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....

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Birthday


As I write, Falmouth is in the midst of a complete white out - the snow started an hour ago - and it seems amazing to think that I took this picture from my window in the B&B on Sunday morning.

So my birthday this year will be memorable for the weather, for we rarely get snow in Cornwall. I'd planned a party tonight in Penryn, but that is now postponed till next Wednesday when the forecast looks to be milder and wetter (like the rest of the winter!) so we might go to the pub tonight, if we can get there......

However, I have been inundated with cards, phone calls and texts and we're about to head out in this weather for a birthday breakfast in Falmouth. Wearing snow boots, hat, scarf and lots of layers!

As this weather is so unusual here I feel just like a child, awaiting Christmas snow! Here we are -

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Update


Well, we all know what rubbish weather we've had recently, but at least here's a rainbow!

Life has been busy as ever, waiting for the proofs of my new book to arrive - Walks in the Footsteps of Daphne du Maurier is to be published at Easter, a court case and interviews to be done, as well as walks for the new book.

I've also been asked to do some reviews of restaurants in Cornwall over the next few months, and this weekend I am actually going away for the weekend - hooray! I've been watching the forecast anxiously, as part of the plan is to do another walk for the new book and while it seems cold, at least it should be dry.... nothing like trying to get a wet and muddy dog dry in a B&B!

My dear friend Av had to have a hip operation last week but she's doing really well and we're planning a long overdue girls weekend in May.

Also, next week I have a Significant birthday next week, and I am wondering how the hell so many years have passed - and so quickly. I'm having a small(isn) gathering of close friends, all bringing food to share and of course, some singing. The only possible fly in the ointment is that Really Cold Weather is forecast, so if it snows we won't be able to get to the venue. But at least we can get to the pub down the road....

So here's to any other Pisceans out there - happy birthday soon!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

New website

This was taken last week, doing a walk for the new book - this was round the Great Flat Lode, in the heart of the mining area around Camborne/Redruth. This was Wheal Grenville, the Fortescue Shaft. And for the first time in weeks we had a whole afternoon with no sunshine - what a treat!

But the main purpose of this post was that my dear friend Andy has finished my new website so here it is:-
If that link doesn't work try this - Sue Kittow
And if all fails, please type in Sue Kittow Author and it's sue kittow.com.

Any comments would be much appreciated!

The Man Engine Tour 2018 begins at Easter and I am so excited as I'm going to be part of the Man Engine Choir. To read all about the biggest mechanical puppet in the world, read here - or if that fails, put in Man Engine! I was so sorry to miss it two years ago but will sing my Cornish heart out proudly and thoroughly enjoy it!

And now - note the hidden teddy, found in a hedge on Bodmin Moor on Sunday!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Organ donation - my piece in the Daily Mail


This is the link to a piece I wrote about organ donation. You may not agree with it, but please read it if - it could save someone's life.
Thank you.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5327817/I-deeply-regret-not-donating-husbands-organs.html
Try this one if the other one doesn't work!

Friday, 26 January 2018

Fascinating people, places and things

Recently Viv and I did a lovely walk at Restormel Castle near Lostwithiel, and walked past this wonderful manor house - Restormel Manor - which is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, and at the bottom of the hill near the woods leading to the Duchy's Nursery and cafe, which are well worth a visit, even if you don't like gardens. A fabulous array of plants, shrubs, a wonderful cafe (and a dog friendly area too) and a well stocked shop with lots of Cornish goodies. And no, they're not paying me to write that!

I also had the good fortune to meet Nikki Markham, who runs the charity Battling On. You can read a bit more about her on the website The Overtake:-
- I hope that link works, if not, google The Overtake and mine is one of the most recent pieces. Nikki has had cancer and said she feels almost obliged to help others - and the work she does is truly amazing.

On a completely different subject, I met the most talented botanical artist, Sarah Humphreys, recently. People travel from all over the country to attend Sarah Humphrey’s workshops in Cornwall, and seeing her illustrations, you can understand why. For the last twenty years, her work has been commissioned by The Body Shop, McGraw Hill and the RHS, to name but a few clients, and she has become one of the most exciting botanical illustrators of her generation. The link to her website is here - https://www.sarahjanehumphrey.com/

And lastly, a piece I wrote on Organ Donation will, I hope, be out next Tuesday but I will post that when I have the link - just in case it isn't run!

Meeting such inspiring people goes a little way towards balancing the gloom and doom of January Mud, of which there has been, still is, and will be a lot of...

I do hope everyone is managing to get through this horrible of months. Spring is nearly here though - I have a few narcissi out in the tubs up my steps, and even a little crocus bud....and this is to prove that the sun did shine in Cornwall in January. Though I can't remember when!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Barklife Way

The above portrait of Moll was done by my very talented friend, Carol, nearly a year ago now and made me think of this book I was sent recently, entitled The Barklife Way - Life Lessons from a dog

This is such a lovely book about what we can learn from our dogs based based on the author's observations of her own dog called Cooper.

It's a fantastic read for anyone who loves dogs, with wonderful illustrations that are worth framing in their own right.

Each chapter, or section, has a bit about what Cooper does - i.e. his delight in a new day, all the wonderful new smells he encounters, so each trip is unique, exciting and packed full of novelty and fun, bursting with opportunities.

The next section asks what we can learn from, in this instance, our daily trips to work, or to the park, to the beach, wherever we walk our dogs, with the idea of not taking things for granted. Open our eyes and look and see who's around us, what the birds and trees are doing; what flowers are out. The pink balloons by someone's gate, the peeling paint on an old house. All the little things that we take for granted, or don't even recognise. We should, for we miss so much otherwise, and miss everything that's strange and special, all the delights and enjoyment that our dogs use every day, every moment.

This is a lovely study for anyone who loves their dogs but it also carries some very good life advice with the most fabulous illustrations. There's also a section about how the author wrote this book and information about the illustrator.

I can't honestly think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this book, but if you have a dog, and you enjoy illustrations, this is a must.

So instead of New Year resolutions, I would just get this book, take the advice - and see how much more enjoyable your life becomes. Just like your four legged friend!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Keep It Small

I'm sorry but if I receive one more press release or see another "inspirational" post on Facebook about new year's resolutions, I might scream.

I'm not quite sure why the end of this year was so dire, but in large part is due to huge volumes of water cascading from the sky accompanied by gale force winds that have been hitting the south west since Christmas Day. I've given up listening to the weather forecast as it's more of the same.

Then there's that awful feeling of having to drag ourselves out of bed for work, having been idly cocooned in duvets with no special get up time at all for what seems like months but is only a week. It's amazing how quickly the brain can atrophy, isn't it? One minute, if not sparking on all cylinders, at least it was working - then - bang - complete shut down.

So no, as I said to a friend suffering similarly yesterday, I am not making any new year resolutions. Getting out of bed was quite an achievement. To actually get some work done after that was nothing short of a miracle.

So my motto for January is to Keep It Small. Getting out of bed is a good start. Eating breakfast - excellent. Walking Moll first thing - part of my wake up routine. Though bless her, she has something wrong with her left back leg so have to take her to the vet later. Enough of that - think positive.

Next step - turn on computer. Brilliant! Transcribing a walk - brilliant. Making a call about an interview - my god! I think a few brain cells have woken up from hibernation. And frankly, whatever works is good. And if it doesn't, well, it will again soon.

I remember reading a piece when I was once having a really tough time and it advised to get out of bed. And breathe.

Sometimes that's all we can do. And you know what? Sometimes that is a hell of an achievement. So whatever you aim to do in January - Keep It Small. And achievable. And celebrate just putting one foot in front of the other. That's one hell of a good start.