Comfort is so much what I turn to at the moment. I’ve a small book of grasses that I carry in my pocket, to learn the names of grass, and the comfort of books has always brought me peace. And I love this bowl, from the exhibition at The Canwood Gallery, an exhibition to raise money for St Michael’s Hospice near Hereford where I visited on my birthday, before heading to Symonds Yat.
I left there a small stone, gilded, beside one of my pieces of work that is included in the show.
And I just adore the frame that John, from Robel in Haverfordwest adorned my otters with. How that man makes my work shine! I’d not seen it until then as I had left it wrapped. I know that people expect me to have carefully chosen the frames myself, but with John I leave all the framing to him. Together we have learned our craft after years of graft, and he knows the balance, colour, weight and finish that will make my work shine.
Next to my work on one side, the beautiful work of Simon Dorrell who I was at college with, and the images of Pembrokeshire tugged gentle on my heart. We had a long road to travel and I am becoming unravelled by distance from home and hearth.
On the other side the beautifully lit woodland paintings of Richard Bavin, a place to rest the soul.
It was lovely to meet up with Janetta, one of my publishers also. And The Canwood Gallery is in such a beautiful place, a green bowl of land.
In the afternoon Robin and I drove to Symonds Yat. It was my birthday. We walked along the riverbank. A kingfisher flashed past, ‘too fast to follow’ and then we saw the bright white of egret. But it flew with a raven and when we looked again a creature of myth had landed light beside a dark raven. A white raven. And when she opened her wings to fly it was as if time slowed, stopped, and a window opened into another place. Pure beauty.
So beautiful a place. And the second night we rested in the harbour of friendship at Tamsin and Mike’s house, before heading on the long road north. But what magic awaited us there and how rich is life.
We collected Robert from the train station at Penrith, drove to the beautiful Greta Hall to meet with The Spellsingers, for two days of magic.
I painted, we spoke of The Lost Words, its origins and travels, and listened as Kris Drever read Raven, Fern, and Jim Molyneux read a barn owl. Julie Fowlis, lit by an inner light, read a song spell of a grey seal, and the musicians all listed their many languages of song and instrument while Robert and I sat back in awe.
Later they sang, played, and Robert made a fire and again it felt as if we had stepped out from time to a small slice of heaven.
The next day The Spell Singers went their separate ways, for now, Robert ran off up a hill and we headed to Grasmere where I was due to work in a small school the next day, and do an event for the bookshop in the evening.
I don’t do many school visits these days, but I have a very soft spot for Grasmere, both the school, the place and the bookshop. And although I visit many bookshops there’s something about the stock in Sam Reads! I can’t remember the last time I went into a shop and bought so very many books…. If you find yourself in the Lake District, go to Grasmere. There is something very very special about this place.
I accidentally met with Wordsworth, not realising he was buried there, beneath the shade of a yew tree he planted.
And thank you so much to Elaine and Paul for looking after us and opening up your hearts and home to us, and to Polly Atkin for taking me swimming in the lake and arranging a flypast of a heron….to see the hills from the silvered surface of the lake was a very special thing.
The day in the school was hard work and wonderful, and thank you to all the people who turned out to listen to Polly and I in conversation.
I left Grasmere with a heavy heart. Something about this place draws me back. The light? And now the water. And new friends, and old.
665 miles in all. And more travelling to go before I can enter into painting again. Along way. And I need to work on a spell to speak to the wind to call to the heart of a wild raven. Not a summoning spell, for I would not seek to summon, just a wild wish and prayer to see such a creature again, to watch her spread wide her wild, white wings, to dance in the sky in the clear salt air.