The story of a Golden Globe nominated actress who’s done much of it and advice to those who want to do it!

With Sailor and Friend Gary Swenson

Can you think of two more different experiences?  A root canal and sailing. Just experienced both on my trip to Ventura, California.  One is always  joyful and the other not so much.  After enduring toothache for a couple of days, a trip to the dentist was clearly on the cards,   The biggest challenge was getting there!  I have never been blessed with an amazing sense of direction… husband once gave me a compass to find my way back to the meeting point, when we would go dirt bike riding in the desert, when we were married.   I was always slower than husband and son and would find myself sitting on my little bike alone staring around at a great empty space of desert, without the faintest idea of where I was.  If I was lucky they would come back to find me.   In that respect I find sailing easier, because there is always a point of reference and you can point the boat in that direction…where you want to go …an island, an oil rig etc or use a compass!

Lost in the Mojave Desert? (not me!)

But I digress…toothache pointed me to a very nice dental office in Camarillo…..but of course I got lost despite helpful directions from friend Gary and ended up near where I started….Naval Base. Point Magu to be precise….one wrong turn and it’s all over.  Anyway I got there in the end and after two hours in the chair, drilling, tapping and Xrays….my very nice Iranian Dentist saved my tooth and its crown and sent me on my way with a brand new root canal.

Morris Minor car 1968

Last getting lost story.   Not long after filming The Lion in Winter and suffering the inevitable low after being on a large happy set for nearly four months, with wonderful people, I went down to the South of France…following my mother who had gone with a friend to stay in a caravan in Frejus.( I stayed in a hotel!).  Sun sea and sand was what I needed. 

Frejus – South of France

Mum had put her brand new car on a train at Lyon after bringing it to France by the Ferry and road.  Going back I decided to travel with her and her friend.   Our timing was not very good.   We headed back towards Lyon, May 1968 the exact time of a huge period of unrest and strikes in France.  Mum’s little car, a new Morris Minor, was not meant to be driven far nor fast at the time, as the engine was still being ‘run in’…something you had to do in those days.   Still not sure what that meant.  We got to Lyons…no trains at all.  What to do ?  “Drive” I said “to Paris and we can stay the night, then drive to Calais and get us and the car on to the ferry and get out of France…!”   Paris was a nightmare …chaos, stayed in a dirty nasty little pension ( hotel) and when we got up to go in the morning, Paris was one massive traffic jam. 

Paris May 1968

We quickly got lost.  Then a little voice piped up….Cicely …Mum’s friend…”we are going in the wrong direction”.  Poor woman was quickly shouted down” how do you know….you don’t even drive”…” Well”….she calmly pointed out…”we need to go west to get to the coast and we’re going away from the sun”.   Of course she was right and we found our way out of the mess and on our way back to England.   Lesson learned.   

We went sailing two weekends in row, this trip to California….so wonderful to be on the water…but alas no wind last Saturday, so we flopped about going nowhere, even though Gary put up the spinnaker….so a bit disappointing……we didn’t even see any dolphins ….a usual sight in the area….but I do love to be out on the boat and am lucky to have friends who sail and a boat to sail on.  Gary Swenson is a good friend, sailmaker and skilled racer…known him since the 1980’s, when he designed and built the sails for our winning Olson 30 Flyer.   Here’s a picture of Winterhawk (formerly Ceramco New Zealand, the Whitbread contender, sailed by Sir Peter Blake), which Gary helmed in the Transpac race.

Winterhawk competing in Transpac – Gary driving!

I am writing this at Burbank Airport, waiting for my delayed flight, whilst the entire nation awaits the outcome of the very important Midterm Elections, in a deeply divided country……..  This too shall pass.

All for now, friends


  • November 8, 2018 at 1:48 am Reply
    Melissa Wiliams says:

    I am sorry for your ordeal with the root canal…they are never a happy experience. Glad you found a nice dentist who took care of you. However, I really must chuckle a bit about your story of Paris in 1968 – yes it was an almighty mess. I was there too, as a matter of fact, but later in the summer. I was there just in time for some interesting riots near the Sorbonne to protest the VietNam War, and here I was a nice little American student in a big bunch of other American students. We were told to keep our mouths SHUT and our heads DOWN – we did ! While we were there, the Democrats’ Convention took place in Chicago and if we remember the summer of ’68 at all…we remember that it was a very scary event indeed. We read all about it the next day in the International Herald Tribune. Thanks for the memories, Jane, of the Summer of 1968, and Paris. I would go back in a heartbeat, if I had the chance. Hope your tooth is much better.

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