Gallery Update

Please check out my updated Gallery page, with new work and information about buying, or commissioning.

Greetings cards

Unique, hand-made greetings cards

Gift bags

Letterpress prints on map linen

My words unless otherwise attributed

‘Liquid light’ alternative process analogue photographic prints

Cyanotype prints on map linen

Cyanotype prints from digital photographs

Cyanotype print on map linen, from digital photograph

Cyanotype prints

‘Liquid light’ analogue alternative process photographic print on stone

Ebb & Flow: Cullercoats Rocks

Open water swimming in the pandemic lifts lives, creates community, forges friendships.  Nature holds us in her arms, blurring our edges.  We carry our troubles into the water and have them shocked out of us, emerging ‘rebooted’, our immune systems and mental health boosted by the cold-water.

I live near the coast and swim in Cullercoats Bay, an actual Geordie shore.  It’s the sort of place that spoils you for other swim-spots.  The sea is calmed by two protective piers that curve out into the North Sea, the beach is sandy and clear, facing east. The sun rises like a daily miracle out of the sea, incandescent at the horizon or blazing through the clouds on clear days.  We swim above crabs, lobsters and little fish, alongside seabirds and seals, and, on a really good day, within sight of the pods of dolphins that come and go between St Mary’s Island and Tynemouth.

There’s plenty of space in and out of the bay for us beachniks- plodgers, paddle-boarders and pier jumpers, swimmers, surfers, and sandcastle-builders, kayakers and people who just come to sit, look, chat, think, or stand at viewpoints with their cameras ready to catch the beauty.

It is also a business-like place.  Although there are only a few boats still going out to sea from the bay, the fishing industry, which built the piers and created work for local families, continues.  There are some distinctive buildings along the shore too, including Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory and the RNLI lifeboat station with the old Watch House above it.

For me it is a soulful and serendipitous place, good for chance encounters, sharing stories, having a laugh, and inspiration (it has been inspiring artists for many years).  In the second spring of the pandemic Newcastle University (NU) Women sent out a call for reflections about how their members were coping, for their blog and ‘zine.  My swimming friends and I responded with a collective artwork recording our group swims and what they have meant to us.

This was the spark for Ebb & Flow, a community art event celebrating everything that is wonderful about Cullercoats. The organising team comprised: Shana, linking us with our chosen venue (The Boatyard Cullercoats); David from the Cullercoats Collective; Elisa, an NU Woman; and me, an artist.

The timing was good, just as COVID restrictions were lifting and summer was arriving, and with the sense of solidarity and gratitude (for all that Cullercoats had given us over that first pandemic year) still fresh in our minds and hearts.  As we got talking and posting online about our plans, the response was overwhelmingly affirmative- everyone said ‘yes’ and offered their ideas and support.

We sent out an open call to local artists to submit work, of any kind, written and visual, for us to select and install in The Boatyard. Over 20 local artists responded so we planned and publicised two events- a Grand Opening of the Ebb & Flow exhibition, and a performance night, ‘Open Mike’, on consecutive nights in July. Luckily the sun shone and altogether nearly 100 people took part. 

Although our first thought about the finances was the need to raise funds to offset our costs, we soon realised that it could also be an opportunity to support a good cause.  The obvious choice was the Cullercoats RNLI, who were happy to get involved.  Eventually we handed over a donation of £440, from sales of tickets and merchandise, a raffle, art sales and submission fees. 

A ‘zine was produced as an exhibition catalogue and a record of what we achieved.  It was inspired by the fabulous ‘Swimzine’ published in Sheffield and described by its as ‘a love letter to outdoor swimming in magazine form’.  Kerry and Sarah, who produce Swimzine quarterly, came up from Yorkshire with back-copies and were guests of honour at Ebb & Flow Grand Opening.

The community of swimmers was central to Ebb & Flow.  We submitted most of the creative work that was on show or performed.  The photographs in particular were wonderfully evocative of the joy we find in the power and beauty of sea and sky.  The written submissions expressed the emotional aspects- bringing tears as well as laughter.  Some of the people who submitted their work had not thought of themselves as artists before, but do now.  One young person submitted several wonderful pictures, to raise funds for young people’s mental health services.  The work stayed up in The Boatyard all summer- a great make-over for this well-liked local café.

The ‘Open Mike’ was the first event of this kind for most of us since the pandemic hit.  It was truly marvellous to be together as an audience for live performance.  Kate Fox, Beccy Owen, Jim Mageean and Peter Mortimer were just some of the well-known local ‘stars’ who gave their time.  It was a post-pandemic first for them too, and they shared how special it was for them to perform to real, 3-dimensional people after so long away.  The atmosphere was both warm and invigorating for everyone.

Ebb & Flow was a bit like waking up from a bad dream- seeing that we can be together again to celebrate creativity, community and place- a much-needed point of light.  It has opened up enthusiasm for more of the same.  Next plan is for music and spoken word events to raise funds for upkeep of the Cullercoats Watch House, probably in the New Year when we will again need a point of light in the darkness.  Reflecting on the months of planning and organising, as well as the outcomes, the good stuff seems many-layered.  It reached out and dived deep.  All the different creative aspects augmented each other- they, and we, are always more than the sum of our parts.  It was a full-on affirmation of Cullercoats.  As my friend Mary who came up from Bristol to help out, put it: “Cullercoats Rocks!”

Cloak of Invincibility

Inside a human heart

A couple of months ago I had felt unwell all morning, went for a swim in the sea, felt worse, got home and found my blood pressure was rather high, felt even worse, so called a taxi to get me to the local Emergency Hospital.  An hour or two later an A&E doctor, was telling me I had had (was having?) a heart attack.  In response to my disbelief he suggested I might need to lose my ‘cloak of invincibility’.

This continues to amuse me, as the gentlest possible rebuke for not taking my health seriously, not acknowledging my mortality. I was a bit resentful at the time, but, on reflection, I am grateful to him (and the others who ushered me along the heart attack pathway) for considering that my (admittedly mild) symptoms could be typical of the way heart attacks present in women.  I now know that, too often, male bias has led to women dying because their symptoms aren’t as severe as men’s- women’s pain just not as significant.

So my cloak of invincibility stayed crumpled on the floor at my feet for a further 4 days in solitary confinement (COVID times) in Cramlington Hospital waiting for transfer to the Freeman for an angiogram to establish what was actually happening inside my heart. The 4 days included Mothers Day and I wasn’t able to see anyone or leave my room.  Plenty of time to experience loneliness and vulnerability and make deals with God- working out what the post-heart attack rehab would mean, what kind of life?

I still want to weep with gratitude for the NHS and the staff who work to try to keep us well. Everyone who looked after me was lovely, even in the midst of the pandemic.  I was particularly grateful to the part-time nurse (and aspiring writer) with purple hair who was kind, noticed I was upset, helped me have a good cry, then gave me permission to walk out of my room and down to the foyer (FREEDOM).

I was also even more aware that these COVID days, months, possibly shading into years, have confronted us with the limits of our invincibility and led us to doubt whether our ‘cloaks’ can protect us.  We have all felt vulnerable, or maybe just realised that we are all vulnerable- always have been and always will be. Meanwhile most of the world knows better and cannot afford the luxury of our vainglory- we lucky affluent few.

Part of the vulnerability is our new, hard-won ability to live with uncertainty, through the ups and downs of this ‘plague year’. So much that has been predictable, regular, secure, comfortable, familiar, has been swept away. But what is left, what has been revealed, what could or should prevail? First of course is love, and generosity, time, kindness, flexibility, acceptance, gratitude, patience, creativity, connection, community, solidarity, listening, friends, altruism.  The ‘present’, so lauded, keenly looked-for, and usually so difficult to ‘be in’, has become a refuge- from preoccupation with the past and anxiety about the future.  It has been easier to find joy in simple things, good food, books, the vivid wonder of nature which just keeps going, growing and falling back in her beautiful cycles, thriving in a respite from human interference, skies free from aeroplanes, birdsong free from distracting traffic noise, the air cleaner and our spirits soothed.

Writing at a time when the crisis MIGHT be receding, I feel nostalgic for the earlier, slower, more peaceful times.  We are speeding up again, back to ‘normal’.  Can things can ever be normal again?  It seems such an irrelevant and foolish ambition.  My cloak of invincibility is resting much more lightly upon my shoulders, flimsier and more conditional.  I don’t want to need it.  I wish my negotiations with God had been a bit more conclusive.  I’m still unfit, overweight and struggling with alcohol.  But my heart turned out to be healthy apart from the atrial fibrillation which has been with me for several years.  It has got worse but is manageable- not life-threatening and only mildly life-limiting. I really happy that I can keep on doing everything, especially sea swimming, which all the doctors assure me will only do me good. Not a heart attack but a useful brush with mortality, at a time when so many people have lost their lives or their loved ones, and so many worlds have been turned upside down.

For those days in hospital and after I was overwhelmed with kindness, concern and love.  I am very, very grateful. Long may it continue, for all of us, for each other, now, everywhere, here, forever.

Dreaming in Sanskrit

In September last year, at exactly the right time, an opportunity came my way for part-time freelance work. Since then I have worked as a ‘proof-listener’ on audio book production. It’s a dream job- professional actors reading, skilled sound engineers recording, and me backing up: quality checking for accuracy and meaning, anything the first two miss or which needs clarification. I work at my kitchen table, comfortable and close to the kettle, feeling both surprised and proud that I can actually work the tech (a split screen with pdf of the text and Skype).

It’s a fascinating glimpse into a new world for me and great to be connected again with London, especially since I used to live a few doors down from the recording studio in Queens Park. I’ve learned alot: about the technical and interpretative skillls needed for high-quality audio-recording; about literature; grammar; the construction of worlds and meaning through language. My ‘O’-levels in English, French and Latin are turning out to be of some actual use! Oh yes, and I get paid, and feel useful.

The books have varied widely, Salman Rushdie essays, Shirley Jackson’s scary psychodrama, ‘chick lit’ and Booker Prize nominees. But nothing prepared me for 15 days of the Mahabharata!

Equipped with only a smattering of knowledge of Hindu myths and philosphy, the three of us, Shaheen (the reader), Matt (the engineer) and me, walked into a truly formidable task. Nearly 800 pages of esoteric narrative, including hundreds and hundreds of difficult-to-pronounce names and places in Sanskrit. Although I didn’t actually dream in Sanskrit, in my half-awake early morning thoughts the rhythmic names of the characters (Yudhisthira, Sahudeva, Draupadi, and, our particular favourite, Jamavati)- would float like clouds around my tired brain. This translation took John Smith (former Cambridge Professor of Sanskrit) over a decade, and he helped our work enormously by providing sound recordings of the correct pronunciation of the Sanskrit proper nouns.

It was a HUGE experience, most importantly as an immersion in Indian cultural history, as well as confusing, contradictory, violent, unfamiliar in so many ways, and often really boring! There were dizzying dramatic tricks to contend with, it jumps about in time, there are stories within stories, and changes in narrative voice. Light relief and help for the reader were provided by the inclusion of gong sounds to signify transitions between condensed and narrative text- which made us laugh, exhaustedly!

It says that anyone reading the Mahabharata is blessed. If so we are all grateful for that! The first big surprise for me was that so much of the book concerns an epic power struggle and brutal war, serving (I think!) as a key metaphor for the instructional content. The Bhagavad Gita seems to be reassurance by Krsna of the ‘rightness’ of violence and killing in war! Secondly, the hierarchical and patriarchial structure of the society, including the invisibility and oppression of women, whilst predictable, was more extreme and brutal than I could have imagined. It was more comforting to discern some of the universal stories that have come down to us in folk tales, other religious texts, fairy stories and even Shakespeare. Thankfully there was also some ‘kinder’, more accessible and constructive philosophy, humour even, but it was hard to find in this grand narrative of the Warrior.

The massive compensation for the difficulty of the task was the bonding that developed between the three of us. Under lockdown, it was great to work so closely together. We became a bit of a mutual admiration society and have been congratulated on doing a good job. These simple things- connection, support, having a laugh, sharing our own stories, achieving something difficult through collaboration- are even more precious now during these strange times. Or maybe we are just more aware of what matters and open to appreciating each other these days. That’s what made me want to post these thoughts, never mind Hindu epics!

Here is the team plus John Smith, chatting on Zoom just before we finished the read. We were grateful for his time to chat with us about the work.


New painting by my friend Jo Dunn, which has inspired this post

Have had a rather broken night’s sleep, following the news of some of what we hold dear breaking. This will be a wander around my battered thoughts. Reminded of Ray Davies lovely theme song for the wonderful drama series ‘Broken’, which asserts that “we are bruised but we’re not broken”.

I’m sitting with my fourth cup of tea listening to Jenny Sturgeon’s album ‘The Living Mountain’, inspired by Nan Shepherd’s book of the same name, looking at a frosty scene: my pretty back yard and the tops of the trees that line the back road and the long allotment spaces that attach to the houses on my street.

So, why did Joey’s beautiful painting of witch hazel stir me to write? I’ve got a long list of subjects that I want to write about but I am finding it hard to focus and it takes me much longer to write than it used to Before. Well, it’s because, in general, nature and its glories move me, and, in particular, this lovely shrub is woven into my memory and life-stories.

The pale yellow, feathery, fragrant flowers arrive on bare stems in January- such a welcome reminder that spring will come. The first witch hazel I planted was bought on a trip to a plant centre with my dear friend Charo. It’s a ‘thing’ for me and my friends to take ourselves off in the spring full of hope and ideas, all the better if there’s a good cafe for tea and cake and conversation. That visit was precious because Charo was ill and would be dead in a few years, nineteen years ago now. I didn’t know then but my little witch hazel would be in bloom on the anniversary of her death and I would visit her family with a few stems to place in a vase on the kitchen windowsill at that time each year. We didn’t have to talk about how much we loved and missed her, because the flowers spoke more eloquently, and words are sometimes a bit blunt for the complexities of loss. But we did talk about her and visited the Spanish Chestnut which her family planted in the nearby park (she was Puerto Rican, a Spanish speaker), to be with her there also.

Soon after I moved to my new home I planted another witch hazel- this is its second winter so it’s still quite small. I just went out to take a look and it is covered with tight little flowerbuds, ready to burst open. Feel thankful on this extraordinary morning for their simplicity and certainty.

Did some work!

It seems very common for us artists (particularly those of us who are relatively new to even calling ourselves artists) to feel guilty about not doing enough. It’s been hard for me to focus over this strange year of Covid, and there have been lots of changes in my personal life- big move from Leeds back to Newcastle, divorce and the death of my mum after 20-plus years as her main carer.

Ideas are never in short supply but the wherewithal to DO often is. Here are a few encouraging signs that I might be ready to get working again.

I was grateful to hear about a couple of call-outs for work which were a spur to action.

I sent a couple of postcard-sized pieces to the Horsebridge in Whitstable for their Post Hope show (the one shown below even sold!)

The Northern Print Workshop put out a call for 8×8 inch prints under the heading Small Pleasures, so I got my cyanotype kit out and did a series of prints of the sweet peas I grew in my garden this summer.

Someone who knows my work bought a piece for a Christmas present, as below, which was really encouraging. Commissions accepted, prices very reasonable. Do let me know if you might have special plants or things you would like to be made into cyanotype prints?

I’m writing more and recently had a poem published on Diamond Twig, the fabulous Ellen Phethean’s website.

My previous blog on here tells about doing swim traces with my swimming friends.

So all is not lost! I feel as if I am emerging from a phase of being rather preoccupied with all the changes in my life, especially making a new home and life for myself up here in Newcastle. Time now for more Art.

Swim Traces

One of the compensations of this pandemic has been increased appreciation of friendship and solidarity, and it is well-documented that us open water swimmers are a friendly and supportive bunch.

During the first COVID lockdown most of us weren’t swimming but as restrictions eased people started finding others to swim with, as it’s much safer not to swim alone.

So were born the Happy Old Cows (HOCs), COWS being group that spawned us- the Cullercoats Open Water Swimmers.  We are six women and mostly Old, including 5 grandmas, with one person who we have welcomed in despite her being so young and glamorous.  We all scrub up well, mind.

At the moment we’re only actually in the water for 10-15 minutes, as the water temperature is dropping below 10 degrees.  While the swimming itself brings huge benefits for our mental and physical well-being, the experience of ‘place’ here has been equally therapeutic during this tough old year.  Being ‘held’ by the ever-changing sea;  watching the skies- sunrise, sunset, moonrise, the clouds, colour and light, rainbows;  the wildlife- people, dogs, birds, sometimes seals and dolphins;  the workers;  the stories;  the ships out at sea, especially our favourite, the DFDS ferry boat- all the very opposite of boring.

The company is just as important. Regular conversation, support and (lots of) laughter are all so precious, especially for those of us who live alone (including me). We swim almost every day and share news, ideas, thoughts and feelings, ups and downs..  So… hanging about while we warm up, with hot drinks and cake can be a drawn-out delight too.

We keep having ideas to do stuff together- Heels Out to Help Out, a fundraiser involving us going in to the sea in party frocks and high heels;  a swim under the November full moon, complete with fairy lights,  various ‘challenges’ involving targets for frequency and duration of swims throughout the winter, ‘in skins’ (i.e. without wetsuits);  we are currently planning a Winter Solstice celebration.

Moonrise over Cullercoats

My art practice has included a technique to record movement, so far this has covered waves in the sea, walking and running.  It seemed a good idea to try and record our swims in this way so I got the necessary kit together.  First a rigid cardboard tube is lined with paper. Each of us choose chalk pastels to put inside, then the tube is taped up and made waterproof inside a sealable plastic bag.  This goes inside our swimsuits so that it is horizontal and can’t escape!  After the swim it is taken apart and the paper lining, by now marked by the movement of the pastels (originating in the movement of the swimmer), is sprayed with fixative and stored safe and dry.

Here are the results of our first test run (appearing in the order Elisa, Viv, Charlotte, Angie).

This trial run will be discussed by the group and repeated (with everyone).  My first thoughts are that more oomph is needed- bigger chunks of the chalk pastel, and maybe more colours.

Ice Cold in Cullercoats

I grew up in Newcastle and throughout my childhood summer holidays and day trips were taken close to home.  Until we strayed further afield (when I was a nearly-teenager) the whole family would, without demur, summon up the resolve needed for plodging and swimming in the North Sea. When we did eventually make it further south we were amazed by the balmy waters of Newquay!

Wherever I lived (Southampton, London or Leeds) I always came back up here for holidays, for the sense of openness and belonging, for love of the landscape, and with pride about being ‘from here’.  I never stopped bracing myself for the cold shock of these greyer, calmer seas, edged by proper beaches, castles, sand-dunes, wonderful wildlife and chilly breezes (causing wind- rather than sun-burn).  But, more recently, it started to seem that it was only middle-aged, well-upholstered women (like me) who ventured in without the protection of a wet suit (wimps!).  Now, with wild swimming catching on everywhere, there are more of us, all shapes, ages, genders and sizes.

After a long and eventful journey of nearly 60 years, I returned to Newcastle in May 2019 and am deliriously happy to be living only a couple of miles away from the sea.  After the upheaval of moving house it took a couple of months to find sea swimmers in my area (as well as up the coast in Northumberland where I have a caravan).  I found that Facebook is full of slightly bonkers-sounding groups: ASS (Alnwick and Amble Sea Swimmers), BADASS (Blyth and District Sea Swimmers), TOSSERS (Tynemouth Openwater something or other), and COWS (Cullercoats Open Water Swimmers).  I’ve been out with the Alnwick group a few times but Cullercoats is the nearest beach to home and is my favourite- perfect for safe, sheltered swimming and very beautiful (as below), so I have become a happy member of the COWS.


Cullercoats Bay at ‘swimrise’

I started swimming with this friendly herd in the summer and continued, as regularly as I could, until lockdown in March.

Here’s what it means to me, and what I am missing so much:

It’s GOOD for me, in so many ways. Improves mental and physical health, boosts immunity and lifts my mood.  Underlying this is stimulation of the vagus nerve, the primary agent in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the body’s yin (rest, digest, feed, breed) to the sympathetic nervous system’s yang (fight, flight, freeze).  It brings our bodies back to a better balance in our over-stimulated, stressed-out lives.  And just makes you feel really, really good.

It offers deep CONNECTION to the natural world, the sea and the life it contains and nurtures, the sun, moon and tides, the sky and the weather, the rhythms and resonances of all these wonderful systems.  It reminds me that I am (a very small) part of all this energy and flow. I am humbly grateful that the water HOLDS me without any effort from me.  There are entirely new wonders, like being in the sea to witness the sun rising at the flat horizon line (on the sea since we are at the east coast)- the bright dot of its emergence blinking off and on as the waves bob us up and down.

SUPPORT and friendship is freely given in most swimming groups, and the COWS herd has been a gift to me as a newbie round here.  It is open to all-comers, without judgement about each other’s bodies, fitness or swimming prowess, generously sharing information and top tips about this extraordinary activity. I will not forget my first swim with the COWS, not knowing anyone and being a much slower swimmer.  Crossing the bay with my usual inelegant breast-stroke, one of the regulars came back and swam alongside me, quietly ignoring my insistence that I was OK until I was back in my depth and ready to return to shore.  Watching out for each other seems to be an unarticulated part of the group’s ethos, remarkable and lovely.

Here is something I wrote, inspired by swimming in the sea, as well as this bonny painting by Janet Lynch


The women are inches from death

but, unconfined in a bliss of living,

are held by the concentration of salt.

Bobbing up and down on the sea’s skin.


Bellies, limbs and curves blend with

the water’s waves and currents.

They are not alone but curl around each other.

Recalling the sea as mother.


Out beyond ideas


This is one my favourite artworks- now on the wall of my kitchen/diner in Backworth. I aim to explain its provenance, and the meanings I hope it conveys, below.

It is one of several pieces created collaboratively with two good friends, Peter Cartwright and Ann Pillar, in The Works, Pete’s lock-up garage in Walsall which houses a 1930’s letterpress printer and racks and racks of wood and metal type- a magic place for turning text into art.

P1040315 (1)

We have worked on several projects together and this is the last one before Ann’s death in August 2019.  ‘Out beyond ideas’ is a memorial to her, one of many beautiful things she left us.

Our collective modus operandi starts with me selecting a piece of map fabric- the linen lining from an old map, separated from the paper after an overnight soak in cold water.  This fabric was from a map of northern France and Belgium, over 100 years old, pleasingly stained with age, especially along the original folds. It included places made famous over the course of two World Wars- Namur, Amiens, Arras, as well as sites of the Battles of Vimy Ridge and, notably, the defeat of the British Army at the battle of Mons in August 1914.  A story was spun at the time by Arthur Machen, that supernatural beings watched over and protected the retreating soldiers, some of whom testified that they had seen these ‘Angels of Mons’.

The Angels of Mons | visitMons - The Official Tourism Website of ...

Knowing the stories of the places formerly ‘held’ by the map fabric is the beginning of developing ideas for the work, discussed over cups of tea and glasses of wine at the kitchen table. (Sometimes the map fabric is of interest in its own right so is used as a substrate non-specifically).

The text shown, suggested by me, was finally chosen, then Pete and Ann’s design and print expertise took over in the selection of typeface and size, layout, and ink colours.  A number of test runs and refinements later and several copies of the text were printed onto paper, then (nerve-wrackingly) onto the beautiful map linen to produce the final work.

Different viewers have responded to the finished piece, in a range of ways, but here is what it means to me.

Rumi (1207-73) was a Persian poet and mystic from the Sufi tradition who lived and died in the Middle East.  His work is widely translated and popular across the world. I like his writing very much.

Mevlana Statue, Buca.jpg

Statue of Rumi in Buca, western Turkey

I chose the poem because it conveys a message of peace and the essential unity of humanity and all creation, in stark contrast to the events which took place in the areas which were formerly ‘held’ by the map fabric- the battlefields, which saw death and conflict throughout the first half of the 20th century.  I find the invitation to meet in a field “beyond ideas of wrongness and rightness” particularly poignant.

I am writing this now, in the fourth week of coronavirus lockdown, feeling that my soul is resting in an unfamiliar ‘field’, stilled, finding the world “too full to talk about”.  Indeed, as Rumi wrote 800 years ago, “the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense” at this time, when we are more equal in our vulnerability, more open to empathy and more connected, than at any time I can remember, in my street, my city, my country and across our planet.




Four walls with the sky for ceiling: in praise of the back yard

I live in a particular kind of Newcastle street- two rows of brick-built terraces which face inwards with walled front gardens and a paved walkway in between.  These were built over 100 years ago for railway workers in Backworth.  The rear of the houses on my side of the street faces south (with a row of tall trees on the sightline behind) and are a wonderful example of defensible space, with lots of potential for seeing people fron a safe distance.  I have had time (plenty of it in these lockdown days) to make it a place to experience the joy of now- the straightforward pleasures of sunshine and new growth as the spring gathers strength.

Sitting outside with the back door open to sweet-smelling air, and birdsong it is the room in my house which has the sky as a ceiling.  Like a big, messy, sprawling version of James Turrell’s Skyspaces.  Here are the four walls and some of the objects and plants that share it with me, not forgetting Millie the cat.

Apparently it used to be common practice to leave the gate to the yards open to the back lane- some of the older residents still do this (they also happen to have beautiful yards full of life and colour)- and my gate has a big hook for this purpose.

But mostly my gate is shut- I prefer the privacy.  I can see the tops of people’s heads as they walk by (if they are tall enough) and some of them offer a wave or greeting.  And, when All This is over, it will be a sociable space again.

Until then there are birds for company, chattering rooks, raucous magpies and seagulls, cooing pigeons and lots of cheeping and twittering from the little birds some of which are occasional visitors- wrens and blue tits looking for bugs to feed their little ones.

One of the joys of this strange time in lockdown is experiencing the present.  I am grateful for it, so important and USEFUL in the context of uncertainty and fear.  In the moment, now, when everything is OK, I feel deeply grateful for the peace and security and community I have in this place, the sweet air, lack of aeroplanes and other traffic noise, the colour and fragrance of the things that I have planted and are growing without a care- the lilies of the field, and the back yard.