1st September. Sunshine and blue sky. Magpie chatter and swallows gathering. St Davids is still too busy, but the hill behind the house is a haven of peace and heather. Working day broken up by a mammoth visit to the vets with Rosie and Bella and Floss and Kiffer, then taking signed books to The Shed at Porthgain, then walking dogs, but still managed to grow a fire dragon in the studio. In the garden woodland brown butterflies play in the sunshine, with washing on the line moving in the gentlest breeze.
9th September. A few days so busy, very little painting done. Last Wednesday at 5 am had my first sight of Orion this year. Later in the day drove the long road to Milton Keynes, via various points of dropping paintings with people. The on Thursday the train to London where I met Laura Parfitt from White Pebble Media and began working on a radio program with her for Radio 4. Fantastic experience and I learnt so much, about a woman called Brenda Rawnsley who had put together a series of lithographs by contemporary artist for schools in the 1940's and 50's. Highlights of my day were seeing the prints at The Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, meeting the man behind the velvet voice , Mark Tully, who has lulled me to sleep and kept me awake for years with his program, Something Understood, and meeting John Ronson. The school prints were wonderful to see and the Pallant House Gallery one of the best galleries I have been in for years. I loved seeing the prints piled up on the tables in the print room, and the beautiful drawing by Mary Fedden in one of the offices.
On the way home the wind was building and flocks of jackdaws and rooks were thrown out of their roost in the trees to circle wildly, riding the air. Dogs were pleased to see me, cats were as dismissive as only cats can be. Dragons were waiting in the studio.
And yesterday it was my birthday and lovely Robin had bought and framed the Carousel print by Barbara Jones. So thoughtful and loving. I am lucky.
Puppy has turned into hard work as she seems to have hit the teenage years early. First she grows her tail, then gets lanky long legs, and then she catches herself up, and starts all over again. She is a thief of time with her cuteness.
The hedges are beaded with bright berries, scarlet hawthorn and deep dark blackberries. Autumn spiders spin strong webs that stretch across pathways. It continues to rain and the sky is heavy with water, nights starless. And in the studio dragons continue to call. Yesterday I saw a flight of geese like an arrow overhead, flying south. Swallows are gathering on lines.
11th September. For part of the program on The School Prints Series for Radio 4 Laura Parfitt had arranged for me to interview Ruth Artmonsky over the phone. I had a small recording device and very little technical understanding. So, Laura phoned me from Ruth's home and the interview began when I switched on the recorder. The contrast between working in the recording studio in London and here in my kitchen was vast. The table here was covered in shopping, cat, stuff and within minutes the dogs were barking. In the studio in London the walls had eaten any sound, the only window looked out on the sound man and producer. Outside at home there was rare sunshine. And Ruth was amazing with her stories of Brenda and the prints and the trip to France.
Across the peninsula rain falls and I hope it will not fall on me before my walk ends. But it does fall, and the smell of damp earth and wet fern rises. The air is still but for the falling rain that beats a steady, quiet percussion. And it is beautiful, but soon over. And the sun shines again.
13th September. Before twilight the full moon rises in a clear blue darkening sky. High on the rock a buzzard watches the setting sun, the rising moon, the arrival of stars. Across the fields a dog bark sounds, hollow in the still air. Moths begin to take the world from butterflies. All this bright blue end of summer day I have been held prisoner by dragons in my studio.
In the post I received a parcel, wrapped and bound and inside a clock which will one day hang in my new studio. Painted for me by Rima Staines who has a wonderful blog for now it hangs in my studio and marks time for me with its melancholic characters who,when I am not there painting, talk about where I might be and what I might be doing, until time ticks by and the hands spin round and I am back again, playing with my colours.
15th September. At the cathedral in St Davids today we celebrated the life and mourned the passing of Piers Thurstan, boatman, sailor, and father of Tom and Gwen, two of Tom and Hannah's best friends, and of Luke. The cathedral was packed to say goodbye to this man who was part of the landscape of St Davids. Gwen read so beautifully, "The Island" by A A Milne and his niece, Hannah, read a poem by Jon Stallworthy that I had not heard before, but was so very perfect for Piers. In the time between his death and the funeral my Tom and Hannah remember him teaching them to body board at Whitesands, picking them up from the beach at Whitesands when they were so tiny, after a day in the sun and whizzing them off round Ramsey Island in search of porpoise. To see his son, Tom, carrying him out of the cathedral in the most beautiful coffin was enough to make any heart weep. Such brave children. He was so proud of the three of them and rightly so. Outside the cathedral the funeral bell rang and in between the toll of the bell the rooks called a raucous chorus. It began to rain at just the right time. They loved their dad so very much and he will be missed by many.
17th September. A day painting dragons while the sun shone and an evening sitting on the beach with a thermos of tea watching the sunset while small wading birds circle and call in the falling light, reminds me that life is sweet and a thing to be cherished.
18th September. Painting again while the sun shines and listening to the radio and wondering at the topsy turvey world where a supposedly socialist government struggles to support the bastions of capitalism who have tied themselves into knots with their greed and destructive behavior. Washing on the line, dragonflies mating in the garden. Flower petals turn into hearts and the painting begins to take on a story of its own. In the evening walking over the hill with just the dogs we follow a peach breasted wheatear along the narrow path through the bones of the heather flowers that rattle in the ever so gentle breeze. The air is mostly still, the sea flat calm with light reflecting skywards as the sun sets. The big dogs run wild over the hill on the scent of fox. The air retains a little of the heat of the day.
Too early for Christmas but already there are cards in the shops and the MBF cards are now for sale from their website, so click here if you want to be sure to get some. To see a big version of the new card click here (it is big so do scroll around). They also have selection packs of the old designs. These usually do sell out quite quickly as they only print a limited amount so I would advise ordering now if you want them.
22nd September. A weekend of blue sky bliss, late summer sun, walking with dogs, cats, friends, but also solitude and time to think and paint and write. Buzzards circling overhead,the sea drawing winter trees on the beach, water buffalos, seals and dragons. Chasing words to catch a puppy story, sitting in sunshine, painting in studio. Star filled night sky and a harvest moon glowing gold. A good book ( Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr). Heaven.
Pass on a Poem comes up trumps again with a poem by Ogden Nash.
BANKERS ARE JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE, EXCEPT RICHER
This is a song to celebrate banks,
Because they are full of money and you go into them and all
you hear is clinks and clanks,
Or maybe a sound like the wind in the trees on the hills,
Which is the rustling of the thousand dollar bills.
Most bankers dwell in marble halls,
Which they get to dwell in because they encourage deposits
and discourage withdrawals,
And particularly because they all observe one rule which woe
betides the banker who fails to heed it,
Which is you must never lend any money to anybody unless
they don't need it.
I know you, you cautious conservative banks!
If people are worried about their rent it is your duty to deny
them the loan of one nickel, yes, even one copper engraving
of the martyred son of the late Nancy Hanks;
Yes, if they request fifty dollars to pay for a baby you must
look at them like Tarzan looking at an uppity ape in the
And tell them what do they think a bank is, anyhow, they had
better go get the money from their wife's aunt or ungle.
But suppose people come in and they have a million and they
want another million to pile on top of it,
Why, you brim with the milk of human kindness and you
urge them to accept every drop of it,
And you lend them the million so then they have two million
and this gives them the idea that they would be better off
So they already have two million as security so you have no
hesitation in lending them two more,
And all the vice-presidents nod their heads in rhythm,
And the only question asked is do the borrowers want the
money sent or do they want to take it withm.
But dont think I am against Banks
Because I think they deserve our appreciation and thanks
for eliminating the jackasses who go around saying
that health and happiness are everything and money isn't essential,
Because as soon as they have to borrow some unimportant
money to maintain their health and happiness they starve
to death so they can't go around any more sneering at good
old money, which is nothing short of providential.
When I was young I watched the miners in Britain destroyed by the government who held a strong belief in market forces. It is funny how those market forces are ignored now as they scramble to bail out the bankers. It is all smoke and mirrors and sleight of hand.
25th September. 5 minutes peace in a busy day, sitting in the garden with a herbal tea. I can hear rooks talking, quiet and intricate, wind in the leaves and autumn leaves falling, a raven call, chattering of sparrows and the melody of songbirds, the steady insect buzz of flies, of bees, herring gulls calling their seaside song, the constant drone of high distant jet planes, a cat purr, my own breath and heartbeat.
At the end of September I went to Bath for the Children's Literature Festival. The sun shone on the honeyed buildings. I painted while Viv talked and together we told some of the story of Singing to the Sun. Then off to Milton Keynes for Robin's grandson's first birthday.