Out, about & inside

I love this time of year - everything goes back to normal and my world can putter on, but with a whole shiny new year to get things done in. We don't really go in for Christmas - Andy has to work (even on Boxing Day this year) and I prefer to work - but we took a couple of days off at New Year and drove out and about in the comfort of The Wheels. Had a quiet lunch at the Farmer's Arms, a great family pub in Guiting Power.

It is a rare thing in the upmarket Cotswolds - a normal, nice pub with a comfy atmosphere. No posh gastro-anything, no minor celeb chef serving pickled pheasant with pineapple. We like it. And it serves great local Donnington beer - for me the passenger that is, the driver had a nice ginger beer. (A tip for tourists in the Cotswolds looking for a traditional pub - find a Donnington Brewery one, all the ones we have been to are excellent)

It's all a bit dull, blustery and rainy here at the moment, so I have been driven around and parked about, so that I could do some (very) rubbishy landscape sketching. Snowshill is a favourite area for big fields and lowering skies.

Despite the gloom, the landscape is still stunning, especially over the Wiltshire Pewsey Downs. Sweeping and mystically atmospheric in all weathers, even on a murky day.

My favourite clump of trees; I can see it from all angles on our summer circular walk.

Spot the Wiltshire White Horse winter sleeping on the hillside.

Silbury Hill manages to camouflage itself very snugly into the surrounding countryside. To get an idea of how big this amazing prehistoric man-made mound is, the tiny little light to the middle left is a car headlight, on the road which runs past it.

As is tradition, I had a big studio tidy, ready for the new year. I have another full order sheet and am ploughing my way through a big list which includes some very remorseful and late emails to friends around the world and explaining why I didn't do a Christmas card this year. I don't deserve you, I really don't.

Updating my website is proving to be several days worth of work in itself; I'd rather be needle felting, but I can't punt for new illustration work without a decent website. Oh dear me, it is a very dull job indeed. By the way, a little tip; if you are like me and have several piles of *stuff* taking up floor space, simply amalgamate them into taller piles! I am quietly proud of this flash of genius.

What isn't dull at all is organising my first needle felting workshop which is happening later this month - two days of private tuition down in Bath with nine people. I have never been to Bath before, so it will be a very big adventure.


Charlotte said...

I think your piles are very good, it makes me feel far better about mine.

Is that the polar bear I spy? He is wonderful. Also had a good laugh as I see a number of lovely Tate and Lyle tins; I keep my brushes in a golden syrup tin because I love the colours and the motto so much.

Happy New Year and best of luck to your felting workshops, I hope they bring you fun and inspiration. Am about to embark in the Etsy shop, have began to get promising grunts from Tim re his raku work pottery. Thank you for your excellent advice.

Claire said...

Oh Gretel, you do make me jealous with pics of the countryside dull, blustery weather and all. It'looks wonderful, I hope you had a thermos of something as you parked and sketched............

Love the peek into your studio too, full of interesting bits and pieces.

You will love Bath, we visited bak in 2007 and I was enchanted. All the best for the workshop too.

It's been stinking hot here the last couple of days, fortunately a cooler morning this morning. It is looking dull which is such a relief.

Claire :}

Natasha said...

The first picture of the trees is really like your illustrations!
Good luck with your workshop, Bath is gorgeous!
ps very much love my hare print!

Kathi said...

Okay Gretel, you've gone and done it again. Everytime you post pics of your wanderings, I feel as if I am transported to some storybook land. I really want to live where you live!! I'm just so jealous! Thanks for the peek into your studio; I like your advice for piling onto another pile. Good luck with your workshop.♥

Mari Brown and Colourblob said...

Love the trees in the first picture and the whole country side and with the clouds hanging low, just love it. It was fun to see in to where you create and come up with those wonderful work that you make. Happy New Years!!!


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I do admire your tidy studio. Mine's still a wreck at the moment. Ribbon everywhere.
Also, those trees in the first photograph remind me of your characters somewhat. Loads of personality. I do love weather like this.
Wishing both you and Andy a lovely new year!

julochka said...

I absolutely afire the glimpses of your studio. I'd be so at home there, you'd have to chase me out. our landscapes too are without snow and are a bit dull and grey. where is the winter this year?

happy new year to you!!

ted and bunny said...

oh piles...if only the "other" magic pile stuff would work on them and make them disappear too!

We had a jaunt to the Cotswolds last year and a wonderful mooch around Snowshill House. Am I right in thinking that nearby we drove through similar countryside but full of lavender fields?
Smelt it before we saw it!

Happy New year to you- wishing you a truly inspirational one

Vintage Jane said...

You will love Bath - see if you can manage a walk along the canal or a browse in the Holburne Museum away from the ever present crowds. I'm sure you will be forgiven for your Christmas card tardiness!! Wishing you and Andy a very happy and healthy new year. M x

Mac n' Janet said...

You are so right about pubs in the Cotswolds, use to be able to have lovely homemade meat pies, now it's stacks of trendy little nothings that cost a fortune. Love the white horse, have taken many a walk there and Avesbury is one of our favorite places in the world. Thanks for the pix.

Frances said...

Well Gretel, you've made me laugh with your discovery of the power of towering piles! I have made use of that concept...wait a minute, I still am making use of it.

I have done a very superficial New Year's clear out, and will have to re-build some of my towers soon.

How beautiful is that landscape that you and Andy have visited. Of course, it calls out to an artist's eye. There is just something quite magical to see all that open space, the natural curves of the land, the soft colors, the defining accents of the trees and hedges.

Over here, it's now way too cold to contemplate any drawing outdoors, so I do hope that your weather is still medium cool enough to allow your hand to comfortably hold a pencil.

The pub looks rather perfect to me, as well. I've been fortunate enough to also have visited some such places that did not seem pressed to go along with the press of modernization. Much better to relax in a cosy spot near a fire, have a half and a pie.

Best wishes to you and Andy for a very fine 2012. I think that you will love the beautiful city of Bath. Yes, it's a city, but not too giant a city. xo

Shrimpton and Perfect said...

It's just so great to have a good old tidy up and de-clutter isn't it?
Love your landscape photos :) Good luck with the workshop.

Anonymous said...

It's a while since we were last in the Cotswolds - looking at your photos makes me want to visit again! I had a big tidy up - despite having two tables (Ikea's best cheap and cheerful) I somehow always end up working in a tniy space, surrounded by precarious heaps of magazines and fabrics!

ps - Stuart loved his prints - when he opened them and said thank you, he also said 'thank you to Gretel too'!!

BumbleVee said...

I've seen that huge white horse in some movie...or another just like it! But, it was near a coastline... Darn it... I will remember which movie or ..better yet ask Greg...he'll remember it... maybe they just used the horse as a marker and the coastline was out of context.

hahah... you sound like old
Alistair... remember? ...."I dont deserve to be so happy" ... too funny. But... yes you do.... you are very busy trying to get orders done and mailed and needle felting takes a long time to get right and yours are soooo right!
Thanks for my lovely calendar.... it arrived yesterday... little Oscar is proudly proclaiming January.... I'll be inspired every time I look at any of the needle felts... I just wish my hand would do some of anything right now...but, nope...too painful straight up to the tip of the stupid elbow yet....sigh..... oh, man am so fed up with it. And, truth be told...I am more than a bit worried that it may never be right again.......oh, not that........please not that.................................

Kim said...

I have no idea how I stumbled onto your blog but I'm so glad I did!!! I am entranced...I love your needle felting!! I needle felt also...but nothing NEAR as fabulous as your creations. Well, I'll be stopping by again...thank you for all the inspiration (and I'd love to see more pictures of your craft room...thank goodness...someone else who crafts in a real space!)

Unknown said...

I am so happy to see your study just as stuffed with things as mine is. I'm sitting amongst chaos - I need to sort out too - but I love every thing I have, so I'm used to the untidiness of it all :)

Some great shots, even in the gloom - this weather is really quite appalling!

Oh & a very belated Happy New Year! :)

Jane said...

Lots of luck with the needle felting class - Bath is super, I'm sure you'll love it. My husband's great great grandfather came from Guiting Power - it is lovely, and we used to live in Wiltshire so I feel you've been visiting well known haunts for me. I'm surrounded by piles at present - must be more ruthless!

Cristina | Positively Beauty said...

I haven't been to Wiltshire yet...need to do something about it, lovely scenery.
I'm still trying to figure out how to organise my study...good on you that you cleared everything up! Love the pile ;)