Remember that Golden Summer?

I’ve just come in from a late evening wander up the valley, raising moths with every footfall and, for the first time in months,  feeling the familiar squish of damp ground underfoot instead of  bone jarring, cracked earth. I went down to the beck and stood knee deep in the water for ages (a regular post migraine activity) gazing up at the mountain who was looking benign and majestic in the warm evening light. I squiggle toes in the slippery pebbles and clamber about on the bank where the rocks are warm still and the bracken prematurely tinted with Autumn; almost tempted to go back for a tent so that I can sleep next to the water. On the way home I stop to talk to my favourite tree thinking how precious it is to be able to do this, being alone in such a beautiful place momentarily lets me be the child I still am inside since there’s nothing about to show me I’m actually a small 51 year old woman acting like a lunatic talking to trees and wallowing about in the beck dressed in pants and a hoodie. Something about this summer’s heatwave has me reliving childhood memories of golden barefoot summers in the 70’s, just as it’s revealing ancient earthworks, drowned villages and lost gardens. This is the summer they will talk about for years to come.

As ever I started writing a blog post in May and have had to scrap the whole thing because so much has happened in the mean time. A proper summer  for the first time in 4 years and the generous loan of a Canadian canoe has meant we’ve felt extra lucky to be living in the Lake District – what we lack in financial security or a packed social life has to some degree, been balanced out by the priceless joy of a clandestine night on Wild Cat Island, a picnic supper on Ullswater ( even though we canoed double the distance because we forgot to pack the gas for the tiny miniature stove and had to go back!)  or an afternoon gliding about in the swimming “pots” of Borrowdale.

Wallowing

A post shared by Kim Tillyer (@witchmountain) on

I’ve just returned from my weekend at Art in the Pen in Thirsk where we all nearly melted in the cattle market under the sweltering North Yorkshire sun! This year I didn’t do so well ( many people said sales were down on previous years)  but I think I enjoyed myself more. My pen neighbour Hannah Sawtell was particularly lovely and we had good chats about politics, future directions and the joys/trials of parenthood/cat caring/empty nests. I fell in  love with several of her prints but the one I had to have included a quote from a favourite REM song and someone looking slightly uncertain on the edge of  a moonlit pool …

We did a little artist swap which sadly is the only way I can own the art I love at the moment. I sometimes feel like such a hypocrite going on about #JustaCard all the time and then leaving the “pens” of people whose work I’ve admired for years without buying anything but it really would have been madness to spend the small profit I’d made because that will be needed to pay for the materials and costs of the next event. It really is hand to mouth sometimes and times are hard for many of the creative people I met. Rupert had helped me set up and take down my pen and commented afterwards that he really felt for those who hadn’t done so well “…they all work so hard, they’re all makers and they make the world a better place.” The overriding feeling was positive though, despite the heat, the farmyard aromas, the slow sales and all. The visitors were all enthusiastic and full of praise and the other artists full of camaraderie and humour; I love the concept of artists taking over the cattle market for a weekend and replacing the animal s**t with things of beauty, it makes me smile for so many reasons !

… As usual it’s taken me an age to write half of what I wanted say and its now tomorrow! I’ve just been into Keswick to post out some orders, including some of the cyanotype workshop kits I’ve put together, and got side tracked by a rarely open antiquarian bookshop. I came away with an armful of old Observer guides and intend to spend this evening identifying “Grasses and Sedges” on the fell side with a spot of bilberry picking if the birds haven’t eaten them all ( my car is always covered in purple bird poo at this time of year). The rest of the week will be busy with lovely bookshop days and a cyanotype workshop for Cumbria Printmakers in Shap where we have an exhibition until Sunday.

And so the summer speeds along and it’s been a good year for the roses.

I’ve been stitching and printing like mad for all the exhibitions I’m taking part in; much of the new work features stitched roses on cyanotype still lives and the elusive dream of a home with roses around the door . The next event will be Craftsmen at the Priory in the Dacre Hall at Lanercost. I visited last week and it’s a seriously beautiful part of Cumbria, right on Hadrian’s Wall. I do feel very honoured to be one of the core group’s invited guests especially as this is the 40th anniversary of the exhibition. It opens on August 8th with a preview evening including a 10% discount. Here’s your invitation…

Now I must go and learn some new plant names, write a newsletter and organise the things I’ve unpacked and piled in the middle of the floor after Art in the Pen. I want to write more often, I will try, it’s often the World that makes me silent- why add to the noise when there are important things to be said, by people better able to say them. Will you read if I keep writing? I hope so.

Recent Reading: Swallows and Amazons – A Ransome,  Sweet Caress – William Boyd , 16 Trees of the Somme- Lars Mytting, The Gloaming – Kirsty Logan Rotherweird – Andrew Caldecott (audio book) ,  21st Century Yokle – Tom Cox (audio book)

 

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Decade

Well here I am, a decade since my first faltering steps into the world of WordPress and being Witchmountain. What started out as a student blog, documenting the last weeks of my degree at CCAD has morphed into…something else; part confessional, part diary, part …I don’t quite know. So much has changed, everything has changed. Looking back at that first post I feel the sadness of loss; some of  the people commenting and offering encouragement back then are now no longer in my life ( the perils of having much younger friends who were bound to leave my path for their own sooner or later, I suppose)  Times change and even my old art college has recently reinvented itself  as The Northern School of Art (in my parent’s day it was Middlesbrough Art College). There is happiness too of course; keeping a fairly regular record of things that have happened over the past ten years I can see that my work has continued to develop and hopefully improve, there are stories hidden between the lines that I thought would break me but didn’t and there are joys which would never have happened without the sorrows. Fewer people read this blog now and the quick fix of social media has taken over but I still feel as though it was was of the best things to come out of my years at CCAD- I didn’t get the dream graduate job and I haven’t made a fortune out of my design work or become a superstar blogger but I’m still here making and creating. Writing has given me a place to work things out and attempt to order my thoughts, at times it has helped me make decisions and feel less alone – this blog has actually helped me make new friends and reconnect with old ones – so Thank You.

I’m sitting in the garden that isn’t mine, my head aches but the breeze and birdsong are soothing, the air smells of something sweet. Two rabbits just ran over my feet not realising I was here, a vole popped out from a plant pot and the owl family in the ugly Thuja trees are calling to each other in broad daylight. I half expect Mrs Tiggywinkle to trundle past with her washing but today there has been a big fell race so she’s probably keeping well out of the way ( actually in 3 years I haven’t seen one hedgehog here in Newlands Valley which is odd) On the steep fell side opposite me I can see a crowd of people on mountain bikes being extreme, as is the fashion in these parts.

This is only going to be a short post because, as I said, my head is aching but it seemed important to make sure I posted something today to make things neat! I’ve been thinking about what to write for ages to try and mark the occasion and of course I will probably not say any of it now because I’m rushing. I’ll just do basic  housekeeping instead of rambling on and remind you that at the end of the month there will be an extra special draw for newsletter subscribers and website customers – so be one of those if you want to win something lovely. There are loads of events and exhibitions coming up starting with Art in the Shed in Osmotherley on May 26th. Always bittersweet for me but I can’t wait to spend time with my very good friend Jane who puts this event on in her beautiful North Yorkshire garden to raise money for the Street Child Africa charity . I’ll have new work with me including these Ghost Flowers in various arrangements ( pictured as work in progress)  as well as some new card designs.

Now I’m going to close my eyes for a little while and dab some lavender on my forehead, hoping to recover enough for a little swim later this evening. Thank you for reading, especially if you’ve lasted the full ten years and traveled with me from North Yorkshire to this version of Witchmountain…. x

Reading :- The Dictionary of Animal Languages ” Heidi Sopinka and “Wildwood” Rodger Deakin

Sonder and the Little Companions.

The sun reappeared last Thursday and after braving the madness of market day Keswick in the Easter holidays I came home and trudged up the valley to lie down on the footbridge for a think. Lying on my back, on the sun warmed wood and looking straight up at the sky, the fells seemed to lean over me in a dizzying way that confused my phone into auto rotating the photograph I took ( the one below). I was only slightly worried that the more serious, less horizontal walkers on the tops would assume I had collapsed; more concerned that vertigo would send me rolling off into the water. I basked in the sunshine feeling a little like I was looking down on the ravens who were flying aileron loops and barrel rolls, apparently just for the joy of it. Perhaps one of those walkers will will read this and be able to stop worrying; my last post was a lesson in never assuming total anonymity or invisibility just because I feel alone – one of those runners I described passing me as I wrote, turned out to be the lovely Hester Cox. We actually know each other a little and I love her work, but the unlikely setting/circumstances for a meeting had made us doubt our own eyesight! I like things like that, I like connections and co-incidences, random meetings and making links.

sonder

Anyway, I was happy to be outside with the sun in my face. After an endless winter I’d started to doubt my love of the fells and their ability to provide any kind of solace. I had a lot of thinking to do and it’s easier to think near water don’t you find? I was meant to be contemplating ten years of Witchmountain, ten years since getting my fabulous degree and this blog post was supposed to be all fanfares and party hats but, well of course this is real life. I ended up doing a trawl though 10 years of blog posts for entirely different reasons. Here she is, the Queen of the Mountains, the last of the Westwood Studio kittens (my parent’s farm), the end of a long line of familiars, the “bloody cat”, the muse for Rupert’s silly songs, she of the impossibly untouchable, temptingly fluffy tummy and lethal claws, the last of my Snilesworth companions… now only the imaginary bear is left.

The house is quiet today, I keep hearing the ghost of a bell but for the first time in my life I have no animal company. Hey ho Toast, happy hunting; I’m glad the sun shone on your last day.

Goodness! Are you still with me? I’m pretty conflicted about tragic pet posts -there is so much love, so very much, but I couldn’t help feeling how lucky she was to be able to leave peacefully, with dignity and without pain. As soon as we returned from the vets a bird landed on the windscreen and wouldn’t leave, Pied Wagtail, Polly-Wash-Dish, silly bird. Without voicing it at the time we both had the same thought, a transmigration of souls perhaps.


So…It’s April 2018! Two exciting things are going on at the moment, the first is this…

The Folklore exhibition opened in Bristol on Friday evening and it looked like a great night, very well attended. The images are all fascinating with such a diverse selection of artists and folk tales from around the world. It was something of an honour to be included in this curated show. It continues until April 18th and I think someone should turn it into book because I’d love to read more about the stories and why the artists chose them, their working practises and so on. Any publishers out there?

The second super exciting thing is that I got asked to provide images for two poetry pamphlets due for publication in May. Polly Atkin, from Grasmere, has been been so good to me since I first met her online around the time I moved the Lakes. Her poems have at times wrung deeply suppressed tears from me and on a more practical note she once leant me her swimming costume for an impromptu dip in Grasmere so I’m stupidly happy that one of my cyanotypes will be gracing the cover of her latest pamphlet. The two are published by New Walk Editions  and will be launched on 22 May at Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham.

More of that strange connectedness of life as my dad is just about to launch the project he has been working on with poet Alice Oswald. The exhibition of their watercolour and poetry collaboration opens in London on April 26th .

Now the day is slipping past and I forgot to eat lunch so I will save my ramblings about the past 10 years and the joys of trying to make this creative life pay its way until next time when there will also be news of a prize draw and other such sweeteners. Thank you so much for reading.

Here’s that cat again…an old embroidery sample from about 2009 that proves at least that my photography has improved slightly in the intervening years.

Reading: I just finished a proof copy of “The Psychology of Time Travel” by Kate Mascarenhas, out in August.  Watching and thinking about …

 

 

 

 

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Different Hills, Another Spring.

I’m sitting outside wrapped in assorted layers because today is the first day of British Summer Time, the sun has been shining bravely, the birds are singing love songs and it’s (slightly) warmer outside than in. With my slippered feet on the table and coffee mug balanced carefully on the bench beside me I can look over towards Maiden Moor and Catbells where groups of stick figures are silhouetted on the summits; a pair fell runners just puffed past and as usual I feel slightly guilty for being still and apparently idol. With all this Spring going on it’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was in Narnia, well Bristol. I travelled down by train and experienced the weird, dreamlike dislocation of hurtling through blizzards, the train tilting and banking like a fighter plane, through the occasionally looming Howgills, and eventually arriving in a city blanketed in white. City snow is not something I’ve experienced, not since a childhood winter in Providence, and it felt very surreal to be wandering deserted streets at 2am, following fox tracks and skittering about pretending to be a horse (this last means my phone is now smashed and held together with sellotape).
The rare treasure of three days with BOTH my children was made even more special by the peculiar, cocooning weather. The highlight (apart from snack suppers by the fire, snuggled up watching Paddington films) was a hair-raising drive to Glastonbury on the eve of the Vernal Equinox, where we had hoped to fly Jake’s drone for some exciting aerial photography. It was unbelievably cold though and so windy that flying was impossible so we just walked and talked and looked across the Vale of Avalon and wondered what it would be like to actually live there. A town so full of  crystal shops, vegan cafes and people wearing rainbow jumpers that it’s almost a parody of itself. It’s easy to be cynical and laugh at all the serious New Age types but I suddenly felt very much aware of a road not taken, or at least veered off in my 30s, and wondered if it wouldn’t be a more forgiving place to face life, particularly older age as a “crone”, than the Lakes with all it’s obsessive running, cycling and extreme swimming. I’m still a hippy at heart and there is something comforting about knowing places like that exist,  that not not everyone over 50 has to wear beige Goretex, run 10k before breakfast and stop playing horses. As Louise Chatfield  commented, on Twitter, it seems at least like a place that is non judgemental or about putting people in boxes. I can’t wait to return.

2am in Ashton, Bristol.

Back in the North I discovered (on #WorldWaterDay of course)  the the water had gone wrong again- this time either overflowing like Aira Force on to the doorstep or gone completely and I’m not going to deny that I feel at rock bottom, sorely tempted by some of the more outlandish forms of self-help therapies spotted in the Glastonbury Oracle. Unicorn interactions perhaps or a spot of Puppet Therapy; failing that a new umbrella so that the door step is easier to navigate! I love you Lake District but my patience is being tried.

Again I am pondering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs particularly in relation to creativity – there are many exceptions of course and some would argue that strife feeds creativity but I do find it hard to justify drawing bears when I probably ought to be finding a more reliable way to help earn enough to meet the first level of the pyramid! Luckily I came home to a few welcome orders for wooden bears which ticks some issues in the “Esteem” box. I want to make more of these wooden pieces, perhaps a hare or a leaping fox… but so far this one has worked by far the best. I got some lovely new silk cords yesterday so he now comes with either a dark red or blue cord (or silver snake chain).

When I was in Bristol we had a look in Hamilton House where the Folklore exhibition organised by Gordy Wright opens next month. It’s a great place with loads of events, exhibitions and studios – what a dream it would have been to have something similar here in the old Cumberland Pencil Factory. Anyway, I’ve been working on a couple of illustrations and hopefully one will be getting printed and included in the exhibition… which one though ?

I’ve drawn myself a little hut by a lake and maybe if there is still magic in the universe and all that positive visualisation thing works it will one day be possible to find the illusive “Home” a place to belong, to build a garden again.

Meanwhile here is some proof of Spring, slowly unfurling .
( this time last year the pink blossom was already in full bloom and the white almost over)

Reading: A Line Made by Walking –  Sara Baume. Listening to : The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert  and Spiro who make the perfect music for swooping along Lake District roads pretending you’re in a film to.

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Wildlife, Water and Work in Progress

 

A little over a fortnight since my last blog post and I’m sitting quietly by the stove trying to work out if it’s even possible to coherently share some of the ridiculous things that have happened lately and where to start. This is where being a proper writer would help… or if only I’d taken pictures as proof. Well you’ll just have to imagine if you can:-  the aftermath of the snowstorms, the heating oil arrived at last, the cupboards restocked with Marmite and bread flour and all is as it should be; except that as the snow melted and spring seemed to be arriving, the water went off. Much of the country had similar problems including Jackie Morris and the designer/shepherdess  Alison O’Neil who both endured similar lengths of time with no running water (and electricity in Alison’s case). For 8 days, while waiting for the plumber, we wrestled with the ancient pump (the water comes up from a spring near the beck and it had frozen) and the horrible tanks in the attic; lugging buckets up from the beck for toilet flushing and wrecking my plastic free intentions by buying gallons of bottled water. It was horrible, one trip to the beck was enough for me, I ached all over and the romance of rural life was hard to see. It shouldn’t have taken so long to fix but the house is old and crumbling and the whole experience was incredibly stressful, dredging up memories of the last days at Snilesworth and making me militant about the absolute priority that should be given to making sure people all over the world have proper access to clean drinking water and sanitation. We take water for granted, especially in the Lake District and hardly ever stop to think how amazingly lucky we are. Water Aid do great work in this area, as I’ve mentioned before,  so maybe I’ll ask my landlords to make a big donation!

As a side issue we discovered that there was a monster living in the attic. We’d heard him moving his furniture around in the night but whilst battling with water tanks and  float switches in the terrifying attic, Rupert found the “droppings” of something evidently much larger than a mouse. Thankfully not rats, my friends assured me, but more weirdly … weasels or stoats. Really?! I haven’t been able to eat from the stoat plate since all our chickens got murdered when we moved here and now it seem the culprits live upstairs!

This house is connected to the old cottage next door, so we had a bit of sorting out to do in there too ( burst pipes, Aga issues etc) once the water was back on and I decided to put some of our washing up in their dishwasher since we don’t have one. The cottage is dark and slightly haunted, having been empty for a while, but I’m never too worried, even when I realised that the front door was ajar when I went in to collect my pots in the evening- I probably didn’t close it properly. In the back kitchen, loading my tray I heard a very strange noise and realised I wasn’t alone. Shuffling , scratching, banging sounds that were obviously a brutal burglar nicking the collection of Beatrix Potter figurines, came from the front room and I prepared to meet my doom armed with some crockery. Creeping round the corner I came face to face with a tawny owl who was jumping up and down on the windowsill trying to get out. As I write I can hear the owls, they call constantly even in daylight and I love them but not upset ones in a confined space. As I edged forward to try and open the door the owl swooped silently into the other room and eyed me from the top of a wooden screen before hurling itself into the mirror over the mantlepiece, scattering trinkets and old photographs.We played this game for half an hour- I considered taking photos and wish I had now but I just wanted to set it free without getting it’s talons stuck in me. Eventually the poor thing was so fed up of flying at the window that I managed to catch it (wearing an enormous pair of gauntlets that were lying  around- it’s that kind of place) and set her down on the gatepost outside, part of me wanting desperately to keep her. Away she flew, without a sound or a backward glance leaving me to recover from the shock. How did she get in, walking through the half open door or falling out of the attic after the plumber left a hatch open? Summoned by too many owl drawings and not enough flowers?

I feels though I’ve waffled on enough now, you probably had to be there, but anyway, it sets a scene. I live in a very odd place and I think if it weren’t for my precious, occasional bookshop days, I would be going a little bit crazy by now. It’s important to have a bit of human interaction and lately that has felt more important than ever.

When not fetching water or wrangling owls I’ve been drawing swans, preparing to send an image or two down for an exhibition in Bristol next month and being inspired by a folk tale based in Grasmere called the Hunchback and the Swan by Taffy Thomas , a local storyteller. I’ve just found this wonderful animation by Dotty Kultys based on the story today  


Isn’t it great and the music too! Now I need to keep drawing because I have lots of ideas but they’re not popping out how I want them too yet. Here is my swan, the Lady of the Lake.

Until next time. x

Reading: “A Line Made by Walking” Sara Baum  Listening to : ” TheBedlam Stacks” by Natasha Pulley ( audio book)

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Life in the Snow Globe

March winds doth blow… This morning I was roused from my warm bed by a phone call from the oil company ” apparently you’re up to your knees in snow so we won’t be able to reach you for a few days” Ah well, it was only to be expected; the country is gripped by a sudden, belated burst of real, old fashioned winter and naturally, I have run out of heating oil and Marmite. Yesterday’s sparkling perfection has been replaced by a wild, knife sharp wind, stirring horizontal drifts which are interspersed with slow spirals of new settling snow. The flakes appear sometimes to rise back up again as if undecided. We are inside a snow-globe in the hands of a particularly rowdy child.

The first thing I did, once firmly wrapped in assorted layers and the stove had been fed, was to cook a pan of brown rice to feed the birds. They’re out there now, occasionally blown sideways and it’s quite funny to watch Mr Nutty the Nuthatch adapt his feeding style to eating from a pan on the ground-he would much rather be upside down and seems out of place on a flat surface. Blue, Coal and Great Tits as well as squabbling Robins and a Blackbird or two have also visited, but no sign of Mr Pecky the Woodpecker, I do hope he is safe somewhere.

If you have been reading this blog for a while you might know that normally I would be in my element, despite the lack of heating. Being snowed in has traditionally been my absolute favourite time for creativity, reflection and self indulgence; an excuse to re-read “The Long Winter” and  “Moominland Midwinter” whilst wrapped in blankets by the stove. This time I’m feeling a little out of sorts and thinking, be careful what you wish for. Loneliness  is a bit of a hot topic at the moment ( if you’ll excuse the irony) and whilst I won’t deny I love  my rural solitude and actively need periods of isolation to feed my imagination, it feels very different to the winters in Yorkshire. I suppose living on the edge of a community that one is part of  and knowing family and friends are close, is very different to living in a place where you realise that there is actually no one to call on if you need to, which is why today was encouraging. For the first time in 3 years our neighbour from the next farm drove over to ask if I was ok and if I needed anything! I think extreme weather brings out the best in people and it made me quite emotional. The past 3 years have brought so many new challenges but the main one has been dealing with feeling displaced and unsure of my own new identity and here is a thing… don’t assume someone will ask for help or company, it’s really hard to ask, especially if you’re shy, fiercely independent or have a historical reason to mistrust neighbours on quad bikes. That thing about checking in with people is really important though, we should all try to reach out moreI think.

Last weekend I was in Grasmere house and dog sitting for the bookshop people. It was the most perfect crispy clear, sunny winter weekend and I even spent time snoozing in a chair outside listening to an audio book. In the evenings I sat by the Aga and became hopelessly addicted to watching  “Anne with an E” on Netflix. Oh, it’s been a very long time since I first met Anne Shirley and something about the opening credits, the Tragically Hip soundtrack and the story of a girl just wanting to belong somewhere made me weep like a fool, and laugh and then weep again. There is something especially moving about revisiting childhood stories as an adult and if I had worked harder at school I’d be able to write you a learned essay on why Anne of Green Gables is more than just a cute kid’s book…for me it’s something to do with optimism and a sense of place, the importance of  landscape, acceptance of difference and feeling at home…  “Its strange to love a place like you would a person, but I do!”. Anyway I bought the book when I worked in Sam Read’s  and will spend the rest of World Book Day reading and channeling my inner Anne.

I’ll be drawing the winner of my Newsletter Subscribers Draw later, I can’t quite believe it’s March! April marks the 1oth anniversary of this blog as well as 10 years since I graduated from CCAD with my shiny First Class Honours degree and set out to make my fortune. Hmmm, fortunes are hard won and the road is definitely full of pot holes but in the mean time I’ll keep on feeding the birds, drawing bears and wondering about the further adventures of this character…

Hell’s teeth it’s cold…keep warm. x

Reading “Anne of Green Gables” L.M. Montgomery Listening to: “Ahead by a Century” Tragically Hip

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Unwritten Fairytales and Lost Horizons

I’m blaming my new glasses for the time it has taken me to settle down to write tonight- that and the mountain of pancakes I made (it’s Pancake Day here in the UK) even though I’m home alone (banana with maple syrup and whipped cream, mmmmm ). I got new varifocals last week and they make me feel like somebody else; somebody I don’t like the look of, who most probably took a large dose of Mescaline or whatever makes the carpet come to life in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; the floor now ripples in a disconcertingly trippy way! The new frames, which I’d hoped would make me look more à la mode, remind me of my first pair of NHS glasses when I was about 8; the world has a frame around it again and I’m reliving all my childhood hangups about being the kid with glasses.

*I just looked up à la mode and it can also mean “topped with ice cream” …

February has been beautiful so far and a little bit of motivation has returned. The late winter snow seems to be an inspiration every year and I’ve been busy making new things, doing some drawings in my digital sketchbook and going on  small winter adventures. Last week we went up Carrock Fell and, after worrying my way up the steep bit, I lost myself in admiring the scattered diamonds, wind etched snow fields and iced bun rocks. We drank hot tea in a shelter cairn and I  galumphed along following Rupert’s footprints on the stumbly trek back down. There was a cloud full of snow behind us, the wind spun powder in to our faces and the snow was up to my knees in places; I couldn’t stop thinking of the film Lost Horizon. In the picture above, you can just see the sunbeam hitting a group of trees at Skiddaw House, one of the most remote hostels in the country, miles from any road- perfect spot for an artist’s retreat!

I’ve been making new lampshades and making the most of bright days to photograph them- which seems a little back to front. Each one took longer than ever to make as I got carried away with the embroidered details and deciding, after continuing with the exercises in my Dream Plan Do book, that what I enjoy most about my work is making something really special that can sometimes take days to complete. The shades and lamps have just as much work in them as a framed piece,  so that although pricing will always be difficult, I have made a promise to myself that I will stop undervaluing these pieces.

I’ve had a complete creative block lately and felt really quite low but in the last couple of days I’ve made time to mess about with my Wacom drawing tablet and found myself doing what I always used to do as a child which was drawing stories  just for fun and escapism. The little house, above, started off after driving past the white climbing hut at Stair. As I drew and played with the Kyle T. Webster brushes, the hut evolved into strange a fairytale that hasn’t quite been put in to words yet….

Today my lovely friend Susie , from Glaisdale where we both grew up, shared a picture of her mum who would have been 100 today. The picture was of a small girl with big boots and an enormous hair ribbon. Anyway I had some more fun doodling my imaginary version, perhaps she lives in the little white house? perhaps she’s just going to visit? Either way it’s nice to retreat into your imagination when it’s cold outside and your glasses are upsetting you.

Now, I have promised myself that I’ll print two more pieces of fabric tonight ready for stitching tomorrow so I’ll start to pipe down. The room smells of snowdrops and it’s time for a cup of something warm. There are other things to talk about… how it’s easy to get cocky and mess up all but one of your printed tiles by forgetting to rotate the writing, how the one mythical chilblains become a real thing when taking photographs in the snow and how it is possible, even when feeling a bit fed up , that some excellent fiddle playing might cause you to stop the car to dance a jig on the darkened fell side like the shadow of the girl  you used to be.

Reading: “Wildwood-a Journey Through Trees” Roger Deakin.   Listening to: The Gloaming  and ” The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock” Imogen Hermes Gowar (Audio book)