Dutchy in Cornwall is reading stories


So, finished. What a great story… In the last two days I absorbed two books. Yesterday it was ‘State of Wonder’ (2011) by Ann Patchett. The day before yesterday I finished ”Grief is the thing with feathers’ (2015) by Max Porter.

Ann Patchett writes about Marina, a female scientist who travels to the jungle of Brazil to find her lost colleague. Dangers of anaconda’s, huge spiders, malaria, ruthless tribes shooting poisonous arrows. A captivating story.

And Max Porter’s book is about a family in grief. The story of a father who is left alone with his two young sons after his wife all of a sudden passed away because of a stroke. Porter’s style is partly prose, partly in verse, sound-poetry. Heart-breaking.

It has been quite a while ago that I was able to read fiction. In this last year I’ve been reading a pile of mourning books, then books about near-death experiences, followed by books about Buddhism and Tao. Next I fed myself with cookery books. I just couldn’t get my head around fiction.

Well, it looks like I’m back to storytelling again. Which is handy, because there are three shelves of novels-to-read waiting for me. Once I heard a well-read writer being interviewed about his reading habits. No, no names. He boasted that he had read over ten thousand books. He was in his forties then. Ten thousand?? I found it hard to believe. But from that moment I made a list of all the books that I read. And finished, no cheating. I jotted down all the books that I had read from the first to the last page. And I noticed that I’m reading about 80 – 100 books a year. Now, imagine… hundred books a year means about thousand books in ten years. So, ten thousand books in hundred years? How many books can one read in a lifetime?



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Dutchy in Cornwall attends the Conference of the British Dowsers


A whole weekend with 150 dowsers in Newport Pagnell. A German professor came over from…, yes Germany, others flew in from Portugal, Mumbai. Lectures were given about pendulums, holograms and the entropy of black holes, electro-smog, Tibetan monks, Archaeo-astronomy, and earth-singing in the landscapes of Cornwall. I attended workshops. All meals were included. And, very important, the Bar. We all had a name-badge, newbies like me recognisable by a purple dot next to their name.

For those of you who don’t know what a pendulum is, a pendulum is a little device of crystal, metal or other materials, suspended on a chain, used in divination and dowsing. The user first determines which direction (left-right, up-down, or clockwise and anti-clockwise) will indicate “yes” and which “no”, before proceeding to ask the pendulum specific questions. The pendulum may also be used over a pad or cloth with “yes” and “no” written on it and perhaps other words written in a circle. The person holding the pendulum aims to hold it as steadily as possible over the centre and its movements are held to indicate answers to the questions.

How does dowsing really work? Is it a leftover ability that primitive man needed to ensure he could find water, food and shelter? Or is it a gift from the higher realms? No one is absolutely certain. But how about this: we all exist in a universe filled with energy. Every living organism is surrounded by various types of energy. Animals can sense positive and negative energy. Salmon rely on it to return to their birthplace, birds use it for migration. We humans can have premonitions too. For example, sometimes when we enter a room with people, we can feel the atmosphere is tense. Call it a ‘sixth sense’ or intuition, or sensory perception.

Keynote speaker Sandie talked about pendulums from Egypt and France. The French have their own approach. They focus on the form, the shape of the pendulum and not on mental questions by the dowser. Now why is that? First a bit of history:

In 1798 the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte undertook an expedition to conquer Egypt. With him went a group of 167 scientists (mathematicians, naturalists, chemists). Their discoveries included the Rosetta Stone and many artefacts, like ceramic pendulums, found in Egyptian tombs. (You can see them in the Louvre in Paris)

Then, in the early and mid twentieth century, French physicists and engineers were investigating the energy emitted by these pendulums. From these they developed a range of Egyptian pendulums. They went on to explore and created Scientific Energy pendulums. These tools can detect the frequencies and the quality of energetic emissions from people, objects and places. They can also be used to correct imbalances or to create beneficial energies. Some specialised pendulums can remove curses and black ‘spells’.

What a fascinating lecture this was. Sandy demonstrated a whole series of these pendulums! Afterwards the audience was allowed to use them, and of course I tried them out.

Now back home I will explore my dowsing skills,. I will dig out what’s there to be found. I will participate in the dance of life in all its glory.

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to an Evening of Mediumship


It all started with my weekly shopping trip, escorted by B&S Taxis. Mike was the driver. I had to tell him to cancel my next time, because I will be away for a number of days. “Where are you going to?” Mike asked. “I’m going to Milton Keynes”, was my answer. Wow, that’s exciting. Had I ever been to Milton Keynes before? Yes, once. They have an Ikea. “This time, however”, I said, “I will be going to a conference. The annual conference of British Dowsers. Rods and pendulums. Lectures given by Ph.D people. I want to have a look around.”

“So, are you interested in spirituality?” Mike broke the silence. A good question. “Well”, I said, “kind of. I’m having my doubts of course. But I’d like to investigate their way of thinking.” “Hmm, there’s something happening in the Falcon Hotel tonight, about Mediumship”, Mike mused. “I read it on Facebook”.

Mediumship? What’s that about? As soon as I got home after the shopping I went online and had a google…

Thus, last night, I found myself amongst fifty, sixty people, young and old, listening to two psychic ladies. Eileen from Bude, and Nicky from Tiverton. They took it in turns. They chose people from the audience and told a bit about the spirit that was hanging around them. One, two, three sessions passed. Then Eileen sensed among the people where I was sitting the spirit of a man, definitely not a woman, who had suffered during the time he passed away from frailty in the legs. Did anyone of us recognise such a person? Oh yes, I did. Aha. Did he like his bread and butter? Fond of his beer? “Cider”, I corrected her. “Okay, that’s fine. He says to me, there’s a celebration in October coming up? Does that make sense to you?” “Yes”, I answered, he passed away in October, around the time we had our wedding day”. “Okay, he says you were two of a kind, is that right?” Yes, we were.
“He had a difficult life? But he was always smiling?” Yup. “Is there a train journey coming? Eileen wondered. ” I nodded. “Well, it will be fine, he will be around. And, he says, don’t take it all so serious,” Eileen concluded.
Thanks, Eileen, thank you.

So, I’ll be off for a few days. I’m going by train to Milton Keynes. To see what dowsing is about. And I won’t take it too serious.

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to the poetry group


When did we start, Kate, Molly and me… was it in 2011?
We felt a deep desire to read good poetry in a group. But not just reciting a poem out loud and mumbling to each other, ‘Very interesting, next!’ No, to really focus on the poem. An analysis of what a poem says, what it means, and how it says it. The rhyme of the stanzas, repetition, form, alliteration, allusions, metaphor, point of view – in combination with a short life story of the poet, summary of the works, prizes won.

We started off with T.S. Eliot and ‘The Love song of Alfred J. Prufrock’. Molly took us by the hand. Through the years we have read many big names, like R.S. Thomas, Robert Lowell, John Donne, Philip Larkin, Robert Browning, W.H. Auden, Wallace Stevens, George Macbeth. We didn’t forget the women either: Stevie Smith, Pascale Petit, Carol Ann Duffy, Marianne Moore, and many more.

In each session, we look at up to half a dozen poems. No, we don’t love everything all the time. And yet there’s this excitement about coming to understand things that we perhaps hadn’t seen the first, or second time. And then, it kicks in, we feel stirred or moved or provoked by the beauty of the language.

This time we paid attention to Judith Wright. Who is she? Never heard of. Interesting because her name is in Australia outstandingly popular. After we read (we read each in turn) a very crystal clear and round poem, I sighed, ‘Typical a poem to learn by heart’… And they all started laughing. Why was that? Oh Cora, my comrades said, that’s for when you’re a youngster. Oh, well. But still. I think it’s good to learn a few lines by heart. Imagine you’re standing in a queue, and instead of being impatient, or bored, you recite this to yourself and the people around you:

“Silence is the rock where I shall stand.
The silence between this and the next breath,
That might be — is not yet — death;
the silence between lover and lover
that neither flesh nor mind bridge over;
the silence between word and word,
in which the truth waits to be heard;
the silence between world and world
in which the promise first was sealed;
the heart’s silence between beat and beat,
in which myself and silence meet.

Silence is the rock where I shall stand.
Oh, when I strike it with my hand
may the artesian waters spring
from that dark source I long to find.”

– ‘Silence’ by Judith Wright (1915-2000)

What more can I say…

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Dutchy in Cornwall visits the Bude Music Society


It could be a good thing to turn all the deserted churches into music centres, because of the acoustics. Music can go beyond words. Music can evoke feelings that words cannot. You can hear a tune and be struck by it. You want to hear it again and again.

Typical for this time of year is that many clubs start their cultural season. And so does the Bude Music Society. They offer a series of Sunday afternoon concerts during Autumn and Spring, plus a bonus concert in early Summer. Classical chamber music. When there’s a piano involved the concerts take place in Canworthy Water because they have a grandpiano, all the other concerts take place in St Martin’s Church, Killerton Road, a church with good acoustics.

This Sunday about thirty people showed up. And what did I see… grey hairs. Probably the average age was something like seventy. Is it because young people want to do other things on their Sunday afternoon?

The introductory talk was done by a knowledgeable person, Paul Drayton. He told us many interesting things, for instance about the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), once mentioned as “the father of the future musician”. Scriabin used poetry as a means in which to express his philosophical notions.

A good example is his symphony called Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (1910). The piece includes a part for a machine known as a “clavier à lumières”, known also as colour organ designed specifically for the performance of Scriabin’s tone poem. It was played like a piano, but projected coloured light on a screen in the concert hall rather than sound.


It’s a good thing that young folks still want to learn to play music. To spend hours of their life time studying and mastering an instrument. They play in duos, trios, quartets, chamber orchestras, choirs, vocal soloists, and ensembles. So one could say, there are still enough people who like to play, but sadly the audience is shrinking.

Interesting too that old people in homes, who have forgotten their ability to speak, get lifted up when they hear a tune from their childhood. They remember the words, the tune, and everything comes back. Music must be in our veins, connected to all our senses.

This morning I’m spending some time investigating my music collection. I see cd’s by Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Leonard Cohen, Kate Bush, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, I have percussion, guitar, cello, Scandinavian music, composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Bartok, Grieg, Sibelius, Chopin, Haydn, Bartok, lots of opera’s, French chansons, so much to choose from… Suggestions are welcome. Anyone happens to know a British composer?

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Dutchy in Cornwall and the Canal, its end and a start-off

What a lovely day it was, yesterday. I had waved goodbye to my friends. Always feeling a bit blue, afterwards. It works best to look for some distraction, to do something. Since I was already out, standing outside their hotel, I decided to walk along the canal towards Marhamchurch. On my way I met lots of pedestrians, strolling with or without spouses or dogs. Families with little children were picking blackberries. At The Weir I had my coffee and reflected on the many fascinating aspects of this watercourse.

Because the coastal area at Bude has sand rich in minerals, in earlier times several schemes were put forward to bring the sand to the countryside. One scheme gained parliamentary approval for construction of a canal. That was in 1774. Unfortunately financial problems frustrated the proposal. Then, in 1818 an Act of Parliament was obtained for the same proposal. After some difficulties in the construction phase the canal was opened in 1823. Just imagine, that was hundred ninety three years ago. Horses on the tow path pulled the tub boats through the canal.

Though the unusual feature of the canal was the inclined planes. On the inclined planes tub boats with wheels were pulled up the slopes with the wheels running in channel rails.

Unfortunately the arrival of the railway (in 1898) caused the downfall of the canal. Besides, manufactured fertilisers had become commonplace and cheap, so that the demand for the local sand was diminished considerably as well.

Today the sea lock is still in working order. It has been renovated in 2009. But much of the upper section, further away in the country, has been ploughed over or has become overgrown.

After I had finished my coffee I followed the tow path a bit further, under the viaduct (A39). There is a bit more of the canal to be found and … suddenly it ends. Only shrubbery and brambles, the water is gone. Funny, how it stops just like that.

On my way back to town I passed a large group of cheerful people standing on the bridge, chatting with each other and waiting. They looked attentively in the water as if something was to be seen in the canal. I peeked too… and asked “What are you waiting for?” “We are waiting for the bride and groom!” was the answer. “In the water?? Oh, in a boat!” “Yes! If you see them, tell them we are waiting!” a woman said to me. And someone called my name: “Hello Cora!” I looked around and spotted my neighbours Sian and Jake among the wedding guests, looking so fine in a dark suit and a pink bridesmaid dress. “Tell them we are waiting, tell them to hurry! “ While I continued my walk, I spotted in the distance this little rowing boat. A young man looking like Johnny Depp rowing, a pretty girl in white looking like Scarlet O’Hara, dark curly locks, a bouquet of flowers in her lap, looking very shy and blushing (I think). “They are waiting!” I warned them. Oh yes, they knew. And he was rowing and rowing and rowing. Starting-off.

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Dutchy in Cornwall cooks for friends

Don and Katie-Ellen, my sweet friends from the Lake District, are over for a few days. It has been a long trip for them, about six hours of driving, so they are exhausted and need to be pampered. They’re staying in a hotel close to the beach. Later today they will come over to my house for a meal.

So, I’m thinking about how to make things a little easy for myself as well… My friend Gail is singing praise of her slow cooker. She has three of them. A small one, a medium sized one and a , yes. Now this week department store Wroes was offering slow cookers for a discount price. Luckily I have collected some Wroes points, which means even a bigger discount. Therefore I’m the proud owner of a 4,5 litre slow cooker since late Monday.

It’s still standing in my kitchen though, in its box, on the sink. So… This morning I really have to take the plunge. Use the cooker and prepare a nice meal for Katie-Ellen and Don, something that can simmer for hours and will be ready later this afternoon. Let’s get the thing out of the box. Boy, that’s a heavy pot. Straight away I feel this muscle in my back. Ouch.

Better do some yoga exercises first. I’m googling back pain:

Lying on your back, bend both knees with the feet flat on the ground. Bend the right knee like a figure four, with the outer left ankle to the right thigh. Lift the left foot into the air, bringing the left calf parallel to the ground. Thread your right hand between the opening of the legs and interlace your hands behind your left thigh. Hold 2-3 minutes and then repeat on the other side.

Okay, back is feeling a bit better now, let’s go back to the kitchen. What does the instruction manual say…

– Do not use the slow cooker when it’s empty – of course.
– Use the handles and the knobs – fair enough.
– Wash the pot before first use in soapy water – oh, okay – with a sponge or dish cloth – well, that’s for me to decide, thank you.
And then something only in French, what’s it saying… defendre de …What? Oh, don’t cook directly in de base pot, use the ceramic pot – well, do I look so stupid…

– Place the food and other ingredients into the ceramic pot , and place the pot into the base.
The food?? Oh, of course. I need to find a recipe about food…

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Dutchy in Cornwall visits the Golitha Falls


When Claire and I left Bude, yesterday early afternoon, it was very sunny. Lovely weather. But the closer we got to Liskeard, the more clouded the sky became… We were on our way to explore the Golitha Falls.

Golitha Falls is a nature reserve on the edge of Bodmin Moor and carries the River Fowey. The river runs through a steep-sided gorge and a number of falls. It is known for its white water. White water is formed in a rapid, when a river’s gradient increases enough to create so much turbulence that air is entrained into the water, and forms a bubbly, aerated, unstable current. Then the frothy water appears white.

The falls have a magic of their own. Some people think it’s because of the woods. The dripping, fern-filled, lichen-lined woods that cloak Golitha Falls like a green velvet glove. In a heatwave the moss-covered rocks of this ravine would make an ideal location for a cooling picnic.

We met several other walkers, most of them accompanied by their dogs. The dogs looked happy, jumping in and out the water, running around. We spoke to a lady with two dogs who told us that she lived just around the corner. She still was fascinated by the place. What does it do to your mood? I felt strangely excited myself. Not because of the woods, though. I felt excited because of the sound of water falling down. It’s a bit like the sound of the waves at the seaside, but different.

In 2012 a man died after falling out of his canoe at the Falls. A Search and Rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor winched the man from the river but he was found to be dead. The dark, brooding mystery of Golitha Falls. Stories.

It reminded me of this great quote by Hermann Hesse, from his book ‘Siddharta’:

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”

Yes, that’s more like it. It’s a perfect description of what I feel when I am sitting in front of my beach hut, looking at the sea, listening to the sound of the waves. Water, bigger than life. It’s partly why I love Bude so much, the ocean, the river, the canal: water. One day I might even have a swim.

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Dutchy in Cornwall is having a Menday


Around nine o’clock yesterday morning Robert Freestone knocked at the door. Rob is a well-known plumber and heating specialist. I found him through word-of-mouth. Because my boiler is about 17 years of age, I’m seriously thinking about a replacement. Rob is happy to give me a new boiler. He had a quick look in the attic and we picked a date for him to deliver. He’s a good-natured man.

Next John arrived, my technical advisor. We have become good friends. He brought me a courgette from his greenhouse; I gave him three apples from my apple tree and a bar of chocolate from the chocolate factory (Banoffee). Since the weather seemed promising we made a placing-shelf-in-shed plan. I pointed out to him the height of the shelves, and John looked for my saw to do the job.

A while later I went to my neighbourly friend Gordon, to see if he was around. He was. I gave him a chocolate bar too (Sea Salt) and he made me a coffee, accompanied by an Eccles cake. In the garden were busy his gardener friends Jen and Rob. After they said their goodbyes Gordon and I talked about life. In particular how busy life can be when you live on your own and you have lots of visitors and guests. All the work around it… On rainy days Gordon needs to take the washed bed linen to the launderette to dry.

After that I went into town and popped in at Morwenna Café. I said hello to my friend Rudi, the owner. He came out of his kitchen for a chat. About how busy the place is nowadays between 4 and 7 (pm of course).

Next I went to Dan Dollin’s computer shop. To talk about my latest adventure, Facebook and being blocked for a day. Dan promised to come by on an evening next week for inserting a backup device into my computer. He will do it for me, because I’m too undexterous to do it myself. I’ve sent Dan an invitation to become Facebook friends.

Oh, I’m fond of my fellow men. They’re sweet to me. They are first-class and hunky-dory.

I finished this pleasant day with my neighbour-friend Melanie. We had a meal and a glass of wine in Preston Gate Inn. And we talked about… was it our stamp-collection?

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Dutchy in Cornwall is locked out


When Steve and I came to live in Bude in 2010, Steve immediately sent in a request at the Tourist Information Centre for a beach hut. They put us on a waiting list. Then, five years later, we had our beach hut (a rental of course). It is one of the first newly built huts, handed over to us last year in August. Not in spotless white but with a woody radiance and a blue front.

Before I was given the key I had to sign serious-looking forms about good behaviour. I had to pay a surety. I was told that I was responsible for maintenance. I was told I was allowed to decorate its interior, but only after I was given permission about the colours. And finally, I was told I had to organise my own padlock. So I did.

Within a month however, I had problems in opening the door. The padlock was rusted. Therefore I went to Truscott, the Ironmonger in town and they showed me a nifty little lock for the price of only £19,99 Now imagine, with a beach hut exposed to rain and salt air and gales of wind, how many times in a year one has to change their padlock… Not a cheap hobby. So I thanked the lady in Truscott and had a look in the Bude DIY-shop instead, opposite the road. They showed me a huge basket standing on the floor, filled with padlocks, £1 each. Take your pick. I bought a handful and can open and close my beach hut as much as I like.

Now yesterday something similar happened to my facebook account. I could not open it. My account was rusted. The reason was that someone had posted an untitled video on my timeline and regrettably I clicked on the post in an attempt to remove it. In vain, and the harm was done. Therefore facebook management blocked my account for a day. I used my free time to google a bit of information about what to do.

Luckily it was not my whole computer system that was infected. I do have virus-protection software installed, of course. But even then you can still be at risk, such as when you don’t automatically get updates to protect you from the latest threats.

The thing is, if you’re hit by a virus that creeps into your computer, the wisest thing you can do, is reinstall, they say. So, before using your computer again, you need to restore your computer to its original condition. And there is the catch: you will lose any applications you may have installed. That’s why you need to make updates.

I must confess that up till now I never did. I just didn’t bother. I’ve learned from this mistake. I will make back ups from now on. To prevent future attacks. I will never open strange emails. I won’t click on suspicious – looking videos ever again. Today I will rush to Daniel Dollin of Bude Computers, or better, Dan my computerman, for an update-toolbox-thingy.

I’m pleased the door is open again.

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