We all Love David Attenborough, don’t we?
Over Christmas 2020, I put together an advent box for the homeless. It made me think about being homeless on a daily basis and what that might mean, from brushing your teeth to getting a job, so I tried to be both practical and frivolous in what I put in the box.
Art is also one of the things I concentrate on daily and somewhere along the lines the realisation hit me as to why I feel compelled to paint animals especially the endangered…
They cannot ask for help. A home gives us stability, it enables us to thrive and multiply; feel loved and safe. To lose all the aforementioned is so detrimental and can take years to recover physically and mentally. We routinely and devastatingly make the creatures who share this planet with us homeless, and increasingly to the point of extinction. Literally wiping out an entire species!
We all love David Attenborough, don’t we? At 94 he is still engaging us with the natural world around us, but now he has a more serious and urgent message and asks that we all change our habits now, to safeguard our future.
How much do we take action though, it has been proven that as human beings we are naturally optimistic and will lean towards hope rather than doom but hope without action is just a wish?
If you were asked what your ideal future looked like what would you see?
I was asked just that when a friend sent me a link, a call to action from David Attenborough and WWF for the creative arts to come together and reimagine our future, inspired by A Life on our Planet film with David Attenborough. Despite the challenges of genre, size and medium none of which were my norm, I did sketch and colour an image of a town that I would like to envision for the future.
I wrote notes below the image, to explain my thought process: Here it is in more detail:
Call out to creatives from David Attenborough
It has to start with the money machine. If banks stopped supporting businesses with a high detrimental footprint on the environment, those businesses would have to reimagine their future just like we have to. More than that, banks could choose to favourably support companies that aid our planets recovery: Image: The Green Bank: Banking on a future
Designers are ingenious and can easily rise to the challenge of water irrigation systems, solar panels and the like in designs to harvest the sun and rain, so preserving and reusing our natural resources as well as our waste. We need to say yes to these designs, doing the same thing might be the norm but should no longer be acceptable. Image: Building & road design and materials:
Re-use has to be a fashionable mantra for everything from clothes to compost. Independent business’ flourish as a result, with handmade products. The focus on quality rather than quantity; creativity is encouraged and soars. (Everybody is creative we are just taught to ignore ideas in our schooling system, be academic not a dreamer!) Food consumption changes to a more plant based seasonal diet allotments and greenhouses bring communities together and educate the young. So many benefits come about as a result of a re-use Mantra. Children are supported to be imaginative and as a result, we become a happier, healthier and a more productive society. Image: Public bins for recycling and compost. Green houses allotments, independent stall holders.
An affordable public transport system that is powered by Green energy and prides itself on low noise pollution and emissions. Our communities would be happier more connected and we would have less need for a car each. Image: Public transport
Regular daily exercise needs to be part of our daily lives. I don’t mean going to the gym necessarily; just a generation ago we used to walk more, run for busses, take the stairs etc so my feeling was if people felt safe in dedicated lanes for bikes, scooters, roller-skating and the like, more would be encouraged to get out into the open, improving general health. Image: Active Lanes
Hedge rows and flower verges will quickly encourage insect and bird life, resulting in more bird song which we all enjoyed this summer so much. Animals bridges help to minimise the devastation we cause when we build and Fruit tress for public consumption, helping the homeless and less fortunate of our society. Image: All green space in towns host wild flowers: Animal bridge, one man made the other an Elephant: The Elephant bridge was inspired by what struck me about the scenes from the Fires in Australia. There were images of animals helping other different animals to safety. As well as other videos of Elephants helping man when thought to be in trouble and drowning. Nature has a unique way of bonding if we let it.
sentient beings with memories love and compassion
Fires in Australia
I believe that we all need to dream a little bigger and brighter about our future prospects and what can be achieved. With love, we can work together, act on those dreams and everything else will fall into place. Looking forward to new beginnings…I would love to hear your ideas?
Why buy Art?
Mankind has been adorning walls since the beginning of time with cave drawings, carvings and trinkets. We have a need to reflect, be comforted, intrigued and depict a moment in time.
There are so many reasons to buy art;
as an investment; a treasured memory; a statement piece; a talking point; a personalised gift; to collect a series; a needed colour pop for the room; to support small businesses, the list goes on, but at the bottom of all of this is an emotion, Art moves us.
Is it a record collection with fantastic LP covers that makes you smile? a sculpture that you see something new in every time you gaze at it; perhaps its something tactile like wood metal or cloth that makes you want to run your fingers over it when contemplating, almost meditative for you. Perhaps its abstract art that makes you tilt your head a different way with every view; a painting that is statement of your values, like animal conservation, or perhaps a political mood. A brilliance of colour or movement that energises, and inspires you. Then there is art that has a direct line to your heart, evoking memories of love or loss that ultimately comforts you.
If you look around your home or work place at the artwork surrounding you how does each one speak to you, I would love to know? Where I sit in my office writing this, I can see a poem on the wall given to me by one of my oldest friends. I touched me so deeply at the time that I framed it and hung it up in my hall. Whilst I don’t read it every day the sentiment caresses me every time I pass it. Downstairs we have a metal sign that says “always look on the bright side of life”. We were in Vegas of all places when we found this, in Peggy Sues diner and shop! It immediately reminded us of Paul’s Dad loving to sing that song, so we bought it and he and that catchy tune is here with us. Had we put obstacles in the way like, we will be taking too much home, don’t want to carry it etc our home would be poorer for it. We have a large painting from the artists quarter in Paris which was a job to carry, however that’s forgotten and what’s left are the lovely memories of our trip and with its abundance of colours, it works for all seasons in our home.
Art tells a story of our lives just like photographs do. As a result, your home envelops you, becomes your safe place; it speaks to your soul on a daily basis whilst you go about your business. Its your sanctuary that welcomes and understands you. It lifts your mood, it consoles you.
If you have walked around your home looking at your treasures it may spur you on to refresh your rooms, move items, re-frame, repair or replace something you have been meaning to do. I guarantee you will feel better for it.
If you have looked around you and wondered why you don’t have anything like what I have described, I would highly recommend you open yourself up to visiting galleries; street markets; boot fairs or auctions and buy what you are drawn to, if you walk away and keep thinking about a work of art, whatever it is, then it is calling you and at this point in time you need it, whether its for comfort or inspiration, let it share your space. Of course, online art is easier to visit during this Covid year. Not just online shops, but you can find unique work from artists local to you and your area like the Open Studios that happens all over the UK and www.urbanart.co.uk that is normally outside but now online, they showcase such variety there is something for everyone.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and see your photos. You can comment here or on my Facebook Art page just click on a link on this site.
What story does your art tell about you?
Top bike painting is from a street artist in Amsterdam, again fond memories.
Underneath is a clever multimedia design from an artist in Hythe Kent. www.nikkigriffithart.co.uk It’s of London, where I come from, so nice memories interwoven with print, material and paint.
Lastly, Yes, I love him enough to give him my last Rolo. You have to be of a certain age to remember that one!
Starting out: No idea what to paint: look at favourite photographs or images of holidays you have had, give yourself an allotted time, say ten minutes of looking, then decide on one to paint.
Got lots of ideas but don’t know where to start? write them down on a spider chart and break each idea down into bite size achievable pieces. The next step or project will become obvious and so your focus will return.
Get the proportions of the drawing right first, there is nothing worse than trying to rectify that when painting. Turn it upside down and see if it looks right before painting.
Set your easel up to receive maximum daylight where possible alternatively, you can buy daylight bulbs.
Plein air- painting outside: take provisions for you, as in food and water as well as an assembled outdoor small kit of water; paints brushes and an easel if you have one. Plein air painting is a good discipline to participate in because it speeds up your drawing, and makes you think about blending colours to find just the right tone rather than having a multitude of colours at hand at your work place. Also if other people are around watching, it makes you more brave every time you do it, even if you don’t feel that way! You could build up to painting by just sketching outside first. Or painting in your garden or a friend’s outdoor space, for practise.
Just starting out and fearful of wasting canvas or paint? Paint as if you were rich, that is the only way you will discover what makes you tick creatively. Check out boot fairs or online market places for people who are giving away or selling untouched paint sets to keep you going. Even if you don’t like the end result, you haven’t wasted your time or products, you have learnt.
Keeping healthy, hydrated and motivated:
Painting is almost meditative when you are engrossed, so always have a bottle of water handy to keep hydrated as you may forget to eat or drink!
If you spend long periods of time in your painting space, try to work off of an easel so you have to stand, it’s easy to realise you haven’t really moved much in hours! If you must sit still work from an Easel if possible its so much better for your posture.
Wear a Fitbit or set a timer on your phone to remind you to move periodically: maybe do star jumps, go for a walk make a cuppa. Not only is this good for movement but it makes you stand back from the easel to assess your work from afar.
Set up your easel so that you don’t stoop to paint, it’s easy to attend to detail, then when you go to stand up realise your neck is set!
Are you getting creative? I would love to see some of your creations, paintings or projects. Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
After binge watching and listening to all media for the first couple of days of Boris’ talks, then having serious discussions with my children about self-isolation. Thinking about explaining to a three year old why he can’t see his Oma and Opa, and the thought of missing my daily hug from my daughter, or foregoing our plans of travelling to see our granddaughter and son; within no time, I became unproductive and emotional the whole day. My usually level head was running scared. This is natural because we are faced with so many unknowns but when I woke up and wrote this down before my first morning cuppa, I knew it was time to control my fear…
Frightening, Enduring, but worst of all, an Atrocity to Reason.
I will acknowledge it.
It can come on this journey with me,
Because it is part of me.
But I won’t be defined by it.
I will be respectful of Fears feelings,
So, I will be careful and sensible.
But if I let Fear consume me,
I will be paralysed.
Paralysis from Fear, does not walk you through tough times.
It erodes joy: degrades confidence, stifles kindness, momentum and creativity.
Being inventive in our thinking is what we need right now.
The virus has wiped the slate clean giving us time to think,
Find confidence in our resourcefulness;
shape who we could be
and the chance to start afresh.
We must embrace change, to fight it, is a waste of our passion.
We must think on our feet, be creative, thoughtful and caring,whatever our position,
Be it isolation; social distancing or freedom,
what happens to our mind set, has always been our choice.
Don’t let it be FEAR’s
The writing in black, is a blog I started in January 2020, thinking about looking back over the last decade as well as what was going to happen going forward. I didn’t realise quite what changes were coming:
Not just another year but a new decade has begun. We can ignore it and just pick up where we left off last year and head into the new year, but if we want change, more excitement or just something else for 2020, we have to acknowledge that doing the same thing will only get us the same results.
With busy lives, financial demands and instant responses demanded by technology, work and life style, it’s easy to just pick up where we left off without allowing time to ask ourselves questions and really think about the answers, no better still, DREAM about the answers.
Lots of us now have the time, what will we do with it?
Reflection, why look back?
Throughout my life I rarely looked back, I was always driven and on a mission that propelled me forward; more adventures for us and the children, that required more success, which warranted more money; then too much work needed the next holiday; a new car; more for the children; more and more!
It was only when I was forced to stop, I took the time to reflect on life as I knew it, I realised there were other alternatives. I just had to find out what was my new Happy, then, be brave enough to cut the ties of “normal” and open the gates to whatever new experiences were waiting to come in.
Isn’t this where some of us are now?…
We beat ourselves up a lot mentally with life’s demands, before long our internal speak is repetitive and negative. This then supports a self-fulfilling prophecy; your brain is in a habit of telling you something negative, because it’s been allowed air time, it searches out reinforcements of a thought or statement like a reward. It is so important we get a handle on what thoughts we allow our brain to reinforce.
When searching for my new Happy, I didn’t know what questions to ask of myself and as soon as I got brave and asked soul-searching questions, my logical brain stepped in like a flash telling me all the reasons why that was a bad idea. It does this to keep you safe with the status quo you know and can handle…
So how can I help anyone else begin the process. There are a number of books I can suggest you read, there are courses you can go on, and there are people you can follow but all of this takes work and time that you probably feel is better served elsewhere because you are still on the runaway train. So, my suggestion is Ted Talks.
This virus has forced time on us, this might be a great opportunity to do many of those things, we work on the house; the garden; at work, but when do we work on ourselves?…
Perhaps if you find yourself scrolling through your phone, search instead for a Ted talk on a subject that interests you, unrelated to any of your current habits or expectations of yourself or others. It could be, stargazing because you loved it as a child; dog training even though you don’t have a dog; growing wine even though you live in a flat. What is important is that you train your brain to accept new ideas gradually. It then becomes stimulated by learning something new, and that changes your mood for the better. It also leads to ideas, because just like a computer your brain will seek out things that you are interested in.
To dance with the unknown is as thrilling as it is scary but I would highly recommend it. Whilst I have enjoyed the ride that has been my life, by not reflecting regularly I allowed that high speed world to consume me. Maybe, like me, you are taking the time to reflect? I recommend it, ten years is a long time with many successes that you’ve probably forgotten or overlooked. (go through your photos and diaries or social media for reminders)
Then Dream about the important stuff, that will fill your soul, inspire you and bring new joys and happiness.
Worrying about the things you can’t control just robs you of the present, and its true to say right now more than ever, the Present is a Gift…
After the relaxing sun of Corfu in October, and a month at home in November, travel was on the cards again for the last month of the year, December:
First stop, Derbyshire, a whole family visit to our son and granddaughter included; torrential rain in Glossop, merriment in more water in Manchester and then the mystical beauty of mist dangling over the hills of the Peak District…but no snow.
Art wherever you go.
With the young ones kitted out in snow boots and warm coats we were ready for the fun that wonderful white stuff brings, after all, it was December. Instead, the heavens delivered rain, so hard and fast, towns in England were flooded and people’s lives in disarray once again, all just before a time of merriment should begin. With a collective, fighting and caring spirit people find in adversity, those suffering endure, but our weather it is no longer the comedy of English BBQ’s cooking under umbrellas, its hurtful and life altering. I am thankful for Greta Thunberg’s voice; we all have a responsibility to act now and insist our governments do too.
Growing up with regular visits to relatives in Germany I was fortunate: Summer was spent bathed in the warmth at the beach huts and jumping in and out of the waves at Travemunde beach, North Germany.
Travemunde Beach in the summer with those brilliant beach huts that have hidden draws and storage
. Now the huts are cool enough to sit in and have a coffee.
Winters were spent in the beautiful crispness of deep snow with my Omi (grandmother) who lived in the centre of the delicious marzipan town of Lubeck, about an hour from Hamburg. The weather was predictable; Once an adult, I wished every year, like a lot of us do in England, for snow over Christmas. Many people place a bet for just that one snow flake on Christmas day that most years, eludes us.
We all know about and have experienced our changing climate and whilst one side of my brain is busy working on what we should do for our planet; recycle efficiently; eat differently; use less water and fuel in every way, the other side is romantic. It longs for my childhood days, when weather and food made sense, it was all seasonal. I dearly wish its return for my grandchildren, so although that’s a tall order, Rock on Greta!
A beautiful icy, winters day at the beach, loving the light.
Properties, up north!
There was another reason to visit Derbyshire, recently our son encouraged me back into a world I had left behind, the property market. He is keen to secure a future for his family, one in which he is financially free, meaning by the time he is pushing forty he is not reliant on a salary dictating his life’s outcome.
Impressed by his vision and having been brought back to the truth of our financial retirement forecast that I had been pleasantly ignoring in my new creative life, I decided to partner him in this endeavour.
Once the rest of the family had departed back home Nathan and I spent every day of the following week researching the property market. (in between meal, bath and bed time with 2 yr old Primrose) We investigated different areas for their price; rental viability; proximity to amenities and travel networks as well as the expected capital growth or instant return on investment. It was fun, not just using another side of my brain again, but spending quality time alone with my son, now a grown man, with his own drive, morals and values shining brightly. (Typical mother thing to say I know!)
By the end of the week we were happy to be able to say we had found a great deal and better still, secured the property. We celebrated with a cup of tea and an afternoon nap! Yes sleep! Getting up with Prim’s sun clock at six a.m. most days and working like we did had taken its toll but what a great week. The first of more to come in 2020.
What about your art I hear you cry? I have discovered that to generate an income from Art is a matter of patience and growth. Whilst a creative life is my love and ambition, Nathan rekindled my passion for property, which tapped right into the fear element, of finance and retirement! The thing is, I don’t want to stop being inspired by unusual animals, people and places and to do so requires funds for my love of travelling. So along side my Art business we will allocate time throughout the year to source and secure deals for ourselves and others interested in investing.
Manchester Christmas Markets
Art in unexpected places, Manchester
Back home was all prep for a big family Christmas, one where father Christmas attends to give out the presents and listen to the dulcet tones of the adults, meant to be the children, singing Christmas carols for him. Our Christmas has enjoyed a new lease of life with the advent of our little people. The magic and wonder return and beg to be celebrated and so we did. Paul has been married before and in the last couple of years we have had the pleasure of getting to know his adult children and their families. Sad that they have missed out on what our children experienced growing up we now recreate Christmas Eve as we always did. We are very grateful not just to have our memories but now to make these very special new ones.
OK he is a little big now but he gets the gist of it!
Food was more challenging this year as I really didn’t want to actively purchase and cook Turkey and Ham for our traditional German/English style buffet. Our daughters partner kindly sourced organically farmed produce and also cooked it, so the immediate dilemma was averted. However, the small changes in me and my life means more is inevitable, so next year we have already booked fourteen of us all into a beautiful Kentish pub for our sit-down meal together. We will still be back in time for Santa!
Family, food artistry and Architecture, whats not to like?
I think history becomes more important as we age, our own history as well as that of the world around us. With just a handful of relatives left in Germany now. we try and see them every couple of years. New Year is always fun because we can catch the tail end of the Christmas markets, plus they do crazy things with fireworks on New Year Eve.
Cars dodge boxes of fireworks placed in the road for everyone’s enjoyment. Neighbours stand outside their front doors either watching the display that creates so much smoke at times I imagine that’s what a war zone looks like. Or they are taking part by setting them down just feet away in the road. Whilst the sky is being colourfully lit, cars cleverly miss the ignited boxes of explosives dancing the spectacular! as well as the chap walking down the street nonchalantly setting bangers off as he goes! The price of Fireworks are comparable to England so, not cheap, but this show right on our doorstep goes on for hours.
Lubeck Christmas Market
Presentation is everything.
English is a second language for many and my relatives are no exception. I was the third child so by the time I came along trying to frame a sentence in German, older members of my family were asking me to say it slowly in English! However, my understanding is not bad and by the time we leave my brain is working the sentences out in German but then they answer in English! Every time we return, I’m certain I will become fluent for the next visit, it’s such a good skill. One day I will surprise them…
Walking; games and laughter are the order of the day every day, oh of course along with schnapps Glühwein, all other alcohol plus too much food and Marzipan. (Dry January started a little late this year) I could wax lyrical about the warmth and love found in Germany but I feel it is just as important to talk about Marzipan… not just any Marzipan. (I am so sorry if you have a nut allergy because this is a food not to be missed)
So much history and Art in Marzipan from the ingredients to the designs.
My Mums home town has a rich trading history, William Wallace was quick to write to Lubeck after a successful battle to say that Scotland was open to trade with Germany, but without digressing further, Lubeck is now well known for Niederegger Marzipan.
Lubeck’s Holstentor, is now a Museum, formally a City Gate marking the western boundary of the old centre. Built in 1464 it is one of two remaining medieval fortification gates around the city. Other Holsten gates date back much further as there was at one point no less than four Holsten gates to pass through! With the others destroyed, this one survived and was restored with pride and adopted by many German companies in their trademarks including Niederegger Marzipan. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and in my heart forever.
Founded by Johann Georg Niederegger in 1700’s, his Marzipan was held in such high regard and value it was at times. worth more than gold. It was given to Kings and Czars as gifts and as a result has long been world renown. However, it took until the nineteenth century before the likes of you and I were able to enjoy its delicate delights.
The original Marzipan factory is still prolific in its inventiveness. When small, I loved to receive small animals and fruit perfectly carved out of marzipan, with an attention to detail that’s mesmerising. These treats are still available in the Niederegger store in the heart of the town, just opposite the town hall. Take your time visiting as there is much to discover in this sweet world. The ground floor will test your healthy living resolve, (almonds are good for you!) with its array of delectables you could spend a fortune on gifts and memorabilia, all made out of marzipan of course.
Fruit and The Holstentor made out of Marzipan.
On the first floor is the café that always transports me to the splendour of an old-fashioned hotel like The Ritz in London. The waitress service, the décor, and rich smells of coffee and beautiful gateau’s makes me feel so decadent I can’t stop smiling when I’m there and secretly want to swing my legs under the chair, you know, that kind of happy.
The second floor takes you on a free journey of discovery: A visitor’s museum, that charts the oriental origins and secret recipes brought back by the crusaders to the Hanseatic City of Lubeck. So much made out of marzipan, including the twelve life size marzipan figures! It is worth a visit.
Have I made you hungry yet? Or are you thinking, that you have tried marzipan and wasn’t keen? I urge you to dispense with all other versions and try this the ultimate Niederegger Marzipan, It can now be found in large stores here. If you visit Lubeck and venture into this tasty universe, I would recommend the famous and very delicious, marzipan nut cake, I can taste it now as I write this, so pleased its along way away from me!
Armed with German Mustard, Marzipan and magic memories the one-and-a-half-hour flight home from Hamburg shot by.
I just love to photograph architecture, but struggle to paint buildings or straight lines!
You can always rely on a church for stunning artworks.
Lovely Luneberg, about an hour away from Lubeck.
I hope December/New Year was special in some way for you too, it would be lovely to hear, meanwhile what to do about 2020, let’s talk about that next time…
Since being home; I have travelled to Doncaster twice; Derbyshire; Bedfordshire and Rhodes in the space of a couple of months! They all have merits, so where to start… With house clearance tales!
Coming home and finishing commissions and artwork bought on route through Social Media, was harder than I thought. Aside from the beautiful interruptions during the day, shaped like grandchildren whizzing around. It’s the fact that my artwork and supplies are back to being all over the house. My studio is still occupied, so my house has no chance at Feng Shui!
Once our children had both bought their own houses and moved out, I spent the best part of a year clearing rooms, in our overstuffed house full of years of memories and mementos. In the back of a kitchen cupboard, I found the likes of four new fondue sets and one used one, obviously tried out and forgotten about, way back when. We didn’t need any of them so into the charity bag they went, along with all other kitchen equipment never used, but was a good idea, or present at the time. I had Rubbish, Charity and Children bags, along with bras going to Africa and specs to somewhere else.
Apart from the life size coffin Paul made filled with all the Halloween axes; masks; chopped off hands and anything else gruesome you can imagine. The most difficult to offload was, and still is, the children’s stuff. It’s not the sentimental value, it’s the fact that they don’t want to have it cluttering up their house or loft but don’t want us to give it all away either. They believe it lives in our home and truthfully, I failed in my mission and a lot of it still does!
I supply a church raffle every month with a selection of raffle prizes, you know the wine bottle holder from Berlin, a birthday gift obviously meant for someone else! I make continuous donations to the charity shops and friends’ wardrobes for, I’m ashamed to say, clothes bought still with tags on, that don’t fit! This process is ongoing and what started off being cathartic, has become an obsession that is never ending. Financially it makes sense to sell everything, but the time it takes to photograph, upload, answer questions, wrap and post is a job in itself. A task that would, one; delay me from clearing, and two; delay me from creating! Catch 22, time and money, I know so many of you feel my pain; just clearing, then cleaning, one cupboard can take up a perfectly good afternoon, that was destined for a more interesting event.
I attended The Carlton Show in Bedfordshire with my art; the gallery in a Shed in Buxton, where my art is on show; the Art fair in Doncaster; oh, and popped to Rhodes for a cheeky week of sun with my Bestie!
As far as the Art goes it’s a slow process of putting yourself out there. I know I could be at a different event every month but its not that simple with Art. You need to find your market, your people, the ones that get you and so want your creations on their walls because they resonate with them. So, it’s a mission that is both enjoyable and frustrating.
(I learnt a lot from this exhibition. its so tempting to take everything you do so that there is something there for everyone right? wrong! it confuses the visitor, so I will stick to displaying one type of work in future)
I did have a new experience: I sold a piece of work to someone who was rude and uninterested in the process of that creation, or the where and why behind it. I wanted to tell her where in this beautiful country we were, how I caught a moment in time, where the sun rose and made the rocks reveal the glory of their geology, in the different coloured minerals built up over the centuries. How the rugged shapes against their shadows in the sea informed the composition I chose, but she cut me dead and complained about having to frame it. My lasting feeling was that I would rather not sell to the likes of that person. Art is so personal, I wanted my work back!
(Just an example, look at that texture, nature is incredible.)
I felt so indulgent taking myself off for some end of year sunshine with my oldest friend but honestly, although I loved every minute of our adventure, travelling for months at a time is tiring. I couldn’t wait to lay on those sun beds with a holiday book, unrelated to learning; my goals or personal development! We stayed at Mitsis hotel and Spa in Rodos village, five star all inclusive. It was friendly; clean; big without feeling so; lots to do if you wished, even had its own amphitheatre where we listened to three tenors from South Africa! All inclusive was good however not if Vegetarian or Vegan, so I ate a lot of potatoes, great for swimwear!
(This is the way we like to start our holidays at the airport)
(Chatting at the bar during the day and chatting watching the sun set of a night, just chatting…)
I have known my friend for about 45 years, and guess what? we did very little laying on the sun beds reading; we talked, and talked bit more and a bit more. An uninterrupted luxury that was so easy for us both. I appreciate men don’t converse in the same way with us or each other, but feel they are poorer for it. It can be cathartic, enlightening, revealing and counselling for those taking part. I know I am fortunate and am grateful for the love and respect we share. All to often this is not the case as you go through life. At my age the hope is your friends are there because you have chosen them to be. Developing intellectually and emotionally during your life, you start to recognise those around you that quite literally drain your energy, or their words or actions don’t seem to be in alignment with your values. In order to preserve your well-being you need to walk a path without them. You honestly feel better for it.
A few days after my return from Rhodes my annual CP girls’ trip was upon us: these women I have also grown to love, over the past twenty years. We are a diverse group of professions; our age range is split over ten years with me being the oldest at 55. However, we know that even if we don’t get together too much during the year, our annual trip, usually to Centre Parcs, will contain a mix of hilarious to heartfelt stories. Comical antics and games along with age and time related conversations that help whatever stage of life you are at.
(We have been going to Centre Parcs for about ten years, we have interrupted it with city-breaks to Bath; Barcelona and Portugal for big birthdays. Next year we are celebrating in Croatia but I know we will be back again)
I find women allow each other to get deep and meaningfully into a subject, are thoughtful and often holistic in their approach to a topic, which is what I love about their company. I have to say, this is a complete contradiction to my early years where I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending all this time in female company! I always had more male friends; finding their no-nonsense straightforwardness a sanctuary from the gossip and bitching that I found when mixing with girls. Its so nice getting older.
(Bedfordshire, cant beat spending time with these two)
I think I am allowed to say the C word now we are in November? So, with Christmas looming ever nearer, I am frantically trying to get art work completed as well as looking at other opportunities to earn money, otherwise how can we travel? more about that next time. We do have one more trip to end the year on, to Germany for New Year, can’t wait to tell you all about that, as well as thinking about new year desires… In the meantime, I hope you are surrounded with positive friendships that serve to love encourage and empower you.
A new Idea;
Bespoke; renovated; hand painted; personalised; children’s desk/furniture
On arrival at our next stop we kept looking upwards towards the vastness of the huge sky . We heard a loud call and were treated to the antics and sounds of a pair of Buzzards as well as Red Kites claiming ownership of their blue world. Catching the thermal airwaves (with their broad wings of nearly two metres) just coasting effortlessly, they were conserving energy whilst searching for prey, wonderful to watch. Once set up we could still hear the eerie call of the buzzards and all I could think about was Western Movies! It is mid-August and we are hooked up at Pantmawr Farm
; this site is in a picturesque valley with a quiet stream for children the splash around in, as well as having horses to ride. With the odd sheep and livery stables at the top of the hill too, it is a beautiful setting.
A couple more nights here and we will move on inland where another little love fix awaits us, with a visit from our daughter Summer and her two little boys, we cant wait.
The changeable weather delivered enough sun for me to paint outside with watercolour. Too much heat for acrylics, but I have learnt to adapt and quite literally, go with the flow! When the weather is bad, I take over the inside of the Beast, table sink etc. and paint there. Poor Paul is hemmed in!
Good news and opportunities have been following my art travels on this trip; After sending examples of my work, I was accepted into the Doncaster Art Fair, happening at the end of September: A gallery in Buxton Derbyshire started a dialogue with me after framing one of my prints for their customer. Now the gallery has a couple of original artworks and a number of prints being shown in, The Gallery in a Shed. I will be visiting next month, apparently you can enjoy a lovely coffee and cake as well as wonderful artwork there. In addition, a few paintings sold as soon as I put them on Social Media so I am moving in the right direction. Think I might have celebrated with a Cider, but once home, the big canvases will come back out and the champagne will be put on ice, hopefully popped soon!
As we wound our way through the valleys of Wales, although we had achieved a lot in our time there, we hadn’t managed to explore the Pembrokeshire coastline or been able to catch up with friends in the area. So apart from the inviting curves of the land; walks into the forests unknown; waterfalls that can take you off to meditate a land of plenty, there are many other reasons to revisit Wales.
The New Forest
Knowing we would be seeing Theo; I found another Farm to stay at: Paddock View (Camping & Caravan Club) just off of the A31 in the New Forest. Google said it would take just over four hours to get there but we have learnt to add a couple of hours when in the motorhome and we were right to, we left just before 6am and arrived at noon. Good roads and the sun shone, plus we were on our way to see our babies, so all was good in the world.
You may well ask, why the New Forest from Wales when our plan was to travel the coastline? We had come to the conclusion that we didn’t want to fight our way around the tight roads of Devon and Cornwall in The Beast especially being the height of the summer, so when our daughter said she would come and join us we opted for somewhere that wasn’t going to be an arduous journey for her with two little ones in the car.
We have been to the New Forest before but enjoyed it differently this time. Perhaps seeing it through the eyes of a three-year-old helps. We woke up to the sounds of Sheep, Alpacas and Pigs in the fields around us, when Theo woke up, he looked out of the window to check the animals were awake, because then he could be too! A short trip in the car found us surrounded by Donkeys and Ponies. Horses, Cows and Pigs also joined us on our journey through the beautiful Forest sprinkled with old pubs full of stories and atmosphere.
It was William the Conqueror who set aside the New Forest over 900 years ago and it is said, he would probably recognise much of it today. Probably not the red phone boxes with all the books inside! This area is now a National Park that harbours not only an array of animals but a diversity of rare plants and wildlife. By grazing freely, the animals are the architects of the land, alongside the people managing it and commoners, as they are known, who actually own the roaming livestock.
Change of direction
We had planned to explore for another month but as we all know life throws us curve balls occasionally, which means the norm can change and we adapt again. We had news that someone close to us was seriously ill in hospital, so we made arrangements to go home. Our priorities changed, things that are important or urgent have far less potency when you realise time is limited. We were brought back to the bare bones of humanity; LOVE.
Sitting in the field with the Alpaca’s on a beautiful bright sunny day, Paul and I grieved for what was to come and became thankful for this person’s indelible print on our lives. Through our sadness we are finding joy in the memories she left us with. Seeing others suffer the pain of such a loss is hard, as I’m sure some of you have experienced. Adults/ parents are pre conditioned to ease the pain of those around you, especially our young. However, bereavement is a personal journey, so, we support where we can and offer our love in abundance.
I have a list of artwork to be completed now home, but also a new painting to begin: Lions were our friends favourite animal, so with her brave spirit in mind, I will create my first lion artwork dedicated to her memory and explore how I can raise funds through the sale of the original and prints in order to donate to the cancer charity. I’ll keep you posted.
Our travels haven’t stopped, they are merely paused. Our experiences and events along the way have endorsed our resolve, to continue on this path whenever we can, to live the life we have, differently from our well-trodden history. Filled with days of new experiences; wonder; and a cacophony of emotions that regularly surprise and remind us, of how lucky we are.
With Love until next month…
A massive low returning home? No actually quite the opposite. Within a day, I was delighting in the benefit of getting back to a routine of swimming every morning. I found that I started my day with a sense of achievement and determination that is not in the same abundance when I don’t exercise. Seeing family and friends was obviously a pleasure, but nothing compares right now to the love and friendship developing with our grandchildren. Coming home via Peak District we had a week with our cutie Primrose who is still happy whenever we talk to her. Theo is three, a little older, whilst initially excited about our travels he soon stopped interacting with us when face timing because he couldn’t understand our prolonged absence. We sent little gifts to involve him but the hurt was evident. It was after two weeks of being home, seeing him daily, Theo and I were playing on our own, at one point he just stopped, got up, hugged me and told me he missed me. We cuddled and went back to the, animals in the castle game, we had concocted. The well-being and love from this tiny interaction was momentous, I was so glad we went with our instincts and came home earlier than planned. Life experience over the last few years has taught me to listen to my intuition, I’m sure I always thought I did, but the difference is, I now implement a well-being first mentality. It isn’t always easy, old habits are hard to break, but the rewards are always there and nothing in life beats smiling more, as Theo would tell you if he stopped for long enough!
Another smiler; I had planned to work this morning but I prioritised well being first: If you also love the tracks on The Greatest Showman you will understand why I broke into the regular morning play routine and put the CD on for a dance with 20 month old Primrose, she is with us now, until Saturday, so we all, that’s Oma Opa, Mum Dad and Prim started the day giving it all we’ve got on the dance floor of our lounge carpet, woohoo!
With fun and love in abundance, the planned two weeks at home became more like eight weeks; we waited for baby Hugh to arrive, family came to stay, including our other grandchildren so the house and garden had a party atmosphere. We caught up with everyone and fitted some work in to help fund the next leg of our journey. It felt like a whirlwind and then Hugh made his appearance, bouncing in at 8lb 11 oz and we all got to spend time with our newest family member.
Summer spent no time relaxing after the birth and was up and out quickly, including us, creating new experiences for Theo with his new little brother, energy is in abundance in that household! The diary started filling up with commitments so we finished up our work and hit the trail again this time heading for a little weekend break in Liverpool first, almost where we left off, we were so glad we did…
Having met some lovely Liverpudlians on a cruise once, but never having been to Liverpool, they were our only reference: Lively, funny and kind hearted, which is exactly what we found the city to be. Walking through the different quarters you get a real sense of what Liverpool is made up of and how the City is moving forward with its modern architecture, creative drive and friendly people.
We stayed in Maghull on an old farm, just a twenty-minute train ride into Liverpool Central. (lots of old farms allow Motorhomes and Caravans to park up as they have the space, or are still a working farm, in need of an extra revenue stream) The return fair and travel pass for all trains, busses and the ferry, was an unbelievable £6. We travelled in everyday and made the most of this bargain.
Naturally we got our steps in, seeing the sites, but also enjoyed a ferry ride, across the Mersey, I can hear you singing… where we got off to visit a wartime U Boat that had been salvaged so well it is now a tourist attraction. If you like history its well worth a visit.
The Ferry speaker system gives you a running commentary on the buildings you pass and their history and the U boat visit was another cheapy, so a thrifty enjoyable day. We couldn’t visit without drinking and listening to live music in the famous Cavern Club area where the Beatles and Cilla black made their name. As well as enjoying a comedy club night with many comedians giving us a broad view of the lovely scouse sense of humour. If you haven’t visited Liverpool, we would recommend you do.
Birchbank Farm: Chester
We hopped from there over to another farm, this time in Chester, where we had the privilege of a visit from our son and granddaughter. Of course, that’s why I choose the farm, with the old farm dog and family of cows on site making the visit memorable. It also gave me lovely views for morning watercolour practise and meditation, ignoring the odd “Mooo” when the farmer was late with the grass!
Breaking away from cows’ milk, at home I use Oatley milk for tea, whilst travelling it’s been more difficult to find. Talking to the farmer I found out that although his cows graze on grass as families, the larger cow herds on farms surrounding him, don’t see the grass at all, it is brought to them by machinery which we both felt sad about. It raises questions for me about the, sustainable dairy, debate?
Back to being tourists, we visited Chester Zoo which lived up to the great reviews and the following day the Aquarium, another brilliant day out. Primrose had already fixed the shark song into our heads with every interaction but now she has seen them, her favourite word is “Shark”, repeated many times like you do when you are nearly two!
Dinas Farm Bangor
Nathan and Primrose left, and we moved on into North Wales where we were only a half hour bike ride to Zip World. Fun for everyone awaits at various Zip World venues, with trampoline adventures in giant underground caves, tree walks and Zip wires both under and over ground. We opted for the one sold as the fastest Zip line in the world and longest in Europe. We had tried to do this a couple of years ago but the weather wasn’t on our side then. On this day, it was Paul’s birthday and the sun shone, we biked our way there through the spectacular slate quarry’s of Penrhyn, revelling in the atmosphere of the old mines. My phone battery had run out so I was desperately taking mental pictures committing the beautiful ruggedness to memory for my palette knife that was calling.
As for the Zip line adventure, we enjoyed it but realised we had experienced much scarier escapades. I don’t want to take anything away from the day for those of you thinking of taking this ride, it’s even great to watch from the café.
The town of Bangor we had visited before, it is still full of charity shops and supermarket chains, and this year, wasps, lots of them! The scenic Betws-y-Coed is not far by car if you are in the area and well worth the visit.
Dinas Farm, was right on the edge of River Ogwen,
where the changeable weather continued. Beautiful sunshine warranting shorts, turning to torrential rain needing waterproof clothing from head to foot. The rain and floods of neighbouring counties had swelled the river so it rushed past at a deafening pace. In addition, the rain pummelled the roof of the Beast so much, it often took some time to get any sleep!
After this farm we had a few nights wild parking, including in a pub car park. There are many pubs that allow you overnight parking for free, naturally expecting your patronage which usually includes a Sunday Roast for Paul!
Barmouth Seaside Resort: Gwynedd NW Wales
The rain did stop us from visiting some waterfalls and walks around Snowden but it could have been so much worse as it was for some this year, with landslides and floods. So, we counted ourselves lucky and made our way to Aberystwyth with a laundry stop on the way. (Farms don’t have washing machines at the camper’s disposal).
The search for a Launderette found us in Barmouth.
As if the weather knew we had lots of washing to dry, the sun also met us there. What an absolute delight this town is with an array of independent shops, art gallery in the old church hall and coffee shops and pubs galore. You are torn between time spent on the golden sands of the expansive and interesting beach and sand dunes and the quaintness of the towns charm. We didn’t have time for other local attractions recommended to us, but this is one place we would be happy to revisit. We made more arty friends and ate in The Last Post pub, food was lovely lots of veggie or vegan options. Sad that we couldn’t stay for the music the following night.
We looked forward to meeting friends in Aberystwyth as well as discovering the delights of Ceredigan Bay which didn’t disappoint. What appears to be a small town does stretch out pleasingly around the old Castle and Harbour. Education, History and Victorian charm is in abundance here. The beach is a contradiction: at the harbour, the beach is made up of tactile smooth stones that look like they belong down the centre of your back for a massage. Thousands of beautiful smooth curved grey stones as far as you can see.
Followed around the bay, by rugged slate jutting out of the sand like a scene out of a Terminator or End of world, type film. Harsh unforgiving, ready to rip and tear whatever visits, in the water to dense to see through.
Continuing the walk around the castle and sea front, brings you to the screeches of children playing on the dark grey beach made up of fine stones and dark sand.
It reminded me of the beautiful surprise we found in Scotland, with the beach made up purely of cockle shells.
However, you could be like us, and looking for things to do in the rain: The town museum has been created out of a beautiful Edwardian theatre, where you could shut your eyes and feel the drama unfold on the stage the audience was so close to.
A steam train ride takes you on a scenic trip, up the side of step hills! to the water falls at Devils Bridge. The pub food is lovely by the way, as is the tea and cake of the station coffee shop! Best get walking…!
Lastly the Victorian Obscura lens at the top of a steep tram type ride was an interesting visit in any weather, designed for Victorian entertainment, it looked to me like early voyeurism! It cleverly magnifies with mirrors the live scenes on the beach and surrounding area of 1000 miles or more. We were lucky, the sun appeared and worked hard all afternoon to set the scene of modern-day beach fun 2019 style.
We have known our visiting friends for almost twenty years and found much to celebrate: a recent successful heart op, two birthdays and many holiday memories. It reminded us that life is sweet and our treasures are all around us.
Heading south, to see what else is in store…?
We hit an Emotional Wall, we were doing so well and then bam, we knew we couldn’t enjoy another landmark without seeing our family. The journey we have been on has been emotionally very happy go lucky, we didn’t expect the wall. We had set a date to return home for a pit stop, in time for our daughter’s due date for baby number two, so knew we would stop off to see our son and his family in the Peak District on the way. As soon as we did, the trip was paused. We were no longer the 50 plus explorers, we were Oma and Opa!
Hey I’m jumping ahead; we were still in Cumbria last time we spoke!
So, day six of wild parking and we really couldn’t put a light on without the living quarters battery beeping. We can’t let it get too low, so after more calls we found a site right at the south end of the lakes, Meathop. We only stayed one night, nothing outstanding about the site or location and the signal was really poor. We left to explore at least one of the lakes before we moved out of Cumbria into Lancashire. Lake Windermere was the closest and naturally busy. We drove into many car parks, but with the Beast so long couldn’t park until the afternoon. At least we got to enjoy the water and town with its ruggedly tactile stone-built houses, walls and meandering shops, along with a plethora of delicious eating establishments! Don’t worry we did our 10,000 steps that day!
A picturesque car park was our wild park for the night, before heading off to Lancashire. Can you believe we again heard the roar of cars bursting into the car park at midnight! but this time they didn’t come near us and practised their doughnuts, sliding and wheel spins, making dramatic patterns in the ground, (art everywhere!) fun to watch.
Into Lancashire…Having been at a magic convention in Blackpool recently and not wanting to get tied up in any big towns like Liverpool we opted to bypass the coast, travelling inwards to the lovely town of Glossop in Derbyshire about an hour from Manchester. We found a Camping and Caravanning club site that had just a couple of nights left in Hayfield. A great site for doing the Kinder Scout High Peak walk and only fifteen minutes away from our son, Nathan. So, we settled in and then gate-crashed Nathan Emily and our little flower, Primrose. (It was cheaper in the long run to join the Camping and Caravanning club as they have as many sites as the Caravan and Motorhome Club which we already subscribe to! (A bit like the English Heritage and National trust!)
Don your walking boots, we are stepping our way to health in one of England’s beauty spots, Derbyshire.
Tideswell, with its Cathedral of the Peaks and brilliant coffee shop along with Perveril Castle and the caves in Castleton and Art and much more in Buxton, are all worth a visit. And are what we managed to fit in whilst there. Should you visit, I’m sure you will do as we have done, left with a list of places to return to another day.
Tideswell, the largest village in the Peak District is a haven of holiday cottages with beautiful walks that keeps you trigger happy on your smart phone or camera, catching the rugged symmetry of the stone buildings nestled into the sharp slopes of the cobbles in the countryside is addictive. Traditionally baked Tor and Derby cakes are popular but we thought the best place to visit was High Nellys Café. With a hint of Swedish influence, the breakfast we had was a delightful feast of savoury and sweet treats. I did feel rather piggish but I could have ordered so much more on the menu!
Warm Banana and Pecan bread.
St John the Baptist Church, also known as the Cathedral of the Peaks is a must if you like churches. Building began in 1320 and has been added to for so many years there is much to see and read.
This view looks like it could be a Constable painting.
Castleton in the White Peak, lying in the lee of Mam Tor locally known as Shivering Mountain is picturesque with great pubs, coffee shops and an abundance or jewellers selling the beautiful semi-precious blue stone know as Blue John. This can also be found in the fairy-tale looking caves and caverns filled with stalactite and stalagmites. The Great Ridge Walk and Perveril Castle ruin, (English Heritage) tests your ham strings but are worth the views.
The Art exhibition we found in Buxton along with the galleries inspired me to play with mixed media when I can, Ill let you know how it goes…
To break up the journey to Kent we visited friends, had a wonderful evening and arrived home about lunch time to surprise our unsuspecting loved ones. Our grandsons delight was articulated by immediately showing us the worms and snails he had placed along the wall, it was good to be home!