"Do you know what?” I said, “I think I will.”
The shed soon became my little refuge, where I could lose myself in a world of my own for a few hours a week. I had to laugh when the family presented me with an outrageously gaudy smock among the usual selection of chocolates, books and scented candles come Christmas. The other members of the class laughed, too, when I wore it to the village hall where the fortnightly sessions were held.
I was glad I had joined. The class provided friendship in addition to the pleasure of applying paint to canvas, even though I knew I would never be a “real” artist.
Not that I got to spend much time on my new hobby. Winter brought the usual rash of coughs and colds. After making a good start on doing more around the house, Nick’s efforts fell by the wayside when a promotion meant longer hours at work.
There was no doubt the extra money came in handy, but he seemed so worn out when he came home in the evenings.
In contrast, I felt more energised. Nick had been right when he had suggested an outside interest would do me good.
With the half-term coming up and the family’s finances in a reasonably healthy state for once, it was time to take action.
“We all need a holiday,” I told Nick firmly. “You are going to make yourself ill otherwise, and that will not do any good at all.”
As he sighed, something he never used to do, I noticed the bags under his eyes, and the way his whole body seemed to slump.
“You are right, love,” he agreed. “I was toying with the idea of us all jetting off for some winter sun, but I can only take two or three days off at the moment. That is not enough for travelling far, even tagging them on to a weekend.”
“Never mind,” I told him, pushing away tempting images of warm, sun-kissed shores. “We can still go somewhere in this country. How about that cottage we stayed in last August, if it is available?”
Luckily, it was, almost as if the place knew it would be needed.
Maybe the weather knew it would be needed, too. Despite being cold, most days were fine, lending themselves to bracing walks on the beach, provided everyone was well wrapped up and did not mind being sandblasted by the wind every so often!
“This should blow away our cobwebs!” Nick had to shout to make himself heard.
“What cobwebs?” Olivia shouted back, looking puzzled.
We adjourned to a favourite café for shelter and hot chocolate, where Nick struggled to explain what he had meant to our daughter, who looked perturbed at the idea that there might be cobwebs lurking in her brain.
“It is just a saying,” I reassured her. “There aren’t any cobwebs there.”
“Then why say there are, if there aren’t?” she persisted.
“Because it is a more interesting way of describing what it feels like when your brain needs fresh air.”
It was the same with abstract art, I realised when we visited the gallery later. That did not show what was literally there, but it gave its own interpretation.
Several new paintings were on display this time. I still could not have explained most of them, yet somehow I got a deeper sense of satisfaction now. I even recognised the names of a couple of artists, whom I would never have heard of without the art classes.
After a while, I noticed Henry was fidgeting, while Olivia started to hum to herself. They had behaved impeccably so far, but clearly it was time to go. Or it would have been, if there had been any sign of their dad.
We found Nick in a room dominated by sculptures, examining a curious looking object set on a plinth in the centre.
Even when I titled my head to one side, I could not for the life of me guess what it was, nor why anyone would choose to display it in such a prominent position.
When Nick saw us, his words stopped me in my tracks.
“Isn’t this an amazing piece of work? Just look at the way the driftwood’s been shaped and partnered with the metal, making the best use of both materials.”
It sounded double Dutch to me, but then I had never really warmed to sculptures. What I did notice was that my husband’s eyes were lit up in a way I had not seen for months.
That, combined with the colour in his cheeks from the recent fresh air, made him look like his old self again.
“What is it supposed to be?” Henry asked his dad.
“I am not sure. I just know that I like it. I would love to be able to take old bits and bobs and fashion them into something like this.”
I remembered some of his comments from our previous visit. Now the show was on the other foot.
There was no doubt in my mind that he could easily make something just as good as this.
Which gave me an idea…
“Why not give it a try?” I said, after I told him my idea. “There are bound to be some classes somewhere. It will do you good to have an outside interest, even if it is just half an hour here and there.”
Now it was Nick who looked thoughtful, as we stepped outside.
“I think it will,” he said, still having to raise his voice slightly to be heard over the roar of the sea.
“Who knows? One day we might even open our own gallery between us, or have our work displayed at exhibitions.”
I was not so sure about that, but it did not matter. I knew that it was what we got out of it in other ways that counted.
But first things first.
This sea air did not just blow away the cobwebs, it also did wonders for everyone’s appetites! There was still plenty to get from this holiday, too, such as some delicious fish and chips.
Source: The People’s Friend
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