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The Botanical Room 33 -Travels

Hello, I'm finally back from my big journey to the other side of the earth.

I am not a beach kind of girl, so from a shady spot, I loved watching the sun lovers patting to and fro, heading to the fabulous beaches on Stradbrook Island. I wrote this little poem as I sat, protected by the shade.

Green beach path

Green path patted down

by bare feet pat, pat, pat.

Time over, patted flat.

Leading them to the sand,

A warm and welcoming kind of land.

The patted path from patting feet,

leads the way to flattened beach.

Slow pat, pat

to the warm sand, flat.

Sink and squeak through slippery gold,

hot in the sun, then cold.

As the sea laps,

and sweeps at your feet.

Soft waves remove your prints,

lift and flick, heel toe, toe heel,

Wet and cool to the feel.

Sinking silky, silky soft,

then pat, pat, pat,

Back to the top.

On the flat mat of matted, patted grass,

Following the familiar green beach path.

Sand sticking, gritting, gripping toes,

as you pat, pat, pat,

back home.

I haven't travelled abroad for five years, and in my opinion, travelling has not improved. Every check-in and checkout system seems different; my husband and I enter and leave airports like startled conveyor belt chickens.

But the greeting from 'too distant friends' is the sweet honey moment you crave for at the end. At last the hugs you have missed so long.

I went to see my sister for her 60th birthday, and it was lovely to celebrate the special day with her. She has a beautiful new home and a lovely new garden to create.

My other huge goal for this massive journey was to catch up with many old dear friends and photograph as many plants as possible; both objectives were achieved.

Our trip was astounding; we saw enormous, beautiful, empty beaches, mating Koalas, many kangaroos, a white wallaby, echidnas, wild black parrots, tree frogs, green snakes, and komodo dragons (monitor lizards). It was a safari of sorts. Nearly every place I didn't swim was called Shark Point, Shark Lane, or Dead Man's Lookout. I didn't swim much. It was also a good excuse not to brave a swimsuit and declare my blue-white body.

We drank and ate and laughed and caught up on all the missing years and enjoyed the wonderful welcome of really good friends, it was a good tonic and I feel very lucky to have had that time. Though I am still cross that they live so far away.

Australia is an incredible and astounding continent for sure, and a place I feel privileged to have seen. My big sister loves the light, but for me, it is so very far away from home and the inclement weather I am acclimatised to.

Above is the only little painting I managed to do the whole time I was away!!

I have been discombobulated by jetlag. Simon and I thought we were in some Twilight Zone; the days seemed twice as long, and our yawns were twice as large. I was almost convinced I had become a morning person, up at five and watching the sunrise, but no, normality has returned, and I am definitely not an up-at-five person. here is a picture of the morning light, that I have been missing and I will now miss most mornings.

The greeting from Grayson on our return was second to none; he was shaking all over and ran up and down the living room and around and round in circles, making us all very dizzy, but it was lovely to see both him and the boys again. He had been staying with my son Charlie (his favourite playmate) in London.

Don't you think it is about time dogs learned to speak? Then, we could have reassured Grayson of our eventual return.

After travelling, I'm back to my home and studio and looking for a new direction.

Before I left, I had been playing around with some compositions in graphite and some new and bigger still-life paintings, which I plan to move forward with.

I was also thinking about what I love about painting.

It may seem odd that someone who has been painting this long would still be thinking about what it is about painting that they enjoy the most. Now and then, I need to remind myself of what I want to achieve through my art. 'For the love of it' was my answer.

It is often hard to find the time to change things up a little; one finds that you must do it all in one go or through baby steps. I choose to do it in baby steps; sometimes, if you completely change everything, you are almost back to the start, which can be scary.

I'm having a go at painting dog portraits; it's a new hobby outside of botanical painting. I'm painting these in oil, so it's very different from what I usually do. I used to work in oil, so I'm not a complete beginner, but I need to put in a lot of hours to find out how to mix the colours and keep them fresh and natural.

Starting something new helps me understand how students feel when they are just beginning their journey into painting. It is hard to recall that initial fear when you've been painting for a long time. But when you start something new, that fear returns. I'm thinking my new hobby will help me improve how I teach.

I am also rummaging through the archive of works and plan to have a big sale in the new year, so if interested, watch this space.

With the end of the year just around the corner, I will make this blog super short so as not to keep you from your preparations.

Please join me in my school, if you can, we have a competition for lovely surprise prizes and 3 new Christmas projects.

There are no notes from the painting table this month, but hopefully, there will be lots in my next post, as my brushes and pencils are set to dance mode.

I will leave you with a big warm welcome to those who have joined the blog, and a very merry December to all, and thank you for reading my musings.

Peace and good will to all

Billy xx

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Such a wonderful experience! It must have been heart wrenching leaving your sister behind. Thank goodness for the internet and face to face conversations which allows us to feel our loved ones are not so far away. I love looking at ‘Botanical Rooms‘ and reading your blog. Thank you so much for sharing with us these precious moments in your life. ❤️


A little late "catching up on your blog" which made for a very happy obviously had a wonderful time with your family and friends - and hopefully enjoyed a well earned rest. Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and peaceful new year.


Silvia Oevermann
Silvia Oevermann
Dec 16, 2023

I love your blog, Billy. Thank you for sharing your „botanical rooms“. Written with love!

Merry Christmas wishes to you, Billy, the whole team and painters!


I loved the thought that you might be coming here and you did :)

Still smiling at the “two startled chickens” image, me too. Always so enjoyable to read your blogs, you can’t hear my replies but it feels like a conversation all the same. Merry Christmas wishes Billy.


Jean Lee
Jean Lee
Dec 13, 2023

Loved hearing about your wonderful trip. My son had the good fortune to do a 6 month school exchange with a boy from Australia when he was 16. What a great excuse for "Mum" to visit that wonderful land. This was many years ago - that same son is now married with 3 children, the eldest already at University - but the happy memories remain.

Wishing you Billy and all fellow painters a very Happy Christmas and a safe, healthy and productive 2024.

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