Friday, 14 July 2017
This was Gwynver beach the other day - having been to the Rosudgeon car boot sale, we felt in need of cooling off a bit, so searched for a dog friendly beach near to Penberth Cove, where I was due to do a walk for the book, and headed for Gwynver.
We parked on the cliffs above Sennen and scrambled down over the dunes, to the coastal footpath, where we saw these amazing, brilliantly coloured emerald beetles.
Then we headed down to the beach for a swim, wishing we'd bought the surfboards. Even so, we had a brilliant time while Moll tried to dig to Australia.
By the time we left the beach, ran back to the van to avoid getting a parking ticket (how quickly those two hours went) and headed back to start our walk, we were eaten alive by some incredibly vicious horseflies and are now covered in bites. So the walk has been postponed till next week.
We sat on the rocks at Porch Nanven as the tide came in, cooled off in the river and then had fish and chips in St Just on the way home. One really magical day when you wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else...
Tuesday, 27 June 2017
There are numerous beautifully restored and maintained cottages on the estate, but we stayed in one of the eco friendly lodges, which are spacious, very luxurious and warm, and feature local oak and granite. Ours had its own private garden and terrace at the back with a table and chairs for enjoying the evening sun which we were able to do the first evening.
After that, the weather deteriorated, but I interviewed Lady Vyvyan on the Saturday morning, which was fascinating. She has letters from Clara Vyvyan who was a great friend of Daphne du Maurier, so we had a lot to talk about for my next book. We explored the woods, did the Halliggye walk, and then had a fabulous meal at the New Yard restaurant on the Saturday night.
We didn't have time to try the heated outdoor pool, nestling in the walled kitchen garden - well, we did, but it was windy and raining so we were a bit wimpy, but we did look in the gallery and crafts centre and the spa looked amazing too.
So if you're in Cornwall, near Helston, do visit Trelowarren. To truly appreciate it you have to stay there, but do call in for a bit of ancient Cornish magic.
Thursday, 15 June 2017
I don't know how many different sea shanty groups will be singing this year - each year it gets bigger, with more and more venues - so I shall be singing a lot, and on Sunday afternoon, the Suitcase Singers will be singing outside Roly's Fudge shop (!!) from 3-4pm - just before the festival winds up at 5pm.
So if any of you are in the Falmouth area, come along and see us. have a pint or two and listen to the hundreds of different singers in our town.
Wednesday, 7 June 2017
This was a new festival and although I hadn't seen that much publicity about it, there evidently was more than enough, as all the car parks were jammed, including the overflow ones and those for campervans and motorhomes - overall they had over 13,000 people, many of whom weren't even from Cornwall.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, and met some fellow writers on the Saturday to see where we'd be performing that afternoon and, in my case, Sunday morning - in the Dead Beat Poet's Corner, next to the Secret Gin Garden. The picture taken above was me reading on Sunday when I sold some books, inspired others to read the Poldark books, and was delighted by the dear mates and strangers who turned up. Even better, I've been booked in for next year, so looking forward to that...
After that, myself and two other friends did some busking and really enjoyed that - one fellow stopped to listen to us and said, "I got some second hand clothes, and now hearing your beautiful singing, that's made my festival!" so we're on to do some more performing when Heather gets back from her travels.
On Monday we were hit by gale force winds and torrential rain and I did an interview with BBC Radio Cornwall (by phone thankfully) to promote the reissue of my first book, Discover Cornwall, which sold out the first print run. It's now got a much brighter cover, updated walks and new pictures so we're pleased with that.
Apart from a really sore back - I'm sitting here with a bag of frozen spinach pressed against my lower back - I'm now trying to get some other work. And preparing for our gig at the Sea Shanty Festival in 10 days time..... in between showers!
Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Tonight we're singing at Trebah Gardens and next weekend I am giving a talk at the Great Estate Festival at Scorrier, and am also doing some busking with two other friends. None of this is paid, but I do get free tickets to the festival which is worth a lot, and it's all about getting my books out there and making friends and meeting people.
Heather and I went over to Scorrier yesterday to check out the gardens and see where we're going to be performing, and it's just how you would imagine a huge, rambling, secret garden. Perfect!
Last weekend, as I was asked to review a hotel, I took a friend who's just celebrated a special birthday, and organised a secret party for her which, I'm relieved to say, went very well. You never know with surprises!
Pictures to follow, but in the meantime here's another...
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Above picture of Moll on a staddle stone near Castle an Dinas.
Last year my kitchen flooded in those flash floods we had in September, and a friend suggested I claim off the insurance. So a very kindly fellow came round and said they couldn't pay more than £300 but it would help with the cost of a new carpet or flooring, so I said yes thanks. And now I really wish I hadn't. My insurance has gone up from £300 to £800 - that was the best quote. The others were over £1,000. And all because of a £300 claim???
I'm still arguing the toss, of course, but am reeling from shock.
Apart from that, life is busy doing another walk for the book, preparing for the Great Estate Festival at Scorrier the first weekend in June(doing a talk/chat and singing), and then singing at the Sea Shanty Festival the following weekend. All a lot of fun and will hopefully sell some books, but not bringing much money in. Still, life has to be enjoyed. I must just try harder to earn the insurance money....!
Tuesday, 16 May 2017
As I write, there is a steady and persistent drizzle that has now turned into a deluge, but for most of April the weather was beautifully sunny, so I’m hoping that once the much needed rain has gone through, we will resume the cheerier weather.
I’ve been able to get several walks done for the Daphne du Maurier book, which has been lovely - in particular a walk at Tywardreath a month ago, with Deb and Rich. I’d originally done this walk years ago on a freezing, March day and what a difference, doing it in spring sunshine! We ended up at the New Inn at Tywardreath where we met a geocaching friend of Rich’s who told us some fascinating historical facts about the area.
Last weekend I did a review up at Doublebois where we explored the area - not one I know at all - which provides some fascinating and diverse walking. On the Sunday we headed up to Altarnun to do a walk for the book and were blessed with sunny skies by the time we got there, and did the entire walk in shorts and t shirts.
Wednesday, 3 May 2017
So it was a shame that came to an end. By the way, I don’t get paid for reviews - the deal usually is that you get a free meal/stay somewhere and in return you write a glowing account of their pub/restaurant/hotel/cottage and organise some stunning pictures.
Nowadays I write occasional reviews for the website www.feetongtheground.holiday which is for people who don’t want to fly when they go on holiday - an excellent idea, not only for the environment but for those who (like Peter de Savary), hate flying.
But a few weeks ago I was asked to review some pubs/restaurants for a Cornish publication, and had a brilliant meal over at the Traveller’s Rest at Trevarrian, near Newquay airport. Even better, it was a fabulous day so Viv and I had a wonderful two hour scamper over the coastal footpath there in Mediterranean sunshine - see picture above.
I was then approached by the PR of a hotel group asking if I’d like to review a few hotels - one night in each plus dinner, B&B, so Deb and I headed off to Padstow last week for a night in the Metropole hotel which was fabulous. We - by which I include Moll - were given a friendly welcome, had bags carried, a special dog pack in the room, and fantastic food and walks.
I’ve got another review coming up near Liskeard, in a chalet near Bodmin Moor, and another possible hotel one coming up. As I’m not likely to get a holiday this year - or at least, not until autumn - these mini breaks are a really lovely way of breaking up the everyday.
So I count myself very lucky - as do the friends that accompany me!
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
On Saturday a group of us went up to Luxulyan, organised by Rich, who is very into his geocaching. It was a great walk, despite the cold wind, and we got all the caches apart from one - though as Rich said, it’s a good excuse to go back. After a pint in the King’s Arms afterwards, I was good for nothing except food and a quiet evening in, but Deb and Rich are made of sterner stuff (despite being older) and went on to carouse at the folk and cyder festival…
Easter Sunday saw me tackling a car boot and then heading down to Penwith Moors where we found a walk which turned out to be near Castle an Dinas, which is where I need to do a walk for the book, so that was a fantastic coincidence. Once again, by the time I got home I was so tired I had to go to bed for an hour, but the walking was superb.
Easter Monday brought another car boot then going over to see some friends who are having a really difficult time. Life can often take us by surprise (always) but this one is a particularly heart wrenching and they need all the support they can get.
And yesterday I went over to Carbis Bay to give a talk at the hotel there - what a lovely audience they were, and bought lots of books too! I then went to help another friend going through a horrible time, and went for a long walk afterwards, thinking, I’m really glad the weather’s so good. It helps lift all the horrible stuff.
So here’s to spring, and good mates.
Thursday, 13 April 2017
The picture above is of what the locals call Crocodile Swamp, a marshy area below the railway bridge that could have been the one where poor Marcus died.
So that's my Easter treat! Hope you enjoy yours....
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
So on Sunday Fiona and I headed up to Fowey, in amazing weather, to do a walk round Lanteglos Church which was where Daphne married Tommy Browning. It was also where Jane Slade married Christopher Slade, and both were buried there: Janet became the inspiration for Du Maurier's first book, The Loving Spirit.
There's something special about spring, I think, as it carries a reward for the dour winter months, and hope for the summer ahead, and never more was it so than on Sunday. The scent of joy was in the air, along with shy primroses, deep blue violets clumped next to wild chives. Celandines lit our way along much of the path and overhead the bird song was the sweetest sound ever.
The church at Lanteglos is up a steep path from Pont Quay, but worth the view, and when we got there the churchyard was kissed with blackthorn blossom. From inside the church came the sound of a piano playing - the vicar, somewhat embarrassed at having been caught, said he wasn't supposed to have been playing (why not??) but was waiting for Bishop Chris from St Germans who is walking the Celtic Way - a variety of Celtic paths spanning some 135 miles from St Germans to St Michael's Mount. The Bishop was due any minute, but we didn't see him, and instead wound our way back towards Bodinnick where we sat in the sun and enjoyed the spectacular views down the river towards Fowey.
We really didn't want the day to end, it was such a joy to experience. And how lucky am I that I get to write about it, later? Transcribing the tape was lovely, listening to the robins and blackbirds singing their heads off, on what was a really perfect spring day.
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
On Saturday I went to a walk organised at Polly Joke - there were 30 of us which i found a little daunting, but everyone was very friendly and I knew several people, and we ended up walking in lots of little groups, swapping round, so we talked to lots of different people. Mind you, Moll quickly decided she was going to Lead The Way, so I ended up at the front of the pack, running to keep up with her.
Polly Joke was Pip's favourite place, having spent some of his teenage years with his uncle and aunt who lived there, and I have many fond memories of visits there, picnics with my family, friends, and burying tin on a part of the cliffs near the tamarisk trees. It was a bittersweet day that suddenly, for some reason, made me miss Pip with a hollow ache that made me howl my eyes out the following day.
I was talking to Viv about it and she said, "I know just what you mean. I felt like that about Mum today," (her mum died last year).
And while no, I don't believe I do have suppressed my feelings for Pip at all, I do think that if you love someone, grief does bubble up like that. It's not a bad thing - it's just part of how those we love, live on with us. And every now and again give us a little nudge...
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
My dear mate Av met me at mum’s and after lunch and a catch up (my mum refers to Av as her other daughter), we set off to walk Moll at Staverton, then to Totnes where Av had booked us into a B&B for the weekend.
Not having been away for a while, I was very aware of how important breaks are. However much we may (or may not) enjoy our day to day lives, having a change of scene is very beneficial. Av and I have known each other for well over 20 years now and been away many times so we know when to give each other space, what each other likes etc.
We explored Totnes market, visited the charity shops, walked miles with Moll, and found The Albert (after Einstein), a brilliant pub down the road from where we were staying, which did a home made pie and a pint (or glass of wine in our case) for £8.50 as a special offer on Fridays and Saturdays. No prizes for guessing where we ate.
We sorted the world out, had a lot of laughs, a few tears, and while I still find it hard coming back to an empty flat, it was lovely to have that time together, and with my mum.
I’ve now got another streaming cold, but despite that I’m looking forward to the next break, though having busy lives, it's important to put aside some time. Exmoor is a possibility, and Av and I are planning another weekend in October. Who knows what else may come up?
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
I had a phone call out of the blue the other day, from someone asking if I’d help her write a biography for a presentation she has to give. Somewhat bemused, I said yes, I’d certainly help if I could, and only later asked her how she’d found me. On a website of Cornish speakers, apparently.
I still wasn’t too sure what this work would involve, but we agreed a fee and earlier this week she came to see me. It transpires she has to give a talk at a conference of some 3,000 people and is terrified. Would I be able to help her write her biography and give any tips about giving a presentation?
So we sat down and I made notes, then typed as much as I could, while she was there, to get the flavour of her words, who she is as a person. I’ve worked on it and sent it back to her, and we’ll do that back and forth until we’re both happy with it.
I remember practising my first talk, being terrified. Slow down, said a friend. Don’t gabble (we all do when we’re nervous). Make eye contact. Smile. Include humour. If things go wrong, don’t worry, work that into the script - just talk as you go along.
The first time I sang in public in my smaller group (being in a large choir is much less daunting), I was convinced I would dry up and no sound would come out of my mouth. In fact I sang fine, but my legs were shaking so much I literally thought I was going to fall over. The second time I sang in public, with three of us, I didn’t really know the song, having been drafted in at the last minute. I had a complete blank, forgot my notes, and laughed. So did everyone else. We started again and it was fine. And after that, I’m not paralysingly nervous any more. I’ve had lots of other things go wrong, but tell the audience what they are, and include them in whatever’s going on. After all, it gets boring if things go according to plan all the time.
But back to this job, and I realised, I love this work! I’ve always said my dream job would be Desert Island Discs - all that research and then interviewing people would be just up my street. And I love radio. But doing this is a good second best!
So if you know anyone who has to write a biographical presentation, and needs help, please point them in my direction!
Wednesday, 8 March 2017
Butter would't melt, and all that....
My cat, Bussie, is now 18 and as irascible as ever, though noticeably more cuddly than he ever was in his youth. Another change is in his attitude towards food. He used to eat anything and everything (like Moll) to the point where my brother in law accused Pip of killing Bussie with kindness (good for Pete), but nowadays he's much more picky, and as a result lost a lot of weight.
So when I came back a few weeks ago and saw both his dishes licked clean, I was surprised but pleased. Then it happened again, several days running and I became suspicious. Particularly when I found a broken dish on the floor.
And with good reason. It turns out that Moll has been jumping onto the chair specially put there for Bussie, and jumping up onto the shelf and eating his food. Hah! I thought. I'll stop her. So I took the chair away, which means that Bussie has to jump onto the table, from there on the dresser and make his way along a narrow shelf to get to his food.
That worked for a few days, then I got back yesterday and found smashed saucers on the floor and a very guilty looking Moll - you know when they won't look at you, and slink along the corridor? That look...
So now when I go out, I have taken to removing Bussie's dishes to the table by the cooker, where neither of them can get at them.
That seems to be working. For the moment....
Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Greetings and apologies for silence for the last week or so. I somehow managed to obtain a very painful shoulder which stopped me from functioning properly. However, it is now on the mend so normal service resuming, to my great relief.
It didn’t stop me enjoying my birthday which was full of dear friends, lovely walks, sunshine (in between torrential showers) and good food. What more can you want?!
I now have a lot of catching up to do, but sent my novel off to an agent this morning (gulp) and need to get going again on the Daphne du Maurier book which has been somewhat neglected due to ill health and appalling weather.
I’ve just come back from a good blowy walk at Trelissick Woodlands - we actually escaped rain again today as well which was a bonus!
Above is the most wonderful picture that my good friend Carol did of Moll (scanning it doesn't n early do it justice). It is entitled MOLL IS NOT AMUSED and is of Moll as Queen Victoria looking really pissed off, which she does sometimes, when Carol’s dog Pilot is being Extremely Bouncy (he’s only a year old). Whenever I look at this I have to laugh - she has captured Moll’s Piss Off expression so perfectly!
So hope you are all ploughing through germs and wintry weather - at least we have daffodils a plenty, crocuses, and rhododendrons out now as well. The evenings are getting lighter, so spring really is on the way…
Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Well, so much for all that early January strength and positivity. Last Monday I got up, walked Moll feeling a bit jaded but sat down to work. By 11am I could hardly keep my eyes open and had to go to bed. Where I slept for TWO HOURS... And it went downhill from there, so I ended up staying in bed for most of the week, getting up to drag myself round the block with poor Moll a couple of times a day, then taking her to the churchyard in the afternoon, where I could stagger round like an old lady, and Moll could let off steam chasing squirrels round the gravestones. Cheerful companions, dead people, especially when you feel hideous.
I couldn't concentrate, couldn't run two words together, let alone string an article together, and after staring at various books without being able to take anything in, I finally started re-reading some Jo Jo Moyes novels which I devoured like one starved. One a day for the last few days: words pouring into my feverish brain, making little sense but carrying me along as I rushed, headlong, into other worlds where flu and loneliness did not exist. For being ill when on your own is lonely. Moll does her best, of course, but no one wanted flu so my mates steered clear - you can't blame them.
Thankfully I am now much recovered. Energy levels are still decidedly low, and I'd forgotten how dispiriting post-flu can make you feel, but at least I can string a few sentences together which is a great relief. So, slowly, life resumes to normal. Which, being January (or February by the time you read this), consists of grey, damp sludgy days where the first crocuses have already burst forth, and daffodil shoots are now six inches high.
Spring isn't too far away. I've got a review to do in a few weeks (I hope) and met some interesting people on a dog walk last Sunday. Daphne du Maurier beckons, as does my novel. So hope is in the air....
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
On the way there we were deluged with rain - never a good start - but thankfully by the time we got to Daymer Bay it was dry so we set forth over the golf course, taking in St Enodoc Church - which is well worth a visit if ever you're in the area. The last time I did this walk was for Cornwall Today, and must have been about 7 or 8 years ago as I remember Pip dropping me off at Daymer Bay - he was relatively well, then, as I remember. Half way over the golf course, I got lost, but some kind golfers pointed me in the right direction and before too long I found myself in Rock, where I'd arranged to meet Pip at the Rock Inn. Wandering up and down Rock like a lost soul, I kept asking people where the pub was, but no one knew (it was winter). I rang husband continually but no reply, so you can imagine the kind of mood I was in when I finally found the pub and burst in, swear words dancing round me like a juke box.
This time, Viv and I set forth over the golf course and - well, we seemed to go in a different direction. We followed the white stones, as instructed by myself, but found ourselves on a tarmac track. Then we discovered Jesus Well (inland, so way off course). So we headed back over towards the sea, wandering round the edge of the golf course, dodging low flying golf balls, until I discovered a gap in the hedge. We dived through there - and found ourselves in someone's garden. Having tried the path ahead of us, that just led to the dustbins, so we crept round the side of the house and eventually had to tiptoe round the front, and run at full tilt down the drive, dogs in hot pursuit, while we giggled like teenagers.
We then had the same trouble finding the elusive pub (we were nowhere near where we should be),and found it was no longer the comfy sailing club type place but a smart bar with a huge window overlooking Padstow. The prices matched the upgrade, and having said I'd buy the coffee, was a little nervous as I only had £6 on me. "We might have to do a runner," I whispered to Viv as we sat in the sun, and I had bittersweet memories thinking of Pip also sitting by the window waiting patiently for his wife.
Seven years ago, we headed back home where I took Pip to see Mamma Mia which was on in Falmouth, and we met some friends for supper later. As we walked out of the cinema, Pip was very quiet and I thought, Oh No. "What did you think of it?" I asked, tentatively. He turned and looked at me with a huge grin. "Pop, it was like the best party ever," he breathed.
I would like to believe that the dead can see what you're doing, but I don't. Having said that, Pip was very much with us on Saturday: every step of the way. Including getting lost, several times, when I could almost hear him laugh. However, this time Viv and I made it back to Rock with relatively few mishaps, and dear Paul delivered the van, fully serviced, and wouldn't take any money other than for parts. I insisted on buying him a good bottle of New Zealand wine, but he thanked me for taking Viv out on these excursions, though she enjoys them as much as I do.
I drove home that night thinking how incredibly lucky I am to have the bestest of friends. Who also loved Pip - for who could not?
Wednesday, 11 January 2017
It's strange what a new year can do, isn't it? Time for reflection, start of a new chapter, and all that... I've just been talking to my dear friend Paul who is off on a Cities of Peace tour of the UK when he gets back from New Zealand.
I'm not able to attempt anything similar due to work, Moll and lack of funds, but I am still aiming to make some changes to my life. For the good, of course. But I also don't think it's advisable to raise sights unrealistically high - that way you're doomed to failure.
But I saw a lovely quote on a friend's Facebook page today - "People who wonder whether the glass is half full or empty are missing the point. The glass is REFILLABLE."
Also, I've just received a lovely note in the post from one of my nieces. She finished by saying, "Dad has your Poldarks walk book at home and I LOVED reading it over Christmas, Sue. I think it's brilliant!"
As you can imagine, that made my day, and the card is now up on my noticeboard above my desk. For, you know, those wobbly moments.
Friday, 6 January 2017
Happy New Year to everyone and let’s hope it’s a good one, despite all the political disquiet.
I had some lovely walks over Christmas which included mulled wine in the woods near Treslothan, an interesting conversation at the cafe at Chapel Porth, and the discovery of Inkie’s cafe at Golitha Falls - even if it was shut, being a bank holiday. Though most days recently seem to have been bank holidays of one kind.
I’ve got a few possible reviews coming up, plus I hope meeting someone whose close relative was a great friend of Daphne du Maurier, so that would be great for the book. The search for more work goes on - constantly - but I’ve started re-reading my last novel and will send that out again as well.
I have a policy that if you open all doors and windows - on every front - something will eventually happen. Of course, it happens when you’ve given up on whatever you’re hoping for and are trundling along doing something else, but that’s life.
So I wish you all a happy, healthy and creative new year. With a lot of fun as well, for what is life without love, laughter and fun?