Softly she falls, a girl, tumbling, slow. Kissed by each glistening web as she goes. Paper her wings, diamonds her eyes, Gazing through leafy, blue glimpses of sky. Snatches of songs sound, time softly fades. Windows flung open as years are replayed. Sharper and brighter than ever they were, She is the mirror reflected in her. Clearer her senses, kinder her eyes: Shaking off each heavy, dusty disguise. Knowing herself as she knew all along, Venturing forward, with courage so strong. All that she searched such an age to unearth, She’s finding in places, not tied to her birth. Little by little each piece is restitched, A tapestry woven from every last wish. Skin may be loose now, hair not so bright; But here still, the child; trading dreams in the night. Little by little, she paints every stroke. Watching her fears, softly vanish, like smoke. Every sense woken, she’s watching her hands. Sculpting her future on firm golden sand. No longer falling but flying through space. Walking each step with her back to the race . LW
Once there was a staircase
Sad and green and old,
Years of feet trod wooden boards,
Furry, young and old.
A rainbow hid inside,
Steps in shades of yesterday,
One by one they dried.
Books crept from each corner,
Words to tempt and teach,
Ultimate the library,
Almost within reach.
Pots and brushes laboured,
Early every morn,
Stumbling feet avoided,
painting fast at dawn.
Best remembered teachings,
Fairies, knights and whales,
Comforting as always;
childhood bedtime tales.
Read by aunts and grandpas,
Gifts from loves long past,
Spines of books so vital,
Out of crates at last.
Now the stairs dress boldly,
Each an outfit smart,
Stop halfway and linger,
Step enchanted art.
Open up your memories,
Warm your sock-wrapped tread,
Climb a little further, soaking
all the books you’ve read..
Take a rusty old birdcage found at the recycling. See it’s potential.
Sand away surface rust and dirt.
Lay a dust sheet under the birdcage. Use hard-wearing spray paint suitable for metal. Leave to dry between coats until both inside and out are covered.
Now for paper mache birds. You will need modroc plaster bandages, water, scissors, wire, newspaper, card, masking tape and a glue gun. (or you could just buy ready made model birds! )
Scrunching up a body from newspaper, attach a similar ball for the head with masking tape. Form a beak using tape too. Push wire through the body and out the other side to form legs, twisting the feet into however many toes you need.
Multi task building up layers of soaked modroc on your model, whilst simultaneously cuddling guinea pigs.
Some areas of your model might need tiny pieces of modroc.
Leave to dry and then begin layering coloured tissue paper with a mix of 50%water/50% pva brushed both under and over each layer)
Add more layers whilst learning your choir lines!
Paint details and textures with acrylic paint.
Don’t forget the feet!
Add lights and leaves to your birdcage.
Add feathers and more detail.
Leave to dry.
Add loops for hanging.
Glaze with modpodge varnish
If you can get your birds to stay in their cage please do put them there, sometimes though, they might just find their way back out again…
Not you as well. !!
Your birds will work equally well in and on your cage, lit up with your fairy lights.
Experiment with lights and greenery. Keeping any naked flame or hot bulbs away from plastic and paper.
Just don’t paper mache your guinea pigs xx
Autumn is coming and we crave a space to read and think and dream
Only…….. That might take a little lateral thinking! In a dining room which has been a storage corridor since we moved in.
Although not everything in the house is ancient,
We had feeling that there was a pretty nice slate floor under the years of carpet goo and dirt.
Our lovely tiler Tom worked his way through several types of solvent, patiently scraping, pouring and scouring
Eventually using a solution of very hot water and steam to bring out the patina of the stone. These old quarry tiles are a beautifully random jigsaw puzzle and form the oldest floor in the house.
And finally, our neighbour helped bring some furniture in enabling our garage to start to breathe a sigh of relief!
Some pleasures are so simple!
Oh bowls how I’ve missed you!
It felt amazing to finally see the space as a room at last, with no boxes to trip over
What was once an old kitchen or maybe an entrance hall suddenly started to look like a dining room.
Initially furniture needed to settle, to see how the room would be used. It was felt that the amount of dark furniture overwhelmed the space and two huge leather reading chairs, unfortunately didn’t quite fit in the nook.
Old and new Autumn colours and Textures
Although in the evening, dark spaces can be cosy and warm, we needed more light in the room.
Permission to paint!
Some lighter furniture bounces the light in the space now.
Our little Book nook
The oldest books have found their ideal bookshelves .
Now, just to find a moment to read them all … ❤️
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.
Now, what to decorate next?
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.
Yours in Paint,
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
fingers and is gone when you open your palm
For some she is silence
For some she is music
For some she is a frantic scrawl
For some a blank page
For some she flows from a new ink pen
For some she is a battered old school pencil
For some she is midnight
For some she is dawn
She is air and sound and in the gaps of the day
For some she is a craving
For all she is a need
She is forever just disappearing
You and your work still exists if nobody sees it.
Don’t wait for the perfect time
Once there was a tired old bedroom…
Stuck in it’s ways
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..
Many years ago, a very young Liz at the Beach Hut, had a Mopsie. Who had a little herb garden at the back of their cottage. In this garden were scents of wild garlic and herbs, mossy stones, exotic ferns poking out of crevices and shady corners where interesting wildflowers and fairies hid. Every visit would find a little girl also hiding there.
The first time we saw this house, it was the secret garden that did it for me. Instantly it felt like home. An old stone wall, probably an outhouse or stable in years gone by when the building was first built 300 years ago, encloses a scruffy little hotch-potch patch, perfect for alpines, a rampant rose and a variety of herbs. It is a place to plonk ourselves in the morning with coffee, and at night with something stronger. It is far from finished, but houses an old Belfast sink and a variety of bird perching- platforms and old lanterns: rich, dense greenery and pops of colour from surprise species of flowers, which suddenly reveal themselves with each new change in the weather. This space is a little sanctuary, welcome to our Mopsie Garden.
Every corner has a little bit of fairytale.
We even have our very own grape vine creeping in from next door!
A perfect spot for tea
Whatever you make it in!
Of course, at this time of year, even on the sunniest of days, our natural instinct is to make plans for Autumn days to come. And ever since we moved into this home, our biggest challenge has been how to create a cosy living space in time for this winter, complete the required damp proofing, and finish all the decorative challenges afterwards.
One of the original features was the fireplace, with a pretty nice wood burning fire already there. The doors open out so it feels like an open fire which I prefer on cold winter nights and of course, Christmas Eve.
You will be pleased to note I haven’t zoomed in on the spiders in this window seat, choosing to appreciate it’s merits from afar!!
Frustratingly, almost as soon as painting was allowed, damp proofing began, rendering the space unusable for weeks, with various jobs slotted in as things dried and were cleaned. New dado rails, shelves, some skirting boards, painting, wallpapering, a lot of bleaching and cleaning and a room began to emerge. The floors however, took a lot longer, as the carpet store decided to cancel the order due to stock issues. …… ((((BREATHE)))))))
Cushions were made for the window from Ikea blankets
Max decided the window seat was his!
And finally after our recent travels to Greece.. the carpet fitters arrived! Ahhhh!!! that lovely smell of new carpets! Especially after standing on carpet grippers and chasing moths out with the old ones!
I can’t tell you how long I have coveted my new sofa and how long it has sat in plastic, waiting to be unwrapped!!!
And finally, after what has felt like an absolute age, some of the furniture is starting to find it’s place at last! We actually have a living room!
Things that have been tripping us up look and seem to fit just right. Of course we will jiggle things about..
Change the odd rug or cushion, but that’s half the fun.
At least we can read a book and get a seat. (This one is a love seat for the more amorous guests)
A place to sew or listen to music.
Soooooo looking forward now to a cooler night so we can light a fire!
How long do you think this will be pet free?
A few of the textures, colours and patterns from the living room.
Maybe, one of these days, there might be time for five minutes off?
Maybe not ! xxxx
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
A little patience
And A lot of fertiliser xxx