Wakeman's news for 2009

Horseman's Hill Barn, Uplyme    Wednesday, 30th December 2009

Well, I didn't quite get the page up in time for the actual day as promised in my cards, but I did just manage 2009!

2009 has seen quite a change of direction for both of us after years of jogging along in a middle-aged fuzz: I am now employed part time as the Clerk for Uplyme Parish Council - a completely new world of local government that is alternately fascinating and frustrating. Interesting because I meet all sorts of people and am asked to solve all sorts of problems; frustrating because I am set against the sometimes glacial progress that is the norm for District and County Council functions. When I took on the job, I was worried about coping with the paperwork - but in fact, dealing with people is by far the most complicated and sometimes trying task!

Pete in actionPete is the public face of 'Lyme Bay Handyman' - for a year now, and gradually establishing his business doing small household and garden jobs for local people. He finds it quite hard sometimes when dealing with the general public after many years of working on his own - but is pleased to be earning some much-needed cash. I don't know about you, but we have found this recession very much worse than previous ones we've lived through. We are so lucky to have paid off our mortgage, otherwise I think we'd have had to sell up and move somewhere small. But we have our health and enough to eat and keep ourselves warm, which is more than many people do, and it is surprising how little one can live on if necessary! I've always enjoyed trawling charity shops rather than proper clothes shops, so that hasn't been a chore at all. (A friend said I always looked "artistic" - a polite way of saying slightly outlandish and scruffy I think!)

Sam and Leonie still have jobs, for which we are very grateful. Sam has some promising leads for more creative artwork in his spare time via a friend in Bath, who is hoping to publish some original artwork, and Leonie has plans to do a reflexology course next year, in the hope of making a bit more of a living at evenings and weekends - her current job gives her only just enough to live on. I do hope they both manage to do more fulfilling things in due course.

They are both coming home on Christmas Eve and staying till 29th, so I am really looking forward to having the family together. I am planning a whole poached salmon for Christmas dinner, and we had a dry run last weekend - somewhat stymied by the fact that the one I ordered was 6.5 kg and about 85cm long - far too big to fit in the fish kettle! Guess what we've been eating all week? Morrisons assure me that the Xmas ones are much smaller. [Ed: they are now both back at work, the salmon was small but perfectly formed, and we had a really lovely time.]

Oxwich bay, very early one June morningUnusually for me, I had a holiday this year. I spend that amazingly hot sunny week in early June with my old friend Ann in a holiday chalet on the Mumbles - we revisited some of our university haunts in Swansea, ate lots of Welsh Italian ice cream, and walked miles and miles on the beautiful beaches of Gower. Add to that plenty of good home cooking, finding a second-hand bookshop in the middle of nowhere, an early decision not to make complicated plans but take things as they came - and we were absolutely happy. I felt more rested by the end of the week than I have for years.

from left: Faith, me, Mum, MayMum and I and my sister Faith spent a lovely day together in August. We met an old friend from Australia who had the day in Southampton from a world cruise. We hadn't met since I was about 16, so it was great to catch up. We spent the day in Winchester seeing the sights and also visiting Faith's partner's new business, a rather nice oak-framed barn selling lavender goods in Alresford. Needless to say it rained, but we had fun.

We have acquired another cat - Mungo, a rather lovely but very nervous tabby who was adopted by my Mum, but had great difficulty accepting being an old lady's "cat in a flat". He was given to her as a house cat, but was getting more and more demented, so we took pity on him. Betty, our resident old lady cat, still hisses and spits at him, but they are very slowly coming to some kind of truce.

veggie plotAnother venture this year was to start growing some of our own veg. Pete built a raised bed (we have no soil to speak of here) and we collected two pickups full of horse manure for the base, then topped it up with bought soil. I had an inordinate amount of pleasure from the few squashes, courgettes, radishes and beans we managed to grow despite the rubbish summer, and we have leeks to look forward to soon. Not to mention the parsley, which has been amazingly productive. Next year we want to put in another one - my Mum's present is going to be a load of topsoil - which I am really pleased about, as we have so much stuff I'd much rather have something practical. So after Xmas I'll be planning what to plant. We are thinking about whether we could have a handful of sheep and cattle for home grown meat - but I am really not sure if I could bring myself to take them to the abattoir after looking after them. Perhaps chickens would be more sensible to consider? Probably a pipe dream rather than an imminent likelihood.

Finally, on the creative front, I have started selling some of my pottery animals in two new City galleries, one in Exeter, and one in Salisbury - if only I had more time! On the photographic side, I have been doing some experiments with long exposures and moving the camera to get semi-abstract results, two of which are shown below.

motion study of sloe bushes

motion study of ancient woodland

All the best for 2010 and let's hope the recession goes away sooner rather than later,

Lois  x x x x