I spent the weekend in Edinburgh recently. The main feature was to take part in a sponsored walk to raise funds for the wonderful Maggie's Centre in the city. It provides support for people who have encountered cancer and also for their families. It has helped one of my oldest and dearest friends and her family, so that was reason enough for me to take part. The "Culture Crawl" started at the magnificent edifice that is Fettes College and from there it all went downhill. Not literally, of course; Edinburgh is quite a hilly city, which I had conveniently forgotten when I signed up for the event more than six months ago. There were cultural events along the route (which we only found out when we turned up to take part) - including Gilbert & Sullivan at Parliament Hall, an organ recital at St Stephen's church in Stockbridge, storytelling at the... yes, you guessed it, the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the High Street and singing in a hidden-away chapel at the back of George Square. Added to that lovely mix were some light refreshments, including paella (perfect walking fuel), homebakes and tea and even a few alcoholic beverages to spur us on. A good time was had by all. And I raised over £200 for Maggie's. Many thanks to all who donated.
It was good to be back in Edinburgh, where I grew up. I travelled by bus or walked, while there, which made a pleasant change from driving all the time. Nowadays, there are CCTV screens on the buses, so the driver can keep an eye on what the passengers are up to. It means the passengers can keep an eye on each other too. Quite disconcerting, really. I remember when the buses had platforms at the back. There were conductors who took your fare, then furiously wound their ticket machine, slung round their neck, to produce your ticket. They were printed on proper paper, those tickets, not the flimsy stuff you get now. Now, as I discovered from my friend, you can have an app on your mobile phone, so your ticket appears on the screen and you show it to the bus driver. I remember the days when you could smoke upstairs on the bus. I liked sitting upstairs, but didn't like the smoke (I still don't). My Mum could tell if I'd been upstairs on the bus by the smell of my blazer when I got home. I spent a lot of my childhood on the bus in Edinburgh. I had to take two buses to primary school; my big sister valiantly waited with me at the bus stop on George IV Bridge to make sure I got on the right one. By then she was at senior school and that was the end of her bus journey. There was a lollipop man at the end of my bus journey, to assist my crossing of a busy road. Then there was a walk along a leafy street with big sandstone houses on either side before reaching the sanctuary of school. Once I reached primary 6, I too only took one bus to school. The two-bus journey involved an overlapping stretch where I had the choice of where to change buses. I don't recall how I decided where to do this, but I do remember leaving my violin behind on more than one occasion and my poor mother having to go somewhere to collect it. I'm ashamed to say I don't actually know where she had to go; the bus depot, I assume. I still have that violin, and still play it, so thank you Mum, for mopping up my mess!
I was supposed to be painting for two hours in the studio at Oil and Glass yesterday, but ended up being there for more than three. It was a lovely space to work in; good light, good company and free access to tea and coffee.
I had a few ideas in hand before I started, but decided on a favourite theme of dilapidation, corrugated iron and the west coast. The resulting watercolour painting is of a different view of an old croft which I have painted before. I always struggle to give titles to my paintings; called this one "Back Home", for various reasons.
During my time in the studio, I was fortunate to meet with Rhian Johns and her mum, Iris. It was through meeting Iris that Shelagh Swanson of Oil and Glass decided to raise funds for Momentum Skills, as Rhian has found their support invaluable during her recovery from a brain injury in 2006. That recovery is still ongoing. They were having a go at glassmaking, constructing colourful coasters under Shelagh's tuition. Esther from the Evening Express joined them in their creativity; she admitted that it barely felt like work. It looked great fun - I can't wait to see how the finished articles look when they come out of the kiln. I'll just have to be patient until the 1st Birthday Party tomorrow evening to have a look. I think I may be tempted to sign up for a glass-making workshop at the studio before too long; it's my birthday in August, now there's a good idea for a present!
"Back Home" Watercolour on paper. Unframed. 14" x 11". For Sale by auction.
Tomorrow I'm taking part in the "24 Hour Arty People" event at Oil and Glass in Torry. This is a charity event, being organised and led by Shelagh Swanson, the marvellous owner of Oil and Glass. The event aims to raise funds for Momentum, a charity which I am ashamed to say I had not heard about before. Having read a little about it, I am happy to be spending a couple of hours painting tomorrow in its support.
I'm away to have a think about what I will paint tomorrow (I'll be there from about 2-4pm). I also need to gather my materials and stretch some paper in readiness. I'll be painting at my art class in Udny Green in the morning, so hoping my stamina will last out for two painting sessions in one day. Shelagh is bravely going to be creating throughout the 24 Hour period, I believe! It will be wonderful to see all the pieces that result from this creative marathon - (is this called a creatathon?).
All the pieces created will be available to purchase by silent auction; photos of the items will be available to view on the Oil and Glass Facebook page and it will be possible to purchase up till 9.30pm on Saturday 25th May. It's also Oil and Glass's 1st Birthday on Saturday, so folk can come along and celebrate from 7pm onwards, view the pieces created and maybe even make an impulse purchase! Hope to see you there.