Monday, September 28, 2009

St Peter’s Church while waiting for Hugo

I painted the same view earlier this year. It’s a place I often meet the children when they need a lift home from town. This was knocked out in a few minutes while I waited for an injured son to get to the car. Looks like I’m going to be hanging around waiting in my car quite a lot this week as he doesn’t seem up to walking or cycling for a while. I do wonder how on earth I would have managed with these impromptu demands to be a chauffeur and nurse, if I’d continued to have a job working for someone else, rather than being my own boss.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Exhibition and craft show this weekend

Artists at The Paper Trail

Are pleased to invite you to a group show at

Frogmore Mill
Fourdrinier Way
Hemel Hempstead

Exhibition open to the public

Saturday 26th 12 – 4pm
Sunday 27th 10 am – 4pm
(on Sunday there is a £1 entry charge as there is a craft fair on at the Paper Trail with mill tours and boat rides as added attractions)

I have a couple of watercolours of nudes in this impromptu exhibition. I’ll be at the private view this evening and helping out on Sunday afternoon, so do say hello if you’re visiting. If you’d like to come to the private view this evening from 6:30 - 9:00 send me an e-mail or add a comment with your e-mail address and I’ll e-mail you an invitation.

Red pepper

This was my first attempt with odosketch a fun new online sketching application.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why I want a trip to Brussels

14" x 9" acrylic painting.

The reason I want to go to Brussels is to have a child-free day where my husband Robin and I can enjoy each other's company the way we did before the kids came along.

My entry to Katherine Tyrrel’s competition.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Laughter with Flo

I recommend reading funny plays out loud together. We only read the first few pages but the whole ‘small Aunt Cecily, who lives at Tunbridge Wells’ exchange cheered me up enormously. Flo, who isn’t familiar with ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ still has the pleasure of my Dame Edith Evans impression to listen to when we resume reading the rest of the play. Much more fun than watching television.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A family day in London

Little more than scribbles when we went to London for the day last month. However if you want to read Xavier’s rude but funny comment go to the bigger version here.

“Does he take sugar?” and how we use language

Radio 4 used to have a magazine programme about all issues relating to disability. The title of the programme (see above) rather brilliantly encapsulated the way that people with disabilities are often patronised simply by the way that people address their able-bodied companions rather than themselves.

I wouldn't regard myself as a wildly militant politically-correct thought policeman. I simply think that people should be treated equally. One of the things that used to irritate me when I was working for a big financial organisation in the City was the way that some men would introduce a group of their colleagues in this way, ‘This is Hubert Seifert, Mike Hammond, Fred Bloggs and Susanna’. It was only ever women that were introduced with only a first name and it seemed to me a very discreet way of putting them down. Of course I'm probably crediting my former colleagues with an intellectual grasp of the subtle nuances of language that they never had.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Last Greek sketch and unpleasantness in Athens

After Hydra we sailed to Poros and then the day after sailed to Aegina (which is the closest island to Athens). Xavier loved the bird-shaped handle on the public water tap and asked me to sketch it for him. The following day we had to return the boat to the Athens marina and had several hours to fill before meeting up with Robin and the luggage at the airport. Athens has never been high on my list of world cities to visit (probably because an old well travelled aunt of mine had worked there and had never rated it). However as we had time to kill we thought we’d visit the Acropolis and the surrounding area. As we got on the tram I was separated by crowds from three of my four children and was struggling to hold onto my six year old, Xavier. The older children shrugged and assumed I was being a ‘crazy lady’ when they heard me shouting at some of the fellow passengers – little knowing that I had realised that I was the target for a clever team of pickpockets and that if I didn’t scream and shout and generally make a huge fuss we were going to be penniless, with no means of getting ourselves to the airport. I think the pickpockets found it difficult to get their thieving hands past the sketching materials loading down my bag so luckily they didn’t get away with it. After that experience I sensibly decided to spread my cash around the children so that if one of us was pickpocketed again there would still be money on one of the others.

The Greek islands are so lovely – and people are so trustworthy, but Athens is a completely different story. The Acropolis, of course, is fascinating and amazing, however as far as the rest of it is concerned I’m inclined to agree with this phrase plucked out of Wikipedia ‘Athens seems entirely to be composed of nasty, four- to six-story concrete buildings, lacking character and badly in need of a paint’. I’m sure that as Wikipedia also says there are hidden gems and that the Olympics has improved things, but quite honestly if I’m visiting a city, there are so many cities in Europe with so much more to offer that I think a one day visit to the Acropolis is going to be the only experience of Athens I’ll want in my lifetime.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Hugo with a cushion on his lap


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Hallelujah, Hydra morning

hydra boats
I got up early before we sailed for Poros, to sketch the waterfront in Hydra. It was good to imagine Leonard Cohen (who used to have a house on this island) sitting at one of the cafés drinking a cup of black coffee (he seems like he’s a black coffee kind of guy) before heading home to write a mournful lyric.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


hydra water man
hydra taverna
Hydra is another beautiful spot to visit. A crowded harbour, and an island where all cars and motorbikes are banned, so everything is transported by donkeys or horses. If you visit, make a point of buying something from the pharmacy, as it is a sight to behold with all the original carved wooden shop fittings and jars and bottles labeled with medical and herbal treatments. When we arrived, after sailing from Spetses, the man selling water to the boats stopped nearby to eat chocolate ice cream, and was an irresistible subject. Then we swam off the rocks in the sea, the waves crashing around us and smashing against the rocks – so not for the timid swimmer. In the evening, rather than eating at the more expensive restaurants by the harbour we found a traditional taverna in the back streets and enjoyed a lovely meal.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Morning in Spetses

I was so pleased to be able to get this sketch. Three years previously when we were here last time I had hoped to sketch the blue-domed church in the morning but Robin had decided that the anchorage was too busy and started moving the boat at dawn. This time he was a little more relaxed so I had my chance, before we set off for Hydra.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Evening in Spetses


Spetses town is lovely, gorgeous old houses painted in delicate shades. We moored up in the harbour here. After a desperate search for the bung to our tender, we found that our windy position was making us a risk to the next boat so just as I was finishing the larger sketch Robin insisted we moved the boat – which fortunately meant I had an even better view from the boat for my sketch the next day. We moored up next to BooToo, a rather grand crewed charter yacht. If you want to sail in luxury leaving all the cooking, sail-setting and cleaning to the staff then this is your answer – though probably at ten or twenty times the cost of our DIY sailing holiday.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Final Edinburgh sketches

We went to see ‘Woody Sez’ (a biographical show about the life and music of Woody Guthrie) on our last day in Edinburgh. We’d seen and enjoyed it two years previously, but I swear I’m not going to watch it again because I found it even more moving the second time around and was in tears for almost the entire duration of the show. Some of my festival highlights that I wasn’t able to sketch were the hilarious comedian Sarah Millican, a thought provoking and funny show by Marcus Brigstocke, the play ‘Orphans’ at the Traverse theatre and the Israeli physical theatre company ‘Matinée’. We left Edinburgh as the sun was setting, sad to be back to normal life.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

HeARTwood Festival

heartwood festival
On Saturday Robin and I and Xavier went up to the bluebell wood to participate in the events that had been put on by the Woodland Trust in and around the wood. While Robin and Xavier were making a snail out of willow branches I turned away from the people and sketched this field where in decades to come there will be forest growing.

I’m apologise if the chronology of the blog is confusing. It’s even more confusing for me – I still need to scan and pst the remainder of my Greek island sketches and there's a few more Edinburgh sketches.