during the ‘beast from the east’. The temperature has not yet been as low as it was then or for such a sustained period, so I do not think that we are in trouble yet, but it was a bit of an eye-opener seeing frost on the shed roof next door. We hardly ever get frost in The Cove.


I reckoned that I would probably have enough time to run down to the gymnasium first. It was important, I felt, to get down there as quickly as possible for no other reason than not losing the will or having the time to find an excuse not to go. I promise you, dear reader, it took some steely focus and an iron resolve to force my legs outside the door in my gymnasium kit let alone head in the right direction. 


I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the hut with a tin roof because it felt slightly warmer in there than it did outside. I think it takes a day or two for the cold to seep in properly plus the fact that the light breeze was introducing some wind chill that was absent inside the building. My continued presence in the gymnasium rested solely on moving quickly into my routine and not thinking. I was going to say ‘thinking about it’ but not thinking at all was probably more accurate.


My 5,000 metre row started with my sweatshirt still on but I was not very far into the row when I felt confident enough to take it off. By the end of it and halfway through my blistering session, I had the windows open with an icy draught blowing through and feeling good about it. I did not feel the cold again until nearly at the end of the post-gymnasium ABH walking session down on the beach.


It was surely a super day to be feeling the cold. The sky was clear blue, although in pastel shades, and as you might imagine from the fishing boats being out, the sea was being better behaved for a change. There was a fair amount of chop, so it was breezier that it seemed. Perhaps I have become so used to the wind that I do not notice it anymore.


I was keen to get to the tyre place in Stable Hobba in Newlyn. Tomorrow, we have appointments morning and afternoon and Wednesday, Mother is due to get plastered again. This does not leave a great deal of time before I am due to head off into the big scary yonder far the other side of Camborne. I had called the garage as soon as they had opened and before I went to the gymnasium just in case they were busy and I needed to book an appointment. As it turned out, for wheel balancing it is a drop-in service, so I decided to drop in after I had my breakfast and taken ABH for a walk. I was there before the middle of the day, which is much more efficient than I had expected.


I had to wait until a tyre delivery was finished, about fifteen minutes, and was ushered into one of the bays. They had some apprentices who took care of taking the wheels off and putting them back on while a more experienced person did the wheel balancing. He was wearing overalls, so I knew I was in good hands. 


I had taken a punt that it was the wheel balance that was causing the vibration through the steering column. It would be the least expensive option anyway if I was wrong and would dispense with one possible cause if I was wrong. It turned out I was right; they were way out at the front. I tested it on the way home and 40 miles per hour, where there was some vibration before, was now fine. This should mean that at 80 miles per hour, should anyone attempt it – obviously not me, not even once, honest guv – it would be fine as well. Clearly, I will never find out.


The battery issues that we were having suggested that a new battery was required. I was right there, too. The man in overalls had a testing tool and shook his head gravely. He probably sucked air through his teeth, but my false ears will not be done until next week, so I did not hear it. It was superfluous anyway as I had already resigned myself to a new battery and that is now ordered. I will have to drop by again tomorrow to have it fitted but we can dovetail that with our eye appointments in the afternoon. 


I have asked that they replace the battery without dropping the current to the truck. That should be possible by clamping a spare battery to the truck cable ends. If we lose all the electric, then the radio machine will turn off and when it comes back on again with require a security code. I know that the security code is written on the instruction booklet but here is the problem; I have no idea where the instruction booklet is. Turning the power off will neatly turn the radio into a plastic and wires brick. The very pleasant man at the desk told me it should be possible, and I have every confidence in the man wearing the overalls. I just hope the man wearing the overalls is the one changing the battery.


I took my queue from that man and slipped into warm DIYman overalls for any further steps outside. I had been brave earlier when I took the truck out and rued every minute of it. I got around to turning off the water supply to the hose then completely forgot to turn the tap on and lock the hose open and I also checked the electric meter for the house. I noted that the lock I had installed clearly had not been done right as the door was wide open. I locked it again and will just hope it stays shut this time.


Work has started on the Harbour toilets. I saw a notice somewhere that there is a refurbishment planned, which frankly is not before time. It is very handy having them open, make no mistake, even in the state that they were in, but I was the butt of most of the complaints about them from the general public. I understand that in the end, the much maligned council stopped cleaning them. I have no idea what that was about, but it made a bad situation much worse. We shall look forward to a state-of-the-art facility when the work people sign off at the end of the project but will probably just have normal ones instead.


It put me in mind of a public house just north of Dublin. It was a perfectly normal bar that a group of us attended one afternoon. I do not recall who was the first to return from the convenience, but word quickly went around that it should not be missed. Pushing the door open was like stepping forward in time several hundred years into the toilets of the USS Enterprise. The place was floor to ceiling polished stainless steel, which was brave in a coastal town, and so bright you needed dark glasses to attend to you business in there. 


Whatever the work people deliver for the Harbour toilets, I imagine that it will be much more fit for purpose that the replacement bins the much maligned council has installed on the OS slip. You will remember, dear reader, that the same much maligned council replaced the very worn out wood fence that ran down to the seat halfway down the slipway with smart metal railings. I did notice that a week or two later, some bins arrived attached to the very smart railing by some even smarter locking on apparatus. Beyond that, I did not pay very much attention.


I remedied that in the afternoon as ABH dragged me down the slipway for a geek at the beach, which is showing signs of a bit of sand dropped back around the end of the slipway. There used to be two rather shabby 660 litre bins sat at the top of the slipway. In summer they would be emptied several times a day and still be full. Those bins have been replaced with six 140 litre bins, a net reduction of 480 litres, which will doubtless show after a while. All of the bins have a label at the top designating them for use for litter and dog waste. Confusingly, the last bin, labelled the same as the others at the top, also has a label on the front designating it as to be used for plastic containers and metal cans. 


This raises two questions, or possibly rather more. The first must be is the bin for litter and dog waste or is it for recycling plastic containers and metal cans. I suspect given the dual signage, it will be used for both, which will make recycling the plastic and metal interesting. Perhaps, question 1(b) should regard the adequacy of a single 140 litre bin on a busy summer day even if it is exclusively used for recycling plastic and metal waste.


The second question has got to be if plastic and metal recycling can be collected in the same receptacle for the general public why do we poor domestic recyclers have to separate these items into two bags? People want to recycle; we know they do. Why make it difficult for them.


The temperature outside made it very easy for us to decide that being inside was far more preferable to being outside, although earlier in the day, it did look half decent for a stank along the cliff. It was probably later in the day that staying in looked favourite. Even ABH who likes to linger on her journeys abroad seemed rather keener than usual to get back home.


Idly looking at the posts being fed in my direction from the Internet, one of the Cornish weather services was keeping a keen eye on some snow that started up east. It had reached Devon and was threatening Camborne from afar. The consensus was that it would peter out before it got here. I hope so; my boots are in the shop.

January 7th - Sunday

Back to the range again after a short break for Christmas. The last time I was there is it raining and windy. Today, it was sharp cold and dry, which made a change.


It was raining in The Cove when I took ABH out for her first walk. Happily, it was at a reasonable hour but still dark. I do not remember it being especially cold, but I had not long been out of bed and come from a warm house. The rain was not heavy and it was its last appearance for the day.


The dip in the temperature for the coming days had been well telegraphed by the various weather forecasting agencies. I had already made up my mind that the DIYman overalls should go on as they are the warmest thing to wear in such conditions. I was definitely not disappointed by their performance today, and I spent most of the morning with all my layers on including my jacket and hooded sweatshirt. It was a bit restrictive but better that than freezing.


We had a practical session for shotgun in the morning. This involves multiple targets that need to be reset after each shooter has finished. We all muck in when the range is safe to run out and put metal plates back on their stands and stand up the falling men. The more you do, the warmer you keep but it is quite energetic activity. By the end of the morning I was quite looking forward to having a sit down and a spot of croust.


There was a clay shoot in the afternoon that required a lot less running about. In fact, the contrary and we all stood about until each shooter had finished and it was our turn. Even when shooting, there is not a great deal of energy required and thus no keeping warm unless you fancied sticking your gun up your shirt after you had finished shooting. Happiness is a warm gun according to Mr Lennon, after all. We did not start until two o’clock by which time the sun was on its way to the western horizon and the day was rapidly cooling down. 


Since Mother is staying with us, I was able to take the truck, whereas I am normally dropped off and have to call for a lift back. It can get quite busy up at the range and parking spaces are at a premium, so it was no surprised that I had been blocked in. Since we were all leaving at roughly the same time, there was not long to wait before the van in front of me moved off. While I was waiting, I spent some time looking out at the sun setting beyond Longships Lighthouse and Land’s End. There was a gathering of cumulus clouds out to the west all lit up and it presented quite a picture of splendour and glory to behold, so I stood there a while and beheld it.


It was not far off the end of daylight when I came back, and it was dark by the time I had cleaned the guns and put everything away. I would have taken the little girl first but she had not long been out. There was still enough light to drop down to the Harbour beach for a short run before tea, so that is where we went. I was quite surprised how small the last high water had been, finishing a good way short of the slipway. I also noticed that for the first time this year, the fishing boats had gone out and had been left further down the slipway that they had been left before storm Gerrit. I had to pick my way carefully in the gloom down to the smooth tide washed sand as there were deep furrows that the boats had carved; ABH just bounded through them.


We had not been there for long when ABH started barking at the corner of the beach by the Harbour wall. During the autumn the friend of one of the OS staff had waiting either there or over at the end of the Harbour car park for him, often in the pitch dark. She has a dog with her and is presumably unaware that her silent presence may cause alarm. At least two ladies walking alone with their dogs on the beach have reported being scared out of their wits when they had suddenly come across her.


I had been wary since first coming across her in the dark and had subsequently had a good look around with the torch before letting ABH loose. Lulled into a false sense of security by her recent absence, it again took me by surprise, and we had to conduct the rest of our run on the lead.


There were no surprises later; it was getting cold with an eye on getting colder. 

Sunset view from Carn Grean

January 6th - Saturday

Well, goodness me. I actually did something today.


For once ABH had given me a peaceful night and did not even want to go out when I got up at gone seven o’clock. I made my way downstairs and let her make up her own mind when she wanted to go out. As I expected it was just after I had made my cup of tea. She goes back to bed again but has to be there to help get Mother down the stairs. She precedes us going down one step at a time just by my feet.


We noted that we could see the stars last night and it was still clear in the morning. That along with a bit of a breeze from somewhere to the north of us made things a mite chillier this morning than they had been. I was more warmly dressed when I took ABH later on, but it really was not that cold, just colder than we have been used to and to help things along, we had some sunshine.


I was not at all sure that I would go and do something today. In the back of my mind I thought that there were tree things to do. The first of those was to cut the branches off the Christmas trees to make them more manageable to fit into the back of the truck. The second was to get them up to The Farm and the third, put them through the shredder, which we purchased last year for this very purpose. Before all that, however, I had to grasp the nettle and get off my behind to go and do it.


I felt it best not to make some great announcement that would set too many expectations of me, even to myself. I just slipped into DIYman overalls and headed for the shop without a word. Like eating an elephant, I would do one stage at a time and see how I felt about doing the next one – easing myself into a work ethic again. 


There was not much preparation to do. Once I had found the chain saw and the batteries, I simply set to taking the branches off the trees and piling them up. I cut the trunk down into thirds, not being overly sure how much of them would fit in the shredder. I am sure that I had more trouble doing this last year. Perhaps we did not have the chain saw then, I really cannot remember. I was not timing myself, but I would say that both trees were stripped inside an hour, possibly much less.


The Missus caught up with me at this stage and it was clearly her expectation that I would be taking the tattered remains of the tree away today. Given that it was still before the middle of the day, I thought that I would have plenty of time to finish off the last two stages. I did check with the Missus that she had not buried the shredder at the back of the barn and thankfully, she had not. It was neatly accessible at the front.


Since neither of us had been up at The Farm since we collected the Christmas decorations, I was not entirely sure what state the place would be in and indeed, what state the lane would be in after all the rain. I need not have worried about the latter as there was very little water lying about and up at The Farm itself, the ground was wet, for sure, but not sodden. I was not going to venture far anyway, just down to the barn and into the cabin to make sure everything was alright there too. 


I also wanted to check the polytunnel. I was aware that the back had a big hole in it and when I checked today, the back is almost completely shredded on both sides. It needs some serious attention. The bigger problem is that the wind blowing in is blowing out the front doors and damaging them. They were swinging off the sliders at the top and the latches at the bottom had pushed through the earth until they were free. In truth, it needs a new covering and new doors but with everything else we have to do and the likely cost, that is just not going to happen this year.


Setting aside my concerns for the polytunnel, I set to with the task at hand commencing with trying to extract the shredder from the barn. It has wheels, which is helpful, but it requires the whole assembly to be tipped like a barrow in order to move it. I am sure that balance was not top of the design strategy and as a consequence, it is cumbersome to move with much weight bearing backwards while trying to push it forward. It does not even behave when trying to pull it backwards but after much pushing and dragging, I managed to get it outside.


The other design issue I have noticed is that the shredding output falls flush with the ground. In no time at all, the shredding is backed up to the cutting blades. Quite how it is envisaged that the machine might be used effectively I can only guess. Logically, it probably should be lined up on the edge of a platform with a big bag under the output chute. Even then, the output falls front and back of the front stand, so even a platform would not be perfect. Given than it vibrates rather a lot, there would be a terrible risk that the whole machine might rattle its way off the edge.


On the basis that we do not have a platform at The Farm, I placed a ply board under the output to make it easier to scoop away the chippings, which I had to do at frequent intervals. It worked relatively well, but it was irksome having to stop every couple of minutes to dig out the chippings and sometimes I would forget and leave it too long. At one point some while into the process, I notices smoke curling out from the upper hopper and the output chute. I shut down after that for ten minutes or so to cleat the machine out.


It took a while to become familiar with the machine again. I spent a wasted five minutes trying to start it with the fuel turned off, although arguably it was good exercise for my right brachii bicep. What I did remember was the noise of the machine. My ears were ringing the first time I used it, and I made sure that I had purchased some basic earplugs by the next time. By the miracle of wonder, I also remembered where I had kept them for a year. 


Actually, it was not so much of a miracle because for some reason I had placed them in the ‘bits’ box under the shop counter. The number of times I had gone into it for some item, upset the box of yellow foam earplugs and had to spend time finding them all and putting them back in their box was countless. The location was memorable for its irritation quotient alone.


I also remembered that I had enormous trouble poking things for shredding in the top hopper of the machine. This is misleadingly large, the expectation being that you might put whole tree trunks in the top and watch the chippings being spat out of the bottom. In fact, only items of one centimetre or less can be dropped into the top.I resolved to forget all about the top hopper this time around and put everything, even the smallest of branches, down the tube for the bigger bits of wood, up to ten centimetres. This worked fine as long as I put small amounts in at a time. I also used a long stick to poke the scrunched up branches down the slim tube. Cleverly, I cut a notch in the stick the length of the tube so that I did not over poke my poking stick. That worked to some degree but by the last branches to go in my poking stick was half the length of when I started.


Progress was slow but methodical. I had to shut down a couple of times to give the machine a rest and to clear out the chippings. When I had finished a few hours later, I had four big tubs of chippings and another still on the ground but could find no more tubs. I had managed to cut the larger ends of the trunks in half length ways with a bit of a struggle, but they were still not small enough to go down the input chute. I will address these another day because by the time I had finished, the sun was dropping away.


It was also getting colder up at The Farm. I was pretty wrapped up when I started the process down in The Cove but obviously warmed up as my efforts increased. It was warmer too in the shelter from the breeze and in the sunshine that persisted all day. I had to strip off a layer and my jacket but after I had finished, they were very necessary again. 


We have had a few problems starting the truck of late particularly after it had been sitting unused for a day or two. I had thought after a good run into town yesterday it would be alright, and it had started without issue in the morning. When I came to start it to go home, there was nothing there and I had to use the small and very useful battery booster I had carefully remember to bring along. It is clear that a new battery is required, and I will have to get that sorted before next weekend when I am away deep at the annual trade show. 


There was a bit of putting away to do in the shop when I returned. It was outside that I met, shall we just call him or her Good Authority, a person with news. It seems that the St Awful brewing company has decided to keep up its good work of giving everyone a chance at running the OS by having another change in management. I cannot remember when the last lot came in, but it was not more than a few months. It is unclear whether they jumped or were pushed. This is no ugly rumour; I have it on Good Authority. 


I was very grateful for a cup of tea and a sit down when I eventually got home and settled. We had our fishy tea, as promised but I decided against having chips with it.

January 5th - Friday

If we thought that all our rain had come yesterday, today had a surprise for us. The rain had not yet completely finished with us, although mercifully I did manage to avoid getting wet and without really trying too hard.


Our little angel had me up again early doors – twice. The first time I went back to bed but the second time, it was only an hour off a sensible getting up time and I knew she would not settle, so I got up. You did notice how early The Diary was this morning, dear reader. I almost got away with it because after the first time, she settled back down and after ten minutes of that I thought it was safe to relax. It was at that precise moment that the Missus coughed or moved a bit which could reasonably be construed as being awake m’lud, which spurred ABH back to action again.


It was not raining on either trip out and whether I am just inured to it or I am just too sleepy to care, it seemed perfectly temperate out. It was very dark and while I contemplated an early trip to the gymnasium, it did not get to a decent level of light until well after eight o’clock. 


Because I had wanted to go back to the catalogue shop in Tesmorbury’s, the Missus was going to make me do the shopping again. She changed her mind about that and decided that it would be a pleasant drive out with Mother for us all to go. We did not leave until late in the morning, ostensibly to let me finish my blistering session at the gymnasium, and to have some breakfast. 


Just as a brief aside, I used up the bacon that I had purchased at Tesmorbury’s for our all day breakfast the other evening. We had grilled the bacon and it had dried out and was almost inedible. I thought that I would box clever and fry it this time and hang the health consequences – after all, I had just finished a blistering session. I did use slimline butter from one of those cows that does a lot of running around the field, so that was alright then. What was not alright was the rashers of bacon. Tesmorbury’s must have employed a sashimi chef to cut slices that thin.


I had come to some compromise in purchasing my portable speaker. I use it when listening to Radio Pasty on the computer as modern computers have been required not to be louder than a quiet whisper just in case it damages our delicate ear ’oles. What the designers of the nanny state failed to take into account were those of us who had already damaged our ear ’oles before they brought in their rules now cannot hear a bleddy thing. The additional speaker has become a necessity for we deafoes. I had to use a credit card in the end to avoid having to visit the shop twice and since I had already been once, that would have been thrice. 


While the Missus did the food shopping, I picked up my speaker and then went in search of some cracked pepper. I use this in my highly efficient grinder as it works better than using whole peppercorns. I did not think that Tesmorbury’s would do it and certainly not in anything bigger than one of those small and excessively expensive spice tubs and I was right. I will go to the small independent shop in Penzance where you can purchase the quantity you require for pennies rather than pounds. I have to go into town the week after next for my false ears – gosh, did I not say I have an appointment to be seen at the shop in town – so I will get some then.


Perhaps it was because I was with her or perhaps the Missus has seen the light, but she had a list and, largely, kept to it. We walked out of Tesmorburys with just the one huge bag for life rather than the usual half a dozen. Having seen me eat my bacon sandwich this morning both Mother and the Missus fancied that for tea which relegated fishy Friday to fishy Saturday. I said I would still have fish but sliced up as goujons and have fish all over again on Saturday as well. I do like my fish. Oddly, the Missus bought some of those fish sticks that do contain fish but probably not as we know it. She calls them crab sticks, but they do not contain any crab either and anyway the Missus cannot call them fish sticks because the Missus hates fish.


Our scaffolders had started early this morning. They were not so lucky with the rain, but the wind is much reduced even from yesterday. They had ploughed ahead going upwards and how have erected a third story and are over the roof. I had not contemplated the two fibre cables that run above our roof to the property next door but clearly someone had. They very carefully placed their scaffold poles and frames so that the cables just lightly rest on the upper most portion. I do not think that they intend to go any higher, but I would expect them back next week with the coverings. If the nanny state is worried about the sound coming out of a small laptop speaker, they should be utterly terrified when the covers go on. They will be able to hear the racket from the top of their ivory towers when the wind blows.


Because of the shopping and the messing about today, ABH only had the one trip out of any note. We headed for the Harbour beach which is only available late in the afternoon. We were not there long before she rolled in something unspeakable, which someone equally unspeakable had left there instead of taking with them. Dragging her to the rockpool under the short slip did nothing to relieve the situation and I frogmarched her home for a bath. 


I will have to run her out a little more rigorously tomorrow because she was very restless in the evening. Having been up since before sparrow’s this morning, I was the complete opposite, which was not a great combination. Hopefully we shall start tomorrow better matched.

January 3rd - Wednesday

Another grey and windy day but it was at least free of rain or least as far as it was important to me. It did not make a whole lot of difference to our day and what we did I am ashamed to say. I am still being lazy.


I did, however, head to the gymnasium a little later than I would have liked but by leaving it later, it was light in there. I did not think much of it at the time, but I carved another couple of seconds off the last time, which is heading in the right direction. I also noticed that I was warm almost from the outset. I have no paid too much attention for forecasts over the last few days; I do not need a chart to tell me that it is windy out, I can hear it through the windows. I can also look out of the windows and see if it is raining. It was not when I headed to the gymnasium, but it had been not long before. I did look to discover the temperature had increased a couple of degrees.


While I was at the gymnasium, I told myself that I would go back today to put a temporary fix in on the multi-gym machine. I told myself I would do that last year, too and never got around to it. I did buy the washers with which I meant to fix it, but I am not even sure where they are now. Needless to say, I came back from the gymnasium and forgot all about it as a small ABH insisted that I take her out as soon as I got back.


I had just finished my breakfast when the in-laws turned up with Mother. They are on their way home and Mother will stay with us until her arm is mended. She still has the temporary plaster on but has an appointment next Tuesday now to be fitted with a proper one and to be “gently manipulated” should that prove necessary. Mother’s ears pricked up at the “gently manipulated” bit. I think it would be fair to say that those writing it and those receiving it might have subtly different views on the matter. The appointment, however, is in Penzance, which is pleasing and surprised me greatly.


The never ending story of Basho, the waste management company, was something I was going to open with today, but I thought that I would lull you into a false sense of security first, with a bit of gymming and weather:


One of the things that got me out of bed in the morning was the pinging of my mobile telephone. It stops pinging at ten o’clock and starts again at seven o'clock, unless you are in my address book and then you can ping me all night long. I do not have many people in my address book and that is a very good reason not to change. One of the post seven o’clock pings was a message arriving from Basho, an invoice for services rendered.


It was not that I was over-eager to open my messages. It is just that I can only take so much pinging before getting out of bed. If you recall, dear reader, I had sent a message terminating my Basho contract with extreme prejudice to them the very next day after hearing from them that they were taking over the account with the previous company. Subsequently, I had suffered a ping pong of messages with the ‘business improvement manager’ who had promised that the contract would be terminated but only from 1st January this year. I had railed at that because it gave Basho the opportunity to screw things up before the termination kicked in and I was right.


The invoice I received detailed three services. Two were listed as ‘wasted journey’. It says everything you need to know about Basho and what they think of their customers. The middle one explained who had mysteriously emptied the bin. I could have laid money on it being them, as I could that I would get a spurious invoice from them before long. I am very glad that they do not have my bank details.


I sent a message off to the business improvement manager, hoping that she was still talking to me. She replied almost immediately to tell me she was off today but would jump on the issue as soon as she returned tomorrow. I might suggest she shift allegiance to another company as she must see by now the utter shower she is working for, and she would not have to put up with people like me.


Having resolved the world’s problems in the morning and woken myself up with a trip to the gymnasium and a blistering session, I told the Missus that I would go and do the store room inventory as I needed to do something constructive. Instead, she suggested that I head into town and do some shopping. The powers that be, Mother and the Missus, decided that we would have an all day breakfast for our tea. This would require things that go into an all day breakfast that we did not have and the local shop is annoying closed.


Armed with a list, that included the coffee capsules that the Missus drinks an abundance of – the product of them, not the capsules – I headed in the direction of Penzance. I also remembered that I had to drop off the signed set of accounts at our accountants and I also wanted to see if I could get some anti-rust lacquer for the new newspaper box which is already showing signs of rust on the hinges and the latch.


With the paperwork dropped off, I went to two builders’ suppliers for the rust lacquer but there was nothing doing, and I shall resort to the Internet. The other thing I was after was a portable speaker. Having failed to buy books with my voucher, I thought I would it against the cost of a speaker which I could acquired from the catalogue company that sits in one of the Tesmorbury’s stores. As usual, the Missus had mandated that I visit that very store for the breakfast components, which in this case was most convenient, or would have been.


The Missus told me afterwards that the catalogue company holds very little stock at the store itself. Most items ordered are only available by visiting the next day. The item I require is available at various outlets online, which I eschewed to save postage costs. I now find that I must make two twenty mile round trips to get the speaker one to order it and the next to collect it. Having opted for paper voucher I cannot now change my mind and purchase online. How irritating. Had the voucher been for a small independent shop in town, I could have made arrangements for the product to be available and gone in once.


I had to go to two Tesmorbury’s as the first did not have the coffee capsules the Missus wanted. While I prefer to use a person at a till, both stores only had one counter open and the queuing trolley users to them were legion. I reluctantly used the self-checkout, which I always seem to have issues with. I also mainly use cash, and I notice that the companies have made arrangements for all change, no matter how much, to be paid in tuppences – presumably as a deterrent again using such an outmoded payment concept.


The last ignominy of using the machine in the second store was that the basket rest and scales were reversed. I had casually placed the basket on the scales and upset the machine. It took an attendant older than myself to explain that the basket goes on the shelf and the scanned goods on the scale. I thanked him warmly.


In my absence, the Missus had taken ABH down to the big beach again to give her a run. That only left me to give her a run around the block before tea and again a little while after it. She was not particularly enthused about either journey even when the first one led her down to the beach in the dusk. It did not help much that the wind was still gusting. We did not tarry long.


I sat down in the evening to rewrite our shop customer service policy. Clearly, I must learn from the big companies like Basho who spend thousands of pounds on such things. From now on any visitor leaving the shop without buying something will be pulled to one side and told how they wasted my time by walking into the shop. It is the new way forward and will be all the rage soon. I need to be ahead of the curve.

January 2nd - Tuesday

The builders started this morning. Well, they turned up, anyway. I had fretted a bit during the early part of the morning that they might not, but the Highly Professional Craftsperson, who is part of the team, called and told me they were on their way. I ceremoniously handed over the keys and let them get on with it, although I did consider climbing into DIYman overalls and coming back to help.


I had got into full metal jacket waterproof to go and meet the builders, but it had stopped raining. I had previously taken the little girl out at around seven o’clock and it was still raining then, although not all that hard. The wind, though, was howling again and I had no doubt that we would not see the scaffolders. Even over the wind we could hear the sea misbehaving. Perhaps another day for staying in.


ABH had gone back to bed after our first walk out having clearly been disgusted by the weather. She had some breakfast first and then disappeared to the bedroom and I did not see her again until the middle of the day. Looking outside, the weather had brightened considerably, so I reasoned that she probably would not be too disappointed if I took her out.


With the wind back in the west, it was much more obvious than it had been yesterday. It was full in the face as we turned the corner of the shop but it is at the corner of the Lifeboat stations things start to get real, as they say – or something close to it. A badly timed step around the corner and a sharp gust could easily knock the unwary off balance. Happily, I was wary and ABH had four legs, which is helpful, but it was still a powerful blast in the face turning that corner. 


The beach appeared to be empty, but the little girl spotted a mother and two small children emerging from under the slipway. She ran off to meet her new best friends but was almost immediately distracted by two more new best friends as they stepped down from the corner by the wall. She was quite delighted to see two dogs on a lead and bounded over to say hello. It was her lucky day because the owner let one of the dogs off the lead and the two of them chased around the beach.


I stopped to talk to the owner, a café owner from Bath, and we chatted while trying to resist being blown here and there by the gusting wind at our backs. The dogs were fine by themselves and were carefully avoiding the somewhat more robust waves churning into shore. The sun came out while we were there throwing a much kinder light on the day.


Afterwards, we headed across the car park, head into the wind. The sea was definitely what you would call rough but looked most alluring with all those white-topped waves dancing in the sunlight. We did not stay long as ABH was keen to get on and out of the wind, so being a kindly sort, I let her lead. When we got to the junction of the Coast Path and Coastguard Row, I remembered what I was going to mention yesterday. There was a sweet floral smell in the air, quite strong and I was trying to place it. The reason why it was not at all obvious at the time is that it is a bit early for the tri-cornered garlic to be sprouting. There are no flowers yet, just the green leaves but the aroma is remarkable.


I am going to have to get on and start doing stuff because the monotony and sitting around and scratching my behind, is starting to drive me nuts. It is not like we do not have plenty to do, there is the stock take for starters. I think that the building work had taken me over or rather the lack of it and consumed my every waking moment – and quite a few of the moments that I should have been asleep, too. Now that the work has commenced, other than the fact we still have not ordered the steel and the windows, I can let go a little.


In the mean while there is more walking the little girl, for which I apologise. I will probably apologise later for sequential stock take days, sequential Farm days and sequential getting the flat decorated days. Then you will have seven months of grumpy shopkeeping days to look forward to. There again, you are reading this nonsense – if indeed you are still there, dear reader. Hello. Dear reader? Hello?


It was more for our sanity, dear reader, yours and mine that I chose to head to the Big Beach in the afternoon. Apart from the wind, it was quite a pleasant day and even the wind did not seem so bad under a blue sky and a bit of hazy sunshine. There are still a few visitors about and most of them were down on the Big Beach and many with dogs. 


Much of the reason for using the Harbour beach, other than the fact it is much closer, is that there are fewer users of it. Her propensity to latch on to anyone and everyone she sees is therefore easier to manage on the Harbour beach, which has defined boundaries. On the other hand, she is not going to learn unless we let her loose every now and again on the greater expanse of the Big Beach.


Working in our favour today was the natural split between the rocky and sandy area under the OS and the wider expanse of the rest of the beach, delimited by the big reef exposed with the lack of sand. Hardly anyone was on the area under the OS, so I chose that to let her off the lead. Things were going exceedingly well as she was enjoying leaping over rocks and diving into rock pools at an enormous rate of knots until her play was disturbed by a big black dog who wanted to play chase. It was probably accidental, although it could have been a big bully, but it caught her with a paw and knocked her over with a whelp before running off. 


The incident knocked her confidence somewhat and she came running back to be, looking to be picked up. Of course, I beat her with a stick and told her to, erm, woman up because life doesn’t get any easier. All right, I did not. I picked her up for a bit and let her go again, after which she wandered about the rocks and pools, but her heart was not in it.


We headed over the reef, as it was cheating a bit to go back the way we came. I had her on a lead again and there were several other dogs about the main beach side of the reef. She did not feel inclined to rush off towards them, so possibly a lesson has been learnt, but I very much doubt it. We still faced a bit of a challenge as the sand around the path to the Beach complex has been eroded, leaving a step up of around two feet. This is one small step for ABH but a giant leap for a man with a dickie knee and I had to pick my spot carefully. The challenge for the little girl were the beach monsters guarding the step in the form of two exposed and rusted transatlantic cables left from the early to middle twentieth century. They did indeed look like two giant serpents rising out of the beach.


Nevertheless, it was a refreshing walk, the wind definitely having tailed off a bit in the afternoon. As the winter moves on, we shall spend a few more walks down there and renew my acquaintance with the broader width of it. I have not been down there really since the bleddy hound was keen on running after balls thrown high and long, resting on the sitting rock that has long since moved or been buried. 


The demolition crew from the flat turned up at our door at around four o’clock having removed our living room ceiling and exposed the bits necessary for the steels to be measured. This progress was happy news, but I could not help thinking that this day’s work, done without the need for scaffolding, could easily have been done six weeks ago. We would now be ahead of the posse instead of trying desperately to fit things into an almost impossible schedule.


It was not all happy news. The work revealed that there are no lintels covering the gap between the granite piers at the front of the shop and the old building. The first floor and the roof at those points have effectively been supported by a window and some breeze blocks. This is additional work that will need to be done before the steels go in. What joy. 

January 1st - Monday

Dear reader, an experiment.


I have changed the way I create each new monthly page. It is a bit more work but it should preserve the current month page so if you bookmark it, as I know some of you would like to, it should be in the same place each month. I am sure you will let me know if it does not work.


It was as well that we did not party through the night; ABH had me up at four o’clock this morning. When I went out at the proper time of the morning, the wind had dropped to nothing or had gone around to the south again. It was the latter that I learnt later but not half the strength of yesterday’s blow.


Starting the year as I meant to go on, I headed for the gymnasium for the first time in a week. I had not intended to miss all last week, but I was not allowed to go on Christmas morning, and I had done something unspeakable to my lower back on Tuesday that persisted through until Friday. The absence did tell during the session today. 


Around halfway through my 5,000 metres of rowing the little morbidly obese fellow on my left shoulder, once upon a time we might have called him fat or lard bottom, suggested it would be acceptable to stop at 4,000 since I had missed last week. Fortunately, the fit looking sporty chap on my right shoulder, for whom skinny is still strangely acceptable, I think, thought otherwise and called me a girl’s blouse for thinking about giving in early. It is perfectly reasonable for the skinny chaps to use the sexist reference to the garment, usually worn by ladies of the female sort but anyone can wear should they so choose to, as imaginary characters are not bound by the same daft rules as the rest of us.  


Anyway, being that I was making good time and well within the higher quartile of my benchmark timings I decided to continue. My, my what a blistering session it was.


It is mandatory to take the little girl on a run when I get back from the gymnasium, she insists upon it. I make the concession of changing my shoes during the winter, so as not to besmirch my pristine plimsols, and more recently I put a rain jacket over my orange gymnasium hooded sweatshirt. The latter addition turned out to be very useful when a heavy cloud of mizzle blew through The Cove while we made our way along Coastguard Row. I probably would not have missed the jacket too much as the rain was here and gone.


It was a prelude to much worse to come. The rest of the day was pretty much written off by more continuous rain and once again, we spent the most of the day indoors doing very little. The day already did not feel like a Monday. Staying in and having a roast dinner, which I understand is de rigueur for New Year’s Day, made it seem even more like a Sunday and had me utterly confused by the end of it as to exactly where we were in the week. 


When it came to taking the little girl out later, she had other ideas. While she is happy to run into a freezing cold sea or sink into a handy rockpool and run to the nearest downpipe to stick her head under the flow, she has become increasingly unhappy about going out in the rain. Even with her smart raincoat on, she was reticent to go beyond the end of the path outside the front door. I had to drag her a little further and when she had done what we had ventured out to do, headed straight back to the front door. 


Unfortunately, it was still raining later in the evening when we had to go out again. This time, to pile on the misery, our wind had returned to plague us. We found it necessary to head around the little block this time. I shall start having to call ABH Woodbine if I have to take her take her for a drag much more. Once we get past the point when we are nearer the turn to go back home, she resigns herself to the mission and things become much easier. I have to hurry to catch up with her on the way home. 


The in-laws had gone and taken Mother home after dinner. Mother will be back on Wednesday as it will be easier to manage her broken wrist from here after the in-laws return to their home. Mother has a temporary cast and will need to go to Treliske to get a proper one fitted. It is expected that she will have more restricted movement after that and despite her protestations that she would manage perfectly well, we think that there will be things she will struggle with. Still, it will keep her entertained being here and watching our building work not happen.


I wait with bated breath to see if the builders turn up tomorrow. With a gale of wind forecast for tomorrow as well, I doubt that we will see the scaffolders return to put the lid on. It is looking poor all week with a small window of less wind on Thursday, which I doubt will be of much help at all. Happy New Year, indeed.

We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details and accept the service to view the translations.