Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Season of Change

Today, I collected 3 of my felt paintings which had been on display at the Ucheldre Centre in Holyhead for the past 5 weeks.

I did not win any prizes in the 'Art for All' competition or sell any work, but it feels like a big step forward to actually enter competitions and display work at an exhibition.

My pieces were the only felted items at the exhibition. I'm not really sure how well my work was received as I was unable to attend the opening evening.

There were over 600 entrants to the exhibition and some of the work was outstanding.

Tomorrow is the last day of the summer holidays and I will be preparing my little girl for starting her first day at school. In many ways, we will all be returning to education. Me, P and my granddad will all be learning conversational Welsh at the school in the evenings, and my daughter will be taught entirely in Welsh by the end of the school year.

I have also enrolled on some part time art courses at Bangor University so will have a lot to occupy my time these next few months, and hopefully, a lot more to share with you here than I have had this summer.

My Granddad will be joining me on a short 'writing with intent' course hosted by Bangor University. It will be fun discussing and sharing homework with him. As it will be learning Welsh from my daughter who will inevitably pick up Welsh at a faster pace than us.

September has always felt like a time to renew energy, to stimulate the mind and learn new skills. Who knows what is in store for me on this new adventure!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sharing Treasure #1

Welcome to Sharing Treasure #1. Sharing Treasure is a place where we can share the magic and wonders of our local history, folklore, ancestry, customs and nature with each other and rekindle the appreciation of our own environ. Anyone can join in by adding their blog link and name to Mr Linky below. The posts can be as long or as short as you like and expressed in poetry, creative writing, art, textiles, photography or other creative media. The important thing is to enjoy unlocking the treasures of this shared journey.

The first place I wanted to share with you today is Cemlyn Nature Reserve on The Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Mon). Cemlyn is an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'. The history of this nature reserve is unusual and a living chronicle of one mans life work to create a haven for birds. A wealthy eccentric man, Captain Vivian Hewitt had a passion for wildfowl, and all other birds. He created the first ever dam in the weir of Cemlyn to create a lagoon as refuge for wildfowl. Inside the large walled gardens of his ominous house, he created a woodland for small birds, using the imposing walled gardens as wind breaks to shelter the birds. When Captain Vivian Hewitt died he left everything to his house keepers who subsequently sold the land to The National Trust to continue with Hewitt's work.

It is funny how local stories often differ from the real history of a place. Locally, Hewitt is known as 'The Reluctant Millionaire' and it is rumoured that he was the first man from Wales to fly to France. It is also said that Hewitt would buy all sorts of machinery that he did not understand and would take it to pieces, put it together again and then store it in sheds behind those huge wall. Who knows if any of of this is true. The only thing that I know is that Hewitt has created something fantastic and his services to nature make him a hero.

Today, Cemlyn Nature Reserve is a SSSI of geological importance, an important breeding site for Terns and other sea birds and rich in wildflowers and butterflies. Next month, I will need to watch my step for all of the big red and black caterpillars that will be carpeting the earth. I need to find a good field guide to help me identify them and the butterflies of this place. It would be a delight to understand and know all of the wildflowers here. Yesterday, as I walked along these shores for the second time this week, I noticed orchid like flowers, sea kale, land cress and sea radish.

On one visit, a geologist friend broke open some of the beaches pebbles with a hammer to identify the minerals in the stones. We found quartz, iron pyrite, red sandstone and more. So beautiful. I could collect pebbles and gaze at their purple,pink, red, green, grey , white and orange hues all day.

As I walked along to the oyster catchers anvil collecting shells with holes in them to string into wind chimes, I gazed out over the Irish sea looking towards Skerries Isles, watching the sun sparkle over the waves. I could hear the far off wolf like howl of the wind, the crashing of the waves and the barking of the nearby seals that could be seen glistening with silver and grey on the rocks. If only my camera could show you what I could see. I felt so calm and contented in that wild environment, reminding me of a different experience during a visit to The Farne Isles where I wrote this poem last May:

Air raid attack with a rattle clack-clack
Dive bombing Terns on maternal crack
Flapping hands, scuttling feet
Running for cover from the pointy beak

Nesting Terns under feet
Cache of eggs, indiscreet
Quickly pass by, run and hide
Best not tinker with mother's pride

Feeling overpowered by hormonal souse
Seeking refuge by an old light house
Safe at last, exhale and sigh
Sun beats down from a cloud free sky

Puffin mysteriously weaving about
Up and down from burrows,bustling in and out
Grey Seal beaching or bobbing along
To the whoosh and the swish of the ocean song

Igneous rock yielding natures display
The Farne Isles breeding seasons finest array
Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill and Shag
Gracefully adorning these crags

On the way back home we stopped off at Nanner Farm for a 'Full Monty'. The full Monty is a cake tray to match the best cheese board. The home made ginger cake with rhubarb jam is the best I have ever tasted, the cream scones and Bara Brith (recipe HERE) were the perfect victual treat to draw a close to a wonderful afternoon.

Whilst looking around the Nanner Farm shop I got chatting to the bee keeper. The farm, once 117 hives strong is now down to 7 hives. Most bee keepers are experiencing the same levels of losses as a result of pesticides. It is not the pesticides that kill the bees, the pesticides wipe out the bees immune systems which then leave the bees vulnerable to grubs, and disease.

Hopefully, this farm is turning the corner as the 7 remaining hives seem strong. We can only wish them luck and remember to support our own local beekeepers by buying their honey and produce. Not only is locally produced honey good for fending off hay fever and boosting the immune system, but by buying the honey, we are helping the bee keepers bridge their financial losses and doing what we can to help them protect the endangered honey bee.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Sharing Treasure

I've not had much time for blogging lately. We have moved to a magical little Island, steeped in history and folklore. The sun - shining, the shores - beckoning, wildlife - enchanting and loved ones - visiting. I have been blessed with all the ingredients of a wonderful summer.

I've not had much time for art and crafts. Often, I'm in a spin, with barely a moment to catch up with myself. Life is good.

I've been exploring the treasures of this wonderful Island, my new home, and while I've been doing this I have often thought about sharing them with you.

Right now, I am putting together a post about Llanbadrig Church, the oldest church in Wales, which has a fascinating history.

I'd like to make a regular feature of sharing the wonders of this magical Island: the history, mythology, ancestry, spirituality, nature and customs.

I'd also like to hear more about the magic of your own locale. I've been toying with the idea of holding a monthly posting using Mr Linky. I would write about the treasures of Anglesey and would invite you to share your local treasures with me and the other participants. There would be no obligation to contribute each month. The posts can be as short or long as you like and can be expressed in writing, art, poetry, literature, photography or any other format that feels comfortable to you.

Who's in?

Edit - For those of you that are interested I will post Mr Linky on Monday 23rd August. All contributors can enter the link for their post then. I have chosen this week so that we don't clash with the deadline for The Festival of the Trees.

Thank you to Elizabeth and Cheryl for joining in :)