Friday, 29 December 2017

Season’s Greetings

Dearest Em, Bel and Fizz,
I hope you all had a suitably over-excited and Magical Christmas. Judging by our early December celebrations and what I know of you all- that is a certainty! I thoroughly enjoyed being with you all and watching you get involved with decorating your own little Children’s Tree- and having our own Seasonal Celebration.
Now, I need to admit something to you- I was quite looking forwards to ‘Designing my Own Christmas ‘ this year...
Being truly honest- I’ve always been more of a Winter Solstice soul- so, I thought I’d paint you a picture of just that- on Winter Solstice morning, out of my upstairs window over School Green.

I think I may  have mentioned here before about how I feel a Pagan heartbeat that chimes for me so well with the Island and for me particularly West-Wight.
I do, like the notion of festivities marking out jollity, celebration, love and kindnesses in the deepest depths of Winter- the ‘half-way’ when the days tip-over into beginning to get longer again and promise Spring and Summer.
I love the idea of getting together all the nuts, fruits and staples from the store cupboard - and cooking up a yearly turnout into cakes, pies, pickles and sauces.
I adore serving these to Family, Friends, Colleagues and Customers...
But, personally I’ve never been partial to Turkey, or gravy. I simply loathe Sprouts, can take or leave a roast potato, find bread sauce a bit ‘mushy’ and positively hate Christmas Pudding and Brandy Butter.
Neither do I like Christmas Cake or Mince Pies- and I am troubled by anything Cadbury’s masquerading as chocolate- and the excesses thereof, challenge my usual liberal sensibilities.
Historically, my inner- monologue has sought successfully to be quelled.
Left to my own devices by Boxing Day- all vestiges of commercial excess would have worrisomely been assigned to the recycling bin- Wrapping paper I couldn’t re-use, packaging- a bothersome plenty, and any kitsch piece of nonsense I might not drag out next year- a challenge to my poor little brain.
Do not get me wrong...
I LOVE, your wide-eyed view of it all. I love the magic, the bed-time stories- the traditions and the Family get- togetherness.
Yup, your Grandmother, GiGi, has reached an age where she says it is really for the children.
I’m not ‘Bah-humbug’ about it.
I love the vibe. As of  Christmas Eve particularly here in Freshwater, people arrived to see their families and came to me for gifts and a lovely catch-up-a palpable sense of lightness and seasonal fun has pervaded the village and it is good.
However, Em (Bel and Fizz) I did feel something of a sense of foreboding as it seemed to me that my declaration of being happy about the idea of Christmas Day going solo
was a bit troublesome. This was mainly the result of many well-meaning friends and family declaring that ‘you shouldn’t be on your own in Christmas Day’...
I awoke early as usual- and punctuated my usual routine with the ritual yearly giving of the dogs ‘Reindeer Headbands’ . This took all of 30 seconds as this year, Marley decided to break with this tradition quite firmly and rip Milly’s ears of of her head- leg it up to the end of the garden and tear them to shreds. Seems like I’m not the only one breaking with tradition this year.
I walked the dogs, made a few loaves of Pumpkin Bread, ate Smoked Salmon and Scrambled eggs- happily- but all the time slightly apprehensive that a Black Dog, might just tap me on the shoulder.
The day passed quite contentedly- and notwithstanding the hole that is there daily since Grumpa died, it wasn’t so bad.
I guess that the novelty of spontaneously making a Nut Roast- and being able to eat my own version of Christmas dinner (Salmon, Nut Roast and Spring Greens) and idling away my day pleasantly culminating in listening to Neil Gaiman read a Christmas Carol- was just what I needed this year.
Today, would be your Auntie Lucy’s Nineteenth Birthday. I have lit a Candle for her beautiful soul tonight.
No Black Dog was behind me- or even on my perception of the horizon.
Sometimes, I think- you get golden opportunities to see reflections of what really matters in your own life.
I’ve got you all (and you, have me!) We have had the blessings in our lives that Grumpa and Lucy gave us- and they live on in our hearts forever.
I don’t miss- this year- doing all the things that surrounded Christmas that I disliked. The excesses of rich food I didn’t like- the (to my feeling) excesses of gifts wrapped in plastic- body lotions/soaps/Celebrations mock-chocolates/tins of shortbread that would go soft before eaten/ Family bags of Crisps/yet another Christmas Pudding to add to the 9 from previous years etc etc etc...
This year, I spent it alone- yes, but I didn’t feel lonely.
I’m looking forwards to 2018 dear Grandgirlies as I expect you all are to a degree- whilst delightfully living in the present.
So that is where we shall all delight.
The present is ALWAYS a good gift!
Your Ever-Loving Grand-Mother,
GiGi Xxx

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Freshwater Chronicles

Dearest Em, Bel and Fizz,
(Yes, Em I know this is your blog, but I think it is time to mash things up a bit.) There are several reasons- and since a lot of mulling after the summer when you lost dear Auntie Lucy up to the Sky with her Diamonds, I’ve found it a struggle to come up with my normally easy haul of half- baked ‘wisdoms’ of the Grandmother variety. So, I’ve given up on that one.
Instead- the role of Grandmother has been taken seriously. I have adopted silver hair, knitted 9
 jumpers in three months- and bought a rocking chair.
So, I shall now just read you Grandmother GiGi’s bedtime stories (in the form of diaries as I am not actually a ‘writer’.)

The Freshwater Chronicles 
The Dark Side of the Moon

I think I may have mentioned to you all on several occasions- just how much I love living here, ever since setting foot on the Isle fifty years after visiting it at your age Em. I call it affectionately the ‘Centre of the Universe’ and when Grumpa and I first came again in 2005- I felt I had come ‘Home’.
The breath-taking scenery, the inspirational ‘Wight-Light’- here on the Wild-West is wonderfully rural and coastal- all together and there is such a strong sense of ‘other’ in the daily forces of nature with all its changing beauty, that demand a grounded sort of person in order not to be overwhelmed.
Grumpa used to say that it ‘brings you up against yourself- and gives and takes in equal measure.’
Of course though Em, not everyone here is grounded all of the time...
There’s a tale I’ve told your Daddy (since he wisely describes here as ‘going down the Yellow Brick
Road’) about a freshly retired local Policeman/turned Book-dealer, who told me that when he was stationed here- all the full- Moon rosters had no takers all of a sudden. No- one wanted to work on the full moon as they considered them to be full of incidents.
They say, that if all the British Isles, the Isle of Wight was the last to fall to Christianity- and some say, it never has. My Pagan soul appreciates this- as there is truly a non-conformist ‘ordinariness’ to Freshwater- which, far from boring is quite extraordinarily ‘ordinary’.
People generally subscribe to Common-sense, charity and live and let-live (though gossip about it.)
Similar traits could be found up and down the country, but a petty-full small price to pay for the gloriousness of our surroundings.
However, it seems there’s a Dark Side to the Moon.
Low levels of Crime and a questionable Lawlessness may work when you are on the common- good side- but on the receiving end?
I had reason to contact the Police (three times before they came out) the first time in eleven years of living here.
A family of historical bullies had in their way used the local ‘lawlessness’ to be interpreted as meaning they could use their considered ‘entitlement ‘ to do as they pleased- and bully anyone who
questioned their actions...
I don’t think it will work here, Em.
There may be a ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, but on your recent birthday visit, Annabel- you claimed the Moon as yours. If you look quite hard at the dark bits, there are colours and light that command the shade.

Lovely to see Florence walking last weekend- and insisting on wearing a bike helmet to balance upon her head as she pushed her little chair around the kitchen!
Your ever-loving Grandmother,
GiGi xxx

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Good Life- to the Manor Born

Dearest Emily,
When GiGi was a teenager (yes, a very long time ago) there were two television programmes that I loved to watch.
The first was called 'The Good Life'. It was all about a couple living in suburbia, who decided to grow their own food, make their own clothes, and as much as possible- live off of their own semi-detached land.
Next door the couple also had aspirations- except theirs were social climbing ones- embracing all the snobbery and frippery of that and behaving as though in their modest semi- they were in fact 'To the Manor Born'.
I immersed myself in this sitcom- imagining I was Felicity Kendal's character in my life. At the same time- I adored the character next door, hilariously played by Penelope Keith.
When the series finished, Penelope starred in another sitcom- To the Manor Born, and I watched every episode as she beguiled and delighted us as a character who had sold the family pile, and moved into the Lodge, as financial constraints demanded.
Fast forward forty years, and my life here in Freshwater- and though I'm no crop-grower, I can draw satisfying parallels from my two favourite sitcoms.
My business is a pretty sustainable one-rescuing, repairing and recycling books that otherwise end up  as landfill.
I make my own knitwear- having been given heaps of discarded yarns destined for the skip.
I walk to work (ok, I only live two doors away.)
We use locally grown produce in our cakes and jams (from an Orchard two minutes away)
I make our meals at home based upon what is reduced from the Larder (otherwise known as Sainsbury's a short walk away.
I bake my own Sourdough bread...
You get my drift here, Em. I say that I am indeed living 'The Good Life'!
And- to the Manor Born?
Well, just up the road, is one I hold dear to my heart.
Farringford. The former home of Tennyson, has been exquisitely restored and is now open to us all for guided tours.
Visiting recently, a comment in the Visitors Book, sums the experience up well. "It is as though the family just went out for a walk, and we stepped in". This stunning restoration is delightful and I've done a painting for you of my favourite bit...

You know much about my passion for local history in particular Julia Margaret Cameron and the mid-Victorian Freshwater Circle- so, imagine my joy recently when Channel Four visited on a reccy for a show based upon the Batsford travel books that line my bookshop shelves.
Imagine my delight on being asked if I'd be interviewed about Julia Margaret Cameron!
And- imagine my excitement as to the interviewer- yes, it is the lovely- Penelope Keith!
I can't wait!

With love to you all, from down the Rabbit Hole,
Your ever-loving Grandmother, 
GiGi Xxx

Friday, 30 June 2017

The Wonder of it All

Dearest Emily,
Well, just a couple more pictures to do, and it will be time to put them together as an exhibition. I thought, if you didn't mind, that I would print out my blog-posts to you to go next to each painting. It'll give people something to read as they walk down the corridor with the pictures up.
This picture is of a favourite view of mine- of Freshwater Bay and the High Down- as seen from the cliff near Compton. This is where Grumpa parked up the car one day, back in 2006, at sunset. We stood looking out as he cranked up the Red Hot Chilli Peppers playing in the car - in particular, the track 'Wet Sands'. Apparently, he was plucking up the courage to ask me to marry him.
I guessed that, as we stood there together- but he didn't ask me then. But- he did a week later, so that's ok. This picture was at six in the evening, last Sunday.

This favourite view of mine, I know I share with many, and it has been so for hundreds of years.
Tennyson, arriving here, house-hunting with his new bride- saw Farringford Hall, and looking out of the window there at the reverse of this view (towards Blackgang Chine) declared that they had  to have that view.
Nearly 100 years earlier, a Mr Richard Worseley wrote in his book about the Isle of Wight, that this vista was a 'Wonder of the World'.
I'm with both these bods, Em, and from the first time I set foot on the beach here with my Dad in 1967, to the time Peter and I alighted here in 2005, I too- have had to have that view, and I do consider this landscape a 'Wonder of the World.'
Tennyson's Monument crowns the High Down today, and Grumpa's ashes were spread as he wished out to sea beyond the Bay.
He said to me, that whenever I wanted to see him, I should go to the Bay-
"I shall be in the waves,
Sometimes choppy,
Sometimes calm,
But, I'll always be there for you."
A but like in life, really Em.
And that works for me, I come here, I look out to sea, the sun maybe setting, or rising, the water rough, or smooth, and rolling gently into the shore.
Food for the soul Emily dearest, and a true Wonder, at that.

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

Monday, 19 June 2017

Idylls of Freshwater

Dearest Emily,

What a beautiful morning! It's about thirty degrees here, and I have just opened up the shop- hoping to get a quick post out for you with some new paintings. Here's one of the Estuary that I did for you last week.

You remember the Causeway 'Em, the old railway line that links Freshwater and Yarmouth? Every year Swan's hatch their brood for the year. This year it seems that only two have survived out of a brood of about five. I've painted scenes up and down the Causeway- and I must admit- its brilliance of colour can be challenging. It's a problem just recording the translucent iridescent scenery in front of you. It can look too idyllic.
Similar problems present themselves to me at Freshwater Bay

I suppose that I could be seeing these colours more vividly than they actually are 'Em, but I don't think so.

My third Idyll in Freshwater is my garden. It's a good year for the roses.

This morning before work I went into Boots the Chemist for some toothpaste. Whilst standing in the queue, a lady in front of me greeted her friend who was standing to the side awaiting a prescription.

"Oh sorry," said the friend- I was miles away. "Goodness me, that's where I'd like to be, miles away from here under an Oak Tree perhaps, by a babbling brook".
There followed further discourse about the stifling heat.
As I left and thirty seconds later walked across School Green, alongside the Brook, which bears the name Brookside, and ambled in and out of dappled sunlight, passing people sitting under trees and I wondered how far she felt she needed to go to get away?
A customer has just furnished me with an apt quote for today, dear Em. It is from E.Nesbit's The Railway Children...
"Many wonderful and good things happen in our lives, and we live most of our lives in the hope of them".
Just looking around me Emily for subjects to paint- I rather think that there could be less time hoping for them and more time enjoying them, if we reminded ourselves more often of what we do have.

What do you think Emily?

Your  ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxx

Sunday, 28 May 2017

In the Eye of the Beholder

Dearest Emily,

I've painted you a corner of my garden this week,

It was lovely to see you all last weekend, and weren't we lucky that the sun shone all day for Walk the Wight! You did really well- I did notice that you kept a smile on your face and didn't complain- even when we were at the top of the Down and the wind was rather chilling.
Mummy was right wasn't she? You first thought that Walk the Wight might be a bit sad, as it is all about helping people at the end of their lives, but it wasn't at all was it? There's always an incredible atmosphere, everyone tramping away for the same aim. All acknowledging each other with smiles and encouragement. It's as though the Island becomes one big green lawn with hoards of people enjoying walking over it.
And, I did notice that you didn't moan even though you all had to walk up a big hill to join in as we'd all set off whilst you were eating lunch. I know that was probably because Mummy told you how Grumpa didn't complain when he did it last year, when he was very poorly.
Of course there are some sad things Em, and some bad things too. Nobody can pretend that isn't so.
But, we do always have a choice as to how to look at things in front of us...

Look at my garden again in the painting.

I was drawn to paint this corner of my garden because I think it beautiful. I like the stone lady holding her bunch of roses, with her hair tumbling down her back. She looks graceful and pretty by the hedge. I had all the pots out ready to plant out some geraniums, and was drinking my morning coffee at the time. The ivy creeping up the pale wall, the terracotta pots and colours of the brick paving and the sun making the white table and chair shine bright. The sun-faded pink cushion on the chair, and my pink gardening gloves, all create a pleasing vista.

Mind you Em, I suppose I could look at it another way...
The stone lady's nose is beginning to be worn away by weathering. The pots might get frostbitten and break, and all the effort of watering the geraniums I was about to plant, could put me off. That ivy,
ends up causing damp on buildings- and isn't that an asbestos wall? The brick paving could trip someone up and they could break a bone- and then they'd have to spend hours at A&E. That sun-faded pink cushion will rot soon if I keep leaving it out when it rains. The table and chair- it's starting to show some rust, and don't forget the worm I inadvertently cut through- who is struggling to make two of himself.

I could go on...but you get the point?

If I looked at things negatively then I just couldn't paint them. Because I wouldn't be able to appreciate the precious beauty that is in the moment- I'd never be able to appreciate what I'd got right under my nose- until perhaps it had gone. Then, it's too late.

That little lesson is one of the things that getting all my pictures done for the exhibition in August has given me. The gift of reminding myself to appreciate what is right in front of me right now.

Of course, I know that you know all this Emily, you are a bright girl!
But it doesn't hurt to indulge your Grandmother in teaching her grandchildren how to suck eggs,

Your ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxx

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Metamorphoses (Or a Grandmother's Musings to her Grandaughter on becoming who you truly are...)

Dearest Emily,
Here's my favourite tree again, the beautiful Horse Chestnut which you've seen in its Autumn Glory- all 'Chimeney-red and Halloween orange' as Tom Waits might say. You've seen its leaves die slowly and fall off, and then it stand all bare as it sits out the winter, waiting for rebirth in Spring.

There's such a wealth of comfort in nature Em. For me over the last eight months by painting what is around me, the seasons and the cycle of death and rebirth have been grounding and healing in this period following the loss of dear Grumpa.
The other day, a customer came into the Rabbit Hole exclaiming how she needed to go down The Rabbit a Hole for a bit, and step outside of time. A Head Teacher- she'd had a stressful time getting ready for the end of the Easter Term.
'You are Alice actually-aren't you?" She said.
"Am I? " I responded.
"Yes, you are" she replied in such a tone that I thought I had better accept it.
Well, Em, maybe I am in a way. Not a Disney way of course (yes I know you've just been to Disney World- but that is about as far from your Grandmother's aesthetic as the Yellow Brick road is to the M25. )Not, in a wierd sort of grown-up playing dress-up as a seven year old girl in a blue dress and bunny ears either. 
Maybe though, I recognise something of myself in Dodgson (Carroll) 's tale- in the essence of it.
In my tale, as a question sort of person, who has gone down The Rabbit Hole and found a whole new World- one both curious and vexing in measures, and all at the same time-familiar...
Add onto this Em, that I was the seven year old child who did actually sit at the back of the wardrobe willing it to let me go through to Narnia. 
Yes Em, I think I recognise myself here.
Here, on the Isle of Wight, in the West-Wight, in Freshwater, along the 'Pretty-bit' opposite School Green I am in my own reality down my own Rabbit Hole and I don't see much reason for coming up for air.
A 13 O'clock shop- one customer called it- outside of time. Well it is my 'happy place' Em and I'm happy it chimes with others as that too.
Of course, my creative head won't let it lie, until I've completed my imagined aesthetic, my own inner 'White Rabbit' keeps egging me on checking his pocket-watch. But even that's not frustrating or stressful. The Island has tempered me to its' own time, and I've mellowed-and somehow things still get done in their own time.
There's little frustration in my life, not many rules, and I like that.
Beating to my own drum (as Grumpa always commented on)- is one I know, yet don't really fathom, but it's the right tempo for me and allows me to develop my interests organically within the community I treasure.
Nature, whimsy, friends and above all gratefulness for what is this beautiful part of the earth ever imparting inspiration.
Nuff said Em.
Yesterday, I experienced an example of going down the Rabbit Hole- albeit reversed.
Remember I told you about winning a grant from the wonderful Harper Collins Indie Development Fund? Well, yesterday was the reception- so I hopped onto the ferry at lunch-time, and trotted off onto the train, where I promptly fell asleep, and woke up in my old life in London.
All about bustle-mode I strode up past St Martin's in the Fields, and striding away spotted Cecil Court, diverting off to Stephen Poole books where I'd sold a beauty of a book that helped fund my garden premises, and introduced myself to the Proprietor face to face (we had previously just spoken by phone.) True Book-seller style, he gave me invaluable advice about some special stock I'm a pondering.
Then I zoomed into Soho and Ham Yard, noticing that with our knitwear label Weardowney, we had had a stand in a unit there some 13 years hence. 
Meeting up with my lovely Fashion-Son Henry Conway, not seen in three whole years, we did a speed-catch-up. Here we are together-

Then, speedy London-stylee, we zipped into the reception where a lovely CEO explained the initiative and invited collaboration and I felt as though I was with 'Old friends already'.
I could only stay 45 mins because of the last ferry being 9pm, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable change of pace and Rabbit Hole! Now we have the lovely Ben from Harper Collins coming down here in August on 'Work Experience' to add to our Summer Adventures!
Henry ordered me an Uber, and I hopped into a BMW, out and onto the train at 7, the ferry at 9, and back down my own Rabbit Hole into my Shed-Room at 10, feeling enthralled by life's journeys.

We are all Alice Em, if we want to be. You are now, by your age and your perfect curiosity.
That, with the mix of magic of everyday life, becomes your magic wand forever!

Ttfn, your ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxx

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Spring-time Meditations

Dearest Emily,

I remember last year, harping on to you about the lovely Horse Chestnuts that line our view from both shops over on School Green.

I'm rather in love with one in particular, that sits resplendently opposite me whilst I drink my morning coffee. It has become my morning meditation, just gazing at it, sun and season offering different views, and shades of viewing.

Here's my tree again this week. She's resplendent in setting right now, just as she starts to bud, with the daffodils, crocii and snowdrops adorning her grassy carpet.

Today, this view is a lovely reminder of the season ahead where everything springs into life and colour and invades our consciousness!
Let me tell you a little tale...
Once upon a time,
There was a young man, who was interested in Science at school. so he studied hard and went to a Grammar school as they were in those days.
He couldn't afford to go to University, so instead he chose to do a Degree by 'correspondence course'.
Meanwhile, during his studies, he started working for a Chemical firm, and was so good at his job, that he rose up through the ranks quite quickly.
He was sent to Germany where he worked with several eminent Scientists.
One day, his Boss who was Jewish became alarmed about an impending War, and he resigned, giving the young man his job.
War broke out, and the man was tasked with finding out about the passages and types of chemicals that the Germans were moving and using. He became quite useful to the Government, and was given the title of an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel.
He now had to 'interrogate' the colleagues he had worked along-side in Germany- the depth of his knowledge being the ally here, and he was successful in returning valuable information to assist his Country.
When peace came, he was moved nearer London, and embarked upon setting up a Research Centre for his Company.
His Scientific Life, was in no way at odds with a more Spiritual one, and he and several members of his family were involved in the early days of the 'Interplanetary Society'. The British arm of this Society was originally set up to test Rocket fuel, and actively engage in the development of Interplanetary travel possibilities. This aspect became impossible in 1936 when it was brought to their attention that a law had been passed in 1875 preventing this kind of testing on British soil.
He was active in matters Theosophical, and wrote and lectured extensively.
Here is a picture of him,

He was your Great-Great Uncle, Emily, and following a chance memory awakened at a Yoga class a couple of weeks ago, I'm embarking upon a fascinating journey of putting together some biographical notes on him, primarily for you, and Bel and Flo.

There's something else that fascinates me here too, Emily.

Your Great-Great Uncle strove to underpin 'Seeing', Clairvoyance, and Meditation, with Science.

It appears he was way ahead of his time...

More to come! 

Hope you had a good half-term, how lovely to see that Florence can sit up on her own now- much more fun for her than watching you both hop about from a lying down position!

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxx

Sunday, 19 February 2017

A Journey to the Past and the Future

Dearest Emily,
It's been a significant week, one way and another, as I was just explaining to Daddy, what with finding a letter from General Garibaldi dated a month after he was here on the Isle of Wight in 1864, and surviving a glass shower door shattering over me this morning ( I'm ok, just a bit shredded and sore) and as Uncle Joe says- getting used to having 'dodged a bullet'. All that aside, there's a story that I want to tell you- that is to be continued...
On Monday, I started Yoga class again, having left it alone for over ten years. During the class, the Teacher asks what kind of yoga I've studied before. "Hatha" I say straight away, then knit my brows in perplexity. Because Em, I didn't study Hatha, it was Iyengar, but as the teacher is explaining this class, and I'm wrestling with my mouth and my memory- I didn't feel it appropriate to correct myself.
Later we did a fab relaxation and during this, he guided us to the inner flame that was the true self.
This true self that had made up her yoga history glided, chilled and centred, to work.
A delivery of old books arrived for me to sort and buy what I could sell. I sort through them, and a 1960's Teach yourself-Yoga, caught my eye, and rang some memory bells...
Of course! That's it- my Great Uncle Wallace (who had one leg) taught Hatha Yoga- he'd written a book on it I seemed to remember. The story also went that he had lived with Mum's cousin Kathleen, but kept going off travelling and once surprised everyone by coming back married to a Hungarian lady.
Anyhow, I thought I'd look up his little book.
That's where it all becomes rather flabbergastingly interesting Em.
Great Uncle Wallace didn't just write a book on Yoga. He wrote several, and he classified all the types of yoga into types that are still classified and quoted as such by him, today.
That's not all! Your Great-Great Uncle was a bit of a dude and I'm going to gather together some biographical notes on him for you girls at the very least.
He was important in the Theosophical Society, lecturing and producing papers on matters Theosophical that I shall expound upon later.
Suffice to say today- that V (for Victor) Wallace Slater (1900-1987), as explained by my mum this week was 'brainy' but couldn't afford University, unlike  his Wife Doris (that- unusual enough in the 1920's) but he had managed to get a job at Laporte Chemicals- and risen to be a Director there.
Em, he discovered Hydrogen Peroxide! ( my hair couldn't be this shade without him!)
He trained as an Osteopath, was a strict Vegetarian, and after reading some of his findings on 'Occult Science' (don't let the definition put you off Em, it's historical) it seems that your anscestor was working on stuff that's just about now becoming scientifically recognised- significantly the ability to meditate deeply and use guided imagination to possibly change the body's D.N.A.
Your Great Uncle and Aunt Doris were way ahead of their time, and after several emails to the Theosophical Society who kindly sent me his Obituary and a bibliography of his writings- I have a quest, and at the very least a Wiki stub to produce forthwith!
A lot of what I have read, chimes with my own instinctual choices in life.
It's nice to learn a bit about the puzzle!
I shall fill you in along the way!
In the meantime, I've done you another picture.
It is of Sarah's (she of cake baking fame here at the Rabbit Hole) Uncle's garden as peered at through the trees.
Golden Cottage, sits at the foot of Golden Hill, and evokes a time gone by, when it was the main house that had the Orchard, that now is filled with houses all the way down to the High Street.
Dall Square still bears the family name, and after the recent death of her Uncle, it's about to go up for sale.
A beautiful house in a beautiful setting, who knows what it's future might be.
For now, I just wanted to paint a glimpse through The trees as a child might see a Secret Garden- golden, as its name describes.

Anyhow Em, that's enough for now,
Will write more about your Great-Great Uncle, in the mean-time I'm off to yoga again, with some cuts and bruises from the shower-door episode and a secret, that I didn't study Hatha, but someone close to us, did, quite a bit and more besides,
Your ever-loving Grand-Mother,

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Run of the Mill Memories

Dearest Emily,
Seeing as Grumpa's encouragement of me to carry on painting, has translated into an upcoming exhibition at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice this August, I've been catching up for lost time after a year's hiatus on my hobby. I've also been giving myself a bit of a talking to, in order to send feelings of being a bit of an imposter artist into the distance, and instead apply myself with some thought to a pastime that I thoroughly enjoy.
In attempting to do this- something a bit wacky happened whilst I was engaged in painting the last offering, which I can't properly explain- other than that it is similar in feeling to when the creative process began whilst I was designing fashion collections in the past.
The creative process just seems to take over, and it felt as though the painting was just 'being done' and that I didn't really have much to do with that- other than to carry it out.
I know, it does sound wacky, but that's the way it is.
And in this process, I'm somehow able to remove some of my own blocks to the process, and even sometimes feel happy at what is emerging.
Anyhow- it's probably I should imagine, how it is for you and your 'junk-modelling'- you'll have to let me know next time we speak.
So, on to the next one we go, and as I've decided to censor some early pieces from this exhibition, I'm going to have to play serious catch-up, in order to get enough of a body of work together for my brief- which I've called- 'My Freshwater'. It's a personal perspective on views of the local landscape painted throughout the year, throughout the different lenses of the seasons, so often blessed with the clarity of our beautiful West-Wight light.
Except not this week, and not for a recent painting of the Fog over School Green at Christmas, and the milky January sunshine over the spectacular Freshwater Bay last month.
This week it's bleak weather, so, now what? I thought as I considered that I could start another one...
This was turning over in my mind as I set off to Yarmouth nearby where we used to live, and as I drew up to park, I was looking out over the marshland where I used to walk Marley when we first moved here five years ago.
The bike shop was closed, so I set off for a walk retracing old steps, memories seeming to spring up from the earth I was trampling beneath my feet. Here, we came when we first swapped Metropolitan life- following Grumpa's first diagnosis, for a rural, and by the sea existence, building a new simpler life together.
I turned a corner, and came across the view across the Mill pond, where we used to 'walk' our imaginary dog Hendrix together (a Springer, actually Em- who was only replaced by a real dog, following Grumpa and I having an actual argument about who left the imaginary dog behind- yes Em, I know it wasn't the dog who was 'barking, was it!)
I sat down revelling in the memories of that time, full of promise, full of simple enjoyment of our new life.
As I looked up and out over the familiar view, I noticed anew its beauty.
There was no beautiful light from the sun, shrouded in cloud and fine drizzle, and I remembered a day out with you Em, when you were just eight months old.
It was Easter and the day of the Yarmouth Duck Race. It was a similar day weather-wise, and we all stood, wrapped up in scarves and gloves, as the mass of little yellow ducks were ready for their race.
But with no wind- not much was happening.
The announcer over the tannoy, tried hard to commentate about the wait, making cheesy jokes, and comments whilst the tannoy screeched annoying feedback, and we all felt slightly grumpy after a while.
Mummy turned away from the ducks and wandered across the common, we followed.
We stood and looked over the Mill creek- the same view in front of me now.
Mummy said how much she loved it, and how it reminded her of Kent- and in particular, it evoked in her a Dickensian kind of Kent.
I liked that, so my inspiration had arrived.

I've got too used to the quality of the light here Em, thanks to Mummy's observation, and my memory of it, I can see the beauty of a view on an otherwise dull looking day!
So, when I next see you we shall discuss the joys of Junk modelling- and don't forget you still have to reverse the spell you cast on me at Florence's Christening. Don't tell anyone, but I'm still the Secret Fire Breathing Dragon!
Lot's of love from your ever-loving Grandmother,
GiGi xxx

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Keeping Things at Bay

Dearest Em,

It was lovely to see you last weekend. Florence's Christening was fun, and it was lovely to see everybody.
Thank-you for using your magic wand to turn me into a mouse, and then back to my normal self, and then into a secret fire breathing dragon- which you promised to turn me back out of, right after the Christening.
Unfortunately, you forgot to turn me back- so, I'm condemned to knowing I have a secret fire-breathing power, that I can't tell anyone about- until I see you next time.
Not to worry, I'm sure there are worse things to have to keep secret.
However, my fire-breathing thing, seems to have consumed itself over the last week, into utterly un-politically correct anti-the idiot president of the United States venom.
Goodness me, it's outrageous Em, I'm unstoppable, breathing fire about an elected politician, a long-long way away from here, in lands I have no further aspirations to re-visit. I've even banned his name from being spoken in our shops!
I don't expect my incredulity at the incredulous politician can last forever, it'd be quite exhausting over four years.
But, each day, when I wake up and listen to Radio 4, it seems I can only count seconds before I hear his name, once again enter my home, over the airwaves with yet another ridiculous news story that he is embroiling. Today, we went back to American Women facing back-street abortions akin to the 1960's, oh, and how he irritated yet another swathe of commonsensical society with the excuse he is creating jobs to please the masses.
And, with an edict out of the White House, he decided to re-write the amount of people attending his inauguration, and the amount of people attending Women's protest marches against equality- by offering Alternative Facts.
King Canute, did the same thing historically, in believing he could turn back the tide...

Fortunately, Em, he couldn't.
You asked me on Sunday, what I was painting. It's Freshwater Bay, as visited last friday, with some milky January sunshine, at about two-thirty in the afternoon, where a calm scene in the distance, still showed spray from waves kicking up onto the pavement from the tide.
My secret dragon, until at least you turn me back into your mild-mannered Grandmother, must be consoled once more by nature.
Nature, managed to create such a misogynistic, narcissistic, psycho who now holds power of office in a country that dominates the 'free world'. He can't even string an articulate sentence together, and I doubt he chose his own bookshelves.
Nature, didn't vote him into power, and nature allows us to stop (being secret fire-breathing dragons) and have faith in our individual selves, our powers of discrimination, and look at the Bigger Picture.
This secret dragon, smells a phoney, loves the integrity of the women roused to march against any 'Trumpish' attitude in their community, and takes succour from Nature, who renews a veritable cycle of truth year upon year, season upon season, and takes no prisoners.
This, secret fire-breathing dragon, until you turn her back, next time she visits, takes comfort in humanity.
There's always a plus, and this billionaire psycho who thinks he represents the masses, has galvanised some into reactive thought and action.
The Idiot is a symptom of a dis-ease of course.
And we are all a part of that.
But, some good stuff is happening, Em, and King Canute proved, you can't hold back the tide.
Interesting times ahead for the World you and the girls will inherit.
P.S-Please turn me back into your Grand-Mother soon,
Your Ever-Loving Grand-Mother,

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Beauty and the Fog.

Dearest Emily,
Here we are in January, a hiatus in the cycle of Nature's seasons. A cavity, a breach. Of course we know and are acutely aware at this time of the year- to expect to get stuff like; drizzly rain, blustery days, milky sunshine, bitter cold- and sometimes all of these together.
But, for me, the true stagnation of the mood of these January days for me, is the sometimes imperceptible and perceptively protracted (though for nature necessary) plod towards Spring, when it all happens a-zingingly once more in the awakening of the beginning of the growth cycle of nature's year.
Or, sometimes we get fog...

And then, hereabouts, it's like someone put out the lights over the West-Wight.
A different vista, certainly, here on a 'Sunny Isle', clamped by Winter, and shorter days, which though growing steadily longer towards what we relish in its visceral abundance, throughout the glory days of the growing season, casts a shadow right now of deep repost.
Somehow, we mourn the last year's passing, and somewhat ridiculously we feel somewhere that the glory days shouldn't abate and would be better going on for ever.
But dear Em, they do!
They beckon us each New Year, coaxing us to look forwards. Small shoots of Daffodil and Crocus emerge, maybe to stop for a while throughout frost, but beckon they do, and if we too, stop and stand still for a while, there's much to feed our souls.
I remember some years ago now, when Grumpa and I were considering moving here to the Island, that 'a-Wintering' became a part of a trial for us to see how our dream fitted in real life.
We deliberately set out in the midst of Winter in London, to sample how it felt to be here, sans summer, sans the tourist season, with shops and restaurants often closed, and the worst of the elements presided.
What we found, was that we loved it, embraced it, and became enveloped in it. Grumpa and I shared accordance on this one- we came, we saw, we ventured out on the most weathery of days, he in black Russian hat (now worn by Uncle Joe) and we tramped regularly up and down stark hills in blustery weather across the West Wight.
I remember us both, noting a fond similarity to perceiving our landscape experience to one akin to that described in E.Annie Proux's 'The Shipping News', and the bleak quality of the now lonesome (without tourist) landscape to being one we both embraced and were delighted by.
I suppose it set the scene for deciding that the Island was for us a love that enveloped all the seasons, and assisted in making a decision to move here become real.
And so, a couple of weeks ago (finding that my current landscape views merely transgress between two shops, two doors away from each other and looking out over School Green) I found myself staring out over a vista, accompanied by the sound of a fog horn, that was momentarily transformed.
The seasonally bare Trees, became a part of a spectacular chromatic view opposite me.
Light shone from the distance of the football pitch beyond the Green, and threw my daily beauties- the Trees, into black and white tracery.
The fog transformed my scene into a 'Sleepy Hollow' one, and this transformation by fog, and the beauty of the scene, momentarily surprised me, and delighted me in the differing chromatic landscape  it offered me to view.
This reflection, Em, and painting it, allowed me to revel in the beauty and treasure of every single moment of the changing parts of the year.
Transformation, particularly whether it snow or fog, creates a jolt in every-day perception.
How beautiful.
So, now we are preparing to set forth to com and see you all for Florence's Christening! 
Uncle Joe is to be 'The God-Father'.
Looking forwards to it, and seeing you all again, mes petites,
Your ever-loving Grand-Mother,