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

Mussels

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.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Quiet Life

Snap was lifted out for the winter yesterday, so a quick goodbye to sailing on her for this year....

I decided to have a quiet weekend. Al and I had a marvellous sail on Wednesday but it was quite blowy, and the following day my scar hurt like blazes which frightened and frustrated me. I was told I’d just overdone things: not to worry, but i did feel very wobbly for a bit. Since then, the scar has settled down a bit which is a great relief.

But all that crying exhausted me, so I thought I’ll have a few days to myself. So I cancelled lunch with a friend on Saturday, knowing I was singing at a gig that night, and settled down to enjoy a bit of R&R. Good book, sun shining, walks with Moll, time to myself.

At midday a friend who lives upstairs turned up in tears. I won’t go into details but she’s had some really bad news. I gave her a cuddle, dispensed man size hankies and listened. Later, as she clearly needed a change of scene, I suggested she came down to Mylor, so we went down to bail out Echo and take Moll for a walk.

I got back, had an hour or so lie down then went out to the gig. Which was great. Exhausting but great fun.

Sunday I was in Lidls when my phone rang. The above friend’s partner was really worried because she was in agony and did I know a doctor he could ring? I advised to ring the out of hours service at the surgery and said I’d be back ASAP.

I legged it back and upstairs to find the poor thing writhing in agony on the bed. The out of hours people rang back and I said could they get someone to come here as she was in so much pain. He said yes but not for 6 hours. If we could get to Helston she could be seen in half an hour.

As they don’t drive, I said OK, and we legged it down to Helston. Joe was sitting, bend double on a chair in the back of the van with Moll. (My van doesnt have seating in the back) while M, his partner, sat in a lot of pain in the passenger seat, a bowl at her feet for when she wanted to throw up.

I drove, rubbing her back with one hand and driving with the other. Every now and then I would pass the bowl up for when she needed it. From the back Joe asked, "you feeling any better?"

"NO!" came the answer. He didn't ask again.

Eventually we got to Helston hospital where they gave her a prescription and Joe tried to straighten his spine and collect it from the massive superstore that is Tesco. It took him about half an hour as it was so busy, and finally we headed back home.

As she was still in so much pain, I said I’d be on call for the rest of the day (what there was left of it), but luckily the very strong painkillers kicked in and by 7pm she was looking a lot more human.

I breathed a sigh of relief, and poured myself a glass of wine.

Next weekend we’re going surfing. Kill or cure…..

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

MJ Long and Perfect Autumn Days


This is Moll in front of the magnificent cliffs at Burton Bradstock beach.

Last week I was fortunate enough to interview the architect, MJ Long, who was, with her husband, Sir Colin St John (“Sandy”) Wilson, responsible for designing the British Library, amongst many other works. MJ is well known for her work on studios and museums, and recently designed the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, and worked on the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Porthmeor Studios in St Ives and the Princess Pavilions in Falmouth. Those are just a few of her many and varied achievements, so I was in some trepidation at meeting her.

We’d arranged to meet at Custom House Quay so we could go out for a sail in her South Coast One Design, and she rang me that afternoon to confirm the arrangements. It was blowing a Force 6 easterly - which means very windy and Falmouth is not a pleasant place to be when an easterly wind’s blowing.

But I met her and John, who has a share in the boat, down there at 5.30 and he was to row us out in the tender (a wooden punt which is heavy) to where the boat is, off Flushing. Well, poor John had hurt the tendons in one hand pulling the mainsail down the previous weekend, and his poor hand was black and blue with bruising, so he could only row with several fingers on that hand. Still, he insisted he would do it, and we headed off in this punt (an old wooden rowing boat) through waves that smashed against the hull, showering us with salt water, no matter how skilled a rower he was.

After half an hour of wind and tide against us, we reached the boat, but poor MJ wasn’t feeling well. She’d been up most of the previous night with food poisoning so hadn’t eaten all day, and then had to give a lecture at the Tate St Ives in the morning. By the time we got to the boat it was blowing a hoolie - not too much for the boat, but enough for MJ and to be honest, the weather wasn't too enticing.

We sat on the boat and chatted, then John rowed us back (what a kind man) and I set off to MJ’s house to interview her there. Many people who are very skilled at what they do, and have been doing it for along while, often talk in ways that I find largely incomprehensible. But MJ was a delight - she chatted away explaining the importance of light in buildings, how important boats are to her, and it was a really fascinating couple of hours.

I left there, feeling very fortunate to have a job where I meet such unusual, diverse and interesting people.

In contrast to then, we’ve had a few settled days of perfect autumn when I met Al down at Mylor harbour on Monday. There was no wind, but a sense of peace and mellow stillness in the lazy, hazy sunshine which made the brightness of summer seem almost too harsh. The first nip of autumn was in the air, but the gentle sunlight warmed my hands and soothed my senses as Moll and I walked towards Flushing.

Mr B often laments that you can’t hang on to days like that. But I think you can. I don’t need a photograph to remind me of the perfection of that day. It’s like a tattered photograph, much thumbed and loved, tucked away in the wallet of my mind. On wintry days I shall take it out and share it with him.



Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Tamarisk Farm

Last week we were booked to do a review of dog friendly accommodation in Dorset at www.tamariskfarm.co.uk - or rather, one of their cottages, and were really looking forward to it, partly because we were both in need of a break, and also because it was a chance to see my dear friend Av.

I wasn’t sure from the website what the cottage would be like (pictures can be misleading), but we headed off on the Sunday in splendid sunshine and after a coffee and Lidls stop, went to Burton Bradstock. Mr B had camped here as a child so the area had fond memories for him, and we walked along the cliffs, while Moll raced ahead like a sprightly rabbit. We clambered down to the beach and I spent a happy half hour sunbathing on a rock while Mr B and Moll looked for fossils.

The cottage we were allocated was Whispering Pines and it was a delight, reached by a winding path through a secret garden that opened out with a big secluded lawn and patio, and this enchanting cottage in the middle, surrounded by pine trees. The whole atmosphere was very un-English - it almost felt as if we were in Italy, and the weather seemed to think so too, for the sun shone every day.

We shared this peaceful garden with dragonflies, a green woodpecker, greenfinches, rabbits, pigeons and bees, and it was wonderful to sit outside and read in the sunshine. We did venture further afield to walk Moll and had a notable trip on the Saturday to a car boot, then looking at the map we decided to go either to Dorchester or Weymouth. As we wandered round the town, looking for somewhere to have coffee, I said idly, “Dorchester’s rather like Weymouth you know.”
Mr B looked at me with gathering incredulity. “This IS Weymouth,” he replied.

When we’d finished howling with laughter, he wiped his eyes and said, “I should have kept my mouth shut. I could have just pretended we were in Dorchester. I could have kept that going for days.”

In fact, we had such a good time we asked if we could stay a few more days, until Friday which was changeover day. Then on Thursday, I asked if we could stay till Sunday and as luckily they didn't have a booking for the following week, they said yes.

We had such a wonderful relaxing week and the Pearse family, who run the farm and the cottages, were incredibly welcoming - so much so we felt part of the family by the time we left.

So if any of you fancy a holiday in Dorset, I couldn’t recommend Tamarisk Farm more highly. It’s perfect for walking (near Chesil Beach and the coastal footpath) and not far from Bridport, Weymouth and Dorchester. The scenery is just beautiful and we can’t wait to go back.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

On the water


Last week saw the Tall Ships come to Falmouth for a wonderful few days. I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening ceremony so went on board the Polish ship before the mad rush started.

We took Echo out for the Parade of Sail on Sunday

and then on Monday Al came down so finally I got to have a sail on Snap and we were blessed with the most wonderful weather, and two fabulous sails.


And having had a double birthday celebration yesterday, I am now shattered.

Off to Dorset for a few days next week to catch up with my dear friend Av.
See you all soon.