Sometimes life stops you in your tracks.
That's what happened to me a few days ago. As my final wisdom tooth millimetred itself further into my mouth, joining its three siblings in saliva heaven, I stopped. I sat in pain. Reluctantly, I cancelled plans to read at the Port Eliot Festival. And I found time to think.
A few days into the pain and I'm still thinking.
This Tuesday is the final day of 26 Flavours at Trebah Garden in Cornwall. Over the last 24 days, visitors from around the country have enjoyed 26 reflections on local food and drink from writers and designers working in collaboration. Tom Scott, one of my old lecturers at Falmouth University, first mooted the idea last summer. When I heard about it in a 26 Board meeting a few weeks later, I said we had to make sure it happened. It took over nine months of hard work to launch it. Now it's about to finish.
But not finish altogether. About a month ago I spoke to a man called Ciaran from The Poly in Falmouth. He loved 26 Flavours - thought Tom's idea was beautiful and inspired. He offered exhibition space at The Poly for Falmouth Week, from 6th to 14th August. I said yes. So if you haven't seen the exhibition at Trebah over the last few weeks, come to The Poly for Falmouth Week. Rick Stein will be there, too.
As the painkillers kicked in and my head began to feel like a helium balloon, the rush of work and travel, the stress of missing festivals and letting people down, the accumulated stories of Germany, Ventenac and New York began to dissipate. A sense of nothing replaced them all. And it was good.
Over the last few days, I've felt Cornwall in my system. And, with just a few weeks left living in my favourite county in the UK, I've remembered why I love it here. Yes, clifftop walks are breathtaking. Yep, pasties, cream teas and the occasional pint of Betty Stogs and Cornish Knocker always go down well. Indeed, the people are warm and friendly and always up for a laugh. But it's something about the way of living down here that does it for me.
Stresses seem less stressful. Time seems to last a long time. Smiles arrive on other people's faces before they even realise it. For a year, that's been what I've needed. But it's nearly time to change pace again.
Next stop's London. A completely different place to Cornwall. But - after I enjoyed spoken word, African music and seeing old work friends there last week, and with a promise of open-air cinema, galleries and museums this weekend - somewhere equally interesting. Somewhere full of stories, experiences and stuff I don't even know about yet.
It'll be another chance of pace. But one I'm very ready for.
22 hours ago