PC 75 Strangers sighted in Cornwall

I saw a copy of the Newquay News online, dated 17th July 2016, and read this rather seasonal piece:

 

Strangers sighted in Cornwall” writes Timo Poldark, “Various people reported seeing strangers in north Cornwall this week: –

Petrol Pump Attendant Service Station A30. “Well, I remember the car, an old Saab, loaded to the gunnels with all sorts of clobber. Think I saw a Gaggia coffee machine on the back seat. Ironic really, on such a sunny warm day having a convertible …. without the roof down …..  but I suppose the boot was as full as the back seat! There’s nowt so queer as folk – particularly foreigners and to us in Cornwall that’s the rest of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom!!”

Newquay and Pentire

Local map showing Crantock and West Pentire to the west of Newquay

Naomi Property Manager Cormorant Cottage, West Pentire. “We’re into the busy holiday period and we get all sorts of families coming down to enjoy the north Cornwall beaches. This lot respected the check-in time so I had opportunity to get it 100% ……. and they left it pretty clean. You should see the state of the cottage after some people leave. Maybe they live in a pigsty at home ….. Oh! Don’t get me started.”

Waitress Bowgie Inn, West Pentire. “Almost two o’clock, Saturday, when the couple came in, ordered some soup and Ratatouille with rustic bread …..  started off at a table outside in the garden overlooking Crantock Bay, but changed their mind as it was a little cool …

Owner Crantock Village store and post office. “We get them all down here during July and August and this chap came in offered a coupon for his Times newspaper and then his girlfriend came running up with a bag of salad and there was some discussion about whether his daughter wanted blue top or green top for the morning milk. I think they bought both. Not a particularly safe walk back to West Pentire as the road’s narrow and the hedges uncut, so visibility for everyone is poor Saw them most mornings that week.”

Brian – Dog Walker. “It’s a friendly village, Crantock, and that Saturday this couple came up out of the village with their newspaper and milk, with a red Labrador, on their way to West Pentire. We chatted, their first visit down here; I told them I came on holiday 40 years ago and stayed, never regretted it for a moment. The woman said she came from Brazil and was wrapped up against the cold ….but it was about 18C!!”

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Crantock Beach

Tom Ocean Flow Yoga Newquay. “We had had a couple of telephone conversations and I’d booked them in a month ago, as my studio is very small. Two hot yoga classes, the Tuesday and Thursday if my memory serves me well. I love going to a different studio and having a change of scene and their email ‘thanks’ said they had had a couple of good sessions, so maybe I’ll see them back next year.”

Waiter Headland Hotel. “At this time of year the hotel gets pretty booked but we do get the occasional group come in for supper ……. providing they’ve made a reservation ….. but actually we always sit the hotel guests along the windows in the Terrace Restaurant so this foursome had to make do with an inner table. Must have been from London, as one of them complained about the cold main. It said “Sea Bass on a bed of olive and potato salad with spinach.” He thought the spinach should have been hot. London types huh!”

Renter of cottage next to Cormorant. “Being next to a family with two young exuberant boys was always going to be a bit noisy, especially as they loved the hot tub. Their mother was good in the evening, though, and the routine of ‘supper, bath and bed’ meant that peace descended by about 6.45pm!

Hot Tub (An inanimate object) “I like being used and fortunately the son-in-law of the chap booking the cottage knew about items like me and paid extra for my services. Most days I warmed ‘em up, adults and the two boys, got my pressure hoses working well and changed the colour of my lightning regular. Oh! And I listened to the amusing conversations they had.

Laura, gallery owner and artist, West Pentire. “I have a sign out on the track and people drift in and out throughout the day. Tall chap came in one day, showed interest in the pottery which a friend does, but showed no interest in my paintings. Didn’t buy anything but said he might come back; he didn’t!”

Margo, Red Labrador. “I’d met them at home some time ago so was pleased to see them after I was let out of my car cage in the new place. The garden needed at least 30 minutes of sniffing just to establish who had been here before, leaving their mark, so to speak. I took a real shine to her but he’s a bit bossy, always wanting to remind me who is top dog. And when my owners went out for supper leaving them here to baby sit, I was disappointed not to be able to sit beside the dinner table and look hungry and doleful ….. and believe me I can do that really really well. Didn’t wash at all and got sent to my box! But we had some nice walks and runs on the sand, particularly on Polly Joke beach, so I guess I should have be grateful

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Weathered rocks on Polly Joke beach

Sainsburys check out girl. “You get all sorts in here at this time of year, being the only good supermarket in Newquay. They were obviously staying at a cottage somewhere and bought a load of stuff, then thought they could get it into 4 bags and an insulated one for the Cornish ice cream, fish fingers and the frozen peas – I think they ended up with 9!”

‘Head-to-toe.’ “She wanted her nails done and they had been to the supermarket so he came in too. Nice couple, chatty and all, talked about the recent referendum and we told them you couldn’t get a house down here for all the foreigners so Cornwall voted to leave the EU.” (Ed: Despite having over £1billion in grants over the last 10 years as it’s a ‘deprived’ area)

Car Park Attendant Perranporth “ Overheard them saying what a strange place my town was, full of chavs and grockles, how they had seen the most amazing sights on the beach and how gorgeous the ice cream at ‘Smithy’s’, just around the corner, was.

Exeter garage owner. “Seemed a bit lost …. not sure whether they wanted to buy something to eat for breakfast …… overheard the woman say ….. ‘good to have got through the roadworks on the A30 near Bodmin by leaving at 0630’.They did make a Costa coffee, grabbed a packet of biscuits and half a tank of petrol and left.

So there you have it, observations of a couple down here in Cornwall, as seen by the locals. Next week I’ll be down at the Eden Project.   Timo”

 

Summer in the UK is always effected by the weather, a national obsession. We were really lucky and only had one brief shower in the whole week. Cool(ish) and the sea temperature did not encourage swimming …… but it was a good time away with my daughter and family.

 

Richard 26th July 2016                                         richardyates24@gmail.com

 

 

PC 74 Thoughts on meditation and Ommmm

My eyes are closed in meditation. “Empty your mind, let the thoughts that come just pass through, creating no judgment or comment.” More easier said than done huh? “As you breathe in, imagine the word ‘let’; as you breathe out, ‘go’”. Or we’re told to focus on ‘So ….. Hum’. (A Vedic mantra meaning “I am that” which can be inverted ‘hum …. so’ to mean “that I am.” in Sanskrit). Ten minutes and I open my eyes, look up …….. and take in the scene.

Twenty four people, four men and …… well you do the maths …. have come to southern Portugal for a week’s yoga retreat. Each for their own reason, each with their own but common goal, to do two sessions of yoga a day for six days. For those of you who have never got ‘into’ yoga, it’s never too late, you’re never too old.

 

 

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The orange trees

Quinta Mimosa lies west of Faro in the Algarve, in the hills above the little town of Almancil. The 10 acre estate contains three separate houses and pools, connected by orchards containing orange, olive and almond trees; you could simply stroll into the rough grass and pluck an orange off a tree. You could swim in your own pool or take a taxi to the nearby beach. The spacious nature of the place ensures that it feels delightfully empty and we gather at yoga sessions rather like yachts on an offshore race, converging from various directions to round a mark on the course.

The studio is in the old stable block and its heritage is apparent. Large French doors on the south side, a reed-covered ceiling and tiled floor; hooks on the wall that used to take riding tackle now hang with props for Iyengar yoga practice. The occasional ant runs across the old tiled floor …. and you hope it doesn’t come in your direction as you lie is Savasna, ready for the next posture.

 

The Yoga Studio

 

We are all so diverse in what we do, if you tried to describe us for a novel you wouldn’t get the group’s coincidental nature. The research biologist at UCL, an investment banker with Lloyds, two pairs of sisters, one from Walthamstow the other from London, a civil servant from the cabinet office, the blonde running a brand- awareness Internet business, a film editor for TV footage, the doctor running a health care trust, a nanny from Thailand, an Australian Chinese, a photographer, an accountant, an operations manager of a health care company, a French woman married to a Brit, a psychotherapist ….  some with children, some single with ages ranging from 29 to 58 (apart from the author!); all drawn to Portugal in June for a week’s stretching and breathing, to improve one’s practice and so one’s health and posture.

‘Ooommmmmmmm’ – the sound resonates through my chest, as we finish our hour and a half session and just let the breath out.

Food is as one might expect, vegetarian. Actually it’s simpler that way, rather than catering for the likes and dislikes, the allergies and fads, just platters of vegetables fruits, salads and cheeses. The local supermarket is visited by those who need wine or beer to complement the gorgeous food provided by Wendy and her helpers. The routine is yoga, brunch, ‘free time’, yoga, and then a well-deserved supper. We sit at a long table by a swimming pool, the warm sun setting over the hills to the north west. Conversation flows among us, one minute strangers, the next bonded by the power of a yoga practice.

Despite three different routers, the internet provision is poor. You might think this should not matter on a yoga retreat ….. but the majority of us are wired in to emails, digital newspapers, Whatsapp, and Facebook and, between the yoga sessions, you find little groups clustered around a hot spot like wives of miners on the news of a pit collapse or some such.

Ommmm

The common threads are yoga and Paul, our teacher. Students are from three London studios where Paul teaches and over the week we exchange our own experiences of this hot yoga and why we got into it! Interesting! Some are back for their second or third year such is the uniqueness of this week.

Paul recognises that there needs to be a little levity during our practice and introduces us to ‘earthquake’ when we suddenly have to drum our feet on the floor as quickly as possible. He also takes us on a ‘walking meditation’ reminiscent of Buddhist monks; we walk slowly, silently through the orchard and around a huge ancient gnarled olive tree, round and around. I sense that northern Europeans find ‘meditation’ a little too alternative, but after a daily 10 minutes before each yoga session one begins to understand not only its benefits but also the difficulty of clearing one’s mind of the chatter – monkey mind as some people think of it.

And so the week draws to a close and thoughts turn to the normality of our lives, so distinct from these glorious self-indulgent days. Back to work, back to families, back to children, back ……. home.

After each yoga session Paul had spoken the word ‘namaste’ … and we would respond ‘namaste’. Namaste is a gesture acknowledging the soul in one of us by the soul in the other. With his desire to keep the sessions lighthearted, at the end of one he simply said: “Namaste …… motherf**kers”.  I think we’ll all be back next year!

 

Richard 15th July 2016                                                   richardyates24@gmail.com

 

 

PC 73 What is it about chickens?

Thoughts came tumbling into the empty space between my ears as we walked from the car park up to the Yoga studio with Debbie, a friend who ‘has chickens’. She was explaining that chickens liked to be kept clean and if they were cleaned out every day they appeared much happier. Not sure whether I have the expertise to determine if a chicken is happy; surely a chicken looks like a chicken whether it’s happy or not – or maybe it’s not the perceived happiness of the chicken that’s the issue here …. but how the owner thinks about them? I suggested a shower would keep them clean but not sure that chickens like showers. My thoughts immediately went to a damp dark cottage crowded in by large trees in an area of Scotland that doesn’t really look like Scotland. Er? Sorry?  Well, when someone says ‘Scotland’, I think of long sea lochs, of heather-covered mountains and craggy cliffs ….. and midges …… and rain and sun …. and just a wonderfully empty place with views in every direction. The Isle of Whithorn lies in the south west of the country and is characterised by rather poor farming ….. and has no mountains! The only view from this little run-down cottage was of trees.

A Chicken!!

My stepmother liked to keep chickens, all part of the grow-your-own culture that you embrace when you move off piste. My father had developed a love for growing vegetables and soft fruit ……. and would tell of the various crops and stuff he produced, over and over again. When my daughter was quite small we  went and spent a few days up north ….. a rare occasion but I felt the need to show my father how his first grandchild was growing up. She was particularly partial to a romper suit in pink and she was at that crawling stage that we all go through. The kitchen floor was next to a sort of pantry where the swill bucket was for the chickens…..

“Why did the chicken cross the road?” “To get to the other side, for some foul reason!”

I watched my stepmother go and feed the chickens from a galvanised iron bucket that contained the scraps from her cooking; it smelt of rotting food! She would scoop out a handful and throw it into one part of the hen coop, another into a different part until she was satisfied that they had enough. She probably checked for eggs and brought them into the kitchen ……… and then started preparing our supper. I know that a little dirt is good for keeping our immune system up to the mark but I watched with horror – she made no attempt to wash her hands, just carried on getting supper ready. Offering to help was always a no-no as she didn’t rate anyone else’s ability to cook in her kitchen. Memories fade but some remain as stark as the day they became etched on the memory card – the pink romper suit was never ever the same colour after a wipe on the kitchen floor and those fingers and nails – yuk! Chickens!

Perversely I have always loved chicken and its variants – do you remember how chicken was boiled until it fell apart, the broth becoming soup? Roast Chicken was a treat at a weekend ….. then cold chicken on Monday  ….. then chicken fricassee on Tuesday ……then soup I guess!

“What came first, the chicken or the egg?” It seems that the formation of egg shell relies on a protein found only in chicken ovaries. Therefore an egg can only exist if it’s been inside a chicken!!

Eating eggs is an acquired taste – as the yolk has a certain smell that some find unattractive but at 80 calories an egg and with 13g of protein, they are good for you. You can now buy only egg whites in our local supermarket, perfect for those who want an omelette without the yolks. We had a scare in the UK in 1988 when Edwina Currie, the Minister for Health, said: “Most of the egg production in this country sadly is now infested with salmonella.” – Sales of eggs went down 60% overnight and no one ate eggs for a while!!

As a single officer in the Army, I was accommodated in the Officers’ Mess, the centre of our social life (Mess? Well some chap’s rooms certainly were but the word originates from old French where mese meant a portion of food). We had three meals a day ….. and tea and toast at teatime …. all very civilised. There was always a choice of food but one lunchtime in the ‘70s I didn’t really fancy anything on offer. I asked the waiter who was cooking that day; “Corporal Matthews Sir” Well, I liked Corporal Matthews and asked that Corporal Mathews cook me an omelette. Well the said Matthews obviously took umbrage at my turning down the other dishes he had prepared …… and cooked me an omelette containing a dozen, yes 12, eggs. It arrived on a huge platter brought in by a waiter with a great smirk on his face. The challenge was obvious!

Not sure when it started but many years ago I started having three soft boiled eggs at breakfast – every day! I hasten to add that both my good and bad cholesterol are within the limits but admit that one egg provides enough cholesterol for 62% of my daily needs!! Bit of overkill maybe, but I certainly ‘go to work on an egg’!

So there you have it, some idle scribbles about chickens and eggs, neither of which you should count ……. or you’d probably get something on your face!! And of course I hope you find these scribbles better than the ‘Curate’s Egg’ and fortunately my grandmother’s not with us anymore so I can’t teach her to …..etcetera etcetera!

 Richard 3rd July 2016 – richardyates24@gmail.com