Sunday, 19 December 2010


We've been snowed in for 2 days now, although I don't think t's as cold as in central England. More expected tomorrow and we have the quandary of what to do about David. He's booked a train to Dorchester tomorrow but if it snows as predicted we don't think we can get there to meet him (8 miles of untreated single track roads and we don't have a 4 wheel drive vehicle). His hall is open for the whole of the holiday so we may have to tell him to stay there and we'll go and get him if and when we can get out. The decision will have to be taken first thing tomorrow when we see how much has actually fallen.
Went for lunch in the pub today and were the only customers for the second sitting at the carvery which is usually fully booked. There was certainly plenty of food.
We are so lucky to have a pub and shop within walking distance.
I've just looked out in the garden, there's ice on the inside of the conservatory windows but outside it's magical, moonlight on snow covered fields, it's as bright as day.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Victoria Sponge

So here it is, a bit baggy, but better than being tight I suppose.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Brushing up my sewing skills

When we moved here in August, everyone we met said
"You have to get involved in the pantomime, that's how to get to know people."
So we went round to the first meeting in September and volunteered.
I offered my fairly basic sewing skills (emphasising the basic bit) and Simon said he'd help backstage.
About a month later, Debbie left a message
"I'd like to come round and discuss a costume with you".
Over coffee, she said she wanted me to make a costume for the Dame.
"Ok, but I'm really a very basic sewer and I do need to follow a pattern."
In this particular panto the Dame is called Victoria Sponge and Debbie's idea was that she should look like a cupcake.
"Do you have a pattern"
Oh yes, and here are some pictures of costumes I downloaded from the internet.
Ok so far. But the pattern is for a woman, and the dame is a man. Debbie has taken his measurements without his false breasts and he is nine inches bigger round the waist than the pattern size. And , of course he is man shaped, wider shoulders, longer body...... so a lot of adjustments have to be made, added to which, when he does put on the false breasts they are positioned remarkably high for such a mature lady (even more adjustments, Debbie says it's because he hasn't had children).
The pattern is for a skirt and top, the skirt is orange with a big stripe of red round (cake and jam you understand), there's an overskirt of buff which is tied up and studded with bright red pom poms (icing and decoration). The top is also buff, fitted and boned (steep learning curve here, boning is completely outside my experience). It is made in three layers, I have no idea why, one of course provides the lining, by this time I've run out of buff fabric so the lining is orange, hey ho.
And finally the outfit is completed by a bright red mop cap, complete with stalk and leaf, to represent a cherry on the top of the cake. Which is fine, and not difficult to make, however, when I completed it, I put it on and went to show Simon. He took one look and announced that it's obscene and certainly not suitable for the matinee. Good thing I attached the stalk with an elastic band, is all I can say.
Last Wednesday I contacted The Dame to tell him his dress was ready to try on but his car was off the road, on Wednesday night we had 4 inches of snow and no gritters, so that prevented him from coming over. The result of all this is that tomorrow is the dress rehearsal and he still hasn't tried it on. So, I'm hoping I've erred on the big side and have fitted it with strategic safety pins, but the main thing is that I really hope I've made it the right shape. They really needed a much better dress maker than me, the finishing is appalling and I've had to make various tucks and pleats where strange extra bits of fabric kept appearing. So finger's crossed and watch this space.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Stuck in the house

Stuck in the house again, a replay of last winter.
When we moved from Dorset to Bucks, 18 years ago, it snowed on the day we moved in (in April), David was delighted because he hadn't seen much snow before,and I don't remember conditions like this here.
Perhaps we need to think a bit harder about global warming. Maybe it's not all bad.
I read somewhere that the start of the new Ice Age coincided with early man's mass burning of the forests to clear the land for farming which created sufficient co2 to stop the big freeze happening.
In the past Ice Ages have lasted anything from 80,000 to 100,000 years, with the intervening interglacials being much shorter, 10,000 years at most. We've now been ice free for 14,000 years.

"scientists used ice cores to decipher past changes in temperature, they also analysed the gaseous composition of trapped air bubbles in the ice. Such analysis revealed that during the last Ice Age, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were significantly lower than they were before mankind began polluting the atmosphere.
In fact, reconstructed records of temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide were found to match almost exactly. Since carbon dioxide is a significant greenhouse gas, it is believed that initial climatic changes resulting from orbital variations were somehow affecting the composition of the atmosphere, to the extent that a lowering of carbon dioxide concentrations was increasing the global cooling."

Friday, 24 September 2010

After the rain

The best thing about a rainy afternoon.. fabulous sky as it clears away.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The New Class and Lemons

Today I'm thinking about my new class.

I've done very little planning as I have no idea who is going to turn up and I want to talk to those who do about what interests them, and plan accordingly.

This is strange for me, I usually like to be very clear about what we're going to do and I feel quite uncomfortable.
I will take a still life and some of the things I'm working on at the moment, plus a few ideas and books by my favourite painters and see what happens.

Meanwhile, we've been enjoying living in our new home.
I have bought a lemon tree for the conservatory. We found it at Sherborne market, it's really healthy, lots of new growth with wonderfully scented flowers and three good sized lemons. It drinks a full can of water every day. I had a small lemon before but it dried out when we went on holiday and died so I'll have to make sure someone waters it every day if we go away.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Gradually getting there

Since it took us two weeks to pack everything I suppose I can't expect to have it all unpacked and stowed away any more quickly.

The sight of yet another box is daunting but there are things which haven't turned up yet, like the marmalade and my trainers, which I'd really like to have. So that keeps me on track.

Today I'm tackling the dining room.

It's raining heavily, which stops me wanting to go drawing. Yesterday Simon went out on his bike, he says the road from Piddletrenthide to Cheselbourne is looking particularly good and I have to get out there before they cut all the corn, so that's the plan for this afternoon, so long as the rain stops.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

So here we are

After yesterday's experience, we really expected the removal men to be here at 8 as they said. But at 10.30 we were still waiting.
Once they came, however, they worked quickly and by 1.00 everything was in, apart from the contents of the third lorry, which still hadn't turned up.
The guys rang their boss, who had difficulty contacting the driver, then we heard he was somewhere near Ringwood.
Not only had he got lost, but he'd run out of fuel.
One and a half hours later, he arrived with the last few things. Our guys were not best pleased as they had to sit and wait for him since he couldn't lift the stuff alone. They went through an entire loaf of sandwiches, lots of sugary coffee and three packets of biscuits.
So, anyway, everything's now here, nothing appears to broken.
The very heavy, iron framed piano has completed the journey down the steep slope at Studley Green without mishap.

Removal man "Do you really want this old bit of wood?"
Simon "She's an artist"
Removal man "Ah"

Removal man "What about this rusty bicycle wheel"
Me "It's part of a sculpture"
Removal man "Ah"

We also realised we should have labelled things "big shed" and "little shed" rather than "studio" and "shed". I have quite a few garden tools to paint with, and Simon will be able to read about watercolours next time he gets the mower out.
It's half past nine, I'm shattered, Simon and David are discussing where to keep the beer and the cats are investigating all they new shapes that have appeared in their world.
Night, night.

Monday, 9 August 2010

What could possibly go wrong

So here we are on the big day. Al boxes packed and waiting for the removal company. being such a big move we booked a national company, one that we used when moving with Army. With that reputation all was expected to go smoothly, except at 8:30 this morning:

Ring, Ring......Ring, Ring

Hello, Simon here

Hello, this is the removal company (RC)

Me: oh, hello

RC: We have a bit of a problem. The lorry that we had booked to do your move has been hired out to another company.

Me: Hahahahahahah (no, I really did find it funny)

RC: We've been ringing around and we've now found three vehicles and they be with you a bit later, sorry.

As I said, what could possibly go wrong!. So here we are at 11:30, surrounded by boxes and bored stupid and still no sign of the removal men.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Moving day tomorrow

Well this is the last night in St Francis Rd. We've lived her for eighteen years, David has grown up here, I 've finished one career and started a new one.
It's the first time we've lived anywhere long enough to really put roots down and we've made so many good friends, it's a real wrench to leave.
But I so want to go back to Dorset, I want to be able to go to the sea whenever I feel like it, I want to live away from the sound of traffic and in a place where I can see the stars and I want a studio.
Our new home answers all of these requirements and , yes, it will take time to settle, maybe longer than when we were younger, but I am looking forward making new friends and the challenge of working in a new landscape.
And meanwhile, lots of you have said you will come to visit and I really hope you will. As you can see, Sadie is determined we won't leave her behind!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Nearly a Dorset Resident

I write this sitting in the conservatory at Ansty, listening to the small sounds of the night and watching a spider which lives in a crevice by the wall, one leg protruding.

We haven't quite moved in yet, and have to return to Bucks tomorrow to complete the packing, but the last couple of days have been a peaceful interlude before the removal van arrives on Monday. And I have enjoyed the casualness of camping in our new house with very basic equipment. It may not be the same once I have all the niceties of normal life, I will welcome the arrival of our bed and the dining room chairs, but have quite enjoyed not having a television.

The studio is more or less complete, the sink is fitted along with much of the original kitchen from the bungalow. All my work is here, all the paints and canvas to make new images and lots of ideas which are rolling round in my head.

Of course, most of my thoughts are to do with the landscape, harvest is reaching it's peak and the fields are interlaced with tracks, stands of uncut corn, neatly shaved areas and hayricks. And there are birds, I've seen buzzards aplenty, house martins whisk to and fro over the garden and pheasants make stately progress across the horse field below. On the lawn we have regular visits from pied wagtails. The skies are so big, great billowing cloudscapes lit from below.

I'm very interested in the river at Blandford, it's sluggish at this time of year, full of reeds and waterlilies, buzzing with small swarms of insects and heavy with reflections. The ducks gather by the weir, under the new blue footbridge, they dabble and quarrel and do what ducks do.

I want to start by making some new canvases. I have quite a few stretcher bars and some very nice fine grained canvas. I have to make them while the weather is still good enough to work outside, as the rabbit skin size that I use to coat them smells of unwashed socks. I haven't used the new hob as yet so it's first job may well be to melt the size.

We went to the coffee morning today and met a few of our soon-to-be neighbours, the talk is of village fetes and cream teas, the tap dance class and badminton sessions and we certainly won't miss the village pantomime. We were welcomed and I had a good look at the building with a view to organising art classes. There is a small hall with a washable floor and light folding tables which will be very suitable, so I hope to get something organised for the autumn.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A hot and Sticky Tuesday

Missed the private view of AFAS at the The Mall this evening because we couldn't face London on such a sticky day. A shame because I'd have liked to see the exhibition. I've got some of the human landscape series of paintings in.

I spent today pairing up pictures of similar size and wrapping them in bubble wrap ready for transport to Dorset on Thursday. Can't believe how much stuff I've got.

It's raining now, hopefully that will clear the atmosphere a bit.
We are eating strange meals as I wind down the freezer for the move. There are things in the bottom that haven't seen the light of day for a very long time, some are completely unrecognisable and some have no labels, so mealtimes are becoming increasingly experimental.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Chettle Week

Just back from a great week, painting in Chettle, with Clare Shepherd, the best tutor I know.
Chettle has a tiny village hall, where you still have to feed the electricity meter. 18 of us use it as a base to explore new ideas and revisit old ones. There is always a waiting list and I make sure of my place by booking for next year as I leave.

Chettle is in a time warp. Most of the time all you can hear are the house martins swooping and chirruping and tractors of various sizes coming and going to the farm next door. Harvest is in full swing and at night great alien lights appear over the fields (generally attached to combine harvesters)

The village hall is next to an orchard of very old apple trees, sometimes inhabited by sheep. Opposite is a field which frequently has a herd of Jersey cows. During the week a girl came past with a two month old calf, whose long lashed eyes looked far too big for her head. She is being trained to walk on a halter so she can be taken to shows.

Everyone greets you, if you are working outside, everyone stops to chat. It's a gentle rural community, with a shop and a post office that's open sometimes and no street lights. A very special place.

I came back feeling refreshed and sure that my work has moved on, I have lots of ideas to explore when I get into my new studio.
And now the packing starts.......