“Deeds not words.”

“Deeds not words.”

This week was the anniversary of the birthday of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Suffragette movement. Today women have the vote thanks to the brave women before us. 

The world has changed, but we still need to stand together and support each other, when it is needed. 

Now,  it’s less a matter of gender, perhaps, so much as being supportive of any group who are having their human rights violated. 

We need to support the planet, animals and one another as fellow human beings – sometimes in huge ways, sometimes much smaller ways when we feel vulnerable or life feels too hard. 

Princess Poppy

Princess Poppy may seem like a strange poster girl and I’m certainly not making light of the issues. The Trolls movie is a kids film. But when I watched it first time, it was a breath of fresh air. The whole cinema burst into applause at the end. Because it’s filled with joy and with lessons that are important to remember,  in an energy packed, full colour extravaganza of glitter and love. There are lessons in self esteem, overcoming fears, being yourself,  loving difference, overcoming bullies and following your dreams. 

Princess Poppy is unashamedly a pink, fluffy scrap booker who loves to hug, and sing and dance. She is also a brave,  daring and empathetic leader. The song “Get back up again”,  sung really loud is often just the boost I need, a real power up and motivational boost. 

I have dreams that I want to make come true, as you all do. I feel down and beaten sometimes too. But then something inside me thinks “no, there must be a way“… I literally tie my hair up and roll my metaphorical sleeves up … and get ready by dancing and singing with those Trolls … and sometimes I need a hand. I need support. Just someone to turn on the music and dance with me until I can feel the beat again (I’m back in metaphor here 😉)

So if you need someone to support you, give a shout – hear the answering roar…. “Hair Up!” 

Blog:  Crooked Cat Cottage No 1

Crooked Cat Cottage Series  No 1

So, I am going backwards through time as the last blog entry was about the second piece in the series. This post is about the first piece! In this one, I wanted to represent the Crooked Cat Cottage itself.  

The Inspiration: 

When I talked about it, people kept asking me, was it the cat or the cottage that was crooked?  And that got me thinking. And the poem about the crooked man with this crooked cat seeped into my mind: 

“There was a crooked man

And he walked a crooked mile

He found crooked sixpence

And a crooked stile

He bought a crooked cat

Which caught a crooked mouse

And they all lived together

In a crooked little house”

The Cat: 

A crooked cat…I thought about our Labrador, Shadow  – who has a (slightly) crooked tail after it was run over by my daughters wheelchair when he was a puppy! I have tell you that she wasn’t driving it at the time (she is quite vehement about this point). 

A cat that came to mind, is a cat that I think looks so cute but has “crooked” ears and that is the Scottish Fold (I know they are folded really).  They seem such characters. A scout around and I found this lovely example. Such a funny cat and just right for this project. It’s the main element of the piece so it’s the focus by virtue of its size and that everything else is surrounds it. 

The Cottage:

The crooked cottage part was easy, Sharon who owns Crooked Cat Cottage knows exactly what she wants regarding the aesthetic. I like to play with scale and like things to be a bit abstract, also as they are elements representing one thing, being in a tower seemed the right things so they were together – so on the cat’s head it went! 


Romantic Mice:

I hate to think of crooked mice as it makes me think of mouse traps, but I still waned a mouse or two, for fun and little bit of whimsy. So, Romeo and Juliet mice, balancing on the cat…

Sheep just want have fun…and be hugged

Therefore sheep had to be included as the Crooked Cat Cottage is part of Sheep Sanctuary. Sharon, who owns the Sanctuary, describes her sheep in such detail you can’t help  but see their unique, loving and playful characters. What could be more fitting than a sheep helter-skelter. 


Enormous Food: 

Honestly I don’t have a reason for the enormous cherry. I just love very small, teeny weeny food or, alternatively, super size food. When I was planning the piece I was  eating shiny plump cherries and they made me happy so it seemed very obvious, maybe only to me, that everything would be enhanced by the addition of a huge shiny cherry… I think was right ! 


Magical Mollusks and Feathered Maestros:  

So, I turned my thoughts to what else might be found around the Crooked Cat Cottage, I decided that snails and birds would be good additions. My daughter had just been showing me she some snails from our garden and how you can see-through them when they eat, so…it wasn’t too much of a leap for me to have one drinking a ‘shake.  They also “hide” in the garden, so playing hide-and-seek was a cute reference to my daughters disappearing snail friends…

The bird is having a lot to say, as birds do, but I wanted it to be sitting on a swing, or in a hot air ballon. Something that didn’t quite make sense because its a bird, but that they might enjoy anyway. So, I decided on a swing. But I didn’t wasn’t a bit of tree or branch sticking into the picture, so, combining the balloon idea, I got a bird singing on swing held up by balloons…of course! 



I do realise that there is a bit of a complication in that the cat would love to eat some of the little friends around it, and the bird probably would gobble up the snails.  However, its a shiny magical world where they are all vegan and are nice to each other! 


Other composition elements:

Graphite is my main medium. I love to add a little bit of colour, especially a metallic paint or ink which I think compliments the shiny nature of graphite really well and allows “spotlighting”. It also gives a little bit of a luxury feel whilst I grunge things up. I love playfulness and abstract fun but I don’t want it to be too twee. So the grungy nature and the metallics balance each other and stop things becoming too sweet.  

In most of my art you will find circles or dots.  They have spiritual meaning and magical allure to me, so they are a bit of a personal motif.


Where you can find it:

Purchase a beautiful Gilcée print of Crooked Cat Cottage here

Sheep Sanctuary will receive at least 10% of profits made from the sale of “Crooked Cat Cottage”.

Want to know more: 

 Find out more about Crooked Cat Cottage 


Follow me on Facebook

I’m on Instagram as rozgadd. Install the app to follow my photos and videos.

I am also on Twitter @GaddRoz

How I made “Friendship”

The Inspiration 

“Friendship” is the second piece in a series for The Crooked Cat Cottage. This is a rescue house for our feline friends at Sheep Sanctuary, a plant based sanctuary that is home to many animals. 

The Hawkin’s Residence is being made into the  “Crooked Cat Cottage” which is home to rescued cats and a rehoming centre that will be a quirky summer rental too. If you love cats this is the holiday home for you! 

The house belonged to a lovely man who loved his cats. He was a key part of the Sanctuary and when he passed away it was a crushing blow to his dear friends who he ran the Sanctuary with. They are making Crooked Cat Cottage in his honour and so I thought that something about celebrating friendship seemed very appropriate. 


Thoughts, Research & Pulling it together …

So, a cat and a sheep, showing the two parties in this amazing partnership.

The more I find out about sheep the more it’s clear how loving they can be.  And how forgiving they are, especially after the, often very terrible, things they have been through before being rescued. 

Cats often are not seen as not very  loving but that just isn’t true. They are just particular where and how they show their affection. Cats often show that they love you through a head bump.  Cats do this to members of their colony as a sign of unity. They have scent glands on their head just above the eye and below their ear, which excretes pheromones that they rub on you to make you smell like them. They want you mark you as theirs with a communal smell because cats recognise each other by smell before anything else.

So, we have a shared moment of love and unity between a sheep and a cat. In my mind, the cat is standing on a fence so the friends can have this moment of quiet unity and mutual affection. 

For me this  also is about unusual and unexpected friendships.

The symbol in the top right corner is a Celtic symbol of friendship. I like to include symbols to add meaning and a mystical element, the Celts being a mystical race where my roots are. 

I made the symbol gold and picked this up in the eye of the sheep too to add balance and also a lustrous feel to the piece. 

The circles or dots are also about magic and I use them a lot in my pieces of art. The circle is universally used to represent notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement and even God.  I think it adds to the meaning of the piece and gives it a magical quality as well. 


Where you can find it

Purchase a beautiful Gilcée print of Friendship here

At least 10% of any profits made from the sale of “Friendship” are donated to Sheep Sanctuary

Want to know more: 

 Find out more about Crooked Cat Cottage 


Follow me on Facebook

I’m on Instagram as rozgadd. Install the app to follow my photos and videos.

I am also on Twitter @GaddRoz

“The way to be happy is to make others so.” -Robert G. Ingersoll

Jade in hospital bed with roses

It is Sunday, and it is dark and cold… well, the weather is anyway! But, in the Gadd household we are full of warmth and light right now. Let me expand:

Being a family with chronic conditions to cope with, and having long periods of time with members of the family, house or bed bound can be tough. Trips to hospital, dislocated joints, pain medication, bedpans, medical staff in the living room, and broken night’s sleep are all part of the package and are part of our norm. But that’s not who we are. We love life even when it is tough going, and one of the many reasons we do, is the people around us – both near and far.

First, I will make a small mention of this; because it is a true honour:

It seems my family, friends and students got their heads together to nominate me for the BBC Unsung Hero Award for Sports Volunteers and my nomination made it to the final three in the region! Wow!

It was a massive surprise (as you can probably tell if you saw the footage) and I am humbled by their love and regard shown in nominating me.

BUT honestly, I  also feel conflicted about it!  Because I know that they, the nominators themselves, should be the recipients of the award rather than me! The award is supposed to be about contributions to “sport”,  but the focus of my nomination was about my personal circumstances and carrying on the martial arts lessons during the last 6 years.

Whilst it is true that I did do that; I wasn’t alone and could not have done it alone.

I am acutely aware of all the people who were there to support me in so many ways. I need to mention here my black belt students / assistant instructors who take the class when I can’t – often at very short notice; my students, who also know that I might need to cancel or rush off to hospital at a moments notice, and my in-laws, that do all the front of house stuff for me. They are there, four times a week, rain or shine, because they want to make my life easier and support us all.

Jade and Tony themselves, of course, who have always encouraged me, no matter what was happening for them, to keep going. It must have been/be so hard for them to watch me walk out the door, to manage for that time and know that I am going to classes that they both used to be part of and now cannot take part in no matter how much they want to. Jade once said it was like a bereavement, but she has never asked me to stop. How big hearted is that?

I also want to mention an amazing martial artist and thought leader, Master Tom Callos, who is a huge influence on me and inspires me to be true to my values always.

I was, and continue to be; held up by them all. Emotionally and physically. The lessons, and the participants in those lessons, are part of my support mechanism that keeps me balanced, healthy and able to do the rest. I don’t think I am a hero, I am just me, stumbling on the best I can, supported by you!

So – “Look everyone – we are all doing good! You are all MY heroes! “

Next, we had a British Taekwondo Association seminar for Jade Aid. Full of wonderful people who were there to support Jade. It was an amazing day with four Grandmasters, including our President and his wife, generously travelling to Durham and giving their expertise to make a wonderful seminar!  What a wonderful group of peeps, doing their thing to support others and giving a very informative “street self defence seminar” too.

After that, we were the first customers for @The Green at Coxhoe, having a scrumptious buffet at the end of training!

@The Green is so special to us as it continues the family dream that we had, before the health issues, as Tearoom @Wabi-Sabi. This dream seemed to be gone when Jade and Tony became ill. It was heart wrenching to see all our hard work seemly gone in the blink of an eye.

But along came Amanda, Joyce and Windy, with the want to build a community, serve good food and spread happiness. They want to combine that with promoting health through arts and martial arts. It seemed too good to be true, but there they are. They have just opened and are walking the talk. Visit them at www.thegreencoxhoe.co.uk

We can’t tell them enough how much their work means to us. We can see our dreams in their dreams and feel peaceful that we laid the foundations and it was not for nothing. We get to support and be part of their adventure as they support and are part of ours!

Last thing to mention this time, is the amazing Longovicium Legionnaires of Lanchester who put on a night they can be proud of for Jade Aid!  This motorcycle club is made-up of bikers with big hearts and determination to support Jade. Last year they put on a night for Jade which was great, but the very best thing was them! The love and support from the ladies and gentlemen of the Legionnaires was the most precious gift and Jade felt stronger to face her challenges because she has a whole load of new big brothers and sisters. After so much hate directed at her because of her disability she was pretty low and they lifted her up! She wears her torc on her wheelchair with pride.

This year, they have made her an honorary member! And their word, to work to make her life better, is their bond. Last nights event was brilliant. Unfortunately Jade was too unwell make it to the event personally, but by the power of technology, she got to see them and feel the love!

Now they are planning more events, so watch this space!

Anyway, the point of this post is this: people say to us all the time that they can’t believe all that we face and that we are still smiling and achieving. Part of this is that we choose to see the best in each situation and to find the lessons where we can. We are in fact genuinely happy for the most part. We are grateful. We have our low times of course, but we choose to see the light and welcome it. With that in mind I need to change the quote a little:

“The way to be happy is: to make others so & to open your hearts to receive the happiness being offered right back! ” -Rozalind M. Gadd

Challenges – ‘One joy scatters a hundred griefs” – Chinese Proverb

Yesterday I had so much planned. I had my mind set on being productive, and then, the Universe had other ideas! As is the way with chronic complex conditions, all plans were changed due to a routine catheter procedure going wrong for my daughter and having to rush to A&E.

The way my family works as a team always amazes me. Together we carried Jade down the steps of our home, managed to get her into the vehicle and off to A&E along with our dogs who were very concerned for her. Jade, it has to be said, is a powerhouse. She may be small but she is fierce! It was clearly very painful for her and and she was frightened that she may need another operation if she didn’t get seen soon enough – but she dug deep, as she always does, and helped us to help her.

At the same time, Tony discovered that one of his few remaining teeth, left after his cancer treatment, was moving in a worrying way and needed an emergency dentist. Quite emotional too to think of loosing another tooth. Push to the back of our minds until later…

I hurriedly arranged for my classes to be cancelled on the way to hospital so could concentrate on Jade. My students are just amazing, understanding and supportive.

Next was a nervous time. We knew a few things: Jade needed an intervention before her wound closed up. Without the constant flow with the catheter, it was a short amount of time until she started to have seizures and all the dislocations that go with that, and, she was already in bladder retention, which is very painful.

A&E was very busy and although the nurse had rung ahead to say Jade needed to be seen on arrival – it was still nearly an hour before we were seen. In the meantime – as predicted there were spasms, seizures and a speculator overflow in the waiting room. Jade met it all with dignity.

There we were, all smiling and talking calmly but the pressure was building up, knowing if she wasn’t seen, the consequences would be very unpleasant. Jade has been through so much the last few weeks, it was not a pleasant thought at all. The minutes passed by and our hopes started to dissolve with each.

Eventually it was Jade’s turn. We were resigned and honestly a bit crest-fallen. We had made such a huge effort to get to A&E in time. But no-one seemed to quite understand the urgency, and then when finally seen by specialist nurse we were told, she “should have been seen straight away” …we all swallowed words of frustration down and explained that we had tried etc. Partition it off !That can be something to tackle another day..

Sad and heartbroken for Jade, we watched as the nurse confirmed that we were too late. Jade laid back and sighed. Defeated…and then, she remembered that she felt that the wound always ran off to one side, would the nurse try again? The nurse got the smallest catheter and tried as directed by Jade and… No, it would not go through.

“Please try again”, Jade steeled herself.

The nurse said of course, she really wanted to save Jade the trauma of what what was to come if unsuccessful. She tried… “No. I’m so sorry. Hang on…there’s little channel…”, just as Jade said and “We are in!”

A cheer and round of applause! Everyone in A&E must have been wondering what was going on, but we were jubilant. All of us we just so happy. Yes, it is not over. Dilation beckons but for now we are over the moon.

It may seem a small “joy” but it is huge to us. And suddenly the pressure cooker feeling is gone. Angry thoughts oscillating with feelings of defeat have dissipated because we are so very happy that we got the right nurse, we have a warrior Jade and well, we can see ‘wee’! WHEEEEEEEE!

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