More time has flown by; faster than I have been able to write it all down, blurring one day in to another. Six months have passed since I came to live in the mountains; months marked by the changing colours of the fells- monochrome snow scenes melting to become Bracken slopes of Caput Mortuum and now dark lush Hooker’s Green with bright Magenta spikes of Foxglove… oh and the more or less constant rain. August feels a bit too jungly for me, the Bracken could hide anything and the patch outside the big window has become heavily shaded by Sycamore and carpeted with Enchanter’s Nightshade (which is apparently used in binding spells to keep precious things close).
Nothing stays still for very long here, except the sleeping dragons in Newlands Valley- the fells themselves. The hills are full of people rushing about doing energetic things in lycra but always, even in the busiest season, there is the magic of being able to flop down on the mossy grass at the top and look at the view as if you’re the first to have ever seen it.
In the past two weeks we’ve been on two lovely adventures… up Eagle Crag and then the strangely named Wandope .I don’t seem to be getting any better at the uphill bits… after about an hour my legs finally warm up and stop aching just in time for my feet to start complaining. I really admire people who can run about doing things like the Bob Graham Round (they often come pounding past here in the dark with minutes to spare as this is the last mountain on the round) but I’m still fundamentally a tortoise and prefer to dawdle along admiring the flowers, sniffing the sappy pine cones, filling my pockets with Bog Myrtle, making wands out of rushes and only making it to the top because of the promise of sandwiches.
And before you think this has turned into a blog about hiking, here is what I’ve been up to for most of the week, when Rupert isn’t here to leave a trail of crumbs up steep mountain paths. I’m trying to get work together for the Dalemain House exhibition so I was pleased when a woman admired my work in the gallery the other week. Not realising it was mine, she asked about the technique and came in again a few days later, with a framer, who offered to frame a piece for free to see what I thought. He made a lovely job of it and chose a frame I would never have picked for myself; now I just have to save up to get some more done and hope that the gamble pays off because obviously I need to sell them to justify the whole endeavour. Working in galleries certainly gives you an insight into what sells, if not the ability or desire to produce it. On several occasions it’s been obvious that the customer is really looking for an investment rather than buying for love and its not just the artist’s name that matters but the medium they use. Why is it that oils are seen as superior to watercolours or a ceramic sculpture more highly valued than say, a needle felted one?
I’ve been stitching into the recent cyanotype prints I’ve made since moving here. The work represents ideas of home and security, impermanence and the need for shelter- from nests to ivory towers; stitching into the paper represents domesticity and also safety and healing… holding things together with stitches. There … do I sound all arty and conceptual?! Meanwhile some new greetings cards arrived and a piece of fabric from Spoonflower,to make purses … (this one was a birthday gift for Ruth who has been very kind to me since I admired her trousers for not being beige walking trousers when she came in to the gallery one day. She runs this guest house which you might want to stay in if you visit Keswick)
Now it’s time to have a last cup of tea before bed and make sure the place looks tidy and loved because the landlord is coming round in the morning to discuss the howling gales that blow up your trouser legs in the kitchen… I need to be in the right frame of mind and not the angry defensive bundle of resentment I have become due to my last landlord’s jackboot tactics. I will leave you with this view of Borrowdale, lying on my tummy on a flat rock in the sun…well away from the edge, higher than a helicopter and amazed by the ridiculous beauty of it all.
READING: The Slow Mountain Company Blog which is pretty wonderful and “Flora Britanica” by Richard Mabey
LISTENING TO: “No Light , No Light” Florence and the Machine