Some Things ARE Better in Colour.

img_2686

This follows on from my post about painting from the other week. Here’s the link so that it makes more sense…

About Some Things, I don’t have a Clue!

Ok I admit it that I didn’t quite get around to “painting” a picture during this trip, however I did sketch something with the intention of adding colour or paint and even got around to colouring it, just to see what it would look like. The colours were from watercolour pencils mainly except there are never enough of the colours to go round, especially the different shades of green to colour the woodland so I had to add in some normal pencils too.

The end result… Ta Da!

img_2716

 

 

Advertisements

Days like These and Remaining Independent

 

11062706_10154122837704517_7428223558496551676_nThere’s something about days like these, being in a rural location that makes you feel cold to the bone. It’s damp in our house and in a stone cottage where on this trip we have brought with us an oil fired heater which was keeping the chill off, we were feeling rather pleased that it was working.  On a freezing cold night, we are now able to keep warm in two rooms.  I am also extremely grateful that I have the gas cooker in the caravan.  It’s a really old caravan and it leaks and is damp, but it has its’ cosy moments.

Today there is something wrong with the electric. It has been on less than half speed since we awoke there must be a problem up in the fields somewhere. The caravan fused last night, which meant that we had an impromptu candlelit dinner in there.  I was just pleased that there was power left in the house, but today nothing was running right. 20 minutes to boil a kettle and despite the heater being left on all day, the room was still cold and chilly. We wondered if any other homes were suffering but the neighbour is not around so we cannot ask him. So as I prepped dinner tonight, a Thai Chicken Curry to warm us up, suddenly the cavalry arrive here, lights ablaze on their team of vehicles, called by our neighbour who returned home to a cold house. We both have very dim lights.  At first we thought that the bulbs might be on their way out, but since they are the old incandescent ones, they either work or they don’t.

So Scottish Power arrived at about 9pm, to head over the hills to investigate a cabling problem, we were all at half speed so it seemed.

Grateful for the logs, gas bottles and candles I have in the house along with the bottled drinking water and our washing water.  Yes we are basic here, but pretty self sufficient for a night at least. The guys worked through the night, cutting all power to our homes from 11pm. Back on by 7am they let us know before heading back down the hill. We were very relieved that we could get the oil fire back on again to warm it up.

chainsaw-kit

So today we are back to normal again and since I only brought the electric chainsaw with us on this trip, I am relieved as I will have to cut wood again in a couple of days, to actually fit on the fire. Our logs were hastily cut from trees which had fallen in storms in the past couple of years, all sections are about a foot high and anything up to 2 feet across and were not logged at the time.  They have dried in large pieces and now need to be split.  We tried a small hand splitter, a large axe, a small hand axe and we only have the small chainsaw left here to try.  My partner tried it the other day, but his old injuries along with the new ones have been playing him up and have left him sore. So it will finally be my turn to try, I have the kit for working outside, chainsaw helmet, muffs, gloves, trousers and rigger boots.  I am sure that with his guidance I’ll be able to do it.  When I get the hang of using the small one, then I can move onto the big one next time.  But for now this will have to do for us.

Something occurred to me yesterday morning though, if all the big strong men up here get their logs delivered and pose with their axes for their women, then there is probably a reason or two why.  I will leave you to come to your own conclusions there.

Our neighbour has a bandsaw and a huge pile of perfectly sawn logs.  They are outside ready for winter and he has moved them outside his back door for ease of use when needed.  When the power was down, my partner commented that it must be lovely and warm in there with his new log burner going. He was a little bit shocked when he was informed that despite having it fitted over a year ago, that the man still has not yet used it. That “it was a very messy business using this one, and all the instructions are in Italian.”  As my partner says, that was three reasons.  Remembering the other neighbour with his wood delivery my response was My God, is it all for show up here?

How difficult is it to light a fire for goodness sake?

I guess some people are not blessed with either common sense or practicality.

I don’t know why the mess of a log fire should bother him, he is a wealthy man who has people to clean and pick up after him.

So when there was not enough power to pump his oil fired heating around his house rather than put on a coat to come outside and speak to the men from the power company, he stood in the icy cold in his sweater. He did not figure out how to use his log burner and would rather sit indoors moaning that it was cold.

“He’d cut off his nose to spite his face” as my grandparents used to say…

We did have some light it was so dim that it was little more than candlelight and it wouldn’t even power the fan heater, or the electric blanket on the bed. We put on extra layers, extra logs on the fire and can boil a kettle on the gas in the caravan if need be. Although everything took twice the time to achieve it didn’t much matter to us, we were not on a schedule, however for the folk who are, it must have driven them crazy.

Bear River and the Diamond in the Rough

Some years ago, before Scotland or the Puppy even came into the equation about 2008, I was looking at property in a much more interesting place, to the one we inhabit.

Yes, I had itchy feet and thought about what it would be like to live in a different country. So a quick search for property abroad threw some interesting places into my thoughts. I thought about France, an awful lot.  I have always wanted a place in France….

But I also thought about somewhere farther afield where I might be able to get some land and make a beautiful place for holidays and could rent out.  It has always been something that is in the grand plan.

That was when I spotted it, a place which by name alone, fired the imagination and I began my research into this wonderful sounding place.

Bear River, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Now, it’s a bit of a way away from the folks if we were to up sticks and head off there, but it would be a fantastic adventure I’m sure and might be an ideal place to open a business of some sort at the time and is a tidal river which means it’s most likely to have a good availability for Seafood, which is important to me.

So what could go wrong, there were relatively cheap flights to Canada from the UK accessible airports to us and the very sound of the place sounded idyllic. The exchange rate of the Canadian Dollar meant that there was 2.3 dollars against the British Pound at the time.  Which was pretty darn good.

I had cousins which emigrated to Canada about 30 years ago, never to be seen again, they loved it so much there that they have not returned to the UK.  And trust me, when you have got the getaways, then that sounds just far enough away to do it.  I tried to research the area as much as possible.  It ticked a lot of boxes for me at the time. The area is not far from the ferry crossing from Digby to Maine, in the US which is another place I have longed to see, for many years.  Lobster and Scallops are readily available on the Canadian side near to Bear River and since I have a love of Bears, it seemed the perfect place to take my partner.  It is after all his nickname.  Apparently it is a haven for artists and there are boats nearby whilst being surrounded by wonderful forests and mountains, which you could access to ski all within about an hours travelling time.  The nearest airport, Halifax was also about an hour away.  See, I am painting a beautiful picture.

There was a house there which was not furnished, which means that my imagination could furnish it at the same time, with endless possibilities.  A timber clad house in a slightly New England style built in the early 1900’s. I wish that I still had the file with the photos which I had saved of it (but the loss of a hard drive put pay to that).  It had everything that I wanted in a house, huge space, a porch going around the outside.  A utility room, basement and attic, more space than I could think to fill and was described as a “Diamond in the Rough” by the agent selling it.  The rooms were painted in bright colours, it had huge windows which overlooked a massive garden of at least a couple of acres and was on the outskirts of town.  So it was rural enough but still had facilities nearby.  The rooms lent themselves to antique furniture and the whole place reminded me of a huge American or Scandinavian Lake house, the type I would love to live in.  It had four large bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and large receptions, more than enough space to do the entertaining that I thought I would get the opportunity to do once all our friends came out to visit us there for holidays, the parties we would have there. Oh Boy, Christmas would be just amazing in a place like that.  Yes, I had imagined the Christmas Tree in the hallway.

Alas, It was not meant to be…  I looked into selling most of our worldly goods to get the place and thought about what our new life there might bring.

Then two things brought me back to earth with a bump.  Or more like a thud actually.  At the time I was in touch with Wilf, someone I was connected with on MySpace, (Oh the early days of ancient social media, before Myspace became a bit sordid).  He was a DJ who built Kayaks in his spare time, they were beautiful, real pieces of art.  It turned out that he knew the area and when I mentioned that I had been looking at properties there, advised me against it. Wilf told me that it used to be lovely, just like I had imagined, but in recent years the place had gone downhill and there was now a crime and drug problem there due to the closure of an industry and the mass unemployment that followed.

Just to add water to the fire, my partner also scuppered the plan completely after lengthy discussions about the possibility of living there.  He agreed that it sounded great, but said that I could not anticipate how cold the winter months would be.  Having travelled a bit and spent some time in Canada he was ahead of me and recalled just how low the temperatures are.  The fact that you can be cut off from civilisation for weeks, sometimes months.  He asked how would I feel about that? Hmm I thought, perhaps it would make a good summer residence then? (I wasn’t giving up hope) But summer is going to be colder than here in the UK too possibly.  My bones and joints ached at the mere thought of it so I resigned myself to the fact, that it could be lonely and cold there.

But after all that the memory of the place, specifically the house, that “Diamond in the Rough” has returned in my thoughts for several years, like a wonderful place on my wish list.  I think of what I would have done to that house and how living surrounded by the mountains and Bears near to a river, in a town filled with Artists and Artisans could fire the imagination.

A quick return via Google takes me to a wonderful article, Welcome to Bear River – Huffpost  which was written in 2014 and sums up exactly what I thought the place could be and how it might have become that special place for us. At the time when we were looking the country was apparently in deep recession as the UK was about to be too and I was to find out. Clearly the time was not right for us, but never say never, after all we now have a puppy who would love the cold, and there is always a log burner to keep us warm.

Oh Daydreamer, when will you learn…

 

Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places.

I feel that if I were to face my fear and walk up to the door and knock on it, something interesting will happen.  The anticipation of the situation is eating away at me.  If I ignore the feeling that a strange or dangerous person may be hiding there, I might just get a nice surprise.

I have day-dreamed of the moment that I do that. Instead of passing the house which intrigues me so much.  It has been derelict for some years, for at least the five years that I have lived nearby.  It was once neat and tidy bungalow with a nice garden, but the lack of care means that you now cannot see the garden and the archway which once covered the front of the pathway has grown all the way along it, leaving a tunnel to the door.  It is in darkness, but someone has cut a walk through to the door.  I often drove past it on the way home and looked for lights and signs of life throughout the winter months when it grew dark early, there has been none.  There is an old camper van parked in the driveway, which has not turned a wheel during that time either.  In fact it has been there for so long that a grapevine has grown up around it over the top and when it overhangs the pavement, someone cuts the edges back and slings the pieces over the fence again.  You would barely notice what was stored behind what is now the makeshift hedge. The roof of the house is showing signs of damage, the odd loose slate here and there, the pointing around the chimney loose and the gutters hanging down in places.  You cannot see the windows at the front of the house. I would love to get in there and take a look.  It’s not one of those big old houses, which I loved to go and look at if we passed them on rides out in the car.  It’s just what was once someone’s home, probably built around the 1930’s.  My kind of era for houses.

I imagine that I will summon the courage and knock at the door one day.  That some elderly person will shuffle their way to the door and we will begin to talk.  They will not want to be rude or send me packing for disturbing their day.  I will offer help, perhaps to cut back the hedge for them and let some light return to their house if they would like that, or help them with getting some shopping maybe. I will listen to their stories and hear about their life. It might inspire me to write about them, in some future book.  I look for characters everywhere, inspiration in the strangest of places.  Meanwhile, we will walk the dog past the house as often as possible and dream of what is behind the front door, of how the garden looks, of what story it can tell me.

I think of the person who has left this place as it stands for so many years.  Maybe they have left and not returned, maybe they have been there all along, waiting for the knock at the door to find out if anyone will care.  Maybe I will brighten’s someone day by offering some form of comfort or help when they need it and show them some understanding. I hope that I will not be too late for them.

Time to knock at the door…

The Daily Post – Understanding

 

The Thief

As the clock begins to chime,
they go about their life of crime.
Up and down throughout your house,
Sometimes as quiet as a mouse.
Seeing what they are able to steal,
To fund another drugged up deal.

No chance for a moment of regret,
No apology for making them fret.
Not stopping to think what another might feel.
From the shock of it all, their victims reel.
Your watch he’d take or even your bike,
In fact he’ll go with whatever he’d like.

On their bikes, I’ve seen them scout
As off they go riding about.
Meeting up around the park,
Blatant not waiting until the dark.

Then as they creep about in their dark glasses
They hoods that they wear won’t cover their arses.
In your sleep suddenly awake,
As your safety net they break.
Not concerned for all the distress,
They couldn’t care any less.
Can view the hatred in their face,
Around this godforsaken place.
Sometimes a robber, always a thief
No desire to turn over a new leaf.
Done for a fix, or to pay the rent,
Their anger, uncontrolled they vent.

Her Memory of Tennis in the Sunshine.

Initially there were several reasons as to why I began writing this blog. It started out in my head as an outlet for deeper feelings and how I would deal with them as they sprung up, like loose floorboards in an old house and hit me squarely between the eyes, often catching me unawares. I think that over time it will grow into far much more than that, as it has already shown signs of doing.

Today I am feeling as though another reason for writing this will be to remind my partner and I years from now, what was going through our heads, the memories we have made and the ones that we have cherished.

Since Alzheimers is a genetic disorder, there is some concern on our part, that it may follow down the line over the course of time and this may serve to remind us of some of the wonderful times we have had and how loved we both are. I would love to write his own story, and share his memories which seem far more interesting than my own, but he is not inclined to allow me at this point. It would make interesting reading though but he remains a very private person.

Last year we finally lost his mother to a lengthy fight with Alzheimers Disease, she lived a life which had been both tragic and wonderful at times. She lived to what is considered a good age, but unfortunately she could not remember most of it. In latter years, when I visited her sometimes her eyes would glisten and a flash of a memory would return, along with the excitement of being able to share it with someone. On the occasions whilst she could still tell me, snippets of stories would come back to her and she would recount them, although sometimes they would be all intermingled. To me it didn’t matter how she remembered them, whether they were entirely factual or not, it just proved that her brain was still working, despite some short circuits and that she was in there somewhere. She was a good friend to me and I have been thinking fondly again about her today, as I often do. It was devastating when she could no longer speak to share her thoughts, my last conversation with her was in October 2014 and after that her silence was awful, which the chatter of others around her was deafening, she passed away in March 2015.

She often told me about the Grand old house in Kent where they used to live as children, it was where she had grown up with her two brothers before the loss of her beloved mother in her teens, it was very clear that she was happiest there. They had a large house with Tennis courts out the back and she was playing tennis in the sunshine, they backed onto woodland behind the house and the trees offered dappled light across the house and shade when out on the court. She often spoke of the tennis courts, she must have enjoyed the game. I think it was due to it being a bright sunny day today that, it reminded me of this.  It would be a wonderful day to play tennis, I would have loved to have played the game with her.