Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A gig

We're doing a gig at Trebah Gardens on Friday evening in aid of Dementia UK. It's Dementia Awareness Week and the gig is to fund specialist nurses (Admiral nurses) in Cornwall. So far the lady who's organising the gig has raised £60,000 to pay for two of these nurses, as her father died of dementia so she's been through the very difficult journey.

An amphitheatre has been built at Trebah gardens and we are to be the first people to perform there, so it's very exciting. Trouble is, a lot of people are away for the bank holiday weekend, or busy, or can't afford it. It's also the same night that Kate Rusby is singing at Hall for Cornwall (dammit).

So if any of you are around on Friday 22nd, and can afford £12, we can promise pasties, a drink or two, a trip round the gardens and an hour of so of good singing. Do come and join us!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Words, eye care and ageing dogs

The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they've been in.
Dennis Potter, dramatist (1935-1994)

I can go along with this as I’ve been doing some work to do with eye care in Western Australia. To start with I knew nothing about WA and very little about optometry (though I have worn contact lenses since I was 17 so I have scant knowledge/interest in eye care).

Now I know a lot more. My brain cells have been severely - but enjoyably - stretched and I would love to go to Perth. Just my sort of climate and an outdoor life I would love. Don’t know that it would suit Moll though…..

On that note, dear girl has the beginnings of cataracts, though my lovely vet said it’s not interfering with her vision much at the moment and shouldn’t too much as she gets older (she’s 10 now). While the operation for human cataracts improves by the moment, it’s not so good for dogs so that’s not an option. She’s visibly slowed down a little - though I guess by 70 (in human years) she’s entitled to - but still remains as irascible and loving as ever.

Wherever we go, people always comment on her. Mr B says “she’s a very clever dog,” while Pip used to tell everyone, “she’s very bright you know”. I just think of her as my Moll, and one of the mainstays of my life.

I never knew dogs could snuggle into your life and steal your heart like this.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Life's too short to chew...

I've been doing more driving which has definitely helped my self confidence. So much so that I drove nearly all the way back from our last break, as Mr B was exhausted after several bad nights. Sinusitis is still a problem, but he doesn't want to see the doctor. No comment.

Recently we reviewed a dog friendly house in Dartmouth for Your Dog magazine. I don't get paid for these trips, but they are like mini adventures. While we may know roughly where we're going, we never know what the accommodation will be like, or what the atmosphere will be. Most places tend to be well fitted out, aiming for the luxury holiday market, but some just have no atmosphere, and can be very lacking in the kitchen department.

We usually take my steamer and wok, as we cook rather than eating out,but at one place, the table mat stuck to the wok when we put it on the table. mr B was mortified, but I pointed out that the purpose of a mat is to hold heat, rather than melt at the prospect. The owners agreed, apologised, and promised to get some better mats.

This house was lovely and felt just like a home, rather than a holiday let. It was very comfy and had everything we needed, as well as being a ten minute walk from town which Moll didn't enjoy at all. Despite living in a town, we nearly always walk out of town, where she can run along grass or sand, so she takes a pretty dim view of pavements. When we arrived at the house, we unpacked and as usual Moll inhaled her tea in a manner of seconds. "Slow down," said Mr B (to no effect). "Why does she eat so quickly?" Which is rich coming from him, who eats nearly as quickly as Moll does.

We looked at her and laughed. "Life's too short to chew," I said.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Early (and short lived) summer at Gwithian

To follow on from the Slaying Dragon post, I'd like to report back that having to drive to Polperro and back (not far, I know, but still), was a cinch after my trek across Dartmoor last month. So anyone who's frightened of something - do have a go. Gently. It's done my confidence the world of good.

We were so lucky to have a few days at a chalet at Gwithian while the weather suddenly got hot - and being on the north coast we escaped most of the easterly winds. So we had a few days of sunbathing on the decking, walking miles and just relaxing. Just as well, as work has been very busy since we got back.

And what with the last Poldark last night, I’m exhausted….

But here are a few reminders of the lovely Gwithian, my mum’s favourite beach as a child.
And the incredibly talented sand artist we spotted.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


Like most of the country, Cornwall has been enjoying wonderful sunshine - though as I speak, we are surrounded in a thick sea mist.

For the first time in months, I took the camera out yesterday (my fingers suffer terribly in winter, despite gloves, so taking pictures is not easy), so it was lovely to go out and have a few hours enjoying and recording the sunshine.
I’ve been busy working on a piece about Western Australia (would love to go there, by the sound of it!) and on Thursday we are off to do a review of dog friendly accommodation in Duloe, leaving dear Joe in charge of the house. And cat.

I’m leaving you with some of the pictures from Carwinnion. I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Slaying Dragons

Thanks to all those who sent comments about driving after last week’s post. It’s interesting that this appears to be mainly a female problem, though I have come across one man who dislikes driving.

In fact, I met my dear friend Av in Tavistock which was a great help, and we had a bite to eat in the market cafe (OAP special of quiche, salad and chips plus a cuppa for £3.95 so she was well pleased!), and headed on to Chagford and the Sandy Park Inn.

I’d come across this pub about 3 years ago when reviewing another place just down the road, and Viv and I had eaten there, and loved the laid back atmosphere, the gathering of dogs that roamed round happily, and the fact that we were welcomed like part of the family. Despite different owners, we had a great time - the food was amazing and very reasonable, the wine ditto, and we had some fantastic walks along by the river, up towards Castle Drogo, Fingle Bridge, etc. Admittedly several of the walks were in the rain, but hey, you can’t have everything and it was lovely to catch up with Av again.

The journey home on Sunday was horrendous,but I managed it. Driving across Dartmoor in gales, with driving rain and fog was a test of anyone’s driving abilities, let alone mine, and being the only van on the road (no surprise there) and with no mobile reception, I just prayed I wouldn't break down. The end of Desert Island Discs and Just a Minute saw me through to Tavistock where I breathed a sigh of relief, stopped for something to eat and then continued my journey.

By the time I got home I was so shattered I went to bed for a couple of hours, but at least I did it, and feel better for it. As I said to Mr B, it’s like slaying dragons. You just have to keep at it, or they will rule your life. And I really don’t want to go through that again.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Coming Out

Godrevy, last October, because I feel like something Soothing.

At my book group last week, I was amazed to find out that several of the group are extremely nervous drivers.

I had panic attacks for over 20 years while driving, caused by a horrific incident at work. My dear late husband tended to drive for me which actually made the problem worse, because I wasn't tackling it. So it wasn’t till he died, and I HAD to drive, that I started gaining confidence in my driving. (According to others, I am actually a good driver, so it was nothing to do with my abilities, though panic attacks rarely are.)

I was fine for years till suddenly, late last year I had a panic attack - out of nowhere - driving up to my mum’s. I only ever tend to experience them when I’m going at speed - i.e. along a dual carriageway (we don’t have motorways in Cornwall!) - and it’s very frightening, not least because I’m in charge of a powerful bit of machinery that is going fast.

Anyway, I told Mr B and we had lots of practises, and I drove up to my mum’s last time with only a few wobbly moments (well,quite a few, but I got better as I went along).

My friend Av and I have booked to meet at a pub near Chagford on Friday night, which we’re both looking forward to, particularly as I wasn’t feeling so wobbly about driving. Then last night I was coming back from a writers’ evening in Falmouth - i was tired, admittedly, so left early and was looking forward to lighting the fire and having a glass of wine - and suddenly, walking up the hill, past Mr B’s house, this old Fear crept up and tapped me on the shoulder.

It’s difficult to describe but it’s rather like a persistent hangover, that lurks like a dark cloud, dampening my spirits and prodding my mind with cold, wet fingers. I didn’t sleep much last night, replaying which way I’d drive to Dartmoor. The short way which is all dual carriageway (which I hate) or go the much longer way, a route I’m not sure of, over Dartmoor? Then I started thinking what if I break down? I’d be better off on a main route rather than stuck on Dartmoor.

Have I ever broken down? No. Have I got breakdown cover? Yes. Have I got a full charged mobile phone in case of emergencies? Yes (though there may not be a signal on Dartmoor.)

And of course I started worrying about other things then, as you do. So I’m a bit groggy this morning. My scar hurts, and - well, you know what it’s like after a bad night. But it’s lovely and sunny so Moll and I walked by the sea, and I checked the tyre pressures on the way back (they’re fine, when I was convinced that the driver’s side needed pumping up).

Talking to my other friends last week made me realise just what a common problem this is. And how it inhibits our lives - needlessly. I hate to be beholden to some stupid, illogical fear that prevents me doing what I want to do. My other friends have either had help or are getting help to overcome their problems, so I refuse to be beaten by it.

I will set off on Friday morning and practise my deep breathing, and sing - whichever way I go to Dartmoor. Because it is a proven fact that you cannot have a panic attack if a) you sing and b) you laugh. I think c) is have hiccups, but I wouldn’t want to try that.

Anyone else had similar problems? It’s worthy of a piece, methinks…..