Have you explored your own home ground as if you were a visitor?
(Click on photo to see full images in this rather random selection.)
I was lucky to make it to Glasgow as the ferries were off due to gales later last Thursday afternoon!
I was meeting Mary. Many of you will know Mary from her comments on this blog. She is from Washington DC and I think I should persuade her to write a travel blog. She has travelled the world with family, but also independently and I picked up a lot of tips from her about what to take with you, how to pack it, what to wear to be comfortable and look good (those scarves work Mary!), how to be efficient but flexible about arrangements, pace yourself, and keep a sense of humour when things don't go as planned.
Most things did go to plan for us and the weather was kind as we began a tour of Glasgow. It's interesting seeing your own city through the eyes of a visitor.
On the way to Rogano's for dinner we meandered through Merchant City admiring the architecture and a gorgeous hat shop, Looked into MOMA and smiled at The Duke of Wellington - can you make out the traffic cones on the heads of both the Duke and his horse? I don't know who started this joke and for a long time the cones were removed by officials, but they finally gave up and the image has become a Glasgow icon (which perhaps says something about Glaswegians irreverent attitude to figures of authority). Better images here
The next day we used the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus - a really neat way to get around and I learned a few new things about my city! But first we had breakfast at Mackintosh At The Willow. Most Mackintosh interiors are private or in museums with an entrance charge so to be in this restaurant and enjoy the experience of sitting in and using the surroundings as they were meant to be used is well worth the price of breakfast (or just a coffee if you wish, but the breakfast is very good). They have a good website here.
Hopped Off for coffee at Kember and Jones and bought some food to take back to the apartment for supper.
And as I am sure you can imagine talked and talked and talked.....
The odd tick from the heater in the hall.
A crow caw.
My own breath.
Otherwise, utter silence.
I put a log on the fire and light a candle.
My head is processing all the excitement of a few days in Glasgow and Edinburgh with Mary, and I'll be posting about them soon, but today I have become aware of how important the in-between times are.
Today I am having a retreat day.
(Recycling bins of course.)
I did appreciate all your suggestions, but after reading a story about someone who hoarded old shoes, I went through the house binning all the things which once sparked joy but were now sparking regret/anxiety/guilt/sadness/nostaliiia/uncertainty and indecision.
Out went the shoes the boots the sandshoes and the slippers. The dying plant. the old breadboard which goes black when I cut fruit on it, the dusty wreath, an old bag with an inkstain on it, the packaging from the new juicer (the old one blew up!), another pair of shoes which I never really liked, some old tired underwear (is there anything sadder than old tired underwear?) and everything in the fridge past its sell by date!!
Something else which feels really good is spending some fun time with Mary from Washinton DC - long time commentator on this blog. Mary blew into uk on storm Brendan and if the next storm allows and the ferries are still running we meet tomorrow for a Scottish cities trip!
Meantime here is my own little bit of cherry blossom. Prunus subhirtella 'autumnalis'. Photographed mid-December and hanging on through the recent gale force winds.
..about this lovely project?
some beautiful things are happening in the world.
Of all the hard things in life throwing away old shoes shouldn't really rank highly. But I find it really really difficult!
The faded purple sandshoes. There's somethin.g very nice about faded sandshoes on a hot summer day in the garden or on the beach. Though I also have a faded grey pair. Maybe I'll keep the spotted laces
The slippers are pretty horrible and I was given money at Christmas for a new pair.
Apart from a pair of tan patent shoes with a silver buckle which I bought when I was about eighteen from Russell and Bromley no less, these lime green Fly shoes are my favoutite shoes ever. One of them has a big hole in the sole. I bought another pair but they are a very slightly duller green - they don't have that zing whch makes my heart sing when I look at them. There is an old fashioned cobbler in Byres Road - the kind of man who is interested in shoes - I might just ask him if anything can be done....
The little boots, ten or more years old, have been so useful. Or they were until they began letting in water. You could put them in the washing machine.
Even books are easier to part with than shoes!
What do you find hardest to let go of?
As a beautiful finale to the festive season we went to Scottish Ballet's The Snow Queen last night.
(Scroll down on their webpage for excerpts with the wonderful Rimsky Korsakov music.)
Even the journey there was magical with snow on the Arrocher Alps and there was bright frost and moonlight on the way home over the Rest and Be Thankful.
I am both rested and very thankful! I watched the ballet all over again at breakfast - it's on BBC iPlayer. I was able to see all the detail I couldn't see very well in the theatre.
I've been writing about feeling a bit nervous about my plans for 2020.
Among other things I plan to finish editing my novel, live for a month in Venice, and start work on a big solo exhibition. 15 - 20 large paintings. Date is being decided....
No pressure then, as they say!
Strong is my word for 2020.
Sometimes I don't .feel strong. Sometimes I scare myself with the ideas I come up with!
Like when I had my first exhibition.
I was working at beautiful Beningbrough Hall and looked at an exhibition of paintings in the gallery there and thought I could do that. (I hadn't painted for years.) So I went to the administrator and said, diffidently, Do you think maybe I could have an exhibition here one day? Vaguely thinking a year or eighteen months away, knowing the gallery got booked way ahead. There's just been a cancellation for August - I'll put you down said Ray. This was May.
I came down the stairs from that office feeling a bit shaky and thinking What have I just done?
The exhibition was a great success and I painted and exhibited for the next twenty years.
Can you think of a time when you were thrown in at the deep end, or jumped in yourself as I did, and found that actually you could swim?
Scary, but exciting...
Or at least battening down the rarpaulin on the logs. Gales tonight. The Country Living magazines don't show you what hard work living in the countryside is!
To cheer myself up I went looking for the shed in prettier times....
Did anyone else see the giant white bird and the small black one in yesterday's photograph?
I am sure it is was a good omen....or I would be if I believed in omens. :-)
A good Scottish word for grey and rainy. This was the only bright moment in the weaher today. It's been a bit like Thomas Hood's poem lately!.
It takes a little, sometimes a lot. of courage to make a new start, write on a fresh page. paint on a blank canvas.
Today I slowly took down the Christmas decorations - it always makes me a little sad. I had a very comfortable and cosy time preparing for the festive season - it felt like a time to indulge myself and relax, to take it easy, to just be. I am replacing the Christmas things with other winter decorations - I still want that hygge feeling and the weather is dull and wet and the days are still short and dark.
I have some big plans for 2020 and I'm feeling a bit nervous about them today. Will I find the energy? Have I over committed myself? What if....Self doubt creeps in - no, rushes in!
I couldn't think quite how to finish this post, and as I was scrolling down through the categories to decide which one to put it under, I realised some answers to my fears were in there.
Let me explain. I started from the top of the list -
Live Simply - well yes, I need to remember that is what I am trying to do. That grounds me a little.
Simply Beautiful. I do have some beautiful ideas for 2020.
Simply Bin It. Could I just throw some of my fearful thoughts in the bin?
Simply Chill. Yes, I need to chill by doing something else for a bit (I listened to Private Passions BBC Radio 3)
Simply Christmas. Well I am saying goodbye to Christmas 2019 which was lovely, so of course I feel a bit sad.
Simply Do A Good Deed. I could distract myself by thinking of one....
By the time I had got down the list I was already feeling better!
Perhaps this strategy would work for you if you need to change your mood/restore your confidence/find a way out of a mild panic?
I'd love to think so...(the list is on the sidebar).
I finally filed the post under Simply Live, because that is what we must do with 2020.
Live it to the full.
I do love a bargain and perhaps because I am a small size I am very lucky in the sales. In fact I rarely pay full price for anything.
This year I have bought a big warm scarf (50% off), a pair of shoes (25% off - so glad I waited) and this hat which I simply adore. (Children's department of M&S £12 reduced to £4.)
Don't laugh. It's age 6 - 10! I'm not that small! Chilfdren these days must just have big heads....
It's my Venice hat.
Has anyone else been to the sales?
I will of course start eating sensibly again, but first I have to finish off the leftover cake, biscuits, ice cream and chocolate covered raisins because I can't possibly eat well while they are in the cupboards and the sooner I scoff them all the sooner I will be eating healthy again. I know there is a flaw in this train of thought but I can't quite see a way out. I mean it would be wrong to bin all that nice food and I have given away as much as people are willing to take (they all have their own hoard).
However, after a day of indulgence, which I didn't really enjoy, I am ready for a fresh start.
I like new beginnings, a new notebook, a new resolution, a new page, a blank canvas...
So, open all the windows - even if its raining and blowing
Empty the rubbish bins, recycle the bottles.
Ear vegetables, drink water.
Clear off one surface - even if that means just piling it all up on another surface for now...
Light a fresh candle.
Get outside. I was only going to the bottle bank but bumped into a friend and went a much longer walk. You know you will feel better for it.
Then make a cup of coffee and sit down and write about it!
Even if you don't write a blog - a new diary? Your own Thought For The Day? A new list?
Blogging is an odd thing in many ways, but it certainly makes my life more fun!
I'm off to do Fly Lady's Home Blessing Hour - I listen to her as I do it - she's so wonderful and makes me laugh.
Laughing as I do the housework? Who'd have thought it!
Have a great day.
I WISH YOU 2020 VISION!
And the kind of energy, joie de vivre and will to live shown by this plant which just couldn't wait to see what's new in the world, what life has to offer and what 2020 will bring.
Warmest wishes for happiness, health and strength in the coming year, and thank you for reading.
I know that many of you like to choose a word to inspire and encourage you through your year.
Susannah Conway's free guide to choosing your word is helpful, whether you are new to this game or have done it for many years as I have. I think I started it in 2011 with fitter, and I certainly did get fitter that year. I've had lighter, walk, afresh, gently and supposing. Last year's word enchantment helped me find enchantment everywhere - it's a matter of focus - if you look for it it will come. Sometimes a second of enchantment morphed into a Paradise Moment...wonderful. Your word should be your ally says Susannah Conway and she asks you to consider what you want more of in 2020, and what you want less of.
Of course Simply is my overriding word. That's a given for me. Nurture has been on my mind for a few days, and I considered glad, but I think I am going for strong. Partly because I resist the idea that seems to be prevalent in our culture that to get older is to inevtitably become weak and frail.
I want to explore all the ways in which I can be strong as I age!
Lots to consider. I like to look up my word in dictionaries, and look at synonyms and opposites. Looking at quotations containing the word can be useful in helping me decide.
I'll give myself a couple more days to ponder, but I am strongly of the opinion that strong will be my word.
Have you decided what your word for 2020 will be?
There are some links in this post to others on this topic.
Wreaths on doors are a lovely tradition and far more common in England than in Scotland
But here is one SCottish one (mine). Made uesterday inspired by all the lovely ones I saw in York city and in North Yorkshire towns and villages where Christmas felt like being in an old fashioned Christmas card. So pretty! So English!
Enchanting, which was my word for 2019.
Do you have one?
Are they the custom where you live?
I do hope you enjoyed Christmas.
I am thinking of my word for next year....
Have you heard of G bombs?
It's a list of foods to boost your body's immune system. I keep it in my purse and make sure I buy something from every category when I am food shopping.
Do you have any other tips for avoiding the dreaded lurgie?
Mary mentioned hand washing, which I have to confess to forgetting quite often. As children we had to wash our hands before every meal. Wiping doorhandles and light switches with disinfectant now and then is probably a good idea too. While travelling on public transport can be a hazard with people coughing and sneezing, being out in the open air going for it maybe counteracts the risks! Though city air may be a risk in itself....
Thank you so much for all your good wishes!
I feel a little bit of a fraud as I truly was only 'under the weather' and not really ill. I am trying to prevent becoming ill as I have been with people in varying stages of unwellness ranging from a bit of a cold threatening (me) to acute bronchitis (one of my best friends).
I have however taken all of the advice you kindly offered, including dipping my feet in the loch as suggested by Laura, wild swimmer extraordinaire - known to break the ice to go into the water! Only my feet so far Laura - and note the thick coat!
I enjoyed getting cosy with the furry cushion and the Christmas throw bought in Stockholm many years ago when I fulfilled a long held ambition to experience Santa Lucia Day in Sweden. Magical.
Had lots of tea, honey and lemon, the odd drinking chocolate, soup and my version of the classic Scottish cold cure - the hot toddy.
Cointreau or amaretto, juice of a tangerine and hot water.
I rested a lot with my feet up, taking it easy. I listened to a wonderful concert by two of my favourite musicians Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough on Radio 3 on a dark night when the wind was howling and the rain was lashing.
Take it easy? Put my feet up? I know some of you will be saying Chance would be a fine thing!
I hope you are well and that if you are not, you also get some chance to ease up and try a gentle, more nurturing approach instead of battling on. Not always possible in busy lives with multiple responsibilities and Christmas rushing upon us....
It seems to be working for me and I know how lucky I am, but I will be glad to get back to normal.
Here's to your good health!
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)