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Category — Sun

Faith is knowing….

Every moment of every day there are choices to be made. And thank goodness for my poor overloaded brain, that I make these choices quickly, instinctually and without too much rumination. I was always a bit freaked out by the film Sliding Doors, where there is one tiny moment – she misses a train – that changes the whole course of her life. If I choose a peppermint tea and the triple naughty chocolate brownie in my favourite cafe Black Books, am I doomed? Well, my thighs may be, but what about the rest of my life?

Holding on tight to these thoughts, I travelled to my ocean of the west before I made any more irreversible changes to my shifting sands in Stroud. There is nothing like a quiet shoreline and a new day rising golden, to help you feel better and make your 65 year old self say to your 45 year old self “listen honey, you’re gonna make it through. Relax, it all works out”.

So I may well be feeling like a bit of old frayed rope washed up on the beach, but the earth still smells good, reminding me that different things are always quietly being composted and remade. The world keeps turning. And, as my soon to be 16 year old said, in a sudden moment of wisdom “to make an omelette mum, you have to break the eggs. By the way, whats for tea, I’m starving?”

I’m feeling so crowded and over exposed, which makes me snort and laugh at myself as I share yet more personal thoughts on the book of Face and a blog that can be read by absolutely anyone. But I always love reading about the ins and outs of other people’s truthful stories, it helps me remember that we all pretty much work through the same issues, feel the same anxieties and fragility; we hurt each other in similar ways, love and hold each other and mend in the same ways too. It is just life, it is what happens.

Pathways can be fraught with things you didn’t expect though, coming out of a bag at ya….one minute the way is solid, next thing you know someone’s carelessness, or their own pain, can have you right down there, wondering who turned the lights off. Turn towards the sunshine, feel your way right outta there sister. All things pass.

I’m not really sure where I am going with any of this, its just one more pathway in my head, one more meandering thought to carry me through March, towards spring and warmth, blossoms, more travelling, more pink scarf.

If I am very lucky my oceans of the West and East will be blue and sparkling when I reach them, my hometown midpoint in Stroud will remain lovely and friend-filled, and my wayward hormones will be kind to me.

“When you come to the edge of all of the light you’ve known, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown; faith is knowing one of two things will happen. You’ll have something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught how to fly.” Patrick Overter

March 16, 2014   5 Comments

By the Ocean (tinged with teenagers)

I have been so cunning this year about spending as much time as possible by the ocean…and here I am again…but karma is a sneaky beast and it is this trip that has had both a carrot and a stick. So yes, I have swam in my creek and loved my life. But I have also been frogmarched to the edge of my sanity with shoeless 15 year old boys and subjected to Thriftshop by Macklemore (google it my friends, and be warned, it’s not the sort of thrift shop you or I care to hang out in with our dreams of vintage…..) 

Hey ho, it is still time by the ocean…so let’s be positive. Gorgeous gorgeous. Hope your skies are blue too lovelies…..

August 18, 2013   No Comments

Womadness

Oh Womad, you  mad festival of wonderfulness – how much do I love you? Truly. You have blue skies, and flags, and colour and the BEST music in the world – how do you it time after time?

You veer me off my track of virtue with stone baked pizza at midnight, lovely hemp and nettle wool to buy, and thinking I can jump on my daughter’s shoulders at a late night Sheelanagig concert and get away without breaking anything. You bad, naughty Womad.

Even when you rain for a wee bit you are amazing. Arrested Development in a storm – well, it only made it better. Mud – yeah bring it on you crazy beast. We were up for a party.

Now on the face of it, I’ll admit, taking seven teenagers wasn’t the smartest. You know from my previous breakdowns that they can so mess with your head.

Oh, but let me tell you the truth of it my friends with small children – here is how it goes. You ease up on the curfews (they might not see you as being overly generous in this department) – and by the end of day one they are nocturnal. (O.K, so they are feral too, but hey, WHATEVER).

This means in theory that really you don’t see them before lunchtime, when they flop around for a few hours whining for chocolate spread and more money. Then they skidaddle into the night again. Bye…….

Well, that is the theory. They also cover themselves in Bob the Builder stickers (attention seeking behaviour, best ignored). They try to bully their sweet father into wearing a Pink Panther onesy  in 93 degree heat (honestly dad, it’s what you need, trust us).

They grow purple plastic monster feet and play the ukelele relentlessly. They wear your Doc Martens for an impromptu morning yoga session. Did I say morning? My mistake. But its all good…I think.

Oh sure its a long weekend of serious partying, but it is also totally chilled out and gorgeous – folk music on stages hidden in trees, little shaded places with cushions and blankets to sit on, middle of the night chai cafes and twinkly gardens. So sweet.

And the colour, did I already mention the colour. Gush. It was one long blogging moment, my happy heart.

I can feel myself tipping over the edge and getting completely over excited in telling you about my weekend. So I had probably better stop there. It was fantastic, it was fab, and if the measure of a good festie is feet – then oh people – this was it.

August 2, 2013   No Comments

Eleven ‘I Loves’ (of Summer)

Blue skies and heat – oh yes! Summer, I love yoooooooooo….so here are eleven I loves, to celebrate

Walking over the fields that are known locally as “The Heavens”, chatting to all the other morning dog walkers

Getting out my favourite summer table cloths, chair throws and cushions

The handpainted roof at the Red Hearth – a real community effort

Sitting on our deck in the evening sunshine, drinking Pimms

More light coming in to the house, especially since Mark, my hero, made them sparkle (boy can that man clean when the fever comes upon him)

Gathering herbs from my garden – mugwort, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, feverfew, raspberry leaf – my first choice for period pain

Sitting one last time with dear sisters at our Red Hearth in the woods

A bush full of shiny sweet redcurrants in the front garden

Summer flowers in the house

Grass meadows being cut for hay in the fields

All the doors and windows open, light and warmth pouring in

Beautiful summer, for as long as we have you, I thank you (and blow you a ridiculous number of kisses)

P.S. Just a little extra pic, to expel any myths you might be harbouring of my life being one long pretty photoshoot – teenage bedroom, complete with black walls, bin bags, dirty washing, overflowing bins, and a hopeful hound hoping to scoop up any foodie leftovers from dark corners…this is the other reality…

July 11, 2013   1 Comment

A question of focus

Well, my garden leave neatly dovetailed in to another ocean escape, so here I am, back in Norfolk, breathing out and watching the most stunning sunsets over my precious salt marsh, where our caravan lives.

Of course it isn’t all one big picnic…that journey took a circuitous route via GCSE’s, orthodontists appointments, doctor’s visits, card orders, tax returns, car insurance, housework, and the general hassle of living. But after a trek across London and East Anglia with a backpack, at last I’m here, and even though I have brought work with me, this is an official week of escape.

Stiffkey is a small village on the north Norfolk coast, and I’ve been coming here for nearly 25 years; it feels like home. And it’s small shop has the best cake ever…didn’t dare photograph the cake incase lemon lips had me arrested (I’m on a final warning) but here are some other lovely things i found there…

I love my time here. There are long walks in pine woodlands, walking and splishing by the shoreline, and supper with old friends

This week we’ve even had a small piece of summer (clever me for catching it, as it flitted across England, bound for luckier places like Spain) – here I am bleaching out, crisping up and tuning in to my favourite iPod playlists

There are fab things to rest your eyes on here – miles of pristine unspoilt salt marsh, hares in the fields at dusk, wild, empty beaches. Beauty is everywhere. It made me realise how very hard I sometimes have to work to see beauty back in my everyday world. And yet it is there, despite the nonsense that we are fed from the news and in the papers about what a dangerous, nightmare of a society we live in. Sure, there are some pretty scary things going down. But listen up! The EC has banned neonicotinoid pesticides to help our bees. Saudi Arabia has its first women in its previously all-male Shura Council, and Scotland is aiming to meet 50% of its electricity needs from renewables, having just exceeded its previous target.

Shall I go on? O.k, well, the Governments’ plan to sell our woodlands has been dropped after overwhelming public pressure, vandalism and gun crime has fallen to a 20 year low *, and proposals to protect the Arctic by creating a global sanctuary around the North Pole have drawn worldwide support.

And lastly, just to get it off my chest, whilst this is not a peaceful world, there are actually fewer wars now than ever, and 48% of the world’s populations are living in established democracies. So don’t let this over culture of lies tell you otherwise. Ooops, I think all this sea air has made me a little feisty. Seriously, good things are happening people….its all just a question of where we put our focus.

So, let me put my focus back onto the lovelies that I have been spying all around me up in these parts….

and finally these….

Forgive me for drawing you in with nice pictures and then wham! A big hit of world politics….but there are so very many things to be excited about, that are simply not being reported. O.k, time for me to get back behind my camera…and go and chill out with the seagulls. Sending love and sea breezes from the wild English coast.

* Official figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013

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May 29, 2013   1 Comment

Today

Today is Thursday, perhaps a good day to check in and say hello. There’s not been any bigness to my week really, not any grand adventures to make you swoon. No big excitements or scary bits (apart from Tuesday’s mad wind) to report. But it has been pretty nonetheless, in a frothy, blossomy sort of way.

A beautiful quietness has settled in our valley today, and I woke up hearing the sound of swifts in a cloudless sky. Herb and I meandered our way up to the Cemy, a nature reserve, to bliss out under the blossoms (and chase a few balls)

Following on from last weekend, I have been thinking about parenting and all its myriads of choices. Sadness for pathways not taken, children not born, and a love for what is. These ideas have woven their way into my artwork unconsciously and into a new small booklet that I am working on called Blessing the Way. It’s my journey into the land that is parenting, from birth through to the heroic act of letting them go. All from my shed at the end of my garden.

I’ve been squeezing in other jobs between the work of everyday too – this morning making a nettle tincture, from nettles picked earlier. With dropping iron levels and a lecture from my doctor about burn out, I figured this was a good start. No doubt it will taste revolting. Then I will know its working

I’ve been following the sun around my house like a woman possessed…working in whatever little slices of sunlight I can find, and where the wifi will grace me with its presence. A good spot was discovered today, perched on the front doorstep, where I can survey vast swathes of my property – all 20 feet of it. Second big advantage is that I can keep perfect watch over the newly transplanted squash that Cath and Sally gave me – like a sentry – that baby’s not getting eaten on my watch – oh no siree.

And finally, I have been painting a roof panel for Kesty’s Red Hearth which will open for the summer next month. My thoughts keep turning to honey bees and the communities that they create together. So too, the women in my life, and the circling that we do together.

It’s a message I keep coming back to over and over. Together we are stronger. Invincible. One of these days I will perhaps stop trying to go it alone, and actually share the load, delegate some jobs. But for today, there is blossom to smile over, a to-do list to tick off, and the merry month of May to love and be loved

One last word: nettle tincture alone will not deal with anaemia. I’m sure you already know that….but just in case! If you think your iron levels are dropping, get yourself checked out. I’m told cake is especially helpful in really dire cases…..

May 16, 2013   2 Comments

Beltaine

The dance begins…the land unfolds….the quickening pulses in the green

May I walk the hills with deepening gratitude for a life filled with soulful people. May my steps be light, even on days that weigh heavy, and may I move ever closer to the gift of trust that is being offered to me.

Let me remember to take time to turn my face towards the sunshine of blue skies, when they arrive in this often grey land, and to love the scent of Beltaine blossoms that fly sweetly through my valley

On Beltaine morning, I wish for a renewed and hopeful heart as I pour myself into plans and projects…even when some waned so badly last year, like the successions of my beans that were eaten time and again by snails.

By lemon balm, nettle, mugwort and Lady’s Mantle, may I love all that lives, and give thanks to herbs that heal, teas that soothe, hands that hold

Beltaine love and blessings to all that is seen, all that is unseen, all that is.

April 30, 2013   1 Comment

Sennen Slings

Ok its official, I have just had the best week ever. Remember I was last seen (a blog ago) hoofing off to Cornwall armed with the chocolateiest of chocolate muffins?

Ah well, it was to these lovelies that I sped, dear friends who need little persuading when it comes to the sampling of made up recipes of the cakey kind. Fickle, but true.

We had a complete blast….so much fun…..and it’s hard to know where to begin really. Wild ocean walks….

…delicious food, looking through old photos (in my top 10 of things I like doing)

….a wander around St Ives – my very favourite place ever

…crocheting, gossiping, plotting and, well, just having a great time.

I am not sure I was graceful when it was time for me to leave. Sawing off the toes on my clutch foot so I couldn’t drive home was a little dramatic. But David is a doctor, so I was quickly bandaged up and my cunning plan foiled. Hiding one of the tyres on my car was a waste of time too. Lisa has a particular talent for finding hidden things, and I was soon set on my way home…..sadness.

But I am jumping ahead. Before that there was plenty of time for messing about, which is precisely why my small potters wheel was on my check list. My plan was to once, just once, show off my expertise to said lovely friend, in the clay department. Silly me. This woman is amazing when it comes to making things (and any of our friends who have seen her carved bowls, spoons and beautiful weaving will agree with me). After a few crazy minutes of  wet clay flying around her studio and us laughing helplessly, she had the situation under control and was making the most perfect pot. Oh you fiend. Here is the photographic proof.

We had a completely fab day in my favourite Cornish town – St Ives – that I mentioned earlier. A beautiful meander around, all the while talking talking.

Followed by lunch with the very wonderful Cath, who soon set us to hard labour in the most shameful way, stacking the mother of all woodpiles in her sunshine vegetable garden. Actually, I loved it…I could’ve stayed forever.

And if a trip is going to be glorious, there of course has to be some badness in some way or another. Badness came in the form of David and a lethal 1920′s Savoy cocktail book. Oh my downfall.

Now, if you are going to fall from grace I suggest you do it properly. No sloppy half measures. And thus it was that we found ourselves dressing up for the occasion, in black tie, tails and vintage sequinned wear. How very splendid.

Singapore Slings he called them. Oh really? You naughty man. Sennen Slings is what they actually are – the badass big sisters of the former. Quite quite lethal.

Lisa and I quickly took charge of the next round of cocktail making. Oh yes, we had it all under control.

Do you know how utterly hilarious slippers seem whilst wearing tails, when youve had a couple of these bad babies???? Hilarious I tell you. OK, so you had to be there. And if you had you would have also witnessed an impressive piano recital, and a heroic beach rescue of the ‘bone’ kind. I will say no more. But it was so spectacular the evening has earned a place in my personal hall of infamy that swims around my less salubrious side of my nature.

So our tender heads and hearts just about recovered for a final beautiful walk to the Cape the next day, a wonderful and special place.

The ocean sparkled blue and the sun that we have all been waiting for all winter finally settled onto our upturned faces. Life is good.

Thank you sweet friends for my very lovely escape. I hope to see you again soon.

April 24, 2013   No Comments

Blue sky days

It’s not the dark that I mind about wintertime, no, dark I love. It is the sometimes relentless grey that makes me a tad obsessive about tracking the sun, and those blue skies that come with it. Watching, waiting for it to arrive….willing it to burst into this waiting valley of mine….

This week we woke up to golden….that most precious of lights, filtering in through the curtains and dancing a little in our front gardens

And hot on the heels of the golden beginning – oh yes! Deeply blue – it’s all I really need to be happy. Sometimes I forget this, and meander down the road of other loves: books, music, chocolate, lost stripey bobble hats….but no! Deeply blue – it’s as simple as that.

I get all dizzy with excitement and run up the nearest hill to catch this possibly fleeting light

….whereas Miss Martha, the coolest of cats, stays close to home and tracks the sunshineyness as it seeps into the garden

I love the way winter light tickles around our house – it’s not the windows-flung open, big hot light that washes inisde during the summer (yes, I did say summer, hope springs eternal). But this light is pretty nonetheless, and it shyly whispers into rooms when you’re not watching

I look at my house with different eyes, as it pours into otherwise dark corners

Sometimes this is a good thing….clothes I wear and wear until they beg for mercy look a little more colourful and forgiving in the day’s goldenness

My windows however are less than merciful as the light makes them scream out ‘you see, look everyone, we haven’t been washed since 2007, shocking, this is how she treats us, the hussy’. Well, that’s enough of that nonsense. It’s bad enough that my ears suffer stropping teenagers, I’m not about to have backchat from windows as well. And anyway, I have a hot date on the deck….

Because it is still February, and technically winter, there is still fireside watching and sofa sitting that can be done, when friends drop in, in their lovely layered woollies.

I am even beyond caring whether it is cold or not. It is the magical soup of deeply blue sky that I want to fall in to, throw myself in to, give myself up to, completely, utterly, for ever. So there you have it. Full. Deep. Blue. Grateful. Me.

February 20, 2013   5 Comments

A few February days…..

Am I meandering through these days, tumbling through them, or just standing still and staring at my feet?

A little bit of all three probably. February does that to you sometimes. So to begin with, a Fairy Mouse (that I promised to show a while back) – because knitting small creatures is really the only thing to do when waiting for the light to return. She has a naughty sister that she visits sometimes and together they eat chocolate and scamper around attics causing mayhem and badness.

So back to my February days. There are early mornings making bread.

….and crazy afternoons with my favourite small boy….

There are hills waiting to be walked

…and a Sunday morning escape to our local art gallery to see Simon Packard’s fantastically bold and inspiring work.

Anything can fill a February day, and very often does, such is their disorganisation. February sometimes doesn’t know what it is. Is it deep, dark winter, or is tipping into Spring? It waits and watches, or tiptoes hesitantly, less it shakes more snow and blueness on to us.

If you are lucky, it will give you days of sisterhood, sweet balm to the soul, even if not all your precious sisters can be there.

And if that is so, you will walk those hills, and watch together for that returning light…

….and it will come….

There may well be sunsets the colour of peardrops and happy hearts to match

…with hands held quietly, and strong arms around us. These are a few of my February days.

February 9, 2013   4 Comments