Tag Archives: the magical town of crickadoon

None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…..

My last post featured my stay in Brittany during the month of May.      

However, since then I have spent eight days in Kingston Hospital courtesy the wonderful NHS (National Health Service) and have been recouping ever since, all of which emphasises that none of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out………….

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I was two years old in 1948 when the NHS came into being. Having been fortunate enough to experience very good health during my lifetime, I have not had the need to use the Service very much, however, I have always held it in the highest regard.    

It’s important to say that nothing is perfect…..and indeed when the NHS came into being the world population was approx., two and half billion….now we are rocketing towards eight billion! This of course puts great pressure on all institutions……including the NHS.  

My recent experience in Kingston Hospital has brought home to me how fortunate we are in the UK to have such a Service. If necessary we must go to the barricades to preserve it from those politicians who might see it as a cash pot!!! They are out there waiting to get their greedy hands on it……..

The beautiful Brecon Beacons…Wales – watercolour/gouache

A little known fact is that The NHS is available to everyone within the UK no matter how wealthy or poor….it does not discriminate.     I know that in countries where free health care is only given to those who  are lacking in financial resources….much division has been caused.  

Magical Hummingbirds – watercolour  

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So what happened to me?    I think it’s fair to say that I had probably been overdoing things, especially as I hadn’t been feeling 100% since the beginning of the year.    I had been experiencing breathlessness…something totally new for me, and after a couple of visits to the doctor, I decided to let time sort things out!

I suppose time indeed did sort things out only not in the way I had hoped……

Crickhowell from the Bluebell Woods – watercolour

Having just returned from a lovely wedding celebration in Atlanta, Ga, I was resting in my flat when all of a sudden I experienced extreme pain through my middle section and nausea.    After fifteen minutes, I realised something was very wrong and for the first time in my life, called an ambulance.

The ambulance service was superb.    Once they arrived I simply let go and gave myself to their knowledge and understanding.      Magical hummingbirds were clearly overseeing the situation.

watercolour

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On the way to the hospital it occurred to me that this might be it. It also occurred to me that where and how we die is not of great importance, ….the key is how we have lived our lives.

Have we loved and been loved? Have we loved the experience of being alive and all that entails? Have we done and said the things we wanted to do and say? Have we been grateful for gifts that we have been given? All of this was mulling around in my head….

Maybe it’s because I oversaw the care of my Mother for eleven years at home and in nursing homes, that I am very clear that I prefer quality over quantity. In other words, I would rather live a shorter life of substance and joy than a longer life inhibited by ill health.

watercolour

And so I arrived at the A & E department ready for anything…and at the same time, although in pain, very peaceful and calm inside.

It was found that I had fluid on my lung, plus blood clots…one of which had destroyed my left kidney. {The good news is that my right kidney is still in good shape.}

I had gone to my doctor a few times since the beginning of the year, but hadn’t always taken her advice. I was convinced that whatever was going on would sort itself out! Well this time it didn’t….

summer tree – watercolour

For the following eight days I received superb treatment. So many tests, I lost count, plus constant updates from nurses and doctors and a feeling of being very well taken care of.

I have never enjoyed hospitals, or needles (had a serious needle phobia up until the age of 60) but this experience was different. I found it all very interesting and it’s left me wanting to learn more about the internal workings of my body.. It was as if fear was replaced with intrigue. Plus there was some wonderful ‘people watching’ to be enjoyed – although having said that I didn’t have the energy even to sketch!

Other than my lovely next door neighbour Jeanie who brought in clean pjs etc I didn’t tell anyone else that I was in the hospital. My two children in the States are still recovering from the sudden loss of their father in February and so I didn’t want to alarm them….and given that I was so tired, and occupied with tests, etc. I wasn’t up to people visiting me.

I did let my children know after three days….Since then they have been so very supportive and have told me not to do that again……

Brecon Beacons – Wales – watercolour

Since leaving the hospital, the support I have received has been wonderful….all of which I am very grateful for.

I suppose I am a little like a cat…..when I get sick, I tend to hide and nurse myself…..:) I even asked my dear friend Gail in Kent if I could hide out in their yurt. It hasn’t come to that, yet, but it seems like a good idea to me.

My aftercare has been excellent and is ongoing. Still lots of tests…including heart scans…. It’s all quite fascinating.

Church Path – Crickhowell – watercolour

I was asked by a good friend yesterday what has been the most important part of my life. My answer ‘creativity’.

It is this one element that has made sense of everything else and has enhanced and nurtured the great joys in my life, – my children, friends, animals, etc. It has also been a great buffer against the trials and tribulations that we all experience through life’s journey.

Those who read my blog will know that I am always banging on about ‘The Creative Process being the key to Emotonal, Physical and Spiritual Wellbeing’. It’s true.

watercolour /gouache

This experience has given me cause for much reflection.

Painting, writing, gardening, and all sorts of other creative endeavours will take precedence.

Much more time spent communing with Mother Nature……

As little time as possible in cities……

And I definitely need to organise my life so that I can have a cat again…..:)

Christeve the Cat – watercolour/gouache

Fortunately I don’t have anything on my calendar until October….and so my plan is to just hang loose. Each day I am able to do more writing and painting….and as I said earlier am feeling better all the time.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer and keeping well….and of course being creative.

A Bientot

Janet

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.

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A bientot

Janet.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Accident of Birth – short story about Sid the Boxer

I always carry a sketchbook and watercolours with me so that I can make quick sketches of the fascinating people I come across.

This short story is about one of those meetings.    The day I met Sid The Boxer.

Sid the Boxer.    watercolour  20190304_141151I first visited Barnes, SW London in August of 2005.

I was preparing to leave Wales where I had been living and working for thirteen years  to move to London, primarily for work, and to be closer to my failing elderly Mother.     It had  been suggested that I rent rooms in a house in Barnes in SW London.

This particular visit was to take a look at the area before making the move in October 2005.

On what was a lovely summer’s morning, I packed my watercolours and something to eat and went off to explore.

I found a promising place in a little park next to the river Thames between Barnes and Mortlake and set myself up on a bench.     During the next hour or so I enjoyed the sense of peace and tranquility that comes when I am painting and communing with nature.

Across the little park from where I was sitting were a group of people on another bench.    Other than this group and myself, there seemed to be no-one else around.       Eventually the group got up and began to walk towards the river and then towards me.     My first thought was that I hoped they wouldn’t want to chat with me and disturb my solitude.

As the group steered towards the river (thank goodness) one of its members broke away and came directly towards me.       He was a big man with dark glasses, drinking a large can of beer and generally looking rather disheveled.      He said ‘Hey love – you wanna paint my portrait’?     I looked at him and said ‘Actually yes – I would love to on the condition that I paint one for you and one for me‘.      I motioned for him to sit at  the end of the bench.

Clearly very surprised at my response….he actually became quite nervous.     ‘Did I mind if he drank his beer‘?   ‘Should he take his dark glasses off’?     I told him to make himself comfortable and then as I painted him he began to tell me about his life.

His name was Sid the Boxer – be was born into a gypsy travelling family and had spent most of his life in reform schools and prison.     That he had only recently been released from Wandsworth Prison for attempted murder.   Banned from every pub in Barnes and surrounding areas, he basically spent most of his time wandering around with his friends during the day time, until they could return to their hostel.

As dangerous as this might sound, I knew instinctively, intuitively that there was nothing to be afraid of.       I learned that Sid had a daughter who he hadn’t seen for over thirty-five years.   Sid had been a very good boxer and he went on to tell me this talent had kept him alive and given him respect when in prison.   It had been his protection.

As we came to the end of our time together, he asked if I had gone to a special school to learn to be an artist.    I told him that I had gone to the Medway College of Arts in Rochester Kent, and he exclaimed with great delight.   ‘That’s where I went to Borstal’ – (a boys reform school for the uninitiated)”!

We shook hands and Sid the Boxer left with his sketch and I kept mine.     As I thought about our meeting, I recognised what an accident of birth our start in life is.   In the random nature of things, Sid had been dealt a tricky hand, however he used his best attribute, that of being a boxer to survive.

Wherever Sid the Boxer and his sketch is, I send him this magical hummingbird, and hope that he is able to drink from some of the sweet nectar of life – if not in this life, maybe the next……..

20190117_095823The moral to this story, is to never leave home without a sketchbook…..You never know what interesting person you might meet……

A Bientôt.

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rhiwiau, Yew trees and The Magical Town of Crickadoon.

“To find the universal elements enough, to find the air and the water exhilarating: to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter – to be thrilled by the stars at night:  to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of a simple life.”   John Burroughs.

The Rhiwiau – The big stone barn is to the left of the house….note the small shepherd’s hut in front of the barn – this is where I slept.FB_IMG_1523948682803 I first visited the Rhiwiau, the home of my friends Anne and Mike Ranstead , about twenty-four years ago.    Along with enjoying happy hours with Anne and Mike and  painting in the surrounding hills, this place represents a ‘hot spot’ for me.

When I left my home in Crickhowell in 2005 to move to London, I stored my furniture in the stone barn for four years.       Prior to that, two large panels I painted for St. Edmund’s Church in Crickhowell (aka The Magical Town of Crickadoon) – were stored in the barn for a period of time.     All of this is recorded on a video.

The two completed panels hanging in St. Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell.   They were installed in 1996.     20180713_100147Then five years ago my two good friends, Heather and Andrew bought the Rhiwiau from Anne and Mike.    Hill walkers and dog lovers, they are the perfect people to take over.  They have now made the Rhiwiau into an Air B’nB – attracting people from around the world who love hill walking and all the other bounties that the Brecon Beacons National Park has to offer.      Here are the links to their air BnB.

airbnb.co.uk/rooms/6074819      and    airbnb.co.uk/rooms/13812920

Close to the Rhiwiau is Llanfeugan Church in Pencilli.      In this unspoiled place Heather took me to see a circle of Yew trees that are around two thousand years old.

Heather and one of the magnificent Yew trees at Llanfeugan Church, Pencelli. 20180708_125531  Old head stones interspersed amongst the Yew trees.    A magical place20180708_125821During my stay Heather introduced me to Janis Fry –  artist, writer and expert on the Yew Tree.  http://www.janisfryart.co.uk     Janis has written two books on the subject – ‘The God Tree’ and ‘Warriors at the Edge of Time’    

Janis and Heather are now giving tours aimed to introduce people to some of the best examples of ancient yews in Wales.   They occur in a relatively small area, probably due to the culture of revering yews and planting them which dates back to the Silures, the Celtic yew tribe who inhabited this area and fought the Romans.   The tour starts with a five thousand (5,000) year old yew and ends with one of four thousand (4,000) years and is designed to take up a weekend.    For more information go to http://www.janisfryart.co.uk

Heather and I went to The International Welsh Rarebit Centre in Defynnog to meet Janis.   I had been told that the food (especially the welsh rarebit) was excellent – and I was not disappointed.    Not only is it a very attractive place, run by an interesting woman named Rose, the Welsh Rarebit – and I had Stout Welsh Rarebit was fantastic.

Some of the best Welsh Rarebit I have ever had…….89bf7a63dd98854fcd0aa13e38ffb66fInterior of The International Welsh Rarebit Centre….An art gallery and meeting room up stairs. IMG_7047I haven’t mentioned yet how hot it was.    Usually when it’s hot in London or even in Crickhowell….when you get up into the hills the temperature drops by a few degrees, however, not during this heatwave…and more worryingly a drought!    Anyway,  given that the house was filled with Air B ‘n B guests, I slept in the Shepherd’s hut which sits just in front of the barn….and I loved it.

As I lay there in my bed looking out at the beautiful scenery and listening to the sounds of nature, I was reminded of the joys of the simple life.   I thought of how much ‘stuff’ we carry around with us, both emotional and physical – stuff that weighs us down.     In the shepherd’s I felt totally free and at peace.  

My abode for two nights…..had everything I needed and much more, i.e. Mother Nature surrounding me.    20180708_080411My view from inside the Shepherd’s hut along with the sounds of sheep and birds…….perfect.20180709_124803Another special visit was to the artist Janet Foster who lives and works in the village of Llanfynach.   I met Janet when I was tutoring for the Brecknock Art Society and have always enjoyed her work. 20180708_120944

I love to doodle in a small sketchbook when travelling.   Quick images and thoughts forever remind me of special moments…..

20180716_113134I couldn’t complete this part of my post without mentioning Bounty….a beautiful horse I met that lives just down the road from the Rhwihau.   I really liked her. 20180708_094441After two blissful days at the Rhhwiau – Heather drove me to Crickhowell (about ten miles) where I met up with friend Jane who had driven from London for her first visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon, where we stayed at the fantastic Dragon Inn.      Having heard me talk about it for twelve years, at last she could see it.

I have decided to write a separate blog about the Crickhowell part of the trip…which I will post next week.     Arriving in the hustle and bustle of The Magical Town of Crickadoon, as I call it, felt like a great metropolis after being at the Rhwiau……….20180713_093600A few watercolour sketches painted when visiting the Rhiwiau over the years – always trying to capture the ever changing light of the Brecon Beacons. 20-11-15 - 1 (204)

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A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Christmas story about a homeless little cat and how she found hope, trust and courage….

The subject of homelessness becomes more prevalent every day.     Whether one of the millions of stateless people roaming the earth, or people we encounter on the streets of our towns and cities – the problem looms ever greater.

I wrote and illustrated a children’s Christmas story 15 years ago entitled ‘Christeve the Cat Finds Her Home’.     Based on a true story, it focuses on the arrival of a little cat into my life on Christmas Eve 1996 when I was living in Crickhowell, Wales.   

I have been displaced a couple of times in my life, and know what it is to yearn for a home of my own.    In many ways this story is autobiographical.   It is filled with symbolism including of course the magical hummingbirds.

In the story the little cat was homeless and had been living in a tree across from my cottage.   I believed that she belonged to Mr. Pickford, one of my neighbours and so had not been concerned about her.

My neighbour, Mr. Pickford. 20-11-15 - 1 (1340)Here is the lonely little cat wishing she could live in a nice warm cottage like the one across from her tree. 20-11-15 - 1 (1330)“Sitting between mountains and watched by the moon, with magical hummingbirds weaving their love” this story takes place in The Magical Town of Crickadoon. 

The little cat looking over the Magical Town of Crickadoon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1339)During the long dark cold nights, every noise would give the little cat a fright, and sometimes she would cry.20-11-15 - 1 (1328)   One night when the winds began to roar and howl, the little cat had a visit from a wise old owl.    The wise owl told the little cat to be patient and trust.    To close her eyes and dream of magical hummingbirds.

Something inside of  her always knew that there was nothing to fear and that help was always near……..20-11-15 - 1 (1337)The little cat began to make friends with the birds and animals that lived beneath her tree.      After days of fun and play with her new friends the little cat would fall into a deep sleep and dream about finding a home of her own.

Some of the little cat’s new friends 20-11-15 - 1 (1336)One of her new friends, a red robin, told the little cat that she would never be alone because hummingbirds were always near, helping her to find a new home of her own. 20-11-15 - 1 (1325)One morning red robin and little cat woke to see that the Magical Town of Crickadoon was completely covered in snow.    everywhere the little cat looked, there was a special glow.20-11-15 - 1 (1335)Later that night when little cat was dreaming in her tree, a beautiful white hummingbird appeared.      White hummingbird told little cat that there was nothing to fear, and that after a terrible storm, all would be clear. 20-11-15 - 1 (1338)The next morning when the snow swirled and whirled and the winds roared and howled, the little cat felt so cold and alone was beginning to think that she would never find a home of her own.        20-11-15 - 1 (1334)In her dreams the little cat heard White Hummingbird say – “Don’t give into your fear, soon all will be clear. – Follow the light through the storm and there you will find your home, so cosy and warm”. 

As the little cat came closer to the only light she could see, she realised that it was shining from the cottage across from her tree.     As little cat reached the door and raised her paw she called out as loudly as could be…Meeeeeoooooowwwww, I am here, I am here…….

The door to the cottage across from her tree opened wide and there was Janet the Artist waiting inside. 20-11-15 - 1 (1333)Janet the Artist scooped up little cat with tenderness and love, and from high above the Magical Town of Crickadoon, hummingbirds of every colour were flying under the moon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1332)Janet the Artist named the little cat, Christeve the Cat because she had arrived on a very special Christmas Eve.

THE END

This is the actual cottage where Christeve the Cat and Janet the Artist lived together in The Magical Town of Crickadoon. 

30371_309193229185374_253873514_nChristeve the Cat settled into her new home and sitting on her favourite chair302846_309648909139806_918859733_nChristeve the Cat (on the left) with one of her friends sitting in her favourite place in the garden of her new home. til August 10 119http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk    http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+gifts

A bientôt.

“Every child is an artist………..” Picasso.

It was Picasso who said –

“Every child is an artist.   The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

In the midst of a rather gloomy train of thought with regards to Black Friday and the mad commercialism of the holiday season, a brilliant ray of light entered into my day – one that reminded me of Picasso’s words.  

Meir Rogers, a five year old artist from Chicago sent me one of his beautiful pictures and all of a sudden everything made sense.

In Meir’s painting we see the freshness, spontaneity, wonder and pure magic that the artwork of a child brings.     Thank you Meir 🙂

Birds by artist Meirs Rogers  

Meir's birds 2

“Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.”   Dr. Seuss

When we first enter this world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

When we observe children at play we see them following the words of the great Dr. Seuss.    Filled with curiosity and playfulness they take in all that surrounds them and much more.

Sad to say that by the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost touch with and confidence in our inner creative energy.

Painting with children in Somerset, UK.    These children would be in their early twenties now.    They love to watch an artist paint….in this instance, I was painting Cristeve the Cat for them.   After I left them they painted their own version of Cristeve the Cat. 703984_10151335674775396_172685478_oIf we adults could time travel back to our earliest formative years, when the world appeared as a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form.      We might see things in a much broader context than the one prescribed to us by our cultural experience.

Painting portraits with a group of children in France.     

til August 10 129As adults we forget how wonderful it is to play with colour….We are concerned about how we appear to others…..which often stifles the creative process.

In children we see a freedom of expression…..especially when a child is encouraged.    In Meir Roger’s case I happen to know that he receives great encouragement from his parents and grandparents.   I wish that this were true for all children.

Working with children in Brittany, France on a mural for their school.      I will always remember when the children sang me the song….’Red and Yellow and Pink and Blue………………. – a very special moment.      (these children would all be in their mid thirties today…..til August 10 126It saddens me greatly to hear a child chastised because they are making a mess, being silly or not behaving in a normal fashion.

Words such as these can stay with a child for the rest of their life and prevent them from experiencing the joy of creative expression.              Encouragement is key.

It’s OK to fail at being normal, whatever that is……When we observe children exploring their creative energies, we see other ways of seeing and being.    12314060_10153693416745396_9179756764978779361_nOver the years, I have collected a lot of children’s art….and have had many beautiful portraits painted of me by children from around the world.

As I observed six year old Beatrice focus with complete confidence on her artwork, it was a delight.   As is often the case when painting portraits…a very special connection is made.

A portrait of me by 6 year old Beatrice from Portugal. 20-11-15 - 1 (933)Painting water colour portraits of two very special young girls in Portugal 13076555_1162891533744325_7774473167615565835_nMy suggestion to children or adults as we approach the holiday season is to get paints and paper and make the creative process an important part of the festive season….and of course for every other season.      If you are not sure where to start…why not paint your own wrapping paper….now there’s a thought…..p-kids-hand-painting-owpMN8ZSw8-1And last but not least I leave you with a watercolour of  Cristeve the Cat and a magical hummingbird.    12238351_10153687926025396_2738025815690721220_oA bientot –

http://www.zazzle.com/janet-weight-reed-gifts     http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

 

When life is manageable

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony”   Thomas Merton.

Stair Hole, Lulworth, Dorset – part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, which spans 185 million years of geological history.  – reminding me that we are but a blip in time and that ultimately Mother Nature rules!  watercolour  20-11-15 - 1 (1231)Given that I hadn’t been on the Isle of Wight since 1965, I decided to take a taxi from the Ryde ferry terminal to Bembridge where I was staying.      The taxi driver was lovely…a man who had moved to the Island from London thirty years ago.      As he pointed out, the Island works best for young families, people over sixty, and of course those who love to sail  – Cowes being a world class sailing arena.        His grown children have returned to London, a story I heard several times.     As he pointed out that despite a good internet connection, until the day a bridge or tunnel is built, connecting the Island with the mainland,  life as it is will probably continue.       (let’s hope they never build a tunnel or bridge…..)

After checking into my B & B I had planned on seeing my friend, artist and blogger, Sarah Vernon (First Night Design) however Sarah was taken into hospital on the day I arrived!       I am relieved and pleased to say that Sarah is now home, and will tell you all about her ordeal in her own words when she is more rested.   Get well soon Sarah.

Proving that there is a silver lining in most circumstances,  I did get to visit Sarah in Newport Hospital, which gave me the opportunity to take the beautiful and relaxing one and a half hour bus ride from Bembridge to Newport.

One of the photographs I took of Sandown from the top of the number 8 bus from Bembridge to Newport….it was a beautiful day.  20-11-15 - 1 (991)My overall first impressions were of a much slower pace of life,  of almost going back to how the UK was when I was growing up.    Everyone I encountered was extremely helpful, including the bus drivers.    People still queue.…and of course being a Brit I do like queues :).      There was no litter or graffiti….a sense of order prevailed.      In short it all felt very manageable.

It felt as if the Island has not outgrown its infrastructure.  Life appeared to be integrated rather than fragmented.    The opposite to feeling overwhelmed and isolated – which I believe is a huge problem for many in today’s society.  

Newport, the principal town of the Island, is often referred to as its capital.    Again very manageable, very easy to walk around…..I had a wonderful fish and chip lunch for £4!    Newport Hospital was just a short bust ride away from the town centre – everything felt easy.

Outside the Art Centre in Newport.    20-11-15 - 1 (1009)This visit was about getting a feel of the place.     Would I want to spend time there painting?    These are always my prime questions.     The answer is yes.    I would choose a village location with a bus route.    This would allow me to walk to shops/pubs etc, and with my London bus pass – free bus travel.     So it will definitely go on my list of places to explore and paint.

Part of the beautiful Isle of Wight coastline. 1500-isleofwight-creditNTI returned to the mainland via the Cowes ferry to Southampton where I had the sudden realisation that the last time I was on Southampton dock was  January 28th 1966 when I took the United States Liner to New York!   Talk about deja vu.   My friend Suzy, whose office sits right on the dock then drove me to Dorset.

I stayed with art college friend Maureen….always very enjoyable.       Although I don’t do very well with cars (anyone who knows me will  be smiling at this:)  Maureen took me to Lulworth Cove – part of the Jurassic Coast- and I am so pleased she did.     The weather could not have been more perfect and most importantly it was  visual feast.

Three different views of Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove, Jurrasic Coast  Dorset….watercolours. 20-11-15 - 1 (1235)

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This image of Lulworth Cove is taken a half a mile away from where I painted Stair Hole….61029843I began this post with Thomas Merton’s quote about balance, order rhythm and harmony.…elements I believe we all need in our lives.

Along with Crickhowell Wales, Saorge and other locations in France, the isle of Wight goes on my list of places where these elements are still to be found.

I am constantly reminded as I paint the magical hummingbird of how we can learn from Mother Nature – be it on the minute scale of the hummingbird or the rugged and grand scale of the Jurrasic Coast.       It is at our peril that we lose sight of this.

A magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life. – watercolour/gouache20-11-15-1-358A Bientôt