Thursday, December 31, 2020

Taking Stock-Goodbye 2020

 31st Dec 2020


Happy 7th Day of Christmas

Today is a good day for taking stock of the year now ending and making resolutions for the year about to begin.

There can’t be a single person in the world who thought that 2020 would turn out like it did. We were hit, every human person in the world, by the pandemic. Many lives lost, many lives changed — some for better , many for worse.

I feel guilty to report that in the main , it’s been a good year for me. Not easy, no, that’s not the same thing. I mean I know many people have suffered — family members dead either from the virus or a result of the constrains we’ve been put under due to the virus. 

A dear friend of mine died in June. Although she didn’t have it, she was most certainly a casualty of Covid. In her eighties with slight mobility problems, a dedicated creative, spending everyday out and about at art events in the local community, suddenly she was confined to the house. Loneliness, lack of movement , then an insignificant cold, all transpired to weaken her resolve. She posted her art on social media up to a week before she died. I miss her so much.

There will be many like her as well as others who didn’t get their operations and died or who will now die sooner. So it’s not just about the numbers who’ve died for the virus itself who’ve been lost to us.

My husband was one of the lucky ones. He had his urgent op, one of the last they did before lockdown, at the end of March. It was a stressful time, having to fight to get him on the list, praying that it would go ahead, then hubby having to go into hospital by himself. I wasn’t allowed to accompany him. Up until then we’d always been there for each other. And , of course, after the op I was unable to visit him. I tried to busy myself with jobs in the house ( not able to write just then) while I waited for the phone call to say I could go and pick him up.

Our trip to the Holy Land at the beginning of March was cancelled mid flight. The Holy sights were all closed and the whole country had gone into lockdown. We spent a night in Tel Aviv and got the plane home the next day, having first been taken on a whistle stop tour of Jerusalem. Who flies from the UK to Tel Aviv for dinner? But joking aside that’s when we realised that the things were more serious than we wanted to believe. Our lovely tour company, at no extra cost, booked us another pilgrimage for this March, 2021. What will happen ? It doesn’t seem likely at the moment.

And the good things?

It was while we were still getting over having the virus, probably late April, that a dear friend told me about the Writers Hour with the London Writers Salon. I can honestly say, it changed my life. Having the daily structure of writing at the same time and with others, many of whom have become good friends, gave me a purpose, helped me not to be anxious and , best of all encouraged me to write more than ever before.

Yes, there are still things that are difficult — mainly not being able to see family and friends.

And today and tomorrow especially would normally be extremely busy as we come together for our family Christmas. It’s a tradition we started when my eldest daughter got married twenty five years ago and had from then on to include the in laws in her deliberations. They would, at the beginning spend one year with us and the next with the in laws. Then we decided to celebrate on a different day so, in the future , hopefully we could all come together every year. It’s become a time that everyone looks forward to. It has morphed into it’s own shape though and still we have trouble all of us managing to be there. It doesn’t help that the numbers keep growing — there are now 48 of us.

My daughter now has 20 just in her immediate family. She has for the last ten years or so held an end of Christmas party on 6th Jan, the Feast of the Kings. Many of us, but again, not all, try to get there. In fact, it’s looking like the only time we all meet up now is at weddings and funerals. Oh well.

Who knows what 2021 will bring?

I hope that some sort of normality will soon be upon us, when I’ll be able to hug my grandchildren close, play on the floor, run, skip, make cakes, paint faces, read stories and just be, with them.

Also, I hope I’ll have friends round for dinner, talk late into the night, reminisce and enjoy each other.

I’d like to think I’ll meet up with friends who I’ve only known as little squares on my computer screen. Something to look forward to.

None of us have the luxury of 2020 vision, to see what the next year will hold.

However, I have now discovered a new joy waiting for me in the coming year. I will continue to write. I will, with a bit of hard work, actually get the memoir written, as well as the anthology.

My resolutions are geared to help with my vision of my future self. So three shifts:

1 Make better use of my time — early to bed, less time spent on social media.

2 Make time for contact with the important people in my life.

3 Set time aside every day for writing . I am a writer. It’s what I do. And when I’m writing , write, don’t get distracted.

I am grateful for this past year and I’m going into 2021 full of joy, hope and eager expectation.

What will it look like when I reflect again this time in 2021?

What about you, how was the last year for you and what will the next one bring?

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


 Playing with Haikus

The 5. 7. 5 pattern 

Crisp, white crystals, crunch

underfoot, on frosty grass

sunrise , orange glow

How much did you say

is it worth all that money

Rather not thank you

I'm rich beyond words,

I want for nothing at all,

My treasure house full

But take them away

Leave me stripped of my treasures

What would I live for?

Loneliness, the germ

the monster, invades the mind,

turns living to ash.

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Turf

 2nd November 2020

My thoughts turn to my grandmother on this Feast of All Souls. 

So, a little poem:


What makes me feel warm inside?

I think of my grandmother.

It's the days leading up to Christmas.

She sits in front of the range - for warmth

She picks up a turf sod lying in the basket,

To feed the oven,

Her hands hardened by farm work, by family life,

I help her, pick up my own lump of turf

Turf that Uncle Timmy dug from the bog,

 the previous autumn

It Feels hairy to the touch, rough against my fingers,

not like the regular, smooth edges

of factory brickets,

We take turns, my nan and I, to place a sod in the fire

without words we feed our story, make it rich.

Flames give a glow to her - already pink cheeks.

When the roar reminds us "enough for now",

She sits back, smiles, and for while,

retells old tales of family long ago,

 linking the threads,

 lost in the mist of shared Ancestors

I wipe my eyes, reach for another sod,

And know who I am.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Lyme Regis

20th October

Today, I look out of the window onto a dull autumn day. I hate that we're heading towards more darker days and shorter nights.

And why does the winter always seem such a long season, unbearably long sometimes? What happens to time? 

But today, the leaves on the trees, glorious in all their beauty, are  presenting me with a rich aura of colour - browns, reds, oranges, yellows , a little green left too.


And so, this season redeems itself for me a little, coming as we are to the end of the year, when everything is dying off, but here nature says a farewell with splendid grandeur. 

The grey skies I'm looking at out of my study ( bedroom with makeshift desk) window, remind me of our camping holiday in the summer and the day we were leaving Princetown. So the following is from my journal from that time.

27th July 2020

The mist is still thick over Princetown so we decide to move on, to set off for Lyme Regis, maybe the sun is shining there. 

I'd like to stay longer, there's so much more we'd like to do,  but we've been here for two nights in the mist and, quite honestly, we're just fed up. Shivering, I take my bowl, the small red one, now full of our breakfast dishes and mugs,  to wash them, for the last time, in the outside wash area.  My socks feel  damp in my trainers, as do the rest of my clothes, the mist seeping through everything in it's path. I look forward to getting warm and drying out sometime today. 

The drive out of the moors is stunning. Although my view across the great expanse of moorland is limited, I encounter rivers ( the Dart being one) , waterfalls, and wild horses with their foals. One day I'll be back  , I mutter to myself as my eyes scan through the grey for more surprises. 

The drizzle shows no sign of letting up, so instead of taking a detour to places of interest, we head straight for Lyme Regis. I'm not sure how I feel about going back. This is the place we always wanted to retire to, the place where we had the best holidays when the children were little. It was many years ago now, but, It was our dream. Life took us down a different path , as it does, but I'm  not sure I'm over that longing.

We're about an hour and a half away and we discover now that the bad weather wasn't just hovering over the moors. I phone Kate to get the forecast for the afternoon in Lyme Regis. Mainly showers with a few sunny spells later. I hope that "later" is while we're there.  Kate also says that there'll be no change in this weather until next week. Right what shall we do then. We had intended to camp for a few nights, but if it's going to be miserable.

"Let's go anyway," I say, "It might brighten up for a few hours. Be a shame to drive past as we're so near."

"I'm glad you said that," hubby is relieved, "I really want to go."

We drive on, but not for long . Soon we have to stop for the proverbial comfort break. As we pull into the services I can't believe what I see. A long line, a queue of people stood outside, going right the way to the car park. 

At first I think there must be a fire drill or something, but no, it's definitely an orderly row, all waiting to go in, some with masks on, few however keeping the 2mt distance.  What's all that about, as if wearing a mask is the answer to everything. It is the governments emphasis now though. 

First it was    -        Wash your hands

Secondly       -        Stay at home

Next              -         Keep two meters apart

Now              -         Wear a mask

Common sense tells me it's a combination of all the above that's the best way. Like sheep we join the line. And to be fair, it's not long before we're herded, (yes herded not headed) into the food halls, where I can see another queue for the toilets. Obediently we join it. Again it's fast moving, and it's not long before there are only twelve ladies in front of me. 

But wait! It's then that I spot it. A disabled toilet. Is no one going to use it? Why not, I wonder? At that point what I should is was push ahead and go and use it. No, I am timid, I  hold back. When my turn finally comes I use it and when I come out I tell a mother waiting with her young son that it's free and she should use it. She does. It just seems madness to me to have a long queue waiting for the toilets and one free, not being used. If someone comes along who has greater need we can all, of course, step back, no problem, but with huge queues and, possibly, desperate folk watching the line,  it's quite odd.

After this unpleasant experience we are relieved( no pun intended) to be driving on again. 

Arriving in Lyme Regis cars sliding  through the streets and pedestrians dressed in raincoats and wellies, and holding their umbrellas , it's like a scene from a Lowrie painting. But hey, we find a car park. It's busy and yes, we have to wait again. I'm thinking , is this worth it? 

"Come on," says hubby, "for old time's sake" 

So, for "old time's sake" I find my wellies, my lovely Burberry pair, the height of fashion a few years back.

   I put my wellies on, my trainers are still soaked through form the boggy moor.  They'll take a while to dry out. 

The harbour holds fond memories of when our two older children were small, deep in concentration together, the four of us, securing bacon into crabbing nets and slowly lowering them into the water. The patience needed while crabs find their way to the bait was sometimes too much for the two of them and oftentimes they'd want to haul up the line. They soon learnt that you have to give it time. One time they even showed another  family how to "do it properly". 

Another activity we all loved, mainly on Charmouth Beach a few miles down the coast, was fossil hunting. When the sun didn't shine enough for a lazy beach day we'd get our raincoats on and spend hour after hour searching for fossils. There was an art to the finding of fossils. Sometimes we had to break open the stones and find ammonites and bellamites, creatures who lived long ago. And we did find some. That's what kept them coming back for more. We loved to go into the Fossil Shop and see what we might be able to find. We did buy a handy book on fossils there early on. That book got very tatty over the years. 

Today, I have a little tear as we find the Fossil Shop still there. Unfortunately it's closed because of Covid. We walk past the houses that we remember and that we dreamed of living in.

The rain is coming down harder and just as I think we'll have to make our way back to the car, I spot a shop that sells gluten free Cornish Pasties. We tried all over Cornwall to find a gluten free pasty for Peter with no luck and now, in Lyme Regis we find one. Ten minutes later, with a pasty each we search for somewhere to eat them where we won't get wet. 
"That'll do" he points to a covered  archway . It isn't ideal, but it's sheltered enough.  Licking our lips, we enjoy our pasties.

We don't hang around and soon are saying goodbye to Lyme Regis and I think, I love where we live, I'm glad we didn't move here.

Our holiday is over. We decide to head for home.
But what a great time we had, even if it was in Covid times.   

Sunday, October 4, 2020

1000 likes or thankfuls

 25th Sept 2020


I saw it somewhere. Someone did this list of likes, a thousand. It was her challenge to herself.

I thought, good luck with that girl, and thought no more about it, until this morning when I contemplated the  washing I'd left out yesterday because it got soaked and I wasn't feeling well and now it's still wet, but the wind is blowing through it. And I thought, yes, the washing might have got wet in the rain but the plants we've just put in have benefited and we didn't have to water up. So, I thought to myself, there's always something to like or to be thankful for, even in situations that seem at first to foster dislike.

And I wondered, could I get to 1000 likes or thankfuls?

So, here I am, here to give it a go. Let's see how far I get.

1-10.For the air that I breathe, that's just right,  that, with it's unique properties, sustains our  lives, keeps our hearts beating and our blood flowing and our brains thinking. Without it you I wouldn't be writing this. For all people on earth who have this same gift, each different but the same. The first then, 

10- 30 For a  walk by the sea, each step a joy, wind blowing through my hair, sun shining for the briefest moment warming my face, waves looking magnificent as they crash in on the pebbles, seagulls squawking as they dive bomb the whirling rubbish from bins and a kind man taking time to say hello as we are both nearly lifted off our feet, sharing together the moment, a human connection , a smile, a knowing. I like these brief brushes - a chance to cheer, to be cheered, to enter another life, sometimes to encourage, to dissolve a frown, 

30 -50  Staying with the  walk, I like the view of the old pier, standing proud, way out at sea, telling it's story of the past. Only close up can you see the destruction, but that I like too.  I watch clouds race  across the sky, the colours - grey, almost black, a dirty yellow,  is that purple -  all  thrilling. I think of warmer times with children everywhere -  ice-creams, swimming, splashing, diving in from the groins, running on pebbles with a puppy, warm coffee from a flask, shared with a loved one. 

17-30 I like feathers, but only on birds, fish, especially with chips- the chippy down the road is the best, grass under my feet, chicken casserole, bean chilli, chocolate biscuits , your smile, the crease in your neck, a new baby's smell, my camper, opening my eyes to a new day, lying next to you.

I like the rain because the grass and the plants need it and it keeps everything green 

30-50 Chatting with friends, drinking with friends or just with you, walking with you, having friends to dinner, you cooking, dancing with you, singing, driving, seeing, laughing with you, with children, with grandchildren, with friends, Michael McEntyre, true stories, true movies, true romances, true drama,  the truth.

50-80 Reading, to myself, to my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, to an audience, to you, sharing poetry. Listening, to birds, cars, wind, music, Radio 4, children playing, singing, poetry, waves, rustling of leaves, a waterfall, the door opening when you come home, the door close when we go to bed, your breathing in the night, you playing the guitar, a voice on the phone - sister (x 2)uncle, aunt, cousin (x 4)  friend (x 6) you.

80-100 Clean sheets on the bed, a hot bath, having money in the bank, shoes- black, blue, pink, red, brown, heeled, flat, open toed, pointy toed,  colourful clothes, Colgate toothpaste, a new toothbrush, walking through the park, swinging on the swing, climbing mountains, playing tennis, long finger nails (never achieved)

100-120  Snow at Christmas, snowball fights, building a snowman, sledging with the children, Midnight Mass, incense, wishing people happy Christmas,  carols in Church and round the streets, around the crib, Christmas dinner ( not turkey), Christmas pudding, brandy, family, paper hats, decorations, card games, charades, the nativity play, getting together.

120-140 Birds - eagles, robins, kingfishers, blue tits, chaffinches, swans, geese, ducks, doves, cuckoos, the yellow wagtail we saw along the river. Putting my slippers on, getting into my PJs, slouching next to you, enjoying tv, a glass of wine, a packet of crisps, with you, knowing we are safe, secure, happy.

140-160 Remembering - Mum, Dad, Nan, baby Marianna, Win, Bob, Audrey, Jan, Brian, Josemaria, Alvaro, Michael, Nonie, Guadalupe, Joseph, Chris, David, Leah, John, Gwen

160-180 Getting the house to myself (rare), having no washing in the basket, someone else has hoovered or made dinner or cleaned the bathrooms or taken the bins out or done the weekly shop, or brought the washing in, or washed the floors or cleaned the windows, or put petrol in the car, or cleaned the fridge or weeded the garden, or remembered to pay the bills, or tidied the sides, or  done some baking, or organised the meals for the week, or just made me a cup of tea, and it wasn't you.

180-200 Helping you catch fish, gut fish, fry fish and eating said fish. Fourteen of us swimming and playing in the sea.  

200-220 When a friend returns a book they've actually read and we get to talk about it. Book group friends - Sarah, Theresa, Aine, Amanda, Ros, Kevin, Jayne, Rachel, Heather. Books - The Salt Path, Small Great Things, Guard a Silver Sixpence, The Grass is Singing, Empty Cradles, My Life is Worth Living, In Dialogue with the Lord, Death and the Penquin.

220-240 More books - In Cold Blood, The Seven Secrets of the Eucharist, Maria, Mother to Hundreds, The Words in my Hand, The Guest Cat, Good in a Crisis, The Obstacle is the Way, Blackbird, A Grief Observed. My list of books to get ( always being added to), being recommended a great book and recommending one, spending the day reading and not caring, seeing my husband enjoy a book, seeing one of my children enjoy a book, seeing one of the grandchildren enjoy a book, seeing a shelf full of books yet to be read, finding a cheap book I want in a charity shop.

240-260 Having hew turf laid, putting in new plants - clematis, roses, other bushes, looking at the new garden creation with pride, with the garden all weeded and tidy, getting the garden chairs out to enjoy the sun on the decking, with you. Planning a refurbishment of the pond, looking forward to acquiring some fish and lilies and having a waterfall.

Just gone a quarter of the way !!! Not easy now

260-280 I love a new pen, a good pen , a few good pens. I love starting a new journal, buying a new journal, pretty journals, lined journals, plain journals. I love to read my journals from years ago, to find little gems that inform my writing, to bring to mind things forgotten, to see how far I've come, to realise nothing much changes, to ponder on things from the past, to get some inspiration for new writing, to have in the future in case I get alztheimers and have difficulty remembering.

Got a bit fed up with trying to find likes and thankfuls.

So, I only got to 280, but there are so many more. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020


Camping on Dartmoor

It never occurred to me that wanting to visit Dartmoor would bring me face to face with the famous prison of the same name. I really never gave it a thought.

  I mean, after all, the moors are vast, covering  an area of some 368 sq miles. 
 And my main aim was to walk them - well a very small part of them. 
But looking at the map Princetown seemed to be in the heart of the moorland, central enough to have a good explore. 
No, I didn't know it was the place where the prison was. That is until we drove by the huge walls behind which another world existed. 

It's history goes back to the early 1800's. 
From 1803 to 1815 Britain was at war with Napoleonic France and many prisoners were taken. Originally they were accommodated in Plymouth on redundant warships. 
However, conditions were so bad - poor sanitary arrangements, little exercise, lack of fresh air,  awful diet - that many died.
 It was decided to make it land based. Princetown, being in the middle of the moors, was deemed a suitable location and that's how Dartmoor Prison came to be built. 

The foundation stone was laid on 20th March 1806 and building work began. The first prisons were constructed from stones obtained by breaking up the boulders lying around the site and supplemented by dressed stone from nearby Herne Hole quarry.
 The planned completion of 18 months took twice as long due to labour disputes and the notorious Dartmoor weather.

On 22nd May 1809 the first prisoners arrived and the prison, full by the end of the year, soon became overcrowded. 
The situation worsened when American prisoners came in April 1813, with outbreaks of diseases killing 11,000 Frenchmen and 271 Americans. 
With the end of the wars the prisoners were repatriated, the last leaving in 1816, after which the prison closed, not opening again until 1850 as a penal  establishment for criminals.

The first convicts were mainly invalids, imbeciles, one armed and one legged men and others with chest complaints who it was thought would benefit from the fresh Dartmoor air. 
Cast-iron cells arranged back to back were constructed by artisan convicts under the supervision of contractors.
 These were superseded by stone cells before finally the older prisons were demolished and replaced by the buildings you see today, also built by convicts under artisan warders supervision. They were occupied by the worst criminals in the land.

The Military Service Act of 1916 introduced compulsory Conscription. 
‘Conscientious Objectors’ or ‘Conchies’ as they were called could apply before Tribunals for exemption on moral or religious grounds and either accepted non-combatant duties or agreed to serve at a Government Labour Camp. 
In 1917 Dartmoor prison was designated a Labour Camp and around a thousand such men replaced the convicts, occupied their cells and performed the same work as they had done. 
All locks were removed, they had freedom of movement locally and the Warders acted as supervisors only. 
They and their families were generally despised and suffered much hardship.

On Sunday 24th January 1932  around fifty men broke ranks and  soon took  control, attacking anyone in their way. Officers retreated to safety.
 The Administration block was set on fire and irreplaceable prison records lost. Police and soldiers rushed to Dartmoor. 
 The trouble was quickly quelled and the ringleaders later tried and convicted. Ropes, grapnels etc. found afterwards, confirmed suspicions the riot was a cover for an (unsuccessful) escape plan.

Dartmoor today
The bad old days are gone. Dartmoor now holds low category prisoners who are encouraged to undertake training programmes to help them on their release. Skilled advisors hold discussion sessions to make them aware of how unacceptable their crimes are. Single cell accommodation still applies and they eat in their cells. Showers and telephone communication with their families are freely available. They are not here to be punished; their punishment is loss of liberty tempered by help towards reform and rehabilitation.

24th July 2020
We make it to Princetown as a low mist settles and head for the Plume of Feathers, a park4night spot that had good reviews. We were glad to find it , especially as there seemed to be no campsites around and wild camping would have been difficult in the national park. OK though if you have a small tent. We park round  the back of the pub where we see that there are campers already and a lot of space . The only downside was the whole area appeared to be on a hill, a slight one, but an incline nevertheless.
Finding our way into the bar area, and being asked to use hand gel ( Covid times), we pay the lovely chap, who was wearing a facemask, £18 for two nights.

That'll be long enough to see the area and if we like it we'll stay for longer.
After booking, we're sent away with a menu for the restaurant. Of, course, Peter would like to try it, while I try to justify the spend in my head. 

Later we find the delightfully decorated showers rooms and the outside washing up area. I know, a bit of a dichotomy there. It'll do just fine, I think

After a detailed search we find a good enough / level enough place to park up and sitting in the camper with a cup of coffee, looking out at the misty drizzle (or mizzle as the Cornish call it), I take a look at the menu. There are some gorgeous dished to choose from , but not many that are gluten and dairy free. But I work out that some of the recipes could  possibly be tweaked if the chef was willing.

We are shown to a table by the fire, for which I'm mighty grateful, the weather having turned a bit chilly. I love this menu, you can have a regular or a small on all their meals. We choose the same - chargrilled chicken with bacon, cheese , chips and salad. Of course Peter has no cheese. They gave him something else, but I can't remember what. My small meal cost £7.95 and his regular cost £11.95. The difference? Not a lot, not £4 worth, that's for sure.
With two pints of Guinness the whole meal came to £29 - not bad for a fine evening dining, with lots of banter from the table opposite and the cockney waiter and  with the added attraction of a spoiled dog who was allowed to lick the table!
And to bed, with the hope of some sun tomorrow. 

But no such luck, the drizzle continued . However,  we manage buy an ordinance survey map which gives us the courage to go for a walk out on the moors. We choose a route and after having coffee we set off. The moors look vast in front of us but we're on a path, so it's ok right? We'll we hope so.

We meet some animals along the way - ponies and cows, mostly. Their freedom inspires me.


And the road seems long, a trek.

Looking back we can see the town with the tell tale walls of the prison nestled in there too.

This next picture probably shows it better.

Over four hours later and having walked for more than nine miles and having got lost on the moor in the mist, we walk back into the campsite, tired , wet and relieved. We enjoy a bean chilli that I had prepared a few days previously. How welcome that meal was after our long, wet trek through the moors.

Thursday, September 10, 2020


10th Sept 2020

Today I'm joining Grammys grid's Wednesday Writing Prompt ,

 to write a  story in 98 words to include the word, computer.

Here's my effort. Hope you enjoy it 

                                           New Beginnings

 Jan stretches, turns off her computer and heads for bed.

  Is that the time, 1.30 am, were we chatting all that time?

 She undresses by the light of the streetlamp. 

She never pulls the curtains, enjoying the night sky and the morning sun 

dancing through the windows.

 She lays awake, thinking.

 If it wasn’t for Covid 19 forcing her to work from home, she’d never have thought of running poetry Zoom meetings. 

It’d become quite lucrative, but more importantly, she met David. Tomorrow I’ll meet him in real life.

I hope… She shivers.  I’ve been alone too long.

98 Words

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Getting Here

 9th September 2020

Here is a revision of a piece from before. 

In this time of Pandemic, when all sense seems to be hidden where no one can find it, our lives have to go on in some sort of acceptable way. 

Keep safe friends and have no fear, things will be ok in the end.

How Did I Get Here

On my birthday that year, 
Not so long ago,
I  risked shattering my dream,
a dream I was frightened 
of seeing evaporate 
once the heat was turned up.
I took a chance.
With palms sweaty, heart pounding 
in my chest, I stop for a moment 
to breathe
I plunge into the unknown,
my soul lay bare, exposed,
like the emperor who thinks he's
 clothed in Gold and fine linen. 
I had no idea if I could, 
Who was I to think I was able?
But was I, would it work?
No, I, me, a nobody, I had nothing,
nothing to say, surely. 
Yet, I was forgetting, 
forgetting the woman I was,
A lioness
With deep roots in the mountains
in the  valleys, in the bogs, 
Of the forty shades, 
With Storytellers for ancestors.
I should have known that I could
that I would,
And, oh so softly,  I did.
And here I am.

Monday, September 7, 2020


 4th Sept 2020


Before leaving Falmouth we treat ourselves to a breakfast at a restaurant that looks out over the Bay. 

"Do you fancy having breakfast there," he mumbled, tentatively, pointing to a restaurant with outdoor seating hanging over the water. It looked extremely posh. Not the sort of place we would usually frequent. My dear hubby nearly fell over when I  said,                                                                          "Yes, let's go for it." I had been looking at it myself and deciding that if he asked I would say yes and to hell with the budget. After all we deserve something special now and then. Not like me at all, eh...?

And was it worth it, dear readers? 
A table outside on the quay, morning sun warming my back, pancakes with maple syrup ( for me) yummm, gluten free fry up for Peter, the best cappuccinos I've had for a long time. It was worth every penny! The food was amazing , the service exceptional and the waiter even asked if we'd like a jug of tap water (not to have to ask is a rare thing, or maybe it's just the establishments we are used to).
We left on cloud nine and after buying hats in the town, we got in the camper and headed towards Megavissey.

Megavissey holds happy memories for me, ever since childhood when my parents took us on a number of  holidays there, in the days before we started going abroad to Spain and France. Dad always liked to fish off the harbour and I loved to join him, learning how to cast a line and how to gut the mackerel that we would catch. Cutting down the belly of the fish, in no way put me off enjoying it fried for supper in the evenings. My sister's, being younger, didn't seem keen.

An attractive harbour-side village on the more sheltered South Coast of Cornwall, it's a hive of industry with the  harbour itself, full of dozens of  small fishing boats, the owners of which make their living from the sea. In the narrow streets of the village you'll find many restaurants, pubs and cafes, as well as galleries, gift shops and craft workshops. Some of the fish restaurants and fish shops are in old buildings which used to be the haunts of Cornish  smugglers.

A painting of Cornish smugglers unloading their contraband ...

 Back in the 1770's smuggling was popular around the Cornish Coast and Megavissey itself had numerous secret passages, trap doors and creative ways of getting through the village unseen, to support it's underground industry. French cognac, dutch gin, tea, tobacco, silks and lace could all be picked up and brought back to be sold at high prices. A single trip could make a whopping £170,000 in profit in today's money. No wonder it was rife at that time. 

We arrive on the morning of the 23rd July and because I'm concerned about finding parking and negotiating the narrow streets, we stop in a layby a few miles  away to rest, collect our thoughts and have a coffee.

However, it turned out we didn't need to worry. There was a huge  carpark right on the edge of the village, with a sign that showed it welcomed camper vans and that it might be possible to camp for the night. 

We were pleased to learn that for £8 we could park for the night and sleep in the camper. No facilities, but safe and legal, nevertheless. All the other carparks we'd seen in Cornwall so far had overnight parking alright but none allowed sleeping in  your vehicle. We happily handed over the £ 8 and felt comfortable knowing we didn't have to leave till the next morning at ten. That would do us.We couldn't believe our luck, especially as the campsites were all full and we didn't want to have to do wild camping. We'd now have time to have a good look round without any worries about the night time. 

We put the top up. I stand up, making the most of the extra space, and put together a quick lunch before we go for a walk to find the harbour. The centre of the village is only 200 metres  from us - easy.

It took me a while me a while, but as we came to the harbour wall warm recollections of dad fishing there came flooding back. I stopped still and wiped hot tears from my eyes. Peter's arm found it's way softly across my shoulder. I leant into him and for a few moments lived in another time. I dried my eyes again and we continued to walk to the end of the wall where we could see people fishing. I won't call them fishermen, although some might of been. But the majority were holiday makers trying their luck. I saw a little girl of about nine helping her dad. She brought him a hammer for the mackerel he'd just caught. What did me and dad do, I tried to remember. We didn't bash them over the head, anyway, I thought. No, dad did something quite gentle. I couldn't say what. 

I could tell that Peter was itching to get his rod out and have a go himself, so after walking around for a bit with the sun shining and the water glistening and everywhere a view better than the last, we hurry back to the camper to get it.We decide we'll spend an hour fishing or finish after he catches two fish, then go back for dinner. Only two fish because he won't take more than we'll eat.

He casts off well. Not near the others on the harbour wall, but off by himself a bit nearer some rocks where we've seen some small fry swimming.
The wind blows my new hat. I hold it across my face to keep the sun away from those wretched, bloody lips that are sore now, after being burned.
Unfortunately, just as he's getting into his stride, whoops , the line breaks, taking with it the little fish look-alike that is his bait. He didn't bring any replacements. I see the disappointment in his face, but  he decides that's enough for today. 

With the extra time I'm now left with I use it to make a chicken curry, using just a little chicken and then bulking it out with potatoes, onions, carrots and courgettes. Delicious!

In the evening we walk all around the village, in and out of the residential area on the hill, taking in all the Mevagisseyness that we can. Some of the little streets were so narrow that if the person from one house opened their front door and put out their hand and the person from the one opposite did the same, they would touch hands easily. No cars up these streets. I tried to imagine how someone might carry their belongings up when they were moving in. I wouldn't like to do it. 

The rain cuts our excursion short and we end uo in bed early with a bottle of wine, listening to radio Cornwall. A fabulous day.

Mevagissey | South Cornwall

Monday, August 31, 2020

Cornwall and all that.

 25th August

It seems like a life time ago since we came back from our trip to Cornwall. 

Since then we've slept in the camper for eight nights, but only outside our children's houses when we've been to visit. We find it easier than disturbing them and we're in our own "bedroom". We love it.

But just to finish telling you a bit about the last days of the "holiday". 

At first I was disappointed to not be going to Spain as we had intending. Covid scuppered our plans. But so much was gained from our staycation and from being with the family, that it was all worth it. It put into perspective how important it is to be with the grandchildren and get to know them better. In fact hubby and I have decided to make more of an effort  as time is running out for us . Yes, OK , a bit morbid, but true nonetheless and we are making memories for them for when we are no longer around.

One day, after spending the morning with grandkids, we went off by ourselves, Peter carrying a rucksack with his fishing rod in, just in case. Our walk took us along the coast from one cove to another beach about two miles away. Hubby looked  longingly down at the rocks, which, it seemed, were impossible to get to. He did see a couple of people fishing and we wondered how they got down there. And it was indeed  a long way down. I thought maybe they'd walked from the beach, but that looked highly unlikely. 

On the way back, hubster, determined,  eventually found a gap in the hedge where there was possibly a path down. We fought our way through brambles, nettles and overgrowth, getting scratched into the bargain. But then the path became less difficult, except for being steep and craggy and we were soon on the rocks facing the ocean. These rocks wee also hard to navigate as they were sharp and spiky - not sure how to describe then really. 

Peter set himself up and after a few minutes it was obvious the sea was coming. Within half an hour he had to move twice as tide caught up with him. Wanting to get to a safer spot he moved to a corner overlooking the small cove. I settled back to soak in the afternoon sun. And although not comfortable I thought I could relax for the next hour while he fished to his hearts content. You know, get it out of his system. 

"Mazzy!" It couldn't have been more than five minutes later. I turned hastily towards him, wondering why he'd shouted at me?

"Oh my goodness, I think you've got one. Flippin 'eck." i watched as the rod bent and dear hubby teased in his catch. "Wow, you've got a fish. Wow!" I tried to stumble towards him.

"Bring the bag," he commanded. I went back for the plastic bag, which was at the bottom of the rucksack.  He hadn't expected to be successful so was quite unprepared. He landed the mackerel. It wriggled about on the rocks. It slithered through his fingers as he tried to get a hold of it. When he did he bashed it's head over and over on the ground in order to kill it quickly. While Peter got ready to cast again, I imagined having the fish for tea. It's immensely satisfying eating food that you've caught yourself and not paid for. I don' understand why people fish when they can't take their catch home with them. As I'm pondering such things hubby shouts me again. What? Another? That's too good to be true, isn't it. But no, he has got the second one. He goes on to catch four fish within the space of half an hour. It helped that we could see the mackerel were feeding and he just had to throw out the line in the right direction. He stopped after number four because that's all we could eat, but he could probably have landed a fair few more.  


Saturday, August 15, 2020


14th August 2020

Well, I got just a tad bored with regaling you, my lovely readers' with tales of our adventures in Cornwall, wonderful though it was. 
So today I'm going to give you a poem. This piece was  shortlisted for a competition a few years ago and I haven't looked at it since.
Hopefully, I'll read it at the London Writer's Salon Open Mic tonight, but for now it's for you:


There you sit,


 between Rumi and Wittgenstein 

- among others,

your beauty esteemed, cherished  

 my precious jewel.

I lift you down from the shelf,

 reverently, unhurriedly,

my fingers,

Caress your soft leather cover

 Age Worn, flaky,

your Tattered spine

Faded over time,

Steadily trace gold leaf letters.

Your pages- flimsy, delicate

Reveal your antiquity

An old traveller,

A long life,

One hundred and forty four years.

You came to me in 1982.

Written inside, in black ink

With cursive style,

“Mary Louisa Legg,

 with best wishes from N.S.H,

 Christmas 1892”

One instant recorded, 

one person’s history

I love that!

Lent, loved, loaned again

How many homes

 have you graced?

How many absorbed 

your wise words?

I put you to my lips 

 Breathe in your lovers,

Warm companionship

Contented moments


 in Comfortable chairs

I remember cosy evenings

Snuggled under blankets

 with teenage daughters,

Reading, for maybe

 the fifth time,

 the May Queen

a family favourite still.

You continue to be, for me

A treat for my spirit



6th August

20th July  - Monday

Today, to get to Gebe Beach we had to go through the beautiful village of Mawnan Smith. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


5th August 2020

18th July 2020


It's misty this morning, so we won't be rushing off anywhere too soon. Time to catch up with journal and Peter gets his guitar out.

The wind whirled a symphony through the awning during the night, keeping me awake , so I'm happy with the slow start.

And, I'm really miffed that there seem to be no churches open in this part of the world, but we do get Mass online. We miss our usual routine of making visits to churches and getting Holy Mass as often as possible. It's all a little surreal and a bit disturbing that we can't go into churches. We manage our time of prayer every morning , though. 

Soon the sun shines and the sea in Falmouth Bay glints like a mirror. The campers who obstructed our view have now left and we get to enjoy it without moving while eating breakfast.

Today we join Jo, Paul and some of his family at  Porthlevan Harbour, calling at a big Tesco's first as we need some supplies. Going to any supermarket just now is not easy, with the queuing and everything. We wait at least ten minutes to actually get into the store, after which the shopping  takes only five minutes, but then we have to queue again, another fifteen minutes to get to the till.

Porthlevan is a typical Cornish fishing village, with boats in the small harbour, very pretty. 
Paul takes Molly for a boat ride, no not in the harbour, but in a lake, on a large swanboat 
While they're gone we take a stroll around the village, following the small cottages up the cliff path. Looking out to sea from here I am overcome with gratitude for my life, my family and especially my husband. I slip my hand into his and squeeze gently. Without even breaking the flow of his story he reciprocates.

Back at the harbour we sit on the wall we sit and chat. Over the next hour or so there are little purchases at the quaint shops lining the 
round the rest of us sit on the wall and chat, eat Cornish pasties, cake fudge and  ice cream..

In the evening we find a small cove Pordhu, with a beach , so Molly can go for a swim. She loves the water that girl. Raphie finds a stream that runs into the sea . He and George, the dog, run in and out of this shallow water , both delighted to be allowed to scamper freely. 

The day comes to and end. It's been a good one , and before setting off for the campsite,  because the camper is nestled in a lovely area in the dunes we stay and eat dinner here, left over chilli, I think. 

Gillyngvase Beach

3rd August 2020

17th July 2020

Gillynvase Beach 

We wake early, 5.30 am, to runners pounding by us. We weren't moved on. We got through the night, which is always a relief.
Of course, Peter is eager to get the bed put up, the curtain down and look more like we're here for the day.

The morning is sunny and warm, the Bay beautiful with the sea like a millpond.
We put our chairs out under the shade of a pretty tree, where we eat breakfast - porridge for Peter, granola for me -   and have our half hour of prayer/meditation. This is a special time for us which we rarely omit, a time to be in tune with the day, each other, ourselves and with God. It gives us joy and courage for whatever comes our way during the day.

The sea is out, exposing rocks, where we spot some small fish and talk to a mum collecting crabs with her young son. I think of the many times we spent happy days on beaches, regardless of the weather, swimming or scouring rock pools or searching for fossils. One thing for sure, you could never just be still.I miss those days sometimes. `We accompany the grandchildren now, but I'm not as able or active as I once was. 

Gillynvase beach is a short walk up the coast and the sun, even this early ( must be only about 9.30 am) is hot on us, reminding me, with the long stretch of sand too, of previous holidays around the mediteranean.

The sound of children playing, seagulls squawking, young people laughing, you wouldn't think we're living in a pandemic.

Around midday we decide to find our campsite so we can set ourselves up for the next four nights. I look forward to not worrying about finding a convenient wild camping spot. 

We put the postcode in the sat nav and follow the instructions, coming off the main road, down country lanes, and finally into a small lane (a boreen) with grass down the middle and only the width of a car.
"This can't be right," I say as we continue winding round this lane, which is not a through road and only goes to the farm. 
There are cows in the field opposite the campsite, which is obviously another field for them when it's not holiday season. We see the farmhouse tucked away behind some trees before we see the tents and campers. Ah, that's where we go.
We pull in and notice a sign that tells us to ring this number, which we did. 
"Wait there , I'll be right with you," the lady says. 
We look around and it's then I notice the view. Wow! We are on a hill and I think, it's confirmed later, that what we are looking down at is Falmouth Bay. With the blue water,  the clear blue skies, birds singing and cows mooing in the background, I feel well blessed. 
The farmer  arrives in her  jeep like vehicle, wearing boots, her face rosy and weathered, her dark hair tied back. She takes our envelope with the money in and tells us we can park anywhere at all, except where there is electric hook up, as we've not paid for that. I am so thankful we have our solar panel, which provides all the electric we need, for the fridge, the lights, our phones. It's invaluable when we're wild camping especially. We talk about how everything has to be different at the moment keeping our distance from people and watching everything we do. She is careful to keep at least 2 metres away from us at all times and with the number of people she has to see I don't blame her.

She points out where the toilets are , then leaves us to it.
There is cow smell all around us. This is truly a working farm, the campsite just an extra bit of income. I love it though.
We take a good look round to see where we can put the camper and the awning to get the benefit of the wonderful  view. 

"Ah, that's it, put the door going that way round," I say as we get to grips with the canvas, trying to work out which way round we've got the awning.
"Perfect," I  stare down at the sea, imagining having coffee, reading, eating breakfast while enjoying such a glorious picture.

Unfortunately it was short lived as later that day we get six cars with their tents park in front of us. So disappointing. But hey, that's life. Oh well.

After a quick lunch, finishing off the bread and the feta cheese, we amble back down the lane. a mile or so,  to find a map the farmer told us about. I'm keen to walk from the campsite into Falmouth. After all it's only a couple of miles, well, three at most.  Of course, it never happens. 
We find the map but can't make head nor tail of it. A lady with a large lawnmower turns up and helps us work it out, saying, "have a good holiday" as we go on our way.

We carry on to the village, Budock water, which is about a mile along the windy road.  

There's a pub with customers sitting outside, the familiar sound of "normal" chatting and laughter, echoing through the street. Lovely to see. If there's somewhere to sit we'll stay,have a drink, but no, they are full. Nobody allowed inside yet.
We pass the village shop, two older ladies queue outside next to a sign that says "Only one person allowed in at a time. Sorry for the inconvenience." Where do the villagers do their catching up these days , I wonder.
A little way on we see a woman up a ladder on the outside of a building that looks to me like a church, but turns out to be a restaurant and the lady is putting  cutlery around a clock face. You'd have to see it.
It is a church building and still has many of the features - windows, choir loft etc, which the owner has converted beautifully. Peter wants to come here for dinner before we leave. We don't, not because I won't spend the money, which could easily be the case, but simply because I couldn't enjoy it with cold sores on my lips. So painful when I eat.
We chat with the owner who tells us how to get to Maenporth Beach by the backpaths. It gets my hopes up, but , as you know already we don't do it. 

Dinner for us this evening is a bean chilli using up any vegetables that are getting a bit tired. Delicious. 
When we've cleared up we sit with our glasses( plastic, of course)  of wine and watch he sun go down over the Bay. Red, orange, even purple, the colour of the sky this evening. 

We read in bed for a while , using our head torches.