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Last week we were down in London supporting Worcester Cathedral choir as they sang in St Paul’s Cathedral at evensong. Well, I say evensong, but actually it was The 357th Festival of the Sons of the Clergy with great pomp and circumstance, more than a handful of bishops and even the Household Cavalry to boot. I say supporting Worcester Cathedral but in truth we were just cadging a lift knowing how close it was to Tate Modern. At the service (which actually was completely awesome) amidst such heady company as the Bishop of London the man sitting next to me looked decidedly underdressed, wearing shorts and looking more likely dressed for a summer picnic; I  nearly said something but then realised it was my husband.

First thing as the coach came into London I had looked out of the window mesmorised by the gardens of the capital’s residents – hugely grateful to all those, and certainly not all, who tended them. Many were neglected and grotty  but some were nicely planted with roses and nurtured front gardens making them uplifting and welcoming to the visitor.  Before evensong we had spent all afternoon in Tate Modern seeing the Miro exhibition and spending time viewing the permanent collection at our leisure. We both preferred Miro’s early work (of tended gardens, naturally) and his later work, but the best bit by far was the film made from interviews with Miro, his grand daughter, gallery owners and dealers who all knew him personally. Shots of where he lived and worked were fascinating. We had once visited Miro’s studio just outside Palma in Mallorca and it is always incredibly poignant to see where an artist works. It puts them in context.

Similarly we’ve visited Barbara Hepworth’s studio in St Ives, Ken Howard’s studio in Venice, Mary Fedden’s in London to name but a few. I can also remember like it was only yesterday visiting Victor Hugo’s writing room in Guernsey, and both William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter’s homes in the Lake District when I was a child. They bring you very close to the artist and to the core of their creativity.

This Friday for four days we will be throwing open our studio doors to visitors as part of the inaugural Worcestershire Arts Trail. Though not in the same league I’m sure it will be memorable for someone; well, at least I hope so! We’ve just come back from talking about it on the Andy Easton show at BBC Hereford & Worcester; I’m not saying I was nervous but I actually thought nothing would come out, not even a peep, when I opened my mouth; the cat had really got my tongue. Truly terrifying it was, but Andy was brilliant,  and unbelievably relaxed even completely eating an enormous wrap during a break. Paul Powis, Bridget Drakeford and Sharon McSwiney were fabulous too. Me, just a bag of nerves, me.

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St. Ives – sun, sea, sand and….. more sand….. everywhere….


Down on the coast gravity takes on new meaning; the usual doesn’t occur and the unusual is a regular occurence.

What am I on about? Sand of course. Coastal sand is ocean washed, golden and clean, and should remain safely on the beach where it belongs; but to the occasional visitor it behaves differently, has a mind of its own and gets everywhere and into everything; kicked up by feet, the wind, the rushing sea it flicks up into every conceivable nook and cranny; I found it in my clothes, my bag,  my hair, my ears, even after a near vertical climb “home” it defied gravity and ended up on the sofa, the rug, the carpet, the mattress of our apartment. Even the winter Olympics got a bucketful. Ah well, c’est la vie, and at least I wasn’t cleaning up at the end of our visit.

The walks in the wintry sunshine along Porthminster, Porthmeor and Porthqwidden beaches of St Ives were fantastic if not hairy (with our lurcher dog running along side us, I might not have let him off so quickly had I known there would be so many bitches on heat; do they all “come on” together I wonder. A regular en masse half term doggy menstruation? Let’s hope we don’t leave a plethora of little lurchers behind.) It was good so early in the new year to touch base with the sea, to run wild and play games, tread the same beach that Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson trod.

The sea did everything it should, it sparkled, it glistened turquoise, it came in, it went out; it was in the air too making my hair thick and salty. The beaches were coated in the fresh tidal deposits of seaweed, shells and the odd trainer; they were mostly litter free, and pleasingly empty.  Brisk walks were the menu of the day; heartily filling and great value. We’d sit supping our cappucinos on hotel terraces until the low sun disappeared over the horizon and we retreated back to the warmth of our hidihole. We could not grumble since we had achieved our objective – blown away the winter cobwebs, breathed in fresh sea air and – most importantly –  seen no snow. Our little red noses concealed a healthy tan, proof of an outdoor existance – even though the rest of our bodies remained deathly pale. We were out to play when we should have been in; over running playtime, like a bunch of naughty school kids.

With rumours of bad snow up north and Cornish daffs peeping above ground, it was both hard and easy to imagine Spring fast approaching. Just as it was a bit of a surprise to find grains of sand on my pillow every morning, sand, like Spring, gets everywhere eventually.