It's that time when, here in the northern hemisphere at least, the weather's improving, the schools are out and it's time to enjoy the great outdoors. This year, after the rigours of initial lock-down, the urge was stronger still - but of course I was taking some decent stationery with me!
Actually, I'll get on to the stationery in a moment as first there's a public safety announcement. Regular readers will know that I've worked in the health world and even planned for scenarios much like the one we all find ourselves in, and there's some good news; it is OK to take a holiday, and even to travel, if you take sensible precautions. That's quite a sizeable 'if', but it can be managed. In my case, it involved a spot of preparatory extra-high isolation beforehand to make sure there was a negligible chance of carrying infection to the seaside, donning masks when shopping for food (OK, they're a bit itchy, but not that big a problem really), and opting for beer gardens rather than cosy saloons when refreshment was required.
I'm glad I did, not so much for my own welfare as the sang-froid of the locals. Cornwall makes a vital chunk of its money in July and August and can't really afford a whole year without the income (it used to be one of the highest recipients of aid from Brussels, but let's not saunter down that particular cul-de-sac just now, eh?). Nevertheless, there had been more than a smidgen of worry that an influx of emmets - yes, the Cornish dialect term for visitors from elsewhere relates to swarming ants, which perhaps is a little less than entirely 'woke' - would merrily spread plague throughout the peninsula. Visibly doing the right thing was, well, the right thing to do, and the visit was more peaceful for it. The water was as inviting ever, and even if the footpaths required a little more clearing than usual after disuse during the peak growing season the wildlife had clearly enjoyed the benign neglect, with butterflies and grey seals all over the place (albeit rarely on exactly the same spot).
With all the hiking, snorkelling and scone-based excitement, naturally I needed something to record my dazed reminiscences in - I mean, I was hardly going to want to bash a keyboard when off on holiday, was I? So here's this year's travelling diary set-up, on location next to a banana tree (sadly out of shot).
It's not going to be a big surprise that a significant portion of the kit comes courtesy of Nero. First, up, there's that Nock Brasstown pen case, which is inevitably still full of brass - seriously, what else? One of those brass pens really is fitted with a music nib, by the way, and not solely to justify the lamentable pun entitling this piece, 'honest.
Miles Jupp once neatly explained the difference in cream-tea scone toppings either side of the Tamar thus: in Cornwall they put jam on first, while in Devon they... worship Satan. A bit harsh, Miles - but Devon did furnish the Start Bay notebook holder/folder which has done sterling service all over the place, so all is hopefully forgiven (even if jam on top of cream is clearly insane). This notebook used to fly around with me, back in the long-lost days when we had winged metal cylinders wafting through the sky, and the now archaic obsession with carry-on weight limits thus explains the choice of paper. I'm not always terribly complimentary about Tomoe River, but it does have the advantage of remarkably low mass, so here we have the end of an A5 Taroko notebook (from the late lamented Bureau Direct) and the start of a Pebble Sakura Sumiko. It's got space to record plenty more wildlife, too - and if I ever do manage to spot Kernow's emblematic corvid, I'll be completely choughed.