Carpe Diem

My new motto and one that is pushing any minor dips along. Last night I had two positive dreams the main one was about teaching – a moment to enjoy.

Today – Open Studio 23 preparation …

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Dreams? Nightmares? Self doubt?

I last posted directly on this topic in June 2017, here we are almost 11 months later and my last section of sleep included a “dream” that led to an upset me waking to start a new day. I still have “nightmares” which I think are based around my self doubt about if I was contributing in my last 10 years of teaching in the way I thought I had.

Was I doing any good for my pupils? Yes I cared but was the subject side good enough? I know that I struggled with the changing focus away from the individual child to the piece of data and its relative place on a “progress” chart. I taught people and parenting two sons with additional needs made me very aware of this and how trying to fit all children into predetermined shaped slots did not make sense. I myself was a peg that didn’t fit slots.

I clashed with managers, I challenged decisions but offered alternatives which didn’t always help my popularity. My enthusiasm for investigating new ideas made me friends internationally across the globe online and at a variety of education events but my interest and passion was questioned in the places that I taught within.

My mental health and parenting needs at home didn’t fit the right slot. I was open about my issues, uncomfortably too open for some that I worked with. I was the victim of bullying in at least three schools and my nerves and anxiety was fraying. In conversations with other teachers online with open mental health issues I discovered that working through up to 7 breakdowns that led to extended weeks / months off was rare, should I have gone sooner? To be honest I don’t know. I snapped in the end and know that I could never return to the pressures of the classroom. This all happened before I was ready or prepared for it. I am in my second year now of pre-retirement earning some money through part time work.

I have discovered that I can do other things, I can enjoy free time in the week and School term times. As I have typed this post a fight returns in me that yes I did a good job, sometimes even better but teaching broke me over my 28 years. Here is to hoping the dreams fade with time, my self confidence can build and I stop looking back as much.

Taking the time …

A lot fewer blogs recently and generally for positive reasons. It is now almost the end of April. I have been working back on the boats on the river Frome for about a month. Weather has been variable affecting shifts but twice I have arrived early and before I open up I have taken a kayak out for a short paddle downstream to the First river bend to the right and where Monarch the steamboat is moored.

I have pulled back from rowing commitments as I realised I had over committed myself and the art, boat job and flat decorating needed to come first.

So now,we have a flat with the agents to rent in Swanage with decorating done. My second season of work has started with the boats, I have work in the Purbeck Artisan Yard and I am planning my studio for PAW 2018. The next month will get busy as the lead into and then the PAW fortnight.

Taking time out as a couple means that Anne and I need to take time when available to do things. Recently that has included drives out with lunch fitted around an art errand usually including a trip to Art2Card in Upwey. We like to visit Craig’s Dairy milkery and enjoy a bacon and dorset blue vinney panini. On Thursday we fitted in a trip into Weymouth and explored the south side of the old port. We discovered Revolver, a record store with vinyl, a coffee shop and retro items too. Then our walk extended to beneath the Nothe fort and a great lunch at the Stone Pier cafe with a view across the town and towards Durdle Door. We also found a new art store in ArtyCrafty.

Another recent trip for a car service was combined with a walk and picnic lunch in the New Forest. This afternoon we popped into the Artisan Yard to restock one of my cards and also enjoyed an hour paddling upstream on the river Frome from Wareham. Most of these activities have been on weekdays which in my previous work existence I could only do in school holidays. Today a Sunday afternoon on the river instead of planning and marking.

Our new life offers a great location and a variety of opportunities and it is gradually rebuilding my mental strength.

Pause…Play…Pause

Fits and starts at the moment. One matter resolves itself and another occurs. Two days now on decorating duties but added a positive in getting self to use I Door rower when I get home and about 4K done each day. Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

Pause . . .

Life just reared its head again and I found myself bouncing on a bungee emotionally. I have a potentially idyllic life in a fantastic place but head stuff gets in the way.

Action – education

So I have reduced people I follow online still in education because headlines about the visions from central government and who has published a book and … just make me feel completely inadequate. I can not teach anymore, I broke and recent nightmares have made me wonder when the cracks became unglueable and did I just push too far? Well obviously I must have done because I have seen I can be in a classroom as a visitor ie artist, but the main role – nope can’t even contemplate it anymore.

Action- commitments

The old Andy returned recently I said Yes a lot. I can do that and that and that and … what a surprise I find myself overloaded. So I have contacted and paused all ties with SSRC for the moment. I have art events and an art venue that I now belong to. I restart my seasonal role from Easter. That will do.

Action – health and fitness

I need to lose weight and I want to be fitter. To do that I need to get out there and exercise and eat less cakes, crisps, biscuits, roulade … I am surrounded by beautiful countryside and coastline. I own a bike,a kayak, a rowing machine for self torture, trainers, walking boots – they need using and it needs to reestablish itself as a part of my lifestyle. The boat work will help and as I intend to be pedalling to and back fromWareham a lot, that will help.

Action – Me

Yes, my brain has entertained #those thoughts, no I am not going to. I am going to just have to learn to accept that I have a life that can and should be enjoyed, oh and enjoy it. I have a wonderful wife in Anne to share that life with. I know there are more people out there that I get on well with but you are not my main focus. I don’t need to travel for great surroundings as I have them here. I live in a great location as the roebuck confirmed this afternoon and the hares yesterday morning and the partridges and pheasants and …

So, yes the Black Dog has me in its shadow right now. I recognise it, I know what it is, I know actions that I can take and I have started to implement them. Blue sky suit man, super penguin, man overboard volunteer etc will all be back but for now I am going to try to:

Just be me.

New adventures of an artistic kind

Ok year 2 calling myself an artist and new challenges taken on. I have moved so far from the broken person I was just 14 months ago. My first year as an artist saw that break into selling some work, being commissioned to do some pieces, exhibiting work in a number of locations and taking part in two events locally. So year two already has a pattern to follow and is not brand new.

I started the year with the last week of Artisans on the Beach on Swanage seafront. Swanage TiC team chose me as Artisan of the Year for my enthusiasm. Today I have applied for a committee post to help next year’s event be even better for all involved.

I then put two pieces into an exhibition by participants in Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) sketching programme in 2017. The exhibition was in the Orchard Cafe at Holme for Gardens and finished this week.

I have worked with two classes at Swanage Primary School with a sketching project which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I have entered PAW for 2018 and will be opening my studio at home again. This year will see the addition of refreshments and supporting three local charities through this. More detail on this going forwards. I believe that the art Weeks are a good opportunity to highlight local charities and what they offer in the Purbeck area. I am also putting together a trail map to link studios across the villages between Swanage and Corfe as there are more of this year and working together we can help visitors to see what we offer. Last year having enough work as a concern, this year I already have quite a catalogue of pieces both original and prints /cards to offer.

Last week I visited Purbeck Artisan Yard who have had a recent turnover of bay holders. The atmosphere and range of artists has changed and I took a bay which I will use over the next 12 months as a permanent gallery and selling space for my work. This was a missing aspect for me in being able to have work on show all year round. At the end of 12 months I will review what steps to take next. I look forward to working alongside and learning from my fellow Artisans at the yard. Duties will see me managing the “shop” on regular days and at other times I intend to be there working as the bay is light and I can discuss work with visitors as I was able to do during Artisans on the Beach.

Today my newest batch of card designs arrived for proof checking and I look forward to getting customer feedback too.

I have also started, slowly I admit, adding my work to an AndyKnillArt Etsy store. So in 2018 my work will be available direct from me; at the Purbeck Artisan Yard; on Etsy; during events – PAW and Artisans on the Beach and anywhere else that stocks pieces – currently Java Independent Coffee House and Swanage Tourist Information Centre.

I just need to enjoy making art, showing it and if people like they can buy it. my ambitious sales target for this year – to sell some art.

Once a geography teacher…

Thursday March 1 2018. My local coastal town of Swanage in Purbeck, Dorset faces a range of conditions.

– Spring Tide due to full moon – so higher tides

– Storm Emma bringing snow from continental Europe

– an associated area of low pressure which raises local sea levels

– easterly winds gusting into the bay at 45 mph

All of these combine to a flood warning status. In November 2016 Storm Angus caused flooding in the Lower High Street and damaged the sea wall – my first experience of the power of easterly winds into Swanage Bay.

I woke early and decided to go into Swanage to watch the high tide and the trial of a new temporary flood defence system. I knew where would be unsafe to park and where my car should come to no harm, nor obstruct any emergency services if they were needed.

I roved around with my camera and phone recording images in the run up to high tide. I posted images and video clips on social media – facebook, instagram and twitter.

The following images show some of the things that I witnessed. On Friday March 2 I was unable to go down to watch events on the next Spring tide as overnight freezing rain had caused sheet ice which meant I would only be leaving home on foot and not travelling far.

Shore Road – sea foam -I saw the remains of this later in the day when it had lost its lively nature.

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Then I moved around to the stone quay area by the flood barrier which was being extended by the coastguard and council workers.

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I then took pictures from further around the south side of the bay.

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I haven’t gone into any geographical explanations but I did enjoy my trip and finished it with a breakfast at the High Street Cafe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness, am I keeping to my plans?

Since the 34 mile cycle ride I have continued to exercise mainly on alternate days. This exercise has included:

Swanage Sea Rowing Club

– helping for the last two weeks at Junior rowing and taking part in parts of or next to relays.

– attending gents training again and doing weights, press up / sit up / squats plus erg sessions.

Home

– use of own erg

Cycle

– I took myself out last week and cycled down into Swanage and up to Ulwell then onto the Purbeck Hill Ridge. I admit to pushing the bike uphill to the Ridge as gradient and traction defeated me. The view from the top as fantastic and a good descent into Corfe Castle. On laving Corfe I found the track that winds its way as a bridle way back up to Kingston, as I was told it was very steep and again I pushed. So more route ideas and challenges to overcome in the future when I am fitter and the ground is drier.

Other

Walks including Studland beach where the purpose was peaceful and calming which the beach provided and a 3 mile paddle in the cool water.

Some gardening clearing leaves and blown branches and twigs to start the clear up of the area around my summer studio.

I have started to feel a bit coldified the last few days but will work through this and look forward to a rowing session back on the water on Sunday. So overall, I am being consistent. I am sharing cakes when out so feel that my fitness is improving and I need to continue in the same way.

Pedal power fitness

So a mate, Dave Furmage a local mobile cycle mechanic (amongst other skills) offered recently to go out for a first ride for me once I started getting over January germs. Today was the day, our start time was put back slightly but to be honest it meant the air temperature out of the wind was above 0C.

I am now going to name various locations in and around Purbeck / Poole, if you don’t know the area, visit or take a look via google maps or similar if interested.

I am omitted to tell Dave that previously my average ride length was 15-20 miles, this became relevant later, but he offered a gentle pace and no pressure and that is how it was.

We started outside the Scott Arms pub in Kingston, which 8 live on the edge of. A controlled descent looking out for frosty / iced patches. We got down to Corfe Castle safely and started towards the castle and Wareham. BANG Dave’s back tyre blew out and was loud. A few locals and their dogs were surprised as well. Dave removed the wheel, inner tube to find the biggest tear I have seen in an inner tube. It took two spare tubes for the tyre to stay up, so we continued. We followed the A351 ascending and then turning off the main road at the roundabout for Norden Junction on the Swanage heritage railway. We set off and enjoyed crossing Stoborough heath m

and Middlebere. There were a few uphills that made me work. We proceeded into Wareham and onto the cycle shop to get a new spare tube.

Given the option of going through Wareham Forest or along the Sandford road I chose the former. I have driven past the forest but never walked or cycled there. A mix of coniferous trees, heathland and marshes and sandy trails and lots of stacks of recently cut timber still scented of pine gum.

We took a break for about 10 minutes looking out over Morden bog. It was so peaceful and the sun felt warm.

We continued off road with Dave pointed out a range of local trail options, some of which might be too much on my current bike, well at least with fitness levels. We went through Holton Heath and onto the A35 and a busier road section to the Bakers Arms Roundabout. The back road via Lytchett Matravers led us to Upton where we followed the national cycle route around the path and came out on the shore of Holes Bay, a branch off Poole harbour.

Another rest where Dave decided to knock some gear through the slats of the walkway. He managed to retrieve them very effectively.

We continued along the boundary of the bay and entered Poole and headed for the Quay. We had lunch at Deli on the Quay, run by two friends of Dave. After eating I created my latest #artcards, an initiative I am doing using photo paper as postcards or in some p,aces napkins to produce a piece of original art which is then left as a free gift to its finder as an example of my artwork as AndyKnillArt. (See more details on http://www.andyknillart.com).

Fed, erg well I hasten to say it was onwards around the edge of Poole harbour, through Bater Park used by kite fliers. The sun had gone in and this section was cooler to start as we warmed up again. A few more uphills were much tougher now for me, we went into Sandbanks and arrived just as the chain ferry started to load. A very reasonable cycle fee of £1. Once arriving at Shell Bay, Studland and now back in Purbeck we followed the road to Studland, flat to begin with as it makes it way between the dunes and heathland. As we approached Knoll beach managed by The National Trust we started to climb. I engaged slow mode but kept moving. Any attempt to get out of the saddle and stand on the pedals was met with refusal by my quads. Dave was patient as I gradually ticked off milestones on my ascent of the slope into the Purbeck Ridge which is chalk and runs from the coast inland at right angles to the coast. At last ascending finished and we descended into Swanage. A needed visit to our mutual favourite coffee house in town – Java. Treacle tart with clotted cream, peppermint tea and two bottles of water saw me starting to find some energy. Swanage is where Dave had started this morning.

I now had to ascend the other Ridge to the south of Swanage which is formed of Jurassic limestone, and I live virtually at the top of this. This was going to hurt as by now I knew that by the time I got home I would have covered about 34 miles (go back to that point at the start of this post about recent rides. I gradually rose up the hill through Langton (Matravers). There were many short breaks before pedalling onwards. Once I reached the Ridge there were no more stops. Back to The Scott Arms then back up the steep inclines through the village on West Street and Home.

In conclusion I had a great time, far in excess of any distance I may have done on the rowing machine too. I saw several local places I had not been before and finally I found out that I am fitter than I thought when it came to stamina.

If you have read all of this thanks.

Fitness update

Sunday Feb 4

Well one fitness device has been used this week. I used the concept 2rower on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The first row was 15 min. The last two have seen me row 5000m each time in just under 22minutes. This is slower than I was doing before I took part in Artisans on the beach and the training tailed off. I am finding adjusting my breathing pattern difficult and am not pushing stamina too much yet.

Today I walked around Corfe Castle so a bit of step climbing and descending.

The bike is due to be used on Tuesday. I will report back after that. I have no plan for my first kayak yet.