Thank you for your patience of late. The mantra, eat * sleep * paint * repeat has played on a permanent loop for months. How did Summer arrive with such abandon? Rationing food supplies in favour of chalky, vintage colours, we have begun the transformation of this lovely house; a little faded in her glamour but still quite beautiful.
The first space to get a makeover was the kitchen. All else was chaos, but we could eat and have a space to get our minds clear for two minutes! Like the Forth Road bridge, it is very probable that once the house is complete, this room will need re-doing as it has taken knocks already from mucky workmen and a variety of renovation dirt! The floor is also on the list for the lottery win.
A much longed for bird-watching window, waiting for it’s new Morris blind.
Ah the joy of unpacking life’s luxuries and finding them!
Roses in one of the vintage French jugs on the kitchen windowsill.
Thanks to several bird feeders outside, washing up is a pleasure.
Finally gifts from Christmas past have made their way home
An improved, bright and functional kitchen space with lots of potential. Once the other rooms downstairs are finished too, there will be a dining room leading off this space and plates in plate cupboards and not cardboard boxes!
This is the bathroom, which already had a big personality and just required a re-paint and the addition of a long sleeper shelf, with filigree brackets for storage.
Plants and old glass bottles have settled well into corners in here, and echo the green of the huge trees outside.
Finished off with a hand-painted mural of wisteria and roses around the window.
We seem to have single-handedly kept the d.i.y shops open this month with buckets of paint and miscellaneous pieces of wood and tools. After the damp proofing was done downstairs, the list of jobs to finish was extensive. Not one space but the overall lower area needed an overhaul.
Layers of plaster were chipped back to get damp proofing done inside the old stone walls.
Goodbye old moth eaten carpets and grubby whitewashed-for-the-sale walls. Hello early morning wallpaper-bombing and squillions of layers of stair paint.
Under the stair the thick 17thC cupboard walls, paint keeping the plaster in place.
Original under-stair floor tiles. Possibly dating back to when all the houses were a hotel. Or maybe earlier.
The cupboard was feeling a little lonely and unloved, although there were plans for it’s future; it had become a dumping ground for extra bedding and hoovers.
So.. I managed to do a little suggesting (with the additional bonus that no office space need now be shared)
And the cupboard began it’s transformation into an office. I was kindly made a perfectly fitted desk out of board to maximise the tiny space.
Which, when painted has become an ideal and functional table and thinking and writing spot. Whatever the weather I now have a place to work where I can still see who is at the door and keep an eye on the food cooking/teenagers trekking in/animals lugging in another wilderbeast etc..
It is cosy and I know where my pens are. Thankyou to D and L for the bag of magical charms.
The tiny old wooden bureau fits into the corner perfectly
Elsewhere in the hall, other gatherings are taking shape. This is a vintage dresser top, shortened by the other half, moulded together, flipped upside down and re-painted! It now houses the vintage toy collection (that we have found so far- several boxes still to open…)
Painstaking door trim painting has brought some of the black detail out around the house.
We both love old books and I was gifted my late Stepfather’s collection which are a great addition to here.
Some of the wallpapers in the house renovation are from The Chateau papers by Angel Strawbridge
Back to the cupboard I go, waiting for the flooring to come and getting on with some examples for an Art class next week. Come along if you’re near Newton Abbot on Thursday. Posters are on the Seasparkle blog and facebook page.
I leapt on this old steampunk barbecue at the recycling centre. ‘It has to be ours,’ I said . ‘But what are we going to do with it?’ He asked. I scowled.
That was not the point.
Spontaneity isn’t always easy. Making a decision has implications…The itch to try something new, is often swiftly squashed by our comforting, familiar fears. What if it doesn’t work?
Lets just stick to the plan…
Hide in the familiar, comfortable place.
Sometimes a plan need a little feeding from our old friend intuition.
As someone wise once said.
We often feel safer doing things in the way they’ve always been done around us. Conditioned by what and who we see succeeding. Stepping off the path is a risk.
What if something different goes wrong ?
What if it can’t be undone?
What if people think I’m weird/stupid/crazy/ridiculous?
What if I fail?
We know what resonates. The crucial details that make our perfect day; our sense of style and how our clothes make us feel, what and who we include in our time; what we need to feel accomplished by nightfall. If we get up early or lie in, if we like vibrant or subtle. Establishing a workable, happy life routine is a necessary grounding for all the spontaneous variety of decisions we can then explore.
With so much choice it can all feel a little overwhelming. It can be hard to listen amongst so much noise. But, deep down, we already know what we need in any given task. And everybody approaches a project in their own unique way. This process is like a fingerprint.
As a foundation student at Canterbury Art college, a million years ago, I was part of a class who had been given a task to build a bridge from found objects. The young tutor enthusiastically roused competition from table to table, raising the adrenaline and pressure . I was enjoying the task, thinking it through, balancing objects and materials, measuring, constructing, gluing and planning. Looking up I saw that there were other tables finished, cobbled together bridges, clumsy, but fulfilling the brief. I said I needed a few more minutes, and reddening excused my mess with a self-deprecating remark about being too much of a perfectionist.. In the silence of the room, as all my fellow students watched, the tutor laughingly dismissed my efforts and declared that my table was most definitely not that of a perfectionist.
I heard the shallow laugh I joined in with, while my eyes welled up.
Of course, moments come and moments go, and many are our not intended to be cruel. Often a comment or judgement says more about the judge, than than the person or object being attacked. But words and the feelings words spark, are huge. This particular moment of humiliation sealed an empathy for my future students, which I hope I can say I took to my classroom. Shining a light on our faults when we are learning and seeking and trying out new versions of our selves, is an anathema to growth and exploration. Embarrassment is simply horrible. It can take many years of getting to understand ourselves, through mistakes, right and wrong decisions, trying out what was once scary, to find and keep a hold of a creative way best suited to you. An individual’s unique process is not for anyone to ridicule, judge or question. There are so many choices and possibilities available, it is essential to retain our instinct to filter and recognise the right fit for us.
Think about how you get from germ of an idea to fruition. Depending on the dominance of each of your brain hemispheres, your creative process might be a fairly organised or wonderfully chaotic.
But the process is your process
Where do you start? And do you, like most of us, go round in circles?
I am a gatherer. Instinctive, chaotically organised, excited by details, wanting to share what I see, treasure a moment, capture it’s magic. I find I work best alone. Usually in the morning, usually with half an ear on an audio book to distract my judgy brain, usually with coffee, in my studio, but sometimes on my lap in front of a Netflix series. I love to draw, adjust, try things out, get into the zone, or if I am cooking or planting things ; (the recipe or flowerbed) instinctively. Instructions in general – I am poor at; but that doesn’t mean I don’t absorb many pieces of information through the pages of my vast library. Who doesn’t love a beautiful cookbook? I trust my hands and eyes, the feeling and the voice of my many inspiring friends and heroes.
In the zone we feel and sense and don’t watch time.
Creative juices flow and thoughts land like bees on flowers. Music plays and we are timeless, scraps of visions find each other and sing in harmony, birds sing, all is beautiful…
Until the spell is broken
In the zone we can let ourselves go the extra distance in our work, free from constraints and inner voices. We can stop and start, get pleasantly distracted, tune in to what we feel and hear and flow.
Interrupted, by the needs and questions of other people, pressing tasks and time constraints, chores to be done, demands and expectations; we are pulled back to reality; to a vulnerability, to a human state once more.
For many years in my own life I lived through criticism, never quite reaching my happy place in my work, but always feeding it scraps. Like a hardy plant on a desk, that was watered occasionally, it never quite died but new leaves weren’t exactly flourishing. All my energy and planning and ideas went into the teaching in my classroom or my stepson’s school projects, and of course bringing up my daughter. I painted murals on the walls of my house, not on canvas. Doubt hid in the cracks of my artist’s brain, as I was learning the art of life.
But it was o.k.
Those drops of feeding my process I had managed to continue with, sketching when nobody was awake, watching Art films and painting in my lunch break at work because I was on crutches and the staff room was downstairs, they were bliss. I held the bigger picture in my mind. I watched inspired by my students painting theirs.
Pressure to produce a piece of Art, pressure to show it half way through it’s gestation, pressure to perform in a world of talented makers and Artists; all these fears crush the spontaneity and wonder of purely enjoying creativity. Opening ourselves up to make Art renders us vulnerable and this can be a scary thing. A classroom or a studio should be at least initially where a voice is found, not drowned.
My now significant other understands that being banned from my studio mid production, isn’t personal ! Allowing me space for creating until the work is ready, is a gift he has no idea how grateful I am for. We all need a space where our mind can put it’s slippers on.
Understanding our patterns of behaviour is liberating . Over the last eighteen months the difference in working environments for me could not have been more extreme. Although I have always carved out a corner to work, my shed studio here and it’s calm outlook is by far my favourite. However, it can be the lack of facilities that prompts a burst of flow. In our temporary place last year , limited time alone in the morning, limited space in the tiny cabin; forced a magical intense creative window and a huge body of work was made. Having carried on working and making throughout I can vouch for time not limiting your experiences or skills. New students in my groups are often
How do we tap into our inner voice ?
If we plan well, we organize our routines we boost productivity, deal with our schedules in the ever-busy human world and get stuff done. Staying here can be productive and safe
This sweet spot is a gift. From a place of relative mental calm we can allow our minds and ideas, projects and journeys a little escape. Then it can get interesting. A blank canvas.
Feel the fear
Spontaneity is very liberating, tuning into your inner wisdom so you feel safe, step out of the comfort zone and it might lead to a host of friendships, projects and potential. If a road leads nowhere, don’t park, keep driving.
Being spontaneous sets you free, gives life a jolt without any external constraints. Allowing new explorations to happen strengthens what already is. This is the part where your blank canvas becomes a vibrant collage.
Try not to over-think and let the familiar anxieties in. When living spontaneously, we aren’t thinking of what we’ve done and what we’re going to do, we live for and in the moment.
If we don’t think about the potential of things going wrong before jumping into something (and it won’t be anything bad if we have our wisdom set up), we won’t miss the casual, fun, opportunities life throws at us.
Over-riding the carefully planned out version of an activity can sometimes lead to a more memorable and lovely path, unexpected and new.
Seeing a positive outcome builds self belief, and confidence and the more you try, fail, try, find joy, find what you love; the richer life becomes.
Art is all about spontaneity. Almost every discipline from painting to dance to writing requires the freedom to explore ideas and thoughts emotionally, visually, without constraint. Any form of creativity can become self-healing because we get what is inside to blossom and grow. .
Intuition gets stronger with practice, honing our decisions in every aspect of life
By developing our powers of randomness and intuition, we feel more ‘us’, have more to say because it comes from a place of knowing that we trust, our own.
The perfect life/picture/body/relationship/home has no mysterious finishing line. That dot on the horizon is called a vanishing point for a reason. Notice the scenery, as you travel, and remember in toughest times that there are corners and sanctuaries to nurture your self in, recharge and reboot; until such times as you can feel you are you again.
There is more to life and Art than having a plan. Loosen the power fear has over change and trust in your quiet strong intuitive knowing. Take away the need to prove
Pull out all the stuff you love to draw/cook/paint/plant/knit/write with. Start with a small idea, look at a source like Pinterest and just play. Turn the music on and the timer off. Don’t think, be open to learning , be mindful and feel gratitude, be connected to the present moment. Give yourself permission to just be happy.
Trusting our Instinct
The blueprint of our ability to trust in the world around us is laid out at an early age. our capacity for self belief, is dependent on how we have been conditioned to think and if we have evidence of success. As a seven year old we know most of the important things about ourselves but have no skills of articulation or life skills to prove our intuition. Sometimes it can feel our adult lives are a journey away and back again to the instincts of child. Learning how to play in our work is crucial to tapping into those lost skills.
Take a single step, a line or a page a day, a brushmark or a stitch
Be patient and kinder to yourself than you have learned to tolerate
The creative process is a slinky slippery thing.
Try and hold her too tightly she slips through your
With nasty fitted cupboards and a bright pink coat
Fairly quickly it was carpeted and the very long awaited bed from storage was put together; not only blessing us with a proper rest after a lot of temporary and always too small, sleeping places, but best of all there was…..
The first stage of the bedroom’s transformation was to get rid of the harsh pink colour and the tatty paper. The walls were painted in country living duck egg blue and we began to jiggle furniture into the space. A previously decoupaged trunk sits in the foreground.
In a house where there was ongoing damp-proofing and builders trudging through, leaking pipes and avalanches of toppling boxes downstairs; this room was a gently forming soft, plump, memory filled haven.
It felt wonderful to re-unite old treasures and favourite pieces
Whilst searching out funky new ones.
This palette of woodland greys, greens and soft pale aquas feels very calming . Easy to change different bedding, blankets and a never ending supply of velvet cushions!
As boxes and antique fairs offer up new possibilities, a parade of possible keepsakes will stay a while, maybe shuffle, maybe get swapped about. Plants find their spot, books get their day, corners get their moment in the light.
The window waiting to frame each morning’s view, our little piece of Devon.
The biggest storage issue was always going to be my clothes! A lifetime of rummaging in vintage shops, charity shops, and occasional treats from a few favourites like Seasalt, Laura Ashley, Kath Kidston and TK Maxx. Rough colour chunking helps me find a specific garment!
Antique looking Venetian wallpaper behind the bed at the back of the wall.
Quiet place in a new velvet chair from ebay by the window. Ikea sage green velvet curtain
The original Laura Ashley wallpaper in the small bedroom. Interesting, and very retro, but a tad overwhelming.
After a LOT of layers of paint on walls which had to for now, retain the wallpaper underneath, to keep them in tact, The study could begin to take shape.
The temporary space at one end of the study was set up to start organising products. A big undertaking.
The other side caters for someone else’s career and interests!
Neatened up and a little more sorted, the room began to feel less cluttered and we could even picture a spare bed for guests.
Because there’s no place like home
We all have our favourite place to chill
The window alcove currently retains a little of the old paper, a backdrop for a tiny boat collection and paintings by my friend Ruth.
As you can see, my patience ran out. Making somewhere for guests felt important. Despite not having large areas of the downstairs complete, at least we can now provide a little sanctuary. Books were gathered, tables shuffled, zed bed pulled out and an instant cat sofa created!! All beautifully covered by a quilt made by another of my fabulous friends Ruth in the borders.
Cataloging this lot has been a mammoth task and details will follow soon of how to see and purchase prints and cards.
Happily the space can still be made useful to package up an order.
For now the rooms have an identity and are being made good use of. We await carpets and tilers and all kinds of shuffling about. So who knows where they will all be in a month or two. My tolerant other half may wake to new wallpaper tomorrow..
This week I tried to write this several times. And kept finding someone or something to feed instead. Words hovered, flirting with me, just out of reach, but not quite giving themselves up. Occasionally I caught a few in a word note but, before I tormented myself further, I unplugged everything, and plunged my hands into a bag of soil. Allowing the meditative process of discovering our new garden become therapy and distraction.
I had felt a little overwhelmed since finding heaven.
A few weeks ago I admitted to my best friend that I wasn’t feeling how I was supposed to, when finally, all the stars had aligned and everything was meant to be perfect.
Have you watched The Curse? Finding the gold can be just the beginning.
My best friend said she understood.
Because sometimes after we journey for a long time, all the travelling, all the surviving, all the growing and packing and letting go, and waiting and hoping and staying poker still and getting to the shore, getting to the treasure…
is bloody knackering.
Its easy for us to feel the most ‘found’, and the most ‘lost’ simultaneously. Have you ever arrived at an all inclusive midday, and wandered about looking disorientated while the rest of the hotel bask like oiled mackeral on their sunbeds?
New places take a while to get acclimatised to. Many moments of planned perfection are a recipe for an existential brain fog, just when all the feels are supposed to come.
This might sound a little new age, but I knew this house would find us one day . In every home I ever lived I felt I was looking for that elusive ingredient.
I began from an early age, (not of course knowing why , ) gathering visuals of a space I wouldn’t see for forty years.
As teenager I loved scrappy old images from home magazines and kept scrapbooks and journals, pulling apart County Living or Elle Decoration for inspiration and homes to covet.
Looking at them now, some twenty years later, most of them still resonate and it feel like I would choose the same images. Colours, aesthetics, and period styles are still typical of me. And I see that the books I read at the time, my music tastes, the vintage cars I loved, the clothing styles, all evolved but still belong to the same me. The colours and spaces that make our hearts sing, remain very unique to us, so when we do begin to do any life laundry, what matters most is holding on to stuff that makes you feel most at home, not simply riding the wave of the latest trend.
My earliest memories are of making spaces feel safe. As a little girl, the distorted voices of adults through the floorboards, felt a million miles away from the warm sunlight on the carpet den under a desk festooned with old lace and tablecloths. I would plant seeds wherever I lived, both real and in the hope of creating permanence. Walls were crammed with books from boot fairs and jumble sales, vintage jazz posters, and old linen sought to recreate the room I aspired to live in forever. Making a perfect space always felt like the cement that held the rest of life together. If you had been passing you might have been invited to one of my room re-arrangements for a cup of tea, and I think I may have painted every shared flat I ever lived in as a student in Edinburgh!.
Every house you ever live in begins in your mind, even briefly as your forever home. We must feel we are creating a space to eat, relax, sleep and nurture in. Some people get to keep rooted fairly quickly in life, and build a fairly strong foundation for their plot. For many others, no matter how much the interior shines, the castle becomes more prison than palace and a part of them knows that there might be change ahead. Patching over the cracks can only last so long. There is no other option but to uproot.
We start over. Re-sketching the perfect house from scratch. And, like a dog turning round and round in its bed before it gets comfy; we recreate our sanctuaries in home after home as many times as necessary until we find our place. Processing the journey, as healing and grounding are enabled through the brushstrokes on the wall, the folds in the laundry, the pots on the stove.
For us, finally getting to unpack our stored belongings, in arthritis – kinder weather, in peace and quiet, in the house we fell in love with, felt so blessed.
There was nothing in the way after everything being in the way. We were all together in our place. There was nature at the windows , and all the animals could finally roam free.
We had this wonderful blank canvas with potential oozing out of every corner. Our new plans were no longer waiting in the wings, they were right there on the x. We could decide exactly who we were and how we created the dream. It was a chance to breathe after all the worry.
But then the removal men arrived. Not once but twice, unloading all the stored possessions and furniture.
After so many set backs, letting ourselves believe it was all actually here wasn’t easy.
The horizon was always so far away.
Almost a year had gone past since we found the house, and several times it had disappeared out of reach . Now we were actually here, would anything else happen? As damp proofing jobs ended up with nails in pipes and unwanted water leaks, our fears edged closer . Finances leaked away with the flooding floors. I was struggling with the stairs. How could I get the washing out and up the steps? How on earth would this house ever be decorated and sorted out? Where do we even start? Could we afford to decorate? What on earth were all the plants called!
It was a bit overwhelming knowing where to start. We knew that time and a little perspective was everything.
Not only was it a monumental task to sort out and unpack without the physical strength and mobility I once had, it had also been such a long time since we had seen or needed any of our things and most of them felt like they belonged to someone else ! We were used to a small wardrobe, only what was needed day to day in the chalet. Although we had missed all our belongings, the space had opened up for focused living and now life had suddenly become a sprawling mass of objects that needed attention again.
Who was this person who had this stuff?
When you move house everyone wishes you well, which is lovely. One imagines being pictured relaxing and gently decorating whilst smiling and clinking gin glasses . Not so with two houses to merge, a colourful teenager, a menagerie and all you ever owned in a muddle in front of you (and behind you and underneath you).
Not knowing what kind of house we would find meant no order for packing boxes into specific rooms. And the climate is different here (hence the move) so some things feel more suited than others.The largest chunk of stuff will be books, which can’t be unpacked until the damp proofing work is dry and the rooms are redecorated and carpeted .
Of course it was going to take longer than five minutes to normalise how things felt in a new environment. But more than that, there was nesting and growing into the space to do first, brightening it up, cleaning away the cobwebs, airing the rooms, putting colour in its cheeks. Our homes not only help keep us warm and nurtured but serve as a backdrop to feeling creative and welcoming others in.
I came home to my thoughts in the soil.
Looking at how the garden was getting on, I breathed a bit slower. She was in no rush. She reminded me that there is hidden process you can’t control, some are slow and inevitable, some are done by instinct; by feeling the leaves and the soil and knowing what to do. I began clearing out the weeds, from the garden and my brain. I followed her lead.
I woke early and pottered before anyone else woke up, and marvelled at each new flower popping through the shrubs . I gave myself a little thinking time. . I realised there was another layer underneath the interior design thoughts. I felt guilty if I let myself feel happy here. Feeling safe to relax is difficult after trauma or stress. On your own with a small circus, and living in flux takes a long while to step out of and stop the momentum. It can be hard to unwind, hard to believe you deserve kindness or to stop moving for a minute . We find ourselves fighting old enemies when we are raw and tired, allowing imposter syndrome and anxiety in, and staying anything but hyper vigilant in case of imminent danger.
I listened to the sounds outside, ignoring the sounds in my head. The church bells rang. I listened to my body. It was very very tired . I unboxed parts of the past which I decided can stay there for now, and parts which can be celebrated here. I slept a lot . I listened to the old stone walls and the garden and what she was saying , not what I wanted to dive in and change. I listened to what wasn’t there . There was no big black dog behind us, nothing to run from and nothing to run towards. For the first time in thirty years.
Every day began to have a rhythm, beginning with animals waking before the alarm clock. My wonderful pockets of morning times, silent and still before the day woke up, enabling snippets of wall painting, snippets of drawing, letter writing, poem catching in the bath and catching the precious morning light in the garden.
I started to notice secrets unfolding in each overgrown border, grateful I had said no to the question, ‘Shall I just strim everything? ‘
Nature was showing us her established ways, this house has been waiting to be celebrated and nurtured. And we can all do with a bit of that from time to time, especially from ourselves!
When we arrive at our destination, we are so used to to travelling we forget how to slow down, forget to remember why we came on this journey in the first place. Having lived with an element of waiting, anticipating, of escaping, and of momentum; landing at last was bound to feel strange. Adrenalin had fuelled us, and resting was necessary punctuation in order to listen to what we need and have now.
Tending to the smaller and smaller ‘garden’ we were responsible for had become normal .
Suddenly it was expanding in all directions, everything thrown in the air , landing in a muddle with nowhere clear to get things straight. A little weeding, turning our faces to the sun and plenty of watering, and our roots could start to get strong again.
Going through one section of stuff at a time helped. I halved my clothes, not least because I had an entire room for them previously! Today I wore a pair of trousers I first bought to wear three years ago, in the first stage of our journey moving down South. too chilly to wear in Scotland, they have been packed and unpacked so many times, up and down the country but never worn. Now they have a drawer, they can start planning their itinarary.
Just have to get one last bit of wallpapering done first…
Feeling settled has happened slowly over the last few weeks through time, and routines, and rooms slowly unfolding, by each of finding our plot where we can grow best and not interfere with each other’s light. We, like plants get shell shock when we move; lose our bearings, feel misplaced and disorientated. unanchored and untethered to our routines, however meagre or transitory they have been. Like the plants in the garden, if we trust in natures cycles, even the most lifeless can bloom. We all need a littlle tlc
As the dawn chorus begins, the early quiet hours are filled with brushstrokes and box opening, cobweb clearing and life laundry.
Having had everything in storage for nine months, space was a strange experience. It was too short a time to forget your old life, but too long to feel like a holiday. Although some things were missed; favourite clothes and books, things to cook with, memories and a larger shoe collection than Clarks; the edges of our world contracted a little; and there was a clearer focus on the mini world created . The house and all of us breathed a little easier in each other’s company, and without too much clobber in the way.
We had no furniture but we had paint!
This would be, the calm before the storm, and after two weeks of relative ease, space and gentle speculation on where things might go, these guys arrived..
(This was a full van !!!)
Oh well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs! A painting worth painting needs a rainbow. And this old house will be getting a lot of t.l.c.
Slowly unveiling hidden treasures under carpets.
It has been interesting to see what surprises pop up from under the old carpets!
And under the earth.
A beautiful surprise around every garden corner
The garden is on many levels. A cottage garden at the back
And a lovely lawn at the front, which will be landscaped (maybe) one day. The view from the whole building is beautiful in the early morning. (This is not our house in the picture)
There is a lot of painting going on here. Redoing the dated kitchen cupboards in a soft shaker blue.
Funking up the teenage cave. The very pleasant second bedroom is now a chic boudoir with a few vintage touches .
Outside the dining room is the Mopsie garden, named after my grandma, whose herb garden outside her window I loved as a child. This is a lovely sun trap and a little rockery and place for pots and coffee . Still needing a little love, but a wonderful suntrap and place for hostas!
Up the stairs the apple and cherry trees have been well cared for. It has been lovely hanging out laundry, especially after week after week at the laundrette for nine months . Although the steps are steep so I leave that particular task to my minions … 🤗
A variety of different plants have begin to pop up, now that the season has begun. A Pandora’s box of tricks blending wild flowers and perennials, shrubs and alpines.
And the Liz at the beach hut blue pots have survived their journey ..
Last week saw the renovating of a big old shed outside, a dumping ground for half the storage boxes .
Which has been converted to a studio. At least for the warmer months ! A lick of white paint, shelves for Art books and a gazillion boxes of Art supplies have been emptied and organised.
From a spider’s petting zoo, this old hut has become a cosy and functional space.
Perhaps we might end up sleeping out there!
This week’s job is a massive damp proofing, wall bashing type thing..
Whilst making secret plans for paint colours…
However, in other areas progress is slowly being made, with much appreciated support from friends..
While the animals look on and keep everyone calm
Even choosing the odd bit of decor!
Thank you for your comments and likes, for this and our Sea sparkle blog. We look forward to showing you more house progress soon
The blue gate was broken and gnarly,
Its ivy clad paint chipped and torn.
A keeper of secrets behind there,
Forbidden since first she was born.
She tried to avoid this direction
For fear of what might her, befall.
Inevitably, one rainy morning,
A dog she was with, lost his ball.
Now, if this were a regular story,
A rainbow or two would appear.
But this was a dreich Scottish Friday,
And no meddling unicorns near.
The hall, it had flown quite a distance.
There was nothing else she could do.
So yanking the rusty gate open,
She broke all the rules and curfew.
A path lay within what can only,
Be named as a forest of roots.
A tangle of overgrown bushes,
And mud which leaked into her boots.
So typical, and so annoying,
The dog disappeared out of view.
To grab hold of those thorny bushes,
Was probably all she could do.
A pair of embroidery scissors,
Remained from a felt-making class.
To have such abundant filled pockets.
Was suddenly, useful at last.
She snipped, and gave whack to the branches.
Her boots kicking tangles away.
Her progress, though slow, was unveiling.
A twist, to this strange kind of day.
Old legends of haunted, bad forests,
Had kept many feet from this path.
And parents forbidding their children,
From straying too close after dark.
She noticed a snippit of colour,
A mosaic of bluebells and ferns.
The path began opening wider,
Revealing a copse and a burn.
Now, hidden from all the familiar,
She stood in a moss covered dell.
A circle of ruby red toad stalls,
Inhaling this rich woodland smell.
The path forked in several directions,
Green light from its canopy sparked
And it wasn’t scary or haunted
And it wasn’t lonely or dark
Instead there was no worry lingers,
Instead there was breathing slowed down.
Instead there was crisp air contentment,
A velvet room; green, blue and brown.
A hoot from an owl in the distance,
A rustle as fox sniffs new prey.
A dormouse who scuttles so swiftly,
Chased moths and his brothers away.
As forest sounds turned up their volume,
She noticed how each living thing.
Was moving and breathing together,
How whispering woods really sing.
A bat with long ears swooped beside her
No trace of a vampirish grin.
This soft silky creature emboldened,
By autumn light falling on him.
Her hand brushed the bark of an oak tree
its acorn like cups at her feet,
She lay on the soft green moss carpet,
Sleepily soothed by its heat.
A shriek from away in the distance,
Where are you ? The dinner is cold.
You better not be in the brambles,
You better have done as you’re told !
Turning to step on the pathway,
She noticed familiar sounds.
A curl of smoke rose from the tree tops,
Too close to the secret she’d found.
And suddenly there was her mother,
Wide eyed and in puzzlement stared.
A tear in her eye she remembered,
How as a young girl she’s been there.
She sat down beside her and listened,
To all of the silence and noise.
To all of the melodies playing,
To feeling her fears be destroyed.
The years fell away in an instant,
She let them be gone and be still.
Her daughter re-finding her pathway,
Much further than just down the hill .
A path feared to tread by a mother,
Will feel to the young heavenly.
For when we are caged by another,
Our journey can never be free.
Inside every dark, gloomy forest,
Lies layers of stories and charm.
Each tiny new magical detail,
Will find you the journey to calm.
Together they stepped on the pathway,
A little less sad and alone.
As time bent like rowan around them,
They followed their lost dog back home.
It’ was Lorraine’s fault There I was, minding my own business and the next thing I know, I am dancing in the dark with glow sticks in each hand.
Now; I’m not good with walking these days, as you know. What was I thinking?
Twenty years ago I was a pretty good dancer) I did acrobatics and theatre performance.
Then a serious knee injury, twenty operations and meningitis catapulted a double whammy of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.
Those lovely, huge, sweeping body moves, enjoyed in the disco and often madly accomplished in full costume; well they were a thing of the past. Getting to the supermarket from a disabled space on a cold day is exercise for me.
Yet Faith Ruled Out
As my arms found the beat and the core of me danced, a strange and lovely thing happened. Out of nowhere, my cells woke up, they started to remember stuff. Tiny micro moves began to ping in my veins as my body knew this place.
I found my rhythm and my limit with each track, each set of steps and my brain swiftly doctored it to suit. When it hurt I didn’t do it. Mostly it hurt my legs. So my hips moved instead, and my arms took the lead. The shapes; The moves the other girls made large , I made small inside my body. It felt wonderful, and size folks, really didn’t matter. Nobody sees you in a dark room, in an exercise class where various women of various ages were making shapes with glow sticks to happy songs.
This time of year we find ourselves peeping our heads out of our wintering. It is Imbolc. The time where nature trusts in the rhythm of the weather, the call of Spring and the feeding of hungry birds and animals. Seeds planted last year are germinating below ground, safely harnessing their potential until the sun can shine on their faces.
Trusting that our tiny moves are important is very hard in this changing world. A world where big is better, anything but bold is boring and we want results, instant fixes.
I heard myself saying to my daughter that she needs to value her time. Those little pockets of time which get wasted on gaming or tv, or endless scrolling are just as easily used on something which slowly brings the change we seek. Although I did probably sound like my mother! I realised that I had personally learnt to understand how precious time is, and how much we can stretch it if we give it value.
In times of plenty for a young person, whether it be due to financial stability, or having a loving supportive home, it is impossible to imagine a lack of material things. Or to ever feel ill or simply to not have the world exactly as it is right this minute.
The world makes it easy to believe that the healthiest, most beautiful, most organised, fit and creatively smart people will live the best life. Every magazine prompts us to change and tempts us with freebies to help get us there. Get and be better. How exhausting. And how dull.
Do you want to be a rock star? Well, of course many of us would say we would. The lavish lifestyle, the adoration, the living out of your dream. The fans! But all I think of is how, in the interviews, they all seem to say, how despite arriving at destination after destination, country after country, a lot of tours don’t enable their stars to stop, see the view, see the city even. let alone enjoy the ride and take in where they are.
With every destination, there is a chance of a detour, or a cancellation. learning to stop on the journey, admire the sky, absorb the landscape, enabling us to be aware of each moment for it’s own sake. It was the journey that made us the way we are, in all the ways we like and don’t like about ourselves. The onwards journey therefore should be travelled at our pace, in our style and in our vehicle of choice.
Ironically, we must waste what we will in future appreciate. Be it money and time, or health or familial love. What ultimately makes us value their absence is understanding the weight their presence held. Just don’t expect your average 14 year old to understand their fortune yet.
I have conditioned myself to believe over the years, that I have not achieved my aim, or where I want my Art to be. Even after a big success or exhibition. You might tell me how that is all kinds of wrong , or how parents, partners and teachers plant seeds of doubt in your mind, and the sensible brain knows this. But at the end of the day; it is our voice our doubts get translated into. And self doubt is like an irritating little wasp in your ear.
As I wiggled my glow sticks and whipped through my teeny tiny hip movements to a funky track; I was struck with a sudden realisation. In the dark in the hall we were all making our bodies do something new and useful and healthy, something that our bodies weren’t doing yesterday. We were planting seeds.
I think we are all so very clever at growing things if we stop and look. Perhaps we move on to the next goal without turning around and hearing the applause for the one we scored. There is faith, instinct and knowing in every day we nurture others and feed ourselves. I had been making micro movements in my every day life, for as long as I could remember. My process in my work remained vital, and I fed it even for years when nobody saw my work. In a house where it was impossible to work, I drew and wrote on tiny scraps of paper and fed them into the open mouth of an art bag. When we were able to leave, those ideas began to become real on canvas and in the world, without having lost anything by having to be patient. Even in the tough times, even when it felt like they were for nothing. No micro movement is ever wasted .
Regular patterns make beautiful pictures. A habit seed becomes your garden . One or two micro movements become a wave of change.
In the precious hour I carve out in the morning I get up early, because my mind is awake to create and write, and this is my happy time. There is sometimes five minutes in the bath or the car to write poems and ideas on my phone. I gather notes and photographs wherever we go somewhere lovely. All the tabs I keep open could make me crazy. But I now know, my method is juggling several things at once, in increments, like painting several canvases and watching them evolve to fruition.
Until each of your thought babies is born!!
The pleasure of slow and steady making and creating, means the final outcome hasn’t got teeth and a scary face. So often putting us off before we begin.
I got to thinking how quickly habits become our everyday ways, and we all know how reliant we can become on the positive and negative versions of those. How easy it is to prep dinner first thing so that the hard work is done for later and you can enjoy a day in the sun. Or stretching for ten minutes, reading ten pages of books which improve your learning a day, writing one letter a week to friends or eating one more piece of fruit . All positive micro movements which improve an aspect of living.
But the opposite comes when we get used to our unhealthy habits in the same way . Like never trying that creative thing we crave doing or doing too much of the thing that damages us. Which is a different demon for everyone.
As I danced I thought of each movement , the ones I was doing with my arms and light sticks, wilder, freer, and the almost imperceptible tiny ones in my legs and hips, that only I could see. And I thought of each brush stroke, each new piece of drawing paper, each new morning, each new notes app, each new idea for a post and a poem.
I considered the word document with the inventory of new products on , the hours and hours of downloading and tapping towards making a new shop website, every letter to a friend who, in mutual faith keep their valuable long distance support in plentiful supply. Each new dawn and each cosy evening holding the day at each side like loyal kind parents . Every plaster on every wound- animal, teenage or otherwise.
As you inch towards the things that bring you joy, find the way to inch away from those that do you harm. Have patience, and believe your instincts. In our sister site Let loose ladies we have learned that we are not alone in our baby steps to freedom.
Whatever journey you may be on , emotional or health driven, creative or physical, in a relationship or newly going solo; the important things are the same.
Doing little manageable steps towards accomplishing a goal means;
You don’t get bored
You stay in control
You are more likely to stick to a consistent approach
Small moves can be taken wherever you go
You are less likely to quit
Your achievement will be genuinely your own making
You won’t hurt yourself
If safety ( emotionally, domestically, or in recovery from pain ) are issues, you can move with pace and planning. – rewarding yourself for staying motivated.
You will have space in your day for other things
Ironically we have to learn how to waste time before we can value it.
It’s only when we lose function, we age, we lose a level of mobility, we took for granted, or a familiar support, in our health, the people in our network; that our activity buttons get stuck. The good news is that every day can be a chance to reset them again.
Right now I’m making dinner. Chicken Parmesan. In this tiny chalet kitchen . Writing on my phone and talking to you. It is bliss. Soon my lot will be up and the space and my job sheet will be filled up again, For now, this is a carved out place. This hour steps towards feeding both my family and my passion.
The potatoes are almost done.
The chicken is seasoned
The sun’s light is a little softer, we are heading Springwards.
The dinner is made and the day can begin. It may not be the way of the world , but it is my way of feeling balanced.
Don’t count steps, it’s the direction that counts.
Walls and hedges, floors and edges, markers to our world’s defining spaces. Blanket stitching a creative space for everything to come, and everything to reflect upon; a place to heal within, to plan from.. A place to rest and go from next. A place to call home. A hub to conjure up new ideas and have fun in. A place to nurture old friendships in and grow new ones in.
We make temporary spaces naturally at our desks, in our childhood bedrooms, in our holiday hotel rooms, even it seems, ( from recent Netflix binges) in our prison cells. In the last three months of my pregnancy, when I was kept in more than I was allowed home, (due to a complication;) my corner of the ward very soon held an assortment of personal memorabilia. A cushion, paintbrushes, all the quirks and accoutrements I probably don’t know are me– but everyone else does!
As a child I held family open days to show off my new bedroom layout. Creating different versions of normal and making new from old. Hours of pushing the bed from one side of the room to the other with my legs shoving the base inch by inch across the floor and rearranging my Wham posters !(yes, I was that kid) and on holiday it doesn’t feel the same until the suitcase is unpacked, the toiletries are in the bathroom, and we know what time breakfast is. A little bit of home from home.
Every student flat, every house, every holiday campsite, no matter how temporary is a blank canvas for a new beginning.
Every one a new route to friendships and chance.
Occasionally there must be a inevitable spanner.
The walls are paper thin here,
Each paper rustle heard.
Each line of book surrendered,
T'wards rest like idle birds.
On wings of paper feathers,
Forgotten, inked at last.
Between the paper walls,
Burt embers of the past.
This paper cuts each finger,
A trail of pink and read.
We stitch each words so carefully,
Each hope with paper thread.
A paper trail of bows left,
Tied on the seat of kites.
They dive through days and shady lanes,
And feed on terabytes.
We're papering the cracks now,
To show we're almost real.
A chain of paper dolls stuck fast,
were lined up, toe to heal.
Our supper on our paper plates,
This picnic tastes the same.
And though the walls are made of card,
We're sheltered from this rain.
And while the paper calendar,
Knows not where life will take her,
We stumble through this paper maze,
and sleep on formal papers.
In time we'll empty boxes,
A cardboard overwhelm.
We'll sail on paper aeroplanes,
Exploring new, old realms.
We'll find our lost belongings,
In tissue, and newsprint.
And mark our new tomorrows,
With smudgy fingerprints.
This poem was inspired by life over recent months . A period of beautiful, but, at times; almost unbearable stillness.
Where once was busy routine, noise, people, structure and and planning of things to get through the seasons of the year; the details, the full stops and punctuation, the life chapters, those that will become embarrassing Facebook reminders in a year or two for groaning offspring; days going by in snapshots of celebration and those yet to be experienced.
What was to be a few months of waiting for a house move has stretched to over half a year. Not knowing an outcome for a move or a big life change is a hard thing to cope with, no matter whether you are a small or a bigger, experienced human.
When we make a home, it is the centre of our web. From there we can go places and do things and join things, make things happen. Grow roots.
For various reasons this year, this has been on hold a little while.
It isn’t always easy to stay positive without our p.j.c (personal joy collection. ) How easily our solid house of cards can become paper thin. A home is so vital but even more so, are the friendships we nurture within it. To say I crave the smell of chalk paint and new carpets, even a trip to b and q, would be an understatement.
But, when life gives us lemons..
If you had told me we would be packing for this many months, it would have been impossible to imagine what we needed. We could only take so much with us, most of that was for animals. Some clothes for each season and the basics. Which have been added to, seasonally including a birthday each and Christmas. It feels a little now that what we have here now, in our temporary home, is the sum of our belongings. When someone has a bad day, it is so easy to forget that this isn’t our life now. Or who we will be forever more. That this is who we all are now. And at times when it is hard, that this is the whole picture.
But every day is a new beginning. ( I love mornings) And in between the slow ticking of the clock are revitalising rushes of appreciation for what still is . And what will be.
There are still bookshops and mornings, hugs and sprinkles on your coffee, ideas and paws,
Sunrises, amazing architecture, hugs, tiny cinemas and beautiful views.
Happy memories from Skye Blue House inspiring New ideas for the next Home
In these twixt days and months, in the early hours, these precious daylight hours, when school keeps her busy, or cold winter evenings waiting for news of housey things; much is being created and made.
Soon we will grow flowers. Until then we will just grow more (im)patient and bigger piles of paper…
Sometimes the big picture takes a little longer to materialise !
I have spent quite a lot of time looking at clouds recently.
Either through a doorway at dawn or at dusk when the spectacular paint box of colours and shapes sploshes across our patch of sky. Or sometimes from the inside of a wheelchair as I get trundled on a too- far- to-walk-path or as passenger in the car, I have been awestruck by the never ending capacity for the fabulousness of clouds.
Fluffy snowy cloud mountains hovering on the rooftops of the town, volcanic explosions backlighting the gloom of greys creating clouds of such density you surely must be able to ride on one. Dramatic inky washes, Turneresque pastel streaks of wonder, explosive fiery bursts splitting their intense vibrant blue canvas. We paint the skies with our eyes.
I’ve always loved skies, like gazing at the sea, their vastness make us feel tiny, our thoughts less important. Ironically being mindfull makes our minds less crammed full of clutter.
Watching the clouds pass through the sky I focused on my breath. It hurt to breathe. The week before quite suddenly I hadn’t been able to. After a week of feeling quite strange, a day in A and E, and an extra unexpected ambulance call out, it turned out there was a problem with my lungs. It looks like it was a blood clot. It was extremely painful and frightening.
Quite literally all there was to do was put one moment in front of the next, trust and focus on my breath. It hurt to laugh, to bend down and especially to breathe in cold air. Several times I almost blacked out going outside. In these moments we cling to those we love and the skills we’ve gathered . And trust that we know it is temporary.
I have been reminded.
As someone who is limited by mobility, I use my time and energy differently to a lot of other people. Rising early, using that burst of energy, keeping extra warm, scouting for disabled parking spaces close to the shops or the beach. But it is the world we are used to. Accepting new levels of limitations is another layer of challenge. Accepting even more help is even harder.
But like the skies that change, so too do our needs and our strengths. When there is no choice but to come fully home to ourselves we find we had been patiently there all along. And no amount of illness changes who we are.
These last few months have been ( again) fairly isolating. In a time where nothing is permanent, it can be tricky to hold onto the walls. Your feet need to be firmly on the ground at least somewhere, even if it is just a springboard to travel from and to return to , Staying true to yourself without any of your belongings, with your normal clothes or reference materials with books or tools and equipment; creates an opportunity to pare back to who and what is most important in your life.
After the start of the year, crammed full of community events and time with friends, choirs and art groups in Scotland, these last six months have felt frustrating; of time moving slowly, or time not being filled with our planned version of events. But when time is standing still second by second, we are offered a revitalised appreciation of having achieved in both large and small ways.
Take a breath
It was a summer of getting to know the area, enjoying the warmth and indulging in the odd treat here and there!
Autumn sauntered in with her rich fruity tones.
The zoo continued their daily antics. Bumble and Bonnie the guinea pigs, Max and Molly the cats and Horace the flat-coat retriever. Bear is now living somewhere new with more space and freedom to be his wild self. We will always love you Bear x
A few months shuffling about in one small chalet….