THE PROMISED FIRST CHAPTER

PROLOGUE

‘Hello. Stevie Bellingham here. I’ve an appointment with Tony Frogmore.’

‘Hello.’ She called. Louder. And again. Still no response.

Weird. If I was so minded I could run off with all the art works in the gallery. Nobody would know. Where’s Frogmore for goodness’ sake?

CHAPTER 1

Irritation replaced the euphoria Stevie had enjoyed at seven-thirty that morning. Under the shower shortly after her early morning run around the lanes near her cottage, she’d sketched a celebratory high five. That bastard Andreas hadn’t once sneaked into her mind since waking.

She’d managed her early morning run without his curdling her brain and had even eaten her breakfast fruit without recalling he did not like kiwis.

Andreas: he of the challenging brown eyes, of the instant smile. He, whose touch she knew could still send delicious tremors through her.

He whom she’d finally kicked out when she could no longer stand his belittling comments. Or his constant attempts to take absolute control over her life.

He, who had stolen her money and used it to fund his own dreams, leaving her broke and in debt. He, despite all, whom she feared she still might love.

Six months of wallowing in despair, drinking too much and cutting off contact with all her friends had taken its toll. She had been left physically and mentally bereft.

But worse than that he had turned her innate trust of people into a sceptical disillusionment, one which now coloured every aspect of her life.

Since she’d thrown him out she’d managed to pay her way, managed to keep up payments on the mortgage, but every month it had become harder. Now, even though her bank balance was almost back in the black again, her life had become one of scrimping and fear of losing everything.

If she could land the job she was being interviewed for today it would bring financial peace of mind back into her life – and maybe then she might be in a position to live again.

‘You sound as if your background and skills are exactly what I’m looking for.’ Mr Frogmore, the owner of the new gallery in Beverley had said ‘I realise you have never actually worked in a gallery before, but you are an artist yourself. That surely means you will understand more than I do about the creative side of things. Come in for a chat and we’ll see how we get on’.

As a professional artist, Stevie’s pictures sold well. It must be said, though, still at a price only sufficient to support a meagre lifestyle. Her bank account was only now recovering after she’d kicked Andreas out. It had been a while before she’d learned how often he’d ‘borrowed’ her bank card during those final months.

And an even worse blow was how, as a goodbye gesture, he’d raided her wallet on the day he left, taking its contents to the last penny.

Her own fault she’d admitted when the overdraft letter from the bank arrived. For months she’d never bothered checking her statements, Instead she’d lived on cloud nine, totally enthralled in what she’d imagined was a permanent love affair. A perfect idyll – a pastoral shared life. Her with her painting, he turned small-holder, mini-farmer ……. She must have been mad.

So here she was. Saturday Market. Beverley. The addess of the new gallery.

No problem at this early hour in finding a parking spot close to it. She slid the Mini between two delivery vans alongside the newly refurbished bandstand with its spire gleaming white in the sunlight. The vans would soon be on their way. In the next half hour, she knew, all the large vehicles would be gone, leaving the square pedestrianised and crowded with tourists adding their melting pot of multinational accents to the local Yorkshire dialect.

As she flicked off her seat belt the bells of St Mary’s Church, not far away in the nearby Georgian Quarter, chimed out the hour, confirming she’d made good time.

Ever since she was a young girl and her father had brought her here each Saturday she had loved it. Especially on those days when it was filled with its namesake market stalls.

They had bought cheeses and crusty bread from the Italian baker and bell peppers and kiwi fruit which she loved more than any. And juicy black olives and farm bread chicken which they would cook back at the cottage if the weaher was good on the brick built barbeque her father had designed himself. How easy it was to fall into reminiscing.

The appointment was for a quarter past nine. ‘Good going Min. We’ve a few minutes to spare. A little deep breathing I think. Wish me luck. I’ll certainly need it. Now to get a parking ticket. Don’t want a fine.’ A wry smile. Had things got so bad she’d even started talking to the car?

Walking to the ticket machine gave her ample time to enjoy the square. On Saturday it was filled with market stalls selling local produce, hardware, luxury goods, and everything in between from picture framing to beauty products and dog food.

Today, without the market, she was able to see the whole area of the square and reflect on the multitude of public houses still serving Beverley. They reminded her that this was a town built when horses provided the only means of transport, when the hostelries not only provided food and lodgings for the human travellers but also sustenance for the horses. No wonder a national newspaper had desribed Beverley as one of the best places to live in the whole of the UK.

Back at the car, parking ticket in hand recalling the reason for her being here, her stomach lurched. Uncomfortably. Many moons had risen since she had last been interviewed. Interview. The word unleashed bad memories of those meetings with college tutors when her work had seemed never good enough to please them. At the thought of their derogatory comments her fragile confidence began to crumble. It took only a moment before Andreas picked up the reins and led her to the top of the slide.

It did not take much these days to put her on the downward track. As from nowhere a feeling of apprehension flared in her mind. It seemed the very buildings bordering the square mocked her. How could she even imagine the gallery job could be hers?

Her gaze swept across the cobble stones. Right. Left. The Cafes …… all around the Saturday Market again. This time it seemed she searched friendly support. But it was too early yet for the local shoppers or tourists to arrive.

Too early also for the tempting aromas of cooking which later in the day would filter out from the numerous restaurants and various cafes. Each wanted visitors to sample their menus and tried at this early hour to entice workers to buy a take-away as they wended their way to offices and shops.

Her mouth watered. No time for that now. Instead she promised herself a cappuccino if she got the job. The thought seemed to do the trick of ridding her of her doubts.

‘And a large slab of chocolate cake to go with it,’ she added showing a bravado she did not feel. Taking care over the cobbles this time she prepared to face her fate.

The reality of her dwindling bank balance drew her onwards to the window of the Frogmore gallery. Nothing more.

Like a lamb to the slaughter she was unaware of what lay ahead. Certainly no capuccino or chocolate cake.

DARE I SAY IT – BUGGER THE BUGS

DARE I SAY IT- BUGGER THE BUGS

This year, and we are only at the end of March, has been one of machine failures and this poses a real question.

Have all electrical goods a built in crash date? During recent months I have needed to replace washer/spin drier, fridge freezer, vacuum cleaner. And in recent weeks computer and printer. All the original items were bought new when we moved into this house just over 4 years ago.

Obtaining an estimate for repairing these has shown it is as cheap to buy new. Add in call-out charges, day or hourly rates and so on the figures add up.

So I have spent a lot of time surfing the web to find replacements. And here I encounter a real challenge. Prices for the same item vary so much I really do not know which to buy. Some have reductions if you buy within so many hours. Others offer free postage or immediate next day delivery. Some offer other enticements, others none. So where is the catch? Indecision rules okay.

Apart from what seemed like disasters at the time, life has gone on pretty much the same. Health wise nothing has deteriorated, at least the docs tell me so. We have some surprise worries about Tom though as yet nothing we cannot cope with. Writing progresses, painting too although the watercolour challenge has yet to be beaten. A recent attack on Venice almost totally destroyed my confidence! Instead I offer Flamborough Beach in oils which I am happy with.

Still we have got rid of the Christmas bugs – started attacking in October; the Easter bugs started if I recall on New Year’s Day. Now we have only the Holiday bugs……an attempt to book holiday in Filey from internet descriptions seemed ideal. A short visit showed the place totally unsuitable for wheel chairs and mobility scooters despite telling the agent when booking these accesses were an essential. Now I am being asked to pay almost £100 cancellation fee!

I am beginning to feel a bit like Scrooge. Must stop moaning. Flowers are blooming, gale winds are blowing them down, rain is falling in torrents and I’m off out for lunch at the local pub. Hope there are no power cuts, heating down or the scampi gone off!

And on a world scale things are worse than ever. Terrorist bombs the world over. Aircraft disasters. Floods and famine. Migrants bombed out from homes living in squalor, with no new homes in sight. Massacres and abuse.

And on top of all that we can, it seems, celebrate the long life, death and history of Britain’s Steel Industry. Also, all my old TV friends are no longer with us – it seems like one a day is taking that step into the unknown.

So, what have we to look forward to this month?

Seems like not a lot, but the days will get longer; the sun will shine more often; garden flowers will bloom and my painting Ancient and Modern will go off to the framers. Added to all that good stuff there really is even more.

That part of my brain which stimulates new ideas for my writing seems to have come out of hibernation and I am having difficulty in keeping up with the flow.

So I will just say thanks and celebrate the fact that at least I am alive, well and kicking.

A bientot. And PS: The food and environment at the Ship Inn at Dunswell, near Beverley are superb. Booking required 01482 854458

Please do let me have your thoughts on any of the points I mention in my blogs via: beverleynow@gmail.com reference Mayday. I hope to reply within a couple of days

 

AND WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

AND – WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

The past few weeks have been somewhat difficult for me – and my objectives. I have as I promised myself been more focussed, less lazy and have carried on reading self improvement texts but … this latter has been mostly during nights when I have been unable for one reason or another to sleep. Still good things have happened and mostly things connected to my life as an artist.

One morning I awoke to find a winter wonderland outside my window. Snow, not really very deep, covered buildings and paths with an almost imaculate cushion of white in which I gloried momentarily before recalling this was meant to be a day of artistic and gustational adventure.

Luckily by eleven o’clock, our time for departure, the gritted and salted roads had been rendered passable and the drive north with our good friend Angela at the wheel commenced. The only obstacles in our path were huge puddles of melted snow where the roads dipped and a mad driver who overtook us on the inside almost causing a collision. Needless to say we caught up with him in seconds at the next set of lights!

The fields and hedgerows away from the roads were still covered in snow and transformed into a winter wonderland. Bliss for any painter. My first visit to the Yorkshire Wolds for many years was a rewarding experience and one which continued through lunch and the following afternoon hours.

Our destination was The Wolds Village at Bainton near Driffield in Yorkshire (which whilst not being exactly a village but a cleverly transformed and rescued farm) is one of the most entrancing places I have visited in recent years. It is much more than the tourist attraction label it carries.

Imagine if you can the perfect setting for grandfather clocks, superb pub and restaurant meals; hotel accomodation, an art gallery and art trail, a crafts display including pottery and silver work; tea room and outdoor terrace; and with an antique shop into the bargain. The Wolds Village provides all of these and more.

I would recommend this gem of a location for anyone with the time to pay it a visit. It has a wonderfully detailed website. ( www.woldsvillage.co.uk) This has headings inviting you to Eat&Drink, Explore,Sleep Well. Browse, Hang Out and History. If you do visit the website it will be difficult not to follow up with a real time visit.

 

Whilst at Woldvillage I discovered a copy of the ERA (East Riding Artists) directory which lists artists, galleries and exhibitions in the region . A very useful tool for artists and tourists alike. Obtain a copy from www.creationonlinearts.co.uk

Next following a tip off from Ruth who is a contact at my Monday watercolour group I enjoyed yet another adventure. This time travelling in much the same direction as last week I visited the small village of Wilberfoss where members of The East Riding Painting Society meet each month. Their programme of events includes hands-on workshops headed up by visiting artists with both UK and International reputations and in every media imaginable. I am so looking forward to attending as many of these as possible. (contact the secretary on 017593013980

The session on Friday being the first of the year involved a brief period of administration, but the wait for the visiting speaker to start was well worth it.

Emma-Jane Whelan from the Art and Rose Gallery at Pocklington delivered a talk both enthralling as she covered her own journey from art college to establishing the gallery; and then later, extremely useful for the artists in her audience, she enlightened us as to some gallery tricks of the trade and what works of art are currently popular with buyers. As may be imagined the questions session at the end provoked a very interesting debate.

The two main messages I came away with were:

  1. Based on her own life experiences, to follow your heart and explore every option, do not miss the ‘sliding door’ opportunities which open in your journey.

And:

  1. Paint to enjoy the experience of producing works of art based on subjects which you love.

I intend to visit her gallery very soon. New exhibitions commence every month and as well there is a rolling open exhibition including painting, jewellery, ceramics,glass,prints as well as many other surprises. The gallery supports whenever it can local artists and crafts people but does also exhibited world renowned arts. Contact details below.

{www.artandrosegallery.co.uk) or follow on Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter @ EmmaJaneWhelan1. There is an Online Shop.

 

More artistic news soon. Keep your eyes open to see a preview of the short story I am writing for MsLexia. The deadline approaches all too swiftly.

Any views on this blog will be welcomed.

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