Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Who'd write walks eh?

This almost hidden public footpath sign was on our way to Penrose, a beautiful old farm in the parish of Sennen (not to be confused with the Penrose near Helston). We did this walk on Saturday as I am keen to finish the Du Maurier walks book and only have two more walks to do - this being one of them.

Although the forecast was for rain, we decided to be optimistic and I drove over to Heather's house, and she drove down to Treen from there. The first two hours of the walk were good - it is a very unspoilt, undiscovered part of Cornwall, and we walked along happily, not meeting a soul.

Then the rain started. We got lost. The rain got heavier, but we persevered, rain running down our faces, despite coats and hoods. "It's fine as long as you keep walking," we agreed.

Having been chased by a field of frisky heifers, then later an even friskier horse, the rain abated, then gathered full force, until we were walking, sodden, cold, human beings.

Four hours later we got back to the car, drove back to Heather's then I drove home from there, very glad to change, warm up and have something to eat. And despite the fact that I will have to go back and do it again as it was too wet to take pictures, and a few parts of the walk could be improved upon, it was brilliant. Even Heather wants to do it again.

The next day, the forecast was thunderstorms and rain, so I packed up my wet weather gear and off we went. By the time we got to Mullion the sun was out and I cursed myself for not bringing sunglasses. You can never tell in Cornwall!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Singing for the Soul

The last week or so I haven't been feeling myself at all. I know we all get difficult times, but it's not like me to feel exhausted all the time, and lacking in inspiration, in belief in myself.

So I very nearly didn't go on our singing boat trip to St Makes last night. But I'm so glad I did. We all took a bowl of food, cutlery and a plate/bowl and met on Prince of Wales Pier at 6.45pm. Then we boarded the boat and set off for St Mawes, via Gylly and Maenporth beaches, cruising along the coast while we laid food on a big table for all to share.

As it was a beautiful evening, some of us sat on deck in the sunshine and ate up there, dodging low flying hungry seagulls and chatting in the sunshine.

Then at 8pm we arrived in St Mawes and took up our station outside the St Mawes hotel where we sang for an hour.

At 9pm we headed back to the boat and sang our way back to Falmouth, finishing the last of the food and enjoying drinks from the bar.
It was a really special experience to sail past the docks while it grew dark, singing our hearts out.
And I went to bed feeling well sung and grateful to have such amazing singing friends, and to be able to have a night out like this in such a beautiful part of the world. It has restored my faith.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Magical Cornwall


This was Gwynver beach the other day - having been to the Rosudgeon car boot sale, we felt in need of cooling off a bit, so searched for a dog friendly beach near to Penberth Cove, where I was due to do a walk for the book, and headed for Gwynver.

We parked on the cliffs above Sennen and scrambled down over the dunes, to the coastal footpath, where we saw these amazing, brilliantly coloured emerald beetles.
Any idea what they are?

Then we headed down to the beach for a swim, wishing we'd bought the surfboards. Even so, we had a brilliant time while Moll tried to dig to Australia.

By the time we left the beach, ran back to the van to avoid getting a parking ticket (how quickly those two hours went) and headed back to start our walk, we were eaten alive by some incredibly vicious horseflies and are now covered in bites. So the walk has been postponed till next week.

We sat on the rocks at Porch Nanven as the tide came in, cooled off in the river and then had fish and chips in St Just on the way home. One really magical day when you wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else...

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Trelowarren

Last weekend Viv and I were fortunate enough to do a review at Trelowarren, the ancient estate that has been in the Vyvyan family for over six centuries, though the house dates back to the 1400s. Coming down the drive you really feel as if you're leaving the rest of the world behind and entering a private world of ancient Cornish beauty, peaceful and serene.

There are numerous beautifully restored and maintained cottages on the estate, but we stayed in one of the eco friendly lodges, which are spacious, very luxurious and warm, and feature local oak and granite. Ours had its own private garden and terrace at the back with a table and chairs for enjoying the evening sun which we were able to do the first evening.

After that, the weather deteriorated, but I interviewed Lady Vyvyan on the Saturday morning, which was fascinating. She has letters from Clara Vyvyan who was a great friend of Daphne du Maurier, so we had a lot to talk about for my next book. We explored the woods, did the Halliggye walk, and then had a fabulous meal at the New Yard restaurant on the Saturday night.

We didn't have time to try the heated outdoor pool, nestling in the walled kitchen garden - well, we did, but it was windy and raining so we were a bit wimpy, but we did look in the gallery and crafts centre and the spa looked amazing too.

So if you're in Cornwall, near Helston, do visit Trelowarren. To truly appreciate it you have to stay there, but do call in for a bit of ancient Cornish magic.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Falmouth Classics and Sea Shanty Festival

This weekend it's Falmouth Classics weekend, when masses of beautiful vintage sailing boats come to Falmouth from all over the world to race in our lovely waters. Well, Falmouth Bay and the Carrick Roads. I shan't be out on the water this year, but will be watching from the shore, and meeting the editor of Classic Boat tomorrow night as well. He's having a few trips on board various boats, but I was invited on one on Sunday which I can't do as this weekend also coincides with the Sea Shanty Festival, and I'm singing on Sunday afternoon.

I don't know how many different sea shanty groups will be singing this year - each year it gets bigger, with more and more venues - so I shall be singing a lot, and on Sunday afternoon, the Suitcase Singers will be singing outside Roly's Fudge shop (!!) from 3-4pm - just before the festival winds up at 5pm.

So if any of you are in the Falmouth area, come along and see us. have a pint or two and listen to the hundreds of different singers in our town.
And this is a picture from the woods near St Nectan's Glen - a walk last Sunday for the new book....

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The Great Estate

This was me, taken by my very talented friend Carol, reading out a bit from my most recent book, Walks in the Footsteps of Poldark, at the Great Estate festival at Scorrier last weekend.

This was a new festival and although I hadn't seen that much publicity about it, there evidently was more than enough, as all the car parks were jammed, including the overflow ones and those for campervans and motorhomes - overall they had over 13,000 people, many of whom weren't even from Cornwall.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and met some fellow writers on the Saturday to see where we'd be performing that afternoon and, in my case, Sunday morning - in the Dead Beat Poet's Corner, next to the Secret Gin Garden. The picture taken above was me reading on Sunday when I sold some books, inspired others to read the Poldark books, and was delighted by the dear mates and strangers who turned up. Even better, I've been booked in for next year, so looking forward to that...

After that, myself and two other friends did some busking and really enjoyed that - one fellow stopped to listen to us and said, "I got some second hand clothes, and now hearing your beautiful singing, that's made my festival!" so we're on to do some more performing when Heather gets back from her travels.

On Monday we were hit by gale force winds and torrential rain and I did an interview with BBC Radio Cornwall (by phone thankfully) to promote the reissue of my first book, Discover Cornwall, which sold out the first print run. It's now got a much brighter cover, updated walks and new pictures so we're pleased with that.

Apart from a really sore back - I'm sitting here with a bag of frozen spinach pressed against my lower back - I'm now trying to get some other work. And preparing for our gig at the Sea Shanty Festival in 10 days time..... in between showers!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Last Friday we sweltered in the most glorious weather, walking at Loe Bar near Helston, then froze on Sunday, but in between we did a gig at Truro cathedral which is such an amazing place to sing - the acoustics are superb, and it was a real honour to sing there.

Tonight we're singing at Trebah Gardens and next weekend I am giving a talk at the Great Estate Festival at Scorrier, and am also doing some busking with two other friends. None of this is paid, but I do get free tickets to the festival which is worth a lot, and it's all about getting my books out there and making friends and meeting people.

Heather and I went over to Scorrier yesterday to check out the gardens and see where we're going to be performing, and it's just how you would imagine a huge, rambling, secret garden. Perfect!

Last weekend, as I was asked to review a hotel, I took a friend who's just celebrated a special birthday, and organised a secret party for her which, I'm relieved to say, went very well. You never know with surprises!

Pictures to follow, but in the meantime here's another...