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.