5th October. Already October 5th. All work on the house is now nearing a close and things begin to come together but the last couple of weeks have been challenging as I had to move the kitchen from one place to another. No time to paint. I found things that had been lost, something that may once have been a beetroot and a full bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin which is now becoming sloe gin.
I was given the dried skeleton of a grass snake, like a delicate drawing in skin and bone on a small and slender dragon.
Yesterday walked to see the seals and listen to them singing. It was warm and still and on both beaches there were many pups in various stages of growth. We watched for a while as they slept and dreamed their seal dreams and rolled in the water on the edge of the sea.
Light on the water made patterns. Later the full moon ate the starlight to glow even brighter and as moon shadows deepened the dogs ran wild and chased something wild that leaped from the hedge across in front of me. Fierce, and bold and fast in the night, what it was I still don't know. In the dark it seemed as big and as dark as a jaguar and maybe it was.
Outside the house is being painted. Inside finishing touches are happening, though I still have no bathroom or heating.
Still shaken and disorientated by the news that Maurice (ginger cat also known as My Husband because of close relationship I have with him) has cancer in his lungs. So far he seems to be responding well to a steroid injection. Apart from heavy breathing he seems so well. Hoping that he can go on for many months yet and trying hard not to imagine life without him and decisions that will have to be made at some point in the future as it hurts my heart so.
24th October. Long silence. I have been away, to Manchester and to Cheltenham Festival. In the north of England I met Sue and Andrew at Simply Books, this years Independent Booksellers of the year. Their shop is a treasure. I talked to children and made paper boats and they gave me the new book by John Irving, which I love and loose myself in whenever possible, and next years Moleskine diary, which I will use every day, at the end of the day, to write just a few lines in.
The next day I went to Madelaine Lindley's and there at the door were two wonderful dragons waiting for me, a red and a green, great puppets. On the train journey from Manchester to Cheltenham they looked out of the window at the darkening countryside.
And in Cheltenham I was so excited to have not only a bath in the hotel suite but also a shower! Bliss!
Cheltenham Lit Fest was busy as busy can be with Will Self, who in life has a face like a beautiful hawk. At the theatre we were lucky enough to be sat in the front row and though I wanted to ask questions ( what was it like working with Ralph Steadman) I was so in awe of his cutting whit that I didn't want to draw attention to myself. In passing we saw, Chris Evans (and his Rolls Royce), Mark Watson ( a man who doesn't drive, is skinny as spaghetti and has a sharp and playful whit and managed to upstage himself with a banana, which takes skill!), Armando Iannuci (wonderful), Vick Reeves, Jack Dee ( and I began to think I might have been at the wrong festival. Maybe this was Cheltenham Comedy Festival!) Cheltenham was all crisp autumn leaves, French market and whisky.
I indulged myself in a search for chandeliers and hoped and hoped that when I got home the builders would have finished inside the house and I would be able to have a bath and a fire at home.
Home again and though it was good to be home there was a certain heart sinking as the heating wasn't working and the electrician hadn't finished and although there were radiators in some places the bathroom was still an empty shell. A few days later the fire could be lit.
I have done no painting now for weeks, which is good neither for heart, soul or head. I feel weary and worn down, though my studio is now opened up and I am settling and nesting into it. Although I am looking forward to finding the time and space to get back to work an email from my publisher has hit me like a kick in the teeth as the French publisher is questioning the presence of the raven in the Ice Bear. They seem to think that the big black bird is frightening and will put people off buying the book. The fact that she is the main character in the story, the lynch pin, doesn't seem to be as important as their own fear of birds. I despair. I need to brush the builders' dust out of my brain, nest into my studio, settle my head and heart back into work, and this nonsense really doesn't help, but just makes me want to pack in doing books forever and concentrate on painting.
So today I am going to paint walls, hang pictures, clear my desk and dream of autumn angels, sit by the fire and watch the flames dance with MAurice on my knee and a book in one hand and hot chocolate in the other.
Soon I will do some painting on paper. But not until my raven is assured of her place in the Icebear. How you can get so far through a book and then have someone turn around and question it I do not know. But I do know that after all the changes and turmoil I went through with Starlight Sailor I am not going to go through it again with this book.
28th October. Days still slip through my fingers, with flapwing lapwing skies and starling clouds heralding the onset of winter. Walking with a small girl singing nursery rhymes in the sweetest voice. Red berries on dark twig twisted bushes. Redwings in fields. The sky a ceiling of cloud. Paperboats and dragons. Starlight and moonshine.
29th October. Having a feeling of deja vu as I have already written this once but the electrician helpfully turned off the power, crashed my computer and then got on with work he should have finished weeks ago in my studio whilst I had to stop and go out for a walk.
The day had started better. Settled in to my new space and working on preparing prints that all have homes to go to, some in London, some in the USA. Logs on order for delivery Tuesday. I realised that I had been blaming the plumber and electrician for the fact that I couldn't settle to work. They both still have things to do before they are finished but.... well...... Anyway, the fault was mine. I can't work with people around, so was hoping day after day that when they said they would come and do work that they would turn up and do it. Naive. So this morning I got on with mine, until the electrician came and I stalked off.
Tried to walk a little way with Maurice but it soon became clear that although he looks well he cannot walk at all and even the slowest pace is too fast for him. This makes me so sad.
Yesterday walked at Nevern with Tom. We were caught out by the time change and even at the start of the walk we headed towards twilight. By the end our path was marked by fallen golden leaves, golden in memory only. Out into the field the sky was criss crossed with pipistrelle and horseshoe bats. Twilight woods are beautiful, passed the pilgrim's cross and along the high cliff banks above the river. It was the time for wolf ghosts to be prowling.