Rhubarb resurrection

Earlier this week a friend sent me a lovely message which read “Sometimes, when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted.”

I thought of the message again on this Easter Sunday, when we lifted the lid on our clump of forced rhubarb in the garden. Kept in the dark under an old compost bin through out the winter, it has been slower coming this year because of the cold. But it never fails to excite me to see what explodes from the dark, just like lime green and pink fireworks. How can so much colour be produced from a winter of darkness?

The rhubarb, like so much of the natural world at this time of year, reminds me that the dark is a necessary part of the light, and without the winter there would be no spring. Without the seed being planted under the earth there would be no new life. Without three days buried in a tomb, there can be no resurrection,

What ever your spiritual or religious beliefs may be, and even if the weather forecast for Easter Monday is snow, happy rhubarb resurrection, spring is coming, believe it!


Time travelling in Somerset

We have just returned from a couple of pleasant days in Somerset. We drove across the Mendip hills where there were piles of snow still lying under hedgerows and edging the roads. But the sun was shining and the sky was blue and there was a hint of spring in the air.

We explored the beautiful ancient city of Wells, with its moated Bishops Palace and fresh water wells, and an amazingly preserved medieval street of houses. And that’s not mentioning the cathedral with its quirky carvings, ribbed vaulting and almost modern looking scissor arched nave.


The following day we wandered around the gothic style house and sprawling estate at Tyntesfield. So much to see inside and out, the kitchen garden glasshouses holding almost as many treasures as the inside rooms!


Our journey into the past continued as we drove on to Weston-Super -Mare, a Victorian seaside resort much influenced by the coming of the Great Western Railway. We were searching for another, small and humbler, house which had belonged to my great grandfather Henry Bartlett. In 1911 he was living on The Boulevard, Weston-Super-Mare, a wide tree lined street of Victorian built houses. By an amazing coincidence of timing we met the lady who lives there now, and she asked us inside and we were able to stand inside his drawing room and look out of the window, This was the house where my grandfather Sydney Bartlett grew up with his little brother Ernest.


We drove a few streets further on and found the large town cemetery where I thought my great grandmother Lilian Mary Bartlett, Henry’s wife, might be buried. I had a photo of her grave taken in 1923 when she died of meningitis aged 52. By another amazing coincidence we met a cemetery worker who was able to help us locate the grave, now nearly 100 years old. To my surprise I found that not only was Henry Bartlett buried there in 1947, but another wife, Edith, who died in the 1960’s, well after I was born and yet I never knew anything about her! I do love family history surprises.


The modern photo includes me with the cemetery worker who has tended these graves for over thirty years and was so helpful.

Out of hibernation?

Well over a month since I last posted here. Has anything much been happening? Not a lot. Or so it feels. A heavy head cold which kept me indoors, was followed by some encouraging signs of spring as I recovered. A few spring flowers and warming sunshine on the beach. And then everything closed down again. Falling temperatures, snow, ice, events cancelled, we were stuck inside again – going nowhere.

But even so things were happening, indoors, undercover. Aided by a very helpful Future Learn genealogy course I continued my family history research and made some useful progress. I also brightened the afternoons, when every thing was reduced to white and sounds muffled by falling snow, making cushions with Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Don’t they pop!

But they didn’t prevent more snow this weekend. I know our icicles and snow depths are nothing compared with what others cope with regularly, but it challenges us all the more as a result. I have not wanted to do much more than hibernate for weeks.

Facebook reminded me this morning of March 20th 2017, last year’s spring equinox when I posted on my blog here a collection of photos of colourful flowers from our garden. A bit of a contrast this year. The flowers have taken a battering, and this morning many are still bent and bruised by the remains of the latest snow. Many are not open at all yet. But this morning the sun is shining and there is a promise of temperatures rising. So here’s hoping… 

Stuck – comment 23

I was feeling really stuck today and didn’t know what to draw or write about.

I felt bogged down, not inspired at all. So I looked up the meaning of stuck and found its ambiguity. There is a swamped, drowning sense, a feeling of being overwhelmed. An abandoned, beached, a high and dry sense. There is a sense of being imprisoned, powerless, glued and unable to escape. And then there is the secure sense of steadfastness, faithfulness and loyalty, the friend who has stuck with you.

So where am I today? Perhaps it’s all of them…

So I drew my glue, which I use a lot when I’m being creative, and thought of all the meanings of stuck.

Unexpected intricacy – comment 22

It was wild in the night, the sound of wind and rain woke us more than once. The rain showed no sigh of stopping and I walked to the shop under trees tossing their branches in the blustery gusts. The lane was muddy and littered with twigs blown from the scots pines and many other trees around our house. A lot of the twigs were heavily covered with lichen, not normally so easily visible close up when the branches are still in the trees.

Lichens are not plants, (I discovered), have a variety of forms, and their complexity (and my ignorance) became increasingly apparent when I tried to find out more.

When I tried to draw the shapes from just one twig, they were so intricate that I had to resort to a very rough approximation. But I now realise I am looking at a whole new life form, very long lived and among the oldest living things. Wow, you never know what you’ll discover on a rainy day.

My needs are met – comment 21

This little bottle accompanies me most days when I’m out and about. This morning we went to exercise class together, and tonight we will go to choir. Filled with water, I miss it if I forget to take it with me.

But its simple shape and bright colours are not easy to draw. And focusing on it makes me realise how clean fresh water is another everyday commodity I don’t often stop to appreciate. Today there’s a lot of water falling from the sky, so I need to be reminded to be thankful for its abundance, and that we have enough to meet our needs.

Look into another face – comment 20

At the beginning of the month I said I would allow myself to have a day off if I didn’t want to make a comment every day. Otherwise it becomes a duty, not a joy. Yesterday I didn’t comment. Sometimes, like the wet Sunday yesterday, we just need to keep ourselves to ourselves.

But this morning the rain has stopped and these little flowers, glistening in the wet garden, are a joy. Hiding amongst their dark green leaves their subtle flowers aren’t garish, but nonetheless colourful. They made me want to draw them and attempt to capture their colour. Once again the process was all absorbing, the result not so satisfying.

But I feel better for looking into their faces.