....This post is made with my heartfelt apologies to Colin who has just been "outed" as a nerdy anorak alongside myself!
My dear friend Colin has spent the long weekend with us. Both Colin and I have been in need of nurture and kindness. You know at least a little about my reasons (and you can see more at www.pbase.com/lindarocks/2008 ) but Colin too has had a rotten year, in many senses much more so than my own trials and tribulations - his Dad died a few weeks ago, following a short but traumatic illness so he's understandably very low too.
Colin confessed to being a "borderline trainspotter" to me at the start of the weekend so I decided to give him some soul food and in the process some for me too by taking us off on a jaunt on the Tamar Valley train line. We drove to Gunnislake (for those who don't know this place, it's a town just inside Cornwall on the Western bank of the Tamar river, the border between the two counties), then we boarded a train that has a route that only the most cold-hearted of souls would consider anything less than spectacular. It trundles quite slowly along a track that hugs the side of the river, crossing the Tamar and the Tavy rivers, before arriving in Plymouth, the famous start-point of the Pilgrim Fathers journey to America. It's a beautiful, south-facing river valley that was once one of the country's premier fruit-producing regions. Sadly that is no longer the case, with most of our orchards having been grubbed up so the land could be planted with potatoes and grain in the Second World War. Apparently, it was once a popular holiday destination for Victorian people to come and see the fruit trees in bloom in the spring.
I was delighted to see a couple of small orchards still in existance and there are a few cherry and apple trees in hedgerows too. My own mini-orchard project was spawned from reading about this historical fact. At the moment, our mini-orchard contains two different Cornish apples, a Pigs Nose (no, I don't know why it's called that, all I can do is speculate and wait to see when it starts to bear fruit) and a Duke of Cornwall, which was the variety I found whose origins are closest to our home. The Duke of Cornwall was bred by a Tamar Valley breeder in a little village called St Dominick, very close to our own home. We've also got a Cornish Plum (Kea), a Devon Mazzard Cherry now planted alongside a heritage greengage and a purely self-indulgent Doyenne du Comice Pear, all of which were planted in the autumn of 2007.
Next winter, I intend to augment these trees with a few more Cornish plums, cherries and apples, along with a quince, medlar and blackthorn. They will sit alongside the sixty native trees we've also planted which are a mix of nuts (Cobs, Walnuts and Sweet Chestnuts) and other local trees.
Anyway, I digress. Colin and I spent a happy afternoon wandering around Plymouth's harbour area and its shopping centre, indulging in an al fresco lunch and an hour browsing the shelves of Waterstones. I reckon browsing bookshops is as good-a-tonic as it's possible to find. We wandered back to the station laden with books and both feeling extremely happy that we'd fed each other some quality peaceful time and indulged in our joint passions for trains and books.
This "being kind to myself" regime is bringing me quiet satisfaction and calm. I need both of these things to heal the rift in my psyche that depression has caused.
Post script: I was chuffed to bits to hear that a few of my pbase readers have found their way here already so hi to Teresa and to Karen (Karen - sorry I made you cry!).