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Grey days ...

Wednesday February15/02/17

Debby Faulkner-Stevens

I know they say that bad workmen blame their tools, but these seemingly endless grey rainy days and lack of light are making life in the studio very difficult.

I have full spectrum daylight tubes installed which do help a bit, but there is nothing like good natural daylight. A bit of winter sun would be very welcome, and not just to ease the painting process. There don't seem to have been many of those lovely bright crisp days this winter when you can get out for a good walk and lift the spirits.
Despite that, I painted at quite a pace during January getting a lot of work done and have just started on a set of six miniatures for the Hilliard Society exhibition.
Days out have been few, but we did get to visit the wonderful church of St Lawrence in Broughton, once a tiny hamlet where many of my Giles ancestors lived but now, sadly, surrounded on all sides by the vast sprawl of new development.
The church is only open a handful of times a year so it is always worth seeking out times and events. It has the most wonderful wall paintings dating from the 15c. They include a pieta, the Last Judgement, St Helena and St Eligius, the patron saint of blacksmiths, together with images of tools of their trade, and a magnificent St George and the dragon, although St George sadly lost his head many years ago when the roof line of the church was altered.
Spurred on by this visit and the fact that so many of my family were christened and buried there, I started to revisit the mass of information I had gathered whilst compiling my family tree several years ago. The Giles's - my paternal grandmother's family - had been prominent figures in the Woburn Sands and Aspley Heath area, and Bedford County Archives held a lot of information on them, their properties, timber yard and Fullers Earth works. It was great to get all this information which filled in a few missing bits in my files, and, armed with photocopies of maps and the 1905 will of John Giles, my great great grandfather, we took a trip over to their old stamping grounds and discovered many of the properties still standing. Great swathes of Aspley Heath, now an incredibly desirable and expensive place to live, had been 'squatted' by the family back in the 1840's, fenced off then built on or later sold. Needless to say, all this property and land had long gone by the time my dad and his sisters came along. Oh well.
Back to the drawing board, and roll on spring ....


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