On the go

Pentland Hills

Pentland Hills

This time last week, almost to the hour, we were being blown off the Pentland Hills just to the SW of Edinburgh! We weren’t actually knocked off our feet, although a couple just ahead of us on the broad grassy ridge, were ….but the wind was so strong that it was almost impossible to make headway and so we reluctantly turned back and headed down. The most frustrating bit though was that once out of the wind, it was a beautiful spring like day …almost clear blue skies. Oh well, it made for a pleasant if short day and for the hour we were doing battle with the gale, it was quite an experience. We had asked our friend Guy if he’d like to join us but he was busy ….which as it turned out, was a good thing. He, as you may remember, broke his leg last year and is gradually getting out walking again. We’d thought that the easy slopes of the Pentlands would be a good ‘next step’ on his recovery to full hill fitness. As I staggered along on Friday however and it was taking all my strength to stay up right, (I could certainly feel the strain on my lower legs) I was very thankful that Guy had had a meeting to go to! Hopefully the next time we can all get out together it will be a calmer day and we can enjoy a relaxed wander over several of these beautiful little hills.

In the studio

In the studio

Since then, my week has simply been one of work. However, with our holiday in mid May, just around the corner, I’ve wanted to try and get a little fitter generally. I spent too much time sat on my backside last year and accepted too many offers of a lift in the car down to the studio from my partner. Even when she was working I was catching the bus from the top of our road into the town centre …and then just walking the mile to the studio from there. Irvine is as I’ve said many a time before …almost completely flat but I’ve decided to start walking the three and a bit miles from house to studio on a regular basis …it’s not serious exercise but it should help get me ready for the holiday. It takes me just on an hour …so in all honesty, only about 20 minutes longer than if I caught the bus, and it’s quite a pleasant little wander most of the way. One of the good things about Irvine for me is that much of it was developed into a ‘new town’ back in the late 70’s and early 80’s and as such they incorporated numerous footpaths that make getting about when you can’t see too well, fairly easy. The one big road crossing is missed by an underpass…..leaving only a couple of other awkward side junctions to cross.

In the studio

In the studio

When, in 1996, I went to the RNIB college in Torquay one of the things that we did was, mobility training. One of the things they emphasised was that it was important to work out ‘routes’ that you could use. In doing so, you get to learn the obstacles and can therefore move much quicker and with more confidence and safety. It doesn’t mean I can walk to my studio without concentrating but it does mean I can relax more during the hour long walk. My time at RNIB in Torquay all those years ago was well spent. It took me a long time to get used to using my white cane …I felt dreadful using it for the first couple of years, but now it goes with me everywhere and it allows me to be much more independent ….so a big thanks to Denis and Uwe, my two mobility training officers …they did a great job during the nine weeks I was at Torquay.

As for my work, well it is going along OK. I still haven’t quite finished my second 80 x 80 cm oil painting …but it’s getting very close now. I have three other oil paintings on the go now also and have been enjoying developing these over the last few days. This is where the Jolomo Award is really paying off for me. Almost three years on and it is allowing me to use this quiet period to just get on and try and improve and develop my work …I don’t have to panic ….people may not be buying as many paintings because of the economic situation but I can use this time to create a new and hopefully better body of work …ready for when things start picking up again. I realised at the time that the Jolomo Award was not a quick fix …that it would assist me in my career for many years …and so it is proving.

In the studio

In the studio

One good bit of news to end this week’s blog with. Yesterday, a couple (who have bought paintings from me in the past) came into the studio. They explained that they were moving house soon and had come in to give me warning that they’d be looking to commission a painting from me for their new house later this year. The interesting bit for me is that they said they’d like something done in just white, greys and black. That could be quite a challenge ….but very interesting and exciting too. Anyway, I’ll look forward to doing that as and when they make their move …I’ve got plenty of time now to think about it…..in fact I can use a little bit of time thinking about this as I walk to the studio each day.

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