Cornish Pastiche 4

Sunday passed in a blur, with the usual frenetic level of activity that our family of six manage to maintain during the first week of any holiday. We have friends who live in the area, with whom we want to spend time catching up on news and events. Making contact wasn’t easy at first as they were, understandably, always out and about. Given the patchy nature of mobile phone coverage in these parts (tops of hills; centres of towns; most places on the A30), we eventually resorted to the simple expedient of leaving a note on their door. A few time-lapsed text messages later and we were finally reunited with said friends, enjoying a wander on the beach at Polurrian Cove followed by tea round the kitchen Aga afterwards. Another text message from my Swiss niece reminded us that she and her boyfriend were in the vicinity on a camping holiday and that we were to meet up for the evening, before they began the long drive back to Switzerland. And so, with a little shuttling backwards and forwards,
we, the friends and the extended family gathered at the local pub for extremely large and filling meals and a fair amount of foaming ale.

Monday morning proved to be overcast in a light grey sort of way so the niece and boyfriend headed over from their campsite to have a full English breakfast with us before embarking on the first leg of their journey home – a short hop to Dartmoor. Rather than gamble on the beach in such weather, we instead visited the BT satellite earth station on Goonhilly Down. Goonhilly is the largest earth station in the world, one of many facts that were lost on SWMBO. That these antennae have been instrumental in transmitting groundbreaking historic TV pictures, not to mention carrying millions of phone calls and internet connections daily stirred not one sprog’s soul. Whilst my inner geek railed against such ignorance, the Luddites happily shopped for, of all things, non-toxic slime (‘Fun for All Ages!’) or played on the jungle slide in the kid’s adventure area. This area lay beneath the shadow cast by the thousand plus tons of Arthur (which can rotate an impressive 360 degrees in under three minutes), the first parabolic antenna which received the first faltering signals from the Telstar satellite in 1962. When the familial mutterings and murmerings became a roar of dissent, I threw in the towel. The afternoon was taken up with a bracing clifftop walk until the moaning from the kids became unbearable and drove us homeward. Having worked up a decent hunger, I set to and whipped up a turkey balti with a mushroom and courgette curry and piles of steaming basmati rice. This, consumed with a few bottles of red wine, proved to be a hit with all and we all headed for bed with full stomachs and light heads.

After a dash for essential provisions at the local supermarket, I made a quick visit to the FireWire internet cafe in Helston on Tuesday morning. Although my T3 and T610 provide decent enough browsing for low grade tasks, I was in need of high speed access and serious processing power. Having given over half the previous week to advising on the filming of a corporate training video, I needed to download the rushes via ftp so I could view the first rough cuts of the material we shot. Firewire appears to be a new venture, being a clean, almost sparse setup in what was the town’s fire station. However, the coffee wasn’t bad and the service was good – helped by the fact I was the only customer. After a few abortive attempts from the regular customer setup on one of the PCs, the chap kindly booted the machine with an admin profile and I was soon downloading large mpeg files fairly swiftly thanks to the 1mb DSL connection. Reviews conplete and emails to the production company sent, I headed back to the cottage to scoop up the family and drive over to St. Ives. Despite high hopes of the weather clearing, it remained grey and unsettled so, after the long downhill walk from the car park to the very crowded harbour area, we contented ourselves with eating our packed lunch – and a Cornish pasty in my case – sitting on the harbour wall above the small sandy beach. Anyone keen to dine al fresco in St. Ives should be warned that such activities are not without consdierable hazard. Any foodstuff that is left exposed to the sky for long will become the target for the flocks of scavenging seagulls, who have refined their technique to near-perfection. The first gull will carry out an experimentary sortie, flying close to the intended victim to test their reactions. If no response is shown, it or a second gull will circle and swoop again, this time aiming for the food concerned and, more often than not, knock it from the diner’s grasp and onto the sand. If successful, the remainder of the flock will swoop in to fight over the hijacked pasty or chips before returning to their perches to start the process all over again. This being the case, the harbourside is thronged with folks hunched over their food like starving Quasimodos, nervously casting glances over their shoulders for peasants with pitchforks. Tiring of watching humankind being upstaged by seabirds, we wandered back along to the western harbourwall. Here a number hand painted signs promoted the skills of the New Age artisans who now gravitate to seaside honeypots like St. Ives each year, in this case, hairbraiders, henna artists and an Indian head masseur. With four female sprogs, hairbraiding is now as much a part of our summer holidays as arguments over what to do each day, so I gamely forked over the cash and joined the other crop headed dads making lame jokes about having their crewcuts braided and beaded. An hour’s labour produced some admittedly very nicely decorated hair, the comparisons of which diverted the sprogs from moaning about the long uphill haul back to the car park. Drained from the day’s inactivity and inertia, we opted for eating out and plumped for fish and chip suppers in a twee little place in Mullion. The food was great and service charming if a little kooky. When asked what we would like to drink, we said ‘A beer, a lager and four Cokes for the sprogs please’; which is why we were a little taken aback when we were served with a beer, a lager and four black coffees. OK, so maybe we mumbled or were misheard but who the heck gives scalding black coffee to a three year old? That aside, the meal put a smile on our faces and we departed happy and contented.

Yesterday was a lazy day with a little shopping in the morning and an afternoon on the beach with friends for SWMBO and the sprogs. As previously posted, I spent a couple of hours wandering around the small but excellent Marconi exhibition, talking to the radio hams from the Poldhu Amateur Radio Club who staff the facility. Whilst I was there, a couple of American enthusiasts, who had brought their licences with them, were busy talking with friends back home and around the globe from the club’s transmitting room. Watching them, it occurred to me that very few hobbies offered practitioners the opportunity to demonstrate their skill and prowess at the exact birthplace of the technology they used in their pastime.

with Palm T3 and SE T610

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