Thursday, 27 December 2012
Well, Christmas was excellent: Dorothy arrived with presents and also from Julian, and after a cuppa we set off by local minicab into town. Arrived a bit early so we sipped Sipsmith G & Ts and relaxed for a bit. The Christmas tree was very good - a huge mass of white twigs covered in large gingerbread figures from Konditor & Cooke. The private dining room looked out over the streets - and the tourist buses with open tops going past. These were filled with people sitting in clear plastic cagoules, looking rather like giant condoms in the rain. Dear me. The atmosphere at Indigo was excellent with just a few smallish tables, but also one very large family celebrating, so we had a few well behaved children and babies, and their parents were very attentive. The food was delicious: supberb starters followed by turkey for me and for Dorothy, steak. We drank champagne followed by red wine. The puddings were a chocolate pudding about the size of a tennis ball, which collapsed as chocolate sauce was poured over it, and mine was tangerine parfait with walnut ice cream. Fab. We relaxed and chatted over coffee for ages. I then made the rather brave decision to walk back over Waterloo Bridge despite the rain which took just over 40 minutes. I was glad because the buildings were all brightly lit in the dark and the lights reflected in the river. The Festival Hall and National Theatre, floodlit in blue and green, were particularly welcoming as we crossed Waterloo Bridge. I did get rather tired but recouped my energy after a welcome cup of tea on our arrival home. We opened presents, then drank a bit more, ate cake before subsiding for a bit but somehow kept chatting until after midnight, when Dorothy set off home. I really don't know why I haven't eaten out on Christmas Day before as it takes away the stress around Christmas and feels like a really special treat. I had always assumed it was a bit sad to go out for Christmas lunch, but I have now completely changed my mind, and seeing the large family who were there, from grandparents to babies, about 15 people, made me realise what fun it could be, even with an extended family or a bunch of friends.
Monday, 24 December 2012
Managed to purchase a few bits and pieces and thankfully fell back into the house. Could not watch my ipad because the telly connection thing keeps failing. Nibby tells me this is because my internet is not good enough. It should be considering how much O2 are charging me. Oh well. Madeleine turned up bearing gifts aplenty and also some wonderful Heston mince pies, which we heated up and had with brandy butter and a cuppa. Excellent. I shall now read the Peter Cook scripts book which is quite funny. Booked a car to take us into town tomorrow (hope it turns up) so we do not have to arrive drenched. I shall leave our return journey to providence. Madeleine was most impressed with my winter wonderland thingy. I shall now spend a quiet evening and do a couple of cards for neighbours in the street which I shall deliver tomorrow morning. Here's a snap of the lights over the road, and also the tree at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec the other night.
Sunday, 23 December 2012
Met Julian at Borough market where we enjoyed salt beef sandwiches and mulled wine, while wandering around. Julian purchased lots of packets of chocolate misshapes, but we had to fight people off to get near the stall. Dear me. Then back for tea. Today I managed to order some flowers to send to the nursing home and these will arrive tomorrow. My days have been passing in a dreamlike way, where I buy things I don't really need, cook things until I can't get any more in the freezer, and try and clean the paintwork. Sugar soap, suggested by my cleaner, has not worked, so I have sent off for a tin of old fashioned Chemico, an abrasive pink paste which was once used to clean baths. This might just work. We shall see. Madeleine and Romy are both ill: Romy with Norovirus and Madeleine with upset stomach and sore throat. This always happens to people just before Christmas. I am still agonising about transport on Christmas day and may ring a cab company today. We shall see. I was hoping to walk, but if it is pouring with rain I shall not want to arrive for lunch drenched to the skin. I have carrier bags full of presents, most of which will have to be distributed in the New Year since no one seems to be able to pick them up. Even the upstairs neighbours have disappeared, leaving a present in the hall for me, which is kind of them. Kooky is taking on worse habits. The odd nip on the leg to remind me of feeding time has now become a fullblown attack. Good thing I can now shut him out of the bedroom. The TV people actually rang. They say they will ring on Monday and let me know when someone can come around and hopefully fix the damn thing. Obviously this will be after Christmas, but I seem to have got the knack of watching things on the ipad. Have been reading about the pensioners in the Geffrye almshouses. Seems they lived in what seems to be bedsits, but with whole families in one room,loos at the back of the buildings, having to fetch water, curtained beds in the room plus a table, a couple of chairs, a food shelf and maybe a wardrobe. Later, the rooms were mainly given over to retired governesses for whom no provision had been made by their former employers. Madeleine may pop in tomorrow if she is well enough. Today I intend to go to Marks to collect my Sunday paper. Mamuska is closed until the New Year, as is Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. A sudden welcome cash gift has arrived from Pierre in Canada, so I shall after all be able to spend New Year's Eve at Toulouse Lautrec. I tried to contact Christophe and Victorine as there might have been room for all of us, but they were out and have obviously made other arrangements. Pity I did not know until so late. Such is life. As I will be on my own, I may have the chance to do a bit of drawing before alcohol takes over.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
I did not make it to the curry last night. I was quite surprised to see that my old college appeared to have doubled in size and the infrastructure was much improved. The work was young and lively as were the students - rather a change from the dourly worthy place of my days. Compared with the Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA the other day, I was quite impressed with the general quality,variety and enthusiasm apparent in the work done by the students at the levels shown, both undergraduate and MA, which has restored my faith in art just a little. Seems that they have many new tutors too, which has probably helped quite a lot. Oh well. Walking around rather knackered me, despite Fabiola's kind attempts to ply me with food and drink, so I left and was home again at around 9pm. This morning I set off for the Geffrye Museum and wandered about enjoying their Christmas displays and shopping for a while. My most interesting purchase was a small white goose feather tree for a fiver. I shall pop this into the spare room. We had a very good lunch at Bacchus in Hoxton Street, and Evon popped in with one of her hounds. Fortunately not the large and rowdy beagle. She and I wandered along for a bit then caught a bus to Liverpool Street where we had a coffee and chatted. She had some excellent news on her planning application over the phone so she was a very happy bunny when we parted - looking forward to becoming a property tycoon and the prospect of spending several months a year in France. Invitations to stay in France were extended! We plan to meet up again around Christmas. Also had a call yesterday from a long lost friend, catching up on happenings over the last 20 years or so, which made for a long conversation with the prospect of several more of these. I hope we will meet again at some time soon. An email arrived from One Aldwych to inform me that I had won a mini-makeover for two including a mini-manicure and a mini-pedicure in their Facebook competition. I wonder if that means one hand and one foot each ? can't wait to find out.
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Wrapped a few presents and then discovered that Samsung have a customer service centre. Apparently they will take the TV away and mend it at their own expense if it has a fault caused by them. If it is something else they will quote me for a repair which I don't have to get done if I don't want to. The main trouble is that I don't know when they will come and then it takes seven to ten days to repair the thing so I shall be without it anyway until after Christmas. Forced myself out to the jam session last night which turned out to be excellent and it was Gabor's birthday so I had a small piece of cake and did a couple of sketches. Today I braved H & M in a vain search for the jumper which they failed to deliver, and of course there were none in my size. Curses. Tonight I am due at college to see Fab and the others.
Sunday, 16 December 2012
when staggering around London when you are 71. So foolish. Anyway met fellow Contemporary Art people at the ICA and had a chat about the Bloomberg Young Contemporaries exhibition there. Dear me. I am definitely very old. And glad I am doing my little sketches here and there, though I have been very remiss this week. I have also continued eating like several horses and put this down to the absence of a TV: it really does help to take my mind off eating. I have been looking for a replacement TV but they are all rather expensive and ugly compared with my now defunct one. I need another little flat screen 19" one which will play Freeview and work from a normal aerial. An added bonus with my last one is that it was white. I may look in John Lewis at Oxford Street tomorrow. I shall have to ascertain whether you can just plug them in or if they require some kind of complicated adjustment. My last one was never the same after last year's changes, even before it packed up. I definitely need a TV as a slimming aid. Also, now it is not working I can't be bothered to use the sitting room which is lying there unused, like the spare room. I seem to spend my time either in the kitchen (danger area) or lolling about reading on the bed (also a bit dangerous as it is quite near the kitchen). Dear me. It is the last jam session of the year tomorrow, and Gabor's birthday too. On Tuesday I shall go to my old alma mater and see a show there and have a look at Fabiola's stuff in the evening. On Wednesday I am going to see the Christmas rooms at the Geffrye Museum. Dorothy flew to Barcelona last night. I hope all went well with the sea ceremony for my ex, also early yesterday evening, poor old thing. At least it was a good send-off for him, with music etc. I am still trying to paint over the patch in the downstairs ceiling and have now applied a bit of white radiator paint from a spray can to see if this will help seal it over a bit. We shall see. Still thrilled with my new door.
Friday, 14 December 2012
My upstairs neighbour's little boy came to have a peep at my own winter wonderland downstairs, which was a great hit, then later Kate appeared lugging a huge trolley of tools, to install my door. I had not realised the amount of tools which might be needed. Time was slightly of the essence since I had to leave for the SE1 dinner later. Anyway, with great efficiency Kate fixed the door. This is very exciting for me, since I have wanted a door for so long. Like an early Christmas present. I have followed Nibby's advice and put some cup hooks and a rod to hold all my specs for instant access. I also attached another cup hook underneath and hung my IKEA scarf holder, ditto. Excellent. The SE1 forum dinner was a great success. Held in Bananas Bar in Walworth Road, a Portuguese establishment, the food was very good and the service excellent, and I think it was the most enjoyable forum Christmas dinner I have attended, and good to see so many old acquaintances. Plum really did an excellent job at organising the whole thing. This morning I am due at the ICA at around 11am to view the Young Contemporaries exhibition with a free guided tour.
Got this called Mrs. Langan's chocolate pudding out of The Times. Made it this morning. It was pretty easy. I put the oven on to 180, then used a baking tray covered in baking parchment raised at the edges, stuck down with a bit of butter underneath. Then separated six eggs. Beat the yolks up very well and added 80g caster sugar and beat until pale. Then beat in 50g cocoa powder and put aside. I then cleaned the beaters and beat the whites until very stiff. Folded a bit of whites into the choc mixture then gradually the rest all folded gently. Pour into the baking tray and spread if necessary and bake for exactly 15 minutes. After this, take it out and let it cool on one side. I then mixed plain and milk choc bars 150g ( I bought 35p tesco bars not cooking chocolate, perfectly adequate but you could use expensive bars)
Thursday, 13 December 2012
picked up my new specs and bought food at M & S (champagne reduced to half price so bought a bottle for Christmas). Finished my antiwar soldiers piece and carted the bathroom cabinet down to the spare room which is the ideal place for it. I have far too many books. Today I got up a ladder and with a long brush attempted to repaint the ceiling corner stained from previous leaks. Despite first spraying with fixative the stain came through. I may do it with another kind of paint, not sure. My plan is to decorate the spare room a bit when I have disposed of all the books on a temporary basis. I think red and green will be ideal, given that I do have quite a few red and green things about the place. We shall see. Saw a text message on my phone from my former lodger asking if she could pick up the socks she had left behind. The message apparently was sent around 6.15 but I did not see it until this morning early. I texted back to say I would be in tonight, then she texted suggesting Friday when I will be out at the SE1 dinner. I give up. I have never thought about a TV as a dietary aid before, but I do nothing but eat now I don't have one. Boredom no doubt, despite reading such a lot. I have been reading Oscar Wilde's 'A Critic in Pall Mall' and am now on to Walter Pater essays for the Guardian. All this has led me to read The Chiang Tzu, which is a bit puzzling. Hmmm........ AND the damn parcel still hasn't come. Of course. I am trying to adopt a calm Taoist approach to this, but failing so far. The joys of a slug of Scotch in coffee are sustaining me though.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Boring day apart from my soldier sculpture, so set off to Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec for the jam session. Did a few sketches and sloped off back home. Text from Kate who is going to hang my door, hopefully on Friday. Hooray, privacy at last! Still waiting for a parcel which should have arrived a week ago. Royal Mail of course. Hopeless. Bumped into a former punter in Tesco who told me about the great time he had at Polhill yesterday. Apparently two coaches went and the lunch was excellent. I think Polhill was one of Romy's best ideas, though when she first suggested taking people there I could not see the point of a garden centre, since most don't have gardens. I had reckoned without the enthusiasm for the food there, particularly the meat, which is better and cheaper than here apparently, and the Christmas decorations, with an excellent festive lunch. Anyway here are the quick sketches done last night:
Monday, 10 December 2012
Was just reminded by my neighbour that we need to pay the house building insurance right now and my share is around £240 so I shall have to get the cash out tomorrow. Just what I need at this time of year. Failed to clean the silver, but assembling it to clean tomorrow. I finally bit the bullet and purchased a glue gun and extra glue sticks. I have made an assembly of toy soldiers in a circle killing each other which has been sprayed silver. Quite small about the size of a large side plate and about 4" high. I may leave well alone, or get some more soldiers, add maybe a toy ladder or two and build it up further as this could look a bit more impressive. We shall see... Anyway here's a badly blurred close view from above:
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Here are some of my most recent sketches. There's one at Hyde Park, then a couple of local cafes - Roberto's in Old Kent Road, and House Cafe in Walworth Road.
Saturday, 8 December 2012
Intended to go to this today but got cold feet (literally) at the gates with the swarms attending. Instead a few of us made for the island with the Wellington statue thingy and drew there. April did Apsley House, and I did a rather faint sketch of the view in front of me before being strangely drawn to the Pret I spied nearby for a coffee. Afterwards we all staggered off to the Grape in Shepherd Market for the moment of shame when we revealed our efforts. Needless to say, the others were brilliant. Sloped off home, and this evening Christophe and Victorine are due to be taken to Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. My lodger left this morning so I have made the bed up in case they want to stay for the night. Tomorrow ASC are holding open studios which I may possibly attend, and there's the Mamuska party tomorrow night. I wish I had someone to take as they will all be Polish, so I may not go. We shall see. Kind of them to invite me anyway.
Friday, 7 December 2012
Just adapted a Bompas & Parr recipe, originally for 8 quails but I have used chicken thighs and drumsticks. I heated the oven to 220. In a bowl I put a roughly chopped handful of fresh rosemary, a teaspoon of sea salt and one of coarsely ground black pepper. I added half a jar of cheap marmalade, then the juice and zest of an orange. Rubbed it all into the chicken bits which I left marinating while the cooker heated, then placed the chicken bits onto an oiled tray and poured the marinade over. After 15 minutes baste with the mixture, and again after 25. Leave for another 5-10 minutes, baste again and turn the oven off. Can be served with mash or a salad. The marmalade is excellent and makes it brown very well, but doesn't do the tray any favours. Done with 8 quails and adding the juice of a lemon and using posh marmalade might make it even better. Very easy party food too. I may redo this over the Christmas period. Wonder where I can find quails cheaply?
Thursday, 6 December 2012
Dear me, I am a bit nervous about the tree. I have not seen whether it is on the floor this morning, but Kooky walked past me first thing this morning with a long piece of lametta coming from his rear end. I foolishly assumed it was stuck to his fur, but on grabbing the end a long string of it came out of his bum, covered in poo. Revolting. He does tend to eat things like that. I shall examine the tree when the trauma to my nerves has settled a bit. Julian came around for a cuppa and to collect some post, and it was kind of her to help with my decs. More excess to come........ but I may remove the lametta from the tree. Perhaps it is Kooky's idea of looking festive.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Girded my loins and travelled south to Walworth Road. I had inadvertently sat on a bag containing my specs and two arms had fallen off. While these were being repaired in Specsavers free of charge, I spotted a couple of brilliant frames: classic shapes,one plain red and one clear and slightly frosted. These were two for one at £69 so could not be resisted, particularly since my eyes were due to be tested anyway. I had a couple of hours to kill before the eye test and had an early lunch in a greasy spoon called House Cafe over the road. This turned out to be an enormous cavern of a place with an enormous menu. I ordered liver, bacon and onions which came with an enormous pile of mashed potato, carrots and peas. Managed most of the meat but was defeated by the potatoes. This came with a huge mug of tea for 75p. I did a rough sketch of this while I was there. My eye test revealed small cataracts, which would not require surgery for another 5-10 years (ha ha) so no worries there. My prescription had changed very little and my specs should be ready to collect next Wednesday, hopefully. My birthday present to me! In the evening I spoke to Pierre and Paulina from Canada who rang to wish me a happy birthday - the greetings continue!) and Paulina told me about an artist called Mary Delaney who had taken up painting in her seventies and had work in the British Museum. I googled her later and it seems she did flower collages by painting colours on fine tissue paper, cutting and layering this to make very good and subtle botanical images. Must have a look at these. It has now become colder with a need for gloves. The gloveboxes I received as retirement presents have come in very handy here. I have so many pairs of gloves, but can now find them immediately. My favourites though are beigy brown silk lined fine kid gloves from Christian Dior which squash into any pocket. I found them for a fiver, along with many other CD silk scarves and gloves in a sale at a charity event many years ago. Today I may take my print to the Prince of Wales, and visit the printer since Romy wants one of my A3 prints in A4 format. Next I shall visit B & Q to obtain a new showerhead. Christophe and Victorine are coming to Toulouse Lautrec on Saturday as the band sounds good and are playing on New Year's Eve. I may well go there for New Year if so. They seem to play jazz and other music and are called Mlanju. We shall see. Oh, and I managed to get the TV working for a couple of hours last night. Excellent.
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Romy appeared today clutching a card and a wonderful black lace and beaded collar for evening wear, AND a wonderful cachepot from a certain place in Berkshire, AND some Lady Gaga scent which was absolutely fab. Dear me, everyone is so kind. I must try and make sure I have another birthday next year. Meanwhile I posted in the SE1 forum to try and find people's local pubs or cafes and now have a list as long as my arm for future sketching. This will be fun, since pubs are closing so fast. I am rather sad that The Beaten Path in Walworth Road closed before I had the chance to draw it. The bar furniture was splendid there and the pub quite suddenly disappeared along with the larger pub over the road. Dreadful. I shall try and document as many as possible before they all go.
Last night Dorothy arrived clasping a Liberty bag with some Poison (one of my favourites), a very pretty woodcut card and some amazing coloured pencils which turned out to be French mechanical pencils. A neighbour told of a delivery she had received for me as we were about to leave. Seems that my sister in Newton Abbot had sent a huge bouquet of flowers, so I have been thoroughly spoilt. Masses of greetings on Facebook and an email from Ivana near Bristol - good to hear from her. I spent yesterday afternoon sketching at the Landmark Hotel which was quite expensive: £4.25 for a diet coke. Dear me. Becky and Steve were there so I drew the interior with a couple of punters at the next table. Fairly short sketch. In the evening, off to Toulouse Lautrec for yet another gastronomic feast before staggering upstairs to the jam session, which for once was a bit quiet. Might have been due to the fact that it was absolutely freezing outside. Bumped into the lodger on arriving home, who paid me for five days, announcing that she would leave this Friday or Saturday, which of course means I can then get into the room and kind of redesign it a bit. I shall definitely remove the trunk and replace it with a chest of drawers. In future I shall either have casual guests for a minimum of two nights (max 7) from Air b'n'b or get a more permanent arrangement using Monday to Friday. Depends how my spring cleaning works out. I would rather not have anyone, but needs must.
Monday, 3 December 2012
My bro in Paignton sent a lovely card and personalised bottle of Prosecco which I shall down soon. A card arrived from Madeleine, very kind, and last night Evon and Kate took me to the musical theatre night at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec, featuring the Pink Champagne Sisters. Evon gave me a box of pink champagne truffles too. We had an excellent dinner, and right in the middle of sketching came the announcement that there was a 'very special birthday' and happy birthday was sung by one and all to one's deep embarrassment. Sweet of them. We staggered back, and they relieved me of some of my spare canvases, but plenty left for David who took a few home earlier. Evon gave me a fifties type of retro card, very good, and Kate had drawn me lugging the door I had found along Gaywood Street. This morning I opened presents from Saffron: a very cute brooch with dangling swallows and crystals, and a fabulous bag from Nibby. This had been purchased for me from the maker, Saffron, part of her Freddy and Violet brand. It is super soft brown leather, oblong shaped and with a zipped compartment inside. It is on a gilt chain and has a snap at the front. She has pinned a very pretty vintage leaf gilt brooch to the front. This will be incredibly handy since it will easily hold my sketching stuff including an A4 sketch book and looks extremely stylish. Such a clever niece and generous sister! This morning (my actual birthday) had breakfast at Mamuska, who have invited me to their private Christmas party at the end of the week. As I arrived back the doorbell rang and Rupert and Anne-Marie stood on the doorstop with an enormous bunch of flowers and a card. They had planned to stay and take me out for breakfast but had to rush off as Rupert had a call-out. The flowers were lovely green, pink tinged hydrangeas and pale, mauvy pink long stemmed roses. Gorgeous. I have been spoiled this year. Later Dorothy is coming around and we will go to dinner at Toulouse Lautrec, and look in on the jam session later.
and the living room is covered in sprayed silver kitsch items: nuts, robots, plastic men, motorbikes, trains and princesses in castles. Dear me. I have started so I shall carry on. I am decluttering, giving away some old painted canvases to artist who can paint over them, to make space for my recent work. I shall then clean my real silver, and seek out more decorative items. I shall try and find a narrow fake silver tree to match the other stuff. I need some silvered almonds to sprinkle on the table. We shall see. I have told my lodger that Nicos is coming back to England on 22nd and intends to stay for a few months. She said she could leave by 17th so that's that. She has kept a very low profile recently, which is ideal for me. Today I did lots of tidying and decluttering and even changed my sheets which I eventually found after putting away masses of clothes. Nicos is organising a ceremony in Barcelona as a farewell to his father. This will be attended by the Spanish contingent as it is too difficult for us to get there at such short notice. Apparently there will be a boat setting off at sunset with an African band playing funeral music, then a speech about him, followed by casting of ashes with rose petals into the sea and the band playing upbeat music as a farewell on the return journey. Very touching. I shall raise a glass to my ex at this end. Yesterday I went with Drawing London on Location and Urban Sketchers to the Natural History Museum and managed a short and inadequate sketch before escaping to the V & A which was considerably less crowded but still not very conducive to drawing, so again, just did a short sketch of some statues. It is my birthday tomorrow,72 years bloody old.