Sad Times…

It’s been an incredibly sad couple of months. I have not felt like carrying on as normal. Nothing has felt normal since Leonie’s passing.

At the beginning of November I returned to the UK for two weeks, to be with my family and of course, for Leonie’s funeral.  It was so good for all of us to be together at this sad time, giving each other support, especially to our Mum who, as you can imagine was grief-stricken to lose her daughter.  Karen and Mum had already arranged most of the funeral, as Mum had  returned to the UK a couple of weeks before me.  It took much longer to arrange as Leonie had to be flown back from Cyprus and there were procedures to follow.  We spent hours together, writing Leonie’s Eulogy, which Mike delivered beautifully.  The private service was held at Stockport Crematorium, with only close relatives and friends. It was so poignant and we think – just what Leonie would have wanted.  Afterwards we went back to Karen and Mike’s for the wake. Sophie and Hannah created a wonderful tribute to Leonie’s life in words, pictures and video footage, which we projected onto the wall. The sun shone beautifully all the long day (the next day it was raining and miserable!) Leonie was… and always will be… our sunshine girl.

Birthday meal

“Us Four” at my Birthday meal in Bramhall Village

Karen, Mike and Mum took me out for a lovely meal on my Birthday two days later. Yes, life goes on… but now there’s a gaping hole in it… for ‘us four’ in particular.  I know that in time life will just swallow it all up. But the love will always be there. Karen sent me something someone once wrote…
“Grief never ends. But it changes. It is a passage. Not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness. Not a lack of faith. It is the price we pay for love.”

Remembrance Sunday

How cute is Ralph with his Remembrance Sunday Poppy!

A few days after the funeral, Zoe collected me from Karen and Mike’s and drove us both down to Emma and Ash’s new family home in Shrewsbury. I had a lovely few days with my two gorgeous girls, Zoe and Emma and adorable Grandson Ralph. It was so mood lifting to be with the three most precious people in the world to me. I can lose myself in Ralph’s little world and he never fails to make me smile and laugh. He was just the tonic I needed!  On Rememberence Sunday we all went to a lovely country pub for a Sunday Roast and Ralph was as good as gold.  He looked so cute and smart in his little coat with the poppy on it.  I was in the best place I could be and so cherish the quality time I spent with Zoe and Emma. I felt so loved and supported.

So I returned to the beautiful part of Crete I call home and resolved to catch up with my work. My flight back was late that night and the following morning I answered a call on my landline from Microsoft. To cut a probably ‘long and now familiar story short’… I let myself fall hook, line and sinker for a scam! My head was all over the place and they couldn’t have picked a better time to target me! I gave them remote control of my laptop and in so doing, access to my online banking and PayPal accounts! I felt such an idiot but very soon realised what had happened and immediately called my bank. I am well impressed with the fraud prevention efficiency of the RBS. Within an hour of the hacking, the bank had declined two large withdrawal attempts, prior to my telephone call.

The consequences of my rash and thoughtless actions cost me dear. I was without my laptop for a week while John gave it a complete overhaul. I tried to borrow a spare laptop but no one had one. I felt so isolated and cut off from the rest of the world! My laptop is my work, Skype contact with family, emails, online shop, telephone, radio and TV. Eventually I decided that the need for another device was well overdue. Otherwise how would I keep in touch with customers and how could I even work without my design references? Most people have iphones but I’ve just stayed with a very basic Nokia without internet – just calls and texts which is all I ever wanted a mobile for!  But I have been travelling back to the UK more and more these past few years and I’ve always had to rely on Family’s laptops and tablets, to access my emails.
So I treated myself to a Samsung Galaxy Tablet complete with stand-up case. I convinced myself that it was a smart business move too. It could open new avenues for accepting payments during the summer months as well as continuous access to my online shop when travelling.

Getting back into the swing of my art business has been slow. I lost a week when I couldn’t progress on a commission that was required by December, because I didn’t have my laptop. I still had to place a shell order with Rose and when I finally emailed her and explained about Leonie, she replied with such poignant words which I’d like to share. Rose said, “Getting back to being busy is a very good start to healing.  Many customers tell me that they have found a real peace when working with seashells. Getting lost in the beauty of nature helps get your mind off other things in life” So so true.

3 Granddaughters in Seashell Mosaic 40 x 30cms

Commissioned work – 3 Granddaughters in Seashell Mosaic.

I did complete the artwork of the customer’s three Granddaughters in seashell mosaic, which he was taking to Dubai as a Christmas present for his Son and Daughter-in-law.  I loved every minute of its creation and it really brightened my mood and lifted my spirits when I saw Bob’s reaction and realised how thrilled he was with it!  For me… creating this artwork was so therapeutic, absorbing and rewarding. The fact that I had recently acquired a large and very special shipment of beautiful Coquina and was able to start using them for Bob’s artwork… was just what I needed to shake my shroud of sadness off for a while. Heartfelt thanks to Bonnie and Nancy, who were in the middle of dealing with my Coquina order when Hurricane Irma struck in Florida. I was actually in email contact with them as they were hunkering down for Irma’s arrival and the ensuing storm! We lost contact for a week or so, while they lost power and services. But thankfully the order survived and I finally got my precious cargo!

So I have been busy with all manner of things that must be attended to in the month of November – particularly my car and as usual I’ve had car trouble! Not just repairs but also insurance and tax to pay. Because I wasn’t home during the first two weeks of November, everything was late. In fact at one point I was without my car as well as my laptop. Talk about everything happening at once!

Fisherman & his Boat in Seashell Mosaic - 50 x 70cms

Fisherman & his Boat in Seashell Mosaic – 50 x 70cms

I have been working on some of the larger designs that I sold during the busy summer season. I’ve just completed a large artwork of a fisherman and his boat. I sold the last one to a couple who had purchased my seashell mosaics before. In April the couple came to my house and picked it from my lounge wall! I also finished a couple of designs I had started before I heard the tragic news about Leonie.

I really should have done some work on my Etsy shop. I have much to do in terms of its marketing as I am selling in such a niche market. But the last month has been all about catching up slowly and doing only what I feel in the mood to do. Other things will have to wait until after Christmas and New Year. I’m returning to the UK for two weeks on the 19th December to spend a very special Christmas with my family and I am so looking forward to it!

The Seashell Process

So, what’s been happening in my life these past two and a half weeks? Although I am too pleasantly absorbed in my work to write this blog more often, it’s always nice to reflect back on what I have done and achieved on those days.

Following Jenny’s return to the UK, the weather continued to deteriorate further and we had heaps of rain and thunderstorms. But despite the awful weather, Lisa and I made the effort to ‘partly’ dress up for Captain Jack’s Halloween Party on Friday 31st. Continue reading