Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Small heavens and long roads.

Two days away, too busy to blog, too busy to read, almost too busy to think. I drove across Wales, picnicked in the grounds of a castle and then across England, to Letworth. I drove along wide roads, Roman roads, narrow twisting turning roads, roads tunnelled by trees and scented by the flowers of elder. I dove high roads and took low roads. On the way there I listened to a cd compiled by Tom Waits of people who have influenced him. I was shocked when "When you wish upon a star" by Cliff Edwards came on, but listened and found that it is indeed so simply beautiful. Good to hear out of context. Love it.
I followed the roads than ran through villages, Cotwold honeyed stone changing to brick and through the middle of Luton where even at 7pm on a Sunday evening shops spilled fruit and people down to the roadside. It took hours. My satnav was old fashioned, a list on a fist.

James and Marie and Gabriel looked after my ragged self and fed me tea and cake and pasta before packing me off to bed. In my room I found a shrine to Moomin.

The next two days were a whir and a blur. Howe Dell School. How can you sum that up? TAlking with Jayne Truran the following day I think she did it for me, so I will try and quote her to the best of my memory. " Howe Dell School is state education at its very finest. That is what all schools should be." So much love of learning, curiosity, energy, respect (teachers for pupils, pupils for teachers, and I suppose I only saw the ones who turned out for the evening event but engaged and wonderful parents too.) It took Debra Massey, the head, almost longer to get me into the school than it took to get the school built, but I am so very glad that I went. Hoping to have an exhibition with them next year, maybe when they have the circus there so that I can brush up on my juggling skills.
And then there was The Frances Coombe Academy the next day and Aniela was fantastic to work with as were all the children. I was very nervous of them at first and worried that they seemed a little shy and hesitant, but we all settled to work and painted together which was great for me, so I hope they enjoyed it. Before I left I saw the sixth form exhibition and the work was strong and astonishing and so accomplished. Both schools are so lucky to have such enthusiastic and committed teachers working there.
At both schools I read The Panda's Child and The Ice Bear and the Panda's Child surprised me because it is quite exciting for a picture book. I frightened a child ( but not too much I hope) and made a very lovely and beautiful woman cry.

Back home along the beautiful lanes of England I stopped at Chipping Norton to call in at a small bookshop I had seen on the net and found myself in Moleskine heaven. Fantastic bookshop. I do love independents. No celebrity trash, just beautiful books. Dangerous places though for the unsuspecting wallet.
All the way home I drove to the marvellous ranting of Eminem. Amazing. Love the verbal dexterity. Don't like the violence. Time to watch 8mile with the Tom and Hannah I think.

At home the garden is confettied with rose petals. Slugs have eaten the small lettice plants but everything else thrives and pea shoots have come up and the beetroot is growing and I found myself peering over garden walls and wanting to paint gardens. I think perhaps I have reached a time in my life when growing things in the garden has become exciting. It is raining now, and I am pleased as the ground has been so dusty dry, and I have work to do.
Shalom did not like my partridge and pear. I have to paint an angel.


  1. Wow that's quite a journey you went on, sounds like a fun trip though, loved your version of a GPS.

  2. I just wanted to leave a note to let you know how very much I enjoy your posts. (Artwork, too, of course . . . ) Thank you, thank you, for brightening my days.

  3. Your trip sounds simply lovely. One day, I must try that sort of journey, but driving in England kind of scares me... driving on small roads and on the opposite side of the road and such.

  4. Driving in UK there is so much to see, everything changes so quickly. In Canada we can drive for a thousand miles through the same geography; I think it is more introspective to travel here. I travelled the roads and lanes of Somerset a month ago and it was refreshing for my much beauty!

  5. What a lovely trip for you, Jackie... your SatNav is much like my own "GPS" (Gran's Pen Scribbles") as I don't much care if I get lost or not - it is the journey that counts for me... but I have no wonderful schools and marvelous children to visit.

    Thanks again for taking us all on your trip.

  6. Blog-hopping on a lazy afternoon and your site is just the ticket. I love your list on a fist - and that ring is adorable. Greetings from a fellow creative Morris.