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Showing posts from 2018

The Beast in the Drive

How, I wonder, biting back the tears, did I let myself become so afraid? I’ve never enjoyed driving, but I used to drive my daughters to school, get myself to work, take my dad to the Royal Marsden and squeeze into some horribly tight spaces in the hospital car park. But in the last couple of years, a dislike of driving has become a full-blown phobia, one that’s made me feel horribly guilty every time I have to ask Tom to take me somewhere and something that’s made me terribly ashamed of myself. We live in a remote spot which we love, but there’s one bus an hour to the nearest town and the nearest train station is 25 miles away… yet the more I told myself I had to beat my fear of driving, the worse it got. Until last week. ‘You’ll be fine,’ Tom assures me, having given me a refresher tour of various switches. ‘Take your time and go off when you’re ready.’ He heads back indoors and I take some deep breaths and repeat my new mantra, I am a calm, confident driver … and then I’m

Autumn Reflections

Race Day, Cardiff HM 2018 Ten years on from running my first Cardiff Half Marathon, race day dawns. It’s still dark as we leave the house to make the two hour drive and it’s bitterly cold. Eventually, pink light tinges the sky, glinting on the frost in the frozen fields but there’s very little wind which suggests perfect racing conditions. In Cardiff, I kiss Tom goodbye and make my way through the chilly streets where I pass a very well wrapped up Gaby Logan talking to a camera. She’s teeny-tiny, very glam and rather spray-tanned whereas I’m wearing a manky old jumper over my running kit and my white legs are covered in goosebumps! Soon, I’m in my running pen enjoying the camaraderie as we wait for our start. An announcer begins to introduce runners and some wag observes that it’s going to be a long wait if all 25,000 of us are going to be named. And then, we’re off and the 13.1 mile journey begins. My first six miles go really well; the crowds here are always wonderful and I

No One Comes Last

At Banstead Woods. Narnia or parkrun? In what feels, at times, like an increasingly troubled and divided world, discovering parkrun has been an utter joy. Although these free, weekly, timed 5k runs - organised entirely by volunteers - have formed an integral part of my half marathon training, I’m no different to anyone taking part for the first time because everyone runs or walks at their own pace. As the event director said at Banstead Woods parkrun , where I was a visitor recently, ‘No one comes last because there’s always a tail walker.’ Participants gathering for the start of Banstead Woods parkrun The end of a really lovely run through the woods I’ve always found the running community to be friendly and supportive, but the atmosphere at parkrun is especially uplifting and encouraging. Llanerchaeron , our ‘local’ parkrun (some 15 miles away) attracts participants of all ages from the over fours to the over seventy-fives and everyone is warmly applauded as they

Ages of Discovery

Carrots! I’m walking round our sprawling garden with my daughter Lily talking about our plans for the future when suddenly I find myself falling, falling into goodness knows where. When - covered in grass cuttings and soaking wet - I pick myself up, I’m hooting with laughter but poor Lily’s face is etched with concern. Have I reached the age when I ‘have falls’? On a personal level, I’ve had a pretty rubbish time of it lately with a couple of old health problems coming back to bite me and wretched nights of broken sleep with raging hot flushes (thanks, I’ve exhausted the ‘cures’ but I’m still in danger of spontaneously combusting several times each night). This time, luckily, it’s not my body letting me down but an enormous burrow, partly hidden by vegetation. Bee, our granddaughter, who is also staying with us, goes out with her daddy and grandad to inspect the hole. ‘It was bery deep,’ she confirms. ‘I throwed an apple down it.’ Comforting to know there’ll be something for me

Ten Years On. Cardiff HM 2018

In ten weeks tim e - barring any disasters - I’ll be taking part in the Cardiff Half Marathon 2018, ten years since I ran my f irst 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 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 T

Blooming Marvellous

A trip to Bodnant Garden in 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. This group of day lilies caught my eye. I'm finally convinced that a well-chosen grass looks spectacular! Hot planting by a co

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

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.

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 mu

Moonbeams in a Jar: Publication Day!

After a fretful night wondering how publication day would be for  Moonbeams in a Jar   my 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.

About a Book: Moonbeams in a Jar

Are you in the mood for love? I’m optimistically hoping that you are and that the power of love which brought everyone together for Meghan and Harry’s big day might send one or two of you in the direction of my new novella, Moonbeams in a Jar which is released tomorrow, 22 May. The premise for this story is that love arrives unexpectedly, often inconveniently and rarely according to plan... rather like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar. I’m a very visual writer in the sense that ideas often come to me like still pictures from a film and this a story I’ve wanted to write since I ‘saw’ Chloe, the heroine, sitting at the end of a wooden pontoon with Wilma, her dachshund, beside her. How, I wondered, could I make her and the handsome bearded man heading towards her with his dog, Fred, see that they were right for each other? As regular readers of this blog will know, I also love writing about places; I’ve been lucky enough to visit Hong Kong so some of our experiences there ma

A Spring Debut

After very long , and in Lily’s case, exhausting wait, the midwife tells Lily that it’s nearly time. ‘In about thirty minutes, let’s say,’ she announces. Unfortunately - and Lily tells me later that my face fell, although I was convinced I was staying upbeat - it’s time for me to meet Tom and collect Bee from nursery. Whilst my back is turned, Lily and Russ put their heads together, make a few phone calls and enlist the help of Lily’s lovely friend, Ruth, to assist Tom with Bee so I can stay with Lily. Huge thanks to all of you! An hour later, I’m thrilled and overjoyed to meet my beautiful new granddaughter who is a very cross little lady indeed as she greets us. I feel immensely honoured to have been present at her birth and I’m so grateful to Lily and Russ for sharing such a precious moment with me. Welcome to the world, baby Iris! Happy Nana Happy Grandad! Happy Great-Gran! Poor Bee is left with the strong suspicion that Nana and Grandad’s arrival means Mummy a