Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Extraordinary Co-ordinating

Dearest Emily,
Since we last spoke I've just been getting on with ordinary life really, which as we both know- has its moments. Here are two such moments to bring a smile to your lips, and make you giggle.
On Sunday, we were lucky with the tides and the weather- so it meant that the fabulous Freshwater Inshore Lifeboat guys could do the spreading of Grumpa's ashes.
He wanted it quiet and low-key, and again, he was very specific about how, and where- and had given directions about the exact spot.
His lads that he was training were in his beloved D Class boat, and as they spread the ashes handed to them from the big boat, I read 'Crossing the Bar' (so apt it is for your Grumpa that Tennyson must have written it just for him Em!.)
Then, the big boat went round in a big circle as we strew the water with sunflowers and chrysanthemums. 
There was a minutes silence, before we headed back. The day was beautifully sunny, warm and the sea calm.
I've tried to capture the moment in this painting Em, all seemed vibrant, and Grumpa is in his 'happy place'.
The funny thing is Em, that when we got back to the Boathouse, the Crew kindly gave us the co-ordinates of where we had been. In an effort to let everyone interested know- my brother-in law set up a natty little 'still-life' with a tea-mug depicting the letter P (Grumpa was a massive tea drinker) and the piece of paper with the co-ordinates on it...
A nice shot, I think you will agree. The following day questions were raised by someone about the co-ordinates, which proved to be in Madrid!  (or, if the longitude and latitude were muxed-ip-Kenya!)
We did laugh,as Grumpa was very keen on seeing more of the world.
Better we use the picture then, for now. If you take a boat to Scratchells Bay, and can see the Needles to the left of the horizon, and the edge of the Island to the other, then it's the spot in front of you.
Today, I was late for work as usual (it's all that getting from one place to another stuff Em, yes, I know I'm next door but one) and I set up, fluffed about with the Coffee machine, emptied the dishwasher and set about packing up an Internet order, as a couple came in and started browsing.
The man was an engaging East-Ender, and his wife had a familiar face, which struck me though I couldn't place it, or feel that I knew her.
We got chatting as you do here in a bookshop, and it turns out she works for David Bailey, so we had a common interest in photography and its world.
Later in the conversation (hubby had remarked on the shop's name, and the niceness of calling people by their title.)
Theirs came out in the chat, but only later did it transpire that she was one of Queen Victoria's Great-great Gradaughters...
And then, Em, the penny dropped. 
She looked familiar because she looked like a young Queen Victoria.
What is more, her husband is a portrait artist named Michael McDonald, who had painted her in her Great-Grandmother's dress, here it is...

See what I mean!
Another ordinary week comes to a close dear Emily.
It's a while until I see you all as there's a lot to finish hereabouts with the new shop and guest-accommodation and Teagarden, but we'll chat and FaceTime until then, loving your 'Super-Cooper' picture,
Your ever-loving Grandmother,
GiGi, xxx

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Art of the Ordinary

Dearest Emily,


The West Wight appears to me to have had a steady increase of visitors this summer. Throughout August it was so- seemingly busier this year than usual, and we were fortunate in meeting some lovely customers who appreciated our dear Freshwater.
One chap who lived in Haslemere, visited both shops three times during his holiday, and on his last Tea and Victoria sponge, we chatted as he sat in his now favourite spot by the window, overlooking School Green.
He was quietly engaging in speech, and had previously told me he had been to the Island as a child, but not since.
I asked him what he had enjoyed, and he gave me some food for thought...
'The people here, they are ordinary.
They say hello.
They don't conform.
Where I live (Stock-broker belt- my words) everyone conforms to a social stratum and they all dress accordingly.
Here they don't.'
No, Em, they don't.
They never did.
I think that is the essence of what I love about Freshwater.
The ordinary.
How, ordinary we are, collectively visiting our plethora of charity shops and dressing ourselves and our houses from them.
How ordinary we are to raise money for local causes and volunteer and fight for them tooth and nail.
How ordinary to share plants, vegetables and fruit and recipes.
To respect, stand by and care for each other when in grief or distress.
This, dear Emily, as in days gone by in my favoured focus of the 1860's, is how it rolls in a gentle, quiet and ordinary community.
Which is quite Extraordinary.
In the 1860's, Julia Margaret Cameron lived here, visiting and caring for her friends and peers, and photographing them as she went.
Charles Darwin, wasn't the Darwin we now understand from History- here, he was a chap writing a book, an angst ridden Scientist, who was all out of sorts (he knew he was about to blow his Wife's religious beliefs out of the water regarding evolution, but all that showed was a man troubled and anxious.
Tennyson wasn't Alfred Lord Tennyson, he was a chap who had written a poem that had enabled him to buy the house he rented, who had mood-swings and fretted about cash flow.
Julia herself, had a husband who had fallen out of favour in getting a job (Government Post-wise) as he'd taken the flak for Macaulay. His Laudenam habit didn't do much for his earning potential either, and Julia quietly assumed a genteel 'Amateur' status, whilst being paid handsomely for her likenesses, and therefore providing for her large family.
Her aristocratic background was very different from her ordinary life in Freshwater, and she loved and embraced it.
A pioneer in historical terms for her ground-breaking photographic work.
So, is Freshwater.
A beautiful, quiet, rural, seaside community that honestly beats to its own drum.
Not possible to pigeon-hole in terms we can grasp.
It is my home.
'Is there no-one Commonplace here? ' said Anne Thackeray Ritchie in 1853...
Everyone, extraordinarily Em,
And that is what I love.
Hope School went well today dearest, and give your sisters a big kiss from me-
Your ever-loving Grandmother,
GiGi xxx