cornwall with a japanese flavour

a few years ago my friends took me to the japanese gardens at st mawgan – a beautiful bit of escapism in the cornish countryside – filled with zen gardens, azaleas, bamboo and bonsai trees – its worth the visit..  whilst you are in St Mawgan go and see the monastery there, it dates back from the 6C;  not sure if you can go in, but take a walk around it.  the village of St Mawgan is very pretty and there is also a good pub with big garden there.

whilst I am down there, I always try to make a visit to St Ives;  St Ives must have more art galleries and crafts studios per square foot than any other town I have been to.  I love its winding streets, up and down, higgledy piggledy , surrounded by the sea all round, its a really atmospheric town.  probably best to visit out of the high season and school holidays.   we usually pop into the Tate St Ives too.

i also pop into the barbara hepworth gallery, probably my favourite place in the whole world – the gardens, the house, the sculptures and the workshops are just inspiring.

we ate lunch on the terrace at porthgwidden beach cafe, which looks onto the  beach.   the only downside to st ives is the distance from london-  its even further than padstow!  I think you just have to take a good book on the train and see it as a way to relax and catch up on reading.  I am reading Remarkable Creatures at the moment, by Tracy Chevalier, which a friend gave me.  the film Ammonite is based on the main character, so interesting to see how the different adaptations of Mary Anning.

back to padstow – if you have had enough of the rick stein empire, try the basement restaurant, which actually have an outdoor summer house to sit in, despite its name – its forte is sea food and is of a very good quality. Paul Ainsworth has a good daily menu too.  I am really looking forward to getting down there this summer, not only to see the lovely coast again, but also to visit our lovely friends.

L. cornelissen

it must be one of my favourite shops in london, l. cornelissen stocks art materials, but not just like your regular art shop,  its a specialist in all types of mediums, from inks, to watercolours, to gouache etc….  there are bottles, jars, tins, tubes of everything that you would ever need.  the problem is that i didnt even know what you used most of the things for!  its definitely a place for inspiring your creativity – i have decided to buy some calligraphy pens with the beautiful shades of sepia ink (in gorgeous bottles of course) and try them out in the beautiful sketch books that they stock.  what a brilliant present to buy somebody interested in art, a starter kit in drawing or painting  with a lovely notebook – perfect for any young teenager or budding artist! its also such a beautiful shop to be in and the staff so helpful and knowledgeable. I hope it never changes, modernises – just stay as inspiring as it also has been to me.

I have been trying out Chinese brush painting with ink and watercolour – the right brush definitely helps as its about using your brush , turning and splaying out the hairs to produce the marks – watching a professional is fascinating and of course they make it look so easy. I started online with the Chinese Community Centre in Chinatown with zoom classes and not only do you learn a lot, but you are helping keep the community centre thriving. my teacher during those classes William Cai does the most beautiful paintings – one day – practice makes perfect. these were my attempts.

bluebells are the symbol of humility and gratitude

I love wild flowers and bluebells are popping up everywhere;  I even have lilac bluebells in my garden.   did you know that bluebells are the symbol of humility and gratitude?

gratitude is something that I am feeling at the moment – gratitude for my health, my family, my home, the food that we have – I felt ‘ how can we stay in for weeks on end’, but we have to just think that its a small part of our long lives which can importantly save other lives.  I cannot believe that a year has passed so quickly and yet so slowly…….

I usually go to Cornwall to see my friends at this time of year,  and I am missing those visits so much – its strange how the simple act of seeing friends in other parts of the country can bring so much pleasure, something we just took for granted; these bluebells were growing wild on the slopes of the coastline of Rock.  I look forward to being able to do those simple things again……

ammonite

watched this film last night about the amazing resilient woman, Mary Anning whose passion for fossil hunting discovered one of the most important geological finds on the Jurassic coast, but she was not acknowledged for her accomplishments. fortunately she is now being recognised, alongside a whole array of other women in the world, who may have been dismissed because of their class and gender. We went to this beautiful coast last year for the first time and fell in love with it – seeing them walk the Cobb wall in Lyme Regis just brought the lovely memories of the window of freedom we were allowed last year, fingers crossed that we are allowed a little more this year.

feria in vejer de la fronterra

I am so missing visiting spain with its wonderful traditions and colour. its about this time in Vejer de la Fronterra that the annual  april feria occurs 10 days after Easter.  Easter, or Semana Santa as it is called in Spain is such a big occasion , more important than Xmas, with its evening street procession carrying the statues of Jesus  on Good Friday and  Easter Sunday bull run in the narrow streets, it is a sight that you never forget. The feria, that follows is a mini version of the seville feria, which if you have never seen is just spectacular, horses and carriages,  flamenco dresses and full of colour and splendour;  vejer’s feria is held in the new town, which is only 15 mins walk from my house, but mainly consists of a few casitas (tents for eating drinking and dancing) and an enormous fairground!  but for 4 nights there will be numerous flamenco shows and horse riding events.   the local school children clamber on their floats and there is a procession through the old town to the new town – there are so many festival days in spain, you need to check the calendars before you go so that you can watch them – there is a feria in almost every town in spain at some time of the year – its what makes Spain a wonderful country still steeped in tradition and fun.  sadly due to the pandemic, it will have been more than a year of disruption – so I am not even sure what celebrations will be happening;  I am so hoping that by the end of the year, life will resume as it used to be……

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tulips

i have a beautiful new tulip growing in my garden, not sure what type it is, but  the edges are dipped in a lilac pink – tulips are a definite sign of spring, i love the way they push their way up from the ground, opening their feather like petals announcing the arrival of the warmer air.

In Victorian times, certain flowers had specific meanings because the flower selection was limited and people used more symbols and gestures to communicate than words;  today there are so many varieties that the simple gesture of giving flowers is a sentiment;  however white tulips signify forgiveness.  here are the meanings of the other colours of tulips;  pink – caring, purple – royalty,  red- declaration of love,  white – forgiveness,  yellow – hopelessly in love.

 

 

 

 

magic hand

a few years ago we had a  bad accident when stoking up  the wood burner stove – which resulted in a wood ember falling onto our lovely rug – exactly in the part where there was a small section of white wool.  fortunately we were recommended magic hand, a specialist company who will  not only clean, restore and repair your rugs, but will pick it up and re deliver it and find the wool to match.  it came back within a week and you cannot even notice where the burn was.  it was not cheap, but considering the cost of good quality rugs, it was well worth it and a fraction of the price to buy another replacement.   we have now learned to roll back the rug when using the wood burner!

money can’t buy anything

Some people believe that happiness
can be found by
the amount of money you have.
But, money can not buy everything.

Money cannot buy
the feelings that I get
when My love kisses me gently
with her sweet lips.

Money cannot buy the way I feel
when I hold my love so close
that it feels like my heart
is beating for the both of us.

Some people think being rich will make you happy
because, you have money to go anywhere in the world.
But, I- myself, do not need to travel far
for, my place is with my love.

People think money can make you happy
because, you can afford expensive clothes and jewlery.
But, all I ever do is put on a smile when I’m with my love
because, that is all I need to wear.

People count on money to go on exotic trips to the ocean
So they can explore beneath the sea
and see things many poeple never will.
But, the sea of love, I am treading in is much deeper than any other sea.

People think money can bring happiness
because, the rich get better seats at restaurants.
But, my seat is always the best
when I am beside my love.

Poeple think money can buy happiness
because, they live in large houses.
But, the house I live in is always the most special one
when My love is with me in it.

Some people think being rich can buy you happiness..
sure, it can buy you some
but, the love I have brings me more happiness
than all the money in the world could.

Some people think being rich makes you better than everyone
They think they have a place reserved in heaven.
But, that’s not something I worry about
because, with my love, I am already there.

In this world money can get you things
and it can make you happy
but, the love I share with My angel
is more valuable than anything.

by Dennis Justin Fontaine

mothers day

to all you wonderful mothers – have a relaxing and lovely day!

did you know that we have been celebrating mothering sunday since the 16Century?  in the UK, mothers day always falls on the 4th sunday of Lent, which is why it never falls on the same day each year.

Mothering Sunday was also known as ‘Refreshment Sunday‘, ‘Pudding Pie Sunday’ or ‘Mid-Lent Sunday‘. It was a day in Lent when the fasting rules were relaxed, in honour of the ‘Feeding of the Five Thousand’, a story in the Christian Bible.

today, it feels like another form of commercialism and something that you ought to do because everybody else does it – i think that every day we should remember how special mothers are – their job at times is a thankless task that we all take for granted.  my daughter Maude is away on a university internship, but she sent me the most beautiful flowers – a friend set up this amazing business Filth during lockdown and delivers flowers personally on a friday – what enterprising and inspirational youth we have!  

 

in chichicastanago, guatamala the flower girls strewn their flowers for sale on the famed church steps – the petals were used as part of the religious thanks.  it was such a memorable place – its somewhere i would want to visit again.

whatever you are doing, have a lovely day!

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i still remember these lovely flowers that  little maude picked from our garden and sweetly put them in a egg cup – such a precious little thing and such a good idea for putting your flowers in!

International Women’s day

today is officially named international women’s day to celebrate equality for women, from simply being more appreciated, respected and loved to acknowledging economic, social and political achievements – i think that every day should be like this whether you are female or not –  so many women are undervalued, especially the role of a mother.

i admire that quite a few of my girlfriends have changed their careers and now are amazing therapists – nutritionist, osteopathy, pilates, hygienist, psychotherapist and  acupuncture – plus i get to learn more about natural therapy and am treated to more alternatives to standard medicine!

i love that women are not challenged by anything – dont ever think that you are too old to start something new!  i was inspired by the fact that Julia Margaret Cameron started her photography career at 48.  I have changed my career so many times and each one has been fulfilling and challenging but also full of good memories.  since the beginning of lockdown last March 2020, I have been learning and teaching Qigong to my friends – it really has grasped me and I spend at least an hour or two a day studying and practising more moves, and getting to understand what the philosophy of Qigong is about.  for many years, I have thought it a gentle exercise for very old pensioners, like my mother, but I have now realised its power to build strength and suppleness, not only to the body but to the mind too.   I have also started to learn basic mandarin, with a phone app, duo lingo, very slowly, as I had remembered a few words of Cantonese through my childhood, but now have to replace this with totally different sounds for the same characters.   So it definitely is never too late to start a new hobby, passion or career.

Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

The incredibly prolific and inspiring American poet, author of seven autobiographies, actress, civil-rights activist, producer and director passed away in 2014, leaving behind a huge volume of work celebrating black beauty, the strength of women, and the human spirit. In 2017 her life was celebrated in the documentary Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, which featured interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, Quincy Jones and Maya Angelou herself.

‘You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.’

I  still continue to volunteer at the bay tree centre in brixton  – a centre for women and their daughters of all nationalities to go and learn english, further their studies in the essentials of education – reading, science and other skills, but also fun activities like cooking, dancing and art.  there is a strong emphasis on social inclusion, encouraging equality in development and supporting them to think out of their box and achieve whatever their dreams may desire.  after school, the centre serves for the local ethnic children whose parents don’t speak much English and need help with their homework and studies, but in the day, the centre helps refugee children – these are usually older girls in their teen years- who are awaiting school places.  during the pandemic though, I have been zooming reading classes and have even hosted  a children’s Qigong class, and  a watercolour class for the older girls.  it really gives you a warm feeling seeing their little faces pop up on the screen, calling you ‘miss’ and using their thumbs up symbols.  thank god for zoom – I never thought that I would thank technology, but it really has been a godsend all round.

the lives of the children at Baytree reminds me of my own life, from a single ethnic mother whose father departed when I was five leaving my mother to work long hours as a waitress to feed three young children;  I had to look after my 2 younger brothers, get them to school – she was never able to go to parents evening, nobody to help with my homework, she could barely speak English but then I never wanted for anything, there was always food on the table and clothes when I needed them.  through sheer hard work, a lot of luck and determination, I have enjoyed a happy and family life in london.  i would have loved a centre like Baytree, but I dont think that these type of places existed then.  they are a charity and run mainly on volunteers who are always in need.

You only need to offer an hour a week, every little helps.  you don’t have to be a qualified teacher – I have no training – you just have to be enthusiastic and patient – but its very rewarding

here are a few of my inspirational ladies who have allowed me to photograph them….