Tag Archives: Snilesworth

Living with Trees



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


A year can fly…

Derwent water after the floods

This past weekend marked a year since the first night in our new home in Newlands Valley; the anniversary has so many emotions attached to it that it was a roller coaster of feelings and memories . The snow had given way to warm rain and greyness so Sunday’s walk was along the shores of Derwent Water, where this storm damaged jetty appealed to my introspective mood… a metaphor for life with its wild ups and downs, rakish camber and, well … the obvious question where is it heading and where do you go when you reach the end? I lay awake for hours the other night with so much I wanted to say about this year and how I got here but the rapid approach of BCTF and the fact that for the moment this blog serves as my website, not just a confessional, means I’m more aware than ever of the need to keep a stiff upper lip, appear positive and not get on my soap box too often. However, just for today let me remind you of what I had to leave behind…

Moorside House Snilesworth Moor in happier times - owned by the evil Hortons of Snilesworth Lodge

…not just a house but a home, a garden, a history, a way of life, family, friends and belonging to a landscape. Congratulations to all those involved for living with your consciences for a year and especially Mr Toby Horton who is currently adding to his community spirited portfolio by failing to supply residents of Ingleby Greenhow with reliable running water from the private water supply he owns; some things never change.

And so the only thing to do is keep on looking forwards, treating others with the kindness and compassion you’d hope for yourself and trying to negotiate the slippery pier without falling in too soon.

House drawing by Kim Tillyer

Last week I received the not unexpected news that the gallery in Keswick were having to make staff cuts following the floods,  and so my year in the Lake District ends as it began, with a search for work and security whilst also throwing myself more wholeheartedly than ever into a more professional approach to my artwork. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Northern Lights Gallery and I’m so sad it’s had to end, not to mention a little worried. I think it is important that people realise just how seriously affected many people have been, and will continue to be, by the floods, not just businesses that actually flooded but also those who are suffering from the road closures and drop in visitor numbers. It’s an ongoing thing and sadly so many small galleries and creative businesses  in particular seem to have been hit over the important Christmas period. Independent galleries are vital in supporting many other small businesses, providing a shop window for all those artists and makers slaving away in leaky studios and cluttered kitchen tables; they also make our towns more attractive and uplifting. So here is my appeal… if you can, please support small galleries and independent businesses, don’t go in and ask for the artist’s website address so you can try and get it cheaper, don’t pick up a greetings card to jot down a name and then walk out without even having the grace to part with the £3 for the card ( it happens ) and if you have a moment have a look at this from Snug Gallery in Hebbden Bridge.

Magic tent by Kim Tilyer vases by Kim Tillyer

Well, the kettle on the stove is about to boil so I really need to be brave, make a pot of tea and make a start on cobbling together my stand design; it will involve cutting and measuring and is bound to end in tears which is why I’ve spent all day avoiding it!

Oh my goodness! I nearly deleted this whole post by accident just then, what a fright. Just time to say THANK YOU yet again for reading, commenting and being generally lovely. To celebrate my first year in the Lake District I’m going to do a long overdue giveaway. If you’d like to be entered in the draw to win a pair of  mugs, embroidered lavender sachet, bear pincushion and various other design samples,  just leave a comment – and share this post on Facebook or Twitter if you can. I’ll pick a winner on February 6th… the last day I spent in North Yorkshire and my parent’s wedding anniversary. Good luck x

witchmountain anniversary giveaway

Listening to:  Kaleidophonica by Spiro ( perfect soundtrack for driving around the mountains )

Lost in the Fog with Monsters

Needle felted polar bear

A bear with a jar full of stars, a valley full of chiffon mist, celestial blue skies; if only life could always be filled with such magic and beauty. I feet like retreating into my inner land of make believe this week and potentially that may be the safest place.

Mist in the Lake District

It’s been the most unbelievably atmospheric Autumn here in the Lake District so far. Clouds and mists rise and fall, flowing down the valleys and draping themselves over the tops like gossamer bridal veils – forgive the flowery language but you can see why all those poets got carried away with it around here. Sunday’s walk was a perfect example … beginning in sun dappled forests smelling of pine and mushrooms and earth (Shinrin-yoku), enduring a slog up a boggy hillside in thick fog (navigation practice, hmmm) to emerge on an eerily lit summit where an almost biblical revelation occurred as the mist slid away in stages to reveal layer upon layer of heartbreakingly gorgeous landscape.

Towards Causey Pike in the mist

I hear it’s been like that above a certain height all week but for one reason or another I have been unable to reach up to the sunlight through the fog.

Skiddaw in the mist

I had been due to start my new job at the Museum yesterday. As I said in my last post it had meant that at last I would be earning enough to justify my existence on the planet but not only that; I was hoping it would mean meeting more people over here, drawing me out of what has become an increasingly hermit like existence. I also really liked the Museum. I got an email on Saturday asking me to “pop in on Monday for a chat”.

mug designs by Kim Tillyer

I had been offered the job on the merit of my interview and the carefully prepared presentation on ” The Benefits of Working with Volunteers”, the gallery in Keswick provided a good reference and I had all the dates on the calendar and my shoes polished for day one. Only I did a stupid thing. I trusted in honesty and good intentions.

mug designs by Kim Tillyer

I’d given Joe Cornish ( the photographer not the comedian ) as a referee, believing in my naivety that, despite all the difficulties in the cafe towards the end of my time there, I’d loved my work organising the creative workshops and that I had done a good job, been a dedicated and effective member of staff and that Joe himself was a man of integrity and an artistic soul (as his website claims). I was very wrong. Joe was too busy packing for a trip to write anything so his partner suggested they ask the gallery. Joni (who had cried when I left and apologised for her mismanagement of the situation) wrote a reference that made me sound like a lovable village idiot who could just about make a cappuccino but was unlikely to manage anything too taxing involving any “attention to detail”, numeracy, organisation or reliability… and thus I was sent away humiliated and shell shocked, the job offer withdrawn. I am indeed an idiot, I expect people to act fairly and compassionately and they don’t. The past is a hole thinly covered with branches on a sunlit path and inside the hole there are spikes and mud and monsters.

I also found out that Joe is again running his exclusive residential workshops from the lovely North York Moors surroundings of ….wait for it…. Snilesworth Lodge, shooting estate and home of the delightful and kind Toby Horton, UKIP landowner. I felt like I’d been beaten up.

mug designs by Kim Tillyer

I’ve moaned at you and it’s a massive turn off but sometimes things need saying and the cat wasn’t really being very responsive. In other news I’ve been printing mugs and lurking about in my pyjamas in next door’s porch trying to photograph them ( the mugs not the pyjamas) in the morning light, I’ve been listening to Elbow and trying to play my mandolin and getting trapped in corners by spitting alpacas… not all at the same time though. I won’t always be moaning so please come back soon, thank you for listening. x

Reading :-“Nature Cure” – Richard Mabey  Listening To:- Real Life (Angel) –  Elbow



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

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.