Tag Archives: walking

“Here’s to the ones that dream…”

winter view from Brantwood

Here I am, finally sitting down to write my first blog post of 2017 almost a month late and on the day when everyone will probably be too busy planning their Trump Armageddon survival strategy to bother reading about what I’ve been up too. Thinking back to how excited and optimistic I felt when Obama was elected I got nostalgic and read lots of old posts  which in turn reminded me what a really, really long time I’ve been doing this blogging thing and how it has been a constant throughout all the ups and downs of the past NINE years. I’ve made friends (and a few bizarre enemies), sold work, shared things I love,  tested ideas and got on my soap box plenty of times. So, I’m belatedly raising a glass (well a mug of coffee) to 2017 and all the creative adventures it might hold … but also hoping that somewhere there’s some hippy love magic, thats been lying dormant in the world since 1967, strong enough to overpower the hate and division that feels so evident at the moment (well there has to be something good about turning 50 this year! 50!)

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My excuses for not writing sooner are mostly to do with the Great MacBook Disaster which happened just before New Year’s Eve as I snuggled up with my daughter to watch Jonathan Creek. She’d been working all through Christmas (getting hilariously bad, uncalled for Trip Advisor reviews for not being smiley enough whilst serving rude people their food on Christmas Day) so this was our little treat…only the screen went all psychedelic before going blue and that was the end of “The Kneewarmer” as I fondly called it. All my important things were -and still are – trapped inside it so I felt incredibly stressed until I decided to bite the bull on the horns and take the bullet which meant parting with £1,000 just days after leaving my job and driving back from Workington clutching a small cardboard box, feeling slightly sick. Anyway, as it turns out it was sort of a good thing, a new start, like opening a fresh sketchbook or tidying the cutlery drawer. I feel more organised and much less precious about some of those important things. Nothing else works…the sewing machine foot pedal melted to my sock this afternoon, my Wacom pen tablet is incompatible with the new Mac, the cutlery drawer keeps getting jammed and my phone is becoming obsolete but for now everything is lovely in the computer world…even that weird New Apple smell that is a little bit like curry.

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I’m looking forward to being able to make some more interesting repeat designs for fabric prints now that I can in theory run a more up to date version of Photoshop. In theory because it costs real money and so far the free trial has made me realise I have a lot of learning to catch up on. I felt a bit angry with myself for not keeping up with all the changes and continuing to learn ( especially Illustrator which I’ve always wanted to use more but found quite annoying).

I didn’t really make any resolutions but I have decided to be a lot more committed to trying to make Etsy and online selling work for me; it has to.  I got some good tips from a friend of Sara’s who came to stay, and the initial results have been quite promising. Even after all these years I’m still not sure how to really crack that system and constantly slide into doubts about my work…if so many people like it why hasn’t it sold? I think the reality might be that I’m uncomfortable about money and placing a cash value on something that is essentially – me. I know I’m not the only one to feel this way about their creative work. (Except by the way there is a 20%discount code in my Etsy shop until the 31st … SNOWDROPS)

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While Sara and Sophie were here we went to see La La Land, each with our own traumas and trigger points, three Art School graduates, one a little more crinkley and weather beaten, two newly single, all holding it together quite well in the circumstances! The bit that got to me was the sentiment behind these lyrics :-  “Here’s to the ones that dream, foolish as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that ache, here’s to the mess we make”. Whatever you think of the film, the thing I took from it was that maybe the world needs the people who have a dream to follow and don’t fit into the boxes expected of them.

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Oh dear, if you’ve read this far then you’re wonderful because it’s been a bit self indulgent, sorry. I think the start of the year (and the approach of a milestone) does lead to introspection and re-assesment but out walking today I wanted to write about other things. The mist cleared in the afternoon and when the sewing machine melted I took myself up the valley, plodding like an aged donkey, to look at the black water  where we swam in in the summer, avoiding the bleaching bones of a long dead sheep. I dipped my hands in the water and tried to imagine jumping in today. Coming back down I was full of energy, bouncing along like a furry fell pony, enjoying the splash of boots through wet peat and loose stone paths running with water. Blencathra summit was floating like an island in the sky, separated from its truncated lower slopes by pastel clouds (or clods as my keyboard would prefer). Can you see it?

And then a smell you could bottle and I’d buy the whole batch …something like wet earth and dead bracken mixed with woodsmoke and moorland sedges, causing a sudden jolt of remembering, a physical reaction to the places in the past; bittersweet.

Newlands Valley

Time to feed the fire and brew more coffee. I’m adding a new bit to the end of these posts; as well as books and music, the website of a maker/ artist/ inspirational person who I admire for various reasons. That’s why we’re here isn’t it…the internet should be about sharing the love. Happy New Year x

Reading:- Winter re-reading of all the Moomin books  Listening to:- City of Stars from La La Land  Shop/Web/Link:– A good friend from college who is always helpful, funny, strong and brave especially at the moment. She’s also cracked the Etsyy thing so is pretty inspirational.  Nutmeg and Arlo

 

 

 

 

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.

Owls, Elusive Muses and Velvet Magpies

summit of Low Fell

I got side tracked and didn’t write last week so now I’m all out of sorts, with the rambling left overs of what I had planned to say floating just out of reach. Failing to write a few words once a week has made me even more impressed by my good friend Susie’s wonderful blog which she has been writing every day for nearly a year; it’s called “Why Today is Brilliant” and must take ages to research let alone write! As for me, I have been thinking a lot about how the creative urge can be captured, tamed and made to keep more sociable hours. I’ve had several interesting discussions lately about sleeping patterns and daily routines. It seems that many of the most creative people I know keep very strange hours and also struggle with periods of frustrating inertia when inspiration and motivation refuse to co-operate.To completely contradict myself, the most amazingly inspirational artist I know keeps very regular hours and has pretty much painted 9-5, 5 days a week, for the past 60 odd years, so it could just be that I lack gumption and good self discipline. Either way, I often find myself at my most productive late at night which, according to my brother would have made me a rubbish cave man.

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These are the kind of things I muse on as I wander about lost in thought; often planning out a whole blog post in my head only to lose the thread before I can trap it. Last week I could have written pages on the overcoming of fear (I’d climbed up the scary rocks on Robinson alone and without my magic “sticky” trainers, celebrating with hot Ribena and feeling as intrepid as anything), I imagined a whole piece on the sensory delights of walking slowly, mindfully I suppose… the sounds of boots in sucking mud, half frozen grass crackling, metallic ringing of rock and shale, a thousand different water sounds, the smell of approaching rain ( do Cumbrians have 50 words for rain like the Inuits do for snow..?) .

Anyway, that was last week; this week I slept like a bear, had no energy to walk except for my weekly volunteering at Calvert Trust and couldn’t be roused before 10 – but I feel like I’m getting somewhere in the evenings. Listening to Pilgrim on BBCiPlayer I’ve been cobbling my stand design together for BCTF and embroidering notebooks, making velvet cushions, trying to work out how to display things and putting together a trade catalogue.

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At times it feels ridiculous and self indulgent; the annoying devil on my shoulder ( sitting on the big pile of chips) keeps muttering about “real jobs”, bills and pension plans but today I collected some card samples from Temporary Measure and I have to say they looked great, really professional and even I have to concede that I’m my own worst enemy. If only self confidence shouted as loudly as that little devil!

card samples

So there you go; despite a week in which I’ve felt incredibly lazy and unproductive because I got up late and didn’t walk miles everyday, I’ve actually achieved quite a lot and this is the point… not everyone is a morning lark, not everyone fits in to the neat slots expected by the modern world and being an owl is nothing to be ashamed of so long as things get done. Which are you an owl or a lark?

velvet cushion

Reading: Last weekend’s newspapers and a knitting pattern. Listening to: Pilgrim, a radio drama by Sebastian Baczkiewicz

 

 

 

 

Enchanter’s Nightshade and Sycamore Shadows.

a view from Wandope, Lake District

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.

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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.  The Garden Tower,cyanotype  Kim Tillyer

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? IMG_3122

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)  mountain girl caed and purse

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.

Borrowdale from Eagle Crag

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

Wool, Wandering and Wildlife

Newlands, towards Robinson

This week I’ve been doing a lot of wandering and thinking and wishing I was a landscape painter. Yesterday, I realised that I’ve probably never spent such long periods of time alone and I have to be very careful not to get too used to it. I could easily become a bearded hermit, muttering at passing hikers ( and sheep), especially now that my dear friends are so far away (we had pledged to keep each other’s old lady whiskers and grey roots in check as we dash towards decrepitude). It is a strange contradiction that finds me sometimes pining for the days of dancing in a crowd of smokey, loved up strangers; with thumping bass and ecstatic breaks still ringing in my ears as the sun comes up…. whilst at the same time finding peace and contentment by total immersion in an empty landscape with only birdsong to dance to.

Herdwick sheep on Robinson

I met this friendly soul yesterday as I paused for breath, she seemed to think I needed to work on my fitness but was happy to chat for a while and pose at a jaunty angle to the rock face. In the evenings I’ve been doing a bit more needle felting and by accident this bear emerged, looking so terribly sad and serious that I had to give him a beaded necklace to cheer him up. I’m hoping to visit an exhibition of Herdwick Sheep photography before it ends next month and also The Wool Clip for more woolly inspiration.

Needlefelted Brown Bear Kim Tillyer

Meanwhile, as well as sitting about like a contemplative hermit I’ve also been having wildly exhausting weekends when Rupert comes home. Last weekend we went to Seascale where an old school friend I hadn’t seen for nearly 30 years had told me about a Beach Clean event she was organising. I’d never been to the Cumbrian coast except when cycling for Greenpeace as a protest against the nuclear power station at Sellafield in the 80s! It was actually really beautiful…. except for the rubbish. Why do we do this to our precious planet? These pictures show the more savoury debris but stuff like this, known as “ghost gear” can cause all sorts of problems for wildlife, while what we thought were lolly sticks turned out to be ear-bud sticks (eugh) that silly people had flushed instead of binning ( I won’t go on but you can imagine) .

Seascale Beach Clean

I took some pictures and collected a few pieces to help Sara with her final project at university. Her illustration work is based on the pollution of the oceans and plastics in particular, how it affects marine life and even enters the food chain.

Drawing by Sara Tillyer Smith

I’m really looking forward to seeing her exhibition in London’s Truman Brewery later this year , but first the group need to raise some money to pay for it so here is a link if you have some spare pennies:-   Degree Show Fundraising

Seascale Beach Clean

Oh there is so much to tell you ; there’s a woodpecker outside on the sycamore stump, the hens are laying like mad, I saw a red squirrel yesterday ( bright red in a field of purple crocuses), all my post including my bank card has gone to an empty holiday cottage miles away… and so much more good and bad. But for once it isn’t raining so I promised I would walk and try to draw (my lovely friend Jane sent a miniature sketching kit including woolly mittens so I just need to make a flask of something). So I will leave you with this picture from Saturday (after the beach) which is Great Gable from Yewbarrow (Yewbarrow is one of those walks that makes your arms ache too as both ends are protected by steep rocky crags that needed scaling and scared the s*** out of me!)

Great Gable from Yewbarrow

“Lift me Higher”

Today, while the chickens sunbathed outside the window, I recovered from the weekend by drawing kodatrace designs with Lindsey. We drank coffee, ate sponge fingers and tried to whistle the national anthem while laughing. I can’t wait to do some printing and I do need to plan my time well as you only get 3 hours; my usual scatter gun approach will have to be tamed ; especially as I really can’t waste any fabric ( not at £22 a meter!). Once printed I will be able to add embroidery, hopefully while lying on a chaise longue in the garden, under a parasol.

The critical phrase in that last paragraph was ” recovered from the weekend”…once that would have meant in a darkened room with a bucket of painkillers and a lavender compress; not any more my friends …

No, I love dark sweaty clubs, thumping bass,unsuitable footwear and all the vices that go with them but I have to admit you can’t beat looking out at the world from the top of a very tall hill to lift you higher…as it were. The heat of my MacBook is soothing my tired legs and I have absolutely no guilt about the chocolate bar I’m about to eat when I finish writing.Just somebody please smack me if I ever buy a pair of beige “ladies walking trousers” .

Yesterday’s adventure was truly beautiful, once the evil uphill bit had ended and I could breath again. The ridge from Hopegill Head to Whiteside was lovely, despite the snow which fell from a clear sky and seemed to float upwards in a most dizzying way. On the way down ( known as the descent to fell walking types with beige trousers… ) I bounced over hummocks of springy moss and felt as though I could walk for ever.We cooled our feet in the icy beck with banks full of tiny violets (only visible to people who were starting to want to lie down)  and within moments of getting back in the car I was nearly asleep; so much for walking forever.

I have yet to spot a red squirrel but I did see and hear a wild raven for the first time, initially assuming it was Rupert making rude noises! I had only ever seen those at the Tower of London; poor city birds who must stay confined or, it is said, the Tower will fall.

Huge and enormously grateful and shy THANK YOUs to all the  people who have stopped by lately and been so kind and encouraging. In the spirit of random sharing here are some lovely people and places I’ve discovered recently… Bruce Hardy ( stunning pictures of the Lakes), Maricor/Maricar ( embroidery ), Les Ours d’Uzes ( in French so I’m luckily not able to buy everything on these pages and run about pretending to be in Wuthering Heights. French textiles and fashion …and les Ours means bears doesn’t it?)

Reading “Wild Olives” William Graves

“We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden…” or Life Outside The Window

I woke up this morning and peered with bleary eyes at my phone screen thinking, “that’s funny Millican must have taken a picture from the exact same spot as me” before realising that it WAS my photograph and that they had included several of my Lakeland shots in their lovely blog. I’m very flattered, especially as “Dave the Rucksack” is an essential part of my adventures.

So I leapt out of bed in a good mood; improved further by the glorious frosty sunshine and the prospect of a new commission to begin, as well as more polar bear bags to make. I forced myself to turn my back to the window, like the Lady of Shallot, and get down to work…

Working from home is such a luxury…endless supplies of coffee, the ability to spend much of the day in pyjamas ,or wearing a giraffe-antler hairband, the freedom to shout at, or sing along with, the radio; and of course I am very lucky to live and work where I do- a little piece of heaven.

So, I turned my back on the sunny outdoors…for a while.The entire time I was being watched ,by a pair of accusing eyes, they told me to make the most of the beautiful day, sewing can wait until dark and ,more to the point, the lonely chicken and enormous cat were going to eat each other if I didn’t provide something else.

So, there is a downside to working from home, the fact that it is almost impossible to concentrate for long periods of time without getting distracted by the washing up, the stove refusing to light, the conversations on Facebook and ultimately the view through the window of a hill that needs climbing.I laced up my boots and raced to the top of Hawnby Hill ; do you blame me?

It really is time to get on with things now ,so I will leave you with a little bragging about my baby brother. York sent me a copy, yesterday, of the new Delux Edition of Peter Gabriel’s “New Blood” which he took all the pictures for.I’ve really enjoyed listening to it today ( and showing off to anyone who’ll look/listen!) .

Oh, I also had a mention on Lynn Holland’s blog today, after she bought some of my baby shoes for her nephew, so all in all, its been a lovely day.I hope yours was too. x