When I Took Flight with the Swallows
|When I took flight with the swallows|
(an illustration of a treasured memory)
2020, watercolour and ink sketch, 260mm x 360mm
"On the first day of my bike ride to Italy, I encountered a spectacle that is now a treasured memory. I had set off in the heavy rain, and within the first hour, I was soaked. I laboured up the long climb through Hope Valley, south of Shrewsbury, feeling gravity and the weight of my loaded bike gang-up against me. As I was descending the other side, heading towards Bishops Castle, I was shivered by the freshness of an autumnal morning. It caused me an intense bout of self-doubt. I felt like an elastic cord was tugging me back towards home; each pedal stoke becoming less a push, more a kick. And I already felt alone. Very alone. The enormity of the challenge ahead was overwhelming. Then, somewhere over the rolling hills of mid-Wales, the clouds stopped behind me like they couldn't keep up. The sun warmed me and brightened the horizon I was heading to. In the rich blueness that was now above, I saw hundreds and hundreds of swallows scribble through the sky. I pulled over next to a gate, parked the bike crudely in a hedge, and watched them silently darting about the air in seemingly chaotic patterns. I was spellbound by the sight and forgot my anxieties as I realised they too were beginning a migration south. The loneliness left me from that point. When I mounted the bike again, I realised the elastic had broken too."