....four working ones before I finish for Christmas. I'm trying not to wish them away too quickly. The last three years I've not had much of a break, but this year I really felt like I needed it and so, after Friday, I don't return to work until January 3rd. That's still only a week and a half but it's the longest time off I will have had since I started this job.
Which will make it hard to start back again.
That's the negative stuff out the way: whatever happens or crops up this week, I'm off at the end of it and that's that. I'm not really looking forward to anything specific with my time off, just the time off itself. I'll be spending some of it up in Derbyshire, which means peace and quiet (and booze) and plenty of long walks. Last year - or was it the year before? - it was magnificently foggy some of the time (as in the weather, not my frame of mind), and there was a pleasant eeriness to wandering around the lanes and pathways with hardly anyone else in sight. I'll be taking my camera with me and will post any worthwhile pictures up here once I'm back.
I remember last year having a long walk while I was in a mild stupor, and feeling a sheer sense of relief at being temporarily free from the rigours of the daily routine. I summed it up with a rather grandiose phrase which I saved in my mobile phone: the freedom from everyday restrictions tempts me to do what I consider to be normal. Which doesn't necessarily mean I automatically want to do something "weird," but serves to indicate that a lack of externally-imposed structure gives me more space in which to clear my mind, be myself.
Am I thinking about this too much? Perhaps, but these lanes and paths are the same ones as described here, and which carry a lot of resonance for me. I used to also spend time out here late at night with paints and sketchpad (and cans of beer), and it would be so dark that I would have to have a system of remembering which paints I'd used so that they didn't get completely muddled up. The results - when they actually turned out alright - were a sort of cross between what a late Turner seascape might have looked like were he very drunk and very arthritic, and the visual equivalent of eating spaghetti. I'm sure that's not too hard to imagine is it? Probably the above also serves to add context to "what I consider to be normal."
Actually it used to be very enjoyable to go out and paint late at night, though occasionally the sense of eeriness would get the better of me and I'd have to pack up and head back to somewhere slightly less off the beaten track.
Well, following on from the previous post, I would enjoy it if we had a proper fall of snow: but some heavy fog would be enough for me. On Saturday I'll hopefully be meeting up with some friends for the revival of an old tradition, they used to get together on (or as near to it as possible) the shortest day for a walk in the Peak District, with mince pies and mulled wine for refreshments. Followed, hopefully, by a stop in a decent pub with a real fire, good food and some real ale.