A birthday weekend……

20190809_180259_003 copy.jpegKatherine and Aiisha came hot-foot from Spain to share a birthday weekend. My 70th. On our way to our first ‘adventure’ – ice  skating at the Pavilions in Plymouth, we passed Charles Church, bombed out during the war but given almost a sculptural quality with the background of the Drake Shopping Centre. It almost seems planned to set the old church off….perhaps it was. Skating was good. The next day we chose to have lunch at the Duchy Garden Centre so that Katherine could look at some plants for her new garden in Edinburgh. Aiisha and I decamped for a short while to the new children area which was very nice indeed…….20190810_130928 copy.jpgand we loved the wheeled gypsy hut, where Aiisha showed off her versatility with her Dad’s instrument of choice…20190810_131147 copy.jpg                Lunch over we set off for Carlyon Bay where Katherine had bought tickets for a show by the Knee-High Theatre Company called The Dancing Frog. After a lacklustre start it developed into a really really fun show. I haven’t enjoyed myself as much for a long time, and I really must write them a review. Pleasure and laughs were had by all and I did think the puppetry was amazing. Ten out of ten. The audience of all ages were captivated.20190810_154028 copy.jpeg20190810_154028 2 copy.jpeg20190810_154807 copy.jpegWe then couldn’t’t resist the beach where the tail end of a storm was apparent. Luckily the weather held off for us.20190810_162034 copy.jpeg20190810_161453 copy.jpeg20190810_161810 copy.jpegThe biggest ‘adventure’ perhaps came the next day when we visited the nearby and well-named Adrenalin Quarry. Neither F. nor I were participants, but we certainly enjoyed watching. Katherine and Aiisha proved fearless in attempting first The Giant Swing…… 20190811_113306 copy.jpg20190811_113411 copy.jpgAQ copy.png  Apparently the first drop from what seemed an enormous height was ‘scary’ but thereafter things got a little better. Aiisha was heard to say in the gentler parts ‘I want to do it again’ at which those watching burst into laughter…they were absolutely stupefied that one so young had attempted this in the first place!z copy.jpgzz copy.jpgNext was the zip wire which went from the heights at one end of the quarry to the other. Not quite the longest or most terrifying in the world, but certainly up there. Rather them than me. Who knew such things were within 15 minutes drive of us?xx copy.jpgy copy.jpg55 copy.jpgtt copy.jpgWe then celebrated all that bravery with snacks in the nearby American Diner which was actually enjoyed by all of us.20190811_125612 copy.jpgWhilst Katherine did some work the next day, Frances, Aiisha and I drove to Looe to play the arcades as it was a bit inclement. We all had a great time playing the twopenny dip where you roll coins to displace other coins (and prizes). 20190811_160617 copy.jpgAiisha’s top said it all. Lucky. We won an enormous haul of sweets, of which you can see a part……20190811_162451 copy.jpgWe crossed the river on the little ferry for a change, and thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the seaside.20190811_165110 copy.jpg20190811_165236 copy.jpgAdventures were now coming thick and fast. A riding lesson got us up early the next day. After kitting out…….20190812_095620 copy.jpg              ……..Aiisha showed much aplomb in dealing with her horse – and with the lady instructor who was to say the least formidable. All the adults looking on were quaking in their shoes. However the lesson was indoor and out, and went down very well with our intrepid rider.20190812_100122 copy.jpegA fine day was then promised so we went on one of our favourite walks the circular route from Lerryn (our favourite Cornish village) to St Winnow. After stocking up at the terrific local stores we set off along the for now dryish river…20190812_114353 copy.jpgcrossing the medieval bridge…..20190812_114406 copy.jpgand crossing and re-crossing the stepping stones.20190812_114930 copy.jpgAll the cottages are without exception lovely and, unusually it seems to us, nearly all lived in as opposed to used or owned by holidaymakers. That accounts for the hugely lively village life.20190812_115229 copy.jpgOur first objective was a particular bench with a view, and this is where we had our pasties and cakes from the shop. One of the best lunches ever!20190812_122848 copy.jpg20190812_124241-copy.jpg20190812_123845 copy.jpgWe then aimed for St Winnow’s and along the way Aiisha picked up and fashioned her own walking stick which not only proved useful but also was a great prop for her impressions of “an old lady walking”. Very good.20190812_135107 copy.jpgThe church was bedecked for a wedding and whilst this was all very pretty, it had meant the closure of the ice cream stall. Not as disappointing as it might have been as we were all ftb. 20190812_135456 copy.jpgPulling up from the hamlet (just a farm and a cottage and a church (plus usually an ice cream stall!), we soon had good views.20190812_140929 copy.jpgThere were several kinds of trees with plenteous nuts (perhaps betokening a hard winter?).20190812_144929 copy.jpgAnd pretty garden fronts as we descended once more to Lerryn.20190812_154423 copy.jpgThe tide was now in. All in all a special day and a very long seven and a half miles for young feet…all done without a grumble!20190812_154654 copy.jpgOur last full day together was my birthday and we had lunch at the Godolphin Arms now turned into a somewhat boutique hotel. Sensational views from the car park…20190813_132054 copy.jpegand the restaurant where we eat well.20190813_133620 copy.jpegWe planned to look at the beautiful gardens on St Michael’s Mount but on the way to the ferry (the tide was in) we were waylaid. 20190813_151348 copy.jpegMarazion itself is quite captivating…….20190813_151519 copy.jpgSix ferries were in continuous use (it was Bank Holiday after all), so we didn’t wait too long.20190813_152505 copy.jpeg20190813_153138 copy.jpg20190813_153244 copy.jpegOn reaching the island we found the gardens were closed, but this enabled us to climb up to the castle itself, looking for the Giant’s Heart on the way up……20190813_161223 copy.jpg                    and making use of the odd canon for a resting point…..20190813_161802 copy.jpg20190813_161857 copy.jpgInside we did a rapid tour and completed a successful quiz, and enjoyed the special atmosphere of this amazing place. We also were able to see some of the gardens!20190813_163209 copy.jpg20190813_163711 copy.jpeg20190813_163841 copy.jpg                   The queues for the ferries to get back to the mainland were long to say the least, but we made our own amusements. 20190813_170641 copy.jpg

A lovely few days was completed when we dropped Katherine and Aiisha off for a night’s camping with friends. We escaped to a night of central heating and TV viewing at home! Don’t know who had the best bargain……….

Our first visit to Tresco….

tresco a (Custom).jpg   A last-minute decision to take advantage of the Locals offer (£25 each return)  to visit the Scillies again on a day trip meant an early start. The alarm was set for 5.45am and that proved just right. In arriving at Penzance we joined the small queue to pick up our tickets – the staff were incredibly helpful and efficient………20190716_080540 copy.jpgand in no time at all we were wandering along the harbour to board the Scillonian. 20190716_081614 copy.jpgThese are the mini containers which hold passengers’ luggage, but also anything and everything that the Scillies need that they don’t have or grow themselves.20190716_081145 copy.jpgSeeing Penzance like this early in the morning makes you wonder why you don’t get up early more often.20190716_081556 copy.jpegAnyhow we were soon settled in for the 2 hours 45 minutes journey with a coffee and lovely fresh warm pastry each and the Times crossword, sudoku, word wheel etc which are our daily attempt to activate our brains for the strenuous days of retirement.20190716_082625 copy.jpg The sea was placid, the day hot and sunny as we exited the harbour.20190716_092256 copy.jpegEverything secured nice and firmly….20190716_092319 copy.jpgIt’s always interesting to see places from a different angle…here Mousehole.20190716_093308 copy.jpgAnd it’s a joy to arrive in the scattered isles of the Scillies……20190716_120404 copy.jpegbefore berthing in St Mary’s……where we hopped off rather sharpish to ensure we made the inter-island ferry to Tresco our destination for the day.20190716_122623 copy.jpg5139361_b9c7efa9.jpgYou see all kinds of craft, and nearing Tresco……20190716_122949 copy.jpeg……….the incredible white-sanded beaches gleamed in the sun, and all of them were, as they often are apparently, practically deserted. Paradise!20190716_124731 copy.jpgPentle_1.jpgOn our walk to the Abbey and Gardens there were flowers galore growing wild..here one of my particular favourites Agapanthus…20190716_125107 copy.jpgand everything was super-sized…20190716_125646 copy.jpgAll this before we got to the Gardens….20190716_125656 copy.jpgBefore visiting the Gardens themselves we had a light lunch in their cafe sitting in the beflowered courtyard soaking up the sun. After that we were ready. Now if you don’t like pictures of flowers, plants, settings like the Garden of Eden look away now…….20190716_132506 copy.jpg20190716_132604 copy.jpgand there was wildlife too…here a magnificent Golden Pheasant…I don’t think you should be feeding them bananas but still. I also saw a red squirrel, apparently introduced on the island by Judy Dench’s husband of all people……20190716_132642 copy.jpegThe shapes against the blue sky were pretty special and the feeling you were in some tropical paradise, rather like the Eden project but all outside in real-life as it were, never left you.20190716_134021 copy.jpg20190716_133116 copy.jpg20190716_134651 copy.jpg20190716_133150 copy.jpeg20190716_133412 copy.jpg20190716_135247 copy.jpg20190716_133447 copy.jpgAnd it wasn’t just plants and flowers that were special, there was a huge range of modern sculpture something I would normally take with a pinch of salt but here somehow all very appropriate…..20190716_142039 copy.jpgThis particular sculpture of a balancing box lies below the Abbey house itself where the Dorrien-Smiths who own Tresco (yes it is a private island) live……20190716_134104 copy.jpgeven the well was turned into a piece of sculpture…..20190716_134345 copy.jpg20190716_134440 copy.jpg20190716_134725 copy.jpg20190716_135415 copy.jpegThe Shell House (1994), a pretty shell grotto designed and made by Lucy Dorrien-Smith, has a shell-themed tile floor, and individual initialled tiles commemorating members of the family can be seen amongst the shells on its internal walls. But the craftsmanship was incredible. The finest shell house I have seen, and I have seen a few.20190716_140010 copy.jpeg20190716_140022 copy.jpeg20190716_140126 copy.jpeg20190716_140236 copy.jpg20190716_143546 copy.jpg20190716_140429 copy.jpegTowards the end of our stroll around the gardens we happened upon a fruit and vegetable area which was patently not part of the main run of things. Our assumption was that this was maintained (in tip-top condition) for the Abbey owners themselves.20190716_140919 copy.jpgIt also contained cutting beds, again probably for the owners vases.20190716_141228 copy.jpgWe had the ferry to catch at 3.30pm to link up with the Scillonian, so we reluctantly left the gardens. On our way to New Grimsby a mile away we passed huge swathes of Agapanthus..20190716_142027 copy.jpgthe outside of the house itself….20190716_142445 copy.jpgand finally had beautiful vistas opening up of the sea……20190716_143824 copy.jpgI noted in the outskirts of the hamlet that they had even named a square after me (very nice of them)20190716_144332 copy.jpgand passing the beautiful cottages in their verdant setting we made our way….20190716_150912 copy.jpeg ……to the Flying Boat Bar and Bistro with its enviable views….where we just had time for a quick if very expensive pint no doubt delivered by the Scillonian and then ferried to the island….The_Flying_Boat_View_3.jpg

I end with a poem for Stephen Booth, who passed away in 2013. Stephen was a regular visitor to Tresco for fifty years and the poem was written by his brother, Ted Booth.

Tresco

What island is this

Prospero’s cell perhaps

there the grey beard goes

and isn’t that pretty gardener

Miranda in disguise

or are we all Crusoes

shipwrecked on the beach

waiting for man Friday

and a ready cooked pie

or is this Treasure Island

with Jim and Captain Flint

making for the village store

where X marks the spot

and untold treasures wait

or is it a mad hatter’s

golf course with untold buggies

criss crossing the greens

or has a bit of Barbados

broken loose and floated

its palm trees

across the Gulf Stream

and into our garden.

 

Ted Booth

December 2013

Out and About in West Cornwall…

20_656_1.jpgVisits of friends, in this case Julia and Allan, always lead to excursions. Our first day out centred on a lunch at Jamie’s Fifteen restaurant in Watergate Bay. As we arrived nice and early we had a drive around Newquay (pretty scruffy).  A walk along the sands was then called for to work up an appetite…20181008_122910.jpg20181008_153405.jpg20181008_153434.jpgOn our previous two visits to Fifteen we have had excellent food. Unfortunately on this occasion the food was not only expensive but also very disappointing. I think you can see that from the thoughtful expressions! We had a Groupon-subsidised chef’s choice of four courses and we seemed to have spicy beans for everything but the pud! Julia and Allan’s lamb for two at £52 I think was a bit of a rip-off It’s always a let-down to promise a great experience and then see it fall very short.20181008_133809.jpgOur next objective (I do like to have objectives) was Bedruthan Rocks – pictured at the top on a good day weather-wise. If it had been calm we would perhaps have descended to the beach. It was far from calm, but therefore there were spectacular seas….20181008_161353.jpg20181008_161432.jpg20181008_161946.jpg20181008_161514.jpgI did get down half the steps….20181008_162452.jpgbut any more would have led to certain accident (or death!) I am sure….20181008_162615.jpg20181008_162720.jpg20181008_162851.jpgWe were to spend the next three days based at a cottage near Penzance, but before going there we were booked to have lunch at Senara – a completely different experience from Jamies’………It justifiably is one of the top restaurants in Penzance, and renowned for its incredible food and service. But the interesting thing is that it is a training kitchen for professional cookery students at Truro and Penwith College and is located in the college itself, with great views of St Michael’s Mount. The service was amazing, the food absolutely first-class and the whole experience wonderful. All this for £10 for 3 courses….incredible! Because of its pricing and value the restaurant is also used as a takeaway by staff and students at the college as well as the public. What a fabulous organisation this is….faultless, and with a great vibe. Here is a typical lunch menu……

Cured seatrout, salt baked swede and beets, carrot tops, crème fraiche and caviar.

Smoked chicken Caesar salad, pancetta, baby gem and parmesan.

*****
Pork fillet, pork scrumpet, smoked mash, carrots, cider and thyme jus.

Plaice, mussels, warm tartare sauce, tenderstem and confit potatoes.

Roast heritage squash, tabbouleh, harissa, feta, yogurt and rocket. *****
Sticky toffee pudding, fudge sauce and clotted cream.

Mocha cheesecake, amaretto raisins and vanilla ice cream.

Mr Hanson cheese, Senara chutney and biscuits.

20181009_142453.jpgI imagine we will have lots more visits here, and we will be looking forward to every single one of them. Lunch completed, off we went to nearby Mousehole. We parked as usual on the Bay road and the weather for October was very pleasant indeed.20181009_144231(0).jpgParking here enables you to walk into Mousehole past the old lifeboat station for the Penlee lifeboat which is always thought-provoking. All crew lost and such a small village.20181009_145246.jpgMousehole still retains a lot of its original character and we discovered little roads that we hadn’t been down before20181009_153233.jpg20181009_153312.jpg20181009_153740.jpgThe flowers showed that Cornwall was living up to its reputation for its mild climate……20181009_154007.jpgThe Weslyan Methodist chapel still operates but I doubt it has as many members as the 1780’s when 200 out of a population of less than 1000 were members. Here’s the Evangelical Times…”The character of the whole town was transformed, as blasphemers and immoral people were saved from their wickedness and brought into the joys of salvation. The main work was done over a period of four months.” Reading the guide on its noticeboard, the musicians here were known as ‘The Teetotal Band”…very apt I am sure. the men sat on the hill side of the chapel and the ladies on the sea side.Mousehole-3rs-1024x768.pngOur cup of tea was in the Old Coastguard Hotel with its great views and lovely atmosphere.20181009_161240.jpgThere were some unusual views too on our walk back to the car….20181009_165115.jpgWednesday was our day trip to the Scilly Isles. An early start from the cottage…20181010_065239.jpg and dawn breaking over the harbour….20181010_071801.jpg20181010_071919.jpg20181010_072434.jpg20181010_072443.jpg20181010_072536.jpgOur first glimpse of the Scillonian ferry showed it busily loading freight (including cars)20181010_072936.jpgand leaving harbour we were promised a pleasant day – which we had………..20181010_081934.jpgWe knew Julia and Allan would enjoy the views of the Cornish coast before we headed out into the deep ocean….20181010_082809.jpgand we could see Mousehole, the Minack Theatre and Lamorna cove as well as Land’s End. During the voyage we saw gannets bombing the sea vertically at great speed, and we were very lucky to see several dolphins skimming in and out of the water….what a privilege………what wonderful creatures.Common-Dolphins.jpg20181010_090604.jpg20181010_090644.jpg20181010_103122.jpgThe journey is two hours forty minutes, not long enough to get seasick on relatively placid seas, and we soon had our first sighting of the islands…..20181010_104017.jpg20181010_104318.jpg20181010_104343.jpg20181010_105516.jpgWe hurried off the boat at Hugh Town as we were intent on catching the little boat to Tresco. However due to unusual tides there was no chance of us getting it there and back in time for the return trip to the mainland, a disappointment we quickly got over when we started to wander around the little capital….20181010_111058.jpg20181010_111429.jpg20181010_111745.jpgAnd we were soon sitting in the sun admiring  the first of many beaches…..20181010_113110.jpg20181010_114141.jpg20181010_114327.jpg20181010_115033.jpg20181010_115632.jpg20181010_120648.jpgWe were making for Juliet’s cafe where we knew we would get a reasonable lunch with a view and, on the way, called in a little gallery (there were many) where the local birdlife was as friendly as the locals!20181010_121837.jpg20181010_121931.jpg20181010_123027.jpgWe could see Tresco sparkling with its white beaches across the channel but never mind!20181010_123320.jpgAt Juliet’s it was still sitting-out weather….and more friendly wildlife was encountered.20181010_125551.jpg20181010_142000.jpgLeaving, we walked a short way down a path which we discovered was the coastal path for St Mary’s. This would be a great thing to do if one was staying overnight, and I made a mental note.20181010_142549.jpg20181010_142447.jpgGreat views wherever you are in the Isles of Scilly and interesting to see the regular shuttle planes flying to and fro from the tiny airport….20181011_132451.jpg20181010_142655.jpg20181010_144316_001.jpgWe just had time to climb the hill out of Hugh Town towards Star Castle which is now an excellent hotel, and enjoy a more panoramic vista………..20181010_151318.jpgas well as looking in some of the old buildings……..20181010_151743.jpg20181010_151949.jpgI was surprised that on our return voyage we went around St Mary’s in the opposite direction to our arrival, and consequently down very narrow channels where we were very close to the shore……20181010_163016.jpg20181010_163034.jpgJust about dark when we got back to Penzance after a fantastic day out…….20181010_191357.jpgOn our last full day it was blowing a gale – Storm Callum actually – and torrential rain, so we decided to go to Penlee House Museum and Gallery, a favourite. There was an exhibition on the mainly marine painter of the Newlyn School – Borlase Smart. Here’s the man himself en plain aire painting The Pilots’ Boathouse…..20181011_114514.jpg20181011_114510.jpgAfter taking a couple of pics I was told off (no photos). That meant I could concentrate on the paintings!20181011_114533.jpgThe cafe was full so we took the car to St Just where we knew we could get a good pasty, and drove down the byroad to Cape Cornwall where we enjoyed it – in the  warmth and sunshine. 20181011_132437.jpg20181011_132502.jpg20181011_132451.jpg20181011_133431.jpg20181011_135146.jpg20181011_135310.jpgWe saw a little notice whilst we were eating saying the National Coastwatch Institution lookout was open so we bobbed round the corner of the Cape and climbed up to it. The views were even better than those we had had so far, and our talk with the volunteers was very interesting indeed. Plus, absolutely amazing sightings though their very powerful telescope……..20181011_140508.jpg20181011_140514.jpg20181011_140821.jpg20181011_141334.jpg20181011_141849.jpgOn our way to Land’s End we stopped off at Sennen to look at the quaint little harbour and expanse of sands…….20181011_145417.jpg20181011_145429.jpgThe visitor site at Land’s End itself was a massive improvement on the last time we were there. Then it had been frankly tawdry with amusement arcades, burger bars etc etc but now everything was painted a fresh white and all the buildings were spick and span. Just shows what you can do. Impressive scenery was enjoyed, and although we couldn’t today see the Isles of Scilly 32 miles away, we admired the Longships lighthouse which seemed from some viewpoints touchable but is in fact a mile and a half away.20181011_150548.jpg20181011_150822.jpg20181011_152545.jpg20181011_152808.jpgAlmost our last stop on a very interesting tour of the Far West was the Minack Theatre. I wondered whether it would be worth visiting without a performance, but I need not have worried – it was magnificent. Our first view before entering the site was of next door Porthcurno Sands really one of the best beaches in the world, but here foreshortened because of high tide.20181011_161043.jpgThe Minack cafe is pretty spectacular too.20181011_161410.jpgWhat a unique place this is. Obviously you get many Greek and Roman theatres built into hillsides throughout the Med but this was largely and almost unbelievably built by one very strong-minded woman and her gardener…..Rowena Cade. Not by a whole army of soldiers and slaves. After excavating and pouring concrete during the day, and gouging designs with an old screwdriver, she would go down to Porthcurno beach and lug up bags of sand on her back ready for next day’s concrete mixing.20181011_162800.jpgIt seems a bit glib to say they don’t make people like that any more, but really, do you know of anyone who would undertake a project like this (in all weathers of course) into their eighties? A redoubtable woman indeed….20181011_170725.jpgWe all enjoyed clambering around the various levels of the site and experiencing the views the audience and actors would have….20181011_162735.jpg20181011_163233.jpg20181011_163313.jpg20181011_163547.jpg20181011_163657.jpg20181011_163927.jpg20181011_164122.jpg20181011_164308.jpg20181011_171010.jpg    20181011_171014.jpgI had one more location in mind to give Julia and Allan a full flavour of West Cornwall – the Tinner’s Arms at Zennor. On the way there we couldn’t help but stop at an old engine house too. This particular one was Carn Galver tin mine – looking very benign in the evening sunshine. It’s impossible for us these days to imagine all of Cornwall as one huge industrial site in Victorian times….dirty, noisy, dangerous and pulsating with work.20181011_180202.jpg20181011_180219.jpg20181011_180250_001.jpg20181011_180313_001.jpgAfter parking we had a quick look in at Zennor church to see the famous ‘Mermaid of Zennor’ and the ravishingly beautiful barrel roof.20181011_181941.jpg20181011_182249.jpg20181011_182106 2.jpgYou don’t often see the bell ropes hanging freely…..20181011_182052.jpgDuty beckoned (Excise Duty!) and we had our well-deserved pint in The Tinner’s……..20181011_184449.jpgand I did like the ‘Fish Only’ entrance…..20181011_182828.jpgWhat a good way to end a day – a pint at The Tinner’s. On our way home to St Keyne the following day, if it had been nice, we would have called in at the incomparable St Michael’s Mount. As it was atrocious weather we had a drive round instead one of my favourite parts of Cornwall – the area around Helford. Pity the Shipwright’s wasn’t open. We had lunch at the Black Swan in Gweek….good pub fare. 20181012_112252.jpg20181012_112259.jpg20181012_112625.jpg20181012_112647.jpg

Enjoying Cornwall….in 2018

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Well, having weighed up our time so far, we have managed to do an enormous amount of walking, visiting houses and gardens, visiting favourite locations, finding lots of beaches, and lots of reading too. So that’s the formula we want to continue….there is so much to do, so many places we haven’t been yet. At the start of the year it has been quite wet but there are always opportunities to get out…..in 10 minutes (or half an hour on the bus) we can be at Hannafore and do our regular walk above…..even when there is a high tide and it is raining it is still something we like to do. Today 9th January it was the highest tide we have seen so far…rough seas and the water creeping high up onto Looe bridge….

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Over the weekend we  decided to look into the Morval Estate which is in between us and Looe……a negative notice at the start, but it is a private estate after all!

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We were hoping to do a round walk via St Martin’s church (which is Looe’s church but high on the hill out of Looe). However, the terrain which is laid out for pheasant shooting purposes, defeated us unless we wanted to take pot luck on various tracks (which owing to the mud we didn’t!). We must approach the estate another time and visit the old fifteenth century church attached to the manor – St Wenna’s  and have a look at least at the outside of the house itself.

Our local walks around ‘our’ lanes have continued…..the hotel at the bottom of the hill is still not open despite looking to have undergone a superb restoration. And we are starting to see signs of growth….snowdrops peeping up near St Keyne’s Well and we did see the very first primrose in the hedgerows in the first week of January…which isn’t bad going. Fine growth in our own garden with daffodils and other bulbs making themselves visible – much to look forward to (as long as we keep on top of the bamboo!).