Saturday, October 01, 2022

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation

Oh, for another Oliver Cromwell to dismiss our current crazy, cruel and incompetent government who are clearly intent on making the rich richer while grinding ordinary people into the dust.

20 April 1653, London, England

"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place,

which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God's help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!"


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

On being 'retired'

Let's leave the obscenity of the current government's policies on one side for now and think about other things.

I've been thinking about retirement, and how I've never liked the word. That might be because I've had a patchwork life in which only 6 years was spent working full time in an office outside the house. There has been plenty of work done in other venues and in other forms, some of it well paid, some of it not paid. I've just not had that day after day, year after year, monthly pay cheque for 'going out to work' which ends for a lot of people in retirement. 

Anyway, the word retirement has always conjured up the picture in my head of someone who has become a blob. So it follows I have never wanted to think of myself as retired, even though I am 72 and have a pension and no paid work. Until 2 years ago I called myself a writer. Now I call myself a painter. I realised recently that I actually think of painting as 'my work,' which is exceedingly strange. 

On Monday I was sitting in bed keeping warm at 7.30 in the morning not wanting to read the news and depress myself, and I decided to do the mending instead. And as I was mending it occurred to me that this is what retirement is all about - the liberty to do what you like when you like. And what's so bad about that? 

The other thing I've been thinking about is my obsession with grass in my paintings. This is the latest. 

Acrylic on canvas board 50 x 74 cms

My brother thinks it is finished. I am not so sure. But that's beside the point. Why do I like grass so much?

I like the lines. I like the way it catches the light. I like the variety and the delicacy of the seedheads. 

And it's everywhere, at least where I live. So many of my paintings are about the everyday. I love the everyday, in art, in fiction, in drama.

I watched the latest version of Little Women again the other day, smiled again in recognition at Jo running down the street in joy after having her first story accepted for publication, cried again when Amy says she has been second best to Jo all her life. (Wasn't Florence Pugh fantastic as Amy?)  And then there is this quote which Jo reads to Amy:

“We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it, if it were not the earth where the same flowers come up again every spring that we used to gather with our tiny fingers as we sat lisping to ourselves on the grass, the same hips and haws on the autumn hedgerows.... What novelty is worth that sweet monotony where everything is known and loved because it is known?”

One advantage of getting older is having the time to appreciate the beautiful details of our immediate surroundings. 

And now I need to get to work on my new painting, which is of grass and corn and bright red poppies.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Random thoughts

After 10 oppressive days when there was nothing on the news except stuff about the Royal death and funeral, I read the paper today. Now I’m in the depths of depression and despair. This government and its actions is antipathetic to everything that I believe in. What can we do about it? I have no idea.

Someone I follow on Twitter said yesterday that all she wanted to do was sit on the beach and look at the sea forever. I understand how she feels. Yesterday at teatime I rode up the quiet Trail to my favourite thinking spot, climbed over the fence and sat and looked at the view. It was so peaceful and so perfect amongst the dried grasses. I could have stayed forever.

But feeling defeated and opting out does nobody any good. I just have to find a path for me.

Dave works hard all day every day. He is either helping other people with their DIY or he is doing domestic jobs. His main occupations this week are 

1/ going out early and bringing home firewood from roadside verges, as we have still not bought any domestic heating oil because of the price 

This week's haul

2/ processing plums. Yes, the plums are still with us. The ones currently in the Hepworth towers food preparation factory are inedible raw, so he is washing them, stoning them and stewing them and then he eats them with his yoghurt. We’ve also frozen as many as will fit in the freezer. I can’t eat them now: these last ones far too bitter for me.

He does occasionally break off from his manic activity to give treats to the cat next door. He is also trying to make friends with a cat from down the lane. This cat is called Alan. Yesterday Dave rushed down the drive shouting “Alan let me stroke him!”  I don't think he should let anyone overhear him saying stuff like that. the studio (i.e. sitting room) ...There are two painters who I follow on Instagram whose techniques are very unusual and result in stunning paintings. I’ve been trying to work out how they actually put the paint on the canvas and I can’t. So I wrote to them both. Neither was helpful. Basically, it boils down to their being protective of what they had learned after years of experimenting and not wanting to share it with anyone else. I’ve not come across this attitude before in other spheres. I’m wondering if it’s something different about the art world, or whether it’s because they’re both men. Or whether it’s for some other reason. Do they really think that I’m going to be able to produce works of art in competition to them? Do they think that if I do that I’m going to reduce their market?  There’s a lot to learn.

My cosmos are still flowering and bringing me so much pleasure 

I also want to say that I was feeling very low when I started this post but while I've been writing it I've been having a text conversation with Het and it's really cheered me up. I was telling her about Dave's exploits and she said "He's a dude." She's right.

So please raise a cup of coffee to friendship and to dudes!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

This last week

Living out in the sticks as we do, I usually just see one or two friends a week, but this last week has been strangely and madly sociable, seeing a different friend each day from Monday to Friday, plus one day having an extended FaceTime with Het.

I also finished two paintings. Here's one, which is for my friend who recently died:

'For Chris' 
42 x 59 cms. Acrylic and collage.

And I started another, produced a report with two friends, began knitting a baby jumper for the expected new grandchild, and had two long walks and three bike rides. See what you can get done when you’re not in a queue?

(For the record - I respect the Queen’s dutiful life, while finding the idea of a hereditary monarchy with a divine right to rule outdated and utterly preposterous.)

The weather here has been beautifully September - chilly starts, bright sunshine, long shadows, slightly melancholy, and my cosmos is flowering beautifully.

I've recently finished the last of the five Cazalet Chronicles, none of which I have read before. They’ve been great holiday reading. When someone offered me the first one earlier in the year I tried it and thought “Ooh no, this isn’t for me! What a waste of time.” 

But then Zoë lent me hers at the start of the summer and I gave it another go and was hooked. I loved the way the author, Elizabeth Jane Howard, lists exactly what is eaten at every meal, and I like the fact that she tells you how people are dressed. I could have done with less time spent on the children’s activities and conversations. They were an unwelcome distraction from the main events i.e. the relationships dramas of the adults. I love spending time with children but not reading about them in an adult book. I’m not sure why that is, because I do like children’s books. Maybe I just don’t like EJH’s children. 

The last few days I’ve been thinking about the fabulous elder grandson, who this week gave me permission to use his name on here. It's Tate. I used to mention both of my grandsons on the blog and when they reached adolescence they asked me to remove them from all my posts. This was a tedious process, but I did it. 

Tate left home for Uni yesterday and it feels huge in a way it didn’t when my children went. As I write this I realise that this is just not true. When Zoë first left home (before Uni) I dropped her off at her new place and came home and felt as though my arm had been chopped off; and when Isaac went to Uni I was similarly bereft. The-family-member-who-declines-to-be-named has always been within easy reach and I’ve never had to miss him.

But as for grandchildren, the hold they have on me, and the love I feel for them, continues to surprise me. Tate has also given me permission to have a (pre-approved) photo of him on here, so for all of you who have been reading the blog since he was tiny, and remember my posts mentioning him, here he is, my eldest grandchild:

Have fun, Tate, and work hard. You already make us proud.

I won’t embarrass him by saying anything else. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Who knows where the time goes?

Yesterday I went with the lovely Jaine and the-family-member-who-declines-to-be-named to a baby shop, to look for prams/pushchairs/buggies/car seats - the whole caboodle. It was exciting and fun. It was also jaw dropping to see what all that stuff costs these days.  

I found myself remembering when Zoë was born and Dave and I were students and how the height of luxury was a brand new carry cot his mother bought us for £5. I think my parents must have bought us the cot and the baby bath, because we didn't have the money. We lived in a flat with no hot water, no bathroom and a loo at the end of the garden. The rent was £2 5s a week and we were happy. Last month an ice cream cost me £3.50.

So when the-family-member-who-declines-to-be-named asked me how it was for us when we had our babies and I replied, I sounded like one of those old men who had a handful of gravel for breakfast - you know the schtick - "We could buy a roast dinner for half a crown and still had enough change for a bottle of whisky." 

By the time the-family-member-who-declines-to-be-named arrived we were grown-ups and bought a new Moses basket and a very smart second hand pram. He was 6 weeks premature and so tiny that when we took him out in the pram, Dave had to pop in 2 bags of sugar as ballast.

On the way home from the shop we called at Zoë's house for a cuppa and to say goodbye to the fabulous elder grandson, who is leaving for Uni on Saturday. Gosh, I can't believe it. I remember so well the joy he brought us when he was born, and the fun we've had through subsequent years. It makes me wistful. 

Meanwhile Dave and I get older and older. Dave is up in Leeds today doing DIY for a friend, and I am home in a quiet house, working my way through a list of chores and also lovely things like riding my bike on the Trail, and trying to finish a collage I've been working on.

As you know, I'm not allowed to show pics of the fabulous grandsons, so here are two from my tiny historic collection. We lost all our pictures of Zoë and Isaac in the fire and these are two my mother gave me from her collection.

Zoe (4 months) and me (21)

Dave (eat your heart out Jimi Hendrix), Zoe and my Gran

Here's Sandy Denny singing Who Knows where the time goes?

a song that would definitely be one of my Desert Island Discs. 

Wishing you a happy Monday. Live today: tomorrow is too late.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Love letter from home

We watched Have I Got News For You the other night; it was the special edition about our last “Prime Minister,” Johnson. I also saw a clip of Joe Lycett mocking Liz Truss on another show. Both progs were supposed to be funny, but you know what?  I can’t laugh, even at satire, at what’s been going on and what we’re heading for. Isaac said on the phone yesterday ( from Colorado) something droll about Truss, and I explained I just can’t laugh about any of it. I asked him if he could laugh about Trump when he was in power. 

‘No,’ he said.

In other news…I’ve been ill and I’m still recovering and Dave has been wonderful - like he always is when I’m ill. I just thanked him yet again for being so sweet and caring and for keeping the show on the road, thinking of all the plums he processed while I’ve been out of action.

This is just some of them:

There are hundreds more on the tree.

He said ‘It’s all so easy when you’re in bed and not being untidy and leaving stuff around everywhere.’ 

I laughed. ‘That’s how you see it, is it? That I’m the untidy one?’

‘Certainly,’ he said.

Imagine a NO COMMENT that fills the whole screen here.

Having said that, he really is the sweetest man I know. 

Now, if HE were the new Prime Minister the U.K. would be run with honesty, competence, justice and compassion, and we could all relax.

Thursday, September 01, 2022


 I have woken up to silence and a sweet note from Dave.

He’d told me he’d be leaving soon after 5 a.m. to spend a day - and possibly a day and a half - helping a friend in the West Midlands with some DIY. 

Before I say anything else….I would not like to live alone, and I know how lucky I am to have a partner of 52 years whom I get along with.

But the bliss of waking up to a silent and empty house is something rare and special.

I go away four or five times a year, and Dave has the freedom to have the radio blaring out or is able to play his electric guitar at 6 in the morning if he wants to. He can leave the back door open without my complaining about the draught. He can sit in the kitchen playing his acoustic guitar with Radio 4 on loud without my wincing and asking him to choose just one.

So although he can enjoy the house without me, he never goes away, and I am rarely here alone for more than three hours at a time.

It’s not just the silence I relish, it’s the absence of any kind of demands, or need to engage with anything beyond my own thoughts and activities. The freedom to go out and not say when I’ll be back. The liberty to live my life without sharing a timetable or itinerary beforehand. I can just be. I can be led by whim without explanation. I can decide that actually I don’t want to go out on my bike this morning as I’d planned, I’ll do it at teatime. Yes! A simple thing like that. 

Don’t misunderstand me: I am always free to do what I want, it’s the always explaining beforehand that can feel like a bind. 

I am also free today to make chicken soup. When Isaac and the family were staying I cooked roast chicken, but because Dave can’t bear the smell of boiling stock I stuck the carcase in the freezer until a day when he was out. Ooh, and I can have a kipper for lunch if I like! 

Enough, I’m not going to start telling YOU what I’m going to do with my day.

On a separate matter, I have learned a lesson this week with my painting. I sometimes paint pictures from photographs I’ve taken, and they work out fine. e.g the washing line painting.

That’s why I thought I could paint this fabulous picture that Isaac took when he was here, of some honesty seeds along the lane.

I’ve tried and so far failed to paint a successful copy. Or rather, I have successfully painted it, but it doesn’t work because the composition is not strong enough, and there are other problems too - depth of field, and what the camera does to sources of reflected light. So I’m going to develop it into something else, perhaps an abstract. Watch this space. 

Actually, now seeing them together, I see that the purple is far too dark. Hmm…time to reconsider….

Have a terrific day!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Happy times

It's all Dave's fault.

Or maybe it's ALDI's fault.

Whatever, I went shopping at ALDI for fruit and veg this week and in one of the aisles they had a 'Special Purchase' offer - a huge stack of plastic storage boxes with lids, at a terrific price. 

Having just shoved under the bed an assortment of old cardboard boxes containing all the craft materials for Refugee Days, I though how nice it would be to have the stuff in transparent plastic boxes that clearly showed the contents, but were also airtight. So I bought five boxes, but when I got home Dave said "You should have got more! You know what ALDI are like, they have a great deal in and then when it's gone, it's gone."

I pondered. There was a lot of stuff in the attic in cardboard boxes that flies and wasps and sometimes even mice got into, but storage boxes with lids would be so much better. So I zipped down to the shop again and bought 5 more.

Yesterday I spent an hour sorting out junk in the attic. This was only a start, but it's a hideous job so I'm going to pace myself.

This is one of the boxes I found:

It was full of publicity material,

and congratulations cards, and newspaper cuttings of all the articles about Jane and me and PfB and later, other books, that I'd persuaded local newspapers to give space to.

And here was my typed copy of what appeared in the Times:

(I have not yet found the original.)

There was a friendly letter from Jilly Cooper, who I'd written to, asking for a puff* for the back of the book. No go.

*I had to check with Dave that 'puff' was the word I was looking's shocking how writing and publishing lingo has slipped from my mind.

I also found the quiz we had at the launch party, which I tried to complete  without looking at the book. 

Plotting for Beginners

 LAUNCH PARTY QUIZ with a tiny, but unique, prize

If you would like to join in, please complete the following quotations from the book. The ends of the quotations are printed on orange card and pinned up on shelves around the bookshop. We will decide the winner just before the reading, at around 7.15 p.m.

Spelling and punctuation matter – this is a classy launch, you know.

1/  Carol Vorderman had better watch her…

2/  You can have so much more fun with a multi-position ladder than you can with a…

3/  Not Bloody Blair - he’s not important. He’s a…

4/  What would you like to be in your next life, Mrs Howe?...

5/  Compromise just means at least one person is unhappy…

6/  Champman and Pesto just decided they want…

7/  am brain numb today as a pseudonym has been playing non-stop blondie cd – can only think in…           

 8/  This took the shimmer out of…

 9/  henceforth will personally accompany you as…

10/  Sangria Crew eventually departed at 5 p.m. the next day. Damage: …

I am sad to say I could only do number 1. It's time to read the book again, which is what I'll do in the dark winter months, to cheer myself up. I'm currently reading the Cazalet Chronicles.

The papers in the box brought back such lovely memories, and there were several surprises: newspaper features I'd forgotten all about. 2006 was a happy and exciting year. 

But now I'm embarked on a different course. I hope I keep on painting, and one day have an exhibition of my own.

Sunday, August 21, 2022


We have hosted three Refugee Hospitality Days this year in Bakewell after two Covid years without. 

There is a lot of organisation required in terms of food and volunteers and activities but what makes them nerve racking is the uncertainties.

First, we never know until the day itself exactly who is going to come. Will the minibus be full and worth the huge expense? Will our visitors be men, women or children? and what activities will appeal to them and therefore what equipment do we need to bring? Lastly, will it be fine or will it rain?

This latter is more important to some groups than others. We once held a day for women and small children when it rained all day, and they were all nevertheless very happy. The women enjoyed the crafts and the social side and the fact that the volunteers played with their toddlers. Some of them also slipped out to look at the charity shops while we occupied the children.

But as our best gift to our visitors apart from the warm welcome and the lovely lunch is Bakewell itself, you'll see that the weather really matters. A walk by the river and across the water meadows is not appealing in pouring rain. So it's been a blessing that this year that the three days were warm and dry when most of our visitors have been adults.

Yesterday one of the crafts was decorating fabric tote bags. Look at these stunners:

The key fobs turned out to be a dud, but two women painted lovely coasters, which I forgot to photograph. 😞

I'm feeling really blessed this morning. It's good to have three successful days under our belts when we'd had two years lying fallow, with the government getting more and more hostile to asylum seekers in the meantime. 

The Home Office is so slow in processing claims that people who have fled their home countries because of war or persecution can be waiting years to be able to settle properly. In the meantime they are not allowed to work and although they are given some kind of accommodation - grotty flat, hotel or hostel - they have to live on £40.85 a week which has to pay for food, clothing and toiletries.

This morning it feels gently autumnal in the garden, but not so autumnal as to make me feel the year outside is over. So I was out in my pyjamas picking flowers - amongst them just 6 sweet peas. I told you they were disappointing this year.

The biggest blessing in the garden in this hot hot summer has been the wild flowers Dave sowed. 

We always have posies on the lunch tables on Hospitality Days and without the wild flowers, it would have been a poor showing this August:

Next week I'm going to paint.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

My week

It's not been an easy week since I got home, even though home is a blessed place to be.

On Sunday morning, my first day back, I learned that a good friend was in the local hospice and not expected to live more than a week. It was a horrible shock. She'd been in hospital under investigation when I went away and I wrote to her and said I'd visit as soon as I got back. This was not possible given the situation: understandably, only family were at her bedside. She died that evening. It's a huge loss.

And another friend had died while I was away. She was in her late 90s and it was not a shock, but it was sad.

On Tuesday I had to renew my passport, and taking the required photograph was not pleasant. I look terrible when I'm not smiling. My mouth turns down at the corners and I look mean. So I tried to turn them up without actually smiling.

Not a win.

The online government passport portal gave it a 'Good' rating but I'd rather have submitted this one which Isaac took in Buxton when we went to visit my painting.

photo by Isaac

Now I'm preparing for the next Refugee Hospitality Day on Saturday. My friend who died was instrumental with me and a couple of others in setting up our Refugee Days in 2016, and as a trained masseuse offered hand massages to our visitors - so welcome.

We have a new 'craft' to add to the others on Saturday - decorating coasters and key fobs. So far I have varnished 50 coaster discs so they will take paint or felt tip without smudges:

And painted two examples:

Dave and I have been trying to think of a way to varnish 80 key fobs on both sides - en masse - but so far have drawn a blank. 


The elder fabulous grandson got the A level results he needed for his top choice of Uni. Oh blessed day.

Now back to the key fobs. 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Home again

I'm happy to say that the Colorado family arrived safely, and so did their luggage and it was wonderful to have them here for a week.

photo by Isaac of four of the Hepworth women - Wendy, me, Cece and Lux

photo by Wendy of me and Lux on the Trail 

After a week we flew to Spain with the elder fabulous grandson to meet the family-member-who-declines-to-be-named and the lovely Jaine, who were holidaying there; and we all stayed together in a a villa for a week on the Costa Brava. 

Isaac and Cece

I was in Spain for the first time and swam in the Mediterranean sea for the first time (fabulous!) and there were various other first times as well.

The first time I tasted (and liked btw):

Spanish Tortilla 

Patatas brava



A Catalonian rice dish 


Shrimp in its shell

Sangria de Cava

The first time I:

Flew from East Midlands Airport (recommended)

Went on holiday and did not pack a coat 


Stayed up and photographed a Supermoon

Played Go Fish

Played Liar (an American version of Cheat that my two sons think is superior to Cheat, though I am not convinced)

Saw works by Dali for real (interesting and puzzling)

The Dali museum

My Dali-esque selfie I took in the museum

You have probably gathered from all of the above that I have led a sheltered life.

It was hot. It was very hot. It was too hot for a Sue. 

I would go on holiday with the extended family again but not to somewhere hot. I went this time because the family-member-who-declines-to-be-named wanted me to so much, even though I had found the climate in Croatia (for his wedding) so punishing. I think he is now convinced that I just can't hack heat. They are dreaming of future hols in Greece but they're going to have to do it without me.

                    photo by fabulous grandson taken to show Julie in Bamburgh that her
 hand made bag is still going strong

In matter how much I have loved cavorting in the pool and playing riotous games with my children and grandchildren, I am pleased to be home. I went out on my bike and paid homage to the Trail this morning and I've been tidying up the garden. It's a sensible temperature here in Derbyshire.

I never want to move from Hepworth Towers.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

A weird day

I was out of the house early this morning, to buy extra supplies for the Colorado family, arriving tomorrow. I am not a morning person and when I got home again at 9.30 I was bushed, and needed a cuppa before I started the cleaning. 

Dave had kindly washed the kitchen, hall, porch and bathroom floors while I was out, so what should I clean now? The fridge. That done I wondered what next. I am not a natural cleaner, and that is putting it mildly.  

I checked my messages and found one from faithful blog reader Sally. She asked if I'd watched the very last episode of Neighbours

You all know I am a big Neighbours fan. I started watching it in 1986 with Isaac when he was a teenager, and I've watched it ever since, apart from a couple of  breaks - the first when the village went digital and we didn't and I had nothing to watch it on. Then last year I had a short break because the plotlines had become circular and they were circling around a couple of characters I couldn't stand. 

But I have loved Neighbours: yes, it was tosh, but it was harmless tosh. And it has been a surefire way for me to relax when I've been mentally exhausted. I would watch the same episode twice when I was stressed. It even featured in the two Plotting books, Plotting for Beginners and Plotting for Grown-ups. 

"Neighbours is fab, and I love all the stupid plotlines – the amnesia, disputed paternity, blackmail, on-off love affairs, business wars, mistaken identities, manipulative ex-girlfriends, violent ex-boyfriends, people stuck down mine shafts, plane crashes that kill off half the street. And the characters – Paul Robinson, Karl Kennedy, Lucas, Jade – they’re like family."       (from Plotting for Grown-ups)

So after cleaning the fridge I watched half of the final episode, and it was mostly dire. The other half I'll save for tomorrow. I'm casting around for something to watch in half hour slots as a replacement and It is likely to be Grace and Frankie, despite the fact that I've already watched it twice.

After that I made brownies, which always cheers me up. And then I had a peanut butter and gooseberry jam sandwich with a glass of wine for lunch. I needed the wine. I'm driving Dave up the wall because he says - and for once he is right about my emotional state - that I am an unhappy mix of excitement and anxiety about the family arriving tomorrow.   Have I made sufficient preparations? Will they get here safely?  How long will it take to pick up their baggage? Will their cases arrive before the end of the week? And if all that is not enough I read in the paper today that car-hire firms are letting customers down because they’re over subscribed. Aaargghh.

So what now? I'm going to paint while listening to the sound track from Out of Africa, a sure fire stress reliever. (It's raining and it's a summer Saturday, so a ride up the Trail on my bike is not a winner.)

I took this picture at the end of the Trail, a place where I sit down and relish the sky and the quiet, the grasses and the flowers.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Feeling pleased

Well, the country is still going down the plughole, and the sweet peas are a wash out this year, but there are so many other things to be pleased about. For one, the patch of wild flowers we sowed beside the sweet peas, 

and Dave’s sunflowers doing well behind. 

Also we have another successful Bakewell Refugee Hospitality Day under our belts. Last Saturday was terrific and everyone enjoyed the day - the lunch, the activities, the welcome. 

These are the posies I picked to put on the lunch tables. Note the dearth of sweet peas. 

Our visitors think Bakewell is gorgeous and they’re right. The riverside walk with the humongous trout, the back street mill leat, the surrounding hills, the historic buildings.

And lastly, I’m pleased about my paintings that I collected from the framer on Monday. I look at the still life and the hedgerow painting and think ‘Did I really paint those?’

The dancers

I painted this one above after going to the ballet at the Royal Opera House in London with Het. 

My bedside table, February 2015

Evening light


Dave is coming to Buxton this morning to see the washing line painting, March Wind, in the gallery. The exhibition it’s in,The Derbyshire Open Exhibition, won the visual arts award in the Buxton Festival Fringe events. You can see it at the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. 

The last and best thing to be pleased about is the family arriving from Colorado on Sunday, airlines permitting.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Heat and respite

What a relief. I've just had to close the window because the breeze was too chilly for me in my sleeveless nightie. 

How have you found the heat? 

I hated it.

Dave loved it. He was outside most of the day - early on in the sunshine on his 50km bike ride. Later, sitting in the shade with his feet in a plastic box of cold water, reading Lytton Strachey's Cardinal Manning. Dave comes alive in the heat. (What am I saying? He's the most alive person I know and only shrinks into the background in social situations.)  

I, meanwhile, got up early to drive a friend to hospital, then went for an early ride on the Trail and then came back to the north end of the sitting room (south window shut and curtains closed) to paint for the rest of the day.

This is what I was working on and at teatime thought I'd finished

but now I've posted it on Instagram I realise that the left hand side foreground tree leaves need to be slightly darker. 

Dave kept coming in and saying 'Come outside and experience it!' and I kept retorting 'I know what it's like! Hateful! And shut the door! I'm trying to keep out the heat!' Yes, I do mean those four exclamation marks.

Today Dave went out early and is out all morning so I've been lying in bed late, relishing the quiet, and gripped by this:

It's about death and dying. It's written by a palliative care consultant and is educative, challenging and utterly fascinating. It's such a relief to find a book I don't want to chuck in after 28 pages.

Have you heard of this reading rule suggested by someone called Nancy Pearl?

When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book. As the saying goes, "Age has its privileges."

Now I'm going to pick some sweet peas, then make a coffee and I'm going back to bed with my book. There have to be some perks of being ancient, and freedom to do this is one of them. Friday and Saturday will be full on: Friday cooking for the refugee day and finding flowers that have not wilted to decorate the lunch tables, and Saturday the day itself. 

Enjoy the breeze. I am.