Tag Archives: Grasmere

Blossom and Ice

The colour is just seeping back in to the day, as the morning snow gives way to more seasonal rain and I’ve settled by the stove to write. Slowly, outside the big window, the delicate prettiness of pink blossom and ice has returned to over saturated green and yellow ( is it a crime to live in the Lake District and not like daffodils? shhh, don’t tell ).  It’s been a day of little tasks, printing order forms and making price labels, sorting out boxes of exhibition “stuff”; the kind of things that make it seem as though I’ve been busy all day but haven’t achieved very much. It was exciting to wake up to snow this morning and the cat was beside herself with joy, skittering about like a kitten, staring wide eyed through the window and asking to go out ( and immediately back in again) at least 20 times. Cat has always loved snow but there seems to be much less of it these days and certainly less than some of the winters  in our old  home. I miss it and the strange excitement and magic it brings. But it’s unseasonal now, and mostly I suppose, unwelcome after all the celebrations of the first day of Spring. Yesterday was so cold I gave in and put the heating on early. I’d spent the morning sharing a chair and a hot water bottle with that cat- neither of us normally so affectionate- until the Archers came on the radio and the sound of hounds sent her clawing herself free to hide under the table.

Some really lovely things have been happening lately. I’m now recognised in Keswick Post Office, or at least the red bear stamp on most of my parcels is, which must mean that sales are getting a bit more regular. This week for the first time since leaving the Herdy shop I earned the same as I would have done had I stayed – a combined income from my own sales and the almost unbelievable treat of a day’s work at Sam Read’s Bookshop in Grasmere. I think you could begin to understand the strangeness of finding myself looking OUT of the bookshop from behind the desk, rather than IN through the postcardy door, if you looked back at previous posts or searched “Grasmere” in the side bar. The happy/sad of being here in the Lakes instead of “home”, the feeling of unreality and uprootedness that comes from building a new life where there are no familiar touchstones, the lack of confidence after various “work” events – sometimes something nice happens out of the blue and you find yourself looking over your shoulder to check for Fairy Godmothers. Anyway, it was a fun day and I’m very grateful to Will for thinking I might be able to help out… especially as we only really know each other through Twitter and there was that time I was in the shop and mentioned the possibility of assassinating him so I could steal his job (social anxiety can make you say the dumbest things).

Well, I’m sure all work can become mundane (and I’ve always resisted applying for jobs in places I really love in case familiarity breeds contempt) but it was so nice to have interesting conversations and learn new things and it seemed auspicious that as I drove over Dunmail Raise, before the signal gave out, someone was reading Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” on the radio.

Back on Witchmountain with less than two weeks until Harrogate I’m busily doing last minute preparations for the show as well as trying to learn how to use my new camera… an early birthday present to myself because I’m suppose to try and take proper product photographs. The wooden jewellery has been really popular and I can’t wait to get some more designs made. The special “design sample” price ends this weekend but I’m sure will still want them at the real RRP. which properly reflects the costs. How I wish I was a hardened business woman with no qualms about pricing, instead of a bit of a hippy idealist with a basic mistrust of Capitalism! Yesterday I listened to a radio programme that talked about spending and “peak stuff” and found that I agreed so much with the philosophy that we all have too much “stuff” and that we buy too much, waste too much. How can I reconcile this with trying to sell my own stuff?! I wanted to call the programme and say that maybe if people chose to buy more from smaller independent businesses, to choose for love rather than being on the “upgrade” treadmill – could that work? Perhaps I need to look for a good book on economics and philosophy…

The hungry stove is asking for another log, the radio’s brought unwelcome news from London and Rupert has just got back from a chilly day at work in the mines across the valley (as an outdoor educator not a miner) so it’s time for tea. Apparently the sun will reappear later this week and the brief brake on Spring will be released.


Reading:- “Basic Nest Architecture” Polly Atkin ( from Grasmere – poems that have kept me awake at night searching the internet for Moon pianos and memories of home) and “Swell, A Waterbiography” Jenny Landreth ( to be published on May 4th )

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“Water is another matter, has no direction but its own bright grace…”

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Last weekend suddenly had nothing in it after plans changed at the last minute and for the first time in ages we had time to spend together, maybe even to go away. The outrageously unseasonal weather had been set fair for days and days and I’d met all my deadlines, delivering and collecting work at various galleries ( I made it to Lancaster despite Google maps directing me via Iceland); everything seemed perfect… yet I woke up on Saturday morning with the weight of the world on my shoulders. Sometimes it really feels as though these attacks of gloom and depression come from nowhere, that they’re somehow imagined or self inflicted, certainly not justified but there’s no doubt that the feeling of heaviness and inertia is real. It took a huge effort to get out of the house and into the van, I felt like a winkle being prised out of its shell and yet, as a pile of different books will tell you, nothing is better for a heavy heart than a good dose of the outdoors- if only you can get yourself out there. When I look at the picture above (of Coniston in October, not Lake Garda in August!) I get a tiny flashback to the utter bliss of being there and the way the water was so clear you almost wanted to breath it, autumn leaves and acorns bobbing about on the surface and the sun’s warmth on my face. Hydrotherapy.

“Everything on the earth bristled, the bramble
pricked and the green thread
nibbled away, the petal fell, falling
until the only flower was the falling itself.
Water is another matter,
has no direction but its own bright grace,
runs through all imaginable colors,
takes limpid lessons
from stone,
and in those functionings plays out
the unrealized ambitions of the foam. ” – Pablo Neruda

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I have almost finished reading Amy Liptrot’s “The Outrun” which talks about overcoming addiction, partly by moving back to her childhood home on Orkney,  and her descriptions of swimming as well as the chapter about her online life really felt familiar. I was sad to be reaching the end of a good read but excited that this coincided with Bookshop Day and an excuse to visit one of my favourite bookshops Sam Read’s in Grasmere. We had an indulgent morning treating ourselves to new books, drinking coffee and eating delicious creamy gingerbread from Lucia’s and visiting Allan Bank to try and see squirrels. I’ve been to Allan Bank with various friends and family about 6 times this year and its always good to sit in the art room and do a quick sketch of the view through the window.

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Its such a wonderful place to just sit and be. I really should make a habit of going regularly with a sketchbook because its sometimes much easier to be motivated when you’re out of your cozy rut and the light is coming from a different angle. Also there are squirrels.

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By the end of the day we we had visited all my favourite places and clambered up some grippy,(mostly) friendly rocks to the top of a hill (whose name I’ve forgotten, sorry) with views for miles. I was a new person, trotting along in the fading light, back to the van to light the Kelly Kettle and eat cup-a-soup with peanut butter sandwiches before snuggling up to watch “Bake Off” while acorns ( I hope) thudded on the roof making us jump. I have heard that elsewhere in the world there was music and dancing, bright lights and fancy shoes but for once it just felt good to be tired for a reason and having a real holiday just 20 or 30 miles from home.

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Finally, as this week see’s the opening of Arteria’s “Hygge” exhibition, I’m reading a book about the concept by Louisa Thompsen Brits which states that “Hygge is a feeling of belonging and warmth, a moment of comfort and contentment” and also  mentions the importance of “Shelter” … this is the idea I have tried to express in some of my work …or at least it is what I feel and yearn for in my own life. Part of the sadness that overwhelmed me on Saturday morning was the recent news from Haiti and around the world, of displaced people and divisive political rhetoric. I want to help but feel powerless. Back in 2010 I wrote this post about a fundraiser called “Hearts for Haiti” and I’m wondering about doing something similar… but for now here is a link to Shelterbox who I think offer really practical help, quickly, in disaster areas and places of conflict.

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Reading: “The Book of Hygge” by Louisa Thompsen Brits and “The Sunlight Pilgrims” by Jenni Fagan