Thursday, 29 October 2015

From Minehead to Simonsbath

My spirit lifted as I entered Minehead, Pip and I pleased to see Stuart and Michelle.  It didn't matter that it was my birthday, those days of celebration have passed me by. I worked out that last year I was unceremoniously dumped on the eve of my birthday, and the two years before that conned into ending my celebrations early for the sake of a lie. Birthdays are really just another day.

On Tuesday Pip and I made our way to Simonsbath; the vivid colours of Exmoor in the Autumn taking my breath away. I drove slowly and let the full tilt Range Rovers pass. 

Simonsbath was awash with colour and new life under the beech leaves.

Every now and again I'd catch the scent of the greening moss, eventually through exploring, the perfume covered my hands.  Pip was in his element, taking the lead on the leaf strewn path.

Over the moor I caught a glimpse of a stag, but too far away to take a photo.  We ended  our walk with a view of the River Barle. 

Spring in October

Spring in October

The October rain
Transforms the browning moss
Into a carpet of veridian.
Draped over twigs and branches
And dripping, moisture soaked,
Releasing a sweet, earthy scent
I carried throught the forest.

The October rain
Wakens the browning moss,
Which yawns and stretches
Over twigs and branches,
Blanketing the trees with veridian.
The spring, collecting mossy drops,
Trickles over clay soaked stones,
Weaving through the ferns and moss,
Releasing a sweet, earthy scent
I carried through the forest.

Haiku from Simonsbath

The October rain
Transforming the browning moss
To veridian 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Tick, Rocked

Half term and I'm embarking on a journey. My starting point was London and spending the night at my Grandfathers where the resonating sound is the ticking of a small clock next to my bed.  

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Re-aligning through the mediums of water and paint

Here's the thing, I haven't been able to carve for over two years now - carvers block.  There are personal reasons for this, too personal to air in public, but also I'm living away from the sea, and the sea and the flotsam and jetsam that rolls up on the shore, are my inspiration. It may be a while before I find myself living in the right place for me to start carving again, and this is something that I've not fought, just accepted, that for the time being I won't be producing any carvings.  At some point this will change, but I'm not going to force that, it just is the way it is.

But there has to be an instead right?! 

For over a year I haven't once picked up my camera, plugged in my printer, checked my website.  I've been in a kind of stasis.  Shocked at the loss of the sea, shocked at the grey, drab, muddy mess that the Cotswolds become during Autumn and Winter. A year ago, I picked up the Christmas present my parents gave me from a few years back, a set of Chinese paintbrushes, books and inks, and this started a shift in my creativity, it lasted for a while, but the cold of the winter took hold and I stopped.  

Then this new year, I finally got my camera out, dusted it down, plugged in the battery, and even downloaded the few photos I had on there onto my laptop.  I went to Cornwall for New Years with Pip, and the beauty of that landscape caught me. My camera, however continued to disappoint, I just couldn't capture the views I wanted to.  

Fast forward to this summer, and a trip up to Scotland, Anstruther.  I took up with me a small sketchbook and pencils, a sketchbook I hadn't opened for over three years.  It was a bit of a revelation to see sketches I had forgotten, some pretty good.  So while in Scotland, with my annoying camera, I started to think about capturing the beauty in a different way. And I came across this amazing bookshop in St Andrews.  A bookshop where they offer you free coffee, a bookshop so rammed full of books, I thought I'd never leave. And there I found a book which made me feel excited, it made me feel something again about being creative, it made me plan for setting up.

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Magic Paintbrush

A few days ago I was reminded of a book I read as a child about a Chinese man who painted pictures that came to life.  I remembered these amazing pictures of birds and dragons, and the key to the story, that the paintings only came to life when the last brush stroke left the paper.  The story touched me at the time, it sounded enigmatic to me while I remembered it. 

So my Google search took me first to Wu Daozi an artist of the Chinese Tang Dynasty:

"Wu traveled widely and created murals in Buddhist and Daoist temples. Wu also drew mountains, rivers, flowers, birds. No authentic works are extant, though some exist in later copies or stone carvings."

His name came up in a search because he was such an accomplished painter, there are legends of his paintings coming to life. One such story is about a dragon or group of dragons that were so lifelike they looked like they moved around on the paper. Wu Daozi was said to have painted in the style of Chang Seng Yu, whose dragons also came to life. Both Chang Seng Yu and Wu Daozi along with Ku K'ai-chih and Lu T'an-wei are said to be the four great masters of Chinese Painting.

Wu Daozi's painting of a dragon comes to life.

Next to come up in my search was, Han Gan, again of the Tang Dynasty.  His legend surrounds that of his horse paintings coming to life, such was their beauty and spirit. 

Night-Shining White

 These legends were alluding to the story I had read, they were close, but none of them were children's stories! Then I came across the Chinese story of Ma Liang and the Magic Paint Bush, I felt like I was getting closer, but this story didn't mention the paintings coming to life after the last brush stroke, and I was sure this was part of the story.

Finally I struck on Magic Paint Brush gold with an image search, and here were the images I remembered from my childhood, but what was the book?  Ha ha ... chuckle I did!

The Magic Paintbrush

Friday, 10 April 2015

Waterfalls without falling

About four years ago I stayed in the Beacons for my Birthday, I was taken by the beauty of the place, but forgot the name of the place I stayed in, I thought I had no chance of finding it again ... until yesterday. I planned to go waterfall walking in a place near Talybont, which included a steep climb up to the top of Craig y Fan Ddu. As I drove through the countryside towards my destination, I started to recognise the area, the bridge at Aber, the winding road with a solitary frog crossing to the other side, the reservoir. Yes! I had found the area from four years ago, and knew exactly where I was going as I'd been bowled over by the beauty of the place once before! 

This was a different walk though, a five hour trek of ridges and waterfalls. Starting at the Blaen y Glynn car park I made the steep ascent to the top of Craig y Fan Ddu. 

Walking along the ridge I came across evidence of more deer, rabbits and a snake concealed in owl pellets. No red kites today, but I was again joined by crows. 

At the middle of the horse shoe ridge there was a stunning view overlooking the valley below and the dramatic Pen y Fan.



A quick lunch and then the descent, following the stream down through muddy verges, rocks and sodden moss. 


As the streams from the surrounding mountains converged the water widened and soon I was walking down the hanging valley, with gushing water and pounding waterfalls.


 The ascent to the car park was the most difficult part of the walk! 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Walking in the opposite direction

It's Easter half term and I've booked a few days away in the Brecon Beacons at The Usk Inn in Talybont. With all my plans scuppered at the last minute, I've come away without any guide books, so I decided to make a random walk; a meditative, organic approach to where I go and what I do. 

Yesterday, after a fantastic full Welsh Breakfast, I decided to go to Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain. I parked up at the Storey Arms, and feeling unsure and a little lost at where the path started for the ascent, I clumsily opened a gate nearest me, and walked on and up. I soon realised that I'd walked in completely the opposite direction to Pen y Fan. Oh well! It was a glorious mistake.


As I walked up the open access land with no path to follow but my own, I was greeted by the sounds of crows cawing in the air above me. Soon, away from the throng of people trying to reach the summit opposite me, I was joined by a trio of red kites soaring and exploring the thermals. Other delights were a fleeting glimpse of a common lizard - way too shy for a photographic opportunity, bees, butterflies and the horses that are free to roam the deserted Beacons. 

I found evidence of other inhabitants mixed with the odd glimpse of boot marks in the wet mud. There were deer up here, marked by their footprints, and frogs - I narrowly missed walking in a clump of frogspawn. In amongst the mosses, grass and rocks there were the remains of an owl's feast on a mouse, bones, the bird carnage left by a fox, and a solitary, dried up, perfectly preserved frog.

The landscape was marked by outcrops of rock and deep scars cut by the streams flowing down into rivers and reservoirs. Here the mountains and hills all roll into one with deer and horse tracks leading the way from one peak to another. I walked on through damp mossy ground towards a gorge in front of me, this was my destination. Here the water ran clear over rocks and stones, jumping into pools, and rushing over high ledges.  


I made my way back to the car clambering up the stream, jumping on tuffs of grass trying not to get sucked into the sodden ground, and walking up rock strewn edges. At the end of my journey, sauntering up and down the mossy mountainside, were the two crows who had greated me at the start.