Monday, July 31, 2006

Walk Ninety-eight – The cousins

Dinner al-fresco at Verdi’s (a lovely little Italian Restaurant converted from, believe it or not, a public lavatory) in Clarence Park, with Patrick’s family. I walked and the others drove there. Hugo and Xavier were too busy playing to be caught in these thumbnail sketches.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Walk Ninety-seven – Sun setting over the woodland park

Rachel and I walked around the Woodland Park – our last evening before she returns to Hong Kong. She entertained me with stories of expatriate ladies who like to have alcoholic props with them wherever they go – known as the ‘rattling handbag’ brigade.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Walk Ninety-six – Walking at home


This walk was done around the woodland park early in the morning before going out to a Belmont Abbey class of ’74 school re-union. Such a lovely day, being with friends from my two happiest years at school.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Walk Ninety-five – Last day in Ireland – ever!

I walked around Limerick this morning to kill time until heading off to the airport at lunch time. I was so looking forward to seeing my wonderful loving family at home.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Walk Ninety-four – Free at last


Yesterday, my uncle as executor, reluctantly permitted us three children to view the contents of my mother’s house, under his supervision, to point out the few sentimental but valueless items we would like to have. In the house there was a picture frame that had always contained a photo of me at the age of eighteen. My mother had replaced it with one of herself – in fact there were many pictures of her around the house but none of me. I found a notebook where she specified that she did not want her body laid out at a funeral home, nor did she want a religious funeral service – just her ashes scattered on the river Barrow. So all that effort to arrange precisely what she didn’t want. Maybe that’s what hell is — watching as your relatives well-meaningly completely fail to carry out your wishes.

Today we had a very long day sometimes emotional, sometimes funny. We drove from Limerick to Dublin to collect Mummy’s ashes. We then drove down to her childhood home stopping at Carlow to have lunch. All three of us ate boiled bacon, cabbage and potatoes (my mother’s favourite meal). We arrived in Borris, met up with the others and reminisced about childhood holidays. Patrick bought Rachel a Fry’s Peppermint Cream chocolate bar, reminding us of the time, in Borris, at the ages of eight and six, that Rachel had pretended to finish her chocolate and had then tortured him by lingering over every mouthful after he had finished his. We set off for the river, which was just as beautiful and unspoiled as I remembered it.
After wandering up and down the banks and across the lock we eventually chose a spot.

Rachel read one of Mummy’s favourite WB Yeats’ poems and I read a poem called ‘Be Calmed’ a friend had written and sent to me. Patrick poured the ashes into the river, we threw in red and white roses and we played a recording of Isa Lei, the Fijian farewell song. After a little weep we took some photographs to remind us of the spot (which we are unlikely to ever visit again) and I did this illustration. We then walked up the hill to see if we could find the fresh-water spring where we used to collect drinking water, before my Granny had water piped to the house. We bumped into a couple of local women and in chatting to them, probably gave them enough gossip to make them the centre of village life for the next five years.

We then set off on the long drive back to Limerick. Patrick, having checked that Rachel had finished her chocolate bar, brought out another bar and tortured her by lingering over every mouthful…

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Walk Ninety-three – The banks of the Shannon

We were up early this morning to attend the 10 o’clock funeral service at St John’s Cathedral for my mother. I had spent days meticulously planning everything, so I was disappointed that my uncle — who had been given the honour of giving the eulogy — was only preparing his speech from all the stories we had sent him at this late stage. He seemed to be shocked to discover that his fulsome eulogy was going to be put into a loving but nevertheless truthful context by my introduction to his eulogy. However, I had given him the information days in advance, both my siblings and the priest were aware of and supportive of what I had written, and if he chose to leave it to the last minute to read the text I had supplied to him, then he only had himself to blame. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13 — Love is always truthful. The service was wonderful despite his lack of preparation. Father Liam had a marvellous Irish tenor voice and led all of the singing. At the beginning Rachel placed photographs of Mummy and our family on the altar. Every single hymn and reading had been selected for its beauty and appropriateness and all of the readings apart from the Gospel were read by people who knew Mummy. At the sign of peace we all placed white roses on her coffin as a sign of making our peace with her. We all sobbed at various points during the service.
After the service I walked along the river frontage and did this drawing

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Walk Ninety-two – Stab city

I probaby walked a couple of miles around Luton airport and that godforsaken dump of place – Limerick, but the only opportunity I had to draw was on the plane over. This is an unintentionally unflattering picture of my dear brother Patrick, but he said he wouldn’t mind if my attempts to draw him weren’t entirely successful.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Walk Ninety-one – The bluebell wood

A quick walk as the sun was setting. Also fifty orders of service to print and make up, so lots to do.

No time to post

I did walk and draw today, but with all the last minute arrangements I need to make and sort out before we go to Ireland, I won’t be posting until I get back. So catch up time will be in about a week.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Walk Ninety – My chatty Dad


I drew Daddy and Sally from the other side of the now very dried up pond. Rufus did his hippopotamus impression and came home covered in a layer of evil-smelling mud.
I know I’m going to be like this when I’m old – my Dad is instigating a conversation with dog-walking Rosemary who he’s never met before.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Walk Eighty-nine – Xavier on Grace’s bench

A quick walk to the bluebell woods after an exhausting day. My daughter Flo was back from her tall ships’ race, but only had a few hours at home to catch up on sleep while I laundered all her clothes and got her packed and off to the train station for a week’s summer camp. Robin and the boys are away and I have a lot on. However I received a very funny blackly comic e-mail from a friend which has kept me bouyed up for the last couple of days, and no, I’m sorry I can’t share it with you because you just wouldn’t appreciate it unless your mother is like her’s and mine.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Walk Eighty-eight – My sister

Too tired to write - off to bed

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Walk Eighty-seven – Dawn

A sleepless night in this heat, so I gave up at five o’ clock this moning and went for my walk. The second picture was a patch of rainbow colours in the sky which was something like a ‘glory’ but with vague undefined edges.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Walk Eighty-six – Ireland – the new silicon valley – ha!

Can you believe this – apparently there is no guaranteed postage service in Ireland and so even if you’ve booked flights, accommodation, services, ashes scattering ceremonies, if you haven’t received the form to give permission to have your loved one cremated, and returned it in time in advance of the cremation, it can’t be done. When you suggest e-mail they say ‘I’ll ask if the crematorium have the e-mail and would they be sending the e-mail to 86 High Street?’ Then, when dictating an e-mail address you have to explain that ‘at’ is the funny ‘a’ with a curl around it. And as for the solicitor sizzling in the white heat of the technology in his offices, he must have worked really hard to create a 9.5mb pdf of a two page black and white document – the most I can manage is about one megabyte when I’m creating a pdf of a 20 page full colour magazine!

Oh and this was an early morning walk before the funeral arranging grindstone!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Walk Eighty-five – Now then, now then

Xavier’s catch phrase at the moment. Boiling hot evening, quick walk round the woods, struggling not to be hurt by my mother for the last sting in the tail.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Walk Eighty-four – Hugo and Rufus

My 12 year old son under a tree in the Jersey Farm Woodland Park. My father has come to his senses and is now being much more supportive. I have my main bread and butter work for this month to finish off, working out a complicated itinerary of siblings in Hong Kong and France, child care arrangements, flights, hire cars, funeral arrangements in Ireland and goodness knows what else to sort out so you’ll have to imagine a map of the route round the Woodland Park.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Walk Eighty-three – Tom and rusting gate

Tom walked with me again and he took photographs. I’m trying to keep busy. My dear father, who hasn’t seen my mother since they divorced over twenty-five years ago, when I was eventually able to give him the news, got it into his head that he wants to talk to my mother’s priest in Ireland. We all know that (as with almost everyone around her) she seriously fell out with the priest and reported him to the bishop for some imagined misdemeanour. So – despite my advising against it – my father (who is waiting for a hearing aid) insisted I give him the address immediately. So I have a very sore throat from having to shout down the phone at the top of my voice ‘O’ - for ORANGE, ‘L’ for LIMA etc. At no point did he consider that as the children are going to have to sort things out, it might be considerate to support whatever we want. You have to see the black humour in the situation (and take notes on what not to do when you reach their age).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Walk Eighty-two – Tom

My son Tom came with me on my walk – to be there for me – because I had just received the news that my mother has died today. As anyone who has suffered at the hands of a parent with borderline personality disorder will know, my feelings are very ambivalent. A great deal of sadness because I have lost my mother and because of the unhappiness of the emotional roller-coaster of her life. But also some relief. She can no longer hurt the people who care for her and her own pain is over.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Walk Eighty-one – Woodcock Hill

Walk with Xavier in the evening.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Walk Eighty – Wheatfields



This was done at seven o’clock on a warm evening, using my second bargain from the art shop – the teeniest little Winsor and Newton field set of watercolours. None of the blues or yellows would have been possible with the Graphitint pencils

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Walk Seventy-nine – Sucker for a bargain

I only intended to buy six graphitint pencils, just to have a dissolvable line when doing watercolours. However in the art shop they only had the twelve pack which was reduced in price so I decided to buy that. However, when I went to pay for it the assistant pointed out that the twenty-four pack with roll-up pencil holder was on special offer and only a couple of pounds more than the twelve pack. So now I have the full set and I really can’t see me using them. Dry, they’re just a collection of sludgy colours. When you wet them, it’s like one one of those books you had as a kid, where all sorts of unexpected (but nevertheless still sludgy) colours appear when you wet the page. In any case I just don’t get this water soluble pencil lark. I like watercolours, I like coloured pencils – are water soluble pencils for people who are a bit nervous of paints?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Walk Seventy-eight – Round the pond

After a lot of walking in London with son number two, Hugo, I walked around the woodland park, picked cherries off a cherry tree and down to the pond with sons one and three, Tom and Xavier

Monday, July 10, 2006

Walk Seventy-seven – The track in the rain

This was knocked out very quickly in the drizzle. I had used most of my available time peering at a tiny screen showing the start of the Tall Ships’ Race from Torbay to Lisbon which my sixteen year old daughter, Flo, is participating in. The boats were mainly shadows in the sea mist so I didn’t see much of them, though when I could, it was quite a romantic scene.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Walk Seventy-six – Windy triptych


Jersey Farm Woodland Park, because there are lots of benches and after yesterday’s accident I wanted to be as comfortable as possible. One of the benches I sat on had a memorial to councillor Bill Morris who worked very hard to ensure that the park was created. I’m so glad Bill worked so hard because the park creates a green space between the Jersey Farm housing and Sandridge village and thus prevents our village being absorbed into suburban sprawl.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Walk Seventy-five – Sports injury

I did one drawing – which was rubbish, then I did a sort of repeat pattern using leaves as masks, which was also rubbish, and then the gods intervened and said ‘let’s find her something worth drawing!’ and this is what happened. This was some sort of spike that seemed to be part of the bridge and I ended up flat on my face with grazes on palms and elbows. I’m not going to bother with a map as I want to soak that foot instead of sitting in front of the computer. But if you want to see where it happened look at walk twenty-five in the May archive.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Walk Seventy-four – Xavier’s dress sense

Oh the joy of wearing a tub on your head, or wearing an ensemble that consists of wellington boots, swimming trunks, elbow pads and a reflective cycling vest. Luckily Mummy really doesn’t seem to mind. An evening walk round Langley Wood after a few minutes sketching in front of the nearby wheatfield.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Walk Seventy-three – Poppies in the pea field



I set off this morning at 7:00 - yippee! When I arrived back in the village I was standing at the zebra crossing and some distance away there was a large green truck coming down the road. I hesitated, to be absolutely sure the driver could see us before I crossed. The driver saw me but kept on driving and stuck his palm out of the window towards me as if to say ‘I’m more important than you, so I’m not going to stop’. I was enraged, but I quickly forgot about it, I had things to do and a little boy to drive to playgroup. After finishing my tasks I drove back down the High Street and prepared to do the tricky manoeuvre I always have to do, reversing into my drive. I’ve been reversing into my drive for years and can usually do it in one swift movement, however what should I see but a large green truck coming down the road. It completely threw my concentration – the poor driver had to wait as I went backwards and forwards numerous times across the High Street struggling to fit into my narrow drive – of course I put my palm out of the window apologetically...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Walk Seventy-two – Water colour moleskine



Yeah, OK I admit it, the watercolour moleskine is a perfect little portable sketchbook.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Walk Seventy-one – Morning walk



I’m not much of a morning person, but I really should make the effort to become one. During these hot, summer days it’s so pleasant with the cooler air and the morning mist. The last time I walked regularly in the early morning was the summer I was pregnant with Xavier. I would wake up at four or five in the morning and think ‘Oh my God, I’m forty-four and I’m going to have another baby!’ I just couldn’t get back to sleep. The shock and excitement continued throughout the pregnancy, so with no-one else awake I would drag Rufus out and walk miles so that I could at least get fit for the challenge ahead.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Walk Seventy – More clouds



OK from tomorrow, normal service will resume. We’ll be back to quickies – these watercolour landscapes take so long and I really must earn a living and do my annual accounts!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Walk Sixty-nine – Clouds



Robin has recently bought me a wonderful book called ‘The Cloudspotter’s Guide’ by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of ‘The Cloud Appreciation Society’. I’ve always thought that the sky is God’s way to play at abstract painting. I would like to be able to identify clouds more accurately, however almost all of the books on the matter are as dull as ditchwater to read – apart from this one, which combines fact, science, history, literature, poetry and anecdote. If you buy it, don’t, however, get rid of any dull books you might have, as this one is a bit short on decent photographs.
Anyway no false modesty, I’m rather pleased with this watercolour (though if anyone has any tips on how to use masking fluid without damaging the paper I’d appreciate them). The clump on the left is Langley Wood (also known as the Bluebell Wood), and having walked everywhere in this scene I know that all the fields you can see are wheatfields apart from the thin slice on the top right which is a pea crop.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Walk Sixty-eight –Lying down on Grace’s bench

This was in the cool of Langley Wood, lying down on the bench. I had intended to walk a huge circuit today (with several drawings) as my own little contribution to the 10th world sketchcrawl. However Robin rang me and reminded me about the church summer fair, so I thought a circuit around the church grounds would provide better material for a sketchcrawl. The pictures from that will be posted on my other blog.