Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Signage Is so important.

It was totally my mistake.

I’m making my way to the beach, I’ve stopped for coffee, done a bit of people watching, but it’s still early so it’s very quiet.
The dress code in the Royal area is 'no beachwear' 

So with my beach bag under my arm, my plan is to change in the ladies into my costume and cokoy, I head for the ‘rest rooms’ near the beach, it’s very bright and the sunshine is bouncing back up at me from the light floor tiles, I can already feel the heat reflecting upwards... it’s going to be a hot day today.

It’s cool and quiet in the rest room, all the doors are open and I choose a cubicle.

I’m half into my costume when I hear something that makes me freeze... two men are chatting in Spanish very close to me. They are definitely here with me in the ladies and not outside.

Maybe they are cleaners? I hear doors closing.

No.... definitely not cleaners.

Then I hear more voices and I begin to feel very warm and just a bit uncomfortable, I’m not in the ladies! I stand in silence just listening, and the reality of it sinks in.

I finished getting dressed and stand very quietly listening for any noise.

I’ll casually walk straight out when it’s quite.
I’ve got to walk confidently, straight out.

It’s been a little while, but there is now silence, so I make a calm dash for it.

No one about, I turn back and realise my mistake..... really it could have happened to anybody!!

Monday, 18 February 2019

Always look for the blue

I can’t believe I’m awake at 5am! It’s pitch black outside, and I don’t want to scroll through watching TV adverts with weird medical disclaimers.

The breakfast buffet opens at 6 so I might try and suss out the filter coffee machine. I drink tea, (its what we Brits do) and there are even 'twinnings' tea bags, but no kettle. The room is advertised as having tea and coffee making facilities, but I can’t see how I’m going to make tea. There is a chrome flask beneath a 'v' shaped filter, it would appear that the water goes in the back, then filters through to the flask. Still no idea how I get tea from this thing.

Not to worry, it’s day 1 I'm going to shake things up a bit and have coffee. I pour a small bottle of water (neatly placed by the side of the machine for utmost convenience) into the back of the machine, then open a large sachet containing a giant coffee bag which smells delicious, I sit this into the 'v' shaped filter, switch on the machine and before I know it, a blue light comes on and there is a reassuring bubbling sound.
I’m already beginning to feel that I’m doing quite well, no overflowing of the machine, and a mug of delicious hot coffee to start the day.
Tea might prove a problem though. Surely I’m not expected to put a tiny tea bag into that filter?

The breakfast buffet is deserted at 6. (frankly, Im not surprised) However, I cannot sit anywhere to the left of the dining room where a very large sign reads ‘diamond club’
The right section looks ok and the food is the same because it’s in the middle, there is a huge choice of anything I might surely wish for to begin my day, from nachos and yams to 6 different kinds of scrambled egg.
How many scrambled egg types does a person need?
The fresh fruit selection is really good.

I’m going to head off to the beach this morning.

I have a map which shows a direct path to the beach through the Royal Hotel, I wander past lush greenery,  yellow legged coots wander down the path squawking as they go. Mottled ducks with a large brood of ducklings meander along with me, I feel like I’m on a little wildlife walk, not to mention the peacocks which appear randomly en route.

The Royal is all marble and space, very smart, and the walkway to the beach is flanked by a number of shallow infinity pools linked by wooden walkways. As I reach the swimming pool area a sign greets me ‘memories path to the beach’ and another sign clearly states that these pools are for the exclusive and sole use of others (not me) yes...he diamond club!
I walk down a path with dense greenery on each side, past an opulent glass entrance, then past large wooden doors which say ‘for the sole use of Hideaway guests, only those with hideaway arm bands can enter this area’

I continue towards the sound of the sea, past some delightful water fountains (which appear to be for everyone to admire) then a glorious sight.... blue sea, crashing waves, white sand and palm trees. Plus, a sign which reads ‘memories guests this way’ to the right is a sea of blue plastic sun loungers, to the left are very tasteful beige sun beds with cream padded cushions, lovely towels neatly rolled up and placed on them, and a covered area for massages with delightful thin floaty curtains gently wafting in the breeze, rather like a magazine advert.
I head for the blue sun loungers.
The white beach and the sea are glorious. I spend the next couple of hours people watching and enjoying the sounds of the sea.
I really have landed in a little paradise.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Sunshine here I come

Sitting on the plane for an hour at the airport due to ‘a slippy walkway’ means I can catch up on a little sleep, after all, it’s January, I’m lucky the airport isn’t closed again like it was yesterday. All those poor people stranded for 5 hours, looking out at the snowy runway, I can just have a little nap, then I’m on my way to a sunny week away.

Before I know it, its touchdown, my case is on the carousel (always a relief) and I’m pulling my case towards the line of waiting coaches amongst a sea of excited passengers all desperate to get onto their coach. My destination is ‘Memories’ it’s the second stop and just 20 minutes away, I will soon be sipping a long cool drink under an overhead fan, listening to the gentle waves lapping onto the beach.
Check-in was busy and noisy, I did however get a dark red icy drink of something occupying the bottom part of a champagne flute which was quite nice, a bit sweet perhaps, but yes, a welcome start. 

Once at the front of the queue the very first thing I needed to decide was ‘did I want to upgrade to the diamond club? Not having even seen the resort, why would I want to spend more?
If not the diamond club at US$50 a day then how about the lesser upgrade package, a snip at just US$30 a day more, with the added incentive today of a 10% discount, for today only.
My welcome drink now we’ll and truly gone, all I wanted was my room, so as a map was then thrust before me, the receptionist proceeded to put red rings around certain sections of the map telling me I could go here, here and here, I could eat here here and here, and I could 'sit here on the the beach, oh and there was the little train shuttle which would take me to me room, my bags would appear in my room like magic. But before I go, here is my blue wrist band, attached firmly, and not to be lost or it will cost an additional US$20 to replace, it acts as my room key allows me access to the resort and now all I needed to do was to go and have a wonderful time.

As I sat in the  open shuttle, I could hear laughter, splashing and the high pitched squeals of peacocks, yes, peacocks, I definitely spotted one on someone’s ground floor patio. I arrived at block 27, this place is a lot bigger than I had thought, those little flip flops are going to get good use.

I’m on the top floor, the view will be lovely, pity there is no lift, but not to worry.
Whew! At last I’m outside the door, but the wrist band doesn’t seem to be working. Instead of the little green light, I’m getting a big red one.... grrrr
However, all is not lost, there is a lovely concierge down on the ground floor, only three flights down... Now, should I leave my bag by the door or carry it all the way down... I’ll take it with me.
I should not have packed such heavy hand baggage, did I really need that book, my iPad, camera, and three pairs of glasses? Madness, next time I shall be far more savvy.

Hooray, it’s not a problem, he will be able open my door, only three flights back up again, then I’m in! It’s only 5pm it’s still lovely and sunny, there will be time for a quick change and a relax.

The room is lovely, the little balcony has a pool view, the TV says ‘Welcome me’ and my case is here! Result!
Should I leave the packing, get my cozzy on and sit by the pool for an hour, or unpack? Ha! No contest, I can unpack when it’s dark, let’s head for the pool.


Hang on, hang on, so once I’m in my cozzy, and had a swim,  I’m now in a wet cozzy, I then can’t get back into my room, and I can’t go to reception in wet swim wear....
This thwarts my swimming plan, so I now have to walk back to reception to get my wrist band rescanned!
So I am either in my room, or off to reception.....
It’s a LONG way back, and I havn't yet worked out where I catch the little train from....

Friday, 14 December 2018

Teaching again in 2019

I have made the huge decision to begin teaching again after April 2019. I have missed you all, painting with you, chatting with you and seeing your progress.
It will be 2 years since I last taught or demonstrated and during that difficult time, there were days I felt I would never paint again, never mind the idea of teaching. However, as time passes I have begun to realise that I need to paint, not only on my own, but I need to share my experiences with you. As I said, I have missed you.
I have felt excited about painting again, and will be experimenting and developing new ideas and projects over the coming months. 

I have already agreed to teach for the Pure Watercolour Society at Windrush House near Burford next September, this has only just been agreed, so its not available to book yet, but places will be limited and more information will be available on the news page as I have it for you.

I am determined to begin 2019 with a positive mindset, for my own wellbeing as well as my family, so if you phone me and the answer machine goes on, I may be in the middle of a wash, and it wont necessarily be the laundry! 

I would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas wherever you are, and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your kindness and support over the last 18 months, it has certainly helped me to get through this difficult time.
I hope we will be able to paint together next year, if not in person, then perhaps I can master the mysteries of the video camera, and add some film clips to this blog! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Ready to go to new homes

This week has been a bit like 'old times' for me, there have been canvases and frames stacked up, paints and brushes out and 'in use' clutter all over my work area, and an air of 'things happening' in stark contrast to the neat and tidy work space which has welcomed me each day for the past 18 months. 
I think back on times when I wished for a 'tidy work space' and the 'time to just paint' and that phrase springs to mind....'be careful what you wish for' 
I used to be so rushed off my feet that I didn't have time to 'smell the roses' this Summer however, I did have time to 'smell the roses' and time has quietly moved on. 

I had 10 paintings but one sold this weekend which will be going overseas, these nine are going to The Longitude Gallery in Clitheroe this week.  

Friday, 2 November 2018

Adapting to a new pace of life

The cold weather has arrived, the sun is shining and I am painting again.
I got off to a slow start in January, but my life has settled down at this new pace and I feel ready to start enjoying being creative once more.

Well being, has played a huge part in my progress. I know its a phrase that's banded about, but well being is really about giving yourself quality time.
I go walking with my little dog Maggie each day, often joining a friend who also has a schnauzer. The two dogs are the greatest of friends, with only 2 weeks between them, they are like siblings with one another. Walking in all weathers, being outdoors and able to appreciate life, is one of the things that has helped me through these past months.

Many of you have emailed me and spoken to me on the phone offering words of support, all of which I have very much appreciated. Many of you have said how Terry would have wanted me to paint again, and of course he would, however, I have to want to paint for myself and I am only just beginning to feel that now.

So, I won't go on about it, but the cloud is lifting.

So far, I have a collection of 10 new paintings ready to frame. They will be going to Clitheroe to the Longitude Gallery in time for January.
The frames have arrived and I have just photographed these paintings before they go into the frames.

I took some photos of a couple of the paintings during the painting progress. I have to decide at the start to do this, because I think the beginning is so important for you to be able to see the progression clearly.

This is possibly a little more detailed than I would have wanted, but I got carried away with all that lovely foliage! And yes, I know flowers can look a bit twee, but these were all there, and the dahlias in the foreground were gorgeous!

When I paint, I tend to build up a painting, starting with my tonal blocks.
I find this helps me to establish the correct lighting for the painting, rather than getting carried away with colour.


I never begin on a white canvas. I always start on a mid toned base. I pre-paint my canvas boards so I am ready to go as soon as I have the urge to paint. The base is usually a putty colour, an ochre grey colour, not too bright.

I dilute the paint and establish the darker sections of foliage. I'm not looking at any details, just blobs of tone. I then add the very dark sections (although sometimes I don't bother with this just yet) I do like to add a couple of posts and tree trunks as I find these are good to have in place so I can use them as a reference point when I cover things up later (which I always do!)
I have added the white or very light tone too. The white flowers in the foreground are really for your benefit, because I probably wouldn't have bothered with them at this point, but I think it shows the importance of tone, and how that base colour is darker than you might at first think.


Once that first stage is done, I suppose it really wouldn't matter where I then painted, but I like to get the back sections in. I do enjoy getting the backdrop to my subject in place, so I would recommend starting at the back and working your way forward.
My brush stroked are very bold and gestural. I don't mind if I paint over any edges, I tend to hold my brush at it's end, stand back from the easel and daub!
Sometimes I think I should just create a 'daub' painting and leave it at that!!


I did get a bit carried away with this one though. I began to add textures in the background foliage, so of course, once I'd done that, I then needed to add more to the mid sections, and from there on I had to keep adding those details!

I enjoyed it though.
I had a serialised play on the radio and I switched off to everything. I drank tea, talked to Maggie and submersed myself in the painting.
I came back to it over a few days as I like the light to be bright. I don't like painting in artificial light, no matter how bright it is, so I usually stop mid afternoon.
I also need to take Maggie out of course, we have a little walk around the village. She likes to greet all the visiting dogs, so I usually end up chatting with people from all over the place.

I hope my chattering to you about my painting has perhaps inspired you to get your paints out, so until next time, Im off to put the kettle on and think about my next subject.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Yes, I am still here!

I know... its been ages, but what spurred me into writing again was an email I received last week asking me if I was still here, well not 'here' exactly, the email asked if my site was 'manned'
I had this little picture in my mind of my sitting in front of my website.... just waiting for someone to get in touch. Anyway - that's why I decided I should confirm that yes, I am still here.
For those of you that don't know, the reason I just stopped blogging, indeed, stopped all social media was because my wonderful husband Terry, passed away suddenly in June 2017.
This stopped me in my tracks.
It was like crashing into an invisible wall. 

 So when I was asked if I was 'still here', it got me thinking. Yes, I am still here, life has changed for me, and inevitably I have changed.

I am so thankful that I have my little dog Maggie. She is certainly my well-being dog. She takes me walking each day, across the fields in all weathers, no matter what my mood.
This is Maggie this month.

My painting journey is about to continue, I made a start earlier in the year, then paused but I have some plans now underway which I shall share with you soon.

I needed this time out, but for anyone wondering.... yes, I'm still here!