Friday, 23 September 2016

Behind the scenes at an art gallery talk

Giving talks is always a bit of an unknown - will anyone actually turn up? What will the venue be like? Will they have projector, laptop, screen etc as promised? What will the audience be like? And many other variables to be taken into account.

The other night I gave a talk locally but when I got to the venue, found nothing set up. Luckily, thanks to a very efficient friend, she got projector, laptop, screen etc. I produced my memory stick - to find the laptop wouldn’t read it. We tried another one, and that wouldn’t read it either. Finally, it would read it, but there was no sign of my presentation on there.

We tried icloud, but I couldn’t remember my password (who can?). Finally, Henny asked the audience if they’d like to reconvene or would they mind waiting while I ran home and copied the presentation onto another memory stick. “OH no,” all said. “We’re fine here - we’ll wait till Sue gets back.” So some money was thrust into my hand. “Get a taxi,” said Henny, “and get him to wait.”

I tore out of the building, ran across to the rank and into a waiting taxi who said cheerily, “I live just along the road, so I’ll go home and fill up my flask with coffee, then come and pick you up.”

Dear of him - so I hurtled down the road, into the flat, tripped over the cat, and copied the presentation onto another stick - in several guises, just in case it wouldn’t work - and ran off again.

I made it back in record time, and the taxi driver charged me a minimal fee which was really kind of him. And from then on, all went well - what a lovely bunch of really interested Poldark fans. It made me feel really grateful for the kindness of people.

I got home to find that MollieDog had rushed out onto the road when I hurtled into the flat to copy the presentation over. Unbeknown to me, she was foraging along the pavements as I threw myself back into the taxi and back into Falmouth. Thankfully a man and his daughter saw what happened, took Moll and came and rang my doorbell. Joe, who lives above and misses nothing, heard this, and he took Moll in and made sure she was safely inside for when I came home.

What a lucky escape - and makes me even more grateful for such lovely friends - and strangers. If by any chance you are reading this and are that man and his daughter, please let me know so I can thank you personally.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Yesterday we finally got to have a sail in our friend Al’s lovely Dragon called Snap. I say “we” because while Al and C have been racing, it’s not been so easy for me to get out with work commitments and having to find a dog sitter.

But finally we fixed on yesterday for a sail. Weather forecast was rain in the morning, clearing by the afternoon and possible sun. Sarah was booked to come and walk Moll and all was well.

C was staying on the Lizard with friends but drove back and we got the water taxi out to meet Al on the boat. Contrary to expectations, as we headed out towards Black Rock, storm clouds gathered, the sky grew blacker until it was almost like night time, but with an eerie band of light hovering over the horizon.

We could see rain over the Lizard, and at this point Al suggested putting up the spinnaker. Of course, no sooner was it up than the first of the rain arrived. And we’re not talking normal rain, this was Monsoon rain that soaked us in seconds. Al thrust the sail cover at us, and we crawled underneath that, then under the fore cabin while the thunder growled around us, forks of lightning lit up the darkened sky, and the boat rocked in the turbulent sea.

Finally it stopped (we were laughing as it was so utterly ridiculous) and we made it back to Mylor - and a lovely sail back, during which we dried out bits of us.

As C had to get back to the Lizard, we went for something to eat in Falmouth early, and on the way back, as we got near his place, the heavens opened yet again. I’ve never seen rain like it - except on films. It was as if the sky had opened and out poured a year’s worth of liquid misery in minutes.

He jumped into his car while I ran home, and stood in the kitchen looking at the water swirling round the drain in my yard, perilously close to the kitchen door. However, it went down, and I sighed a sigh of relief.

Until I went into the kitchen later and found the carpet soaked. Absolutely dripping. And heavy carpet is very heavy. Thankfully my dear mates Mel and Joe who live upstairs came and helped. We had to move all the furniture, rip up the carpet and put the dehumidifier on.

12 hours on the carpet’s still soaking but at least the sun’s out, and we hope the worst is over. I just hope that Himself is OK - there’s no signal where he’s staying so I haven’t heard from him yet…..

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Facebook Memories

You know those Facebook reminders you get, telling you what happened X years ago?

The other day I got one reminding me that 5 years ago I scattered my husband’s ashes at Polly Joke. I remember it well - I went with my dear friend Deb, and we danced along the silky sand as the tide came in, and sent him on his way. Actually it was only part of him - I keep the other half here, in my bedroom, in a very fine biscuit tin.

To further honour his memory, we went for a drink afterwards - which is of course what he would have done - and toasted a very special, lovely man.

A few nights ago I dreamt about him. It was his birthday, and he refused to celebrate, but said he would do so the next day. This was and wasn’t true - he enjoyed any excuse to go to the pub, though he wasn’t so keen on celebrating the actual day.

He would have been 76 this year. There are so many things I would like to share with him, and I do still talk to him. When I’m worried he was good at sharing my problems. He would fiercely defend me when needed - though his mantra was always, “you must fight your own corner, Pop.” I would love him to know about the good things that have happened over the intervening years. About taking up sailing, and getting our own boat, which he would be most proud of.

His face smiles at me from the wall of my kitchen. It shines at me from the mantelpiece of the Seven Stars in Falmouth. And deep in my heart, there is a place entitled ‘My Pip’.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Poldark begins!

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but was taken last Friday when I went walking with Heather, on the most glorious afternoon.

As most people probably know, unless they've been living under a stone, the new series of Poldark starts on TV on Sunday evening. I will be glued, along with countless others, to see what happens - or rather, how it happens. And also the much debated rape scene that isn't, and how the ramifications of that will be dealt with in the plot.

In the meantime I am also doing some talks and readings of my Poldark book to coincide with the new TV series. A reading in Chintz bar in Falmouth on 19th September, at talk at the library on 22nd and then a talk at the Poly on 26th. Better try and rest up before all that!

I also did my first walk for the new book last weekend and was going to do another today on Bodmin Moor. But it's raining. So I'm looking out of the window at the grey murk, and thinking of the fantastic day we had on Sunday, a picnic at sea and a fabulous sail. And trying to focus on work, as you do...

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Another book!

Last Friday I had the unexpected - and fantastic - news that my publishers would like me to write another walks book. Which, obviously, I’m really pleased about. I’m going to give myself a bit longer this time, as it was such a stress and rush to get Poldark finished in time for March this year.

Also, what most people don’t realise is that if my next book is published at Easter 2018, I won’t receive any money for it until July 2018. So I want to give myself enough time to research the book (which involves a lot of reading and planning), do the walks, write them up, take and edit the pictures, and do the maps. As well as find some other work which obviously is vital to pay the bills in the meantime.

I’ve also got quite a lot of publicity lined up to coincide with the new series of Poldark on TV as from 4 September. I enjoy doing this, but it takes time to write a presentation, put the slides together, travel to and from the event, sort out dog care etc.

I am so pleased - and proud - to be an author, and to have a publishing company that evidently value my work. I work hard to sell my books - authors have to nowadays - and it’s really lovely to be appreciated by readers and editors. But I don’t think some people realise what hard work it is, nor how badly paid!

But I’m not complaining. Yesterday afternoon Moll and I walked at Devoran, as I was over there for a rehearsal. We didn’t go out till late as it was hot, and Moll was a bit droopy in the heat. But as we climbed up the hill, I looked out over the fields, emerald green in a sleepy heat, at the church tower rising serenely from the roof tops, and the river bed in the distance, a winding path of secrets. And I thought, aren’t I lucky to live here? Doing something I love.

Today the sun’s shining, so this afternoon we’re off to deliver some Poldark books to a customer in St Agnes, then have an hour on the beach somewhere, maybe pick some mussels. If it means working this evening, and/or this weekend, that’s fine by me.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Book launch Part 2

I didn't give the book launch justice last week, so here are a few more pictures of the event, which went very well. I've also sold 40 books myself and had to order another box of books from the publisher, which are arriving this morning (I hope).

On a less cheery note, I am still chasing payment of work I did months ago from a reluctant editor who I've had to ring every week for the last six weeks. Legal action next step. I've been very fortunate so far in having people who have generally speaking paid on time. But this one is a real drain - I hate having to make these phone calls and feel shattered afterwards. To say nothing of the fact that I really need the money.

Still, we've had a lovely run of weather recently, and my first sail for about a month on Sunday, which I loved. Yesterday I took six books to a new outlet at Penrose Estate near Helston, so hope they sell well there, and am spending a huge amount of time and energy generating publicity to tie in with the start of the new Poldark series on TV on 4th September (just in case you didn't know!).

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The name's Jane Bond

First of all, the launch party was a great success, but as I'm waiting for photos to come through, I'll write about that next week.

You know you get days where nothing goes right? I had one of those on Saturday. We’d been looking forward to seeing the Man Engine for weeks, and arranged to go to St Just to see it on Saturday. Then C had to help rig the boat he’s racing in Falmouth Week. To say we were disappointed was putting it mildly.

Anyway, I met Tony, a dear friend for coffee that morning and afterwards was heading towards Penryn Bridge when I was aware of a lopsided van. Oh no, I thought (those weren’t my exact words, but you get the drift) - and pulled over to find a completely flat front tyre. I rang C who was out of signal down at the boat, so then rang Tony.

As he kindly helped me last time I had two punctures, I had great faith in him - and sure enough he put my spare tyre on so I was able to go round to the tyre place. They were busy so it was a while before they were able to fix it, and because I’d driven on it, I needed a new one rather than being able to patch up the existing one. So by the time I got home, it was too late to go and see the Man Engine.

But I was invited to a party that afternoon, then the carnival. But first I had to drop food down to the workers on the boat, so thought I’d walk round from Flushing with Moll and swim on the way.

By the time I’d delivered food and walked back, two hours had gone by and I was hot, sweaty and starving. Plus I hadn’t had time to get anything to take to the party so thought I’d nip home first. And by the time I got home, fed the animals and myself, I was shattered, and the traffic was terrible because of the carnival. So I thought, actually I’ll enjoy a quiet evening to myself.

Then C rang to say he and Al were finishing on the boat (9pm) and would take me for a drink down at the Working Boat bar (our local) when he’d got back, had something to eat and changed. So we walked down, in the rain, in the dark, to meet Al at around 10pm. I wouldn’t have gone but figured they both needed a drink and some company…

We had a glass of wine and I went off to the toilet, locked the door, when half the lock came away in my hand, leaving the other half in the door. I was locked in. As the ladies is down a corridor with two hefty doors in between the bar, there was no way anyone could hear me shout (I tried). And no one was outside because it was raining.

Never mind, I thought. I’m small - I’ll climb out the window, drop into the car park, and get back in the front. Easy. So I climbed up on the toilet seat, pushed the window wide open and crawled out, backwards. My feet slipped down - and down - in the dark. This wasn’t quite going to plan. Eventually my feet hit something firm and I stopped slithering, and crawled and pulled myself back up the wall into the car park. This all seemed a bit unreal by this time, but I dusted myself down, went into the bar where the two men were busy talking.

Stuff them I thought, though I hadn’t been gone long. So I told the manager that the ladies’ was out of action, he produced a first aid kit and patched me up a bit. I went back and sat down and C looked at me curiously. “Are you all right?” he said.

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, or indeed what had happened (and I had only had one glass of wine). He mopped me up, while Al sang, “Sue’s stuck in the lavatory,” (lovely mates I have) and we began to laugh. Then we went outside to see where I’d climbed out. “You could have died,” said C in horror.

The shock didn’t hit me till the following afternoon, when I felt shaky, terribly dizzy and exhausted. That lasted for a couple of days, but I’m pleased to report that I am now feeling much better.

Just as well as we’re having our usual Red Arrows party tonight. But if anyone wants a Jane Bond - give me a ring…. I could do with some more work...