A visit one early winter in 1984 with my young son to a performance of The Nutcracker ballet at Bristol’s Hippodrome (first ballet for both us) was perhaps over-ambitious, or just a tad premature for a 3 year old and left us both struggling with the complicated story (without the benefit of words at the ballet, obviously), a story which is also a little odd… Continue reading
This chimerical mask is made from fired clay, created some years ago by my partner along with some companion pieces; he’s a permanent fixture on the wall above the fireplace, but as a result of a midwinter custom we invented, over the years he’s become a kind of homage to the Green Man. We accidentally initiated this custom out of (mild) despair about 25 years ago in the second winter of living in this house while it was being pulled apart by builders.
I realise it’s a bit sad, especially when I don’t even have any grandchildren to use as an excuse, but I love Advent calendars! I don’t remember when I was first given one, but I was quite young and do remember loving them from that point onwards as they signalled the paced build up to Christmas in our house, and my Mum was good at ‘doing Christmas’. They were just a picture with little windows you had to find amongst the scene that you would open each day to show Continue reading
For five years in the mid 90s I had the (mostly) good fortune to accompany some graphic design students to Amsterdam for a week in mid November. The first trip was also my first visit to Amsterdam and I fell in love with its wintery charms. Christmas was a big feature especially celebrating Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas, Continue reading
On holiday in Budapest one torrentially rainy day in August in 2010, that happened also to be my birthday, we made our soggy way across town between museums and passed a water feature set into an area of grass and shrubs beside a main road. Lodged amongst some rocks in the stream was this lonely glass tree; a birthday present from the city to me?! We brought it home and it’s now part of the Christmas set.
“Now did you know that this Christmas Pudding recipe is the one that was used by your Great Great Grandmother who was the Housekeeper to the Earl of Enniskillen?…” Well yes, Mum we did because you’ve told us every Christmas since I can remember. But now she’s gone this creaking family tale isn’t wheeled out any more, and I miss it, and her. But we still use the recipe, it’s in my Mum’s neat handwriting, Continue reading
When our boys were little, but old enough to get the sense of what Christmas was about, much of the pleasure of December was enjoying their anticipation of this seasonal brilliance, and part of that included making Christmassy stuff – like baked dough tree decorations; oh, fond memories, even of the sticky and painty mess! Continue reading
Sometime in the late summer or autumn of 2015 my friend Carolyn Black who runs Flow projects, began a fascinating project called Story of Objects, collecting stories and images or videos from people about objects they owned that had personal significance. I began a number of stories to send her but I didn’t manage to complete them for various reasons and at the moment Carolyn’s focus has moved onto making her own artwork.
However, amongst the stories her project inspired me to write were a handful about some of the things I get out of the loft every year at Christmas, many of which trigger fond memories, so last year, 2016, in early Continue reading
One of those Facebook ‘challenges’ that I was invited to participate in:
“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people, no explanation. Challenge someone new each day”
I don’t often get involved in social-media capers unless they are photography-based but I followed through with this one and really enjoyed it – it seemed like a very pleasing way to provide some much needed creative motivation to seven consecutive days and refreshed my looking and seeing faculties. Continue reading
All that back-breaking weeding, arm-aching watering, and knee-bruising picking at the allotment, grubbing around in humid hedgerows, hot hours in the kitchen, followed by jam-jar crises and freezer-space-anxiety, finally has its (not always healthy but thoroughly delicious) rewards; in summer – blackcurrants, gooseberries, elderflowers, redcurrants, jostaberries and raspberries for fruit salads, jams, jellies, syrups, bottling, sorbets and sauces; and now the autumn harvest of apples and blackberries, beans, potatoes and squash (in gloriously varied shapes and colours) for soups and stews, crumbles and cakes, puddings and pickling, dips and drying, stuffing and baking – and making of wine!
Such a delectable array of colours, shapes and textures it seemed worth preserving the produce and process in pictures – and when I start to grumble about the work next year they can server as a reminder that the effort is worthwhile.