How much ground would a Ground Hog hog if a Ground Hog could hog ground?

The bikes come out to tackle the Cornish hills.

8th April 2020

Malpas, Falmouth, UK 50 14.00 N 5 01.11 W

In ‘Goundhog Day’, the comic genius, Bill Murray wakes up day after day to ‘I got you babe’ and is forced to re-live the same day again and again. At first he takes this opportunity to have fun, then improve his lot, and finally doing the right thing enabling him to finally escape his painful loop. This is been the story on Ruffian as the lockdown is enforced and we are reliving every day, every day.

The ‘fun’ started by more exploring through the delightful river Fal. The locals however were not taking delight in everyone’s exploring. On every fence there were signs telling ‘outsiders’ at first not to litter, then not to cycle, then not to drive. Cones had been put in parking bays and red tape draped across ‘by ways’. The lockdown was happening and becoming tighter and tighter by the day.

If ‘fun’ was being curtailed onshore then we just had to have ‘fun’ on Ruffian. We started off with the intellectual fun with crosswords and once our brain power had been exhausted, we moved onto ‘eye spy’ over WhatsApp with groups of friends far and wide. This however was still proving too intellectually stimulating for Iain and so he decided that we should move into more physical realms with hide and seek.

Playing hide and seek on a little boat isn’t easy and so Iain took the old age premise ‘If I can’t see you, you can’t see me’. This however fell flat as he tried hiding behind the 6 inch wide compression post (this is the thing that runs vertically through the saloon table and supports the mast); a master hider he is not.

Still in the story of Groundhog day we knew we’d have to improve our lot as some weather was on it’s way. Although we are protected from the wind, disaster can still strike as we are only yards from the shore and so staying stuck to the ground was of critical importance. Out went more anchor chain to hold us to the ground and as the wind howled Ruffian rocked and rolled. This rocking and rolling, surprisingly, also improved dinner as Fiona was dispensing the required amount of Cumin for dinner. Ruffian rocked and into the pan rolled half the jar of Cumin. Hmm; Spicy.

With the wind abating the ‘hide and seek’ continued as it was time to watch the recording on the Go-Pro that Iain had setup to record the impending weather. Remembering that he’d put it somewhere strange, but remembering no more than that; the camera proved to be the master of the ‘hide and seek’ game as it remained quiet and hidden inside the end of the boom until late into the evening. Iain had been outfoxed by his creativeness and his own bad memory!

With the improving weather our lot certainly improved. For the first time since we left Beaulieu we have peeled ourselves out of our thermals (and after 3 weeks peeling was required), Fiona has even succumbed to wearing shorts, and sunglasses have been deployed almost permanently. This warm weather and the lockdown also gave opportunity for bread making.

The bread was set to be amazing. All the best ingredients were deployed. New active yeast, organic flour and even flour touched by the hands of royalty. In the sunshine the yeast was so active we worried that it would expand and fill the inside of Ruffian and as with everything mixed together and it rose to mountainous heights; we had high hopes. Into the oven it went as a big puffy ball of dough, 40 minutes later it emerged devoid of air, devoid of fluffiness and devoid of lightness. What could possibly have gone wrong Fiona posed? ‘Hmmm. Maybe I should have followed a recipe’. Yes Fiona Maybe you should have.

‘Doing the right thing’ has curtailed our hiking exploits, we have taken the advice to exercise daily to heart. After days of running, Fiona felt her little legs were about to fall off and so we came up with a cunning plan. In the style of the best boxers Fiona would cycle and Iain would run. We didn’t however take note of the lack of Brompton gears and its ineffective brakes in relation to the abundance of steep and painful hills in Cornwall. Iain loved the pain of the hills, the Brompton seemed to enjoy the walk and Fiona had a great time on the few parts of Cornwall that happen to be flat. (One hill which Iain’s route had us both descending and ascending was 17%!)

If there is limited flatness on land in Cornwall there is abundant flatness on the waters here. The Fal is proving to be so quiet we can hear the echo’s of owls off the river banks, Ruffian rarely rocks as there is no traffic in the river and the blood moon has been so bright we’ve been charging from its rays. By staying here we are doing the right thing, we just hope that this means that at some point we’ll not be having to relive every day, every day.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

2 thoughts on “How much ground would a Ground Hog hog if a Ground Hog could hog ground?

  1. My only suggestion is that you either start fishing or scavenging for shellfish – raking the sands at low tide? There is a book (you’ve probably read it) – but can’t remember the name- about a couple who built a boat when their home burnt down and lived on the Fal getting quite a lot of food from the sea! All the best you two. (We should be in Cyprus…..)

    1. The books that Isabel mentions are “Phoenix from the ashes” and “Canvas Flying, Seagulls Crying,” by Justin Tyers. The books are a good read, funny and Justin is a splendid artist. Justin and his wife Linda were a regular sight on the River a few years back. Their boat “Caol Ila” is a very pretty gaff cutter.

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