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December and Christmas

Hello mishmashlearning, not seen you for a while. I now blog more frequently about my art through

So December – last year I took part in an event in Swanage calls Artisans on the Beach for 7 weeks. By the end of it I was announced as Artisan of the Year and it was suggested I should be on the committee / working group for the proposed 2018 event.

It is now 2018, I am one of two artisans on the working group. This year the Artisans on the Beach event started on December 1 and finishes on January 2nd after about 5.5 weeks. I have also become named event organiser from the artisan aspect and taken on tasks including the social media marketing on Facebook and Instagram.

I have at last arrived at that old phrase transferable skills – organisation, spreadsheets, social media work etc , when someone praised my organisation skills I was at pains to point out the demands were less than those needed for a days teaching. I am enjoying my role and will be asked no to be considered to repeat the role for 2019 and possibly subsequent years.

My art is also found at the Purbeck Artisan Yard, Wareham. There I have found myself producing admin. Documents again for the same reasons and those skills again. My artwork is d finitely selling more in my second year. I have greatly increased the range of my work available and initiatives like Christmas cards started for December 2017 now account for a third of my card sales of over £2k.

I am back doing winter training with Swanage Sea Rowing and haven’t injured myself so far, so fitness is increasing gradually. I hope in 2019 to be out exercising much more.

Memories – December has been a difficult time for my family the last two years. Mum passed away in 2016 and last year at this time I sat by Dad’s side before he passed away on Christmas Day. I had a dip thinking about this last week while at the huts one day. I now feel in a better place but will miss the family gathering in Broadstairs even though I found them hard myself from a mental health perspective. Mum and Dad both believed in an afterlife, so I hope they can communicate with each other easily again and are happy with what they see their offspring up to these days. Clearing the family base as it is now sold (almost) turned up many memories and items from their lives and their families too.

My eldest has made changes in his life this year but is still difficult to communicate with, I wish him all the best and stay in contact when possible. My youngest took on a job this year and has shown much maturity about work and maturing in some ways. My mother in law at 96 continues to thrive but it would have been nice for where we live now for her to have retained more of her sight so that she could see the birds and wildlife more easily.

Finally Anne, my fab wife of 25 years now who I am getting to know again now that work is not a barrier that separates me from the family as it had a tendency to do when teaching.

So Christmas Day rest well washing up for me tomorrow. Then back to the hut but hopefully a focus on positive memories.

Seasons greetings to anyone that still follows this blog.



November …

Well, I took part in the Supervets Regatta last month and drew pictures of gigs which went to Somerset, Bristol and London with visiting crews. Preparation for Christmas events are generally ticking along and seem to be on top of those things.

Yesterday google photos shared pics taken two years ago – a walk I had taken a day or so after my teaching career blew up for the last time. This month seems to be a difficult one and I am in a limbo where concentration is hard and trying to just be. I know I am lucky we have a life I never thought would have been possible in a beautiful area yet that loss which was not in my control keeps kicking back.

I am lucky I can rest and then start again and that’s what I shall do,,,, life gets busy from the 24th with Christmas events, goodbye visits to Broadstairs and Anne’s birthday. Once I am busy meeting people etc it will be better I am sure.

October is …

Well two months since I last posted. Not as interested in sharing my life these days and to be honest a lot of my readers were others in education.

So October, my seasonal boat job has finished for 2018. Working on helping to organise December’s Artisans on the Beach event that I took part in last year. Returned to Sea Rowing in readiness for ur Supervets Regatta on Saturday October 20th.

Art wise, I continue to do duties as Wareham’s artisan yard. I have been stock taking, cards done, prints next prior to any orders for Artisans event in beach hut 54 again. It is also Inktober so I have kept up for the first 8 days and intend to continue with that.

Mental health wise, I have reduced my anti depressant dose age, just need to tell GP later and check on next steps. I haven’t returned to support group and continue to feel better for it.

Getting out and enjoying the freedom our new life offers Anne and I especially, oh and raking up leaves, lots and lots of them.

Two month gap …

Well, to be honest my mishmashlearning blog has ceased to be as important as my art on AndyKnillArt.

Life continues to have its ups and downs but I feel less inclined to impose these on others and over the summer I have taken a break from my Support Groups. Today I read and responded to some teaching posts on Twitter and then slipped into a little slough of despond. However this was cleared by a four mile walk over to Swyre Head and its great views over Purbeck, other parts of Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

So what is life doing?

Still working three days a week at the boat hire, I love the job and chance to be around in boats. Three to four times a month I am on duty at the Yard and do my best to chat with our visitors and support purchases from all the Artisans therein.

The art is a source of confusion in my own head at times as I decide if it is therapy, a hobby or really a job as I just don’t have the energy or capacity to throw myself at it like my teaching career.

Hope friends and fellow bloggers are well.

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 …


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.

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.




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





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





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.

















Post illness restart

Yes Jan 4 good intentions spoilt by a turn of events. The winter flu crisis affected our home. I was lucky and only got a chest infection which I stopped progressing to bronchitis so no antibiotics needed.

First session back has actually been helping at Juniors rowing tonight and joining in with relay of exercises and 400m rows which thankfully we only did 3 reps of. I managed 1m 52.9 /500m pace then 1m 45 then 1m 44 – in between I clearly didn’t look my best based on the feedback from other adult helpers.

So I restart fitness building. In 2018 I need to use my bicycle a lot; kayak more and complete my weight loss challenge for Artisan on the Beach 2018/19. I crave an improvement in physical fitness to match the massive upturn in my mental health since Jan 2017.

I intend to post how the great scenery about Purbeck and its topgraphy can be enjoyed while exercising. That can also generate bew locationa to return to for restful sketching and artwork.

Family is …

it is Christmas Day in the UK. I am sure some youngsters will be awake checking if Santa has been. I am sat with our family oldster looking ahead to a calm day if possible in as much comfort as possible. Other family members connected by phone and social media.

family is connecting …. happy connecting to our many friends.

World Mental Health Day – Tuesday 10th October 2017

How was it for you? Many friends were in school, some probably wore yellow to show an awareness. Others’ institutions wouldn’t let it disrupt their day I am sure. Last year I wore an awkward mix of many yellows, I had talked about my mental health struggles as part of my introduction to the school in assembly-it has helped when meeting now ex pupils and parents in the months since my final breakdown as a teacher and my resignation from my vocation.

So I know about mental health issues, I left the job that triggered many incidents for me so I must be fine now mustn’t I?

Of course not – I have struggled with these issues since a teenager back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, possibly earlier. it’s part of me. Triggers are many and varied. So Monday 9th circumstances saw me hit a rock bottom day. I knew there were positives ahead, I could mention and acknowledge them -this is new and very encouraging. But essentially there were also thoughts where I considered the whole suicidal concept -it’s not a choice I have ever attempted for real and I don’t want to but it’s an ever present escape that pops up and says hi in times of stress. So I am participating in #Inktober2017 on Facebook and Instagram, it is a daily drawing in ink project for October using a daily prompt, yesterday was #screech, today was #gigantic. I used these in my drawings to be open about my state of mind. I have blogged about it for several years now and don’t really care what response I get, it’s a topic I will continue to stick my head over the parapet to talk about  so that someone might not have to go through the same thing as me.

October 9

Today I have woken in a more positive frame of mind and taken part in the day and exercised at the rowing club this evening both on the rowing machines then out on the water and was able to show this as;

October 10

I have many supportive friends and family members who reach out. Tomorrow on the 11th I will attend one of the two Depression Support Groups I attend -we are sufferers who listen with empathy and support where we can. Sometimes when I am low I resist attending even though it’s the best time for me to go. The key thing s I can always be there to aupport others.

So my WMHD has been an exercise in recovery and reaching out to many others online. I hope your day has been a shared experience today.