Ladies who lunch, light hearted banter, art and an unexpected harp recital….

Sometimes an ordinary day turns into an exceptionally wonderful day…its a rare and wonderful phenomenon.  When they happen I wonder if they are by luck or by state of mind.  Probably a bit of both.  I do know for sure that those days I’m in a bad mood, more negative things happen.  However, this Friday, just gone…that would be yesterday(!) was highly anticipated as a planned busy but nice day.  The resulting day was glorious.

As you may know I am mid way through my first ever solo art exhibition.  it was quite a long time in the planning and prepping and quite emotional in the setting up and previewing… but it’s there now. It’s actually going well in terms of feedback and I am definitely extremely proud of it.

A small group of wonderful friends who I know mainly through teaching them stained glass during the wonderful Welsh Legends Window Project, had arranged a jolly to the Radnorshire Museum to see my exhibition and I had arranged to go with them and do our fave thing “Ladies Who Lunch”, first.  So as you can tell, it was already going to be a lovely day.

These, lovely, colourful, energy filled, inspiring women gathered to join me at The Herb Garden for pre-exhibition food.  The Cafe is my very favourite in Llandrindod Wells, a community cafe , serving wholesome, freshly made, delicious delights with top quality organic ingredients. It has friendly staff, cosy sofas, a selection of newspapers and magazines, a pile of toys for any kids, a local information board and a gallery wall.  In this instance there was a display of stunning photographs of China by a local photographer/friend of mine, Mike Lewis. A perfect accompaniment to our lunch with it being Chinese New Year. (sadly I didn’t take any photos at it would have meant leaning across strangers who were eating their lunch and I thought that might appear a tad rude!  the place was packed)

As we trotted round to the museum, it was a gloriously sunny early Spring day, the type of day that fills you with optimism and joy for new beginnings and the arrival of Spring flowers and the hope of Summer not too far away.

There was quite a buzz of excitement from my friends climbing the stairs (or using the lift) to reach the exhibition space.  I think there were genuinely impressed and enjoyed the exhibition, which really gave me quite a boost.  Additionally, because of the location, they had the bonus of discovering this quaint and eclectic collections within the museum itself.  So a fabulous afternoon..

… but there was icing on our daily cake … on arrival we were told that three internationally acclaimed harpists were about to arrive to look at the Welsh triple harp the museum has in its collection and that one of these harpists was going to play it…. we were allowed to sit in on an impromptu harp recital by Robin Huw Bowen (head to discography and click the listen button, its exquisite …  ).Robin proceeded to discuss the history of this harp, his interaction with the ancestors of the owner who donated it to the museum in 1952, and played some classic Welsh tunes and some Welsh gypsy popular music of the time

Those gorgeous looking ladies sat by the harpist are Camille & Kennerly Kitt, otherwise known as The Harp Twins here as part of a world tour, having just finished a 4th gig in Wales.  They play rock music on electric harps – something to behold!

Here’s a little clip from the recital.  Robin did apologise, he said if he’d known there would be an audience he would have arrived earlier to tune the harp!!!  Still …we were happy !

acrylic art, orion, great nebula, exhibition, acrylic on wood
TITLE: “There is beauty all around; we simply have to open our minds to see”. DESCRIPTION: Based on the Great Nebula in Orion, spirals of gas resemble a gargantuan flower. ……My friend , D particularly wanted a photo of me beside this piece as she said it was a perfect artistic impression of me and my personality ! how lovely XX
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My first solo exhibition…..eek

On Wednesday I finally set up my long-planned (I booked the space a year ago) , first ever solo art exhibition.


I did what I always do when out of my comfort zone. I wear ALL the colours and blag it. So here I am heading out to the gallery (via the hairdresser) to meet the curator and set up my show.

And here I am with talented illustrator and wonderful friend Amanda Rose , post hair transformation (thank you Sadie of Meraki Salon, Llandrindod Wells ), and somewhat more relaxed , having nearly finished the set up .

So that was Wednesday.

Friday evening was Preview night. The venue, Amgueddfa Sir Faesyfed (Radnorshire Museum), in Llandrindod Wells, county town of Powys.

It’s a weird thing exhibiting your own work , well certainly so the first time, I can’t speak beyond that. The overwhelming feeling for me is embarrassment. I’m an untrained artist, other than some local community lessons both in art and in glass, I didn’t study it at school or university. Part of me thinks I’m going to be unveiled as a fraud or laughed at. Another part of me, the biggest, feels typically British… one does not invite ones friends around and layout their stuff and ask them to publicly say nice things about you and your things “Come on people, praise me!”. My fear that my lovely friends would come along and feel they had to be nice because I needed some positive affirmation (which I did/do) but which might not be genuine. I’m transported back to being a child and handing a picture to a parent with great pride, and as it’s blue tacked to the fridge door them saying “that’s lovely dear, what is it?!”.

all glammed up (all the colours!) ready to face the crowds

But the other feelings I had by Friday evening other than fear and embarrassment, were excitement and pride. I was desperate for Hubby to walk into the room for the first time. He was genuinely emotional and very proud. I knew then that I’d done OK. Actually, I think I knew on Wednesday. The gallery space at the museum is fantastic, well-lit, good proportions, nice feeling. The curator, Will Adams, is fabulous, both in his skills and in his reassuring nature. My friend Sue helped me with pricing and then offered so generously to cater the event with some of her amazing canapes had provided oodles of encouragement and reassurance. Sues catering is second to none. She founded the business Tea ad Sympathy, which continues to offer excellent services in the Wiltshire areas even since she retired to Wales. Her and husband Paul arrived early too with said canapes and it was reassuring to get feedback on the exhibition from them before the arrival of others. Paul is an amazing wildlife artist in his own right (despite what he may say himself), his skills are incredible.

The evening was fabulous. I received so much support and it wasn’t just friends and people I knew . I’m going to leave you with a gallery of images from the night and you can decide for yourself. If you are in Mid Wales between now and 17th March, please do pop in and take a look. If you let me know you’re coming I will try to come and meet you for coffee and cake. The local Herb Garden Cafe is excellent for that sort of thing.

Pictures courtesy of Hubby, the museum, and good friend Craig….

“Out of the Darkness, Comes the Light”

When I began this body of work in 2014 it was as a result of the awe and emotion evoked when I looked out at the huge expanse of the dark night sky from my home in rural Mid Wales. There were so many more points of light and smudges in that darkness than I had ever seen before, having previously lived inner city. I would look up, with wonder at the prospect of the infinite new beginnings and endings; the energy that must be existing, living, dying and flowing beyond beyond.

Then I started looking at images taken from space telescopes and felt a spiritual connection to all that light and energy exploding out of the darkness. These energetic outpourings millions/billions of years ago still shine bright today; still impact on the here and now. For every action, no matter how large or small has an impact. A smile, a frown, a wave, which road we take, which path we walk. Everything makes a difference.

They say that something as a small as the flutter of a butterfly wing may ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world…

Bernice Benton – acrylic and stained glass artist

Before moving to Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Mid Wales I felt there was ‘an artist within’. It wasn’t until I moved here with my partner and our son in 2005 that I felt I had the opportunity to explore and develop my creativity. We all say that our landscape inspires our art and creativity and it definitely does. By finding the time to connect to the earth and the sky, I also began to tune into my own inner rhythm; was more able to connect to those around me; and to follow my own energy patterns, which has enabled me to find a balance, joy and a vision I did not find before.

I attended some art classes and stained glass sessions, and for those tutors I am truly grateful for their enthusiasm, inspiration and guidance. They gave me the basic tools, confidence and energy to explore and develop. The journey is far from over and for that I not only thank my surroundings, but the amazing people whose souls and personality have guided and enhanced my vision. If you are reading this you are probably one of them.

Every chapter of my life to date has led to this one. Those beyond will evolve from these now. Each moment that has been experienced, guides me through the here and now and forward into the light of my future.

Everything is connected.

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When your body tells you time out is required…

It’s been a long year.

Scrub that.

It’s been an unbelieveably short but ridiculously full on year.

Seemingly weeks ago it was New Years Eve and now the Christmas ads are back on the TV and I’ve even started picking up the odd stocking filler.   Very early for me.  Usually I refuse to consider Xmas until after all our November birthdays.  Still, I have to accept it’s not been weeks but nine whole months since New Years Eve and it’s just gone in the blink of an eye.

It’s been fabulous to be fair, but now Hubby and I are reaching melting point.  Personally I feel pretty much physically and mentally broken.  And looking at Hubby (despite all attempts to put on a brave face and cope with everything I can’t), it’s pretty clear he’s in much the same place.

Image result for exhaustion

I’m at the point where everything is exhausting.  Even the fun stuff.  And we all know how I love the fun stuff.  But I’m so exhausted I’ve started declining party invitations (shock horror!).  The idea of doing anything at all can sometimes feel overwhelming.  Not so much the actual ‘Fun’ bit of the fun but the getting to and from the fun.  The travelling anywhere at all has become fun prohibitive.  I have got to the point where I miss out because I can’t face the journey.

A few weeks ago, I had a long trip to a social event .  I had stressed and cried and panicked about the journey.  500 mile round trip for an event I could not and did not want to decline.  But (and I know how melodramatic this sounds) the journey near broke me.  Nothing untoward happened. I travelled alone with the radio for company.  There were no road traffic incidents; just the usual delays and holdups you would expect entering towns and city and at major road junctions;  but the sheer number of hours on the road just wore me down .  Both physically and mentally.  I hurt for days after and my brain went into ‘essential processes only mode’.

The FUN between the two long journeys was fabulous , but the recovery from the travelling made me declare ‘NEVER AGAIN’.

Despite this, two weeks later we had to do the same journey, this time I had Hubby and Teen in tow.  I did none of the driving.  And the FUN between the travelling was truly the most fabulous of fun times (that being true even though I’m ‘Sober September-ing and Stoptober-ing… another day , another blog)

I can’t say the mental and physical trauma I felt was lessened by not having to take responsiblity for the driving.  I felt at least as terrible.  Physically I ached for days after from sitting for so long; body being ‘rattled’ by the movement of the car and the passing of the never-ending miles; head lolling from the dozing off etc.  Mentally it was exhausting and disorienting; the drifting in and out of consciousness into fitful sleep; the sudden awakening from a jolt, sharp braking, sudden lane change, impatient acceleration, road rage rant from Hubby; the hours of conversational silence but at the same time the constant white noise of road and traffic; and then the momentary panic when you open your eyes to find yourself seemingly hurtling towards the back-end of a lorry; or simply being somewhere completely different and not knowing where you are (how do little kids cope with this?!).  you get my drift.  Drifting in and out of sleep is a mind-fuck.  I just can’t handle it.

A friend of mine struggled for many years with quite severe ME.  Her brain would over-react to even the slightest stimulation.  Her body would cramp with pain to the slightest of exercise.  In order to get a decent nights sleep literally everything had to stop by about 8:30pm.  All the things I would think of as relaxing eg: watching a movie, listening to music, chatting on the phone with a friend.  Physically she had the same problem no leisurely walks, bike rides, train trips for her.  To visit me to recuperate would just be too much to consider.  The journey would physically debilitate her for days/weeks, that gentle rattling of the body  would render her bedbound.

I know I don’t have ME, and for that I am very grateful.  However, this friend, in her fight to manage her illness and recover some semblance of normality into her life, really did teach me a few valuable lessons.  Some years ago, on another occasion when I was far nearer the brink of life overwhelming me, I ‘ran away from home’ and hid out at her house.  I literally got in the car to pop to the shops and ended up driving 250  miles to her front door.  During those few days we often sat together for hours, in the garden or at the kitchen table; mostly in silence, with gathered windfall fruit and slowly peeled, chopped, cored.  It was her self-imposed mindfulness for her own wellbeing and it became my first experience of it.  The first time I ever gave myself permission to live just for that moment and no other.  To sit there and just be.  without the guilt of ignoring the ‘to do list of life’.  Self imposed mental recovery.

These days I recognise the signs of impending meltdown.  Usually before it’s too late and, usually, I find the time and space to do something about it.  And usually that something only needs to be an afternoon, a day, an early night, a long bath, a vocalisation, an admittance, a cancelling of an activity, a reality check with Hubby.

Hubby who is a marvel always recognises my need even before I do, and has prepared for it, made space for it.  Usually  I can (almost) guilt free allow him to take up my slack and not feel (too) guilty for being a wuss and a light weight.  Generally I can accept my need to stop for a bit and have learnt to see this recognition as a strength not a weakness.  Generally he will just take up the slack and cover for me.  And, (trust me Hubby if you are reading this), that part of our partnership is so very highly valued, I recognise it and love him for it.

However this year.  Right now.  I can tell that he too needs to stop.  We both need to seek out the silence and still our minds.  Find ourselves.  Find each other.  We both need a few days without agenda.  when we can go or not go; do or not do; talk or not talk.  We both need to lock away our ‘to do list of life’ and wallow in a period of free (non) thinking….

So our challenge is to find a gap big enough to make this happen…….


Image result for time for a holiday

I wrote the blog above yesterday, in the old analogue way, long hand on paper with a pen as I live fairly remotely and in some places there simply is no internet access.  Because of it, I came home and whilst sitting with the intention of typing it up,I instead found myself searching for time out options.  We needed a break but I couldn’t cope with a lot of travel… within hours I’d booked us a 4 night break in Rome travelling from the local (Cardiff) airport and its only 11 days away!!!!!  The simple act of writing about the need made me truly see the need and act on it, so thank you blog community.  The relief of making the booking has in itself taken the strain out of the every day…I am already more relaxed  just knowing it’s happening so soon.  …As for Hubby, I can safely say he is as excited as I am…..

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My Random Musings