Wednesday, 7 December 2016

We've had some amazing skies over the last week - well, until the weekend storms which nearly saw the boat in pieces. Very frightening, standing on the pontoon on Saturday night, while it bucked like a broncho, and I was convinced the boat would break its lines and land on top of me. Thankfully it is still there, untouched, so all is well.

On Saturday night I drove through torrential gales to Mylor to our Mix, where various people gather to share food and drink, and perform various numbers. Paul Haines first started this and it's a great way to get confidence performing in front of others - the first time I sang I was so nervous I thought I would either lose my voice or fall over, my legs were shaking so much. Now, once the obligatory nerves are over, I love it!

On Saturday I had a lovely walk near the St Day area - we ended up in Unity Woods (what a terrific name) which were still carpeted with yellow, orange and red leaves, and made our way up to Wheal Busy. I just love the names in Cornwall, and to explore a relatively unknown part of this area is a real treat. Even if it's not going in a book or magazine!

Tomorrow i have an interview with CHBN radio which is broadcast from Treliske Hospital in Truro - almost a year since my last one with them. But hopefully it will spread the Poldark word! Then the following Friday, 16th December, I'm doing a walk with Walk Kernow, from the Poldark book, at Charlestown - at 10.30 am so do come along if you can.

This Sunday, weather permitting, I'm doing another walk for the book at Tywardreath - or maybe Lanlivery, we'll see. Wherever we go, it's always a pleasure to share the day with friends - and Moll gets an extra long walk as well of course, so we're all happy.....

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Review and The Red Shoes

Last week I was fortunate enough to review a gorgeous chalet near Godrevy - it looked right out on the lighthouse, for a company called Forever Cornwall. Well, if you want to stay in a chalet this was perfect - sleeping six, central heating, lovely big rooms, lots of books stuffed and overflowing with all kinds of books, a well designed fitted kitchen, a large wooden table that could easily seat six or eight, a large sitting area and adjustable TV, and surf boards hung from the ceiling. It was just wonderful, cosy, and you could walk outside, and onto the beach in minutes. Bliss!

Then on Saturday (why do excitements always happen at once?) I went to Plymouth to meet my dear friend Av and we saw the world premiere of Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes. For those who haven't seen any of his productions, they are superb. Not just for the dancing (usually contemporary but more classical for this one) which was superb - the female lead was on stage, dancing constantly, for nearly two hours, and the ballet master had the cleanest footwork and springiest elevation I've ever seen - but the sets were incredible. The designer is a sheer genius, and the lighting was a masterpiece in magic. Every time I see a Bourne ballet I think, this is just amazing. Better even than last time - and each time they get better.

Of course it's not exactly an uplifting story, but the message behind it is the importance of art. The Red Shoes have a mind of their own, and when the dancer puts them on she is unable to take them off, and has to dance until she drops. She is forced to make the choice between her art and the man she loves. The old triangle but with a twist.

Having said that, it wasn't a depressing ballet, albeit full of dark moments and some surreal dancing. As soon as the music started, we were transported into a different world, and one that was so powerful it stayed with us - and still does now.

So if you get the chance to see The Red Shoes - it goes to Sadler's Wells in the next week or so and then starts touring - grab it. You won't regret it. This is theatre at its best.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Authors and publisher

Last week I was lucky enough to interview Tom Michell, author of The Penguin Lessons. This is an account of when Tom was in his early twenties and went to South America in search of adventure and to teach in a boys' boarding school. He ended up rescuing a penguin from an oil slick, from where this bird adopted him and refused to go back into the sea or to join his colony. It's a wonderful, true story of life in South America at the time (40 years ago), of the incredibly strong bond he forged with this penguin, whom he named Juan Salvador, and much more besides. I've been telling everyone about this book which has so much for all kinds of people on all levels. Buy it and read it, give it to your friends, your parents, your grandparents and your children!

The following day I finally met my publisher - as they are in Wales we have so far done everything by phone, post and email, so it was lovely to finally meet Jane. I suddenly realised it's nearly six years since I signed my first contract. Where has that time gone???

And now I will take an early departure. I got a stinking cold last week and the lurgy is still lurking. Some days I think it's gone and then it creeps back when I'm not looking. Bed is the only thing that seems welcoming right now!I'm doing a review with my mate Viv at Gwithian next week so do want to be well for that!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Taken on a brilliant walk last Friday!

I logged on this morning to find an email from one of my American cousins to say that her dad, who I was very fond of, had died in a hospice on Friday. She’d also lost her uncle a few months ago and one of her brothers was very ill.

Although I hadn’t seen them for years, the news still came as a terrible shock. I saved up and went out there for six weeks many years ago and had such a brilliant time: one that I will never forget.

I feel so sorry for her, having so much loss to endure in one year, but sometimes life does that. You think you’re going along on a roll, everything finally calms down and you have a good time and then - bang - the cards come tumbling down and you wonder how on earth to struggle through the days.

As we get older, the chances of losing our loved ones increase, obviously, and we have to start really thinking about how to best use the time we’ve got. I’ve been thinking that, a lot, and I know several other friends of mine have too.

ON a brighter note, I went to a fabulous golden wedding party on Saturday, full of lovely friends, great food, singing, love and joy and a great ceilidh. If it hadn’t been for getting back to Moll, I would have danced all night…..

Then on the Sunday my mate Viv and I did the most wonderful walk on Twelve Men’s Moor for my new book. It was quite stunning, and the most beautiful sunset on the way back…

So here’s to life, love and friends. Let's make the most of it all while we can.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The good the bad and the ugly

My favourite beach, I think, where I went to pick mussels last week. It was such a brilliant day we wore shorts and t shirts and bare feet - in Mid October - and picked enough mussels to feed an army!

Since then the boat has been broken into though it appears nothing has been stolen. It looks as if someone spent the night (or more) there, having forced the lock and got into the cabin, and left behind a memento of a syringe. Thanks to Tony I have notified the marine part of the police, although there are often thefts in our area, he says.

On Monday I went down to Geevor tin mine for Poldark day to sign some books and met a lovely marketing lady there, Sonja, who is not only brilliant at her job but bursting with energy, and her band of so friendly volunteers. Being half term, the mine was packed with visitors doing underground trips, and afterwards - dodging the torrential rain - Moll and I walked from Levant towards Pendeen which is truly stunning.

Unfortunately there were flash floods in Falmouth - and other places - so my journey home took two and a half hours, as Falmouth was flooded in places and the traffic gridlocked at rush hour. I then discovered that the kitchen had flooded again - thankfully the new flooring hasn't arrived. My architect friend Al came round last night and diagnosed the problem, the insurance people are coming next week, so hopefully it can all be sorted.

The good news, however, is that I had a meeting yesterday and got some really interesting work out of it. Hooray!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Mums and audiences

This was Gribbin - taken a few weekends ago, on a perfect Sunday....

Apologies for absence - life has been very busy recently with a mixture of good and no so good events, as per usual.

The only good thing about difficult times is that it really makes you realise what good friends are all about. When Pip was so poorly, just before he died, what kept me going was the kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity of my mates. You know who you are, so thank you. I hope I can always be as good a friend to you as you have been to me.

Recently I got to the point of thinking I would burst if I didn’t have a break, but the night before we were due to go away, C got a phone call to say his very elderly mum was incredibly poorly and didn’t have long to live. So of course he had to shoot up there.

Meanwhile my mum had had a fall needing stitches. So I went up to see her.

His mum is a little better, though still very frail, but I’m glad to say my mum has had her stitches out and although badly shaken, and her confidence has taken a bad knock, came for a couple of little walks. And was very glad to see me.

For those of us who still have elderly parents, it’s a reminder of how important they are. We can’t replace them so it’s good to keep in touch and see them when we can.

And talking of how lovely people can be - I went to give a talk in Redruth yesterday. Got there to find the laptop provided wouldn’t read my memory stick with the presentation on. Finally it did, got the slides loaded up - and then found the laptop had started running updates so I couldn’t use my presentation.

I did say to the audience would they rather I came back, and do the talk with slides, but they said no, so I got up and started talking. And what a fabulous audience! They were so interested, asked loads of questions, laughed, shared fabulous stories and bought lots of books, too.

They were such a lovely bunch of people that my faith in humanity was quite restored. And the only snoring came from two dogs for the blind…

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.