Walking

I like a wooded track to walk along, away from roads and fumes, especially if its a link between two places I want to get to and from. But strangely I don’t like to walk in woodland. I worry I will get lost. I’ve walked around some places and lost track of where we were. I even tried looking for the moss on the side of the trees to see if I could decide which way was north! Luckily the sun came out so I could tell which way was west, then I saw a way marker! I can’t imagine going to somewhere in a wood in the countryside and finding my way out! You can tell I’m nervous of it because of the number of exclamation marks I’ve used!

But a gentle walk along a wooded path in the town? That’s fine… Funny how different things affect different people.

Urban view

View down a hill across the city as we were walking back home tonight. The street lights of the main dual carrageway road that runs through the city were shining brightly. Up here the view is across the valley of the river Trent. On a clear day you can see the way the land undulates towards the horizon about three or four miles away? There are hills to the left behind the buildings that rise up to a TV mast on a hill and then further on the green fields and pockets of woodland heading up to the Staffordshire moorlands. Straight in front and over the city hills would lead you eventually East into Nottinghamshire, and South the land is also covered in farms and woods, heading towards the Birmingham conurbation fotry or fifty miles away. We are an isolated city, surrounded by mostly countryside. A pleasant situation when so many other cities around England seem to be be surrounded by satellite towns. Fresh air is not too far away.

Country View

Over there, beyond the houses, that’s how close the countryside is to this city. Wooded hills and farmers fields, the river Trent lies in that valley. Its the beginning of a great river that eventually empties out on the East Side of England near the mouth of the Humber after meandering through Nottinghamshire and I think Lincolnshire.

Our city does not sit in a conurbation. Its not surrounded by other towns in a massive urban sprawl. Yes there are towns nearby, but the gaps between them have not been filled in by housing and industrial development yet.

No great mountains or rolling plains nearby, but a gentle green land eventually leading to Welsh hills in one direction, or the flat lands of the East. The industrial Midlands South of us and the Peaks of Derbyshire in the North East and the Lancashire coast to the North West. A small geography lesson.

I want to be out!

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By a waterfall, in the countryside, with friends. A little picnic, some cheese sandwiches, a flask of tea? An apple or a banana. Sunshine, a scent of flowers on the breeze. Driving a few miles further than I have for the last few months. Out of the city. Where my feet can touch grass. Where my eyes can be dazzled with colour and the clouds are as white washed cotton. I want time to go back. Before pandemics and Covid, before corruption and death..

Is it too much to ask?

Are the stars out?

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In the sky I see stars, not many, the major constellations, ursa major, ursa minor, casseopea. Its hard to make out because the clouds are flitting by. And despite lockdown, the street lights still deaden them.

I’ve only ever felt the greatness and infinity of space when we were out in the countryside. Seeing the milky way galaxy made me feel so tiny. Like I could fall off the surface of the earth, into a whirlpool of stars. Seeing that band of stardust overhead can be overwhelming.

Dark skies, where the town and city light does not reflect back. Where you can lie down on the ground and see shooting stars flying overhead. I may have seen satellites or the ISS but I wouldn’t be sure. We have seen comets…

The sky is there to observe. Look if you can, and learn.

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Outside today

I went out with Urban sketchers today and was at an old farm near Eccleshall to draw. I took a few photos. I need to take good pictures of my drawings.

The day was grey, overcast with great rushes of wind that you could hear soughing through the trees. Starting far way you could hear it rushing and pushing the tree branches. Rooks were flying and calling in the air, scooting about and apparently enjoying it. We even saw a murmuration of Starlings flocking in the distance.

I sat on a white metal garden chair, strong but cold. I ended up folding up my scarf to stop my bum going numb with the cold. Within a few minutes I was shivering and then I got used to it although my hands started to go numb with the chill. Luckily there was hot tea available. It was very kind of the artists that live there to let a crowd of about twenty urban sketchers come round and draw everything from trees to stone dogs.

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Lunch in the mist

I just wrote a blog post about taking my sister out to lunch at the Red Cow at Werrington, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. But I fell asleep and pressed the wrong button, so the description and information disappeared!

I was trying to say the view from the restaurant is wonderful and the food was great. Hot, tasty, delicious.

The leaves that are remaining on the trees are sparkling with copper, gold and bronze, the fields are still green.

Anyway I’m posting this now because I’ve dozed off again three times already.

Rhododendrons are out.

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This is an image from Rode Hall that I photographed a couple of weeks ago. As you can see the rhododendrons are in full bloom. These showy shrubs originally come from the far east, China I think? They are grown for their flowers which can come in a variety of colours.

They do spread though and can shade out native plants which is why they are sometimes drastically cut back in wooded areas, allowing light to penetrate the canopy of leaves.

I must visit the Dorothy Clive garden soon. They have a large and mixed collection in their quarry garden. They are in the countryside west of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Hare minus bells

I went out this morning to go to the Orme Art group. We were supposed to do limited pallette paintings, white, red, yellow ochre and black. I cheated and used some cerulean blue in the background. I want to add harebells, a beautiful bell shaped flower found in the countryside. The image is an amalgum of a photo from a magazine that I’d taken a photo of and a photo off the Internet. I’m not sure if I will finish this or any of the other paintings at the moment. Every time I feel better I do stuff, then I feel ill again. I guess I’m trying too hard. But I wanted some really strong paintings for the exhibition. I hope they look good. Anyway I’m having a rest for half an hour.

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A year ago

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A year ago I was outside Chatterley and Whitfield colliery drawing with the Stoke Urban Sketchers.

This year Stoke-on-Trent is hosting the United Kingdom Urban Sketchers annual festival from 7th to 9th June 2019! There may be a lot if sketchers descending on the city.

There is a lot of industrial archaeology and architecture here so I think people will enjoy it. Hopefully I will be able to get involved in it.

 

There are lots of places in Stoke-on-Trent and in the surrounding countryside which are worth drawing. I would love people to come here and fall in love with this city.