Category Archives: Miscellaneous

A Tale of Two T-shirts

Two T-shirts brought home to me this week just how much my life has changed in the last seven years. If not quite revolution, certainly revelation.

During May 2011 I took what was intended to be a three-month sabbatical from my 25 year career as a journalist. For various reasons I never returned.

I loved my job from the early beginnings on a busy local weekly, nine years writing for our daily regional newspaper, and learning a whole new set of skills reporting on BBC local radio for 12 happy years.

I covered every news item on my patch from sitting through parish council meetings to quizzing two Prime Ministers, from breaking emergencies to long thoroughly researched exclusives, from tragic deaths and sadness to comedic light-hearted hilarity, from telling the plight of homeless people in refuges to interviewing members of the nobility in castles.

It was a wonderful, rich, varied job that brought many privileges and insights. But I always had a sense that I was telling someone else’s story.

It was hard at first to carve out a new identity, to not have the comfort blanket of a big organisation, colleagues to share ideas with, no firm agenda to follow. Difficult to find something, which through my own efforts, I could directly connect with others.

Through running and writing – two of my passions in life, I’ve been fortunate to create original experiences that I know many have enjoyed – they are the Women Can Marathon and Relay and a children’s book about marine plastic pollution Tuamor the Turtle.

It was the T-shirts that made me smile and feel proud – I saw a woman in a sports shop on Monday wearing her 2017 Women Can finisher shirt and yesterday as I was doing a Tuamor reading, a passer-by who saw my shirt assumed I’d bought it after enjoying the book, and was very excited to learn I was the author.

Two T-shirts with a tale as originally told by me, but now taking on a life of their own.

*Women Can 2018 is on Sunday 27th May, enter/or sign up for marshalling through the website A thousand copies of Tuamor the Turtle have been sold in three years. The book is being used in schools as part of National Curriculum Key Stage 2 work and part of the proceeds go to support the Marine Conservation Society.






All eyes on TV broadcast

I sat down last Friday afternoon to watch the broadcast of an historic event, a public spectacle worthy of live TV coverage.

And what a delight it was. What a joy.

I was watching in a packed café, where all eyes were on this special TV broadcast. People gathered together to witness this moment in time.

Respect and pleasure glowed on the faces of the watching crowd as the service took place. Such warm support.

The significance of the event clearly meriting to the broadcasters and rapt attentive audience, that it deserved live coverage beamed into every home.

For this was the ceremony of Sant Sebastia, the Patron Saint of Palma, the capital of Mallorca.

The television station was the Balearic’s IB3 channel, which reflects that culture and tradition are hugely important here, by providing coverage of local festivals and fiestas at length – sometimes throughout the entire day.

I was sat in a café, Can Moixet, in Pollensa, in the North East of the Island. The service taking place was in the church opposite.

The focal point of the ceremony is two men dressed as dancing horses – choreographed without artifice, without pomp, simply a natural fresh innocence. Heart-warming and charming to behold.

Somewhere on other channels there was another live broadcast taking place with two prancing men at its centre.

It made a 30 second sound bite on the news round-up. But nobody paid it much attention.

IB3 TV – a triumph of local news reporting. Fantastic!






The New Year

rn0sm1sIt’s last year since I wrote a blog. September. Very last year.

January 2nd seems as good as any to stop in time. To look back. And to look ahead.

I started this as a weekly posting in June 2013 to highlight my 50 marathon challenge for the dementia research charity BRACE. And raise awareness about mental health issues, having suffered from depression for many years and just then been diagnosed with OCD.

It’s still a source of massive daily relief that my OCD was finally identified, followed up with 16 weeks of individual therapy and a group course on mindfulness, all thanks to the Devon Depression and Anxiety Service.

Some people think such things are hooey, get-over-it nonsense – I know that’s the case, because it’s been said to me many times.

When you live with constant anxiety, when you think you’re weird, when you suffer agonising guilt, critical voices and self-judgement, when you want to destroy yourself because you loathe who you are – that’s not hooey, that’s fighting a battle for survival.

Whether it happens for minutes, months or years, when you’re in that dark place, it feels like nothing in your world will ever be light again, that the black tunnel is endless.

I’ve been very lucky, to mostly get on OK with my life despite my underlying crippling fears, to find things I enjoy, things that help me and to want to share and promote the benefits to others. Running and writing, strongly coupled with being outdoors and nature, are two of my strongest torchlights, shining a beam in my darkest despair.

When I saw that the mental health charity Mind had a Run Every Day in January challenge I thought what a great idea to start the new year.

So it seemed a good time today to post that I’ve signed up for that challenge – Freddie my lurcher dog is delighted.

As for other projects, lots to do and write about, which I’ve been saying or mentally thinking for weeks, I’ll do in the new year.

Now it’s here. Better add, weekly blog to the list then.


My Sidmouth Folk Week

Sidmouth Folk Week is underway just down the road from me – one of the most colourful, vibrant, creative and exciting events of the local calendar.

After three months without writing, it seems as good a time as any for a catch-up post.

I first bumped into this crazy maelstrom of Morris dancers and music 30 years ago, when in July 1986 I started work as a trainee reporter on the Sidmouth Herald.

As a 21-year-old, desperate for a foot on the journalism ladder, I’d taken the job offered in this sedate, seaside town, thinking it would be a start, even though there was a bigger world out there waiting to be discovered.

I remember my shock, awed surprise, the first day of the festival. The noise – music, singing, the jangling of the Morris dancers bells. The people – everywhere, every open space, every corner, every chair in every pub, walking along every back street. The smell – food, drink, bodies all mixed in together. The colour – costumes, instruments, crafts, tents, painted faces.

In those days visiting teams of dancers came from the across the globe, fantastic, and a real privilege, to see such a broad display of different cultures, whilst sitting under the stars of a damp August evening at the open-air arena.

There were performers and artistes at the top of the folk world and more, and they still return today.

It was as if every pore of the place was alive. It was thrilling.

Sitting at the Ham, one of the main hubs, on Sunday lunchtime I reflected how the festival has been a reference point.

It was in this particular week 25 years ago that I first bought my own house. The couple who’d sold were also great festival goers. I remember a hasty handover of the keys. Unpacking of boxes could wait till the dancing was over.

In a strange repeat of that, my mum also moved during festival week, to a flat in Sidmouth last year – a new start after the death of my father.

In work, I moved on from the Sidmouth Herald after a couple of years, but as a reporter with the regional newspaper and then local BBC radio I continued to “cover” the festival year after special year.

It was just before festival week five years ago that I made a fairly momentous decision to leave work, abandon my journalism career and do something else with my life.

It hasn’t turned out quite as I imagined. But then I could never have imagined how it would turn out: fifty marathons completed, £6,500 raised for dementia; several community events organised, locally marking the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics, and annual fundraisers for village charities; writing and publishing a children’s story; planning a marathon celebrating 50 years of women’s endurance running (more of that another day).

Through it all, the festival has been a constant, like an exciting best friend returning to visit year after year.

I never did seek those bright city lights as a young reporter I’d dreamed of.

Now I never will. Nor do I want to.

Despite not “working” I’ve never stopped doing and I’ve never stopped writing. And it was nice to discover (having just looked at the stats) that some of my old blogs are still being read.

I’m happy to reach out to our global community in other ways, and for the first week in August every year, to let it come to my door.

Thank you Sidmouth Festival. You mean the world to me.20150801_131634

My dog Freddie – his first visit to the festival last year.



A Turtle-Tastic Day

It’s a Turtle-tastic day for this blog, which I began almost 3 years ago.

In that time I’ve written about marathon running, dementia, mental health and a lot more besides.

MCS logo hi resToday, on World Turtle Day, I’m thrilled to write that my children’s story book, Tuamor the Turtle, is to be an official charity partner to the UK’s leading marine charity, the Marine Conservation Society.


It’s been an incredible journey from first writing a much shortened version of the story for a primary class environmental project, to deciding to commission illustrations and publish, which was completed only six months ago.

Now I’m about to order a second print run of the book, there’s a fabulous video on YouTube, created by the book’s illustrator Mark Hannon, and the website has been brilliantly redesigned at by Laura Joint.

Best of all, in the last six months I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking to children at schools across Devon about this story and why Tuamor’s “love our world” message is so important. The enthusiasm, genuine concern and creative imagination they’ve shown to try and help raise awareness has been memorable, inspiring and gives me great hope for the future.

I’d say that’s pretty turtle-tastic!




I’m an Author!

Jo Earlam with Tuamor booksThis feels a momentous day – one of those you want to run through the street, whooping and hollering.

So excited that my first book is officially published today, a children’s story “Tuamor the Turtle”.

I’ve had my words and by-line in print many times as a journalist.

But it doesn’t match the thrill of creating something from nothing and seeing it through to publication, a bookshop shelf, and the best bit of all, children reading and enjoying it.

Coincidentally, this is my 100th blog post and it happens to be six months to the day that I completed my 50th marathon, which was three days after my 50th birthday.

Having had a paid career for 25 years before deciding, in my mid 40s, to choose my own pathway in life, it’s rewarding to have achieved these things through self-belief and perseverance.

It’s been tough at times, and with my OCD – which is still a big issue for me – sometimes the doubts are overwhelming.

But this is where I am here and now – and it feels pretty good.

I wish my little turtle the best of luck. He’s been in my head for two years, now he’s out there in the ocean – I’m hoping he’s a good swimmer.

You can find out more about him on his website and also follow him on Facebook at

Thanks for reading my blog and to everyone who’s helped me to believe in myself.



Long time no posting!

It’s been a long time with no posting.

This is number two today, following my pictorial Desiderata – a verse which I absolutely love.

There’s never two without three – but the third one is coming tomorrow.

Exciting news…

…which will have to wait until the morning.