During term time I work full time hours illustrating and creating but during the school holidays my Webblings, Lilly and Harrison, come first. They are at an age where in all honesty they would be happy to stay in front of the screen for the whole entire holiday and not get bored but since we can finally go out, I didn’t want them to spend all week ruining their eyesight. I also struggle with sensory overload and two many screens on at once drives me slightly batty (and no they won’t be happy to watch the same thing, it is not worth the fight!)
However all of that is easier said than done, I still have work to do and cannot afford to take every school holiday off of work and if I go more than a day without drawing I get almost as cranky as if I try to go a day without tea. So there has to be some balance.
Last week was half term and we are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the beautiful Devon and Cornwall coast and countryside. Now that we are allowed out we wanted to make the most of it and to hopefully create some memories for our Webblings. This blog post is a bit like a diary of what we got up to and how I managed to sprinkle a little creativity into it too.
Lilly is a figure skater and despite the worldwide issues that have meant our local rink is still closed, Lilly has continued to train and improve and is very eager to get back onto the ice as soon as possible. While she trains with her amazing coach, Debbie Marsh, the rest of us wonder around the woods and have a play on the skate park (Minus the skates or skateboard). Harry always takes some form of screen in case we need to stay in the car rather than get soggy in the rain but we do try to get out and walk around if it isn’t too muddy! Jamie was very confident getting to the top of the skate ramp but then not is much when it came to getting down. Luckily we managed to have no accidents on this journey.
I didn’t do any work on this day but days like this in the fresh air, watching my family have fun are days that make me feel more inspired. Walking around the woods is one of the main inspirations for my book Sass Feels Lonely. I think that the fresh air blows off the cobwebs and you start to generate new ideas. I always have my phone on me (a blessing and a curse) and I have filled my notes app with so many ideas or fragments of ideas whilst we have been on trips like this where it is too wet to sit and draw or paint.
On bank holiday Monday we were amazed to get an actual sunny bank holiday and we didn’t waste it. We got in the car (we have a red and white mini called Sally!) and headed to World Of Country Life in Exmouth. It was really amazing. We got to see a lot of the animals up close and they looked really well cared for, they had a lot of wide open spaces and the staff seemed to genuinely care for them. Harry has discovered one of my old point and shoot cameras and he spent a lot of the day snapping away at everything from vintage cars to baby goats. He even managed to get a few pictures of me too! We had a brilliant day and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.
As you can imagine it was a full on day and there was time for a game of ping pong with the husband but sadly no art. However on the way back we decided it would be rude to go all that way and not have chips on the beach so that is exactly what we did, followed by ice cream of course. Exmouth beach is very sandy and with the sun shining you could easily believe you were somewhere more tropical. I sat on the beach watching the Webblings play, Harry burying himself and Lilly making a TikTok and I managed to do a few doodles in my scrappy little sketchbook that I take everywhere. These are life drawings and gesture practice not intended as final images but the process of creating them has improved my art and I urge everyone artist or not to take a sketchbook with them and doodle every chance you get!
We also managed to visit family over the holiday and as I am from a big family we managed to have some very fun water fights and barbecues during the days. Lilly and Harrison managed to spend a lot of time in Nanny’s garden with their cousins, they painted rocks and canvases, drew on the path with chalk and bounced a lot on the trampoline. The nice weather was a real bonus. My five year old nephew Toby dared me to paint Nanny’s house and of course being his crazy aunty (he has plenty of sensible ones don’t worry) I got out my paints and a watercolour book that I carry with me and painted a stylised version of my mums house. Toby declared that I am “like an artist” which was one of the best compliments that I have ever had!
We spent the evenings watching Taskmaster mostly which the Webblings find hilarious. Some of the challenges are completely absurd and I love to hear what the Webblings would do to complete them if they were on the show. If you haven’t seen it then it isn for young children because some of the language isn’t great but for slightly bigger kids and adults it is great fun. During these TV sessions I managed to squeeze in a few hours of commission work, mostly for the amazing Nurture Programme and I am very lucky that they are incredibly patient working parents themselves who understand that things take a little longer during school holidays.
We were invited to meet up with one of my very best friends and her beautiful son to journey over the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall and visit Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary and although it is a very small park it is very special because all of the animals have been rescued from the pet trade or other zoos. They have no breeding programme and are a real sanctuary for the animals in their care. It rained but we didn’t let that stop us. Harry was armed with his camera once more and we managed to see some adorable meerkats and amazing racoon dogs. It was a great morning out. We obviously needed hot chocolate to warm us up on the way home though!
To end the holiday it wouldn’t be a Webb holiday if we didn’t get up to the moors so on Sunday evening we took a spontaneous trip to Burrator Reservoir on Dartmoor, my favourite place in the world! The sun was shining and there were a lot of people around but we managed to find some secluded spots for a nice cup of tea and the perfect end to a wonderful week. It is Tuesday now and I am still exhausted. I am not a fan of the 6am alarm at all but I am glad that we made time to make memories with our Webblings before they are too old to want to do day trips with us. I will catch up with work I didn’t manage to complete this week but I won’t ever have the chance to catch up with the Webblings at this stage ever again. It is really important to me that they know that even though I work, and I am so blessed because I absolutely love my job, I will always down the paintbrushes for just a chance to spend time with them!
I did manage to get my Kuretaki paints out on Sunday night and do a little paint doodle to end my week, inspired by the fairies and elves that we were pretending lived among the bluebells as bluebell farmers playing in the blossom.
Thank you so much for reading about my week and about how I fit in my career around parenting or rather how I don’t really do much work when my children are not at school. I am still trying to find the balance and I will keep trying. If you have any suggestions for how to better manage my time or for days out that you think we will enjoy then please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.