goodbye autumn, hello christmas

by | 1 Dec 2023

Dearest Friends

Full disclosure. I wrote this at the beginning of November but never got round to sending it. It’s been a busy month and it already feels out of date. But with a few tweaks, I’m sending it to you now because in a few hours it will be Goodbye Autumn, Hello Christmas!

I originally planned to send it earlier this month to mark my ten year anniversary of  ‘coming out’ about my pursuit of motherhood – in (of all places) Grazia magazine! And also because November is my birthday month – last week I turned – yikes – 53.

Grazia magazine, November 2013

So much has happened over the last decade (in addition to putting on over a stone in weight – check out that picture!). A ‘Sea, Street, Summit Challenge’ has been completed. Three books have been written. And I am a totally different person, as well as being exactly the same. I still hate exercise and am the most ‘unlikely athlete’, although these days I try to move everyday because I know life always feels better for having done it – I don’t fight it so much anymore. I still struggle with social media but I’m getting better at this too. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to start on Substack (apparently it’s the next BIG thing). And finally, I’m still childless although over the last ten years I’ve gained a huge family: my Fertility Family; my Channel Family; my Chomolungma Family; and I mustn’t forget my dearest Desert Island Discs Family – the 3,000+ castaways who walked with me to the top of the world – some of which you’ll meet in my new book – Save Me from the Waves.

Image of Lyric Theatre ©mattbuck4950

And on the subject of my new book, I have a few important updates. Firstly, I’ve found the perfect venue for the live launch in March. After my last post in which I wrote that there had been so many pre-orders, I needed to find a ‘bigger boat’, Amy Belson – the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith’s Executive Director – wrote to me and said: ‘What about here?’

My heart soared. The Lyric is my theatre home. I was CEO there for a decade. It’s referenced in all my books – including my new one. It feels like the closing of a circle and I’m planning something very special. It’s going to be chaired by the wonderful Janet Ellis who has hosted all my book launches and there will be some other special guests appearing too. If you’ve already pre-ordered the book and emailed me to say you have then consider yourself invited – more info coming soon. And if you haven’t pre-ordered yet, then it’s not too late because we may even have the main house which is c. 550 seats – so you can bring all your family, friends, and even dogs! Just let me know you’ve ordered it, and I’ll add you to the launch list.

In other November news, my book finally went to print this month. No more fiddling. No more faddling. I have also recorded the audio-book. And there’s something extra special in it which I’m very excited about. The BBC has given me the rights to include the voices of many of my castaway friends in the story – so it really feels like some of my life’s heroes – from Edmund Hillary to Emma Thompson, Louis Armstrong to Maya Angelou – are walking and talking with me. In fact, if you’re an audio book listener – then this is the way I’d love you to read it! 

And earlier this autumn, the uncorrected proofs of ‘Save Me’ started making their way out into the world in order to get some advance reviews and endorsements which you can read on Amazon if you like. But as my personal hashtags are #livebigandbrave and #yourshitisyoursuperpower, I’ll be honest and say that I’ve found this process quite difficult. I hadn’t fully prepared myself for other people reading it or for their reactions. At times it’s felt horribly exposing even though I’ve had some fabulous feedback. But on the upside it’s also reminded me of the reason I write. It’s not just because my happy place is me, sitting on my bed, with my words and my laptop. But because I am writing in the hope that those words will connect with someone who needs them. Maybe they’ll even help save someone from the waves…Maybe it will be YOU.

In other Autumn news, I walked the Cleveland Way (all 109 miles of it) and it was spectacular. It’s currently a front runner for my favourite UK national trail – along with the Thames Path which I walk in my new book. I also lost my Woman’s Hour virginity. I’ve wanted to appear on the programme for a decade. It was only a small contribution – on fertility treatment add-ons – but I’ve finally popped my cherry!

I also went to Wales to  Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse in Laugharne where he lived for the last years of his life. I visited his grave and stayed at Brown’s – where he drank. Dylan Thomas was a friend of my grandmother – the feminist poet Anna Wickham. They were both big drinkers – she was known all over London for her bar fights. And Dylan Thomas would often stay at the house on Parliament Hill where I grew up and live today and where I’m currently (sitting on my bed) writing this. You’ll read more about all this in my new book. But suffice to say I have quite a literary legacy to live up to!

And finally, last weekend, I made a return to my home sea – the Channel – for a very special birthday celebration near Dover. I took a group of my closest friends who all agreed to be good guinea pigs in something new I’m developing for the world – part adventure weekend / part immersive theatre experience / part wellness retreat. It’s appropriately titled  ‘The Arts Adventure Retreat’. We walked, we swam, we sang, we danced, we listened, we learnt, we laughed, we cried, we ate, we drank. It was a truly marvellous and memorable adventure. And watch this space for further updates, because maybe you’d like to come to one when it launches for real…

But for now as this month of November draws to a close and December opens its starry eyes – I’ll just say Happy Nearly Christmas. Because despite my best intentions – full disclosure – I probably won’t write to you again until next year! 
With warmest wishes
#livebigandbrave #yourshitisyoursuperpower