Got the winter blues?

How are you feeling after the Christmas festivities?  Back at work?  Got a cold?  Summer seems like a long way off?  You may feel a bit fed up – down in the dumps.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone…

Does this mean anything to you?

\frac{[W + D-d] T^Q}{M N_a}

It’s OK, I haven’t gone all mathematical – if the truth be known, my maths GCSE was achieved through extra lessons and the skin of my teeth.  No  – this is the pseudo-scientific formula used to calculate ‘blue Monday’ – the most miserable day of the year.

Here is the key to it:



Time since Christmas=T,

Time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q,

Low motivational levels=M and the

Feeling of a need to take action=Na

D – Feel good factor

As you can see it’s complete nonsense – but this year, the international day of misery is set to fall on 21st January.  Which brings me to the point of this post.

Cheer up – it’s nearly spring.

A winter walk works wonders

A winter walk works wonders

And besides, we live in Cornwall.  Reserve your pity for our smog bound brothers and sisters of the cities.  While they battle through traffic and crowds – we can go for long walks by the sea.

Happy New Year one and all, and may 2013 bring you good things.  I’m going to paint, write and enjoy myself right up to the hilt – hope you do too.


National novel writing month.  50,000 words in 30 days.  I don’t know if I can do it.  You see, while I’ve been busy trying to sell cards, prints and paintings, I’ve also been writing a novel.

If anyone ever says they think they might like to write a book, believe me when I say don’t.  So far it’s taken me 16 months and I’m still nowhere near finishing.  In my defence, I didn’t realise before I began that I was embarking on such a marathon.

And will it be any good anyway?  Who knows?  All I do know is – I could do with a holiday.

What’s it all about?

It’s the first question people ask when you say you’re writing a novel…and it’s the hardest question to answer.  Sometimes I say it’s about surfing.  Other times I tell people it’s about this rough kid who turns his life around because someone had the foresight to give him a surf board.  Either way, it’s about making sense of stuff and about change.

Hopefully it’s funny too.  The boy is Jacob, his nickname is Kamo (after Kamikaze) and here…drum roll if you please…is an excerpt.  The first public unveiling of any of it.

Karl, the head lifeguard is giving Jacob (Kamo) a taste of surfing.  It’s his first ever wave…

An excerpt from a book with no title as yet 

I struggle to get the long board to turn round to face the shore. 

     A wave passes under me. Then another.

     ‘Now!’  Karl yells.

     I paddle as fast as I can.  The tail of the board lifts.


     I windmill my arms.  Give it everything. The board surges.  The air fills with a soft hiss as the board cuts through the water and time goes slow.  Crystals of spray, sparkle in the sun.  Left and right, the smooth, blue, green wave shimmers like silk and comes to life with the light that shines through it.  Then the wall of water crashes behind me and the nose of the board digs in, about to throw me off like a bucking horse.  Without thinking, I pop up onto my knees, lean back, and shoot like an arrow through roaring white water.  I’m filled with a wildness that bursts out of my chest in a great whooping war cry that lasts all the way to the beach.  It’s like a dream but I’m more awake than I’ve ever been in my whole life.  When I paddle back to where Karl waits, I’m grinning from ear to ear.  

     ‘Feel that?’ he says.  ‘That, Kamo is stoke.  You’re stoked and you, my friend are a natural.’


Just as the leaves turn brown and the gales come to blow them from the trees, my friend Wendy has passed away.  A lover of warmth – I think she went with the sunshine.

Wendy was a rather wonderful person really.  Everyone in Penryn knew her, or knew of her.  She would drive around in her red MG wearing a red baseball cap, fag stuck out of the corner of her mouth.  Wendy was behind many of the community groups in the town – but more than anything, she was a free spirit with a sense of fun and a fantastic sense of humour.

I owe much to the generosity of Wendy and her husband David.  I camp in their field and I often wonder what would happen to the artists, writers and musicians among us were it not for people like them.

A few months ago, I made a piece of audio that tells the story of the field,  its campers and of course, the lady who  dreamed us up –  Wendy.

I thought I’d upload the piece in tribute to her.  It’s a winter’s night and we’re all in our beds.  The first voice you’ll hear is Wendy’s…

The field dwellers tale




It took its time didn’t it? 

For a while there I thought there would be no summer at all, just one long autumn followed by another winter.  And the surf has been hopeless too.  Ditto the sailing.  Having a boat is one thing, finding the time, and the weather window to sail it, is another.

Still, things are on the up.  I’ve been crewing a bit on other (bigger) boats and I did have one great day on the water in my boat with my friend, Thomas.  The surf has picked up too, though a knee problem has stopped me using my long board.  But never mind because for once I am ahead of the game.

Check this out…

It’s the next big thing.  I haven’t managed to get a hand board yet – or shape one myself, but I have fins and a flip  flop, which should work.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

I bumped into a girl last night at Porthtowan – she was using a homemade hand board.  She reckoned the switch to bodysurfing will revolutionise my life, I reckon she might be right!

Socking it to the Chinese

Nothing against people from China, but I hate the fact that everything comes from there.  From clothing to those detestable Christmas cracker toys – (from China to landfill – how marvelous) – the Far East is manufacturing many of the things we used to make.  Competitive advantage and all that…

Rubbish.  We should be making our own stuff surely? So…

Enter the Mk1 homemade trousers

Mk1 homemade trousers

Magnificent aren’t they?  I took an old pair of jeans, picked them apart, then used the bits to make a pattern from brown paper.

It’s quite tricky to work out the correct order in which to stitch the pieces together – in fact I’m sure I’ve done it wrong, but all in all, I’m pleased with the result.

I used a Singer sewing machine  bought for two quid at a car boot sale.

It took me  two years to make them, which is great because a decent pair of jeans lasts quite a long time.

The shirt off your back

My one man fight back against world domination by the Chinese continues.  Next up, the Mk 1 shirt.  Expect a progress report  in a year’s time.

It’s not just the Chinese who are bleeding us dry either – don’t get me started on insurance companies, banks and all the rest of them.

I urge you to fight back.  Claim your independence by voting with your wallet.

It’s all in the detail

Well that’s enough pontificating from me.  I’ll leave you with this thought…

Mass production can’t compete with the personal touch and the inspired design flourish…ahem.

Take that, China

P.S – anyone need any cards?



Its all go in Cornwall

Things are looking up in this neck of the woods.  Not only has the ridiculous pasty tax idea been withdrawn, but my Falmouth Bass Boat is about to go in the water – and perhaps best of all, the Eden Project have decided to stock my greetings cards.

But first, do take a moment to take in the magnificence of my vessel…


She’s a 15′ 10″ Falmouth Bass Boat.  I’m not entirely sure how old she is but I reckon probably 1980s.  The boats were designed in the 1950s by one Rodney Warrington-Smyth MRINA, OBE.  Mine, I am pleased to say, may actually have been built in Penryn.

I’m going to launch her tomorrow in the viking style.  By tying my enemies to the slipway and crushing them to death as my boat ploughs over their helpless bodies, I shall appease the Gods by way of blood sacrifice.

Some of those vikings really weren’t that nice.

The plan is to sail as much as possible and maybe do some fishing for the table – and the tables of friends.  Although she’s an open boat, there should be room enough for two to sleep aboard with a boom tent over to keep the rain / dew / wild beasts out.

The name – Fulmar, after the seabird and the first surfboard I ever used – a 1970s, twin fin with a fish tail.


I am very pleased that the Eden Project have decided to stock my range of greetings cards.  It’s really quite a boost to a field dweller to have one’s artistic abilities recognised, and also, my product thought well enough of to grace the shelves at such a high profile project.

Courtesy of Herry Lawford

And why not? The cards are nice and as they are printed by Monkey Puzzle in Porthtowan -they’re a 100% Cornish endeavour.  Recycled card too – so looking after the environment.

If you’d like some – wrapped in a Cornish tartan ribbon – you can order them online.


As for the pasty tax – well it was always going to meet with the implacable resolve of the peed off Cornish.

What are a couple of Tory toffs compared with the might of us?

Disaster strikes Cornwall

‘But, what am I goin’ to do?’

The youth stood open mouthed, staring with goggly eyed horror at the woman behind the till.

‘Well you can ‘ave one microwaved,’ she replied.

‘You must be jokin,’ said the lad, backing away in horror and stumbling over the threshold, he beat a hasty, empty handed retreat to the works van parked outside the shop.

‘P’raps there’ll be ‘ot pasties at Penryn’, he shouted as he ran.  There was a screech of burning rubber and the van tore away from the kerb.

Stop the Pasty Tax NOW!

What are we supposed to do?

You might think that I’m making this up, but I’m not.  It was a real event that I and my friend Whitey witnessed at Carnon Downs.  And now look what’s happened; the Tories have taxed our pasties.

Do those fools in Parliament not understand that the humble pasty, a mere hot snack in other parts of the country, remains the staple diet of the Cornish?

As we contemplate the notion of the nation grinding to halt because of the impending strike action by tanker drivers, another nation will be grinding to a halt because of the price of pasties.

What are we going to do?


That Woman

Edwina Curry – did you hear her on the Today Programme?  If you missed it, here’s approximately what she said:

‘Well of course I don’t eat pasties because they make you fat and you can’t eat one without making a mess.’

Well they might make you fat dear, but if you don’t know how to eat one properly, that’s your lookout.  Is that a reason to tax the Cornish?

And besides – who cares if they make you fat – well they probably don’t, not if you work hard for a living.  Even if they do – well the point of food is to make us happy as much as anything surely?

Rise up

Stop the Pasty Tax - OR ELSE!

In my opinion, the best thing to do would be to save up stale pasties, go up to London and throw them at the houses of Parliament.

If we keep up the bombardment of swede, carrot, onion and steak for long enough, perhaps they’ll realise that we mean business.

Never mind egg on your face, Osborne – you’ll be wearing pasty if you don’t put a stop to this disgraceful tax.





Carbon emissions are bad and I’ve been skint so I’ve been going ‘gas fee’.
When the last bottle ran out I just thought I’d give going without a try. I have my wood burner so I reasoned that this could surely provide for my needs.

Eggs on the woodburner

Well it sort of worked. One pot stews, toast and fried eggs all washed down with copious quantities of tea made with nearly boiled water.

On cold days it was lovely sitting warm and comfortable while my food bubbled away on the stove. Not so good in the warmer weather though. A couple of times it was so hot in the caravan that I had to either leave the doors and windows open or sit there sweating it out in my underpants.

Getting ready for work was a bit of a performance as well. I timed myself from getting out of bed to being ready to go. Bearing in mind having to light the fire, heat up some water, have a wash, heat some more water for tea, and make some toast, two hours was reasonable I thought.

Cooking on gas

I cracked in the end and went back on the gas. Fossil fuels are an addiction. It takes half the time to heat up water. Still, I lasted a month which isn’t too bad and it was a good exercise. I now know that if the burner is going and I have the time, well then I might as well use the heat and make a cup of tea.

Talking about fires, some mates of mine towed a 40 foot boat from Gweek to Penryn the other day. They beached it and proceeded to cut it up, burning the whole thing a piece at a time. After the blaze, the spoils; raking over the embers, they were able to pick out all the copper and bronze fastenings.

So beers on them then!

I find it quite easy to get riled – there is so much injustice all around. There’s the fact that I got over paid for doing the quiz at the pub last week and now have to pay back some of the money – fair enough – but the money has already gone.

Then there’s global financial Armageddon and erm, poverty in general. Don’t forget the planners who are letting Sainsbury’s build a massive new expansion just outside Penryn but won’t let ordinary people build a hut to sit in – well you could drive yourself mad over it all.

Whew – please take a minute to look at my new painting…

Sea Quest - Penryn River

It’s only 24cm by 18cm but it’s a bit of a gem I reckon. The boat is a virtual wreck tied up alongside opposite Miss Peapods. I’ve been wanting to do a painting of it for about a year. There are so many little symmetries and contrasts in it.

I love the way that the hull is painted blue on one side and has daubs of red on the other – mirroring the little red speed boat thing that’s anything but fast being half full of water. The red boat lists too so that it looks a bit like one of those squiffy sort of paintings where the table is at an odd angle (you can tell I studied art at Uni).

Then there’s the other boat that is also blue but with red gunwales and all of it set against a soft, damp sort of a day which matches the decay of the main boat – Sea Quest – something that it will almost certainly never be doing again. Ah – so many things to delight if you just look!


Now where was I with my ranting? Ah yes, injustice. Well injustice can lead to protests and we’ve certainly seen a few of those recently. The politicians, I notice have been quick to praise the Arab Spring, even supporting the Libyans militarily. But one regime is soon replaced by another and already in Egypt we are seeing that spring may not have completely sprung after all.

Here in the West we’ve seen student protests, anti-capitalism protests and ‘occupy’ protests. It is not for me to criticise those movements here – but for everyone to decide for themselves how they respond to the challenges we face.

If you remember from my previous post – I wrote about Henry Thoreau, a sort of country philosopher of the mid 19th century. I have been delving deeper into his writings and have been impressed by what I have found.

On protesting – this is how I interpret Thoreau’s thoughts.

Don’t bother to protest just vote with your feet.

In Thoreau’s case, he disagreed with slavery so he decided to withdraw his support from the government. I don’t mean he decided to switch his political allegiance, I mean he decided not to recognise the government at all.

When the tax collector came calling, he sent him packing. He says, don’t wait for the majority to change their minds before acting, just act if you think that’s right.

Food for thought

Take the example of global warming. I suppose what he is saying is – if you’re that bothered about climate change, don’t bother trying to change everyone’s mind about fossil fuels – just don’t use fossil fuels.

You could well say that’s not practical – but that depends doesn’t it on how certain you are that fossil fuels are bad and on how badly you feel that there is a need for change.

So the question is – while I might be riled (which I must admit I quite enjoy) – am I riled enough?

Incidentally you can hear some audio from the Occupy Wall Street demo on my journalism page

The early bird gets the worm
I was up well before dawn today to taxi someone to Newquay Airport – a 5am start! Good God, what was I thinking?

First thing I saw - Gas storage containers and the view across Falmouth Bay

I have to admit – it is fairly rare for me to be up at that time but I am glad I was. Having hauled myself out of bed and done the airport run, I was then faced with the question of what to do next.

Never one to pass up the opportunity for a little adventure I decided to go to Falmouth and do a sketch of the first thing I saw that I liked the look of and then, go back to my studio right away and produce an oil sketch before breakfast

Gas storage tanks and a navigation light…Unusual perhaps but I liked the juxtaposition of the geometric shapes and the soft clouds of drizzle with the light shining through; the hard edge of the relcaimed land and the vagueness of the headland in the background. It is just a little sketch but I like it.

How about this – first thing in the morning, first thing I saw and painted before the first thing I ate – the first person to make an offer for it can have it, posted first class!

On the way home I stopped off at Pendennis to catch the sunrise over the sea – highly spectacular – check out the pics on my flickr feed.