Over the weekend I completed Virtual Richmond Castle 10k, just enjoying it, despite the hills! A lovely medal to add to my collection, though I don't run many races that actually give out medals! Then on Sunday Kira had a rest as I took part in a running workshop - strength and conditioning and a very hilly tempo run. I'm sure plenty of the walkers at the suspension bridge in Reeth over the weekend had a laugh at us desperately trying to co ordinate our arms and legs while doing all the drills and avoiding the cowpats! I love running/walking in Swaledale, unlike some I am happy to just enjoy being out there, happy to talk, just stand and stare and pet other dogs. Meeting people from all over the world sharing a tiny piece of their lives, enjoying a snippet of their impressions of the Dale and our mutual love of the surrounding beauty. I spent some time on New Years Day with Kira, running to the top of Calver, to just take everything in, rather than a busy Park run, which is what I would usually do. It was stunning, no one else in sight, a fantastic day as we were out early, a time to recharge and reflect. Kira was (and always is) very happy to sit and take everything in, maybe because of her past City life, she never had the time to just sit and watch life go by! These times all make me realise we may not have a perfect life but we can always enjoy a little something, be it a walk, silence, freedom, a laugh, music, friendship or companionship (be it 2 legged or 4!), it is indeed true, the best things in life are free!
As a Coeliac, Covid has hit me and other sufferers hard. Shelves were cleared by many non Coeliacs, leaving few staples for us, the worst item missing for me was flour. As an avid baker I found it incredibly hard, plus being vegetarian, vegetables were like gold dust! I am sure many were wasted when people bought produce they would never eat nor even had before. I am so grateful for the suppliers we got to know and the produce we managed to get especially as I was one who had to work for another business to get us through the pandemic. Now, I am happily back to my baking! Recently flapjack seems to be a favourite, even with Kira but I am sure the oats are good for her too! Flapjack is great as a quick pick me up with plenty of protein ( great for running!) and I try to use natural sweeteners where possible. Mixed seeds, fruit and nuts or my favourite, ginger get liberally mixed in there ( Kira's are plain ), that is the nice thing, anything goes! Recently I have been lucky enough to get cooking and eating apples from neighbours, so they are getting added to alsorts as well as the usual crumble! I also often use the puree in cakes instead of margarine to make the cakes a bit more moist as some gluten free flours tend to soak up alot of water ie coconut flour. Crab apples have been plentiful, so also making crab apple and rosehip jelly which is on the go now too! I think my family get a little tired of their Christmas presents being made, either edible or not! I am not adverse to foraging (safely with my handed down knowledge from my Gran!) for produce, made some gorgeous pesto and soup from Ransoms, wild garlic, quite pungent as well! I love adding young nettles to my spinach too! If you do chose to try foraging, please do so safely and responsibly, know what you are picking to eat as there are some highly poisonous berries and mushrooms out there!
I thought it would be nice to look at an older piece of work I had done and explain my thoughts, the process of doing it and what I would change, with hindsight of course! The image I have chosen is a scraperboard, for those of you who don't know what scraperboard is, it's a board coated with a thin film of white china clay with a layer of black indian ink over it. Using sharp tools, you scrape off the black to leave a white mark. It can make very striking works of art, originally used by illustrators alot. It can look like lino prints. Some of you may have tried the very simple form at school where you used coloured wax crayons, covered it all over in black wax crayon and scarped bits off! The joy of this is, as long as you have a black crayon, you can keep going over and over it! I started using scraperboard as a child, selling small bird works to make pocket money! Although for me the fact the line you see is white, my funny brain doesn't see that as a distraction, where I know some find it hard to work out! When you first start, the simplest thing is to draw, or trace the image on the black surface with a white watercolour pencil ( because it will wipe off ), don't press hard as it may scratch the black off. This can be corrected by painting on a little black indian ink but too many errors will eventually show up. You can use special tools or try a craft tool, though that won't be quite as responsive. I will be putting together a small scraperboard project at a later date, with everything in it to get you started, so keep looking on my blog for the offer!
Life has been hard for many of us with Covid blighting our lives but now the Autumnal nights are slowly making an appearance with darker nights, I have been trying to create ideas to improve our mental health with little Arty and Crafty projects to do. They will be suitable for all ages and will come in the form of little kits, more information about these will follow. I have spent many years teaching all ages and abilities in most forms of Arts and Crafts, so hopefully there will be something for everyone to try but my emphasis is always on having fun trying things! Each project will have simple to follow lessons and also give ideas to be able to take things a little further and explore more yourself. Not being much of a techno-geek I am going to try and post a little video to help, possibly aided and abetted by Alan behind the camera! All this is new to me too, so I will be learning as we go along. Keep your eyes peeled for the imminent production date and offers concerning it!
This weekend also saw Kira complete her first virtual run in aid of Durham Police's retired police dogs. Supposed to be 10 miles but we flew through 13.25 miles of stunning, hilly Swaledale with a friend! Kira just loves our explorations and once we have done a route, she never forgets it, thus every once in a while, I have 'Kira's choice' runs where I happily run along, letting her decide the directions! She is very at home running along but does have pack mentality with, what starts together, stays together, rarely letting anyone get left behind. Being a Siberian Husky, she is also, like me, ready for any run or walk in any weather, only hot weather deters us!! Although I am happy running alone or with friends, running with a dog just makes you smile. ( well mostly, barring the being pulled through woods, roots, brambles, nettles and all!) With Kira being a rescue I get to watch her bloom into the character she is, bonkers, happy, highly energetic and amusing! It is true what they say about running with a dog fastened to you, there's a bond and connection ( again mostly!!) and we both have incredible trust in each other mixed in with happiness and at times, exhilaration, but not downhill with a husky!! ( or uphill with Kira at times but excellent resistance training for me, towing a 26k dog!! ) I know many people have found Covid very hard but doing virtual runs has been good for me and many others, not only have we supported other small businesses struggling to keep going but also charities. There is always a good reason to get out there and if we can all help each other, that's great! Kira completed her virtual run through Wilderness Running who can be found on Facebook or www.wildernessrunning.bigcartel.com
As an ardent Park run fan, particularly at Catterick and no, or very few events on, it was great to do a 5k time trial at Kirby Fleetham organised by Trevor and Linda. Even better was I was first lady, (due to my advanced age of course, I'm sure!! lol) As you have no doubt realised by now, I love running, it is my peaceful time, the time I can mull things over in my mind, time to think and explore ideas and purely to be out in the glorious countryside, to feel the weather on my skin and enjoy it. of course now I have Kira, an ex townie Husky and I am watching her bloom into the love of running too, always ready for new adventures! ( and the fact there is far more wildlife to chase!!) One of her first runs was at Catterick Park run close to Halloween and remember remarks while running past people of ' A WOLF'!! Running has helped me through some tough times, it wasn't about weight loss, or being a fast runner, or being the best it was about helping myself be comfortable with me, something I struggled with throughout my life. I am happy to encourage others, to cheer, smile or urge on because I have been there and know how a harsh word can destroy so much but a encouraging one can spur you on and make all the difference! So if you feel like trying, don't let anyone put you off and just get out there, enjoy it, walk or run, rain or shine, smile and take that first step!
After the horrendously wet Saturday, I decided on a local, mostly road run as I wanted to run up onto the moor above Marske because I just love the never ending view there. Being honest, I also thought it would be less messy - ever tried running through ploughed fields where you end up with trainers like divers boots, I rest my case!! Needless to say many of the roads were covered in debris and several were flooded. Usually I am a trail runner, a bit of water rarely stops me, ( I have been known to wade through the Swale on a 'Moon Run'! ) and needless to say, it didn't today, even just under my knees! ( as others will point out here, I am indeed vertically challenged and it would only have been ankle deep on anyone else!! ) Then my arty side appears while in the middle of the flood, loving the reflections of the sun dashing in and out of the clouds, had to take a photo! While I love running and can be competitive, I also love the places I can get to, what I can get to see and how beautiful just the smallest of things can be, whether I am alone, with friends or Kira, for me it is my meditation and inspiration.
The village is having its annual Scarecrow display today and of course, it's pouring down! Guess who decided to make and paint a cardboard one!! Usually I miss the dates for taking part, plus I always seem to leave things until the last minute! Glue gun, brushes, scissors and paint scattered around yesterday and I was still glueing, cutting and sticking last night with Alan telling me to stop faffing!! Once I get going I think of more bits I can do or add, a tweak here, a dab there and of course, at that point I was hoping the weather forecast was good! This morning came and.... it's raining! Plan B is activated and out comes the double sided sticky tape, scissors and cling film, this is not going to end well! 20 minutes later, red faced, cling film in shreds, double sided tape attached to just about everything it wasn't intended for and one sort of waterproofed scarecrow! On the front door he goes, (sorry postie if you call today!!) and ready for inspection. He could become some bizarre performance art piece, of course and be a soggy heap of wet cardboard, paint and cling film by the time we get back but I'll look on the bright side and expect his cheery smile when we get home! After this strange year, I feel the scarecrows are somehow reflecting the vibrant community spirit that is in the village now, showing that behind all those closed doors there are a myriad of tremendously talented people happily glueing and sticking with a smile on their faces!! (or like me, spend the next 2 days removing paint and double sided tape from the most peculiar places!)
Covid has affected all of us is some way or other, for me, as an avid runner, trier cyclist and swimmer, lockdown gave me time to explore my local routes more with Kira, our husky and have run much more safely on the roads. Taking the time to appreciate being out, all the bloom of hedgerow plants and flowers and actually see wildlife in abundance. Our hour out exercising became my meditation merged with my clubs virtual races each Saturday! Although I have missed races, meeting other runners and being competitive, I have still managed to get out there and for that I am grateful! I have found my time out with Kira to be almost meditative, even in the wind and rain! Autumn has been particularly beautiful this year too, stunning trees and brooding skies, perfect for inspiring our arty sides. Even running in the dark has been amazing with the moon, although I haven't been lucky enough to see anything of the Northern Lights yet! I hope you can all find the time to find some peace and calm in these chaotic times.
Finally getting the framing jobs finished, I may have time to have a play with some of my tools, my graphics tablet and pyrography kit! My laptop has been repaired so I can now try and use my graphics tablet again but this may involve deep concentration and one or two naughty words! Technology and me don't always do well but as an artist who loves exploring all art forms, I have in the past played with cartooning, caricature and manga, the latter interested me enough to invest in the graphics tablet with no idea of what it involved!! I have been fiddling with a portrait of Kira, from a photo on my phone I may be here some time..... My lovely 'little bro' bought me the pyrography kit for my birthday, the last time I used one was around 25 years ago, so the tools are so much better. My brother and nephew have produced some lovely little pieces and I'm excited to see what I can do and actually practice what I preach and have a bit of fun giving it a go! Of course Alan is chasing me to get this years Christmas card design done and finished as well, so keep a look out for that, which no doubt will involve the Swaledale sheep again!