Lockdown Spring

Today I sat down and put my virtual pen to paper.
I realised with disbelief and some embarassment how long it is since I wrote anything here, and I vowed – I vow – to change my behaviour. From now on there will be regular updates, I promise.

How strange that it should take something like this, a global pandemic, to get around to doing (and finishing) what I have been trying to do (and finish) for many months, or longer.
Life passes so quickly and without opportunities for reflection, when one is working full time and focussing hard on a definite goal. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months and suddenly the ‘must do’ list reaches epic proprtions, with still no time in sight to make a start on it.
Then something unexpected happens, and everything changes overnight. Priorities change. Daily routines come to an abrupt standstill.
At first we feel like a rabbit caught in headlights. What has happened, and why? How long will it continue? What can we do about it? At first, we fight. This can’t be right! How will we survive it? How will we get around it? Slowly we come to terms with the situation and learn to let go of what we can’t control. We are forced to acknowledge what is really, truly important in our life, for our immediate wellbeing.

In my case, it’s natural beauty, being outside and sunshine. (To this list I’d also add wine. It may sound frivolous to do so but it’s also important to look after one’s emotional health.)

I am so very lucky to be here, in Assynt, during this difficult time. Not only do I have a warm and comfortable base within this caring community; we also have many miles of beautiful scenery which we can access straight from the door, and walk around all day without seeing anybody.
Spring has finally reached us, although the sunshine element is somewhat lacking, making brief, though encouraging appearances. It is still cool, with a chilly breeze and patchy grey skies but the primroses nestle beneath the birches and the scent of gorse in in the air. The eider ducks are back in the bay and I have been watching otters from my kitchen window, which overlooks the harbour.
While I would never have chosen this situation, I can think of worse places to be, and it has enabled me to draw breath for the first time in ages.

On a practical level, all my usual work and business enterprises have come to a halt.
The pottery is, very sadly, closed for the time being and it feels strange, being away from my workmates, the visitors and the buzz. Some of the mosaics have needed a little repair and I have been able to see to them; now they eagerly await the return of admirers.
My spare bedroom is obviously no longer being offered on AirB&B. Instead a best friend, technically homeless now without his live-in job, is occupying it and helping to keep me entertained and productive.
There are no tourists to buy paintings, and I have had to postpone a botanical drawing workshop and a six week life and figure drawing course. For how long, is uncertain.

I was extremely fortunate to have returned from the last scheduled Vistas Sketching Holidays trip in March, just before the world changed. We were in La Gomera for the most wonderful week and I am so thankful it was able to go ahead. Now, though, all other trips are on hold as we wait to see how this all unfolds.
Meanwhile, I have finally written up the two new trips which have been in the planning for over a year. I am proud to introduce a brand new artist’s retreat and intensive beginner’s course in rural Morocco and an epic 14 day Sketchbook Journey around the NC500. Some of the other trips on the website have had a bit of a makeover as well, particularly the Sri Lanka itineraries. All my sketching trips can be found on www.sketchingholidays.co.uk. It doesn’t hurt to dream!

Around this time last year, I was sitting under the birches with my watercolours creating a series of images for an exhibition at Inverewe Gardens. I am thinking to do some more, now I have time on my hands and fewer excuses. My next exhibition will be themed around still water: Lochs, lochans, reflections.
On the next sunny day, I will make a start; watch for the results!