May in the Lake District

This month I usually escape to Spain but neither mum nor Chris are fit and able to travel on an airplane so Keswick it is instead. Mum and I stayed in a lovely ground floor flat in the town and apart from very little parking spaces it was perfect. Weather was not as good as Spain but after 2 wet and dull days it was dry for the rest of the week. Daily walks were a must but on the flat as mum is nearly 90 yet really good for her age. We had a traditional trip on the launch around Derwentwater. I looked at Catcalls and had a flood of memories about dad – we walked up there many times as well as virtually every mountain in the North Lakes area – can’t think of one we didn’t wend our way to the top and back to our caravan in the council caravan park. What great six week summer holidays I was given by my parents. A lot to thank them for.  I’m not going to say they were all sunny days as I have been completely drenched for days during some Augusts. We revisited the caravan park and walked to Friar’s Crag, talked a lot about dad and of our memories together. Mum had afternoon naps and I had short afternoon walks and a chance to sketch, often down by the boats and geese. I managed to find quite a few small art galleries – not all tacky landscapes, some amazing crafts – glass, pottery and photography.

In contrast I still can’t believe Donald Trump is President of the USA. How mad is the world? Add to that the ridiculous debacle of Brexit and the so called civilised “Western world” is looking decidedly wobbly.

April in Helsinki

My adventures in Helsinki are recorded by students on ghshelsinki2017wordpress.com – have a look – it includes photos of where we went and what we did.

As a summary we had an immense time meeting Finnish students, drawing, photographing, filming, learning Finnish, visiting markets and galleries, the zoo and a fortress on the islands, eating some amazing food – Italian, Mexican, Finnish, American – attempting creative challenges and getting sore feet. not to mention the Secret friend Moomin writing game – a wonderful experience lasting throughout the week ending with the big reveal on the last night in Hard Rock Cafe. There was a lot of laughter and fun but also so much learning about ourselves and Finland. Roll on next year’s trip.

 

February travelling to Barcelona, Drawing, Thinking

Visit to Barcelona with sixth formers was interesting as I went to a few new places like the Musical Palace. The Labyrinth Garden as well as my favourites- Park Guell and La Pederera. Silliness on last night was nauseating and annoying. Enjoyed working in my sketchbook.

Daily drawing is amazing and now I’m experimenting drawing on eggshells. Amazing fun. Broken a few preparing the shells. A real challenge to draw on the inside of the shell- holding the pencil at the end means total concentration and no mistakes. I’m sure other people will think it a bit strange but it’s addictive and compelling. Been thinking about how to present them in the Women’s Exhibition in Brecon on March. Globes, wine glasse, wood bases. Thinking about this is challenging and interesting. Satisfying.

Went to exhibition in Carmarthan Art College of drawing books – once again the connection is Diana Brook. Inspired by so many different ways of recording life and ideas by so many artists and students. Such talent in the world. A privelege to look at these personal drawing books.

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.

June 2015 Travelling Art Moderating and sons

Travelling huge distances this year – Week 1 to Peterborough and Cambridge, Week 2 to Truro, Week 3 to Bradford and Sheffield.

Week 1

First hotel at conference in Cardiff – Travel Lodge on M$ services – just try and imagine it – it’s worse.

Second hotel in Peterborough lovely- old historic mansion – with pool and spa – perfect for me so I could swim every evening. Only bad thing was the traffic – it is crazy, crazy – traffic jams everywhere. A14 should be closed and everyone made to take a bus. I could not live with that level of traffic stress every day going to work – I love Brecon, much saner, except during Hay festival, Jazz Festival and Royal Welsh Show.

Third Hotel – Holiday Inn in Cambridge on a business park – imagine it…….. me on my own, duelling with traffic jams and directions, not good. But next door I find a David Lloyd Centre so sign up for a day membership and end up swimming in the outdoor pool, sauna and steam room, sunbathe – yes it’s sunny. Traffic worse and its impossible to go across the centre of Cambridge so I went the long way round with the lorries to a lovely village the other side. Some fabulous art to see and be inspired by.

Not drawing but taking lots of photographs in between all the paperwork and ideas are swimming around in my head. Drawing with food.

Driving home was horrendous on Friday afternoon around Birmingham – quite surreal watching the traffic at a standstill going north and south and as expected it took my 5 hours…..

Home for Saturday so did a Sam duty.

Week 2 Truro

Now this was special as I stayed in Newquay – overlooking Fistral Bay. I watched the surfers every morning at breakfast and every evening at dinner. I walked on the beach at 7 am and at 7pm, once getting soaked up to my knees when I misjudged the waves. Having sand and seasalt between my toes was heavenly. Paddled and searched for shells and a white stone – found them. One evening I joined a yoga class on the cliffs above the sea and it was just magical. Met some lovely people in the hotel, walking on the beach, in the college, which made me feel very at ease. Went to Perranporth one night where we used to spend our summer holidays when we were small. Lovely spot – found a B&B which would be perfect if I come back. Artwork was great – more inspiration – painting on photographs, weaving wallhangings, free embroidery. Lots to do when I get back. Should I put surfing on my bucket list?

Can you imagine – another Friday afternoon surrounded by traffic jams – bit of a theme here. Another 5 hour journey. Not going back except by train. Pembrokeshire is just as good.

Next weekend one son is moving into his first house, one son is leaving his job and starting a business. Brave beautiful boys.

Week 3 Bradford, Sheffield, Preston
Unfortunately the motorways were grid locked and it took me 50 minutes to get from my hotel to the school – manic! I dreaded every morning having to negotiate another route to another school. Bradford schools were varied – one impressed me with some amazing large scale oil painting and imaginative photography. Very inspiring.

Decided to go home to Preston via Buxton – a log way round but over the Dales and NO motorways until M6 which I was familiar with. Had a lovely walk round Buxton – quirky.

A weekend with mum calmed me down and steered me towards thinking about the family again. Didn’t manage a lot of drawing this month but painted a seascape in a new sketchbook and some tree trunk drawing – sharing the work with 2 others in a sketchbook circle. Felt weird giving my sketchbook to someone else but also a catalyst too as lots of ideas are flying around in my head – a bit over stimulated this month I fear…….

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.

February Paris

Paris trip with students

A year after retiring I have forgotten how exhausting being with sixth formers can be. The lows – the highs – its a roller coaster of a ride through the emotions. They inspire you and leave you in despair. But they were a credit to their school – my old school. I loved their humour and silliness, their flashes of maturity and their willingness, tempered with moaning about their feet!

What did we do –
* the sights – roaming around Paris on the metro – why are there so many steps?
* being inspired by the amazing art in the Pompidour Centre.
* drawing with oil pastels in front of Monets in L’Orangerie – like swimming in the sea.
* lying on the floor drawing in the Opera House with bemused guided tourists watching us. One little boy joined in and drew too.
* the accidents – mostly me falling up steps and into pavement bollards that sprang up in front of me.
* making a silent sci-fi movie in front of the Louvre and at Place De Concorde
* wandering around the Galleries Lafayette and tasting Kusmi tea
discovering the Passage Jouffrey and a wonderful jewellery shop……
* sleeping in when we got home and a long, long bath.
* looking at my sketchbook and seeing my surprising inspiration from a green chair I sat in.

Whilst in Paris I was informed of my new official status – as a Solo New Volunteer Listening Samaritan. I’m just starting my second stint of training and I still feel so NEW. The weight of the responsibility of getting it right is huge. Much bigger than I thought. Self doubt is OK they all say but I don’t like it. Yet it still feels the right thing to do. I know it is.

Watched some old home videos transferred on to DVDs – had mixed reaction seeing so many people who have passed away – my grandparents, my dad. I miss my dad every day. I watched him playing table tennis in the garden before his stroke. Also my children when they were 2 and 5. Wow that was weird and sad too. They were so lovely, so innocent, so beautiful. They were enchanting when they opened Christmas presents. My husband looking very young and handsome. So much has happened. Went into a low place for awhile. That wasn’t suppose to happen. Memories can be positive and negative I suppose.

Helped with school art trip to Bristol – great gallery – enjoyed inspiring others and being inspired. Finished with a crazy photoshoot outside the gallery : I asked the 9 students to lie on the ground holding a steel bollard each as if they were hanging from it like a photo one of the sixth formers found on the internet. We caused quite a stir – passing cars slowed down, a crowd gathered, others photographed us and the gallery curator came out and asked if she could have a copy of the photo. She was particularly pleased that we were from Wales as she was born in Pembrokeshire! We all laughed far too much……..

Thursday 26th February
Finally finished my red landscape for the Women’s Festival Exhibition – scary that other people will be seeing it! Felt so creative after Paris trip I continued to start a large abstract Paris Chair on watercolour paper.

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?