I seem to be spending more and more of my time in front of my computer these days. Increasingly for work but also, of course, for blogging. Catching up on other blogs yesterday evening, I was struck by the thought of the people I have got to know ever so slightly via their blogs over the last year, and I wondered what they were looking at whilst they were composing their posts.
I don’t actually have a view from my desk, it’s positioned in such a way that I’m staring into a corner. It does little to inspire but I suppose the upside is I don’t get distracted. Last year we finally got round to buying a painting to go above the desk. A painting of a local scene in really muted colours which captures the dark brooding hills and farmland around my village in Wales. The artist, David Day, used to be an architect and I love the buildings and the way he has drawn them with a flattened perspective. This style is more prominent in some of his other works. I just fell in love with this painting though. The sheep, the farmer, the white farm buildings and the looming form of the Skirrid, the hill in the background will always make me think of this part of the country, no matter where we live.
I often find myself drifting off and staring at it. In a very small way it connects me to the outside whilst I’m in front of the computer. We’ve had the painting nearly a year now and even though I see it pretty much every day I haven’t got sick of it.
Joining the computer on my desk is a peace lily. With yellowing leaves and crusty leaf tips it has that slightly unloved look most house plants seem to have, certainly in my house anyway. I haven’t managed to actually get this plant to flower since I bought it which is disappointing but not unusual apparently. So often the conditions in our homes aren’t suitable for the plants we grow indoors. Still I don’t mind too much, it adds a splash of greenery and it was voted by NASA as one of the best plants to grow to clean the air. A plant particularly useful for sticking next to electrical equipment as it can absorb the small levels of radiation given off by computers and also chemicals such as formaldehyde, given off by paint and soft furnishings.
There’s a selection of books including a bashed and battered dictionary that has seen me through A’ Levels and university, this has sat on many a desk and bookcase over the years. It isn’t the most comprehensive of word collections but suffices; I probably use the thesaurus more. An out of date Good Gardens Guide that my dad gave me, which is a useful reference guide and Bill Bryson’s Troublesome Words sit on the desk too. I first read the latter a few years ago and loved it. I’ve always been a huge fan of Bryson, an American writer, who has become an honorary Brit. Known mostly for his travel writing, Troublesome Words is one of his very early books written when he was working as a sub-editor for The Times newspaper. Inspired by having to use the English language and its glorious disorderliness every day he wrote this book to answer some of those questions that even the most educated get wrong. Peppered with some quite cringing examples of grammar and spelling misdemeanours by journalists, his book highlights the problems most of us encounter with our own language. Whether to use flaunt or flout, is there anything wrong with splitting an infinitive and whether you can start a sentence with ‘and’? After taking it out from the library again this year I decided I would buy myself a copy. I knew of a little second-hand bookshop in a town we were visiting whilst on holiday and thought I’d pop in. I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw it sitting on a shelf in the shop and for the bargain price of £3. For anyone who likes writing and language I can highly recommend it.
And finally, sat on the far corner of the desk is a collection of natural stuff, shells, pine cones and pretty stones picked up on walks. They remind me of particular places, my favourite beach in Cornwall, a woodland walk in Norfolk. Again these connect me to the outdoors even though I’m writing away on my keyboard. At the moment they have been arranged by Wellyman to sit on top of the router. He is trying to achieve the optimum range for the WiFi and has moved it about in an attempt to discover where this is. At the moment it seems it’s at the end of the desk with shells perched on top. I don’t think these are adding anything to the signal though.
I dream one day of having a view from my desk, maybe of my garden or of the sea. I’m sure I get more work done without one though. I’d love to know a little bit about what you see whilst you’re writing your blog.
Arabella Sock said:
How fascinating.. My desk is placed so I can look to my right out over our garden and keep an eye on the cats as well. The study is upstairs so I can see the garden from above and watch the cloud movement reflected in the surface of my little circular pondlet. Walls are covered in wildlife photos we have taken over the years and framed including some interesting spiders (which we took with a telephoto lens not wanting to get too close). Like you I have little piles of interesting stones around the house which I picked up on our travels and remind me of beautiful beaches or lava fields. Apart from a few reference books the entire bookshelf is full of the Bedsock’s cookbooks apart from a Reader’s Digest cookery year which I rescued from the attic when he moved all my cook books up there!
I’ve been meaning for years now to get some of our photos framed and put on the walls in the study. Never got round to it though. It took us 4 years of living here to get the painting up on the wall. Are the Bedsock’s cookbooks superior to yours? I’m intrigued as to why yours were relegated to the attic. 😉
I don’t have a view as such when writing my blogs – I write them sat on the sofa at home. So I guess you could say the view is the fireplace, tv, coffee table etc. Last year as a student, I had a desk set up and I was able to look out the back bedroom window… Probably a bad idea as I’d stare at the birds and garden, but I also hate being unable to see out of a window – like at work having my back to the window.
I don’t have a lap top. It would be nice at this time of year to be able to snuggle up in front of the fire and be able to write. Instead I freeze upstairs in the study.
Rachael Tapping said:
My office is at the front of our house, in the old dining room, so I look out at the road and the lovely Cotswold stone houses that have to stare at our 1930’s semi! Nonetheless I do like having a view, and people watching.
Btw I love your colourful blog posts, and I’m always in awe of how often you blog – I need to get up earlier and do it then before everyone else is awake!
I love the soft glow you get from Cotswold stone, sounds like a lovely view. Thank you for your kind words. Finding the time to blog at the moment is proving more difficult but I enjoy it so if I can squeeze it in I’ll give it a try. It does feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day though. 😉
Farmgirl Susan said:
Thank you so much for introducing me to David Day! What a wonderful artist. His paintings are all delightful, but as a sheep farmer yours is definitely my favorite. 🙂
He is a great artist. We had been looking for a few years for a painting we both liked and that was local. When we saw this we both loved it.
Diana of Elephant's Eye said:
The details are different, but our view is almost the same. I wanted to stand at the laptop in between being a couch potato, as I am now. No view, but a collection of paintings on the wall, each with a story to tell. The large brightly coloured still life of fruit and veg is a reminder of evening painting classes when I was a science student. A little wooden Dutch doll from my mother’s childhood. A collection of stones … yes.
All those books! Our books are downstairs in the lounge. My plan is to get my gardening books upstairs at some point. Maybe I’ll look to do this over Christmas. Love you study space.
Diana of Elephant's Eye said:
Here I stand, it is just the corner of our livingroom.
I’m lucky to have two views as I sit at my desk, as there is a window almost in front of me and another to my right. Both give long views over the fields; the nearer window gazing across the falling landscape to a tiny strip of water which gleams when the sun hits it just right, and behind this the low hills of England come and go depending on the weather. It can be a little distracting! Otherwise we have yet to put up any pictures in here; it’s on our winter list now that most of the house is finished, so perhaps I will then have something else to gaze at if ever I tire of the view…
It has taken us years to get paintings up. We decided we didn’t want to pepper the walls with holes for paintings we didn’t like that much any more and wanted to wait until we found new paintings. Problem with that is it takes time to find the right ones for the right spaces and of course there is the question of finances. We getting there though with walls gradually being adorned. Your views sound lovely.
*chuckles* I have a view of the ever mounting piles of gardening books! There’s also lots of stones and shells which I’ve collected since I was little (no wonder geology figured a lot in my studies up to graduate level), a radiator crammed with souvenir fridge magnets and a cat curled up asleep next to me on the sofa bed which doubles up as the sofa in my study. There’s a view of the front garden if I squirm round to look…
Really loving hearing about everyone’s blogger views. The ever mounting pile of seed and bulb catalogues was in danger of taking over the desk but they’ve been stashed away in a file for now. Stones and shells seem to figure quite frequently on people’s desks which is nice.
I can’t see my desk – it’s hidden by all the books! 😉
Roy and Tanya said:
we’ve moved a couple of months ago and have a small study at the back of the house that looks down a side street filled with little terraced houses a bit like a Lowry painting. T has a PC in there and there’s a collection of 1930’s railway art on the walls.
In the evenings, we sit in the lounge, often I write or work on one of our websites from an old laptop while sitting on a sofa. T does cross-stitch on the other sofa. There’s a collection of 1930s railway art on the walls in here too. The art carries the logo ‘East Coast Joys – travel by LNER’ and depict a selection of NE holiday resorts of the period.
My laptop overheats quite easily and the fan starts to make a terrible noise; its necessary to get a teatowel and an ice pack from the freezer and put it on the sofa and rest the laptop on that.. would love to buy a new one but we’ve just been through a hard-hitting recession and it’d be daft to blow it now..
On the fireplace is a peace lily also, that used to be in the study in the last house, it too, was very unhappy there. Now in the light of the bay window, it’s sporting a new coat of amazing rich green leaves. Next to the lily there’s a big bowl filled with ‘angel tears’ also extremely happy and we are surrounded here in the lounge by frogs, elephants, vases and an enormous ficus which also loves the south facing bay window, half a dozen bonsai and trays of candles surrounded by candles. In the corner there’s an ‘idiot box’ which isnt plugged in, in case the TV police come calling.
We love 1930s railway art but have yet to get any for the house. I’d like a lap top so I could sit in front of the fire on a night and write but as you say now isn’t really the time to spend money on things like that. Like the image you’ve conjured up. It’s nice to have an idea about where people are writing.
Karen - An Artist's Garden said:
What a delightful David Day you have 🙂
My computer is under the stairs – if I looked over the garden, I would never sit down at the computer but would be forever jumping up and down to tie something up or pull something out in the garden. I seem to be surrounded by a raft of post it notes – which is strange because I would swear blind that I dont use them, photos of my boys and funny greetings cards that folk have sent me. The books on my desk are all notebooks and sketchbooks – all half used, with notes that seem to make very little sense if I re-read them!
It’s a lovely painting. I have notes like that all over. Notes written several times because I forget I’ve written it down somewhere already or can’t find it on the original piece of paper. *sighs* It’s nice to have an idea of the scene you see whilst writing. WW
I have a study on the first floor where I can look out to my left to the garden and the sky, but I move the lap top around, most of this summer it has been in the kitchen so my view is more of the kitchen than the view through the window which is more sky than garden when I’m sitting down. Christina
I would like a lap top. Being able to move my location would be nice. I’d probably sit in the kitchen more and then I’d have a view out into the garden where I could watch the birds. WW
A most enjoyable post. The effect, or not, of sea shells on the WiFi had me laughing out loud.
I use a chunky, second PC which is on the floor under the table, on top of which are the keyboard and monitor. I look at a blank wall. To my left are books and cards etc. When I replace it I’m planning on moving things around so that I’m looking out the window. xx
Thanks Flighty. My computer is getting a bit old now but I hope it will keep going for a quite a bit longer. I don’t think we could afford to replace it at the moment. Don’t know how I’d manage without one now though. A desk with a view would be much nicer but my painting gives me a view I guess. WW x
I read your post and then looked with shame at my desk piled high as it is with dozens of plant catalogues and gardening books and magazines. The laptop squeezes in between this chaos and my excuse is that it’s a temporary arrangement. As soon as the wood-burning stove has been installed next door I shall re-locate to a view over the garden.. But there is compensation because in this cramped temporary space I face a most wonderful painting of autumn woods.
I share the desk with Wellyman. He sometimes works from home or if he’s on call so I can’t let the desk get too full of my stuff. I couldn’t see the surface the other day though from the ever growing pile of seed and bulb catalogues. They’ve all been shoved into a file now, the study equivalent of brushing something under the carpet. 😉 Oh I love the sound of the wood burner and the garden view. Sounds perfect 🙂
I usually write my blog posts on the pc, the view from which is a wall without any pictures on it, and a desk so full of papers and junk as it often gets used as a dumping ground. I was only thinking this morning that I need to tidy it up. My photos are all on the pc, so even though it’s an old thing which takes an age to do anything I ask it to, this is the reason I use it. I do have a laptop though, so I use this when reading other people’s blogs, or doing just about anything else. I sit on the sofa when using this.
Great idea, showing were you blog from—perhaps I will try that for a future post!
I’m staring directly into a corner too WW 🙂 There is a shelf above me where a globe, a ceramic pot containing artists paintbrushes and the odd favourite card lives. To my right a window from where I can see a good part of the greenhouse. To my left a bookshelf containing mainly gardening books but also some poetry too. There are one or two lurking piles of correspondence but it is fairly minimalist at the moment because I’ve had a massive tidy up. I’m reaching an age where less is more. Oh there are two very small photos of himself and myself taken some 25 plus years ago. Love the shells. Off to investigate that book further – sounds right up my street. And can you start a sentence with an ‘and’?
Yes, apparently you can! I’m loving hearing about where people write. I’ve been inspired to make more of my little space since I seem to be spending so much time here.
What an interesting post… and I also really like that David Day painting. You’ve made me realise that I need to get my own desk sorted out. It’s supposed to be a temporary arrangement, following the installation of the new router and consequent need to reorganise the entire house, but it’s a lot warmer than using the basement office in the winter.
I stare at a wall, and the bottom frame of a nineteenth-century ship painting. Which really, really goes with the 1996 small pine desk. Grrrrr.
A great idea for a post and I enjoyed reading all the comments too!
I’m quite lucky I do have a view. Out over some allotments (not my site) towards Castle Hill, a folly on the hill above Huddersfield. Nice to gaze out at even at night when all the lights are twinkling. I too have a shelf of ever increasing gardening books and I also have a collection of shells and stones I’ve collected over the years.
Great idea for a post! I really like your painting. In front of me is a blank wall and on my left is a large window looking out to the trees in my front garden. But when I’m using the computer, I have the curtains closed so that the light doesn’t reflect off the screen too much. So basically, I’m in a corner looking at curtains and a wall. No distractions anyway, except when Charlie the Wonder Poodle comes up to get some attention.