It’s been a funny year, one in which my walking and outdoor activities have been considerably hampered for much of the time due to various health issues for my self and my wife. I have still been able to get out at times but only for much shorter trips than usual, and certainly no backpacking despite my good intentions at the beginning of the year – as they say, the best laid plans…….
One of my issues is that my arthritic ankles have been particularly bad for long periods. I have had an X-ray that shows the condition has worsened so I am waiting to see an Orthopaedic Consultant early in the new year to see if there is anything that can be done. In the meantime, I have learned a lesson – if you would walk long, walk slow (I’m sure that was a quote I read but I can’t find it online so I’m going to claim it 🙂 ) ! The thing is, if you stride out, you flex the joints much more than if you walk slowly and take shorter steps, and that puts much more stress on the ankle joint – well, that’s my theory anyway. I’m going to test my theory so, watch this space 🙂 ! I’m not ready to give up walking or backpacking yet so I’ll try anything!
Anyway, every cloud has a silver lining 🙂 ! Since our combined health problems have meant my having to stay near home more, I have been able to do much more painting than I normally get time for – even though I’m retired, there are still not enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do and outdoor activities have always taken up most of my time. Not only have I painted but I’ve combined that with revisiting and reliving my past backpacking trips by turning some of the photographs into oil paintings, so I thought I would share some of those here.
The picture at the top of this post, painted in oils on canvas board, shows Riggindale and High Street as viewed from Kidsty Pike, the highest point on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk. The day was a ‘mixed weather day’ with lots of cloud shadows and bright patches of sunshine, and it was blowing a hooley! It was cold, so not a day for hanging around long but I couldn’t resist grabbing some pictures of the views with those wonderful craggy rocks in the foreground. I just love that view!
The picture above, again in oils on canvas board, shows Helm Crag which is a gnarly peak that stands above Grasmere. This was taken earlier on the same C2C backpack and on a much worse day than the previous picture. It had been pouring with rain all day with really stormy skies and everything was wet through. I was walking with three other people who I had met en route that day, one from England and two from Australia/New Zealand, and we were all staying at Grasmere that night. Well, that wasn’t actually my original intention as I had been aiming to continue up the other side to wild camp at Angle Tarn but I seriously needed to dry my kit out so was forced to book a night at the hostel in Grasmere.
It was wonderful walking along that water drenched ridge in the pouring rain, but it was wonderful too to reach my stopping point for the night and to be able to finally get dry! Well, until the next day when, typically, it was pouring with rain again!
The third image in this post is of Whitesands Bay, on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, and I painted this in a more impressionistic style – I am an impressionist at heart and Claude Monet is one of my ‘heroes’ but I don’t paint that way very often. I enjoyed painting this one and the reason is, I have a perfectionist streak in me which means when I paint, it has to be ‘right’ whatever ‘right’ means, and this kind of takes away some of the enjoyment of painting unless I really counter that inner narrative. In this case though, because I don’t paint in this style normally, I could give myself permission just to let go and be free from any constraints because ‘I’m just experimenting’ 🙂 ! And it is so much more fun when I experiment because it doesn’t have to be ‘right’ 🙂 !
Anyway, the story behind this painting…….well you might have guessed, it was another wet day! This wasn’t just any wet day though, this was torrential, driving rain and gale force winds lashing at me all day. I had fallen several times, not blown over by the wind but because in order to stay upright, I had to lean into the wind, and then of course every now and then the wind would suddenly drop leaving me sprawling on the ground. The wind was so strong that I couldn’t even keep the rucksack cover in place and it ended up blowing like a spinnaker beside me – I’m just glad it was attached to the rucksack or it would probably have blown all the way to England 🙂 ! Even now, I can feel the relief I felt when I finally rounded St David’s Head and saw Whitesands Bay in the distance. Of course, that in itself is deceiving because even though I could see my stopping point for the night and it looked so close, I still had numerous headlands to climb over, as well as the serpentine path that wound in and out of all manner of inlets…..but at least those last miles were in the comparative shelter that St David’s provided.
Would you believe, having walked in rain and wind all day, and having pitched my tent in the same conditions, the rain suddenly stopped and I was treated to a rather wonderful sunset to end my day 🙂 ! What a delight it was to be able to stroll down to the beach in ‘normal’ weather (as opposed to Welsh weather 🙂 ) and enjoy a much quieter evening of photographing and exploring.
Well I think I’d better leave it at that for today as I’m quite worn out with all this walking in the rain and wind in my head 🙂 ! I’ll save the rest for another time when I’ve recovered…..and hopefully we will get better weather then 🙂 !
Just a thought, if you’ve read this and feel inspired to get some art materials and try your hand, I would say a resounding ‘just do it’! And despite what I wrote earlier, ignore the voice in your head that says you can’t do it – I’m learning to! In any event, there is no such thing as bad art or wrong art, we just have different tastes. This is the message from me, a non-artist who loves painting!
Stay safe, stay active, stay wild, and thanks for stopping by to read my ramblings.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
If you would like to contact me, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org – comments and feedback are always welcomed.
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Thanks Michael 😀
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this Terry. Although not out in the rain I’m inside looking out at it. Very dismal out there! After not doing hobbies for quite a while am encouraged to paint again and to look for wildlife in the garden…..maybe I can combine the two! Thankyou, your blog’s always leave a ‘nice feeling!’ God bless from Bristol.
Ah, thanks Annie – you should definitely combine painting and wildlife 🙂 Hope you are both OK. Every blessing to you both. Terry