Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A Course in Confidence

I did a sailing course last week, which was sort of work as the purpose was for me to write up my experiences, but it turned out to be useful in more ways than the obvious, which was brushing up my sailing skills.

The course was attended by a group of Seniors, mostly with no sailing abilities at all, and one who had bought a boat and needed to learn how to sail.

It was interesting to see that some started the week pumped full of over confidence, and it took a week on a boat to realise that there is a lot more to sailing than they might have imagined. These people ended up, if not contrite, more aware of themselves and how much they had to learn. The others, lacking in confidence (and I include myself in this category), were nervous and only too aware of what they had to learn. We ended the week renewed and full of vigour, confidence in place and eager to continue learning and sailing. So everyone's abilities - and confidence - levelled out by the end of the week.

It's done me a lot of good and having got over the mid week slump (not dissimilar to mid-book slump or mid-article slump), things got a lot better, to my relief. We had our first long sail yesterday in Serenity and both loved it.

So the motto of this preamble is - when things get tough, hang on in here. If you hang in long enough, it will get better. And then you feel so much better.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Live, Laugh, love

This is a mirror image along the river Dart, where I was walking Moll at the weekend when up to see my dear Mum, who is in considerable pain, although she doesn't complain. The saying 'getting old isn't for cissies' is certainly true, oh so true...

I went to see the film of Me Before You last night. I loved the book, Jo Jo Moyes' best, I think, about a young quadriplegic and his decision to end his life at Dignities, despite falling in love with his carer. It was based on a rugby player who also became paralysed and feeling constantly in pain and with no quality of life, decided to end his at Dignities. It sparked a furore with people saying why hadn't his parents stopped him?

This is something I feel very strongly about: that we have the right to do what we want with our lives. We should try and make the most of them (though there are times when that's a struggle) but if things get too much, I believe we are entitled to put an end to it. After all, we wouldn't expect our animals to suffer.

Someone very dear to me took his own life - first of all when I was 18, and then 18 months ago someone else I cared for very much did the same thing. He didn't tell me what he was planning, but I understood why he did it and I wouldn't have tried to stop him had I known. I miss him very dearly, but it was his life and I respect that decision.

I know the argument for euthanasia rattles on, and I also believe each case should be judged individually, but life is to be enjoyed. What's the point if we're not?

IN the meantime, let's live, laugh, create, adventure - and love. For love is the greatest gift of all.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The book, the boat and the wobbles

This was me last Friday when we had a wonderful morning's sail. Moll also was allowed on deck as it wasn't windy and she loved it too.
Actually it doesn't look as if she is there, but once she'd settled, either on Mr B's lap or found her own little sunbathing spot, she was very happy to be in the sunshine with us.

I have a huge amount to learn, so told Mr B that he must be patient. Being shouted at can result in a paralysed panic which makes matters far worse, but on a boat everything needs to be done quickly, so it's a matter of keeping calm. When you don't know what you should be doing, that's tricky. But I'm hoping the course I'm going to do will help.

Yesterday I went to meet Celia Creeper, the artist who's done paintings of each of the Poldark walks, and is making posters of those. We are to share a book launch/exhibition and I've just finished proofing the book back from the publishers so that's going to the printers today or tomorrow. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm pleased. Or excited. Actually, I've been having such a confidence crisis that I'm filled with anxiety. Is it good enough? Will it make any money? Will people be disappointed? And so on.

The confidence crisis stems from having a lull in work. As anyone who's self employed knows, this is something that happens from time to time. I'm fortunate that I;ve usually had regular work but at the moment I haven't and that fills me with terror. I'm not usually a worrier, but at the moment I lie there at 3am thinking about never having any work again (you know what it's like at 3am), whether I'll have to work in Asda at the checkouts for who else would employ someone of my age and experience?

I keep telling myself that it will pass. And I'm extremely busy - preparing the launch party invitations, organising the venue, working on a talk for the Penzance Literary Festival - all stuff that is time consuming and interesting, but doesn't bring any money in. And this anxiety and lack of confidence seeps into every area of my life. It's like sitting in a pub watching a pint of beer that's spilt on the table, how it soon covers the surface, then slides down the sides, before dripping persistently onto the floor, where it spreads still further. Before you mop it up.

So I guess the motto of this post is to mop up any wobbles before they get any bigger. So here's to happy mopping.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016


We had our first proper sail yesterday which, despite not being as confident as I would like, was great. We've had a few problems with the outboard - C had to strip it as it wasn't working properly, and even then wasn't happy with it - but it worked beautifully, the wind was enough for us to get a really good sail, and the sun shone so everything looked fabulous.

Even Moll came with us, though we had to keep her down below as it was a bit busy. Her dear little face kept poking up to see if she could join us, but she was very good. We've got her a lifejacket - a pink one (that was the only colour they had in a small, I wouldn't have dared get a pink one otherwise) - and she is not impressed. I'm getting her used to it by wearing it round the house (her not me) and she gets a biscuit afterwards, but you can see from her face what she's thinking. "My god what does she think I LOOK like?"

Serenity is a dear boat and although taking off and landing is tricky on a pontoon, we've managed it both times and it can only get easier once we know more of what we're doing. Ever hasty, I wish I could re-learn everything I've forgotten instantly (such is my nature) and that my confidence would come pinging back in a flash. It will come back, I know, and we're both really pleased with the boat, and a fabulous sail yesterday.

So here's to more good times and making the most of what we've got. Whatever it is. For as long as it lasts.

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!