Wednesday, 30 January 2013


This is the church at Herodsfoot - the walk we did on Saturday. A lovely tucked away, secret little place.

I’ve been fortunate enough, over the last year, to do several reviews of dog friendly accommodation for an annual publication on where to stay with your dog. While I don’t get paid for this, it means they pay for me and another (plus Moll of course) to stay somewhere for 2 nights in return for a write up and photos.

I usually take Viv who is in dire need of some respite, but she is stuck in London at the moment poor love and unable to get back. As you can imagine, I’m not stuck on volunteers to come with me, and each time we go, it turns into an adventure as we never know where we’re going, what the place will be like, or who we’ll meet.

Last Friday we turned up in the dark, in driving wind and rain, already wet due to a quick walk with Moll on the way up – and of course it was wetter than I’d realised. Unfortunately, having made our way down a very long potholed drive, the place we were staying in didn’t have any heating. Or rather, the night store heaters had been turned off.

The lovely fellow there gave us some logs but they were wet, so we had to go back and ask for kindling. He came over with a sackful and soon we got the woodburner going, but it was still icy. Then I saw the electric cooker. “I know,” I said, putting both ovens and all hobs on. We stood in front of the cooker with the doors open, hands outstretched, and breathed a sigh of relief as the warmth began to permeate.

And gradually, we warmed up. Though there was a nasty point at around 9pm when we were just about to settle down to watch a DVD when the power went off. We realised it was due to the coin meter having run of money, so went back to the farmhouse as we didn’t have any £1 coins. Oh, and did they have any hot water bottles?

Luckily they returned with more heaters and a handful of £1 coins. So we got the place warm and manifogled a hot water bottle out of the empty wine bottle we filled with hot water – they make very good substitutes.

So after a dodgy start to the weekend, we ended up doing two great walks for Cornwall Today and all was not lost.

Except that we’re both brewing pretty vicious colds and coughs……

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Being a writer

This is Lamouth Creek, which has nothing to do with this post but is part of a walk that dear Viv and I often do, and which I did the other day, in the pouring rain. We know this walk so well that I rarely notice the surroundings, so it was good to go with someone who'd never been before, and really appreciated it. It is one that I've written about for Cornwall Today, and as writing and walking are inextricably linked at the moment, I wanted to talk about the writing side of it today.

Being a published author is a very strange experience. Terrifying and uplifting in equal measures. But it also seems rather unreal. You put all that work into something and then it’s out of your hands. And by the time it’s published, you’ve moved onto another project and it seems almost like the work of someone else.

Last week one of my singing friends told me that Discover Cornwall was in Tesco’s in Truro and as I had to go to Truro anyway, we headed into Tesco’s to have a look. There, to my delight, was a stand immediately as you walk in, with several Cornish books, one of which was mine!

We stood there, grinning broadly, while I jumped up and down a bit, then said, “I should sign them, shouldn’t I?” And hurried off to find the store manager. “Oh, right,” he said with a bemused frown. But we took the six copies of my book and I signed them by the newspapers, then returned them to the stand. Luvitt laughed. “You could have been anyone,” he said. But I pointed out there wouldn’t have been much point signing them in his name.

“You could put a sign saying, “signed by the author,” ” I said to the store manager. He nodded. “Good idea.” You could tell he’d never had an author in Tesco before.

So we left Tesco’s and I went off to sign another 5 copies for a competition for Cornwall Today. All in all, a very gratifying experience and one that I will treasure.

As I said on the way home, this first book seemed like a one off. It has happened by default. I’ve been floundering as a first time author, not knowing how the system works, what is expected of me. But having my publishers say yes they want another book is wonderful and very self affirming.

I feel I can really hold my head up now and say, “I’m a writer. A journalist and an author.” And whatever else may be going on in my life, that is truly magical.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

After the Downs, An Up...

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but was taken on the Isles of Scilly last year to remind us all that we did have some sunshine, and some magic days. This was Moll's first trip to Scilly, and meeting a horse and loads of feathered friends.

Given that the end of last year and the beginning of this year were, frankly, pretty miserable, life has taken a turn for the Up, I’m glad to report.

On Monday I got an email to say that Sigma, my publishers, would like to publish my next walks book – Circular Walks with Cornish Writers – which I’m delighted about. When I saw the email from Jane I was almost too afraid to open it in case they said no. But of course you can’t leave an email like that unread.

At first I was pleased, then euphoria bubbled up like the champagne that I won’t be drinking as I don’t like the stuff. And suddenly life turned from grey, to black and white and shot through with the promise of colour. It's incredible the difference a bit of good news can make.

Just to continue the Upwards trend, last night one of my dearest absent friends returned (the other one, Viv, is still stuck in London, sadly) so we had a lovely dinner out and caught up and I got my Christmas present. A trip on a Tall Ship.

So 2013 is going to be one of lots of walks. Literary ones as well as Cornwall Today ones. There will be some boating and some sailing and who knows what? Doubtless a fair share of rollercoaster ups and downs, knowing my life.

They’ve forecast snow though I doubt it will reach Cornwall. If it does, we’re going to take Moll off at the weekend to explore and take photos of the white stuff….

And I leave you with a thought from the film of the Exotic Hotel Marigold, that I saw for the second time the other night:

"The person who risks nothing, has nothing."

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Compliments, more rejections and forward planning

This clip is from As Good As It Gets, one of my favourite films. With one of my best mates, I've seen it so many times, but there’s always something new in the script, or the acting, both of which are incredible and never fail to touch me, make me laugh, and make me cry. Here’s Melvyn attempting to pay Carole the best compliment of his – and her – life. (I love her expression at his first kiss!) Time to watch it again, definitely.

Talking of tears – over the last few days I’ve managed not to cry at all - other than at a flashmob video and a Kate Rusby number. Oh, and the film Quartet last night. And coming back from Mum’s. But I've always cried very easily and just now it doesn't take much to get me going. It doesn't mean I'm miserable; just that my emotions are very near the surface.

I’m continuing to send the novel out to agents and managed to get two rejections in one morning which must be a record – of kinds. But I’ve made a list of all the agents I will send it to, and will work my way through that. I started reading it again a few days ago, and to my astonishment, I'm really enjoying it. So if I can enjoy it, someone else must.

Luckily I’ve got other work on and yesterday went to interview the station manager of Source FM (very good looking fellow), the community radio in Falmouth and Penryn, who interviewed me for their version of Desert Island Discs last summer. I’ve done several radio interviews and was stunned by how professional they were – so good luck to them. If you fancy a listen, it’s broadcast on 96.1FM

I’m also planning my next walks – two in South East Cornwall which have to be done in January. Looking at the OS map - the area my editor asked for - this is low lying woodland. Given the rain we’ve had over the past few months, I’m just hoping it doesn’t rain too much between now and the end of January, which is when I’m also booked to review some dog friendly accommodation, thereby killing two reviews with one Flowerpot.

On a non-work note, I’m looking forward to some boating soon, and this afternoon we’re starting rehearsals for our Poly gig in February where Paul, Janet and I will be singing some numbers in a trio.

And I leave you with ponderings over the Clustermap on this blog. If you click on it, it shows who’s looked at my blog recently, worldwide. I’m stunned to see that people from Ireland, Nebraska, Holland and Birmingham have been reading it. So who are you all, and why don’t you leave a message? Go on – I’d love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Cosmic Forces and The Pepper Joke

Saw this sign on one of my dog review trips in Somerset....

Apparently there are certain cosmic forces (or something) going round the ether, so if, like some people I know, life changing events are occurring, that's why. Two friends of mine are going through long term relationship breakups (Happy Christmas, eh?), two other friends have become grandparents, and two dear friends - both of whom come on my Cornwall Today walks - have been away for much longer than they'd anticipated, due to events beyond their control. I'll look forward to seeing them both very soon - and here's to some more crazy adventures.

As I know they'll both laugh, this joke is for them.

It was told to me by my friend Betty, in her mid 80s, who made a very slight error (that I'm sure you will notice) which I'm repeating because I think it improves the joke.

A man was in an aeroplane and noticed his neighbour, a short woman with curly hair, kept rushing off to the toilets. Each time she returned looking flushed. After about six times, the bloke could stand it no longer.

“Excuse me,” he said. “Are you all right?”

“Oh, yes!” she said.

“But you keep rushing off to the toilets,” he said.

She grinned. “Ah,” she replied. “You see, I keep sneezing.”


“And every time I sneeze I have an organism.”

He frowned. “So what do you take for it?”

Her smile grew wider. “Pepper,” she said.

So may 2013 bring productivity, good health, fun, laughter and love for us all.

And may your organisms be frequent and plentiful.