Tag Archives: Creativity

Making a Scene

The cat and I have curled up in my little room under the orange, woollen blanket to keep warm and think about things. We’re not complaining about the damp and rain because for a while this month it seemed as though we were living in another country, one with endless cerulean blue skies, arid hillsides smelling of coconuty gorse flowers and heady bluebells; things even started to wilt in the shady part of the garden so the rain has been welcome ( for now). I’m not fond of daffodils, May is the month for more subtle and delicate flowers, so I was happy when the acid yellow was replaced by carpets of  bluebells (why didn’t Wordsworth write about them instead?) and now the Hawthorn and Cow Parsley frothing along the hedgerows. As ever my walks are slowed by the need to  sniff May Blossom and discover that it does NOT taste like “bread and cheese” or examine, on hands and knees, like a Hemulen, the  Dog Violets and Heartsease hiding amongst the grass. For the first time I realised that Wild Garlic flowers actually smell of sweet honey unlike their delicious leaves which I’ve been using to make pesto.

It’s been a slow month in some ways ( financial ways of course!) and rather than panic I tried to make myself take the advice from the last blog post and draw more. Draw anything, for no reason other than to be doing something constructive rather than procrastinating. Even though it is the hardest thing to begin an empty page and to mute the negative inner voice that is mumbling “stop it, go and find a real job, you’re not good enough, it’s all been done before…”. Isn’t it sad how we measure our “success” and  relative happiness in monetary terms so that even on a day when I’ve made loads of  ok artwork and baked a good loaf of bread and marvelled at the clouds and the light on the mountains,  I can still feel like the day was a disaster because I didn’t sell anything. Someone asked me this week what I would do if I was suddenly rich and I really couldn’t think of a thing I would want to change – except of course to be secure in my home rather than at the mercy of landlords – so why the discontent?

Anyway, the pages of doodles gave me lots play with in Photoshop and it really was playing, because I discovered I could build little worlds to endlessly rearrange ( using the layers ), like my beloved model farm or dollhouse from childhood, I could design my own indoor garden. Rupert likes to tease me about my love of creating “little scenes” on windowsills… a few found objects and a miniature bear in a doll’s chair perhaps, or glass bottles with tiny flowers. I made some virtual shelves to display my virtual pot plants and then got engrossed in the great excitement of making a moving GIF with Spirit Bear (who is usually a card or a wooden necklace) . I may get completely carried away with this idea now – about 25 years too late to become an animation legend!

The blue prints continue and a story seems to be emerging- although I think Coralie Bickford-Smith already cornered the market on foxes and stars… I haven’t read her beautiful book but I was aware of it so I wonder whether I was unconsciously remembering the link or whether  it was genuinely totally random that I found the star sequin on the floor just as I was setting up the print…

Well it’s nearly time for some more coffee and some more drawing before an evening in Grasmere for Polly Atkin’s poetry book launch. Last weekend we went to a Royal Geographical Society lecture about Indian Shadow Puppets so living in the Lakes is definitely making my social life more cultured, or maybe I’m just growing up…good grief!

If I was good at arguing persuasively  I’d tell you how important it was to vote those mean old Tories out next month but instead I’ll just leave these two pictures here. PR gurus tell us not to mix politics with business and sometimes I worry in case someone is put off buying my work because I’m a bit of a Lefty (I guess this sticker would be earthy brown if I mixed in a hearty dose of Green policy too ) …but I reckon if Rob Ryan is prepared to nail his colours to the mast then it’s better to live fearlessly and keep believing in a better world. The picture below was taken after an evening swim in Rydal Water, where all the sad and cynical people, all the greedy, fighty, selfish people, should be dipped in the crystal water and made to breath in the bluebell air until they see that we only have one world and it’s beautiful and it’s time we stopped pissing about and looked after it- and each other. x

Reading:-  ” Work and Love” Tuula Karjalainen ( About Tove Jansson)  Listening to:- Skylarks and UPDATE! since the evening in Grasmere I’m listening to Jenn Grant who played a lovely live set amongst the Pre School toys and Brownie notices and almost me me cry. http://www.jenngrant.com

Only Numbers

I got a notification yesterday from WordPress congratulating me on NINE years of blogging! Today my writing desk is the bench behind the house where I’m baring my pasty limbs for the first time this year and dazzling the birds with their alabaster hue. Its not peaceful out here, it’s a riot of activity and sensations – blazing sunshine, blustery wind battering the trees and blowing sycamore flowers on to my keyboard, birds seeing who can sing the loudest and the scent of bluebells, sappy green ferns and azaleas.There is a squeaky branch somewhere that sounds like the horn on a clown car and a helicopter circling the fell; I know I’d be more comfortable inside but it’s dark in there and we people of Northern Britain tend to panic that the sun will never shine quite like this again and so across the land pale people are turning rapidly pink ( “like Strawberry Mivi’s”  Rupert likes to say).

Since I last wrote I have become 50. It was all pretty traumatic because I haven’t really accepted adulthood yet and milestone birthdays are an introspective time for everyone aren’t they… am I where I expected/hoped/planned to be in my life, what does the future hold, unhealthy comparisons with others and of course a dose of guilt for good measure because I’m here and others are not. Not for the first time I realised that what miss more than anything is friendship and most vitally the friendship other women who have known me as a young woman as I enter a new phase in my life- our lives. Anyway, some pretty lovely things happened too and once I’d stopped sulking like a baby it all seemed like a fuss over nothing.

My parents had arranged for us to meet them in Morecambe so that we could stay in the Midland Hotel, an amazing Art Deco building that I last saw when it was a derelict ruin in the 90’s (when I went to a WOMAD festival in the town). I thought they were mad. Morcambe is not the Riviera of the North but maybe it should be… the views across the bay to the Mountains were breathtaking and the hotel had been beautifully restored so that it felt like being in an ocean liner. Lying in bed I could only see the sea and sky (and Poirot which we had to watch because an episode was filmed there). A favourite detail was the Eric Gill map mural which is really very special and made me feel very sentimental about the Lake District. We watched a film of the town in it’s heyday and in particular it’s huge open air pool which has since been filled in: it seemed like such an innocent time, before I suppose air travel made holidays abroad more appealing and the idea of sunbathing on the North West coast less so. The legacy of our night at the Midland has been that this song, from the vintage film, has been stuck in our heads to the point of madness… listen at your peril!

Back home it feels as though the year is on fast forward and while I’ve completed all the wholesale orders from BCTF I’ve now got to start working on some new pieces for the exhibitions I’ll be sending work to later in the year as well as Art in the Pen which is in July and August. I bought myself an A3 printer so I can now make some small affordable prints as well as making digital transparencies for my cyanotypes. Lots of fun and experimenting and hopefully some sales to keep the wolf from the door.

This birdhouse design started out as a big A1 size sketch I did of the nest box outside the window. I taped the paper to the glass and forced myself to draw even though I kept having to walk away and drink coffee and have words with myself about motivation and self confidence, I think it shows that despite feeling at the time as though the drawing was rubbish and that I was useless and stuck in a rut, the end result was really satisfying. I know I need to learn from this and the lesson is “draw more and don’t be so mean to yourself”.

Here is the original sketch and my attempts to make a garden …

Well now the sun has moved around the house and the goose pimples are making me look like an anaemic hedgehog so it’s time to go inside and make some coffee… or maybe I just need to go and admire the way the light is filtering through those ferns up the lane…

May is such a beautiful month.

Reading: ” The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick ( a lovely surprise random act of kindness from my friend Leti) and a book about th Midland Hotel.

Alpenglow

hedgehogs by Kim Tillyer

I’m writing this by the stove wearing mittens and several jumpers, facing the big sliding glass doors that replace what would once have been the barn doors to the top floor of a traditional Cumbrian bank barn. The ground rises steeply so that, while the other side of the house looks out on to the tops of trees and it’s like being in a tree house, this view puts me at mole’s-eye-level, watching the birds hopping about in the fallen leaves above my head. A wren like a fat mouse, two woodpeckers, whose scarlet feathers look pretty flashy for a Northern bird, nuthatches, tree creepers and all the usual bird feeder suspects just busy “being”. Meanwhile, inside, the cat has been precariously and unusually (she’s not cuddly) balanced on my leg, perfecting the art of looking casually relaxed in the most uncomfortable situations whilst I sit and wrestle with the meaning of life, a thousand forms of self inflicted angst and the awful guilt of needing to move my leg.

Winter came a couple of days after I wrote the previous post and I think I’m missing the calming effects of swimming because I decided to hand my notice in at work yesterday after reasoning that life is too short for battles over dusters and it wasn’t fair on either of us. Yet again I have cast myself adrift on a sea of ideology and land looks a long way off!

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Perhaps Rupert has made the link between swimming and my emotions because last night he was reading up on cold water acclimatization and pricing up neoprene gloves and hats… maybe I’d better snap out of my blue mood quickly!  Cold water swimming seems to be one of those things that are in vogue at the moment, a bit like the sudden popularity of the term Hygge. The connections with mental health are fairly well documented; I don’t think it’s surprising that various ideas of “self care” and ways of tuning in to, and finding solace in, the natural world are popular at the moment- a time when the world seems particularly precarious and ideological divisions are widening.

Cards by Kim Tillyer

Here in this corner of the Cumbrian mountains the snow came like a gift to a million Instagrammers. Experienced mountain types dashed out to enjoy the alpine conditions from the tops while at lake level the rest of us had trouble getting anything done because there was too much lovliness everywhere you looked…dazzling snow with firey autumn leaves, azure skies, frosted rose hips and pink alpenglow evenings.

sunset, Langdale

If you have been reading this blog for more than one winter you will know that snow and winter are a special time for me – despite the constant moaning about cold fingers and trying to feed a ravenous stove. I’m hoping that inspiration will strike as it often does in the long winter nights; time to reflect and reassess is part of the creative process but it often feels self indulgent and it’s easy to feel guilty when you’re not as busy as those birds outside the window.

Last week I had a huge last minute treat which was a place on a “Quirky Workshop” in Greystoke with Emma Redfern. We spent all day being shown how to make messenger bags, being fed and indulging in the luxury of taking time to make something. I used a half finished embroidery project I hastily took with me as well as some pieces of Spoonflower fabric; luckily Emma and my table neighbour Tara were able to let me use some of their lovely fabrics too as I hadn’t had time to get any myself. A guilty pleasure or a vital reminder of the importance of companionship, craft and simple pleasures? I certainly felt inspired and happy that evening and more than ever aware of the dangers of too much solitude and creative isolation.

embroidered messenger bag by Kim Tillyer

Now it’s getting dark outside and the trees are just silhouettes against an elephant grey sky. Time to close the curtains, stoke up the fire and get busy in the real world instead of this virtual one. Thank you for reading x

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Reading: “Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow” Peter Høeg and “What They Didn’t Teach You in in Art School”  Rosalind Davis & Annabel Tilley

Listening To: I’ve been listening to “Carrie’s War” by Nina Bawden on the radio, in the bath, because nothing quite beats warm bubbly water and a story from your childhood to make life seem proper cozy 🙂

Living with Trees

 

Castlerigg

I’ve locked myself into my little room again with a mug of coffee and a Mars bar. Its hard to be in the house at the moment because it’s so dark and cool, shaded almost all day by the huge Sycamores that cut out anything but elusive patches of dappled sunlight and cover everything in sticky damp gloom; they are magnificent trees but I’m starting to look forward to leaf fall! The birds are singing very loudly and it feels as though Im in the tree with them. It seems as though it has been a wonderfully long summer – so many after work adventures that the days felt twice as long but still it’s hard to “waste” a day indoors when I can see the patches of blue sky through the leaves and I know it’s a perfect September day.

work in progress, ghost pony cyanotype

September brings with it memories of the last days of peace and security in my old life, of planting Autumn vegetables and planning for the next gardening year in my little cottage on the moors. I still wake in the middle of the night and wonder where I am; who I am even, not used to living under huge, noisy trees, just the big skies of the North York Moors. A couple of weeks ago I had another terrible shock when I found out that both the ponies we’d had to give away during the eviction were dead. Sadly the person who I’d trusted to give them a home, keeping them together, hadn’t felt the need to tell me that she was having problems so that when Basil apparently “died in his sleep” she had Impy destroyed, claiming he was aggressive and dangerous. I think I will never know what really happened, she wouldn’t give me more details and claimed she thought I wouldn’t care. I’m sure she had her reasons but to me it was another slap in the face from the past, un-necessary and un-feeling. Impy was a part of our lives since he was a foal… a cheeky little bugger but never mean. I hate injustice, he was wrongly convicted and  I find it so hard to accept (I’m fairly nervous about the Archers tonight too, I think  I might need therapy if Helen Archer is found guilty!) Anyway, rest in peace little ponies; I’m trying to draw them but a childhood of drawing nothing but ponies is letting me down just now… I can’t capture the essence of pony!

Snilesworth memories

I’ve also been trying to capture the essence of Lake District Cottage but receiving some mixed reactions. This design is now a book, card, mug and a vase, available in my Etsy shop and I’d love to know what you think.

Lake District Cottage

It was good to be able to re-open my shop at last; it had taken Etsy months to fix a glitch that repeatedly changed the spelling of Keswick to Koswick which may seem like a small issue but I have enough problems with spelling and punctuation without looking like I can’t spell the name of the place I live! I’m really hoping to make a go of Etsy this time as however much I love my wonderful stockists, especially those that buy upfront and help promote my work, the nature and volume of handmade work means it’s often vital for most artists to sell directly to the customer as well (especially if you happen to live half way up a mountain). Having worked in galleries and seen both sides I know that it is so important for artists and galleries to work together and have mutual respect… artists need real bricks and mortar shop fronts as well as virtual ones and galleries need to understand that artists aren’t all dizzy, insecure divas which is why I love the #JustACard campaign as it attempts to support all parties and spread the word about the importance of keeping these small, often rural, businesses thriving. I’m really proud of the cards I design and sell… one of the main reasons for this is that I have chosen to have them printed by another small, rural business so every sale I make is also in a small way supporting another creative business in the area. Emma and her family have been so supportive and are as committed as I am to trying to keep things as eco-friendly as possible; if you haven’t seen their website yet you are missing out, go right now and look…oh no, read to the end of the page first and then go (and look out for the card with me and my dad painting in the garden!)

handmade book

Well, there is still time for me to take a quick wander up the valley before getting back to work so I will leave you with this image of Rupert half way up a rock face. He is away this weekend which is why I’m eating chocolate and writing instead of attempting to be brave whilst tied to a tree on an ant infested rock (not as kinky as it sounds). Last week we walked up fells with only deer and sheep for company, swam in inky smooth, sunset tinted lakes and climbed giant rocks where fear could be momentarily calmed by the sight of a perfect, delicate, fairy toadstool clinging to a mossy ledge (and I am still recovering from the midge bites that turned me hot, red and angry even before the Labour Party rejected my application to join… but thats another story) and it feels as though we live in the most special place despite everything. I keep thinking about the title of a book by artist Sabrina Ward Harrison– “Brave on the Rocks- if you don’t go, you don’t see” and just keeping going because turning around and trying to go back is often much, much harder.

climbing on Castle Rock

READING: “The Outrun” by Amy Liptrot   LISTENING TO: “Meet the Humans” Steve Mason

“September’s coming soon, pining for the moon…”

Towaards Blencathra and Skiddaw

“Nourish yourself with grand and austere ideas of beauty that feed the soul… Seek solitude,”  Delacroix.                                                                                          I’ve been wondering what exactly is keeping me from writing more frequently….or making new work for that matter and I can only assume it must be that I now have company in my rural idyll. Solitude is important to many creative people and even though I still have loads of time to myself, only work part time in the day job and have my own small space to retreat to, the balance has shifted now that Rupert is also living and working here. I’m spending less time wandering lonely as a cloud and more time going on mini adventures together after work; more importantly for the writing of this blog, I’m not sitting up all night drinking shed loads of coffee alone with the radio (actually its never been the same since Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour got moved to daytime; I blame the BBC). I must find a new routine and the discipline to go with it because the reality of  living in a draughty barn is that it’s much nicer when there’s company.

rainbow over Crummock Water

Daily routine and self motivation when you’re self employed is a subject that fascinates me because to the outside world it can look like you’re doing nothing and achieving even less… the idea of “working from home” often being a euphemism for laziness or sitting around in your pyjamas. I enjoyed the series of essays in the Guardian called “My Writing Day” which gave an insight into how successful writers actually get stuff done. In contrast my writing “day” means I uploaded the pictures for this post last week, started writing it, got distracted, had to go to work, had house guests and now a week later I have spent most of today looking at the rain, sorting old clothes for the charity shop, half starting an order for a gallery and suddenly deciding to spring clean the bathroom while my computer sits forlorn and resentful next to a pile of neatly cut out prints and calico squares for covering notebooks ( I am dressed though). I assume I’m not alone in behaving like this but it’s hard to tell when you’re halfway up a mountain and only have social media to compare notes with.

Home in the Woods Kim Tillyer

The summer seems to be flying by and some of the exhibitions I’ve been showing work in are almost over before I’ve had a chance to tell you about them. Despite all that  I lost when I was forced to move I have to admit that this year has opened up so many opportunities for me. Until early September you can find these two pieces (and more) in the Byard Gallery, opposite Kings College in Cambridge!  (when I was small I once accompanied my dad on a day trip to Cambridge where he was showing work at the Hobson Gallery; I remember telling him I planned to go to Cambridge, meaning the University of course but this almost makes up for my turning out to be more of a drop out than a high flyer!). There are also prints and jewellery in the Leeds Craft and Design Centre, cards and notebooks in the Leaping Hare Gallery, Easingwold and of course Cherrydidi in Keswick who have a small selection of eveything.

Lakeland Garden Kim Tillyer

A couple of weeks ago I ran my second cyanotype workshop at the Greystoke Cycle Cafe. I have to admit I was dreading it as the forecast was for horrible weather and the forecast was right, it was dark and wet. In the end though, and looking back, I really enjoyed it- and so did they I hope. We managed to make loads of really lovely prints even in low light and with only a very small exposure unit between eight people; braving the weather to rinse prints under a gazebo with a hosepipe. Sometimes it feels a bit mad to be telling people how you make your work but it’s been so satisfying to have students get in touch with images of things they’ve made since the course and know that they were inspired and excited by what they learnt. One of my students was an artist called Tracey Escolme who makes paper cuts, she is part of next month’s C-Art if you are in Cumbria during September. A few people have asked if I’m doing any more courses and I’m hoping Annie will ask me back next summer; I’m also thinking about maybe doing some small half days here (mostly as an excuse to make coffee and cake) so do get in touch if you’d like to be added to a possible list of participants.

witchmountain window

Have you noticed how I’ve been really good and not mentioned swimming? Well I have to just a little because I was pretty brave the other day and swam with Rupert to a little island on Derwent Water called Otterbield Island. Its not far and I won’t be qualifying for the Olympics but it was a small breakthrough in distance and conquering fear- the vertigo of swimming in bottomless dark water. I felt a bit tired and slightly panicky at one point and had to rest on my tow float (I got it for this reason because it allows me a moment to pause and have a word with myself as well as making sure the launch doesn’t run us down) but the water was mirror smooth and the evening was perfect, sunset and moonrise and “Nightswimming” by REM in my head. I also had a fun swim in the River Avon at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, with my daughter recently… very different to Lake swimming and one of the best days I’ve had for ages.; a miniature holiday that felt very special.

Wistful in the mountains!

Anyway, the day today is not conducive to swimming today and it’s almost time for tea so I’m going to do a spot of baking and build some extra layers of insulating blubber for my next outing! Here is a rare self portrait of me pondering solitude and creativity by the water a few weeks ago.

Reading:- “The Gap of Time” Jeanette Winterson  Listening To:- Nightswimming REM

“Just put your feet down child, the water is only waist high, I’ll let go of you gently, then you can swim to me.”

kitchen studio

I made myself a nest of velvet pillows, a strong coffee and promised I’d write while it rains the now customary July deluge outside. I think it’s probably been the longest gap in my blog posts since I began 8 years ago but at least this gap has been a relatively good one and not caused by rotten boyfriends or evil landowners.  Since April I have been in a strange place… simultaneously showered with positive comments and opportunities, whilst wracked with a deeper than ever lack of self belief and confidence. No sooner had I returned from British Trade Craft Fair with a book full of contacts and exhibition offers then I panicked and started looking for part time work, any work that was regular REAL work. I think it’s called Imposter Syndrome and it’s very common apparently, especially amongst us over sensitive “arty types”! Anyway, I ended up with a part time job at the Herdy Shop, some regular stockists for my work, some exhibitions and even occasional workshop teaching, so of course I’ve been rushed off my feet and become rich beyond my wildest dreams. That’s a lie, I’ve been pinned to my chair by inertia on the days I don’t work at the shop and bursting with frustrated creative energy on the days that I do; well I’ve always been a fickle creature. On balance though I have to say things have been moving slowly in the right direction since BCTF and really ever since moving to the Lakes. Things have been happening and nothing has stayed the same which is probably why I’m not always comfortable… I’ve been compared to a limpet, hard to shift from the security of my “home scar”.

cyanotype by Kim Tillyer

There is a little house on the side of Cat Bells which looks from a distance as though it is totally isolated and empty; in fact it’s quite hard to see, framed by trees and slate grey like the mountainside (not like this little white cottage of my imagination). I wonder who lives there… more than anything else I imagine myself living there as I do with lots of the idyllic places here in the Lake District. A home, a place to dig and plant and light a stove for bread and coffee. It makes me sad to see empty places and the culture of property as investment, I’m a romantic idealist with no understanding of economics which is probably why I will never own my own home and will always wish I did.

 

Needlefelt sheep by Kim TillyerThe best investment I’ve made this year was made on a muggy day in May when I had been feeling really low and anxious about returning to Osmotherley for Art in the Shed. Rupert was driving us through Ambleside when on an impulse I demanded we stop and look in the outdoor swimming shop and maybe find out about wetsuits. Before I knew what was happening we were stripped off and being politely squeezed into black rubbery suits in the tiny warm shop and trying not to panic (I’ve been trapped in changing rooms before unable to extricate myself from a too tight top so I was wary). Rupert, being shy, left his shirt on which gave the bizarre impression that his wetsuit had a collar and was maybe a little more formal than mine. Anyway, Pete from “Swim the Lakes” was wonderful and patient while we giggled and struggled and we left the shop £300 lighter with two big pizza style boxes containing our shiny new wetsuits and that giddy feeling when you’ve done something a bit naughty.

It was over a week before we finally got to immerse the wetsuits for the first time (Art in the Shed turned out to be a great success and I was reminded -though I never really forget -how important my old friends are to me and that community of supportive women that I miss so much in my new life.) We were cautious, I’m the kind of person who swims at the edge of the pool and still worries that someone may release sharks through the air vents (blame James Bond and several bad swimming instructors in the the 1970s) The moored boats which looked so close suddenly seemed miles away. Swimming in the open air is so different … everything is moving around you, clouds, trees in the wind, ripples on the surface and it feels as though you’re not getting anywhere; only the mountains stand still. The wetsuits give you a strange buoyancy and it took me a while to realise that the best thing to do was relax, slow right down and just enjoy the sensuality of it, I’m doing it for pleasure not sport. Kelly Kettle tea and Digestive biscuits are part of the deal, taking part in triathlons is not.

swimming in Bassenthwaite

Since the first tentative dip I am slowly gaining a little confidence. I’m not particularly fit and I’d like to be before I risk swimming too far but it is the test of mental strength that interests me more. In Loughrigg Tarn the shady bank, warm, silty mud and waving tendrils of water plants initially worried me …what is below me? what if I can’t touch the bottom? What if a swan gets angry? Fear of the unknown, of the dark, of trusting in your own abilities. It’s a kind of vertigo and the only way I can deal with it is to concentrate on what I see above the water… I am surrounded by water lilies, yellow flag irises and reeds with clumps of slimy eggs like frog spawn (water snail? fish?). I am Ophelia in a Pre-Raphaelite painting,  I’m no longer a dumpy middle aged woman in unflattering Neoprene. The water is holding me up and I swim further than before. In Blea Tarn we swam in the rain, mesmerized by the patterns of concentric circles as the raindrops fell. It felt ancient as though something from the ice age could still be lurking and I could feel the stroke of soft weeds on my ankles.  Suddenly Rupert stood up, the water wasn’t as deep as I had thought, the comedy of it lost as he told me the rock we had been aiming for was actually a drowned calf! Still it was exhilarating and somehow all the better for the rain.

infinity pool, Lake District

And so, before you run away because you really didn’t want to read about swimming, here is the reservoir above the house (I’m not sure if you’re allowed to swim really but its our drinking water so…). Icy cold infinity pool and deeper than anything. I have walked past it when the surface was crystallizing to ice before my eyes and it was deep in the shadow of the fells but conquering my fear and swimming across its bottomless depths has been a real achievement for me. The picture below was taken by James from Cumbria House B&B in Keswick. He and Ruth joined us one afternoon for the comedy of “changing into wetsuits in public without revealing your bum”. I was again transformed into a small black pudding while Ruth actually does look like a Pre-Raphaelite painting and is the most lovely person. making me feel welcome when I first came here and knew nobody.

Swimming, picture by Ruth Burgess, Cumbria House B&B

Well, I’ve managed to spend all day pondering over this writing, no wonder I don’t do it very often, it’s time to cook and make more coffee. I promise I will write again soon with an update on exhibitions and stockists and arty things and I (probably) won’t mention water once…

Reading: “Dip” by Andrew Fusek Peters    Listening To:   “The Fog” Kate Bush

Are we there yet?

Crummock  Water from Low Fell

Well on Tuesday I bought a beautiful fountain pen in Cockermouth and I’ve just spent ages uploading all these pictures for you but suddenly I’m lost for words again; I’m drinking tea and looking at that big sky. Im sorry to tell you this, now that it’s the Easter holidays and it’s raining again, but last week was probably the most perfect week ever in the Lake District. Sara and I wore our little legs even shorter with some wonderful adventures… it’s much easier to walk further when you have a companion to share sandwiches with at the top. We discussed the amazing human ability to forget how it felt to be exhausted to pieces once faced with the view from the summit … a bit like childbirth! We also talked about the contrast between Sara’s city life in Bristol and our love of this special landscape; both feeling a little discontented … what is it you miss out on in each place? Could you swap city life for a rural one or vice versa?

the summit of Hindscarth

I loved taking a week away from normal concerns and BCTF panic, to enjoy just being here in the Lake District, feeling lucky despite all the bad luck and upheaval. We climbed three Fells, Hindscarth, Maidenmoor and Low Fell, used my birthday voucher to have a swim and fantastic bone crunching massage at Armathwaite Hall (where we also spotted the Alpacaly alpacas  doing rolypoly’s under the trees)  and cycled to Keswick on unsuitable bicycles to do the shopping (so much more stylish to cycle in the sunshine with a dress on and an aubergine in your basket than to charge around in lycra with serious intent).

colourofspring copyAnd now it’s back to work with less than three weeks before Harrogate and the trade fair. Luckily the sun left as soon as Sara went back to Bristol and even more luckily I was able to find almost all of the hooks and bits and bobs that I need for my stand when I went to Cockermouth… I’d searched in the giant B&Q in Penrith and various other shops until eventually finding the perfect things in the wonderful JB Banks  .It may seem like an odd recommendation but if you’re ever in the Lakes don’t miss this shop; it’s fabulous and has a museum at the back which I keep forgetting to look in.

Spring in Newlands Valley

So Spring has sprung, the air smells good and all is well… ah, apart from the fact that I smashed one of my vases while trying to photograph it today, I have a sore thumb from folding and stapling catalogues, all the printing I did yesterday went wrong and the cat has taken to sleeping up a 7 foot holly tree, perched on a twig like the Cheshire cat (only with a resentful look instead of a grin). I think I’m making her nervous.

preparations for BCTF

The next three weeks are going to be hectic for me and very different as today is also Rupert’s last day working at Carlton Outdoor Education Centre. For the past year he has driven to the North East at the crack of dawn every Monday and pretty much lived in the van all week; but he’s got a new job here now, within cycling distance, so life should be easier for him and I’ll have to become a little less feral and learn to live with people again! (I talk so little during the week that I almost forget how at the weekends and a whole day of talking gives me hiccups so Harrogate should be fun!). Fingers crossed for more days like last week’s to share.

Derwentwater from Maidenmoor

Here I am heading up the valley on a small bicycle with the sun in my eyes. And here is a quote that I think is relevant to the whole BCTF preparation process, because whatever happens I have learnt a lot and after all, thats what we’re here for isn’t it, to learn and experience and breathe in the air? Have a very happy Easter.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

cycling in Newlands Valley

Reading:  Various terms and conditions and a Maigret mystery. Listening to: David Grey “Sell Sell Sell” Watching:- Rare that I watch TV but “The A Word” was filmed right here and it’s pretty good so far.