Tuesday 20 December 2016

Old ghosts

This was sunset at Gylly beach last weekend...

Apologies for silence - time seems to go faster and faster at the moment, and suddenly here it is nearly at the end of 2017, which hasn’t been the easiest of years, but at least has (so far) been devoid of any health scares, losing anyone close to me, or other disasters. Though listening to the news, it’s happening to plenty of other people. And, being Victor Meldrew about it, there are still another 10 days or so to go before the end of the year…!

I am writing this with a slight fuzzy head. A dear friend who has been working in the Med on a superyacht is back and treated me to a drink last night. Then Al came along and bought us another one which was a mistake. I was all right till that last one.… Being small and light, despite eating a lot, I can’t take a lot of booze, but it was a lovely evening. And I slept very well. So that was my Christmas party….

On the plus side, while work has been slow, it has picked up a bit for the end of the year, and my Walks in the Footsteps of Poldark books has been selling well, as have the other books. Moll is snoring on the bed behind me, and she is such a joy in my life. I am fortunate in loving and being loved, albeit in an unconventional fashion. I have wonderful friends who I treasure. I have a roof over my head and I have enough to eat.

And while I have all of this, I still find this a tricky time of year. Last week we had our bring and share Singing lunch, which was great. I then decided to walk Moll along the creek at Mylor, as she’d been sitting in the van waiting for me. This was the walk I did six years ago when the hospital had told me that Pip had two days to live.

Curiously, it was a joyful walk. The sun shone, the air was clear and crisp, and while I couldn’t comprehend a life without my husband, I was glad that at least his suffering was coming to an end. Watching someone go through what he went through was like wandering into someone else’s nightmare, and being unable to get out. So it also meant an end to watching him decline. And I felt so grateful for having had 15 years with this lovely, very special man.

So I set off along the creek with Moll last Thursday all set to enjoy my walk. And it felt all wrong. The sky was grey and mild. It was incredibly muddy so my boots got lagged and it was difficult to walk. Then we came to a field of very unfriendly looking cattle plus bull. I retraced my steps, thought I would then climb up the fields and take the higher path back. Having struggle over more mud lagged fields, the path was nowhere to be seen, but I could hear a farmer shooting in the distance, and rather be his target, we scuttled back down the hill.

And all around me were the ghosts of Christmas past, clamouring for attention. I felt exhausted by the time I got home, from dealing with all these old memories, most of which are difficult ones, dealing with loss. But I met up with a dear friend who cheered me up no end.

A lot of people don’t do what they would choose at Christmas, but that is also part of this time of year. I hope that this time next year things will be different. But in the meantime my mum will be happy that I’m coming up, and that counts for a lot.

So here’s wishing you a happy, healthy, creative and profitable 2017. And to making friends with old ghosts.

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.

Wednesday 14 September 2016


Yesterday we finally got to have a sail in our friend Al’s lovely Dragon called Snap. I say “we” because while Al and C have been racing, it’s not been so easy for me to get out with work commitments and having to find a dog sitter.

But finally we fixed on yesterday for a sail. Weather forecast was rain in the morning, clearing by the afternoon and possible sun. Sarah was booked to come and walk Moll and all was well.

C was staying on the Lizard with friends but drove back and we got the water taxi out to meet Al on the boat. Contrary to expectations, as we headed out towards Black Rock, storm clouds gathered, the sky grew blacker until it was almost like night time, but with an eerie band of light hovering over the horizon.

We could see rain over the Lizard, and at this point Al suggested putting up the spinnaker. Of course, no sooner was it up than the first of the rain arrived. And we’re not talking normal rain, this was Monsoon rain that soaked us in seconds. Al thrust the sail cover at us, and we crawled underneath that, then under the fore cabin while the thunder growled around us, forks of lightning lit up the darkened sky, and the boat rocked in the turbulent sea.

Finally it stopped (we were laughing as it was so utterly ridiculous) and we made it back to Mylor - and a lovely sail back, during which we dried out bits of us.

As C had to get back to the Lizard, we went for something to eat in Falmouth early, and on the way back, as we got near his place, the heavens opened yet again. I’ve never seen rain like it - except on films. It was as if the sky had opened and out poured a year’s worth of liquid misery in minutes.

He jumped into his car while I ran home, and stood in the kitchen looking at the water swirling round the drain in my yard, perilously close to the kitchen door. However, it went down, and I sighed a sigh of relief.

Until I went into the kitchen later and found the carpet soaked. Absolutely dripping. And heavy carpet is very heavy. Thankfully my dear mates Mel and Joe who live upstairs came and helped. We had to move all the furniture, rip up the carpet and put the dehumidifier on.

12 hours on the carpet’s still soaking but at least the sun’s out, and we hope the worst is over. I just hope that Himself is OK - there’s no signal where he’s staying so I haven’t heard from him yet…..

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Facebook Memories

You know those Facebook reminders you get, telling you what happened X years ago?

The other day I got one reminding me that 5 years ago I scattered my husband’s ashes at Polly Joke. I remember it well - I went with my dear friend Deb, and we danced along the silky sand as the tide came in, and sent him on his way. Actually it was only part of him - I keep the other half here, in my bedroom, in a very fine biscuit tin.

To further honour his memory, we went for a drink afterwards - which is of course what he would have done - and toasted a very special, lovely man.

A few nights ago I dreamt about him. It was his birthday, and he refused to celebrate, but said he would do so the next day. This was and wasn’t true - he enjoyed any excuse to go to the pub, though he wasn’t so keen on celebrating the actual day.

He would have been 76 this year. There are so many things I would like to share with him, and I do still talk to him. When I’m worried he was good at sharing my problems. He would fiercely defend me when needed - though his mantra was always, “you must fight your own corner, Pop.” I would love him to know about the good things that have happened over the intervening years. About taking up sailing, and getting our own boat, which he would be most proud of.

His face smiles at me from the wall of my kitchen. It shines at me from the mantelpiece of the Seven Stars in Falmouth. And deep in my heart, there is a place entitled ‘My Pip’.

Wednesday 31 August 2016

Poldark begins!

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but was taken last Friday when I went walking with Heather, on the most glorious afternoon.

As most people probably know, unless they've been living under a stone, the new series of Poldark starts on TV on Sunday evening. I will be glued, along with countless others, to see what happens - or rather, how it happens. And also the much debated rape scene that isn't, and how the ramifications of that will be dealt with in the plot.

In the meantime I am also doing some talks and readings of my Poldark book to coincide with the new TV series. A reading in Chintz bar in Falmouth on 19th September, at talk at the library on 22nd and then a talk at the Poly on 26th. Better try and rest up before all that!

I also did my first walk for the new book last weekend and was going to do another today on Bodmin Moor. But it's raining. So I'm looking out of the window at the grey murk, and thinking of the fantastic day we had on Sunday, a picnic at sea and a fabulous sail. And trying to focus on work, as you do...

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Another book!

Last Friday I had the unexpected - and fantastic - news that my publishers would like me to write another walks book. Which, obviously, I’m really pleased about. I’m going to give myself a bit longer this time, as it was such a stress and rush to get Poldark finished in time for March this year.

Also, what most people don’t realise is that if my next book is published at Easter 2018, I won’t receive any money for it until July 2018. So I want to give myself enough time to research the book (which involves a lot of reading and planning), do the walks, write them up, take and edit the pictures, and do the maps. As well as find some other work which obviously is vital to pay the bills in the meantime.

I’ve also got quite a lot of publicity lined up to coincide with the new series of Poldark on TV as from 4 September. I enjoy doing this, but it takes time to write a presentation, put the slides together, travel to and from the event, sort out dog care etc.

I am so pleased - and proud - to be an author, and to have a publishing company that evidently value my work. I work hard to sell my books - authors have to nowadays - and it’s really lovely to be appreciated by readers and editors. But I don’t think some people realise what hard work it is, nor how badly paid!

But I’m not complaining. Yesterday afternoon Moll and I walked at Devoran, as I was over there for a rehearsal. We didn’t go out till late as it was hot, and Moll was a bit droopy in the heat. But as we climbed up the hill, I looked out over the fields, emerald green in a sleepy heat, at the church tower rising serenely from the roof tops, and the river bed in the distance, a winding path of secrets. And I thought, aren’t I lucky to live here? Doing something I love.

Today the sun’s shining, so this afternoon we’re off to deliver some Poldark books to a customer in St Agnes, then have an hour on the beach somewhere, maybe pick some mussels. If it means working this evening, and/or this weekend, that’s fine by me.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Book launch Part 2

I didn't give the book launch justice last week, so here are a few more pictures of the event, which went very well. I've also sold 40 books myself and had to order another box of books from the publisher, which are arriving this morning (I hope).

On a less cheery note, I am still chasing payment of work I did months ago from a reluctant editor who I've had to ring every week for the last six weeks. Legal action next step. I've been very fortunate so far in having people who have generally speaking paid on time. But this one is a real drain - I hate having to make these phone calls and feel shattered afterwards. To say nothing of the fact that I really need the money.

Still, we've had a lovely run of weather recently, and my first sail for about a month on Sunday, which I loved. Yesterday I took six books to a new outlet at Penrose Estate near Helston, so hope they sell well there, and am spending a huge amount of time and energy generating publicity to tie in with the start of the new Poldark series on TV on 4th September (just in case you didn't know!).

Wednesday 10 August 2016

The name's Jane Bond

First of all, the launch party was a great success, but as I'm waiting for photos to come through, I'll write about that next week.

You know you get days where nothing goes right? I had one of those on Saturday. We’d been looking forward to seeing the Man Engine for weeks, and arranged to go to St Just to see it on Saturday. Then C had to help rig the boat he’s racing in Falmouth Week. To say we were disappointed was putting it mildly.

Anyway, I met Tony, a dear friend for coffee that morning and afterwards was heading towards Penryn Bridge when I was aware of a lopsided van. Oh no, I thought (those weren’t my exact words, but you get the drift) - and pulled over to find a completely flat front tyre. I rang C who was out of signal down at the boat, so then rang Tony.

As he kindly helped me last time I had two punctures, I had great faith in him - and sure enough he put my spare tyre on so I was able to go round to the tyre place. They were busy so it was a while before they were able to fix it, and because I’d driven on it, I needed a new one rather than being able to patch up the existing one. So by the time I got home, it was too late to go and see the Man Engine.

But I was invited to a party that afternoon, then the carnival. But first I had to drop food down to the workers on the boat, so thought I’d walk round from Flushing with Moll and swim on the way.

By the time I’d delivered food and walked back, two hours had gone by and I was hot, sweaty and starving. Plus I hadn’t had time to get anything to take to the party so thought I’d nip home first. And by the time I got home, fed the animals and myself, I was shattered, and the traffic was terrible because of the carnival. So I thought, actually I’ll enjoy a quiet evening to myself.

Then C rang to say he and Al were finishing on the boat (9pm) and would take me for a drink down at the Working Boat bar (our local) when he’d got back, had something to eat and changed. So we walked down, in the rain, in the dark, to meet Al at around 10pm. I wouldn’t have gone but figured they both needed a drink and some company…

We had a glass of wine and I went off to the toilet, locked the door, when half the lock came away in my hand, leaving the other half in the door. I was locked in. As the ladies is down a corridor with two hefty doors in between the bar, there was no way anyone could hear me shout (I tried). And no one was outside because it was raining.

Never mind, I thought. I’m small - I’ll climb out the window, drop into the car park, and get back in the front. Easy. So I climbed up on the toilet seat, pushed the window wide open and crawled out, backwards. My feet slipped down - and down - in the dark. This wasn’t quite going to plan. Eventually my feet hit something firm and I stopped slithering, and crawled and pulled myself back up the wall into the car park. This all seemed a bit unreal by this time, but I dusted myself down, went into the bar where the two men were busy talking.

Stuff them I thought, though I hadn’t been gone long. So I told the manager that the ladies’ was out of action, he produced a first aid kit and patched me up a bit. I went back and sat down and C looked at me curiously. “Are you all right?” he said.

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, or indeed what had happened (and I had only had one glass of wine). He mopped me up, while Al sang, “Sue’s stuck in the lavatory,” (lovely mates I have) and we began to laugh. Then we went outside to see where I’d climbed out. “You could have died,” said C in horror.

The shock didn’t hit me till the following afternoon, when I felt shaky, terribly dizzy and exhausted. That lasted for a couple of days, but I’m pleased to report that I am now feeling much better.

Just as well as we’re having our usual Red Arrows party tonight. But if anyone wants a Jane Bond - give me a ring…. I could do with some more work...

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Book launch

This was actually from the trial run we had in St Agnes a month ago, while I'm waiting for Andy's pictures to come back from last night.

It's nerve racking, having a book launch. Like any party, you want it to go well, but you also want to sell books - obviously. Celia's paintings were also on sale - lovely ones of each of the walks in my book, so we arrived at A Curious Hall in Falmouth yesterday afternoon to set up. It was locked. I knocked on the door. Nothing. We sat in the van, in the pouring rain then agreed with Celia that we would go and see if Blue (the owner of the hall) was at home, and sped off across Falmouth. By the time we'd got there (he wasn't in), we had not only devised several other places as Plan B to have the launch party, but Celia rang to say that he was at the hall - the relief! And we sped back to set up.

It takes a while, setting up books but luckily I had dear Mel and Joe to help as well as Mr B, and Celia's husband helped her - she had 12 paintings to put on easels and prints to show as well so it took her a lot longer, but eventually it was all done, and we set off for a coffee and sandwich while Celia and Steve went off for fish and chips.

We arrived back at 6pm and there's that tense half hour while we waited to see who would turn up. Luckily lots of people did, enjoyed my reading from the book, and I sold a healthy number of books which was very cheering. The only sad thing was that my two singing friends, John and Heather, couldn't come as they were both ill, which meant we couldn't sing, and another friend was stricken with lurgy so she couldn't come either.

That apart, it was a good evening, though I realised this morning that I didn't have a chance to talk to any of my friends, other than a snatched word. But it was worth it to sell those books!

We headed off for a bite to eat later and got home in good time - and sober - which was a bonus. I woke this morning full of a glowing optimism (which, being realistic, may not last but is pleasant while it does). Financial problems may not be solved in any way, but at least there are a few possibilities on the horizon. It's called diversifying, I believe.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Man Engine and book launch

Well here is the Man Engine, a wonderful piece of creative engineering that is touring Cornwall in celebration of Cornwall's mining heritage. I saw it on the news the other day - this has been kept secret in its creation - and was blown away by it. How incredibly clever and brilliant, using parts of machinery from South Crofty and other mines. Definitely have to go and see this! To see for yourself, go on the BBC Spotlight site and view it on Monday evening.

Tonight I am going on a singing boat trip over to St Mawes organised by another of Claire's choirs. We're all taking supper to share, then when we get to St Mawes we will sing on the quay (weather permitting) or inside the pub if it's chucking it down. Then we will sing on the way back! And my darling Moll - who is looking very fine in her new hair cut - is coming with us. Doubtless she will try and eat everything, but there you go.

Lastly, next Tuesday is my book launch and exhibition of Celia Creeper's paintings at A Curious Hall, from 6-8pm. Last year was great fun, and we're hoping this year will be too and sell lots of books. And we will sing!! I went to a very interesting reading/music book launch last weekend which has given me ideas for some events I might do with another writer friend.

And lastly thanks to my friend Glynis who has been helping me with some pitches. Thanks Glynis - you've been brilliant.

Wednesday 20 July 2016


These swans appeared as we got home from a sail a few weeks ago to say hello and, like Moll, ask for food.

Last Thursday we were setting out for a lovely sail - it was a fabulous afternoon and I am learning more and more every time we go out. Only thing was, it took us longer to get back than wed anticipated and I got a bit cold and we ran out of food and you do not want to be around me when my blood sugar drops too low. So - next time we will take a picnic and even more clothes. But our boat is lovely and Moll is getting used to her lifejacket - I think, deep down, she knows she looks rather good in pink. This was when she wasn't wearing it, and got a bit cold so we wrapped her in the sail cover.

The heatwave hit us on Saturday so I had my first swim, then on Sunday Mr B had to sweat back to the Midlands in horrendous temperatures. I was being interviewed by Radio Cornwall yesterday afternoon, which went well, though I didn't like to leave Moll in the van as it was so hot, so she came with me and had to wait in the office outside the studios while I was on air. The interview was interrupted by a scratching at the glass door: Moll was indignant at being left out of the gig and wanted to know what I was doing.

Mr B listened online and rang me straight after, and then later that evening. "What was the feedback like?" he said, all excited. "Er - there wasn't any," I replied. "You are it. Oh, except for a friend who texted to say she'd missed it."

Admittedly it was shorter than last time I was on, but any publicity is good, and I found out yesterday that the second Poldark series starts on 4th September. So we'd better start getting some more Poldark publicity going soon! Any ideas most welcome....

Meanwhile, I am in need of a bit of cheer so we are off to see the film of Absolutely Fabulous tomorrow evening. Nothing like a bit of escapism....

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Writerly events

This is actually the view from where we rehearse, on thursday mornings, as the Suitcase Singers, which has absolutely nothing to do with this post but is one of the many reasons why singing with the choir is so uplifting..

Apologies for the silence, but my life has been full of writerly events, and little time for work (i.e. earning money). At the beginning of this month we had a sort of trial launch for my Poldark book and Celia's paintings which was quieter than we would have liked, but some dear and true friends came along to buy books and afterwards we went, with another friend, to Chapel Porth and then walked along the cliffs, so made the most of the day.

Last week the Penzance Literary Festival was on, so on Thursday night I sang, as part of Jig the Quavers (our smaller group) at Telltales at the Admiral Benbow. A lovely venue and a great evening - and congratulations to Heather for brilliant compering of the event!

The following day I gave a talk in Penzance with Rachel Lambert (forager and writer of two books) and Lisa Woollett, whose two books about the sea are truly awe inspiring. My friend Fi Read acted as interviewer, and it was a privilege to be part of this festival in such lovely settings. I have to say, I have been feeling less than inspired about life over the last few months, so it gave me a real lift to arrive at the Lit Fest with my box of books, be given a badge as Contributor, and to sit on a stage and be interviewed as a proper author. Years ago I used to go to these festivals and look at Proper Writers and wish to be one of them.

Once you are, of course, you realise that it's a very different ball game. You need another job to finance writing books, but I hadn't realised that at the time. And I did feel proud to be an author, and proud of my books. Which was a much needed boost.

Mr B took me down to the pub that evening for a lovely end to the day and then I collapsed in a heap the following day, and on Sunday we did a car boot.

Totting up my takings, I realised I'd made £15 in book sales at the Lit Fest, and £80 at the car boot. "Does this tell you something, do you think?" said Mr gently.

This week has so far been taken up with going backwards and forwards to the garage in Penryn more times than I care to think about - my van failed its MOT yesterday and, as I write, it is being welded in time (I sincerely hope) for me to attend the Holyer An Gof Publishers' Awards at Waterston's in Truro tonight. My second book, Walks in the Footsteps of Cornish Writers, has been nominated by my publishers. Looking at the list of other authors, I haven't got a hope in hell of winning, but it will be interesting to go along and see who else is there.

And the life will get back to normal. Back to pitching ideas (thank you Glynis for your brilliant help so far, I'm not trying to avoid work, promise!) and we hope to get in a sail before the end of the week.

Next week I am going to see the movie of Ab Fab. Good escapist therapy I think.....

Wednesday 29 June 2016


Phew! The Poldark books have arrived by Fedex just now, from my publishers, in time for the book launch on Saturday 2nd July.

Last year they arrived the day before the launch which was cutting it a bit fine, but at least we've got a few days' grace this time.

"Aren't you excited?" asked Mr B this morning. "The trouble is," I said, "you send it off to the publishers when you're really close to it, and by the time it comes back, you tend to be involved in other things. I looked at it just now and think, Is this mine? Did I really write this? And I just feel - a bit confused, to be honest."

However, come Saturday, and the first book launch, in conjunction with Celia Creeper's lovely posters and paintings of the Poldark walks, I'm sure it will become a lot more real.

So any of you who are around on Saturday, please come along to the Loft Studio, Churchtown, St Agnes from 1030 - 1230.


Wednesday 22 June 2016

A Course in Confidence

I did a sailing course last week, which was sort of work as the purpose was for me to write up my experiences, but it turned out to be useful in more ways than the obvious, which was brushing up my sailing skills.

The course was attended by a group of Seniors, mostly with no sailing abilities at all, and one who had bought a boat and needed to learn how to sail.

It was interesting to see that some started the week pumped full of over confidence, and it took a week on a boat to realise that there is a lot more to sailing than they might have imagined. These people ended up, if not contrite, more aware of themselves and how much they had to learn. The others, lacking in confidence (and I include myself in this category), were nervous and only too aware of what they had to learn. We ended the week renewed and full of vigour, confidence in place and eager to continue learning and sailing. So everyone's abilities - and confidence - levelled out by the end of the week.

It's done me a lot of good and having got over the mid week slump (not dissimilar to mid-book slump or mid-article slump), things got a lot better, to my relief. We had our first long sail yesterday in Serenity and both loved it.

So the motto of this preamble is - when things get tough, hang on in here. If you hang in long enough, it will get better. And then you feel so much better.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Live, Laugh, love

This is a mirror image along the river Dart, where I was walking Moll at the weekend when up to see my dear Mum, who is in considerable pain, although she doesn't complain. The saying 'getting old isn't for cissies' is certainly true, oh so true...

I went to see the film of Me Before You last night. I loved the book, Jo Jo Moyes' best, I think, about a young quadriplegic and his decision to end his life at Dignities, despite falling in love with his carer. It was based on a rugby player who also became paralysed and feeling constantly in pain and with no quality of life, decided to end his at Dignities. It sparked a furore with people saying why hadn't his parents stopped him?

This is something I feel very strongly about: that we have the right to do what we want with our lives. We should try and make the most of them (though there are times when that's a struggle) but if things get too much, I believe we are entitled to put an end to it. After all, we wouldn't expect our animals to suffer.

Someone very dear to me took his own life - first of all when I was 18, and then 18 months ago someone else I cared for very much did the same thing. He didn't tell me what he was planning, but I understood why he did it and I wouldn't have tried to stop him had I known. I miss him very dearly, but it was his life and I respect that decision.

I know the argument for euthanasia rattles on, and I also believe each case should be judged individually, but life is to be enjoyed. What's the point if we're not?

IN the meantime, let's live, laugh, create, adventure - and love. For love is the greatest gift of all.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

The book, the boat and the wobbles

This was me last Friday when we had a wonderful morning's sail. Moll also was allowed on deck as it wasn't windy and she loved it too.
Actually it doesn't look as if she is there, but once she'd settled, either on Mr B's lap or found her own little sunbathing spot, she was very happy to be in the sunshine with us.

I have a huge amount to learn, so told Mr B that he must be patient. Being shouted at can result in a paralysed panic which makes matters far worse, but on a boat everything needs to be done quickly, so it's a matter of keeping calm. When you don't know what you should be doing, that's tricky. But I'm hoping the course I'm going to do will help.

Yesterday I went to meet Celia Creeper, the artist who's done paintings of each of the Poldark walks, and is making posters of those. We are to share a book launch/exhibition and I've just finished proofing the book back from the publishers so that's going to the printers today or tomorrow. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm pleased. Or excited. Actually, I've been having such a confidence crisis that I'm filled with anxiety. Is it good enough? Will it make any money? Will people be disappointed? And so on.

The confidence crisis stems from having a lull in work. As anyone who's self employed knows, this is something that happens from time to time. I'm fortunate that I;ve usually had regular work but at the moment I haven't and that fills me with terror. I'm not usually a worrier, but at the moment I lie there at 3am thinking about never having any work again (you know what it's like at 3am), whether I'll have to work in Asda at the checkouts for who else would employ someone of my age and experience?

I keep telling myself that it will pass. And I'm extremely busy - preparing the launch party invitations, organising the venue, working on a talk for the Penzance Literary Festival - all stuff that is time consuming and interesting, but doesn't bring any money in. And this anxiety and lack of confidence seeps into every area of my life. It's like sitting in a pub watching a pint of beer that's spilt on the table, how it soon covers the surface, then slides down the sides, before dripping persistently onto the floor, where it spreads still further. Before you mop it up.

So I guess the motto of this post is to mop up any wobbles before they get any bigger. So here's to happy mopping.

Tuesday 24 May 2016


We had our first proper sail yesterday which, despite not being as confident as I would like, was great. We've had a few problems with the outboard - C had to strip it as it wasn't working properly, and even then wasn't happy with it - but it worked beautifully, the wind was enough for us to get a really good sail, and the sun shone so everything looked fabulous.

Even Moll came with us, though we had to keep her down below as it was a bit busy. Her dear little face kept poking up to see if she could join us, but she was very good. We've got her a lifejacket - a pink one (that was the only colour they had in a small, I wouldn't have dared get a pink one otherwise) - and she is not impressed. I'm getting her used to it by wearing it round the house (her not me) and she gets a biscuit afterwards, but you can see from her face what she's thinking. "My god what does she think I LOOK like?"

Serenity is a dear boat and although taking off and landing is tricky on a pontoon, we've managed it both times and it can only get easier once we know more of what we're doing. Ever hasty, I wish I could re-learn everything I've forgotten instantly (such is my nature) and that my confidence would come pinging back in a flash. It will come back, I know, and we're both really pleased with the boat, and a fabulous sail yesterday.

So here's to more good times and making the most of what we've got. Whatever it is. For as long as it lasts.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

The illusion of love

I went to see the film of Florence Foster Jenkins yesterday, and found it fascinating. For those that don't know, she was a wealthy woman who long aspired to be an opera singer, despite the fact that she couldn't sing. Her ambition was to sing at Carnegie Hall, which she did - and recordings of her voice are quite excruciating, though she believed she sang beautifully. Her devoted husband supported her in this, wanting her to be happy. But was he supporting an illusion, or merely doing her best to make her happy because he loved her?

Meryl Streep, who plays Florence, talks about the illusion of love in an interview. But I'm interested in this dilemma. Was Florence's husband being cruel, going along with this illusion that his wife could sing, when it made her very happy - and was her whole raison d'ĂȘtre? Would it not have been more honest to tell her she couldn't sing? But that would have crushed her hopes and her spirit, could well have wrecked their marriage.

AT the end of the day, he did what he felt was best for her - he protected her and made her happy. That was his decision, and if they were both laughed at throughout society, that was his decision. As always, there are different ways of looking at it.

What do you think?

Wednesday 11 May 2016


Devon Bay Holiday Park, Goodrington Sands, Paignton, South Devon

Despite my advancing years, I'd never stayed in a holiday park before and wasn't sure what to expect. But we received excellent directions to Devon Bay, and the receptionists, despite being very busy on a Friday evening, were cheerful, courteous and extremely efficient.

Our (enormous) Platinum caravan was situated, alongside many others, in a quiet wooded valley near Goodrington Sands in South Devon. The caravan was brand new, and had a large enclosed verandah area (with tables and chairs); ideal if you have a dog, like us.

The caravan had a large lounge area with very comfortable settees, a 32” tv/dvd, a well equipped kitchen, three bedrooms (the double room en suite) and central heating as well as a flame effect electric fire.

The well stocked shop was a few minutes walk away, with a large launderette next to the shop, and recycling bins are posted all round the site, ensuring a scrupulously clean park. We sampled breakfast in one of the site's three restaurants where the food was freshly cooked and delicious, as we sat overlooking Goodrington beach.

There were plenty of entertainments on site, from water based activities in the indoor and outdoor pools, Bingo, cabaret and dance sessions - ideal not just for children but adults as well. However, we discovered several car boot sales in the area, and walked along the coastal footpath down to Mansands beach and along to Scabbacombe Head, enjoying the first hot weekend of the year. The views are quite stunning here, where yachts sailed over the bay and the sea glimmered and sparkled in the sun.

After our walk we called into Coleton Fishacre house and garden (National Trust) for a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of cake. The 1920s house was shut, being later in the day, but the gardens were well worth a visit, with interesting landscaping on varied levels, the use of water in unexpected ponds and waterfalls, and extravagant bursts of colour from rhododendrons and azaleas.
The next day we explored Kingswear and walked along the coastal path to Froward Point, enjoying the spectacular views over Dartmouth harbour and the famous naval college.

There's something for everyone here, and we noted people of all ages enjoying a break - there is so much for children to do that the family next door didn't move off site at all. All in all, this proved an excellent place for all ages to enjoy. You won’t be disappointed!

Directions: A38 to Exeter, take A385 to Totnes, follow through Paignton. 1mile past Ocean BMW come to large junction with traffic lights turn right to Brixham. Continue past Asda, Sainsbury and Aldi on right then turn left at traffic lights by Alan Kerr Camper van sales, signed to Goodrington. Follow road down the hill then turn left just past Methodist church at bottom of hill to Hoburne Devon Bay.
Nearest station Torquay 4 miles.

01425 282358

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Boats, Penzance and sunshine

I woke up with a hollow feeling today - it’s Pip and my wedding anniversary, and however much my life has moved on, I still, obviously, feel a great sadness at having lost such a lovely man. But he would be delighted at having bought this boat, and giving her so much loving care - which is badly needed.

I’ve got an aching back now but in a good cause - we’ve just been scraping the bottom of our boat, Serenity. And now, courtesy of a lot of creme cleaner, she has a much whiter deck and a clean bum as well!

It’s good for me to learn more about this boat from the bottom up, pardon the pun. And I’m beginning to realise that owning this boat is much more of a journey than either Piran or Echo. In a good way….

But today the sun is shining and we’re off to Penzance this afternoon - I’ve got a meeting with forager Rachel Lambert, with whom I will be giving a talk at the Penzance Literary Festival this summer, and C has to go to the auctioneers to collect some unsold items and drop off some paintings. I then have to sign some books at Edge of the World bookshop in Penzance, and take Moll for a walk probably along the Prom.

“You’ve got a lot going on,” said Tony when we had a walk yesterday.

“Yes, I replied. But sadly none of it paying at the moment!”

But hopefully a bit more work will come my way. Fingers crossed, and in the meantime, let’s enjoy the sunshine!

Tuesday 26 April 2016

A boating blog

Well this is our boat that we officially took possession of last Friday. She's a Leisure 17, for those that are interested - and is moored down at the pontoon below the Greenbank for the moment while we work on her. She hasn't had any TLC for quite a while, but we started work on her this weekend, and will soon have her looking ship shape.

It's exciting and very good experience for me, to start from scratch, and learn as we go along. We're hoping there's a boat jumble this weekend - there usually is on the bank holiday weekend - as we need to get a few bits and pieces to get her going. But we're both really pleased, and Moll came on board yesterday as well to give it the once over.

ON another boating theme, I had an interesting meeting with Hetty Wildblood, from Koru Kayaking yesterday in St Agnes. They run guided kayaking tours from Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, and also from the Budock Vean hotel near Frenchmans Creek - on the Helford river. if you're ever down here and fancy a trip, do give them a visit. On the north coast they give Poldark flavoured tours (so to speak!) and Hetty offered to organise book signings for the new book at Trevaunance Cove and also the Budock Vean this summer which would be perfect.

She has also offered us a trip out on their kayaks, when the weather's warmer, which would be wonderful. So hurry up, winter - we want some boating weather!

And after all that, I'd better get back to work....

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Book cover!

I'm glad I had that break to get over flu, as life has resumed its normal speed. Last week I interviewed one of the coastguards here in Falmouth which was fascinating. In fact, the coastguard disappeared for the first five minutes, as someone had turned up with some old flares from his boat - Falmouth will take old pyrotechnics, as they're known in the trade, and dispose of them for anyone. But the interview was a fascinating insight into what goes on up there.

Then on Monday I went down to meet the Cox of the RNLI in Falmouth and also had a guided tour round both lifeboats - the inshore and all weather one. If you're in Falmouth, do call down and see them - the tours are free and really interesting.

Yesterday I received the mock up of the Poldark walks book which is very exciting. Having handed over the manuscript, I put it to one side in my head, and have been focusing on other work, so it was quite a surprise to see it! Only about two months till publication, but a lot of work to be done before that.

As I write, there is an easterly gale howling round Falmouth - it manages to blow into every cranny somehow, so I can hear it shrieking down the chimney, howling round the back yard, and assaulting me when I go out of the front door. This morning I nipped down to make sure our new boat is all right - we officially take possession on Friday, when we pick up the outboard and receipt, so that will be very exciting. Typically, the forecast for the weekend isn't good, but never mind. We can start to clean her up and get to know her. She's called Serenity, which is something we could all do with in life.

Tuesday 12 April 2016


This was taken at Godolphin where I nipped down there to take pictures of Godolphin House for the book, only to find that the National Trust don't allow you to take photos for publication purposes - only your own use. However, they have their own image bank so not all was lost, though it was along way to go for a walk. Still, we enjoyed it, and a lazy spring afternoon.

Despite still having wobbly legs and somewhat fuzzy brain, I took Moll to have her summer hair cut on Friday which cost distinctly more than mine does, and took three times as long. Still, she does look lovely, if much spottier, and she evidently feels much better for it - you can tell she's showing off when we're out.

Then on Saturday I did a book signing in Waterstone's in Truro - many thanks to those of you for moral support, and those that bought copies. It's always a really nerve racking business, being terrified that no one will buy any copies, but they did, and I was also asked to sign about 30 copies which are being taken to the Fowey Literary Festival, so that was encouraging. The staff were also very excited at the idea of my Poldarks Walk book and are keen to do another book signing in the autumn.

I'm doing a talk this Wednesday and you would not believe how much has gone wrong in the planning of this. However, with the help of some fabulous friends, (thank you Heather and Lawson and Andy), I might actually be able to show my slide presentation. Talk about pulling teeth...

Workwise, things have been a real uphill struggle but I'm hoping to turn the corner soon. Spring is here, and I just love the primroses and bluebells. My favourite time of year....

Tuesday 5 April 2016


Apologies for silence recently, but having rushed round like a lunatic over Easter weekend redoing walks that I wasn't happy with and driving miles to get extra photos for the book, I went down with a horrible flu bug last week that, once I'd sent the book off to the publishers, had me in bed for most of the week.

I'm over the worst, but have as much energy as a new born kitten and feel about as feeble. Very frustrating for someone whose energy levels are usually pretty high. Still, I haven't been ill for a very long time so am fortunate in that respect, and as my friends keep telling me, it's undoubtedly due to the pressure of getting the book done. But I met my deadline, and although I had another deadline for the end of this week, the interviewees aren't able to meet till next week which is just as well as my brain isn't functioning at its best either.

The above picture was taken at Caerhays on Easter Sunday - note the wonderful magnolias and rhododendrons, combining to explain why the garden has won best garden of the year - and well deserved too!

Now excuse me, I must go and have another lie down...

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Deadline looming

My brain is frazzled. It's known as Deadline Looming Frazzle. I've got all the material together, but the photographs aren't as good as I would have liked, given the fact that we've had 4 months of the wettest winter known for 100 years.

I'm not entirely happy with the directions on one of the walks, so several of us are going to do that again on Friday, when there should be a break in the weather, and I'd like to get better pictures of Caerhays Castle, if possible, which might happen on Sunday or Monday depending on the weather.

Apart from that, the text is all written, collated, edited and proofed and checked. The maps are done, ready for sending. I'm still collating the pictures in Dropbox ready for sending. And I've written the Introduction and the blurb on the back.

As it's Easter, various friends are arriving, and ringing up wanting to meet which is lovely but doesn't fit in with getting this book out. So if I sound fraught - I am, but it's nothing personal!

In amongst all this is the feeling of impending loss looming. I've packed a year's worth of work into six months which has been very rewarding, but leaving it - and sending it off, out of my hands - is terrifying. Think empty nest syndrome.

I tried to explain this to a friend last night who isn't a writer and he looked at me as if I was made. Well, I am, but it's very common for writers. It's just how it is, and one of the difficulties you have to live with. I have to get back to journalism when this is over and earn some much needed money - and that is something I love doing as well - but books are something special. They snuggle into your heart and linger there, and this one is particularly special. Partly because it's Poldark and partly because all the material is new, rather than walks I may have used before.

So think of me on April 1st. My deadline will be over - and met - and I will feel bereft. Ready for new projects.

On a lighter note, last Sunday, we did a flashmob in Lidls in Penzance and the singing really lifted my heart and my spirits. I listen to it when I'm feeling fraught.....

Sorry I have been trying to insert the link but it won't oblige! If you look on my Facebook timeline it's on there....!