November – a reflective month and birthdays galore

November continued to let me have a straggle of blackberries and apples for jam making and I added some quinces to my activities from my son’s garden, ripening them on the kitchen windowsill then making jelly jam. Quite a success. they are a strange looking fruit – wrinkly, but interesting inside with a clean scent.

I have been inspired to continue drawing everyday – objects around me, objects in my cabinet of curiosities from my travels, trees and seedpods, whatever takes my fancy. I’m trying to get inspiration for a pendant design that an old friend is designing and making. I met Lyndsay Cameron on 22nd November in the Tate Modern – last meeting June 1976 at our final art shows at Aberystwyth University. (I was in London on our annual trip to see the tennis at the O2 near the end of November) I was excited but also a bit nervous and I think I gabbled on a bit, but it was lovely. We had a lot of life to catch up on. We discussed our ideas looking at each others sketches and materials she’d brought. It was so creative. I can’t wait to see the finished designs. This is a gift to me for my 61st year.

Walking across the Millenium Bridge my son called me and I spoke to him and my granddaughter in the darkness watching the light reflect on the Thames water, magical. Both me and my granddaughter have birthdays in November 7 days apart so on consecutive Thursdays we were a year older – she being 3 and I was slightly numerically older at 61. Nice to be able to spend them together. Naturally I think about the past as we are reminded about age and time passing. Dum spectas fugio. I enjoyed being 60 – something I haven’t been able to say since before my early 40s.

Visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford helping on a school trip was amazing as usual – EVERYONE should go and enjoy a sense of awe and wonder – it blows my mind every time and I can draw some truly weird and wonderful objects.

I am so loving my daily drawing using very soft 8B and 6B pencils – now beginning its second month – I feel grounded and more content. Not sure why? I thought it might be a chore to do and to choose what to draw, but it’s not, it’s making me feel creative. I’m quite surprised at myself. It makes me really happy. Not sure if it will last as Christmas chaos and pressure is on the horizon.

Going to Germany at the beginning of December – that makes me happy too – meeting some people I have known for 10 years seeing them once a year, some I met about 19 years ago – Benito from Galicia hasn’t seen me for 16 years and some will be new to me. They are all part of the International Youth Meeting group from Poland, Germany, Finland and the Basque Country. Watch this space – it should be fun…..




October Apples and Blackberries, calming thoughts, Tenby

Picking blackberries in the October sun is priceless, time slowing down, sun on my back seeping through my body, feeling as if I am somewhere else. It’s quite lovely. It’s calming and uplifting doing this in nooks and crannies, on the canal towpath, the old railway, behind the police station, along the roadside. People often stop and chat to me, recalling memories of when they used to pick them or how they aren’t so big this year, or the different types of blackberries and their differing sweetness. I am amazed at how many I pick when there are only a few scraggy ones at the beginning – one sunny afternoon I picked 4 pounds from a stretch of road I pass everyday. Never noticed them before. My fingers are dark purple from the juice and pitted with thorn pricks and nettle stings, but it doesn’t matter. I remember picking blackberries in the Lake District with my parents and brothers, my mum making gorgeous pies and jams. Now I love making jam with apples and blackberries, sometimes adding cloves or ginger to make jam jelly, using my apples that have been prolific this year. Used to do this when my kids were younger, but somehow got out of the habit.

I feel I am able to think calmly and clearly when reaching for the blackberries, searching out the juicy ones, untangling my clothes from the thorns, reaching too far sometimes and over balancing. It feels like I’m stealthily stalking where the berries are hiding, under leaves, behind nettles, the best just out of reach. Can’t wait to do this with my grandchildren when they are a bit older.

Death and dying have continued appearing in my thoughts, still feel I’m grieving for so many. Thinking of my forties and the bombshell that shattered my life. Missing happiness. Working with others helps and gives me a feeling of worth, quite a buzz.

Still drawing trees sometimes and looking at their changing shapes. Colours are developing too into the autumn glow, slowly, surprising me.

Just returned from a fantastic week in Tenby – our family get together went well – a bit chaotic and manic at times, whilst also having times of tranquility walking on the beach, playing with my grandchildren and spending time with my mum – 4 generations. A huge house with a baby grand piano and loads of space. I saw Diana Brook’s exhibition in Tenby Museum and it was gorgeous, she is so talented. Her sketchbooks were amazing. The painting of a red marble was superb and her spoon paintings delighted me yet again. Seeing her work has inspired me to get on with my drawing even more – trying for one a day for a week then maybe for a month if I can – a year might be too much! Glasbury Arts Festival exhibition was on last weekend of October – some work out of this world – some predictably boring, best work was Melanie Brown’s porcelain ceramics (I would like one of her teapot sculptures) and of course the GHS artwork of the sixth form. Feeling very chilled at the end of the month.

September Escapades

Had hoped to be in Crete, but no chance. Surrounded by damaged human bodies!
Spent first day of September in hospital at a fracture clinic with mum – better than we’d thought, but 6-9 weeks for healing everything. C still has bad back so no flying. No Crete. Wonder if I could escape for a week away on my own – I’ll start planning!

Today there is an eery mist surrounding everything. Woke early but mist did not clear for hours. This is how I feel at the moment. Still grieving.

Planning some talks to sixth form students to go on an International Youthweek in Aurich, northern Germany. This will be different as I normally take students I know and these are from two different schools. Wondering about the difference – a new experience since retiring. Exciting or scary?

My niece had a baby girl last week – Matilda. Hope to see her in November.

My grandchildren freaked me out early in September – felt so useless, I couldn’t get anything right when I looked after them. This was a first and it really upset me. Surely I can do this. This week it was much better but exhausting. I don’t want any pointless battles. Must plan some surprises for next week.

Been picking blackberries in Cardiff, in Brecon and near Llandovery in the sun. I’m addicted. I love it – time stands still, you hear the birds singing, you watch life passes, then you can make jam or jelly – it’s just sensational. Everyone should be doing it – why aren’t they????

Drawing more trees this month – but not many……