Almost a year has passed – a creative week on Anglesey (May 2019) – painting, photography, sewing, reading, watching the world go by — dreaming — remembering.
We had deliberately routed ourselves along the Ogwen Valley. A scattering of snow still kissed the shaded valleys of the Glyders , where in our distant memories the mists around Y Garn had opened to give a window across to Devil’s Kitchen . Tryfan stood clear and proud – Heather Terrace distinct; the Ridge silhouetted against the spring sky; specks of walkers. Did they have the courage to jump between Adam and Eve?
I had remembered the hut circles on Holyhead Mountain, visited one damp day of escape from the soaking of Snowdonia. I had remembered the pathway to South Stack. I had watched the TV Climb …. Gogarth …. and the names that conjured mystery …. A Dream of White Horses. I lacked the expertise and confidence to consider climbing on Anglesey …. but I could dream and I still do. I remembered tales of the pioneers of my early climbing days … Joe Brown, Don Willans, Ian McNaught-Davis.
Perhaps it is a mistake to re-visit a place full of such personal nostalgia. Creativity refused to flow, except with the camera. Searches for archaeological sites were unsatisfactory, Yet, remembering eventually prompted a feeling of pensive calm. And, it is good to remember today, when feeling interred in the four walls of the house, as the lockdown continues. Again, I will escape with my memories and dreams and plan new adventures.
The last few days have been days of memories and reflecting on these memories as the First picture shows. In this post’s photo, I was on Braeriach in the Cairngorms . It would have been in the 1070s, probably at Easter, What adventures and what friendships!
I didn’t manage to get anything written yesterday. I had a day of adjusting! It was much like any other Saturday with shopping, joining a friend for coffee, time spent down by the sea – except I didn’t do any of these things. Shopping is only for essentials, meeting with friends doesn’t come under the social distancing and the sea front and the car parks have been closed except to the physically-able for exercise, so that counts me out at the moment. I did some laundry, but apart from that the time seemed to drift into eternity, which is the frightening thing. It would be so easy to lose track of timer and not accomplish many of the things on my to do list. I abandoned rowing yesterday and today, but will get back to it. I’ve pulled a muscle in my dodgy leg because of my enthusiasm, so I have had enough warnings that I must be more cautious. The best outcome yesterday, was making an orange drizzle cake. Baking is an escape, just as it was for my mother. I so wish i could make sponges and meringues as she did.
Today has been another strange day. We’ve spoken to friends on the phone, eaten orange drizzle cake and I’ve cleaned the floors downstairs. This is always a bad sign. If the floor is visible does it really need to be cleaned? I didn’t think it was that bad but once the chore was completed, I knew it was. I treated myself to a gin and tonic. I managed to spray the tonic around the kitchen and the floor had a second wash. Fortunately there is enough of both gin and tonic for a few more days.
The other thing I did, having read Robert Macfarlane’s Tweet about Jan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain, was to look at my book shelves and the memories and dreams stored in them. I may never climb a mountain or even a rock face again. I might never be able to ski again, I certainly will never go caving again, but I can get in to the mountains to take photographs, paint, write and just wonder and I can make plans for other adventures.
I am fortunate that I have had so many opportunities to travel, work and ‘play’. Two years ago we were in Vancouver, appreciating the amazing cityscape before setting off back to the UK. We had re-visited places we where we had been skiing some years ago and were completing our mountains to shore trip (See ‘From Summits to Shore’). I had also been here with my mother a couple of times, so it is a city full of memories. This time we were struck by the contrasts – an amazing city in a superb setting. Yet, there where some streets were the obvious poverty and social needs was so unexpected. How are those people fairing in the current situation?
Just a month ago we were returning from Cardamom House, Tamilnadu, South India. Here we had had the time to read, write, paint and experiment with photography, as well as enjoying superb food and the company of our many Tamil friends. When we go to weddings and other functions I am hit by the number of people I know and the warmth of their friendship, whether we understand what each other is saying or not. I sometimes think I know more people there than I do at home, which is a sad thing to say. Life here can become quite narrow and isolating.
Yesterday a friend telephoned. She had gone to the Estate where she worked. People who were self-employed had lost their jobs, others had lost their work, many could not access the Food Banks etc etc. The government, agencies and charities are trying to respond, but there are so many people in dire need and getting things set up takes time. By contrast, earlier I had received messages about how this kind of blog can prompt positive memories and raise the mood. Later, a friend telephoned to read a poem about friendship. These are such mixed times. I know I must remain positive for myself and for others. …. and I’m not rowing today. I am feeling stiff so I am having a rest day … and my yoga teacher has set up an online yoga session.
I’m now thinking that it is time to stay indoors. It would be so easy to become a carrier of virus. I was thinking that I had prepared well. The store cupboard is restocked with enough to survive for one to two weeks. We could do with some eggs, fresh vegetables and fruit and bread flour and yeast, but we can mange without these. (We had run the store cupboard down when work was being done on the kitchen) However, I’m now realising that I haven’t thought about reading material . I am well stocked online and on my shelves with reading to support my more academic writing but it is the lighter reading materials that I am low on. I know I can read things online but this isn’t conducive to reading in the bath and in bed. I had left my watercolour brushes in India, so I’ve ordered some more online.
How am I viewing the weeks a head? A few weeks ago, my initial reaction had been of resentment that I was being targeted as an over 70. I was being stereotyped. That feeling is still simmering, under the surface, but for the well being of others I can understand the need to reduce face-to-face interactions. I’m planning on setting myself a timetables so that I don’t become more of a couch potato than I already am, and I can keep some track on the passing time.
I get “cabin fever” when I am stuck indoors for long periods. I feel claustrophobic, that I must get out. Often my mother and I would be walking along the beach in the early hours. However, I am appalled at the numbers of people flocking to the beaches or hills. Many rural areas are imploring people not to consider self-isolating there and putting a strain on stretched resources (BBC News), apart from not considering that they could also be spreading the virus, so I’m planning to stay fixed and try to row (on the machine) the equivalent of from Portsmouth to Penzance, as the crow flies. This might help me to reflect on an imaginary journey, in the same ways that I would have been reflecting on now cancelled trips to the Orkneys and Cornwall.
My other major concern is that the two of us will fall out. We are used to the luxury of having our own space. we can still do this in the house, but it will still be a pressure. I’m hoping that having a plan and targets will help me, Wish me luck!.
A winter break in Scotland. Mists melt into clear skies and still waters. The sun is low over the horizon. Liquid gold waves kiss the rocks and dissolve onto the shore. A pathway of sunlight leads to the hidden.
Short daylight hours mean that as in one direction the dawn sun rises behind masts, in the other a full moon sinks behind the house fronting the bay at Garlieston. There is silence. No wind singing in the rigging. No cries from wheeling gulls.
The fisherman, entrapped for ever in bronze, watches for the return of the fleet. The fishing grounds are empty. A time for reflection on what once was, as thoughts turn to the future. A time for New Year resolutions.
We have often travelled to Canada. We’ve skied many times in the Rockies and Quebec. We’ve camped in the Rockies and British Columbia. We’ve ‘done’ the Inside Passage on the Ferries. We’ve had a fleeting drive around Nova Scotia, so we were convinced that we knew what to expect.
Listen in to a very brief description of the start of our journey.
Poor visibility accompanied us on our journey from Calgary to Kananaskis.
Finding breakfast involved ploughing our through the snowy woods.
We should have paid extra for underground car parking – but we are Brits! We don’t do things like that! The car was buried – at least digging out the car warmed us up.
It is easy to rush around, grabbing photographs and missing the wonder of the changing dance of light on the surrounding slopes and watery surfaces. I am standing in a favourite spot. Most of the time I am alone. A curious young motorcyclist comes and asks for ‘photograph’. His brief presence adds to the mood of the moment.
The early evening breeze rustles and whispers through the palms; birds seem unfazed by my close proximity; dragonflies pause from their flights. This is the photographer’s golden hour not only because of the magic of the changing soft light, but also because of these special moments in nature.
Many years ago I was flicking through a magazine and came upon an article about Andy Worhol’s swimming pool collection. I was mesmerised by the translucent turquoise; the patterns and ripples that transformed reality into an organic and abstract work of art. I have since been drawn to the liquid art of The Jubilee Pool in Penzance, now thankfully restored. When in India, I have the privilege of watching and recording the transient magic of the Cardamom House Pool. These are just a few examples of images that have been captured and give me pleasure.
Previously, I have designed four ‘portholes’, which I exhibited at Tuppenny Barn, as part of the Emsworth Arts Trail.
At Tuppenny Barn we had about 400 visitors. It is a superb venue. I sold the black and white pictured here. It is always good to sell things as this gives me feedback. Also popular were some of the tree images I took years ago. May be it is time to get out into the woods again.