Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Altarnun

I’m anxiously scanning the forecast to see when I can do the next walk…… whereas Madam is just rearranging her profile...

As I write, there is a steady and persistent drizzle that has now turned into a deluge, but for most of April the weather was beautifully sunny, so I’m hoping that once the much needed rain has gone through, we will resume the cheerier weather.

I’ve been able to get several walks done for the Daphne du Maurier book, which has been lovely - in particular a walk at Tywardreath a month ago, with Deb and Rich. I’d originally done this walk years ago on a freezing, March day and what a difference, doing it in spring sunshine! We ended up at the New Inn at Tywardreath where we met a geocaching friend of Rich’s who told us some fascinating historical facts about the area.

Last weekend I did a review up at Doublebois where we explored the area - not one I know at all - which provides some fascinating and diverse walking. On the Sunday we headed up to Altarnun to do a walk for the book and were blessed with sunny skies by the time we got there, and did the entire walk in shorts and t shirts.
Even better, I went into the church at the end of the walk and found a brass plaque dedicated to one John Kittow who had donated the pulpit in the church, apparently.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Reviews

I’ve done a few reviews recently which has been wonderful and unexpected. Several years ago I used to review dog friendly accommodation for Your Dog magazine for a supplement they ran, but they’ve stopped doing that now. I had some terrific mini-adventures, as we never knew where we would end up, what it would be like, who we’d meet and where we’d go.

So it was a shame that came to an end. By the way, I don’t get paid for reviews - the deal usually is that you get a free meal/stay somewhere and in return you write a glowing account of their pub/restaurant/hotel/cottage and organise some stunning pictures.

Nowadays I write occasional reviews for the website www.feetongtheground.holiday which is for people who don’t want to fly when they go on holiday - an excellent idea, not only for the environment but for those who (like Peter de Savary), hate flying.

But a few weeks ago I was asked to review some pubs/restaurants for a Cornish publication, and had a brilliant meal over at the Traveller’s Rest at Trevarrian, near Newquay airport. Even better, it was a fabulous day so Viv and I had a wonderful two hour scamper over the coastal footpath there in Mediterranean sunshine - see picture above.

I was then approached by the PR of a hotel group asking if I’d like to review a few hotels - one night in each plus dinner, B&B, so Deb and I headed off to Padstow last week for a night in the Metropole hotel which was fabulous. We - by which I include Moll - were given a friendly welcome, had bags carried, a special dog pack in the room, and fantastic food and walks.

I’ve got another review coming up near Liskeard, in a chalet near Bodmin Moor, and another possible hotel one coming up. As I’m not likely to get a holiday this year - or at least, not until autumn - these mini breaks are a really lovely way of breaking up the everyday.

So I count myself very lucky - as do the friends that accompany me!
Enys Gardens, by the way - not on a review, but with my Meetup friends.



Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Good times and bad times

Well this Easter has just been fabulous. I had long walks every day, the first being over at Helford where Carol and I went to see some friends of mine there for a trigging party at Gillan Creek. Trigging is an old Cornish practice of collecting cockles on Easter Friday, and the creek was full of people raking the river bed at low tide, others lighting fires and everyone having a brilliant family time.

On Saturday a group of us went up to Luxulyan, organised by Rich, who is very into his geocaching. It was a great walk, despite the cold wind, and we got all the caches apart from one - though as Rich said, it’s a good excuse to go back. After a pint in the King’s Arms afterwards, I was good for nothing except food and a quiet evening in, but Deb and Rich are made of sterner stuff (despite being older) and went on to carouse at the folk and cyder festival…

Easter Sunday saw me tackling a car boot and then heading down to Penwith Moors where we found a walk which turned out to be near Castle an Dinas, which is where I need to do a walk for the book, so that was a fantastic coincidence. Once again, by the time I got home I was so tired I had to go to bed for an hour, but the walking was superb.

Easter Monday brought another car boot then going over to see some friends who are having a really difficult time. Life can often take us by surprise (always) but this one is a particularly heart wrenching and they need all the support they can get.

And yesterday I went over to Carbis Bay to give a talk at the hotel there - what a lovely audience they were, and bought lots of books too! I then went to help another friend going through a horrible time, and went for a long walk afterwards, thinking, I’m really glad the weather’s so good. It helps lift all the horrible stuff.

So here’s to spring, and good mates.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The House on the Strand

Last weekend, Deb, Rich and MollieDog and I went up to Tywardreath to do another Du Maurier walk. It wasn't the most photogenic of walks but the weather was just wonderful - we walked in t shirts and shorts for most of it, and I couldn't get enough of the wonderful sunshine.
The picture above is of what the locals call Crocodile Swamp, a marshy area below the railway bridge that could have been the one where poor Marcus died.
This was the railway bridge that looks quite spooky....
And this was the church where, next door was the most wonderful flowering cherry tree. It was a fabulous walk, and as we climbed one particular hill we looked out over a wooded valley. "That looks good to walk in," I said. Rich was very taken by the idea as he loves geocaching, so on Saturday we're heading off to the Luxulyan valley to walk and geocache there.

So that's my Easter treat! Hope you enjoy yours....

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Daphne walk

At last I'm able to get back to writing the next book - Daphne du Maurier walks.

So on Sunday Fiona and I headed up to Fowey, in amazing weather, to do a walk round Lanteglos Church which was where Daphne married Tommy Browning. It was also where Jane Slade married Christopher Slade, and both were buried there: Janet became the inspiration for Du Maurier's first book, The Loving Spirit.

There's something special about spring, I think, as it carries a reward for the dour winter months, and hope for the summer ahead, and never more was it so than on Sunday. The scent of joy was in the air, along with shy primroses, deep blue violets clumped next to wild chives. Celandines lit our way along much of the path and overhead the bird song was the sweetest sound ever.

The church at Lanteglos is up a steep path from Pont Quay, but worth the view, and when we got there the churchyard was kissed with blackthorn blossom. From inside the church came the sound of a piano playing - the vicar, somewhat embarrassed at having been caught, said he wasn't supposed to have been playing (why not??) but was waiting for Bishop Chris from St Germans who is walking the Celtic Way - a variety of Celtic paths spanning some 135 miles from St Germans to St Michael's Mount. The Bishop was due any minute, but we didn't see him, and instead wound our way back towards Bodinnick where we sat in the sun and enjoyed the spectacular views down the river towards Fowey.


We really didn't want the day to end, it was such a joy to experience. And how lucky am I that I get to write about it, later? Transcribing the tape was lovely, listening to the robins and blackbirds singing their heads off, on what was a really perfect spring day.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Getting Lost - in life, on walks...

As all my friends know, going on a new walk with me usually involves getting lost. If it's a new walk, getting lost is a prerequisite. Not that I plan it that way - it just happens. In fact the picture above was taken from a walk I know so well because I've done it many times over the years. It's a quiet creek near Truro that, when Carol and I went last week, was perfect - a bit of rare sun, a burst of birdsong, carpets of primroses, shy violets and the first bluebell buds. We were able to take pictures for the first time in what felt like months of grey, drab weather.

On Saturday I went to a walk organised at Polly Joke - there were 30 of us which i found a little daunting, but everyone was very friendly and I knew several people, and we ended up walking in lots of little groups, swapping round, so we talked to lots of different people. Mind you, Moll quickly decided she was going to Lead The Way, so I ended up at the front of the pack, running to keep up with her.

Polly Joke was Pip's favourite place, having spent some of his teenage years with his uncle and aunt who lived there, and I have many fond memories of visits there, picnics with my family, friends, and burying tin on a part of the cliffs near the tamarisk trees. It was a bittersweet day that suddenly, for some reason, made me miss Pip with a hollow ache that made me howl my eyes out the following day.

I was talking to Viv about it and she said, "I know just what you mean. I felt like that about Mum today," (her mum died last year).

And while no, I don't believe I do have suppressed my feelings for Pip at all, I do think that if you love someone, grief does bubble up like that. It's not a bad thing - it's just part of how those we love, live on with us. And every now and again give us a little nudge...

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The importance of breaks

Towards the end of last week I went up to see my mum, and took her round the lovely Dartington Gardens on Friday morning where, despite the ongoing monotonous grey days, spring had put in an appearance. The grass was studded with purple crocus, violet periwinkles, dusky red hellebores and delicate fritillary, while the banks of the old jousting area were covered in a spring duvet of primroses. Magnolias sang from elegant trees towering above us, and birds rejoiced next to us.

My dear mate Av met me at mum’s and after lunch and a catch up (my mum refers to Av as her other daughter), we set off to walk Moll at Staverton, then to Totnes where Av had booked us into a B&B for the weekend.

Not having been away for a while, I was very aware of how important breaks are. However much we may (or may not) enjoy our day to day lives, having a change of scene is very beneficial. Av and I have known each other for well over 20 years now and been away many times so we know when to give each other space, what each other likes etc.

We explored Totnes market, visited the charity shops, walked miles with Moll, and found The Albert (after Einstein), a brilliant pub down the road from where we were staying, which did a home made pie and a pint (or glass of wine in our case) for £8.50 as a special offer on Fridays and Saturdays. No prizes for guessing where we ate.

We sorted the world out, had a lot of laughs, a few tears, and while I still find it hard coming back to an empty flat, it was lovely to have that time together, and with my mum.

I’ve now got another streaming cold, but despite that I’m looking forward to the next break, though having busy lives, it's important to put aside some time. Exmoor is a possibility, and Av and I are planning another weekend in October. Who knows what else may come up?