Tuesday, 25 November 2014


I’m doing a Stressbuster Course at the moment organised by Outlook Southwest - it’s free and very good value, with lots of common sense advice. Yesterday the benefits of exercise were extolled. Well, as someone who loves walking (and most kinds of exercise - stop sniggering in the back there), I was astonished to think that people don’t actually like doing it. (I have far too much energy to sit still for long and, as my nearest and dearest know, would go bonkers if I was cooped up inside for a whole day. Unless I was very poorly.)

To me walking is a joy. A way of letting off steam. Off being with Moll. Of getting to know people. Of sharing. Of adventuring - Mr B and I have explored miles of Cornwall on foot - as I have with other friends. To think of denying myself that is hellish. So I was amazed to think that other people would not enjoy walking too (I know, I can be incredibly naive at times).

Over the past few days I’ve had a few lovely walks, one on the Lizard, ending up at Porthallow, with Fiona. We left the car at 1.30 and walked up to Gillan Creek then along the coast to Porthallow, where we found a Christmas fair going on, so we dived in there for a cup of tea and home made cake, and returned to the car - in the dark by this time. It was a good mix of sloping fields, long dark shadows cast by the afternoon sun, and stunning coastline, before crashing back through woods in the dark. Luckily Fiona had done the walk before so she knew roughly where we were going, or we’d still be walking round looking for the car now….

Then yesterday I met my dear friend Viv at Trelissick on a sunlit winter’s morning with the first frost cast like icing sugar, and a sea of shimmering glass. It was just magical and so glad she was able to be here for it as she’d only just driven down from London the night before, in thick fog and pouring rain.

We tend to think of Cornwall for its coastline, but inland can be just as magical.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


This picture has nothing to do with the post, but was taken when we last went out in Echo a few weeks ago. Can't wait to go again.

First of all, thanks for all your comments about Moll. She is fine, thanks, though has to be on Vitamin K for the next 3 weeks, possibly longer. I think I've found it more worrying than she has - and my bank account certainly has!

I’ve enjoyed several slices of culture recently. The first was on Saturday when we took friends down to Marazion, then St Ives, giving us time to have a good look at some galleries and see what was for sale. As ever, I find not only the art but the people fascinating, and eavesdrop shamelessly whenever we’re in galleries - it’s a very intriguing pastime and, of course, vital research for a writer. (Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

On Monday we went to see Mr Turner, which, in case you’ve been on another planet, is Mike Leigh’s latest film about the famous painter. The reviews are mixed, but the cinema was packed when we went, with three showings a day, so money is being made for sure. I personally found it over long (and various people snoring around us obviously agreed), and there were inaccuracies. Mr B pointed out that Turner’s studio was not facing north, which all artists’ studios are, to get the best light. And there was a heated discussion about Painting Techniques. Some of the scenes seemed to me to be irrelevant but that could just have been me.

Mr Spall is always worth watching (even if he did grunt a lot) and despite being overly long, I wasn’t bored, and the photography was excellent.

However, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous evening, when we .watched The Sessions (at home) - a wonderful film with Helen Hunt based on the article "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate" by Mark O'Brien, a poet paralyzed from the neck down due to polio, who, knowing that he had a limited amount of time to live, hired a sex surrogate to lose his virginity.

It’s a wonderfully clever, funny, incredibly touching film, acted superbly. I won’t say more - just watch it.

And lastly, tonight I’m going to listen to Pete Goss giving a talk at Mylor. A West Countryman and former Royal Marine, he is perhaps best known for his heroic rescue of fellow competitor Raphael Dinelli in hurricane-force winds, sacrificing his own chances of winning the race in order to save Dinelli. The pair have remained friends and competed together as co-skippers in the Transatlantic Jacques Vabre Race in 1997, winning their class.

He’s had lots of other adventures since, including sailing a lugger to Australia and kayaking round Tasmania.

Strangely enough, my good mate and singing companion Paul, met Pete on a Brittany ferry a few years ago, and has kept in touch ever since, so he told me about it.

I should think he will have a good audience, and I'm looking forward to hearing him speak (particularly as I'm giving a talk in a few weeks' time - I hope to be able to pick up some tips).

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

And then there was rat poison...

Life has been a little stressful for me and several of my friends recently and we’ve been feeling a little worn out as a result.

So I was hoping that life would calm down a little. Al came down this week as he’s renovating a house in Flushing and asked Mr B to help him measure up. So Moll and I went over there this afternoon to have a snoop around and take Moll for a walk.

The house is lovely - right on the beach with some of the best views in the world, I would think, and while it needs a lot of work, I know Al will do a fabulous job.

Having walked Moll and had a good snoop, I went upstairs to tell them I was going to bail the boat out and would see them later. Mr B was investigating an upstairs cupboard with a tray of mouse pellets. Moll scoffed one and we both yelled.

I rang the vet immediately who said “bring her here soon as you can,” and I drove like the clappers (but within the speed limit of course) and got to the vet’s where she was given a jab to make her sick. 15 minutes later it still hadn’t worked and I was beginning to panic. She had another one.

Thankfully that worked, the poor mite got rid of everything in her stomach and then she had to have a Vitamin K jab, plus one tomorrow and one on Thursday, then tablets for the next 6 weeks. (All because of one or two tiny but deadly pellets.)

So keep your fingers crossed please. As the lovely vet said, “We don’t want to lose YOU, Mollie.”

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Sculling, St Ives and on...

Last Saturday we went down to St ives to watch a sculling race. I’d interviewed Giles Gilbert, an oar maker in Porthleven, recently, and he and Jonny Nance from St Ives are very keen to revive the art of sculling - which is propelling a boat with one oar, standing backwards in a punt.

It was great fun to watch - each team had about six members who each took it in turn to scull the boat round a flag and back to the beach, where the boat was hauled in, the next member jumped in and was pushed out, and started again.

After that we investigated Porthmeor Beach and Porthmeor Studios, as renovated by MJ Long, another person I was fortunate enough to interview. After that spot of culture we repaired for a coffee and a scone where I’m afraid to say Moll was given her own crumb of scone with a tiny dollop of cream, topped with a pipsqueak of jam, by Mr B.

Mind you, she ran it off on Porthminster Beach which was completely deserted and the pale gold of the sand was absolutely wonderful as we ran up and down it like children.

The following day we took our friends upstairs out for a day out - car boot, auction viewing, and on to Polly Joke beach which was my dear Pip’s favourite beach - and quite by chance, his birthday.

We ended up with a drink in the Bowgie to round off a lovely weekend. As their news on Monday was much worse than expected, thank goodness we’d all had such a good day on Sunday.

Onwards and upwards…..

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Unexpected Family

The above picture has nothing to do with this post, but I felt like a soothing picture.
Shadows at Godrevy.

About a month ago a friend started having a really difficult time - not of her own volition. Just one of those incredibly unfair situations that life sometimes throws at you.

She is brave, highly intelligent and with a great capacity to see the funny side of things - even in this horrendous situation. She’s a private person, but has confided in me, which I take as an honour. A responsibility. Her poor partner is obviously also struggling - it is such a horrendous situation - but it does mean that we have all become much closer.

Yet the ripples affect us all. And that’s scary.

Her partner is at least able to talk to Mr B, and we took them out on Echo the other day, had a lovely afternoon.

God knows what the end result of this mess will be. I’d like to think a new chapter for all of us, and a better one.

But whatever happens, I have gained a sister/daughter and dear friends. We have become family. And for someone who doesn’t see her own family much, that is incredibly important.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The importance of a bolt hole

Years ago, in my early twenties, I fell in love for the first time with a fellow who, according to my aunt, looked like Humphrey Bogart. He was incredibly attractive, somewhat insecure, and all my family and friends knew it wouldn’t last. When I found him in bed with one of his clients, I felt as if my world had fallen apart. Well, it had.

It took a long time to get over having my heart broken for the first time, but the best advice was given to me by my grandmother. She was in her 70s, having given birth to my mother in her mid 40s, but nothing phased her. She just gave me a huge hug and said, “Remember, darling, always have a bolt hole.”

I thought she meant a little hideaway - I expect she did - but I have also come to realise that a bolt hole could be inside my head. Writing is one of my bolt holes. Singing is another. Walking and sailing are two others.

A few weekends ago we stayed in a chalet at Gwithian Towans. It was a reasonable size, clean, had everything you’d need for a few days away, and was only 45 minutes from Falmouth - or would have been if we hadn’t had several stops on the way. And that magnificent lighthouse was smiling at us over the dunes.

So I have found another bolt hole, and hope to return there soon.

As stress levels have been mounting with my nearest and dearest, it looks like finding this bolt hole is perfect timing!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


Last week, having spent an exhausting morning in B&Q (the perils of being a landlady), then several hours unloading building materials, we decided, as it was a glorious afternoon and Getting Near the End of Summer, to make the most of the weather.

We headed down to Godrevy, my mum’s favourite beach as a child, to have a scamper along the beach and, as it was low tide, pick mussels. We were so lucky - it was a wonderfully hazy warm afternoon, there was a slight breeze and, not having been there for a while, the lighthouse is always stunning. In fact it’s got to be one of my favourite beaches, too.

There is a certain rock where large mussels grow that is only visible at low tide and we got there just in time, having had a wonderful walk over the dunes and onto the beach. Moll sheds her 9 years and becomes a puppy again, roaring over the golden flat sands with pure joy, ears streaming behind her. We picked several bags of mussels and then decided to stop at the Blue Anchor (a favourite pub) on the way home.

“Shall we have fish and chips?” said Mr B, tummy rumbling.
“We’ve got mussels,” I pointed out.
He was convinced I was going to give him food poisoning (which he’s had before from mussels) but after a pint of Middle was prepared to give it a go. I checked with Mel (my cooking advisor) just to make sure, and we soon made a meal of steamed mussels, with a white wine, garlic and coconut sauce served with noodles, peppers and prawns.

The mussels were so fresh you could taste the sweetness and the sea, and it was one of the more memorable meals I’ve had. And neither of us got food poisoning.

Just as well. I would never have heard the end of it.