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.

December 2016 Starting my 63rd year here

Started a new painting on December 1st, large white base for a line landscape. I fancy working with different “whites” to create depth and a line of trees on the horizon in paint or pencil – not sure yet how it will develop.

As Christmas grew near I managed to catch a vicious virus that I took with me when I collected my 89 year old mum to bring her to my house for a week over Christmas. We were both very ill and I was very anxious about her. We muddled through although suffering and not eating or feeling very sociable. I continued to Edinburgh for New Year and slowly began to improve. I had a lovely time with my brother and his partner – walking on the beach in Portobello, having a Turkish bath and a swim in Portobello, watching the fireworks over Edinburgh, walking on Arthur’s Seat on New Year’s Day, drinking fresh ginger tea in Espy’s. My drawing returned after many days when I just could not pick up a pencil. I was worried that I would just not return to drawing. Drawing again really helps the way I feel as I recover and find my appetite again. Now I can also return to my white painting in January.

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!

May 2015 Travelling and Drawing

Off again to Spain – 3 weeks this time. Taking mum aged 87. Just love it in Estepona. Everything close by and calm. No pressure and swimming in the sea or the little cold cold pool everyday helps my mind and body and my skin.  I’m still struggling with my hands and face, but the homeopath has suggested some changes so here goes – worth a try if it makes my life easier just need to change my diet slightly.

Drawing by the lighthouse and just looking at the plants and the trees, the sea close by so blue and inviting. Walking on the beach – ooh sand is so hot – get into the sea quickly and then oh so cold, cold……… walking by the edge of the sea we collect shells and white stones. I think I have been doing that all my life – with mum, with gran, with dad, with me.

Did a little painting sketch today in a sketchbook to share with others in a group – felt shy knowing someone else was going to see it. Loved painting the turquoises, blues and whites, waves and ripples. Did it quick so full of energy, not laboured. Good.

Missing Meg and George. Lovely little people – how come they are with me wherever I go?

Someone on the beach caught my eye – very toned, mmmmmm.

I can see Gibraltar every day and Africa – so close, images of immigrants on the TV all the time, making everyone so scared.

Damn it the Tories got in, depressed.

April 2015

A simple month of playing with my grandchildren, Samaritan second stage training and weekly duties, Tai Chi and new body conditioning classes, swimming AND lots of drawing.

Drawing my large picture based on the chair I sat on and photographed in the Science Museum in Paris in February, mixed with trees and the darkness of indian ink. I loved drawing with a soft, soft graphite 4B and 6B pencil. It is a large AO drawing. Wow it just fascinated me, I immersed myself into it. It was going to be colourful in the background maybe with layers of water and ink, but then I thought I’d like the background to be black and dark, darker than the night, darker than my thoughts, just dark. So I painted pure black Indian ink in the background and it felt like silk. It was quite magical to do and great to watch it slowly cover the background. I will make a coloured version with inks and painting and maybe drawing, but I was so pleased with this drawing.

I was inspired to do this because I was asked last month to put a painting in to the Brecon Women’s Festival and I painted a red landscape that had been in my head for two years. Then I couldn’t stop. Now I’m drawing parts of trees, branches and trunks, shapes and textures. I’m just loving it. And its just for me no one else. Sheer bliss.

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.

January 2015 Crash the car, Grandson arrives

First week of January was about taking my first call as a Samaritan, helping my son with moving house and his birthday on the 10th. New grandson was supposed to arrive on Jan 10th too but didn’t. We waited……

January13th
I went swimming in the morning. I watched the snowflakes from the pool and began to feel uneasy. Finished my sauna and quickly set off home in my little red MX5. Five minutes from the pool I realised the snow was heavy and the road a whiteout and I was in a little sports car on the top of the Brecon Beacons. Traffic slowed and I knew it was scary. I was slowly driving up a hill when I slid across the carriageway, tried to correct the skid, didn’t break but slid into a curb which then spun me round to face the opposite direction. It was a heavy hit and I felt pain in my lower back.

I took a moment to breathe and realise how lucky I had been as there was no traffic going in the opposite direction so I didn’t hit anyone. I could have been killed. I realised I was half on and half off the road so I started the engine and drove towards the lay-by. The car drove perfectly. I continued to the next lay-by and turned to face home. I checked the car – tyres ok, no fluids leaking. For some crazy reason – not logic – I was scared to stay there in the snow so thought I would go back up the hill and get home. I waited for a bus and followed their tracks and in second gear drove up the hill for a second time. It slid slightly but held and I got to the top. I was petrified but kept going slowly. I knew the road down the mountain would be tricky even though it was a main road. I knew now how unstable my car was in snow. But I got home shaking all over.

The car is being repaired now – two new tyres and an alloy wheel, realigned. It brought back memories of my other smash two years ago so I am still shaky.

January 14th
My daughter-in-law went into labour, my friend needed collecting from hospital, I had to get my car picked up to be repaired and get a hire car. Just a normal day! By midnight baby was having trouble arriving. Went to bed, didn’t sleep.

January 15th
12.12 Baby George Brychan arrived with help from lots of doctors and midwives. Only just made it. A close call. Gave us all a fright. My son thought he wouldn’t make it. The midwife pressed the panic button 5 times and the docs and anaesthetist swarmed in. We are all very emotional. First photo arrived. At some point I went to sleep. After breakfast we drove 50 miles over the mountains, past my crash site to see my gorgeous grandson who weighed in at 7lbs 4 oz. It was so special to see him and hold him on the day he was born, he is lovely, expressive hands like his sister, wrinkly tiny feet, opening his eyes to have a look around. Wow being a grandparent is something else!!

January 31st
The last day of the month makes me reflective again. Thinking this is now the end of my 13th month of retirement – so quickly I have become accustomed to doing other things. The year has been a roller coaster of emotions. I think I’m slowing down a bit now, not so frenetic. A friend from university told me she’s fighting cancer – that’s the second of our art degree group, Susie has already died. Not good route to be thinking about. George continues to thrive – been down twice more to cuddle him and play with Meg. He just curls up on my shoulder, snuggles in and sleeps. Sometimes he lifts his head up to stretch his neck in his sleep then snuggles back down. I’m besotted and I don’t really like babies that much! It has made me think about when my two sons were born, how they were at the beginning of their lives, what mistakes we made and what great times we enjoyed together. I love them all dearly.I would die for them. Now I’m getting all mushy. Stop it. Read a fab book about Clarice Cliff Bizarre ceramics – loverly. Next month should be fun – visiting Mum, lots of Tai Chi, travelling to Paris with 30 sixth formers, becoming a Samaritan officially after my mentoring, finishing my painting, must think of one new thing to do……

Could I possibly manage a drawing/doodle a day?
Shall I start loading photos of my artwork?
Would anyone want to look at it?