A Frozen Serenity

Sunrise on a cold and frosty morning

Sunrise on a cold and frosty morning

For more Serenity pictures, here…..or follow this link to my other blog, pilgrimonhorseback.com, to see more frosty photos.

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My Nativity, a Soupy Opera

I remember my father saying that before I was conceived I was just the twinkle in his eye.  So its true then, we really are created out of star dust?


Recently, I decided to record the experience of going through a car-wash.  I am mesmerised as miles of accumulated grime is scuffed and rinsed away.  From my space capsule’s insiders view, I marvel at how something so mechanically mundane could produce such a beautiful spectacle.  I watch the ebb and flow of water and suds, glint and sparkle around me in the light, every foamy streak unique in its formation yet producing beautiful, minuscule galaxies and mobile symmetries.  Rinsing water is sprayed and squirted, misting into a liquid film on the windscreen like the wrinkled surface of a lake, whilst black rotating rubber flanges beat and flail their way along the panels and side windows gently rocking me from side to side.

Finally the giant drier blasts the remaining droplets of water into oblivion and the muddy residue vanishes down into the drains.  After what seems like no time at all, the machines just stop and there is a moment of eerie quiet.  The green light comes on and I turn the key to start up my engine, emerging from my reverie back into the world, my carapace duly cleansed, dried and polished and ready for the next journey along the road.

I hope you enjoy this sequence of images: A symphony of light and shadow, water, sparkle and movement punctuated by a soapy froth and passages of frenzied blackness.  Inspiration in the twinkle of my eye.  This is my Nativity.














“You come to us from another world, from beyond the Stars and void of space. Transcendent. Pure. Of unimaginable Beauty, bringing with you the Essence of Love.
– Rumi

To see other ‘twinkle’ posts, this week’s photo challenge, see here.

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Candy Stripes and Winter Blues

Tammie and I found ourselves on a deserted beach at West Wittering, one rather cold and wet day this week.






This punctuated orange triangle stood out from the crowd


We dried ourselves out and warmed ourselves up in the pub afterwards


Then I found this in my bedroom.



For other Converge posts, this weeks’ photo challenge, see here.

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Hubble and Bubble and Remembering Loved Ones

I keep seeing frogs.  Live ones and even a dead one.  Could this mean I’m about to find my Prince Charming?  Unlikely.

Only the other day I rescued this little beauty that had fallen into a bucket of water.


What could be more appropriate as a Halloween animal spirit?  As we all know, many a poor frog has been sacrificed in a special witches brew.  As the thin veil between the world of the living and the dead draws near, it is a moment to celebrate the lives of loves ones and special animals friends who have left us: my darling brother, Tim; my sweetest whippet, Sadie; Mitzi the black cat; the rare-breed chicken; and Horus, the pig, to name but a few. They will all be sadly missed but not forgotten.

In all my correspondence with my brother, he called me 'sis' and I called him 'bro'.

In all the correspondence with my brother, he called me ‘sis’ and I called him ‘bro’.

This is a photo of me and my brother (circa 1959), when we lived in Australia

This is a photo of me and my brother (circa 1959), when we lived in Australia

Then I googled and found this on-line meaning for Frog Spirit which seems completely appropriate:

“The frog as spirit animal or totem reminds us of the transient nature of our lives. As symbol of transition and transformation, this spirit animal supports us in times of change. Strongly associated with the water element, it connects us with the world of emotions and feminine energies, as well as the process of cleansing, whether it’s physical, emotional, or more spiritual or energetic.

The frog spirit animal and rebirth

The frog totem symbolizes the cycles of life, in particular the rebirth stage. Its own journey through life, from tadpole to the adult state, reminds us of the many cycles of transformation and rebirth in our lives.

The symbolism of the frog as animal associated with birth and rebirth can be traced in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome and other cultures from antiquity. The frog was a popular symbol for fertility, as well as rebirth or resurrection. For example, in the Ancient Egypt mythology, the frog was associated with resurrection; the Roman Venus, goddess of Love, was often depicted with a frog.

The frog, symbol of transformation

The frog is an amphibian and goes easily from water to earth during its life. By extension, it has been often revered as a symbol of transition. If you see the frog as your animal totem or spirit guide, you may be called to experience change in your life. Those changes might be with regards to how you lead your life and can also be of spiritual nature.

Call on the frog spirit animal to guide you through times of transition and help you smoothly go from one state to the next. It will support your transformation or metamorphosis in a subtle yet powerful way.”

If you would like to know about Rabbit Spirit, hop over to the latest post on my Pilgrim on Horseback blog.

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Pointing the Way

Signs. The subject for this weeks WordPress photo challenge.  All these photos were taken over the course of my week-long reconnoitre trip up to the Holy island of Lindisfarne during Michaelmas last week.  (see also Pilgrim on Horseback for the back story).  Click on any of the photos if you wish to read the messages more clearly!


Normally, I would jump at the chance to use a title like this to go down the esoteric route and interpret it as ‘signs as symbols’.  Something I am always seeking to find in the landscape as personal messages for me.  These, however, are signs that are literally pointing the way.

this is one I hope to become very familiar with

this is one I hope to become very familiar with

Some are warning signs, some have been defaced: a sheep turned into some of rhinoceros. Information boards, a scratched dedication to a loved one on a bench, and a way marker looking like a crucifix.

Then, on a wild and desolate moor in the North Yorkshire Dales, I come across the Red Flag which stopped me in my tracks.

On the Holy island of Lindisfarne, the signage becomes grand and imposing to shepherd the thousands of visitors around the island as well as marking the way for pilgrims wanting to follow in the Saintly footsteps of Cuthbert.  A couple of the signs, however, are cracked and old-fashioned and seem oddly out-of-place against the ‘corporate’ signage of a place that has become a major tourist attraction.  (Naively, something I was not expecting and found rather disturbing).  For me, these signs seem more home-spun and real and speak of the people behind them.  (Like the dedication on the bench, above)

And looking at them all again, collectively, there is an element of deep symbology for me in them, each one unique in its own way telling their own story.  On my epic journey, I shall be looking for these signs to guide me along the right path, both physically and spiritually.  Not least as a little bit of entertainment to also delight and amuse.


To see how other people have interpreted signs, here.


Filed under my sketchbook pages, Paths of Enlightenment, Personal Philosophy, Pilgrimage Walks, The Artist as Pilgrim, Walks, Wordpress Photo Challenge

Allowing Silence to Speak

Inspired by this:

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Mary Oliver
Today, I came up with these words:
Brollies, Balloons, Bunting and Bicycles.
In my ‘patchwork’ of words, I enjoy the repeating sound of the ‘b’s, like a babbling brook.   The seemingly random connection of their meanings.  They hint of party-time and celebration.  They are, in fact, the things that I have been working with in the training ‘room’ (which is the round pen) with my horse and I have used them as the title for a new post in my blog, Pilgrim on Horseback.  They represent the things that occupy that ‘silence’ in my days at the moment.
The words on their own conjure up colourful imagery: rounded, twirling shapes, triangular shapes, flowing ribbons and farting balloons: an expectation of fun and giggles.  I am very grateful for these words.  This is my ‘other’ voice speaking, quietly with joy.
And because these words are so full of imagined colour and fun, I have decided not to illustrate this post with any imagery at all, preferring to let the words do the picturing for you.  This last has been difficult but a first for me!  Read them again.  What do they represent for you, I wonder?

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Layered Textures of a Pilgrimage

Exploring physical textures is a constant theme that runs through my life like a thread that gets woven into every aspect of what I am doing, thinking or creating.  Last month that ‘textures thread’ was ‘grown’ in a digital 3D lab to create a collaborative artwork for the The All Makers Now ? Conference exhibition at Trelissick House, Cornwall.  (see previous post).


a mechanical device that is programmed to reproduce objects out of extruded plastic, fine enough to replicate fine details and surface textures.

Then, by way of a complete contrast from the mechanical manufacturing of 3D digital textures my focus moves to the spiritual texture of a pilgrimage.  On another one of Richard Dealler’s, 6 day guided Pilgrimages following the Mary / Michael Pilgrim Route.  This time across Bodmin Moor from St. Austell to Liskeard, walking between the pyramids of spoil and aqua waters of China clay mining country to the pony and sheep dotted wilderness that is Bodmin Moor.


As the days pass, the biggest pyramid gets smaller and smaller as we get further and further away from our starting point until finally it is obliterated from view by the mist.


I relish the chance to walk once more in silence.  The chance to journey inwards and rekindle that still place within me whilst making visible and felt connections to the natural world around us.  And once more happy to relinquish responsibility for where we are going to our leader, Richard, who has found a new oak staff to walk with.  The one which he had abandoned out of guilt for breaking it free from its mother tree, only to find it again propped up on the gate post where it had been carried by an unknown individual to await his passing by the following day.


Each overnight camp is marked by a different farm animal and its dung: in order of appearance, cow, horse, dog (heard in the distance only from a rescue centre nearby) and sheep.  Waste products seems to have been a theme running through this pilgrimage.  My shadow on a slurry strewn dairy farmyard on our first camp making a beautiful pattern.  The aroma that stuck to our boots hung around for days.


Another theme that begins to emerge is that this land has apparently been fashioned by giants.  Lying on the ground as if some giant had just tossed them there with abandonment, are these huge boulders.  They lie scattered across the fields all across this area and have somehow been built into the field boundary walls.


And then in a clearing in some unidentified wood, there is what is believed to be the largest free-standing boulder in the British Isles.  It lies as if suspended in mid-air, propped up by lesser boulders, huge in their own right.


This daddy of them all is so big, I struggle to find an angle in which to photograph the whole thing.  It dwarfed us all in its magnificence.  When we toned inside its open chamber, the stones hummed back as if in gratitude of our acknowledgement.


In this land of giants, we crossed an old viaduct built out of huge blocks of granite.  What is Richard saying?  (Chance for a caption competition here?)


In the cool, dark woods at Bolitha Falls, we found a spot away from the madding crowd, to sit and eat our lunch.  The deafening sound of rushing white water made having any kind of conversation impossible, anyway.


We made a mandala of pilgrim feet on the leaf litter in the woods.  The trees giving up their old leaves to be recycled into humus as the circle of life goes on.

a mandala of pilgrim feet

We feed our bodies with nature’s bounty, and Christoffer’s delicious suppers,


and the porridge bowls are always polished clean.


We replenish our souls with holy water from sacred wells,


finding solace, peace and a cool retreat as well as reliving poignant memories inside churches we visit,


captivated by human stories of war-time heroes,


or by the patterns and symbols, in the tracery of window panes


and in the crosses we find outside in the churchyards, like this one at Lostwithiel.


Or along the way, where the old and the new jostle for our attention alongside each other to signpost our way.


We walked across many fields of sun-burned grasses,


and barefoot up scraggy hills to relieve blistered feet.


Or stopped to meditate or doze away an hour, propped up by the stones in an ancient stone circle of circles that is the Hurlers and shared sacred heart prayers on a node point buzzing with energy.  Here Richard relinquishes his heavy oak staff for someone else to pick up.   Then on to marvel at the stack of boulders that is the Cheesewring on top of Bodmin Moor where the giants seem to have been at work once more.


But no sign of the Beast.  Only muddy tractor tyre tracks to be found.


and rusting pieces of old farm machinery seemingly abandoned by the wayside.


On the final day, we begin our walk with a shamanic walking practice led by Andrew.  Walking with a creeping, cat-like stalk, this very slow, high-stepping crocodile, connected by an imaginary thread begins its snaking progress along the path.  What a sight this must have been and after I managed to suppress my initial urge to giggle, it did provide an opportunity for us to stop and really observe the details in the landscape around us.  To appreciate the ‘accidental beauty’.   Something that I felt up until that moment, because of the pressure to reach our destinations, had been somewhat missing.

And those observations, for me, summed up the sensory textures of this pilgrimage: noticing the variety of grasses with their different seed heads swaying together in the gentle breeze.  Noticing underfoot, the contrast between the dry, ruminant-nibbled grasses and the cool squelchiness of the boggy patches of moss and reed, or the sharp, stoney graveliness of the farm track, remembering the ‘trudge’ through the rain on our first day.  As we turned in unison to gaze upon the slope of the hill rising before us, seeing it as if for the first time: the fields divided by remains of old, crumbling stone walls now dotted with pristine white, sheared sheep, no doubt washed clean by the very squally wind and rain that had blown through the night before.  It was a biblical scene to be sure.  The symphony of bleating notes as ewes and their lambs call to one another, echoing around the hills.

In this place of sleeping giants and semi-wilderness, and in this very moment, the silence is both deafening and beautiful, the scenery both harsh and nurturing.  Wiping the sheep poo off my boots, I am minded to relinquish the old, the wasted, in order to replenish the new as the cycle of birth, death and rebirth is an ever-present element that is woven into the textural fabric of our evolving lives.  Every breath we take is an acknowledgement of that.



For more WordPress photo challenge: Texture here


Filed under Digital, Mandalas, Paths of Enlightenment, Pilgrimage Walks, The Artist as Pilgrim, Walks, Wordpress Photo Challenge