In the Zone..

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Sorry.. sorry.. sorry.. I keep hearing myself say in my head, as I am weeding a flower bed and dabbing at  a piece of a new painting simultaneously.. feeling the guilty pull of the list of replies I should be making to my dear ones …

I’ll be with you in a minute !!!!

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You aren’t ignored. I am ignoring The pull.

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Because, this is one of the very few weeks of the year where you can be in the zone and time and the weather is playing hard ball.

We recently spent a week with our dear friend in Spain. She and I, and the small person headed for water whenever we got the opportunity, as temperatures soared between 35 and 44! My lovely friend packed and unpacked the car with our beach clobber, and bravely transported me in the wheelchair to a water source in a different spot every day. We covered ourselves in health improving mud, trekked up a zoo path, whooshed around a moving river in a spa pool and lay like lilos when we got to the source..

It was a lovely break. Only a few friends are trusted at the helm of the chariot and I hope her back has recovered! Thank-you again for making all that we did possible. We often went to a pool where my daughter and other kids played . I was able to be in the water but I couldn’t move my joints so I couldn’t swim, however I was glad , oh so glad to be in that pool .

The bittersweet irony at the moment, is being so close to the joys around you but not being able to participate as fully as you might. In a strange way though, it makes spaces for little things you otherwise wouldn’t do. On holiday I read a great, life- affirming book whilst Leah swam, and made plans for projects, took photographs and absorbed all the laughter in the barmy sunshine.

We can either feel ‘plonked’ and act like a plonker or we can still be the same vibrant person under whatever changes our body is making. We can’t control that, but we can still exist in the cracks of our lives and accomplish more in a tiny gap between our obstacles.

You choose.

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Rebrand yourself as completely Fabulous

At this stage, with various procedures and diagnosies still hanging it can feel like I am camping in a different country, my body not knowing its own language. Small achievements are so enjoyable it is a joy to share them as we go.

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And it got me thinking about this Summer place we find.

The magical window.

The bit where there is a sweet spot.

Gratitude sharpens your experiences and your eye for detail. Taking pleasure in what, to some can seem trivial or inconsequential.  

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Gratitude sharpens your experiences and your eye for detail. Taking pleasure in what, to some, can seem trivial or inconsequential.  

Being able to feel the moment, despite the pain or focusing on lack keeps us moving forward. And we can get there by letting it in and breathing quite a lot of other stuff out..

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Back in Spain….. At the top of the zoo hill there were tears (mine) (and a hot and stroppy ten yr old’s) and there was exhaustion, (all of us) A desperate craving for the end of day, a very cold g. and t. and a blast of cool night air.

Only when that came, and the air was slightly less oven like, and my kind friend suggested I sit down, my legs didn’t want to.

You see my sweet spot had arrived. The house was cool enough and now I had stuff to do. It was a little pocket in the day, to complete a few tasks, grab a drink, bath mini and me and potter until exhaustion proper kicked in. I had been at the mercy of others and a chair all day and I was me -ish.

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Lets go girls.. (or boys)

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The obstacle course got temporarily a bit easier once the sun got lower and this was the chance to feel useful on the planet. Squeezing as much into the magical window as possible, when you can, that makes you happy and fulfilled , keeps you going until the next carved out slot comes along and nobody knows when that might be .

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Everyone’s idea of what is perfect to relax with is vastly different. For some it may be a sun lounger by a large, noisy poolside, a spa day of treatments and a tequila sunrise . Yet after enforced exhaustion, wheelchair use, living on crutches, you want to make things, find things, be things, try things and get into the world.

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Everyone’s idea of what is perfect to relax with is vastly different. For some it may be a sun lounger by a large, noisy poolside, a spa day of treatments and a tequila sunrise . Yet after enforced exhaustion, wheelchair use, living on crutches, you want to make things, find things, be things, try things and get into the world.

Yesterday I was in the garden, crouched under the bushes , one leg poking out, listening to the birds and contemplating the miracle which is a garden. In under two years a crop of great things has blossomed and flourished . I had just found blackurrants perfectly hanging in little bunches .one of my hilarious neighbours nearly made me jump out of my skin as I was simply somewhere else. It was bliss

I am in the magical window, and it isn’t gong to last. The beautiful weather which lets the back door be open and the curtains sway in the breeze, the story tape playing while a long abandoned painting is finally completed . Trimming fairy gardens overgrown in the summer rain and finally clearing out junk squirrelled away all year by young and slightly young at heart hoarders …

There is a magical temperature which lets all this stuff happen. Not too hot that you resemble an air balloon, but warm enough to lubricate the rusty limbs for a few precious weeks

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And that’s why I know my true friends will understand why I am a little tardy with replies to messages and a bit vague here and there. This is the only time of year that a sore body can be outside pottering about so freely and with less time constraints too.

The Summer holidays began with an Enid Blyton Style camping excursion to the caravan in the garden, which enabled me obviously, to begin wafting in linen around the house whilst reading poetry to the cat..

I wish.

I watched everything on the t.v. planner with swear words in, ate hummus and talked to myself about sensible things like making a scarecrow and a pond for our one remaining goldfish, whom I feel very sorry for, having just lost his tank mate and who now spends his days swimming in his own doo dah.

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It lasted one night, but at least it was the whole night. And One has to learn to be less patient in completing creative endeavours because there isn’t endless energy, endless warm days and endless time. Getting in the zone is a sensory pleasure and is curtailed by a set of circumstances we don’t choose, but have to learn to get along with.

So we wake up, start a new day and we make again. At the weekend, a new pond! A fabulous homemade build which did in fact make our goldfish much happier: Recipe = ikea boxes + Neighbours saw+ pond liner+ duct tape+ determination+ earth+ alpine plants+ visit to builders merchants for cheap stones+ netting to ward off hungry seagulls .

I have been told, “oh but you make it look so easy”. It makes me laugh to think how lovely but how utterly misguided this is.

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Learning the rhythm of our mobility and how we adapt can free up little pockets of loveliness – your own recipe for tapping into some of that stuff on your hit list, while you can, when you can.

Getting things done..

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As an early bird; We are always up early anyway and both of us enjoy an hour or so of me- time in the morning to come round. Especially, like me, if your body needs to adjust, for meds to get to work etc. I love my mornings. Watching catch-up on tv and doing my writing, facebook, posts etc. My brain loves mornings but will be pretty rubbish past Eastenders O’clock.!

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Finding your not- so- sweet spot in the day- Perhaps ( and there is a possibility as there is a ?? in our family tree !!! ) I was from Mediterranean stock. Oh, two o’clock comes and I can just do with a siesta!! Either rest or reschedule then.. possibly for the whole winter…. .

You don’t know what is round the corner weather wise, health wise or relationship wise; so bloody hell– seize the day please !!!.

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Use the year, month, day, to your advantage and let your dear ones know you are alive but need to be in your zone while you can. From April to September you can find me in the undergrowth somewhere or deep in conversation between hanging out a shirt and feeding a chicken.

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Even in July, the tendrils of Autumn’s harsh winds are closer, and you feel you are on a train at full speed careering through the year without stopping at the stations. Looking out of the window and sharing your thoughts with your fellow passengers is an essential part of the journey. Our destination being another cycle of winter’s bite ahead, digging out the wooly socks again and stocking up on coal, enforced hibernation. So making the most of the outside time we have together is so important

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In these extremes, when our bodies are wonky all that normal stuff is doubly hard, we must seize the day, make hay while the sun shines. If we can walk, see, hug, hold a pen, plant a seed, make a paint mark, rub a dogs ear ; laugh with a friend, how lucky are we ?

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And it all feels so much better in the sunshine.

I have been busy in my magical window, sowing seeds in the garden, in creative ways only available while the studio and my hands are warm, the air is sparkly and new friends pop up over the fence all Summer! With one shoulder , one or two bones still ok and a will of iron, new projects are flourishing. Here is our entry for the Coldingham Scarecrow trail for Coldingham Priory;

Brother Benedict is a heavy thing! So lots of help has been received and appreciated . You can vote for any of your favourites at the Coldingham Gaa Sunday. Info on the Coldingham primary website.

And lastly for today..

Our new Mosaic path being made now from bits of old china, old bathroom tiles and small glass mosaic pieces. Just managed to get the glue dry before the heavens opened last night!! A hop skip and jump through the grass for soggy winter grass.

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How cool is this path? Although, yes, I can hear you say- if it was mine it would already have spots on!

Thank-you for being with us patiently and with continuing trust .  We are here, building something magical whilst still gazing up at the clouds.

With love and gratitude, Happy happy Summer xxx liz and the zoo xx

Fairy Garden

Once upon a time there was a magical garden.. full of real life fairies….who made real life fairy houses and believed in the power of their sparkly imaginations…

Most fairies know that the best magic is somewhere between what we see and what we believe… …

Hiding in the laundry…

Behind the flowers at the fishpond…..

But especially in the magical old hut at the bottom of the garden…

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So, despite, every other grown up thinking they were a tiny bit mad.. one big person decided to make a new village slightly closer to home.. just in case any visitors happened to fly by..

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After two years of .. er….mishaps.. there were plenty of mosaic pieces to pick from….

So with patient neighbours and a big hammer they began smashing and sorting…

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A fairy path was picked out with different stone slabs as well as treasured shells, seaglass, marbles, stones and other magical finds.

A rare and deliciously indulgent zone was entered into, on and off for a few days, in the gaps between children and animals who needed food and attention, and the body parts could relax in a rare moment of heat from the sun.

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After a little bit of internet inspiration……

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Tiles were covered in broken china, and an initial plan of colours and design attached with waterproof tile adhesive..

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Next the tiles were grouted with weatherproof stuff!! And then the village was patched together with areas of fake grass, coloured stones from the garden centre, to make paths and rivers, and painted in places to create pebbles, rocks and grassy banks. The paint used was acrylic and the coloured shed paint stuff used for the garden path. This all took a while to do, but by doing things properly.. getting each section into a seperate colour, texture and knowing what your plan for a design along the way gives a better finish and confuses the fairies a lot less.

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There is a beach with fishermen…

These little folks, collected by a well-wisher were donated to The Beach Hut lady last Summer at St Abbs Summer Fayre!

A Circus with animals, optical illusions and a glittery tent. We are sure this becomes a den of iniquity after lights out…xx

There is a Park with trees, picnic tables and a bridge over the path..

A playpark with a pool and fountain, a glittery elf and a ladybird convoy…

A duck-pond with benches and real ducks….

A church, with a green man and fairy gravestones..

Various houses including a shell house and the woodland pixie’s house. Already there are signs of life….

There is a bus to get about in…

And a gate for well meaning non-fairie folk…

And a fairy hill..

The grown ups and small people around here are waiting for visitors -winged or not..

This is a village which will keep on growing.. Night and day xx

A few more details…

Re-painting Aldi fairies !!! , Tiny tiny tables and a bridge for beetles!

Not sure which type though…

Better get the sketches out for the next plan….

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Be Happy…
keep believing xxx

Sea My Stix

Feel like you need a bit of extra colour in your life? Me too….Why let a few things like bones degenerating and limbs going wobbly slow you down…

Having spent five years now on crutches, people often ask what they are made from and where I got them.. They often start conversations and even friendships…

My crutches have remained waterproof and robust, with plenty of compliments over the years, stopping us in supermarkets, charity shops, airports, on the beach, in the village.. and many times we have been asked if we make copies….

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So now we shall.

We can now offer you the opportunity to have your crutches pimped and primed your way. Securely covered in the styles and colours of tape which resonate with you, as many designs as you like .

Do your wild thing to match everything you own!



Let’s rewrite the rule book and give our sticks some personality. These poor supports need some better press…

Crutches don’t need to be scary

Go to Facebook- Sea My Stix for more details xx

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All profits from wraps will go to community Art Groups x

For Z

november 018 039The last few weeks, a procedure on my hand has meant a  rest from all things requiring fingers and thumbs…which has limited my writing. Thankfully it is the singing and eating season so other bits of you get to be spoilt .The Christmas roller-coaster has begun in a joyful way with old and new friendships, very high notes thanks to the organist’s tendency to go up each verse.. as a wee joke… and a general spike of conviviality in the air.. Having joined the wonderful Echo Choir in Eyemouth  a few months ago, my new bunch of  ‘Leah’s  Aunties and I  popped up in many churches, priories and village halls – all of us a bit more hobbly than the next.. But helping each other on and off a variety of stages and podiums in our adopted new family..

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We were also special guests for the day at our previous group at Newbattle Abbey….The Rough and Ready choir. We were welcomed with a fantastic queue of hugs, many folk we hadn’t seem for a long time. It was really special, beginning the season with the assurance that true connections don’t break and it was a generous Christmas gesture which meant an awful lot. Thank you Marion!!

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Preparing for the entire Christmas magic and Santa as a single mum in a bungalow (with no spare storage!!) on crutches… And my handyman checking I’m not going up ladders…is not an easy task!

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We have had a brilliant variety of meet -ups  with all the community groups we work with, or who share their time with us, for final pre-Christmas Art group lunches and sparkly glittery sessions..

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And it was all going so well…….

Whilst quietly, happily, juggling hospital treatments, school plays and life…From nowhere both of us found ourselves fielding off not one but two unwanted pests

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The festive melting pot had decided to add resilience, patience and (a certain amount of) tolerance to the festive the mix……

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But…Our ethos is simple. We have time for everyone.  Life has served us a few bruised old lemons and we have made limoncello..

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Most people don’t mean to be grumpy. It can be a cry for help, a conditioned response that someone is actually being kind to them, that they deserve attention or love, or they might be simply having an off day……

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However. Repeatedly being unkind and scary for no reason is not ok. Being bullied is never ok.

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And we all deserve to walk away from people who bring a suitcase of dog poo to our door.

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Big scary days will come..

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And go again…….

And before you know it the sun comes out ..

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It would be so easy to lose hope or faith..

But

How would that help?

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Our bodies, our finances, our ideas, our tastes in clothes, our children’s opinions of us, and all these things change

But our real friendships don’t

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In my strange week of joy, fear, worry, and also a weary, poorly wee one (who still got through her exciting and very well done school show with aplomb….)Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses and closeup

A couple of unbelievably magical things happenedbook_letter_by_atilazz-d2zf8s41

Kindnesses from a couple of people believing in us and the Art hub we are trying to get started, invitations of friendship, offers of future support and a very very kind gesture of goodwill from a big heart who has made a huge difference. Because of you, we can make plans for after Christmas to help other people. You gave us validation and a sprinkling of magic. Thank you so very very much.

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Oh… and also someone gave us some chickens!!!!!

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A member of my group took the time to write a piece about our class. It was four pages long and utterly honest and heartfelt. In it she described her journey and first day, through to how much she loves the atmosphere and safe space in the room.

It was written from a true place of honesty and friendship… Z: I am in awe of your bravery. You voiced what many of our group want to say and can’t. You should feel so proud.

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You are an angel.

I came home, and stood in my kitchen and I wrote a poem thinking about you and all the amazing people we know..

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Because of brave people like you, like the amazing artists who come to the classes, or read our scribbles… our fears, whatever size they are, are lessened in company.

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Strong

On this day I would like to say 
That many people come our way , 
Some are amazing , fill us with joy
Lavish their time and their hearts employ 
Some inspire us , some make us calm , some are like blankets, our slippers, our arm … 
some will be there when the chips get all soggy 
Some will be there when the weather gets foggy 
But some try and scare us , or squash us right down, 
Some are so sad that they can’t help their frown
They won’t let you help them , you’re worn out just trying, 
Instead of your living your watching them dying 
It isn’t your fault , you only have you 
Make it your mission to make yourself true 
Stand in the mirror and tell those who scare you
I’m keeping my good friends 
Bully my tribe … how dare you ? 

To the very few determined to stay stormy….

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The rest of us;

Are, People believing in people.

You matter.

If you are in, or want to be in a group of like-minded humans.. You will find them.

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We are all about creating on a Monday to pay for people to create on a Tuesday, We smile through the down days because when we do, sometimes we realise the day isn’t as bad as we thought it was, and someone else is looking up at you for inspiration… You know who you can give your time to..

Z .You asked me who you can trust.  Now that’s a million dollar question. But stop panicking and feel. What are you seeing in a person’s eyes? Are they listening to you? Do they want to know what you feel, need, do, dream of ? If it is only on their own good days, it isn’t friendship.

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There are really people in the world that will ALWAYS have your back, even on their down days. They put them to one side for you. They half their meal and slide it onto your plate. Choose people who eyes you look into and see kindness.

 You have a million colours and there are people who want you to be a rainbow.

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Our ever growing family of friends, artists and makers are fabulous. We are growing strong roots from our hardy beans and I can’t wait to see what we all get up to next.

Until then, thank you from the bottom of my duct taped crutches for believing in Liz at The beach Hut, coming to our groups and classes, being so inspiring and kind to both me and mini and for reading our blog all year .Image result for christmas heart

There are new projects in the planning and we always need helpers!46960651_10156949153086869_5739689381208260608_n

Have a brilliant Christmas and we wish even the grumpiest of humbugs a sparkly festive time.

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Love and Hugs, Liz, Leah, Skye, Max, Molly, and now Sugar and Spice!!

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Chez Nous

 

Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of living in a white cottage by the sea….

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(Not in the sea)

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It just had to be magical .

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An old boat fashioned into a hut? . A perfect childhood den..

 

So, fast forward forty (odd) .. actually very odd years…but that’s another story…Wigwams in the garden/ hide outs in-between sheds/ childhood bedrooms designed and redesigned for a (usually- bored parent)  /numerous crazy junk-filled student flats/ an escaped marital castle. a temporary refuge and our hug house which help put us back together again…..but still, this little dream of a little blue and white house remained..

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My small person and I kept feeding the plan, despite massive hurdles. It had to have no stairs, and be a place of sanctuary . Where flowers grew, and the kettle was on.

 

We imagined…..

A seasidey, comfortable little house where people would feel at home, hydraengas in the garden and shells around the edges, inspired by trips to France and Greece and a love of deep Blue from iconic paintings and seaside holidays, ( So much so that my daughter has blue as her middle name.)

Image result for ultramarine blueI knew all our years of looking would be worth it. The ingredients were coming together  and we had faith in finding our home.  We knew it was here.

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As you already know, we spent a long time over the last year doing the groundwork, the garden, the inside etc. Finally, this week, we managed to get the walls done and it was like coming home..

…Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the mess was worth it. !

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We were lucky to have the best village painter and the weather held out so we got the job done in two days. Finally the whole picture came together .

Day one.

 

Day two.

So.. here is our home…Image result for heart

 

And the stripey detail drainpipes..

And the funky tattoo doorstep with the fishermen donated by the other beach hut lady.

And the beach blue windows..

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And the additional path colours.. Which will be a lifelong project I think. A bit like the forth road bridge…

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And the fab shipwreck wood half gate which will keep our neighbour’s little dog from escaping when we pup sit… ( It is a work in progress as it needed to go up before the rain hit… )… Another masterpiece from my dustbin- cover-upper-erer…

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And the beach…( which will be a long term working painting given the temperamental nature of my joints and the weather here!)

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That’s Molly giving it the once over… Again, it needs another coat.. not least because of the er.. snow affect my lovely painter accidently added in a mini blizzard. But also it will have more detail in it as time goes by…

Hope you like it. Think my six year old self would be quite pleased, given how many small people have congregated here this Summer!Image result for lifebuoy

I can feel the weather and my body getting less adaptable already, so I am grateful for these last few months of long sunshiney days. If I have had an ounce of energy it has gone into making what we have here, chipping away until each piece is done. It has been done on a shoestring, it hurts, its frustrating, but for now the biggest things are complete. You need the patience of a saint to build something yourself, and the skin of a rhino to throw off your critics….My rhino skills are sadly lacking but the positive comments and new friends made over the fence have more than made up for that.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible xx

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Love Liz

And six year old Liz xxx

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