Thursday, 25 February 2021

Rosamunde Pilcher and Thank you NHS

Because of my own Walks in the Footsteps of Rosamunde Pilcher book, her publishers contacted me and sent me A Place Like Home, a new collection of short stories, originally published in women's magazines many years ago. The stories are a wonderful romantic read - written with her usual passion and warmth. They transport us to a time when life when there was no social media, or mobile phones, and seemed a lot simpler.... or was it? Whatever, it's a perfect read for lockdown, so enjoy it.

I am about to have a day tended to by the NHS. The wound near my eye hasn't healed properly, so I am off to the clinic at Treliske this morning to see what can be done about it. Fingers crossed they can help sort it, as it's three weeks now and I'm fed up with it! Also I can't wear to wear my contact lenses again...

Then this afternoon I am having my first Covid vaccine, with my second in early May. Hooray and thank you NHS! You are doing a fabulous job and all workers deserve a huge pay rise. ( I wish, and I'm sure they do, too.)

And lastly, I am going to meet my pen friend for a walk next week which will be exciting. There was a lovely piece on Radio Four the other day about a woman who wrote to a male friend who was undergoing chemo etc for cancer. She wrote for two years, during which time they became very close friends. Such a lovely thing to do.

In this case, we have been emailing for about six weeks. It's a real joy, particularly in lockdown. We started adding a few pictures when out on our walks (we both have rescue dogs). Then last weekend we actually spoke! And again yesterday. So we are going to meet for a socially distanced walk next week. When will partly depend on if we get any reactions to our jabs - he's having his tomorrow, but also on the weather, which is forecast good at the moment.

I'm sure we will get on well, but as both dogs are rescue, and a bit nervous, we will have to introduce them carefully. But either way, it's lovely to have some things to look forward to.

If you feel so inclined, do take the time to ring or send someone an email. It could make all the difference to their day. And you never know, it might make a big difference to yours....

Thursday, 18 February 2021


Life has been partly on hold over the last few weeks because I had an accident that resulted in a wound just above my left eye.

To cut a long story short, I looked like I'd been in a fight with a real shiner of a black eye (it didn't actually hurt but it looked impressive) then, because I wasn't given antibiotics when it happened, it got infected. So I had to go to Treliske to get it properly cleaned out then stitched up. That didn't hurt either, and the whole thing took 20 minutes and no waiting!

I've never - touch wood - had many accidents. The odd bump and scrape like us all, but I took it in my stride. Then the second week it started to really get me down. Not helped by the fact that last weekend it deluged, non-stop. And that we're in lockdown (though as I don't really want to see anyone looking like this, that's probably a bonus). My eye looked like it was getting better, so I thought oh good, I can wear my contact lenses again. So I put them in but they didnt feel right. And a few hours later I took them out. My wound started swelling up again and a bruise formed and I thought oh NO.....

Isn't it typical that just one thing going wrong can knock your confidence, send it tumbling like a card house? I started doubting my ability to write, to train Lainy, to do anything. I was really worried about driving up to Devon to help sort out my Mum's house prior to her moving. About how Lainy would react to a strange environment with lots of strange people. In short, I started worrying about everything. Which again, isn't like me.

By Monday morning I was crawling along the bottom. But it had stopped raining. Hooray! I rang the hospital and they said come up, we'll look at your eye and it was just bruised, no infection. PHEW. Then I had a lovely long email from my Pen Friend on the Lizard. Yes, in these strange times I have a lovely Pen Friend who also has a rescue dog and loves walking so, as we can't meet, we exchange plentiful emails. They are keeping me going, too.

I was too short on sleep on Monday to write anything, but I realised that and gave myself the rest of the day off. I made notes but didn't actually try writing, and rested and read. So by Tuesday I was able to write again. My eye is healing - just more slowly than I would like. And today, although the forecast for Friday and Saturday is horrible, today the sun is shining.

We really do have to be grateful for the little things in life at the moment. Even going to Treliske was An Outing...... So to all of you out there having horrible days, I do so feel for you. We are all going through it at the moment. But we just have to remember, spring is coming. The days are getting longer. We won't be in lockdown forever. Keep going.....

Wednesday, 3 February 2021


Well, I think the whole world is mourning Captain Sir Tom Moore who embodied everything that we love and admire. He was brave, optimistic, funny, had a great twinkle in his eye and, to misquote Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, "he makes me want to be a better person".

One of the things that Pip hated was people Being Small, as in small minded. Tom Moore was about as big minded as you could get, by the sound of things, and listening to the news this morning, he had an indefatigable curiosity about how things worked - apparently he was fascinated by the film crew who first came to film him, and wanted to know all about the editing process. He wanted to know all about the young reporter who interviewed him: what was her background, what she was doing now. And was she warm enough?

If this were a book, Tom Moore would definitely be the hero, regardless, or perhaps because of his age. But he's a certainly my hero, and I think his views and outlook could be adopted as a benchmark. While this country - and the world - seems to be becoming increasingly divided, wouldn't it be amazing if we could all think a bit more about how Tom Moore treated people?

There could be a Tom Moore Guide to Living, and if we were ever in doubt about what or how to do something, we could stop and think, "How would Tom Moore do this?"

So here's to Tom Moore. Our hero, who sounds like one of the best people you could ever meet.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

The Wee Things

As you can see, Lainy is unaffected by lockdown and having a fabulous time on the beach the other morning. In fact, she seems such a happy dog that she cheers me up no end. She has stalwart common sense, a trait that I like to think Moll passed on to her. She has also got Moll's greediness but is way more affectionate, and at the moment, there's nothing like a cuddle.

Over the last week or so I've become increasingly insular. This happened at first in Lockdown One, and didn't last long, I seem to remember. It's been brought on by fear of infection, of course, and the worry that some people don't keep their distance when walking. Covid has spread paranoia among most of us, and it's not pleasant. But it is necessary, or I feel it to be.

For someone who's usually very sociable, I am finding my own company to be enough. Admittedly I have a lot of stuff to keep my brain busy: sending out Book One to agents, writing Book Two (which is pure escapsim, I love it) and also trying to find non-Covid related grants for our business. So in the weekdays I am busy. I have a structure to my days which I find essential. Get up, walk Lainy, at my desk, work then walk her again at around 3pm. Maybe more writing later. French on Wednesday nights via Skype. Book group via Zoom. Phone calls to my Mum and friends in the evenings.

Yesterday Lainy and I went out in the drizzle. I was tired: I'd finished another chapter of Novel Two and it was muggy weather but I don't mind that. We decided to strike out along a footpath I hadn't tried before, and that led over big, open fields, muddy of course but it lifted my spirits no end. Nestled in among the ivy we found an old Lister engine, one that I knew a friend would love as a money making opportunity (?). (I sent a picture - he got excited as I thought he might.) The walk was pleasant: we met few people and I didn't want to talk, preferred my own company and that of Lainy. As we drove away, at the end of the road was a stall selling organic eggs - 6 for £1. That really cheered me up.

And later, the only good bit of news on Radio Four was that in an attempt to cull the grey squirrel population, hazelnut spread is being used, laced with contraception.

That really made my day.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Brave New Year

For some reason my computer has decided not to unload pictures from the last month so apologies if you've seen that one already.

Well, 2021. Not the start to the year we all hoped for, is it? But here we all are, in lockdown and hoping for a better life ahead with vaccines being rolled out. My mum has had both hers, but of course I'm not able to see her for a while, so in the meantime I keep ringing her and sending her books.

I've been paralysed with fear over the rising cases. By the time we went into lockdown I was a jibbering wreck and the first week was just horrible. I couldn't watch the news nor could I listen to it on the radio or I would get terrible anxiety. I know there's the argument that we all have a responsibility to know what's going on, but I think we do, don't we? (And if not, how the hell have you avoided it?) So I would just say, if you can't deal with it, don't. It won't make any difference to ignore the news for a week, or two, as long as you behave sensibly and stay home when you should.

As we settle into week two, I thank god that cases are coming down here. And for the last two weeks, Lainy and I had a bit of online training which was a terrific distraction. It was her Christmas present as she just loves learning, so we had a Zoom session every Friday and throughout the week we had different exercises to do every day. And we had a Whatsapp group where we could exchange when things went horribly wrong (which of course they did) and where they went right - which they did as well.

As I said, it was a great way to break up the day. I'm used to working from home but I get a very stiff back if I don't get up and move around every 20 minutes or so, and this was good for us both. Plus we were both learning and keeping in touch with other dog owners. So I would thoroughly recommend it.

On the book front, I got two rejections from two agents last week, but sent the last novel straight out again. Then I got on with writing the current one which I'm really enjoying. I count myself exceptionally fortunate to a) have Lainy and b) to be able to write. It's kept me going.
One of the best pieces I've read recently was by Bel Mooney, who talks a lot of sense. She encouraged us all to cut down on our screen time, ditto social media and, as well as keeping safe, to KEEP STRONG.

So to everyone out there, keep writing if that is your wish. Keep walking and KEEP STRONG. We will get there...