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.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Jewish Penicillin

I am rather into making this. Trouble is, I am eating it as fast as I am making it. Did a brief sketch yesterday at Cafe Nova, then another, and today I did a short lunchtime one at Mamuska. My kitchen floor is a nightmare, but have improved it a bit with undiluted polish rubbed in to make it a bit more shiny. No interest in my Air Bnb reduction so looked up Southwark to discover they are letting student accommodation rooms with parking and all sorts of facilities for £30, so I now have the cheapest room in Southwark at only £25 per night. Looks as though I may well have to have a lodger instead unless things look up considerably very soon. Tomorrow I shall be babysitting the gallery, and the following week is the last week of the current exhibition. On Friday I am due to join the Cafe Sketchers at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Cooking again..............

Well. I did have five zested lemons so forced to make lemon curd. Then had some left over nuts and choc so made chocolate walnut brownies. Fortunately I only ate one small one before freezing the rest. Despite my intentions of stopping cooking. Dear me. Very lazy day yesterday and had a healthy lunch at Mamuska. Rang Victorine for a report on La Traviata which is going down very well apparently: excellent news. There are only eight more performances, and Victorine seems very energised by being in a West End production, and enjoying it a great deal. I should have gone to the dress rehearsal. Curses. I am trying to decide whether to go to the jam session at Toulouse Lautrec tonight. I shall see how I feel later. Was talking to Nibby today about her cottage at Sharplaw. Jo said on Sunday that she thought it was where her brother was living. Sally doubted it, but you never know. Apparently someone bought it who turned it back into one cottage, adding bits on top and a tennis court. No doubt I shall hear. Sal is currently up at Mount Ulston babysitting the place, which will be great fun for her. If I were rich and catless I could go and join her for a few days, but it looks as though snow is setting in here. The guy who asked to stay on Air BnB did not get back to me, so I missed a one night lodger for nothing, dammit. Dorothy says this is par for the course, and I should book anyone in who wants to come and not negotiate on price etc. Francesca has a friend who has a poky room with a mattress on the floor somewhere miles out and inaccessible to transport and she is always getting people. Mind you she is charging only £20 per night so it is not surprising. Last night I put my charges down to £30 a night, which considering all the local hotels are charging over £100 does not seem too bad for central London. Oh well, we shall see. If nothing happens soon I shall have to go down the five nights a week route, though after my last lodger experience I am quite nervous about having anyone for a long stay. The Air BnB idea seemed a good one, but if there is too much competition, probably a waste of time. I will leave it for another week and see what happens.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Fat and Tired Old Bat

Another ghastly moment on the scales - now gained 11lb since Christmas. Was hoping I might have dropped a pound or so last week, but am now carrying another extra. Must try harder. Stopping cooking might help. Anyway went to Luke's Drink & Draw yesterday. We met and started sketching at the National Gallery until 1.30 then walked across Hungerford Bridge to South Bank. We had a quick lunch at EAT before going to the top of the National theatre to sketch. I was a bit tired by this time. Texted Dorothy but no reply. At four we intended to compare work and have a drink at Doggett's but it was absolutely full, so I suggested we walk inland to find a less crowded pub, which we did in the Mad Hatter, which was a great relief. I was so tired by this time that I was forced to order a Bailey's which did make me feel a little better. At this point Dorothy texted and was at Borough Market. I really wanted to meet Dorothy but was too tired to move. Fabi then joined us and showed me the huge red painting she was currently working on. Quite impressive. She is so funny. 'You know how you are feeling good while you are drawing?' she said. "And when it is finished you feel fantastic?' 'Yes' I replied. 'Well" she said "it is just like sex, no?". I had to agree.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Wall Filling, Kooky Biting and Courgette recipe

Here's a French recipe from The Times, apparently served with tomato coulis to children. It is good hot or cold and I am chopping it up and sprinkling over a salad with balsamic dressing. Basically you boil four courgettes for ten minutes, having turned the oven to 180. While the courgettes boil, you break four eggs into a large bowl and add a quarter teaspoonful of nutmeg and some salt. you fry two finely chopped shallots and put aside. You add 200g of creme fraiche to the eggs and beat in then add the fried shallots. By the error of not doing this properly resulting in a rather wet result, what you should then do, after draining the courgettes, is to slice finely using a food processor and lay the slices to drain on kitchen paper for a bit. Then line a dish with baking parchment and layer the courgettes until they reach the top. Then pour the egg mix over and grate 60g of gruyere over the top. I used cheddar. Then stick in the oven for 30-40 minutes. It is a bit of bother, but I quite liked it. I should mention that Kooky is developing quite an appetite for my right arm. And I put filler into the blown plaster hole, only to discover a further hole to fill today. Dear me. I have also been invited to the annual party by my former employers, and wrote a card accepting but got the date wrong having mislaid the invitation. Tragic. Fortunately I have now found this and will put the date in my diary. Probably just as well I retired when I did. Drawing tomorrow at the National Gallery and then National Theatre in the afternoon. Hope I remember to go!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Rainy First Night

Invited by Madeleine to the first night of The Captain of Kopenick at the National. The weather was truly vile, wet and windy. Anthony Sher was playing the lead and was particularly good in the second half during the period of his brief transformation into the Captain. The sets I liked, but the introductory choir sang so loud you could not hear the asides spoken by the prisoners. There was an awful lot of marching and singing and banging of percussion of various kinds, despite which I found myself almost nodding off, as the production did seem very long drawn out, and the jokes were so feeble, but this may have been some kind of commentary on the German sense of humour for all I know. Anyway the second half perked up a bit, but the message did seem a bit laboured and muddled. Again this may be due to incipient dementia on my part. There was a huge crush afterwards but we moved with a certain alacrity to obtain plates of food and a glass of wine, after which Madeleine very kindly dropped me home. I really enjoyed the opportunity to go to a first night, which is always fun, and very different from my usual quiet life. Today I babysat the exhibition at the Waterloo Gallery with Del. I put another painting in the exhibition, Waterloo Zeitgeist, which makes four now, and one hopefully sold. Our nemesis, a woman who had previously spent some considerable time wandering around the exhibition on another rainy day, fortunately hovered just outside. This was lucky, as on her previous visitation she had proudly and loudly announced that she had been evicted from her flat in Peckham and was staying at a nearby hostel. Rather unwisely, as it turned out, Del asked her why she had been evicted, and she replied that she had been awarded an ASBO for selling crack cocaine and prostitution. Waxing rather voluble on the subject of prostitution: 'We've all been there' she announced - our one thought was to get her out of the gallery before she ruined the prospect of any more sales, having already accosted a rather nervous young man. We do see life in SE1. We have had quite a number of visitors, a few sales and some very positive comments from the visitors. The eclectic nature of the works ensure that there is 'something for every one' which I see as quite positive, and yet somehow all of the work manages to look OK together. Found a fist sized hole in the plaster downstairs where it has blown, so may purchase some Polyfilla tomorrow. The painted trunk is looking good. When the weather and finances improve I must get the fence pole fixed or replaced. Did a sketch or two today in the gallery.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Windy Weather

Yesterday had roast chicken at Mamuska and did a short sketch. Had an enquiry for my room through Airbnb from a business man in Argentina coming to London to work for a few days asking for a special price. Knocked it down to £30 a night as it was my first possible booking, then had a reply saying he was thinking about it. Then re read his original enquiry, in which he referred to renting the flat! Sent a rapid reply saying it was just a room, then emailed Airbnb to change the title to make this clear. Mind you it would be pretty amazing to find a flat in London for £30 a night. Things must be much cheaper in Argentina. Oh well. This galvanised me into a certain amount of action, in that I partially cleared the dumping ground under the kitchen counter , and also the top of the counter, so now three people could sit there and eat or drink. I shall start to remove the picnic hampers from the living room and store them on top of my wardrobe upstairs. I shall then paint the pine trunk, which always looks a bit sordid,and hopefully improve the living room a bit. I may forego Toulouse Lautrec tonight as I am going to the National Theatre tomorrow night.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Drink and Draw at Old Operating Theatre

I had not realised there were about 35 narrow spiral steps to this place in St. Thomas street, and with no rail but only a rope going up the inside to grab. Bit of a nightmare, but I could not have done it at all a couple of years ago. Did a sketch of some shelves with various potions and herbal remedies. Strolled to Hays Galleria, where I purchased a small rucksack, which will be easier to carry my stuff and had lunch at Cote, which was very pleasant. There I met two women, one of whom worked at the Visitor Experience at the Shard, and had been admiring my rucksack. Since she was quite young and very smart I took this as a compliment. We had a brief chat and I left to find the others who were in a local coffee place. As the Horniman was packed, we found another pub where we sat and sketched each other for a further hour or two. Very enjoyable.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Cafe Sketching at Kew Greenhouse Cafe

About 12 of us met at the Kew Greenhouse Cafe yesterday. Earlier, a huge bunch of flowers arrived from Arena flowers as a thanks for ordering so many bouquets over the years. Lovely. Met Francesca, Becky, Susan and others and we spent a few hours sketching and chatting. I ate too much and did not get much work done, but it was good fun. Today I fell by the wayside a bit financially speaking by paying a visit to the Gudrun shop in Monmouth Street. Three glamorous women invited me to share tea with them, and two of them turned out to live fairly locally. Very artistic too - a glamorous American oldie with a green and pink fringe, hair in a scarf with a bright red flower in front and red dangly earrings, with a black jacket and clothes. Both of the others were very elegant and mainly in red. Seems that two of them were felters, and were studying at Morley college just up the road. Small world. Of course I gave way to temptation and bought a couple of Gudrun pieces. Must remember not to go up there again. I have been invited to the annual party by my previous employers. This is held at the Brick Lane Music Hall, and includes lunch and a matinee panto, which promises to be excellent, judging by past years. Looking forward to it. Must get in touch with Dorothy, who went in to work for the last couple of days of the week. Drawing tomorrow at the Old Operating Theatre.