Friday, 1 November 2013


I put loads of snaps on but bloggsy has lost them and my latest post. All pretty hopeless. I may well give up blogging and just post snaps to Facebook and twitter.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Knackered of SE1

Visited the quack who suggested more visits and investigations so I slithered off rapidly. My birthday present to David: the book from spitalfields life,arrived. Also a small package from Nibby containing ten absolutely amazing chocs from Misco oop north. Intending to taste one, I inadvertently ate the lot. Dear me. Met Francesca at Toulouse Lautrec where we went to the jam session and her husband also turned up later. Did a few sketches before leaving early at midnight. On Sunday I had managed to see the Jerwood Drawing prize show just before it closed. Excellent. My young Proven├žal couple left on Wednesday morning. This was rather chaotic. I managed to have coffee with David before my cleaning lady turned up. Then Romy came as her bro in law is going to recover my little yellow chair which had been ruined by Kooky. This will cost a fortune but I am so fond of it. Also cheaper than the £800 plus small chairs I could have replaced it with. Fabric samples are coming soon.Quite exciting. Then Romy dropped me off in the Strand and I got a bus to Holborn for Art in the Afternoon. Robert had set up a table with still life objects but I decided to sketch the sketchers, one of whom was distinctly horrified at my drawing and called me a witch, which livened up proceedings. This sketch can be seen on my Facebook and on twitter. I still can't deal with IOS 7, which seems to move the cursor at will, but not at my will. Still can't download snaps which is quite annoying. Oh well. Today I shall meet David for coffee as usual, and prepare the spare room for my new guest. Sketching again on Saturday. Must buy some sweets as I will no doubt be inundated with trick or treaters since tonight is Halloween. More post arrived yesterday including £30 from Nibby which I had apparently lent her ages ago. I had urged her to spend it on lunch, but no, she insisted on sending it back. Dear me. My brass Chiavari chairs have been attracting much admiration from all my visitors. On a recent visit, Julian snapped them with her mobile.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Plodding on

I still don't know how to get images into this blog so have rather given up. I had a rather unfortunate evening on Friday. Lunch with cafe sketchers at Peter jones was good, then I rushed home and changed to go to fabulous fashionista sue kreitzmann's party at st pancras. I had intended to go with Jo to the last meeting place of the sketchcrawl going from the jeer wood space to backside.. Though it was not clear where they were meeting so I posted an enquiry. I suppose rather oddly, in retrospect someone from SLAM informed me that it was ending at some studios I had never heard of in Vauxhall. We hung around there until it closed before we realised that someone had sent us to the wrong place which was very annoying. We had hoped to see Janie Skuse and some other familiar faces. Pissups and breweries came to mind. I have to say the cursor on this thing is a nightmare also some kind of predictive text thing which turns things into nonsense. So I can't correct my fourth sentence which should read Jerwood to Bankside. Yesterday we sketched at the National Gallery. Trafalgar Square had been taken over by football fans so did a brief sketch before retiring to the National cafe with Francesca. Then went and did another at the Salisbury in charming Cross Road. Passed through Cecil Court on the way home and purchased Rather flashy necklace which I proudly wore when Lucy and Philippa arrived bearing masses of food which the proceeded to cook. Delicious as it all was I managed to gain 1lb this week, sadly. My new guests arrived today from Provence. Just about managed to make the place presentable in time. I shall again attempt to visit the Jerwood space today before the current exhibition disappears.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Is stuff I can see while watching or pretending to watch television in the evening. Usually pretty boring. But useful drawing practise in the sketchbook. Caught a couple of my punters while they were doing their postcards the other day. Dorothy came around for a gin tonight. I need to get on a stepladder to try and retrieve my Cornelius Cardew biography for the guy I met at Brixton, but it will take a day or two for me to summon the courage to do this. Of course I may have chucked the book out and it will be wasted effort, but I have a feeling I kept it. The only way I can get snaps onto my blog is to photograph them and put them onto my laptop or somehow join this thing with my laptop so they go on to that, then write my blog from the laptop. I might try this soon as it is a bit boring without any visual content. Just heard that Jo Malone is opening her first Jo Loves shop in Elizabeth Street on Friday, so may well get along there. I can try things out, which would be a welcome diversion in my old age.

Monday, 7 October 2013


The boiler is in, and after a week of awful noises like a jet taking off and some pipe work adjustments from the plumber, it is working well. Now awaiting the guy who is supposed to be painting my front wall and windows. Spent all last week at the Brixton Drawing Project. Run by Janie Skuse, it was great fun to spend time doing large messy sketches in this old furniture factory, cleverly converted by Andy and hired out for all sorts of occasions. Janie managed to raise the money with crowd funding which is an excellent idea. I fell by the wayside and purchased some totally amazing old brass dining chairs. Made in Italy they are called Chiavari. They look a bit gorgeous in my living room though I am tempted to sell a couple. They fetch hundreds of dollars in America and have sold on Ebay here for up to £350 each. However I intend to hang on to them for a bit and enjoy them. I cannot find out when they were made, could be nineteen forties to sixties, but they have a real charm. Just one looks so elegant in the right place. Also discovered some wonderful French watercolours based on honey which apparently the impressionists used, so have succumbed to temptation and ordered a few. Calledl'Aquarelle by Sennelier.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Back again

New boiler coming next week. Busy with one guest pro tem but drawing fairly frequently. I can only get these on to Facebook and twitter as nothing else seems to work including my Flickr and iPhone accounts so have rather given up on these. Waterloo Zeitgeist is finishing for this year and I have removed my few pieces. Given a commission to draw a house but not sure whether to do it. We shall see. Became quite warm drawing Szandor outside the cafe today at Lincoln's Inn Fields, since they have the heaters on. Don't think they will be sufficient in the middle of the winter.. It was good to see Jules and Jo today. It's Cafe Sketchers tomorrow at St James Park. I am really looking forward to this. On Saturday we are going to meet at the V&A Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green. It really is great to have so many days out drawing. Despite many setbacks I think my drawing is improving a bit now. Though I am not happy with my drawing of the bands at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. I may try concentrating on just trying to draw individuals and see if that improves things. I do have quite a few more guests coming, but fortunately no further bookings since I have increased my price. I am having the window frames reprinted at the front of the house and need an electrician to look at some of the wiring when I can find someone competent. Meanwhile one visit to the quack has resulted in: three prescriptions; one further appointment; having to make an appointment for a shoulder x-ray; an appointment for blood tests and another follow up appointment with the GP. You can see why I am reluctant to darken his door. Hard to fit it in with my drawing commitments which are so much more interesting.. By the way, I now have three large fish in one container, four smaller ones in another, and six babies in a third, so if anyone wants some they know where to come. Fish breeding has come to me rather late in life.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Landlady loses it

Well, I have been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the company of complete strangers in my tiny flat and have been looking forward to a few days off at the end of the month. I then had a request for just before Christmas. I am like a chicken with its head cut off at that time of year, so declined to have the guest and cancelled dates on my calendar between 15 December and 3 January. Almost immediately afterwards I received another request for October or November. This was quite a long, gushing letter from someone who adored my flat, my cat, etc etc. and wished to get up really early in the morning and wanting to have a kettle in the room. And wanted to stay for two weeks. Unfortunately experience has told me that the more gushing the letter, the more demanding the guest; that I can't stand people getting up until after me, which is why I get up very early indeed, so that I can be out of the bathroom by seven; and that the kind of person who wants a kettle in the room is likely to hoard supplies of food in there. I think I have definitely now got host burnout. I replied to decline this request. Then I took a couple of days out of my calendar after every guest visit, to give myself a bit of a rest. Dear me. I was rather annoyed with my current guests, when they hung around the house all day today. However I felt a bit sorry for them when they finally explained that one of them had been unwell since last night, not a great thing when on holiday. Fortunately he was better later, just as well since it is their last day.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Losing track

of what I am doing. Winnet was great and I must try and post a few snaps. Before seeing Winnet Jo and I drew around Westminster, first the Jewel Tower and then the Portuguese places at Vauxhall Cross, which are great. Can't get in to my Kooky Days blog, so will post things here pro tem. Jazz jam last night and some sketches below. My life becomes more complicated by the minute. What I really need is a good electrician, as I think the power circuit to the basement is more than a little dodgy as it keeps cutting out. I blame the damp in the outer walls. I am trying to resurrect my dehumidifier since the excellent Mitsubishi one owned by Dorothy costs over £300. Dear me. Noticed that the London College of Exhibitionists has reverted to its former name of London College of Communication. I suspect that new and aspiring students, many of whom are no doubt from other countries, may have failed to find the place when arriving for interviews. Definite lack of communication here. Oh well. The country is going to the dogs, as my grandfather would have said. This looks a bit vibrant. Guess who had some cheese and wine? Jazz jam.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Winnet and Cabaret Verite

Well, Jo and I sat at the Brasserie, and sketched. Winnet was performing. She is an ex dancer and actress and is now a singer. Her son Thomas and daughter Ava, also play and sing in her band. The songs are very strong and the treatment is quite dramatic, which is excellent, and the musicianship was very good. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening, but Winnet is hard to draw as she does move a lot during the performance! Jo was very impressed and wants to go there again. I got the spare room ready for my next guests having bade farewell to my American actress, who sent me a kind note from New York. My new people are pop singers from the Netherlands, very young, and very excited about their first visit to London. In the evening I set off for Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. The performers were Cabaret Verite, which was great fun, with some excellent singers, and I did a bit of sketching as usual. Nolan keeps introducing me as the 'residential artist'. Dorothy could not join me but I messaged her to come if she changed her mind, and tell the people downstairs that she was with the residential artist. Jason very kindly bought me a G & T at the end of the evening, after which I staggered off into the night. May see if I have the energy to go to the jam session tonight, to practise my new technique of superimposing images, which seems to be my latest 'thing'. We shall see.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Westminster Jewel Tower and Vauxhall Cross

A good drawing day. Met with Luke and the others at the Jewel Tower at Westminster and did a sketch of this. Later we were due to meet at the Riverside Cafe. However, Jo, Rade and I decided to have lunch at one of the Portuguese cafes in Vauxhall rather than go to the Pret, so we set forth, and had a very good lunch with coffee outside among the trees there. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to stay, and sketched outside the cafe. Jo and I went back to my place and changed to see Winnet at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec that evening.

Lambeth Palace discovery

The discovery was not Lambeth Palace, which has been there for a while, nor the Tradescant Garden Museum ditto, but the Riverside Cafe opposite. Arrived for a bit of sketching which stretched to chatting with Jo for the whole day. The Riverside is a tiny, nondescript kind of Victorian hut thing on the river with a couple of tables outside, and festooned with fairly awful banners advertising their wares. The main advantage is that there is no loo, but you can actually use the Museum loo in extremis without paying. Being Victorian, the Riverside has wide eaves all around, providing good shelter from the hot sun, and I bagged a tiny table with high seats under this. The advertising panels were right in front, obscuring the view of Lambeth Palace, so I decided to draw what I could see. Jo joined me after an hour, and we ended up by spending the rest of the day there, which was very pleasant with a fresh breeze from the river. We later withdrew to my garden for gin and tonic, sitting under the lanterns in the warm evening for a few hours. Excellent day, if dubious drawing.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Feeling a bit crap

Must be something I ate. So cancelled my gallery babysitting today. My current guest is leaving this morning with another, an American actress, expected this afternoon. Just time to change the bed, and my cleaner is coming today. I have been working on some amateurish looking posters for the exhibition which has been fun. Great Monday evening at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec, and met David on Tuesday morning for coffee. I hope I shall be better tomorrow as I am due to be sketching at Lambeth Palace with Jo. If I starve all day things should improve. We shall see. I shall have a quiet day resting today, and checking that I have some breakfast stuff in the cupboard. Dorothy due back from the States on Saturday I think, when I am supposed to be sketching around Westminster. The weather is very dismal today, back to the normal British summer. So disappointing - at vast expense and on impulse as usual, I bought something called an Xhose for the garden, only to discover it does not fit my garden tap, so have sent off another six quid to obtain the right fitting. The hose is meant to be self tidying by shrinking down as it dries and expanding when the water is turned on. A bit frustrating not to be able to try it. Fortunately it is raining anyway, and knowing my luck the damned thing will be ready in time for winter. There seem to be a lot of gulls outside. This takes me back to when my grandmother lived in a kind of hut thing on the cliff in Combe Martin. She frequently fed the gulls and had a favourite who would stamp on the tin roof, demanding his breakfast.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Back again

I have survived the Barcelona experience and am slaving away at Airbnb, doing a bit of sketching and babysitting the gallery. I think I have sorted out how to pay the bills in Barcelona and my Spanish bank account. The symposium was bearable and I met a few friendly fellow sketchers while there. My best fun was going on boat rides and going to the theatre del Raval to see zoo troupe perform their hilarious magic pantomime. Julian had been kindly minding my flat and feeding the Kookster in my absence. It has continued to be boiling hot, which makes it difficult to get any sleep. I have done some fairly awful designs for a poster for the ongoing Waterloo Zeitgeist exhibition. Unfortunately to produce anything decent would involve skills I evidently do not possess. However I have done a few very rough designs, which have been fun to try,though the results were rather unsatisfactory. The guy who was going to paint my window frames and the front of the house has not appeared, so I will now have to find someone else. We shall see. I see today that Mick Farren has died yesterday onstage. I did not follow his career but remember him well from the very early sixties. At that time J and I arrived back in London via Crete, where we met up with some Goldsmiths students. We found a flat to rent in a large house in Manor Way, Blackheath, where we had some of the students for a flat share. One of them moved Mick Farren in. I was told he was a strange guy selling rubbishy goods from a suitcase in Oxford Street at the time. He turned out to be OK and was mainly responsible for a huge party in our flat at the time. Later, we moved to Oxford where J had a new job and I had my son. We had some contact still with some of the Goldsmiths people but lost touch with Mick.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tired and Weary

I am today. Had a couple of gins with Dorothy last night before falling asleep in front of the TV and going to bed really early. Woke up before 5am with pains in the head, which have worn off a bit but still persist. I am hoping that a vertical position will get rid of them eventually. Not looking forward to Barcelona and morbidly looked up the cost of a funeral in Spain, just in case I croak while absent on leave. Not good, but probably cheaper than bringing a corpse back. I do like to look on the bright side before going on holiday. Which is probably why I don't normally go away. Can't wait to get back here again. What with Easyjet changing the cabin bag size to a size impossible to purchase I now have a minute bag. Weighed it and 8kg so far so have a little scope. Maybe will leave the extra 2kg for any local purchases. We shall see. I think I may need to take quite a long break from doing AirBnb but am booked up well into October for the time being. Maybe I could take off December and January to try and regain some energy. We shall see.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Back again

I am having a horrible time trying to deal with technology. I think I have now reclaimed this blog so it will be basically about whingeing about everything so you can stop reading right now. I reported in the blog I set up by mistake: that one of my esteemed guests buggered the hot water control on the shower. On the plus side she paid for the plumber.. Another two guests slunk off slightly furtively having apparently broken the thing the clicks th gas on at the hob. Then I discovered that the oven which they had used for heating pizzas was also apparently broken. After a bit of a panic I remembered that the timer on the oven is very difficult to use, so fiddled about with this for a bit and lo, the oven is working again..mysteriously the ignition thing has also started working again. I shall be quite happy to get off for a few days. Anyway I may try and keep my Kookydays blog about artwork and photography etc and this one about everything else. Had a fabulous dinner at Zucca last night -Dorothy's birthday. Julian popped over today for a cup of tea. My current guests leave tomorrow and no more expected for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

dinos 2

Had another go at the dinosaurs using grey Pitt pens. Don't know which is better but seems to have a bit more depth.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

London College of Exhibitionists

My reader may recall when a student of the LCC was revealing an unacceptable sighting of arsecrack about a year ago in the window of that august establishment and snapped by your brave blogger for posterity. The above title is the name apparently of their summer show. I wonder if the two are related: I think we should be told. Chickens with heads cut off have been far less active than this blogger: changing guests all the time and sketching all over the place. My most recent outings have been to the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith with Cafe Sketchers at the rooftop cafe, and today doing the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace. Both are rather quickly done with a brush pen, but were fun to do. I am trying to decide whether to go to Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec tonight, but in any case I shall be sketching at Pubsci on Monday evening. The people were very kind there and want prints of the sketches I have made in the past at their events so have dug these out. My current guests depart at some horrible hour tomorrow and I have to message my next guest to let him know when I am at home to receive him tomorrow. Until then he will have a look around London. Seems he is something to do with a sporting exhibition at the Olympic complex.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

sketches r'us

My Irish guest has been and gone this morning. A charming young man attending a comics convention with apparently around 17,000 attendees. Dear me. Went to Gaby's Deli and did a desultory sketch and ate far too much. Yesterday four of us, lead by Luke, went to Little Venice and I sat in the freezing cold and did a not very good drawing there. We had a good cheap lunch ona pretty barge before setting off to Clifton Nurseries. This was excellent and a couple of us indulged in a cream tea while we sketched. Again, very enjoyable but my work was a bit crap. for some reason the snaps are coming out blue. Dear me.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Further Diary of a Landlady

A rather busy week last week. On Saturday I was sketching around Richmond. The others made for the river and bridge but I was too cold so did a quick sketch in the Cricketers at Richmond Green. I had a quick sandwich there before busing up to Richmond Park and walking down Richmond Hill, where I installed myself in the Roebuck. On a fine day the view down to the river will be stunning to draw. However I did a rather desultory sketch of the Roebuck and a couple of its denizens. On Sunday night went to Christophe and Victorine in Hammersmith for a jolly dinner and to hear about their disputes with the tycoon practically rebuilding the house next door. Seems these may be resolved, as they have built a wall which has been painted white. I pointed out that they could put a small table and a couple of chairs there and some potted trees against the wall. However Victorine now favours a statue. Very late night. I had a quiet night on Monday instead of doing my usual jazz jam as I was going out again last night. Met Victorine outside Chris Beetles gallery. A very good selection of cartoonists but mainly illustrators were being shown. We had a glass of white sparkling wine and Christophe joined us. John Burningham gave a brief talk about his work and inspirations and Victorine bought a signed copy. We then staggered off to Da Aldo where they kindly bought me supper. I have to say the prices have risen enormously. However, when they admitted to having no cheese afterwards, they did rush out and buy a huge amount of cheese for a very reasonable price, which helped the second bottle of wine disappear quickly. Meanwhile I received a mail from my new pal Writer Dave. He wanted me to do a portrait of him and suggested he should come to my place and be drawn and thereafter come with me to the jam session at the Toulouse Lautrec, stay at my B & B and leave for his home in the midlands on the following Tuesday. This would be unfeasible, since I only have one room with two sets of stairs between this and the bathroom, book guests through Airbnb only, and am currently fully booked until the beginning of September. Also the light is not good at home so I never draw people here. I shall suggest that we might meet up at the Toulouse Lautrec at 7 where we could have a snack and I could draw him before the jazz jam really gets going at about 9 or later. This might work well since I am used to drawing people there and I might be able to get the odd musician or other audience member in the background, could also take a few snaps and finish the drawing later and send it on to him . I have to say I do not know of any B & B establishments around there, though I suppose they could be found by Googling. Anyway I shall suggest Writer Dave reads this. Very kind of him to ask me to draw him, but since I am known for making gorgeous people look awful, he is taking a bit of a chance! My very pleasant guest left this morning so I am readying the room for my next guest from Ireland. I also have plans for Cafe Drawing on Friday in Covent Gardent, and on Saturday in Little Venice. So looking forward to these.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Here's the snaps:

Embarrassed of SE1

Went to Twickers on Saturday. Met the others for coffee in an Italian place in Church Street. We then wandered to Orleans House Gardens and I drifted off alone towards Marble Hill Park. I found some woodland 'wild sculptures' which reminded me of the Gracia fiesta in Barcelona, with jellyfish made of plastic and recycled bottles etc hanging among the trees. Coming through the park to Crown Road, I decided nostalgically to walk past my parents house. I had lived there with my then husband in Marble Hill. I have to say (not completely unhappily, as my now ex is still living there with his new family) that today the place did look down at heel with half drawn curtains and an unkempt front garden. I then rang my Hammersmith friends and dropped in to see them. I sketched Victorine in her kitchen/dining room for a bit, but then things went downhill after a while as I got further down the bottle during a jolly chat about friends, art, etc. I only realised the extent of this when I staggered about a bit after unwisely getting up, so rapidly ordered a cab home. Slept like a log, of course. On Monday went to Christies with Carpe Diem and saw some fantastic photographs. There was also masses of Chinese jade and so on, and the most enormous diamonds in a private sale, with bodyguards standing very close by. I thought if I wore them in the Elephant & Castle they would not attract a second glance, but would seem totally fake among the local bling. Luckily they aren't mine then. On Tuesday my latest Airbnb guest left. This was a fifty year old lawyer who was attending a rock festival and whose room when he left resembled that of a teenage boy, though a bit tidier. Dear me. I then set off to the Oldie luncheon. Roy Strong was the main speaker, preceded by a chap talking about graveyards who was quite interesting, and a gardener. Roy Strong gave me an awful fright: he looked very similar to my first husband, even to his voice. A bit scary. Anyway he was an excellent and very lively speaker and I was almost tempted to buy a signed autobiography, but resisted the temptation. I am sure to buy the book eventually though. Prior to luncheon, we sat around with drinks in the bar. I had been to Pubsci the night before for a lecture on water by a Professor Martin Chaplin and had done a drawing in my sketchbook which needed some depth to be given to the background. There was a table in the middle of the bar at Simpsons with three jolly gents sitting there, and spotting a space I sat down to try and improve my sketch. The man on my left admitted to doing a bit of sketching and said his sketchbook was bigger than mine, and asked about some of my materials. I showed him my waterbrush and my tiny child's paintbox which seemed to amuse him. We chatted on and I suggested he should go in the for the Oldie 'artist of the year' competition. The American guy next to him gave me his card. Seems he lives in England and has written a book on Amazon and has a blog called 'writer Dave'. At this point my neighour suggested I sketch him with Dave. I produced a rather inadequate lightning sketch and asked for names. Turns out my neighbour is the famous stained glass artist Patrick Reyntiens who worked with John Piper etc. etc. Fortunately I did not realise this until I left, though the name had seemed familiar. Remind me to stay at home in future. I can't believe I suggested he should enter the Oldie competition. Dear me.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Damned cold today

so far. Hard to know what to wear. Saw my guests off yesterday and did the laundry before dashing off to Kew Gardens station to meet fellow cafe sketchers. More chat than draw, at least from me. It became very windy and I had left washing draped over the outside seats. Fortunately when I arrived back only one dry towel had fallen off. My new kettle arrived and is excellent. I do hope it doesn't do the same thing as the last one. My new guest is due today. More misery from Dorothy. Seems the Catalonia government have started regulating holiday flats so I shall have to put the place with an agent for a long let. Apparently the selling price currently would only be between 80 and 90 thousand euros after agency deductions etc. Hmmm. Trying to remember how much I paid for it. Considerably more I think. Today my new guest arrives here between 10 and 11. He is going to a progressive rock festival in Kingston tomorrow and Sunday. I hope to be drawing in Twickenham on Saturday. We are meeting at the station and ending up at the White Swan. I have a very strong feeling I may start and finish at the White Swan. Pub sketches 'r us.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

More of the Same

Two couples later I am getting things down to a fine art: found some individual butter pots, laying up breakfast on the counter which can be eaten outside on sunny days, receiving gifts from many guests though they are paying to stay - the latest gift was Brittany pancakes with salted caramel sauce - tea anyone? My guests have all been really nice people. I have cleaned up the garden a bit and ordered a lined tub. I shall put the small fish into this and get something a bit bigger for the big boys in the pond. I shall then fill in the pond and put more plants there. That way I do not have to deal with the major problem of the fence rotting at the base and earth falling into the pond. Had an interesting kettle experience yesterday. Fortunately my guests were not yet upstairs. Put the kettle on for a cup of tea, and heard a loud popping noise - turned around to see smoke and flames emerging from the kettle base. After a moment of panic pulled the plug out and put the kettle and base outside. Nibby said I should ring Morphy Richards and give them the serial number. She thought they might give me a new kettle but no such luck. Seems I bought the kettle direct from them in 2006. I pointed out that it was old and I expected it to stop working at some stage, but not to blow up in my kitchen - fire hazard etc. Anyway they offered me a discount on a new one and will send it. Meanwhile it is back to heating pans of water. When I checked the price I discovered not only were Curry's selling it more cheaply than the discounted price, but it was also much cheaper than that in Morphy Richards own outlet shop. Dear me. Out to Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec for the jazz jam on Monday night. Great as usual. A guy came and introduced himself as a friend of Rade, one of my sketching companions. Turns out he lives around the corner, and Rade had mentioned that I often sketched at Toulouse Lautrec, and sent his regards. Last night I had heard from Dorothy who took a short break in Barcelona. First the electricity was either cut off or not working in the flat. Then there was an awful smell necessitating the purchase of a new fridge. Then shse found five dead mice stuck to the floors and a dead cockroach. Finally when she had cleared up a bit and someone got the electricity temporarily connected, she discovered the boiler was broken, but after examination by two electricians, had the boiler replaced and managed to get out for a late dinner, to contact Endesa today and try and find out what has been going on. Dear me, some holiday! Lying in my bed. The middle of the night. Feeling a bit tired and sleepless. In my right hand is my mobile phone. Every now and then it makes a little blipping sound and wakes me up. This is the signal that one of my protagonists has made a move in the game. Time for me to respond. This goes on for hours until I finally fall asleep. I blame Dorothy. My new addiction is a game called Letterpress. Do not buy it. A word game you can play with opponents from all over the world, as many games at a time as you can handle. I usually have between 14 and 20 games on the go at the same time. A frightful time waster, but an excellent tranquilliser. I am knackered in the morning.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Went to the art shop who do not have the nibs for my pen and would have to order them. The pen cost £22 and the nibs £16.99 so still thinking about it. My honeymoon couple have vanished to Amsterdam for the next leg of their trip. They came back late on their last night, and I was rather disturbed by a vile burning smell and the pinging of the microwave while I was trying to sleep. Up at 5 since they were leaving at 6 and made them some coffee. The mystery smell was solved later when I found some M & S plaice fillets in breadcrumbs in the fridge. They had been cooking some of these in the microwave and had obviously burned them. Dear me. However there were three more fresh plaice fillets which I cooked the next day. Another couple arriving this evening, this time from America. The weather has improved enough for me to potter around the garden. I have been trying to improve this for the summer. I suspect I will have to invest in a new pump for the pond as I cannot get the old one to work. We shall see.

Monday, 29 April 2013

New iphone snap - not that I am narcissistic

Actually I think I look a bit severe here.

Here's the flowers:

Keep on Trucking.......

Anyway, I am plodding on, doing the odd small sketch between spying filth everywhere in the flat and wiping it away. Dear me, I had not realised how dust and dirt accumulates. My life has become tragic. Anyway, still reading Anthony Hope - this time Rupert of Henzau which I have managed to get through most of, mainly due to what are becoming predictable twists in the plot, but fun just the same. My honeymoon couple came in completely knackered last night and collapsed into bed before I had stopped watching telly. The Village is definitely getting better and better. Have been playing with the camera on my new iphone, which seems much better than the old one. It whizzes round so you can snap yourself easily and I took one before I realised what I was doing. Outside at the end of the road the untended bed is looking good with some pretty wallflowers and a huge mass of comfrey which will not doubt invade the rest, but very attractive with lovely blue flowers. I once heard the leaves are good for headache. Today I may see if my coffee partner is available. Must remember to tell him to put sunblock on his nose, which has become a bit sunburned from the last bit of sun we had. Am toying with the idea of Toulouse Lautrec tonight. I may also pop to the art shop as a pen has broken it's tip, which I think can be replaced. We shall see.

Sunday, 28 April 2013


or nearly. Had a cancellation the day before the last guest was due, so rapidly changed my cancellation policy from 'flexible' i.e. no show no dosh, to 'strict' i.e. 50% payment for cancellations within five days of due appearance. We live and learn. Complacently, I was just vegging out for a couple of days, with four more days of leisure ahead when I had a sudden booking for a couple for three days. On honeymoon and travelling all over the place.This paid more than the cancellation, so I was quite pleased. Yesterday I managed to fit in a bit of desultory drawing at the National Theatre after looking at the rather good Parkinson exhibition upstairs before arriving home to swish a duster about the place before welcoming my guests last night. Apart from that, Madeleine kindly invited me to the first night of Othello the other day. The first half was rather long, but it picked up very well for the second half. Rory Kinnear and Richard Lester both excellent of course. I think we are drawing in Richmond next Saturday, which will make a change. I keep fiddling around to try and make the flat better: defrosted the freezer which had been overdue for some time, and I have done a couple of window boxes at the front to try and brighten things up a bit. They are selling huge bags of compost for £1 at the pound shop, so took my shopping trolley out yesterday and purchased a bag, which will be very handy. I have just graduated from the primroses, hyacinths and other scented plants to some pelargoniums for the summer. I shall try and find some trailing lobelia to put around the edges of things. I now have a wonderful new iphone which Dorothy kindly spent hours sorting out and connecting with my ipad and so on. It was a really long job. My coffee partner, David, is due to disappear to Malta for the month of May, so I shall feel a little bereft, particularly since Nibby is also going walkabout around the borders and other places. Had lunch with Romy at the Slug and Lettuce, somewhere to sit on the last sunny and warm day last week. She is looking very fit, and we virtuously ordered low calorie lunches and plan to meet again soon. I shall plod on with my bnbs this week, this couple disappearing on Monday and another young couple arriving on Tuesday. Apart from my nerves which are in shreds from the incursions into my space, I am quite enjoying the challenge of having people to stay. How I shall cope in the long term remains to be seen, but I have managed so far. I suspect that Barcelona will provide a welcome break in July though I have not travelled for so long I am slightly dreading the trip and the heat.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Too busy

I am now on my sixth Airbnb guest. Totally knackered. I keep finding filth all over the house and cleaning desperately, to little effect. I also go around touching up paintwork and marks on the walls. And buying house plants. And pots and pans to replace my tatty old ones. I managed to do a sketch of the fireplace about a week ago, but have not picked up a pen or pencil since. Oldie literary lunch today. Kooky brought in a tiny fledgling this morning. I think its wing was broken but had no idea what to do about it. I decided to put it into the pagoda bird feeder where it could not be attacked further, with a capful of water, but I think it is too young and will die, but I can't bear to kill it. Oh dear. I think it may have fallen out of a nest to the ground but can't find a nest. The weather is warmer, but rather dull today. The garden is slowly improving and Pete has put up the wall lamps for me. I did not realise that the old lamps had left a thick plaster line on the walls. I tried to knock and sand it off but failed so did a rather botched job of just painting over this. Tomorrow I have to babysit the gallery. Del has removed two of my paintings and is very keen to have my drawings. I am rather reluctant to sell these but she has agreed to put in framed prints instead, which will make them very cheap indeed. At least the prints are limited to 20 per image only. My last guest has very kindly given me a sketchbook with a cover she made from quilted materials, which is very American and pretty. So kind. She also took me out to dinner on the last night. We were due to try the Greek place, but it was covered in scaffolding and completely empty so we went to Brasserie Toulouse-Lautrec instead, which proved an excellent decision. Made some more orange cake for David which I gave him when we met for coffee yesterday. Romy is in Spain and surrounded by her Spanish wild cats again. She sent me a very pretty picture of one on the terrace. Another relative, Andrew, my cousin, has popped up out of the blue on my Facebook. I am not certain we ever met before, but he used to come and stay with the parents, probably when I was living overseas. He has been in a relationship for over 30 years and winters in Las Palmas, returning to the Isle of Wight for the summer. It seems that my uncle Michael is 88 and still going strong there, and my aunt Kim is 90, still driving around and volunteering at Osborne House. Amazing. Nibby now wants to rush to the Isle of Wight and see them but I have bookings all through the summer. Funnily enough, had I been working I may have gone in July since the punters are going on holiday there and I could have met up with the long losts, but such is life.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

End of an era

Here's the demolition of the old Lye Torng, previously Bedlam, previously The Gibraltar pub. Wonder what it will be next? a Costa I shouldn't wonder. We shall see........

Monday, 1 April 2013


Again. Dorothy was due but did not turn up until quite late having overslept. Expecting a label anglaise hen I was a bit disconcerted to be presented with a very different creature complete with a white feathered head and huge blue feet. Covered with authenticity labels this was a very expensive poulet de Bresse. Nightmare. I had not eviscerated a chicken for at least fifty years, and then only once, when Tim Williams brought an experimental hen back from the lab for the pot. That had needed plucking, which was not a good experience. Amazingly we succeeded to gut this one with the help of instructions from Dorothy's mobile. Actually it was quite delicious, which it should have been at £30. Of course we ate and drank too much. My new guest is due tomorrow evening and groceries from Tesco arrived today. These included lots of wild bird food, including seed rings, fat balls and a half coconut which I hung outside. I saw a robin in the garden which cheered me up a bit.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

SE1 Bathroom Mysteries..........

Looking at my guests toothmug with his brush standing in it, I could not help wondering why it was half full of water, then looked in the loo to see a 1p coin glinting up from the water. Was this some kind of statement about the purpose of the loo, I wondered? Dear me. Since I have had a rather nasty cold with an irritating chest infection my life has closed in around me a bit. I spent yesterday in bed, trying to think of ways to raise money. I then remembered a huge canteen of silver, which I fished out. I think the scrap value may be around £1000, which when added to my gold scrap would raise around 4-5k. I am quite impressed that my past spendthrift habits may provide a source of cash if needed. If not needed, then I shall ask Nibby to take the gold and have it melted into either one enormous, or two or three less enormous bangles. That way I will still have the possibility of raising dosh for the future. Of course, if I could raise some money from artwork that would be even better, but though I have sold stuff, it is slow and hard work. I definitely need a Saatchi type to buy all the stuff I have already done, which would help a lot. Oh well... Feeling a bit better today and I shall venture out to the shops. The bug will take a few more days to subside, and my next guest is due on the Tuesday after Easter Monday. I am hoping Dorothy may come over on Sunday, and my guest leaves on Saturday. I suspect I have been very lucky so far in my guests: a distinct contrast to my experience with the lodger. After that experience I had started to wonder if I was a bit difficult, but my confidence has increased with each guest, and I am always trying to think of ways to improve the place, which may require money I don't have, but who knows what may happen? I have put the Airbnb professional snaps onto my Facebook, but can't put them here. They make the place look much bigger and better, the clue being when I looked at a mirror, which was much shorter and wider than in reality, and then realised they were using an incredibly wide angled lens. I just hope people won't be disappointed when they arrive.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Girls' Day Out

Had a fab day out with Romy last week: went to Egham on the train and Romy met me in a rather snazzy sports car which was a recent purchase. Dashed back to Romy's cute cottage before leaping back in the car again to partake of a very elegant coffee and fabulous cookie at a wonderful country house hotel called Great Fosters. This reminded me of some of the places we stayed in when working, and is a fabulous Tudor mansion with a fascinating history of visits and events put on for Royalty, Hollywood Royalty, etc. Superb place. We then sallied forth to Buratta's for lunch, where we both purchased a few items. Fortunately I had to come back on the train which prevented any further or larger purchases. Great lunch of bangers and mash, after which we visited a modern hotel by the river which promised to be a great place in the summer with a riverside terrace and huge picture windows. Then we dashed off to Egham and visited a couple of charity shops. I found rather a pretty little bag, a black and white top and a black jacket. As we arrived back at the car park, totally laden, Romy suddently realised the car keys were missing. Fortunately she had left them in the loo at Tesco, so all was well. I am a bit dim about cars and just saw the name 'Boxster' on the back. Apparently it is a rather good Porsche - so used to seeing red Porsches that this rather subtle version did not ring a bell with me. Dorothy tells me it is a very good car. I have to say the acceleration was noticeably good. I could get used to this kind of thing. That was Friday and on Saturday went to St. Pancras with Luke's Drink & Draw. Francesca and I did a little drawing in a station cafe, before the others met to go off to find a Pret. We were far too cold and after purchasing a couple of cheap sketchbooks in Paperchase, we went home. Madeleine came round for lunch on Sunday. We had a roast chicken with roast potatoes and roast vegetables supplemented by some Brussels sprouts. For pud we had a giant strawberry with banana cake and millionaire's shortcake ice cream from Marks. Nicos popped in for a while in the afternoon. He seems to spend his time travelling all over the place and plans to drive down to Plymouth for Easter weekend with four other guys. We pointed out that they might have difficulty finding somewhere to stay but he did not seem worried. A call from Dorothy revealed a rather problematic tax debt, so I am trying to find a way of making a lot of money quickly. Tricky. If I could sell the flat in Barcelona that might solve the problem, but I can't imagine finding a buyer. Oh well. The registration for the Urban Sketchers symposium in Barcelona started at 1pm yesterday, with the expected problems of a hopeless booking procedure. This was eventually sorted out and I managed to pay for an earlybird booking which cost just under £240. A couple of hours later, booking closed due to an unexpected demand for tickets. Not really surprising when you think that Urban Sketchers are all over the world, and increasing all the time, and I had been horrified to discover there were only 120 places. At least I managed to get mine, which is just as well, having booked flights etc. Yesterday I was feeling a bit ill with a nasty dry cough which developed into a vile cough and headache with fever last night. My throat had the familiar feeling of being full of razor blades and my chest crackled horribly all night. Dear me. I also had a very tiresome enquiry for my Airbnb room from someone who pestered me with 13 emails. Finally I withdrew my approval for her to stay as I decided she had been so difficult already that I would be totally against her by the time she arrived, and she wanted to book for a whole month. It is one thing having really nice people like my current guest staying for a month, but if I do have someone difficult I would prefer it to be only for a few days. Or not at all.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

At It Again

Actually spent ages doing a sketch of a corner of the sitting room. I replaced the TV with a fan, a present from Romy, as the TV looked a bit crap there. Anyway it is all a bit wonky, and even more wonky in this snap, but never mind. Had some prints done which look better than the original. Oh well. This morning I shot off, wearing my grey wig, much admired. It had become rather chilly again, so it kept my head warm which was a bonus. Anyway I had a coffee with my friend, then purchased lots of stuff from Tesco, though they were delivering the heavy stuff later, but when looking for my clubcard discovered that this, along with my keys, had been left at home. Texted Dorothy who was in meetings all day, panicked a bit and then rang my cleaner, who actually came over with the keys and we had a coffee before she departed. Must not do that again. Shared a snap of Nibby blowing her whistle at the protest in Macclesfield. She looks very good I think. Quite the revolutionary. Purchased another jasmine and a couple of mini daffs, which look quite sweet. I put the hyacinths in the garden, where I hope they will blossom again next year. There is a worrying encroachment of bamboo which is now only just outside my fence. I am wondering whether to lob a hand grenade so it falls just over the fence, but where to purchase such a thing? It might shock the bamboo into considering its position, literally. Maybe. We shall see. At least there are lots of small birds twittering away among the leaves there. Kooky is still being very picky about food. I am thinking of purchasing some hairball remedy, in case he has a large hairball, since he has been dry vomiting a bit recently. I need to pay large sums of money on Monday to try and assure my place at the Urban Sketcher symposium. Horrified to hear they only have 120 places. If I don't get a ticket I suppose I can hang around where they are doing workshops and sketch and pick things up, as well as getting a bit of sketching done anyway. We shall see.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Double Vision

or something made me put two sketches on the last post. Oh well. I ventured out through cold and driving rain to the Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec jam session last night. I left really early, only to discover a couple sitting at my usual table dammit. It was good to see people again, but my efforts were distinctly sketchy. Anyway this morning met my pal David for coffee, and wore my grey wig. He was very enthusiastic about this and said he rather fancied me in it, but that I should wear it at all times. Dear me. Anyway things are a bit quiet this week. At least I have had the loo seat finished, which took ages and confirmed my decision to call the plumber. On Friday I am due at Romy's in Egham, Saturday is Luke's Drink & Draw at St. Pancras, and Madeleine will come over on Sunday. Anyway here's the rather dodgy sketches I did at Toulouse Lautrec:

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Silver Sue of Southwark SE1

just went completely batty and bought a grey wig - if you can't have grey hair at 71 - just buy it! Anyway I think it looks quite good, but would rather like a white bob too. Maybe I can find one of these somewhere. Did a bit of sketching at St. Martin in the Fields crypt cafe on Friday, where we were joined by a tiny French child who was seriously sketching with us. We may sketch at Gaby's Deli just up the Charing Cross Road later. This is threatened as the owner wants to get rid of his properties and have more chains like Costa. Seems that Gaby's was a favourite of my ex, and it has been there since the mid sixties. All the actors have been up in arms and doing gigs there to raise publicity. I suggested that a bunch of artists sketching and posting their sketches on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter etc. might help here. Seems that Nibby had a good march in Macclesfield yesterday where they are protesting about the same kind of thing, trying to preserve the independent little shops and studios there. We're all at it. Admitted most of mine is of an armchair nature through the internet, but right on, say I! On the domestic front, my new polisher is very useful, I have purchased more garden plants, some new and smart frying pans and a new pet feeder for the Kookster, who remains capricious and picky about his food. I wish I did. Met Dorothy in Borough Market, and after purchasing all the sensible fruit he made a beeline for the chocolate stall where we purchased lots of chocs and proceeded to eat these with a cuppa at his place. We agonised about the cost of repairing his expensive shoes, going skiing, etc etc before parting company. He may well be skiing over Easter now so I shall refrain from making a huge effort for this. My current guest is leaving on Easter Saturday so I have purchased some mini hot cross buns from M & S which I stuck in the freezer. Due to go to Romy's next Friday (third time lucky with our attempted arrangements? we shall see). Meanwhile tomorrow, my plumber is due to come and attempt to change the loo seat (WHAT a palaver). If he remembers to come so I may text him. Today is Paddy's day and the pub on the corner is opening for the weekend for the first time, including Sunday lunch, so I may well partake of this. We shall see.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

snowy and sunny Southwark

but bloody cold and windy. Sketched a portrait demo at the Mall with Francesca and Artists & Illustrators on Sunday, but came back home soon as it was very cold. Later, Dorothy arrived bearing a huge smart bouquet from Borough Market and we dined at the Delaunay, which was very good indeed. A very satisfactory Mothers Day. Very exciting text messages from a friend on a rather enjoyable blind date, affording vicarious pleasure to this old bat. Yesterday I discovered a launderette in Walworth Road, so today left a pile of bedding there which I shall collect tomorrow. I thought it was rather expensive at £20, so I suspect a one-off, but at least I now know where to go to get things laundered. If they haven't lost them (and I hope they won't as one set is very expensive linen and the other is very expensive designer cotton) I shall collect tomorrow. Managed to use a couple of Gudrun bags to transport them in. Last night I did a bit of sketching at the Albert Arms at the Pubsci meeting where there was a most interesting talk on reconstructing how dinosaurs probably looked from examining a few old bones. Paleo Sam is an artist specialising in this kind of thing. Came home a bit knackered. This morning I discovered a huge pot had fallen over and broken in the garden. It had been knocked over by the wind. I spent quite a long time tidying up and planting a few of my wilting primroses. Must get some more pond weed. It seems to disappear fast from the larger pond, but the snails are making a good job of cleaning up all the fish poo in the small one. I had a moment of extreme extravagance and have purchased a lightweight floor polisher from Lakeland for £79. I hope to God it will do something for the kitchen floor. If not I may well put some lino on top of the black marble tiles. We shall see. I also took the unprecedented step of booking a ticked for the Oldie Literary Lunch, an excuse for authors to flog copies of their latest books. There are three speakers: Orlando Figes, Nicky Haslam and Posy Simmonds. The ticket was so much I doubt I will be able to afford to buy any books. Of course I am interested in Posy Simmonds whose drawings I admire. I have heard that Nicky Haslam is actually OK, and apparently the Figes book is very good according to reviews. I have also purchased a cheap secondhand paperback by the recently deceased Sylvia Smith. I had never heard of her until I read her obit in the Times yesterday and decided she sounded quite intriguing. Oh well, we shall see. Quite looking forward to sketching in the Crypt on Friday and off to Romy's new pad in Egham on Saturday. Such treats!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Knackered of SE1 - Part 2

The photographer took ages to snap my flat (just caught him here, in the kitchen), but I eventually escaped to Monmouth Street, where I devoured a few nordic snacks kindly provided at Gudrun's, before indulging in some retail therapy. Met a woman I had previously bumped into: a felter from Morley College. A very successful day. Yesterday I set forth for Canary Wharf and met Luke and the others. I decided it was far too cold for outside sketching so hid in a Pret and did a rather desultory sketch, later joined by the other sketchers who were freezing. I had noticed that the Jubilee line arrived at Stratford which I had wanted to visit, so abandoned sketching in favour of a trip to Westfields, where I found a very useful and cheap thin unlined dark parka for the spring, just heavy enough to be a little windproof and cover the ancient arms over sleeveless things. Fortunately I was wearing some of my Gudrun black and white purchases, so was able to see that it looked OK over these. Marks & Spencer is a most useful shop. On the return journey to Southwark, I had a sudden impulse to try the Emirates Airline, so leapt off at Greenwich North. Assessing (rightly, according to other travellers) that there was nothing much on the other side, I purchased a 360 degree round trip. I was a bit terrified at first, but the cable cars feel very secure and safe. The one unusual thing I did see was a man rising out of the water below on a huge jet of water coming out of a snakelike yellow cable. He would be in the water and suddenly rise straight out to quite a height. He seemed to keep his balance by holding out two kind of hoses pointing downwards from each hand. The whole thing was obviously quite skilled. According to a fellow passenger, this is a new craze. Quite spectacular. Worth the trip just to see that, but it is an easy, pleasant little trip. I may take a closer look at the O2 next time as I espied a Cafe Rouge next door. Arrived home in time to feed the Kookster. My guest came home much later after a shopping trip.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Gifts Galore!

Romy paid me a surprise visit yesterday. She came bearing gifts: a wonderful black bag with a very useful inner bag. The bag has a very trendy diamante skull, and inside the inner bag was this gorgeous lacy scarf from Spain. Fantastic - I shall wear these to my Mother's Day dinner with Dorothy. I can fit sketchbooks in, too, so very handy indeed. I don't know whether I mentioned I am having my more trashy bits of gold melted down into a bangle. Nibby's jeweller is going to do the work and Nibby will collect the gold on her next visit. Quite exciting! My new guest from Paris is settling in well as he is here for a month's internship just around the corner, so staying here is very handy for him. I have purchased some flowers to brighten up the garden since the Airbnb snapper is coming tomorrow. Mind you, he probably won't snap the garden since it is probably going to be pissing with rain. We shall see. Maybe I shall fill some baskets with flowers so they can be carried inside or out. Frantically cleaning meanwhile. Romy left her scarf behind and will hopefully collect it today. She is also bringing a Karcher window cleaning machine so I can have a go at the windows. Dear me, I am almost becoming a bit domesticated. I even baked a cake yesterday like the boiled orange cake, but substituting three overripe bananas. I may be forced to make another just to use them up. Romy was interested in the recipe which is 200g ground almonds, 150 to 200g sugar, 5 whole eggs, three very overripe bananas and a pinch of cinnamon or allspice. Oven on to about 170, then chucking in the bananas first and processing for a bit, chuck all the rest in a food processor until smooth. Line a sponge pan or two with baking parchment and cook for half an hour, but you may need nearly an hour if the dish is deeply filled. This is delicious served with cream, ice cream or alone and can be sliced and frozen. My guest had a slice which he enjoyed with a cuppa when he arrived home from work. Later tomorrow I may well go to the Gudrun shop where she is doing drinks and goodie bags etc for International Women's Day. I shall report back on this.

Still a Landlady

Set forth for the Cinema Museum which is handily placed right next door to the Buddhist place in Renfrew Road. Welcomed in for the day which provided plenty of things to study for cinema buffs and a few other bits and pieces. They were selling lots of home made cakes with tea and coffee for only £1 each, so I fell for a cupcake immediately. Had a chat with a few people including a fellow artist who has designed a statue of Charlie Chaplin with several optional locations. My favourite was the latest: near the 'shaver' building at Elephant & Castle. Funds need to be raised, which is probably the most difficult thing here, but it would seem appropriate to have a Chaplin statue somewhere in or near his 'manor', since there are numerous Chaplin statues all over the world. There is a very laid-back, informal air to the Museum which I enjoyed, but unfortunately too much interactivity to be left in peace to sketch so I took a few snaps of bits and pieces. There was to be a tour and film showing later, but I became rather tired and decided to leave earlier. I would like to have a tour and maybe see a film there at some date in the near future. The grating is a metal one in the ceiling. I did wonder whether inmates of the workhouse (which was the Museum's former incarnation)looked up and gazed at this as I did. Who knows, Charlie Chaplin might have stared at this - though it probably went in much later, who knows?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Modern Bathrooms

and loos and taps and sinks etc are utterly hopeless. Designed by some narcissistic idiot, the fittings are different (and usually expensive and nasty but cheaply made) for every type of loo, tap and bath and sink - and there are countless different types. So it is difficult to replace them. My sink is hopeless: it looks good but unless you are careful the water splashes all over the bathroom and the plug arrangement is so hopeless I have had to replace it with an ordinary plug. Ditto the bath plug. The bath connections are so bad that the bath has leaked into the guest bedroom on numerous occasions because things have become disconnected underneath, the large plate-like shower caked up and started spraying all over the bathroom so had to be replaced and now, for the final touch, I managed to get a new loo seat from Bathstore, only to discover that the old one is fixed in some modern way so it cannot be removed without two (very strong) people. I spent hours trying to do it yesterday, and despite using the right screwdriver, I suspect I have ruined the bits you unscrew. I finally had to ring the plumber who will charge a fortune and can't come for a week. All my (long) life until the last fifteen years or so, there were ordinary, fairly standard, baths, sinks, loos etc with fairly standard fittings. A loo seat took five minutes to replace. I suppose there was a reason for all this. It worked. Now, not only are things difficult to change and replace, but often they don't work very well in the first place. Rant over. Anyway my last very charming and easygoing guest has moved on and I now have a young guy here to work for a few weeks locally. So far he is also very pleasant and unobtrusive. However the photographers are coming on Friday. I looked at the place with new eyes and realised that gutting the place, buying new modern furniture and total redecoration was not an option. I proceeded to attempt to hide most of my stuff. So far I have tackled the bathroom and kitchen which are passable. The living room is a work in progress. I also had a bit of a go in the hopelessly mucky garden, as in the right season, this could be an asset, but has been untouched all winter so presents rather a challenge. On Saturday we went to Saatchi. Francesca and I decided to sketch in a rather unprepossing cafe until the rather officious staff became a bit bolshy, so we left and sketched outside for a bit, eventually decamping to Peter Jones to meet some of the others, and ending up in a pub for a chat. Found a bus (360) which comes all the way to Elephant & Castle. Must use this again because it is quicker than the tube, being more direct. Today is an open day at the Cinema Museum which I am looking forward to.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Hospitality's Me in SE1

Having prepared the guest room with everything I could think of, even some little primrose plants in a basket in the window, as well as fruit, water, tissues etc etc. I heaved myself onto a tube to Sloane Square for a bit of sketching. Luckily I was very early, so had time to purchase a new small porcelain jug to heat milk for coffee in, and eventually found a super window seat. The place was quite noisy though, full of yummy mummies and babes, rather like a creche. I had a sandwich and set down to do some quick sketches. Eventually the others arrived and we colonised a small area of the restaurant. There really are some excellent artists there. I had to dash off a bit early as my new guest was arriving. Having purchased the makings of a full English, lots of fruit plus croissants etc., I realised that it was all rather wasted on my guest who did not drink dairy milk, coffee or alcohol (I was so proud of my Nespresso machine and my newly made liqueurs. Oh well). Anyway he was a very charming, very young guy who settled happily in before taking a wander to the supermarket to buy some bits and pieces. After an early night he seemed keen to make his own breakfast so I left him to it, then he left to visit the V & A and Science Museum before his conference starts tonight at Imperial College. I told him to be sure to try the cafe at the V & A which is so interestingly decorated. Today I sallied forth to the Cafe Nero where I met my American art buyer. He bought me a coffee and we chatted for a while before exchanging cash and the painting. Seems he has been all over the place on a long trip before going back home tomorrow. He was very happy with the painting and mentioned that his brother had a great interest in English pubs. I said I was trying to get to draw and record some of these before they shut down and he said his brother might well be interested in seeing some of my pub pictures. We shall see. It's a busy weekend: I am drawing at the Saatchi tomorrow. On Sunday my guest is leaving and my new guest arriving from Paris. Busy, busy. Next week on Friday the Airbnb photographer is coming to take some snaps, so I shall have to spend my entire time putting things away so the place looks less cluttered. Hmmmm..........

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Diary of a Landlady

Went to the annual party at Brick Lane Music Hall yesterday. Very competently organised by Romy and it was super to see everyone again. Chats with trustees and punters and a brilliant lunch and pantomime, as usual. My successor has made huge changes in the organisation and now has a reputation as a bit of a superman, with knowledge in every field, which is excellent. So good to see everyone again, and Romy coping womanfully, as usual. Makes me realise my total inadequacy. This was even more apparent this morning. I have a new punter arriving tomorrow: a doctor (who looks about 18: I'm definitely getting very old) who's here for a conference. Casting my eyes critically about the flat I spied a huge thick layer of dust at the top of the kitchen door, which I climbed up and removed. Then the microwave looked extremely dingy inside so sprayed it with sugar soap. Tidied the bathroom a bit. I shall put some welcoming fruit, biscuits and a bottle of water in the room later. I may purchase another hyacinth if I can find one as they smell divine. I must also buy some more storage containers to tidy up the area underneath the kitchen counter. Must also buy some milk and Polish bacon today. And some superglue. As my chap is coming at around 5.30 I am not sure whether to go to cafe sketchers tomorrow at 1.30 in Peter Jones at Sloane Square. I suppose I could go early and stay for a couple of hours before dashing back. I shall see how I feel as I am also supposed to be sketching at the Saatchi on Saturday all day. I have to say my flat is in dire need of repainting, particularly in the hall and living room. Oh well, it will have to wait until time and money permits this, especially considering the total horror of the garden. We shall see. I am doing some more cards of my stuff soon. I think cards of the guest bedroom and living room might be a good idea as souvenirs. Of course my guests may have nightmares thinking about my painted stairs and generally eccentric (so I am told) flat. Time will tell. My main thing at the moment is obliterating Kook's pawprints and making sure plenty of fresh air gets into the house. Hmmmmm...........

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Knackered of SE1

Just found a quotation from Twelfth Night, Act 3 line 3 where Antonio recommends lodging in the south suburbs, at the Elephant. Put this in my Airbnb description. I shall succumb to having their free professional photography and have removed some of mine - they are a bit crap. Just had another booking for three nights in April. It's all a bit exciting, but the rushing around cleaning frantically has left me a bit knackered. Also a bit worried about the Kookster, who has become excessively picky about food, only eating the jelly from cat food. Will have to keep a bit of an eye on him. Ordered some pond snails which arrived the other day, in the hope that they will help keep the pond a bit cleaner since they apparently like eating all the horrible stuff which accumulates in ponds. We shall see. I was rather shocked to find myself taking an interest in cleaning materials. Dear me. Mind you, the awful mistake of a black marble tiled kitchen floor had been a challenge, as it never looks good whatever I do. Waterloo Zeitgeist has been extended for another month which is a stroke of luck. When I have enough money I must get the garden fence fixed before the summer comes as it is practically lying on the ground. I am also too feeble to turn my very heavy mattress which is in dire need of turning as I seem to be sleeping in a huge dent in it. Oh well. Pity I was too tired and it was too cold to go to Luke's Drink and Draw yesterday which was at St. Pauls' later crossing the millenium bridge to Tate Modern. Mind you, I shall have no shortage of places to draw for my new project about my London. Unfortunately there are only three or four indoor spaces, often involving the interiors of friends' houses. Hoping to see Dorothy today for a coffee or something.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Back Again - Your Landlady!

Well, I have been a bit busy. Tidying up frantically all the time for my first guest who has now been and gone. He was here for three nights: an engineer working on the new signalling for the Underground. Very charming and easygoing (thank God!) and altogether a pleasure to have around. I even found myself inadvertently cooking breakfast in the mornings. This will have to stop. Mind you since I have posted more snaps of the flat including the stairs I have had no further bookings beyond the ones I originally took. Airbnb are offering some free photography so I may take them up on this. Julian tells me I shouldn't have put the stairs in because they are too weird, and I suspect he may be right. I am thinking about this. Julian kindly came to help me put some bulbs in last night which has considerably improved the kitchen lighting. I have a map of London and have been sticking dots all over it in places where I have lived, worked, studied, enjoyed myself, done some drawing etc and there are quite a few now. Also places of significance where friends and relatives live or where I have lived in the past. And places I hang out in now. I am thinking of numbering them and providing a short description of each, together with sketches I have done of many of these. It is just a totally personal illustration of 'my London'. I was surprised at the number of dots: mind you, since they include all the hospitals I have worked in, and I have worked in most of the London hospitals, this should not be so strange. Though I spent many years living in west London outside the map: in Shepherds Bush, Barnes and Twickenham, these are obviously not included. It was also interesting to see how little of North London I have had much involvement with, apart from the odd visit to Hampstead to the theatre or to see friends in the past. I will see how this little project progresses. Off to see Evon and Kate tonight in Bethnal Green.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

More stairs

keep adding bits to these:

Sluggish Internet

So I shall download a few snaps later. Suddenly I was contacted by three people on Air Bnb while babysitting the gallery. I could not make my iphone respond to the queries so had to wait until I got home. Anyway, the final upshot is that unless cancellations are made, I have two bookings - one from 28th until 2nd inclusive and another from 3 March until 30th. Drawing at the Landmark yesterday I had another query I could not reply to for a date when the room is free, but when I got home the caller had found somewhere else. Though I do have the iphone app I somehow cannot get into it because I cannot remember how to sign in and have to do it through Facebook which I do not have on my phone. I will have to discuss my problem with Dorothy in order to avoid missing bookings in the future. I may have to carry my ipad around, but am nervous about doing this and can only connect if I find somewhere where I can do this as I don't have an internet account thing for it. Anyway, I am very pleased and relieved to have some bookings. I was so reluctant to have a permanent lodger after the last awful experience. I may not be able to do this either, but the only thing is to try. We shall see. Had a great afternoon sketching at the Landmark yesterday. It really is very expensive, but I just had a diet coke and Becky very kindly offered me some of her smoked salmon sandwich which was delicious. Kathy decided to come and it was great to see her. I met some people I had seen before, but this time managed to have a bit of a chat together, which was good. There were about ten or eleven sketchers altogether. Disappointing to miss that booking though as it was someone who was particularly keen to be near the National Theatre. Pity she couldn't wait a bit, but a good thing she found somewhere else. Nibby tells me you have to respond very quickly because they are sitting at their laptops mailing lots of people and are inclined to take the first reply. Ah well. I shall have to sort it out somehow. I think I will have a quiet weekend and maybe I will be up to the Toulouse Lautrec jam on Monday, which I have missed for a few weeks, which is unlike me.