Busy, busy being creative..!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Cycling the Hebridean Way on a Unicorn

Just when I thought I’d gotten my monkey mind under control with a clear vision for the year ahead, focusing on just two things; UK Islands Project book & exhibition, things go awry.

Last week I was so giddy with excitement that I couldn’t sleep.

The giddy was caused by our upcoming adventure to cycle the Hebridean Way with some friends and our dog (in her own dog 'chariot'). 

Inspired by Grayson Perry’s bike festooned with a large goddess, I'd been contemplating having my own mascot for our trip. As soon as I'd had that thought the word 'Unicorn' popped into my head. OK, I thought. Unicorn it is...

Inspired by Grayson Perry's bike I'd seen at his recent exhibition at the Arnolfini

A late-night internet search for unicorn paraphernalia brought up this beauty which was even better than just a mascot. Why not do the whole trip on an actual unicorn!! 

How long, I wondered in all seriousness, would it take to traverse the 185 mile Hebridean Way on this? We'd have one each of course...

Taking a unicorn for a test ride. Actually faster than I'd expected!

Much laughter and excitement meant that I couldn’t get to sleep and had to try to calm myself down. Yes, I did search for adult sized versions and yes, they do exist.

I knew it would take an absolute age to actually do it on one of these, so decided why not see what unicorn type things we could somehow attach to our bikes (not quite sure the others are as keen on this as I am ;-P). 

If you come across anything you think might be suitable - please do send me a link!

PS - Much to my delight I've since discovered that The Unicorn, is in fact the national animal of Scotland!! How's about that then...*Cue spooky music*

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Cheers to you! And 2017 in Review

Cheers! Island No.14 The Isle of Skye, November 2017
On the eve of this New Year, I've been reflecting on 2017 and all the highs and lows that this year has brought with it. Overall, I'd say it's been an exceptional year and personally I've upped my courage and completed many firsts, some of which have been really challenging. 

Such as; speaking in front of large groups of people at Bath Spa University and at Watershed, Bristol; completing part one of my UK Islands Project and all that's gone with it (so far) - visiting 14 UK islands actually takes a fair amount of planning!; Having an article published in Psychologies magazine; being on a podcast with Idea Medic Tara Roskell; Interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol; appearing on Channel Islands News (when I nearly said no); receiving a letter from the Pope; meeting wonderful new people & getting to know those I already know better; hanging out with Puffins - not just once but twice - on Skomer & Skokholm; receiving a letter from Prince Charles; sleeping on the top of Glastonbury Tor in a Bivi bag with wild sleeper extraordinaire Phoebe Smith; seeing red squirrels on Brownsea and taking part in a National Trust working holiday (being physically able to do it (just about!); running a series of local creative adventures; having my 'Burn out' artwork in an exhibition as part of Mental Health week; finally having dinner at The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye (a desire I've had for over 15 years!); making my first ever Christmas cake (it was a bit over done and the edges burnt but once I'd cut them off, warmed it up and added a dollop of cream it wasn't too bad!) and marking the milestone that it's been 30 years since I had a brain hemorrhage...

Even with all these wonderful experiences (and these are actually a snapshot as there have been many others), there have also been some really dark days in between these golden moments. Days when I've been anxious and depressed with barely the energy or motivation to get out of bed, let alone be skippy and climb a mountain. So I'm also acknowledging them as they've also been a part of this year and really part of who I am at the moment. It's an on going journey after all!

Noticing too that I still spend waaaay too long faffing about and thinking more than doing so 2018 I'll be more mindful of this and well, erm, actually allowing for it.

Going in to 2018 I'm feeling positive and optimistic. I've chosen the word Plenty (so that any time I'm feeling lacking on time or resources or well anything, I can say - I've got Plenty of xxx (time, gumption, skills etc...)

Do you have a word or a feeling you'd like to imbue 2018 with? 
If so, what is it?

I'm also going to continue with my UK Islands Project as I didn't complete the artwork during this year as I'd intended. I just didn't have the head space to do it as well as all the planning and organising that each island adventure and working part-time required. 

Lesson learnt. 

2018 will be about the creating process with the aim of having an exhibition, whatever shape that may take...

I'm also going to be going deeper not wider and a post shared by Judith Morgan (who has just written a brilliant book) has further inspired me to do this. I'll be finishing off things and reading the books I already have rather than buying new ones (I've just finished reading a book I'd bought two years ago...)

How about you?

What are your golden moments from 2017?

and what are your intentions for 2018?

Hopefully we'll get the opportunity to have some creative adventures together ;-)

Much love and creative sparkle


Thank you for being part of 2017 and making it joyful (even on those grey days) as an encouraging comment here and a smile there really does make all the difference. 
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you xx

Being on the Channel Islands news whist in Jersey was an OMG moment!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A Creative Adventurer is.....(complete the sentence)

A Bardsey Island Shell. Photograph by Morwhenna Woolcock

What did you think when you read...A Creative Adventurer is...?

I was thinking about this the other day and started to jot down a list..

Here's what I put..(in no particular order)

A Creative Adventurer / is...
  • curious
  • mindful
  • relishes new experiances
  • follows the 'crumbs of curiosity' 
  • sees things from a different perspective
  • notices the small things
  • savors the moment
  • makes time for sitting and looking
  • knows an adventure can begin as soon as they decide to have one
  • believes adventure comes in all shapes and sizes and can be found on their doorstep (its just a case of knowing where to look)
  • embraces the joys of nature
  • knows the journey can be as interesting as the destination
  • a seeker of wonder
  • a wonderment seeker (which wording do you prefer?)
  • loves to explore new places
  • expands the edges of their comfort zone
  • playful
  • experiments (without judgement!)
  • a detective
  • an explorer!
What else would you add? And as you know I'm a great believer in finding adventure on our doorstep. There is no need to go to far flung countries. You can even have an adventure in your lunch hour...

As I'm sure you've seen, my next course How to be a Creative Adventurer starts THIS Friday 01 September! So if you're feeling a bit stuck and know you'd like to be more curious, expand your comfort zone, be more playful (any of the above really!), then I'd love for you to join me and the super folks already on-board. It's going to be fun and you'll discover your own inner creative adventurer...and set her free!

I've just a few places left, so if this has your name on it you can book your place by clicking on the button below!
YES! I'd like a place!

Ready? If you've any questions - just ask. I'm here to help you and guide you on this next adventure. x

Toot Toot!


PS - Know someone you think would love this? Please pass it on! Thank you x

Monday, 14 August 2017

[UK Islands Project] Skye is now on the menu

I've added another Island to my list of explorations for this year and it's the Isle of Skye.

After the recent news reports of Skye being chock full this summer, I'm really hoping that come November, it will be much quieter. I can't imagine that many people thinking that Skye is THE PLACE to go at that time of year?! (I could be wrong mind) Most of the B&Bs seem to close at the end of October and that, to me, is a good sign that we'll have Skye to ourselves (ish).

I'm going on a quest to see otters and might even get to see the Northern Lights. In fact I think I'll book both now...

What really drew me to visiting Skye wasn't actually the wildlife - it was food. I'm still quivering with excitement that I'm [Finally] going to the famous Three Chimneys restaurant. This is somewhere that I read about, gosh, must be well over 15 years ago, if not longer, in a copy of Good Food magazine and is no.17 on my 40/40 Project list. The minute I saw it in the magazine, I've wanted to go there...and now this year it's going to happen. I bet you've got some long held dreams too and you keep thinking, 'one day I'll do that or go there'..why not revisit these dreams and see if we can work together to start to make them happen? You might find joining my How to be a Creative Adventurer course a great place to start).

Since deciding to go [after umming and ahhing about it for months], Skye has already been popping up here and there...for example, looking at the map of Skye I'd spotted a few interesting things, The otter haven (YES otters!!), some fascinating sounding castles - one in particular called Eilean Donan, especially when I discovered it was where Highlander was filmed [I absolutely loved that film when I was a teenager. All together now...'There can be ONLY ONE'] and a memorial to someone called Flora MacDonald. 'Who's Flora MacDonald I thought to myself?'...well now, I went to Bookbarn, my favourite second hand bookshop, in search of some books on Crete and the Minoans (that's another story) and low and behold - guess what book should jump out at me.....;-) I love it when these things happen - what's happened for you recently when you've noticed some synchronicity?

Friday, 11 August 2017

[UK Islands Project] The Island for August is...Bardsey

The next island I'll be visiting is.....Bardsey (Ynys Enlli).

No idea where Bardsey is? (Neither did I until I started this whole Island Adventure malarkey ;-) It's just off the coast of the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales. Look at Anglesey on a map, then see that foot thing sticking out underneath...look at the tip of that...and there's Bardsey. Known as the "Island of 20,000 Saints," this island, has it's own king (who I'm looking forward to meeting) and also has Merlin holed up somewhere in a cave... oh I mustn't forget to take my letter from the pope with me...as it was once a hot spot for pilgrims (still is actually) and they'd be blessed by the Pope if they visited the island three times.

I've discovered that Ronald Lockely, founder of the first Bird Observatory in the UK and who lived on Skokholm Island (also a Welsh Island), where I went in July, visited Bardsey and I'm actually going to be staying in the very same house he did as that house is now the islands Bird Observatory. That, as you can imagine, excited me greatly!

I'll be creating Art Postcards when I'm there so Click here if you'd like to sponsor a unique art postcard from this special island. The postcard will be created just for you and posted to your door ;-)

I'll be sharing on Instagram and be sure to sign up to my newsletter for regular Creative Adventures if you're not signed up already. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

[UK Islands & 40/40 Project no.21] Skomer: Puffin Paradise

I’ve finally seen real live Puffins! They are even more fabulous than I could have imagined. So much character and charm. This also means that I've completed no.21 of my 40/40 Project. Getting up close to them is really a very special experience and one that is in reach of everyone - should you chose to do so of course - I'd really recommend it!

Skomer Island, exotic as it sounds, is in fact a small Welsh Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire. Reached by boat on a short 10 minute crossing in the Dale Princess, it was surrounded by mist when we arrived. For this Island Adventure, I was joined by fellow Puffineers; Alison, Rhian & Justina, who had been on my Lundy Island Retreat back in 2015. Sadly, Lisa couldn't join us - but she was there in spirit.

We stayed on the island for two nights in lodgings run and cared for by the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales. It was a top notch and rather spiffing hostel, with a full kitchen, hot showers and spacious rooms. We four were all together and it was splendid (getting in some Enid Blyton type talk here) It was warm, clean and way better than I think any of us had expected. Result!

We had to take all the food and drink we needed with us as there is no shop on the island. Once you are on Skomer, well, you are there until the boat comes in a few days to take you off! We had quite a lot of stuff (including some of Rhian's infamous vodka jellies and lemon cake...)

From the minute we got close to Skomer we were absolutely surrounded by Puffins. They were EVERYWHERE! Our screams of excitement might of slightly unnerved the other passengers as at this point we didn’t know how many of them were serious/expert birders. We needn't have worried though as we were all equally as excited and for many it was also their first trip to Skomer.

We discovered that at this time of year (May) the whole Island is completely covered in a blanket of richly coloured bracken, bluebells and red campion. It was beautiful and totally unexpected. Very different to any of the other islands I'd visited so far. The plants were all rather tall so it's also a much more sheltered place.

Before we got to see our room and start to unpack one of the ruined buildings really caught my eye. Right opposite our hostel is a massive farmhouse with a slate front. I immediately started wondering...Who lived here? When did it become a ruin? What was life like here when it was a farm? What are the stories? Questions I've managed to answer by getting my hands on a copy a book by Roscoe Howells about the last farmers of Skomer....(not read it yet though).

Within minutes of unpacking and leaving the hostel we saw a short eared owl fly right past us. Apparently its normal to see them during the day here. Seeing owls wasn't something I'd been expecting. We saw that owl quite a few times during our stay, as well as a little owl. I'm not an expert birder by any means so a lot of the birds mentioned during the stay (pipit this and warbler that) I'd never heard of - it was an excellent place to discover new birds (to me) and learn about life on an island.

Each evening there is an event called 'Skomer Log' which everyone staying on the island is invited to attend. It's when all the wildlife of the island is logged and added to a data set that has been going since the Island became a bird sanctuary in 1959. (There is a really interesting fact sheet created by the Trust about the history of Skomer here). You don't have to be a birder or know much at all about wildlife to be a part of this and you'll come away having learnt some new, interesting and sometimes random things.

Night-time also means the Manx Shearwater walk - with red head torches and the most eerie of bird calls I've ever heard. It was like being in a horror film. The Manxies (sailors of old believed the cries of the Mollies, as they called them, to be the souls of those lost at sea) come in at night to avoid being eaten by the gulls. I have to say it's pretty vicious and each morning we'd see evidence of those that didn't make it.

Not a pleasant sight and something I certainly didn't get used to during our short visit. I guess that it's just the pure natural cycle and it's not all cute puffins and bunnies... Every night the Manxies face a real life and death situation just getting back to their burrows. Being out with them at night and feeling their wings skim your face as they call out in search of home is like nothing else I've ever experienced and another reason why staying over night on Skomer is a must.  There's a link below so you can hear the call of the manx shearwater for yourself. For the best experience close your eyes!

I really loved Skomer. It really tapped into something for me - I think the combination of the amazing colours, the puffins, the owls, the company (everyone was so friendly and we really did have the best time), going on the night-time adventures (want to hear the sound of a Shearwater? Click here), learning a bit about what it's like being a warden here and a long term volunteer, and the ruined farmhouse really was perfect - oh and after the mist cleared we had the most smashing weather.

It's a very special island and one I'll definitely be returning to.

Staying on Skomer
Skomer is Island no.5 of my UK Islands Project and we visited from 23-25 May. Skomer is looked after by The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales and you can stay on the island at certain times of the year. Day trips are also possible, but I think if you can stay you'll get a more more interesting experience and more time when it's just you and the puffins. We went at the end of May which is a good time to see Puffins and to hear Manx Shearwaters as well as lots of other birds. If you are a member of the Trust you get two weeks priority booking which can be useful if you want to go on specific dates. Otherwise you call up the minute booking opens for everyone else and have three date options that you can go. If Yes then - You've got your accommodation sorted! Even the booking process is all rather exciting!

Before you go and book your own Skomer Adventure - couple more things to add about what's coming up...On the 17 August I'm running a Local Creative Adventure in Woodford, Somerset which you can book on to here...And on the 01 September my How to Be a Creative Adventurer Exploration will start. For more information on that and to book your place (only a small group of 15) go here. I've also updated my - Who is the Creative Adventurer page on my site so if we've not worked together yet - this will give you some more idea about me and well - who I am and what I know about Creative Adventuring!! Take a look here

Do let me know if you feel inspired to visit Skomer Island. Or any other islands around our coastline, there are quite a few to choose from after all!!

Pip Pip


Sunday, 23 July 2017

[UK Islands Project] Half-way through & planning fatigue

I'm just over half-way through this year-long project and I've hit my 'planning peak' (have you experienced something similar?) and since June (after Avalon actually) have been suffering from planning fatigue. I've been feeling below par for a number of weeks and basically All Planned Out. 
Not so long ago I was not a planner at all, in fact even the words 'what's the plan'  would send a cold shiver down my spine, ugh. Since my Art Relief Volunteer Adventure I'd become a slight planning ninja and had been enjoying it - until hitting this peak. Time to stop. I didn't want to plan a single thing anymore. So I stopped. For a while at least.

I looked at what was coming up - a holiday to Snowdonia, followed in quick succession by two Islands - Anglesey then Skokholm and decided to let go and just see what that was like. Most of the planning had already been done for these trips so its wasn't as hard as I thought and it's helped me to figure out what things I like/need to have planned to lower my anxiety levels about stuff and what I'm not so bothered about. Its been really useful.

Only useful though by having taken the time to consider and notice what was going on and to ponder on it. How about you? Do you need to stop and reflect/consider something yourself? Just taking half-an-hour out and writing or doodling down your thoughts will help. Trust me.

Having made this discovery and figured out what to do about it, I'm feeling more perky about the rest of the project and also about the pieces of writing and artwork relating to each island I've yet to create. I've also had to make some other decisions which would have seen me feel stuck before as it meant changing my plans.

One island I’ve had to ‘carry-over’ is Caldey.* I had an email a few weeks ago to say that all retreats were to be cancelled due to the refurbishment of the retreat house. That was a blow, as I’d been especially looking forward to that Island experience. The one snippet I’ve managed to glean as to why it was closed is that the managers left rather suddenly so there was no one to run the retreat centre for the guests booked in for the rest of the year. Curious though so if you’ve any info of the exact details – do let me know!

I did consider visiting for the day on my way back from Skokholm last week, and had even packed my bivy bag with an idea to sleep overnight there, when it came to it though we didn’t get back from Skokholm until later than thought and I just felt rather worn out so decided I’d come straight home and save that Island for its proper exploration once the retreat house is open again. Next year hopefully.

This brings me to looking at what Islands I've actually explored so far, and what’s next.

Here’s the run down (some pictures at the bottom of this post)
  1. January - Isle of Portland - Tick!
  2. February - Isle of Sheppey (via the Tate) - Tick! 
  3. March - St. Agnes (Southernmost settlement of the UK) - Tick!
  4. April -   Lundy - Tick!
  5. May -    Skomer - Tick!
  6. June -   Avalon - Tick!
  7. July -    Anglesey Tick! & Skokholm Tick!
Still to come are:

August – Bardsey
September – Looe
October – Jersey & Kirrin Island (Yes, Really!)
November – Brownsea aka Red Squirrel Island
December – The Island of Reflection

I'll be creating art postcards from each island - so if you'd like one created just for you click here to sponsor one ;-)

Having reached my planning peak and worked out what helps me get through it (Stop, review & take intelligent action) I'm feeling positive and excited again about the rest of these Islands and the project in general. Toot Toot! Yes indeed - the spark is back ;-) Even writing this blog post to you has helped, so thank you. 

Each Island is Different

Each experience has been so different and each Island so rich with history – both social and natural that at the moment I don’t have one I love more than the others. Well, erm, that’s not strictly true. My first experience of seeing Puffins ("Look there are sooooo many F**king Puffins", I exclaimed excitedly as we arrived at Skomer) is very special, and not only did I get to hang out with Puffins on Skomer in May – I had the chance AGAIN on Skokholm just last week. That’s Skokholm – off the coast of Pembrokeshire, not in Sweden..(do go find it on a map). The Puffins and their Pufflings, yes their young chicks really are called pufflings, are set to depart any day now, in fact they’d already started to change their behaviour in readiness for their own ‘holidays’ out at sea whilst we were there. Skomer and Skokhom, two islands so close together and yet so totally different.

I’ve got some breathing space before my next Island (Bardsey in mid-August) to write up about these Island explorations and also create some artwork. I’m discovering that as each Island is different each medium I use for each will be different, something I think I’ve touched on before. Skokholm felt very textural – like an embroidery or tapestry piece was calling about to be created, although there was also a hint at a stained glass window as there is such a beautiful one in one of the compost toilets on the island! That could even be another project...Toilets with stained glass windows..or interesting toilets of the world...[Off on a tangent]

If you are already following along on social media (I post on Instagram mainly as I love the photo format) then you’ll have already seen pictures of these island explorations. If we aren’t connected yet – do come and say hello - @morwhennawoolcock

Coming up

Aside from UK Islands Project, I’ve a couple of other things coming up:

One this week (Thursday 27 July) – a Local Creative Adventure in Burrington Coombe – details here and I was interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol about these creative adventures – which you can listen to here – (my chat starts at around 1.25.40 (ish) before Amy Winehouse Valerie - which is what I've called my car! Valerie Volvo!! - spooky) then a there's bit about a lawnmower museum (interesting) - then it's me! Thanks to Becky Walsh for this.

Then starting in September is the ‘How to be a Creative Adventurer’ Exploration(course) I’ll be sharing more about this as I gear up to this over the next month. If you’ve any friends you think might benefit from discovering how a spot of Creative Adventuring can help them in their daily life – please do share it with them.

Bye for now!

Pip Pip


ps - can you tell which picture is from which island?