As you know I don’t immerse myself in Christmas and less this year without the Brazilian contingent. I do buy gifts but never make a special journey to do Christmas shopping. I usually give cash to the children and grandchildren and pressies to ‘unwrap.’These are usually collected during advent and often have the response ‘Oh No! Nanny its another book.’ For my daughter (the other, oft forgotten) this year a poetry book ; for me by a future poet laureate, for her, with a busy lifestyle maybe a pig in a poke!
So it was my intention to look for something a little more for her; noting as previously mentioned her overlookedness!
So, on Saturday with this in mind we caught the 9.32 train from Reading to Paddington and took the Bakerloo line to Waterloo. By 11 pm we were walking along South Bank to Borough Market; the wind was cold but the sunlight almost too bright.
At the market we bought some succulent delights, that will not make it to Christmas. Also, I found a very nice tea stall while the tea situation at home is fine; there was a sudden need to buy some new Japanese tea cups to replace my rather chipped collection.
Ready now for a coffee break we retraced our steps back to a little French restaurant we had see earlier, to rest a while. This was a wise choice, not only was it quiet away from the bustle but the coffee was good. Also, it was nice space to make use of my sketchpad and camera; accoutrements that win a place in my bag over Christmas gifts any day, even for the overlooked!
So back to the South Bank via the old London prisons in Clink Lane and the Globe Theatre to the Tate. Here, I planned to see three paintings on floor 4, room 5. I was not disappointed; although my husband was a little bemused to come all this way to see paintings each about A2 of a bucket!
Now, it was time for lunch at the Tate in the restaurant with one of the finest views of the Thames and the City.
So after a window seat, beer, wine and delicious food, we, replete went on for the next part of the journey. A stroll to the nearby Bankside Gallery, my favourite exhibition place to see the works of contemporary printmakers. Peased and refreshed we cross back over the river and headed for Covent Garden ; to a Brazilian Cafe where we could sit awhile before our Christmas shopping was complete. So here at Canela, I enjoy Banana Cake and Lemongrass tea and a beer for the long suffering one; while the shoppers gathered a street or two away.
Once more out into the streets and skirt around in the back doubles to Regent Street and the final frontier, Oxford Circus. Although the crowds were beginning to gather in Chinatown and Soho the the lights and the atmosphere was colourful and festive. In the vicinity of Hamlings, it was as I feared ; crowded. The throng, shoulder to shoulder and devilish strong with no spirit human or otherwise. I was considering a contingency plan but we had reached the point of no return. My husband; resolute having come this far and still warm with a recent sustenance break, soldiered on. We found the item, now conveniently reduced in the sale. Then the final 100 yards or so thrust to the underground and home for supper.
This is the time of Round Robin; which incidentally I don’t subscribe to ; but wonder if I did, how mine would sound
… My year began with the death and funeral of my mother, followed by the heart rending return of my daughter to Brazil and her subsequent motor bike accident. During this time, my brother and sister suffered similar disquiet within their families. Meanwhile, I lost my hair, not life threatening or even painful but nonetheless unpleasant.
For weeks and months I dragged myself along trying to be happy doing what needed to be done; alone and woebegone. I went workshops, classes and meetings where I felt stupid, ugly and old; not only for my appearance but my inadequate attempts at being an artist. Even blogging seem like a waste of time ; social media became a monster. My family and friends seemed distant and uncaring.
Often, I would go to bed weeping and waking red eyed and incomplete; not wishing to go on.
Or, as my daughter and son-in-law recovered and we visited Brazil again. I gained confidence to reveal my head; until then I had covered my baldness with scarves and hats. I delight in my children and grandchildren, their achievements, enjoy regular and rich visits.
I began researching for my blog with new interest and vigour and readership went up 100%. I attended art classes, near and far, coming away with works of art that could grace any wall!
I feel bold, empowered and ready to face the new year.
Both true versions of the very same year …
Which do you prefer to hear?
Today is the last Friday before our Christmas break it is quiet and I am making plans for next term; when I will have a volunteer working with me for a few hours a week. She is super special and I am looking forward to working with her! We do have volunteers in the department at Special Collections but this one is more work experience. She is has graduated and while she looks for work within the library world she need experience. So Ms Anon will work beside me helping me with the tasks I do, attending meetings, workshops and even coffee break grabbing every opportunity to learn, see and do.
For me it is a chance for me to look at procedures, tasks I do, the objects I handle, the people I meet and work with and introduce them to her in a positive way. I am a library assistant the work I do is not rocket science, often mundane and tedious, but it is a pleasant environment with fabulous subject matter and is for a good cause. However, work no matter how ‘wonderful’ in the beginning, work can become dull and lifeless but looking at it with new eyes and with someone beginning their career it can be refreshing!
So these items we will be working with next term … while photographing them the battery of my camera went flat so not a full picture … but a nice start.
This week I find two more walkers for my Alphabet:
Gretel Ehrlich (1946), American writer and Buddhist walked up Tai Shan, a notable mountain pilgrimage site in China. It was first ascended by the First Emperor in the 3rd century BC in his chariot.
The walk to the summit now is 7000 step staircase leading from the the City of Peace at the foot of the mountain through three heavenly gates to the Temple of the Jade Emperor at the top.
Ehrlich tells us that the the phrase ‘going on a pilgrim’ when translated into Chinese means ‘paying ones respect to the mountain’ as if the mountain was an empress before whom we kneel and honour.
In the 4th Century AD a Christian pilgrim called Egeria climbed Mount Sinai. Although she is largely unknown, her diary remains; she was as it suggests an abbess of some stature. She was guided through the Egyptian desert a notable area of Christian pilgrimage by resident holy men. Together they passed through the valley where the children of Israel waited as Moses climbed the mountain of God. For Egeria, Sinai was the mountain on which God descended and where Moses ascended to receive the Tablets of Law. Climbing or walking was the profession of those faithful in the Scriptures
Sparkle … personally not so twinkly yet. But Saturday while I sat in my favourite coffee shop it became overcrowded with overly jovial christmas shoppers. Me, squeezed, began pout; but noticed these twinkly things. Wanting to get the perfect shot I trampled a few bystanders; by way of a strange retaliation!
So lacking the Christmas twinkle thus far … the result sadly reflects this …