Intended to gather some our unwanted stuff together and sell it at a car boot today. Mentioned it to G, thought I’d better say something as he panics when he sees some of his treasures (junk) being removed from their place, and he said ‘remember the last time we did that?’ I must have blotted it from my mind because when he said that I started putting things back where they came from.
That last car boot sale was not a great success. Pitch was £10. We took loads of books and ended up selling them for next to nothing plus the other stuff for very little. Anyway, got there really early at about 06.00, in the gloom of a very reluctant dawn and left at 2. It rained as well, for well over an hour, and everybody stood behind their stalls looking miserable with plastic sheets flapping and nobody walking past. In the end we took a magnificent £20 and so made £10 profit!!!! Bought 4 coffees while we were there so that was £4 and two butties for £4, so made £2 overall. Marvellous. Oh and I spent £5 on rubbish I didn't need and have now decided I don't even want any more. There is a moral there, car boot sales are dangerous - GO TO THE TIP.
We were in Totnes recently, one of our favourite towns. We wset off very early as the sun was shining and Ruby is great on sunny days as we can drive with the roof down. We went early on a Friday as there is an open air ‘bric a brac’ market on Fridays and Saturdays. Always reminds us of the Portabello Road in the early days, talking the late 1960s here, with second hand clothes, a few hippies and some genuine weirdos as well.
I got talking to a lady from Africa – she did say where she was from but have forgotten – who was selling mostly fabric and robes but with odd things like shea butter on sale as well.
‘Rub some on, darling, good for your skin,’ she offered, so I did. Very good barrier against a strong sun, she said.
I went and found G who was talking to a man selling bread and biscuits, cookies, etc. ‘Better buy something,’ G muttered, ‘I’ve had about three quids worth of samples already and that's just ginger biscuits.’ We bought a loaf and a couple of the big and very scrummy ginger biscuits and as we walked on G said, ‘what's that weird smell?’
I offered up my arm. ‘It's shea butter,’ I said.
‘You didn't buy any, did you?’
‘No, but I was thinking about it. Why?’
‘Well, unless you think going around smelling like one of those tablets they put in the bottom of urinals is a good idea…’
Think I’ll carry on with the Nivea sunscreen for now.
Just a bit further along was another stall selling bread and they had an old Dansette record player, a red and cream classic, going round with an assortment of cakes and croissants on it. ‘Is that set at LP speed?’ A woman asked. I’d wanted to ask this too, but thought the stall holder might think it was a stupid question.
‘Yes, thirty three and a third,’ was the answer. ‘I did try it at 45 rpm, but the cakes flew off. Good job it doesn't play 78s, eh?’
A girl next to me, aged about seventeen I’d say, said, ‘what's he going on about?’ The mysteries of LPs, 45s and 78s. Vinyl is back, so they say, so she'd better get clued up on the lingo or face being not ‘cool.’
We were chatting away to a couple of complete strangers the other day, as we tend to do rather a lot, with the conversation drifting around rather like the incoming tide. We were sitting on a low wall just along from the Idle Rocks hotel/restaurant in St Mawes. Marigold was bewailing the absence of a phone signal – a rarity in itself as she is at least my equal as a confirmed Luddite – but needed to ring a friend urgently.
‘No chance around here,’ the female member of the couple said, being a local. ‘Go to the end of the harbour wall and lean over until you get a couple of bars showing.’
Marigold is not very tall and not especially lissom, so the ‘leaning over the wall’ part was never going to be easy. I decided to assist when the tipping point approached and was hanging on to the back of Marigold’s jumper while she shouted out, ‘still only got one bar, push me another six inches.’
Phone call made, eventually, albeit under very difficult and stressful circumstances, we walked back to the Idle Rocks to look at the lunch menu. That didn't take quite so long. An impressive enough selection, but way out of our price range for a spur of the moment lunch. We did order a coffee, served on the terrace, which was lovely.
The girl who’d told us about the phone signal served us. She’d been killing time outside until her shift started. ‘Have a beer,’ she said, ‘more refreshing than coffee on a warm day, I reckon.’ We’d already gathered she was local, born and bred, by how many times ‘my lovelies’ and ‘proper job’ were included in her speech.
‘Okay, I’ll have a Doom Bar,’ I said.
When it arrived, a man seated three tables along stood up and walked over.
‘You think that's Cornish, don't you?’ He said. Friendly enough, if a tad presumptuous.
‘'Tis,’ I replied, an attempt to sound as if I came from the area failing dismally.
‘Brewed in Burton on Trent, like every decent beer in England,’ said the new arrival. ‘All they do here is stick it in glass bottles. I’m a Burton man so don't argue.’
‘Okay,’ I said, ‘not arguing.’
Bit of a surprise though. Ask anyone the best known Cornish beer and they'll say ‘Doom Bar.’ I asked the man behind the bar later and he confirmed it came fromSharps Brewery in Rock. Whether it's actually brewed there or not he didn’t seem to know, although he did tell me it was one of the biggest selling bottled beers in the world. I checked later and it appears to be true. Anyway, even for a lapsed beer drinker like me, it slipped down well enough.
Later we walked around a churchyard. Not really a churchyard, but a 12th Century old church set in stunning gardens at St Just in Roseland, just up the road from St Mawes. What a stunning setting. No wonder there's been a church here since the sixth century.
We spoke to a passing dog walker – knowledgable folk, dog walkers – and she showed us a stone covered in carvings said to be the one Jesus stepped on when leaving the boat in which he and Joseph of Arimethea arrived in England. ‘And was the holy lamb of God on England’s pleasant pastures seen’ as William Blake would have it. Ah well, Blake’s Jerusalem is based on a good story and the story has been around now for two thousand or so years.
Best bit was a flask of hot water, coffee, tea and milk inside the church provided for visitors. Left a donation in the box, obviously, but don't remember there being any flasks in Canterbury cathedral, for instance. Well done, St Just. Dog walker followed us in, sniffed, and said, ‘oh, no decaf left then?’ and walked out again. Hard to please lot, dog walkers in Cornwall.
We make a pilgrimage to Totnes every now and then. We like Costa coffee, but we also like the sheer cojones of Totnes residents who refused to allow the UK’s biggest coffee chain into their town. Plenty of cafes already, well, yes, there's no dispute about that. Some good ones too. We usually park at the bottom of town, walk up the hill to the very top and walk back on the other side of the road. There's a vegetarian café at the top which we love. Okay, we're not vegetarians, but it's a lovely place, very friendly staff and a sign that says ‘no mobile phones allowed’ on the door. Hurrah!
We park Ruby safely, next to an old van kitted out as a home. Not really a camper van, this is evidently a permanent home. It's indescribably dirty, one of those vehicles that gets washed when rain falls and that's it, and passed the ‘filthy’ stage long ago. There's a dog sitting on a front seat, dog’s nose marks cover the inside of the windscreen, and he’s happy. He doesn't care that his home is a dirty old van, he obviously loves his life. Fair enough.
As we walked to the pay and display machine the van’s owner arrived. Dreadlocks and a tie dye shirt, well of course. He made a huge fuss of the dog, released him from the van and ran around playing with him. ‘Hang on, mate,’ he called after us. ‘I’m just off. You can have my ticket.’ He produced a ticket from the dashboard. ‘Nearly three hours left on that,’ he said.
We talked about where he’d been and wondered how our paths had never crossed before. All over Europe, Morocco and winters spent in Spain and Portugal. Nice man, bright, erudite and a dog lover, always a good combination. He was wearing a pair of odd socks. Not by accident, even if he were colour blind as one was red and one yellow. He saw Marigold’s attention drawn to them and laughed. ‘I’ve got another pair, almost exactly like these,’ he said. ‘In the van, somewhere. Hey, a sock is a sock, right?’
‘That would be you if you’d never met me,’ Marigold said as we're walking up the hill. ‘Living in a dirty old van with a dirty old dog.’ Probably so, yes.
A woman selling jewellery while squatting in full yoga pose on the kerb took Marigold’s attention. She was eating a sandwich, smoking a roll-up and twisting wire into shape all at the same time. Multitasking. Marigold picked up a pair of earrings for a closer look.
‘You’ve got a good eye for quality,’ the woman said, through a mouth full of bread, cheddar and chutney. ‘Impulsive, too. You're a Capricorn, aren't you?’
Marigold was very good. She didn't say, ‘no, I’m not and why are you spitting chutney at me.’ I would have done, but Marigold is much nicer than me. The woman was almost skeletal and pretty grubby, but her shoes and clothes were top of the range. ‘Must be a few decent charity shops around here,’ I mused. I found myself staring at her lips. Thin lips, make that anorexic lips, no not even that, these were as close as it's possible to get to being completely lipless. No wonder her sandwich kept falling out of her mouth. Her complexion was best described a battleship grey with deep furrows in the brow and cheeks. Tendrils of smoke from her cigarette swirled around as a lorry passed within inches of where she sat at the roadside and the wake of its passing tugged at her clothes like a determined beggar seeking a donation.
‘Oops, gotta go,’ she said, suddenly, leaping to her feet. ‘If he sees me here again, we'll, you know…’ and she was off, practically hurdling two hippie lads sitting on the pavement. While we’d been standing there, I’d noticed her eyes swivelling in all directions, as nervous as a turkey on Christmas Eve.
Two fat policemen appeared and told the hippie lads to ‘move along.’ Neither took any notice at all. One of the policemen met my eye and nodded at the two young lads. ‘Bloody foreigners, don't understand a word of English, do they?’ He said to me and they moved away down the hill. One of the lads winked at me. ‘How dense is he, then?’ He said, in a broad Devonian accent. They may occasionally look it, they certainly sound it on occasions, but they're certainly not daft in Devon.