Monday, 13 June 2011

A photographic jog around Cambridge

Thirty years living in Cambridge, and twenty years running on the roads of this great city - but today I realised what a beautiful place this is to live. What was it that removed the blinkers from my eyes and the cobwebs from my brain to enable me to SEE my hometown with such clarity? Could it have been the tourists photographing scenes which I pass by every day, or the many people standing on the Garret Hostel bridge looking on to the river at the many people on punts, some howling with delight whilst others lie there cool and relaxed, without doubt a pro, a resident, a student! Or the numerous groups of people generally just milling around the various parts of the city, simply looking and admiring. Or, even the sight of artists sketching, and the melodic sounds of musicians busking, the smell of freshly baked bread and it seemed that even the homeless lying in doorways or sprawled out on perfectly managed university lawns appreciated their chosen beds, as even they had a smile on their face.
Today, on my six-mile journey, I ran past trees and fields I remember so well as a young person growing up, having spent many hours with friends chilling by the river laughing and chatting. Oh, those were the days!
In recognition of this, here are just a few pictures of beautiful Cambridge. There will be regular photographic updates of my runs around the city.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

In 2008, I received a charity place to run the last Flora London Marathon and raised £3,700 for Multiple Sclerosis Trust. But September 2010 brought enormous excitement when, after four years of applying, I finally got my ‘Gold’ place to run the 2011 Virgin London Marathon. Although, reserving total elation due to being diagnosed only two months prior with an autoimmune disorder, I still, in anticipation, maintained my rigid running routine. But this was short-lived, and only for a further two months. Scans, blood tests, liver and lip biopsies were meant to confirm cause and hence a treatment, however, the results: 'A rare case' apparently! 'It's Sjogren’s says one consultant. 'It's Primary Biliary Sclerosis' says the Liver specialist. And the solution - steroids! Wasting muscles, sagging skin, bloating and shakes!! This added to the usual lethargy and exhaustion, of course. In fact, the complete list of ‘possible’ side effects is what you would expect to see in a triple x-rated horror movie: 'serious mental health problems, depression, including thinking about suicide, feeling high, mood swings, memory loss, confusion, feeling, seeing or hearing things which do not exist, increased appetite, weight gain, increase in hair growth, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, cataracts etc., etc.' And this is supposed to make me better? Suffice to say, I have not experienced most of the mentioned symptoms - thank goodness!

Needless to say, I had to defer from the marathon! Gutted! Totally! Fingers crossed I’ll be running next April!

In the mean time, I also abstained from painting due the concern of chemicals and not really knowing the cause of all my symptoms. Eight months since I last painted, six months on steroids, and a decision to participate once again in the 2011 Open Studios, I’m back again painting. The clash of emotion on first entering the studio (a 100 year old, renovated summer house at the bottom of our garden, used once as a girls changing room when the grounds were tennis courts and orchards!) initially sent me back into the house for yet another cup of herbal tea, but once I returned again and set out my oils, I was ready. Except for one tiny dilemma ‘what shall I paint?’

These dry, uninspired moments hit us all on occasions and it’s at these times when you’re feeling you’re most vulnerable and experience endless bouts of self-doubt. And at these moments you can guarantee that the paintbrush will not benefit any part of the canvas. The brushes take on a life of their own – unruly and pigheaded, like a 2 year old at bedtime - contrary and harmful. The only solution, fight it out and stand your ground!

Now, with less than two months to the Cambridge Open Studios, there still seems to be a staggering amount of work yet to do! But it’s not the paintings that are a cause for concern. I have whipped the paintbrushes into shape and there seems to be a happy rapport between them and the paint and canvases! The garden, however, is totally overgrown, and the house – particularly since my son’s return from university - looks like we’ve been hit by a mini tornado – leaving no corner of the house untouched! However, this year promises to be an exciting show as I am sharing my home with three other artists, all great and so varied. I’m really looking forward to seeing some regular faces and making new acquaintances. So, here’s to focus, inspiration and sunshine.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Great expectations

Eleven months since my last posting! A brief update.

In the past year I have attended several exhibitions: Windsor Art Fair, Untitled Art Fair in Chelsea and and held my own Cambridge Open Studios. As a first time exhibitor with Windsor and Untitled I had no great expectations. What I can say now is that it was great fun, but for the wrong reasons. The private view evenings were buzzing with friends and family, a great opportunity to catch up and a have a tipple or two!! The only problem was that two led to four which led to . . . hick, how many? Nonetheless, it was a fun evening if you put the notion of selling a piece or indeed having any logical discussion with a genuine dealer out of your mind! And for the rest of the time I got to know my fellow exhibitors pretty well. The visitors to the shows were indeed down from the previous year!

The Cambridge Open Studios in July brought reasonable sales, but the frustration of opening your home to the public does at times make you wonder why you do so! Some seem to look upon the four weekends in July as a free creche for their children. At other times, which is more often the case you are an encyclopedia for the new up-and-coming artists, syphoning every ounce of information you have collected and stored away over the years. They pick at you like a vulture to a carcass! It's only at the end of the interrogation you realise that their intention was far from innocent! Beyond all that, I have met some wonderful people who have given me a great deal more in terms of inspiration and motivation.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Pinch, punch! 1st of the month

Another new month begins, and I'm wondering where the last few have gone. I've been working all hours preparing for my first commercial Art Exhibition. The 5th Windsor Art Fair will be held at the Royal Windsor Racecourse from Friday 13th till Sunday 15th November, with a preview from 6 till 9 pm on the Friday. I will be showing 10 new pieces which I am pretty excited about. I so rarely get excited! They are mostly landscapes but with the addition of a few florals which are so different from the ones I exhibited at COS in July.

The weather today reminds me of all the Sundays during the past 9 years spent standing on the sideline of numerous rugby pitches with my son Joshua. Today I am grateful he no longer plays. However, there was something very addictive about standing in the wind and the rain watching your son and the rest of the team play a passionate game of rugby. There is excitement and fear! For most of the 90 minutes I would keep up with the team shouting encouragement, but for the few moments when game stops and players step back, there is the fear that the poor boy lying on the floor could be your own. And then the guilt, which follows the relief when you notice your son standing amongst his team mates! With that thought I have uploaded a dramatic picture of a rugby pitch at night.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

And here is me in pain being treated by Jane and Bowen.

Monday, 22 June 2009

My first posting

A dear friend of mine has talked about her 'Blog' for as long as I have known her. I believe it to be a shocking 5 years now! It's taken all this time for me to get one together. Actually who am I kidding, if it wasn't for Sybille setting up the the first page in the first place I would still be writing in my diary or the iphone. Thanks mate!

To be honest I'm not sure where to begin. It's like when you fall behind in your diary and you're so desperate to catch up, where do you start? Well, I have to start somewhere so the most important thing I can think of is to say a big enormous THANK YOU to all my delicious friends and family for your support leading up to and on the day of the London Flora

On the 26th April I ran the London Flora Marathon in 4 hours and 20 minutes. The training was seriously exhausting, yet the experience was one of the most momentous and tremendous experiences of my life.

During the four months training I picked up many injuries, names I can neither spell nor for that matter remember! To be frank the months seem like a dream, I can hardly believe I trained so hard, let alone ran 26.2 miles.

The day itself was beautiful. Many complained about the weather being too hot, I can't complain about that. I so enjoyed the heat, and mostly the cool showers that were provided en-route. My little secret . . the last shower not a good idea! I believe it was around mile 18? well, the bladder was a little fuller than safe, and the cool shower was such a major shock to the system that I nearly let go of . . . say no more!

I pulled out three times thanks to severe pain down my leg. What was it called Liz? All was fine till mile 9 when a sharp pain shot down from my hip to my knee. I was in agony but I just couldn't stop. Too much training, too many people supporting - I had to continue. Also, there is some kind of power and strength of will that sets in. The pain seemed a pleasure for the sake of the experience. It's impossible to explain, but now I know why so many run marathons as often as they do. It is so addictive!

I raised around £3,400. I have so many to thank. Not just for helping me raise so much for Multiple Sclerosis, a disease my little sister has suffered with for the past 10 years, but also for all the encouragement and fantastic support which made running the 26.2 miles possible!

My justgiving site lists most of the lovely people I am grateful to call friends and family. Check out www.justgiving/ The messages were seriously appreciated and inspirational. Thank you.

Here are a few pics - not many during the run itself. I guess I was just too fast for the camera. Yeah! Neil get a better camera! Maybe next time!