Dutchy in Cornwall wants to join something

 

It is said that in a small town people know each other. Do we really? Bude has about 9.900 residents (according to stats 2011), therefore, how can we really ‘know’ each other…

There are of course innumerable ways to mix in. Bude has many clubs like the U3A (University of the Third Age), WI (Women’s Institutes), RLNI, Life Boat, Bude Music Society, Singing groups and choirs, Bell Ringing Group, Bude Pilot Gig Club, Bowling, Golf Club, Line Dancing, etc. Moreover we have circles like the Neetside Practice, the shop-owners, various churches and the Mayor and politics (do we actually have a Mayor?)

In every community you have colourful local characters (or ‘Legends’). I’d love to get to know some of them. Or, should I make my own selection of local flamboyant personalities…

Take for instance Nikolas. His hobby is taking pictures in and around Bude. They are stunning. During his active life he used to be a jack of all trades. Nowadays he runs the facebook group Alternative Bude Banter. Nikolas is fond of language and its etymology, always curious where a word comes from. Therefore, he loves googling.

He is also a member of the RAOB ( Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes), one of the largest fraternal organisations in the United Kingdom. The order started in 1822 and is known as the ‘Buffs’ to members. The RAOB organisation aids members, their families, and helps other charitable organisations. The Order’s motto is “No Man Is At All Times Wise”. It has has a Rule Book, Manual of Instruction and Ceremony Lectures. The ‘lodge’ description for branch organisation was adopted in imitation of Freemasonry.

Sounds interesting but I’m not allowed to join. Nikolas didn’t want to share with me all the details. Fair enough, it’s a boy’s thing. Besides, I prefer to connect with genders of all kinds and ages. Let’s wait and see.

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to the Chocolate Factory

 

“Henry loves chocolate so much, it practically runs through his veins. Chocolate cake, chocolate cereal, chocolate syrup, chocolate milk, and chocolate cookies – and that’s just breakfast! Still, it comes as a shock when he suddenly breaks out in chocolaty brown spots and is diagnosed with . . . Chocolate Fever. And, rather than be poked and prodded by doctors, Henry runs away, starting the adventure of a lifetime. But at the end of it all, the question remains: Is there a cure for Chocolate Fever?”

So tells me the blurb of “Chocolate Fever”(2006) by Robert Kimmel Smith. A children’s book. I was preparing myself to go to the Kernow Chocolate Factory in St Evan, halfway Wadebridge and Newquay, close to Newquay Airport and the Merlin Golf Course.

On our way Claire and I first had lunch in the pub of St Kew. We found ourselves in the midst of a wedding party. Women with naked backs and posh hats, all the gents properly dressed, wearing a bow tie. Luckily the weather was fine so the whole coterie was standing outdoors, sipping their champaign. Whit a full tommy Claire and I headed to the factory. We had a meal first on purpose, because you never know what happens when you enter such a place being sober…

Now we all know that chocolate is a typically sweet, usually brown, food preparation of Theobroma caca seeds, roasted and ground. It is made in the form of a liquid, paste, or in a block, or used as a flavouring ingredient in other foods.

Chocolate has even become one of the most popular food flavours in the world. A vast number of foodstuffs have been created, particularly desserts including cakes, pudding, mousse,chocolate brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. Many candies are filled with or coated with sweetened chocolate. Bars of solid chocolate are eaten as snacks.

The chocolate bar is Kernow Chocolate’s main product. We had an interesting conversation with Adam, the graphic designer. He designs all the wrappings and was very proud of his artistic input. Actually, the Factory is not interested in delivering their products to supermarkets. No! Among their clients is the Eden Project. Their chocolate is handmade, Cornish, honest, and contains nothing but real ingredients. Have a look through the window! And we did. Now my fridge is filled with chocolate bars.

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to the tea garden

 

What a lovely day is was, yesterday. A bit of a cold wind, but bright and sunny.

First I went to the hairdresser, Liz. She was positioned at H&C. There was a relaxed atmosphere. Heather told us all about her encounter with Omar Shariff, just before he died. She spotted him in the aeroplane. He was seated in the front of course. Heather felt so excited that she had to go to the loo. On her way she just couldn’t help herself: she addressed the famous actor and told him she was a big fan, what a wonderful person he was, how nice to meet him… ”And you, my dear”, Omar replied. He took her hand and looked her deep in the eyes, with his stunning, pervasive gaze. Heather didn’t wash her hand for a week.

Haircut done, thanks again Liz, I went to the post office where I would meet up with my neighbour and friend Gail. Our plan was to do a walk to Northcott Mouth, about 45 minutes from Bude, over the cliffs. Gail had one of her collies with her. In the past she has been breeding collies. She had lots of litters. Nowadays she slowed down a bit, two collies left.

The ocean looked gorgeous. In front of us a kestrel, hanging very still in the air.

We reached ‘Margaret’s Rustic Tea Garden’. A big, white camper in the middle of a beautiful garden with picnic benches. Gail was thinking of having a sandwich, but in an impulse I decided to go for the cream tea. Cream tea with a cappuccino instead of tea. Very tempting, and Gail joined me in my luscious whim. Margaret was ever so friendly. Laughing and chatting. Her tea garden will stay open until half October.

We picked ourselves a bench, and enjoyed the scenery. Margaret had been very generous with the clotted cream. Now where is the scone, somewhere underneath… When we walked back, we both felt a bit sickly…

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Dutchy in Cornwall and the step counter

 

A step counter is a device, that counts each step a person takes by detecting the motion of the person’s hands or hips. Used originally by sports, step counters are now becoming popular as an everyday exercise counter and motivator. It can record how many steps the wearer has walked that day. A total of 10,000 steps per day, equivalent to 8 kilometres (5.0 mi), is recommended by some to be the benchmark for an active lifestyle, although this point is debated among experts. Thirty minutes of moderate walking are equivalent to 3,000-4,000 steps.

Leonardo da Vinci envisioned a mechanical pedometer as a device with military applications. In 1780 Abraham-Louis Perrelet of Switzerland created the first pedometer, measuring the steps and distance while walking. In 1965 a step counter called a manpo-kei (meaning “10,000 steps meter”) was marketed in Japan by Y. Hatano.

So far the proof that the step counter is not just a silly device for sissies. And it works! Through the years I discovered that 10.000 steps is a good guideline. When Steve was still around, most of the days I could not make that many steps. So one could say that the lifestyle of a carer, just like that of the patient, is not really healthy. Now that I live on my own I’m noticing that I love to aim for a daily 10.000 steps. Of course I could do it without a device. But then I’d soon lose track. When I take the hill, I’m not out of breath on top. And I have some good walking mates. Like Claire, Gail, Melanie and Kate.

I’ve come across the following list with some ideas to sneak in steps:

– Take stairs whenever possible.
– While you wait for a flight at the airport, skip the trashy tabloid, and walk up and down the corridors.
– When grocery shopping, walk through every aisle.
– While chatting on the phone, walk around your house.
– Grab your significant other and get out there together.
– Choose a parking spot that’s far from the store entrance.
– Treat the dog to a longer walk.
– Make a walking date with a friend, instead of calling her.

Now I wonder if anyone of you has some additional remarks or objections…

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

 

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey, are one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. Loes has been dreaming of it for years, so there we went, yesterday.

The gardens were created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family from the mid-18th century to the beginning of the 20th century.They still form part of the family’s Heligan estate. The gardens were neglected after the First World War and restored only in the 1990s, a restoration that was the subject of several popular television programmes and books.

The place name, properly pronounced ‘h’LIG’n’, and not the commonly heard ‘HEL-i-gun’, is derived from the Cornish word helygen, “willow tree”.

The gardens are in a wide, spacious area. Several options are being offered to the vistors: Main Garden Features, Curiosities, Animals and Woodland Sculptures, Lost Valley and the Outdoor (?) Jungle.

I do like gardens, but I don’t know much about them. Therefore, afterwards I learned that I had missed the Swan’s Egg Pear, the Handkerchief Tree, world’s largest Fuchsia, the Ginkgo and the emu, the second tallest bird in the world (after the ostrich). I felt sad about missing the emu, who lays 40 eggs a year and is omnivorous! Did I know that daddy emu carries out most of the nursery duties, refusing food and drink while he incubates them for 40 days and then guards the chicks for the next five to seven months? No, I did not. I do wonder what mum is doing all the time when her spouse is busy…

But my biggest delight and pleasure was to find a little field with pigs. How often do we see nowadays pigs rolling in the mud, making these grunting noises, running around…

Farrowing means giving birth to piglets
A sow is an adult female that has had piglets
A runt is the smallest of the litter
Weaners are piglets at 6-10 weeks old, weaned from the sow
A stag is a boar castrated after maturity

I’m sure we all know that famous saying by Winston Churchill about pigs?
“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to the Cactus Shop

 

To live in a beach town in Cornwall is very satisfying. To live in Bude is to be blessed. Often my neighbours and I are saying to each other: “ Aren’t we lucky that we live here.” Especially on these days in high Summer when there’s a traffic jam slowly moving into the parking.

Since I live on my own, more time to spare, people come to visit. And I show them around, like we Budeans do with our guests. The beaches, the cliffs, the canal. The town and its shops. Apart from that, some outings around Bude. Like Padstow, Crackington Haven, Boscastle, Morwenstow. And Winkleigh.

Now Winkleigh is a bit of a different story. To be found in Devon, in the middle of nowhere. Famous because of the Cactus Shop. So what? I can hear you think.

Quite interesting is that the proprietor of the Cactus Shop, Ralph Northcott, has been growing cacti and succulents since he was nine. He obtained a degree in horticultural science at Reading University. Ralph started his business in 1979 from greenhouses at his home in Exeter, then expanded to a site elsewhere. Now he has returned to Devon. Ralph prides himself on propagating plants in his 80ft x 60ft purpose-built greenhouse and he supplies more than 600 plant varieties.

Important to know is that in my back garden, there’s a greenhouse. Filled with cacti and succulents and Euphorbias. Among laypersons, Euphorbia species are confused with cacti. Euphorbias secrete a sticky, milky-white fluid with latex, but cacti do not. Individual flowers of Euphorbias are tiny and nondescript, unlike cacti, which often have fantastically showy flowers. Euphorbias range from tiny annual plants to large and long-lived trees. The genus has over or about 2,000 species.

Therefore, the look of such a shop gets me highly excited. So I hurried in and skimmed the isles. And then I saw this beautiful big pot, with an Euphorbia Horrida… Ralph walked by, doing something. “That’s a beauty”, I said to him. Yes, it is. “How much?”, I asked, although I almost knew for certain it would be far too expensive for me. Ralph mumbled a figure. “What? ! That cheap?!” “Well, yes, first the price was higher, but no one wants it!” Ralph burst out. I didn’t need to think twice: “I’ll take it”. Ralph continued “It belonged to a friend of mine. He died last year”. And he started to sob. “Excuse me, I’m getting emotional now”. He was rubbing his eyes. I said, “Listen, if you don’t want to sell it, I won’t take it”, but he assured me “No, it’s fine. I’m happy that it goes to a good home!”

The pot was too heavy for me. He carried it to the car. “Promise me, you will never close the shop”, I said passionately. “I cannot promise that, Ralph sighed. “It’s growing out of my hands.” Oh dear.

If only Winkleigh was more close to Bude. More easy to get there. Then I would give him a hand.

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Dutchy in Cornwall visits a Quakers Meeting

 

Sunday, a day of rest, a day of contemplating. A day of going to church? Well, how many people are still going to church? According to statistics (2011), in Bude live 9.900 people. This is what I found on religion in Bude:

55,7% Christian = 5.514 people
0,2% Buddhist = 20
0,2% Muslim = 20
0,1% Agnostic = 10
0,1% Hindu = 10
0,1% Jewish = 10
9,3% Other = 920
34,3% no religion = 3.395 people

I’m having a friend visiting: Loes, who lives in Essex. Loes has something in common with Kate, another friend of mine. They both sympathise with the Quakers. What I know about Quakers (or Friends) is not much. They come together in Bude every fortnight and quite by chance this Sunday a meeting is scheduled. I asked Loes if she is interested? Oh, yes. I asked Kate if we would be welcome? Of course, we are.

So we went to the Neetside Community Building on the early Sunday morning. We were welcomed in a room upstairs. Present were already four Friends. A circle of chairs to sit on. Loes and Kate and I picked our seat. Everyone settled. The silence began. Then there was bit of noise, downstairs. Doors slamming. Fast footsteps on the stairs. Two people rushed in, smiling apologetic. Settling.

We sat together for an hour, nine people, in total silence. When the hour was finished, we all had to grab each others hands, holding them for maybe five seconds. Done. The cerebral part was over.

Then there was room for remarks. The present Friends were a bit curious about our attendance… So we introduced ourselves and after that the Friends introduced themselves to us. There was coffee, tea and a chat.

Quakers don’t need a church building for their meetings. They don’t preach either. They do feel “there is ‘something of God’ in everyone – though Quakers will use a variety of words and ways to try to do the impossible in describing ‘God’. They try to be tolerant”.

And another quote from their booklet: “From the start, Quakers have felt strong concerns to improve social conditions and the environment. Help for slaves, prisoners, mental patients, refugees, old people, war casualties – quite a few charities and campaigns for reform have started as the concern of a Quaker.”

Lovely.

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to the cinema

 

There’s a bunch of ladies in Bude, who go together to the Regal Cinema in Wadebridge (by car about 44 minutes away). The women form a little group. They always occupy the back row in the theatre. They make sure that row is theirs, so at least one of them arrives early. I feel privileged that they invite me when they go. One of them is Angie, a widow. Well, they’re all widows. I’m a widow. Angie is a character. She sings as a tenor in the Bude Choral Society. Every time when I met her in the past when I was still caring for Steve, for instance in the supermarket, she widened her arms and crushed me against her ample bosom. Because she felt for me, once she had been a carer too. And when Steve passed away, she gave me this advice: “Say yes to everyone who invites you! If they ask you to come over for a meal, say yes! If they ask you out for a walk, say yes! If they ask you to come over for taking out the fleas of their dog, say yes!”

This time the Regal Cinema offered a play by Terence Rattigan, ‘The Deep Blue Sea’. Performed in the National Theatre in London. A woman on the verge of a divorce, with a new boyfriend. The ex is a serious High Court judge and solid (but dull), boyfriend is a handsome former RAF pilot and is missing the excitement of previous times. He feels suffocated by the woman and is already looking elsewhere. So boyfriend decides to pack his things. He is leaving. The woman is scared shitless of being left alone. To be left entirely alone.

Although subtitles were absent, I was able to follow the whole story. Which is not always the case. When the characters speak in vernacular, or use accents, it’s hard for me to get all the subtleties. But not this time. I didn’t miss anything. When a play is well performed, you can identify yourself with one of the protagonists. Well, I did. I know now what it is, to be alone. But, I don’t feel scared. Not one inch. Because I feel surrounded by a whole group of kind, sweet, caring friends.

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Duchy in Cornwall and the birds of love

A Fairy Tale

Once Steve told me the story of his mum, who died before Steve and I met. Her age was 84. Before she passed away, she said to Steve that she would send him a sign from the afterlife. And Steve accepted, sure, why not.

And a few months later there was this little blue tit, flown in through the open window into the bedroom, verstrikt in the curtains (vitrage). Steve said, ‘this was my mum’s sign. No question about it.’

We both knew, that Steve, with all his health issues, would go before me. And I said to him, ‘Okay, after you’re gone, you send me a sign, like your mum did with you. Promise me you will. And Steve said, ‘Yes, I will.’

And then Steve went… Late October. From that day I have looked out for a sign. But nothing occurred. I looked at the sky: Steve-in-heaven, you promised me a sign! Days went by, weeks, months. Nothing.

Then one day in early Summer, I found a blackbird, trapped in my cactus-greenhouse. The poor bird was panicking, I helped him out. Funnily enough I didn’t think anything about it. But a few days later I found a goldfinch trapped in the greenhouse. A beautiful little bird, with yellow wings and a bit of red on its head. And suddenly… it hit me: Oh! First Steve sent me a blackbird – I didn’t get it. So Steve must have thought, I’ll send the bloody woman a goldfinch and let’s hope that she gets it this time.

Yes, I know. You don’t have to tell me what you think that I should think. After all, we are down to earth. Keep to the facts. Two birds flew in, and that’s all there is to tell. I know. But, my dear friends, this man was my North and West and the rest. And it is a beautiful story, right?

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to the nurse

 

No one in Bude has ever been to Bhutan. Now why is that… Let’s find out. Bhutan is a small country, next to Tibet and Nepal. Mid autumn seems like a good time to go. I’ve asked my good friend Kate to join me. She agrees, as long as we will come back. No problem, a fortnight should be long enough.

So where shall we stay, what shall we do. Booking agents in Bhutan all promise heaven on earth. We are feeling already a bit overwhelmed. Luckily my well-experienced travel-friends Don and Katie-Ellen from the West Midlands recommend Travel-counsellor Sharon Matthews. Word-of-mouth always works best.

Sharon has booked our hotels, she has found an English speaking guide and a proper jeep. She advises us to get some safety precautions: injections against diphteria, hepatitis A, malaria, rabies, tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever. Oh, really? Well..
.
So I went to nurse Hilary at the Neetside Surgery yesterday. Are you right or left-handed?, Hilary wants to know. Left-handed. Good, then I will give you the nasty Hepatitis B in your right arm. You will get a bit of fever and you may feel a bit grotty. And the other one is against tetanus and typhoid… Oh, and let’s see if you need something against cholera, Japanese Encephalitis and rabies. Hmm, you know, altitude sickness may be a problem. What? Rabies, yes. Rabies is usually transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, mostly a dog, sometimes a bat. Don’t let them bite you, or scratch you, or lick you on the eye, nose or mouth. Symptoms can take some time to develop, but when they do, the condition is almost always fatal.

Mind you, water used for drinking and brushing teeth should have first been boiled or sterilised. Milk should be boiled. You’ll need socks in the airplane. When one leg gets very swollen, find yourself a hospital. And take gloves with you. Earplugs, because at night wild dogs are howling like mad. Don’t forget a mosquito spray. And painkillers. Water purification tablets. Anti-malaria pills. Go to the pharmacy and get yourself a set of clean needles, in case you have to go to hospital and you need a drip. Of course you know that new sexual partnerships and unprotected sex abroad is not uncommon?
Yeah, sure.

Kate said, “Cora, why don’t we go to Torquay instead?” I’m gonna lie down now.

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