Sunday, 27 May 2012

Life changes ....


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Ramblings: Pivotal to all that I do are many things: my husband (since 1958), our three distant children and their respective spouses, and our nine beautiful 8-18 year-old grandchildren. And daily, our rambling home and rambling garden. Separate to all that is my commissioned work, and my personal writing (my word-whispers, poem-spills, diaries and illustrated journals; and increasingly important to me, my mixed-media 'art'. The latter is my release, my escape into myself - I feel a physical and mental itch if I cannot find even a few minutes every day to 'create'.

Self-seeded wildlings in the orchard: cow parsley and honesty colonise
the space around a fallen 120-year-old apple tree
And late at night, another escape: blogs, emails and Facebook. My dear far-flung online acquaintances are very special to me, as our my few 'on-the-ground' real friends. For I am not, and never have been, a social person. I find crowds and gatherings intimidating, and guess it is a selfishness in me; or an early upbringing that taught me self-reliance and  perseverance, regardless of surroundings.

with my beloved grandfather
(me, age about eight)
I rabbit on. We, Raymond and I, enter a new phase in our lives. I relish a complete day to work unhindered yet inevitably punctuate it with the caring and sharing of a relationship many years in the making. And if I am to come to the point ... I weave into this mix so many threads, past, present and future. My memory pulses and fades; childhood is in brilliant focus, yet I forget what I blogged about last week, or even yesterday. I have so much I still want to say, to share - a mountain of writing stashed away, scribbled over the years  on sheaves of paper and in numerous sundry notebooks: on divers topics - garden and landscape, travel and art, history and birdsong.  But time is running out as the brain cells fuse and the fog thickens and clears.

whenever you see this cartouche
there will be a link in the paragraph
alongside to more of my news
So pinning it all together - have I introduced this already? - is this 'cartouche'. Whenever you see it, it will link to one of my other blogs for a web of related news and information, a catalogue of events, books and up-to-the minute news. Please click the links - like any jigsaw, the pieces fit together; the whole picture is one of many parts. Please comment, share links, I'd love it if you felt you were a part of my wheel, of my mind-mapping journey. here's an example: click HERE to take you to news of the Olympic Torch route and the National Parks, a calendar of where the torch-bearers will be on any particular day.

It is late, I am writing in the garden. The daisies fold their petals towards the night, all is silent Save for the evening birdsong, and the setting sun is but a month off midsummer. As for us, we are off on continental travels ..... 

Friday, 11 May 2012

A little of what you fancy ....

Before the sun shone
As this is my personal blog – one where I let my hair down – I thought I would illustrate and comment on some of the aspects of the Malvern Spring Gardening Show that have particularly caught my fancy over the last couple of days. No links to external websites or anything like that in this post (except to relevant posts in my other blogs), for each aspect illustrated here will feature over the coming weeks and months in augmented form in my other ‘working’ blogs. So much in fact appealed, that I now have the enjoyable business of sorting written notes, a bagful of literature collected and images taken, whilst gathering together the threads that have inspired me. First of course is the backdrop of the unforgettable hills; uplifting to the spirit, and a place of beauty of which I never tire.

Year-4 scrapbook associated with 'best-in-show' school garden
Of my many passions in life, one has always been the importance of inspiring others. This began in childhood with theatrical activities – and writing, even then, and continued into a teaching career. So the work being done by The Three Counties Showground to encourage children to “explore, experience and enjoy” is dear to my heart. And, if you come to think about it, much of what goes into the ‘staging’ of any Show or Exhibition is in fact theatrical (wearing my marketing hat here!) – so it was a huge delight to see the gardens created by so many schools, to share with some of the pupils their enthusiasm. And what an excellent lesson they have inadvertently learned, to struggle with the rain and mud over the last month as they created, built and planted their gardens, and to have achieved such amazing results. To be totally honest, they had a simplicity and freshness lacking in some of the adult designers’ gardens!

The Show Garden that most appealed to me
Though I loved Kasia Howard’s ‘Florilegium’, which I mentioned briefly yesterday in my new Traveller’s Tales blog (click on Random Jottings in the top bar). I plan to write more about Kasia and her design thoughts – both this and her showgarden at Malvern 2011 – were a revelation. It was the most difficult of all the gardens to photograph for it lay in the shadow of a large tree, so the image just does not do it justice; the sinuous metal scrolls made me think of unravelling a history of wild medicinal plants, and indeed the punched words, taken from folklore, could have been those of a herbalist, singing troubadour fashion. Theatre again.

From large to small scale: from creating in three dimensions to recording on the page. The RHS Botanical Art Exhibition was held in part of the newly developed Three Counties Centre, and was worthy of this new exhibition space. Such gifted artists, and such a range of styles. I particularly liked the delicate and perceptive work of Caroline Holley and her ‘Wayside Weeds in Winter’. No photograph could compare with the originals, and this was taken through glass with reflections of passing crowds outside the plate-glass windows.

My love of old buildings sparked a journaling idea when I saw these exquisite  pieces 
Next came my ‘reserved for creativity’ time, across the Showground and more delights in the Wye Hall and The Guild of Herefordshire Craftsmen. I had fallen in love with the ‘raku fired buildings’ created by Neil Spalding on previous occasions. Interpretations of historic buildings, their detail, colour and texture has given me the idea of creating textural images from some of my photos of old-buildings, using scrunched and coloured napkin tissue on pages from old books. More theatre! (Please scroll back through my Journaling blog for other ways in which I place my own interpretation on landscape.)

Paul Hervey-Brookes (right) with guests
Back to theatre proper and the ‘Plants & People’ Theatre – a totally new concept for the Show, and a “visually exciting and engaging centrepiece’ designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes in his trademark living landscape theme. Paul hosted a stimulating discussion on ‘Real Gardens’, posing questions to three gardeners with long experience of opening their gardens to the public. Answering prompts put to them, each contributor spoke of their philosophy of garden spaces, and what gardens are all about. Surprisingly, there was no mention of vegetables (almost as if something so utilitarian should be hidden from view!) There was no time to quiz the speakers on their views re ‘grow-your-own’ – so you will have to check my ‘Vegetable Heaven’ post that I wrote last night here.

Buying choice specimens appealed to the plant hunters
Time was running out; I had not covered a half of what I wanted to do today, and have yet to take out of the cupboard mixed-media materials for my own interpretation of Showground  pleasures and delights. The chill wind was ignored, the sun had shone all afternoon; crowds were departing trundling cherished plants and I - back to the motorhome (our mobile office and studio) to record all this, to work out tomorrow’s schedule, and enjoy a glass or two of wine. A little of what you fancy ….

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

On the move again ..

Bluebells on a bank near Malvern (snapped from the motorhome window)
The day so grey, a misty drizzle barely perceptible; hills in the far distance muted - a soft landscape. So on the top road out of the village, I list wild-flowers growing in the unkempt verge: pink campion, bluebells, cowslips, buttercups (the creeping kind, cow parsley sprung but still in bud; dandelions and daisies bedraggled, not bothering to open.

Over the county boundary into Gloucestershire; beyond and over the Fosse Way: Jack-in-the-Hedge (Garlic Mustard), a blush of crab apple, fluffy seed heads of spent coltsfoot. Bud-burst of beech, a delicate silken green. Up onto the high wolds, stony limestone clay; feathered larch as winding down the steep escarpment, the Severn plain is mapped ahead of us, the sky clearing. Across the Avon and Severn, towards the hills - Malvern and the Showground, the Spring Gardening Show, and so much beauty.

Looking towards the Malverns at Castlemoreton (also taken from the m'home)

Friday, 4 May 2012

Something I want to say ...

a shadow of my former self

Time is running out ... If you follow more than one of my blogs (thankyou, I appreciate your interest and kindness), you will see this week that all posts overlap - with virtually similar content. Best, I thought, to make simultaneous announcements. So why?

With my professional work now crossing several genres, and a necessary change in our lifestyle due to various 'happenings', it seemed sensible to re-evaluate my blogs and the purpose for which each was created - a resume of why they were started and how they have adapted to subsequent factors - which I here share with you, my readers. Although each blog is an entity in itself, they all interlink; the sum of the whole is greater than the constituent parts. Click on any of the blog titles to take you there (apart of course from this one, because you're here, and reading it now!) And when - or if - you do click, ignore the latest post which is a replica of these first two paragraphs, and trace my blogging story back to its beginnings.

Wild Somerset Child: my first blog, in which initially I wrote about everything under the sun, until I came to a point where certain topics 'asked' to have space of their own. Which they now have. So this, my "wild child",  has very much become a blog of personal joys and tribulations; our daily toil, delights and occurrences. A blog which, like my dear husband, and my children and grandchildren, will always hold a special place in my heart.

Journaling the Journal grew out of the first blog: it is the creative side of me. A strange title, perhaps. It tells a story - many stories - of the journals I write and make, in paper and cloth, within notebooks, on maps, illustrated and embellished, but always focussed on word-whispers, with ever-recurring themes of natural history and my passion for place. 'JJ' also now provides mini-tutorials as more magazine articles are commissioned by various editors.

Grandma's Garden Notes: I have to admit that this was begun in haste to coincide with blogging live at a gardening show I was covering professionally. So its style had to be different; but somehow it never gelled and in my mind became mixed with imaginary gardens, a cloth book I was working on at the time and a strange dream I once had, which became a stitched sampler! GGN has been in abeyance for a while and I am somewhat ambivalent about its re-emergence, or even its continued existence.

Dobies of Devon Gardening Companion: actually, it was the commissioning of this professional blog that has superseded Grandma's Garden! It was a great honour to be asked to do this - weekly - to augment the monthly online e-newsletter I was already writing for them. The blog is a compendium of words, images and ideas to inspire gardeners 'young, old and in-between'; information and, in my usual style, part diary of our gardening endeavours. (No extra story here; just the blog; the background is immaterial.)

Traveller's Tales also grew out commissioned work, though I am writing it independently - and only created it this week!  As Travel Editor of 'Discover Touring' magazine I receive so much material that can never be used because DT is only published twice a year, and thus much fascinating news never reaches readers, for it arrives in the interim period. And I've designed  TT to "inform and beguile readers, with previews of activities and events, updates on places to visit and things to do; and all interspersed with our own touring tales - my travel writer's diary". Wherever I go, you will find me with notebook in hand, writing. (No extra story here; just the new blog.)

A Book-Lover's Journey is also close to my heart. Sub-titled 'an impassioned reader's  guide to books new and old', it relates another side of me: my love of words and books, and the influence upon my life of my grandfather and great-grandfather. Without their unequivocal love, I would not be writing these words now, over 70 years after first realising that books - and words - were precious things. Yet BLJ, too, is semi-professional; with posts incorporating reviews of the many books I receive int he course of other work. And it was always intended to include interviews with authors. But circumstances intervened, and at present, much to my distress, it is the poor relation.

And so you see how things now stand. My life revolves around my husband, family, home, garden, creative mixed-media art; and of course commissioned work, without which it would be difficult to survive ... and time is running out. Dear readers, I treasure your following, and your comments, and can only apologise if I am forgetful and do not respond as I aught. With my very best wishes (and still at heart a 'wild child'), Ann. xx