September 22, 2014

Nature's Treasures and a birthday giveaway . . . .

 On darkening Autumnal evenings as I have wandered lane & shore
I have come across some wondrous treasures, tiny hidden gifts waiting to be found.
Gloriously patterned stones, like some ancient artifact that fit snugly into the palm of my hand.
 Beautiful heart shaped slate, painted with many hues in the evening light
 a delicate blown thistle, perhaps a miniature faerie pompadour wig
A stem washed up on the shore, such an intricate piece of sculpture .
All gifts from Mother Nature to amaze and astound.
And speaking of gifts, well I have one right here.
It was my birthday very recently, such an Autumn girl am I.
 I felt it would be the perfect time to hold a giveaway. The prize is one of my new range of personalised A3 Blessing tree prints.  They are the perfect way to record special family events, make wonderful gifts and can be adapted to suit many occasions: births, christenings, weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me which is your favourite season of the year and why.
I shall pull a name from the hat and announce a winner on Monday 29th September.

You can find the full range of blessing trees on my website 

September 16, 2014

Summers Passing and a tale or two

 Summer slipped by this year in a flurry of doings as my feet carried me here & there and when I sat down to tell all I didn't quite know where to begin, so this is a tale of my too-ing & fro-ing, its a wee bit long and may well have to come in parts 1 and 2!
(You can click on the images to view larger)
 The beginnings of August saw the annual Kirkcudbright Art & Craft Trail and bought a river of wonderful folk, faces  familiar & new, through the door of our wee exhibition space.  I shared the room with my talented Mom Jean Redden and jewelry maker Eileen Wright and this year we also had the pleasure of live music provided by friends Jon & Jen.  It's so lovely to have a chance to chat to the folk who come to see our work and I want to say a big thank you to all who came a-visiting. 
Without time for a breath we whisked away, Mr O & I, on adventures to the Northern shores of Caithness & Sutherland where we filled our days exploring & relaxing amongst the quiet places there, on our first travels in our wee house on wheels. (I must share with you one day that tale too!)  One of my favourite things to do when we go away is to explore and discover the history of the people and the place and Caithness is certainly filled with history.
We explored the ancient ruins of medieval castle Sinclair Girnigoe, built on the cliff edge, with waves crashing on the rocks below. We got a glimpse through the mist of the stacks of Duncansby that rose majestically to tower 60ft above the sea and we stepped into Smoo cave to marvel at this place where it is said Vikings once hid their boats! There are many legends told of the cave here, my favourite ~ that it was once the abode of spirits who guarded this entrance into the underworld.

The grey cairns of Camster were a site worth seeing, Neolithic chambered cairns that sat low and timeless on the hill.  As I clambered inside I was in awe of the work of those folk from long ago who built such a place, the largest is 69 metres long! Then it was on to the Hill 'O Many Stanes, the site of about 200 wee stones all no higher than my waist. Why were they set there and by who? There is no sure answer to this only a perhaps that t'was a way of recording lunar movements.

 We came across museums overflowing with beautifully carved Celtic crosses, strange winged angels, beasts and symbols with long forgotten meanings.
(Clockwise from top left) We saw intricately carved bone combs found at a settlement in Freswick, read about the awful treatment of the Forfar witches and saw the horrific Forfar Branks, a metal device that was placed around the head of the accused with a metal spike that went into the mouth, last used near the end of the 17th C. We wondered at charm stones and carved stone balls, found a pair of the wooden clogs worn by the herring fishwives in ports such as Scrabster and Wick and came across a wonderful exhibition telling the stories of their hard lives and the sad demise of the once flourishing fishing industry, made more fascinating still as we are in the process of researching Mr O's ancestors and believe some of them came from Caithness!
I wondered at the quaint slate walls we saw dividing some of the fields and discovered the story of how the beautifully coloured slate was quarried at the Castelhill. We went hunting for fossils at Achanarras and found (bottom left and middle) a fern and a fish, such an awe inspiring feeling to hold in you hands and be the one to expose something after  thousands of years have passed.
A visit to Castle Mey  (one on the cosiest & homely castles I have ever come across) and the wonderful gardens left me filled with lots of ideas for our own garden.
 We walked under huge skies, listening to the call of the sea birds and the crashing of the waves, it was music to sooth our souls, unspoilt, peaceful and perfect.
 We caught an incredible sunset and stood mesmerised at the waters edge as the sun slowly sank into the sea casting ever changing myriad colours across the sand.
I felt the healing power of nature as the days passed, felt myself slowly unwinding and my mind filling with inspiration once again, and thinking how very lucky we were.