Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Cornwall 2020 - Part 4 - Divers, Seagull Shit, Selling Data and The Best Job of the Day

 Saturday 5 September

We wake to dry weather and @DerekTheWeather is promising a decent day down here.  After a bit of pottering and breakfast the recliners are set up outside and we lose ourselves in a world of Kindle for some time.

Too much time than we anticipated to be honest, and it's gone 4 pm by the time we've scrubbed up and head off out.

Herself takes a call from Ronnie as we thread our way through the late afternoon traffic to Mousehole.  We've left the A30 and onto the B3315 and are dropping down in to Newlyn via The Coombe before turning right onto Cliff Rd that will take us over to Mousehole.

All the laybys along this stretch are full, not with cars though, but with dozens and dozens of motor homes parked up, all with sunscreens on the front window, and roof vents open.  I'm sure they're all parked up for the day and emptying their wallets in shops and pubs of Mousehole and not "wild camping" free of charge for the weekend, sat in their chairs blocking the footpath and enjoying the sea view whilst quaffing their Lidl wines and beers that they brought with them from home.

We try our usual car park off The Parade at the Rock Pool Cafe.  It has spaces, loads of them, but due to a height barrier set at a ridiculously low 1.9 m, we're unable to get in with Toyah complete with roof box.

We try round the corner in Mousehole itself, but the car parks are rammed.  Back along Cliff Rd we go on the look out for a road side space, but by the time we spot one we're back in Newlyn so we decide that Mousehole will wait for another day.

Plan B is to park on The Promenade in Penzance and take a stroll over to the harbour past the Jubilee Pool.  Once again Motor homes are ruling the roost here, and once again  they're parked up, all with sunscreens on the front window, and roof vents open.  I'm sure they're all parked up for the day and emptying their wallets in shops and pubs of Penzance and not "wild camping" free of charge for the weekend, sat in their chairs blocking the footpath and enjoying the sea view whilst quaffing their Lidl wines and beers that they brought with them from home.

I doubt it though.

We carry on along The Promenade and round the corner onto The Quay and onto Wharf Rd.  We see there are spaces in the Harbour long stay car park, so hang a sharp right.

For our "Brucie Bonus" it would appear that the newly installed APNR payment system is out of order, with both entry and exit barriers permanently open and the operation screens blank.

Tali and Gwawr are usually very impatient, and on opening the tailgate you're usually bowled over by about 7 stone on flying Border Collie! Not these last few days though as they've eventually learnt that they can rarely go anywhere without being harnessed and clipped on first.

Butter wouldn't melt.

Back along The Quay we walk, the tide is coming in and already the local kids are in their wet suits jumping into the water next to the dry dock, when on the other side of the road we spot some people "wild swimming" in the open harbour in just bathers!  Absolute nutters.

The Dolphin has closed off Quay St, which now accommodates an outdoor seating area enclosed with traffic barriers to facilitate more outside eating.  We grab a free table that looks like it will not be in the shadows for the duration of our stay and I go in to place an order.

It's funny how yo get conditioned to things.  Just 2 weeks ago I was getting frustrated at not being able to go into a pub to make an order, now I'm frustrated that, although a St Austall house, they're not taking part in the app, so I have to go in and do it the traditional way.

The food was superb, but then it always is, and we're fed and watered well before the Scillonian III docks after the 2 3/4 hour crossing from St Marys.

While sat there, watching the comings and goings of people, Herself notices how busy the Sea Palace Chinese Restaurant is, just up the road on Quay St.  While we've been sat there they've churned out about 25 takeaway orders.  A sure sign it must be good and we make a mental note.

Back on site with the sun dropping low in the sky we can feel the coolness of the breeze.  Not sure of it'll be too long before we retreat inside the finish off our G&Ts this evening.

Sunday 6 September

Wow, what a night's kip.  A bit gloomy when I get out of my pit at 7am, and it looks like we've had a drop of rain again overnight.  Herself has a bit of a lie in while I go up front, open the blinds and watch the site come to life.  We're out of the main holiday season now, with all the young families back at home and in school (COVID restrictions permitting), so the site doesn't exactly spring into life, more like creak, groan and fart!! Like camping in God's waiting room.

I also had reason to get up early though, as at around 3am I was aware that my big toe was starting to throb.  No doubt as a result of my increased intake of rich foods, beer and gin; and I wanted to throw some ibuprofen down my neck before the gout took hold and spoiled the day.

By the time Herself has peeled herself off the sheets it's proper raining.  A lot of water fell from the sky in a short space of time.

Any thoughts of a big day out are fading fast.  I quiz Herself as to what she wants for breakfast, to which her reply was "eggy bread bacon sandwiches".  That may sound ridiculous, but I can promise you, in the words of Peter Kay, it was a taste sensation.

With breakfast out of the way, it brightens up pretty sharpish, and thoughts return to a day out.  We have no idea where to go yet, but set about the task of freshening up for a departure some time the right side of noon.

On the A30 back towards Penzance discussions raged whether to head up country towards Port Issac or down onto The Lizard for a bit of an explore.

The Lizard won, purely because the lane to stay on the A30 at the Long Rock roundabout was busier!  We skirt Helston and are following sat nav guidance towards Port Kerris.

The drive through the lanes is long and they are extremely narrow.  It's also evident that some of them don't see much traffic as indicated by the strip of green running down the middle.

We drop into the cove, pay the £3 demanded for parking and immediately feel left out as all the others are clad head to toe in rubber and carrying tanks of air on their backs.

It looks pretty enough, but we're not taken as it's all a bit grey.  Herself takes some time to stop playing with her phone and get out of Toyah.  I'm no fan of pebble beaches for a few reasons.  Firstly they rarely look very nice and secondly, when you're the wrong side of 20 stone they hurt your feet!

I make my way down to the water's edge to have a paddle and throw some stones for the dogs.  Tali immediately shatters the peace for all as he starts his excited play barkathon!

The beach is steeply sloping and withing 4 or 5 meters I can see you'd be over your head.  I look to my left and see a few more Jacques Cousteeau wannabies slipping under the surface.

I continue to throw in some stones and rocks into the water.  Something breaks the surface where I've been chucking ever increasing bigger stones, first a snorkel, then a rubber clad head surfaced.  It would appear that the rather irate diver had stayed in the shallows for a bit before heading out to deeper water and had been caught by a wayward rock! Jacques was none too pleased.

We didn't stay much longer.  I pull up a map on my phone and punch out a name of a place we've never been to before into the sat nav.

Dropping down into Coverack the place looks idyllic. It has sand too which is always a bonus in my book. We find somewhere to park up (free) and on getting out of Toyah take a bit of time to soak up the view.

My eagle eye had spotted a pub up on the headland.  We make our way through the narrow street, dodging gift shoppers and at the end of the road we close in on the Paris Hotel, where we take a table in the charming beer garden overlooking the sea, where we share a roast beef butty and chips.

This place is both busy and popular and we appreciate that we were lucky to get a table at all, as many come and go disappointed.  We spend a while people watching as a young couple canoodle just across the way, a large family group down from London (we know that as they made everyone withing 50 m aware of the fact) got on our nerves and an old lady on a mobility scooter thinks she's at the wheel of a 4x4 and nearly tips over attempting a ridiculous manoeuvre.

Herself is incensed, as it's a bugbear of hers.  Old people on these scooters, many of whom have never driven in their lives, careering around uninsured.

Well this old biddy came trundling down the fairly steep path and without leaning to the left a bit to counter gravity, tries to do a left turn.  This would be bad enough, and many a farmer will tell you what happens if you try to do that in a tractor.  But to make it worse, she's also trying to bump the scooter over some boulders set into the ground as an edging!

It's lucky (as with many riding these things around) that she didn't really need to be on one, because as the contraption started to tip she put out her right leg to arrest the fall (stepping on a dog at the same time) and had enough strength to right the thing and lift it over the rocks, before taking up a place on the adjacent table.  No apologies to the dogs owner were offered!

Back in Toyah and the afternoon is getting on.  Her nose is pointed down towards Lizard, but Herself's knackered knee is giving herself some serious gyp again, and I'm made to promise that I won't make Herself walk down the steep hill to Lizard Point.

My big toe is also starting to throb again now, so there will be no repeat of my St Ives shenanigans.

We park up on the village green and I'm directed by Herself to put some money in the honesty box.  I dutifully oblige, but my donation fell short of the suggested £3 minimum.

The place is bathed in sunshine and there's quite a few people about.  We window shop until a few trinkets take Herself's fancy in the Cornish Stone Shop.  I pop into procure them before we take an outside table at The Witchball for some refreshments.

Seeing that I'd treated Herself to some jewellery, Herself decided that I needed a treat too and suggested an ice cream sat at one of the benches on the village green.  Grasping the opportunity I come out of Steps Mini market carrying the largest waffle cone they had stuffed full of Roskilly's finest Run 'n' Raisin, with a small tub of vanilla each for Tali and Gwawr.

We call into the Sea Palace in Penzance on our way back to site and pick up a takeaway for our tea.  It's too nice an evening to stop in, so after doing the outside chores we hop back into Toyah and point her nose in the direction of Sennen Cove.

The cove looks lovely as we drop down the hill, and being this late in the season we have no issues with parking up near the harbour.

The stroll along the front is pleasant, with people taking the time to stop and chat or exchange pleasantries as we retrain our dogs from attacking theirs!  We get as far as The Old Success and the call is too great.  Peaking into the courtyard we see an empty table and pounce.

I've ordered our drinks on the app and before too long they magically appear.  I'm sat there conversing with Herself in between people watching when .... splat!!

I look to my left, and not 18 inches away is a pile of fresh seagull shit.  Some say it's supposed to be luck if a seagull shits on you, but I'm firmly of the opinion that it's more lucky if the gits miss!!

I get up to get some spray and paper towels that are left around for COVID reasons.  I underestimated the power of the spray nozzle though and as I started pumping the disinfectant onto the pile of crap the jet served only to spread it all over our table and over the menu.  Our table resembled a dirty protest on the H Blocks!

More paper towels were needed before we could enjoy our drinks at a sparkly clean, and bird shit free, table.

Walking back along the cove front was even more pleasant as we were walking into the setting sun as it called an end to a really pleasant day.

Hard to imagine that the next piece of dry land that way is Newfoundland in Canada.

Monday 7 September

Cloudy skies greet me as I lift my head from the pillow for our penultimate full day in the far west.  With the possibility of short sharp showers coming from any direction at any time we make the decision to drop our windbreaks and awning today, rather than chance them being dry tomorrow.

Breakfast is a quick cup of Builders's and a few choccy biccies before we set about the task.

In years gone by we were younger and fit enough to virtually attack the setting up or breaking camp process. These days however it's reduced to a steady plod.  It's noon by the time we've got it all folded and bagged as well as found cwtches for the array of crap that usually lives in the awning.

I'm going to have a moan here.  You can clearly see where our breathable ground sheet has been sitting for 3 weeks.  Yes, the grass is a little  yellow, but will recover in a few days, but look at the state of the bit where inconsiderate previous occupants had put some plastic sheeting down under their "breathable" ground sheet.

The pitch is ruined.

I throw some burgers onto the Kampa Fry Up for lunch before we get showered and head off out.  Pulling into Porthleven I spot a space on the Quayside.  These spaces are free.  It was a tight fit, but I manage to manoeuvre Toyah's bulk into it without hitting anything.

Herself wants to pick some keepsakes up for two of her girls in work, so while she queues outside the shop I grab a table outside the adjacent Harbour Inn with the dogs and get a drinks order in.

She got the gifts and we sit in the wind enjoying our drinks before intending to take a look at the rest of the shops.

You know, we've been to Porth Leven many times, and  don't think it's ever not been windy.  It's been sunny, it's been cloudy and it's even been raining, but the one thing that is constant is the wind.

It's while we are sat there that we take a phone call that will change the course of the day. Herself's watch tells herself that she has an incoming call from MBW.  Turns out that Beastie is out of sorts, and while they think it's just a bug from school, The Dr wants her to have a COVID test.  That is enough to put the shivers through any grandparent.  Even worse, there are no tests available so they will not treat her for the ear and throat infection MBW thinks she has until she's had a negative test!

We don't feel like looking around any more so head back to Toyah, when an aging Pug 208 has parked right up close, but the occupants are sat in it as if ready to leave.

I know I'm not going to get out without Herself having to direct me, and even then it will be a 20 point manoeuvre.  We wait for the Pug to start up and give us a bit of room, but they sit tight.  Herself eventually gets out and directs me into shuffling a few inches back and forth on opposite locks until I've somehow got Toyah's nose out of the space.

Herself is getting into Toyah, and after watching us struggle the Pug fires up.  Herself is seething.

"You'd better do your very best to piss them off now!"

I did, and I crawled (as only an automatic on tick over can) along Harbour Rd, around the corner and up the steep Cliff Rd.  I know now that while I take it easy letting the torque converter do the work he will be riding his clutch into submission.

I pause unnecessarily on the steep junction where Cliff Rd forks left from Loe Bar Rd, and I can almost smell his clutch as he rocks back and forth.

Oh dear, there seems to be a traffic jam on the hill, and I take my time turning left onto Peverell Terrace and past the Atlantic Inn.  We're on the flat now, but Toyah being so wide I have to be careful and inch my way down the road bearing left onto Thomas Terrace towards the B3304.

A cursory glance in my wing mirrors reveals he is cursing, and I mean big time.  He's lost it and looks like he's developed Tourette Syndrome.  For good measure, as soon as on the open road I open up Toyah's throttle and leave him chocking in a cloud of diesel smut.

Back on the Lands End Peninsular we set about sorting tea out.  Cooking something is out of the question as Old Mother Hubbard has more in than us.  We swing into the car park of the First and Last, but a cursory glance tells us all their tables outside are taken.  We drop into the cove and they are queuing out onto the road for tables there, so by a process of elimination it's fish and chips to take back to the van.

After tea we set up our recliners for the evening's entertainment, with beer and wine for company.

It was quite pleasant at first, but by the time it got to this stage there was a distinct chill in the air and was necessary to retreat inside.

We speak to and message Ronnie for updates, and it turns out they've been offered tests at their nearest drive in test centre ..... in Barnstable.  It may only be 40 miles as the crow flies, but by road its 175 miles from them FFS!

We've been down here over 2 weeks now, and on my daily excursions to the CDP I've not met anyone.  However  both yesterday and today I've met someone coming out, and both have said to me "Best job of the day!"

Is this some sort of unwritten rule?

Tuesday 8 September

Last planned day down here today.  We are always thankful that we are allocated a pitch on this side of the field that backs onto open countryside.  I don't close the blind on the back window overnight just so that I can wake up to this every morning (weather permitting of course).

Herself gets up and we have a brew.  I mange to talk Herself into a cooked breakfast from the onsite Ocean Blue Cafe.

Over breakfast we're both sizing each other up, not wanting to be the first to say it.  It's strange how COVID has had an effect on everyone, even if they've been fortunate enough not to contract it.  The mental scars of having to self isolate will take some time to heal.

In truth, neither of us had been right since we took the phone call from MBW yesterday, but I'd already had a pint by then and wouldn't consider towing.

I break the deadlock.

"Shall we go home?"


And that was that.  We were due to leave this evening anyway, so only really missed out on an afternoon down here, never the less it felt good to be packed, hitched up and pulling out of the access track onto the A30 at 11.30am and heading for home.

Traffic was kind to us, and once again I was feeling good and in no need to stop, so straight through we covered the 275 miles in a few minutes over 5 hrs.  Our decision to leave early was reinforced as the correct one in our minds as we read no less than 3 signs on the A30 out of Cornwall informing of 6 pm to 6 am road closures, no doubt involving frustrating and time consuming diversions.

Crossing the river Severn back into Wales we note a sign informing that the 2nd crossing was also due to be closed overnight, and while cruising past Cardiff Audi the radio informs us that the M4 behind us has been closed to all traffic at Newport due to a vehicle fire!

Back home, with the van unhitched and inched back into its cwtch we waste no time in popping down to see Beastie.  They're confident she just has an ear infection which the Dr won't treat until she's had a test because she's running a slight temperature.

All well and good, except the local Health Board have a policy of not testing under 5s!  Ronnie and MBW are being fobbed off and batted away by bureaucrats at every turn.

As I've said all through this blog, COVID has affected everyone.  This break for us very nearly didn't happen, but we're thankful that it did.  After months of isolation we found being around people pretty difficult to cope with, and streets full of masked faces made for a sobering sight.

We're both impressed by the measures Cornwall has collectively put in place to keep visitors safe, but at the same time I am bitterly disappointed that the local brewery has seen fit to sell on the data I provided for track and trace purposes via their app to marketing companies and ambulance chasers.  There can be no other reason for the sudden surge of spam phone calls and texts to my s20.

So, that's it.  A rare trip out in 2020, and with local lockdowns becoming more common place in a bid to hold off the expected 2nd wave, we don't really know when the next one will be.

Keep safe everyone.