Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Apologies for absence - life has been even busier than usual, with a lot of work, finishing and sending my latest book, WALKS IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF DAPHNE DU MAURIER to my publishers. I've also been doing a brush up journalism course which has been brilliant but very challenging, and writing a piece on organ donation, something I feel very strongly about. Writing this took me back - by request from the editor - to when Pip was dying which was a very harrowing experience. However, if it can help others then it will be worth it.

I've also got a contract for my new book, to be about Rosamunde Pilcher who I interviewed several years ago. A wonderful lady, very interesting, with a brain much sharper than my own despite her 90 years. And on top of that I've been doing lots of singing, meeting up with dear friends, and seeing a few films.

So life might be busy and sometimes exhausting but it is fun and rewarding, for which I am very grateful. I'm off to sing in Truro tonight and have been aware of how joyous singing can be. We rehearsed on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and it was fabulous to hear our different voices mingling together, of seeing a few friends that I hadn't met up with for a while - and then having a beautiful cliff walk with Heather and Moll afterwards.

Several friends have poorly relations who need looking after, and I am becoming aware of my own age creeping up. In the past I have found myself in a rut, not sure or not knowing which way to turn which is not a good place to be.

Recently, as I have become busier, it has made me very aware of how precious life is, and how we need to not only look after ourselves, but make the most of every single day. And I leave you with some very cute cows, wanting their pictures taken.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Saying goodbye

The call came at about 9pm on Sunday evening. A strange male, wanting to speak to Mrs Jackson. "We have your cat Buster here, and he's not at all well," he said.

It turned out that someone had handed a very poorly Bussie in to the vets earlier that evening. He'd been found in someone's overgrown garden, where he was hiding in an old greenhouse. I won't go into the details, as I find them too upsetting, but he wasn't well and hadn't eaten for a week. They suspected he had organ failure and was refusing food.

While I was so glad that he'd been found, it broke my heart to think of him all alone in someone's garden, unable to move. (Don't go there.) And I was really worried how ill he'd look, given the descriptions of him.

He was wrapped in a towel when I got there and screamed loudly when I walked in (nothing wrong with his vocal chords then) and began to purr when I stroked him and talked to him, foolishly as we do. "Why didn't you ring me, darling?" I said, tears streaming down my face. This lovely, impossible, stubborn feline that has been part of my life for nearly twenty years.

There wasn't really any decision to be made about his future. They'd already printed off the consent form which i signed, not really reading it. No, I didn't want his body, I had nowhere to bury it. I didn't want his ashes either (I've still got some of Pip's and had visions of my bedroom becoming an ashes closet - how macabre would that be?) - I have many, many memories of The Big Fella.

The ending was quiet, peaceful. Well, apart from me weeping copiously but I stroked him all the time, whispered more nothings but along the lines of "I'm here. I love you," just as I had with Pip. And that was a final farewell.

Apart from the bill which was so unexpectedly huge that I went into complete shock (well, I was halfway there anyway).

Since then I've been staggering around feeling exhausted, muzzy headed, unable to think clearly. In need of comfort reading. Al took us for a sail yesterday and we sailed miles out into Falmouth Bay, with me on the helm, the spinnaker ballooning majestically out as we sped along, the land slipping away from us. Gulls wheeled overhead; a cormorant flew low over the waves before diving cleanly down without a splash. AT one with nature, the elements, my head emptied out until I was nothing.

But in a corner of my beach garden now sits a little china Bussie, on top of one of the chunks of driftwood. He's facing into the sun at the moment, for he always loved to sunbathe in the mornings. But I shall move him round, depending on the weather, so he has a change of view. Thanks darling Bussie, and I hope you enjoy your new home.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Bussie Buss

This is my favourite picture of Bussie (the cat) asserting his rights with the infuriating dog that had arrived to interrupt his life, demanding far too much attention.

Bussie didn't have the best start in life - he and his sister were abandoned over Christmas and deposited on the door of the vet in Tuckingmill, near Camborne. My last cat had had to be put down just after Christmas and I spent a week weeping and scouring all the rescue centres in Cornwall. Then the receptionist at work rang to say she'd found these two kittens, so we took our lunch hour at 10am and raced over to Tuckingmill to collect them. She'd already reserved the tabby so I was left with this bruiser of a black and white kitten who, when we arrived at Pip's workshop, exploded out of the cardboard box they were in, and landed on Pip's jumper, just like a cartoon cat.

He was the most strong minded, bloody minded cat I have ever come across (and I've had lots of cats) with the most imperturbable expression. His nose was severely put out of joint when Moll came along, but they've managed to rub along over the last 12 years, largely by ignoring each other - they were never going to be friends, but of an evening I can be found with the cat on one side of me on the sofa and the dog on the other, watching telly or reading.

On Sunday I fed both the animals and settled down for the night. Next morning, I got up to feed Moll which is when Bussie would lever his aged joints out of the bunk and patter along the hall to join us in the kitchen.

But there was no sign of him - or in the bunks. He had become very fond of his food in latter years, so this was unheard of. I thought he'd appear later in the day but he didn't, and despite calling, checking in garage, bins, along the roads and telling the neighbours, there is on sign of Bussie anywhere.

Years ago he wasn't well and just took himself off to another garden where he hunkered down until we found him and got him to the vet. This time, I think he has gone off to meet his maker. And I don't blame him. When my time comes, that's what I'd like to do. I only wish he'd told me first so we could have said goodbye.

So this is my farewell note to you, Bussie. Thanks for all the company over the years, Big Fella. It's too quiet with just the two of us now - even if you didn't say much, your presence was all around. I'll miss you my black and white mate. Go and give Pip a good cuddle from me.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Stowe Barton and beach garden

This is the beautiful Stowe Barton, that features in The King's General by Daphne du Maurier - and provides the last walk of my book about her. It's near Kilkhampton - Bude way - and we did a mammoth walk there a few weeks ago.

It took us 5 hours to do this walk but the walk for the book won't be quite as long - we did do a detour via the beautifully named Duckpool just below King William Woods, and then we chatted to the current tenant of Stowe Barton which was fascinating - she runs it as a B&B so if you fancy some walking on the North Cornwall coast, it's well worth a visit. The original house was lived in by the Grenville family, but was derelict when Angela and her husband moved in - they have done a fabulous job restoring it to its former glory.

We stayed at Higher Horslett farm which was amazing - an old farmhouse where we were made to feel so welcome, and part of the family, that it's definitely worth a return visit.

ON my return home, we decided to redo the bit of lawn in the front. Some friends dug it out and took the topsoil away, then we put a membrane down, got some gravel delivered, and are now making a beach garden. As storms are forecast this weekend, this could be a good time to do some beach combing to add to it....

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Sing, sing, sing, walk, walk, walk....

Last week my smaller singing group (Semi Quavers) took part in Akoostica, an open mic night at the Compton Castle floating boat in Truro, and so enjoyed it, despite battling there in teeming rain. Everyone was incredibly complimentary about our singing, has asked us to come back and so we are now looking to get more paid gigs.

Then on the Friday night, our musical director Claire Ingleheart organised a singing and supper evening - 50 of us had a workshop for an hour and a half, which flew by, then a fantastic meal at the Eco park at Porthtowan, then sang for another hour or so round the camp fire. We had such a good time I didn\t want to stop singing. And Mr B and several other men, who hadn't sung since school, so enjoyed it - it was brilliant to see new people, singing their hearts out while the flames flickered, lighting up their beaming faces, and stars peeked out of the inky sky to see what we were doing.

This weekend we are singing at the Penryn Town Fair, then on Sunday at the Wadebridge Folk Festival - a big event in the folk calendar, so we're really excited about that. I'm then going on to stay near Bude - as Wadebridge is sort of half way there - to do the last walk for my Daphne du Maurier book. Well, there is another one I need to redo at least part of , and take pictures, as we had torrential rain for the last two hours of that one.

So hopefully September - or maybe beginning of October - will see my Du Maurier manuscript winging its way to the publishers before I start thinking about the next book. I hope, as the Semi Quavers, we can also get some paid gigs. So winter watch out, here we come!

I just need to start earning some money now....

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Who'd write walks eh?

This almost hidden public footpath sign was on our way to Penrose, a beautiful old farm in the parish of Sennen (not to be confused with the Penrose near Helston). We did this walk on Saturday as I am keen to finish the Du Maurier walks book and only have two more walks to do - this being one of them.

Although the forecast was for rain, we decided to be optimistic and I drove over to Heather's house, and she drove down to Treen from there. The first two hours of the walk were good - it is a very unspoilt, undiscovered part of Cornwall, and we walked along happily, not meeting a soul.

Then the rain started. We got lost. The rain got heavier, but we persevered, rain running down our faces, despite coats and hoods. "It's fine as long as you keep walking," we agreed.

Having been chased by a field of frisky heifers, then later an even friskier horse, the rain abated, then gathered full force, until we were walking, sodden, cold, human beings.

Four hours later we got back to the car, drove back to Heather's then I drove home from there, very glad to change, warm up and have something to eat. And despite the fact that I will have to go back and do it again as it was too wet to take pictures, and a few parts of the walk could be improved upon, it was brilliant. Even Heather wants to do it again.

The next day, the forecast was thunderstorms and rain, so I packed up my wet weather gear and off we went. By the time we got to Mullion the sun was out and I cursed myself for not bringing sunglasses. You can never tell in Cornwall!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Singing for the Soul

The last week or so I haven't been feeling myself at all. I know we all get difficult times, but it's not like me to feel exhausted all the time, and lacking in inspiration, in belief in myself.

So I very nearly didn't go on our singing boat trip to St Makes last night. But I'm so glad I did. We all took a bowl of food, cutlery and a plate/bowl and met on Prince of Wales Pier at 6.45pm. Then we boarded the boat and set off for St Mawes, via Gylly and Maenporth beaches, cruising along the coast while we laid food on a big table for all to share.

As it was a beautiful evening, some of us sat on deck in the sunshine and ate up there, dodging low flying hungry seagulls and chatting in the sunshine.

Then at 8pm we arrived in St Mawes and took up our station outside the St Mawes hotel where we sang for an hour.

At 9pm we headed back to the boat and sang our way back to Falmouth, finishing the last of the food and enjoying drinks from the bar.
It was a really special experience to sail past the docks while it grew dark, singing our hearts out.
And I went to bed feeling well sung and grateful to have such amazing singing friends, and to be able to have a night out like this in such a beautiful part of the world. It has restored my faith.