Saturday, April 5, 2014

Introducing Maisie Rose and all about my Adorables in the UK

Crossing the Irish Sea on Tuesday 25 March 2014 was like a morning boat trip on a lake somewhere.

Wales, as it always is, was absolutely beautiful. We stopped for lunch in the Llangollen Valley alongside a mountain called Tryfan close to Snowden - and an RAF base it would seem, by the horrifically low-flying jet which tried to burst our eardrums. Here are the shots:

We had planned on spending a night in Wales somewhere but I'm afraid the mother-instinct in me was too strong and I just wanted to hot-foot it to Weston to see my daughter Meghan, her husband Paul, and The Two Adorables Holly and Evie.

Our reason for spending two weeks in the UK was to be there for my daughter and her family while they welcomed their new little soul into the world, so no sight-seeing here. Although Daffodil season is still at its pitch and we are staying in a lovely little park at Henlow Bridge Lakes where the ducks compete in noise with the main line train to London. Loads of babysitting though .....


Here we are below, having survived a night with all four of us in Milly - with Granny, Holly and Evie, sketching Daffodils and ducks at the campsite. While Holly and I drew our ducks side-on, the conventional way, Evie took the plunge to draw on her imagination ... no side views of beak, head and duck body for her - her lovely duck is in full splat on the page with beak, wings and webbed feet splayed out on the page. This is her Splat Duck - probably my most favourite sketch in the whole world ...

Evie displaying her Splat Duck (sadly not visible in this pic)

Holly in earnest, concentrating just like her Mummy used to

And then there was painting - we do a lot of that, Holly, Evie and I. This is Holly's painted doll called Lucy. Evie's Talula is still a work in progress (and may be for some time I suspect). Lucy was duly popped in a Tesco's bag and taken to school for break-up day this last Friday. She made it home again safe and sound.

And then she arrived, about 9.30 am on Monday 31 March 2014 weighing in at over 8 lbs.

Mummy and Maisie - that special look babies have for their mummies.
She's 6 days old here.

Grampa Alan and Maisie - finally his turn!
We're all jostling for turns to hold this little bundle.

And so life trots on. But before I leave off here, here are some updates of our little angels. Maisie is just 19 days old here:


While still at Henlow Bridge Lakes, and while waiting to direct family to the first family braai - BBQ for you non-South Africans :-) - we've had in absolute years, I was hoping to catch a few bunnies in my camera lens. Each evening when we arrive back they're out in their little bunny hordes, but today, do you think even one of the little blighters would show a twitching nose for me? Nada. So I took a pic of one of their homes instead. And a bullrush. And a prickly seedy thing. Grrump.

Here are two delightful shots of Holly and Evie reading to themselves the books they received as gifts from their great-aunt-and-uncle Pat and Lindsay.


Anybody get the idea I love my granddaughters to distraction maybe? We have another little blonde angel, Tibbie (4 years old and daughter to Nina, Alan's older daughter) living in Amsterdam.

Also, just across the road from the campsite we found a real live swamp. Pretty much like you would expect to find in the Amazon, although with a tad more light leaking through. Amazing place - with a little buck the size of what we would call a Duiker in South Africa wandering along just beyond the fence one day. (Not in pic)

Art-wise, with such a busy granny-time, the only paintings which emerged were inspired by the superb display of Daffodils all around the campsite, and the eye-poppingly yellow fields of canola just down the road. The Daffs produced an abstract on board and the canola fields three little mini's (about 2.5" sq) on their own easels. All paintings are now up on eBay for sale.



It's Galicia-bound we are on Tuesday, taking the overnight Brittany ferry from Portsmouth to Santander.

By the way, it's getting more and more difficult to remember loads of things, and harder and harder to find the time to write ... so I may be going back to insert more memories in previous blog posts as we go along, trying as well to include Alan's perspectives and photographs - this is our diary and I want to record as much as possible just in case it really is a "once in a lifetime" experience. We don't intend it to be though!!!

Henlow Bridge Lakes
Arlesey Road
SG16 6DD
01462 812645

Last few days in Ireland

After a day loitering around the outskirts of Letterkenny while Milly had her first service, we headed back to Fintown for the night. The evening was still and the reflections on the waters of the lough were clear and stunning. I got a little carried away photographing the stunning mirror images ... again though, these are raw, unphotoshopped images, so you're at the mercy of the non-techno-buff photographer!!!

 Next morning we set off for a lovely drive through the Glenveagh National Park area with Cruit Island in mind, where we had arranged to meet Facebook friend and artist, Liz Doyle … rendevouzing at The Viking Inn.

It was lovely meeting Liz and getting a sneak peak of some of her paintings inspired by prayer flags from her recent trip to India. It was also an afternoon of plotting and planning, culminating in me booking a trip to Venice, for a week in July, to participate in abstract workshops with G.A.P. (Global Art Projects). Liz is already booked and Alan decided this was to be my 60th birthday present from himself. Am I a lucky girl or what! I was so excited about all this planning that I clean forgot to take pics of our tea with Liz!

A misty and mystical night was spent up in the mountains of Glenveagh National Park. It was so dark and misty that neither of us took our cameras out that night. We were though, as ever, snuggy and warm in Milly, only jerked occasionally out of our comfort by the horns of trucks as their drivers tooted in greeting as they whizzed past.

We moved on the next day, with a day or two of rest in mind, and found a lovely spot where we spent two nights, at the side of a lough with Glebe House as our neighbour. I managed a bit of painting and generally savoured the space of having my own thoughts in my head for a full few hours. I set up my Milly studio very comfortably in the driver's and passenger's cab to produce a trio of mini paintings and a "Mug" study. 

Pretty nifty motorhome art studio hey?
I'm very comfortable indeed with my easel on one chair
while I'm perched on the other in padded comfort.

Alan took a few shots of our overnight spot next to the lough.

 Two nights in one place is generally accepted as the maximum for not over-staying your welcome when wild camping, so we set off to explore Glenveagh National Park, stopping off to check out what we could see in the Glebe House grounds. The gallery holds the work of Derek Lewis but only opens in April.

Daffodils! We found Daffodils. Lovely, curly, multi-petaled ones. At last. So far all the Daffodils I've spotted we've had to drive past as there weren't any suitable pull-off places. It's the "Yellow Flower Season" at the moment, so a couple of other lovely little specimens have made it into the gallery below. The "White Flower Season" follows next I think - has everyone noticed the colour flower seasons?

I was amazed at how like Connemara a lot of Glenveagh National Park is, and for the next few days I left most of the photography to Alan, choosing instead to just peacefully soak in my surroundings. We spent two nights in the parking grounds of the Park, one afternoon catching the shuttle bus to the castle there for a treat tea of coffee, banoffi pie and aero mint cheesecake. Yum!

This is a view from the castle grounds.
The castle was built by a Mr Adare who obviously had
lots of jingly stuff in his pockets ... and he even built a
swimming pool at the side of the lough!


The views across the lake were good and we found quite a lot of interest in the old-world luxury of the castle gardens … a swimming pool next to the lough (I wonder how often they used that!) and a garden square lined with statuesque busts of Roman-type flavour which I thoroughly enjoyed. To me it looked like they came alive at night and in the morning froze again in the attitude of haughtiness they’d spent the night in … some of them looking like they weren’t talking to the guy on the next pedestal, with their heads averted and their noses high.

Again, I didn’t take my camera out during our two nights in Bushmills, devoting my time to painting mini’s of Giants Causeway and Dunluce Castle to replace those which had sold at Gallery 1608, and readying myself for a date with my husband at The Bushmills Inn hotel.

These are the minis I left behind at Gallery 1608 - a silhouette of Dunluce Castle and three Cookson-versions of The Giant's Causeway:

We had a lovely evening together and a stunning meal at The Bushmills Inn Hotel … Duo of Quail with Textures of Pear (Lynda), Guinness and Onion Soup (Alan), Fillet Steak and Mushrooms in Bushmills Cream Sauce (L), Bushmills Tasting Platter (basically a mixed grill with venison, belly of pork, lamb chop and clonakilty black pudding wrapped in a cabbage leaf (A), chocolate mousse to die for!!! (L) and cheese plate with frozen grapes (A) finished off with a Bushmills coffee (L) and a Martini Espresso(A). As Alan so delicately puts it with that grin on his face… Burp!

If you're ever in Bushmills, a visit to The Bushmills Inn Hotel is a must. The pub area creaks of history, with three or four snugs leading from restaurant to bar, built for the smaller people of long ago. It's really difficult not to let your mind wander into stories you've read of deeds good and bad done (a clumsy word, but really the correct one to use here!) in places like this; of hands shaken; of money passed from palm to palm; of shifty looks out of grimy faces beneath strings of unwashed hair and hats; of weapons and connivery; oh yes, and of good deeds too.

Saturday, on our way back to Dublin and then Oughterard – our home village – for a doctor’s appointment and to swap a few things with Ferne and Mathias, we stopped off in Larne to meet with another Facebook friend and artist, Laura Butler, at her exhibition in The Mill. A most pleasant afternoon coffee with a lovely lady! It’s somehow very special to meet up with folk who, without the internet, we may never have crossed paths with. Our lives are definitely the richer for it.

Again, no photographs to show for it, but on Sunday we took a detour from Dublin through Athboy, near Trim in Co Meath, to fetch a keyboard for Ferne. We meandered through Daffodil sprinkled, peaceful farmlands and country roads which we never imagined existed, chiding ourselves for not making more of an effort to find these country gems. We definitely will though, in future.

Next episode I'll introduce you to Maisie Rose.