Ten Years On. Cardiff HM 2018

In ten weeks time - barring any disasters - I’ll be taking part in the Cardiff Half Marathon 2018, ten years since I ran my first half marathon which was also in Cardiff. I finished that race in floods of tears and begged everyone never to let me put myself through such a tough challenge ever again. And then I got home and completed the entry for my next half marathon.

Over the last ten years, our family has grown...

My writing dreams came true.

And like everyone else we’ve had the usual share of trials and tribulations.

But running, and racing, has become part of my life; it keeps me sane and keeps me fit. Lacing up a pair of running shoes and getting outside was probably the biggest favour I ever did for myself. Now I’m asking all of you to do a favour for someone else.

My dad would have been thrilled by the additions to the family - adults and babies - but he never got to meet them. He never knew that I became a published author. He wasn’t there to give me a hug and tell me thi…

A New Adventure

As my stepson, Tom, and his bride, Amey, turn for the first time as man and wife to face their guests in the register office, tears spring to my eyes yet again. What is it about such a happy occasion that makes me cry? I’ve already blubbed at the sight of my stepson nervously adjusting his tie as he holds his small daughter and chats to his best man. I’ve wiped away tears at the loving looks the couple exchange as they make their vows and now it’s the first few bars of ‘I know I’ll Never Find Another You’ by The Seekers, a band my dad loved, playing in the background that’s making me weep.

I guess I’m crying because every wedding represents the start of a new adventure in a new world, but it’s also the container of so many memories. We’ve been based with Ma in Epsom since travelling from west Wales and one of the regular runs I do when we stay there takes me up and over Epsom Downs, past three houses where I have lived. As I run past the Victorian house which was home to me and Tom and…

Blooming Marvellous

A trip to Bodnant Gardenin North Wales has been on our wish list since we began to reclaim our overgrown garden. After all, we reason, any plant that can thrive in the foothills of Snowdonia must stand a fair chance of surviving our hilly, windy site overlooking Cardigan Bay. My expectations aren’t high so the admission price makes me draw a sharp breath for what I’m guessing will be a line up of the usual floral suspects, but I very quickly realise what a magical garden Bodnant is. It’s true there are some wonderful and exotic specimen trees and shrubs, but as we wander round looking at some glorious planting I start to feel much more hopeful about what we can achieve in our very ordinary plot (albeit without a team of hard-working gardeners and volunteers). It’s a truly uplifting and inspiring visit and the weather is perfect too.

I’ve found a stonking Travelzoo bargain in the area but when we check into Carden Park Hotel, I’m dismayed to find a noisy conference in full swing just be…

Sailing By

It’s not unusual for me to wear five layers of clothing on the boat as we battle into the wind which always seems to be bang on Blue Nun’s nose so being on the water dressed only in - gasp! - shorts and a vest top is almost unheard of. We leave Neyland marina in glorious sunshine and head down Milford Haven to Longoar Bay where we pick up one of the two vacant visitors moorings. The seagrass beds here are a scarce and protected species, important for their role as fish ‘nurseries’ and in preventing coastal erosion, so anchoring is discouraged and today we have the bay to ourselves. It’s been a long time since we sailed in the Solent, but even then it was almost impossible to find a quiet mooring. In contrast there are no other yachts in sight; it’s just us and this stunning scenery.

After a peaceful night, we potter under sail back up the Haven and along the Cleddau river. It’s a busier afternoon and there are some interesting boats which have gathered for the 2018 Seafair Haven, but…

Getting the Party Started!

Bee hasn’t realised yet that a whole week of celebrations have been planned for her third birthday and she is touchingly appreciative of every small gesture to mark the occasion. Tom and I are in Cardiff to get the party started; on Saturday we play football and make pizzas together, on Sunday morning Bee bursts in to our bedroom, delighted to see that we haven’t disappeared in the night, and then with ten-week Iris fed, watered and bundled up (sweet little Iris has already resigned herself to going with the flow) we head off to Cefn Mably Farm Park.

Bee’s had more than her fair share of ear problems in her short life, and although her hearing is regularly monitored (and, my goodness, haven’t Lily and Russ had to fight to get this far) she has suffered a degree of hearing loss and experiences some distortion which makes the world a scary place at times. It breaks my heart when, at the farm, a cockerel lets rip in a covered, echoey space just as Bee is given a guinea pig to hold. The e…

Ebb and Flow

Tom’s reassured me that we can turn back at any point, but as we head out to sea for the first time in a couple of years, I take deep, calming breaths and try not to think about being sick. Goodness knows, I’ve coped with long passages of offshore sailing - albeit with my head in a bucket - but as we’ve spent the last few summers pleasantly pottering up and down Milford Haven it’s been a while since my stomach’s been put to the test of rolling waves.

We’re heading for Skokholm, a tiny island just off the Pembrokeshire coast, a Site of Special Scientific Interest which is a haven for seabirds. If all goes well, we’re planning to circumnavigate the island and negotiate the worryingly named Wild Goose Race tidal stream. So far, so good. It’s a glorious day and to crown it all I spot … ‘A puffin! A puffin!’. Actually, they’re dotting the waves everywhere we look; little splashes of colour with beaks full of sand eels to feed their chicks. But can I capture a photo of one? Nope, they must …

Moonbeams in a Jar: Publication Day!

After a fretful night wondering how publication day would be for Moonbeams in a Jarmy nerves were settled by this delightful review. Many thanks, Anne for your kind words and huge thanks too, to everyone for all the support today.