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Children's illustrator and cricket lover cultivates vegetables and cats in rural Oxfordshire.
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Off to do two workshops in Oxfordshire - one at The Fibreworks Oxford and another all day session at the dear old Queen's Head in Eynsham. Just managed to get a pattern finished for 'Crafty' magazine (coming out soon) and finish a couple of custom orders.
The elephant is very big (for needle felting) - 8 x 5½ inches. This sweetie is only a couple of inches tall, by comparison.
Not only that - I have some foxes and new style hares to sell, when I return - here's a little preview of one.
Returning back to the mainland from Arran on the ferry, I spent the time collecting knots and ropes. Once I started looking out for them, they became quite beautiful - still life at sea.
Sometimes it's good just to forget about artwork being *good* and to simply enjoy the process of observing and sketching. Sitting by the rockpools of Arran, Scotland, scribbling away, my burdens lightened for a few brief hours.
Order just off to America, to the lovely Empty Nest Emporium in New Virginia - a trio of slinky foxes.A trio of flower geese - And a street of tiny houses - I hope the foxes are making friends with the geese...
The most delightful little green spider, trying to escape my camera lens.Crawling about on the old iron table at Cinderhill Farm.
Later found to be a Green Orb Weaver spider.
Only a quarter of an inch long, but rather fearsome when viewed up close. Harmless though.
Without a lawnmower and with being so occupied over the last several months, the lawn had grown knee high. I am blessed with the best neighbours ever. They have looked after me since Andy died and are always on hand to help. They bravely offered to mow my hay meadow.
Brian did the big task of strimming. I raked the cuttings and Jean collected them. 'It's what neighbours are for' she said.
Brian finished off the edges the old way, with a sharp bill hook. Then we stopped for much needed drinks. Ginger beer and shandy with ice.
A few days later, after hearing that I wanted an old-style push along mower, Brian produced this for me -
It's been in bits for eight years, having been at the cottage next door for about fifty years, in Jean's family. Brian got to work and put it together for me one night. Now I can cut my own lawn - without the expense and bother of petrol or electric. Isn't it beautiful? I love it. And I love my neighbours.
Last week I held an all day workshop in Eynsham, one of our old home villages, at the Queen's Head pub. My favourite pub ever, but today we were not here for beer, but to make little houses. There was plenty of chat as the work began, fueled by home made shortbread.
Breaking at one for lunch, Jackie the landlady had laid on little homebaked tartlets and salad, as the day was so hot.
Lovely Alice brought us cones of fresh mango sorbet.
And then back to work for a while...
...until afternoon tea, which naturally was scones with jam and cream. Or fruit, if you preferred.
It may sound as if we spent the entire day scoffing, but by the end of a five hour class, every one had made a super house and someone had even made a Christmas pudding. I'm planning a similar workshop at the Queen's Head in September, so if you are interested in pre-booking a place, drop me an email and I'll contact you when the date if confirmed,
I'm not big on birthdays and this one came at a particularly bad time. However, the good folks at Cinderhill Farm were determined to make it special for me and somehow I found several cards and a few packages waiting for me at the breakfast table, from various friends who had discovered my hiding place. Even a pretty parcel from America, from dear Janet and her colleague at 'The Empty Nest' - birthday bunting and the pleasure of reading about her shop in a real, live magazine. Proud friend moment. A lovely framed print of Lorna Marrison's, from the artist herself, of a village shop I know well, back in my old home.
A gorgeous book of David Gentleman's art from some old friends.
Later that day a couple of friends turned up and the woodburner lit, as it was a typical British summer's afternoon.
Debs had made my favourite coffee and walnut cake.
Serious tea and cake eating commenced as the rain set in outside.
After an unexpectedly pleasant day, thanks to the kindness of so many friends, I was ready to copy the new Cinderhill piglets. I did a lot of sleeping at the farm.
THANK YOU to everyone who entered the 'Mollie Makes Feathered Friends' giveaway. The winners are - Mary Ann of 'A Cloth Doll Maker's Diary' and Sandra Spencer - Happy Independence day to her and all my lovely American readers.
This Tuesday was the day of darling Andy's inquest. I did not go, but my dear friend Debs was there in my place; what a friend - amongst so many cherished friends - to have. It was a gruelling day for both of us, but it was the final link in a long bureaucratic chain. That is it. And at last I have what I believe is called 'closure', albeit with much heartache. I have also come to the end of a very large job which has occupied almost every day of the last two months, so Debs whisked me off to the comforting bosom of Cinderhill Farm, in the beautiful Forest of Dean, where I am spending a few days resting my tired body and bruised spirit.
The day after arrival my holiday began with a visit to the vet's. Not for me of course, but for poor Autumn, a pure bred Black Welsh Mountain ewe, with suspected mastitis. She behaved beautifully, despite her discomfort.
Only a small protest when having her injections.
My job, as assistant shepherd, was to feed her young ivy shoots - which she loves.
Then - already feeling more sprightly - she was released in her field, to enjoy the summer day and grass. After some judicious cleaning and 'stuff' to keep the flies off.
I am enjoying a little gentle sketching. What better subject than chickens?
Just got my copies of the new 'Mollie Makes Feathered Friends' book. It's hard to put myself back to the time I created the 'Chicken Family' this time last year. Yet here it is. As usual, the style shots are gorgeous - I am full of admiration as I am not very good at this kind of beautiful set up. My things look so much nicer somehow.
The chicks are the tiniest things I have ever made. Apart from my own trumpet blowing, (Jane Toft the editor writes that I am one of 'Mollie Makes' favourite designers - golly!) there are many more sweet projects, including ones from fellow crafters I know and like. Laura Howard (aka 'Lupin') Kirsty Elson, and Jooles ('Sew Sweet Violet').
Anyway, the nice team at Anova publishing are giving away two copies via my good self. To enter, just leave a comment at the end of this post and I'll do the names out of a hat thing. If you're a lucky winner, I'll contact you directly and pass your email and/or details on to the book fairies at Anova. And - yes, it is a worldwide offer. CLOSING DATE - JUNE 30th
And in other related news, I have just four places left on another all day needle felting course, on July 8th. This one is held at my favourite pub, The legendary Queen's Head in Eynsham, twenty minutes from Oxford. We will have the entire snug bar to ourselves and the price of £55 covers materials, use of tools, morning coffee and biscuits, buffet lunch and a proper tea mid-afternoon, all made by the landlady and my dear friend, Jackie. We'll be making little houses to begin with and then going on to your own designs. More details on my website. It'd be lovely to see you.
She drove down to see me a couple of weeks ago. It was a rare, sunny day and wonderfully hot. We went for a little walk, with the Wrekin watching us from afar. I took her to my favourite spot, a ruined red brick building with clumpy trees. I had thought it was some kind of old feed barn, but she revealed that it was a disused World War Two firing range.
We sat and drank ginger beer. She noticed a buzzard being mobbed by crows, and taught me the song of the chiff-chaff. We wandered home.
She gave me a gift - exquisite vintage decoupage clowns, which made me squeal with joy.
I made gluten free Lemon Cake, from a recipe I begged from Jenny Tidman, after seeing hers on Twitter - and with her permission, here is the recipe as she gave it to me. For the record, I mixed mine by hand.
Gluten Free Lemon Cake
Oven @ 180°. Grease a 1lb loaf tin.
Mix with an elec whisk 200g soft butter, 200g caster sugar, 4 eggs, 150g gluten free self raising white flour blend, 2tsp gluten free baking powder, 50g polenta and the finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon. Spoon into the tin & bake for 45 mins. Meanwhile make a lemon syrup by whisking the finely grated zest and juice of 3 lemons with 75g of icing sugar. Make holes all over the top of the cake as soon as out of the oven. Spoon the syrup over the cake allowing it to seep in between spoonfuls. Leave to cool completely before turning out...then scoff!
She brought along her Grandmother's patchwork quilt, which she is renovating. We sat examining and admiring it for the best part of an hour, as fabric lovers do. So many beautiful materials, even though faded and so much work in the stitching.
We decided that this sweet yellow print was one of the loveliest patterns. My photos don't do the fabrics justice, but there are lots of fabulous samples of them on her Flickr set here.
She accidentally left behind her walking boots, so I am hoping she will come back for another visit.Who was my mystery guest? She was the lovely Sue, from Mouse Notebook, of course. Thank you for a wonderful day, Sue.
Unusual as it may seem, I would like to share the service for Andy's Celebration Day with my friends and blog readers. Andy was a big part of this blog, though I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be blogging his memorial service. It was held on April 27th, a week after what would have been his 42nd birthday. The site was the South Shropshire Remembrance Park, a natural woodland burial site and the perfect place to lay Andy's ashes to rest. That, and organising the event has been very gruelling, so I have been fairly quiet online. I had so much help from many dear friends and Andy's company, Asda. If there is anything blessing in all this, it is that I have such strong support from so many sources. Frank, Andy's beloved friend, built the beautiful wooden casket from which he poured Andy's ashes into the hole with the tree roots. True friends and family came from all corners of the country to say farewell to Andy and prop me up as I grieved all over again. The Asda colleagues from both his old and new store, came in droves to weep from their loved and valued colleague. The young cricketers from our old village, who also wept for a lost friend and hero. Two of them poured beer in with the ashes, and a chunk of the last cake I will ever bake for my darling, along with a fossil shell that Andy found on one of our many Cotswolds walks.
Andy's younger brother filled in the earth around the young birch sapling, chosen because it was Andy's favourite tree. His ashes (not to mention the beer and cake) will nourish the young birch and will become part of the tree itself in time, something he would have totally approved of.
The perfect non-religious service was composed and written by our stalwart friend Debs (the host for my recent workshop) and read by her. Such love as was shown at that peaceful glade in the Shropshire Hills, I will never forget.
Finding the Still Centre.
From love we came; In love we live and move and have our being; To love we shall return. Source of all love, the oneness of all things, You are the silence at the heart of all that is. You are the stillness when the rains have gone. You are the ebb and flow of calm waters, you are the crashing waves of storm. You are the long dark night and you are the first light of dawn. You are the mystery at our beginning before breath is drawn. You are the quiet at our endings when all is said and done. You are the sacredness of letting be when nothing more can come. You are the solitude after the cling of love’s embrace. You are the risk of love that we take, for all that we might lose. And though the loss of Andy was unchosen and we have no strength of our own, Give us grace when the time is right, To leave him in the fold of your care And let go into your peace Where all is one And only love remains.
Be alive to us as our hearts are opened with sadness, For a man so full of love and life has been taken. In our sorrow, contain us; In our shock and grief, comfort us. Meet us in our anger, Hear the questions that have no answers, And in our dark and lonely times, bring hope. May we have the courage To leave Andy’s ashes here, wrapped in the earth, And when we are ready, the grace to move on into new life.
'He Who Would Valiant Be'
He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster, Let him in constancy follow the Master. There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound - his strength the more is. No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight, He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.
Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit, We know we at the end, shall life inherit. Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say, I’ll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.
Reading by Gretel, quoting the art critic Max Wykes-Joyce, an art critic writing in a catalogue of the artist Dora Carrington and her love for Lytton Strachey.
'True love, and how fortunate are those few who experience it, is all embracing, all encompassing. It allows of every aberration and eccentricity, of every folly and all manner of wisdom and remains immovable and inviolable, the perfect still centre of the two who love.'
At the Planting of the Tree As we let go of Andy, held in a box made by the hands of a man he loved and called friend, we return his body to the goodness of the earth, to grow again, to become an element of the birch itself: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Andy’s ashes are poured out into the earth, along with a bottle of his favourite beer and some of Gretel’s homemade cake, which he loved.
There will be a time of silence to follow when those who wish to may pass by the tree, place some earth in the hole – or not, as preferred – pause a moment, and then go back to their place in the glade. The tree will then be planted.
Andy, we have laid you down now in the warm, dark ground Where life and death and new life are woven deep. May you rise in light, and rest in bright peace, This day and always. (Amen)
Cold blows the wind, now your love is in the earth, But though Andy is taken from your eyes, may you find him in the heaven all about you. May you see him in the light-streaked skies and the company of trees. May you hear him in birdsong and down by the sea. May you feel him in dreams and places you have been, And know him with you always now his spirit dances free.
‘And did those feet’
And did those feet in ancient time. Walk upon England’s mountains green: And was the holy Lamb of God, On England’s pleasant pastures seen!
And did the Countenance Divine, Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here, Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my Bow of burning gold; Bring me my Arrows of desire: Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight, Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand: Till we have built Jerusalem, In England’s green and pleasant Land
Irish Blessing: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand. Amen.
At the end, when tears mingled with hugs, introductions and hellos to new and old friends, a mass picnic was held. So many happy blog posts have I written of walks we enjoyed, with little picnics being the high point, that it was the only thing to do and everyone entered into the spirit of it.
And so after the sadness, came friendship, chat and food, eaten in the bosom of Shropshire, with a young birch sapling finding it's roots in a site of ancient woodland. Afterwards, many came to the Bottle and Glass, Andy's favourite pub and where we had our last really happy day together at the folk singing day. Beer (and more food) was consumed in quantity. Now the beer is drunk, the talk is silent and I face up to the rest of my life without Andy, though he is in my heart forever. I will try to make it a good life.
It's taken over a hundred years for the bedroom walls to acquire their many layers.And now, when I am not working, I am stripping it all back. The effect is subtle and beautiful, as if they were large, abstract artworks.Most of the more recent wallpaper is quite hideous, but this faded white Chrysanthemum sample - one of the older ones - is rather tasteful.
A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday, I decided to be brave and do one of the favourite things Andy and I used to enjoy - but without him, of course. There is a little church, just over a mile or so away, which I had previously ear-marked for an expedition.
It has the most beautiful cropped yews.
And an interesting patch of herringbone brickwork.
I arrived just after service.
The well worn handle, doubling as a sanctuary knocker.
I pottered about as normal, taking photos and reading the little pamphlet provided. Circa 13th century font with later cover.
Retaining the old boxed in pews - nice to see, so many have succumbed to woodworm, damp and modernisation.
One of a few alabaster memorials, 16th century, if I remember rightly.
Medieval floor tiles.
A wooden effigy of a crusader, carved in oak - one of only three in the country. He was said to be seven foot, an enormous height for the time. His still, noble face and great length reminded me so much of Andy.
I stroked his cold face, sat in a nearby pew and cried, quietly for a very long time, feeling completely alone, in a strange county where I know barely anyone. I imagined that perhaps Andy was simply waiting outside for me, as he had done so many times before. We would potter home, talk about what to have for lunch and would we eat in the garden, as it was such a nice day?
But life is different now. I mopped myself up and pulled myself together. I left the solitary church, passed through the old lime tree lined drive and walked home, to apply myself to sanding down the bedroom floorboards.
My first workshop of the year, held at Cinderhill Farm at the beginning of March. Fully booked and raring to go. We started off by making chickens.
Outside, the farm chickens clucked indignantly. No punk hairstyles on these ladies.
The morning session was sustained with copious tea, homemade shortbread and flapjacks.
After lunch (home farmed pork casserole with herby rice) people worked on their own designs - or in this case, followed my 'bunny brooch' pattern from issue 24 of 'Mollie Makes'.
Then another break for a special farmhouse high tea - all freshly baked in the farmhouse kitchen by Debs, our hostess. Two types of cake, jam tarts, rich scones with butter, cream and jam.
It is always so rewarding to see finished designs as the day draws to a close.
The traditional Grand Parade - the lovely results of a very creative day - didn't they do well?
I believe the next workshop (scheduled for early summer) is already fully booked, but if you would like to be informed of spare places or book in advance for a late summer workshop, please contact Debs via the Cinderhill Farm website or message her through the official Facebook page.
Dear friends - I have not felt able to return to this blog for a long time, despite the many, many good wishes and messages. The first month without Andy was an agonising madness, through which I was propped up by dear friends. I tried to sort out as many practical matters as I could, though each one took hours to work up to and recover from. There are still ongoing things, because death, especially an unexpected one, is a complicated business. So I wanted to come back and say hello when my head was in a slightly better place.
My life was centred around two things; work and my darling Andy and the greater of these was Andy. Without him, creativity has little interest for me. Art, my life long friend, has deserted me for the first time. And yet I must work and so I do. Gradually, more and more each day.
I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of you all. Without the support you gave me of your thoughts, good wishes and prayers, heart felt letters and loving gifts, I do not think I would be here now to write this. I have had some very dark moments indeed and desperate thoughts which I would not normally have. I held that goodwill close to me, lonely as I have been and that, combined with the wonderful love of my friends, brought me through it. Little did I know when I started this blog - over seven years ago - that one day it would literally be my life line. So thank you, everyone, for being there.
All photos taken from a train, Cambridgeshire
It has been one heck of a month. I think we've been walloped with so many life events this year - some good, others dreadful - that we are just reeling from it. However, there is always needle felting and I am so pleased that 'Mollie Makes' have used another of my patterns for their latest issue - a chicken brooch, easy and quick to make, with written and photographic instructions. It's in issue 21 which is in shops now, available to buy online here or as a digital download here.
It was also lovely to be in the same section as my online friend, Debs - 'Imagination of a Ladysnail'
who has her sweet character brooches featured. We've followed each other's progress for years, and it's so nice to be celebrating a bit of success together. Deb's blog is here
Latest order to be finished; eight Christmas Cottages for one lucky person's tree. I'm all cottage'd out for the moment, but you can find the pattern in 'Mollie Makes Christmas
' and make your own - I'd love to see pictures of the results.
Our first was not so much a visitor but very welcome all the same. Stephen Grogan, our new chimney sweep, who swept out our crud filled flue. This is one of the flues that we were assured by the previous owners were regularly cleaned: indeed the last time they was serviced, the company had said they barely needed cleaning! Had we known just how bad a state they really were in, they would have been the first thing to be sorted out. As it was, we used the main burner for a few weeks before Stephen cleared it of a large amount of very flammable residue, which could have caused a chimney fire. Last month we had proper guests, our dear stalwart friends from Cinderhill Farm drove up from the forest of Dean to be our first visitors, despite the deplorable state of our decor. These good people are storing my various letterpress treasures and helped us with the big move. They stayed for supper by the fire. This time they brought local Severn cider, farm cured bacon and four precious winter eggs, two duck, two hen from their own flock.
In a great bit of recycling, their own two breed sows have enjoyed the leftover cider apples used to make the Severn cider - here is Lady Penelope with a big smile on her face. (Neither of them are the bacon above).
Also welcome visitors this month were Valerie and Sue, two bloggers I've known for a while, who are now a little nearer to me. Valerie of course, is 'Acornmoon' and has written about her visit and Sue is 'Mouse Notebook'
. They too brought lovely gifts...
Sue had brought us both one of these delightful little chapbooks from the Incline Press
, who we visited recently
- I met the people at the Incline Press before I knew that Sue knew them; what a very small world it can be.
As you can see, we all got on as well in real life as we have done online - Sue on the left, Val in the middle, both looking glamorous and me on the right looking rustic but happy.
Latest attempts to drag this cottage into some kind of habitable state - the bathroom was hiding this rather twee plastic floral paper behind a mirror.
Andy has begun stripping out all the ghastly trappings, including the cheap dado rail. One day we will get the walls fixed properly, but as funds won't stretch that far, he is just filling in the holes and painting the walls with a nice vintage-y turquoise. It can only be an improvement, but it will be a few years before I get a bath. Showers just don't do it for me.
I now know I am finally growing up...I want to wake up on Christmas morning and find that Santa has fitted a new damp course, re-plastered and painted all the walls, re-floored my studio, fitted a new bathroom with bath, ditto kitchen with a range, re-landscaped the garden and levelled the drive. Oh and a proper bed would be nice. Bit of a change from a Tintin book and a magic kit.
We aren't decorating this year, so I will inundate my blog with images of the toy circus decorations I designed for the Gisela Graham
company a couple of years ago. I've not been to any shops, so would love to know if anyone in the UK has seen them - or even has bought some.
A peaceful Christmas to everyone from Bodge Cottage.
We are delighted to discover that our favourite Shropshire pub, the Bottle and Glass at Picklescott has reopened under new management and has kept on the 48 year old tradition of a Christmas singing session. Many people choose to walk to this event, (which is in a tiny village miles from anywhere) so there were lots of red faces and waterproofs.
It was a wonderful afternoon, full of song and laughter, not to mention beer - for the non-drivers of course. With a log fire, stone hearth and old beams, this is the increasingly rare English pub at it's finest - no pomp or ceremony, just a warm welcome and a well pulled pint.
Although everyone knew each other and we knew nobody, we didn't feel at all left out, certainly not after belting out all the verses to the folk version of 'the Holly and the Ivy'.
The oldest there was in fine voice and gave us some fine accordion playing too.
The last seven months of upheaval and moving to a strange county have been very lonely and I admit now that I have struggled with an aching homesickness for the Cotswolds. That lovely afternoon in good - if unknown - company and a few hours of singing gave me the happiest time I have had since moving here and I can almost believe that maybe next year I might feel as if I can settle here at last.
So for anyone not lucky enough to have a find old English pub nearby, here is the very nice folk version of Auld Lang Syne. In the manner of all amateur home movies, there is the inevitable 'noises off' as a tanker driver intervenes because he can't get his tanker up the lane. So forgive the brief appearance of Andy's head as he goes to move the jeep. And as they say at the end, a Happy New Year to all.
Just before we moved (again) last year I created my most complicated pattern so far - 'Jack', a kangaroo for the Australian magazine 'Felt'
. I had to make an initial one to work out the basic pattern and then a second one in order to do the demo photographs. Haven't had anyone contact me yet to tell me they've made one though! You can buy the magazine as a back issue here
, if you want to try making your own.
Jack one *SOLD*
Jack two *SOLD*
Another couple of little things left over from last year, a little button wheel goose -(*sold*)
- and a vintage style owl clip. Despite their small size, each one took around four hours to make. So for the first time in ages, I've been able to update my shop with needle felt, not art.
'Mollie Makes' calendar with the clean, fresh sheet of January beckoning.
One of Jack kangaroos, before he was boxed off and sent to America.
Some of our peeled hallway wall seen beyond the door.
Much nicer - treasure.
Toy making books and badger skull.
Lovely 1920's cocktail cabinet, perfect for displaying the 'Puddletown Tales
Everything piled up because there is never, ever, enough storage space.
Favourite cards and ephemera.
I am having a work overdrive, so watch this space for more shop updates, new designs and news of my March workshop in the forest of Dean (or click here for more details).
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His Last Walk
Dear friends - on January night, 2013 my beloved life partner and soul mate of 21 years, Andy, left this earth forever. I had been keeping a close watch on him at the cottage for six days. He had gone into a downward spiral of stress and depression which eventually tipped him over the edge. On the day he was signed off sick from work, he began saying strange things and I looked into his eyes: it was not my Andy any more. It was another person, a tortured soul who was convinced that because he could not do his job properly, that he would be sacked and we would lose the cottage, all within two weeks. Now of course, this sounds irrational, but then, he was suffering from paranoid delusions, tortured scenarios of our imagined eviction and thought that the world was conspiring against him. He believed - this great hearted man, who pushed himself beyond endurance - that he was a failure and it tore my heart in two to hear him say this. He was anything but.
Many years ago, when we were at the seaside, he said that one day he would walk into the sea and just keep walking. And more recently, when we were walking through the woods in the snow, he said that if he had to 'go', he would like to sit under a tree in the snow and let hypothermia take him. Because (he said) that way, you just get an illusion of being warm and sleepy, whereas in fact, you are freezing to death. It is an easier way to go.
It was a nightmarish six days of trying to look after my darling, as he tormented himself and he had been unhappy for some time before. The last year, with so many changes - for a man who hated change - was too much for him. It had not been a happy year for him; it seemed to me that every week brought a new thing to bring him down and add to his load. And he did not deserve that.
On the night he left me forever, it was a freezing, snowy Shropshire night. I had seen him go into the kitchen minutes before and when I went to ask if he wanted to eat, I saw the back doors wide open and I knew what he intended to do. I ran into the garden, in the dark, screaming across the countryside that I loved him, and to come back to me. But there was no answer except the thin wind blowing across the snow.
He walked out across the back fields, in nothing but day clothes and without boots. His disappearance was a matter of minutes and it was not until daylight the next morning that we found his footprints on a side wall, out of obvious sight. The Shropshire police put out a full team that night, and a new team in the morning. There were dogs, Search and Rescue and the Mountain Rescue team. They did everything they could to find my sweetheart, but I knew from the start that he had gone to end his tortured thoughts.
'I just can't do this any more' was a phrase he repeated time and time again.
He was found a couple of miles away, the next day, in a small river two miles from here. He had walked across country - by which time he must have been completely frozen - and I think (I hope) that in the end it was a gentle way to go. A falling asleep in icy running water, surrounded by the countryside he loved. My beautiful Nature Boy, with nature at the very end, surrounded by trees. Going in both the ways he had mentioned before.
I am slowly picking my life up and trying to get back to work. Because ironically, now that he is gone, the future of our cottage may very well be in jeopardy and I must work as hard as I can to earn a proper living. But oh, my friends - it is as if part of me has been ripped out. I can take some small comfort knowing that shortly before he vanished, I put my arms around him and kissed the top of his head. I told him I loved him, and he told me that he loved me. The one thing he could still say with clarity.
Dear Lord, the suffering is unbearable at times but I am blessed with such wonderful friends here and around the world and they are looking after me here and afar. Without that, I fear what I would do. But the real Andy, who promised me he would never 'do anything stupid' - because he knew he was all I really had - would not want that. So I must go on, for him, for my friends and bear this agonising grief as best I can. For Andy. Forever.
Andy Macauley April 4 1971 - January 21 2013