Tuesday 22 December 2015


This was taken on Sunday at Kelsey Head. I like to think it is pointing me in perhaps a new direction for 2016?

I am normally a glass half full person, but there are times when I struggle to be cheerful, and I am, like many of us, badly affected by wet, grey winter days. Especially if you have to write a walks book to a deadline. Normally we get days of autumn brilliance when the sky glows and the leaves are a tapestry of red and gold. But this year I struggle to remember any.

Trying to use a tape recorder when it’s windy is very tricky as the recorder picks up the wind and transforms it into a special effects wind tunnel, so when I’m trying to transcribe the walk, all I can hear is a shrieking noise.

Still, I have managed to do half the walks, and despite being a pressure to get it done in time, it has proved a good positive focus while Mr B’s been ill which is even more important while he’s absent. It has been suggested I could call it Fifty Shades of More Grey...

I listened to a piece on Radio 4 about loneliness and being alone (not the same thing) at Christmas just now and it was interesting hearing how other people deal with it. Being self employed, I’m used to spending time on my own - I have to or I’d never get any work done - but Christmas opens up a real Pandora's box.

For anyone on their own, this can be a really difficult time, particularly if you are missing someone. Loneliness - a gaunt old man, and his young, hollow cheeked daughter, Vulnerability, hobble along the streets looking for warm places to stay. Not far away is their cousin, Insecurity, who grows more round cheeked as the days go by (there are SO many people to see).

They say you should face your fears, but in this case, if you invite them in, they are apt to stay. And while Vulnerability looks so appealing, she's really hard to get rid of - as they all are. You give them a cup of tea and a sarnie, a mince pie, maybe, and as you try and shut the door on them - firmly - just as firmly, one of them - usually Vulnerability - jams her little foot in the door to stop it shutting.

Sometimes it's possible to move them on relatively quickly. Love, fhe fairy godmother, is still capable of waving her magic wand and one of her children, Cuddle, is the biggest deterrent to the above. They are frightened of him because he's strong and always smiling, confident and happy. But the Love family are sadly overworked at this time of year, so it's not possible to attend to everyone in need.

Not sure where that allegorical fairy tale came from, but here's hoping everyone has a good festive season.

Remember those you love, but also remember those of us who are on our own.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

A Christmas Star

There’s a saying, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”.

Now, I’m not religious but I am amazed at how swiftly life can turn around sometimes. I know I should be used to it, but this time it took even me by surprise.

We’d been offered four days in a cottage in Mousehole this week which we were both really looking forward to - see the famous Mousehole lights and generally have a bit of a break before Christmas. Another friend had offered us her cottage in Penzance the following week or for Christmas itself. For someone who has always found Christmas really difficult, life was glistening with opportunities.

But over the weekend Mr B felt really poorly. After several emotional days he decided he really wasn’t well enough to go away, and the best thing would be to go north wards to try and get some more medical advice.

So all plans were swiftly unmade, I looked up train times and despatched him yesterday, with our heads reeling. I feel like one of those snowstorm things you pick up and shake, and after a little while, they settle. Right now, Mr B and I are still at the shaken stage.

The most important thing is for him to feel better. After all, you can’t be happy without your health. But it’s incredibly hard to leave the people you love - particularly at this emotional time of year.

I have no idea, at the moment, what this Christmas will bring. Other than several emotional phone calls. But yesterday my dear friends who live upstairs gave me a Christmas star that lights up.

And as I found out, 5 years ago when my Pip was so poorly, even when everything is really dire, there are always stars that light up. You just have to look for them.

Monday 7 December 2015

She's a Winner!

Several weeks ago, Mr B noticed a sign advertising a dog show in Redruth: one of the classes was Fastest Sausage Eater, and as Moll is known for inhaling her food rather than eating it, thought we must take her.

So on Sunday morning Moll was bathed and shampooed (by me), had her hair cut (by him) and finally we set forth for Redruth Community Centre.

lasrtchancehotel.org take in animals of any kind that other rescue centres cannot take, including ex-bait and ex-fight dogs, the sick, the aged and the terminally ill. They are always looking to rehab these animals and find them a new home or stay with them for life. No animal is ever destroyed because they cannot be homed. However, they are looking for fosterers, as well as loving permanent homes, so if you think you could help, please get in touch.

We got to the centre to find it packed with a Christmas fair on one side, full of some wonderful presents as well as home made cakes, leather work, bric a brac - all sorts. And in the other side of the building was the dog show which took place in a small room where dogs and their owners of all shapes, sizes and ages, piled in to take part in over 20 classes.

The first one we entered - by default - was Best Sporting Dog - just as we were standing there - and Moll won third prize! After that, she got 2nd prize for Most Appealing Eyes and Dog the Judges would Most Like to Take Home.

As Mr B said, “she would have won them all, but they had to give the other dogs a chance.”

The atmosphere there was wonderful - so kind and loving and friendly, it was just magic. So if anyone has any time or money to spare, please help this fantastic charity.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Another rollercoaster

Once again, life has entered another rollercoaster phase.

We went to a lovely party on Friday, then another on Saturday evening. We left early, both being tired, and were walking past Mr B’s house when the students next door came out and said, “is this your dog? We’ve left lots of messages on your phone!”

Moll scampered out of the strange house, delighted to see us and we went back, shattered buy the close shave - how had she got out? She could have been run over. Back home, I realised that the back gate had been left open and she'd escaped through there - four of us went off to the party together and she obviously decided to join the party and got as far as Mr B’s house. Thank god someone saw her and took her in.

While Mr B’s health has improved dramatically over the last three weeks, it took a bit of a dip recently, so we are having to readjust a bit until things improve - which I am sure they will. It’s incredibly dispiriting when this happens, but we are trying to stay positive and cheerful till he gets more help.

On a more positive note, I am ahead of schedule for the new book, and loving the work. Sometimes I think I would just like a breather for a few days - or a week - but however challenging life is, it’s never boring. And we learn different things every day.

Excuse me while I go and have a quick kip…..

Tuesday 24 November 2015


This was Widemouth Bay just as the sun came out.

We’ve just got back from reviewing a very lovely cottage at Whitstone, near Bude. We had a bit of trouble finding it on Friday night, because I’d lost the directions, and it was raining and pitch dark, (you can imagine Dark Mutterings from Mr B as the afternoon became evening and there was still no sign of our cottage). However, having found Bennetts Court Holiday Cottages (quite easy when you know the way), we were taken to a lovely snug little Bramble Cottage where we lit the woodburner and snuggled in for the night.

Mr B took it upon himself to cook for the entire weekend which was lovely, particularly as I’d been feeling rotten all week. But despite the downpours at times over the weekend, we had a lovely break.

The cottage was warm and cosy, and our hosts couldn’t have been more welcoming and friendly. We explored Holsworthy and Bude on the Saturday, and on the Sunday walked along the beach at Widemouth Bay, then along by the canal and saw the most fabulous sunset.

On the way back we encountered a young deer, who’d obviously been hit by a car, and was lying dazed and trembling in the middle of the road. We drove back to the nearest farm, where a lady there wasn’t sure what to do either, so we headed back to the deer - only to find it gone. We were somewhat relieved at not having to make any decision over it, though its chances during that cold night, and having concussion, weren’t good.

The next morning dawned frosty and bright, so we explored a hill fort and then drove over to Stepper Point to do another walk for the book.

There is plenty to amuse children here - an outdoor swimming pool, playground area, resident rabbits, alpacas and guinea pigs to name a few. There is also a large paddock for exercising dogs so we had a run in here while the alpacas stared at us in amazement. All in all, if you feel like a quiet break, with or without children, it’s a wonderful spot. We can’t wait to go back!

Sykes Cottages

Tuesday 10 November 2015

More walks

This wonderful angel was standing outside a house on the Lizard, expressing its gratitude for the wonderful day we'd had, when I walked past here a few weeks ago with Fiona and MollieDog, doing a walk for the new book.

Since then it appears to have rained non-stop, and life has been somewhat dominated by a not very well Mr B, resulting in medical appointments and a lot of stress. But life is ever thus - we get the good bits and the not so good bits. I'm very glad to have a new project to work on, and one that I enjoy so much.

Here are a few more pictures from the other weekend, taking pictures for another walk, near Tregonning Hill (not far from Helston). A wonderful, magical,misty afternoon....

And Germoe church, taken from the mediaeval Germoe chair - both small and beautiful...

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Another book!

Apologies for recent silence but life has been ever busy.

The good news is that my publishers have commissioned me to write another walks book which is very exciting!

I did my first walk last week and am writing it up at the moment with my able body of proof readers and researchers. Well, Mr B is helping me research and I have several wonderful friends who proof read. This one will take a lot of researching so it's all hands on deck to completely mix metaphors.

To celebrate this news, we had a much needed break at Gwithian which was wonderful. Even if we did spend a fair bit of time driving round selling my current book - which is all part of being a writer!

It was heartwarming to receive such good feeling about this current book.As any author knows, we spend so long writing our babies, then they're out in the wide world and we feel extremely vulnerable, so when we get good feedback it makes all the difference.

As I write it's raining and cold, back to winter, even if it may officially be autumn. But I have planned a few breaks - which will be needed - and look forward to getting on with this exciting new project.


Thursday 8 October 2015

Walking weekend and Promoting a book

Last weekend my dear friend Av and I went walking along the coastal path near Crafthole. For once (our last weekend it poured, all weekend long), the weather was not only kind but fabulous, so we had a sunlit walk around Portwrinkle on the Friday evening, then spent the Saturday walking to Freathy and back. Yes, we managed to get lost more than once, but this was for once NOT MY FAULT. Well, only partly my fault....

It must have been the hottest day of the year, and we walked for about 5 hours or more - just wonderful, and the scenery was at its very best. Neither of us know that area (near the Rame Peninsula) so it was an added bonus to stay somewhere lovely and explore the area.

Back to real life and I gave a talk at Flushing Sailing Club on Tuesday evening which went down very well. What a very generous and attentive audience, who bought books, too! We were given such a warm welcome by the Commodore and his wife, who organises the talks, and we will certainly go back.

Promoting a book is hard work. I;ve been asked to do quite a few talks now, which is great, because we constantly need to get our books out there, in order to sell them, when most of us would rather shrug and not ask people. We're shy, most of us writers, and don't like to keep harassing people to buy our work. But nowadays we have to - so bear with us. We're just doing our job!

I was very touched when a 2nd year student at Falmouth University came up to buy a book, saying how inspirational I was. To have stuck out for doing what I want. I was so touched I could hardly speak. It quite made my evening....

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Time for a break...

This picture is of Gwithian, as in a few weeks (on Saturday) we will be there for a mini break, and I can't wait. This year's been busy with lots of ups and recently, downs, and apart from a week in February, I haven't had a holiday this year.

Having said that, I'm having a few nights away with my dear friend Av this weekend. We're going to stay at Crafthole and walk along the cliffs - and the beaches now they are dog friendly once more - and have a good catch up. We try and get away every few months but it's been much longer than that this time so we are owed a good girls weekend.

It struck me that however much you love where you live and what you do (or hate it for that matter!), it's very important to have a change of scene. I'm just re-reading A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi which has given me an incredible yearning to go to Venice. Before that I read the brilliant The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, set in Amsterdam (though that didn't make me long to go there - though I would, of course) and Prague is on the list, too.

The list is actually very long but curtailed as all my current dog sitters are away at the moment. One's in Norfolk, one's in Crete and another in Portugal (as of Monday). So for now I'm not venturing any further afield than Torpoint....

Wednesday 23 September 2015


This was taken several weeks ago when out with Sally, playing around with our cameras. Well, she was giving me a lesson! Falmouth Bay on a sunny August afternoon...

Life has been a bit stressful recently, but the other night, eight of us went to see Kneehigh's Version of Rebecca at the Hall for Cornwall. It was amazing - I'm a huge fan of the book but the characters were just how I imagined, the sets were amazing and there was the right balance of humour, drama and pathos. I hate to say it but frequently when seeing plays I get the fidgets.

This time I was transfixed, glued to my seat, couldn't take my eyes off the stage. It was really one of the best pieces of theatre I;ve ever seen - and we all agreed on that.

So if it comes to a theatre anywhere near you - do go and see it. I can promise a truly wonderful evening.

An event like that takes you out of yourself - you forget about your worries and are transported to another place and time.

It really was theatre at its best. And life is that much easier afterwards, when granted a few hours escapism, in the hands of professionals.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Public speaking...

This has nothing to do with this post, but was taken walking from Hell's Mouth to Gwithian a few weeks ago showing Cornwall at its best.

Apologies for silence - life has, as ever, been more than busy recently. We have been investigating buying a Cornish Shrimper (19’ sailing boat) - haven’t got one yet, but are still looking - and on Monday my interview with BBC Radio Cornwall was broadcast - you can listen to it here. For some reason it won't let me add the link, so please go to my Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/sue.jackson.50099940.

Tonight I am taking part in Favourite Things - an evening of readings of prose and poetry by several people - Radio Cornwall, BBC broadcaster and various others, and I will be reading one of my walks and a few poems. It’s in aid of End Polio Now and it’s held at Mawnan Memorial Hall at 7.30pm and tickets are £10 which include a finger buffet.

Next Tuesday we are singing at Telltales, Dolly’s Wine Bar at 7.30pm in Falmouth, so do come along to listen to people reading out various stories and poems - entry is free for this one.

I’m also giving a talk at Flushing Sailing Club but that;s not till the beginning of October. And hopefully I will sell a few books too!

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Outside broadcasting...

A few weeks ago Tiffany Truscott, from BBC Radio Cornwall, got in touch about doing an interview about my new book, Walks in the Footsteps of Cornish Writers.

The plan was go meet at Perranporth, walk along the beach a bit and talk about Winston Graham, the author associated with the Perranporth walk in my book, and also some of the other walks and writers - Patrick Gale and Penzance, and Philip Marsden and St Mawes.

At the time, we were having that monsoon weather, so we agreed on a date (this morning) on the basis that if the weather was bad, we would re-arrange it. Well last night the forecast looked like yesterday - breezy but dry and sunny spells.

This morning I woke to grey clouds, heavy skies and thundery showers. Never mind, I thought, they'll pass. And I didn't have Tiffany's number anyway. I left home and alf way there the heavens opened and another monsoon landed. It was raining so hard I had the wipers on double time and couldn't see the road. I finally arrived in Perranporth in ordinary rain - the usual wet stuff - found Tiff and we decided to wait a few minutes. Eventually she got in the van, when Moll jumped straight on her lap - luckily she likes dogs - and had a chat; decided we'd walk along the beach to the bench in memory of Winston Graham up on the cliffs.

We managed that, and to find the bench, well hidden, on the spot of the bungalow he lived in while writing the first Poldark novels - and then the heavens opened again. We hurried down the steps back onto the beach while I said - "look, some caves here!" so we legged it into the furthest cave, and did the first part of the interview there, with Mollie Dog digging holes at our feet.

Of course by the time we'd walked back along the beach, having finished the interview, the skies had cleared and the rain had stopped. But it was done, and I enjoyed it very much.

The actual broadcast will be next week - she will let me know when and I will pass it on. Watch this space!

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Don't waste time!

For some reason I can't upload any pictures today, so you will have to bear with me!

I saw this on a friend's Facebook page and thought it great advice.....

None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought.

Eat the delicious food.

Walk in the sunshine.

Jump in the ocean.

Go travelling.

Run barefoot in the sand.

Dare to love the one who’s right.

Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like a hidden treasure.

Be silly.

Be kind.

Be weird.

There’s no time for anything else.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Getting my nerve back

This was actually taken two years ago, with Moll sitting on Snap, the lovely dragon classic boat we are fortunate enough to crew on.

Last year, as some of you may know, I had a big health scare which resulted in a radical hysterectomy - that’s when they basically take everything out for good measure - and I am left with a large vertical scar down my stomach.

While I am a fit person - I walk a lot, am probably a bit underweight and eat well thanks to a high metabolism, my confidence was really knocked last year. While physically I recovered reasonably quickly, I underestimated just how much the operation affected me psychologically.

The previous year, I had embraced sailing with my customary enthusiasm if not passion. We bought a dinghy and sailed a friend’s dragon (classic boat). I couldn’t wait to get sailing again. But as the months ticked by, I became fearful of sailing. When I did go out, that magic had gone. I felt as if a dear friend had deserted me. I started having panic attacks while driving - something that hadn’t happened for years. I hated becoming a lesser, frightened being, and tried to face up to my dragons, if not slay them.

A year on, I’m driving with much more confidence. And last Sunday we were invited out for a sail with our friend on his lovely dragon, Snap. Having also felt that he had lost the buzz of sailing, Mr B had raced all week (for Falmouth regatta) and was loving sailing once again, but I felt it was too soon for me to race and was apprehensive about my first sail of the year. I so wanted to enjoy it but was worried that the buzz had gone.

You can imagine how nervous I was on Sunday morning. How would I feel? If I hated it, could I hide it from the others? I didn’t want to disappoint them, either - and all that kind of thing.

I took Moll round to Sheila for the day and took a deep breath, looked out onto a calm, benevolent sea. At the sunshine beating down. At a whisper of wind. A perfect day. It was almost as if it was saying, “It’ll be OK. Don’t worry.”

By the time we got on board, having had coffee with friends beforehand, I had rushed to the loo at least 5 times in the last hour. I stood on the pontoon feeling somewhat useless, wishing I could remember what to do.

But we got on board and it started coming back. I remembered how to tack. I remembered to tighten the backstays without being told. And finally, I took the helm and we sailed all the way over to the Helford. With me in charge! And with the two men relaxed and chatting - they were happy with my progress.

We had a lovely time and that evening, after a good meal and a relaxing evening, I lay in bed bubbling with happiness. I’d been so worried that the magic had gone out of sailing. But it hasn’t.

Last week we sold our dinghy and I felt really bereft. Now we’re putting the money towards a bigger boat. So if anyone knows of a Shrimper (preferably) at a reasonable price, please let me know!

Thursday 13 August 2015

Red Arrows and deadlines

After a lot of Will They, Won't They? The wonderful Red Arrows came to Falmouth in perfect conditions. What a treat! We met at my place then everyone went to Mr B's house to watch the Red Arrows from his balcony, then we all came back here for a Pot Luck supper.

Thanks to everyone for a really lovely evening - great food, conversation, company and laughs. Same again next year?!

In haste - got three deadlines before end of next week......

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Book launch!

Well my book is officially launched, though it is not available on Amazon till next Monday - though you can pre-order copies now!

The run up has been a little testing to say the least, as the books were supposed to arrive by TNT on Friday. By 130 they hadn't arrived so I rang my publishers who said the book wasn't available till 10th August. WHAT???? I cried. The book launch is on 4th!!! Thankfully the message hadn't got through that the box of books was coming straight from the printers - in time for the launch. Anyway, the books got to Bodmin at 1.30 but didn't go out in the afternoon as I'd hoped. Saturday morning we googled till we found a phone number for the depot in Bodmin and the guy there said the books would leave at 930 Monday and he would try and make mine a priority as there were 50 drops in Falmouth alone.

Monday morning dawned and I figured they should arrive about 11 to 12. By 1.30 (again) they hadn't arrived so I nipped up to the corner shop. As I came back, there was a TNT van on the corner so I ran, full tilt, and found him standing on my doorstep with my precious box of books. The RELIEF!!!!

I was exhausted yesterday but had lots of help setting up which was great, then we went off for a few hours and came back at 6pm and it went from there. A Curious Hall is a fabulous place - used to be the old WI Hall in Falmouth which was sold and has had a revamp and has a wonderful atmosphere, It's also where we had my darling Pip's wake - we had a jazz band on the stage there - so I felt he was very much there too.

Despite waves of exhaustion, it all went really well and I sold 30 books - a good start. Radio Cornwall also want to do part of my walks as a Poldark Walk, we're going to do 2 book signings, and I've been booked to do 3 talks.

So it's all go. Oh, and I have two pieces to finish for a sailing magazine. I just need a few more hours in the day.....

A very big thank you to all my lovely friends who came yesterday (and those who sadly couldn't make it for one reason or another) - and in particular to those who bought books. That means a lot.

Pictures of the evening to follow so check back later....

Wednesday 22 July 2015

A humanist wedding

On Monday some of my choir (The Suitcase Singers) were asked to sing at a wedding taken by a friend of mine who is a humanist celebrant.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and the weather was against us to start with. Jen picked me up on Monday morning and we drove through increasing fog and drizzly rain to pick up two other choir members, until we reached Treslothan church. We parked there and rehearsed under a tree with rain dripping from the leaves - very atmospheric, and surprised the dog walkers....

Then we made our way to the house where the wedding was taking place. In fact it took place in the garden (the rain was sort of mizzly by then and it was warm so not too bad) and a semi circle of chairs for the guests had been laid out. The couple were in their late 50s maybe 60s and obviously really happy to have their friends and family around them.

Sally gave a wonderful service - it was incredibly touching, with each member of the family contributing, and we sang 5 numbers including Perfect Day and It’s Getting Better and Dance me to the End of Love.

True to form, I started welling up at the first reading and by the time we got to the vows I was trying desperately to blow my nose quietly, with mascara running down my cheeks. One of my friends whispered, “Sue’s gone,” and then I got the giggles as well.

Thankfully I didn't spoil the wedding (I am known as the Choir Blubometer) and the happy couple were very happy indeed.

As I said to Sally later, “if ever I get married again I’d like a service like that.”
She grinned and gave me a hug. “I hope I can marry you then,” she said.

NOT, I would hasten to add, that I have ANY plans to marry right now.
But you never know, I may get lucky…..

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Hypertrophic scars

I’m sitting here on tenterhooks as I realise it’s 3 weeks till my book launch and I don’t have a book. I was assured by my publishers that they would be ready for 4th August - but you can’t help thinking….. Still if the worst comes to the worst, I could always take orders. But it wouldn’t be quite the same as having copies in my hot little hands.

On a completely different matter, I went to the see the dermatologist last week about my very large hypertrophic (hysterectomy) scar that hasn’t healed. “That’s some scar,” she said, almost admiringly as I bared my stomach - the scar is about 8 inches down, with a wiggle where it goes round my tummy button. (They couldn't do keyhole in case the tumour turned out to be cancerous - thankfully it wasn’t, but that’s also why the scar goes down rather than across.)

I’ve tried Bio oil, Vitamin E oil/cream, silicone strips - you name it, I’ve tried everything, so my surgeon said to get a referral to a dermatologist.

I expected that he (in fact she) would look at it and suggest - I wasn’t sure what. As it happened, she suggested injecting me with steroid and using a steroid impregnated tape on the scar. Well, I wasn’t at all happy about any injection but somehow before I knew it I was lying on my back on this couch and she stood there with a syringe.

Now I’m not a wimp and have quite a high pain threshold but this was absolute agony. She injected the scar about ten times and I swear (which I did, loudly) the poor scar must have grown some incredible nerve endings. She did apologise for hurting me so I gripped the nurse’s hand and swore and hoped it would be over soon.

It was (though not soon enough) and the strange thing was that the pain kept recurring - for about another 4 hours it felt exactly as if needles were still being stuck in my stomach.

Thankfully the next day the pain receded, and now with the tape on, the scar already looks flatter. I have to see her again in 9 weeks and whether I will let her stick needles in me again is debatable. Depends how soon the memory fades!

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Don't mention grid references

This past week has been very busy, proofing my book, “Walks in the Footsteps of Cornish Writers”, doing a car boot last Wednesday where we all made a profit (hooray!) and getting out for a few sunny walks. My dear sister in law, Shelagh, who lives in Vermont, has also been proofing the book, bless her - on the basis that two lots of eyes are better than one.

However, I realised to my horror that I hadn’t provided grid references for the start of the walks, which I needed to do. Well, me and words are fine. Me and numbers are anything but fine. As Mr B says, “I can see a shutter come down” and I panic. Still, I watched a video on You Tube about how to take grid references and thought, “Oh that’s fine.” Well, the first one was. But the second one I started having doubts. And by the fourth I was so confused I didn't know what to do with myself. I asked Mr B who helped a bit and said keep referring to the example last the bottom of the map, but even so my brain swam.

Finally I got them done - I thought. Then I thought, well I really need someone to double check these as my confidence in my mathematical abilities is zilch. Thankfully my dear friend John offered, went over the whole list for me and amended the ones that needed amending. As they obviously needed to be 100% accurate, I am more grateful than I can say. The relief!

One final check, and I can send the whole book with required changes back to my publishers, and they can get going.

I’m then going to lie down in a darkened room. But first I will have a large glass of wine or two.

Pictures taken at Rinsey Cove with Mel and Moll on Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday 30 June 2015

Review, Js, and car boots

Life has been incredibly busy recently what with doing a review at Mullion Cove for a website, then last Thursday we went on the press boat for the J Class yachts who were racing in Falmouth Bay. They are the most incredible boats and despite not much wind, they had a good race or two. The press boat was not quite what I'd enjoyed last year at the Pendennis Cup, though. This year it was a deep sea fishing boat (with no seats) - quite a long time to stand (6 hours) with camera etc. along with four professional photographers. Mr B pointed out the only thing that was missing was ice and fish.... Still it was a real privilege to get that close to the boats and I've got a good library of shots now.

And Mr B's taking me to the eye department at Treliske this afternoon as I have a Foreign Body in my eye which they have to remove. I am trying my best not to think about that right now. Oh, and the dentist before hand.

Tomorrow we are doing the car boot at Rosudgeon to try and make some money. All go here!

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Party, proofs and publishers

Paul’s party was great fun - good singing, grub and company - shame to think that’s the last one for a year or so.

It was also the Falmouth Sea Shanty festival so Falmouth was ringing with singing, and it was the Classics (boat) festival, so the town was buzzing which was lovely.

The sun has finally come out so we went out on the boat at the weekend (hooray) and yesterday Moll and I went over to Rosemullion Head with my friend Suzanne for a fabulous sun drenched walk.

Last Friday my friend Emma and I had a meeting with the owner of A Curious Hall in Falmouth (the old WI Hall) which is where we will be having our joint book launch in August. It’s actually where we had Pip’s wake and the building has had a complete makeover and been painted and it looks amazing. I love the little touches like a bowler hat downstairs for a lampshade, and upstairs there are musical instruments as lampshades. Very me!

Just having last minute emails from the cartographer regarding the maps for my book and I should bet the proofs back from the publisher by the end of this month. Exciting!

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Peace Walk 2015

At the end of July, my friend Paul Haines will be walking from Rome to Jerusalem with the focus on Peace and Reconciliation in the world. He will be wearing the peace dove symbol, carrying a book for people to sign, and asking for Messages of Peace that he can take with him as he walks, planning to be in Jerusalem sometime in December.

Paul would like to engage with as many people as possible, before, during and after his walk, hoping to help raise the profile and awareness of peace and in some way, hopes his walk will have some effect.

He is linking up with two charities, “Children of Peace” a UK based charity that offers a non-partisan approach to conflict resolution in the Middle East and “Postcards for Peace” a UK based charity that provided the dove symbol.

Paul started long-distance walking five years ago. Last year he walked from London to Rome in aid of two charities that are involved with health, dementia and music. He talked to many people as he walked for three months, and tried to help raise the awareness of the issues connected with dementia and the benefits of music for health.

On Saturday Paul is having a Mix where everyone is invited to come along and eat, drink, and listen to him talk about his walks past and future. We will also sing, read out or play anything to do with peace. These are always good evenings, but we are filled with admiration at what he is setting out to achieve. If you have a look at the messages of peace he has already collected, you will see that these range from Archbishops, the Queen, Tim Smit - and me....

He asks that people will follow him on his website, Peacewalk 2015 and leave messages of peace.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

A blast from the past

Last Friday the postman came running up my front steps with a big parcel, just as I was coming back from walking Moll. I frowned, thinking - what? I haven’t ordered anything. It must be for Mel and Joe upstairs.

But it wasn’t. So I took it inside, fought with layers of heavy tape and ripped off sheet after sheet of brown paper. It was like being a child at Christmas. Finally, I unearthed a big, blue box. I opened it hurriedly, ripping the lid off.

Inside, encased in bubble wrap, was one of Pip’s half models of a 28’ working boat made of Cornish holly in 1990. (He used to make models for the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.) And inside that was a card from one of Pip's cousins - he'd given the model to her mother as a present in 1990 and she was returning it to me, as both her parents had now died.

It was, as Paul said, an “Oooh er,” moment. Pride at the exquisite workmanship of the boat, made by big, outdoor hands that looked far too chunky to make anything as delicate as that. And a swoosh of emotions concerned with loss and disbelief that that part of my life was over; had ever happened.

The ending came so quickly it was hard to make sense of, and yet I looked at those pictures of him, and am reminded of the reality of the joy on his face the day we got engaged. A quiet moment of contentment taken when out sailing on his beloved White Heather. Us together, me laughing up at him, with those strong arms around me.

Of course I miss him, particularly his enveloping cuddles. His all encompassing, unswerving love. His irritability at the news in the morning, ("shoot the bastards!") and his devotion to Moll ("she's very bright you know.")

It seems another world. Another life. And yet it’s part of who I am now.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Trebah gig

Well, the gig was great. The weather was perfect (apart from the midges) - warm and no wind, we all enjoyed the singing, and Trebah is such a magic place, we were honoured to be the first choir to perform there. The audience was just the right size - the amphitheatre couldn't hold many more - and I think we all had a good night. To finish it off, we went to the Seven Stars in Penryn for a drink on the way home.

There is much on the news at the moment about Dignitas, and the right to die. I heard a very moving interview with Melanie Reid on Radio 4 yesterday, who is a tetraplegic following a horse riding accident in 2010. She spoke very eloquently and movingly and I think someone like her should be an advisor to those politicians making laws about what we can and can't do with the end of our lives.

Having been close to several people who have taken their lives, I have the utmost sympathy with them (rather than for them). I strongly believe we should be able to do what we want to make our lives as comfortable as possible. Particularly as we grow older. I look at Moll who is only ten but showing signs, and I know that I will do whatever I can to make her life fun, special and pain free. I hope that my nearest and dearest will do the same for me.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

A gig

We're doing a gig at Trebah Gardens on Friday evening in aid of Dementia UK. It's Dementia Awareness Week and the gig is to fund specialist nurses (Admiral nurses) in Cornwall. So far the lady who's organising the gig has raised £60,000 to pay for two of these nurses, as her father died of dementia so she's been through the very difficult journey.

An amphitheatre has been built at Trebah gardens and we are to be the first people to perform there, so it's very exciting. Trouble is, a lot of people are away for the bank holiday weekend, or busy, or can't afford it. It's also the same night that Kate Rusby is singing at Hall for Cornwall (dammit).

So if any of you are around on Friday 22nd, and can afford £12, we can promise pasties, a drink or two, a trip round the gardens and an hour of so of good singing. Do come and join us!

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Words, eye care and ageing dogs

The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they've been in.
Dennis Potter, dramatist (1935-1994)

I can go along with this as I’ve been doing some work to do with eye care in Western Australia. To start with I knew nothing about WA and very little about optometry (though I have worn contact lenses since I was 17 so I have scant knowledge/interest in eye care).

Now I know a lot more. My brain cells have been severely - but enjoyably - stretched and I would love to go to Perth. Just my sort of climate and an outdoor life I would love. Don’t know that it would suit Moll though…..

On that note, dear girl has the beginnings of cataracts, though my lovely vet said it’s not interfering with her vision much at the moment and shouldn’t too much as she gets older (she’s 10 now). While the operation for human cataracts improves by the moment, it’s not so good for dogs so that’s not an option. She’s visibly slowed down a little - though I guess by 70 (in human years) she’s entitled to - but still remains as irascible and loving as ever.

Wherever we go, people always comment on her. Mr B says “she’s a very clever dog,” while Pip used to tell everyone, “she’s very bright you know”. I just think of her as my Moll, and one of the mainstays of my life.

I never knew dogs could snuggle into your life and steal your heart like this.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Life's too short to chew...

I've been doing more driving which has definitely helped my self confidence. So much so that I drove nearly all the way back from our last break, as Mr B was exhausted after several bad nights. Sinusitis is still a problem, but he doesn't want to see the doctor. No comment.

Recently we reviewed a dog friendly house in Dartmouth for Your Dog magazine. I don't get paid for these trips, but they are like mini adventures. While we may know roughly where we're going, we never know what the accommodation will be like, or what the atmosphere will be. Most places tend to be well fitted out, aiming for the luxury holiday market, but some just have no atmosphere, and can be very lacking in the kitchen department.

We usually take my steamer and wok, as we cook rather than eating out,but at one place, the table mat stuck to the wok when we put it on the table. mr B was mortified, but I pointed out that the purpose of a mat is to hold heat, rather than melt at the prospect. The owners agreed, apologised, and promised to get some better mats.

This house was lovely and felt just like a home, rather than a holiday let. It was very comfy and had everything we needed, as well as being a ten minute walk from town which Moll didn't enjoy at all. Despite living in a town, we nearly always walk out of town, where she can run along grass or sand, so she takes a pretty dim view of pavements. When we arrived at the house, we unpacked and as usual Moll inhaled her tea in a manner of seconds. "Slow down," said Mr B (to no effect). "Why does she eat so quickly?" Which is rich coming from him, who eats nearly as quickly as Moll does.

We looked at her and laughed. "Life's too short to chew," I said.

Monday 27 April 2015

Early (and short lived) summer at Gwithian

To follow on from the Slaying Dragon post, I'd like to report back that having to drive to Polperro and back (not far, I know, but still), was a cinch after my trek across Dartmoor last month. So anyone who's frightened of something - do have a go. Gently. It's done my confidence the world of good.

We were so lucky to have a few days at a chalet at Gwithian while the weather suddenly got hot - and being on the north coast we escaped most of the easterly winds. So we had a few days of sunbathing on the decking, walking miles and just relaxing. Just as well, as work has been very busy since we got back.

And what with the last Poldark last night, I’m exhausted….

But here are a few reminders of the lovely Gwithian, my mum’s favourite beach as a child.
And the incredibly talented sand artist we spotted.

Tuesday 14 April 2015


Like most of the country, Cornwall has been enjoying wonderful sunshine - though as I speak, we are surrounded in a thick sea mist.

For the first time in months, I took the camera out yesterday (my fingers suffer terribly in winter, despite gloves, so taking pictures is not easy), so it was lovely to go out and have a few hours enjoying and recording the sunshine.
I’ve been busy working on a piece about Western Australia (would love to go there, by the sound of it!) and on Thursday we are off to do a review of dog friendly accommodation in Duloe, leaving dear Joe in charge of the house. And cat.

I’m leaving you with some of the pictures from Carwinnion. I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Slaying Dragons

Thanks to all those who sent comments about driving after last week’s post. It’s interesting that this appears to be mainly a female problem, though I have come across one man who dislikes driving.

In fact, I met my dear friend Av in Tavistock which was a great help, and we had a bite to eat in the market cafe (OAP special of quiche, salad and chips plus a cuppa for £3.95 so she was well pleased!), and headed on to Chagford and the Sandy Park Inn.

I’d come across this pub about 3 years ago when reviewing another place just down the road, and Viv and I had eaten there, and loved the laid back atmosphere, the gathering of dogs that roamed round happily, and the fact that we were welcomed like part of the family. Despite different owners, we had a great time - the food was amazing and very reasonable, the wine ditto, and we had some fantastic walks along by the river, up towards Castle Drogo, Fingle Bridge, etc. Admittedly several of the walks were in the rain, but hey, you can’t have everything and it was lovely to catch up with Av again.

The journey home on Sunday was horrendous,but I managed it. Driving across Dartmoor in gales, with driving rain and fog was a test of anyone’s driving abilities, let alone mine, and being the only van on the road (no surprise there) and with no mobile reception, I just prayed I wouldn't break down. The end of Desert Island Discs and Just a Minute saw me through to Tavistock where I breathed a sigh of relief, stopped for something to eat and then continued my journey.

By the time I got home I was so shattered I went to bed for a couple of hours, but at least I did it, and feel better for it. As I said to Mr B, it’s like slaying dragons. You just have to keep at it, or they will rule your life. And I really don’t want to go through that again.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Coming Out

Godrevy, last October, because I feel like something Soothing.

At my book group last week, I was amazed to find out that several of the group are extremely nervous drivers.

I had panic attacks for over 20 years while driving, caused by a horrific incident at work. My dear late husband tended to drive for me which actually made the problem worse, because I wasn't tackling it. So it wasn’t till he died, and I HAD to drive, that I started gaining confidence in my driving. (According to others, I am actually a good driver, so it was nothing to do with my abilities, though panic attacks rarely are.)

I was fine for years till suddenly, late last year I had a panic attack - out of nowhere - driving up to my mum’s. I only ever tend to experience them when I’m going at speed - i.e. along a dual carriageway (we don’t have motorways in Cornwall!) - and it’s very frightening, not least because I’m in charge of a powerful bit of machinery that is going fast.

Anyway, I told Mr B and we had lots of practises, and I drove up to my mum’s last time with only a few wobbly moments (well,quite a few, but I got better as I went along).

My friend Av and I have booked to meet at a pub near Chagford on Friday night, which we’re both looking forward to, particularly as I wasn’t feeling so wobbly about driving. Then last night I was coming back from a writers’ evening in Falmouth - i was tired, admittedly, so left early and was looking forward to lighting the fire and having a glass of wine - and suddenly, walking up the hill, past Mr B’s house, this old Fear crept up and tapped me on the shoulder.

It’s difficult to describe but it’s rather like a persistent hangover, that lurks like a dark cloud, dampening my spirits and prodding my mind with cold, wet fingers. I didn’t sleep much last night, replaying which way I’d drive to Dartmoor. The short way which is all dual carriageway (which I hate) or go the much longer way, a route I’m not sure of, over Dartmoor? Then I started thinking what if I break down? I’d be better off on a main route rather than stuck on Dartmoor.

Have I ever broken down? No. Have I got breakdown cover? Yes. Have I got a full charged mobile phone in case of emergencies? Yes (though there may not be a signal on Dartmoor.)

And of course I started worrying about other things then, as you do. So I’m a bit groggy this morning. My scar hurts, and - well, you know what it’s like after a bad night. But it’s lovely and sunny so Moll and I walked by the sea, and I checked the tyre pressures on the way back (they’re fine, when I was convinced that the driver’s side needed pumping up).

Talking to my other friends last week made me realise just what a common problem this is. And how it inhibits our lives - needlessly. I hate to be beholden to some stupid, illogical fear that prevents me doing what I want to do. My other friends have either had help or are getting help to overcome their problems, so I refuse to be beaten by it.

I will set off on Friday morning and practise my deep breathing, and sing - whichever way I go to Dartmoor. Because it is a proven fact that you cannot have a panic attack if a) you sing and b) you laugh. I think c) is have hiccups, but I wouldn’t want to try that.

Anyone else had similar problems? It’s worthy of a piece, methinks…..

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Forward planning

On Saturday I was staying at my mum’s, reading the review part of her Times magazine - Melanie Reid’s Spinal Column where she talked about needing to plan for the end of our lives, and how she wants to see humane legislation on assisted suicide.

It wasn’t a depressing column - far from it. She said how much she loves her life, difficult though it is, but how she wants to plan for a pain free and happy end, and I totally agree with her.

Having recently lost someone very dear to me to suicide, it’s obviously made me think about the subject - not in too much detail: it’s still too raw for that. But I can understand why they did it. Or at least I can hazard a guess as to why.

Last night I watched The Imitation Game - an excellent piece of acting by Benedict Cumberbatch which was agonising towards the end. You could feel the poor man’s shame and anguish, disbelief and sense of betrayal; his sense of isolation and his utter powerlessness. It woke me in the night, and crept into my dreams.

The next night I dreamed about my late husband and his brother, at their workshop in Penryn. Pip had been very furtive, not like him at all, so I gave him a hug and said, "Why are you avoiding me? I'm your wife!" He replied, "I'm sorry, darling. I've been frightened of dying. I don't want to leave you."

I strongly believe it up to us to do what we want with our lives. I hope to make the best use of mine, but having suffered from depression, I know too well what it’s like to waste time: I’ve lost years of my life that I’m trying to make up. But if someone is in a lot of pain I quite understand not wanting to go on. We all want quality of life.

Melanie Reid mentioned a Professor David Clark at University of Glasgow, who wants to build a kind of university for the old, providing all types of housing needed from sheltered accommodation to hospice care, and forming a community with shops, learning spaces, cafes, libraries etc so that people can learn, get to know each other and have FUN. This seems the best idea possible and would re-educate us all to plan the end of our lives.

If I was a politician, I’d do anything I could to promote this. As I’m not, take a look at

We talk so much about all aspects of our lives, but most of us are too frightened to talk about the one certainty. It’s about time we removed the taboo and started speaking out. I can't help feeling it would lessen our fear.

Wednesday 11 March 2015


This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but Moll has been on our minds a lot recently as she has probably got to have some teeth out soon which has been very upsetting. For all non dog owners you will probably laugh, but I was in a terrible state on Monday at the prospect, and Mr B couldn't sleep so was up most of the night researching canine gingivitis (gum disease to you and me). So I'm taking her for a second opinion today and we will see where we go.

But back to the real reason for this post. For the past few years I’ve been reviewing dog friendly accommodation for Your Dog magazine. I don’t get paid for this, but it does mean we get two nights away somewhere, on a fairly regular basis, in luxury accommodation (usually) and a chance to visit somewhere I wouldn’t normally go. In return for a review and photographs.

I’ve also reviewed the odd restaurant which I have been paid for, and that’s been great. It’s also been a useful exercise as both Mr B and I eat very quickly. So having to concentrate on what we’re eating, and describe it in detail, is very good for us.

Recently, I’ve been approached by various people - writers and publishers - asking me to review their books. Some of these I review for magazines but sometimes the editors aren’t interested. So last week, I said that I was happy to review this particular book on my blog if the editor concerned wasn’t interested.

The publicist was happy and sent me the book, which is now sitting on my front room table. Having just read three books, all for review, I felt in need of a breather, and read Saving Grace by Jane Green. A fabulous, fast, page turning read which I gobbled, page by page.

No, I don’t work for free: I can’t afford to. But this provides me with free reading material. A chance to think about what I’ve read. And it’s doing the writer a favour.
There’s a certain amount of ‘what goes around, comes around.’ Of course, if I ever get the right headspace to continue writing novels, I may well be able to call in a few favours!

So if anyone out there would like something reviewed - cafe, restaurant, pub, accommodation or books - leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. I can promise a fair and considered opinion.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

A Year on, and Me and Moll

I've just realised that it's a year (on Friday) since I had my hysterectomy. I'm very glad I didn't know recovery would be such a slow, ongoing process. There have been numerous pitfalls, I still have a socking great keloid scar like a rusty zip all the way down my stomach, and it still hurts at times. But overall I'm fit and back to normal. Ish. And for that I'm very grateful. The whole experience knocked my confidence, but I suppose in a way that's right: I was very vulnerable and I did have to be careful. I hope this year I can regain that confidence and start to really enjoy sailing again, after a nasty scare last year.

The curious thing is that all my life I've suffered from terrible chilblains on my feet. Every winter I have had to rub calendula ointment into my toes every morning (it's a great preventative and cure for chilblains if you didn't know). Since my hysterectomy I've had warm feet constantly, all through my recovery and this last winter. I wouldn't advocate a hysterectomy to prevent chilblains, but it's good to know that there's one advantage.

But on to the main purpose of this post. You know they say that owners and their dogs are often alike? Well, it struck me the other day that this isn't just a cliche in our case.

Moll and I both have soft, thick hair that grows quickly. (But she has dark roots and I don't.)

We both love the outdoors: adventuring, chasing sticks, long walks, swimming. Both tomboys at heart.

We are never happier than surrounded by a loved one (or as many as possible in Moll's case), while doing the above.

However, we are both very cuddly and also love snuggling on the sofa - in my case with a glass of wine watching a film. IN her case, she waits till I've got up,then quick as a flash takes my place, nudging Mr B insistently to give her a tummy rub.

Moll is a real individual, strong, fierce and fearless, impatient, extremely loving and with a great sense of humour. I share some of those characteristics (the good ones of course)....

Is it any wonder that she has such a fan club?

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Blog Award

Thank you to www.renageorge.com for nominating me for this lovely award - much appreciated. Rena always has thought provoking posts on writing, Cornwall, Poldark - so read on! Her blog is always well worth a read.

Here are the rules for accepting this particular award:
Thank the person who nominated you, and link to their blog.
Display the award logo. Unfortunately the logo wouldn't copy on to my blog so you'll have to go over to Rena's blog if you wish to take part!
Nominate other blogs and provide a link where they may be found (I’m not giving a number here as it will differ between people).
Go to their blog, leave a comment to let them know they have been nominated, and where to find the information they need to accept.
Then – Mention three things that inspired you the most during the past few weeks.

I would like to nominate:- Chris Stovell over at http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/ready-steady-go.html, Addy over at http://alcoholicdaze.blogspot.co.uk and Sally, at https://mybeautfulthings.wordpress.com.

Now I have to mention three things that inspired me during the past few weeks:-

First of all, as I mentioned,our week in Dorset was such a good break. We both really relaxed and explored, and can't wait to go back in September. We did a wonderful walk to collect the van one day, along the Dorset ridge, up to an old fort and by the time we got there, we stood on top of one of the highest hills in Dorset and looked at the stars burning through a dark velvet sky. Fabulous.

Like Rena, I find the spring flowers just wonderful. I have yellow and pale purple crocuses peeping through the ground in my tubs outside, along with the shy daffodil buds - even the honeysuckle has buds on it as it rambles up the wall. It really delights me to see signs of spring, albeit a bit early.

My darling Moll. She continues to be a source of great joy and inspiration and I don’t know what I would do without her.