Friday, 12 February 2016

On the way to Santiago

My walk continues to influence me in subtle ways; the clearing of 'stuff' benefits the local hospice shop and helps me clear the space in my head. I had intended to write more posts but see that my last post was in November. Catching up on life took time after 6 weeks away and I had to prepare for Christmas events. I had a stand for 2 sucessful weekends at Blackthorpe Barns and held my own open studio event for 2 more weekends. It was lovely meeting previous visitors again and welcoming new people. Then Christmas arrived and we had a lovely day here, setting up the table in my studio which was fun. Our first family Christmas here for quite a while, perfect.
Back to the walk, a few photographs from the first few days.
This is the beautiful old bridge at Zubiri, reached after a long, very hot 22kms. The next day was my birthday and it was an amazing day.
I had birthday greeting sung in 3 different languages, happy birthday said in several languages including
Swedish and Arabic. Birthday lunch was a delicious spinach tortilla at a riverside cafe.
At this wonderful peaceful church you could climb into the belfry and ring the bell once to send your prayers across the valley.
That night was spent at a peaceful hostel at Arre, an old convent.
A delicious meal to end a memorable day, here with Rose from Holland, Felicitas and Pia from Germany.
Next was Pamplona, which was too busy for me, I wanted peace and quiet! Although I loved these marble dogs in the Cathedral.
There were some amazing sculptures along the way.
After a good sleep in Zariquiegui we left in the dark before sunrise to get up to Alto del Perdon where there are wonderful iron sculptures of pilgrims, as well as lots of wind turbines.
I loved St. Pedro church in Estella where I received a gift of a small yellow arrow brooch from a kind man I talked to for some time. I lost socks and 2 hats along the way that became my 'Camino gifts' to the pilgrims that found them . I was humbled by the kindness of so many people I met, both pilgrims and locals.
A few days later we stayed at another of my favourite hostels at Granon. It was an old monastery with a church. We went to Mass and then there was a meditation time by candlelight, Very moving. We helped prepare and shared a communal meal and slept in a big loft space on gym mats.
How simple and good life can be.
Part 3 of the walk will come, but now back to real life! I've enjoyed working on some new lino cuts, here's a couple of them.
I'm loving learning the basics of pottery with a potter friend Sally, she's a great teacher. I love the feel of clay and the processes involved; so much to take in!!
My first pieces, the bird waiting to be decorated.
The start of slab building my hare! With the addition of a thumb pot which became the head and the ears, it did emerge as a hare! Here he is getting to know my finished bird.
I'm having a lot of fun.

Monday, 16 November 2015

I'm Home

Back in August I'd intended to write a post before I went away, but I ran out of time. Early that month I finally made up my mind to book a flight to Biarritz, the first part of getting to St. Jean Pied de Port in France. I'd decided to start to walk the Camino Frances, also known as The Way of St. James or the Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrim path. I'd cleared September of art events and teaching, bought a guide book and talked to a friend who'd done it in 2 stages but didn't read much about it; wanting to experience it for myself. Louise, Barney and William took me to the airport and it was sad saying goodbye. I remember thinking what on earth am I doing? Can I manage the walking? I was full of doubts and apprehension but I knew I needed to get away, have a big adventure and it certainly was!
I was walking as a pilgrim, just me and my rucksack, on my own to give thanks for my son's health and for my own. My Mum died at 66 and I started the walk at the same age; I feel so lucky to be fit and healthy; I've missed her so much throughout my life and the walk was partly in her memory.
St. Jean was a delightful place and together with some other pilgrims we found a bed for the night and set off early the next morning.
The first day was one of the toughest, 25.1 km and climbing from 200m to 1,450m into the Pyrenees. Frequent stops to admire the view and catch my breath were needed! The rewards were the lovely cafe at Orrison, the hill ponies running free, the flocks of sheep, the popup roadside cafe (a van) high up in the mountains and interesting people. It was a joy to be walking in the beautiful landscape even though the wind threatened to blow me away! I was glad to be weighted down by my rucksack!
Reaching Roncesvalles (valley of thorns) and booking a bed in the recently renovated albergue was a great feeling and the substantial, cheap pilgrim supper that evening was very welcome. First day completed and I did think that hopefully barring accidents I would be able to complete the whole walk, but never having done anything as long as this or as mad it all felt unknown.
Our first pilgrim supper with Co from Holland, Felicitas from Germany and Barry from Cornwall.
A reminder of the distance ahead!
I've been back for over a month now and am still assimilating the effects of the wonderful journey I had. Each day brought new experiences, places, foods, people; there were highs and lows and it's hard to describe how it's affected me. It was a spiritual journey I'm so glad I took, deeply moving, very tough physically and emotionally but enriching.
There will be more about it in future posts, but I did make it to Santiago and then walked on to Finisterre on the coast, a total we worked out of 850km. I'd allowed 6 weeks which was just right, I arrived back home on October 7th. The homecoming has also been deeply emotional, tears of joy seeing my family and friends again. It has taken time to really arrive home after 6 weeks of total freedom. I've just started to read the journal I kept and it brings it back to life so vividly. I remember the camaraderie of the Camino, the interesting people I met from all over the world, the wonderful scenery, the kindness of the Spanish people and other pilgrims. The walking became my meditation, I loved it.
Sheer joy and exhilaration!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Lots of fun....

They say that time flies when you're enjoying yourself, so I guess I have been. Ages since my last blog, mainly preparations for Cambridge Open Studios; as it takes time to transform my space I now open for all 4 weekends in July. It was a successful OS with lots of lovely, interesting people visiting from all over the place. I so enjoy meeting people who take time to travel out to the sticks to sleepy Steeple Morden and made new friends and useful contacts with other artists.
 I even managed to take a photo or two and as my sister came to help actually appeared in one!
I'd planned a day at Art in Action as I missed it last year, so Gina and I had a lovely day.
Of course I found the Printmaking tent fun and also loved the ceramics on display, purchase mades in both!
The willow weaving interested me as I was booked at Cottenham Summer school on a weeks course.
That was at the end of July and I really enjoyed getting to grips with a different medium. I've always wanted to try it and thought I must do it before my arthritus in my hands makes it impossible! Sue Kirk was an excellent, talented tutor who guided us expertly through the different weaving techniques and types of willow. I enjoyed the whole process but my hands didn't! They have flared up in new places and have been quite sore, but as I'm having a rest from even lino cutting for a while are gradually settling down.
The beginning of my round basket and it finished; roundish!!
It took me a day and a half, as did the following one which was very tricky!
The last 2 days were on garden structures and this sphere even came home one evening to work on!
It now sits in my garden along with 2 dragon flies which I haven't photographed yet.
A fun week and Barney and William have already found a use for one of the baskets, it was a helmet when they were playing racing cars!
Now I'm spending 2 days in Dorset before preparing for Folk East, a festival near Woodbridge. I'll be demonstrating screen printing on textiles for 3 days; should be fun!
During all this I have been preparing in different ways for my big adventure....more soon... but it involves walking.....
Sorry, this picture seems to have disappeared, here it is!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Walking in Cornwall

After arriving in heavy rain at Penzance and nearly getting blown away by force 6 winds, it didn't bode well for 9 days walking part of the south west coast path. We set off the next morning in full waterproof gear!
Luckily, the rain stopped by 11 and the day gradually brightened and layers came off as it warmed up.
Newlyn is still a busy fishing town.

Wild flowers everywhere, the sun shining, beautiful views and hardly anyone around., wonderful!
I loved this beach of huge boulders like giant stepping stones, fun to walk across.
A small scabious and masses of thrift.
I loved the spectacular views, the silence, the wind cooling me down, the towering cliffs, the many shades of blue in the sea, changing all the time. Just stunning, I felt so lucky to be strolling along in such a beautiful area.
My friend Sue and friendly dog we met along the way.
The ruined buildings in the tin mining area were interesting, no sign of a certain person galloping by.....
My favourite, so atmospheric. We sat and had our lunch here, then walked the path over the hill... more next time.
Cambridge Open Studios is here again and I'm opening my studio all 4 weekends in Juy. Very busy getting ready, new prints, new designs on tea towels, aprons and cushions and lampshades.
Birds and Flowers
New mugs and coasters
A new lampshade and lanterns
More cards to pack, framing, dusting, tidying, hanging... two days to go,
looking forward to meeting more lovely people.
I nearly forgot to mention this fabulous book
I have copies to sell at my studio, I haven't photographed my pages yet but one of my designs is in the introduction.