September -October-November

Autumn into Winter

September was just doing my normal routines, duties, daily drawing, grand – parenting and visiting Mum in Preston. The big event was the front room parquet floor being restored. After being covered since the fifties it was an amazing transformation. It is fantastic. I love it. It is now my favourite room.

October continued, but at the end of the month I collected mum from Preston and we all went to Saundersfoot for a week in a gorgeous house overlooking the beach with a hot tub. It was great to have 4 generations of my family together. Helen is expecting their third child in February so we’ve lots to look forward to. It was a wonderful week. I started my third year of daily drawing this week.

November was my birthday month so I invited my sons and their families to my house to celebrate. It was perfect. Two of my paintings were accepted for the Winterwall exhibition in the Cardiff MADE gallery. I was so chuffed. Quite a special day. They are white treescapes on tissue paper. The trees are tiny silhouettes on top of the mountain opposite my house – my daily view.

My annul visit to the O2 to see the ATP Tennis finals happened in a different way – I stayed with L. (university friend) and together we managed to see the Tate Britain’s Rachel Whiteread’s exhibition and the tennis, some long conversations and then I visited my brother and his daughter and met my new grand niece Erin for the first time as  well as my other two grand nice and nephew. A frustrating visit but the kids were superb.

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June on the road

This is my moderating month – a conference in Cardiff followed by three weeks of travelling to schools and colleges in England this year to examine a sample of their A level Art & Design examinations and coursework. It is so lovely to see new moderators and an absolute delight to get hugged by returning old friends.  Some of the oldies have given up so its sad not to see them. I only see these guys once a year but its like an adrenaline rush. This year I stayed in the hotel which was good as we were all together in one place and I could enjoy the after work socialising. We did enjoy ourselves. The work was manic and the paperwork crazy but I love it. I love seeing the work of young people – new inspiring ideas and I like meeting the art teachers too, seeing the way they do things and what their school is like. I don’t like all the computer work and report writing and sometimes I get lost finding the school – actually sometimes I can’t find the way in!!!!! I go to places I would never go to – this year I’m off to Poole in Dorset and Andover in Hampshire in the south of England. the second week starts in Birmingham and then to Coventry – the Midlands. the third week takes me to safer ground to Liverpool – nearer to my beloved Lancashire – I still miss it. It means I can fit in a stay with mum for a weekend too.

Last Thursday I got some sad news – Derek Stears has died. I first met Derek when I was 22 on the postgrad ATC course at Howard Gardens in Cardiff as he was on the team of tutors, with his long black hair and trendy leather jacket. We all sat waiting to be allocated our tutors, silently wishing we were in his group. We all trooped out on to the beach near Cardiff to build a pink wall across the beach with Adamstown primary kids – mad times!

Later our paths crossed again when I did my MEd at Cyncoed, Cardiff University – we had long conversations about creativity and also the changes I had to make to my thesis! A few years later he invited me to be part of the 2000 A level moderating team and I’m still doing it.

He taught me a lot and it was his respect for Art teachers and the work they do, often in difficult circumstances, often at the bottom of the pile within the hierarchy of a high school ( except when needed for inspections!!). He taught me to be realistic about what we could do and keep sane ourselves and always be inspired by those we taught. Enthusiasm and creativity was what I tried to give my students as he gave to me. His sense of humour was wicked and his eye for detail was often beyond me at times, but much appreciated.

I had a day of sadness and reflection then carried on as I had my amazing grandchildren to look after for the day. They were so special that day as cheered on Andy Murray on the TV as he got through to the semi finals of the French Open. George (aged 2) picked up the phrase “Come on Andy ” and said it in a deep voice in a broad Lancashire accent and it just creased me with laughter all afternoon.