…not easy but I’m having a go!

It has been a hectic time–three weeks criss crossing the US for our book tour followed by a four-day cooking workshop.

We need a break.

The work ethic is a curse sometimes–what is this need always to be doing something?

Today I’m trying ignore itthat background whisper in your ear that something is pending and needs to be attended to.

Having some success.

(Though here I am writing this!)

I finish a brilliant read, the Booker-nominated His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet–but that is not a task, it’s a pleasure.

Allowed today!

Lunch and dinner will be left-overs–delicious bliss!

Sitting here in the kitchen looking at our neighbor chogging back and forth on his tractor is therapeutic.

Watching others at work, can be.

He’ll do this all day, only breaking for lunch.

The countryside has autumn written all over it; the harvests are in and the monster combine-harvesters have trundled back to base.

The fields of sunflowers, garlic, wheat and corn are now in transition; job done for another summer.

Soon they will be in newly-turned shades of brown heralding a short period of repose.

I’m awarding us a short period of repose.

There are lines to go over, with Meredith taking the roles of Demelza, George Warleggan and Ross Poldark– which she relishes (actrice manqué!)

But that is for later today or even tomorrow–the Spanish call it mañana.

We may go walnuting this afternoon but no pressure–tomorrow will do for that too.

Ben just came in at his usual trot for a brief munch, then he’ll be on his way.

His need to be “doing” is stronger than Beau’s.

Beau is a lesson to us all–and will be spotted putting in a hard afternoon’s lying around most days.


Ben busy in the background while Beau reposes.

What we can learn from cats!



Lily passed today.


She had made her customary but mysterious journey from the other side of the meadow late morning.

She was thin and breathing hard.

She’d not been well when we left for the book tour of the States.

While we were gone her right ear began to bleed profusely and house sitters nephew Dom and partner Deming had to clean up.

Julie, the traveling vet with a van, came at 2.45 this afternoon and said the tumer on her ear was metastasizing into her lungs–which was why she was finding it hard to breath.

The three of us were in unspoken agreement that this was the moment–the right time.

It is always hard to know.

I dug a hole and we buried her under the trees in the garden, next to Pippa and Lucien.

She was a remarkable mother–gave us three litters.

Meredith found homes for all of them except Blackie, her all black daughter, who preferred to stay close but outside–a chip off the old block.

She suffered in the heat of the summer of 2003; carrying her kitties across the fields in search of food and safety.

It burned her ears permanently.

We never learned where her home was or if she ever really had one.

You wouldn’t describe her as a companionable cat, she was too busy surviving–but she liked it here and knew there would always be something on offer to eat.

Lately she’d been happy to show us some affection and a disinclination to leave.

Indomitable is a word for her.





End of the tour

The END!

Full circle.

East coast to West coast and back–three weeks “on the road” and here we are in Washington DC about to fly back home.


It has ended brilliantly with two memorable meals–both cooked by others.

For three weeks I’ve stayed out of the kitchen–apart from making four omelets in Palo Alto.


We have relied on the kindness of friends for places to stay–without their generosity this trip would not have been affordable.

New York City was the US launch and a lively pop-up event at a Scottish bar and restaurant called St. Andrews in the heart of the theatre district.




Enthusiastic POLDARK fans in the pub snug



An American version of Demelza!

Our friends Melanie and Bruce kindly lent us an apartment on West 22nd Street–a long stone’s throw from where the bomb went off last week.

Melanie sent us photos of the Malibu Diner where we had lunch together–now a crime scene.

Then on to Dallas–hosted by our friends Cindi and Jay.

It’s hot in Dallas–every day! Close to 100F–we duck in and out of air-conditioned buildings and cars.

Screening of the first episode of season two of POLDARK at a local cinema–over 200 in the audience and it looked fabulous up there on the BIG SCREEN.


Q & A afterwards with Bill Young–the Vice President in charge of programming at KERA, Dallas’ excellent PBS station.


Thanks, Bill, for your creativity, perseverance and organization.

Some of the Dallas folks had scrapbooks of my FIRST visit to Dallas with Angharad 39 years ago!




Poignant visit to Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum in the Texas Book Depository, kindly hosted by the museum’s British executive director, Nicola Longford.

With Nicola Longford

With Nicola Longford


The Texas School Book Depository on Dealey Plaza. The museum inside is the second most-visited site in Texas after the Alamo.


Brilliant audio tour helps bring some understanding to the tragedy.

Breathless we fly to Los Angeles and arrive late at the lovely little house in Los Feliz of Christy, widow of TV director brother Peter–who died suddenly ten years ago of a heart attack.

Christy helped make the original contact with the flourishing bookstore in Larchmont Village, Chevaliers, where LA Times TV critic Robert Lloyd moderates beautifully the next evening.

With Robert Lloyd, TV critic for The Los Angeles Times

With Robert Lloyd, TV critic for The Los Angeles Times


Sold out of books!

The following day a visit SoCal (KOCE), the PBS station for Los Angeles to record some pledge material with Maura Phinney.



A short flight to San Francisco and on to Palo Alto I visit the Gates of Hell (!) in the Rodin Sculpture Garden on the Stanford University campus with our local host, Holly Brady.

The Gates of Hell do not dampen our enjoyment of the beautiful California day.

Big turn-out at Books Inc— our third visit to this remarkable bookstore opposite the Stanford campus.


They’ve hosted us for all three cookbook tours.



I demonstrate that a diagnosis of Diabetes is not the end of convivial eating and drinking–in moderation, of course!

We sell out of books again.

We fit in a private tour of LucasFilms HQ in the Presidio quarter of San Francisco, close to the Golden Gate Bridge, thanks to Hilary and Yves.


It’s here that cutting edge special effects in films and animation are created. The halls are lined with artifacts at every turn.





We head back east for the final event at Arlington Library last Sunday.

We stay with our friends, Irv and Iris. Irv, retired Washington correspondent for The New York Times, agreed to moderate the event at Arlington’s Central Library. A double act is born!

The sell-out audience (over 180) enjoyed it enough to buy us out of cookbooks.



A good finish to a whistle-stop, heads down, no-time-for-shopping tour.

We spend a blessed 24 hours with our friends Ray and Ann in their waterside house on Chesapeake Bay–where I learn to breathe again.

Ray cooks a delicious meal of crab cakes with the local catch and pork fillet with clams–bliss it is.

Back in the D.C. last night Iris cooks up a storm for us.

Salmon marinated in soy, ginger and garlic preceded by an intriguing cantaloupe melon soup served chilled.

First day of autumn passes.

The prospect of walnuts and wood fires.

A bientôt, America and thanks!










All these events are free.

If our paths cross, hope you’ll come say hello!


Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 1.53.28 PM


In New York City:


In Los Angeles:


In Palo Alto:


In Arlington, Virginia (Washington D.C. area):





May Day! 

Today, in the postbox, a letter from Prime Minister, Theresa May!

I sent her a copy of Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics a few weeks ago.

She has Type 1 Diabetes and I’ve read that she is a keen cook–possessing over a hundred cookbooks!

(We have THAT in common!)

It could greatly benefit the campaign to fight the rise of Diabetes to have such a public figure as the new FEMALE Prime Minister of the UK,  declaring so publicly, that she is Type 1 diabetic.






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On the face of it Ralph Bates and Usain Bolt have little in common.

For one thing Ralph died over 25 years ago and Usain is about to defend his Olympic titles at 100 and 200 metres.

So why on earth are they sharing the title of this post?

Ralph loved sport–but as a spectator. Together we once attended a Barry Macguigan boxing match at Queens Park Rangers Football ground and as a mover I never saw Ralph “bolt”. To the contrary, he swayed elegantly.

Well, he was half-French! The eminent scientist, Louis Pasteur, was his great-great uncle.

It’s a question of attitude.

The interview below reminded me of dear Ralph and his insouciant nature.

With his third Olympic Games coming up, Usain Bolt a.k.a. the Human Arrow–double 100 and 200 metros champion–says the key for him (about performing) is to actively avoid thinking too much.

I’m in good shape and I’ve done all the hard work in training I know I’ll be good.

“When you’re waiting there, minutes before the race starts, it’s easy to end up staring down the track and getting caught up in it all; but when you know you’re in good shape then the performances come. Everything clicks and you just run the perfect race. You don’t need to think too hard, just execute–you are focused and ready to perform.”

As I read this, my mind switched locations to an over-lit corridor outside a BBCTV studio in Birmingham, where we were about to record an episode of the second series of Poldark–circa May 1977.

I was pacing up and down, “actively thinking too much“, worried about the next two-and-half hours of filming.

Ralph, dressed as the suave George Warleggan, spotted me anxiously pacing and quietly tapped me on the shoulder.


“It’s only a play, Robin!”.

He might have added:

“You know you ‘re in good shape, you’ve done all the hard work in rehearsal and you know you’ll be good. You are focused and ready to perform!”

That’s what he meant with his reassuring pat on my shoulder.

Yesterday I learned that the Reverend Dr. Halse–that admirable, upstanding, pillar of the Cornish establishment–would be making another appearance in the third series of Poldark. which starts filming next month.

I’ll try to remember– It’s only a Play!


An unusually insouciant Dr Halse