Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Friends

No, I haven't turned religious - this is the granite cross used as a navigational marker near Dodman Point - a walk for the new book last week.

When you live on your own you get used to not sharing a bed with someone. I have to say this is one of the things I really miss. Also eating alone. But it does teach you to be resilient. Ultimately you have only yourself to rely on.

I was a bit apprehensive, as I said, before going to Roscoff, as I didn’t know how we’d all get on, but in fact it worked so well and it was lovely to have people to eat with. To go to sleep in a house with other people.

We shared some very personal things which always brings you closer. I learned that I have some true friends, and I am so grateful for that.

Last week I had some unexpected news that really shocked and hurt me - particularly as it meant the holiday I’d been looking forward to whistled out of the window quicker than you could say ‘knife’, with no mention of an alternative date. (Why knife, I wonder, or am I mixing metaphors?)

A week later, the sense of being let down still sits in my gut in an undigested lump, too sore to think about, let alone prod. A cancer of my feelings, raw and bleeding, that I can’t go near.

A dear friend once said to me that friends are people who you would forgive, no matter what they do. I was discussing this with Anne, on a walk this morning and she said, “I think the opposite is true. A friend shouldn't need forgiving. If a friend lets you down, that is the ultimate betrayal.”

I agree. To me, friends are those who will always support you, who never let you down. They are people you know you can trust.

And while I might have had a kick in the guts, I’m so fortunate to have several dear souls who I am honoured to call friends. This, of course, being one of them...

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Roscoff

Well, having been a little apprehensive about our Roscoff trip, we had such a brilliant time! The night ferry over went very well, we landed in Roscoff and from then on the sun shone - some of the time - but most importantly we had no rain which, given the weather here, was a real bonus.

We walked miles every day exploring and found our way around the town, had some lovely food, good wine, lovely coffee, and brought some goodies back too. We have cemented firm friendships and all our French improved remarkably.

The only slight drawback was the ferry crossing on the way home which was - rough. We were all ill apart from our lovely professeur who took charge and looked after us all. And at least the rough crossing was on the way home so we could recover here rather than it ruining the holiday.

So here's to our next trip, next year! Here is one of the sculptures on the sculpture trail around Roscoff....

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Une petite vacance


When you look at this picture you might wonder why I want to leave Cornwall but as we all know, it's really important to recharge our batteries from time to time. I had hoped to do a recce for my novel, the end of which is set in France, but on receiving an unenthusiastic response from the friend I was hoping to go with, I tackled my French group. Well, I say 'group', but there are three of us in the intermediate group and that's including our lovely friend and teacher.

They said YES! And while we aren't going down to Pays de la Loire, which is the area I want to recce, we are going to Roscoff courtesy of Brittany Ferries leaving on Thursday - overnight crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff, arriving at 8am Friday morning. We have two and a half days there before returning on Sunday afternoon.

We booked it about a month ago, on receipt of an email offering 25% off ferry charges, and there we sat, crouched round my computer with a glass of wine each. The excitement was quite something - while I haven't had a holiday this year, you'd think that none of us had ever been abroad before!

Just to compound matters, it looks like the forecast is rain. And rain. And possibly high winds (ferry could be interesting) which wasn't something we'd considered, having had a long spell of dryish weather. But we have three days in Roscoff to explore, speak French and have a huge amount of fun.

I am now kitted out with a waterproof coat (all mine are from car boot sales and leak like sieves) and another friend has lent me waterproof boots. I'm also taking my waterproof trousers so I might not look tres chic, but at least I will be dry.

Moll is going to a dear friend in Penryn for a little holiday of her own, and I'm sure our reunion on Sunday night will be worth recording.

Eh bien - vive la France, et vive les vacances!


Friday, 20 September 2019

Heart and Barrie Cook

Barrie Cook's amazing paintings don't come across in photographs nearly as well as they do in the flesh, but I was fortunate enough to meet this man on Wednesday. I am featuring him in my new book, WALKS IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF CORNISH ARTISTS, and a kinder, lovelier man I have yet to meet.

And his talent - he has been spray painting (mostly) since the 1960s and is still working now, at the age of 90. Despite a track of ill health - including a lot of major surgery - he has retained his sense of humour, has no sense of ego and is refreshingly down to earth and unpretentious about the Art World.

Jac, Daisy, Mollie Dog and I did a walk round Ruan Minor (where his studio is), Cadgwith and Poltesco last weekend, in glorious weather, as a tribute to this wonderful artist - and Cornwall was looking at her very best.

On a more sombre note, poor Moll had the long awaited heart scans - ECG, ultrasound etc - on Tuesday - and I don't know who was more upset, me or her. As I hadn't expected them to do them on the spot, neither of us were prepared (probably just as well) but I felt terrible leaving her there, and apparently she made her displeasure known. (I pity those vets sometimes.)

Thankfully the lovely heart specialist rang later to say the results are OK - her heart isn't enlarged to any degree though that could be the meds she's on, and to keep her active and on the meds. I have to monitor her breathing carefully - I've got a chart to do this with - and to notify them if any changes at once. I won't go into the details of what could happen if and when her condition disintegrates, but basically she could well die the same way as darling Pip died, and I couldn't bear that. So they will do everything they can to prevent that.

So you can imagine how I felt. And it's one of those times being on your own is really hard. I kept busy at work, had meeting, then had a swim, and finally was able to pick her up. But the poor girl was so woozy and wouldn't let me pick her up, was obviously really disorientated and frightened I would imagine. I got her home and she couldn't settle - staggered from lying under the bed to behind the sofa and swore at me, growling ferociously. My god was I in her bad books.

I'm glad to say that by evening she was obviously feeling better as she had some food and cuddled up to me in bed and all was forgiven. But boy did I miss Pip then.
I am happy to report that she is back to her normal bolshie self, and hope she will continue to be for a long while...

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Next book

This is me (and Moll of course) doing our morning yoga...

It's not quite, though a better place to practise yoga I can't imagine. Having a lull work wise while I wait for my novel to come back from being read through, and a lull in work (worrying but not much I can do about it), I decided that, having signed a contract for Book Six, I'd better get on with it. So last week Heather and Moll and I set off for Coverack to do first walk for my new book, centred round Terence Coventry's sculpture park.

I first came across it about 8 years ago - literally stumbled across it, being set in meadows a mile or so from Coverack. And what a find - the most superb sculptures made by an ex-farmer whose first exhibition in London was at the age of 71. I interviewed him several times and was struck by how vital, focused and driven he was - and utterly his own man, creating work for himself, not driven by the dictates of some London art gallery.

His sculptures are big, some huge, and all inspired by animals, birds and the landscape that surrounded him. Here are a few.
That one's called "J'Accuse"....


It was a real joy and privilege to meet Terence, who sadly died a few years ago. I only hope they preserve his park as a place where one and all can enjoy his wonderful work.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The Launch

Well the launch went so well, I couldn't have asked for a better night!

Despite being shattered before the event (for some reason I always am - nervous exhaustion probably), I walked down just before 6pm on a balmy evening to find a host of friends already there, including my dear friend Ali and the rest of the Ukulele Orchestra of Constantine, setting up. They played their fantastic music in the background while the art gallery filled up with lots of friends who bought books, chatted and drank wine. In short, it was great.


The lovely thing about having a party in a gallery is that it lends a different dimension - people can wander off and look at the exhibits and, as the Director said, the atmosphere changes with every exhibition. It also introduces the gallery to those who might not otherwise go. So it's a win win situation.

Afterwards a few of us went on to have a bite to eat - despite being exhausted, this is a really important time for me, I find, otherwise I go home feeling really flat. So it's great to have the company of good friends around me. And it made me realise what fantastic friends I have.

One of whom, Carol Rea, took the pictures, which are brilliant - though her work always is. If ever you want a good photographer in Cornwall let me know and I'll pass her details on.

So here's a big thank you to everyone who came, bought books, and generally made my evening so very special.

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.