Wednesday 23rd January
It is offical, I am bonkers. Despite freezing temperatures and the inability to feel hands and feet we moved on with the studio. My two youngest boys came out in the morning to help me paint the outside while Pete repaired the roof. Pete dashed to a shift at the village shop and the boys went in for lunch and there was I still painting. I gave myself the horrid bits round windows etc and I was just giving up the will to live and my eldest son, Harry, rescued me. He took over while I went to see if any bits of me had fallen off in the cold. Many of you will be wondering quite why we are out painting in this freezing weather. Two reasons really. Firstly we are having a run of dry days and on Arran it is important to use those days well. Secondly, I know that once the growing season gets going there will be no time for such things and I will go another year without a studio.
The cold is no matter as I have a studio that is painted on the outside and dry and I am very pleased.
I have already planted some bulbs for my little porch!
Now we get to tackle the inside. That will have to be next week as the EU beckons in home school tomorrow and then Pete and I are away for a couple of days to Glasgow. This will, of course, give me time to plan it. Lovely!
I see that Helen and Alex are still on the case and have suggested some names for the studio. I am drawn to Prana but not sure we are there yet. I am letting it float around inside my head for a few days; always a risky strategy because it might disappear forever. Huge thanks to Helen and Alex. I am not sure what I would do without you! I did email you for your address so I can send your gift to you. Let me know if you didn't get it and I will re-try.
The problem with Hazelbank is there is always something to do and never enough time to fit it all in. In the end you can only do what you can do but setting priorities is a major part of our lives. 170 willow cuttings will be here any day so we need to finish clearing the space for them and my seeds are starting to arrive. The tunnel needs a repair job and all the herbs need potting on. The priority is the willow as this is for the boys. They have run successful micro-businesses before but this project will bring them together. With mum and dad in support we hope to be producing willow in a variety of colours to use in wreath making. We have made wreaths for years but have always bought the bases in. This project will allow us to make the entire product here. It is very difficult to buy willow wreath bases so we hope to offer those as well. I am well underway with the design aspect of the business so we better have some willow to coppice by the end of the year. The boys are all excellent growers but Harry is perhaps the most successful. He has grown his own vegetables and herbs in the past and always manages to make them look and taste more impressive than mine.
Arran is so quiet at this time of year. I am often the only person on the beach which is very welcome. My visits to the beach now are spent collecting sea glass and pottery fragments for my new studio. I need to go to Lamlash beach to get the driftwood I must have. Some very dedicated individuals campaigned to get this part of the island made into an exclusion zone in order to protect the sea bed. Trawling the sea bed for scallops had seriously damaged this eco-system and something had to be done. A group of people formed COAST (community of arran sea bed trust) and after tireless work secured an exclusion zone for Lamlash Bay. Click on the link to read about what they have already achieved and what their current plans are. Arran is full of people who are prepared to stand up and be counted and there are always campaigns running with considerable success.
Another group of dedicated individuals belong to Roots of Arran. This group are establishing a community woodland and bringing this inspiring project to the school children on the island. One of the reasons we moved to Arran was to give the children a childhood where they could explore the outdoors in a safe environment. Our children are a bit older now but I have lots of found memories of the children messing about on the land, re-directing the stream that runs through the property and climbing trees. Roots of Arran teaches the youngsters of Arran how important native woodland is and their work is incredibly important, espcially in such a small community.
As I come across these sorts of community based projects I will include them in this blog with web links in the hope that readers get a clear sense of the strength of community on the island. The community on Arran has much to shout about.
Picture today is a view of Lamlash bay looking towards the Holy Isle. It was obviously taken in the summer but it is a wonderful place to stop and stare. Until tomorrow. xx