Sunday, April 30, 2023

What I want to say

There is nothing like being far from home to clear your head and to enable you to really relax.

I can sit around in the daytime and read books that Cece recommends (novels for 10 and 11 year olds) or watch medical soaps with minimal guilt ( i.e. Grey’s Anatomy) or just sit in the sun and dream. 

Being far away from my real life and all its tasks and responsibilities feels like a genuine holiday. I get the space to think about things, such as the future.

People often ask me if I will write any more books and I say, sometimes with hesitation, “No. I’m a painter now.” Wendy asked me this on Friday and I talked around the subject for a while and ended up saying “no” again. Finding a publisher is just too hard, and self publishing is murder and you end up with very few people reading what you have written because of the lack of publicity and marketing. And your book does not appear in bookshops up and down the land.

Wendy said that when I said “self-publishing” I had a look of extreme distaste on my face, but when I talked about painting I smiled. She also asked me why I couldn’t just write because I enjoyed writing. Dave has often said “Why do you care if people read what you’ve written? I don’t care that no one hears me play the guitar?”

Later I realised why I care about people reading my stuff. When I started writing it was because I wanted to say “This is what life is like for me. Is it like this for you, too?” I wanted to communicate, to share my point of view. I didn’t want to write just for the fun of it.

Some kinds of writing ARE huge fun: it was incredibly enjoyable writing Plotting for Beginners with Jane. And it was fun writing my pieces for the Times and sending them off and getting an almost instant reply saying they’d publish the piece, and then seeing it in the paper the following Saturday. The money from The Times was good money, but the satisfaction was never about the money.

The money just shows that what you produce is worth something to someone else, just like the money from selling a painting is some kind of validation. But the real reason I don’t think I will write again is because I don’t have anything new to say. I’ve pretty much expressed what it’s like to be me, and if there is anything I have missed I can put it on the blog. But you see that’s why writing the blog is so hard these days - because I think I have said most of what I’ve got to say.

You know what it’s like living with Dave, and how it feels to have grandchildren 5,000 miles away, and to live up a lane. You know my political views. You know the main issues that I wrestle with. There are various personal things I would not want to talk about on the blog, and I can’t see that ever changing.

Why do I paint? I love colour. I love line. 

When I started painting it was for fun. It is still for fun. I choose subjects because I think they are beautiful and/or interesting. And I guess I want to say “Look at this! Isn’t it lovely? Aren’t grasses wonderful? Don’t you love blue skies and daisies? Don’t patchwork quilts make interesting shapes and shadows and lines and shades?” 

And don’t you love to see washing blowing in the wind?

And for the record - I think the idea of a monarchy in 2023 is utterly ridiculous, let alone swearing allegiance to one.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Picture post

 It was a long journey in time as well as miles, but it was a smooth one. 

I got the chance to watch some good films - The Banshees of Inisherin (which I need to discuss with someone else who has seen it) and She Said.

Isaac had told me that the girls were busy (it was Lux’s gym night) and he would be meeting me at the airport on his own. But it was a ploy. They wanted to surprise me. 

And at home,  Cece offered me one of her home made English scones with home made raspberry jam and her home made ( !!!!) clotted cream. What a girl.

The first day was busy with a walk to school, a game, some art (Cece has set me the challenge of designing a banner) and then Lux was singing in a choir concert at school. It was all spivving. And that included lunch with Wendy in the sunshine on the rooftop of the Rio, where of course I had a margarita.

Gosh, it’s so good to be here.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Surprise post

Having said I am not going to blog till midweek, I have changed my mind.

I am sitting in bed with half an hour to spare and before checking the headlines and feeling as fed up as usual by them, but this morning able to keep the consequent emotional turmoil at arms length, I turned to Wordle and Quordle. 

But then I decided to check out the few blogs I have in my ‘favourites,’ and it reminded me how nice it is to peek into the lives of others, to learn something about their everydays, their joys and hardships, to look at the world through their eyes.

This made me think…maybe that’s what I give by writing my blog, even when I have nothing startling or surprising to share. So here I am.

Every spring I grow my sweet peas inside loo roll tubes, inside yoghurt cartons, on the windowsill. I used the wrong compost last year and only a fraction came up. This year they are stupendously vigorous, and with some roots emerging from the bottom of the cartons, they’re begging to be planted in the garden now, when usually they wait till I get home from Colorado. So I have been trying to harden them off AND plant them out before I go away. First they were in the shed, and now they’re in the cold frame. It’s a risky race against time and temperatures.

Having done all my jobs except that last one, plus one more admin job, I’ve turned to packing.

Packing for a trip to Boulder includes chocolate hobnobs for Wendy, a cat clock that Dave has made for Cece, (which I will show you when she has seen it), prints of two of my paintings (requested), power of attorney forms (for me) for Isaac to complete, and clothes for every possible temperature. Packing clothes for Boulder means boots and warm jumpers, cool T shirts and sandals, as for a few days it will be chilly like here, and for a week at least it will be warm. Oh yes. Warm sunshine. 

Of course amongst all the busyness I’ve had to wedge in a visit to see my youngest granddaughter, Ms X, offspring of the-family-member-who-declines-to-be-named and the lovely Jaine. She is such a joy. She is so contented and cute, and how I wish I could show you pictures of her, though of course I respect the wishes of her parents. It’s a strange thing that when I spend time with her, all my concerns and undone tasks float away. I only have eyes and thoughts for her. What a luxury it is to have grandchildren.

That’s it. A glimpse of my very ordinary life. Except that last night I had a rare dream about my best friend Mary, who died 8 years ago. I opened the front door and she was standing just outside, wearing black leggings and a dark purple T shirt and a huge smile. I burst into tears and gave her the biggest hug I’ve ever given anyone. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see her.

This is a photo in our album that I have not looked at in years.

Mary at school sports day, 1994

Saturday, April 22, 2023


Dear friends,

I'm sorry it's been so long between posts.

My spring plans were turned upside down by my sudden illness and the consequent re-arrangement of my trip to Colorado, and it's meant that I have been incredibly busy since getting home from Wensleydale. I leave for the States on Tuesday and I hope that when I get there I'll have time to blog again.

I hope you're enjoying the new leaves on the trees as much as I am.

Love Sue

p.s. I took this photo of our washing line from the bedroom window and am currently pondering whether it is possible to paint it.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Sibs’ trip

I am away in Wensleydale with the sibs.

More words next week. xx

Monday, April 10, 2023

Stream of consciousness post

I was so excited on Saturday night about my planned exhibition (see last blog post) that I couldn’t get to sleep. Really. I was lying there trying to go through my paintings in my head and deciding which to show and counting them to make sure I had enough. Is 35 enough? I think so.

And now I have the date: Saturday June 3rd and Sunday 4th,  2 - 4 pm. Dave and I are already planning how to arrange our downstairs rooms to best show the paintings. And I am planning where to store everything that’s in there now, and I’m not talking about furniture. As just one example, Dave’s stained glass will be staying, but not the six wooden clocks still resting against the dresser, waiting to be given homes. 

And talking about being given homes, how distressing it is to see the government sinking itself deeper and deeper into the moral mire over its vilification and treatment of people in distress. I am not the only one who feels like this. I just read a powerful piece in the paper by the writer A L Kennedy. I’ve never read anything by her before and this piece begins in a baffling way but - to me - becomes more and more lucid and powerful. It includes clauses such as

“People with broken empathy shouldn’t be allowed to hold up a country.”

“Billions vanish into a vast fraud vortex, our rights vanish, our alleged Tories interview each other on Schrodinger’s GB News, while our alleged socialists are fine with Thatcherism”.

And the comments are worth reading too. My favourite begins

“Compassion, generosity, support and, wherever possible, happiness and gratitude are revolutionary acts.”

And talking of reading, I’ve just polished off Anne Tyler’s latest novel French Braid which I found highly entertaining, and having loved Claire Keegan’s ‘Small things like these’ I am embarking on her slender book ‘Foster.’

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?

My sister Jen gave me what turned out to be my favourite mug the last time I saw her. It was plain white and had the simple motto Silence Please. She gave it me because I like quiet so much. I dropped it yesterday, and Dave sweetly insisted he will do a Repair Shop job on it. He’s currently researching epoxy resin. Where is Kirsten Ramsay when you need her?

But Jen, being Jen, had bought a spare and is going to give it to me at the weekend on the sibs’ trip. I wish you all had such a sister. 

I’ll leave you with this photo of me having got back from the framer with one of my favourite paintings and being so delighted I asked Dave to take my picture.

Friday, April 07, 2023


I am delighted to report that Spring has finally come to Hepworth Towers. This last winter has been the hardest I've lived through since the one after my mother died in October 2008. It's done now, thank goodness.

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

(extract from the e e cummings poem sweet spring is your time is my time is our time)

This week I found a clump of violets that had self seeded at the edge of our patio.

And the wood anemones are out on the Trail.

My sweet peas are cracking on

And that painting book I bought at the art gallery in Sheffield has bump-started my painting that had recently stalled. It's packed with inspiring stuff and towards the end there is a chapter entitled On Display in which the authors encourage the reader to exhibit their work.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm dithering over a date at the moment. This morning in bed I was counting in my head how many pictures I have to exhibit and it comes to 30. I think that makes a reasonable exhibition. And the three friends I have told have all been very enthusiastic, which is so encouraging.

Before the exhibition, though, I'm going to Wensleydale with the sibs for a long weekend, and then at the end of the month (health permitting) I'm flying to Colorado. The two good things about this belated trip are that there will be more colour in the landscape there, and I shall miss the coronation and the annoying run up to it. Yippee!

Sunday, April 02, 2023

A new start


“Here comes summer”
Mixed media