Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The illusion of love

I went to see the film of Florence Foster Jenkins yesterday, and found it fascinating. For those that don't know, she was a wealthy woman who long aspired to be an opera singer, despite the fact that she couldn't sing. Her ambition was to sing at Carnegie Hall, which she did - and recordings of her voice are quite excruciating, though she believed she sang beautifully. Her devoted husband supported her in this, wanting her to be happy. But was he supporting an illusion, or merely doing her best to make her happy because he loved her?

Meryl Streep, who plays Florence, talks about the illusion of love in an interview. But I'm interested in this dilemma. Was Florence's husband being cruel, going along with this illusion that his wife could sing, when it made her very happy - and was her whole raison d'ĂȘtre? Would it not have been more honest to tell her she couldn't sing? But that would have crushed her hopes and her spirit, could well have wrecked their marriage.

AT the end of the day, he did what he felt was best for her - he protected her and made her happy. That was his decision, and if they were both laughed at throughout society, that was his decision. As always, there are different ways of looking at it.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 11 May 2016


Devon Bay Holiday Park, Goodrington Sands, Paignton, South Devon

Despite my advancing years, I'd never stayed in a holiday park before and wasn't sure what to expect. But we received excellent directions to Devon Bay, and the receptionists, despite being very busy on a Friday evening, were cheerful, courteous and extremely efficient.

Our (enormous) Platinum caravan was situated, alongside many others, in a quiet wooded valley near Goodrington Sands in South Devon. The caravan was brand new, and had a large enclosed verandah area (with tables and chairs); ideal if you have a dog, like us.

The caravan had a large lounge area with very comfortable settees, a 32” tv/dvd, a well equipped kitchen, three bedrooms (the double room en suite) and central heating as well as a flame effect electric fire.

The well stocked shop was a few minutes walk away, with a large launderette next to the shop, and recycling bins are posted all round the site, ensuring a scrupulously clean park. We sampled breakfast in one of the site's three restaurants where the food was freshly cooked and delicious, as we sat overlooking Goodrington beach.

There were plenty of entertainments on site, from water based activities in the indoor and outdoor pools, Bingo, cabaret and dance sessions - ideal not just for children but adults as well. However, we discovered several car boot sales in the area, and walked along the coastal footpath down to Mansands beach and along to Scabbacombe Head, enjoying the first hot weekend of the year. The views are quite stunning here, where yachts sailed over the bay and the sea glimmered and sparkled in the sun.

After our walk we called into Coleton Fishacre house and garden (National Trust) for a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of cake. The 1920s house was shut, being later in the day, but the gardens were well worth a visit, with interesting landscaping on varied levels, the use of water in unexpected ponds and waterfalls, and extravagant bursts of colour from rhododendrons and azaleas.
The next day we explored Kingswear and walked along the coastal path to Froward Point, enjoying the spectacular views over Dartmouth harbour and the famous naval college.

There's something for everyone here, and we noted people of all ages enjoying a break - there is so much for children to do that the family next door didn't move off site at all. All in all, this proved an excellent place for all ages to enjoy. You won’t be disappointed!

Directions: A38 to Exeter, take A385 to Totnes, follow through Paignton. 1mile past Ocean BMW come to large junction with traffic lights turn right to Brixham. Continue past Asda, Sainsbury and Aldi on right then turn left at traffic lights by Alan Kerr Camper van sales, signed to Goodrington. Follow road down the hill then turn left just past Methodist church at bottom of hill to Hoburne Devon Bay.
Nearest station Torquay 4 miles.

01425 282358

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Boats, Penzance and sunshine

I woke up with a hollow feeling today - it’s Pip and my wedding anniversary, and however much my life has moved on, I still, obviously, feel a great sadness at having lost such a lovely man. But he would be delighted at having bought this boat, and giving her so much loving care - which is badly needed.

I’ve got an aching back now but in a good cause - we’ve just been scraping the bottom of our boat, Serenity. And now, courtesy of a lot of creme cleaner, she has a much whiter deck and a clean bum as well!

It’s good for me to learn more about this boat from the bottom up, pardon the pun. And I’m beginning to realise that owning this boat is much more of a journey than either Piran or Echo. In a good way….

But today the sun is shining and we’re off to Penzance this afternoon - I’ve got a meeting with forager Rachel Lambert, with whom I will be giving a talk at the Penzance Literary Festival this summer, and C has to go to the auctioneers to collect some unsold items and drop off some paintings. I then have to sign some books at Edge of the World bookshop in Penzance, and take Moll for a walk probably along the Prom.

“You’ve got a lot going on,” said Tony when we had a walk yesterday.

“Yes, I replied. But sadly none of it paying at the moment!”

But hopefully a bit more work will come my way. Fingers crossed, and in the meantime, let’s enjoy the sunshine!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A boating blog

Well this is our boat that we officially took possession of last Friday. She's a Leisure 17, for those that are interested - and is moored down at the pontoon below the Greenbank for the moment while we work on her. She hasn't had any TLC for quite a while, but we started work on her this weekend, and will soon have her looking ship shape.

It's exciting and very good experience for me, to start from scratch, and learn as we go along. We're hoping there's a boat jumble this weekend - there usually is on the bank holiday weekend - as we need to get a few bits and pieces to get her going. But we're both really pleased, and Moll came on board yesterday as well to give it the once over.

ON another boating theme, I had an interesting meeting with Hetty Wildblood, from Koru Kayaking yesterday in St Agnes. They run guided kayaking tours from Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, and also from the Budock Vean hotel near Frenchmans Creek - on the Helford river. if you're ever down here and fancy a trip, do give them a visit. On the north coast they give Poldark flavoured tours (so to speak!) and Hetty offered to organise book signings for the new book at Trevaunance Cove and also the Budock Vean this summer which would be perfect.

She has also offered us a trip out on their kayaks, when the weather's warmer, which would be wonderful. So hurry up, winter - we want some boating weather!

And after all that, I'd better get back to work....

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Book cover!

I'm glad I had that break to get over flu, as life has resumed its normal speed. Last week I interviewed one of the coastguards here in Falmouth which was fascinating. In fact, the coastguard disappeared for the first five minutes, as someone had turned up with some old flares from his boat - Falmouth will take old pyrotechnics, as they're known in the trade, and dispose of them for anyone. But the interview was a fascinating insight into what goes on up there.

Then on Monday I went down to meet the Cox of the RNLI in Falmouth and also had a guided tour round both lifeboats - the inshore and all weather one. If you're in Falmouth, do call down and see them - the tours are free and really interesting.

Yesterday I received the mock up of the Poldark walks book which is very exciting. Having handed over the manuscript, I put it to one side in my head, and have been focusing on other work, so it was quite a surprise to see it! Only about two months till publication, but a lot of work to be done before that.

As I write, there is an easterly gale howling round Falmouth - it manages to blow into every cranny somehow, so I can hear it shrieking down the chimney, howling round the back yard, and assaulting me when I go out of the front door. This morning I nipped down to make sure our new boat is all right - we officially take possession on Friday, when we pick up the outboard and receipt, so that will be very exciting. Typically, the forecast for the weekend isn't good, but never mind. We can start to clean her up and get to know her. She's called Serenity, which is something we could all do with in life.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016


This was taken at Godolphin where I nipped down there to take pictures of Godolphin House for the book, only to find that the National Trust don't allow you to take photos for publication purposes - only your own use. However, they have their own image bank so not all was lost, though it was along way to go for a walk. Still, we enjoyed it, and a lazy spring afternoon.

Despite still having wobbly legs and somewhat fuzzy brain, I took Moll to have her summer hair cut on Friday which cost distinctly more than mine does, and took three times as long. Still, she does look lovely, if much spottier, and she evidently feels much better for it - you can tell she's showing off when we're out.

Then on Saturday I did a book signing in Waterstone's in Truro - many thanks to those of you for moral support, and those that bought copies. It's always a really nerve racking business, being terrified that no one will buy any copies, but they did, and I was also asked to sign about 30 copies which are being taken to the Fowey Literary Festival, so that was encouraging. The staff were also very excited at the idea of my Poldarks Walk book and are keen to do another book signing in the autumn.

I'm doing a talk this Wednesday and you would not believe how much has gone wrong in the planning of this. However, with the help of some fabulous friends, (thank you Heather and Lawson and Andy), I might actually be able to show my slide presentation. Talk about pulling teeth...

Workwise, things have been a real uphill struggle but I'm hoping to turn the corner soon. Spring is here, and I just love the primroses and bluebells. My favourite time of year....

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


Apologies for silence recently, but having rushed round like a lunatic over Easter weekend redoing walks that I wasn't happy with and driving miles to get extra photos for the book, I went down with a horrible flu bug last week that, once I'd sent the book off to the publishers, had me in bed for most of the week.

I'm over the worst, but have as much energy as a new born kitten and feel about as feeble. Very frustrating for someone whose energy levels are usually pretty high. Still, I haven't been ill for a very long time so am fortunate in that respect, and as my friends keep telling me, it's undoubtedly due to the pressure of getting the book done. But I met my deadline, and although I had another deadline for the end of this week, the interviewees aren't able to meet till next week which is just as well as my brain isn't functioning at its best either.

The above picture was taken at Caerhays on Easter Sunday - note the wonderful magnolias and rhododendrons, combining to explain why the garden has won best garden of the year - and well deserved too!

Now excuse me, I must go and have another lie down...