Saturday, 12 July 2014

Camping . . . in the Wye Valley

Camping! I haven't been camping in years . . . but it seemed like a good idea when it was suggested that Mr B and I join my brother and his missus on a short trip to the Wye Valley. I have long wanted to visit Symonds Yat Rock, up for adventure, Mr B agreed the dates and bags were duly packed.

Dinner was booked on our first evening at the Saracens Head - what we hadn't realised though, was that it requires a hand pulled ferry to get us to our table!  
Morning, walking down through the woods to the Wye.
There is a small suspension footbridge over the Wye near Symonds Yat East, narrow and very bouncy - first built by the forestry commission in 1957. 

Naturally, you feel the urge to walk with a bit of a bounce in your step, but it does feel a little flimsy and with a weathered sign requesting no more than 6 people cross at one time we behaved ourselves!
A steep footpath leads from the village (where the Saracens Head is) up to Symonds Yat Rock.
Our campsite is on top of the hill in the middle of this scene.
The views are well worth the walk up . . .
Enjoying a little rest before we trot back down the hillside.
It is possible to trace human habitation in the area back to about 12,000 years ago. King Arthurs cave on the Great Doward (very close to the campsite) is a site of archaeological interest, both hyena and Sabre-toothed tiger bones have been uncovered here.
The footpaths are quirky . . . from steep passageways between buildings,
to impressive cliff faces.
A patient Rufus waits in't pub.
Returning over the Wye after supper for a moonlit stroll back up to our campsite . . . magic.
A post breakfast relax prior to packing up, and both puppy dogs wait patiently to be taken for a walk before getting back in the car for the long journey home.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Power of Plants

We've been away for an awful lot of this year, and the garden has been left mostly to it's own devices. 

But, even with such benign neglect I am rewarded with a harvest for the grey, wet months that will come. I sit picking black currants, which are hidden among the borage and late forget-me-nots, and contemplate the marjoram that is romping about the vegetable beds, and the emergent rosebay willowherb and feel happy because I can hear so many bees working the flowers.

I know that nothing will be cleared as today I'm off again, this time to go camping near Symonds Yat and I can't wait as I love that part of the country.
I can allow myself these jaunts because plants will get on with it whether I'm around to weed and water or not . . . being away for part of April and May I thought I had a bit of a disaster on my hands, in as much as I hadn't planted the spuds until 6th June, by the 25th June they looked promising . . .
and now in early July they look much as I would have expected had I planted them in mid April. The power of plants eh!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Matisse, the Cut-Outs and sunny London Town

Friday morning and just time to plant some potatoes before we shoot up to Town to see the Matisse exhibition at Tate Modern 

Getting down to ground level and the plants that I miss on my trot up the garden path to the Shed are revealed - I had no idea that the wild strawberries had ripened . . . 
Feeling slightly pleased with myself . . . even though a touch late, but I noticed last year after our cold spell and very late start in the garden, that almost everything 'caught up' and nothing was wasted . . . so why not plant now?
I do have a control plant, this bed obviously (now) wasn't totally cleared and shows how far the potatoes would probably be if I'd planted at the recommended time.
Looking back over the millennium bridge, doesn't it look fab? and the graffitied chewing gum I saw in March is still in situ.
The anticipation grows as we approach Tate. One thing though, the queue inside for the Matisse is long, so if you don't have a membership card do book a timed ticket in advance.
The colours in the exhibition are astonishingly uplifting. 

Amphitrite 1947, is a series of small, gouache painted, sheets of paper with cut-outs layered over. Pin holes showing how each shape has been positioned and re-positioned. (Apologies for my poor photo from the book that accompanies the exhibition) 

The fact Matisse made combinations and re-combinations suggests to me an intuitive approach, coupled with a painstaking and arduous process.

But it gives rise to such a sense of vitality in his work . . . which is difficult to translate through these photos, so if you think you may be interested at all, do not miss it!
And the scale of so much is huge.
Women and Monkeys, 1952,
A particular favourite of mine, The Dragon, 1943-4, the colours sing. 

It doesn't translate into a different medium though. On the wall in the gallery it has 'life' the paper cut-outs convey a precarious, fragile existence . . . which drains away in the photograph.
The Heart, 1943, from the illustrated book, Jazz 
The Knife Thrower, 1943-4, from the illustrated book, Jazz
Christmas Eve, 1952, maquette for a stained glass window.
A visit to London is a great excuse to catch up with our youngest, so we stroll across to meet in Leicester Square. And while waiting, I take time to notice buildings I would usually just rush by in a hurry to be 'somewhere'.
Finishing off a fabulous afternoon with jasmine tea at the Cay Tre in Soho.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Cover to Cover a sketchbook project

As a participant in Cover to Cover I spent Monday last at Winton Windmill, sketching.

A good reason to leave The Shed on a beautiful bright, but cold, day.

Cover to Cover is an Open Studios project that will explore the creativity and inspiration of artists taking part in Newbury Open Studios 2014. Painters, jewellers, textile artists, potters, sculptors, video or cake artists come together and show how work develops from our sketch books or doodles into a finished piece.
Going up stairs. Narrow and very steep, like a ships ladder. Working in this environment must have had its interesting moments . . .
As someone sketches the view I sketch the window.
We're in amongst the display,
and I have this delightful fella looking over my shoulder . . .
Surrounded by text . . .
information for visitors (of course) but it creates a shadow narrative of the space, and it's enabled me to build various scenarios for book works.
Bearing in mind that this is still a working mill, the sack hoist is a tad wormy considering the weight of a full sack.

Going down . . .
A few facts about Wilton Windmill
built . . . 1821
number of years in operation . . . approx. 100
number of years unused and derelict . . . approx. 50
start of renovations . . . 1971
first milling after renovations . . . 1976