What’s in your fridge?
I can tell when I’ve lost my grip on life when I look in the fridge and find it full of things that are no longer fit to eat. You know the kind of thing – lots of helpful plastic pots with leftovers in, well intentioned but now growing an interesting variety of mould. (Why are there always two spoonfuls of gravy left after sausage and mash? And why do we carefully keep it and put it in the fridge?) Then, moving down to the bottom shelf, an assortment of salads and greens, turning brown or reduced to a puddle in their plastic bag. When the fridge is in this state, it takes more courage than mine to open the salad drawer, which is full of strange shapes that may once have been green peppers.
It’s shameful, I know, to be wasting food at all and most of the time it’s not that chaotic. But there are so many more interesting things to do in life than clear out the fridge – like attending a watercolour workshop on tuesday with Elizabeth Haines, who has an inspirational studio in the Preseli hills and a profound understanding of how art works (http://www.elizabethhaines.co.uk/). She is particularly good at getting students to try new ways of working, experiment and see where the painting wants to go. I had a thoroughly enjoyable day, playing with paint in ways that I don’t often let myself do at home when I’m focussing on drawing or painting whatever pays the bills.
It’s good to take the pressure off sometimes and lay paint on the page without any pre-thought about how it’s going to end up. It’s very freeing, and nothing you do is ever wasted; everything experimental feeds the creative furnace which is often in danger of spluttering to a halt.
I often tell my students that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got. Sometimes it’s good to take my own advice!
So what else has conspired to turn my fridge into bacteria heaven? We’ve also been exhibiting at Beale Park Boat Show, an annual event in Pangbourne, on a lake by the river Thames. It’s a small, friendly show, a celebration of the quirky and enthusiastic small boat scene with a refreshing absence of flashiness, big budget boats and pretentiousness. You’ll find everything from the home made and unlikely (a paddle wheel canoe, for example) to highly polished and professional boatbuilders like Henwood and Dean (http://www.henwoodanddean.co.uk/#). The first two days were great; the third rained and rained, and then rained some more. We all packed up early; it’s slightly surreal struggling to dismantle a sodden marquee in the driving rain while a steel band plays ‘Island in the Sun’ at high volume and with no trace of irony.
Beale Park Boat Show is over for another year, but life is still a bit hectic – I’m off to Greece on friday to spend a week falling in the water. It’s work, honest. I was expecting the call at some stage, as I’ve been asked to write RYA Go Windsurfing and having made my feelings on the subject of falling into chilly UK water very plain, Neilson holidays have stepped in and are sending me to one of their beach activity centres to go through the beginner’s syllabus and find out everything I need to know to write the book. Given that my last research trip was three days in the rain on a canal in the Midlands, perhaps my career is looking up after all!
Do you think I’d better clean the fridge before I go?