Thursday, 31 May 2007

Cornwall

Having written myself to a standstill, I decided to leave the office here in Sussex and go down to our cottage in Cornwall. Him indoors - the one who doesn't really know what's going on but is game for a laugh - came with me, and we were both accompanied by our cat, Blue. Now, it isn't easy travelling with a cat, but Blue is getting used to it, and by the time we reach Worthing he's given up on howling and being pathetic, saves his vocal chords and goes to sleep. Mind you, he has been known to suddenly wake up, vent his fury on basket and blanket, and yell his head off which makes us jump, but on the whole he's an okay cat.
Blue has featured in several of my books - he's a wonderful subject, funny, brave, cowardly, belligerent, snooty and sometimes as naughty as a spoilt child, so he's good copy! Blue is a ginger tom with attitude, and the minute he arrives in Cornwall he sets about sorting out the local felines and checking out the bird status. There are a lot of seagulls in Cornwall, and from the first moment, Blue decided they were bigger than him and so leaves them alone. Unlike the cock pheasant that strutted across the lawn one morning.
Blue got down, poised to pounce, tail flicking, ears flat, bum twitching. He advanced, slowly, carefully - then.... That's a big bird. Not only does it look strange, it doesn't seem to be frightened. Think I'll back off. Slowly though, carefully, because I know I'm being watched and I don't want to look like a fool. Backing off, slowly standing upright, the nose up, the ears perked, and with an air of nonchalance, Blue departs. He didn't want the bird anyway. He was only messing about.
The cottage in Cornwall sits on the side of a hill - there are many hills in the west, which involves a great deal of clambering up and down, which is supposed to be good for you, but actually it's just exhausting. It's a tiny cottage with two connecting bedrooms upstairs, and a lounge, kitchen and bathroom downstairs. The beauty is that we have a good garden - on a slope of course - on which we have decking that affords us a magnificent view over the sea to Rame Head. It is said that if you can see Rame Head it will rain, and if you can't it's already raining. That was sorely put to the test during the past ten days, but on the whole we managed to escape the worst of the weather and basked in sunshine.
My husband, him indoors, was out of doors playing lumberjacks. We'd had tree branches cut off some pine trees at the back of the house, and these had been left in heaps all over the bank. Chopping, sawing, swearing and sweating, him outdoors was heroic. Mind you, the author - me - had to risk life and limb to hold logs as the chainsaw went through them. I never realised how much sap comes from pine, or how sharp the needles are. But they burn magnificently, and with the neighbours joining us in several glasses of sloe gin, we warmed our cockles and watched the blaze. Blue was not impressed and sat grumpily on top of a fence and looked snooty - but then he's good at that.
Cream teas, pasties, delicious sea food in lovely restaurants, sunshine, sand and sea - I've come back four pounds heavier but relaxed and ready to rock and roll. Now for Ascot, the book launch of Lands Beyond the Sea, a Rod Stewart concert and a polo match before flying up to Scotland. June is going to be a very busy month - and amid all the partying, I have another book to write. I'll keep you posted.