t w e a k i n g

991001.1550 hayle station , cornwall

three slightly ragged young girls , no older than seven or eight , were sitting on a fence as i wound my way here through the council estates . i pointed to a path forking off to the left and asked if it led to the station . < police ? > asked one of them brightly . she looked non-plussed when i explained that it was actually the * railway * station i was after .

23:54 sunday 3 october – watermill , st mary’s

i arrived back in the islands yesterday evening feeling refreshed and focused . i’ve been working for most of the time since then and enjoying it more than i have done for ages . anna and adam looked after me in hayle for a couple of days and i took the opportunity to visit dr randolph white in truro , an early mentor of whom i have not seen enough in recent years . it feels as though i’m back on some kind of track .

on friday night a trawler was lost off peninnis head , the jagged southern tip of st mary’s , in high wind and sea . she struck rock while most of her crew were asleep below deck , sinking so fast there was barely time to send up a flare . one soul was lost , a pendeen man on his first voyage , leaving a wife and two children . the lifeboat found the rest clinging to a gas tank in the water . these tragedies are felt closely .

the islands are windy , cold and beset by flurries of rain and hail . a lifestyle based in tent and stable becomes uncomfortable in such conditons . i am grateful for my great aunt ethel’s eiderdown which keeps me from chill . but as i sat writing in the workshop last night with hailstones bouncing on the papers and machinery around me i had a sense that it might be time to move on .

happily for me johann has had a cancellation and i will be able to move into rosevear , the house on agnes in which he was born , any time after next weekend . heaven forbid i should ever take solid walls , a watertight roof and ( gasp ! ) an oil-fired range for granted again . i expect to be joined sometime in mid november by nik shultz , an interactive designer from san francisco who will be working in the islands until easter . perhaps i mentioned that already ? quite a funky little hub of digital industry !

my last gloomy despatch provoked quite a range of responses , from a lovely account of endurance running in the scottish hills to plain old worry ( i’m okay mum , honest ) . i was grateful for them all . but i still don’t understand what mr godfrey from dad’s army has to do with it . perhaps you could explain , alistair ?

on the basis of people’s feedback it’s clear that i must abandon the practice of sending photos as email attachments . from now on i’ll stick them on the web and include a reference to the address .

oh , and i’ve decided to change the way i mark date and time in these despatches , as sharp-eyed readers will have noticed . my minimalist rows of numerals came to seem unnecesarily clinical .

having resolved to describe my project i’m trying to work out how .

so from me , adieu

: cH

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