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Four weeks in beautiful Brittany…Part 1

I have decided to split this blog into two parts.       The first part will be an overview of my four week stay in Brittany.     The second part,  will focus on what our leaving the EU means to me and my many European friends.

When I began writing this blog nearly fourteen years ago, I made a commitment not to talk about politics.      However,  back then none of us had any idea of the madness we would find ourself in today!

After my recent trip, and then the commemoration of D Day and everything it stands for, I am moved to write on a more in depth personal level.

First the overview.

Separated by the English Channel, this map shows our close proximity to northern France.    Map - English ChannelI took the EuroStar train  (one of my favourite forms of travel) from London to Paris which takes two hours and twenty minutes.       From Paris Nord the metro to Paris Montparnasse where I caught the TGV to Lorient.       My dear friend Elisabeth was waiting to take me to the cottage at Lamor-Plage .      Everything on time, and very comfortable and if you book way ahead of time, inexpensive.

Elisabeth – in the cottage garden20190515_130110I first met Elisabeth when I was living in Crickhowell (AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon) Wales almost thirty years ago and subsequently really got to know her when I had an exhibition in Brittany in 1995.        She is an amazing woman involved in many different areas always helping other people.    She is a good friend.

The poster from that exhibition28701436_10156170620555396_5832736884418070645_oI can’t feature Elisabeth without showing  her dog dear little Nouchka.     Nouchka is very special…..I love her:)20190527_190545The lovely cottage I stayed in came about because of Elisabeth.   When I was with her in March 2018, we had lunch with her friend Nicole, who just happened to mention that her son  had a cottage for rent……the rest is history.61452683_10157261746160396_3668991356094644224_oAnd to add icing to the cake – I arrived at the cottage to find all sorts of goodies, courtesy Elisabeth and Nicole…..a lovely welcome 60333444_10157206747210396_869104246006480896_oDuring my first week, French actress Patricia Pekmezian joined me and was kind enough to sit for several portrait studies.    We had a really lovely time together and talked at great length about the arts and life in general……

watercolour61676983_10157279497840396_5977241380945133568_o   watercolour/gouache20190513_084156Patricia in the cottage garden61954572_10157279495935396_6012649482175381504_oTowards the end of the month Alice Johnson arrived from the States….Another good friend and artist.    We go back many years.        We enjoyed painting together and everything else on offer….

Happy times were experienced at the Lamor-Plage beach.    Here is Alice waiting to enjoy another delicious French lunch.

20190527_150255Meanwhile,    it was so lovely to spend time by the beach and to experience the wonderful fresh air.       Patricia and I spent a day on L’ile de Groix – an island I would love to spend more time on.    There are miles and miles of amazing coastal walks to be enjoyed and of course so perfect for sketching and painting.

Patricia waiting for the ferry to take us to L’ile de Groix.20190511_100022The beach at Lamor- Plage580054b0_originalAnd then there were the wonderful musical concerts.     Brittany much like Wales is known for its love of music and we were not disappointed on this trip.       One of the concerts featured a Welsh and Breton choir….bringing home our deep connections and similarities.

Elisabeth’s partner Herve…is involved with Les Gabiers d Artimon.     As a choir they perform all over France plus more recently in Quebec, China and Russia.    Talk about wonderful ambassadors.    _1During Alice’s visit we were fortunate enough to attend a big concert in the Lorient Theatre with its one thousand seats….all filled.    The concert was uplifting and moving, and again cemented the positive ties that we in the UK have with so many of our European brothers and sisters.

Les Gabiers D’artimon performing at the Lorient Theatre. 2867_2019053011341487.jpg Then of  course there was the food…..Oh La La…….Eaten with Breton salted butter this bread is divine……...61992592_10157276804560396_3690182544344481792_nAnd the glorious patisseries that can be found in every village, town and city in France….d114f9d889e0ace18604cda0ef39966bThere is so much interesting history surrounding the area…especially involving WW2…which I will write about in my second half.

I could go on and on, but key to all of this was the amazing hospitality of the Breton people.        Beautiful people living in one of my favourite regions of France. 

I will be away for the next week or so to enjoy a very special wedding.     I  plan to write the second part of this blog after I return around the 21st June.

Don’t forget the magical hummingbirds….watercolour.


A bientot


I will catch up with blogs and messages after I return from the wedding.    Suit case will be packed away…and I am here for the summer.









Interconnections and new horizons.

‘Life is like climbing a tower:    the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands.’   William Lyon Phelps. 

One of the many paintings taken from sketches made during the twelve years I lived and worked in Wales.    Large watercolour/gouache.

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It was April of 1996, when my daughter Christie and I were standing on the steps to the American Embassy in London waiting to get Christie a replacement passport.     It suddenly occurred to me that thirty years earlier, in January of 1966, I had been in exactly the same place waiting  to pick up my visa to visit the United States.

In that moment I was able to look back in time at the younger me with detachment and compassion and at my daughter with a sense of wonder.

In 1966, I had no idea what a huge adventure I was about to embark on – So many experiences and changes were to occur that I could never have been creative enough to imagine, including the birth of my two children in the United States.

Tangible evidence of two major changes that were to come.   My son Jarrod and daughter Christie….This was taken in my Westtown, Pennsylvania studio in 1978:)

til August 10 258

So why the United States?      In 1965, after finishing art college, I married my first husband in London.         As a young boy he had visited family in the States,  and having loved the experience, wanted to return.      We agreed on a two year visit.

On January 28th 1966 we set sail from Southampton on the SS United States liner.      Our final destination was to be Key West Florida.

The SS United States liner in 1966


After what was one of the roughest crossings on record – causing me and just about everyone else aboard to be sea sick….we arrived in New York Harbour on the 3rd February.     As we glided under the newly constructed Verrazano Bridge, I had no idea that one year later, I would be returning to New York  where I would be living in a cottage on Staten Island overlooking the Harbour.

The Verazzano-Narrows Bridge – spanning the narrows between Staten Island and Brooklyn.    


After disembarking onto the shores of Manhattan we took a yellow cab to the bus terminal and then a Greyhound bus to Miami.     From there my husband’s uncle drove us to Key West, the most southern point of the United States.

A greyhound bus in 1966


Still feeling queasy from the Atlantic crossing, several weeks later I was to find that I was pregnant.    On 10th September 1966 – almost exactly nine months after setting sail, my son Jarrod was born in the brand new Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

As time moves on I believe more and more in fate.    Had I known that I was pregnant prior to leaving the UK – I would never have travelled at that time.

Jarrod about three months old – Florida. – 1966


I have begun the process of  writing my autobiography which has given me cause for much reflection.

Yesterday, I met with a friend and we talked about how I would tackle the  book.    The answer is that each chapter will be a vignette, a stand-alone story.       For example, in this blog I have given a very brief overview of this particular period, when in reality there is so much more to tell.

During the past fifty years since I made that journey – not only has my life changed in ways that I could never have imagined…..but our world in general has changed almost beyond recognition.

As I continue to climb the tower of life, the horizon continues to expand and for that I am extremely grateful.

I close with a magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life –     watercolour. 


A Bientôt