I was so disappointed that Joyce wasn't available for the willow ball today...even though Molly said she had a headache. Anyway guess what, Monk was hoping that you wouldn't mind him gate crashing. I said " forbid it " and so here we are! Isn't that sweet! He's quite good on the keyboard.
Lots of posts going up about the turn in the weather. I'm sitting writing this with a tartan blanket wrapped around my torso to stop the draughts enveloping me in this old cold house that I live in.
So here is a little thought for the season.
Porking up and hibernating,
Porking up and hibernating.
and half asleep.
Cosied up beside the fire.
Cuddled up in tartan rugs.
As we all got older, older that is than eight or nine… we became more adventurous and started to wander ever further away from the relative safety of the beach. One of our favourite wanderings was to the town of Ballywalter, a small fishing village on the Ards Peninsula some two miles south of the caravan site. This was the first of the metropolises [ or should that be metropolii?] that would become a flame to us little moths. At the top of the lane we turned left on to the coast road. Being the 50s, there was very little traffic on this country road and any that there was tended to be tractors with trailers or fastasmagorical medieval-looking contraptions for doing various jobs in the fields. How was I to know what they were for, I may have been the child of a farmer’s son, but I was also the daughter of my city loving mother.
I’ve mentioned already that I rarely wore shoes during my stays at the caravan, and so it was that very often I walked the road barefoot. I’m not pretending that it was painless, it was my own silly fault when I ended up regularly with aching soles! There was of course the grass verge to try to keep to, but nettles and unknown creepy crawlies deterred me. Most of the time we were laughing and joking so much that we didn’t notice any discomfort.
There were land marks on the way to keep us interested as well. The first was the Greystone Road off to the right opposite the farm. So called because of the enormous grey stone perched on the right hand side. This road took you to Carrowdore…you remember Carrowdore, the little village that seemed to have had time pass it by! I never questioned that stone, I just accepted it’s presence, but I suppose that it was left there after the ice age . The whole of County Down is “ basket of eggs” country known as drumlins.
Different farms and other sites, which we dismissed as lesser establishments were passed as we walked. Half way along on the right was an old abandoned farm house. With our vivid imaginations and no doubt encouraged by one of the older members of the gang, we came to believe that it was haunted. So to prove our fearlessness, we would creep up the tangled path and peer in the grimey windows, until one of the gang jumped out and shouted “boo!” If at times I passed on my own, I always took a sidelong glance and hurried on as fast as I could. Well you know the old saying..”there’s more to heaven and earth than any of us realise”. The fresh air and the salty smell of the sea was ever present and even now, when that wonderful ozone once again hits my nostrils, I’m catapulted back in memories, to the sensuousness of it all.
One of the reasons that I liked the walk along the road so much, was that my relatives had their caravans on a site close to the town. They were on The Robinson’s Field with the farm on the landward side of the road but the vans tight up against the edge of the coast. Aunt Cis, my father’s sister and her husband John occupied one of the sites with their three sons and Aunt Sally and her husband Cecil, one of dad’s relatives, had another with their two daughters. Both men had built their own caravans and the legend was that they were so good at this that even the line on the screw heads were the same throughout. Sometimes the boys went out rabbiting, not to catch or kill but to bring back for a little while some little wild ones to have as pets by the caravan. Then I assume that at the end of the summer they set them free…well that’s what I want to assume! I’m not saying that dad didn’t catch rabbit for food, oh yes he did and mum was expert at turning it in to best chicken! And talking about chickens, none of these sites were the clean cemented establishments that so much of today's caravaners know, chickens, ducks and various fowl wandered at will in among to vans.
Aunt Sally had a wonderful little mantra. The farmer’s son was John and a flirt. So Sally with a wry smile would ask him to remember that she was watching out for her beautiful daughters and he should be a good boy! Hmm. That seemed to me even then like a lost cause. They were such fun the country lads, but good, no they were not!
Food once again played a big role in the wanting to stop here. Aunt Cis was renowned for her exotic sandwiches. Always the crusts discarded...a feast for the gulls. The white bread, “sliced pan” no doubt from The Ormeau Bakery, buttered with best Ulster butter. Then amazing combinations such as freshly cooked ham sliced to within an inch of it’s life and on top of that some more fine slices of pickled peaches. Where did she get such luxuries in those days of belt tightening? Best not to ask! Onions once again played the role of a new taste for me. Thin sliced beef and even thinner slices of onion rings on delicious wheaten bread. I missed Irish bread so much when I first made my way to these English shores.
But the Ballyferris gang were eager to be on the move. Eager to get to the multifarious delights of the town of Ballywalter. So I would reluctantly leave the pleasures of Aunt Cis’s food and the joys of Aunt Sally’s caustic remarks and join them. I didn’t want to be the one who missed out on the big happenings at the town.
Alan and I met while we were both in the Lancaster area. He was at St. Martin's teacher training college taking art as the main subject.
The college was only a couple of years into it's life and as he said himself, "they were taking anyone!" Well not quite true as the principal, had made a decision to accept people on the basis of their quirkiness rather than their amazing intellect!
He was rather wonderfully quirky himself. At the top of the driveway was a Barbara Hepworth sculpture..one of her strung angels. The story goes that he went to her studio and asked had she anything that he could reasonably purchase for the college. Then packed off his two art tutors to Cornwall to collect it.
What a man!
So when we had the opportunity this summer to visit the garden and studio in St. Ives we went.
Nothing could really have prepared us for how we would feel about the garden.
We both love gardens anyhow but sense of care was quite overwhelming. Alan was in his element!
In a dream
The day was perfect, there were few people in the space and we just wandered in amongst the plants and sculptures along the paths.
I was surprised at how small the garden was, yet how much there was to take in.
One of my favourites, it looks like a scapula or back wing bone.
One of the best bits is seeing how the artist worked in the studio space available. And noticing the tools and acoutrements needed to produce such work.
I love the play on this photo, the black fuzzy dot is actually a garden spider in the middle of it's web! who knows where our influences ans inspirations come from in art or poetry. They are all around us.
This principal, Mr. Hugh Pollard, did another deal for his college...he heard that John Bratby's "Crucifixion" which had been intended for some church, was going cheap as they had refused to take it. so there it hung in the chapel at the college!
A great start for a budding artist to see these pieces of English art every day .