Art in the New Forest

We recently spent a lovely weekend with friends in a lodge in the New Forest. A few people went for a long run, some of us hired mountain bikes, we cooked and ate together, played games, and made some art too. Pencils, pastels and gouache in abundance! Here are a few images from our stay.

In the zone

I met Natasha earlier this week. We’ve exchanged many tweets and I was excited about this opportunity to meet in real life. We had a flowing conversation and the time passed all too quickly, as it does when you’re in the flow. Natasha is a great listener. That’s a nice way of me saying I think I talked a bit too much.

One of the things I spoke about was nerves. I often get nervous when performing (in every sense of the word), particularly at the start of something. When I say nervous I mean sick to the bottom of my stomach locked up tight can barely talk or walk cold sweat fear of God. That kind of nervous. This is a shame because I enjoy what I do very much and I know if I could channel these nerves more effectively I could enjoy myself even more and give something much better to people.

Natasha suggested I try a slight shift in my thinking. Could I maybe convert nervous into excited? I’ll try anything and this sounds like a good idea thanks very much Natasha, let’s see when I can apply it.

Tomorrow I’ll be joining up with some of the biggest and best names in and around the world of social recruitment. I’ll be meeting some familiar faces and some new ones too. I’m confident that I will learn useful stuff and have a really good time, and make a useful contribution to the day. I’m nervous about excited by the possibilities.

On Friday evening I’ll be in the New Forest standing on stage performing to a group of friends and acquaintances. It’s our annual summer camp and therefore my annual big night out. I’ve been doing this for several years now and the organisers are always kind enough to invite me back. It’s high time I repaid myself and the audience for their faith in me. I am nervous about excited by the possibilities.

How will I get on? I am excited about checking in with you again next week to let you know.

Windy wet and wonderful

The camping season has started! Ever since I was a boy scout I’ve enjoyed spending time under canvas (or whatever it is that tents are made of nowadays), and becoming a dad 8 years ago added even more excitement to the mix. We go camping several times a year with a group of families. We share our camping stuff, our food, our beer, and most importantly, our company. These trips are an essential part of life, and often I’m just too busy relaxing to recall quite what it was that made the last trip so memorable. This time though I felt I was tuned a little differently, and a few things stood out.

It was a very windy weekend, at times quite cold. This motivated us to be out and about much more than usual. We took a lovely walk from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard and watched buzzards soar, and sailing boats get whipped down the river. It’s good to feel the wind in your face.

We also took a walk to a pub for lunch. All of the 8 kids on the trip wanted to cycle and Pete bravely stepped up and agreed to lead the ride. This was Keira’s first time out on the road and I was pleased to see her so excited about it. The trip was just over a mile and a half passing by New Forest ponies and through a pretty village. Under Pete’s gentle guidance they had a great ride and there were loads of smiles waiting for us on arrival at the pub. It was great to trust a good friend to take Keira on an important journey. Letting go can be fun.

Keira with her bicycle at camp

Toasting marshmallows round the fire with the kids before they head to bed is a regular treat. On Saturday Keira was sat in Carole’s lap and we were reflecting on the fun we’d had as a group and a family that day. As Keira went to get ready for bed she pointed at the starry sky and said “Say good night to Grandma Anabel”, and gave my hand a squeeze. With a lump in my throat I did just that. Knowing where you’ve come from is vital.  

The inevitable rain came – though it had the decency to wait until our last day. I sat beneath a shelter watching for a few hours before facing up to the reality of packing a tent in the rain. And I really enjoyed it. The night before I’d been talking with Adrian about his and Laura’s recent walk along the West Highland Way which had been peppered with foul weather. Adrian said that they enjoyed everything Mother Nature hurled at them – it was all part of the experience. I recalled that encompassing thought as I stood in a soft English spring rain getting soaked, and I loved it. I went out of my way to take as long as I could to remove every peg, and tie every rope. Making the very best of what you can’t change can be strangely inspiring.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend too?