They are closing one of the local post offices. This is a tiny shop left at the corner and up the hill a bit from our Pentina Cottage. In addition to the little glass-walled Royal Mail cubicle in the back, there's a counter to pay for groceries and sundries: tiny notepads, one liter of milk, a large bottle of Burdick and Dandelion soda. There are also some bins with leeks, carrots, and potatoes, some magazines and newspapers, and a few ready-made sandwiches. It's a friendly place, just like the shops in Milly-Molly-Mandy and other Victorian-era children's stories. A sample of brownish rock with black crystals in a museum display case Tin ore, Royal Cornwall Museum

Our local map shows Truro as an oval about a mile to a mile and a half in diameter; there are five post offices marked. They are closing this post office, along with quite a few others, according to the proprietor, because people just don't need post offices any more. He pointed out that people can bank on the Internet, pay bills on the Internet, and even buy postage on the Internet, and moreover, people just don't write letters any more. He seemed rueful but resigned, and grateful that he'll get some compensation because he is Being Closed, and has not gone bankrupt like many others; each of these tiny post offices is an independent business. But without the post office franchise he can't make money selling sundries.

We're just happy that it won't be closed until after we leave.

The post office makes a nice place to duck into out of the cold. Well, not cold exactly, but certainly chilly. The weather has in fact been remarkably uniform: partly cloudy with occasional patches of sun and a chance of light rain; temperature 5 to 10 (that's in the 40's in the U.S.) with a breeze of 5 to 20 knots. In the language of Cornish weather reports, "dull, with patches of drizzle." It's definitely sweater weather, although it warms up in midafternoon. A black carriage with gold trim and four large red and black wheels Carriage, Royal Cornwall Museum

What makes it odd is that there are lots of flowers and green plants and budding bushes, even an occasional palm, gardens growing merrily, full of fresh vegetables, and little birdies to serenade us in the morning before their song is overpowered by the raucous calls of the seagulls. We've only a couple more weeks before we go up to London; will spring have come before we leave?

A walk to the library this Saturday afternoon found the streets full of families, strolling and shopping. The balloon salesman was out, as was the man with the hot bacon sandwich cart and the "funky minstrel" who plays the trumpet and sings. The library formally opened its Internet room yesterday, with a party, and from now on the first half-hour will be free. This project is Cornwall-wide; we'll have to see what the story is in London.

A China Lake note: browsing the fiction collection at the library, a novel titled China Lake jumped out. The author is Meg Gardiner, who grew up in Santa Barbara, graduated from Stanford Law School, and now lives in England. The cover shows a photo of what might be Garlock Road, and a coyote, and a menacing car, and the teaser subtitle: Where Belief Becomes Obsession. It's a marvously over-the-top thriller involving VX-9, Sidewinders, religious cults, forest fires, rabies, and romance. Unfortunately it's published in England by Hodder & Stoughton, so who knows whether it's available in the U.S. The neat thing is that Gardiner knows China Lake, and especially the special character of the place. And she can tell a rip-roaring story.