I'm feeling well and truly recharged creatively after a week's holiday on the North Wales coast. It's the first time we've had a holiday in two years, and I'd forgotten how much we need a break sometimes. We came to stay at a cottage belonging to a family friend - I used to come here as a child, but it's been 25 years since I last visited. It hasn't changed much.
We revisited old favourites - slate mines and castles , and sites from myth and legend. This is Caernarfon castle, even more impressive than I remembered it to be. It took all day to explore.
And this was perhaps the most impressive site of all. Tre'r Ceiri, an iron age hillfort, perched high on top of a mountain, a hard climb. Inside this huge site,hanging on the edge of the peak, and bounded by impenetrable stone ramparts, 5 o r 6 foot high, and wider still, are the remains of nearly 150 iron age roundhouses. These are in far better condition than the ones I am used to seeing here on Dartmoor, many have almost complete walls. You can see from the picture below how they are built almost in a flower pattern - a circle of little one roomed huts around an open space, looking just like petals on a flower. Some of the later ones are divided into two or even three rooms. It's hard to imagine living here, in such a bleak, and frankly fairly hostile environment. However, before the cloud descended and made seeing beyond the end of our noses difficult, the views were spectacular. I could see holyhead in one direction, the end of the Llyn peninsular in another, looking for all the world like a toy map, and, in a brief moment of golden light and clarity, the hills of South Wales and Fishguard.
But most of the time was spent mooching on the beach. Small toothy son spent every daylight hour on the beach, building sandcastles, running with the dogs, and asking endless questions of the fishermen.
While the boys helped me to shape a giant dragon. The owl daughter made it's legs and claws, while the fey daughter collected fiery stones to make it's belly glow.
We watched dolphins playing in the bay from our bedroom window, and I spent hours being amazed by the changing light show outside.
Frustration at being unable to capture the quality of light properly on camera led me to drag out my paintbox, but the first attempts, on poor paper, were terrible! My father came to my rescue, bringing me good watercolour paper and Indian ink from Porthmadog, and I stepped outside of my comfort zone and painted like a woman possessed. The early paintings are poor, but these later ones are just beginning to capture the colours I was looking for. I don't pretend to be a landscape painter in any way, and these are simplistic paintings, attempting to capture accurate colours rather than details, but I really enjoyed myself!
It was very liberating, and as I got more and more confident, the colours became more and more lurid!
And now it's back to reality, and the grim search for a new car, within our tiny budget, as ours finally gave up the ghost two days before we left for Wales. I'm hoping though, that I can retain a little bit of this freedom in my work, if not in my life!