Hunting for harebells.

Above Whitesands BayThis morning I woke early and set off in search of harebells and heather, but mostly harebells.

Lighter, with heatherIt was easy to find heather. The whole hillside was covered in fresh purple flowers and the sky began to lighten. But once just that bit too far away it began to rain.

More heather on the hill.Burial chamberAll the while I walked I thought, about the work I should be doing and wasn’t because I couldn’t settle to it, about the lovely people I had met recently, about the exhibition at Oriel y Parc, about a new story I had written and an old one I wanted to gather up. The burial stone looked beautiful, and for a while I sheltered beneath it from drizzle, but then walked on in search of harebells, but not before I thought how wonderful it must be to have a tomb with a view. There is a story here. It whispers to me.

On St Davids Head. A story held in quiet stone.So, on in search of harebells and they were clear beautiful blue in the heather. Fragile bells, tissue thin. Not content I wanted more.

Harebellclose up of heather and lichenheatherThen it began to rain. Rosie and I sat in the shelter of a great bone white stone and watched and waited.

The last few months have been busy and sometimes it feels that one painting rolls into another, and exhibition into exhibition and book into book and suddenly I became tired. Tired of it all. I finished East of the Sun, which had been a hard road to walk and then had to pick up Panda’s Child, a very different book. And I couldn’t, and I didn’t. In the shelter of the stone I sat and listened to the sound of rain on heather. We were alone. Over the way ponies also sheltered hard against the rock. It is a long time since I have just sat and watched.

Shelter from the storm, ponies hard by the wall and a beautiful viewWhen I first came to Pembrokeshire over 20 years ago I met Jane Bell. We stayed at The Druidstone Hotel which she ran as a family hotel with her husband Rod and team of workers. It was like meeting an old friend, meeting her. Over the years that I have been here Jane became a friend, one of those good ones who will pull you up short when you need to be told. She took care of me at a time when I needed care, of the heart, and her wise words made me so much stronger. In the stillness and the rain I took a little time to remember her, and I could say so much about her strength and kindness and open-hearted generosity, but not now. She died last week, and I know that there are people who loved Druidstone and Jane and who read my blog and I wanted to let them know because they may want to come on Monday and Tuesday ( 12 noon onwards), to the hotel to celebrate her life. And if you are reading this and this is how you find out that she died then I am sorry, but know that she died peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends and I think the sun was shining. And she will be buried on the hillside above Druidstone Hotel, which is good.

When I was told she had died I felt very much that something, someone, very beautiful had gone from the world. I still feel this and I will miss her and regret that I did not take more time to spend with her.

RainAnd so it rained, and still we sat, Rosie and I, and watched it falling until I decided I could sit no more, and we walked back through the heather and over the hill through the rain and home, carrying memories and a peaceful heart.

more harebellsRosie, very wet and perhaps not so impressed.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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22 Responses to Hunting for harebells.

  1. Stephanie Newman says:

    I love to read your blogs…Just beautiful…A few minutes, whilst reading, suspended in time. Thank you my dear xx

  2. Jesa Macbeth says:

    This is the most moving tribute — thank you so much for sharing your walk and your feelings with us.

  3. Stephanie Newman says:

    I too prefer the company of animals…tho’ somtimes venture out to meet humans…I find them a nice place to visit but don’t want to live there :o) xx

  4. Jude Bestwick says:

    beautiful and evocative words and pics Jackie – sad to hear of the passing of your dear friend – seems like she touched lives – not just yours. I have very fond memories of Pembs – I lived in Dinas and Fishguard when I was in my late teens and rode in the Presceli’s – I remember Solva too …… hope you find solace in the piece of your friend that lives on in your heart xx

  5. Freyalyn says:

    It was a good walk – thank you for sharing it with me. I can almost taste the peace that you found on the wet hillside. The world is a better place for having had Jane in it.

    • Jackie says:

      Indeed. She did help many people. Took in some lost souls and put them onto a different path. She was very good at teaching people self respect I think.

  6. mel says:

    Lovely blog Jackie, I’m glad it rained and you sat and did lots of thinking about your lovely friend but I’m sorry she is no longer around for you. Thanks for the pictures of the heather on the headland, it brings back great memories and also for reminding me how nice it is to read and write blogs I have not written one for a while, must get writing. xxx

    • Jackie says:

      Did you know Jane, Mellie? She took such care of me when I was broken by divorce.
      The heather looks stunning at the moment, as does everything. So green everywhere, but so wet also. Definitely a year to think about building an arc.
      Your house in Oz looks stunning. Hannah wants to come and stay, and get herself a job etc. She passed all her exams with flying A’s and an A* for colouring in, so she is not only beautiful but clever too. Big baby! Seeing Betsi makes me realise how fast the time goes.

  7. Zoë says:

    Beautiful imagery, both photographic and written.

    I hope someone will think that tenderly about me when I go.

  8. Lucinda says:

    A very beautiful evocative piece of writing , thank you Jackie. Very sad to hear of your friend’s passing; she sounded like a wonderfully nurturing soul of which there are too few. Lovely pictures of harebells. I made a pot at uni years ago based on their shape, they always make me think of fairies :o). xx

  9. I have stayed at The Druidstone in times of joy and times of need and times of transition, and have always treasured the special atmosphere of freedom, wildness and absolute safety. Jane and her team created something incredibly special. I didn’t know her properly – wish I had – but felt the need to find some words this morning when I heard she was to be buried today. Thanks, Jackie, for providing such perfect ones.

  10. Linda says:

    Like others, I’ve been to Druidstone, and have been struck by how special it is. Thinking of it reminds me of art works which touch people in their souls. To have created such a piece, whether in a home, a home from home, or something to have in the home, is a gift – always best when shared with others.

  11. Jo Barton says:

    What a beautiful tribute. Thanks 🙂 Oh, how many people she touched….

  12. grace says:


  13. Tammie says:

    i am sorry to hear about your friend Jane Bell passing
    life is precious
    to be embraced as best we can each breath

    your photos are so beautiful
    we also have harebells, they are some of the last ones that can be found before the snowy season begins
    heather, we do not have heather and i am enchanted with your images…. also the wonderful stone image

  14. Jane says:

    Such a beautiful tribute to your lovely friend…… I love the harebell, in the past when I lived where they grew I always felt I had chanced upon ‘a piece of the sky fallen to earth for a short time’.

    I found this:-
    ‘As I was walking through the fields I bumped into a hare
    I caught him by the ears and said, now bite me if you dare
    He gave a little squeal and cried, if you will let me go
    I’ll take you to the valley where the harebells grow
    Where the lovely harebells grow
    Come come I’ll take you to the valley where the harebells grow

    Along the new mown hay we fled, in search of harebells blue
    And sure enough we found a spot where thousands of them grew
    Each trembling on its stalk as though surprised with sudden fear
    And ringing out a tiny chime that only hares can hear
    That only hares can hear
    Come come, I’ll take you to the valley where the harebells grow
    Where the harebells grow.’

    I believe it was a song we used to sing at school.

    Hugs Jackie

  15. so sorry to hear of the passing of your friend-she was obviously so sprecial and touched many lives

  16. There’s a huge void where Jane used to be. She had been a major part of my experience of St David’s for over 30 years and her like will not be there again. A very, very special person and I will miss her.

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