Thursday, 6 September 2012

Time to say goodbye

I never thought it would come to this; even now it feels so good to write again, but the facts are plain to see, I have too much on my plate and something really has to give and over the summer it became obvious that it was blogging I would have to say goodbye to.

I foolishly accepted a promotion so I have a lot of number crunching to do on top of what was already a very difficult job.

When I began to blog I was really only playing at teaching, but with the new management comes accountability and so I have had to raise my game. On its own that would be fine but I am now looking at a second year on an MA course plus my daughter is now at Secondary school, which comes with the need for lots of help and guidance.

So much has changed since I began to write not least my relationship with Emin which is now almost 80% positive, if you have been reading from the start you will know it barely scraped over 10%.

I have managed to fill in that mother shaped chip on my shoulder; it is now in a box marked Not My Future. I need to thank many bloggers for teaching me that my mother was not my future and that her only gift was projecting her hatred of Emin on to me. Thank you all for that, now my relationship is considerably more secure.

I have also filled in the other chip on my shoulder that of the embarrassment I felt at being a teacher. I have read more books than I thought possible since starting this MA and I now know that far from a negative, teaching has been a great positive. I would no more cherish the dream of starting out in life as a full time artist now than I would of flying. Teaching has given me stability to raise a family, had I painted from the start I would not have had three beautiful daughters who since writing this blog have blossomed so much. It has taken my many years to grow into my painting and although it is very frustrating to have to negotiate work before I can put brush to paper I would rather it was on my terms than that of the critics and clients and public funding and all the hideous hurdles working artist have to deal with.

I have managed over the years to realise that my lot is a very good lot indeed compared to many, those glamorous lives I envied are so not as glossy as they seemed.

I have had more dialogue with bloggers than with my own family and talking of family I have reconciled with my father and met for the first time my half-brother. An amazing day for all I think.

As for my half century tour of Europe:

· Madrid 5/10 great wine, bland architecture but housing with some good art

· Amsterdam 3/10 get a bike and cycle as far away as you can

· Berlin 7/10 always a pleasure, I just wish I could find a decent restaurant!

· Paris 3/10 great and I mean great art, but not much else left for me now

· Venice 12/10 truly the most beautiful place on the planet, I would move there tomorrow if I could, and easily the MOST stylish of women I have ever seen

· London 10/10 food, theatre, art and the Olympics, they were just AMAZING and yes, I was there.

· St Ives 6/10 sadly council cutbacks have resulted in a tired lack lustre town and no waves!! (Not the councils fault I know!)

And finally sartorial style, I have changed beyond all recognition, I have to toot my own trumpet and say I rocked in Venice. Blogging has opened my eyes style wise and I have aged most artfully and gracefully into my next half century.

I will try to comment a little bit and will leave the door open maybe for next year but for now I am waving farewell.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Normality is returning

I set the clock for an hour later this morning and slept like a baby, although where that analogy came from I don't know, since none of my babies ever slept much at all until they hit their late teens at which point they became positively Somnambulant, but I digress. I slept in and woke up feeling almost normal, I've had two weeks of unmitigated hell, punctuated with a bit of a 'do' in York, which convinced me that I’m clearly an irascible recluse who struggles to find a skerrick of small talk in such a contrived situation such as a gathering to celebrate my mother’s birthday.
It was 20 years since the last such gathering and this time I remembered to make sure the guests were happy, or rather made sure Leyla oozed her generous charm whilst I cringed in a corner. Sadly it went on all weekend with little respite, Mother was so grumpy I really did not understand how the weekend was a celebration; to me celebrating something is doing something fun. I guess she enjoyed the glow afterwards, who knows?
20 years ago she raged at me for over an hour at my inept ability to make sure her friends were suitably oiled, a scolding I have nurtured as a bitter grudge ever since. It should be noted that the day after I returned home from her diatribe I gave birth to Daisy, so my ineffectual social smoozing was clearly due to the fact was in labour and was lucky not to give birth on the York to London train.
This grudge is very typical of my relationship with Mother, were I to discuss it she would deny it had happened and if acknowledged would deny it was important, and yet after this weekend I see very little mellowing has taken place.
But the hell is over; less than two hours from now I will leave this building and plan to not return for at least a week. Instead I will be in search of some sanity saving domesticated bliss instead, which I can guarantee will last less than a week before I ache to challenge my brain a little bit more.
I spent last night catching up with a BBC series The Hollow Crown, quite the best thing you'll ever watch, I have never particularly enjoyed Shakespeare filmed but these have been sublime; my favourite so far is Henry IV part 2, so moving I cried like a baby.
The second part of my sanity saver will be to pop up to a couple of galleries after school closes today solo, as the last few weeks have entailed trailing around with anything from 1 truculent 11 years old to 65 apathetic 15 year olds, and this weekend sees yet more gallivanting with sisters and mothers, hard to feel any sympathy I know, but hopefully I can blog a little more frequently over the summer.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The view from here

It is all fun, fun, fun in London at the moment, or rather it would be if it would a) stop raining and b) the entire city wasn't being dug up in time for the BIG event. Of which I am participating in, having procured very early on tickets for the final of the 3 day equestrian eventing in Greenwich park. I was sent a free travel card to go with my tickets laughable since the park is almost in walking distance from where I live. But it was the thought that counted.

These phone boxes are scattered across London, I love them particularly the one with the pigeon on top.
 The rather bizarre and wholly inclement weather has raised sartorial challenges I didn't know existed. Freezing cold to hot and sunny in a day and more recently humid, raining and very overcast, which when you are going through the menopause is beyond cruel. Hot sweats and SAD, London's summer, the gift that just keeps on giving.
The trick is to layer up and I managed to assemble some combinations that have seen me through. Particularly pleasing was I finally managed to pair up my stripy cardies which have lain loved but unworn for a year, but I managed to spend a day trying on different ideas and they are very much my favourites this year.
 And so the view from here.
If you were to stand and stare from this very spot only looking down not across, you would see where my focus has been centred for the last few weeks. There have been highs and lows and it was the lows that brought me back to college last night.
A couple of weeks ago we were charged with curating a small show to exhibit our work, we sadly failed that task, because we were oh so busy being terribly polite to each other, and so not treading on peoples toe's. This does not make for a good exhibition, and so we were all told that we had not navigated the space effectively enough  and I had allowed another student to dominate the room preventing access to my work.
I edited a very short film which caused me untold stress. I am someone who lives in there comfort zone, easing me out has to be done very slowly as I like to remain in control but I had only a couple of weeks to do it and on a computer with no right click!. I projected the video onto a door as a symbol of my contested space but it was felt the presentation was slightly amateurish. In hindsight I agree, so last night I went to the MA Fine Art show , and I have learnt many lessons from it, and I am very, very prepared for next years exhibition. 
If you love art I highly recommend it, Goldsmiths has a great reputation and going to see it made up for my missing this years RCA show, due to the fact I was busy with my own exhibition.
Emin was surprisingly great throughout, and even stunned me by saying he not only understood but enjoyed the film!
As I walked around the exhibition spaces I was struck by just how proud the parents were of their sons and daughters, we had a private view too, but I told no one about it. I have issues clearly, why, I don't know.
What was really strange for me was part of the Fine Art show is in the old swimming baths, a beautiful Victorian building that  25 years ago I used to swim in, Now I was walking through the old pools instead and felt quite old.
In the midst of the chaos I have seen not one but three plays in London. Democracy @ Old Vic is great, I think it would be better in a smaller more intimate venue, but so well written. Next up was Birthday @ Royal Court, the coarse nature of the play and language was not flagged up, but Leyla has probably heard it all before at home! As she said it was all a bit too shouty!
Finally it was Meet the Haussmans @ National Theatre, a complete rip off since the play managed to merge Meet the Conway's with The Cherry Orchard. Yet it has had rave reviews. I went with my sister who has to be the grumpiest person to see a play with, she said she felt robbed, it was not that bad, just not that good either.
She is having a bit of a 'Do' tomorrow, so I have ordered her favourite cake from Konditor & Cook. Coffee and Walnut. I just hope I get a slice!
Work? Work is total SHIT, I have been royally shafted into organising activities with people who really don't want to, plus we are having to start the new term now! So life is full of  data bashing and planning plus dealing with a recalcitrant teacher coming back from a lengthy maternity leave, I feel her pain but dealing with her moods is depressing. However next week I am in York and I will be with Daisy so have plenty to see me through next week.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Hallo Berlin

 The weather was glorious & cafe culture thrives
 As do the street markets

 That are so posh in Prenzlauer Berg they have a champagne wagon!

 I would have loved to go inside this shop but the others were marching on ahead, but I will return at Christmas to have a look as we are staying not far away.
 But the best part of this break was the day we went to Potsdam on our rented bikes, well. it would have been had Emin not thrown every single toy out of his pram, leaving me with Leyla again, this was not easy as instead of sandwiching her between us I had to turn and look to see if she was OK all the time. The parks were lovely and both Potsdam and Berlin were a joy to cycle around
The whole holiday for me was marred by Emin's astonishingly selfish behaviour that was reminiscent of our very first holiday with Leyla, when as a small baby I found myself constantly left alone with her whilst he slept.

You may wonder why we are choosing to spend time together in retirement, but as always once you remove the source of all conflict then we get along just fine, so 7 more years and we should be good to go!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

We need to talk about Amsterdam

 Where have I been? Well after a week long break I returned to shed loads of moderation, meetings and college work. All of this is still going on and will do so for the next two weeks, but I need timeout so have returned to post some photographs of Amsterdam.
My memories of this city were golden, but that was 25 years ago and time has taken its toll on this once beautiful city. The city remains beautiful of course, but the heaving tourists flocking to ogle the hard core window porn and smoke various illegal or otherwise substances have tainted the view.
I was even more conscious of all this with an 11 year old in tow, but despite grown men on their hands and knee's throwing up in our path we managed to find some of the quieter places to walk.
And therein lay another problem, it rained and rained and the wind blew a bitterly cold gale. Emin was ill shod and kept wandering off by himself, leaving me to deal with Leyla. We queued for hours to shelter in the Van Gogh Museum which was lovely but full to the brim. I saw my most favourite Van Gogh painting, and realised it was probably the last one he painted before he died, and I just wanted to cry.
 But despite this the view across the canals remains a delight, as does the ability to gaze longingly inside those huge windows, coveting those amazing rooms they live in.
 Bicycles were not always welcome, but we did rent some the one day it stopped raining and cycled out of town.

 Gorgeous views.

 amazing windows

 interiors to covet

 This birds nest was a work of art.
 Far from the madding crowd was this haven of tranquillity
 ...and delicious food at Momo.
All so we could escape this, which was a shame as London is looking very festive and despite the whole city trying to complete 10 years worth of repairs and renovations for our big day it was good to get home.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Chelsea Style

 These are my favourite Chelsea outfits, I have never been so late in the day or gone on a Friday, I thought it would be a wash out and then when the heat racked up I was glad to go latter and not so avoid melting in the sun. In the end it was a perfect night out, and my concerns over the lack of sartorial style were quashed in a nano second when I saw this dress above , It was so beautiful.
I then saw many lovely dresses and tunics and realised all the cool guys go after work on a Friday, as do all the corporate hangers on which made for a really great atmosphere and some good people watching.
The pollen shedding Plane tree's were a nightmare though, and made for some very itchy eyes and noses and a raging sore throat for two days after.

 The lining inside this jacket is divine, I do love men's clothes.

 This dress was lovely, not quite so apparent in the photograph, it was a heavy silk with lovely grey abstract patterns bled into the fabric.

This dress to was lovely too, I do  love a shift dress, despite my ever fattening arms!
So yes, a great crop of style this year, I will most definitely return again, same time same place next year.
This bumper crop of images will be the last for a week or so as I travel across Europe via Amsterdam and Berlin. I will hopefully return replete with photographs, although the weather forecast is grimly wet. I have yet to pack and for the fist time we are each carrying on our own luggage, so some difficult choices are being made.
Before then I have the RA Summer Show and a trip to the Royal Court on Friday. Yes, marking is over but moderation begins after half term as do copious trips with my students. And the circle keeps on turning.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Floral paradise plus some spots @ The Chelsea Flower Show

Brilliant Sunshine + Pimm's + Glorious Sartorial Style + Some Nice Gardens Too = A Hugely Entertaining Evening