Wednesday 27 April 2022


I am, The Fella says, an Optimist. Having suffered from chronic depression in the past, it certainly wasn't a tag that would have applied to me then. But now? Yes, I suppose I am.

By that, let me qualify optimist. For me this is someone who would rather concentrate on the cheerful or joyous things in life rather than the multitudinous horrible things going on in the world.

I am not going to get political, but I am not optimistic about how the current situation with Russia and Ukraine will work out. However, I do think Zelenski is the best possible example of not just a politician but a human being. He makes most other men, let alone politicians look shamefully lacking.

But back to more day to day matters - or MY day to day matters. I am trying to get two novels published. I am considering writing another walks book. These efforts involve a certain amount of self belief - something that most writers struggle with at the best of times. It also involves perseverance and an ability to develop a layer of thick skin - neither of these sit well with dodgy self belief. Most writers, artists, actors, comedians and other similar professions will probably know what I mean.

In order to keep on trying, we all need hope. This is akin to self belief, of course, but we need to believe that one day someone will love our book(s) as much as my editor does. That someone will fall in love with our most recent painting; that we will be picked for the next TV drama, or Netflix funny.

There are days, when my energy levels are low, when hope goes into a nosedive. Since mum died, I haven't been able to think about starting my next novel. I know what it will be, but I can't go there just yet. And that's OK. Losing a parent is a Big Thing and something that will, no doubt, appear in the next novel, or short story, or piece I write.

Other days, I am fired with enthusiasm. I re-read the lovely words my editor said about The Rescue and I believe that the right person will agree with her. Until then I will keep trying because I believe in my story, and I believe in hope.

For what is life without hope?

Wednesday 20 April 2022


"I can't imagine you being shy," said a close friend, when I told her about a paralysing fit of shyness that struck me yesterday. "I normally have trouble shutting you up!"

Methinks she does exaggerate a little, but it's true for the most part, I outgrew my childhood shyness. And yet suddenly, like a Cornish burst of rain, it can appear from nowhere. And it did, yesterday, to the point where I very nearly got up and left, which would have made me feel much worse, and would have looked odd. So I stayed, and I relaxed a bit and things improved.

I daresay the people I was with probably found the situation a bit strange, too, but it's always difficult to tell when you don't know them.

Of course I'm not shy when it comes to writing - well, it's so much easier to write things down, I find. Also, I can write something, then leave it. Come back to it and tweak it. Cut paragraphs out: whatever is needed to make the words more impactful. Also, I think that if I'm sending an email, or a letter, the recipient has time to digest the contents. Read it again if needs be. Especially if it's something that might be difficult, or delicate, to speak about.

Of course emails and texts can be misinterpreted, but I hope that with careful thought, emails or letters shouldn't be. And to me this underlines the importance of the written word.

When I worked as a journalist, I was never shy because my role was to find out other people's stories. In fact, when I asked Mum how she dealt with meeting strangers, she said, "It's easy. Just ask them about themselves." Which come to think of it, is what I did yesterday. Thanks, Mum.

Written words are my tools to help combat my shyness. I find it so much easier to lay them down on paper, or a screen. To tend and shape them, roll them around in my head to see how they fit. A bit like planting a garden and watering it.

All of this is useful for novels, of course. And as I start thinking about planning the next one, I must remember to write a bit about shyness. Even if the readers aren't shy, it might help them understand those of us who are.

Thursday 14 April 2022


This picture has nothing to do with my dream, I would just like to say, but if viewed in a certain light, it could have sinister undertones. And what is the imagination for, if not picking up undertones and overtones?

But I digress. Last night I woke up with a sick feeling of dread in my bones. I was on a big ferry crowded with so many people, bound for Australia (I can hear myself singing a few lines of the sea shanty here, but there was no gaeity attached to this dream). We were all crammed into the seats, the aisles - everywhere we could manage - and it was getting cold and I needed to get my bag with my clothes in and layer up. But I couldn't find it. I crawled everywhere, searching for it, getting colder by the minute, and still couldn't find it.

What was worse was that underneath it all was the knowledge that we wouldn't actually GET to Australia. We would capsize and/or drown or who knows what might befall us en route. Nonetheless, we were all there, in a desperate bid for freedom. It's obvious on one level where this dream came from, though I haven't watched the news for a while (I listen on the radio but can't cope with the horrific images at the moment) but on another level I have no idea how my mind conjured it up. And it was the sort of dream that stays with you.

I got up and went to the loo, then came back, and realised that Lainy wasn't in my dream. And I had to relive it, for the one thing that would be worse than being a frightened dog packed onto a ship full of frightened people, would be leaving her behind. Abandoning her. She's had enough in her life, poor girl, without any more. So I had to revisit the dream with a terrified dog by my side which of course made it even worse. And this obviously brings to mind so many people around the world trying to flee their situations in hope of a better life.

While I don't watch tend to watch thrillers (or too much of the news at the moment) - my imagination goes into overdrive and I can't sleep - on the other hand, I think, aren't I blessed to HAVE a good imagination? Ever since I can remember, I've been enthralled by books to feed my thoughts. I've written stories ever since I could write, and never been bored with all the tales whirling around my head. I've discussed them with my friends, and we shared our fears and hopes and dreams. After all, without an imagination, you can't write fiction. So while I have yet to decide what to do with my dream, who knows, it may appear in a story yet.....

Wednesday 6 April 2022

Holidays, Mum and stuff.....

Our much postponed holiday was fabulous. Beara Farm stables are on a remote, working farm so the traffic consisted on a parade of ducks across the farmyard, two cats who stalked by superciliously, in front of Lainy's Window Seat, the odd tractor and a few of the farm dogs.

We wanted to get away from everywhere and this was the perfect spot. In the mornings we took Lainy for a walk down the lane, across a field and into some woods where she chased a deer, rabbits and other unspecified animals, and came back panting happily. We would then wander back, have a coffee and a read. After brunch we would head off to explore in the afternoon. Knightshayes (National Trust) had stunning parklands and a very good cafe, we had to do some shopping so Lidls in Barnstaple provided that, and a walk round a community woodland there, and on our last day, which was the day mum was cremated, we went to Heddon Valley on Exmoor which I absolutely fell in love with.

It was a mix of Dartmoor and Cornwall - my favourite places - with huge, scree covered hills on either side, leading to a secret beach and an old lime kiln at the bottom. I would love to explore Exmoor so that's something to look forward to.

I had one night at home then went on to see The Fella, who was going to join us for a few days in Devon but for various reasons was unable to, so it was good to catch up with him, and do a Flapjack Walk. A stall near Predannack sells the best flapjacks I've ever tasted, so whenever we go there we get a packet which never lasts long. However, having accused him of eating most of them, it appears half the packet fell behind the biscuit tin.....(I would say here that while he is happy for me to eat the lion's share, he would never scoff them behind my back. Well, not all of them...)

I think of Mum a lot. Not in desperately sad ways but more frustration - I was dying to tell her about our trip to Knightshayes which she would have loved. The farm which would have made her laugh. Exmoor, which I knw she also loved. The Salley Vickers book that I bought in Eggesford Church - both of which she would have loved. On Sunday evenings I can no longer ring her (she particularly liked a chat on Sunday nights) and I had a terrible pang while we were watching TV last Sunday. So many things to tell her, and while I find it deeply difficult that I can't speak to her, I have a strong sense that she is near us still. Long may that continue.