Monday, 31 May 2010

An afternoon spent Art-ing, musing and playing

I spent a very delicious afternoon with my muse, creating, playing with paint, colour, collage papers and poetry.  This particular picture has been in my head for a while now - creating a visual that symbolises our time in France.  I had collected a few bits of papers from my trip to the brocante where I bought old newspapers and university journals from 1918 & 1937, plus stamps of letters sent home. Not wanting to ruin them by cutting/tearing them up (they're also a great source of reference), I colour copied the pages I wanted.  You can see within the piece Journal 'L'Universitie des Annales, plus I found a beautiful little piece of music entitled "Les Trois Princesses" so I thought this would have to be Me, Lucy and Muriel (muriel's my car, a C3 pluriel) and I then added, et Le Prince (that being Will).  It's not finished by any means, but I'm really loving it.  It evokes France for me.  As I photocopied the pages from my french map to help with the journey from Champagne--le-Sec to Calais, I used these pages to collage into it, showing the journey taken by the main towns along the route.   So I'll update when this is finished.
So Will has created a raised bed on the allotment which he's called The Salad Bowl and I wanted to make a sign for it.  It's a great collection of different lettuces, raddish, purple carrots, spring onions and here's the finished sign.  I had an off-cut of mdf which suited it perfectly.  Having no real brief I just  messed with colour and this is what happened.  What I loved about doing this, (I started by doing this one first) was it got me and my muse playing, almost like playing scales on a piano to warm up, or stretching before exercising.  Nothing to prove, just colour and fun.  Will loves it to say the least.

I think I have shown my 'deesse francais' here before but I added another layer yesterday by popping the yes and adding the words.  She needs something extra, not sure what right now, so letting her 'be' and it will come to me over the next couple of weeks.  

Below is a painting I have let 'rest' for a good few months, was not really sure where it was going, but yesterday, picked her up again and added colour, embellishments with stars.  I like the way it's coming along now and will add further layers over the next few weeks.  The one on the left is how she began.  
I'm so enjoying the musing, it is helped so much by having turned our second bedroom into my art studio/office work space.  It's multi tasking space and albeit a small area, I'm so grateful to have this allocated room.  I can go in there and shut the door (which I'm sure I'll be doing when the world cup starts - not all the time, I do like a game of footie, but not all the time!).  Will said to me yesterday "can you imagine if you had your own studio space, all just for this, wooden floors, massive windows overlooking the sea?"    
Ah, sounds wonderful -  I know it's not out of my reach.  I just have to make it happen. Happy BH Monday x~x~x

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Sipping mint tea and setting myself a new challenge

Whilst sipping my current favourite mint tea (with mint leaves pulled fresh from the garden) I realised that I wanted to set myself another challenge.  I had read back over my blog posts from 30 March and realised that keeping a blog was a great way for me to 'check in' with myself and to see how I'm doing, writing, creating, art-ing (+not farting).  I remembered how I felt beginning (and nearly completing) to write my Personal Statement Handbook, it took over from my original intention, to write a book about my M.E experiences when I was in my 20s.  So now it's time to revisit the ME pink book - do I remember what it looks like, well here it is.  It's time to get back to it.  I'm delighted I have my Handbook because it really complements the work that I do, but my new challenge is to keep following in this direction of writing daily and I know that no sooner as I start writing, it all comes flooding out.  Thank you everyone who's supported me, in particular a wonderful retired english teacher who I've know since I was oooh, let me see, 4 (we're talking 38 yrs ish) known as AN, and she wrote on my fb page today 
"I recognise good stuff when I read it.  You know English was my subject, I am immodest enough to tell you I have a way with words...........SO DO YOU.   Every success to you.  I really enjoyed reading the Blog update!!!"
So thanks AN, it has inspired me to continue.  Plus my friend Lesley's nail varnish yesterday reminded me of the colour of my book, so I must go and buy 3 for the price of 1 at Tescos.  Agggghhhhhhh the joy of supermarkets that have offers! (pas en france).

My 2 favourite people

I have been home just over a week now and in re-grounding myself I've been lucky to have some fab weather - well we all have.  Sitting on my hammock was one of the most loveliest things ever and it made me realise just how lucky I am. (Lucy loves Hammock too, see below!)  She's adapted so well to being back and she has a spring in her step whenever I take her out to the park, she's totally tickled pink when we go to her old haunts. Reynolds, Calderstones, Childwall Woods.  She hasn't left Cornishman's side and follows him around everywhere.  Let's not dispute that he is the holder of the allotment key, a place she loves to go as there's so much grazing opportunity there.  Boy when those radishes take off, she'll be waiting by the door to go

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Bonjour Liverpool

After 2 days of travelling, 720 miles door to door, Lucy and I arrived back in Liverpool.  I feel like I have completed a rite of passage, some kind of initiation.  I feel so great at having done this and need to remember always that it was a great achievement.  The stages from visiting the Vet for Lucy's flea/tick preparation, Pet Passport stamped, to setting off to a teary farewell from Champagne-le-Sec, and stopping along the way at various aire de repose (rest area), walking Lucy, buying coffee, eating my preprepared sarnies.  It was just all go, go, go.  We stopped about 4 times before we got to Calais, and it gave us both time to stretch our legs, have a wee and basically not drive.  Lucy was an absolute angel.  I could not have wished for a more calm passenger.  No hassle from her whatsoever.  The only time she got a bit excited was as we neared Calais and she could smell the sea.  She's a real sea dog and loves being in water.  So she suddenly woke up and was panting, looking out the window.  Cute really.  
Once in Calais, we found the hotel really easily - Formula 1 - not sure if any peeps have stayed here, but I won't be staying again.  The room was fine, the pillows were nice and only €32 euros for me and €3 for Lucy, very good price, but no toilet or shower in the room.  Little did I know that this is the 'concept' of F1 hotels and I didn't notice on booking it.   They have 3 or 4 showers and 2 toilets per 8 rooms.  Now, I'm not saying I'm a snob, far from it, but when a coach party descends with masses of young people, I was lucky to just nip in and use them.  Not ideal and won't be doing that again.  Lucky for us there was Sky, so I was able to watch the Dorothy results show and also a little bit of Worried about the Boy but soon fell asleep.  We both did.  We were bushed.  
Pet passport check-in was a doddle and really pleased with that (defo do that again), so was booking into Euro tunnel, but there was a half hour delay - but all in all very smooth just waiting in the car - drive on, wait for 35 mins and then disembark.  Welcome to Folkestone.  We had to go straight to get the car MOT'd in Ashford (it passed thankyougoddess) and then to DVLA in Maidstone for my tax disc (it had ran out end of Feb!) and I ended up taking Lucy in with me to the DVLA, the sun was too strong and I wasn't leaving her in the car for possibly an hour.  Again, she was just soooo good.  She sat waiting for me as I was at the counter, and she brought a smile to everyone's face as they entered and left.  Dogs can do that, of course, babies do it too!  And then we were all taxed and ready to continue home to Liverpool.  
What a great feeling it was to get home.  Slightly disorientating at first, the body arrives and the brain comes a bit later, but lovely weather, a cup of tea and straight back to sitting on our lovely hammock.  Lucy felt at home straight away, you can tell and we were so delighted to see Will - Just lovely.  Vegetarian pasties for dinner -what more can a girl ask for!!???  
Now I have the task of unpacking, reorganising and finding space for things.  We gave alot of our storage furniture away, like chest of drawers, wardrobes.  But what I've learnt from being in france is less is more.  The more you have around you, the less you use it.  Anyway, I must press on and get going.  The weather is beautiful here and I'm blessed to be healthy.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Au Revoir France

Well it is the night before I leave for Calais.  All things are packed, the car is full of petrol, oil, water, tyres all checked.  We've said our goodbyes to most people, places and memorable spots.  Lucy has been to the Vets for her flea/tick preparation so we're ready for pet passport control.  I have written 6 pages of reflection on these last 5 months and what it has been to me.  I suddenly realised half way through that I have never been away like this before.  Never travelled when I was younger and lived in a different country.  This was my mini gap year.  I am blessed and very privileged to do this and I have learnt so much about myself and about my purpose.

Leaving friends, Lynn and Tony, who have been so lovely, I decided that I was going to paint them a picture.  It suddenly dawned on me what I wanted to draw.  Lucy spends 50% of her time over at their house, she's in love with Sandy, the cute rescue dog, although you'd never can tell as she bosses him around.   So as both LandT run an association over here called La Porte Ouverte (Open Door) they really live by that too.  So I finally gave them the painting and they were chuffed to bits!!  They're going to make it into a greeting card and sell it for charity in Open Door.  I'm really delighted.  I have  my first greeting card design!

Anyway tomorrow Lucy and I have about 600 kms to Calais where we're staying over night in a doggy friendly place.  Then through tunnel and back to Blighty.  I'll carry on creating, writing and producing! 

au revoir et à bientot xx

Saturday, 8 May 2010

One week and counting

In just 1 week I will be packing my car and heading off, dog in passenger seat (with seat belt on, I might add) to Calais.  Driving about 600 kms from Civray in the Poitou-Charentes region of France to Calais.  We're staying over night in a hotel, me and mutt sharing a room, that will be fun, I know it, she's such a great bedtime companion!!  Then, it's off to Pet Passport Control for the check of her microchip, flea/tick preparation by the Vet and signed passport - this is going to be a real experience.  We're loving it!  
My entire time in France has been an adventure from the moment I arrived in December.  I jumped and here I find myself in the land of the romance language.  I feel I've got to grips with the lingo quite well.

Yesterday, I went for a walk down by the river with the infamous Jack Russell, and as she was doing her 'thang' and exploring the waters' edge, we spied a fisherman.  He seemed very chatty - obviously, we're talking, french chatty here.   We shake hands, he says "Bonjour, comment-allez-vous?", "Oui bon, et vous? I replied.   Bless him, he was bright red, looked like a bottle of red wine (a bit too much I might add) and he smelt like a bottle of red too.  However for the next 5 minutes or so, we stood, and we talked.  Me in my cute french.  I asked if he fished there often (can you believe that chat up line).  He asked if I had a husband? Maybe he had someone for me?  He noticed my bright orange car and asked what it was?  We talked, we communicated and I felt good that I could understand him and he understood me. 

I asked him - vous comprendez moi?  "oui, tres bon, c'est d'accord".  

I left, on my way to the supermarche, feeling quite good.  After 5 months, I held a conversation with a drunken fisherman.  I'm chuffed.  It makes me proud..

I shall miss the space, the landscape, the fields of green and the lack of speed bumps.  I've had nearly 7 weeks of solitude and I'm now looking for interaction and my friends.  My time here has been really productive, wonderful, learning, growing, developing, and after the year of 2009, that's a good thing.  I'm blessed and very grateful for grabbing this opportunity when it arose - some of it may have gone a bit pear shaped however I'm going to remember every ounce of it and breathe deeply as I get in my car to head off up the N10 to Calais.  Who'd have thought I'd be driving all that way on my own.  Well, not exactly on my own, I have an excellent map reader - albeit the furry 4 legged variety - but they know where they're going. xx

Friday, 7 May 2010

Over 13,000 words

Well today I have now passed 13,000 words for my workbook - still not sure on the title - but it's along the lines of '7 Steps to creating your Personal Statement for University' - that's a bit too wordy for me but we shall see how it evolves.  I have now finished the main steps which I'm chuffed about.  Now I am looking at the chapters either side, the introduction, the 'before you begin the book' section, about me, glossary, recommended links, references etc... so it's quite exciting.  I have one week to go before I return to Liverpool and I feel I have been very focused to achieve this task I set myself on 30 March.  

I am going to self publish it, but I also I will send it to publishers to see get some feedback.  Exciting stuff.  

Loving my sketching frenzy

I've been in a sketching frenzy - loving the plain paper and graphite and getting really into it.  More so I love tearing out the face sketch and then medium-ing it (is there such a word?) Anyway, thought I'd share some of them. The goddess on the left here - or 
déesse (the french name)  she started off like this 
and has ended up as a really love addition below.  Not quite finished but am going to finish her soon.  She's going to have the poem

"To her I entrust my spirit
When I sleep and when I wake
Even as my soul is not within my body
Déesse is with me I am not afraid"

I placed her face on a piece of wood backing and then added more shading with my beautiful primsa crayons, then the 'medium-ing' started - I find this so meditative.

By the way, just out of interest, I discovered that the Citroen DS, that icon french car, well the DS, stands for Déesse, goddess , that's what they thought of it when they designed her.  Beautiful.  Bfn x

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