Plucky plumber  – my little sink in my shower room has been getting progressively more clogged. I’ve tried to find my sink plunger for days now, to no avail. Then this afternoon trying to clear something else I found it! Oh joy my sink now runneth free. I hope to watch this film again – perhaps in the autumn with my friends David & Fiona who have an unparalleled collection of vintage films.


Well crumpets – picture by my mother  – retrospective last month at the Open Eye Gallery. You can take a virtual tour here. Sorry that this blog is so neglected but I went pell mell for starting up my classes again – I was so determined to make this year different… ha ha! So threw myself into promoting them.

My friend H’s Aunty V calls this ‘Splendid Isolation’. I think I will adopt this attitude. I’m thinking here of my cat Frida who did this very well. She enjoyed me being ill and approved of me in bed where she could perch on me for hours. I’ve spent many weeks and months hardly ever leaving the house with frankly nary a phonecall or an email from a friend. So I have a touch of the herrumps about me. I see their slightly panicked emails and social media postings. And even their reaching out to me I can sense that really they just want someone to respond to them. I’m trying to be kind….

I have had pneumonia which nearly killed me and have ME. I’m self isolating as I’m not keen on getting anything which goes for the lungs  – luckily my lodger is very sensible. Though his reports from the outside world are hair raising. I can set up working form home which is next weeks job. I had a virus two weekends ago which is still lingering as these things do with ME. I just feel quite tired. Luckily I have the space to take things slowly.

Top tips for staying home from my experience with illness.

1.Don’t fight it. The people who fight their illness just stay ill longer. Accept you have to be in isolation.

2. Gentle routines. By gentle get up wash, make food, clear up, wash clothes.

3. Admit how you feel. Panicked, anxious, say it out loud. Unacknowledged feelings bite you on the bum. I’ve done what I can to plan and prepare. I can now do no more. Try to live in the thinnest slice of now as Robyn Posin says.

4. Do slow things, Knit, craft, mend, listen to radio dramas ( I think this will work for people outside the UK but check out the stuff here  – BBC sounds – scroll down for the programme categories). If you are in the UK I find ITV hub good for detective dramas if that is your bag – currently watching Scott & Bailey) Books – I had a premonition and hastily ordered 7 books from Abebooks – I entered in my favorite authors and did cheapest to most expensive. It supports second hand booksellers too.

5. Write cards. I have been able to use up a stash given to me by downsizing cousins! but got some lovely new ones from local artist Sally Richardson  – free delivery in UK and will continue to send some postal cheer to others who are self isolating. Stamps I’m going crazy and getting them from here. 

Leonard Da Vinci

This is officially known as Madonna and the Yarnwinder. But the wikipage is a bit crap banging on about spindling. A Yarnwinder is used to make spun yarn into hanks of wool. Wool balls as we have them now are a late 19th Centuary invention. I can remember reading about it ages ago online but I actually made it to its home in the National Gallery of Scotland to be mightily  put oot that it was not on display as its out on loan until March. I hope to revisit it and wave my someone sturdier made niddy noddy at the Madonna…

I was working this afternoon at ‘realjob’. I haven’t been in for weeks and even though I was in yesterday today it really took it out of me. I scurried home after 7 and have been trying to cook, load dishwasher etc, phone friends and feel frankly out of sorts and drained. I’m going to catch up with Vera on the ITV Hub with some knitting and check out! I am enjoying this series a) because I think its well shot and acted, b) I often visit Newcastle and I love seeing places I know c) my family had a beloved old style landrover and Vera drives one.

(c) BRIDGEMAN; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
  • Start small but start.
  • Be willing to be a beginner.
  • Be willing to look bad at it. But give your time to gain skills.
  • Don’t compare yourself to people who have been doing it for years or decades.
  • Stop staring at other people’s work online and use the time saved to creat your own instead.
  • Sign up for a class or a workshop as it gives you support and a structure.
  • Try and find a way of doing what you want in small amounts of time. Don’t wait for great swathes of time to start. Do a drawing while on call waiting. Practice drumming in a traffic jam on your stearing wheel.
  • Integrate being creative into your life instead of thinking you have to upend it to be creative. Ie I can only write this novel if I abandon my family and job and live as a hobo on a Greek beach…
  • Try new things even simple things like a new recipe or a new route to work can shake up your thinking and create unexpected connections which is the life blood of creativity.
  • Don’t ask other permission to do it. Just give yourself permission.
  • Try not to berate youself for not starting before  – its probably fear. Fear is disolved by kindness not by cruelty.
  • Start small but START.
  • Artist’s Way group starting Edinburgh 16th January more info here.
Artisan Roast Broughton St Edinburgh

I was trotting round putting out leaflets for the upcoming Artist’s Way course I’m running and had to take a photo! Blocked people tend to buy lots of books about being creative, ask questions of authors in Q&A sessions about their ‘writing routine’ and visit places where authors supposedly wrote. We trip over them all the time. But this is a kind of casting about for the magic to fall to the uninitiated. It doesn’t work! I’ve sat many a time in a café NOT on the tourist map where JK wrote and I don’t have a best selling series of children’s books. Of course that may be something to do with never having written a children’s book…. I’ve created in different mediums but the essential truth is more prosaic in order to be an x you have to do x. If you want to be a potter you have to pot. If you want to be a dancer you have to dance. Yep its as simple as that. The Artist’s Way is a series of seemingly simple tools that helps get you from Place A to Place B and to stop putting in the barriers.

(c) BRIDGEMAN; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) BRIDGEMAN; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Not a very relevant photo but I’m scrolling along in my archives and about to give up. I ended up going on a two hour swim with a friend this morning followed by a visit to parents to help my mother out with typing up a catalogue. At last ! years of temp work have paid off! But want I really wanted to say was something about communion. Most people I know struggle with this time of year. Christmas, New Year all very loaded and stressful and emotional. I’ve been fighting hard against the overwhelm and the thing that helps most is being with people and reaching out.