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2007

Tom and Hannah hanging in hammocks in teh ash tree in the garden on a sunny day

June 1st. Began the day with a quiet walk with Maurice the cat and Bella and Floss to the farm shop, across the fields with only bird song invading the silence to buy bacon for breakfast, the sun so warm it felt like being on holiday. The children spent most of the day in hammocks in the tree, reading, hanging in the shade with occasional visits from cats.

Worked, on a new book, Singing to the Sun, and waited for the proofs for the poetry book which had been delivered to a house somewhere in Pembrokeshire and signed for by someone who was on holiday, which narrowed things down a bit. They turned up eventually.

Later, early evening we went to watch porpoise rise through the surface of the sea and it was so peaceful you could hear their quiet breathing as they surfaced. All days should be like this.

Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire. Photograph.

2nd June. Perfect way to spend a day. Woke to honey coloured sunshine through the window. Worked on Singing to the Sun and then posted off the roughs to the publishers and walked up the hill to read at the top, overlooking sea on both sides and watching ravens fly. Fell asleep thinking of dragons and liveships from Robin Hobb books and woke to see a heron flapping its lazy flight past. So quiet you could hear the soft breath of a butterflies wings.

phoyogtaph showing Ramsey Sound in the distance and CArn Llidi

4th June. Another afternoon of sunshine. Yesterday went to Whitesands which was heaving with people so today we went to the sheltered waters by St Non's, scrambling down the steep path to sit on the rocks while children played and snorkeled in the deep water, jumping from the rocks into pools. Water was coloured like a peacock with turquoise and gold and still and clear. Overhead a kestrel flew back and forth to its nest and fulmars clamoured around a chick.

photograph looking down from the cliffs at St Nons, Pembrokeshire, blue water and rocks

photograph of Tom resting on the rocks at St Nons in between times of exploring deep water with kelp.

photograph of Floss and Elmo, collie dog, ginger kitten. Later bats flew low between the high hedge banks and the dogs chased after a careless young fox. And Elmo, who is a girl, found a new dog shaped beanbag.

5th June. Fields full of swallows. Late night lanes full of bats. Days full of sunshine. Skies full of skylark song. Calm sea, no clouds. Summer.

6th June. Foxglove, pink campion, sea campion, bluebell, purple vetch and kidney vetch, eyebright, ladies smock, daisy and buttercup, coltsfoot and wild rose, golden gorse.

7th June. Walking dogs up the hill late last night scattering rabbits to the four corners of their world. Delicate tendrils of mist crept in up the valleys from the sea. Today the world is veiled in mist, water hanging in diamond drops from every blade of grass, shining the foxgloves and the sun is a pale disc.

Children back at school, so no excuse for lingering by the sea. Back to work. First trying to get the white hare from Seth Lakeman's song out of my head. His song tells of a woman who lived on the moor. At night she would transform herself into a white hare and run over the moor. If she caught your eye she would steal your soul. Later started to settle back in to The Snow Leopard, ghosting the leopard cat out of the paper.

Snow leopard and child sleeping, watercolour by Jackie Morris

White Hare, watercolour painting with gold leaf, Jackie Morris

painting of boy and snow leopard sleeping

8th June. This morning I heard the tune of a cuckoo change.

painting of boy and snow leopard sleeping

9th June. In the morning a red kite flew overhead, mobbed by loud crows, the first I have seen here. In the evening a hungry kestrel hung in the darkening sky searching for unwary mice. The wind is fierce and warm and smells of summer and new mown fields.

painting of a child sleeping safely wrapped in the warmth of a snow leopard

16th June. The sun continues to shine and I have been strimming my way into the garden and discovering the odd flower here and there, and a jade green frog who had hopefully been feeding on the massive snail harvest hidden beneath the long grass.

Painting in the day and walking with the children in the evening, keeping them up far later than is good for them, but seeing foxes and watching the sun fizzle into the sea.

Friends came round yesterday for supper, Daff and Claire, bringing fresh caught lobster from Whitesands, and mackerel. Beautiful lobster. I had made fresh bread during the day to go with salad and lobster, and today have picked the first elder flowers to make elder flower champagne. The days are full of butterflies and the buzzing of bumblebees.

two cooked lobsters on a plate
malachy doyle reading from his new book

June 17th. On a beautiful sunny day Malachy Doyle read his new book, about the saving of the last red kites in Wales, for the West Wales Children's Book Group at Castell Henllys. The sun shone and overhead buzzards circled through a clearing in rich green trees. The sound of the stream and the wind in the leaves flowed through Malachy's wonderful story and as if by magic a red kite flew low over the clearing.

Later Cuela Verbal Arts told stories of magical potions and blue birds and angels while small birds flew around looking for pickings from picnics.

In the evening Robin and I walked up the hill to watch the sun set and came home to a supper of fresh mackerel.

June 19th. Up early on a gray day. Parked the car at Whitesands and walked home to settle my mind before painting. Linnets, stonechat, skylarks, choughs and ravens, and beneath the white birds porpoise rise from the sea in pairs. Baby porpoise, smaller than salmon, milk fed, rise to the air glistening black and silver, new in the sea.

In foxgloves, by the path, bees are dusty with pollen. And still the white hare tracks through my mind.

photograph of foxgloves at Maes y Mynydd

Painting leopards for The Snow Leopard.

"As the old leopard finished his song he leaped from the mountain into the star filled sky. His dappled coat blended with the stars of the Milky Way and his song changed to a whisper of starlight."

 

photograph of the wonderful and marvelously talented Mr Philip Ardagh

21st June. Following the long road to Southampton. Bulldog faced leather clad men on huge black motorbikes migrate towards Fishguard in flocks. A dapper old man in a gray suit stands at a bus stop, flower in his buttonhole, leaning on a cane.

The road goes on through rain and sunshine and England smells of elder flowers. Stop at The Magpie and the Mirror to drop off new work and books and the gallery is full of beautiful things.

Arrive at the Park Hotel in Southampton with five minutes to spare, and there is Phil Ardagh, larger than life, and Valerie Bloom who radiates serenity, but it could be exhaustion, very beautiful.

 

June 22nd. Looked after wonderfully well by all at Southampton libraries, and did three sessions with wonderful children who were full of questions and watched with big eyes and joined in with noisy enthusiasm as Little Bear stood on a ball and tried on a hat. Would have loved to have gone to the other sessions as Phil is always so entertaining, and Valerie's poetry demands to be heard, and Paul Geraghty drew the most amazing picture with marker pens and was just very funny.

Back in the car, but this time just to Gosport to stay with friends and meet Mel and Mike from The Forge Gallery. Both Erin and Charlie, the "children" where I was staying have grown up so much, both beautiful and Erin nearly a grown up. She showed me her sketch book and I loved the cartoon story of when they went to the library and Charlie shut his finger in the lift. She is only 15 and has wonderful technique and sense of design.

 

black and white drawing by Erin Keen

Helen and Erin played a piano duet for me and introduced me to the music of Einaudi, so now I have wonderful new music for writing and painting to.

photograph of two chocolate brown ponies in a field by a mountain 24th June. Walking to the sea by honeysuckle hedges. Picking honeysuckle trumpets and sucking the sweet nectar from the flowers. In a secret field of gorse and grass and wildflowers a tiny chocolate coloured pony and her child wait.

photograph of a path of honeysuckle and foxgloves

27th June. Up the hill the world was clothed in stillness. No sound except for the few snatches of birdsong. No wind, not a whisper. No horizon as the sea and sky melt together, slate gray sea, pearl white sky.The only sound the slow uncurling of bracken fronds with their green summer smell and the rattle of a dragon fly's wings.

29th June. Three buzzards, three ravens, butterflies and dragonflies and sunshine.

Snow leopard. Painting of snow leopard on a high rock in the mountains with choughs.Watercolour by Jackie Morris.

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©Jackie Morris