Category Archives: Inspiration

Back to ‘Normal Life’?

Andrew Gormley sculpture on top of Blackwells Art shop in Broad Street, Oxford.

Andrew Gormley sculpture on top of Blackwells Art shop in Broad Street, Oxford.

I woke this morning to a blustery wind and the last dregs of ex- Hurricane Bertha outside the window. The sun has begun its long journey down towards the horizon, and the shadows around the hems of the trees are getting darker and longer. There is a dampness in the air that speaks of autumn on its way, that last frantic dash towards the end of summer before the urge to buy pencils and sign up for new courses presses in on us.

I’m back from a week-long trek around the country, visiting parents and doing family duty, and this morning, Jennifer Louden’s blog post about ‘Re-Entry’ popped up on my dash. It could not have been more perfectly timed.

We’ve been away, but it was not what one might call a ‘holiday’. I feel weird and disjointed now we are back, and I’ve realised I need not only to take time to recover from the business of travelling, but also to carefully consider my ‘Re-Entry’ into normal life.

Right now, I’m not even sure what ‘Normal Life’ looks like anymore.

There is a lot of emotional stuff to process from our time away, and plenty of new ideas and inspirations too.

We’ve reached the second half of the year now, and I am feeling the need to reassess my plans and intentions, to consider where I want life to take me in the coming months. Where am I going? What should my priorities be? Can I even remember the working systems I had set up before I left?

The beach where I grew up.

The beach where I grew up.

So I am giving myself time to go through the process of resuming my life, and allowing myself to visualise what this life can be. I’m trying to ignore all the headlong manias for starting new regimes.

You know the thing, the:

‘Now I’m back, I can start that new “diet/exercise regime/ meditation practise/ decluttering/ redecorating/ making my life look like other people’s I see in magazines because I’m not good enough as I am”’

Time to sit down with my journal and write through to what I really want. To decide what the next achievable step is. To remember how my creativity works.

And I am kind of at peace with that. I’m okay with needing time to gently settle back into my world. I know that the words I haven’t had time to write in the last week, the stories that I haven’t been able to visualise while I’ve been away, immersed in caring for others, will return, if I give them the chance. I will settle. I just have to have faith. And I’m happy to wait, and rest, until they condense into a cloud of meaning under my ribs.

If you are just back from your holiday, and struggling to reintegrate into your life, or just about to leave, and concerned about having the Post- Holiday Blues when you get back, grant yourself compassionate ‘Re-Entry’ time. Don’t push yourself too hard to resume. Allow yourself the chance to process the experience you have had, to allow the images and experiences to percolate through your mind. These transitional times are sometimes uncomfortable. Don’t fight it. Give yourself a break.

Happy reintegration,

EF

Inspiration Monday: Friends

You see familiar things differently with a friend - I'd never noticed how beautiful the light on these arches in Norwich Cathedral before I saw them with my friend Helen.

You see familiar things differently with a friend – I’d never noticed how beautiful the light on these arches in Norwich Cathedral was before I saw them with my friend Helen.

I’ve had such a wonderful few days, full of laughter and fascinating conversation.  I feel so grateful for the people I have in my life, people who stimulate and support me.

On Thursday, old friends arrived on a flying visit from Queensland, Australia.  We hadn’t seen them in several years, as you can imagine, but as soon as they walked through the door, it was like they had never left.  We introduced them to ‘Cards Against Humanity’.  This probably makes us very bad people, but we had a hilarious evening as a result.

On Saturday, I met up with a dear writing friend.  We had a delicious summer lunch on her verandah, overlooking the river, sitting in the sunshine with fresh flowers on a crisp little table cloth, talking about life and writing.

On Sunday, we met up with one of my Sherlock fandom friends and her husband, over from the US for a holiday.  They were kind enough to trek up here to Norfolk to see us, and we had a wonderful day, walking around the sights of Norwich, and talking about whisky, history and writing.  And laughing.  A lot.

Old friends, and new friends.  I feel so lucky to have them, and so inspired by them.  Each one has a fascinating story to tell, life experiences that fill me with awe and admiration.  Each one sparkles with wit and intelligence, and a deep, compassionate love for their fellow beings.

Of course, I am now knackered!  But in a good way.  I have laughed myself hoarse for days running, and thats better therapy than anything the NHS can offer.  I have enjoyed sunshine and fresh air, and my brain has been stimulated so much.

And I am inspired.  Talking with my creative friends has made me feel so excited about my novel.  I’m ready to go.  The world has opened up again. Its full of possibility.

When you are deep in a creative project, or struggling through a creative drought, it is easy to neglect your friends.  You may feel you don’t have time to hang out with them.  In actual fact, the reverse is true.  It is imperative to see your friends, and not just for their cheer-leading capacities.

Conversation spikes your interest in whole new areas.  You learn things from others you never knew existed, and these little morsels dropped into a chat over coffee or supper can take your writing or painting in an entirely new and exciting direction.  Walking about a familiar neighbourhood with a friend, you might see details you never knew were there, just because they see the world in a different way to you.  They might share their struggles in life, and inspire to acts of bravery in your own that you had no idea you were capable of.  And you, in your turn, will ignite new fires in them with your off-the-cuff remarks, and tales of your own life.

People are so exciting.  Connect with them.

I feel so grateful for the friendship of Justin and Val Debuse and their daughter, Sophia;  Nina Robertson; and Helen Todd and Mike Magruder.  Thank all for so generously sharing your time and your laughter with me this week.

Happy Creating,

EF

Tales from my Weekend

Capture the moment.

Capture the moment.

Dear friends,

I’m sorry you didn’t get a post from me yesterday.   I was doing my elder-care weekend.  Once a month, or sometimes twice a month, depending on circumstances, we trek across the country to care for Husband’s mother and aunt (who live together). This time I made a few notes in my writers notebook, thinking they might be useful starters for writing exercises:

  • A weekend of fabulous sunsets and endlessly varied cloudscapes.
  • A red kite swooped down into the garden to scavenge the chicken bones left over from Sunday dinner, as I perched on the back step a few feet away, reading the newspaper.
  • Learning to manoevre a wheelchair –  its a lot more difficult than you think, especially inside supposedly  ‘disabled’ toilets.  And garden centres.  Note to self – the aisles are always narrower than you think.  Especially round the orchids.  Perhaps they just want to capture you there, so you’ll spend more money, I don’t know.
  • I lost my mother-in-law in Sainsburys.  She walked off.  She has dementia.  Now I can imagine  just how terrifying it is to lose a child in a supermarket. (We found her again in the end.)  Note to self: find a way to attach mother-in-law to aunt-in-law’s wheelchair at all times.
  • A wheelchair is a heavy thing:  discuss.
  • A kind lady came up to us and said hello.  Just because.  People can be friendly just for the sake of it.  The world is not such a scary place as we think.
  • Old ladies want to feel pretty too.  Aunt-in-law asked me to spray her with scent from an old bottle of Guy LaRoche that she had tucked away, so she would feel confident when she saw the doctor.
  • A friend’s dog escaped and she snapped her achilles tendon whilst chasing after it.  Just before her impending annual holiday and her daughter’s graduation.
  • My niece’s husband teaches Wittgenstein to his year 12 students.  I think he is brave.
  • Coming home, the sky was full of a just-past-full moon, an orange disc slashed with shards of inky night cloud.
  • Bacon.  No, you don’t need to know anymore.  Bacon is all you need to think about.
  • Hugs.  Hugs make everything better.  Even if you’ve heard the story about the man walking into the plate glass window 18 times in the last ten minutes, hugs always help.

My thanks to Phoebe and Sam Grassby, Mike and Debbie Bracken, Betsy, Maria, Dr Finnegan and the unknown lady who came up to us in Sainsburys, Kidlington, for making the world a better place.

Happy creating,

EF

How Scrivener Kicked My Butt into Enlightenment

People have been raving about Scrivener to me for ages, and I’ve been saying yeah, yeah, eventually. And then wrestling with Word for my novels, and spreadsheets for my research data. Given that I am hopeless at spreadsheets, you can just imagine how time-consuming that can be. Anyway, recently, my fanfic pal Chasingriver demonstrated to me conclusively that this was a programme I couldn’t live without.

You know, I hate it when she’s right.

It was the corkboard function that really sold me. Mainly because I’d spent the previous week working out how I could attach all the little index cards (each indicating a scene) which I had accumulated for my current project to my study wall without damaging the plaster with blu-tak. Once I’d downloaded Scrivener, it was a case of YAY! No more blu-tak! No more holes in the paintwork!

With Scrivener, you can put all your little index cards on the screen, and move them about to change the order as you like, just as you would with the real thing. The good part, though, is that while you can’t carry your entire study wall along to the library with you when you want to work there, you can with Scrivener.

(Did I mention that I’m not getting paid to say this about Scrivener, just in case you were wondering?)

Anyway, yesterday I sat down in front of the offending, doomed wall, and started to copy out those little index cards into my Project folder. Away I went. I was having a lovely time. Type type, tap tap.

You’ve already guessed there is going to a BUT here, haven’t you?

Once I’d put in all my index-card scenes, I could see the plot I’d teased out as a whole. Or should I say HOLE. Because it was full of them. Holier than Righteous, as we used to say about my brother’s vests.

Now, of course this is a good thing. It is better to find out your plot is lacier than a wedding dress before you get down to churning out 80,000 words, rather than after. Of course it is.

Cue typical writers confidence wobble.

I crashed and burned.

Help! What have I got myself into? I thought I had a novel with a mostly sorted plot, and now I find there is mountains more work to do than I thought. Oh, oh, I am hopeless, my work is superficial, crap, lacking in psychological depth, etc. etc. You know the routine, because I’ll bet you’ve done it yourself at 3am enough times.

Don’t worry, I’ve got a grip on myself now. But it was a bit scary there for a while.

What the marvels of Scrivener have done is to make me see how I can get to grips with my project in a way I never have before. I have always been a ‘flying by the seat of my pants’ sort of writer, with plots that evolved organically as I went along. I’ve written to find the plots, rather than establishing them first. Much the same goes for character. I’ve done a bit of character work before on my novels, but most of the time, I’ve just sat down and written the damn thing, and kept writing till it felt done.

Which is why I could never get a handle on my books as whole, holistic entities, and why I always have such horrible trouble editing them.

You can’t break a stream-of-consciousness-written novel down into individual component parts in order to see if it makes logical sense, or to cut and paste bits around. Its too interwoven.

Cue HUGE AHA! moment.

Back in the dim and distant past, when I was studying systems analysis and design, I was taught that the way you design a system is to break it down into its individual constituent parts, each part serving a specific function and with a specified input, actors, outcome or output. But I never thought that you could view a novel this way, even though I was taught to look at every scene in my books, and ask what function it was there for, and whether it served that purpose. If it doesn’t, you have to cut it, say the gurus, with systems design and with novel editing.   Kill your darlings, they say, but I never could because I couldn’t see the whole, and I couldn’t see the individual functions.

What I think I am trying to say is that in two days, using Scrivener has revolutionised the way I conceptualise a writing project. It is scary, but it is also enormously liberating. I get it now, I really do. After years of struggling over how to plan, I now see it.

Thank you, Scrivener. (And Chasingriver, of course.)

Of course, I can also now see that I have a vast amount of work to do. But the nice thing about that is that I can also see how to break it down into little, manageable component tasks. Eating the elephant, as they say. I’ll let you know how I am getting on.

In the meantime, take a look at Scrivener, if you haven’t already.

Happy Creating,

EF

Finding the Right Place to Write

Roald Dahl in his writing hut.  From the CBBC website.

Roald Dahl in his writing hut. From the CBBC website.

As regular readers will know, me and my study have a kinda love-hate relationship. In recent months, I’ve been trying to do it up a bit, make it a nice place for me to work, somewhere that reflects who I am and what I want. Somewhere I want to inhabit. Because I really do think that it is important to have ‘A Room of One’s Own’.

The problem is that it doesn’t seem to work for me in practise.

I do most of my writing sitting in my comfy armchair in the living room, with my laptop in my lap (strangely enough!), or writing in notebooks resting on a brilliant drawingboard that I bought from The Art Trading Company. And seriously peeps, this drawingboard is brilliant, and I’m going to get another one for my bedroom so I can be comfortable when I write in bed, because I also write there a lot, especially in my journal.

Now, it has lately occurred to me that this habit was set in stone when I was just a little kid. When I was small, I had a tiny bedroom only just big enough for a not-quite-full-size single bed, and certainly not large enough to include something as luxurious as a table. As I got older, and siblings moved out, I moved into their (larger) bedrooms, but there was never really enough room for a table or desk.

Aha! But I had my trusty piece of board!

Yes, I said ‘board’. It was a thin bit of old chip board, about A3 size, and I used it for hours, sitting on my bed, for drawing and writing, as a working surface for sewing and painting and plasticine and homework, as a play area, and for all kinds of other activities. That board was a miracle. I could have it on my lap when I was snuggled up amidst the sheets, and it kept the ink from getting on the cotton as well as giving me a firm surface to work on. I loved it, and I was never without it until I left home. After that, I think my mother threw it away. But who knows, it might still be in her house, under the spare bed, along with my ‘A’ level art portfolio!

The other day, I was thinking about my lovely old piece of board as I sat in my armchair with my lovely new drawingboard on my lap, and I remembered seeing photographs of Roald Dahl’s writing hut, where he sat in an old armchair with a board on his lap, and wrote the great classic of my childhood, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (My husband actually knew the Dahl family and played in that hut at one time, the lucky hound!)

Nicole Kidson as Virginia Woolf inthe film 'The Hours'.

Nicole Kidson as Virginia Woolf inthe film ‘The Hours’.

Then I remembered a scene from the film, ‘The Hours’, in which my heroine, Virginia Woolf, played by Nicole Kidman, sits in an armchair by the window at Hogarth House, with a baize-covered board on her lap, and scratches out the first few lines of ‘Mrs Dalloway’ with her new pen nib. Woolf was actually more inclined to write at a high table, standing up, but the image is potent for me.

It is very nice to have a desk and a study, and sometimes, that is exactly what I need. But I am also fortunate in that I spend a great deal of time having the run of the house to myself, which means that I can write pretty much anywhere I have a suitable work surface, enough light, and where I can get comfortable. I’m not ungrateful to finally have the luxury of my own study, believe me, but having it as made me realise that really, it wasn’t necessary. I was always saying I couldn’t be a proper writer until I had a study of my own, but that just wasn’t true. I have written far more words in my armchair or my bed.

The lesson I have come upon, and the one I wish to communicate to you, Dear Reader, is that actually, once you find the place that suits you, you can write anywhere. You don’t need a study. And if you have one, as I am lucky enough to, you may not end up using it. Don’t beat yourself up about not doing so. Take Woolf’s exhortation to find ‘A Room of One’s Own’ as a wider license to find space of your own. The local Costa Coffee may be your perfect place to write. Or, as for my husband, the comfy chair by the roaring fire of your favourite pub may be just the place. Or you may indeed have your own study and revel in it. The important thing is to get comfortable and have a firm surface to write or type on, so that you are not distracted. It doesn’t matter if its in a caravan or a lorry cab, so long as your imagination can take flight. Because once it flies away to your story world, it doesn’t matter where you are.

Happy Creating,

EF

Inspiration Monday: Whats Inspiring Me Right Now

VW desktopFor today’s post, I thought I would bring you a little window into my creative mind.  Here are some of the things that are really getting my brain going at the moment.

This post from Kate Courageous really is causing a revolution inside my skull.  Imagine – learning to accept Nigel instead of kicking him?

Not practising enough?  Susan Piver has some interesting things to say about beating yourself up that are relevant whether you are talking about your meditation or your creative practise.

Found this lovely old post by Holly Becker on Decor8 about visual journals.  I really like this one about creating a lookbook too.

The New York Times on why handwriting matters.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

The Handmade Home geniuses have their new 2015 planner out!  And yes, I am a total planner geek.  See also the fact that I have just discovered how Pinterest can feed my addiction!

I love Brainpickings.

I love iHanna’s blog, but I especially like this post – ‘Glue book where I collect happiness.’  Isn’t that a brilliant idea?  Collecting happiness between the pages of a journal.  Count me in.

This book.  I’ve lost count of how many times I have read this biography of Virginia Woolf, but right now, every time I pick it up, I am filled with a new rush of ideas, inspiration, and fixes for my novel.

I’m loving this book as well.

Well, that should keep us all going for a while.  Hope you have an inspired and creative week,

EF

 

 

 

 

 

Books about Writing

 

Bookshelf

My shelves of books about writing.

I’ve made a big decision.

No, not that one.

I’ve decided not to buy any more books about how to write for two months.

Now you may not think that’s such a hard task, but I am the sort of person who likes to buy a book about a subject in lieu of actually doing it. I’m a big one for research. If I’m going to take up some activity, say, crochet for instance, then I am the one who will chug down to the library and take out all known books on crochet, in order to find out everything I need to know about the subject. For two days I read avidly and become an armchair expert, without even touching a ball of wool. And then I lose interest and the books gather dust on the coffee table until they have to be taken back to the library before I get fined, no crochet having ever been done.

I’m the same with books about writing.

Once every three or four months, or so, I resolve ‘to take my work more seriously’. This usually involves going in to work with my husband, who is a University lecturer, and settling down in the campus library to tap away on laptop undisturbed. (Never mind the fact that I really struggle to visualise and write in that library, but there you are!)

To get to the library, I have to walk past a bookshop.

(If you love books, you just know where this is going to end, don’t you?)

Add to this the fact that this University runs one of the first, and still best, courses in Creative Writing in the world, whose alumni include the likes of Dame Hilary Mantel, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan. You can imagine how good the bookshop’s section of writing is.

Let me tell you, it is hell to walk past.

This is the reason why the bookshelf beside my desk is so crammed with ‘How to Write’ books. I buy a book every time I decide to ‘get serious’, because of course, buying a book is a prerequisite of ‘getting serious’. I’ll read a few chapters. And then I get bored/move on/get ill/realise its shortcomings/decide I want to take up crochet instead etc. So now I have a bookshelf full of books about writing and how to write, many of which are very, very good, dozens of which come highly recommended by friends and in other books about writing, and almost none of which I have ever read cover to cover.

Just call me a butterfly.

Today is another of those ‘I’m going to get serious’ days. Today I am not going to buy a book.

This is partly because I am completely broke, and saving up for a new pair of spectacles because the ones I have got are close to useless and I’m fed up of having to take my glasses off in order to read.

But mostly because its because I need not to read about writing and how to write, but to actually DO it.

You can’t be a writer unless you actually write. And when you write, you learn far more about writing than you ever could from a book.

Books about writing are great. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got a lot out of them. But there comes a time when you have to leave them alone and learn by doing.

I’ll let you know whether I stick to my guns or not, though I have to say I don’t think my groaning bookcase can survive even one more purchase!

Happy Creating,

EF

Inspiration Monday: In Utero

(And just in case you are wondering, I am not pregnant.)

“I’ve got a story coming on.”

This is what I generally say when Husband asks me why I’m being so grumpy and uncommunicative.  Its the time when I am lost in ideas, fermenting, cogitating, incubating.

This is sometimes not an easy time for the person or people who share your life.  They may feel like you are being deliberately distant.  Its always worth explaining that you still love them and want to be with them.  If you have to go away inside your head, it is because your Muse is kidnapping your brain.  Reassure those you love that you will be back with them soon, and its nothing personal.

This is also a time to be compassionate towards yourself.  If you are absorbed in your new project, you may have new ideas flooding your skull every which way.  It can be exhilarating, but it can also be exhausting.  Remember to take a breather if you can.  It will help the details to accumulate in your head in the meantime.

If you are suffering from the ideas overload that sometimes comes with a new project, when you are overwhelmed with all the brilliant concepts for other things you could be doing as well, write them down.  Write everything down.  You can always come back to them, but at least you will have a record of them when the deluge ends and the drought sets in.

You might be so excited by your new idea that you want to get started right away, like, yesterday.  Well, maybe.  But don’t jump the gun.  Give yourself some time to think things through.  Make lots of notes – this is what your writing notebook (or journal or sketchbook) is for.

Be thorough.  Take notes verbatim from  your Muse.  Don’t rest on your laurels at 3am and convince yourself that you are going to remember that brilliant flash of inspiration, because chances are, come breakfast time, the little sucker will have sneaked off into infinity, and you will spend the next week banging your head against the wall, trying to remember exactly what it was that was so bloody good that you thought you’d undoubtedly remember it.  (This is especially important as you get older, believe me, so its a good habit to start NOW.)

It can be worth exploring around your idea too, digging around in the associated issues, examining messages linked to what your story or painting will say.  But don’t get side-tracked by research at this stage.  This is a pit with spikes at the bottom, and I for one always seem to end up falling into it.  The problem with the pit of spikes (research) is that:

a) You can lose touch with the original idea and its uniqueness to you.  I was once on a writing course with a man who was fascinated by the concept of how ‘shell shock’ was dealt with in the First World War.  He had done so much research into it that there wasn’t a thing he didn’t know.  The trouble was that all the research had led him to the conclusion that the novel he had to write was pretty much a re-run of Pat Barker’s peerless ‘Restoration’, and why rewrite a novel that has already been written far better than you ever could?

b) You can get side-tracked BIG TIME.  I got so lost in researching my first novel, which was set in the Iron Age, that it took me seven years to write the first draft.  By the end, I was so exhausted, I couldn’t face editing it, so I gave up, and it now sits in a folder on the shelf, seven years of work gathering dust.

Allow your idea to emerge without influence, or at least without any influence that isn’t already within you.

One final tip I would add is: don’t share yet.  Not even with your Significant Other.  Give yourself time to polish the corners off and get things into some semblance of order.  Honour yourself and your project with private time, in utero, so to speak.  No one else can share the link between a mother and her baby while it is in the womb, no matter how much tummy rubbing and singing to the bump takes place.  You are feeding your project baby through an umbilical cord that runs solely between you and it.  Take as much time as you need to nourish and birth it.   You will know when is the right time to bring your baby out into the light.

Happy Creating,

EF

Trying New Things

Finished cupcakes

Finished cupcakes

One of the best ways to kickstart your creativity is to try new things.  Especially if those new things are far from your normal comfort zone, and especially if they involve play.

Yes, play.

Play is an essential part of creativity, and of our lives as human beings, but its something that is trained out of us as adults.

I am especially bad about this.  I freely admit I have forgotten how to play.  I never do anything that doesn’t in some way equal productivity.  I’m not able to bring myself to undertake any activity that won’t result in some positive learning outcome or tangible deliverable object.  Its so bloody worthy!

So when a friend suggested I join her at a cupcake decorating class, I jumped at the chance.

Okay, there were concrete deliverables involved – yummy pretty cupcakes were the result.  But the point is that I have never done any kind of sugarcraft before, and I haven’t used an icing piping bag in what feels like centuries, so it seemed like a fun thing to try.

We made sugar paste flowers and polkadot wellies and glittery butterflies and plump little heart shapes out of icing.  We learnt how to roll and knead and colour our sugar paste.  And then we went mad with the piping bags and learnt to make icing grass, piped roses, ‘Mr Whippy’ toppings (which you probably won’t understand unless you are British and have eaten a ‘Mr Whippy’ ice cream!) and piped hydrangea flowers with edible pearls on them.  So pretty!

In other words, we played.  For over two hours.  And it was brilliant.  Even putting the cupcakes in a presentation box at the end was pretty and fun.

cupcakes3

Cupcakes in their presentation boxes

I spent an entire evening, not using my left brain at all, and believe me, it was just the pick-up I needed.  Since I tried this fun new activity, I haven’t made or decorated any cakes, and I’m not too bothered if I never do.  But I’ve written lots and I’m excited about writing in a way I haven’t been for months.  Total release.

So if you are stuck in a rut with your chosen creative path, whatever it is, why not try something new.  Muck about.  Have fun with friends.  Do something with absolutely no emotional investment in it, and just enjoy it.  The worst that will happen is that you go home with a tray of delicious cupcakes.  And frankly, thats not really a bad outcome now, is it?

(NOTE:  All the cupcakes and icing were gluten free.  Recipes for the cupcakes and the butter icing came from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, and the sugar paste was Sainsbury’s Fondant Icing.)

Happy Creating,

EF

Easter 2014: The Pictures

The Archangel Gabriel by Philip Jackson (2009), South Harting Church, Hampshire.

The Archangel Gabriel by Philip Jackson (2009), South Harting Church, Hampshire.

WARNING: PICTURE-HEAVY POST!

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I have been absent for a week.  Caring for Elderly relatives again, I’m afraid.  It was a tough week, and I expected to come home utterly emptied out, but weirdly, because we managed to get out and about, and had a couple of days with friends in Sussex in the middle of it all, I somehow to managed to recharge my creative batteries.  I’ve come home feeling more ready to write and make and decorate than I have in months.  This is a HUGE relief.

I am here to tell you that despite everything, it is possible to feel and get creative.

So here are some pics and a little video of some of some highlights of a week spent between Hampshire, Sussex and Oxford.

Beautiful blossoms in the service station car park where we stoppped for lunch on our first journey.

Beautiful blossoms in the service station car park where we stoppped for lunch on our first journey.

Sunshine on the Hamble River.

Sunshine on the Hamble River.

Uppark House, National Trust, always a favourite visit for my mum, and such a beautiful building.  Its hard to believe it was gutted in a fire a few years ago and has been fully restored.

Uppark House, National Trust, always a favourite visit for my mum, and such a beautiful building. Its hard to believe it was gutted in a fire a few years ago and has been fully restored.

A sofa carved from a whole tree trunk, found in an Arundel shop.  looks comfy, doesn't it?

A sofa carved from a whole tree trunk, found in an Arundel shop. looks comfy, doesn’t it?

Gorgeous Italian nougat at the Piazza Italia event in Horsham

Gorgeous Italian nougat at the Piazza Italia event in Horsham

Stunning sculpture of the Archangel Gabriel by Philip Jackson (2009) suspended before the North transept window of The Church of St Mary and St Gabriel, South Harting.

Stunning sculpture of the Archangel Gabriel by Philip Jackson (2009) suspended before the North transept window of The Church of St Mary and St Gabriel, South Harting.  Shades of Dr Who?

A quick peek at the kitchen garden of Hinton Ampner, also National Trust, where we stopped for a quick lunch on the way to Oxford.

A quick peek at the kitchen garden of Hinton Ampner, also National Trust, where we stopped for a quick lunch on the way to Oxford.

I was going to upload some footage of the Parade of 100 Ferraris at Horsham’s Piazza Italia event, but the format is apparently unacceptable, so I’ll just have to tell you that the best part was the revving of those meaty engines!

Anyway, the point is that you have to get out to feed your muse.  So this week, in the aftermath of a busy Easter, why not take half an hour to get out and walk around with your camera, and just look at what is around you.

Happy Creating,

EF