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1st Feb. Away to Ireland, on the greyest of gray days. Drove into the ferry feeling like Pinocchio going into the belly of the whale.

Arrived in Ireland in the dark and on arrival at Waterford got to know the one way system very well! Having at last found the B&B the neighbours had their television turned up so loud I thought I might as well sit in the room and watch it with them, but asked to move rooms instead, only to find that when I came back to it a little later the key didn't work. About to stomp off and try and get help I looked up at the door only to find I was trying to get into the wrong room. Oops.

2nd Feb. Gallery was lovely and all the people there great. The exhibition was opened by Joan Dalton from The Red Kettle Theatre Company. To see some of the exhibition click on the doorway picture on the right.

In the day time found a treasure of a book in the small second hand bookshop on the Quay, The Masked Fisherman by George Mackay Brown.

3rd Feb. Workshops with small children and then 16 year olds, which was daunting. They were all tall, and young and beautifully and I began to feel quite short. And old. But they were great and full of questions.

In the book of comments someone had written that all polar bears are left handed, and this made me smile.

Back to the bookshop where two more treasures lay hidden on the shelves, including Buccaneers of America by Alexander Equemelin which reminded me of the pirate book and waiting to hear about the bursary.

photograph of doorway to the garter LAne Arts Centre, Waterford.

 

5th Feb. In the car, ready to drive off to the ferry I found that my feet could hardly touch the control peddles for the car. I think that after meeting the girls at Garter Lane I have started shrinking. Indeed I do feel very much like Mrs Twit from Roald Dahl's book "The Twits".

Back home across a sea like a mill pond and in five days the blanket of gray has not lifted. On the beach the dogs run wild and the waves curl in across the beach.

watercolour painting of woman in a red dress sleeping with a polar bear, Jackie Morris

6th Feb. After the usual chaos of getting up and getting ready for school this morning walked out into the garden into stillness. Another gray day, but the stillness was such that there was a texture of silence. Walking dogs to the rhythm of the surf lapwings and curlew called across the bay, haunting the stillness.

swans,watercolour and gold leaf, painted by Jackie Morris for Valentine's Day 7th Feb. Painting for exhibition in Carmarthen today. Gray and calm outside and feeling the same inside. Three books by George Mackay Brown arrived in the post today.

7th Feb. This evening Hannah read "The Singing Ringing Tree" to me.

"I love this picture so much, " she said. "It meant so much to me when I was little. I remember it so well".

The picture was of the princess rescuing the unicorn.

I remember "The Singing Ringing Tree" from when I was a child. It was a television series in three parts, years ago. I loved the bear and was terrified of the little manikin who stamps his feet in fierce anger as the world burns around him. I remember the white doves and the trees with the reddest berries, and the shivering singing tree.

As Hannah reads I feel again the childlike fear of the manikin and his anger as the Princess learns how to love and so slips from his power and through his fingers.

And the bear, the beautiful bear who makes the princess a bed of soft mosses and brings her berries and nuts.

Outside it is raining and the wind is picking up a pace.

9th Feb. In New York "Can You See a Little Bear?" is at the Child Magazine top 50 awards party at Barnes and Noble. Here the moon is bright so that it looks like the dullest of days outside.

In Letchworth, James Mayhew who wrote Little Bear is busy painting the cover for "Katie and the Spanish Princess" having worked like a madman to produce all the paintings for the book. Here I have finished another page for the poetry book and move on to the next.

In New York I hope Little Bear will do well at the party. Little Brown, the publishers of Little One are there. And I am here, walking in the moonlight and James is in his studio in Letchworth. Maybe, one day, we will be in New York together.

14th Feb. Maurice the Cat brought me a gift for Valentine's Day, a mouse, nibbled by him into the shape of a heart. Sweet cat! How thoughtful.

photograph of Ramsey Island on a sunny, but windy day in February 2006

20th Feb. Walked where the biggest, blackest ravens fly, by Ramsey Sound and the wind was a North wind, and cold.

photograph of Aber Bach with a faint rainbow glow

21st Feb. Across the bay at Aber Bach a shadow of a rainbow fell into a blue sea. Long walk along lanes with cushions of snowdrops and daffodils almost open, to the beach where the sea rolled the stones to smoothness and strange birds called across the reed-filled valley, then home to a long day painting.

23rd Feb. Early rise to paint for poetry book before the children wake into a grey day of mizzle and cold. Federation of Children's Book Conference starts tomorrow and I am sorry to miss it. To see contribution to the newsletter click here . For the painting from that day click here

For the alternative day in the life when things did not go quite so well click here.

 

watercolour painting by Jackie Morris for The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems

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©Jackie Morris