Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Who do you want to be?

We never had careers advice at school. I wasn't considered bright enough to go to university, as I did badly at exams, and in the end my parents were asked to remove me after O levels as my anorexia was considered too disruptive. I was delighted - it was what I'd been campaigning for since the age of 11.

Throughout our lives, work apart, we may become parents, partners, brothers, sisters, carers, wage earners, dependents - all kinds of things. But these roles can and often do change.

I remember after Pip died, I had a real Who Am I time. I wasn't his wife any more, or his carer. I'd lost my best (male) friend and I was just so desperately grateful that I was still a journalist rather than being cast into the role of Grieving Widow. For when I was working I was back to being Me again. The Real Me.

This year, of course, has been exceptionally weird and while for some life has stood stil, for many it has fallen into a rubble about their ears, so this can be a really difficult question to ask ourselves. It can be scary because it means looking at hopes and aspirations that may have crumbled. Our dreams might seem unrealistic, impossible, which is daunting Or just Not Possible At the Moment, which is different.

I've always been a writer, ever since I could spell, aged 4, but it was a long, long time before I was paid for that work. And now I am looking to change things a bit with my books and also I hope to get my novel published.

Not that telling stories is something new - I've made them up for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first novel when I was 13 (a Gothic novel which I found the other day. It wasn't nearly as bad as I feared!). But getting an agent/publisher is, as most of us know, incredibly hard.

But when I was asked the other day, Who Do You Want To Be? The answer has always been A Writer. I've achieved that, but now it is also A published Novelist. In addition to Journalist, Poet and Travel Writer. Greedy? No, it's what I've always longed to be.

Thursday, 15 October 2020


Like many people, this year I had Plans. I was going to go on holiday! Unlike a lot of people, I was extremely fortunate in being able to get my writing retreat in before Covid and for that I am more grateful than I can say. And sincere condolences to all those who missed getting away.

I'd also planned to go to France with some friends for a long weekend. I'd booked four short breaks courtesy of those special offers if you collect vouchers from various papers. Hah! Though one is still a possible, hanging on by a thin thread of hope and optimism.

They say that things often come in threes - bad luck that is. (I'm not sure about good luck, or perhaps we just don't notice it as much.) Anyway, last Friday I had an email from my business partner because some design work that was long overdue had arrived and wasn't what we'd hoped. Then I had an email from somebody regarding the possible sale of one of my books in Germany - well, it looked like that was a No No. Then a phone call from the caravan park where we were due to stay in November, saying that because of rising Covid cases, they've decided to shut the park for November and December. Oh, and to get a refund I had to contact the agent who then said they couldn't pay it without a Request for Refund from the park who said they'd already sent it - etc. etc. With luck we might get our money back in 28 days....

I think you can imagine how I felt. But the sun shone and I had a walk with a new friend and her dog and I thought bugger it I will not be beaten. Various friends gave very interesting feedback on the fact that Rosamunde Pilcher TV films are being shot here in Cornwall and will be aired in Germany next year, so all is not lost. Or at least that is still - maybe - a possibility. I've also found another caravan park that would be willing to take us. This required some effort, as most caravan parks in Cornwall seem to be closing quicker than you can say Sod It.

Of course we might all be in lockdown by mid November, which is when we were hoping to go, but I always feel better with a bit of optimism on the horizon. Don't we all? I've had two rejections for my novel but it's out there being looked at other agents, and I've had an offer of guidance from someone in the business and I am SO grateful for that.

So I guess the motto for this long ramble is that when it looks like the shit's hit the fan, don't give up. With a bit of perseverance, there might be some good news - somewhere. It just takes a bit of digging to find it. (Of course in a few months time when I'm weeping over yet more rejections, I might say what a load of bullshit. But at least I can self publish.)

So keep going folks! And here's some Vitamin Sea....

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Bending the Truth

This is a rare picture of me and my lovely friends (sorry Ali, you're hidden behind Bev!) on our brief but brilliant trip to Roscoff this time last year. We had earmarked last week for a repeat trip but sadly and for obvious reasons this hasn't happened. But it will.

At least of course, I hope it will. I was talking to a friend last night about bending the truth - or not being entirely truthful - lying - whatever you like to call it. And he said "lying comes from fear" and I realised how true that is.

I have two good male friends who are at opposite ends of the Truth Spectrum. One, a very talented and clever man, tends to say exactly what he thinks. The advantage of this is that you know exactly where you are with him. The disadvantage could be that he upsets people though he's never upset me.

The other is another intelligent and talented fellow but so concerned with what people might think, that he tends to bend the truth over backwards so as not to offend anyone. And in doing so, tends to tie himself in knots. And this can have obvious complications, like not knowing when be's telling the truth.

Now I'm not saying that either is right - I tend to say what I think most of the time but I try to be reasonably diplomatic about it, and like most people I will tell the odd white lie.

So that got me thinking about you lot - those who read these words that spew forth once a week. What do you think about Bending the Truth? When and where did you last tell a white lie? After all, this is very often the stuff that books are made of. Thrillers, romantic novels, crime, historical - just about every good story has a good lie or two in it, to bring in doubt, misunderstanding, arguments, fallouts, murders- you name it.

So whatever you think of lies in real life, we couldn't do without them in our books.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Lost and Found

This painting is by my very talented friend Ernesto Pescini - check him out on Facebook for other works of his.

Much of Ernesto's work comes from emotional turmoil, as I'm sure you can see from this one. I find them tremendously gripping - they pull you in, and the more you look, the more you see.

When I first met him, he was a bit lost - aren't we all - and hadn't been able to paint since February. But I'm glad to say he has been taken on by another gallery, in St Mawes, and is now back painting again, producing an alarming amount of paintings in the last few weeks!

He also very kindly helped sort some problems with my van this week, which was much appreciated. Yes, Van Gate rumbles on a bit (not as badly as late last year) but having totted up how much I've spent on it this year, I've realised the time has come to start looking for another one.

But then, so much has changed this year. Just after Moll died I was walking with a friend who said she thought this summer would go down as the year when nothing really happened. At least you've got your DOG, I thought bitterly. I was in that stage of grief where just seeing anyone else's dog was too painful.

But now I have Lainy - yes, I couldn't let a whole post go by without mentioning her. And Ruth, who is a dog whisperer and creator of all things caninely magical, said she couldn't believe the change in Lainy over the past week. She's gone from being scared of everyone and barking like mad, to - in a single week of meeting more of my friends, at home - welcoming them in. We've done quite a bit of work, instructing friends to give her a chew on arrival and a few other things - and lots of training, but the difference is incredible.

Now Lainy chews her chew, comes over to greet our guests, then lies on the carpet and usually goes to her bed. Quite remarkable. She also mastered going to a pub for the first time and I am so proud of her I think I might burst.

She was lost and then I found her, but more to the point she has rescued me, just as much as I rescued her. So thank you my darling girl.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

First Week.....

Apologies to all you non-dog lovers. Skip this one. I promise the next post will not be about dogs. But this one is, unshamedly so. Lainy has already brought such joy and love to my life, I would never have realised, so soon after losing Moll.
They are both very different characters. Moll was very self contained, very sure of herself, doled out love in specified doses. Moll was not about unconditional love. But the love that she awarded was all the more precious.

Lainy, despite her difficult start in life, is incredibly loving and bonds very quickly. She is trusting of me but very nervous of strangers. I say to friends, don't lean over her, don't put your hands out, let her come to you. Those that ignore this advice may get nipped. Plus when she's stressed, she has a tendency to nip people's ankles when they are inside and suddenly stand up. A dear friend suffered a nip when this happened.

So there is work to be done - as with most dogs, least of all rescue dogs. If you think of the work that goes into training a puppy, that is phenomenal. Lainy needs time to gain confidence and realise that strangers in the house can be friends, and won't hurt her (and are supplied with treats). And I really look forward to that day.

With all the news of further restrictions, and autumn/winter approaching, there is little to celebrate. Although as I write, the sun has come out. I am getting on with what I hope is the final edit of my novel. There is other stuff on the horizon (book stuff that is, to be announced at a later date). Lainy is asleep behind me as I write (just like Moll did) and I take huge comfort knowing that she is here, with me, and loves me already. As I love her, very strongly and powerfully. Whatever happens over the next six months, we have each other.

And that, together with my dear friends, old and new, is worth celebrating. Pip said to me once, "life's easy when things are going well. It's when things are difficult that you find out about yourself, and need to be strong." So to all my friends - let's help each other through this next tricky phase. Walking in the fresh air, talking, laughing and crying. And I have the honour of doing it with Lainy.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

First Day Home

For the last few weeks, I have been walking Lainy with her foster carer, and consulting with the friend who is involved in the charity that Lainy orginally came from. Sorry that this is still in a lump but Rew hasn't been able to get over to help with the formatting..... I hadn't realised how emotional life has been until I went away with a dear friend last weekend.She was exhausted, too, and it hit us when we stopped - as life often does. So we had a very peaceful and relaxing time exploring the area around Polperro - and Moll came too, albeit in her little wooden box with MOLLIE engraved on it. She sat by the telly so she could watch proceedings - ie cooking and eating - so she was in her element. We came back on Monday and on Tuesday I met Lynn and Lainy and another friend and dogs. I hadn't seen Lainy for nearly a week but she bounced up to me with such joy that all fears I'd been having about taking her on vanished. I mean, the worries were about this huge, life changing event, and the fact that she has had a difficult time inthe past and there's just me to sort out her problems. Though it's not just me, as Lynn and Bridget are in constant touch bless them. Anyway, we arranged that I'd bring Lainy home on Wednesday, after a walk with Lynn. I was so nervous by this time, trying to remember everything I should and shouldn't do to help her. We got home and inside, and she looked at the front door hopefully, then trotted in to inspect everything, as she had the day before. After lunch I sat outside in the back yard while she met Mel and Joe upstairs and lay down behind me while Mel and I chatted. Then, a bit later she jumped onto my lap - this is Lainy, not Mel - gave me a good lick, and since then she's been amazing. Slept in her bed through the night and is now lying behind me fast asleep as I write this. Of course there are going to be teething problems as we get to know each other better, and I understand her issues, but so far - and it's still only Day One - she has been incredible. I;ve been advised to take things really slowly with her, which is what I'm doing. So while I know everyone wants to meet her, please be patient. This is a dog who needs a lot of TLC. She has won my heart already, which helps with the massive sinkhole left by Moll. And it's lovely having a dog who, unlike Moll, is very tactile. I'm doing lots of reading and going to do ongoing training with her, and look forward to a happy life together. Even the Tooth Fairy, who was a bit sceptical about this new arrival, looked at her yesterday and said, "She's beautiful." Pause. "And I don't even like brown dogs." Hah!

Thursday, 10 September 2020

A New Chapter

First of all, apologies for all this being in one paragraph. I still haven't found out how to make Blogger acknowledge carriage returns. Anyone any ideas? In the meantime, everything comes in an indigestible lump. Anyway, the last few weeks have been hard without Moll. Harder than I would have thought possible. Especially the evenings and at nights. But by a curious set of coincidences, a week after we lost Moll, a friend put me in touch with someone who is fostering a dog that needs adopting. It turns out the lady from the charity involved originally lives round the corner from me and I was about to knock on her door anyway. Then it turns out I know the person fostering the dog from when Pip was alive. A very small world! I've had six walks so far with the dog and her foster carer and so we've got to know each other and I know about her quirks and wobbly tendencies. (She has yet to learn mine.) And to cut a very long story short, my home check has just been approved, so as from next Wednesday I will have a darling dog living with me. Home really isn't home without a dog, and while no one can ever replace Moll, I really look forward to getting to know this new one, having lots of fantastic walks and adventures, and being part of my life. She is part Spitz and part all sorts, by the way, aged 4. No pictures yet. She is very intelligent, loyal, athletic, loving and underneath a little insecure because of her past. I hope we can make each other very happy - it's as if Moll sent her to me, knowing how I feel. This was taken last Sunday, just after we'd picked up Moll's ashes (not ready to scatter them yet). We were walking along by St Agnes Head and I looked up and said, "Look - there's MOll looking down on us....)