We’d been on the motorway for 6 hours, stuck in a traffic Jam. The kids were going crazy. The cat, perched between the kids in the back, was miaowing loudly and clawing at the door of the cat box.
Michelle and I had both had about an hour’s sleep the previous night, and we were three hours late for meeting the removal firm at the new house.
Then they called us to tell us that they couldn’t get the lorry down the track to the house because of the overhanging trees, and they’d set off back to London. With all our stuff.
Storm Brian hit that night. We finally got into the house at 9PM with only what we had in the car. We had a couple of quilts and pillows in the car with us, pretty lucky since we were going to be sleeping on the floor.
Moving is never easy, but this was probably the most stressful and tiring one we’ve ever done. We completely underestimated how much stuff we’d jammed into the loft over the 15 years we lived at our old 2-up-2-down in Epsom, and even after the removals truck left, we still had to pack the car to the gunnels to get everything out.
Just when we were about to leave, the kids let the cat out of the room where we’d been keeping him safe and he dashed straight outside and was nowhere to be seen. For a while, it was looking like we were going to have to leave him.
But now we’re here, settled in a small village called Uley in the south of the Cotswolds. It’s been absolutely worth everything we went through to get here.
This is the front of our new home. It’s rented, so we won’t be here forever, but for now it’s lovely.
Another shot from the back of the house:
The village high street. It looks like this in rush hour, too.
The population of this village is about 1000 people, but it has it’s own arts centre! With a cafe! And the coffee is excellent! I think we came to the right place.
The lovely arts centre. I’m hoping to start running courses here before too long, it’s a fantastic venue and they already have people running drawing and painting courses there.
The boys love it here already:
One of my lovely north (almost) facing windows:
Easel is ready to go (and this post is currently being written on the laptop in this shot 🙂 ).
It’s lovely to have this space. It’s incredible, actually, I keep pinching myself.
Of course, you should paint whether your space is ideal or not. For years I painted in a tiny living room, risking my set ups being knocked over by the kids. And yes, on one occasion at least, one of them helped me with a painting whilst I was out of the room.
Now I have a studio with plenty of space and two almost-north light windows. I have more room than I really know what to do with, even with all the unopened boxes from the move stacked up in here.
I feel like one of those neglected zoo animals that’s been left in a confined space so long, it just keeps going up and down in the same small area, apparently unaware of all the space around it.
The other thing that strikes me here is the quiet. I’ve been keeping the window open in the studio, despite the cold, because all I can hear here is birds – mostly the clucking of the local tribe of pheasants who mill about in the garden every morning.
So what’s coming next?
Well, firstly I’m going to start painting again next week. Soon, I hope to start exploring and doing some landscape sketches. I haven’t painted landscape for many, many years, so that’s going to be interesting. I’m going to approach it as an investigation to start with, without trying to create any finished pieces right off. One step at a time. I’ll publish everything I do here, of course.
And then there’s the Prema Arts centre up the road. They already run courses there, so I’m going to look into doing some courses here myself. I’m to sure what the format will be yet, but I’m thinking about residential colour and landscape courses once I’ve got to know the area better.
And also (hot off the press so keep this to yourself!) the incredibly wonderful flower painter Kathleen Speranza has mentioned she’d like to do a course here too. So we’re going to see if we can organise something for next summer. How cool would that be?
The last couple of years have been pretty challenging. I was made redundant (a blessing in disguise) found I had a pretty serious illness and had a heart attack at the start of the year.
It’s been a struggle to stay positive and moving forward sometimes. But I look around me and I’m amazed at the beautiful place we’ve ended up, almost, it seems, by accident.
And I’ve certainly grown. No one wants to have to go through those kinds of difficulties. In fact, we seem to spend a lot of our time trying to avoid difficulties altogether. To keep our lives as uneventful and unchallenging as we can.
But that’s a recipe for stagnation. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to be grateful. I have so much to be grateful for. And now we’ve ended up in this incredibly beautiful, inspiring place, the time I take out every morning just to breathe, listen and be grateful is more full and rewarding, more nourishing than it’s ever been.
On that first morning, when we woke up on the floor, wrapped up together in quilts with no furniture, Luc (our eldest boy) opened his eyes, looked around and the first words out of his mouth were:
“It’s a new day.”
It really is.
Best wishes and thanks for reading
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