A Sea-Change ~ Part One: The Wreck

cover2 26th July 2015 2



The Wreck is Part One of a 169,000 word novel A Sea-Change,  which is being published as a series, soon to be followed by the release of Part Two: The Turning Tide and Part Three: Something Rich and Strange.

Quick post as getting ready to visit beautiful Cornwall tomorrow; thanks to everyone who has supported and encouraged me, or just sat around patiently on Twitter wondering if I was ever going to press the BIG RED SHINY PUBLISH BUTTON; I know many of you have despaired of me!

(And there’s a certain Twitter follower who I hope has got the strawberry laces in since he has vowed to crochet and eat his hat…)

And  now I have to go and pack for Kernow! Have a great weekend all.





I was bursting.
At least that’s what everyone said.
They would look at me in that strange way, that way that suggested that they didn’t understand me at all.
Except to say that I was bursting.
‘You’re bursting,’ they said.
I broke a glass.
I didn’t intend to.
I didn’t even touch it, but just a look , a look was enough.
The barman looked at me as if I were a witch.
But I wasn’t. I was just bursting.



I sat upon the rocks and wept where the salt sea might hide my tears.

I wandered on the moors in shame, indignity, and rage.

I vent my angry, evil spume in words that came like waves,

That reared and peaked on high but never knew the break of change.

And yet…

I sat and looked upon your ways and the salt sea that hid your fears.

I pondered on your shame, indignity and rage.

Enough, old friend, I end these poisoned days.

With love, and love, and nothing more, but love, and love,

But still…

Oh fickle one, oh foolish love.

The damage is untold,
But done.

Each must tread the path that’s set,
His loss, the lack of benefit.

No knowledge of the love unmet;
The passing ship that watched in awe but also
In bewilderment.

Such comes to all, when passion’s wasted:
The legacy of love untasted.

Each benefit, each overlook, each benevolent eye;
Each harsh rebuke, each reprimand,
Or disappointed sigh…

My dear,

They were all Love Letters.

And you passed them by.


© CoraDevine 2014

Thursday’s Child


I was born on a Thursday, 50 years ago.  I know.  I can’t believe it myself.  I joke that because of the age gap between my two children that I’m owed a ten year voucher for having had to go back to ‘square one’; do not pass go…etc. etc.  But it’s true that I don’t feel it.  If anything I feel younger and more like my true self than before the, shall we call it a lengthy  hiatus of child-rearing, sort of happened.  Anyone who’s a parent knows what I’m talking about.  I love my children more than anyone in the entire world and would never be without them, but I’ve found the loss of identity a struggle, yet one that I hope I’m in the equally lengthy process of conquering. Here are my words of folly…erm, I mean wisdom, on being, well, here; muddled in with some ‘facts you might not know about me’; in no particular order.

  1. I was born in Northern Ireland.  My parents had a very romantic Romeo and Juliet moment being from the houses of Catholic and Protestant.  I moved to London permanently when I was eight years old and no longer have an accent.  Apart from a few words.  (Thirt-teen, fourt-teen, and Coyboy, fer goodness’ sake!).  When I arrived in an English playground the first words I ever heard were ‘n’arf ‘ot, innit?’.  It was a foreign language I had to learn.
  2. I love Cornwall.  I resent being called a ‘down-from-Londoner’ when I am in Kernow, because it’s judgemental.  When I first came to London (as The Pogues song goes,) I experienced prejudice for being Irish.  When I go to Ireland I experience prejudice for being ‘from London’.  I’ve been to parts of Europe where people despise you for hearing your English accent, without knowing anything about you.  And most of the people who scorn ‘incomers’ in Cornwall are incomers themselves.  Seriously. It’s all wrong.  I have no country, but love all.
  3. I hate the modern world where the image that is given is that we’re all bitching and fighting and struggling for status and acceptance and glamour.  I live in London.  When I walk around the city streets, I don’t see this.  It’s not real.  Most people are just like you and me, going about their day, looking for small kindnesses and hoping for the same things; love, happiness, laughter, joy.  They wear jeans and jumpers just like you or me; enjoy a book or music just like you or me; want the company of good friends, food, wine, coffee, conversation.  We are all the same.  But we’ve been sold a load of bullshit that there is a better life somewhere.  Trust me; there is nothing better than the companionship of good friends.  Nothing.
  4. Which brings me to the next one; more than once in the last few weeks I’ve seen people who have had trouble just walking down the street.  Hunched over, aged, and taking hours to cover the distance that you or I could do in seconds.  And I didn’t know what to do.  I could have taken their bags (if they’d trusted me to) but I couldn’t have carried them (if they’d wanted me to).  It breaks my heart.  There should be something we could do.  Because we’re all them; they are us, we are them.
  5. I hate the biggest prejudice of all; which is towards young people.  It totally flummoxes me.  We were all young!  I clearly remember making a deliberate point of remembering how I felt when I was young; knowing it was difficult, but hoping to understand my own future children, my own future self, better.  Young people are brilliant.  They are better than us; brighter, more intelligent versions of ourselves; full of life and hope and that innocence that believes that everything will be alright; and not yet jaded by experience, heartbreak or despair.  And yet they are portrayed as worthless, thankless and dependant.  All the young people that I know are amazing, brilliant and haven’t yet had the stuffing knocked out of them.  Thank goodness for them.
  6. An equal call-out for the so-called ‘middle-aged’.  Honestly.  As human beings we bemoan and disparage the best and lengthiest parts of our lives!  I’ve said it before, but ‘middle age’ is your life!  You know; that big bit in the middle between growing up and learning about the world and the horrible bit at the end where it all goes terribly wrong.  Yes, that bit.  Your life. Stop moaning about it, and get on with it.
  7. I despair for the world.  I never would have thought that in my lifetime animals would be so under threat.  I grew up in a world of wonder that there were strange creatures like elephants!  And tigers!  How fucking amazing is that?  The truth is that even my grandchildren will see these animals as things of myth, and so beyond the point of care that they will not be saved.  What a tragedy. I despair for the oceans; the biggest beauty of the Earth, being depleted of their wildlife and suffocated with pollution and debris.  I despair.
  8. Oh, and I haven’t eaten meat for 30 years.  I DO eat fish on occasion, usually when I’m in Cornwall, Greece, or Portugal…anywhere where it is fresh, locally sourced and important to the local community.  It would be churlish not to, but I still don’t like it. I loathe the treatment of animals where on the one hand we love them, as pets or entertainment, and on the other abuse and eat them.  I stopped eating meat when I was twenty years old.  I was cooking a spaghetti bolognaise.  I fried the onions, garlic, and then put the ‘meat’ (minced) in.  The fat and the blood came out and I knew, just knew that I not only wouldn’t eat it, but that I’d ruined a perfectly good meal with unknown carnage.  It was a gut reaction and I’ve never looked back.  In the intervening years I’ve come to realise that not eating meat is an intellectual choice.  If we consider ourselves at all as forward thinking beings, then we have to consider that as long as we can go to the local shop and buy a tin of chick peas, then we do not need to exploit animals.   And eat them.  If it was ever between me and the chicken, and I had no readily available sources of food, then yes, I’d do my best to kill and eat the chicken.  But as long as I have the choice then it’s never going to happen.  Think about it.  The whole mass production of animals as food is vile.  Ancient indigenous people only took what they needed and no more.  And they respected the animal for giving them the life-sustaining force that they needed.
  9. I still live with the father of my children.  We’re what some people call ‘estranged’ but in many ways it’s a good relationship where we allow each other to live our own lives whilst still supporting and putting our children first.  I love that our children are happy and call us ‘bohemian’, and think that we’re each wonderful in our own distinctive way.  And the truth is I’m rather proud.  We’ve been together in one way or another for 27 years; much more than most marriages.  We just don’t want the same things, but we’re still there for our children, and when things get bad, for each other.
  10. I had hoped that after a decade of body/belly boarding that I’d finally stand up on a wave before my 50th birthday.  This hasn’t happened so far, but hey, it’s not over yet!
  11. Thursday’s Child has far to go.  I’ve always had far to go and I will always have far to go.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Who wants to arrive? I want the world to keep opening up for me as much as it ever has, and I never want that to stop.
  12. Eleven is an odd number…



 The Briar Wood, from the Briar Rose Series by Sir Edward Burne-Jones


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool;

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental;

To reach out for another is to risk involvement,

To expose feeling is to risk exposing your true self.


To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying,

To hope is to risk despair,

To try is to risk failure.


But risk must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing;

They may avoid suffering and sorrow,

But they simply cannot learn,

Feel change, grow, love, live.

Chained by their certitude, they are a slave,

They have forfeited freedom;

Only the person who risks is free.


                                                                        Author unknown


Although it is easy to nod and agree with the premise, I’ve been thinking about how much I really live by the philosophy of this poem/quotation (often attributed to various people, the original source is unclear). 

There are those who take risks of a physical nature; testing their boundaries and adrenalin supplies in extreme sports.  I admire them and would love to be them: the rock-climber; the surfer who seeks out that secret but dangerous break; anyone who does anything that involves jumping out of a plane!  But no matter how adventurous your life, will it not still be lacking if you are afraid to take a risk with your heart?

I know I take risks of a personal nature – a true believer that faint heart ne’er won fair, er, maid… (Yes, I would have made a damn good medieval knight), I am not afraid to make a fool of myself if I deem something to be important.  I’ll give you an example:  I once, upon impulse, sent a dozen red roses to a man I liked.  As you can imagine, I spent the next 24 hours in a state of acute anxiety, cursing myself for my rashness, and awaiting the inevitable humiliation.  What was I thinking?  What would he think?!  Pacing the floor, rocking back and forth and whining in a primeval manner doesn’t come close.  But life is too short to let fear of rejection, or even contempt, rule your decisions: even in failure, there is experience.  Even through pain, there is growth and self-knowledge.  You can go through life presenting the outer self; the controlled façade that protects against pain, but you’re not being true to your real self; to your inner self; to your heart.  In matters of the heart perhaps we take the biggest risk of all, but I am not afraid of the love letter; the heartfelt gesture.  In this instance, it worked.  He called, and it was the start of a long relationship.   I’ve not always been so fortunate, but, well, the poem says it all and better than I…

But I am not taking the risks that I need to in other areas of my life.  If there was a word that described the antithesis of ambition, that’d be me.  I create: I write and paint, but have a real block when it comes to ‘putting it out there’.  I am not a good business-woman. Words like ‘business’ ‘finance’ and even ‘career’ are somehow anathema to me.  I re-work, re-edit; concentrate on the detail.  I over-paint and over-paint. To an extent this is a good thing, but I struggle to let things go, and I hate, absolutely hate, the concept of ‘selling’.  It generally takes someone to stride forcefully up to me and demand a painting whilst slapping some hard cash in my hand.  I don’t know why I’m like this:  modesty is one thing, but this is borderline-pathological, especially when I spend so much of my time in the business of creation.

I know all the maxims; the doctrines and mantras… I know I’m supposed to feel the fear and do it anyway.  Nobody cares, nothing to see, move along please.  People might love you, hate you or be largely indifferent.  I know all this, I know it.  And yet still I work on that new novel whilst performing the umpteenth edit on the first, when I could have self-published two years ago! So what’s stopping me?  Well, for one thing; I’m still finding things wrong.  Small things maybe, but if I can see it, then you will too, that’s for sure. These are the things that trip us up, irritate, and in some cases, completely destroy suspension of disbelief.  The offending book ends up hurled into the nearest passing skip (or cyber-equivalent).  But more than that, I believe that if you are self-publishing, and moreover, tackling all aspects of the process, including proof-reading, editing and cover design, you have an absolute duty to make it good.  Or, at least the very best you can.  Because, although many traditionally published books with their army of middle-men can still be badly edited and proof-read, it is almost MORE important for an ‘indie’ publisher to preserve the integrity and plausibility of the self-published author by being good. 

But there still comes a time when we have to let our babies go.  So why do I fear taking the risk, the leap of faith?  Maybe this will be the year I’ll learn to put this right.  As a start I have not obsessively edited or over-read this post.  But ah, there’s the rub…will I post it?

Happy New Year.



London Surf Film Festival



View of the Thames from Riverside Studios

The London Surf Film Festival is almost upon us again, running this year from 11th to 14th October at Riverside Studios. Details of the line-up and tickets info at surf.http://www.londonsurffilmfestival.com/

Here is my review of last years inaugural event for A1 Surf. And why not?

London Surf Film Festival – Friday 14th October 2011

If I’m honest, I was a little perturbed when I initially heard about the first ever London Surf Film Festival. Could Surf culture be promoted from such land-locked confines? Indeed, would anybody turn up?  I needn’t have worried.

We arrived to the offer of a free glass of beer from Jeremiah Weed Brews which set the tone for the relaxed laid-back atmosphere of the night. Riverside Studios is a terrific venue for this event – no ocean, but a river… a decent selection of wines, good food and great service. It was a sold-out, packed out event, but the atmosphere was chilled and relaxed, with personal intros to the films from the organizers, and rounds of applause for the attendant Shorty filmmakers.

And so to the films: put the bit between your teeth now, but Kai Neville’s Lost Atlas left me cold. Endless shots of tricks are not for me.  But it’s modern, and I hear it’s extremely good if you’re into progressive stuff, so give it a go if you are. There’s lots of it.

Dark Fall from Alex DePhillipo had an interesting premise, following a gang of dedicated New Jersey surfers who suffer the freezing and disturbingly brown waves of their home break for the love of surf. A supposed relief trip to Tahiti is initially flat and frustrating, but Teahupo’o soon delivers. The endless roll-call of names is annoying but in the end, the love wins out.

But the star of the night, predictably perhaps, had to be Stoked and Broke. With little more than some pram-wheels, bamboo, and a knowledge of square lashing, Director Cyrus Sutton and equally endearing side-kick Ryan Burch take to the road to follow the surfari dream with no money but a lot of charm. Surfing highlights include Cyrus’s hand-plane sessions, Ryan’s polystyrene, er, float, and some great waves at Blacks Beach. Yes, it’s funny, and life-enhancing too, as the not-so-hapless duo blag, hustle and busk their way south; but there is a serious issue here too: about getting the balance right between freedom and security. Oh, and if you’re in Cali, eat at the La Jollo Cheese shop. Don’t ask questions, just do it…

Downsides? On this night, anyway, the strongest representation of women was a repeated shot of a shore-bound beauty in a pink Billabong bikini – but a lovely Tahitian man in Dark Fall shyly reminded us that according to legend the first to surf Teahupo’o was a woman.

I would like to have seen more of the distinctive flavour of British surfing; some Mickey Smith would have been good.  But this is where the Shorties came in, on this night ably represented by Tim Davies’ Rubber Tracksuit, Steven Clarey’s 12 months in 5 minutes and Nicky Woodhouse’s Fluid Juice; but my personal favourite of the festival (the fabulous ‘Wreckers’ notwithstanding) would have to be Shayne House’s H2R.  And on the Sunday there was the World Premiere screening of Through the Whisky Barrel, by Scottish filmmaker Allyn Harper, so there is the promise of more home-grown films to come.

I loved the vibe at the first ever London Surf Film Festival, but feared that, given its location, it might be too corporate and distanced from the real thing. There I said it. This was not true on the night, let’s keep it that way.

Thanks again to A1Surf for the tickets!


St Ives


When I was a little girl, my mother asked me where I envisaged living when I was grown-up.  Straight away I said ‘a fishing village by the sea’, as if there were a great demand for the same inland.  I don’t remember where it came from; what image had so influenced my young mind.  Perhaps I had just finished reading Enid Blyton’s The Island of Adventure and was dreaming of rocky coves.  And true, my early years had been spent by the sea in Northern Ireland, but this was an altogether different place in my mind’s eye.  So clear was the image that I promptly scurried off to sketch the cobbled streets, picturesque harbour and cottages raised above fish cellars.  I saw myself sitting on granite steps leading up to a stable door, perhaps with a few pots of geraniums for company.

So no wonder when I first came to St Ives, it felt like coming home.  I’ve been here so many times since now, that I can hardly see it to write with fresh eyes…yet there is much to say.

So what can I say about St Ives that has not been said elsewhere before?  What’s left to say about the art, the surf culture and the gourmet restaurants?  I could talk about the beaches…five, yes five in the town alone, never mind the nearby beauty of Carbis Bay, Porth Kidney Sands and beyond the Hayle estuary the long stretch of towans to Gwithian and Godrevy.  Arriving by train to St Ives your first impression will be the sweeping panorama of Porthminster Beach.  To me, Porthminster embodies the spirit of the 1930s and the dash to the Cornish Riviera; the freedom of the railways; beach huts for changing and traditional B & B’s.  But move a little closer into town and the Harbour beach, thronging with tourists in the summer months, is nevertheless a working harbour, with small fishing boats still operating alongside the tourist boat trips to ‘Seal island’(actually part of group of tiny islands off the coast called ‘The Carracks’ or literally, ‘The rocks’).  Don’t be fooled by this innocent-sounding excursion; I don’t mind admitting my mettle was challenged by my first trip.  A salty-old seadog, skipper of the tiny fishing boat we had recklessly boarded to ‘go and see the seals’ gave no warning  other than a gruff and muffled ‘might be a bit rocky out in the bay’ as we turned, too late,  out of the safe harbour waters and into the heaving swell of the North Atlantic Ocean…

The trip takes you out of your seagull-cushioned comfort zone into wild nature itself; nothing but the sea and the impenetrable granite landscape.  But first, leaving St Ives, it passes Porthgwidden, a small sandy cove which offers shallow bathing and so is popular with families with young children, and my personal favourite, the beautiful surfing beach, the mighty Porthmeor, overlooked by the Tate St Ives.  And the fifth beach?  It might be easy to miss the granite steps that lead down to small rocky Bamaluz, a place to escape the crowds and walk the dog.  You can find it near the St Ives Museum.  An old galleon compared to the Tate’s commanding great white ocean liner; the St Ives Museum is a treasure trove in respect of the town’s history.  It is here that you get a real sense of the hardship endured, of a small town trying to eek a living from the land and sea, from farming, fishing and mining.  And, especially on a day when the wind and rain lash outside and the sea is wild and raging, a real sense of the danger, and the lives lost in countless shipwrecks around the coast; and the bravery of the earliest lifeboat-men, and indeed all the townspeople, who would rally to help those in peril of shipwreck.  It is these thoughts that dominate when bouncing around, in insignificance, on that tiny fishing boat.  There was a time when, back-packing around the Greek islands I would have sat on the bow of such a small boat, shrieking with carefree laughter as my bare legs were plunged into the water.  Here, on the Atlantic, many years later, I am afraid.  Perhaps it is the passing of time: I no longer have my whole life stretching before me, with the confidence and surety that brings.  But it is also a respectful awareness of the ghosts of the lives lost in these waters.


Alfred Wallis: The Wreck of the Alba.  The ship’s boiler, easily mistaken for black rock, can still be seen at low tide on Porthmeor beach.


It is easy to dismiss St Ives as a ‘tourist town’, and it is, of course: apart from the many who rent holiday homes, it attracts masses of day-trippers.  A friend of mine told me that apart from his own family and an elderly lady, every other house in his Downalong (the old fishing quarters) street is a holiday rental.  My friend was born in St Ives and has a family history, a heritage, here.  But for many young people of the town it is increasingly difficult to be able to afford to stay, with house prices being so escalated by the demand for quaint, refurbished lettings.  I could argue that it is equally hard in London (it is), but many young people in St Ives work two, sometimes three jobs in the summer months just to get by.  And I cannot help but feel dismay to notice certain outlets, once intrinsic to the town’s flavour, being driven out by high rents.  Where once it might have been enough to stay in a characterful but basic fisherman’s cottage, I now see the word ‘boutique’ everywhere, and with rumours (I saw the plans on twitter) of some ‘executive beach huts’ being built on Porthmeor,  there is some danger of St Ives smothering it’s heritage and becoming a theme park; an elitist caricature of the hardened fishing and mining village it once was; to lose the memory of a time when sea views did not come at a premium, but rather cottages were built huddled in clusters with their backs to the ocean as if for protection.  The sea was a livelihood, but to be respected and feared.

Except… it isn’t. Not yet.  Despite the economical inevitability of tourism, St Ives still has a vibrant local community, which thrives not only in the arts, theatre, surfing and much more. There is a sense of freedom and an innate connection with nature and the sea; I love to see the town’s children effortlessly back-flip off the pier at high tide, or a teenager skateboard rebelliously the wrong way down the one-way system, dodging holiday traffic, with an umbrella in the rain. There is a forward thinking buzz that extends to the towns forty or so independent restaurants which on the whole (and notwithstanding the arrival of a renowned pizza chain and a Tescos in recent years) source local produce, thus supporting ethical aims and putting money back into the local economy.

But more than that, there is still something special about St Ives.  Like an unexpected kiss on the cheek, or a happy, stoked smile from a stranger.  Just the sight of sand blowing across the cobbles on a sunny evening when you return, exhausted and ravenous from a day in the ocean or walking the coast path, or of wetsuits hanging in the street where once would have been laundry or sails.  Or maybe sitting by the Arts Club in the dead of night with the black sea crashing up over the harbour wall, there is still something residual; a character that resonates through the years and the gentrification.

I love Porthmeor beach.  The first time I saw it I knew I would be back.  It is especially beautiful in the early morning or in the evening, when the summer crowds have gone home for tea and to tuck the children up for the night in their Cath Kidston-covered duvets.   Given that it is just a short distance away from the evening revelers at the 13th Century Sloop Inn and the harbor restaurants, it can be a surprisingly quiet place for an evening stroll; to watch the sunset surfers, or when the sun sets spectacularly over Man’s Head, to star watch.


The St Ives School of Painting backs onto Porthmeor Beach, and is currently undergoing a sensitive restoration.   It is a remarkable and unique building that brings together two elements most associated with St Ives’ Culture: fishing and art.   This type of building, fisherman’s cellars and sail lofts, once ran the length of the beach, so it is lucky to have survived not being turned into holiday apartments.  The evolution into a shared existence with artist studios assuredly helped.  As darkness falls I look jealously at the glowing embers of light from within… to have a studio here would be a dream come true.  Ah, but I might only ever be able to paint the view…