Bye Dorset, the most inspirational artist & Satnav to a happier life

I hated satnav when it first appeared.  As a lover of map books (yes, geeky, I know), I missed the enjoyment of tracking a journey through A3 pages where the surrounding landmarks and geographical features could be seen; where cute-sounding villages with potential tearooms could be reached by taking an adventurous detour.

But today, I couldn’t manage without it.  It got me to Dorset and back along country lanes and re-routed without fuss when I careered off course, daydreaming.  (Which is why I avoid motorways.)  If only someone could create a satnav for real life.  A LifeNav; imagine that.  You’d input your chosen ‘destination’ – your goal, and simply lie back and follow your dreams – or trusted route – to get there.  And if you wandered off track, for whatever reason, LifeNav would get you back in the most stress-free way.  If you decided partway to your goal that you’d do something else, you’d simply tell your LifeNav and it would provide the easiest alternative to reach your happy new one.  How lovely would that be?!

Actually we do all have that within us; the power to find it, and trust it, is the secret many people can’t unlock.

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Chérie Wheatcroft with my favourite painting: beach huts at Mudeford

Sometimes terrible things happen that throw us completely off course. The way in which we deal with those traumas, restructure our lives and refocus on the good that’s left is what distinguishes an inspirational person.  Some people seem to have a built-in LifeNav.  I had the pleasure of meeting one such lady this week.  Chérie Wheatcroft is a Dorset-based artist whose work’s on display at the moment at Compton Acres in Poole.  I’d been to those beautiful gardens as a child and was keen to visit them again, albeit out of season.

Chérie’s bold yet delicate paintings of the Dorset coast are breathtaking.  Her exquisite attention to detail and the way she captures shimmering sunlight is pure genius.  Wandering around her exhibition and chatting to her I felt a tiny pang of jealousy that someone can have so much talent, and also be lucky enough to live such a peaceful, unassuming life in this wonderful place by the sea.  What a calm and easy background she must have, or so I thought.

Glancing at the display of press cuttings, a sub heading caught my eye.  At 17, Chérie had been the victim of a serious accident whilst in hospital – where she was supposed to be recovering from being hit by a car.  Unable to walk properly, she’d left her bed at night and fallen onto an unguarded electric fire.  Her hands were so badly burned that they were beyond repair.  As If things couldn’t get any worse, Chérie was transferred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital for specialist burns treatment, where she became a victim of that bastard DJ whose name I won’t even mention on my website.

Despite everything, she refused to give up her dream of becoming an artist and she is truly one of the most talented and inspirational people I have met.  Please google Chérie Wheatcroft… she’s writing a book about her life; I’ll be buying it!

I’m back to reality today, Dorset behind me… for now, anyway.  Bye bye lovely cottage – I hope to see you again sometime, and I promise if I do I will knuckle down and get on with the book I was supposed to write…

I don’t like driving in the dark, but I don’t mind driving alone with just my friendly satnav and Meatloaf for company.  He reminds me, “Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night, I can see paradise by the dashboard light.” If I’m not in the car, and not in Dorset, I’ll be here: @WeekendWitch.

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