Spring Rain

Spring Rain

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

I remembered a darkened doorway
Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
And lightning scrawled on the sky.

The passing motor busses swayed,
For the street was a river of rain,
Lashed into little golden waves
In the lamp light’s stain.

With the wild spring rain and thunder
My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
Than your lips would ever say. . . .

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

Sara Teasdale

The Intuitive Way, and a whole lot of camping.

Well, hello! It’s been a while. I’ve taken a break from blogging – not intentionally, it’s been a strange, busy and wonderful summer, and I’ve been immersed in life. I’ve also been trying, amid the busyness, to do a little stock-taking, with the guiding hand of The Intuitive Way.

 

When I stayed at a friend’s house, I pulled it off the bookshelf for a read at bedtime. I’ve since bought three copies. I know several people who will like it…it’s thought provoking, life affirming, comforting, inspiring. Give it a try (also, dipping into your friends’ book collections).

 

So what’s been going on?

 

We camped in Shropshire. My it was a beautiful place…we had gales of laughter…we had buckets of rain…we had archery competitions and evenings around a fire pit and a blow up tent that didn’t blow up…we had a split pipe on the car…we toured Shrewsbury Prison (well worth a visit)…we admired stunning Ironbridge and learned how weak our grasp of Roman numerals is.

 

We larped. We made coats and vambraces and leg wraps and bags and cloaks and we fought undead and performed magic rituals, and ate and drank and ran around the woods in the dark, and sang songs and laughed and cried and made new friends. We went on a treasure hunt. We got muddy. We got tired. We got memories.

 

We got engaged. Whooooooohoooooooo! I didn’t take down the many congratulations cards until they got dusty…it was just so nice having them around! We’ve been given enough bubbly to launch a fleet of ships. We received hundreds of messages of love and goodwill. It’s just been amazing and wonderful and we didn’t expect it…we are so, so grateful for our friends. (Added bonus: We made limoncello and nojito for our party, which gave us a bagful of frozen lime zest to make lime cake. Yum.)

We had a day out at Rushden Lakes for a family birthday, and lunch in the lovely garden of The Wind Hover in Chapel Brampton. While my tribe were inside, I had a few minutes of pure rest in the sunshine, watching the clouds, the happy dogs and the leaves dancing in the trees. It was then that I noticed one of these signs on the adjacent corner:

 

 

 

Yes. Just that. Remember To Do That…the roller coaster of life will do its thing regardless, whether you hang on for grim death or wave your hands in the air. Give Way. Let Go. It will be okay. (I’ve been listening to Thich Naht Hahn a lot lately.)

 
We were given a day out at Wicksteed Park as a thank you for our voluntary work, and we had The Best Time with thirteen adult sized children. It’s a long time since I rode a log flume and I’ve never ever played laser quest or driven a go kart before, it was brilliant. I loved the Paratrooper. There is a point where you are going neither up nor down, and you feel completely weightless. As for the Snakes and Ladders slide…well, we couldn’t tear the grownups away from it.
 
And in between? We’ve adulted. Car insurance, MOTs, gutting the bathroom, budgeting. Laundry, dishes, this stuff doesn’t go away, so you might as well Zen it, right?
I hope you’ve had a good summer, and are enjoying the arrival of autumn and the changing colours of the goddess’s cloak. I leave you with this thought:

“Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers.”  Madame du Chatelet

ps. A wonderfully talented local artist is holding a fantastic exhibition of her work, if you like art and animals and find yourself in Northamptonshire I recommend you take a look. Just glorious.
 

Little larp make: Noughts and crosses game

Happy Saturday! It’s been super-busy around here lately so I’ve been a bit slow with posting. I’ll catch up…

I’ve been toying with the idea of old-looking games for a while now; they’re brilliant for live role play. We went to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green and had such a good time. So much fun! There’s a lot of inspiration there too, I recommend it. It got me thinking.

We have quite a few branches stashed in our garden for slicing into rune pieces and game pieces, so I burned some and whipped up a lined bag with the game embroidered on the front.

 

Noughts and Crosses embroidered larp game

 

It works a treat, and there’s room in the bag for a deck of cards and snack too. I’ve had a few requests for Nine Men’s Morris, I’ll have to make one so I can learn how to play 🙂

Enjoy your weekend! Walk in peace.

Crazy golf, big skies and new leaves

Last weekend was a complete gift. Warm, sunny, begging to be enjoyed outside. So off we trotted to Wicksteed Park, where we played crazy golf with our friend Adam. All of us are well past the 40 mark, which might explain why the man with the clubs and balls wanted to know who would be playing. I think he was expecting kids. He was looking at them. It was really fun…made me feel ten years old again.

I’ve been waiting for a chance to get some photos of skies, for next term’s art classes. We’re going to be experimenting on a large scale and need some reference material, and yesterday provided some great opportunities to build up the photo stock.

 

Wicksteed Park Cloudy Sky

 

Yep, I think that counts as a Big Sky. There’s going to be some serious blue mixing going on.

 

Wicksteed Park Railway

 

I love the green lines emerging across the lake. Spring has sprung!

 

Wicksteed Park Alpacas

 

Popped by the new arrivals to say hello….

 

Wicksteed Park Ponies

 

and to see some old friends.

 

Wicksteed Park Blossom

 

Sunshine yellow erupting along the lakeside…

 

Wicksteed Park Willow Avenue

 

This magnificent corridor of new leaf makes me a bit giddy. You just can’t beat the feeling of sap rising and life bursting from the earth.

 

Wicksteed Park Mountain Ash

 

I can feel nature calling…”here, check this out…and you thought I was sleeping!” 🙂

 

Wicksteed Park Pine

Wicksteed Park Cherry Blossom

Wicksteed Park Pink Cherry Bloom

Wicksteed Park Boathouse and Boating Lake

 

There might be a painting in here somewhere…

 

Wicksteed Park Lake

 

Or maybe here?

I went home knowing what a pear willow and a tulip tree look like. Seriously cool, If you’re a treek like me.

Have a great week! Keep an eye out for those skies…

 

A demo, a quiz and a John Piper project.

 

Hey 🙂 How’s your weekend going?

It’s gone crackers here again, springtime is always full of upcoming dates and schemes. Great stuff…but a little daunting if you haven’t got your ducks in a row from the outset. Deep breath…

Yesterday I went to see a local artist demonstrating Daler Rowney acrylics and the many marvellous additions you can buy to make your paint shiny, grainy and slower drying. I learned quite a bit, met a lady from his art sessions and may well pop along to one of their art group meetings before long. They’re walking distance away…funny how it takes so long to find out what’s on your doorstep.

In a similar vein, I only knew about the local annual film and TV quiz in aid of muscular dystrophy through our lovely postman at work. I went along with a couple of friends last night and we had a ball. So funny! By the halfway mark the whole hall was singing along to the theme for Only Fools and Horses. A lovely atmosphere, and a good amount of cash going in the direction of a worthy cause. Hats off to everyone who contributed their time, what a fantastic effort.

So, what’s the John Piper project I hear you ask? It was an opening exercise in this year’s art term, looking at the style and evocative technique used by John Piper to document the war through buildings, stark contrast and mixed media. This sort of thing…

 

John Piper painting

 

Although I prefer this one…

 

John Piper Painting - ruin

 

I chose Angkor Wat in Cambodia as my subject, I’ve never been there but I love the temples and mad trees.

 

John Piper inspired drawing - Angkor Wat archway

 

I’m not a loose painter, as a rule. Being undisciplined is a discipline, and we had a go at allowing pure colour to suggest shapes – as I learned through this project, The Line Is King. Your eye will always defer to it in times of doubt.

 

John Piper inspired Angkor Wat painting

 

A bit of this, a bit of that. This is where it’s at right now. I may tinker with it a bit more, but only when I haven’t looked at it for a week.

 

John Piper inspired Angkor Wat mixed media

 

Or possibly three.

 

A little venture into Robin Hood Country

 

Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a good day, whatever you’re up to.

We’ve just spent a few days celebrating Paul’s birthday in Robin Hood country. We stayed at the 18th century Forest Lodge Hotel in Edwinstowe, a charming old building with a history as an inn, fish shop and tea room, spitting distance from the magnificent Sherwood Forest with its fabulous craft centre, unspoilt woodland and of course Major Oak (reputed hidey hole of Robin Hood and his merry men).

Major Oak Sherwood Forest

 

Spectacular. This little guy followed us on our walk through the forest, serenading us 🙂

 

Sherwood Forest Birdwatching Robin

 

We loved these little houses that have been carved from tree stumps along the way.

 

Sherwood Forest Stump Treehouse

 

This chap fascinated us, trawling the trees for his supper. He’s a treecreeper – the first we’d ever seen. Treecreepers don’t sit still for long, I can tell you that.

 

Sherwood Forest Treecreeper

 

The hotel window faces St Mary’s church, the site of the church where Robin was said to have married Maid Marian, and its restaurant is sited on the original stable block – the archway for the horses remains. It’s a wonderful place to stay, with a cosy bar and glorious food for the winter evenings – perfect for a pint and a game of Quirkle or draughts. We loved it there. And look at the rather delicious birthday present we found in our room!

 

Forest Lodge Wine

 

A rather beautiful room at that.

 

Forest Lodge Buddha Room

 

If you’re in that part of the world, I’d recommend a walk at Creswell Crags.

 

Creswell Crags

 

It’s a stunning gorge and lake with an abundance of eerie and curious-looking caves.

 

Creswell Crags cave

 

We were too late for the last tour of the day after our horsey adventure with Derbyshire Pony Trekking. It’s about 30 years since I’ve ridden – we absolutely loved every second of it. Thanks to Rosie and Mr Tubbs for taking such good care of us! Oh my, did we ache later! Totally worth it. You can see four counties from this lookout point.

 

Derbyshire Pony Trekking Four Counties View

 

So it’s back to reality tomorrow…let’s see what this week has in store! There’s a monk, John Piper, a new art class project, Punch and Judy costumes, a few new recipes, a dentist appointment, some pensions paperwork and a time management book on the horizon. I’m going to need that last one.

Fallow January and the fruits of Imbolc

Hey! How’s life treating you?

We’re settling into a routine after all the hoo-hah last month with builders and pipes and other unappealing problems, I’m happy to say. In hindsight, I think it was a good time to implement Fallow January.

What’s Fallow January? Exactly what it says on the tin. It’s my decision to have a month off from normal life, from now until forever. I used to be swept up in the New Year, New You, make some resolutions, get cracking, sort out your life kinda talk. Well, it just doesn’t work in the long run (for me anyway) so I’ve decided to take my lead from the trees, this January and every one from now on. Get off the merry-go-round, allow ideas to percolate, wrap up warm, read, drink tea and talk to friends. I still have to go to work and we have all the usual household business to attend to, but the non-essentials? Let them wait. Rest. While I’m at it, I’m cancelling most of December too. With the best will in the world, I always get behind with Christmas and birthday preparations so we might as well be realistic. December is now officially about baking, giftwrap, festive films and sparkle. Excellent. A ten month year has a certain pleasing quality, wouldn’t you say?

The close of Fallow January falls in line with Imbolc. The pagan new year comes in early February, when the sap is rising and we are starting to feel the first surges of light and growth. I think it makes much more sense to start the year as the earth wakes. We had a beautiful little celebration; candles and evergreens, salt and incense, water and written intentions that we planted in the garden. And so the next cycle begins, and I feel clear-headed and ready for it. Plans are afoot. Let’s get to work. Starting with a new wardrobe for these guys…

 

Wicksteed Park Punch And Judy Puppets

 

…because I’ve started volunteering at Wicksteed Park, where it’s not just about litter picking and directing traffic. Oh, no. There’s a world of adventures there for my creative development, in a land full of trees (which I truly love) and a programme to develop local and traditional craft skills (which I truly love). Watch this space! It’s going to be a fascinating year!

 

 

 

 

 

Excavations

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a strange and eventful start to the year at NixieMade Towers. Is it me, or is there a digging theme hereabouts…

After a three week break from aikido, I was given a surprise grading. I don’t mind admitting that I grade kicking and screaming; I’m sure I can’t do it until I’ve done it. Aikido has been a huge battle with my own mind that has gone on for years, so making it to the middle grades is a massive win. At every milestone, we are asked to dig deep…

 

Aikido Orange Belt

 

I’m told I aced it. I need to remember that.

At about the same time, our neighbour’s boiler packed up. They weren’t allowed a new one because their water pressure was low. We share a supply, and ours is fine…so the problem’s on their side of the T-piece, right? Out comes a builder, who exposes the pipework and finds (a) lead pipe with (b) a leak in it. The water board are contacted…what a mission…but they can’t cope with the idea of two problems in one piece of pipe…so when they eventually send out an assessor, they send a second one at the same time. Getting them to replace the pipe was another battle. When they did, they sent four men. Yep. Four. Then the builders found the next leak (think Italian fountain), so the entire shared pipe has been dug up and replaced. Every time we talk to somebody about this another couple of hundred quid evaporates. Man plans, God laughs. Ever feel a bit like this…

 

Adrift

 

Still, life’s a long journey, the world keeps turning, and there’s always a bigger picture. I have a bit of a thing for social history and I’ve just discovered Bernard Cornwell. I’ve worked with norse runes for a while, and when we went to the St Mary’s book sale I picked up The Last Kingdom, the first in a series about the Danish occupation of England. Loving it. I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in ages, and then a talk on local archaeology came up and my geek gene got all jiggly.

I discovered that a few streets away, ancient lead coffins were unearthed in back gardens (coins had been placed on the eyes of the dead), along with Roman mosaic pieces, pottery with a woman’s name scratched into the base of some bowls, a dog skeleton, a chisel, and brooch pins. In the centre of town, underneath a charity shop, is an old smelting site – two thousand years ago a manufacturing area thrived right on our high street. We didn’t have a local mint, yet there are a lot of locally produced coins, so it looks like there were some busy forgers. A Roman sandal was found in the bottom of a well (what happened to said Roman?); there are three wells in the area that I hadn’t known about. There are pouches of coins and jewellery buried beneath our feet, safely stowed before battles and never retrieved. There are driveways that we know cover untouched artefacts, so one day who knows what else will come to light. All I know is, every time I look out on our garden, I just wonder.

And I wonder what the next few weeks will hold for us, our little lives, as the world turns and we go on…

Have a glorious day. I’m going to eat cake in my pyjames and draw pictures and watch Buffy. When it comes to adult responsibility, this house is a zero tolerance zone right now…

 

Winter

Winter

Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.

The rayless sun,
Day’s journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Unearthly white.

Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.

 

Walter de la Mare