1. Visting Ruben and Big Sis
Mr Story had a rare spare day, before heading into work later that evening, so we took advantage and headed off to see Big Sis and little Ruben, and appreciate his gorgeous squigyness. We’ve managed to see him every few weeks, so we can see how he’s growing (extraordinarily), and how he’s progressing from being unaware of his surroundings to able to focus and look at things, and make noises on purpose. We got in a tasty lunch and a huge bowl of fresh fruit from the greengrocer, and Mr Story got a few obligatory plane noises, swooping Ruben around.
2. Decorating a School
Every month I get an email from the amazing charity, Kid’s Company, letting me know the different projects that need volunteers. A few weeks ago, I received one looking for people to help create big artworks to decorate a school wear the kids that they work with get to go on holiday. I signed up, and on Friday took the train out of London with a couple of other volunteers, to the school to help decorate. We started by covering the boring classroom walls in paper and then set to work transforming it with illustrations based on the theme of ‘Enchanted Forest’. It was hard work, but breaks in the sun to eat a sandwich, cups of tea and, most importantly, the arrival of a huge group of volunteers and a lot of paint kept us going. There were a lot of toadstools, leaves, plants, trees with faces, dragons, snakes and fantastic flowers.
In the photo above, I’m chilling out with a gnome I painted and cut out, to be stuck on a display in a kid’s bedroom. After eating with the full team of volunteers, all preparing to staff the school over the next few weeks, we put some final finishing touches together, and left the volunteer production line cutting and painting huge numbers of toadstools and flowers. I arrived back in London late on Friday evening, tired in an excellent way – with the knowledge I could sleep in!
3. Appreciating my bag of ice
I have said a few times that this summer is really making me realise how much I love autumn! I don’t know if it’s getting older and grumpier, but I am really not enjoying the warm weather at the moment. I either didn’t used to feel the heat so much, or I didn’t find it so uncomfortable – I moved to Mexico for a while for goodness sake! Although I do remember arriving in the Mexican desert and remembering I wasn’t much of a fan of hot weather – oops!
My temperament is suited most to autumn – I think it’s the most beautiful season and I think it has more of the feeling of possibility and excitement than summer – probably associated with new shiny notebooks and clothes set out for new terms of learning. My one exception is probably a hot day with some outdoor swimming; if there’s cool water around, then the sun is enjoyable. Oh and long summer evenings, because they’re lovely, and guess what? They’re also cool!
This summer has not been aided by spending it in a flat on the ground floor. Our bedroom window is on the street, so for all sorts of safety and noise concerns we can’t really fling all our windows open and enjoy the sunny breeze, so I’ve got a plastic bag of ice in the freezer that I take out and cling too every so often, before it gets too melty and goes back in.
4. Getting Christmassy
This week I’ve been confirming my designs for Christmas – and drawing snow and all other manner of Christmassy coldness has been a pleasure – convincing me that it’s not that hot really! I’ve loved the big bold colours of Christmas and it’s been fun to take inspiration from my range last year and use and adapt and develop some elements too.
Mr Story has spent the summer working at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, which has been lovely – a series of great productions and fun opening nights to attend. He’d been warning me for a while about Porgy and Bess, as it’s the most traditional musical showing, and that is a genre that I don’t generally care for. He tried to be encouraging, but unfortunately mentioned jazz, which I probably dislike more than musicals!
Anyway, I didn’t have high hopes for my enjoyment of the night, but then, against all odds, I really enjoyed it! The cast and their voices were incredible, as was the live band. They used a lot of choral and group singing which I loved. The incidence of random breaking into a song about how they were feeling (the cornerstone of my dislike of musicals) was extremely small, and the music really felt part of the fabric of the show. Hearing the first syllables of Summertime belted out across the park, with the trees rustling around, was really special.
I know the show itself has an uncertain and controversial history regarding it’s portrayal of African American characters, and Bess as the irretrievably fallen woman, caught between two men, wasn’t the most enlightened thing you’ll ever see, but for the music, those voices and the venue, it’s definitely worth a look.