I don’t think I am particularly good at taking holidays.

I try to be. I consciously watch my children, relishing their energy, their quick-silver smiles, their healthy, strong bodies tussling in the pool or walking faster than I do up a coastal road. I have conversations with my husband which muse on the big things in our lives, conversations for which we have time and space, for once. I notice the light dancing on water, the scent of jasmine over a fence, an old man shelling a carrier bag of almonds on the beach at sunrise. I go for runs, switch off my phone (yes, really!) and float in warm seawater.

I do and see all those things, but the darkness still rushes in.

I woke this morning at 5.30 and before I opened my eyes the thoughts swarmed in of the work undone at home.

I worry that one of my children (the physically daring one, who climbs trees taller than houses and walks the top of five bar gates) will swim into an underwater cave and never return to us.

I receive a text message from home and let my interpretation of it drive my thoughts like a cowboy marshalling a herd of cattle towards a cliff.

And I know these worries are irrational – that’s the thing. They are a layer of darkness of my own creation, painted repeatedly and incessantly over the true glowing colours of my life.

Were you taught the technique as a child – often used for portraying firework displays, or bonfires – of crayoning a sheet of paper, then washing over it with black poster paint? When the dried paint is scratched away it reveals the contrasting brightness below.


I’ve discovered that this technique has a name – scratchboard. I’ve discovered the illustrator Douglas Smith (I’ll put some links in later, please do Google him yourself).

This piece struck me hard – it sums up my own hollow eyed perfectionism uncomfortably well.


This piece, on the other hand, shows how we can CHOOSE to reveal the colours beneath our own darkness:


Stopping drinking has helped me understand that I have that choice, even if I have to re-make it seemingly constantly. Wishing you an emerald, coral and aquamarine day today! Prim xx