Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Book launch and other book stuff

Apologies for leave of absence. I've been stricken with a horrible flu/cough/cold lurgy and it's taking me ages to shake it off so that's why I've been so quiet for so long.

But I'm now gearing up for .... drum roll... the book launch of WALKS IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF DAPHNE DU MAURIER. For anyone that doesn't know, it will be next Wednesday, 23rd May at Falmouth Art Gallery from 6-8pm so do call in - and enjoy the exhibitions there as well - and have a glass of wine and buy a book or two even!

I'm also going to be signing copies of my books at Waterstones in Truro on 26th May from 11-1 and will be at the Great Estate festival at Scorrier on Fri 1st June at 16.10 and Sat 2nd June at 11.15 to talk about the book, give some readings etc.

I quite enjoy book publicity - it's nerve racking when people don't turn up, but usually the prospect of a free glass of wine lures some along, while it's a mark of good friends who turn up to other events. But as a dear friend said once, "keep hopes high and expectations low" and that way you're not disappointed. I agree, that's quite a difficult balance, but sage words.

This book is also special because of a singing friend who died earlier this year. As he was a keen walker as well as a fantastic singer - and also an amazing writer - I wanted to do a walk in his honour, but couldn't decide which was right for him. So as time was short, I added him to the dedications in the front of the book. It was such an emotional time that it wasn't right to ask his daughter and the family, and afterwards, I panicked, in case they were upset. Thankfully they took it in the spirit that it was offered - a special tribute to a very special man. And a way of keeping his love of walking in Cornwall very much alive.






Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Book Number Four - from The Depths

As usual, life has overtaken me somewhat. Having been plunged into the depths of gloom over various matters in my personal life, and not having much luck with journalism, the weekend before last I was weeping into my cornflakes, deciding I must change career, find another way of earning some money.

Heather was great, pointed out that journalism is SO hard. Another friend looked at me and smiled slightly. “You said exactly that this time last year,” she said.
Had I really?

Then another, wise journalist came up with the great saying, “You are not defined by your pitching success.” Love it!

And then suddenly, during the week, things changed. My publishers emailed to say my books would be back from the printers at the end of the week and they’d send a box down.

Then a new book shop I’d been in touch with replied saying they loved the idea of my books, would I be able to call in with some and also could I do a talk and a walk sometime?

I was over the moon. To go from the depths of gloom to sudden wild excitement. Though as Tony said, “You should know by now that life consists of ups and downs, so next time you’re down, realise that an up is on its way.”

He’s right of course, but sometimes when you’re at the bottom of that pit, climbing out seems nigh on impossible.

But my fourth book is out! I will be having a book launch on Wed 23rd May from 6-8 at Falmouth Art Gallery, and doing a book signing from 11-1 on Sat 26th May at Waterstone’s in Truro. So please come along and give me some moral support! Nothing worse than sitting in a busy bookshop being ignored by everyone…!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Reconnecting

Life rather overtook me last week. Easter was crowned by singing in the Man Engine choir which was an amazing experience - although somewhat marred by rain and freezing cold. But it was still an incredible experience and so touched by how many people turned out, despite the weather.

On the Monday I returned from a walk and found one of my teeth very wobbly. Uh oh, I thought, and summoning courage, rang the dentist on Tuesday morning. I had a feeling it would have to come out and sure enough, on my second visit of the day, it was removed. Chewing is now somewhat of a challenge but I have to wait a few months for the gums to settle before we can decide what next to do. Talking to Tony yesterday, he has an implant and thoroughly recommends them, though the cost is high.

That evening (of The Tooth) I began my first Yoga For Lower Backs class, which is brilliant, particularly as I've been having more problems with my back of late. Just as well, as the following day we had a funeral for a singing friend who died from bowel cancer far too young. He was such a talented, funny, clever man who will be sorely missed. Not that I'm religious but you do wonder about life sometimes. Why him and not some murder or rapist? That was a rhetorical question, by the way.

So this week I am struggling with another bad back spasm which thanks to yoga exercises has lasted a much shorter time than last. It doesn't have make you miserable though - which was probably what caused it in the first place.

But last night I was lucky enough to be taken out for a fabulous meal by a friend who has my undying gratitude for being such a rare, kind and understanding man. I'm struggling to write pitches, rewrite a piece on Peace Walkers and finish my last walk. Then there's singing tomorrow and a Folk evening coming up.

Here's to spring - whenever it chooses to arrive - and seeing the first swallow last week...

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Sing, write, walk

I found this sign last Tuesday, when walking from St Uny church to Carbis Bay and back, and while it didn't fit in with the walk I was writing for the new book, it does fit in nicely with an article I'm writing about walkers who walk in aid of peace.

This has been a fascinating topic as my three case studies have so much to say, in differing aspects. The worst part about this is that I only have 1,000 words and really the piece needs at least 2 or 3,000 words to do it justice.

We all go through difficult times, don't we, and recently has been one of those times that I will be glad to see the back of. Not helped by bloody awful weather. As my friend Mel said recently, "Thank god you've got your singing, Flowerpot." And that has kept me sane. Last Saturday I went to a fabulous all day workshop and learned some African, American and all kinds of singing. ON Sunday our lovely musical director Claire Ingleheart gave a short workshop which was incredibly uplifting. And last night I went to a rehearsal for the Man Engine choir which made me incredibly proud to be Cornish. Standing outside at Heartlands, 100 of us, singing Jim Carey's Chamber to the Grave was something I will never forget. And we will be performing that this weekend at Geevor on Saturday and Heartlands on Sunday - so if you haven't got your tickets, get them now!

Lastly, I've just sent the proofs for my du Maurier book back to my publishers. Four days of intensive proof reading (which can only be done in short bursts, I find, or I lose the right level of concentration) has left me shattered but with a sense of achievement. And in three or four weeks, we will have the actual book...

So wishing you all a happy Easter. I will be spending Easter Sunday singing at Heartlands for the Man Engine Tour so please come along. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Unravelling

Once again the Beast from the East disrupted all our lives - in my case, meaning a postponement of an overdue visit to see my mum, which was a shame but just as well I didn't go, as Devon was far worse hit than Cornwall, and I wouldn't have wanted to be stuck in my van in the snow.

Sunday morning dawned sunny and calm - the thermometer in my yard registered ten degrees, and I thought no snow would be possible. But at 2pm the first flakes fell and soon after that all was whited out, though a friend and I walked through town with Moll, along the seafront and then sat in the Falmouth Hotel watching the huge, fat flakes coat everything in white.

While it's lovely to look at, I find it makes everything seem unnervingly unreal. A few weeks ago it was fun, my birthday, and it makes a difference if a) you don't have to go anywhere and b) you have someone to share the snow with. This time, I ended up feeling really disconnected, not helped by reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This book is a brilliant but agonising study in loneliness. The heroine is a 30 year old woman who has never known love, compassion or even friendship but has not a trace of self pity about her. The book is her journey to discovering that she is worth loving, and how her unlikely saviour shows her how to make friends. But the journey is tough and I felt increasingly vulnerable as I read it.

Admittedly I'd had some bad news - a friend died last week and another friend suffered several strokes and is in hospital, so I was perhaps more aware than usual of the fragility of life - but this book really touched so many nerves and made me realise how quickly people can unravel.

Thankfully the snow has now all gone and life is back to normal. Tuesday dawned bright and sunny and I was able to go down to Lelant to do the next walk for the Rosamunde Pilcher book. Hayle and St Ives Bay looked at their very best, and I felt very blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

But underneath my appreciation of where i live is a definite wobble - a real current of unease and self doubt. No matter how strong we might feel, we are all vulnerable, and it pays perhaps to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. It doesn't take much for any of us to unravel, to be one of the less fortunate. So let's all help each other however we can. It doesn't have to be much - an email, a phone call, a text. A hug or a song. Little things are often the ones that make the difference.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Man Engine

Last night was the first rehearsal for the Man Engine Choir - see the website for tour details.
And if my link doesn't work, just type in Man Engine 2018!

We all met at Heartlands, in Pool near Redruth and having registered, about 100 of us packed into the Main Hall where Hilary Coleman started teaching us the songs we will be singing. And what a joyous rehearsal it was! A big room full of singers, all singing their hearts out with Cornish pride.

In a week where two friends of mine are very poorly, it was great to have such a gathering of like minded people and learn new songs. As I do every Thursday, with the Suitcase Singers. And tonight I will be singing at the Folk Evening at Penryn, singing with my small group, The Semi Quavers.

So here's to singing to banish the winter blues. Or any blues, come to think of it....

Friday, 9 March 2018

Belated birthday

I'm sure you're all sick of snow pictures, but I couldn't resist this one...

My birthday plans were completely changed because of the snow, but in fact I had a wonderful time. Had breakfast in Falmouth and walked through town in a blizzard, taking pictures before going for a drink at Custom House Quay. I took Moll for a walk later and it was lovely walking along snowy roads and watching kids tobogganing.. Then later that night three of us met for a drink in the pub round the corner - a small, select party but one that I enjoyed very much, nonetheless...

And then of course, we had the most incredible storm and half my garage roof blew off which was alarming. So were the winds - I could hardly stand up at one point. Anyway, thankfully my garage roof is now fixed, thanks to a very good mate, and the weather is back to being warm and wet again. And I had two belated celebrations this week instead...

Some time ago I was interviewed (for a change) for a feature on loving where we live - 8 of use took part - and the result is in Woman and Home April issue which is in the shops now. Hopefully in time to give my book a plug, as WALKS IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF DAPHNE DU MAURIER is due out this Easter - or maybe just after.

Looks the rain has stopped for a minute so I'm going to dash out with Moll while the going's good....