Last Day of the Year.


I’ve been awake since about 4am and now as New Year’s Eve dawns I am sitting in the kitchen, cuddling a hot water bottle despite the stove. I wanted to write before but I’m haunted by a sign I once saw on a bookshelf in WHSmith’s ; it said “Misery Memoirs”… I wouldn’t want to inflict more of that on you. But some things need saying.

Its been a rotten Christmas ( apart from having my lovely children home), I’ve been ill (including a trip to A&E where I was over zealous in washing my hands and must have somehow lost one of the rings given to me by my children), we’ve had no water (a neighbour’s Kerosine tank leaked into the water table and we’ve been told not to even wash in it until further notice), a close friend had some tragic news and now I am preparing to send my daughter back to university knowing that she probably won’t get a chance to come home again before we are evicted.

So I have been sitting here this morning donating small amounts to the charities Water Aid (not for the first time due to the awful water here and the realisation that some people live like this all the time)  and Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide  (because my friend is so brave, though she doesn’t know it and so are my other dear friends who have been through the same thing and are some of the kindest strongest most generous people I know).

I really hope 2015 is a good year for everyone and that the world becomes a better, kinder, more equal place  (except for the Trustees of Snilesworth Estate, their land agent and the Sayer Family… I just can’t help it, sorry. Mean people should get all the bad luck, not the lovely people like my friend Helen.) Thank you for all your support in 2014… I will try to have drawings and pictures and good news next time I write x

Three Stop Hop

Lake District Wanderer

I seem to have lost my writing mojo lately, maybe because of all the letters I’ve been writing to heartless landlords, estate agents and MPs. However today I am pretending to be sitting on this mountain top on a sparkling Autumn day and writing rather nervously as it is the last Friday of the month and the land agent is due with a nasty letter. The fog is clinging heavily to the hills and the drizzle encourages moss on every surface, it’s the kind of day for being in by the stove with something baking. It’s still beautiful; I find it hard to make people understand that it is days like these that make me love living here. maybe I just like to be awkward…


It’s been a busy few weeks which is also my excuse for not writing. Another house hunting trip to the Lake District saw me staggering to the top of Place Fell on the most perfect Autumn day you can imagine; misty ribbons hung in the valleys with polished mirror lakes and wet roads from the previous night’s rain looked like rivers in the bright light. Crazy people were carrying their bicycles up the steep path and I felt secretly relieved that since my bike got nicked Rupert hasn’t been able to suggest such madness! We didn’t find a house.

view from Place Fell

Two days later I found myself in Bristol, visiting my lovely daughter at last. What a contrast! But I loved Stokes Croft, full of quirky independent shops, vegan cafes, graffiti and wonderful buildings. This is the view from Sara’s student flat, the building is only lived in by pigeons but it made you dream…so many possibilities. It seems so crazy that places like this are empty when people are homeless, I wonder what will happen to it. It was so good to spend time in a place where it wasn’t the biggest crime in the world to be a vegetarian and an artist, where not everyone wears tweed and drives a 4×4 ( yes my heart may belong to North Yorkshire but that’s because of the landscape not the prevailing attitudes). We went to see Mr Turner and The Imitation Game and got lost in a wood full of badgers, met the lovely Jane Ormes in her little gallery/shop and I learned that when getting the bus one must ask for a Three Stop.


Snuggled up in bed Sara and I made creatures out of “Sculpy”(?) and I’ve come home wishing I had a kiln and could make bears out of clay.


Well it’s almost time to go and grind some beans for coffee but first, have you heard about Just A Card? It is a campaign started by print maker Sarah Hamilton in conjunction with Mollie Makes and the Design Trust and the sentiment is really close to my heart because so many people have said ” I love your work but I can’t afford it” or come in to the gallery where I work and not realised that even if they can’t afford the painting they liked, buying a card by the artist is helping that artist or maker keep going, usually for less than the price of a cappuccino. Anyway, it seems like a good idea although of course everyone should feel comfortable walking in to a gallery with empty pockets… I’m amazed at the amount of people who ask ” is it ok if I come in?”  why is that?

JUST A CARD - A4 Poster

While I was writing that last bit the postman came so I’m plucking up the courage to see what he brought. Thank you to the 1,024 people who have so far signed our petition against eviction…you are wonderful x

… was a solicitor with my eviction notice

Snilesworth Home



Bittersweet Symphony

Hawnby Hill-Black and White-North York Moors

I took these pictures from the car window on the way to work last week; a day when the sky had fallen in and I quite literally had my head in the clouds. Progress along these moorland roads can be slow when you are constantly stopped in your tracks by a perfect cloud or the way a heavy frost makes delicate sculpture of the dead grasses and seed heads. Hawnby Hill, is the perfect miniature mountain I can see from my garden, unlike its surroundings it has rocky outcrops and scree slopes like a bonsai Lake District fell.

Hawnby Hill, North York Moors. Kim Tillyer

Two weekends ago we went on a house hunting trip to the Lakes and viewed freezing cottages in the woods with dead wasps on every windowsill and semi perfect places (if the yellowing lace curtains and orange pine were removed) in wildly unsuitable locations.I keep trying to picture myself in these places, miles from home, friends and family and thinking about one of those annoying motivational pictures people share on Facebook, it said ” If you don’t like where you are, Move, you’re not a tree” … but what if you do like where you are and you have deep roots and if you got transplanted you’d just feel like a felled tree anyway?

View from Snilesworth North York Moors. Kim Tillyer sketch

My trip to the Lakes also took me back to Temporary Measure where Emma was about to leave the tearoom for the last time and decamp to a wonderful studio just up the road. I’d gone to get some advice on preparing for the British Craft Trade Fair and talk about getting some samples printed and it was lovely to catch up; I left feeling a lot more positive about doing the event despite all that is going on, after all it’s paid for now so I may as well go, even if I just have a suitcase and a handstitched copy of the Big Issue to show! Rupert described Emma as “positive and uplifting” which is true; she is also very funny and makes lovely things if you didn’t already know. I was feeling a bit odd and had accidentally referred to Rupert as Richard Ashcroft when talking to an estate agent… my mind then went blank and I forgot his real name which isn’t so good after being with someone over 4 years! Being a grown up is such hard work and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make a good impression on future landlords to introduce your partner as the lead singer of the Verve while crying with hysterical laughter and leaving them with the conclusion that the ” The Drugs Don’t Work”.

Horse sketch Kim Tillyer

And so, home on Witchmountain, the house is swaddled in fog, the stove is glowing and I must get on and draw something instead of staring out of the window at the chickens or scouring the internet for houses to rent. I found another company that might be able to supply mugs with my designs on via the lovely Charlotte Vallance ,who I first came across through the Sketchbook Project; so I’m just messing around with box and mug templates and kind of wishing I’d done ceramics instead of textiles because I’d love to be able to use bowls and cups I had made myself. Some gorgeous ceramics like the ones below, from Mary Johnson came in to the Saltbox Gallery last week and I loved the fact that each mug was unique and you could almost see the maker’s finger prints.

Mary Johnson Ceramics

So, I have loads more to say but I’ll leave you with this poppy, as it’s Armistice Day tomorrow. With lots of love, until next time. x

Peace Poppy-Snilesworth-North York Moors

Red Wine and Chocolate Cake


I’m wondering if writing when you’re in a blue funk is as dangerous as food shopping when you’re hungry… this post could end up being the verbal equivalent of a Greggs pasty and a bag of crisps when you’d gone out for tofu and salad. Anyway, I’ve been moping around all day like a gloomy zombie because I counted off every hour from 4am to 8.30am last night, at which point I got up and fed the chickles, ate breakfast and promptly fell fast asleep until nearly lunchtime. My circadian rhythms are all to pot and  I lie awake getting a lump of worry in my throat that goes down to my heart and sits there on my chest, like a  succubus. A hot bath, a glass of red wine and some homemade chocolate cake seem to have cheered me up this evening though and this picture shows the wall in Borrowdale where we saw the red squirrel – so there are bright moments.

I haven’t drawn anything this week but I think I may finally have some new glasses that work, thank god.  As you can see, I struggled a bit last weekend after snapping my glasses and having to dig out a selection of ancient ones from the depths of the bathroom cupboard. It reminded me of when I was small and used to try on my mum’s glasses and run up and down the corridor for fun because the lens made it feel like you were running uphill!


I’m not sure if I don’t prefer the original pencil scribble, but anyway, it made me realise I need to keep practicing. Drawing is like any other exercise and its easy to get lazy and fat.


On Tuesday evening Jane Thorniley-Walker and I went to the “Sponsors Preview” of Art For Youth North at Queen Mary’s School. It was super posh; full of the great and the good (and the rich) and I am going to be honest and say I didn’t enjoy it at all. Entirely my fault, it’s not easy walking tall and making intelligent conversation whilst balancing a big bags of chips on each shoulder and a sack of worry on your back. Having said that, the work looked great, some beautiful landscapes by Peter Hicks, Ian and Rosie Scott Massie, Robin Puplett and the one I would have bought if I could … “Moorland Cottage” by Caroline Dunn. It was fantastic to see that Jane had sold a piece on the first night which made it worthwhile. (and of course the event raises huge amounts for Youth charities throughout the UK so I’m proud to have been part of that.)


I’ve still been thinking about next April’s BCTF although they have given me the option to hold my place until 2016, since I have no idea what will be happening or where I’ll be in the next few months ( it was either that or lose the money). I had some samples printed up hoping to be able to produce them at a wholesale price but now I’m not sure …does anyone have experience of this? The prices I’ve been quoted so far ( just over £10 for a plate and £4.50 for a mug + VAT and postage) mean that there is very little profit in it for me, let alone a potential stockist. I really need some professional advice….oh and a fairy godmother with a pot of magic beans.


Well now it is time to see if I can read myself to sleep and stay there until morning.I want to say another massive thank you for all the kind messages of support. I wish some of you lived around here, I’m sure I wouldn’t feel so alone, we could march on the Big House and demand my jar of jam back.

I also want to send huge amounts of love and good wishes to my very dear friend who is currently in hospital learning to make her legs behave after having a stroke type thing last weekend. Fit and young ( well, my age) and very brave for keeping on smiling and joking when lesser folk ( me) would have been reduced to a self pitying mess. Get Well Soon or there’ll be trouble!


The petition has now reached 888 signatures which is pretty amazing. Ive also had some really kind people from a nearby village offering support as they too have felt the spite of my neighbour. I even got a phone call and a sort of off the record apology from the man who runs Toby Horton’s Twitter account. However there has been not a word or gesture from the the man himself, or the estate.

PETITION ….please sign and share if you can. Thank you


Zen and the art of nest building


Another Thursday, another month and while everything seems “normal” on the surface, underneath is shifting and slipping and bubbling like a house built over a sink hole…or a Baked Alaska pudding…no Chicken Kiev! My attachment to “home” and the difficulty in uprooting me, even for a day out, has been a bit of a joke over the years; so it’s hard to express the almost physical effect the threat of eviction has had on me this past month. However, the garden won last week and I couldn’t leave it alone, for so long the meditation of working in the garden… totally absorbed to the point of almost forgetting real life has been the way I’ve coped with bad times. Ok, mostly I retreat under the blankets with Jack Daniels but once outside I soon become lost and “carried away” as Sara and Jake used to say. The temporary nature of everything I do now does not fit comfortably with my bear like urge to build my winter den and feel as safe as this world will allow…and so the coal shed is empty, the logs have not been delivered yet and is there any point in turning the compost?


Such negativity! If you are still reading I promise the next bits are more uplifting…


Over the past week the Morning Glory in the Freecycle greenhouse has been glorying like mad , heavenly blue and as short lived as a May Fly… if only I was more Zen in my outlook I’m sure there’d be a lesson there! Good things have been happening though. The Saltbox Gallery where I work a couple of days a week took an order for some of my Natural Partners cards and so it was nice to put them on display and overhear the occasional comment about the lovely polar bear! The gallery also took some of my good friend Susie’s needle felted creatures which makes me happy as I love to feel that I’ve helped promote another struggling artist. If I was suddenly rich ….


There have been a couple of much needed trips to the Lake District, partly on a potential house hunting expedition and partly because being made to walk up hills like a reluctant pack pony (admittedly I don’t carry the pack!) seems to be as spirit lifting as gardening. Re-visiting Castle Crag I nearly pushed Rupert over when I spotted a little red squirrel person busily collecting things under the Scots Pines. There were deer too, and autumn colours and that wonderful smell of Autumn woodland and earth still warm from summer. Somehow the North York Moors feels hostile and barren in comparison ( or is it that just a reaction to my situation?) with the only wildlife apart from sheep being there only so it can be shot.


Now I am setting myself the task of drawing something everyday and e-mailing it to Sara who is now in her final year of Illustration at UWE in Bristol. She is meant to do the same so we’ll see if we can keep it up, unlike our various attempts at giving up crisps or taking regular exercise…. I’d like to be able to draw landscape, and clouds but it doesn’t work so I think I’ll leave the clouds to Daddy.


Last night I started a new book having finished Rogue Herries in an all night session. I enjoyed it…maybe the story more than the style and I can see a bit of myself in all the characters. Now it is time for a mug of tea and some more drawing… a rabbit and a pony were the requests on my Facebook page last night….



Reading:-Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami    Listening To:- 6music


The Natural Habitat…


Here is October again and the garden is full of bumble bees feasting on Michaelmas Daisies before they go where ever bumble bees go for Winter. The honey bees left the moor long ago and the swallows not far behind.The house still feels warm to the touch where the sandstone has soaked up the Indian Summer sunshine but this morning there was ice on the windscreen and tomorrow its all due to change. I do feel very cross that I have not felt able to enjoy what could be the last summer days I will ever spend here. Where will I be when the curlews return?


So there is not much to report since I last wrote. The land agent visited and confirmed that the Trustees want me out to make way for my unfriendly neighbour’s son. All my other neighbours are being wonderful; I have been drowning in the milk of human kindness as people offer support and express their concern. Good things have come out of this… mainly the realisation that there are so many people who care and that there is kindness and generosity out there in the world. The Trustees and the mean neighbours are outnumbered in the end, for what it’s worth.

Never the less, living with uncertainty and change and knowing things will never be the same is not good for anyone. Even people who want to move find it unsettling. I see the people who are going to take my home from me everyday and its like being the victim of a violent crime and having to pass the criminal in the street daily. I most resent the fact that all my energies are now consumed with looking for a home when I should be preparing for BCTF and not boring you stupid with petitions and stuff.

I wanted to tell you all about my lovely visit to the Masham Gallery last week and the beautiful work I saw there, about the jewel- like tomatoes I grew in the Freecycle greenhouse, about new work and books and music…but that will have to wait until next time. Just right now I’m looking back before I take a step forward in to the unknown.


Thank you so very very much for the wonderful response to the petition. I wish I could invite you all round for coffee and cake just so I could thank you in person. x


Wolf at the Door


What a beautiful day! (apologies for a rotten photograph)  I felt like flinging open the window and shouting “Anne of Green Gables” but the reality is my arms are numb and  fizzing with some sort of inbuilt amphetamine/stress hormone and I’m feeling guilty for spamming you all with my problems. Since Thursday the Trustees have pretty much ignored me, until today when I got a text saying the agent will be here this evening , presumably with eviction papers. Feel more like Anne Boleyn than Anne of Green Gables!

Sara has started a petition and I have to say, whatever happens here, I have been overwhelmed by the response and supportive comments.I am sure if they want me out they will get me out but there are bigger issues at stake here which is why I’m asking you to read, share and if you feel able, sign the petition.




In other news this cat will be heading off to the charity exhibition Art For Youth, North next month. It is a piece I did at college and hopefully someone might buy it and raise money for the charity. Artists pay to take part and also donate a percentage of the sale price. All the artists also donate a “mystery picture” worth £45 which is sold anonymously , the buyer only discovers who the piece is by afterwards.


Well, now I’m off to chat with the chickens.I want to know their views on the landed gentry, UKIP and the pros and cons of the feudal system. Can you keep chickens in council flats? Is there still such a thing as a council flat!?

A belated Happy Autumn Equinox from Witchmountain.