I can't believe it's been a whole month since I last wrote a blog. Life flies by - between kids, school, my work, his work, cleaning and cooking, etc. - suddenly four weeks have gone and I have been a little 'off grid'; emersed in a world of making, thinking, and writing...
In late February I took the kids to see their great grandparents - Ces (83) and Reg (84) - on their ramshackle homestead in Wiltshire, just outside Marlborough on the edge of the (Bluebell) West Woods. Granny Ces is the font of all making and mending, as far as I am concerned! My childhood was full of wonder and awe about the things I did with her. She was only 43 when I was 6 - not dissimilar ages to my daughter and I. I spent a great deal of time on the farm, with her and the four dogs, the wild rabbits and deer, and every other kind of wildlife. (It was a chicken, and subsequently a pig farm, so I won't romanticize too much about the animals, as I still clearly remember the inside of the slaughter house.)
Ces made and mended things. Many things. All things. Food, of course. Everything from scratch. My cupboards are still well stocked with the marmalade I get on every visit. Clothes. I was a hand knitted clad child - as are my kids now thanks to Ces and my mum, Mo. Everything grew in abundance; the kind of healthy flourishing my green hands aspire to. All things were mended and repaired, in all manner of ways. I have often wanted to document this, but it is not the thing to do (as she mends things because she needs to - not necessarily because she thinks it should be so. Modern gadgets amaze and please her hugely - she is a combination cooker kinda woman, not an Aga kinda lady).
It seemed to me that she radiated love - she still does. I know now that she is of another world; another generation, where self sufficiency was everything. I still visit today with a sense of awe. A part of me wants to be just like her; crafting in a world where everything can grow, be made, be part of the natural world around her. The space and the sky there is endless. She seems to exist between the neon world of Sky tv (she loves it, especially the football, and Liverpool) and the land of rabbits and her homemade aviary (enormous). She shoots rats with an air rifle from an upstairs bedroom window to keep her precious birds safe. I definitely want to be like her!
I know that my love of making things with my hands comes from Ces; my dad (a builder); and my mum (a 70's homemaker).
My research career has evolved through a nomadic approach of following my nose and cutting a path through wild terrain that instinctively draws me in.
I use my hands; but not to make in the practical, real sense that my roots gave me. I make to provoke, to reflect, to think, and to express.
Having children is enormously pleasing in so many ways - and challenging in many, many more ways - but one of the greatest pleasures for me has been the incredible luxury of time spent making and growing things together.
For spring half term we met up with my parents in a hotel by a big beach. Days spent on a sandy shore populated only with local fishermen - heaven. Equally heavenly was the hotel's art room, open all hours. The children could go and draw, paint, cook, sculpt and even disco dance, whenever they needed more than the hotel room or lounge could offer. We spent a blissful week digging, stretching, walking, collecting shells and sculpting animals.
The chance to reconnect with nature and family gives us the opportunity to reflect on the things that make us happy - the things that enable us to flourish. Going back to London, school and work we try to hold on to this sense and keep it to the fore.
We did not need to buy any new clothes for the trips this month.
We all felt we had everything we needed.