Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Tamarisk Farm

Last week we were booked to do a review of dog friendly accommodation in Dorset at - or rather, one of their cottages, and were really looking forward to it, partly because we were both in need of a break, and also because it was a chance to see my dear friend Av.

I wasn’t sure from the website what the cottage would be like (pictures can be misleading), but we headed off on the Sunday in splendid sunshine and after a coffee and Lidls stop, went to Burton Bradstock. Mr B had camped here as a child so the area had fond memories for him, and we walked along the cliffs, while Moll raced ahead like a sprightly rabbit. We clambered down to the beach and I spent a happy half hour sunbathing on a rock while Mr B and Moll looked for fossils.

The cottage we were allocated was Whispering Pines and it was a delight, reached by a winding path through a secret garden that opened out with a big secluded lawn and patio, and this enchanting cottage in the middle, surrounded by pine trees. The whole atmosphere was very un-English - it almost felt as if we were in Italy, and the weather seemed to think so too, for the sun shone every day.

We shared this peaceful garden with dragonflies, a green woodpecker, greenfinches, rabbits, pigeons and bees, and it was wonderful to sit outside and read in the sunshine. We did venture further afield to walk Moll and had a notable trip on the Saturday to a car boot, then looking at the map we decided to go either to Dorchester or Weymouth. As we wandered round the town, looking for somewhere to have coffee, I said idly, “Dorchester’s rather like Weymouth you know.”
Mr B looked at me with gathering incredulity. “This IS Weymouth,” he replied.

When we’d finished howling with laughter, he wiped his eyes and said, “I should have kept my mouth shut. I could have just pretended we were in Dorchester. I could have kept that going for days.”

In fact, we had such a good time we asked if we could stay a few more days, until Friday which was changeover day. Then on Thursday, I asked if we could stay till Sunday and as luckily they didn't have a booking for the following week, they said yes.

We had such a wonderful relaxing week and the Pearse family, who run the farm and the cottages, were incredibly welcoming - so much so we felt part of the family by the time we left.

So if any of you fancy a holiday in Dorset, I couldn’t recommend Tamarisk Farm more highly. It’s perfect for walking (near Chesil Beach and the coastal footpath) and not far from Bridport, Weymouth and Dorchester. The scenery is just beautiful and we can’t wait to go back.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

On the water

Last week saw the Tall Ships come to Falmouth for a wonderful few days. I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening ceremony so went on board the Polish ship before the mad rush started.

We took Echo out for the Parade of Sail on Sunday

and then on Monday Al came down so finally I got to have a sail on Snap and we were blessed with the most wonderful weather, and two fabulous sails.

And having had a double birthday celebration yesterday, I am now shattered.

Off to Dorset for a few days next week to catch up with my dear friend Av.
See you all soon.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tall Ships

Sadly I was unable to race in Falmouth Week which was a huge disappointment, but weather and my op and my lack of strength were all against me. I'm glad to say we had a lovely sail on Piran last weekend though, and Al will be back soon and we're planning some cruising when he returns.

We just need Mr B's knee to recover (it isn't on its own but he is one of those men that believes that injuries right themselves. I was married to someone who believed that too. No comment. Just don't mention "physician heal thyself" or I will scream).

This is the view looking up the rigging of the Tall Ship Mercedes when we sailed on her last Easter (2013).

Now, Falmouth is gearing itself up for Tall Ships 2014 - let's hope the weather cheers up a bit as the sight of all those magnificent ships in Falmouth Bay is not to be missed. You'll be able to get on board the ships from Thursday to Saturday, then the grand Parade of Sail will be on Sunday from 11 till 2pm before they head off up the coast, up towards Greenwich.

So anyone who's in Cornwall over this coming weekend, head for Falmouth. It is truly the most wonderful sight - even if you don't like boats. You won't be disappointed!

And onto other matters - on Wednesday I have a medical MOT day. Gynae clinic in the morning and an hour's hygienist appointment in the afternoon. Luckily we're having a girls night after that - I'll need it!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The best laid plans...

The best laid - or is that made? - plans and all that…

This week is Falmouth Regatta Week which I’ve been looking forward to all year. I even organised my surgery so I could sail this week.

But one way and another it doesn’t look very promising. First of all, Al came down but the boat took longer to get ready than we’d anticipated, and when we finally set off for a sail last Friday, there was no wind.We had to be towed out, then paddle back - this boat has no engine. So that scuppered that. I was so disappointed I cried (quietly, where I hoped Al couldn’t see) so Mr B took me out in Echo instead. Which wasn't the same but better than nothing.

The following day Mr B went out with the others in the boat for a shake down as he knows much more about the technical side of things that I do, so I ground my teeth as I waved them off….

On Sunday, the first day of racing, Bertha hit Cornwall so all racing was cancelled.

Yesterday it was blowing a hoolie and chucking it down with rain so I wasn't sorry not to race and they had a hard time of it and broke a backstay.

That was fixed but today they went out and broke both backstays -lucky the mast stayed up - so once again the boat is being fixed.

I’ve got to the point of being Philosophical now. If I don’t race this year, it’s not the end of the world. It felt like it the other day, looked forward to it for a long time, but like all things, there’s a reason. And you certainly can’t argue with the weather.

The good news is that I had a phone call from a friend I haven’t seen for about 20 years who’s staying down at Mylor. We met up and it was just like old times. We took Moll for a walk and caught up and might even go on holiday together.

Just think, if I’d been racing I might not have seen her.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


This was us singing in the Field of Loss - the poppy field - at Heligan last Sunday.

Last Friday my dear friend Av and I went to see West Side Story at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal - a most wonderful production with a fabulous cast. Av had organised the whole event brilliantly, so our Travelodge was next door and car park near to that. Even better, we had plenty of eateries nearby so that sorted our food problem. All in all, a wonderful evening, then the next morning we had a guided tour round the theatre which was fascinating - seeing the orchestra pit, going on stage, and the dressing rooms.

Unfortunately my train was cancelled on the way back, then the next train was late, so I got in nearly 2 hours late, which involved endless phone calls mostly to organise Moll being picked up at a different time -but all was sorted.

Then the next day we set off for Mevagissey, then Heligan, to take part in 100: The Day the World Changed. Nearly 80 of us singers, plus a few friends, came along in 3 coaches, and we started off at Mevagissey town quay where the St Austell band played, then the re-enactment of the local men who went to war a hundred years ago, and how their women and children were affected.

It was incredibly moving and it was impossible not to cry at some point in the day - for me when we sang Soldiers Farewell to the impossibly young looking men - boys - who were about to walk off to war, thinking that they’d be home by Christmas.

The re-enactment lasted all day - we sang for a lot of it - to over 5,000 people and ended up in the Field of Loss - a field planted with poppies - as the names of all those who had died in the surrounding parishes were read out.

We walked miles, sang our hearts out, and it really brought home the horrors of what everyone had to live through - and are still doing so for those who have loved ones still fighting.

It was a real privilege to be part of this production, and our thanks go to all those who worked so hard to make it happen. Our wonderful Musical Director, Claire Ingleheart, deserves so many thanks for all her hard work. We are so very proud of her.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Rosamunde Pilcher

A week or so ago I received an email from my Cornwall Today editor asking simply, “do you like Rosamunde Pilcher?”

I replied, “Yes! Whatever it is, throw it this way (she said rashly)”.

Then there was silence so I presumed nothing was going to happen, but then she rang and said she was sadly too busy to do the interview, would I like to? You bet - and anyway, when an editor asks you if you’d like to do any interview, let alone one of the most famous writers of women’s contemporary fiction, the answer is never a negative.

So Mr B drove me round Falmouth, on the hunt for The Shell Seekers, or any other book by her. Nothing in the library. Nothing in my friend Tash’s bookshop. As I had to do the interview early this week, there was no time to order anything online. Kirstie had a copy so I was going to drive to Truro to get it when I was stricken by a really horrible tummy bug so that laid me up for a few days. I had read all of Mrs Pilcher’s books before, but it would have been good to refresh my memory.

Anyway, by Monday morning, when I’d scheduled the interview, I was sick with nerves. I’m not usually that nervous, but then I don’t usually interview authors of such calibre. I had to force down a few mouthfuls of toast, and took Moll for a walk, trying to work off my extreme nerves.

I knew I’d be all right once we got going, and I was, but the Before is always nerve racking. But she was a delight. An incredibly sharp mind - she’ll be 90 in September - and with an incredibly clear memory. She’s also a wicked mimic and has an endearingly rich gurgle of a laugh.

We wrapped up the interview and I felt really blessed to have talked to her. Shame we couldn’t meet in person, but what a privilege that was.

Read all about it in September’s issue of Cornwall Today!

And on Sunday we are singing at Heligan Gardens, taking part in the Wildworks Production of 100: The Day Our World Changed. This will be a unique day of remembrance and commemoration to mark the outbreak of World War 1. The day will re-tell and re-live the lives of the brave men who went to war and the families they left behind. It’s a day for the community, about the community and involving as much of the community as possible.

So come along if you can - from 1030 at Mevagissey Harbour and ending at 7pm at Heligan Gardens.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Penzance Literary Festival

This is Moll on Snap (see below), taken last year.

Typically, in the midst of all this amazing weather I am land locked. Well, maybe not locked exactly, but unable to get on the water.

This is partly because my sailing mates are absent, and also on dry land, but also because last week I gave two talks at the Penzance Literary Festival, which has grown since its inception 5 years ago to a really fabulous festival with so much going on it is wonderful - and not just literature but arts, music, and plenty for children.

Talk No 1 was about my exploits sailing and how I came to write about it. Mr B had rehearsed me I don’t know how many times, which was very helpful, and also meant I wasn’t quite so nervous, but I was still pretty wobbly beforehand. Unfortunately we got there to find there was no laptop. Luckily Tony had brought his as well as the stick with all my images on, so all was not lost.

The audience was smaller than I would have liked but very appreciative which was encouraging, so I felt less nervous about the next talk which was about the role of independent publishers - a Q&A session with myself and another friend as authors, and two publishers.

We started off well but lost direction somewhere in the middle, and I was dismayed to find that the two publishers who were there were at pains to say how much they do for their authors, whereas I have to do all my own marketing and selling which is very hard work.

So that was a bit dispiriting. But the best bit of the day was a swim off Battery Rocks in Penzance. The water was crystal clear and felt silky and cool to my overheated skin.

As I write, Al, who owns Snap, the lovely Dragon we crew, has just arrived with the boat, so we will get out on the water soon, and Mr B is on a train hurtling back towards Cornwall after a short absence. They will shortly all be safely gathered in - I hope…..