Well hello there.
It's currently raining (again). We've been lured into the promise of fresh Spring days, only to be taken for fools. The garden is full of Spring. The tulips, muscari, anenomes, aliums and geraniums are in bud and blooming. The frog spawn has already been gobbled up by the newts. My blackbird pair are in and out of the garden, pulling up worms and grubbing about. We have been visited by blue and great tits, black caps, chaffinches, goldfinches and a very shy mistle thrush too. The sparrows are squabbling in the privet, and the collard dove pair are smooching in the tree.
Thank you all for your kind words regarding our move to The Wink. Progress is being made, but our fate lies in the hands of the planning officer. We have submitted an outline planning application to them, and are waiting for a site meeting, to go over our proposal. They have been spectacularly unhelpful, and so we have had no choice but to hand over lots of money to secure this meet and greet, in order to obtain a modicum of clarification that our application would be met favourably.
All this sticks in my clack, when you see the dreadful buildings that have sprung up in and around St Ives in the past few years. You may remember me writing about a proposal to cut down a number of mature trees that are part of the wooded corridor that lines the coast path between St Ives and Carbis Bay. Olly and I waved our placards and were a very small part of a well organised protest against the developers desire to build property specifically designed with the second home/holiday let market in mind.
Anyway, the trees have been felled and the contractors have started. They have spent the past month or so creating an entrance way leading from the main road onto the site. I kind of feel sorry for the men working there actually. They have had to put up laminated signs with the words 'Mind Your Language' in bold font. Apparently they've been verbally abused by locals unhappy with the Council and their decision to uproot a whole section of this beautiful wild corridor. You have to wonder how these plans get passed, and I'm convinced there is some sort of backroom deal being made somewhere along the line. Thankfully the town voted in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan a couple of years ago, although this particular development fell through the cracks as it was proposed before the plan was ratified.
So I'm hopeful that our very modest plans for The Wink will be approved. As it sits in an area of outstanding natural beauty, there are more stringent rules and regulations that apply. And quite right too. But when you know that what you are proposing to do will enhance and not harm, it can be frustrating. We are also awaiting the results of a mundic block test on the property. Mundic is a Cornish term for mine waste, and prior to 1952 concrete was often mixed with this and used in buildings. The chemicals contained in it can lead to deterioration in the composition, and can result in a mortgage application being refused.
The Wink was built sometime around 1820 (possibly earlier) and is made of granite, so we know that it will be free from mundic. However there is an extention to the rear and a sun room to the side of the property, that may be a problem. I'm quietly confident that they were built after 1952, and in any case part of our proposed plan is to knock the extention down and rebuild it. The sun room will also be replaced at some point in the future; I have very grand plans for an orangery where I shall grow all kinds of exotic plants. So movement on The Wink at this point seems painfully slow, and we feel in a kind of limbo.
The survey is being carried out next week (the survey has already been carried out on our house), and our solicitor has begun the obligatory searches, which down here include mining surveys. Cornwall is riddled with abandoned tin mines, and shafts do open up from time to time. Since I've been living here, a shaft opened up in Tesco's car park and had to be capped. And a whole row of house had to be adandoned and demolished when a huge shaft opened up beneath them. It took a couple of years to cap it off, and rebuild them. The Wink has seen it all I imagine. It has probably served those miners that went down into the mines to hew the raw material from the bedrock. Terribly dangerous work it was, and thirsty too, judging from the amount of pubs that were listed in the Towednack Parish archives, around the time that The Wink was serving beer.
It's been fascinating to research a little of the history of the area we will hopefully be moving too. It's only two and a half miles outside of St Ives, but it's identity and history is of the land rather than the sea. Mining and farming were the main employers here, and even though you can see both sides of the peninsula - indeed at the top of Trencrom Hill you can see the bay of St Ives and the bay of Penzance - it does feel isolated and remote. The Wink closed as a pub in 1840. About one hundred yards from it is The Engine Inn, which is still being run as a pub and guest house. It can date parts of its' building to the seventeen hundreds, and I can imagine The Wink would look quite similar without its' rendered façade.
As you may have gathered, we have been swept off our feet by The Wink, and it has been occupying most of our thoughts. Marc has been ever practical; contacting builders, investigating ground works contractors, drawing up plans and the like. I have been less helpful. I am point of contact for solicitor and estate agent, and am paper shuffler and dreamer. I have been up to the house several times (the current owner has kindly allowed us to poke about the outside when we like), and there is something new to see every time. I've discovered a badger set, with fresh tracks leading from it up into the adjacent field. There are bluebells pushing up everywhere, and flag iris in the pond. I discovered a little piece of statuary hidden away under a huge camellia that's the very best shade of deep pink.
What can I say? If those pesky planners usurp our plans, and therefore the move, I will be GUTTED.
In other news, we are enjoying a relaxing Easter holiday. Marc has had a week off work, which has been great. Granted he has come down with a virus and spent every morning lying in, but it's been lovely having him about the place. We've started the mammoth task of clearing the loft, as it's the only productive thing we can do in preparation for our potential move. I have to say that we were disgusted at the amount of stuff up there. Mostly toys that had been outgrown and discarded by the boys. Some that had been barely played with. A few pristine and still in their boxes. Such excess above our heads. It made me feel quite ashamed.
Olly happened upon some forgotten Lego however. He was thrilled and has played with it on and off ever since. I took a car load to my favourite local charity shop, where it was received with great excitement. And my friend Sophie took pre school puzzles, books and games to the nursery where she works. It assuaged my guilt somewhat. I'm not sure why I put all that stuff up into the loft in the first place. I'm not a hoarder by any means. Maybe it was a case of out of sight out of mind. It really pulled me up short, and I am determined to be more mindful of the things that I buy in future. That goes for every purchase I make.
Of course when the Boden catalogue plopped through my letter box, I could have wept with the amount of pretty things I would have liked. Thank God for an empty wallet. If I end up at The Wink, my life will be a series of overalls and wellingtons. I suspect that there will be no gauzy frocks in my future. Or strappy heels. Much the same as now to be honest. In my mind's eye, this time next year I shall be wafting through a pasture full of cow parsley wearing dungarees and swinging a basket of blooms. The reality will probably be Marc's old overalls, a beanie hat and a wheelbarrow full of muck.
We have kept a few things for any future Paxtons. All of the trains and their tracks have been packed away. I couldn't bear to part with them. I also have a box for each of the boys containing their first shoes, first lock of hair and first drawing that looked like a face. You know the kind of things I'm sure. Treasure I could never part with. I can't believe that they were all once so small. Sam and Alf both tower above me. They are long legged and slim of hip. They eat me out of house and home. They drive me to distraction with the mess that they make, and the laundry they create. I feel as if I'm cooking for the five thousand every meal time. The pasta they consume must keep the Italian economy going. They are noisy underfoot and my sofas protest every time they flop into them.
Sam has been home for Easter, because as he informed me 'I have 38 pence to my name, haven't eaten meat for about a month and can't afford to wash my clothes.' He's been finishing off his dissertation, sleeping, making us watch the news on the hour every hour and helping to make an utterly forgettable birthday memorable as we giggled around Waterstones and Wilkos. He is applying to do his PGCE in September, and will hopefully be studying at Bristol. I think he will make a good teacher. He has a way of explaining things clearly and concisely. His passion for history is clear, as is his knowledge.
Alfie is revising for his GCSE examinations. I am spoon feeding him the whole way. He has hated secondary school, and is desperate to be free of it. If it was up to him, he wouldn't study at all, and I just can't sit back and let that happen. He is a really clever boy, who lacks focus, direction and confidence. I feel totally responsible for that. I feel as if I've let him down. We have fought and rubbed each other up the wrong way for so long. Every time I've tried to discipline or reason or sanction or use tough love, it has back fired. I don't know whether any of you reading this can relate, but I just feel as if I've made a colossal fuck up of being his Mum, especially these past few years. So far he has stuck to the timetable, with lots of encouragement and ego massaging from me. The school have been great, and he will have a final half term of revision and interventions before the exams start. I just hope that college will suit him better. Alfie is an amazing chap, and I love him more than my luggage. I suspect that we'll both be digging deep for a while.
As for Olly, he's just gambolling through life like the proverbial Spring lamb. He's loving all of us being at home together. He's been spoilt by his brothers with time and packets of Haribo. He has discovered Dr Who, and we've enjoyed revisiting it as a family. He has walked beaches, gone to the cinema, the trampoline park and had friends over to play. I suspect that if he were asked he would include his Easter eggs, his cousin Billy coming to stay and getting up into the loft as holiday highlights. He has cut a chunk of his hair out and reminds me of Dave Hill from the iconic British glam rock band Slade. Needless to say we are off to the barber's this afternoon.
I hope that you have all had a relaxing Easter break. We have another week off here, and plans include visiting some National Trust properties and I am out with my friend Sophie for our belated birthday booze up.