Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Walks in the Footsteps of Rosamunde Pilcher

Well, next Monday is the launch of this, my fifth book, and it all feels rather distant. I almost feel as if I never wrote it, though of course looking through it I remember each walk in detail - who I went with, what time of year it was, what we saw, ate, talked about. Each walk is like a person, with different characteristics, different flavours and values.

The weather of course plays a huge part - a walk in February at Pencarrow was cold but with that clear wintry sun that warmed our bones once we were out of the wind. A fascinating house we saw near St Mabyn that was part derelict, part refurbished - one half each. Very odd.

Whereas walking at Lanydrock in June in sweltering heat, we were glad to plunge into the woods out of the sun (difficult to imagine, as I write this with rain bucketing down in typical August fashion). We found a shaded place by the river to eat our lunch and where Moll could have a drink of fresh water from the River Fowey.

One in May over on the Lizard - the day Harry and Meghan married. We thought we'd be the only ones not watching the Royal Wedding, but there were many of us sampling the strong spring sunshine. Egg and tomato sandwiches from Mullion. Delicious in their simplicity!

A murky winter day where we discovered Restormel Manor, and the Duchy of Cornwall Nurseries. Prince Charles calls in unannounced, several times a year, apparently, to keep everyone on their toes. We had a cup of coffee at the cafe there and were astounded by the elaborate cakes on offer for High Tea. And the prices....

My walks books are more like diaries in a way - they record so much more than just the route that we walked, which is of course a huge part of it. But the places, the people, the friends and the food, the weather and the sensations of the day are all included. If you read any of my books, I just hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
This, by the way, is the view along Port Navas Creek from Trenarth Bridge.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Beach art

This recent spell of not feeling well has meant frequent trips to the nearest dog friendly beach and as many swims as possible. And I give many thanks for the fact that I am able to do so, without driving very far (driving any distance has been banned until my head stops spinning and the exhaustion has passed).

So Porth Saxon has been my place to go just about every afternoon. Normally Moll and I would be sick of doing the same walk all the time but there's something soothing, when not feeling well, about knowing where we can go for a swim (or sit on the beach). Knowing that we don't have to walk too far, and that it won't be too busy when we get there.

The other bonus about not being myself is that I have had licence to read. And, oh, have I read! Most notably The Red Notebook and The President's Hat by Antoine Laurain, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris. All very different books but ones that have made their mark on me - in a pleasurable way!

Yesterday I went down there and walked round to the next cove with my friend Anne. I was really tired and feeling weepy but we'd stopped for a coffee on the way and had a biscuit so glucose levels were rectified, and when we got down, this was what we saw. Beach art.

I love the way these sculptures had been so carefully crafted. You see them all over Cornwall, but not often ones so large, or several all together. I thought of all the work and patience and talent that had gone into making them, and if you could see a hug, that was what it felt like. A visual hug.

We sat on the beach, Anne and I, in a stiff south westerly breeze, and deliberated whether to swim or not. The water was very choppy and we were both wearing contact lenses, so it wasn't advisable. Plus it was cloudy, so no sun to warm us up when we came out.

But we sat and admired the stone sculptures, and I thought once again how incredibly lucky I am to live in such a place where even feeling a bit grim is easier.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

In the wars


Poor Moll has had a few weeks - actually, a month, on and off, of an upset tummy (I'm being polite here) which, as any pet owner will appreciate, is incredibly worrying. To say nothing of incredibly expensive - three visits to the vet last week, including sending samples off to the lab - results awaited tomorrow.

However, this morning she seems a lot better, and while I am wary, I am also so relieved. I feel like jumping with joy - although the poor girl is on reduced walks and the most boring bland food you could imagine. You can imagine her expression - it looks like eating rice krispies and I'm sure tastes about the same. However, along with a good friend of mine who is a homeopath, the two remedies seem to be doing the trick so I am crossing fingers that it lasts.

The other thing was last week I suddenly became really dizzy, during singing. I thought Oh it'll pass, but it has got worse so I went to the GP who said it's labrynthitis. It's an infection of the inner ear but basically I have to rest a lot, drink plenty of water and do weird exercises which include lying down to the left and right, 15 times a day. No, it's not a weird joke but supposed to re-set the crystals in the inner ear.

But it's a pain. I've had to cancel most things this week, haven't been able to work longer than about half an hour before having to lie down. One minute I feel OK, the next it's as if someone's just pulled the plug on my energy and I have to go to bed. I dimly remember having this years ago and it did take several weeks to pass. So let's hope this passes sooner than that. It's very frustrating!

So here's from the two incapacitated ones, wishing you all a good week. This was taken several years ago now but Moll doesn't look a day older, dear of her.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

One of Those Days

One of the things I really love to do is explore Cornwall. Hence my books. And the joy of writing walks books is that it does take you to places you'd never normally go.

But although I'm not writing one this year, we have explored some lovely places nearer to home recently. The area round Porkellis is a favourite, and Carnmenellis, and over the past week, when it's been really hot, we've shortened the walks and aimed for dog friendly beaches. There are some really beautiful ones near here, and on a sweltering day, it's been bliss to walk down through the woods and jump into crystal clear water to cool off. Moll benefits hugely - she finds the heat a bit much - unsurprising given her fur coat - and she has taken to swimming in small circles, running out onto the beach and dashing back in again to rescue one of us.

Today I just haven't been able to concentrate, which is most unlike me. Lots of runaway thoughts, and I can't sit still either, have a yearning to be out and exploring. So having done the work I needed to do, as it's the afternoon, and it's hot and sticky, Moll and I are heading out to cool off.

And thank our lucky stars that we can do so, in such a beautiful part of the world.

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

Confidence

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.....