March and Mothers

This year I decided to visit my mum on Mother’s Day. At 89 it’s important she’s not alone on that day. We went to her church and watched the local primary children sing, read poems and give every woman a bunch of daffodils. It was surprisingly lovely. I always visit my dad’s grave when I visit the church in Bilsborrow, Lancashire and, though I don’t believe in an after life, find myself talking to him in my head.  She’s a little frailer this year but still lives independently and is a visitor for Help the Aged – she visits a lady called Monica who is over 90 for them. We had a gorgeous walk on the prom at Lytham St Annes, remembering when I brought my children there and we marvelled at the old white windmill. When we got to St Annes we walked a little way on the beach and had our coffee from Gran’s blue flask. The weather was kind to us, with bright blue skies although it was cold. The rest of the week I tried to sort out her phone – a trial with Talk Talk – a boring but predictable and infuriating saga. we worked on a corner of her garden which she is finding more difficult now.

This month has been frantic planning and organising a trip with Year 10 pupils to visit Helsinki – a mini International Youth Meeting with our group and a small group of students from Pielavesi in Finland at Easter. More hours than you can imagine has been put into the planning of this trip as it is a new city for me to visit. Normally I just change planes there and see the airport shops flash by as I dash for my next plane to Kuopio. I have been meeting the students every Tuesday and Saturdays bag packing and for a sponsored walk along the canal.

I managed to get to see the David Hockney exhibition in Tate Britain as well as see my University friend Lindsay. I spent a day drawing in the V&A which was a delight for me. It’s such a special experience – I treasure it. My drawings are better than last year.

I finished my “White landscape” painting at last and put it in the Women’s Art Exhibition in the Theatre Frycheiniog. Where they hung it was beautiful. I was proud of this painting even though it is so simple, so I was worried about the reaction from people, but I needn’t have worried. I think most people liked it. I’ve painted three small white paintings on tissue paper which I will frame or hang on a narrow pole later this year. It has given me a real boost of creativity.

March – a wonderful beagle, eggs, tennis and travelling

March began with the Women’s Festival Art Exhibition. I had to get my artwork ready for the opening on March 4th. I had experimented with drawing on eggshells and although the preparation of fragile eggshells was tricky, drawing on the curved surface was a challenge, but I loved it. Drawing with a soft pencil, having to hold it at the end and manoeuvre it inside the eggshells was crazy yet quite absorbing and mesmerising. There were a few disasters that went into the food bin but not as many as I thought. How to display them sent me on a journey of discovery. I knew I wanted to enclose them within glass so I tried my cheese platter with dome first then went on to different wine glasses and bought a small glass dome to try out. It was fun, felt really creative and inspired me. Eventually I settled on the cheese board dome, the new dome, a wine glass and an egg box. I was going into production!!! I wanted this to be a complete sculpture not just one sculpture. I thought everyone else would think that I and the eggs were a bit odd, but so far the response has been very positive.

I couldn’t make the opening event which was a great pity, but Karin decided to display them in a glass cabinet. Initially I thought it wouldn’t do them justice but they look great. I prefer them to be grouped together rather than on different shelves but it’s growing on me. Some of the other work is great particularly Kayleigh’s painting of Walter the wonderful mad beagle and Sue’s glass landscape. It’s a great space for viewing work.

So that’s the eggs bit. I’m still drawing in my daily book and still enjoying deciding what to draw each day. This month I’m particularly proud of my feather drawings, better than I ever expected, others I won’t mention so as not to burst my bubble of contentment.

The tennis was my visit to the first day of the Davis Cup in Birmingham where I met my younger brother and we had some delicious classy tapas in a cocktail bar, everyone was teetering about on 8 inch heels and had been poured into tiny dresses. I enjoyed a good dose of people watching sitting on white leather sofas eating off a glass table with twinkly lights above. The hotel was superb and gave us a 3pm checkout as I joined the Hilton rewards club! We went into the centre and shopped, saw the market full of life and colour, then after trying to buy lunch by the canal (waited 55 mins then left) we returned to the hotel to catch the first set of the doubles with Andy and Jamie Murray on the TV. We finished with  crepes on the new railway station/shopping centre and upgraded to first class for the return journey. I got off at Preston to visit mum and my brother continued to Edinburgh. It’s always good to spend time together, settles me as I can’t really do that with my elder brother as he’s so ill. It always makes me start a train of family thoughts, what it means to have ease with some family members and the total opposite with others. We all live so far apart yet we’re only a train journey away so it comes down to prioritising love and relationships I suppose.

The next travelling followed straight afterwards – to Northern Ireland with mum (88) to where she grew up in a little place called Culleybackey in County Antrim. I’d arranged to meet members of the Culleybackey Historical Society – an unknown quantity that proved to be the highlight of our visit. The tour of the now derelict Fraser and Houghton linen factory was amazing and quite emotional, these genuinely interesting people were a mine of information as we picked our way through these buildings that once were the hub of the area – everyone was employed by these two families. many lived in tied houses like my mother. There was a whole hamlet of workers’ houses that we were taken to. Mum remembered having her 14th birthday party by the weir and her cousin Jack falling in and her brother Tom rescuing him. She recognised the “Big House” where her father worked as a chauffeur to the Haughton family and she remembered the death of the wife Mrs Haughton and having to go to see her in her coffin. She remembered that she came to mum’s house every year and gave them ten shillings to go on holiday with every year. Grandad took them to Blackpool and to see his relatives in Barrow-in-Furness. This was very special and unusual at that time to have a paid holiday like that. After our tour Elizabeth, Liz, Joe and Gordon took us for lunch in Culleybackey. Mum wanted a final visit to her old house and insisted on knocking on the door to see inside. A young woman answered in her pyjamas – she was a nurse on night duty. She kindly invited us in and mum went through the back door she left 70 years ago when she was 18 years old to go to Preston on the ferry. She told us what was there when she was growing up – the parlour and living room are now knocked into one. The kitchen was extended across their yard to their ‘barn’ (outhouse and toilet). It was beautifully restored with exposed stone and beams. Mum was delighted with the way it was improved. Quite an emotional moment. She talked about the fact that there was no-one else but her alive in the family who would remember it as it was that she could tell. It was a magical day. The rest of the visit included revisiting places we’d been to with dad – Giant’s Causeway, Glenarriff waterfalls as well as walking on the beach everyday collecting stones and driftwood. I loved those walks, felt so refreshed from inside out. I continued my daily drawing.

My last March travelling was to help my brother move in Edinburgh from the city to the coast to Portobello – my favourite beach and promenade. Although it was hard work I had time for walks on the beach, had a swim and a Turkish Bath, two lovely meals – a Portuguese and Spanish Tapas and two foodie markets. Their new house is lovely. I had some more good train rides – I find them very calming and did some lovely tree drawings using the rhythm of the train as part of the drawing – really works well.

 

August adventures

Experienced 34th Wedding Anniversary on the 1st. No fireworks, no surprises.
Thought about that day when everyone was waiting at St. Hilda’s church in Bilsborrow. Dad and I on our own in a tiny time capsule when the world stopped for a moment for us two together. I remember the silence and stillness. It was the best moment of my life. Three days before Diana had married Charles – we’ve lasted longer somehow. Even survived a car crash each.

Anyway a few days later we had a lovely meal in the Walnut Tree near Abergavenny – a birthday present from my son and his wife. Tasteful but costly.

Celebrated my eldest son’s last day working for someone else and now he’s running his own business and very happy. My youngest son is settling in to his first house, dealing with the developers to put right all the shoddy bits of the new house. He’s so happy with his partner and new job is improving – been there a year since graduating. I’m a very proud mum.

Mum is now 88 and she had a fall this week in her bathroom – given us all a shock – she was SO lucky only to be bruised. Had a look at a bungalow for sale nearby but I’m not sure she’s really ready to move down to us from Lancashire jus yet.

Finished the crazy job of renewing everything in the bedroom ( painting, wallpapering, carpets, wardrobes, giving half my clothes to charity ) – challenging, frustrating yet satisfying now it’s finished. I will NEVER paint another ceiling ever again…… It looks so good and calm. I love it.

The wall looks fabulous – dry stone wall down the path to the front door – I’m going to plant some dwarf lavenders behind the wall then surround them with small stones to match the rest of the garden. Wish I’d done this years ago.

Samaritan duties continue to make a difference to others and to me. Just puts my worries in perspective, makes me feel needed. Although sometimes the problems seem trivial on the surface they all need support and help, a lot of lonely people and a lot who argue with family members.

Had another amazing day on Barry Island Beach with Helen, Meg and George. Scorching. This time Meg conquered her fears about sand and the sea and went for it full blast – digging, splashing, sand castles, carrying water in the buckets, copying the other children, chattering, walking with me to the water’s edge that was retreating quite a way. Jumping over the tiny waves with her, hand in hand, was such a special moment. Ice cream and fish and chips was a must. I slept like a log that night!

Brecon Jazz weekend was fun – listened to some wonderful classical guitar in the church – quite special – Gerard Cousins – as well as some fringe bands.

My skin problems continue – new regime and trialling a new treatment – I live in hope it will leave me someday.

Tai Chi retreat this weekend last weekend before bank holiday. My heaven. I learnt about the “broken Buddha” and Ying and Yang imbalances and how to rebalance myself – well the theory anyway – let’s see if I can put it into practise! Experienced an amazing emotional response on the last morning during an early meditation which surprised me. We finished with our hand on our heart thinking about giving ourselves permission to be ourselves. I could not remove my hand for a long time and had no control over it. Eventually it just slid down my body and rested on my lap and I opened my eyes. WOW – quite surreal experience and I still have to make sense of it. It was very comforting not frightening but I had to leave the room and find somewhere quiet to collect my emotions before breakfast. I was very quiet in myself and didn’t feel like talking. Eventually I will be able to make sense of it all.

Spent a couple of days making videos with K of us making food art – with Marmite, food colouring, coffee, spices and salt – I so enjoyed this and recommend it to all. Just laughed continually. Then had a day in school in the studio doing drawing with the body videos – large scale tree drawing in charcoal, drawing to different types of music in large scale on the floor and drawing with footprints of feet immersed in clay. The videos are to be shown to sixth formers before their workshops. Again so much laughter as well as concentration.

Bank Holiday weekend was one to remember. After a family meal with my youngest son and partner we started to chop down a tree in the garden, everyone helped – mum sat reading the paper on the patio. As we finished loading the car with all the debris I turned to go and see mum to see her midway through falling off the patio on to the lower patio. It was horrific yet in slow motion. She had fallen on her face and nose and hurt her arm. We kept her still and checked her for broken bones, her nose was cut and bleeding, and her arm was hurting. We took her to the local hospital minor injuries. She was shocked as we all were but everyone was calm including mum who was incredibly brave. We had to return on Sunday for X-rays when they put her cracked wrist in a plaster cast and sling, her finger in a splint, her knee dressed, nose cleaned – not broken. The bruising is beginning to come out on her face. By morning she had 2 black eyes. It could have been much worse. She’s staying with me for a couple of weeks now. Another emotional time for me as it reminds me of when dad fell and broke his arm in October and eventually died by January.

What is going to happen in September!

July 2015 Inspiration and Occasions

Spent a gorgeous day with Meg and George and Helen on Barry Island beach – last visited in the 1970s. Ice cream and fish and chips, lots of sandcastles and paddling.

Helped with school art exhibitions in Brecon – great opening in the Muse – music, art and Pimms!
My mum was 88 on 14th July and we celebrated it together in Brecon.
Violently sick on 19th July.
George my grandson was christened on 20th July.

Finally dismantled the old fitted wardrobes on 27th July to reveal blackened wallpaper, different carpet and 4 holes with steel nuts and bolts sticking out. Chose new wardrobes but need to do all this work first. Whole room needs redecorating, the walls stripped in the corner and repapered, bolts to take out, holes filled, new carpet ordered and furniture taken out – possibly repair bed. Might get it done in August.

March – Edinburgh trip – Brecon Women’s Festival Art Exhibition

What a special trip. Loved travelling on the train – drawing trees in my little purple sketchbook. Felt connected to the landscape, felt content, going between places and people, just myself. Drawing is helping me escape from uncertainty. I’m not sure what I’ll find, but it’s got to be better than what I have now.

Spending time with my brother was just great, had fun, nothing serious, Crammond Island was well worth our visit – across a causeway at low tide – watching the time – back before the tide came back. Cafe Royal was my special place as usual Gavi and food perfect.

Brecon Women’s Art Festival – my first painting in this – bit scary, but I like my red landscape and it was good to get it out of my head and on to canvas. Karen  and Hilda are so wonderful – their energy and desire to expand other people’s art is impressive. Met Ruth too – another special person with lots of generous energy.