We were heading out for a walk along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path from Porth Clais to Porthlysgi Bay when I heard a familiar robin call from a bush in the car park. This robin looked particularly friendly as he sang his song to me so I broke off a little piece of pastry for him.
We went for a walk over St. Anne’s Head in Pembrokeshire, Wales this week. The last couple of days have seen record temperatures for February recorded across the UK and it is feeling unseasonably warm.
These black hairy caterpillars, possibly White Ermine Moths, were out in force out on the coastal path.
The sand dunes of Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire are so extensive they’ve built a road through them. This was a little mind-blowing.
This is a short video of the road and the setting sun as we drove back out from the coast. The backing track is an early version of ‘Something’s Changing’:
#visitwales #pembrokeshire #ponyfolk
Early in my Journey, when I started learning to draw, I reached a place where I had created a ritual around drawing. Each sketch was unique and supposed to be an improvement on the last, like the beginner runner who expects to get faster and becomes despondent when a plateau is reached or gets slower. I had reached a place in drawing where the ‘should’ had become so great that it precluded me from picking up the pencils, and when I did pick them up and draw the self-pressure was intense. I stopped drawing around that time.
Recently I had an urge to draw trees, but not from life as all my previous work had been. I wanted to draw from imagination. So I looked up some tips on drawing trees and started drawing trees.
There’s a line in the Patrick Costello banjo tutorial book, The How and The Tao of Old Time Banjo, that sticks with me as it changed the way that I look at the arts now. I’ve always been an apologist for my lack of art and musical ability. It’s been real easy for me to just pass it off as not having received the gift of drawing and the gift of music. I wasted a lot of years in that belief until I discovered that both art and music can be taught. I should have realised sooner when I took up running and found that I had to learn how to do it. At school I bunked off cross-country but in my early 30’s, following the Couch To 5k program of its time, I went from fat and unfit to running a marathon in a short few years. The education system hadn’t taught me how to run, is it any surprise that it didn’t teach children to draw and to play and understand music?
Patrick’s advice was there right after the first few songs:
“Play this one a couple of hundred times and when you’re ready…”
‘Play this one a couple of hundred times’, man that floored me the first time I read it. I was so used to skipping on to the next thing without really grasping or practicing the previous thing. Play a song once, move on. Draw a sketch of something once and then move on. Here was the key to improvisation, practice!
So I decided to apply this advice to drawing and drew some more trees and then moved on to hares and rabbits.
All of the time using pencils I’d appropriated from hotels and drawing in my ‘music’ book, which I use for writing songs and writing out folk tunes in my own notation for banjo.
Next I treated myself to a sketch book and a set of pencils and that’s where things started to go downhill again. I had created a new ritual, the special book and the special pencils. Now each drawing had to be special and they just weren’t. They seemed to be getting worse.
So, to the moral of the story, i decided to make my art disposable. It’s not special, so don’t treat it like it’s special. And once I’ve sketched a couple of hundred rabbits and hares and trees, well, I might just be getting warmed up.
This one’s on a piece of paper out of the printer, I was going to wrap a book in it to post it, just to prove how disposable art is.
For now it’s back to the banjo…
I could write about that day in Paros where we walked the beach road from Parikia out past the ferry port and the bar and the restaurants, past the campsite and the restaurants on the beach, past the sports beach club where we had swam the day before, where I had found the empty sea urchin shell, out along the narrow beach path, out around and up onto the headland where the wind blew through the aloe vera plants and we climbed high over the sea below, round the corner where the headland felt more of a desert than a beach now and on until we started descending to the roadway below past the deserted campsite club and squeezing our way onto the edge of the end of this new beach.
We walked a while and found ourselves now opposite the town and its beaches, where the ferries now passed between us and docked in the distance. We joined a handful of locals in the sun under some abandoned beach shade umbrellas and watched a scruffy little dog do as it pleased along the water’s edge. We swam and dried off. We swam again, slipping off our constricting swimwear and swimming free in the sea. We lay in the shade to dry off and watched an old man arrive in an ancient Fiat and enter the sea for his daily lunchtime swim, out to the buoy and in again and back along the beach edge.
I entered the water and followed his route, my bravery enhanced by watching his success. Swimming out in the sea and I was free. Free and a little scared, scared of all those things they tell us to be scared of, the depth, the currents, the cold cramp, exhaustion. I thought of all these things as I swam out following his path, his invisible trail somehow holding its permanence through its daily repetition through the waves and I returned victorious. I had conquered the sea.
And that is the story of the sea of Paros one summer of 2017, in the year after the fire and before the operation.