Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Contact Details

Mollie is integral to the to the walks that I write about, for companionship, for joy and for laughter. She is my fun side.


01326 312356

The Kidz Are In Town

“One of the kids wrote me a letter saying, 'I wouldn't be alive now if it wasn't for Kidz,' ” says Phil Barnett, founder of St Ives-based Kidz R Us, one of the leading youth theatre groups in the country. And in today's fame obsessed culture, these children learn vital life skills. “These days it's all computers and things you do on your own, whereas here they make friends, they work in a group and learn discipline. They also learn that if they work hard they can achieve something really extraordinary.”

Phil, 49, fizzes with enthusiasm, which is just as well considering he works on six productions at a time and has so far directed 59 of them. His day job is his hairdressing business in Hayle which seems apt given his surname. “I've been here over 25 years and built up quite a good business,” he says cheerfully. “I'm able to just do a few mornings a week and then I come here 60 or 70 hours a week volunteering.”

Phil's great love of the theatre stemmed from seeing his first pantomime aged 9. “I was totally spellbound by it!” So at the age of 10, unknown to his parents, he went alone to the next auditions. “They gave me the part of a henchman,” he says. “Ten years later, someone dropped out of a show so I learnt the principal part over the weekend. That gave me the bug again!”

From then on there was no stopping him, and in January 1994, he and Margaret Banfield, from the local operatic society, assembled a group of children to stage a concert to raise money for Save the Children Fund. This was such a resounding success that Kidz R Us was born and now caters for up to 100 children from the age of 6 upwards.

But it's not just about talent. “I was a trouble maker at school and I understand those kids best because I have an affinity with them,” he says. Other children, who might have been abused or self-harm, are referred by Social Services.

“I believe in education and I send the kids on lots of courses,” he continues at high speed. “Every 3 months we have a professional choreographer, physical theatre classes, or one of the top vocal coaches in the country. I believe you can increase your skill level in whatever you do, so I try to get the kids working on their weaknesses. If they have the confidence and self belief to stand up here on stage then I tell them a job interview's a doddle.”

In January 2009, Kidz created the Amateur World Premiere production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Likes of Us, to an enraptured audience. "Tim Rice gave them a standing ovation and said the production was actually better than the show!” says Phil, beaming. As a result, Tim Rice is now their patron.

Choosing each show is a collaborative effort. “I make a shortlist of six and talk to the kids,” he says. “Last year our turnover was over £300,000 so we have to find that amount of money. They have to be box office shows otherwise you don't get bums on seats.”

Throughout the year, Kidz produce 5 or 6 productions, with most shows in the summer holidays. This hard work is made possible by 130 dedicated volunteers including the superbly talented wardrobe mistress, Jane, who has worked for the Royal Ballet and Norman Hartnell. “We've won awards but I believe it's also the determination of the help here to reach the high standards,” says Phil, who desperately needs more volunteers. “There are grants out there but we haven't got time to apply as we're working on so many productions. We really need a Grants Officer.”

Kidz R Us now has a manager and administrators, which means that Phil can start to scale down his contribution, but his primary concern is to keep the company going. “I don't want it to have done all this work and when I finish, it finishes.”

Phil's enthusiasm is a huge inspiration to everyone. “When I was younger I wanted my name on this and that, but now what I'm doing satisfies me,” he says. “I give people a chance.” He pauses and his face lights up. “Sometimes when I'm in the audience and there are 300 people laughing their heads off, it's a wonderful feeling to bring joy to so many people and to think 'we started all this'.”

Kidz R Us has won endless awards including the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
They have performed at the Royal Albert Hall, The London Palladium and the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly Circus.
Kidz R Us has a younger group of ages 6-13; the older group is for age 14+. There is also an adults group.
A variety of theatre courses for children and adults are run every 3 months
Adults and children's choirs
Over 60s Club
Kidz Club on Saturday mornings (stage school)
Crafty Sew and Sew teaching sewing classes
NVQ qualifications can be obtained in Youth Work
Costume hire is available
The next production will be the amateur premiere of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, at the Minack Theatre in the Easter holidays.
For all enquiries telephone box office 01736 797007 or more information have a look at the website www.kidzrus.net.

CK Kitchens


Interview by Sue Kittow

What are your backgrounds?
Keith: My father was a plumbing and heating engineer in Falmouth and I've been in the building trade, then Kevin and I met in May 2009 and it turned out we knew each other through our sons playing football together!
Kevin: I worked in the hydraulics business, then had my own restaurant in Falmouth and used that experience to help set up this business.

What interests you about kitchens and bathrooms?
Keith: I have had an inherent love of building – I'd been carrying my dad's toolkit since the age of 6.
Kevin: I did a training course on kitchens in Denmark, and working in a restaurant taught me the practical side of things.

Tell us what makes your kitchens and bathrooms different/special.
Kevin: They're British made and factory assembled – no flatpack. All the doors and drawers are soft close as standard and the mechanism is Blum, the Rolls Royce of soft close.

Where are the bathrooms made?
Keith: We're using Kudos which are made in Cumbria, and soon we'll be introducing Jacuzzi, and the sanitary ware for that is made in Newcastle - we're trying to keep to British products. We've also got Merlin which are from Northern Ireland.

How would you describe your style?
Kevin: We have all styles: contemporary, modern, old fashioned – there's something for everyone. We have a reputation for innovative design and can offer a massive range, from solid oak to high gloss.

What can we see in your showroom?
Kevin: We've got a large range of kitchens, appliances, tiles, we're launching wooden flooring and have all different types of flooring available, including Altro and lino. We've also got handles and sample doors - you can see the doors all the way around in reception.
Keith: And we've got about 28 different colours for carcasses, and a wide range of worktops.

What's popular at the moment?
Kevin: We have a new Impressions range which is contemporary doors, high gloss, made-to-measure. That's selling really well.
Keith: This range has been introduced during the recession and is very good value for money.

Who are your customers?
Kevin: They're probably middle to late age, recently moved down to Cornwall. People who want a complete service.
Kevin: Yes, we can project manage the whole job, from electric, gas, tiling – we'll do it all.

When a customer comes in, how does it work?
Kevin: We give them a guided tour round the showroom, then leave them in peace. If they're interested we give them brochures to look at, then if they want, we measure up the kitchen and give them a free quotation.

Why is customer service so important to you?
Kevin: It's vital for repeat business. You can't put a price on service. Also, our customers know they'll always deal with either myself or Keith.
Keith: Customer service is the most important aspect of being a local business: we get lots of word of mouth recommendations. We're open 7 days a week, for that service, so we've proved that it works. And there's free parking!

What would impress me as a customer?
Kevin: Seeing what's available with the high technology of servo-drive, along with all the space saving devices. We're here to offer good quality kitchens and bathrooms that won't cost a fortune.
Keith: We're well worth a visit!

Visit CK Kitchens at Toyota House, North Parade, Falmouth TR11 2TD
01326 319993 or 077911 589 05

From A to 3B


3B INTERNATIONAL is a worldwide delivery business based in Helston and owned by Ann Booth and her daughters, Claire Culm and Suzie Hackland. They manage deliveries on behalf of their clients and offer storage and a pick and pack operation. “Both Claire and Suzie have their forklift licences,” says Bryn Hackland, Managing Director. “I'd like to think we're the first contact point for anyone wanting to ship goods out of the area.”
The company was originally formed in Halifax in 1998 by Ann’s late husband Geoff after he retired from TNT, and named after two other partners whose surnames also began with B. After Geoff's sudden death the family decided to make a fresh start and moved to Cornwall.
“I think Dad would be amazed at how we've managed to turn the business around, move it 400 miles and sustain a living,” says Suzie. “We used to be a despatch company for bigger companies but when we came down here we realised that there were a huge amount of small businesses that needed servicing. They'd been penalised by big carriers on rates so we opened up avenues for them to get their products out without being penalised on prices. It was a huge learning curve!”
3B now have a client base of over 500 and 100 regular weekly traders. “Being a family business counts for a lot with Cornish people,” says John Harvey, Business Development Manager. “The company is owned and run by women, and that's gone down well.”
They soon found that business in Cornwall was very different from Halifax. “People are more loyal down here so you build better relationships,” says Bryn. “There are about 9,000 business in West Cornwall that employ under 5 people and we work for a lot of them. They want to concentrate on their business, not have to worry about where their product's gone.”
3B believe that flexibility is very important for their customers. “If customers come to us with a cashflow problem we will work with them to get through it,” says Bryn. “The recession has actually been good to us because a lot of people have traded down,” adds John. “Deliveries are an easy area to cut costs and we can help with that.”

3B have two vans which cover West Cornwall, and for collections further afield send in courier companies. Their second warehouse allows them to offer storage facilities, same day deliveries throughout the UK and hold stock for a handbag company based in London.
“Because 3B are a small company, we are able to take on specialist jobs that require project management from start to finish,” says John, who has years of experience in the business. “We have a very personal approach, are cost effective and very friendly. We're tapping into a lot of experience here.” Thanks to John's many contacts, he recently coordinated a seemingly impossible overnight delivery from Cornwall to London, Paris and Brussels, when half the stock was stranded in the West Midlands due to snow. “That's job satisfaction!” says John with a smile.
The company have just undergone a rebranding exercise. “We have new vans arriving with the new logo, our second warehouse will enhance our storage facilities and Ann Booth has decided to take an active role in the company again,” says Bryn. “We like to help small businesses help each other, so we've rented some office space to a new design company. Their first job was to redesign our website and logo!”
Looking to the future, expansion is definitely on the cards. “At the moment we're well known in this area but there's the rest of Cornwall to tap into,” says John. “There's massive potential.”
Perhaps what makes them so special is that unlike most larger companies, 3B treats customer service as paramount. “Most of our business is personal recommendation,” Claire says. “We're on first name terms with our customers – we care about them.” And one of their strengths is that whatever the product, it is treated with the same care. “We might send out a tender document worth £500,00 or a box of pasties worth £15,” explains Claire. “It doesn't matter what it is – it's how it gets there that's important.”

Clients include: Roskilly, Ballardsfield Farm, Cornish Cider Farm, Cornish Seafood, Polgoon Vineyard, Crepe Cuisine,Cornish Crisp Company, The Cheese Shop and daffodils from Scilly.

3B International
15/16 Tresprison Business Park
TR13 0QD
01326 572636
email: bryn@3bint.co.uk

Website design - www.kidesign.co.uk

Men an Tol


One grey Sunday, Viv, her dog Titch, MollieDog and I set off for a walk in darkest Penwith. Leaving Penzance, we took the Madron road and after about ten minutes passed Lanyon Quoit and found a small parking space on the right, opposite an old granite schoolhouse.

In fact we didn't see Lanyon Quoit until the end of our walk, but it is clearly visible from the road which says little for our powers of observation. It is thought this was a burial chamber of a long mound and was originally tall enough for a horseman to sit under. It collapsed in 1815 and reassembled in 1824 but to a smaller size than its original position.
Having parked, we headed up a farm track and on our left spied a large black and white cat. Eerily we saw a similar feline on a walk at Carn Brea last year, making me wonder whether this was the same one lying in wait, knowing Viv's allergy to cats. Luckily it didn't pounce so we walked on and after 15 minutes turned right over a stile which led to Men-an-Tol. This megalithic monument is a wide, shallow stone one metre tall, carved into a circular shape and known as the Crick Stone or Devil's Eye. In the middle is a hole 45cm across and either side of this is a standing stone, about 1.2m tall. It is thought that Men-an-Tol is the remains of a chambered tomb, with the holed stone forming an entrance.
These stones are said to provide healing, so naked children were passed through the hole three times and drawn on the grass as a cure for tuberculosis and rickets. Adults would crawl through the hole as a cure for back complaints, but would need to go through nine times for it to work. Passing through the stone has also been used as a fertility aid, but there are many and varied stories attached to these stones.
Viv decided to try and cure her bad back. “But I'm only going through once, and it's far too cold to take my clothes off.” Having struggled through the hole, aided by our curious dogs, she emerged red faced and smiling. “My back's much better!” she pronounced, and promptly wrenched her leg.
I decided to leave my bad back and we retraced our steps, returning to the original path and looked out as the sun shone down over Bosullow Common, illuminating Ding Dong Mine in the distance. Here is open moorland but hardly a tree in sight; mile after mile of scrubland interspersed with the occasional farm. A view that some find uplifting and magnificent but others find too harsh: there are none of the soft rolling hills of South East Cornwall here.
On our left was Men Scyfa, a stone marking the grave of Rialobran, a sixth century chieftan warrior who was killed here around AD500. Poking our heads through a gate, we decided to give it a miss as the stone was in amongst a field of black cattle who stared at our dogs and licked their lips. So we continued up the very rough path fenced in by bronzed bracken, the last of the blackberries and desiccated heather: not a good time of year for vegetation.
Where the path splits in front of a derelict building, we took the right hand fork onto a track over moorland. This path climbed upwards, and as we walked, a small plane took off from Lands End aerodrome. We passed a group of smaller stones but headed further on to Nine Maidens which are 11 spaced stones that do not in fact make a true circle. Boscawen Un Circle, as it's known in Cornish, was an ancient Druid meeting place and the location of the first Cornish Gorsedd. But the name refers to the phases of the lunar cycle rather than the number of stones. Legend has it that maidens dancing on the Sabbath were turned to stone, and the fiddler who supplied the music and followed their fate was the Blind Fiddler Menhir.
Having admired this atmospheric spot, along with several other enthusiastic visitors – this is a popular walk – we followed a well worn path to our right through waist high gorse to Ding Dong Mine engine house. In the distance, not far from the mine, was an old campervan, with a large turbine strapped onto the back. As we grew nearer we admired the speed at which it spun round, and marvelled at the incongruity of it all. Any second now, I expected it to take flight, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and soar over Ding Dong Mine, with children cheering in the back.
Sadly nothing as extraordinary occurred and we arrived at Ding Dong, reputed to be one of the oldest mines in Cornwall. According to folklore Ding Dong worked 2000 years ago and was visited by Christ and Joseph of Arimathea, but the earliest mention of the mine was at the beginning of the 17th century. In 1714 three separate mines were operating: Good Fortune, Wheal Malkin and Hard Shafts Bounds, but Ding Dong did not become famous until the turn of the 18th century.
By the end of the 1850s the mine employed 206 men and boys, but was struggling to break even. Due to the continuing fall in the price of tin, the mine shut on 11 July 1877 following an unsuccessful attempt to sell it at auction. Since that time three other attempts have been made to reopen the mine; the first failed because of water problems and the other two through local opposition.
Standing in front of the engine house, we took a path below, across a stone stile and followed the path downhill for about 15 minutes. Along the way we came across the only trees we'd seen: two gnarled hawthorns with autumn red berries. All the bracken was bronzed, dried out by the fierce winds that sweep across the open moorland. The path turned marshy here and the dogs rolled in fox poo with delight, promising a poisonously smelly drive home.
The narrow path appeared to be turning away from our destination of Lanyon Farmhouse, but as Viv was following instructions for a St Ives walk, this could be why we were slightly off course. We took a right hand fork and reached a metal gate between stone walls which led to the road where we turned right and before long found Lanyon Farmhouse where you can indulge in a cream tea. I was lured by a promise of Viv's award winning home made ginger cake, so we continued back to the van to eat cake there. (It turned out that she won third prize out of three entrants.)
From here it was a ten minute walk back to the car, passing Bosullow farm's stall of orange pumpkins and, surprisingly, red chillis. Viv bought one of each and insisted on lugging the dead weight back to the van, concocting recipes as she went. From now on I will always think of Bronze Age Cornwall in conjunction with Curried Pumpkin Pie.
Standing outside Ding Dong mine is a sight I will never forget. In the distance stretched the Lizard, lit by a sudden blast of sunshine, and below us was Mounts Bay, with St Michael's Mount in the fairytale distance. There is a dizzying sense of height, and depth, and space here and it's still possible to catch a glimpse of Cornwall as it was many thousands of years ago.

Landranger Explorer 102 Lands End, Penzance and St Ives
Distance: 3 miles
Length: 2 hours
Grade: easy going but some rough tracks and can be muddy in parts
Refreshments: Lanyon Farmhouse provide cream teas
Free parking

Canine Bowen Therapy


Many people in Cornwall combine several jobs, but it's refreshing to find someone who really enjoys several very different careers. Frances Carter, 47, has run the Hibiscus (women's) Surf School in Newquay for the past 7 years, has been a complementary therapist for the past 25 years and is a lecturer at Truro College. “I'm a sports therapist,” she says cheerfully, as she sits on her kitchen floor making friends with Mollie Dog. “I treat animals and humans, and I teach complementary therapy on the Foundation Degree course. I do the surfing in the daytime and the rest in the evenings.”
While combining complementary therapy and surfing might seem a strange combination to some, for Frances it makes perfect sense. “Surfing is one of my passions and complementary therapy the other, so that's where the balance comes in.”
Frances trained as a human Bowen therapist and became interested in using these techniques to help animals. “I used to do complementary therapy on my dog and I've often thought that dogs are much more in tune with their own bodies than humans are, so that makes you more in tune as well,” she explains.
The Canine Bowen Technique is one of the fastest growing complementary therapies in Britain, based on the principles of the Bowen Technique developed by Australian Tom Bowen (1916 – 1982). Its adaption in the UK for use on dogs was started in 2001 by Bowen therapists Sally and Ron Askew, who integrated it into their own dog behavioral and rehabilitation work. In 2003 they founded the European Guild of Canine Bowen Therapists and designed a professional programme of training.
“My training took just over a year and covered five modules,” says Frances. “Anatomy and physiology (taught by a vet), nutrition, behaviourism and dog psychology, and throughout we were learning the actual techniques, with an exam at the end. I've also done an OCN level in Companion Animal First Aid which was taught by a local vet, and I'm fully insured.”
For any vets uncertain of her qualifications, Frances is quick to reassure. “Canine Bowen therapy is regarded as manipulative therapy covered by the Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 1962 of the 1966 Veterinary Surgeons Act, allowing qualified practitioners to work on animals who have been referred by the animal's vet,” she says.
She also points out that Bowen works in conjunction with, never as an alternative to, proper veterinary care. “All dogs must be thoroughly checked over by their vet, and get their vet's written approval prior to starting a Bowen session,” she says firmly. “I am not a vet, so I would never diagnose an animal, nor would I ever prescribe or alter any medication. This is purely a complementary therapy which has been deemed by vets to help dogs.”
While some vets are unsure about Bowen Therapy, Frances worked very closely with her local surgery. “I've got a really good relationship with my vet who's supported me 100% ,” she says. “We've also written a first aid course together.”
At first her vet didn't understand how Bowen works, so Frances had a practical solution. “I treated his dogs and then I did him because he didn't understand why one minute his dog was a snappy terrier and the next minute was asleep in its cage! After treatment he had a much better understanding of how the dogs felt.”
Bowen therapy is an holistic therapy “which means we do a thorough observation looking at the dog's daily life, background, medical history, diet, exercise profile and how it's handled,” Frances explains. “A dog may be brought in with, say, rear-leg lameness, but I may well treat other parts of the body as well, such as the front-legs, in order to sort out other possible problem areas caused as a result of the dog compensating for the problem.”

The actual hands on therapy is a very light touch in specific places that's adapted from the human Bowen Technique. “We know that there are millions of sensory nerve endings on the skin and these light touches send a disruption through the central nervous system that can help the body rebalance itself,”she adds.

The benefits are many and various. “It can help encourage a greater range of movement,” Frances says. “It can also help a dog be pain free or at least reduce pain.” She has treated dogs for all kinds of problems, from ear infections to hip displasia and even tennis elbow! “Ear infections are usually due to an imbalance in the immune system,” she explains. “I've also treated re-homed dogs from the RSPCA – if they come from kennels and suddenly go into a home environment then the dog can have a lot of problems, particularly if there' s already a dog in the household. If a dog is highly stressed, Bowen can give it better quality rest because it makes them very relaxed.”
She has found that dogs seem to know instinctively where they need to be treated and when they've had enough. “When a dog's had a treatment and they trust you, they often come back and give you a paw or whichever part of the body they want done!” she says. “As humans, we're told what's the matter with our bodies – dogs have no preconceptions, so they're much more in tune with their bodies, as we were hundreds of years ago.”
A session usually lasts about 45 minutes, though the hands-on treatment usually takes around 20 minutes. Before the session, Frances needs a signed veterinary referral form, and will ask for a detailed medical form to be filled in. “I like to know everything about the dog because sometimes when owners fill the form in they often realise other factors that might contribute to the dog's condition,” she explains. This information helps monitor changes between treatments and gauge how the dog is progressing. Therapy is not forced upon the dog, and the dog is not restricted at any time during the treatment.
An initial session costs £25 for the first session and £20 for sessions thereafter; travel charges are 30p per return mile after 15 miles. The number of sessions needed depends on the dog and its reaction to the treatment. “With some dogs you see a change in the first session,” Frances says. “Usually you see some sort of change in the second or third treatment, but it's never a cure; it's aimed at helping the dog in the way it needs.”
Seeing how Mollie reacts with Frances, it's evident that animals trust her, which makes her work very rewarding. “I love working with animals more than humans because you see such dramatic effects and it's lovely when you can help the dog,” she says. But she also finds working alongside a vet very interesting. “My vet said that we pick up so much more than they can during a consultation because they only have a few minutes with the client,” she says. “I always write a report back to the vet after a treatment so the vet can see what I've found and that can change the way he treats the animal.”
Frances has been working with dogs and horses for over 28 years and has competed with both at championship level: she shows her own Newfoundland, Douglas, at Crufts. “Equine Bowen therapy is much more established because of racehorse owners and stud farms,” she says. “More and more vets are coming on board and scientific research is being carried out on the human Bowen technique, so hopefully it will eventually be more widely recognised.”.
And looking ahead? Frances smiles at her huge Newfoundland, Douglas, making friends with diminutive Mollie. “I would like to see Canine Bowen Therapy available at vets as a complementary therapy to help the likes of firework fear,” she says. “Personally, I aim to continue improving my knowledge and skills in both human and canine therapies.”

01637 879374 or 07810 6428981

Ten Pin Bowling

I'd naively thought that ten pin bowling would be really easy. Easy? Hah! But great fun..... Cornwall Today March 2010

2010 marks the 50th anniversary of ten pin bowling being played commercially in Great Britain. So it seemed fitting that, being very slightly over 50, I should have my first go at the game. After all, it couldn't be that difficult – could it?

Richard Harris, 45 has been General Manager of Ocean Bowl in Falmouth since it opened in 2002.
“I've bowled for the county, managed and captained the county team and played in various competitions,” he said in his quiet, unassuming voice. “It's an active sport, it's energetic and sociable. Because it's indoors you can play in any weather.” And judging by the bar next door, you could have a drink as well. Sounded good to me.

Richard undertook teacher training which helped him improve his game, and he is now qualified to teach beginnners and intermediate players. Looking around, the players varied a lot. Richard smiled: “Yes, we get all ages, from 5-80, though there are roughly 60% men to 40% women. Ten ten pin bowling attracts all kinds of people. We get children's parties, corporate events – staff events and bonding sessions,” he told me. “The Navy also come from Culdrose for sports events.” There are also various leagues for those that wish to play competitively, and 'roll offs' for selection of the county team.

But as I was having a lesson, first of all I had to change my shoes. “You have to wear special shoes but that's included in the price,” Richard explained as he kitted me out with a pair of rather fetching red, white and blue lace up shoes. “They're smooth so you can slide into a shot.” I had no idea what he was talking about but it sounded good and I had visions of myself expertly bowling the perfect shot.

I asked him about the lanes. “There are 12 wooden lanes, 60 foot from the foul line to the head pin. The lanes are made of pine and mahogany which is about six layers thick,” he explained. I watched other people having a go, and wondered why it was so popular. Richard smiled. “People can get addicted,” he said. “Particularly when you start scoring – you have to to score higher each time.” I nodded, though I couldn't imagine it.

But I had no time to think about addiction, as the lesson started in earnest. First Richard showed me the balls. “These vary in weight from 6-16lbs and you measure the ball by hand spec and weight,” he told me. He chose a large red number for me weighing 10lbs which seemed incredibly heavy, but “the heavier the ball the more pin reaction you get.” He showed me how to hold the ball: “Middle and ring fingers in the top holes and thumb in the lower hole. If you can hold it comfortably for 10 seconds it's about the right weight.” It wasn't exactly comfortable, but I persevered.

“You have to think of the ball as a clock face and your thumb at 12 o'clock. You want to release the ball with the thumb between 10 and 11 and the fingers between 4 and 5.” Richard could obviously see the completely blank expression on my face and explained further. “As you're right handed, the ball is released anticlockwise and that gives a hook which means the ball comes in at an angle which will knock more pins down.”

It sounded all right, but now to do it? Richard talked me through it, making it look incredibly easy. “The way to release the ball is either to think of shaking hands with somebody or having a drink if that's easier to learn. Then your arm comes up in a follow through which gives more rotation on the ball. Keep your shoulders level and parallel to the foul lane.”

My head was buzzing, but we then learned about where to stand. “The approach is the part leading up to the lanes, and there are markers on the approach to help you remember where to stand,” said Richard, “and wooden arrows on the lanes – you need to aim for the second on the right rather than the actual pins.”

All this and I hadn't even taken a shot. But that was next. Richard had me kneeling (hard on the poor knees on a wooden floor) with my left foot forward. “The left arm is out for balance, now swing the ball back and release it forward with the thumb at 10 or 11 o'clock. Aim for the second arrow, and don't forget the follow through.” Getting the hang of this 10 or 11 o'clock business was a lot harder than it sounded. Next we tried the one step drill, standing up. “The left knee has to be bent, and you slide into the shot with the right foot skewed behind to keep balance.” I also had to remember what to do with my hands and feet. How could I remember all that?

That, it turns out, was a mere warm up. Now for the four step approach. “Take four steps back and a half step, then pivot round on your toes and that's the distance you need to be from the foul line,” said Richard. “Get the stance: stand straight, feet parallel, and hold the ball in both hands, cradling it. Weight on the left foot, step on the right foot, holding the ball in both hands, extend the right arm, let go of the ball with the left hand which comes out to the left, at shoulder height, facing the lanes.” He'd lost me already, but I had a go. “With the second step, swing the ball forwards, then back, then the last step slides forward into letting go of the ball, and the right foot goes behind and across the left one to balance.” Richard executed the perfect shot, moving like a dancer from Ballet Rambert. When I tried I just lost my balance. And don't ask me where the ball went.

But I was determined to have another go – and another. And another. Waiting for my ball to return I glanced across at several teenagers playing with gusto, like true professionals. They played so fast, though Richard said I was probably bowling at about 15mph. It felt like 5mph – a granny version of the game.

After an hour and a half I had to leave, but I was glowing. Even if you're as bad as me, the temptation is just to have one more shot......

Ten pin bowling is believed to date back to the Egyptian Pharoahs, but the first written reference dates back to 1366 when King Edward III banned the game, fearing it would interfere with archery practice. A painting from around 1810 shows British bowlers playing the sport outdoors, with a triangular formation of ten pins.

Glossary of terms
Strike - When all 10 pins are knocked down with one ball. You get 10 points for these pins, plus the points of the next 2 balls thrown.
Spare - All 10 pins are knocked down with 2 consecutive balls. You get 10 points for this plus the points of the pins that the next ball knocks down.
Game - A game consists of 10 frames (or turns) per person.
Frame - A frame is one turn.
Foul Line - The black line at the start of the lane.
Foul - You will receive a foul if you step over the foul line.
A Double – When you get 2 strikes in a row.
A Turkey – If you get 3 strikes in a row.
Gutter – The sections either side of the lane where the ball ends up if they come off the lane or you miss.

Ocean Bowl, Pendennis Rise, Falmouth TR11 4LT
01326 313130
Open 11am-11pm, 7 days a week
Prices start from £3.50 per game

The Gramophone Man

A retired Chemistry teacher has become a gramophone specialist

John Sleep has been collecting vintage gramophones, phonographs and records at his workshop in Crantock, near Newquay since he retired in 1993 and now has a collection which dates back over 100 years. “It fascinates me to sell things,” he says. “I just find it great fun to buy something, repair it and sell it to some one who enjoys it. That's a great thrill.”

John is one of the few people in the country, and the only person in the West Country, to specialise in such things. “Whether you want to buy or sell, or have your machine properly restored, I can help,” he says. He also supplies records, cylinders, and new needles of various types. “The things I buy nearly always need work and I sell them with a guarantee,” says the ex-teacher now known as The Gramophone Man.

In 1993 John's life took a turn for the unexpected. “I was trained as a carpenter so when I retired I started repairing antiques for people – chairs mainly,” he explains. “I happened on a gramophone which I took to pieces and found out that it was quite simple – I don't like things being thrown away, so it was absolutely right for me because I can always get them to work.” From then on John cornered the market. “I don't advertise it very much because it's been unexpectedly busy so I've had to become self employed again!”

John used to buy from collectors' fairs but has found that expensive and time consuming, so now he mostly buys from auctions and on the internet. “The best thing is if I can find a collection of someone's who's died. Then I can perhaps buy a dozen at a time and that keeps me going for a while.” He gives a slow smile. “I've just tallied up and I've bought 1600 gramophones since I started which is a lot really. And that doesn't count the ones I've repaired.”

Having built up a reputation, John now buys increasingly to order. “I've got two or three regular collectors who want certain things, and that's very different from buying casually and hoping you're going to sell – that's a very chancy business.”

John also has a huge record collection that he sells on request. “I've got about 20,000 records dotted round in various people's garages because you never know what people are going to ask for,” he says. “I've just had an order to go to Ireland for the Four Tenors which is unusual – I don't normally keep them.” He points at the extensive collection, neatly labelled, in his workshop. “People are rediscovering records at the moment and they always like 1920s sound and Rock 'n Roll and comedy, music hall, monologues.” But the generations rediscovering this music never heard it first time round. “They've never heard of 78s which is what all of these are. A lot hasn't been transcribed onto modern format but the quality's pretty good.”

John undertakes a lot of repairs that need intricate work. “A gramophone that arrived today will involve new springs, cleaning the motor, and replacing the rubber in the diaphragm inside the sound box.” He also sells a lot of needles overseas. “Almost every day I'll send packets of needles – I've just sent a thousand to New Zealand today.”

Inside the house, John's studio is packed with different phonographs, gramophones and hundreds of books. “There are four types of gramophone,” he explains. “The portable, the table model, the cabinet and the elaborate horn ones.” He then proceeds to illustrate this. “ The sound is the vibration on the record - the sound goes up the horn, and the bigger the horn the louder it will be.”

One horn is so huge it extends the length of the workshop, like a witch's hat. “After the first horn gramophones, they started to make them more compact so the horn is folded back inside,” he explains. “Then you have cabinet sorts, and because people wanted to carry them round for picnics, there are the portable ones.” In the First World War portable gramophones were taken to the trenches to keep spirits up. “That one over there's called the Trench,” he says. “There was a famous advert of one with bullet holes through it.”

But the most popular is the last portable HMV model before they became electrical. “This one's worth £120 but it's not in fantastic condition.” He opens it up and selects a needle to start playing a record. “You change the needles frequently and that needle picks up the vibration in the groove. Everything comes from the soundbox – that's where the music is generated.”

John points to a gramophone by the wall. “This is a genuine HMV before it was called HMV. It was called the Gramophone company, and for a brief spell they were known as the Gramophone and Typewriter Company because they started the typewriter business thinking that gramophones wouldn't last. So this one's called a G & T and the scroll work makes it quite special.”

The prices vary hugely. “There are a huge number of machines made in the 1920s that were often imported and don't have proper names,” John explains. “They're perfectly functional but non-descript; you could buy those for a tenner and wouldn't get much more than £30 or £40 if you tried to sell them. Those are the least attractive. The ones I like most are the Senior Monarch,” he adds. “They're worth about £2,000 which isn't the most expensive but they are the most stylish. You tend to spend money on things which are historically valuable – an original Trademark would be £10,000, not for how it plays but for its historical importance.” He smiles. “It's very exciting when you find something special.”

As a musician, it's important to John that these lovely gramophones are in working order. But his buyers don't always agree. “One of the best I ever had – a Monarch - went to a lady who I knew would use it for decorative purposes: not what it was made for. But she was delighted.”

But however much he might enjoy a particular model, John isn't in a position to become sentimental. “I can't afford to keep them!” he says practically. “Though I'm always interested in miniature ones – if I had a speciality that would be it. But if I find a nice one cheaply I can afford to keep it.”

Looking ahead, John is determined to enjoy his work for as long as he can. “I should think I'd go on for another 5 or 6 years,” he says. “As long as I can travel around and find the items and am able to do the fine work. There's a lot of very fiddly work involved in the repairs, and arthritis is beginning to play a part unfortunately which restricts what I can do a bit.”

He strokes his red setter, snuggled up to him on the sofa. “I'm very glad I found this job,” he says thoughtfully. “It's very mind exercising and interesting. You build up an interesting network of people who help each other out. There are the same organisations here and abroad and I use them all. Without that network I couldn't do what I do.”

John Sleep, Stoke House, West Pentire, Crantock, TR8 5SE.
01637 830 415
07979 097 389

A Stormy Career

I was fortunate enough to meet David Barnicoat, one of Falmouth's harbour pilots, for what turned out to be a heartwarming meeting. It's wonderful to find someone who really loves what they do. In March Cornwall Today.

David Barnicoat has a refreshing attitude to his career. “I don't honestly think I've done a day's work since I left school!” he says. “It's been one fantastic hobby.” He shares this “hobby” on BBC Radio Cornwall's breakfast show on Wednesday mornings, and in his weekly column in the Falmouth Packet.

David is the only ex-Trinity House pilot still working in Falmouth. The safety of shipping, and the well being of seafarers, have been the prime concerns since Trinity House was granted a Charter by Henry VIII in 1514. In 1809 Falmouth became a Trinity House Outport, a status which it held until the de-regulation of Pilotage in 1988 when Falmouth Harbour Commissioners took over its administration.

“I'm possibly the only former Trinity House pilot working in Cornwall,” David says. “There aren't many of us left in the UK, but we remain fiercely proud of our deep-seated historic ties with Trinity House and always will.”

David was born and brought up in Falmouth. “I grew up on the harbourside and from the age of 5 I wanted to be a pilot because of my father,” he says. “He was a Tug Master and then became Assistant Dock Master, so when I was 7 or 8 I would go out with him. He taught me a lot.”

David's training involved 15 years at sea. “In order to become a Falmouth pilot you need to hold a Master Mariners Foreign Going Certificate of Competency. This involved a lot of study, gaining vital sea time and watch keeping experience. When I became a trainee pilot I had to work three months without pay learning the ropes,” he explains. “I did 4 years cadetship with the Blue Star Line of London and served with them till I came ashore, working in refrigerated cargo vessels, heavy-lift ships and container vessels.

David decided to become a pilot rather than stay at sea for several reasons. “I'd always wanted to be a pilot in my home port. Also, in the late 1970s you could see the demise of British shipping with a large number of foreign seamen being employed and I didn't want to sail with a non-British crew for the rest of my life.”

How does he manage now as a pilot, communicating with foreign crews on ships? He grins. “Most crews speak fairly good English but you can usually get through with a bit of Anglo-Saxon Merchant Navy language! I know the helm and engine orders in Russian, but we speak English all of the time.”

He is one of six pilots in Falmouth who are all self employed. “We go on 12 hour watches – from 8am-8pm or 8pm-8am but we have long rest periods which are strictly adhered to for Health & Safety reasons,” he explains. “Falmouth Harbour Office is the operational control centre for pilotage, but when a ship radios in for a pilot we can be called at home: as long as we are within one hour of the port.”

The job involves piloting ships into the bay, the harbour, into the docks, up the River Fal to Truro and to the stone quarry at Porthoustock on the Lizard Peninsula, but the work has changed over the years.

“When I first became a pilot we used to take ships to Penryn, little tankers to Coastlines Wharf, and to Dean Quarry on the Lizard,” he says. “But now there's nothing going to Penryn, Coastlines, or Dean Quarry, and the River Fal lay-up berths aren't as active as they used to be in the 1980s although there are 9 ships laid-up there now due to the recession.”

A few ships are still piloted to Truro every month, but Falmouth docks have changed. “They are geared more towards Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Ministry of Defence contracts, but they work on other vessels and we have the 24 hour bunkering operation now.”

The weather plays a vital part in a pilot's work, but David says it has to be “very bad” before they are prevented from bringing a ship into port. “It depends on the type and size of ship and where it's going: it's nothing you can quantify. A risk assessment is undertaken for each ship, which involves detailed paperwork.

“Everything now is regulated. Safety and the Environment are the two main words imprinted on a pilot's brain,” he says with a grimace. “I hate paperwork – and 'jobsworth' people with no experience who make stupid decisions.”

David has piloted many well known ships including the Royal Yacht Britannia on two occasions, but he loves a challenge. “I like the difficult jobs like the 100,000 tonners brought in and put on Duchy Wharf. It gets the adrenaline going and afterwards you have a great satisfaction.”

Shipping casualties can be exciting, such as the Egyptian factory ship Baltim, that went aground at the entrance to Helford, back in the 1980s. “It was quite rough with a heavy easterly swell and as the pilot boat came in, I leapt onto the pilot ladder to get aboard. Baltim was banging on the rocks but after about 45 minutes there was a big swell and I managed to get her off,” David says cheerfully.

Doesn't he get nervous? “When things start to go wrong you do get concerned but the worst thing you can do is panic,” David explains. “You have to look at the situation logically, make a decision, and stick by it. If you panic, everything compounds very quickly.”

The Falmouth pilots are responsible for piloting all the cruise ships in and out of the harbour. “We will have 30 this year which means about 30,000 passengers arriving in Falmouth; many go to tourist destinations around Cornwall, which is very good for the economy.” Then there is the much publicised proposed dredging of Falmouth Harbour. “The pilots are kept well briefed by the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners. We're hoping for some good news; this would be a massive boost for Falmouth and West Cornwall.”

It isn't just a love of the sea that inspires David: he has concerns for the welfare of seafarers, too. He likes to visit ships in port at Christmas with Mission to Seafarers volunteers to deliver presents to the crews. “The Mission do a marvelous job, throughout the year” he says quietly.

Thinking ahead, what has David planned for the future? “I don't want to retire (at 65) but the day is coming, so I'm trying to channel my interests elsewhere. I'm like one of my mentors, the late Peter Gilson - I'd like to continue researching local and maritime history,” he says firmly, “and leave my huge photographic collection for generations to follow.”

David is also a talented photographer, though he is too modest to admit this. He has also written a book about the shipping of the Port of Falmouth and the Pilotage service and “I'm going to write another one but I'm not sure of the subject yet!” He smiles thoughtfully. “I'd like to travel too – back to my old haunts down in Australia and New Zealand.”

David's enthusiasm shines through, and it is a joy to meet someone who loves their work as he does. “I have more passion for the job now than when I started over 30 years ago,” he says quietly. “I just love the sea and ships. It's been a great honour and immense privilege to have served as a pilot in the Port of Falmouth, a port I love with all of heart. It's my life, really.”

“YOUR LIFE IS YOUR BUNK” - A tale of two lighthouse keepers

“I'd do it all over again!” says Gordon Partridge. “It was a unique way of life, not just a career. There's nothing else like it.” Gordon, 61, worked on 22 lighthouses during his time as a lighthouse keeper before being made redundant in 1996 because all UK lighthouses became automated by 1988. “I served at Les Casquets (7 miles West of Alderney) for 6 years and was the last Keeper "up the ladder" and into the helicopter,” he says proudly.
“I came from a fishing family from Brixham,” he continues, “and after fishing I wanted something more settled with more leave. I'd always been intrigued by lighthouses from a sea perspective, so I applied to Trinity House.”
There he found that the most important qualification was not a degree, but having the right personality. “Self-reliance was paramount,” he says firmly. On acceptance, he went to the Trinity House training school where he was taught everything he would need to know about life in a lighthouse. “We learned electrics, mechanics, radio work, First Aid at Sea (including giving injections of morphine etc.), Morse code, rope work, fire fighting and evacuation, how to make a lighthouse work and how to maintain it.” He laughs. “We even learned how to make bread!”
The training gave him some idea of the duties required, although there were never less than 3 men on a lighthouse at any given time. “There was usually a principal keeper and two assistants. Sometimes a 4th would join as a Supernumerary Assistant Keeper (SAK). As a SAK you travelled to any lighthouse you were sent, relieving duties and that's when you got the most variety of lighthouses. I went to Wolf Rock, Longships, Bishop Rock - all the Western Rocks as they were known. And served the Bishop twice.”
The shift pattern was as follows: “On Day 1 we worked 4am-midday, then off. On from 8pm-midnight. Day 2 was 1200-2000, 4 hours off then back on at 0000-0400,” says Gordon. “The next day we had 24 hours off, but the person who was off was usually cook of the day.” They would stay on the lighthouse for 2 months but this was later reduced to one month, with 1 month off.
Setting off for a month's stay, it was important to take everything with you, including food, and paraffin fridges were provided before the advent of freezers. “Anything you didn't have you went without or had to borrow from your mates,” adds Gordon cheerfully.
Life in a lighthouse was understandably spartan, with most accommodation consisting of just two rooms – a kitchen and a bedroom. “There were 9 rooms in total but the others were a generating room, fuel store, engine room, battery room and so on,” explains Gordon. “All the furniture was built in and sleeping in a tower bunk was generally regarded as sleeping in a banana!”
Gordon's only regret is that he didn't start his career sooner. “Trinity House is one of the finest and oldest organisations in the country: it's like a big family, you're looked after so well.” But as well as work there was a lot of personal time when off duty. “I went fishing, did an Open University course, made ships in bottles, read, listened to my favourite music – the world was your bunk,” he explains. “There's a great sense of camaraderie – working together is almost like another marriage.” He pauses and adds thoughtfully, “You learn a lot about yourself and what you're capable of: how self reliant you are. You learn your own shortcomings and tolerance of others.”
One of Gordon's most poignant memories was one Christmas Day. “The radio was on distress frequency all the time so no one could miss it. You're not supposed to talk on channel 16, but it was nearly midnight and I was missing my family. I saw all these ships lights on the horizon and I picked up the mike and said 'Merry Xmas to all out there from Casquets lighthouse'. I've never heard so many replies in so many different languages – it went on for about 10 minutes! It was so moving, a shared moment in time of people a long way from home on Christmas Eve. I'll never forget that.”

Others became lighthouse keepers for very different reasons. Tony Martinez, 68, worked on Longships, Wolf Rock, Bishop Rock and Round Island from 1970 till September 1987. But his motivation was less altruistic. “It was the prospect of being paid to indulge my hobby of sea angling!” he laughs.
However, he proved his worth as a keeper, even on his day off – though his biggest catch wasn't fish. “One day I was fishing off Round Island when an 18 foot dory with one adult and five children came in and the propeller had sheared off because he caught on the rocks. They were drifting away and I managed to cast my line and get them back in. They came up to Round Island lighthouse and the children ate all the keeper's chocolates!”
He has fond memories of his time on the (Western) Rocks, as they're called. “It was one of the last adventures without becoming an explorer,” he explains. “Nothing had changed for 100 years.” While he regrets his time as a lighthouse keeper coming to an end, he understands why. “The writing was on the wall in the early '80s because the lighthouses could never have complied with Health & Safety, and it wasn't practical for mixed sexes out there or equal opportunities: it never would have worked.”
There are many pictures of lighthouses in a storm – on the internet, in posters and calendars, but Tony points out the stark reality. “People don't realise there were people in these lighthouses,” he says. “When you were in the Wolf Rock in a storm, then you really thanked your lucky stars that the people who built it knew what they were doing. The sea went over the top in bad weather and that was terrifying to begin with. After that you had to have faith in the system.”

Trinity House is the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England and Wales, responsible for nearly 600 Aids to Navigation, from lighthouses, buoys and beacons to the latest satellite navigation technology. It maintains 69 lighthouses around the UK
All lighthouses were automated by November 1988
Bishop Rock is 4 miles West of the Isles of Scilly
Wolf Rock is 4 miles SW off Lands End
Longships is 1.25 miles off Lands End
Round Island is the most northerly outpost of Scilly
These are known as the Western Rocks
The construction of lighthouses are considered some of the greatest engineering achievements of the Industrial Age - Bishop Rock stands on a rock ledge just 16 metres wide.

Gordon is giving a talk on his experiences as a lighthouse keeper at the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth on 24th February 2010 - www.nmmc.co.uk – Life on the Rocks

Frenchmans Creek

This is one of my favourite parts of Cornwall, first brought to my attention as a teenager, reading Daphne Du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek, inspired by the pirates and free traders who worked these waters during the Napoleonic wars. Long ago Helford was an important port where trading ships brought rum, port, tobacco and lace from the continent. Those days are long gone, the houses mostly holiday homes, but Du Maurier's descriptions of the Helford river are so vivid, you can still identify this magical, secretive part of Cornwall.

On a stunningly bright Wednesday, Viv and her dog Titch met me and Mollie Dog and we drove out of Falmouth to Mawnan Smith. In the village we followed signs to Glendurgan and Trebah Gardens, then on to the Ferryboat Inn. Nearing the bottom of the hill is a car park on the right where you can park all day for a pound. We then walked the remainder of the way down to Helford Passage and waited for the passenger ferry (£5 return for adults) on the beach outside the Ferryboat Inn.

With a brisk north easterly blowing, the pontoon was bucking like a nervous horse, and Viv paled as Mollie and I clambered aboard. “Are you sure about this?” she said. Trying to still my stomach, heaving along with the waves, I nodded and clambered into the little passenger ferry as it tossed and turned alongside. Viv gulped, picked up Titch and hurried on board. Thankfully that was the difficult bit – by the time we reached Helford Point opposite, it was more sheltered, and Viv and Titch were looking decidedly less hangdog.

Much cheered by reaching dry land, we walked along the path towards Helford Village with time to appreciate the sun sparkling on the river. Heading through the village past the Shipwrights Inn (closed from 2.30 till 6pm so don't try and go there in the afternoon), we continued over a footbridge and on reaching a row of whitewashed cottages, turned right by a Public Footpath sign saying Manaccan ¾ miles. After a short distance the lane continued past a thatched cottage and into woods where the sun danced through the trees, dappling the leaves with an intense white light.

We followed the path as it forked right over a stream, over a small granite stile up through the woods and into a field. At the top of this field we climbed over a stile signed Alternative Permissive Footpath and into another field to the left of Kestle Farm which looked as if it was being done up for holiday cottages. At the end of this field was a sign on the right to Frenchman's Creek so we followed that through a gate onto the main road. A few yards further on we took the Public Footpath sign on the left which led to another path by the side of a field with a hedge of bay trees, looking out over lush green fields.

Passing through a wooden gate we passed a seat made of a huge slab of granite, with orchards on our right and headed down into more woodland, past chubby rose hips and tiny, disillusioned blackberries. The rough lane had diagonal stones acting as gullies to channel the water that must run through the woods – a sensible precaution in these times of abundant rain. We passed a huge old oak tree with the trunk split in half, smothered in thick moss; further up its ivy coated branches, bracken sprouted like tufts of hair.

Coming to a fork in the path we followed a sign indicating Frenchman's Creek (Permissive Path) and headed even further downhill. “Hmm,” muttered Viv. “What goes down must come up.” But at that moment we reached the creek and all thoughts of steep hills were forgotten. Frenchman's Creek is a secretive, silent place, ingrained with the sense of times gone by. The dogs danced along the mud in the dazzling sunshine while we stopped and just looked. At low tide the creek is littered with rotting trees, draped in seaweed; a lone egret stalked through a mud bank while rooks cawed above. As we followed the path alongside the creek, a pigeon squawked loudly in the trees and a narrow trickle of water wound its way down the creek in an S shape.

The dogs had a wonderful time hurtling through the trees, and as we walked along it was easy to imagine the heroine of Frenchman's Creek exploring the bank, pausing as she saw a strange ship at anchor, moored in the creek. Heard a sound of tapping and hammering, then a burst of French singing. Here Viv burst into something she sang at school which involved 'sabots' but was probably not sung by French pirates.

We passed over three footbridges, and by a tree on the left, we took the right fork which led up some steps then followed the Creekside Path which did just that, passing round the end of the creek, where we had a wonderful view of the two old quays of traditional Cornish stone, the Helford river shimmering before us, and the final resting place of an old shipwrecked boat. Out in the open we inhaled the toasty smell of sun baked bracken and continued until we reached a tarmac path where we headed right uphill with a field on the left.

At the top of this steep hill is a conveniently placed bench, today occupied by people having a picnic. Both dogs rushed over hoping to share their food (no luck) and we joined the picnickers for one last look back across Helford River. On past here, we turned right along a track signed Penarvon Cove, crossed a submerged cattle grid and turned left signed to Pengwedhen and Helford.

Heading down this lane we passed another tree covered in bouncy ivy, like an affro hairstyle. Coming to a fork we continued downhill until we reached Penarvon Cove, an idyllic spot with several picturesque National Trust cottages being repainted to the tinny tunes of Neil Sedaka coming from a tiny radio hung on a wall.

We sat on a log here while Viv ate her pasty (my sandwich was long gone) and as we stretched our legs in the sunshine, real life responsibilities seemed a long way away – and then I realised Mollie had gone missing. I found her with her head in someone's dustbin and felt it was time to move on. We followed the Public Footpath sign back through the woods, climbing away from the cove, through a metal gate at the top, and continued until we reached a steep path leading downhill to the left, back into Helford Village, by the Shipwrights Inn.

From here we turned left back to get the passenger ferry back to Helford Passage. It was such a lovely afternoon that we bought ice creams at the beach kiosk (strawberry for me, vanilla for Viv) and wandered along to the private (dog friendly) beach where we sat and lapped up the sunshine and planned our next walk.

“You know, this part of Cornwall reminds me that I'm just an insignificant walker,” said Viv. “I have no rights to this beautiful place, but feel so lucky to be able to pass through, enjoy it, and leave it undisturbed. I only hope it stays like this for the next few hundred years.”

Map: OS Explorer 103 The Lizard, Falmouth and Helston
Time: 2 hours
Length: 3 miles
Grade: steep at times
Refreshments: Ferryboat Inn, Shipwrights Inn
Helford Ferry - check seasonal running times on www.helford-river-boats.co.uk/ferry
or ring 01326 250770

The Accidental Cartoonist

Nick Brennan, 48, has been a prolific cartoonist for the past 18 years, famous for his Blinky character in the Dandy and various comic strips for the Beano, including Crazy for Daisy. But apart from Art 'O' Level, he has no artistic training and never intended to become a cartoonist

“I was a mechanical engineer, working for Rolls Royce in Bristol,” he says, in a quiet, laconic voice, “and then my wife saw some cartoons I’d drawn and said, ‘why aren’t you doing this for a living?’ It had never crossed my mind – I did them for myself.”

Nick and Fran met at a beer festival in 1984 and when he decided to try his hand at cartooning, they moved from Bristol to Scotland. “I didn’t realise at the time that we were 20 odd miles from Dundee, the home of the mighty D. C. Thompson, where the Dandy and Beano are published,” Nick says. “I went along to see the editor of the Dandy with my portfolio and from there I got the occasional half page and built it up over the years to regular work. Now I get a lot of commissions from the internet.”

Nick was originally inspired by cartoonists such as Charles Schultz, Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman, “but I’m not very interested in the political side of things,” he smiles. “I hope to just bring a bit of fun into the world now and again.”

His cartoons for the Beano and Dandy are determined by a script; but for private commissions, people ask him to draw things for them. “Some are very specific,” he says, but the process is far from simple. “Usually people have an idea of what they want, I have an idea for a script and the ideas bounce between us until we get down to what they actually want, which is sometimes different to what they think they want!

“I send some roughs for them to look at and if they like them, I do some more detailed roughs, then the inked version, then it all gets coloured and sent off. If they don’t like it, I change it.” Nick’s wife, who went to art college, colours up the cartoons for Nick because he is colour blind. “I also use Fran as a sounding board – she’ll say if something is wrong,” he adds.

The time consuming part of the process is thinking up the ideas. “A lot of people don’t realise it’s not the actual drawing that takes time, it’s coming up with the idea,” says Nick. “It might entail me staring out of the window for a day. But once I get an idea, I write it down, even if it’s rubbish. One idea triggers another, and it’s all about training your brain to think in that way and try and make connections with things that hopefully people will find funny.”

The frustrating part of Nick’s work, he finds, is when he knows what he wants to draw but can’t get it down on paper. “The opposite is also frustrating - when you don’t know what you want to do and stare at a blank piece of paper.”

Most of Nick’s work is aimed at children and he has found that sensitivities have changed over the years. “It’s become much more lavatorial, which is of course a great tradition of British cartoons. Lots of gross things for children like snot and farts and bogeys now! Years ago I was chatting to the editor of The Dandy who complained about one of the other artist’s work because it was so rude. He painstakingly Tippexed all the farts! It’s totally changed.”

The main thing to avoid is encouraging racism or bullying. “It has to be inclusive because life’s no good if you’re miserable,” Nick explains. “The other thing is showing anything that could be deemed dangerous that children might emulate.”
Nick’s workshops are very popular with children. He holds regular sessions at Falmouth Art Gallery and recently held a workshop at the Fal River Festival. He has also collaborated with the staff at the Royal Cornwall Museum to create a comic aimed at inspiring children about the collections there. “The first comic was about the Cornish collection, and you can pick a copy up at the museum, or see it online at www.cartoonfun.co.uk/rcm/bttp,” says Nick.
He admits to being petrified by his first workshop. “I was worried that that were bored - they were so quiet. But a teacher friend of mine said, ‘no - quiet’s good! That means they’re interested and doing it!’ It turned out fine because they were really keen,” he says with a grin.

During a workshop Nick might take in some old work from the Dandy to show children that it’s drawn much bigger than it’s reproduced. “They have to bear that in mind and not wonder why they can’t draw it so well,” Nick says. “I go through some basics about drawing and various techniques you can use.” Usually the workshops have a theme which, if at a museum, is usually related to an exhibition that is on at the time.

“One of my workshops tied in with Henry Tuke’s paintings,” he says. “We looked at the way he uses light and shade, and tried to get the children to think about the bare minimum they needed to put in to give ‘a sense of place’. We then drew some pictures and decided what the background needed to include.”

Most workshops usually last for two hours but Nick’s never had any problems working with children. “They’re volunteers so they tend to be pretty keen.” Nick smiles. “Usually they don’t want to stop and I get told off by the gallery staff!”

Working with children can be incredibly rewarding. “Sometimes they draw little cartoons for me,” Nick says. “Once we’ve finished I have to sign any of the things I’ve drawn so they can take them home and put them on their bedroom walls.”

For any budding cartoonists, Nick acknowledges that there are fewer opportunities nowadays. “There aren’t so many kids’ comics. Political cartoons are a bigger market but there aren’t many places that take cartoons these days and the ones you do find are so inundated with stuff it’s difficult to get in. Practise your craft and persevere,” is Nick’s advice. “You need to get a foot in the door and keep trying. There is the internet of course and then the world’s your oyster.”

Fran is from Cornwall so they moved back here eight years ago, and 2 years ago acquired a very beautiful border collie called Pearle. “The pubs are nicer down here,” Nick says. “I love the scenery, the gig rowing – you get addicted you know.” They have both rowed at the World Championships at Scilly - Nick rows with Devoran Gig Club - they both enjoy exploring the coast with Pearle, and drinking real ale. His local, the Seven Stars in Falmouth, not only provides good Skinners and Sharps beer but the landlord, the Reverend Barrington Bennetts, had a major role in the Beano one year.

“Barrington’s birthday card came about because three things happened,” Nick says. “He was 70, had done 50 years behind the bar and it was 10 years since he’d been ordained as a priest. Having designed the card, we talked to the Beano editor, asked if we could put Barrington in for a bit of fun and he said yes. When we showed Barrington the published version he didn’t believe us at first – the Beano was sold out in Falmouth that week!” Nick also made postcards of the birthday card, and the original Beano page is in the Falmouth Art Gallery.

It is clear that here is one contented cartoonist. “I intend to keep doing this till I drop at my desk!” he says. “I love drawing silly pictures, and it beats engineering. I can escape into my own little world and draw people with big noses.”

Nick is also available for advertising copywriting and greeting cards.
He can be contacted on 07866 207 912; www.cartoonfun.co.uk
or email nick@cartoonfun.co.uk

The Rise and Rise of Miss Peapods

We have a great Bohemian style cafe near us in Penryn which has recently won Gold in the 2009 Cornish Tourism Awards. We usually go there for a coffee after singing, but I had to get down there and check it out officially... in January 2010 Cornwall Today.

When Alice Marston's husband began working on the Jubilee Wharf complex in Penryn, she soon saw that, given the workshops and flats planned, there was an opening for a cafe. In November 2006 Miss Peapods Kitchen Cafe opened and since then has gone from strength to strength. “The cafe reflects my tastes,” Alice explains. “I have a young family but I still like to go out and listen to music, go dancing, watch films and eat nice food. These are all the things we do here.”

Alice set up Miss Peapods on a tiny budget. “I pursued the whole idea of a sustainable project,” she says in her quiet voice. “So the furniture is from the Salvation Army, the crockery from car boot sales, and the kitchen equipment was secondhand. Even the floor came from a London club.”

But the cafe isn't another tourist trap. “We have a very robust trade in the winter – in fact it's better out of season,” she says. “We can't compete with the beach on a sunny day.” Although there is a large decked area outside where visitors can sit and watch the boats moored up in Penryn river. There is also wi-fi and a plentiful supply of newspapers.

Alice, 35, worked as a renal nurse in London for 10 years, but her love of food led her to cater at Glastonbury and other festivals. “I like being in a little merry band of pirates where you all work very hard,” she says. “Nursing training is a real discipline – that's why I'm able to do what I do now. There are a lot of crossover skills: management, working with people and getting things done perfectly.”

The policy at Miss Peapods is that good food shouldn't cost the earth, so it is sourced with priority to local, organic and Fairtrade ingredients. Suppliers include Rosuick farm on the Lizard, and Trevarthen for meat. Organic free range eggs come from Boswin Farm in Penryn, Origin Coffee from Constantine and beer from Skinners. Westcountry Suppliers and Long Close Farm, Flushing supply the fresh fruit and vegetables.
“I'd like to point out that we're not vegetarian and never have been,” says Alice firmly. “I was particularly gratified when we won the award because one of the judges had had a steak sandwich! That spoils the myth that we're veggie, though we do look after the vegetarians very well.”
Like the cafe itself, Miss Peapods' staff are slightly unusual. “The food always looks great because all the staff have art degrees - we have a button maker, an illustrator and a ceramacist!” says Alice.
And their culinary reputation has spread far and wide. “We do a special thing with our mushrooms and beans and someone emigrated to Canada and emailed me asking what we did,” she continues. “I said, 'I want a letter from the Home Office to establish that you've actually emigrated before I tell you!' ” Other popularities are Sunday roasts, toasted ciabattas and home made soups.

“We have a rustic Mediterranean theme that runs through our specials board using Cornish ingredients – so we might have Cornish rabbit with home made gnocchi, or a rabbit ragout.” But Alice's favourites are the cakes: “The Lemon Drizzle is pretty special!”

The menu is selected according to what's in season. “We all went on a foraging course with Fat Hen and learned lots of things and that's filtered through to the menu,” says Alice. “So we now have a Cornish Coastal night, an Autumnal one and one with Stargazy Pie....”

Food and Film evenings have proved very popular, and on Friday and Saturday evenings, Miss Peapods is transformed. “We light all the candles, turn the lights down low and have fairy lights outside,” says Alice. “We get more of the working crowd that live locally and it's a really broad mix – children, grannies, occasionally great grannies, and the shared thing is a love of good food and music. We're not a student haunt though they do come and see what we're doing.”

Miss Peapods has become known for providing an eclectic mix of entertainment. “I know a lot of people who are into music,” says Alice. “If it has merit and good musicianship then there's usually an audience. We can bring very different music to the same audience because people trust us.” She laughs. “There's a really big Rockabilly contingent in the woodwork down here and they come out with their combs and quiffs! We also have electro girl punk and local bands like Three Daft Monkeys and The Eyelids.”

Cabaret is also popular, and in January there will be a Soul/Funk '80s disco evening, a Folk evening and local band The Busketeers playing. “There's a lot of talent in Penryn and we've become a conduit for this type of thing,” explains Alice.

Setting up a cafe in an outpost like Jubliee Wharf was always going to be a gamble, but one that has clearly paid off. “It's special being in Penryn,” Alice observes. “The people who've got the units are very supportive and the barges off the quay have all sorts of artistic activity going on – a film set, theatre costumes etc, so we meet all kinds of interesting people.”

Alice looks out of the window at the Friday afternoon drizzle. “I originally thought that if we did a good thing, people would come – that was the confidence of naivety!” she says with a smile. “Penryn's changed such a lot in the past few years. Now I'll keep on fine tuning: keep the menu fresh, keep looking after the staff and having new ideas. It's been a lot of hard work but receiving an award has consolidated all that.”

Miss Peapods Kitchen Cafe
Jubilee Wharf, Penryn,
01326 374424

Best Cafe 2009 in the Cornish Tourism Awards

Open Tues, Wed, Thurs & Sun 10-4
Fri & Sat 10 – late
Miss Peapods is closed for 2 weeks after Christmas and New Year.

Land Girls Gang Up

Sadly this wonderful lady died last month, so I'm glad she lived long enough to see her book published, and to read about it in January 2010 CT. I was very privileged to meet Pat Peters, who'd been a Land Girl and has written about her experiences.

Pat Peters is a good role model for us all: a hard working, independent lady with a great sense of humour. She left school at the age of 14 and went to work in a factory making greatcoats for the army as soon as war started. “I volunteered for the Women's Land Army because you had to volunteer or go into the services – and I didn't want to salute anyone!” she says with a twinkle. “And I'd always liked the land anyway.”

Pat was the last of eight siblings to leave London. Her oldest brother had already died, her next brother was injured, the third brother was in RAF in America training to be a pilot, and Pat's 19 year old sister was working in an ammunitions factory in Coventry. The three youngest members were evacuated to Devon, Pat went to Cornwall and her mother stayed in London. “We wrote regularly,” says Pat. “As soon as we got to Cornwall, we went into town and wrote postcards.”

She arrived in Cornwall on 30th August 1943 at age 17. “The thing I remember most is St Michael's Mount,” she says in her quiet voice, with an undercurrent of laughter. “We came by train and thought - what was that? We'd never seen anything it before.”

Pat joined a gang of twenty Land Girls, all from very different backgrounds, but they all got on very well. “There wasn't one argument between us,” she says proudly, then laughs. “We argued with the foreman but not with the girls – we stuck up for one another. We were all in the same boat.” Here Pat met Kay and Pauline, though Kay eventually went back to London and Pauline went to another farm in Kent. But these best friends visited each other regularly and kept in touch for the rest of their lives.

“We learned a lot of camaraderie in the war,” explains Pat. “There was friendship wherever you went.” She adds sadly, “Kay would have loved this – I really regret that she's not here to share this.” But another voice from the past has just emerged. “The farmer's wife where we were billeted has got in touch,” says Pat with a smile. “She's 93 and still lives on the farm that her older daughter runs now. I'm longing to see them.”

Most of us find it difficult to imagine wartime life. “What I loved most was the freedom,” Pat says. With many people dead, dying and risking their lives every day, that freedom must have been intensified. “Once we got back from work, time was our own, whereas the forces were very regimented. They had to salute for their wages, did you know?” She laughs. “I thought, after a week's work? No way - we've worked for that!”

There was no denying it was hard work. “The worst thing was getting wet and cold,” says Pat ruefully. “If the cattle lorry that took us to and from work wasn't around, we had to sit in the hedge and, oh it was terrible.”

Once they had finished work, they found plenty to amuse themselves. “There were no dances till the Americans came,” Pat says. “But there was a little cinema – called the flea pit by the locals. Or we'd roam around town or go and have a drink at one of the pubs.” But some, like the landlady of the Cornish Arms, didn't approve of Land Girls. “Just because you came from London they thought you were no good,” Pat explains.

Pat was fortunate in being billeted on a farm where the food was good. “Mrs Gill made pasties and sponges, and if she was short on potatoes we used to stuff them down our trousers and bring them home!” But the other girls didn't do so well. “They had fish paste sandwiches that were so bad they threw them to the seagulls and went hungry.”

For many, like Pat, the war let women into a man's world and they never looked back. “Women only started wearing trousers during the war,” she explains. This was a massive breakthrough in the emancipation of women, who for the first time were allowed not only to wear trousers, but to do men's work. So Pat has kept her breeches, dungarees and milking jacket as a reminder of happy times.

Pat grew to love Cornwall, and one day, a young farmer called Gordon asked her to a dance in Helston. Afterwards, Pat wasn't sure about getting into a car with a strange man so she asked if she could drive the car. “I could drive a tractor but I'd never driven a car,” she says. “When I got back to Joe Pascoe's farm, I pressed the accelerator and the brake together and went straight into a wall!”

However, the dent in the wall didn't stop their romance, and married life for Pat and Gordon started off at Polwin Manor farm with Gordon's brother and his wife. “We moved after 3 years,” says Pat. “When my oldest was young there was water coming in one door and out the other. That was terrible. I thought he was going to die. That was the only time I wanted to go back to London and my mum.”

They moved to the Helston area where Gordon managed four farms, and Pat has stayed in the area ever since, though sadly Gordon died in 1998. Now a proud great grandmother who has worked incredibly hard all her life, Pat is well aware of how lucky her offspring are. “We left school and worked straight away. There was no dole in our day,” she says firmly. “Nowadays they take everything for granted. They have money in their hands when they leave school and I do think that's wrong.”

She is also sad at how standards have dwindled. “I would teach youngsters respect for one thing,” says Pat. “All they seem to do is go out and cause damage. We never looked to break things or hurt people. We just didn't.” She looks up and smiles. “The worst thing we ever did was knock on someone's door and run!”

The idea for writing a book came about gradually. “I used to write a lot of poetry,” says Pat. “And I'd always wanted to write a book – things popped up and I used to write them down in an old notebook.” But Kay and Pauline helped Pat. “It's thanks to them that this has happened,” says Pat. ”I should have thanked them for jogging my memory and put that in the book.”

Like most people, Pat found publication very difficult. “I sent the book to various people who all said they liked it but no one took it up,” she says. She made it longer, put in more description – and still had no luck. “After four or five rejections, I thought the book was no good, so it stuck in that drawer,” she says. But then she met Angie Butler, who was captivated by her story and helped her find a publisher. “I wanted to thank Angie in the book as well,” says Pat.

Cornwall became home for Pat many years ago and she has never looked back. “When I used to go to London to see family and friends I couldn't get back quick enough.” She smiles. “I love the quietness, and the greenery. There's a farm up the road and I used to walk up there because I love the smell of dung! It might sound silly, but it's a farm smell.”

While farming has shaped Pat's life, it's her special friendships that have meant so much to her. “You've got to have a sense of humour and look at things positively,” she says firmly. “I hope anyone who reads the book has a good laugh. But keeping friendships is the most important thing.”

A perfect example of this was when Pat spilt a bottle of Kay's precious perfume. “I knew she'd be furious,” says Pat. “There was a blue box of perfume, soap and talc and we'd never seen anything like that.” Despite the spillage, they made up and remained staunch friends, but years later when Kay came to stay, Pat decided to get her own back. “I hid a bottle on the dressing table and on the box I wrote a card saying,
Welcome! You have my permission to use this 'notorious' perfume but
Like the perfume, our friendship lingers on.
Yours WLA pal
Pat x

Land Girls Gang Up by Pat Peters £7.95
Old Pond Publishing www.oldpond.com

Thought for Paws

Wishing everyone a good Christmas - here's a tale that makes me cry every time. In January 2010 edition of Cornwall Today, out now.

Caring for Cornwall’s unwanted animals is a heartwrenching but deeply rewarding job

“Nothing would stop me doing this job, heartbreaking though it is,” says Louise Barker. “I don’t think any of us can say we don’t get emotionally involved. If you ever stop shedding a few tears then I think it’s time to walk away.”

Louise Barker, 38, is the manager of the National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) rescue centre on the outskirts of Hayle. Founded in 1971, the NAWT is now one of the top 10 animal rescue and re-homing charities in England, and runs 5 centres across the country, located in Berkshire, Essex, Somerset, Cornwall and Watford.

“Molly Wyatt was a lovely eccentric lady who’d been rescuing and re-homing dogs and cats in Cornwall for 25 years,” says Louise. “When she was diagnosed with terminal cancer she asked the NAWT to continue her work and they were happy to do so.”

Louise has been manager at Hayle since January 2008. Before that she managed another animal rescue centre in Leicester for 9 years, but when this post came up, she jumped at it. She explains, “My sister lives here and my husband has family down here, so moving to Cornwall really is living the dream.”

Louise has always worked with animals and currently has two rescue dogs and a rescue cat, “but the numbers go up and down! I’m a sucker for taking in older animals.”

Any animal lover will feel at home at the centre in Hayle: dogs bark and volunteers and staff come in and out of reception carrying dog leads, treats and blankets. The atmosphere is warm, friendly and you can sense the passion for helping animals.

The facilities were very basic but in August 2008 the Trust purchased the land they had been renting and the new homing centre was ready to move into in November 2008. This cost over a million pounds to build, has 24 kennels and 20 cat pens and is eco-friendly. “The old centre will be demolished but we’ll salvage as much as we can to make staff kennels, so staff can bring their own dogs to work,” says Louise. “There will also be staff accommodation so that someone will always be here over night.”
The money for the new centre was raised following years of hard work. “The Cornish are wonderful fund raisers,” Louise says. “They turn up in any weather because they’re passionate about helping dogs. There are no warm weather volunteers in Cornwall.”

In addition to fundraisers, there are about 25 helpers who walk dogs, clean kennels and carry out home checks. “We’re always looking for volunteers and now with the new centre we’re looking for cat carers as well,” says Louise. “Some stay all day, some can only stay an hour.” Louise smiles. “The cat helpers are called Fussers and Brushers! Socialising the cats for a few hours is so valuable because we don’t have time. Without this we wouldn’t be able to re-home half the cats we do because they’re so frightened.”

Volunteers are of all ages but have to be over 16. “They don’t need experience,” explains Louise. “As long as they have a caring nature and their hearts are in the right place, they’re always welcome.”

The Trust have a policy that no healthy animal is ever put to sleep, but there is occasionally an exception to the rule. “Most dogs just need rehabilitation though sadly we sometimes get one which is so nasty we can’t deal with it and it has to be put down.

“Once we’re full we sometimes foster dogs and sometimes we tell people we’ll fit them in if they can hold on a while.” She sighs. “We usually find homes for the older dogs because they’re quite calm. It’s often the younger loopy ones that end up being long termers. If we can’t find a home they just stay with us.” Walking through the kennels she points to a black and tan cross breed who wags his tail as he sees us coming, his dark eyes full of hope. “I won't even tell you what he's been through,” she says. “He's been here since last November. So far nobody wants him.”

The current recession has had all kinds of repercussions. “Some people leave us money in their Wills but because houses aren’t selling we don’t get the big donations,” Louise explains. “Some volunteers can’t afford the petrol so we’ve lost them. The only place that hasn’t been affected is our charity shop in Falmouth. Perhaps people can’t afford new stuff so they’re buying from there; the shop always needs donations.”

It’s no wonder the staff shed a tear most days as they see plenty of life’s casualties. “We’ve had people having to move into rented accommodation who’ve lost everything and probably the only thing that’s helped them through is their dog. If they have to bring that into us as well, that’s just choking.” Louise continues, “with the recession we’ll see more of this – this week alone we’ve had 3 people begging us to take their dogs.”

Others can’t afford to keep their animals. “The dog wardens pick up a lot more dogs now whose owners have let their dogs loose because they can’t afford to pay vet fees.”

Like any jobs, this one has its down side. “It’s very frustrating dealing with human beings who don’t know any better,” says Louise sadly. “Sometimes they turn up with animals in an appalling state. It’s not always cruelty, it’s ignorance. It would help if dog licences were brought back as it would teach people to be more responsible.”

Another disadvantage is lack of money. “It would be lovely to have a larger centre,” Louise says wistfully. “We’d always fill it no matter how big it was. We rely on volunteers for food but some dogs need specific diets.

“We also need money for vets’ fees, though we have a great vet who gives us a discount. We have a vet room in the new centre but we can’t afford the equipment for operations so it’s just going to be used for health checks and vaccinations.

“Exercise equipment would help socialise the dogs and teach them how to play. A hydrotherapy pool would help relieve the stress of being in kennels and help build up muscles for the undernourished or arthritic dogs. I’d love to employ someone to train dogs and go into the community to teach people how to look after their pets properly.” She smiles. “But any donations that improve the animals’ quality of life or simply brighten their day are always gratefully received.”

Christmas is a strained and stressful time, as Louise explains. “People seem to part with their pets prior to Christmas, so our policy is not to re-home any animals at Christmas to prevent them going as presents. The Christmas fortnight is not an ideal time for a dog to settle into a new home. Though there are exceptions, namely elderly people who live alone.”

For anyone stuck for birthday or Christmas ideas, the NAWT offer the gift of a year’s sponsorship of a dog kennel or cat pen which comes with photos and a folder of information. With this in mind, Louise would like to create more awareness of NAWT in Cornwall. “I’d like to get more local businesses involved maybe in sponsorship and have open days so people can come and look round.” She grins. “The official opening of the centre will be in May 2009 and I’m told that royalty has been invited. I’m practising my curtsey!”

It’s clear that Louise, her staff and volunteers all have one thing in common: the animals’ happiness. Without them, Cornwall would be a poorer place. “You can really make a difference,” she explains. “It’s very hard and emotional but it’s very rewarding. When you see a frail, nervous dog transform into a really happy one and you find it a new home, you know that you’ve changed the rest of its life.”

National Animal Welfare Trust
Wheal Alfred Road
Hayle TR27 5JT
01736 756005
Opening hours 11am-3pm
Dogs to be re-homed are featured on the website, which is updated weekly -

NAWT Shop, 38 Church Street, Falmouth TR11 3EF 01326 211700
Open 10-4 Monday-Saturday. Donations of items in good condition (not electrical or furniture) or offers of help are welcome.


This is me having a go at archery - in December 2009 Cornwall Today...

An ancient sport enjoyed by many a contemporary Robin Hood
My friend Diane Johnstone fell in love with archery five years ago, and when she suggested I try it, I thought – why not? So one sunny afternoon I met her at the Lizard Peninsula Bowmen Club outside Helston and prepared to do battle.
First of all, footwear. “Sensible shoes,” she said, looking pointedly at my scuffed sandals. “If you wear sandals you might jab yourself in the foot with an arrow.” Unfortunately I hadn't any other shoes with me so had to leave my toes at risk.
Then, working up the body, more protection. “As you're right handed, you'll need an arm guard on your left arm,” said Diane, handing me a perforated plastic contraption which eased over my upper arm. “Normally you'd need a tab which protects the fingers, but this bow is fitted with a string guard, so you won't need one.”
The bow was made of fibre glass with a plastic handle. “This is a recurve, or Olympic bow, as used in the Olympic Games,” she explained. “Recurves have more aids to shooting – sights and stabilisers for example - than the traditional longbow.” Olympic bows are also made left or right handed, which would suit my left handed husband. “This is an 18lb bow because when you pull it, you're pulling 18 pounds.”
The arrows are made of aluminium (for short distances) though carbon is mainly used outdoors for longer distances as they fly much straighter and further.
Beginners must do a 6 week course and the club shoots all year round, retiring to Gweek Village Hall in winter. “There's no upper age limit but the lower limit is around 11, depending on the child's physique,” explained Diane. “If they're too small they have difficulty pulling the bow. It's always advisable not to buy your own equipment until you've done the Beginners' Course because you need to practise so you get more idea of what kind of bow you'd like. It's not a sport to rush into.”
My husband, having done some archery years ago, wanted to know about competitions. “They run throughout the year,” said Diane. “Internal ones are for club members only, with trophies and medals, also fun shoots at unusual targets; and all the clubs round here hold tournaments with more trophies and medals.”
There's also clout shooting which is with bare bows (which means you take the sight off) at a foot-high flag in the grass. “Shots are measured with a thing like a long tape-measure which has gold, red, blue, black, white - painted on it. Arrows falling within its range count.” Diane smiled. “It's really good fun!”
The longest distance in this field is 100 yards but my target was 10 yards away - a beginner's distance. Even with my bad eyesight I couldn't miss that.
Now we came to the actual shooting. “It's important to observe line etiquette – normally there'd be a whistle telling you when to go to the shooting line,” instructed Diane. I took my quiver, a metal contraption containing my arrows, up to the shooting line and stuck it in the ground. Quivers are usually worn around the waist, or over the shoulder for longbowmen.
Diane showed me how to stand correctly, at right angles to the target, weight evenly balanced. Then came positioning the arrow so it didn't pinch. Next I had to bring up the bow, look through the sight – “And then when you're ready, let go.” A stunned silence – my arrow had hit the target!
I shot five more arrows under fire from Diane's instructions: “Stand straight – don't lean back! Keep your head looking over your shoulder. Try and push those shoulder blades together – that's where the power should come from.” My brain was buzzing trying to think about my stance, feet, elbows, arms, fingers, shoulders – there was so much to remember - “Yes there is,” said Diane brusquely. “And we haven't even started yet!”
In summary, she explained, there are four distinct movements to archery. “One is on the line and settling yourself. Two – bring the bow up. Three is the draw and four is the release. When you let go it's also a good thing to hold still for about three seconds. You'd be surprised - it somehow makes a difference.” And it did.
After six arrows I stopped. “We usually shoot six arrows outdoors, and when everyone has finished, two whistles blow and you can then get your arrows,” Diane said, and showed me how to collect them. “The hand that's nearest the target goes on it to provide a base, then you pull the arrow as close to the target as you can , so as not to bend it. Also make sure there's no one standing behind you. Transfer it to the other hand and repeat.”
To my relief I hadn't done too badly as all the arrows had hit the target. “At this stage it doesn't matter where the arrows land,” said Diane reassuringly. “They're all together in a group which is good. The rest of it is just adjusting the bow.”
I continued until my arms ached and I discovered muscles in my shoulders I didn't know existed. Finally came Diane's verdict. “You'd be fine – your basic technique is all right. It wouldn't take you long to be shooting very well.”
“There you are, that's incentive enough,” said my husband enviously. I grinned at Diane's praise and we arranged another session – I could tell my husband was itching to have a go. And if he wanted to be Robin Hood, I had visions of myself as a short sighted Maid Marion with perfect aim. And sensible shoes of course.

Diane Johnstone, Secretary, Lizard Peninsula Bowmen, Tremorna, Treleaver, Coverack, Helston,
Cornwall TR12 6SF
tel: 01326 280308 / e – dj.clio@mac.com

www.gns.org – Grand National Archery Society
www.archery.org – FITA (International Archery Federation)
www.dcas.org.uk – Devon and Cornwall Archery Society
www.gnas.org/disabled/index.cfm – Archery GB – Disabled Archery

Archery is the practice of shooting arrows with a bow. Historically archery was used for hunting and combat, but nowadays archery is mainly a sport.
Someone who practises archery is known as an “archer” or “bowman”. One who enjoys archery or is an expert is known as a "toxophilite."
A 6 week beginners' course costs £25 or £60 to join for adults and £25 for juniors. Open days are also available - contact Diane for details.
Archery has been an Olympic sport from 1900 and there is also a Paralympic Squad that has achieved great success.