Horse Chestnut

Horse Chestnut leaf today. On a sapling. The leaves are larger than a man’s hand, deeply segmented and split into seven sections. The tree will grow very large and when it starts to flower it will grow large white flowering bracts. Then in the autumn it develops nuts called Conkers. These are encased in a spikey shell that you have to peel off. This is the thing that children make holes through and then use to play the game conkers. Basically each person has one of them. They drill or pierce the nut with a skewer fron the top to the base. It is then threaded onto a string. Two children / people stand opposite each other. One holds up their conker and swings it at the other one. If it hits it can either knock the other conker or split it. If it doesn’t break the other person takes a turn. The conker is called a “one-er” if it survives. Each time it doesn’t break the number goes up, so “two-er” and so on. Some people bake conkers or soak them in vinegar to strengthen them.

So basically when you hear about a game of conkers that’s what it is. The trouble comes when you try and get them off the trees. We have a row of them on the main road. Children throw sticks and stones up at the branches to get them down which can be a hazard if you walk or drive underneath them.

Four eyes

When I was little I used to get called ‘four eyes’ because I was wearing glasses. It was hurtful and upsetting but I don’t think I really understood why other children were calling me that. It didn’t help having an unusual name. Kids would shout names at me like ‘blueband’ (a name of a margarine). I realise now I was being bullied. I was only about seven or eight and I hated it.

Past times

Sketches from 2004. The main drawing was a friend and I think the other two were practice faces. I draw faces less now. I try and draw them convincingly but I think you can get tied down into the same lines, the same shapes. It’s hard to break through muscle memory when you have drawn and painted for more than fifty years! I must say I owe a debt to my mom who let me go to college instead of insisting I got a job at the end of my time at school. That time was instrumental in making me the artist I am! X

Destruction

Today’s #bandofsketchers prompt was destruction. The Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, was destroyed by fire just a few weeks ago. This is a sketch from a photo by Stokie Bloke (I can’t face visiting the Leopard Hotel). Not very accurate. You can see the roof has gone. There were more photos including the room where my murals were. The walls are still standing, but there are just blank ashy grey spaces. So sad.

What next?

I want to know the future, that people will be safe in their homes, that war will not escalate. I try and be positive, but a few men (and it is mainly men) have most of the power in this world. The rest of us are not involved in those decisions, we are just along for the ride.

What can people do? Protest, take action, or is acquiesce all we can do to save lives? Who can tell?

Green man abstract

I kept some of the images I created on my old Nokia phone when I changed. I was really happy with the flood fill option it had because there were different patterns and textures instead of just basic colours. The green areas were finger painted onto the screen. It was fun to use and created some interesting effects.

Missing friends

The trouble with blogging is that you make friends and then after a while they might disappear. Suddenly they go into the fog of the Internet. It’s not clear if something has happened to them or if they have just left. Thankfully people do write and say they are going sometimes. That’s not as bad. But it leaves a hole in your life when you’ve got used to reading their words. You can go back and look at previous posts but it’s not the same. Or you can find them on other platforms. I remember finding someone on Instagram after they had left here. But a few months later they left there as well.

It’s also a shock when after losing touch with people over the years you find out they have died. It happened last weekend, someone I had known for a while had passed away. I asked her husband how she was and he said she had died two years ago. He said everyone in the town knew she had passed away. I had to explain that I don’t live in that town so had not found out. I was so sad to have discovered she was gone.

The worst thing I think is Facebook memories. Someone who has died will suddenly appear on a memory. Or their birthday will show up. It can be disturbing. There should be a memorial button. A way of closing an account without erasing them. Meanwhile. If I decide to leave WordPress I will try and remember to let people know. X