Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Penzance Lit Fest and exploring

Our radio interviews went well, I'm glad to say, though Moll is quite the prima donna now - as you can see. She has taken over as my accountant. I never was good with adding machines....

One of the joys of living in Cornwall is going out to explore. Recently we've had some amazing walks and this was also covered in a talk I did with Steph Haxton and Matt Watts last Sat at the Penzance Lit Fest. Matt works for the Penwith Landscape Partnership, which is essentially a group of people and organisations who got together to "agree a vision for the Penwith landscape". Essentially it's all about preserving old sites, footpaths etc and using volunteers to do so as well as understanding the countryside through literature, arts and language.

It was great to be part of the Penzance Lit Fest, though I would have liked to have spent more time there. Sadly, my dog sitters were away and it was too long to leave Moll on her own, but next year, I hope to be able to actually attend other people's talks!

Matt's talk tied in very much with what we've discovered recently - that the public footpaths need to be used in order for them to survive Over the past few weeks we've done several walks that look exciting on the map, but having followed them, very often they come to nothing, or are too overgrown, or have just disappeared, which can be very frustrating.

However, even though the paths might not have been what we expected, we've had some lovely walks, and swims. It's been too hot for Moll till later on, so we've been setting off later and finding a stream or by the sea where we can all jump in and cool off. Walking's a lot easier after that!

We've found some lovely hidden coves, and yesterday, being short on time, scrambled over rocks (I was doubting the wisdom of this, but it was well worth it when we got there!). And we had the beach to ourselves, the water was amazingly clear and we had a brilliant time, nicknaming it Half Moon Beach.

And all this, a ten minute drive from home!

I do love this weather, though it does make it harder to concentrate, I find...

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Radio Fame

This afternoon Moll and I are going to be interviewed for BBC Radio Cornwall - they're doing a section on how much our pets mean to us, and how, as a writer, I am inspired and helped by Moll.

Well, there are so many ways. When she was a tiny pup, Pip was diagnosed with prostate cancer - it was a terrifying time and we didn't feel like talking to anyone. But she kept us going. And as a result Pip lost weight, became more interested in life again. When he was later diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, she similarly bought joy into our lives. And so it's gone on, bless her, though now she's slowed down a bit due to heart problems and old age, I am more aware of how special she is.

And talking of media appearances, I am also taking part in the Penzance Lit Fest this Saturday, in the Penlee Coach House with Steph Haxton and Matt Watts. Unfortunately there's been hiccups in the programme so it doesn't look like we're taking part, but we are - so please do come along and listen.

In haste, off to be interviewed! (Interesting to be the interviewee for a change!)

Wednesday, 26 June 2019


I know I've written a lot about confidence, but it does make such a difference, doesn't it?

For the last few months I've enjoyed a wave of much needed confidence - in part inspired by a) regular, promptly paid research work (the promptly paid bit being a welcome rarity, as all freelancers know) and b) being in the wonderful creative flow of writing a novel again.

Well, once I finished the first draft of the novel, all that creative flow stopped. And it was as if my confidence dried up with it. All of a sudden I was stricken by terrible doubts, most of which amounted to the fact that this will never be published. I've written other novels in the past which haven't been published (though I did get shortlisted for the first three chapters for the last one). But we all know what it's like when the Confidence Gremlins creep in, and have a riot. Party time! They cry, running round, dragging every insecurity out and drenching it in doom till they lie, waterlogged and lifeless, like beached seaweed.

Of course being ill can be another reason for losing confidence, or losing a loved one, be that a four legged one or a two legged one. Reading reviews on Amazon I know has set many a writer off into a chronic wobble. DON'T DO IT!!

So what do we do? Well, I felt terrible for a week or two culminating in last weekend when, not helped by the fact that poor Mr B is feeling wretched, I had convinced myself that everything was DIRE. My energy levels were so low I could hardly get out of bed, let alone walk Moll, and I had lost the desire to write or do anything much except curl up in a ball and stay in bed.

But I felt it would do me a good to get a sense of place for where my novel is set (which had been lacking), so on Sunday afternoon we set off and despite the rain, had a good recce where I took enough photos to give me an idea of the setting. We then had a drink in the Blue Anchor on the way home, which is such a friendly pub, where all the locals look as if they've stepped off the pages of a Dickens novel.

Fingernail by fingernail I am clawing back. I have started editing the novel (first edit, long way to go) but by little steps we can all make enough progress to keep going. Baby steps.....

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

A Frog Blog and Moll losing Sight

To do this in reverse order, I had to take Moll to the vet yesterday and learned that while her heart medication is working, so her heart's working brilliantly again, she can't see much at all now - the vet shone a light into her eyes and couldn't see the back at all as her cataracts are bad now. I was so upset, and stood there with tears dribbling down my cheeks, but the lovely vet reassured me that dogs manage incredibly well without much sight, if any.

It's difficult to think of her not being able to see - and in fact I feel sure that she can see at least peripherally as she can jump into the van perfectly all right, she doesn't fall over and she doesn't bump into things. There are no signs that she can't see - though of course dogs rely so much on their noses, it's difficult to tell.

And for Moll, this isn't a sudden thing - she's presumably been losing her sight for years now as the cataracts have been there for a while. She isn't bothered, and therefore nor should we. And my lovely girl is still bouncing around like a good 'un, bless her.

So much so that yesterday we had another new walk out near Porkellis. The footpath was boggy so we ended up doing mountain goat impressions over a lot of it and then Mr B stopped, suddenly, looked at the ground. It was covered in what he thought were ants. But on second glance, they were millions of tiny wee frogs. Coming to a pond nearby, we noticed the black blogs all round the edges - these were the frogs just hatching (or whatever they do).

It was quite the most wondrous thing to see - millions and millions of these tiny little fellas, jumping around like nobody's business - their first entrance into this world. (Sorry no picture as they were too small and so well camouflaged you couldn't see them in a picture. So here's my amazing hanging basket instead.)

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Plymouth Ballet Trip - Knife crime?

Last weekend I ventured over the border - yes! - to Plymouth for the night to see Matthew Bourne's new ballet of Romeo and Juliet. As ever with MB, expect the unexpected, which not everyone likes. (This is the man who brought us the male Swan Lake, among many other different takes on classic stories.)

So of course R&J was going to be different. Av and I loved it - the sets are always excellent, but this was very stark and black and white which underlined the severity of the unusual setting - a psychiatric unit. The inmates wore white, the jailor (or equivalent) wore black, had tattoos and was very fond of the bottle. The dancing was amazing and the young lovers' passion was wonderful. And the music was all live, played with a 15 piece orchestra in the pit, as opposed to a 40 or 50 piece orchestra - and still sounded amazing.

As for the ending - well, as with most of Shakespeare, don't expect a rose tinted happy ending. In the original, I believe, Juliet takes enough poison to send her to sleep, Romeo finds her, believes she's dead and polishes off the rest of the poison. Juliet awakes, finds him dead and stabs herself.

In MB's version it's slightly different (no spoilers) and when I posted on Facebook, someone said they thought it was a shame about the use of knives, given the current stabbings.

So, what do you think? Would you tamper with the ending of a Shakespeare play and remove the stabbing? Would that really make a difference to the kind of people who tend to go and see ballet anyway? I would be very interested to know...

And lastly, this was seen on the fence near to our B&B. Looks like someone had a really good night out....

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Inspiring Women

Well I had to include Moll, didn't I?

But apart from her, I would list my grandmother, who was amazing, and recently I met Gail Muller, who you will find by the name Appalachian Gail on Facebook. Having endured years of chronic pain - which hasn't stopped her working full time, or pursuing just about every alternative treatment there might be on the planet, she has long been inspired by Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods - about the Appalachian Trail. He didn't finish it and in fact most people don't.

Over the past few years, Gail has been having treatment for her pain which has dropped from 80% to 10% so in just over a week's time, Gail is going to leave to walk the southern part of the Appalachian Trail - over 2,000 miles of it, running through 14 states, and most on her own. This is not for the faint hearted - very tough going: she could see her greeting bears, snakes and flooded rivers. She told me, ""More people have successfully summited Everest than completed it in the direction I'm going. Southbound is harder and has many less people attempting it than northbound. I may be the first Cornish to complete the AT, but I still need to do a little more research to confirm that!"

But she's going, aims to take 5 months, and I really take my hat off to her and wish her all the very best. She also wants to write a book about her experiences when she comes back.

My jaw was dropping when we met, particularly when she said, with a lovely big smile, "So what adventures have you got planned this summer, Sue?"

I said rather feebly, "Oh, you know. Got the launch of my latest book. Walks in the Footsteps of Rosamunde Pilcher."

Not quite the same, is it? Or at least, that's what these llamas thought....

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Last week was a busy mix of things, as ever, though this was taken when having lunch with a friend at Trelissick, and doing the Woodland Walk afterwards - rejoicing in the amazing buttercups!

First of all, Steven from Sigma sent back a few maps he wasn't sure about for the new Rosamunde Pilcher book which I hope to receive the proofs of any day now.... with publication shortly. At least I hope so - the whole point is to get the summer visitors, both English and German.

Secondly, despite the fact that the guy I'm working with is away for a couple of weeks, I've got plenty of research to be getting on with, and it's ongoing which is even better news.

Thirdly, I'm 84,000 words into the novel. This is only the first draft, but means the bones of the work is very nearly there - though I'm not entirely sure how it will all wrap up. I will know when I've finished!

Lastly, I've been worried about Moll recently. She's really slowed down and become very snappy on occasions. But I discovered that Ruth Collet, the amazing vet nurse who held the puppy classes that Moll and I went to, 14 years ago, has now set up on her own as an animal behaviourist. She came round to see Moll and gave me a lot of very useful information about how dogs age and can get frustrated or anxious, and what to do about it. She's going to send videos of some games we can play to help her and keep her mind active, and a report on everything we discussed. So knowing why she reacts as she does makes life a lot easier for us both, I hope. Though Ruth did say to cut her walks down - and go with what she's comfortable with.

After all that, I was so exhausted I slept for a large part of the weekend, and still feel as if I've been drugged. But the most important thing is to make Moll's life as happy as it can be for as long as possible. As my friend Anne said yesterday, "Of course. You're a team."

So here's to Moll. And everyone else who loves her. My team.