Ireland last summer was a vision of (largely) blue skies and hills as green as the postcards promise. And in between, the steely hues of bad weather to come, or a storm just past. And in a way, that is what the summer was as well.
A trip to a little island of calm and songs, and nerves as I mingled with my partner’s vast Irish clan for the first time. Welcomed with handshakes, ham, potatoes, brack and Barry’s tea (always in that order and always with too much milk).
Weeks before, our lives in London had taken an unexpected turn. My partner would have to leave his job, and return to York, rather than stay on in London for another year as we had planned. It was the right thing to do. And it would mean he could leave a city he loathed and be close to his family again. It also put several hundred miles between us.
But in Ireland, the shock of that change had blown over, and the reality of 4 o’clock weekday sunsets without the respite of a Wednesday date-night had not quite yet set in.
Looking back at this painting, the fresh greens of the hills we climbed and the blues of the sky reflected in the water pooling below the falls is what pops out. And so are my memories of the year that was to follow. I might not have had a big house (this very exhibition was put together hunched on my tiny bedroom floor in E17, to the detriment of my back) but I did meet incredible housemates. Missing my other half was deeply lonely, but we both learnt to appreciate the time we did have together.
It turned out to be one of the best years of my life. We took the unexpected turn in his career as an opportunity to have a break, and set off for South East Asia for three months. Beautiful, inspiring, and dare I say, very, very fun.
And now we have both left behind the sweaty commute and astronomical rents, and although it is several degrees colder up North, the next year is looking very sunny indeed.