Clouds in Many Guises

Over the years I’ve photographed many clouds – some white and puffy, some glowing orange with the setting sun, some dark and brooding, some seriously strange in shape and some just plain weird…

I’m learning to paint at the moment, and have been working with using photographs as reference images – but sometimes I think if I painted clouds the way they actually looked, no-one would believe me! 🙂

Weekly Prompts: Clouds

The Journey Begins… Again!

I really used to enjoy art at school, and was actually reasonably OK at it, but of course it’s been over 40 years since I left school and whatever nascent artistic talent and skill I was in the throes of developing at that point hasn’t exactly stayed poised ready to pour easily from paintbrush to paper just because I’ve decided I wanted to try painting again as an adult!

It’s been two whole years since I last picked up my water-colours… August 2020 was the last time I attempted to paint anything, and even then I only managed a grand total of three colour studies – a rather flat-looking thistle, some not-too-bad plums, and a thoroughly underwhelming landscape view of Inverness – before disappointedly packing my paints away again, wishing I hadn’t bothered…

And before that it was… God knows, probably almost a decade ago that I first thought seriously about trying to take up water-colour painting as a hobby in my later years? I think on that earlier occasion I’d only managed about three paintings before giving up then, too. What stopped me both times was probably a simple fear of failure – sadly I found it easier to give up at the first hurdle than to struggle on feeling not good enough.

So here I am trying once more to learn how to paint with water-colours, still struggling with it but at least this time (over this last week or so) I’ve achieved more than three paintings and haven’t given up yet! They’re not great, my initial efforts – I’m sharing this one here not because I think it’s good but because I realise it’s probably going to be a long journey to get to even close to where I want to be, this is where I’m at currently, and I have to start somewhere… 🙂

Weekly Prompts: Journey

Typically Topical

I tend to find the content of my blog posts seems to mirror whatever is going on in my life at any given time – whatever is life-topical at the time, inevitably becomes blog-typical.

When I first started blogging over eight years ago I was 50 years old, living in a one-bedroom first floor flat in London with no garden or any outside space at all, and my blog reflected that reality. I went out a lot, just to be outside, and typically took pictures of big city life, of parks and public spaces, of tube trains and buses and buildings and inevitably people – nameless and generally faceless strangers, commuters and tourists and locals and incomers.

I took pictures of flowers in other people’s postage-stamp front gardens, taken from the outside looking in. I took pictures of trips we went on, visits to Brighton and to Scotland, including trains shots and track shots and station shots and landscapes seen through train windows.

And then in 2019 we sold up and moved back to Inverness, buying a detached house with a garden of our own front and back, and I slowly settled into making our new house a home. Sadly a few months later the Covid pandemic hit and for the next while – the longest while, as it turned out – everybody’s world necessarily shrank to the size of their own back yard. But at least now we had one to call our own.

No visitors allowed, no travel or trips allowed anywhere, no doing anything at all that wasn’t strictly necessary. It set the pace for a slow life, a small life, but a potentially safe life. Inevitably my blog posts shrank accordingly, mirroring a life that was slower, smaller, and supposedly safer. Even when I caught Covid myself in early January 2021, long before we were all vaccinated as a population, my blog followed my progress along the way.

So here I am in 2022, looking my 59th birthday in the eye with an increasingly dodgy arthritic hip and the last lingering remnants of Long Covid, wondering what comes next for my blog? And I know that that depends one hundred percent on on what comes next for my life as I approach my 60th year on this planet? Typically still lots of garden pics, but hopefully something more too – maybe a few trip pics, a few tourist pics, a few more city-scapes and lots more landscapes again?

Whatever it is, you can be sure my blog will continue to reflect my life as it happens, typically topical as ever… 🙂

Weekly Prompts: Mirror

Idle Time

Idle Time…

Choose to idle away many hours
Sitting out in my garden of flowers
It’s my own time to waste
Any guilt is erased
As I soak up each plant’s healing powers

I enjoy not just colour but scent
As I savour the time that is spent
In the fresh airy breeze
Doing just as I please
Sitting quietly, smiling, content…

Weekly Prompt: Waste

PS The image is a photograph of a page of a little book titled ‘Self-Care: How to live mindfully and look after yourself’ by Claire Chamberlain 🙂

Beginnings and Endings

Life’s equation for change to begin
Something else must end, yang to its yin
Forfeit sadness and pain
For the joy of new gain
Hope the journey flows easy within
When such change is a choice, we embrace
New beginnings slide sweetly in place
We move on, feel no lack,
Look ahead, don’t look back
Feel the flush of new warmth on our face
But when changes are foisted in fear
We resist and we struggle, unclear
Focus hard on what’s lost
What has gone, what it cost
Feel the old life we know disappear
Such refusal is futile at source
Because change is a fixed constant force
Just accept and adapt
Release grief tightly wrapped
Let new ribbons of life run their course…

Weekly Prompt: Beginning

Maw-Maw T’s Cornbread Recipe

  • 1 block oleo (here in UK that’s 4oz baking margarine)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk

Combine oleo, eggs and sugar until fluffy (about 5 mins), sift dry ingredients and add alternately with milk. Pour into a greased pan and bake at 350 degrees F until done (approx 45 mins)

After posting about my mother-in-law’s hand-written recipe cards for this week’s Weekly Prompt, a couple of people have asked me for her mother’s recipe for cornbread, a family favourite from my husband’s childhood and one he still uses today – so here it is, definitely cake-y rather than bread-y despite the name but lovely in its rich yellowy sweetness… Enjoy! 🙂

Firm Family Favourites

Tucked safely inside a small old cardboard box on our book-shelf sits a stack of well-used hand-written recipe cards passed on to my husband from his mother, detailing some of his favourite family recipes from childhood. Included are his grandmother’s recipe for cornbread – a firm favourite with our grandchildren – one for Mrs Simmon’s pecan pie (whoever she was), one for a luscious lemon meringue pie copied from a tin of condensed milk in the late 1950s, and one for sweet potato souffle which I just adore.

To be honest the whole concept of sweet potato as a dessert seemed a bit strange to me to begin with until I thought about carrot cake, which I also love.

If you’ve never tried it there’s absolutely nothing vegetable-y tasting about it at all, if anything it’s a bit caramelised over-sweet for some tastes. It’s basically cooked mashed sweet potato mixed with egg yolks, brown sugar, cinnamon and cream, then whipped egg whites are folded-in before it’s all put into an oven-proof dish and topped with dots of butter and mini marshmallows. Bake it for about 20-25 minutes until the marshmallows are all melted and browned and you have a gooey, scrummy sweet potato souffle to enjoy – yum! 🙂

Weekly Prompts: Recipe Cards