Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Tribute

This has nothing to do with this post but was taken at Brent Tor church on Dartmoor, where we were last week.

Last week my lovely brother in law, Pete, died. It was utterly unexpected so we are all reeling with shock, and he will be sorely missed by everyone in particular by his son, his sister and the friend he spent a lot of time with.

My first memory of Pete was when I came down for a weekend to stay with Pip on his working boat (where he lived). We sailed over to Helford as it was a lovely evening, picked up a mooring and rowed ashore where, unbeknown to me, Pip had agreed to meet Pete and his girlfriend, Pat, for a meal at the Ferryboat pub.

I stomped up the beach, head down, wearing Pip’s sailing hat and old jacket on top of my t shirt and shorts as it was late and I was a bit cold. I then came to a pair of large feet, and followed them, looking up to see a tall man with a twinkle in his pale blue eyes, and the most gentle expression. There was also a twitch of amusement in his smile. “You must be Flowerpot,” he said. “I’m Peter.”

I’ve known Pete for 18 years and would be hard pushed to find a kinder, more considerate, gentle man. Life has not been as kind to him as he deserves, and he suffered from various ill health most of his life, but he rarely complained. What I do remember is the closeness of the two brothers. They had worked together for most of their lives, and often helped each other out when needed: when Pete’s marriages broke up, and when Pip got into trouble (which was frequently).

There is much I don’t know about the brothers, but I do know that while being chalk and cheese,they complimented each other perfectly: made a perfect whole. While Pete was steady and cautious, Pip was the ideas man, full of verve and enthusiasm. One balanced the other out.

Almost exactly four years ago, when we found out Pip only had days to live, Pete said, “We are like a marriage,” which summed their relationship up perhaps best. They were like identical twins, as their sister said, and neither functioned properly without the other.

When Pip died, Pete was always there for me, for which I am profoundly grateful. He thanked me for bringing such happiness to his brother's life, and for keeping him alive longer than he would have been otherwise. He was endlessly patient, and I hope I gave him some comfort as I was the nearest he could get to his little brother.

I knew how much Pip relied on Pete, but I hadn’t realised just how much Pete needed his other half. I don’t believe in an after life, but in a curious way I feel that the two brothers are somehow reunited. I feel honoured to have known such a wonderful pair, and even more privileged to love them both.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Rude health

I am, generally speaking, in rude health (now where did that expression come from?) so I was unprepared for a stinking cold that somewhat blighted my weekend with my dear friend Av in Devon. We still had a good time, of course, but the place we stayed in was cold so we tended to dive into bed (not together) to keep warm. Still, we had lots to catch up on and had a few walks and even indulged in Christmas Karaoke in Teignmouth, a sight that left the locals speechless.

I also saw my mum who’s being very well looked after by her lovely carer, Sue, and it was good to see my friends Jon and Annie who managed to tease me mercilessly (Jon) as well as cheering me up.

Back home, and I sort of crumpled. All my energy must have gone out through my nose. By yesterday morning it was apparent that no way could I give the talk (on walks) I was due to give at Flushing Sailing Club, so I had to cancel that, cancel singing rehearsal, and retreat to bed.

And what a relief to sink under the duvet. Bliss. I still have to walk MollieDog of course, but it does me good to get some fresh air before crawling back into my warm pit.

“Someone should be looking after you,” said Mr B when he rang - he is 300 miles away.

As I don’t have much appetite, my greatest needs are tissues, a good book and a big cuddle. The corner shop can provide the first, and I'm devouring books instead of food - so hurry back, Mr B, and provide the third.

I'd forgotten just how utterly wretched colds can make you feel, so I've decided my Get Well therapy will be to go and see the film of Paddington. I watched the trailer online yesterday and it had me giggling like a teenager.

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.