Things were going so well too.

Regular followers of my adventures (or Glenda‘s) will know that we have spent the last few years ploughing our own creative furrows here in south-west Scotland. As any artist, writer, musician or other self-employed creative types will tell you, it’s not always the easiest way to earn a living. In fact, sometimes, you don’t actually earn a living at all and have to turn to other things in order to put food on the table and keep the wolves from the door. So we’ve trimmed our sails here, cut our cloth there and fallen back onto other skills and opportunities where necessary. We ran our previous house in Portpatrick as a B&B for a while and, more recently, we have done various web and graphic design projects and other bits of computer/technical and business support stuff.

However, the overall plan always centred on the creative things. As Glenda’s work became better known, we started to see more income coming from her paintings and her hand-dyed yarns and textiles. Being accepted into the Spring Fling open studios event last year also gave things a nice boost, both in terms of reaching a wider audience and selling work. Thanks to that and to the other stuff we had been doing, we even saw our little business turn its first profit last year – a small one certainly, but very welcome after a couple of years of losses while we were getting things off the ground.

Meanwhile, I threw a bit of a curve ball into the mix when the spirit of the old forge here possessed me and started me on my path to becoming a creative blacksmith. Now, obviously, this side of things is going to take a very long time, lots of practice and a fair quantity of mistakes along the way if I want to get any good at it, but we sat down and came up with a revised plan and vision that included me bashing lumps of hot metal, while Glenda continued painting and busying herself in her impromptu dye studio.

With this in mind, the idea of Fine View Arts was born. We started working towards being ready to open the forge (and our home) to the public for four days a week from Easter. The house would be set up as a gallery for Glenda’s work, while I would be in the forge, doing demos, discussing possible commissions (if they were within my current capabilities) and selling smaller pieces. Glenda also worked out a timetable of classes and workshops that she could teach here through the Summer season. So far, so good. A new website was built, new signage designed and ordered and we began the frenzy of tidying, re-arranging and general sorting-out that would be needed to be ready for visitors.

The new signage arrived at just about the time that we were all hearing about this novel coronavirus in China and how it had already spread to several other places and taken a hold in Italy. The rest, as they say, is history…

So we ended up being the eager hosts who planned the party and then discovered no-one was going to be turning up. For several months at the very least, maybe for a year or more, who knows. Having pretty much wiped out our savings over the last couple of years, we had been kind of counting on all this stuff going ahead, continuing to be profitable and providing us with our living for the future.

Having now lived through the humongous mound of noisome ordure that has been the majority of 2020 and given where we all now find ourselves, I’m sure that many of you will be joining me in a heartfelt cry of “Bugger! Bugger! Bugger!” And, possibly, “Oh bollocks!” (Far stronger expletives are also available and may have been used at some point.)

So it’s going to be back to the drawing board, at least in part. We’ll still be doing creative things, but we may have to see about focussing more online. Or perhaps branching out again and doing something else altogether, we haven’t worked it all out yet. The one thing that we do know is that if we’re all sensible and keep on looking out for each other, we’ll all get through this thing in the end. At some point, life will return to some semblance of normality and – hopefully – we’ll still be here to welcome you in some shape, form or fashion. Until then, take care of yourselves and keep safe and well.