Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Farm

Today I went back to my birthplace. It was, quite literally, the place where I was born, back in 1965. It's not far from Tenbury Wells, in a fairly isolated place down a long steep hill and with extensive views over towards Clee Hill. It is no longer a working farm as such, that all came to end when my father pulled out of farming in the early 1970's. The large acreage of apple trees was pulled up and the greenhouses full of tomatoes and lettuces were dismantled. It never really became profitable and my father then left the family to pursue an isolated career as a painter and shunning all mod-cons.

The landscape here is beautiful and the photo doesn't do it justice. There are steep hills, old apple and cherry orchards and steep sided wooded gullys full of wild garlic. All on a deep red clay soil that is characteristic of the area.

Although the place still carries a sense of isolation and long lost rural idyl, it has changed. All the old tumbled down cottages that I remember as a child are now more like executive dwellings. An old road we used to drive down over a stream is almost undiscernable beside a newer crossing. I can still find the dam my father built across a stream to provide a source of water for irrigating his crops, though it has all silted up. A row of lombardy poplar trees planted as a windbreak for an apple orchard still stands as an unusual looking hedgerow in the middle of two fields of sheep.

I go back there every few years or so. I wanted to go back there again now because I knew it would look wonderful in the spring, but also because I have been trying to look back at my childhood as an aid to sorting out a few things from a psychological view. I thought it might be an emotional visit, but somehow it wasn't what I was expecting. In a sense I feel I could be 'returning' here for while. My mother is returning to Tenbury Wells to live in a retirement home and so I might be spending a bit more time re-visiting this area when I come up and stay. It feels odd in a way that I remember a landscape here that younger people or those moving into the area will probably not be aware of. I am aware of my age and sense of history and how my father worked and changed the landscape here and his legacy can still be found if you look hard enough.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

More Rain and the Challenge of Change

April has been the wettest on record I think and the first week of May has got off to a cold and wet start too. I spent most of the first bank holiday weekend out on my bike getting very cold but enjoying new sets of gear and chain cogs and a new chain. I did some sketching on the iPad but it was a struggle to keep warm in the wind. Seeds that I have sown seem to be having a slow start and are barely moving but my potatoes have just broken through the surface of their buckets or on the allotment. I sowed some more parsnips as there is still no sign of the ones sown a few weeks ago. Oilseed seed rape and bluebells are in flower and May blossom is just beginning to break bud.

My boss at work has decided to move on to pastures new and this is rather sad and upsetting for me. I haven't ever met anyone who took me on such an encouraging and supportive journey with my artwork before - we had an excellent rapport with each other. I have certainly moved forward hugely in my creativity and become (I think) a valued part of the company with whom I work. There will be significant changes and I am not sure how it will affect me but then that is what happens in work. There is always change and people are often transient. Friendships can be made, links are broken, seeds are dispersed and new beginnings made. Business is hard and I will have to keep focused on my future, my self-awareness and my ability to find strength and security in my path of belonging. Although I will be grieving the loss of a highly valued colleague, I must look upon the situation as a new place of learning, a new place in which to build relationships and a new place to develop my creativity.