Images on Glass Course – Final Week

Firstly an update on the pieces that were fired during the week.

Screenprint after firingAs you can see the screenprinted images using black ink have worked well.  Sadly the blue ink is fairly pale on most and the orange ink has in most places burnt away.  Personally I love the unpredictability of some areas in glass and it’s why there’s a need to test everything as you go along and continually learn.

My small Teddy Wolfe images have been stuck together and will be fire again into a stack (see below).  Which, with a little bit of hard work and a grinder to neaten up the edges will, hopefully, mean that I have a sort of 3D image of the picture.

Our tutor also had back sheets of decals using images that we’d emailed to her.  I wanted to use some black and white images of my parents.

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As this was our final class in the course, today our tutor encouraged us to re-explore the different methods we’d learned in the short course.

I concentrated mainly on using the decals we’d had printed and screenprinting.  I was keen to revisit the idea of screenprinting one image and then laying them over each other to create a multi-dimensional image.

So that the images would be as close as I could get, to being in same spot on each piece of glass, I first set up my screenprinting area.  Under the screen I taped a piece of cardboard from which I’d cut the size of the glass pieces.  Masking tape was stuck around the image I was using on the screen.  The screen was then stuck to the table at one end and then each corner marked out once again with masking tape.  The rest was up to me and my dodgy eyesight!

IMG_8969First the area is ‘flooded’ with ink by carefully dragging the ink over the area.  Then the glass is placed under the screen (in the cardboard slot) and ink is pulled over.  As my images have incredibly thin lines I dragged the ink over it several times, hoping that it would be a clean thicker line without being smudged.

This time, instead of firing the pieces and then stacking them, I chose to leave the images to air-dry and stack them for a single firing.

Stacking GrannyEeek it was mightily difficult to get it lined up perfectly!

Some of my peers in this final class concentrated on using powders on glass.  Others drew with enamel and then used powders and frit.  Some used their decals and screenprinted.  Here’s a selection of what’s being fired this week (including a batt of my stacks).

IMG_8973 IMG_8972Fabulously diverse and once again will be interesting to see what comes out from the firing.

Finally we lay out a selection of our pieces that we’d finished so far on this short course.  (Obviously there are some in for firing during this week and attendees will need to pop back to the college to collect them).

IMG_8971I think you’ll agree there are some wonderful pieces demonstrating different methods.  Certainly something I’m keen to understand further and do more of but most of all I can honestly say we’ve had a huge amount of enjoyment on the course.  Thank you Richmond Adult Community College our tutor, Monette and not forgetting the technician, Sally, who ensures our pieces are fired for us.

Golfing… again

After dusting down the golf sticks, cleaning up the golf shoes and finding my glove, I’m back.

Well when I say ‘back’, I mean I’m attempting again to learn golf.  A friend’s girlfriend has decided to learn at the course across the road from me and I’ve joined her for beginner lessons.

So we’ve finished the series of 4 beginner lessons and are now on our way to an ‘improver’ course which starts in a few weeks.  I was actually surprised how much I remembered and am still able to hit the ball – and for it to be roughly where I was aiming for it to go!  I’m loving it.

Another local friend has also joined the golfing revolution and is taking the beginners course now with the hope of finishing that course and joining us on the improver course.  Hehehe soon there will the three novice golfers out on the course!  Watch out world.

Learning Taxidermy

I’ll start with a warning… this post isn’t for the squeamish!

Some of you know what I did a few weekends ago.  Many of you don’t.  But all of you know that ‘The Wallace’ is always up for new adventures and trying new things!

So what did The Wallace do today? I learnt how to taxidermy a mole! Mr Mole is currently ‘setting’ and shall be introduced to you later!

Our taxidermy course, run by A Curious Invitiation, was held in a special location in Soho. Sebastian Horsley’s old flat. Despite Sebastian dying in 2010, the flat is still much the same as when he was there and still filled with his possessions, including his shampoo and half used nail polish in the bathroom cupboard!

I love this description of his flat “His flat was one of those perfect places – a tight, wooden space that oozed a sparse, bohemian danger. There was the rack of skulls on the wall, which added to that air of living on the edge.”

I understand he was a man who had three muses, all called Rachel and all were Page 3 models! Also a fan of prostitutes (and one himself for a while) he was quoted as saying “The air used to be clean and the sex used to be dirty. Now it is the other way around. Soho has lost its heart.”

So here’s the sign that used to be on the front door of his Soho flat and also the selection of human skulls!

IMG_8304 IMG_8332So that’s the bit even the squeamish can read and see.  Look away NOW if you’ve got this far but not really sure why!

A friend of mine loves taxidermy pieces.  I’ve never been quite sure about them but his house is full of different animals from around the world in different sizes and poses!  Odd but perhaps not as odd when you hear he’s a medic!

A while ago he asked me if I’d like to join him on a taxidermy course.  I of course said “No”  “Ewww” and such noises that were a definitely ‘you’re having a laugh’ kind of way of saying definitely not! Then he called me again to say he’d found a course and just before he books it, did I want to join him.  Ha, he knows I’m a “Yes girl” really!  I’m in, booked and going before I can think more about it.

Today was the day and I have to say I was more than a little nervous.  Not about the course particularly but more that I wasn’t sure how I’d cope and if I’d throw up!  We met early and when into Soho to do some shopping and have lunch.  I now know he was more nervous about it than I!  Both concerned that we’d best line our stomachs for an up-chunder but concerned that we didn’t want to be too full, just in case.

We nervously rang the buzzer and went up to the flat.  Greeted by a table set up for 4 novice taxidermists and a teacher with 4 shiny moles and a rat looking back at us.

During the day we chatted about life, the universe and, of course, preserving animals.  I was surprised that the teacher was a vegetarian and stressed that the reason she did taxidermy was that she wanted to preserve the animals for ever and to make them once again look beautiful.  Oddly hearing this put me at ease with what I was currently doing!

The process was actually fairly simple, not smelly and surprisingly not gross.  If you do it correctly you can cut down the mole’s tummy (carefully not removing fur) and then by gently peeling it back can remove the entire body sack of organs without anything spilling or oozing out!  I had one tiny rip but managed to contain the ‘flow’.  Biggest surprise for me was the size of Moley’s tongue (second row, third picture)!

Once the body sack had been removed, we then removed the back of the brain and the upper parts of the limbs.  Leaving the hands and feet loosely hanging on a very soft skin.

Moley then went for a bath, wash and blowdry and left to air for a short while.  Following this we carefully applied preserving liquid and borax powder.

Taxidermy 1The next step was stuffing the little chap and wiring his now saggy body.  We places wires into the arms and legs and through the hands and feet.  We then wrapped another wire with cotton wool and wrapped that in yarn – this should be the size of the body cavity.  Tying carefully the ‘limb’ wire to the body wool and then packing the remaining cavity carefully with more cotton wool.

Then a touch of sewing to stitch Moley’s tummy up.  A little squeezing to ensure the cotton wool is packed in all the right places so he looks beautiful again.

Taxidermy 2Home with moley.  He still had protruding metal from each hand and foot and was a little dusty with the borax powder.  You position the taxidermy mole in the way you want him to ‘set’ and leave to dry for approximately 5 days.

Once set, you clip off the wire and give him a brush carefully with a toothbrush (preferably not one you’ll be using again!).

And meet Mr Moley… yes I did make him some specs as he wanted to see who was visiting him!

Taxidermy 3Despite my initial reservations about doing any sort of taxidermy, I really enjoyed the day.  Mr Moley looks fabulous, his shiny coat and plump little body give the impression he could still be alive!

It’s not something that I feel I need to do again….  but then never say never again!

Update on the red and black glass piece

My previous post showed you the story of my ‘drop’ glass piece and keeping our fingers crossed as the kiln cooled down.

My task today was to carefully finish the edge neatly so that it was even and with no sharp edges.   I used lots of different machines to finish the piece.  Great experience and I’m sure in time I’ll get more confident.  At the moment I’m very cautious and I’m sure in some instances this hesitancy isn’t good for the glass work.

So here it is, the finished piece.

RedandBlackGlassLike it?

Yet more glass…

Two weeks ago I decided to experiment with some float glass.  Cutting and shaping different pieces and then layering them up.

Float Glass piecesI positioned them carefully and left them to be fired flat.  Last week, I spent some time shaping and finishing the edges of the flat piece.  Then once again, fingers crossed, I positioned the piece on to a ‘wave’ slump mold and left it to our wonderful technicians.

Today I collected my piece.  I love my wave!

Float wave

Update on my glass making

I’d best first tell you about my disasters of last Saturday.  Having spent an age crafting, cutting, shaping, etching the wax model.

The next step is to create a plaster mold.  No mean feat for a small object but something of this size it’s a huge task.  I found the right plastic edging and clipped it together, using clay, I set the plastic edging to the board and hoped it’d take the weight of the massive amount of liquid plaster and flint.  And it probably would have done absolutely fine had I not heard someone suggest I move the clip out of the way.  Quick as a flash I did and quicker than I could imagine the plastic edging slipped closely followed by a fair bit of the 8 litres of liquid plaster!

IMG_8204Thank heavens for sensible people in the room who quickly were able to stem the flow and save the day.  What an idiot I am.  All week I’ve had nightmares about it and honestly I have no idea if the plaster mold has really worked at this point.

But the glass must go on.  The next step was steaming out the wax from the plaster mold.  It’s a little Heath Robinson but it works (top right).  As there are some very thin pieces of wax, I steamed it for quite some time to get right up into the plaster mold.

IMG_8257Today’s step was to finish steaming out the wax.  Then select the glass (Gaffer) and, in my case, liquid enamel.  Clean each piece of glass and then position the pieces with the enamel into the mold for firing.  Fingers crossed, one more time, that the firing goes well.

Another small piece that I started last week and finished this week was a small ‘wonky’ bowl with some small hearts and a ribbon stand.  Below is a picture of the wax mold and then after the firing whilst it was still in the plaster mold.

IMG_8255A fair bit of cold working on the saw to remove the base, lathe, flatbed, hand lapping and engraving inside and out.

IMG_8256I’m quite pleased with how it’s worked out.  It’ll be a beautiful birthday present for someone special very soon.

I also was able to fuse some pieces of glass that I cut a couple of years ago, following my course with David Mitchell.  It was fired first flat (fusing) and then fired again this week in a slump.  I’ve learned more in that I need to be more careful when using ‘batt wash’.  Batt wash is used over ceramic molds before firing and needs to be approximately 7 layers, straight across, diagonally, and again.  What I learned was that I should made each layer thinner and with more care… there’s a few small blobs on this piece because of it!

IMG_8252IMG_0205Here’s the finished article.

More glass (without the bubbles please)…

Following my two day 1:1 studio course I did in 2013 with the wonderful artist David Mitchell in Cambridge I have been super keen to continue working with glass.  As Cambridge isn’t exactly next door, I needed to find a college, studio or individual that would help me learn more, guide me (a little bit) and help me fire and coldwork pieces in their kiln and studio.  Of course I was happy to pay but I couldn’t find anyone or anywhere!  Many many hours of searching, stalking artists, posting on art forums and generally making a nuisance of myself and two year’s later, I found somewhere that I can go to make more glass ‘stuff’.  I didn’t exactly sit and wait for it though.  I invested in some glass, glass cutting boards, goggles and cutters and practiced cutting pieces of glass in my shed.

It has been a frustrating two years and I thought I’d end up with a shed full of cut pieces of glass and yet nothing finished…

.. until now!

Richmond Adult Community College have added a new art wing to their College in Richmond.  They were apparently previously in a Nissan hut in Twickenham but clearly at that time without much awareness about publicising their classes as I didn’t find them in my many many page searches of Google!

So I’ve signed up to three courses and already started two of them.

Cast a Glass Vessel (short course) – Learn how to make a model in wax to be cast in glass
•    To create a refractory mould for glass casting
•    Using wax to creating textures and patterns
•    You will gain basic techniques in finishing your cast glass

This is a piece that I’ve made so far.

Wax mould

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IMG_8094IMG_8093I quite love the way it is “just a vessel”.  It doesn’t have a purpose nor does it stand up or be level (deliberately!).  I adore the mottling of purples with a slight hint of blue within.  It’s far from perfect but I did it!  I think it’s done but I may just put a hole in the bottom and fit it with a small light…  I’m thinking about it.

Next up is a larger vessel that I’ve already created in wax and have a couple of weeks to finish the carving, then cast it in plaster and then into glass.  I’ve several ideas floating around in my head for a design and I’m excited to see what I finally decide to do.

Studio Glass (16 week course) – A practical introduction to kiln formed studio glass, covering the ancient techniques of fusing, slumping, open-mould and lost wax casting. You will be set short projects and encouraged to adopt an experimental approach. You will be taught through demonstration, group and individual instruction and you will learn from hands on experience. You will discover the potential of the medium through looking at both contemporary and historical works

The story so far:

IMG_8154Top left – practice cuts in glass to get circles, straight lines and shapes.
Top right – after first firing to fuse the glass together
Bottom – We created ‘cut-out’ shapes and prepared them for a ‘drop’ in the next firing.  This picture was taken as we ‘collectively’ chose it was time to stop the firing process and cool down the kiln pieces.  Hopefully we stopped it in time so that none of the pieces continued for the glass to melt and drop further.  Also it’s quite an art (thank heavens for Sally, our technician) to bring the glass down in temperature in such a way that it doesn’t crack.  Next week we’ll see the pieces out of the kiln and having returned to their final colour.  Fingers crossed.  I think I’d like to finish my piece by finishing off the edges and then mounting it onto a melted glass piece stand.  We’ll see!

Glass Casting (short course) – A practical and intense introduction to casting glass using the lost wax and open casting process. You will be taught how to model wax, make refractory moulds and prepare your glass for casting in the kiln. You will be set a short project and encouraged to adopt an experimental approach. You will be taught through demonstration, group and individual instruction and you will learn from hands on experience. You will discover the potential of the medium through looking at both contemporary and historical works.

Not started yet!

I’m so enjoying working with glass.  Once again I realise that I can be totally absorbed by this medium.  It’s unpredictability as to how it will fuse, slump or drop gives me a sense of excitement and thrill as to what it will become when the pieces I’ve chosen and placed take on a new form.  Honestly I can’t believe how quickly each class session flies by.

 

Reunited with my past

Finally I made it down to my brothers – Valentine evening with my niece and nephew! A very cool evening with fish & chip supper and a DVD with their Aunt. Actually I think it was more of a treat for me but don’t tell them that.

Whilst I was there I found my mystery box waiting for me in the spare room. I couldn’t wait to bring it downstairs after supper and explore the contents with my niece and nephew.

My anticipation as I carried it downstairs. It was heavier than it should have been. All I recall leaving in it was some paperwork so I could set things up quickly again when I returned from Australia and my journal. Surely that was all??

As I removed the lid of the box I realised there was so much more inside. But first things first I had to check that the journal was there… it was!

The Journal5

Within the box was an assortment of packets of photographs. I loved opening each packet and relishing the contents. Seriously, it’s amazing how little we actually look back at photos. Of course, we have a few dotted around in frames but how often do you get the photo albums down? Or come to that actually put your photos into an album of any sort? Sadly there were a few pictures where I could remember the event or the day but couldn’t name everyone in the picture. They clearly meant something to me at the time but now…

However there were also an extraordinary amount that took me back to different times. That held memories, stories and adventures. What a treat it was also to be sharing these with my nephew and niece.

My time in Sydney

Sydney

Adventure to the Red Centre. I just loved Kings Canyon, the Olgas and of course Ayers Rock.

Red Centre 1998Darwin, Kakadu and Daintree. Crocodiles and frilled lizards. Sleeping out in Kakadu so near to snakes and creepy crawlies. How I nearly put my hand on a tarantula spider when climbing a waterfall. Ooh and the beauty of the Golden Orb spider.

The Journal4

Joe loved hearing the stories and seeing pictures of his Aunt being younger and slightly (ahem) irresponsible. So when I dug further into the box and found a video of me skydiving in Australia, neither of us could wait to plug the old VHS video in to the TV and watch it. I think I may have gained a few kudos points when he held his breath watching me jump from the plane. We might have had to play it more than once too! Great fun and I really must get it transferred onto DVD so that I can view it again (I don’t still have a video player!)

Lots of photos from my underwater diving too. I have always been nervous of the ocean since nearly drowning in 1990… sort of understandable! Anyway it had bugged me that I couldn’t get over it, so I had decided to face the fear head on and sign up to do an Open Water PADI diving qualification. I remember being so anxious and barely able to put my head under water in the first day of training in a pool. Thankfully the instructors were exceptionally patient with me and during the week, managed to get me focusing on what was possible not my fear. I qualified too!

Diving Great Barrier Reef 1998I was so impressed that I’d managed to do it that at our final wash-up drinks with the divers, I mentioned a fear of being out of control…. within an hour or so later I was booked into do the skydive the following day. Well and if I was to do it then I really should do it from the highest height possible – 14,000ft!

IMG_4606A lot of adventures and milestones… not least that I’d finally traveled to the other side of the world on my own!

I’ve loved reading the Journal… in fact despite needing to decipher my bad handwriting, it’s managed to take me back to the times I had during that 5 week holiday.

One of the things I was looking forward to revisiting (and that I’d remembered was in the book) was the ‘face reading’ that Dan insisted I have done in Hong Kong. I don’t/didn’t believe in any form of predicting the future and have always believed that you’ll may be told something that you will then go and create, thereby making it come true! Also how can they possibly tell you your past from reading your palm, cards or face? Anyway, Dan, a friend’s friend who had been educated in the UK but had returned to Hong Kong, insisted that I should give it a go whilst in Hong Kong. I said No a lot.. until a man ran after Dan and insisted on reading my face. He could only speak Chinese and I could only speak English, so Dan interpreted for us. Dan knew me only briefly and knew very little about me. Some of what the face-reader was telling me (translated by Dan) was scarily absolutely spot-on. Dates, times and people that only I could have known that night in Hong Kong. But he kept insisting that I continue to ask him questions as I’d not managed to ask him what he needed to tell me yet. After 20 minutes we gave up. He thrust a piece of paper with Chinese writing on it into my hand and said if ever I was passing through Hong Kong again I should seek him out at the Hong Kong University, where he taught.

Hong Kong 1998

I’ve always wondered what it was that he felt he had to tell me, so much so he ran after Dan and insisted I sat down.

Revisiting my notes though as been interesting. The pieces I’ll tell you about are that I was to have 2 children (one of each sex), the first at the age of 34. I will be my own boss, successful and prosperous. I am always surrounded by a great many friends and am always a very kind and generous person although do get taken advantage of by some but should always remember that that is their problem not mine and not to try to change.

Lots more but none that I feel the need to divulge!

An ex-colleague of mine has kindly translated (as best he can) the Chinese characters.

Wow it looks like a mysterious script to me at the first glance. there are some uncommon words from the Chinese lunar calendar. after some detective works I found that it describes the date 30/11/1967 in Chinese calendar. It reads vertically, from right to left. the top-rightmost word 女 means girl. I can’t read the second word. I guess the first sentence probably means a girl was born on 30/11/1967 (and that was you?) the second sentence is the same date translated in Chinese calendar. 作丁未年十月廿九日戊戌. That’s it for the black words. those in red ink don’t seem to be meaningful or relevant. Where did you get it? was is some kind of fortune telling? I remember you did that when you first visited Hong Kong. Nowadays we seldom use the Chinese calendar except for traditional festivals or some superstitious things like Feng Shui, astrology, palm reading, fortune telling, etc. Usually when people marry, we tell the birth date and time of the bride and groom to the Feng Shui master and ask if they are a good match. And when a child is born we’ll ask the Fung Shui master how the child’s fate is like in the future, and also suggestions for name.

I just notice the left-most red word is 土 (earth), which is one of the 5 elements in Feng Shui theory. In theory everything is classified into these 5 elements including people’s life. So I guess it means your life belongs to 土. People who are 土 have some characters in common. Feng Shui master will use this information together with your date and time of birth to predict your future. that’s how it works

Oddly enough though, I’d always thought I’d return to Hong Kong to find him and find what it was he felt he had to tell me… I’m sure I can think of more questions to ask now.

Actually I don’t think I need to. Reading this journal in it’s entirety. The entries from London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Alice Springs, The Red Centre, Darwin, Kakadu, Cairns, Below the Ocean, Above the Skies, Daintree, Hong Kong again and back to London, have shown me a great deal about my past and about my future. Not in Chinese script but just perhaps an inner strength that I think I’ve forgotten is there or been able to draw upon. In the short times I had on this trip, brief periods with different travellers and of course times on my own, I think I learnt more about ‘Living’ than I have done since or before. Having re-read my inner most thoughts, fears, challenges and accomplishments, I know it’s up to me what happens next and how I’m going to achieve it.

The Journal6

Girls weekend

What an incredibly fabulous treat this past weekend has been. My flat has been super busy filled with fabulous people.

I have been playing host to my friend Jen who has flown in from Ithaca, NY, USA to in turn catch up with her old school friend, Susie. Susie was diagnosed a few years ago with a brain tumour. She’s an amazing lady and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting her when she was admitted to hospital in London – I was the ‘courier’ for the safe delivery of goodies such as garibaldi biscuits on behalf of Jen. From the very first visit we’ve had a jolly good giggle and I felt that I’d known Susie for years too! Susie and I have kept in touch via email when she went back to the ‘country’.

So in order that Jen could make the most of her short time in the UK and see Susie for as long as possible, I hosted the weekend for them both. Of course, selfishly it was also utterly brilliant that I could see them both and join in on the laughter, giggles and tears.

Poor Jen had a hairy journey though starting with the cancellation of her flight from Ithaca to New York! So, stalwart that she is, she jumped in the car and drove to NYC, stayed in a hotel for 2 hours (the most expensive hotel stay ever!) and meet her “connecting” flight to London Heathrow. Poor love doesn’t sleep on planes so was utterly exhausted when she was met by me on Thursday evening at Heathrow. She’ll hate me for posting this… but the ‘sleep-deprived arrival’ photo.

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A short time for gossip and catch up on the journey home and cups of tea before collapsing into our beds.  Hehe Jen awarded me a 4.5* rating for my accommodation when I presented her with freshly ironed bedsheets, fluffy towels, hot water bottle and dressing gown… but I lost half a star when we could only find one slipper!

Friday was a late start, a lot of tea and gossip and then headed out to the tube station to collect Susie, who had set out early from the country to travel to London. A late lunch, plenty more tea and gossip and we headed into Victoria where we met up with another old friend of Jen’s from University for a quick drink. Susie and I then headed off to Waterloo to meet up with some friends of mine and to see Fascinating Aida.  What a total tonic that show was for us all.

After the show Jen met up with us and joined our party for dinner before heading home in a taxi and quickly to bed.

On Saturday morning I was first up and eager to try out my new waffle maker. When I stayed in Ithaca last year Jen’s daughter surprised me when she made waffles all on her own.  They were, quite frankly, blooming spectacular. No mean feat for a young girl and I aspire to be as good as Ruby one day. I had asked and she’d sent me her recipe.  The new waffle maker had arrived on Wednesday. I was ready to go. Inevitably I need more lessons to perfect the Ruby-Waffle but I did OK.  Enjoyed by us all over a lovely long breakfast with yet more pots of tea and coffee.

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Saturday afternoon we’d arranged to meet another old school friend of Jen and Susie and another University friend of Jen at London Bridge. We set out and caught a train to Waterloo in favour of a sunny winter walk along the Southbank. Sadly full of tourists but a beautiful walk nonetheless. We managed just enough time to nip into an small art gallery enroute and see some wonderful pieces. We met up on time and then decided to see if we could get a coffee/tea in the bar up the Shard. We weren’t going to be paying the ridiculous cost to go up to the viewing platform on the 72nd floor and are quite content with the view from the 32nd floor. Only a short wait in line and we were on our way.

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I think we also chose the perfect time of day to arrive as the daylight was leaving us and the London lights were beginning to sparkle. Looking down on London as the light changed was mesmerising.

IMG_4364I think, if you’re thinking of going to the Shard and to avoid the queues I’d consider booking afternoon tea for the princely sum of £35. Not cheap but if you time it right you’ve got your table guaranteed for the time of your tea, no queuing and a tip-top tea into the bargain. I think the 72nd floor viewing deck ticket at £25 for a timed visit is overpriced. For £10 more you’ve got an afternoon tea and an incredible view – who needs those extra 40 floors – London looks great from 32! (£0.35p/floor Shard -v- $0.31/floor Empire State Building).

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After our ‘drinks with a view’ we made our way back along the Southbank, stopping only for a quick bite to eat at the best Pizza Express venue with views over the river to Londontown.

IMG_4422Exhausted we all fell into our beds shortly after making it home.

Sunday was a very slow start. Us all in our PJs, cups of tea in hand, chatter and breakfast. The reality was that the weekend was drawing to a close and still there was so much to say, share and listen. So very difficult sometimes to be true to what you want to say when discussion are held over Skype or the telephone at other times. As an observer to some of the conversation though I can see the true friendship between Jen and Susie that has spanned 40+ years since primary school, childhood friends and close neighbours. To listen to their stories about cycling to school together and the mischief that they caused and their shared experiences and adventures – magical and I was honoured to listen in. Never long enough to say it all but so very easy to see the love shared.

We drove Susie to Paddington to catch her train home, stopping briefly for a cuppa and final farewells. Jen came back with me for a while, a delivered English curry meal and then I put her on the tube to her brothers for a final 2 nights in London.

Given that Jen was on a different timezone, my constant fatigue and with Susie’s treatment, we all did remarkably well fitting everything in and to keep going. I’m know, like me, the others also slept well when they both made it home.

No matter how long it’s never long enough. However we’ve learnt to treasure every moment, every laughter, every view and every memory.

Has it been found?

When I returned to Australia in 1998 I entrusted a box of photos and paperwork to my brother to look after.  After all I was only going out there for a year so it contained things that I’d need when I first returned.

I never dreamt that I’d be out there for many years and that my brother and his family would move more than once in that time.  On their last move I asked my brother about the box and was told that he’d not come across it in the move. I have to confess to being more than a little sad about it but my own fault – I’m an adult and should be responsible for my own things.

Obviously I came back to England and got on with my life.  I didn’t need the box or its content… or did I?

You see there was one thing in there that I have thought of often.  Wondered where it is.  What it said.  etc.  It was a Journal that I kept on my first trip via Asia to Australia in early 1998.  A trip that changed and influenced me far more than any other education or experience in my life.  For so many reasons.

I’ve just received a text from my sister-in-law.  They’re clearing out the loft room for their latest house move and she’s found THE box!  Her text says it contains “A brown covered journal”.

I so can’t wait to be reunited with the Journal… and the other content of the box.  I’ll keep you posted… whoooohoooo 🙂