This post was written a week or more ago but comes to you courtesy of the wonderful Cafe West at the Keswick Museum since EE and BT Openreach have spectacularly failed to connect me to the world beyond Newlands Valley! I’ve missed you…..
The wind is racing down the valley bringing curtains of hail and sleet which hammer on the door like unwelcome guests, I’m writing next to a different stove…a large and hungry beast…but despite the draughts and unfamiliarity this new home in the West feels like a haven in a storm. It does feel as though I have been parachuted into someone else’s life and although it’s pretty sweet, it isn’t mine…yet. It’s hard to believe that I got through the past six months without going totally insane and waking up with white hair or going on a rampage with a large axe. The final weeks at Moorside House were so painful that I think some kind of post traumatic thing may be lurking under the surface but this blog post is about now and trying to look forward. It’s hard but I’m trying to let go of all the bitterness and hatred I’ve felt over the eviction and concentrate on the wonderful opportunity I’ve been given to make a home in arguably the most beautiful part of England… and this time it really is on a mountain.
The North York Moors were part of me before I was even conscious… the big skies, the smell of the heather and bracken… but I cant pretend I have always felt welcome (too posh, too common, too hippy, too vegetarian!) I’ve lost my confidence and trust in other people’s good nature, and I don’t want to jinx things but look what I found in the wall along the footpath – I can’t help feeling I would have been unlikely to make such a discovery on Snilesworth Moor.
If I believed in fate or divine intervention I could tell you a story that began a few years ago with a walk up Catbells or a sketchbook page completed in the early days of a relationship while still mourning the end of another, of strange coincidences, random twists of fate and a failure to salute at magpies which made me either the most unlucky girl in all the world or the luckiest.
So being here with no telephone or internet has meant that I’ve been in a bubble, not managing to draw or do much ( other than chopping firewood and feeding the ravenous stove) but I’ve been looking at old sketch books and projects which have in someway been inspired by the Lake District, wondering what, if anything I will do next. Packing up 15 years worth of “stuff” has given me a horror of making more “stuff”… I gave away, burned or recycled so much old work that a fresh start is called for… however, somewhere in New York is this sketchbook page which gave me a jolt when I saw it again tonight. My new home is exactly under the jewel in the Magpie’s mouth and the message could not have been foreseen when I made it over four years ago!
Well, one thing’s for certain, there is no turning back and luckily I’ve already met some lovely people here and even sorted out some part time work in a gallery which is a massive relief; but what I have learnt so far is that it is impossible to underestimate the impact of potential homelessness and the hidden costs of eviction and relocation – emotional and financial. Having somewhere to call “home”, that is warm, clean and comfortable is a basic human right and in the last weeks at Snilesworth with no heating, contaminated water and snow adding to the bleakness, I was acutely aware of how LUCKY I was… I’m no Pollyanna but I had a place to go to, I had help from a partner, family and friends and one day it will be OK. What about the people who face this with none of that support, those sleeping rough, families evicted for no reason? I think it ‘s vital that private sector landlords are made to behave responsibly and that the rich and over privileged landowners like Toby and Fiona Horton are held to account for decisions they make… hiding behind charitable trusts that are really a form of tax avoidance and claiming to be supporting farmers and the local economy whilst dismantling communities and caring nothing for the people whose rent pays for their lifestyle.
Ok, rant over..for now. My trawl through old projects also found this mock up of a climbing chalk bag which I’m quite pleased with, especially after a visit to the Keswick Museum yesterday where there was an interesting exhibition on 3D mapping techniques.
Its been so long since I had modern methods of communication and the time to write , that I’m in danger of waffling on until you get cramp or fall asleep so here is a picture by Beatrix Potter of Newlands Valley …. my hope is that I will be able to skip along the path up Little Dale with a straw hat and a sketch book on hot summer days and that maybe soon I will be filled with inspiration and the creative muse will reappear in some form and lead me off on new adventures. Meanwhile, thank you for still being there, for all your support through the dark days and I hope I can keep you amused with tales of my life on this new mountain. x