Sunday, 28 November 2010

A Remarkable Day

Since we have been living in Cornwall I have got into the habit of visiting my friends Malcolm and Carla on their farm on most Saturdays. I tend to go at lunchtimes, and we usually have Pasties for lunch. So yesterday, it being Saturday, I went and did a bit of shopping and then got some pasties and headed off to the farm. The journey there was OK, the roads were a bit snowy, but no real problem. So it was all a bit unremarkable; it was a normal Saturday.

However when I got to the farm Malcolm told me he was expecting the Vet (animal doctor) any minute, because one of his cows was pregnant and was a week overdue. So the vet was coming to check her over and see what was going on. While Malcolm was waiting for the vet Carla and I went in to the house to eat our pasties.  Just as we had finished and were part way through our cups of tea Malcolm called out that the vet had arrived. So I put my wellies on, which I keep in the boot of the car, had a quick cigarette, and then followed my friends and the vet up to the barn where the pregnant cow was being kept. Carla and Malcolm both said that I did not have to stay if I did not want to; I think they thought I might be a bit squeamish, as I had never been at the birth of anything. But I said I would like to stay, and help if there was anything I could do.

The problem was that the Mum in waiting had been pregnant last year when she was still quite young. Her first calf was large, and she was unable to give birth naturally, so she had to have a Caesarean. They were hoping that would not be the case this time.

Here’s a picture of Mum-to-be while she was waiting for the vet to check her out:

It wasn’t long before the vet was up to his elbows in cow, while we tried to keep her calm (not easy).

John, the vet, told us that the calf was ready to be born, but mum was too small internally so she would not be able to give birth naturally, so the decision was taken to give her another Caesarean.

The vet was fantastic and gave her a shot to keep her calm, and lots of local anaesthetics, to reduce the pain she would feel.

By now another vet had arrived and it was down to Malcolm, Carla, and me to keep mum calm and stop her moving, unfortunately we failed at first, she must have felt very uncomfortable as the vet cut her and tried to move her stomach out of the way while he tried to get the calf out. She decided to move forward and lay down, and there was nothing we could do to stop her. Malcolm ended up underneath the cow, but was unhurt. Eventually she stood up and settled again and we all got back into position. The fact that she laid down in the hay and stuff on the floor could be dangerous as she could pick up an infection and get peritonitis and that is not good, if she does get it, it may be impossible to save her.

Anyway, we were all back in position, I was at the head end, and the vets managed to get the calf out OK.

Here’s a picture that I managed to take a few moments after he was born:
He looks steamy because he came from a very warm place into a freezing cold barn.

After that we had to try and keep mum calm while the vets put back the bits that had to go inside and then stitch her up. That took about an hour and all the time Malcolm, Carla and Me were trying to keep her still and calm.
My job was to stand in front of her and block the light so that she would not attempt to move forward. It was an amazing time for me as I stood with a full grown cow pushing her head into my side, while I was doing my ‘Cow Whisperer’ impersonation and spoke softly to her, and stroked her head and shoulders. It was an amazing experience.

The vets did an incredible job (Carla took the following pictures today):

Here's Mum and baby:
This picture shows the baby feeding from his mum, which we were afraid would not happen, so that is a good sign.

Here are a couple of pictures of the new calf:
Isn't he gorgeous!

The next few weeks are crucial for the mum, the vet saw her again today and gave her some more anti-biotics. 

Anyway, for me it was another new experience, one I will never forget, and a most remarkable day. Thank you Malcolm, Carla, Mum and Baby for letting me be there.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Flying Elvis (Truro City of Lights Festival 2010)

For the last fourteen years Truro has held a City of Lights Festival. This is the first time I have had the chance to go along. There were so many people in the town that I found it difficult to see the whole of the procession, but what I saw was quite impressive.

This is the BBC’s article about the festival:
Truro will once again light up in spectacular fashion for the annual City of Lights festival and parade.
The event sees an illuminated procession of withy and tissue lanterns float through the streets, hand made and carried by professional artists, school children, local community and youth groups.
Now in its 14th year, the City of Lights parade has become an important part of Truro's winter celebrations.
Again this year the festival will coincide with the turning on of Truro's Christmas lights on 17 November.
This year the theme is tales, myths and legends.
Participants, including commissioned artists, school children and members of local community and youth groups, create a giant character lantern which is accompanied by a host of smaller lanterns.
The glowing lanterns are created entirely from tissue stretched across frames of withy - strong yet flexible willow branches.
Also taking inspiration from the tales and legends theme will be the dancers and musicians of Truro School of Samba, on hand to add to the City of Lights' carnival atmosphere.
This year will see the dynamic dance troop and band lead the parade for the sixth time with new choreography and music for the occasion and costumes created for the event funded by a grant from Cornwall Council Community Chest.
Emma Skilton, artistic director of Truro School of Samba, said: "The dancers are delighted to be leading City of Lights again.
"We're hugely grateful to Cornwall Council for their contribution to our costumes and so excited about the new creative scope this has given us.
Suffice to say we'll continue to complement the lanterns and develop the use of lighting in our costumes. We can't wait to wow the audience with our performance."

I took two camera's with me so that I could get some nice pictures, I tried with flash and without flash, but with mixed results, as you can see from the picture above.

Here are a few more pictures:

They also turned on the Christmas Lights

After the festival the lanterns are not destroyed, but are put on display at various places around Cornwall.

So as I was walking through Lemon Street Market I saw that Elvis had been put on display there, so I took a couple of better pictures:

Anyway, it was another good event in Truro.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Leaving London

In early July I went to the Post Office in Feltham (outer London), where we were living at the time, to get our mail redirected to our new address in Cornwall. The man behind the counter asked me why I was leaving. My reply was: ‘I was born here, I don’t want to die here’. At that time we were living about a mile and half from where I was born. 61 years in the same place. I was sick of it, and pretty desperate to leave.

Tom Paxton (look him up) once wrote: ‘If I could beg, steal, or borrow a ticket on some ship or plane; I’d be leaving London tomorrow to fly to my own love again’. That seems to me to sum up how I was feeling. I had loved Cornwall since I first visited in 1973, and now I wanted to ‘fly’ (metaphorically) to the placed I loved so much.

Although we have only been in Truro for about 4 months, so it early days, I love this place and cannot see me ever wanting to live in London again. Except, of course, to visit my family, who I miss a lot.

When we left London, I had not been at work for a few months through ill health, so I had not had the chance to say goodbye to some of my colleagues properly.  So two of my dear friends (Myriam and Olga) organised a small leaving do for me, at a place of my choosing. I chose Café Rouge in Lancer Square (just off Kensington High Street):

Last Monday I drove to Hammersmith, booked in to a Premier Inn:

This was the view from my bedroom window at Premier Inn

...and then went to meet with five dear ex-colleagues for a really lovely evening. 

We had a lovely meal. I had Escargot (Snails) and Entrecote steak, which was fabulous, and we enjoyed a few bottles of wine. It was a lovely evening, which gave me the chance to say a proper goodbye to my friends. Here they are: 

For me it was also the chance to say goodbye to London.

Having said all that about leaving London, I have to admit that London is a fantastic place to visit. There are some amazing places to see and experience. I was reminded of that this week when I got a copy of a book that a friend of mine had written:

Mary Levett, who was my NVQ Assessor, wrote this book. It consists of a series of letters written to a friend, which relate Mary’s experiences as she travelled in and out of London for her job.

The book is well written, and is quite humorous I recommend it.  In the book Mary writes about a lot of London landmarks and tourist attractions. It reminded me that there are some lovely places to visit and an awful lot of interesting history in London. You can get the book from Amazon (although last time I looked they only had 2 copies left) or you can get it from the publisher at:  - or you can borrow my copy (if you come and collect it).