Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last day and new beginnings

The last day of the year brings a sting in its tail.  Our car has failed the MOT and it has a list of other things about to go wrong too.  Fortunately, we have been ready for the eventuality ever since MIL almost strangled herself with the rear seat belt which seemed to self tighten every few seconds. Despite my protestations, Bev thought we should sort it out. Therein lies the fundamental difference between us...I seek for opportunity while Bev is motivated by love (only kidding!)

We've been looking for a suitable replacement all day...and have found one with the Toyota Yaris.  We've had Toyota for over twelve years and couldn't resist another.

I mentioned last post that I might share some new goals. I have taken a long hard look at what I would like to achieve in 2010 and have concluded that it isn't possible without change.  I will fail miserably.

I've not been successful with learning the French language in 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006. I don't want to fail in 2010.  Similar failures are in my personal history, genealogy and art, although I have set things in motion regarding my art...albeit only recently. I have yet to get out of my pram in writing my personal history and it's like wading in concrete at the moment with my genealogy.

Everything else seems to fit into and around my life quite comfortably.

To solve the problem I've decided to change things around to accommodate them...

  • Immerse myself in the French language by watching a film each week.  Read daily (French).  Listen daily (French) and study 90 minutes minimum each day.  I need to see, hear and speak it regularly.
  • Attend the Family History Centre fortnightly to carry out genealogical research.  
  • Create an art blog and website.
  • Create a personal history blog to update as and when...possibly monthly.
The only way I can achieve these will be to replace my daily blog with a weekly art blog and to use the time freed up for serious study.

I'm not sure if I can do this as I've always kept a journal, but I do know that if I keep things as they are it will be virtually impossible. I'm falling between stools with these goals.

Like a bee trying to escape through a window into the garden and forever failing because the window is closed, there is a real need to try something different.  I can clearly see what I want through the window but keep flying against it and getting frustrated...I'll never succeed in getting through to the garden to smell the roses unless I try something different.

I still intend to visit my favourite blogs as I don't think I can go a day without peeking and if it becomes apparent that this new arrangement isn't working , I'll revert to my daily blog for February.

Actually, if this doesn't work I'll be at a loss to know what to do next.

Happy New Year everyone.  I truly hope it holds everything you wish for.

We're off to Jon and Ann Green's house to bring the New Year in with David & Eileen and Jim & Briony.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Counting the cost

Just one more day and we'll be able to tot up every little bit of expense throughout the year. We wanted to carry out this exercise to see roughly how much we'll need to live on while in France.  It's quite exciting!

Of course, we have always budgeted and have always been frugal, but this year we wanted everything to be counted...even things costing 20p bought at jumble sales.

There are things which are big spends and not altogether essential but I think that is because our children have all left home and we are both working. It has been really nice not to have to think twice for once (if that makes sense).

I've also given thought regarding the social, emotional and spiritual cost of 2009 which will have a bearing on personal goals set for 2010.  Tomorrow I'll be sharing one or two.

Come on 2010...I'm ready for you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I felt like Bambi on the walk to work.  It was so icy that I was slipping all over the place and just couldn't keep my feet. It must have been comical to watch.

Kirsty's (the girl I work with) husband has an uncle who slipped on Christmas Eve and broke his leg in 5 places...he's still in hospital. On Christmas Day, Kirsty's parents walked home and her dad slipped on the ice while carrying a bag of Wii remote controls. As he went down the bag swung up, hitting her mum in the face and knocking her front tooth out. It reminded me of that song 'All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth'. I know I shouldn't laugh, but it was funny...especially when she told me that her mum had swallowed the tooth as she landed on her backside! I don't know about Wii but I nearly wet myself with the imagery.

Kirsty has just gone home.  I hope she doesn't have any slip-ups! She had an operation on both knees and a fall will be very painful.

Today was not a nice experience as my heart was still on holiday.

Walked home in the rain whilst looking and hoping Bev might pick me up and save me from getting wet.

Arrived home, opened the door and steamed my glasses up.

'Aloah, she warmly smiled. Is it raining?

Monday, December 28, 2009

I don't feel guilty

Had a great night's sleep and refused to get out of bed at a time I would normally have been at work and ready for a break. My body was telling me something and I was in the mood to listen.

We eventually faced the world and hit the sales in Newark and Lincoln as well as buying plaster and coving for our bedroom.  I even started the ceiling before breaking off to enjoy a meal out with family.

We also found the perfect place for buying our sideboard for France.

I never returned to the work in hand...we chilled-out and enjoyed the day doing other things.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Early night needed

It was good to see John, Hannah, Robin and Scott today (I didn't actually see Niki or Helen). It's a shame I didn't have time to chat for too long but I suppose the opportunity will present itself before too long.

Unfortunately, John has a good memory and is holding me to a promise I made to walk the Three Peaks in May.  I think the walk will see me off!  I guess I'd better start getting into shape.  No more mince pies thank you!

During church I heard Bev mention to someone that she was nipping to the cemetery to see her dad, so I followed some time later and saw from a distance that she was alone by the grave.  It was windy and she didn't hear me approach and put my arm around her shoulder. She screamed! I screamed!  Some comfort I am! I'm glad we were the only ones there.

We had Brian and Trish and the family drop by on their way back to Basingstoke this afternoon. The visit kept us indoors as we were planning to go see Tom...which would have resulted in another late night no doubt.

We are feeling better for staying indoors and made the most of it by calling a few people including my sister.

Today was as quiet and tranquil as yesterday was noisy and hectic...both were welcome. I like contrasts.

An early night (before 11:00pm) will be most welcome as events are catching up with me and rendering me incapable of clear thought.

I'll wait till tomorrow to catch up reading my favourite brain is too frazzled at the moment.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A blur

The day was a blur but I know we had a great time together.

We are back and It's late. I'm so tired that I can't even think about how to describe the day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

It's a bright blue sky but very cold outside.  We didn't feel inclined to rush this morning and enjoyed a leisurely pre-breakfast walk before returning to an extra-warm and inviting home.

There was still prep to do before we set off for Martin & Sarah's and a well anticipated traditional Christmas Dinner prepared by Martin.

He did exceptionally well, beginning with Large flat mushrooms filled with goats cheese and sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and a dollop of country chutney.

The main course was the traditional turkey dinner, but what was remarkable was that everything was cooked to absolute perfection.  You know how horrible veg can be when over-cooked. Martin excelled himself.

Dessert was trifle, Christmas pudding or Christmas cake...or all at the same time I noticed for some!

We pulled crackers and stayed a long time at the table.

Later we enjoyed exchanging some presents and watched 'The Invincibles' cartoon and 'Annie'.

It was difficult to leave and a shame it all ended so quickly.

Back home now and we still haven't exchanged our presents. We've been busying wrapping things for tomorrow and preparing food to take so Juli doesn't have the entire burden.

This is the painting I did last week but didn't put on my blog in case Juli saw it before's of Chris and the girls...a particular favourite photograph of his and hopefully now a favourite painting.

Looking forward to tomorrow as all the family head for Sunderland and an excited Juli & Chris wanting to show us their new home. It's going to be a special day...I'm excited just thinking about it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cold comfort

Now is the perfect time to wish all my blogging friends throughout the world a very Happy Christmas...especially Randi, Robert, Eileen, French Fancy, Phil, Juli, Jean, Helen and Blu who have contributed by leaving comments often more interesting than the post itself.

I don't think you need me to tell you to make the most of Christmas as I'm sure you will. I look forward to  your posts in the coming weeks if you recover in sufficient time.

Yes, I did paint today, but I feel a little under the weather with signs of a cold creeping up on me.  Yes, I know!  It'll just be my luck to feel grotty throughout the celebrations!

It's an early night for me I think.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not all doom and gloom

Britain is in the grip of ice and freezing fog. Officials are under fire over ungritted roads. The AA are dealing with 700 calls an hour (busiest for 25 years and the airports are crippled.  On top of this, we are in the worst recession since 1955. These are some of the headlines from the national press.

I'll still eat, drink, laugh, make friends, appreciate what I have (and haven't got) as well as try and make the world a better place...all of which is easily affordable.

Tomorrow I'll wrap up warm and go out to shop in the brilliant sunshine without a snowflake in sight...such are the benefits of living in a protective valley. We rarely see extremes in anything other than the people who live here.

Time to help Bev wrap some gifts.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


What a long, long day!
Bev picked me up from work and we went straight off to Nottingham.  She was the taxi-driver for her mum as she made her visits with Dot.  Dot isn't well enough to drive at the moment and shouldn't really be out and about so Bev was happy to make it easier for her.

I met up with Martin to go and visit Ji Fang Xue to see if she and the family needed help moving on the 28th.  I have never met such a happy and positive little family.  It doesn't matter what happens in life to deter them, they turn things around with a smile.  We also dropped off a Christmas card and hamper for Hong Chi who, like Ji, is also infectiously happy.   Bev Cotton and Jaimie-lee were the final family we visited before meeting up with Bev at church...where I found my back-pack.  Yes, the very same one that I thought I'd lost forever.

Back home again and enjoying a Horlicks and two chocolate biscuits.

Life is good!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Going through the emotions...

  • It's a hard and frustrating day at work which led to two paracetamol and eventual relief.
  • We were delighted to have been awarded third place for our desk decoration...a competition we never entered.
  • I've now misplaced my back-pack...the one that allowed my journal to escape a month or so ago. Frustrated!
  • Very pleased to hear that Paul Hutchinson has at last confessed to killing Colette Aram in 1983 in nearby Keyworth.
  • This evening we enjoyed a meal at Muston Gap with friends of over 40 years ...14 of us behaving badly and learning new things about each other.  It was a good evening marred only by the fight in the car park afterwards. Flinn missed me with his first attack, but Jon Green managed to catch me with a body blow.  I recovered though and managed to hit Bev in the small of the back.  It was snow-balls of course and, had there been enough snow, the fight will have lasted a lot longer.
I've no interest in snow right now as it has virtually crippled our country. I have to say that it doesn't take much to bring this country to its knees.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Snow at last! But it's barely covering the hardened ground.  It's -5 degrees as we get into the car for church and our best friend was the heater from the front and the hot air from the back seat.

Actually, she was quiet for most of the journey...does she secretly read my blog or is she worried about her friend? I think the latter is probably the truth of the matter.  The cancer has returned to haunt Dot and she was to start chemotherapy again this week.  They stopped abruptly, wide-eyed and needle mid-air when they found out she hadn't taken the pre-requisite medication.  I was shocked to learn that had they injected her, it would have resulted in instant death. Surely that can't be right?  Anyway, she was shocked too and had to return after the steroids had taken effect.

We visited Bev's family in Mansfield after church and enjoyed a spread associated with causing a spread...if you get my drift, or is that midriff?  It was good to see everyone but we had to leave early because of the snow.  Yes, the SNOW!  As we drove onto our drive however, it was apparent that no snow had fallen in Newark.

Incidentally, it was so cold today that one of the windows at church-a toilet window intact for over forty years- suddenly shattered when the heater below it was turned on.

It's nice to be snug, warm and cosy indoors on a day like today.

We'll be watching 'Cranford' in a little while as we write Christmas cards to post tomorrow...better late than never!

If I don't wake up to heavy snow, I'll be most disappointed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


No snow when I woke up.
No snow when I put the boards up on the bedroom ceiling with help from Ash and Jon.
No snow when we walked into town in the freezing cold.
No snow as we ate hot chestnuts from the buttermarket.
No snow as we trudged back in the bitter cold with arms stretched with bags.
No snow as we drove to Bridgford to listen to the Christmas Carol Concert...the choir, quartets, duets and soloists  were excellent (Martin said I sounded like I was at a football match).
No snow as we stopped at a nice looking chip shop on the way back home.
SNOW falling as we left the chip shop.
No snow by the time we got out of the car.

What have we done to deserve this? All I want is to throw a snowball at Bev!

Surely there will be snow when I wake up.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Painting session number 3

The whole country had shedloads of snow but not one single snowflake hit the ground in Newark .  I jumped out of bed in anticipation but peered through the darkness into a frost-laden garden devoid of anything magical.  Perhaps tomorrow.

Paris 24x20  oil on board.  Still work to do (I'll replace this photo with a sharper on tomorrow. I don't consider this painting to be the way I want to go. It's not loose enough.  I think I'll do another very loose and brighter version.

Josselin 15x15 oil on in progress.  This is in the blocking-in stage...another blurred photo.

I did start and finish another painting but don't want it to go on show until Christmas.

I haven't been outside at all today and feel the worst for it. It was almost dark when I started and dark when I finished. I always feel better if I'm exposed to the elements for a while. If there is snow tomorrow I'll be out first thing to have a roll around...getting excited!

Bev has just made me a hot milky drink and a slice of malt loaf covered in butter.  It's just what I want but I felt like an old man in a nursing home as she brought it to me.

Tomorrow night I'll bring one to her.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hoping for something magical

A long hard day of painting Paris and Josselin has flashed by and I've done nothing else but send a few emails, searched the loft for a nativity scene, read a few blogs, taken a few calls, eaten, written and posted cards and watched a true movie film with Bev...'One against the wind', about Mary Lindell (French resistance)...really good! She certainly made a difference.

I've been trying to obtain strength, vibrancy, light, texture, contrast and colour in my painting...not easy! Still lacking spontaneity I think.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

I hope I wake up to snow like my American and French'll be magical!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gone to Pot...

Every road I drove along today was just about recognisable but strangely unfamiliar. I think it was down to me being on auto pilot with my mind snapping back now and again to what should have been very familiar, but wasn't.  Truth be told, I'm deteriorating. I'm falling apart and I'm not as sharp or as attentive as I once was.

It may be that I've just had too much food and chocolate...way too much chocolate!

Anyway, I'm back home now...there's no place like home. A good nights sleep should sort me out.

My Secret Santa gave me this gift's a radio to be used in the garden and is called 'Gone to Pot'.  See, even they have noticed!  Granted, I need to be more in tune but I thought it was more appropriate for Bev and her recent dodgy activities down at the bottom of the garden.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feeling a little under the weather

We were allowed to decorate our desks but weren't allowed to hang anything from the ceiling.  Everyone was obedient...except that bank of desks over there (you might have to click the image to enlarge). They are our desks and I was the rebel with a cause.

We were dreaming of a white Christmas and our dream came true although you could say that we were feeling a little under the weather!  The blue screen is mine and Kirsty is opposite.

My desk...Karen speaking with Kirsty

Tomorrow is our team meal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas tree

I thought it was funny that the reindeer were at our workplace today but were too grumpy to have photographs taken. They need to snap out of it and get into the Christmas spirit soon otherwise there will be a lot of disappointed children next week.  I told them so, but I don't think they were listening.

I braved the loft in search of our Christmas tree.  We used to have a real one but it became almost impossible to get the right size, price and shape, so this is the convenient alternative. Perhaps when we are in France we will go back to the real thing.

All we need now is a spray to replicate that fresh spruce smell...and the presents on display of course.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Bev woke up and promptly headed for the bathroom and was sick. This consigned me to a journey feeling alone-without an ally-in a confined area with MIL as we drove to church.  The frost outside was matched by the frost inside and for what reason?  I have no idea, but fortunately there was a big thaw and even sunshine before we got out of the car.

I just don't know where the time has gone since we arrived back from church, but it certainly has gone.

Bev is feeling a lot better for the extra rest.

We've had a more relaxing than normal afternoon and evening.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Robert Brault

"Most obstacles in life have no power to stop you but only to make you stop yourself."  -Robert Brault.

I had a rotten old night and feel the need of something to take the 'I think I'm going to die'  feeling away. The above quote was just the thing...nothing will stop me today...hopefully!

I was sad to learn that Robert won't be around until March and his site won't allow comments to be left.

If you drop by here Robert be sure to have a good break and yes, I look forward to purchasing your book if it's ready in time and when you return.  It's long overdue.

My jobs today...
  1. Take the rest of the ceiling down in the main bedroom.
  2. Collect ceiling boards and screws.
  3. Charge the cordless drill.
  4. Clean all the blue bricks with acid.
  5. Bevel mortar the pillars.
  6. Clear up all the mess.
  7. Protect the pillars from frost.
  8. Put new ceiling boards up if time permits.
Paul and Debbie (+ the dogs) dropped by. It was nice to see them.

Well, the day is done.  How did I fare?

I had to haul  the 8'x4' boards upstairs by myself as there was no one to help. I also bought the wrong type of boards and had to put a bevel on them myself. The tool I used to put the bevel on was blunt and had to buy a new one. These were only obstacles however with no power to stop me.

Ashley and Jon agreed to help me put the boards up (I've forgiven Ash) but Jon was delayed so we've had to plan for another day.

All the other jobs were completed so it's been a very successful day.  The really good thing is that the wall is finished in terms of bricks and mortar...the wrought iron will be done as soon as I can find someone to make it.

Taking the ceiling down was a very, very dirty job...

The wall...

Now is the time to sit down, relax and watch a movie perhaps. Bev hasn't stopped all day and is really tired...I'm pretty bushed too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Painting session number 2

"Art is about deciding what to maximize and what to minimize to maximize it".   -Robert Brault.

After a long hard day of painting, I met Bev and we drove into Newark to do some Christmas shopping. When we returned I went upstairs to bring the Mac down from the studio...but it had gone!  I couldn't find it anywhere.

While we were out, Ash had dropped by and before he left again had unplugged the mac and tucked it in our bed with the top half of the screen resting on the pillow.  Bev eventually found it based on 'Lets look in the most improbable place' rather than my idea of 'Lets look in the places where is should be'.  I revisited the two places time and again and stared in disbelief at the empty spaces.

He laughed when I called and wanted to know how long it took me to find it..  Kids!!

The big problem of the day is that the mac isn't picking up the pictures I took of the paintings today.  They show on the camera but I can't transfer them.

Jon is coming over tomorrow so perhaps he can sort it for me. I'd ask Ash, but he has already spent too much time here of late. Besides which, I'd clonk him for being such a twit, so it's best not to invite him for a few years!

Sorted the problem...Paris (unfinished and way out of focus). 15x15 oil on board.

Cornwall...just a bit to do when inspiration visits...24x20 oil on board

I like to re-visit paintings with fresh eyes in order to finish them off.  I'm still far too concerned with detail but the spontaneity will come eventually.  I'm wanting to minimise in order to maximise as Robert puts it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today I was in Paris before nipping to Cornwall. I would have liked to have been in Venice but that will have to wait until next week.

Such is the life of a studio artist.

The sunshine was brilliant today and it took all of my self-discipline not to be working on my wall.

A good honest days work and plenty of time to think about all kinds of things.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Listening to reason

VF employees are forever ignoring pleas not to park on the main road in front of the building. Yesterday, a lorry ploughed into the back of one and like a row of dominos, 10 cars fell victim and were badly damaged. Yes, we have secure car parks that they could have used!
Now, we have intelligent people working here, but guess how many cars are parked in the same spot this morning?

Today I can guarantee snow at 11:15am as it's my job to manufacture it to hang directly over our bank of desks.  We've decided against our planned 'Bah humbug' in favour of a more festive spirit or goodwill.

Here I am tying each snowflake (I recommend cotton wool because it's a lot dryer and doesn't disappear when you touch it) every 4" onto invisible nylon thread which is in fact visible. Everyone has a specific job to do, so by Monday when I next come in, it should all look like the ideal Christmas morning and every bit as false as San...what am I saying!! I should be ashamed of myself.  I'm expecting to see a spectacular Bing Crosby Christmas setting. A totally white pre-Christmas lasting all the way through to the New Year.

We had a circular warning us not to hang anything from the ceiling.  Well, this isn't just's hundreds of snowflakes of which I'm prepared to compromise and take a couple down if forced into a corner...that's a measure of how accommodating I am.  I'm every bit a listener as the people who continue to park their cars at the front...I never learn!

Work is behind me now and Bev has helped me put the newly-painted wardrobe doors back on.  She's done a good job of the painting and I'm glad the job is behind us.  Now for the rest of the room (Saturday).

I'm preparing myself mentally for a different type of painting right now.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Oh, how frustrating!
Perhaps it's an age thing but I've just spent all evening trying to get my new printer to work.  It's working now that its got to know me better.  I used it to scan a photo onto a memory card.  It worked, but now I can't get it onto the mac after I put it back into the camera.  I give up! I'll try again when I'm feeling fresh and up for a challenge.

I wanted to show a photograph of Michael from Kenya who has sent us a note.  He's such a bright and happy little lad who has absolutely nothing.  it brought  tears to our eyes.

"Dear sponsor, I am happy to write to you.  I am learning well.  May God bless you for helping me.  Michael Mwangala"

He also enclosed his school if he needs to prove anything to us!

May God bless you Michael!

Here is a link to the charity Children in they are based just down the road from us and are such a warm and friendly couple.  Every single penny reaches the children and we are proud to help them fund-raise.

Photo of Michael to follow.

Monday, December 07, 2009

We hear you loud and clear...

On Saturday I listened to a Sky Sports National Television football round-up and all of a sudden Dave Bracegirdle gave a report on-air.  I couldn't believe my ears.  Was this upbeat, enthusiastic, knowledgable, powerful and professional person that the whole nation was listening to, the same as the complaining, sarcastic, self opinionated, moody, rude and arrogant renegade, loose cannon of a person I work with?  The answer is yes!

I know it sounds bad but I mirror the very same characteristics yet am considered a valuable team member and even he is. Yes, I actually like him and now that I've heard him on-air I think he is one of the very best sports commentators this country has on offer.

Like me, he mercifully doesn't display all of these negative traits at the same time, but I can't help but conclude that it's the company we work for as opposed to those we work with that brings the worst out of us.

We have been known to smile and even be nice, courteous, cheery, cheeky and-dare I say it- helpful, but it's difficult to sustain such radiance when we're chained to our desks the way we are and worked to near death (dramatic enough?).

We've pressed our case for remuneration due to the ever-expanding nature of our work which saves the company millions but as yet and unlike us, the corridors of power are silent.

That's life!  Anyway, at least we have a job!

Oh, welcome to Blu...a blogger extraordinaire and the very first blog I read...well, it may have been the second but certainly the first to inspire me.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The good, bad and delicious...

Now that's better!
I've had a nap and its worked wonders.

I've just nipped to the kitchen and had a rummage in the cupboard after smelling chocolate on Bev whilst giving her a hug.  I'm fully revived now having done exactly what Bev did and have duly told her off for being naughty. Yes, well I didn't try and conceal my craving and temptation along with slow unconditional surrender culminating in absolute sneaky capitulation.  I just went and got one.

It was a hectic morning at church and for the second week running the storm clouds gave way to brilliant sunshine.

Bev is on the computer catching up with genealogy and I'm here moulded into a leather bean-bag writing my journal as I reflect on the week past and the weeks to come.

All of England's past nobility including Kings and Queens have never experienced what I'm currently doing and I feel really privileged.  I'd much rather be blogging than exploiting people or cutting heads off.  Don't get me wrong, I like Queen Lizzie and have admired her in a way I find difficult to define right now but in truth I'm not a Monarchist or a lover of nobility though some evidently were and are...noble that is.  The strange thing is that I still feel pangs of patriotism when pomp and ceremony are on show to the world.  I just can't explain it.

There is but one King for whom I will honour and give my life if needed.  Of that I am clear.

Our Prime Ministers and their cronies are a different kettle of fish and have never made me feel proud in any way.  I'd gladly throttle the lot if I thought such an exquisite act would be exempt from the need to repent. Such thoughts are common to me and a continual acquaintance with repentance is assured.  The political system we have is democracy however and in this I am proud.

I reserve real pride and admiration for the countless individuals that really put the G in GB...the ones who make real sacrifices and who have genuine unfeigned love.  They are unsung heroes who are rarely portrayed in the media. Such people are in evidence the world over I suspect and without whom we'd be in a sorry state.

I'm off my soap box now and am considering getting a drink for myself and Bev.  We'll fight over the last chocolate biscuit because some things, my friend, are worth fighting for.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


The 48 blue bricks under a strikingly blue sky and wonderfully dry won the day, but not before another tip trip with as many bags of rubble.  The fine weather lasted as long as I needed it...almost!

In the wind, rain and failed light I struggled with flapping covers to protect my newly crowned pillars.

A day well spent and within spitting distance of another goal about to tumble.

Can anyone tell me why I should wake up at 3:15 am...again!

So tired!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Painting session number 1...

Well here we go...the first painting off the production line.  It isn't finished but it isn't far off.  I've also finished the small ship I started about five years ago but lost interest (not motivated with detail). It was taken from a book so I can't really claim anything other than painting it.

I've also blocked in (started) a few more paintings ready for next week.

Oh, and I thought I'll throw a few pics of the studio.  It's small but it's the only indoor room I'm allowed for painting.  My main studio is crammed with loft displacements and is far too cold anyway.

Studio shots...

Forgot to smile...

The tea clipper...6''x6'' oil on board...

The main painting... another of the pub restaurant in Josselin...10 minute drive from our house in Brittany. L'hotel de France...24''x24'' oil on board.

We're off to a baptism now...then perhaps a little Christmas shopping in Nottingham.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


By the time I sorted the studio out and fitted my north light tubes on the well as bringing my mac upstairs so I can check out resource material and listen to music and was 9:00am.

Last night I cleaned all my clogged-up tubes of oil and screwed the tops on firmly so it was a clear day of painting today.

The heater 'fizzled' as soon as I switched it on which sent me searching for my jumper and scarf. Not a good start really as it's pretty cold and it's one of two rooms in the house without radiators.

The day went well and I couldn't believe how quickly it passed. I had to drop everything and dash downstairs to prepare the evening meal...just as Bev walked through the door at almost 5:00pm. I've volunteered to do the cooking for Thursdays and Fridays which, I suppose, puts me in the 'very considerate husband' bracket.  Yes I know, I'm just too much!

I've left her to clear up and wash the dishes. Oops! there goes my halo!

I've just cleaned my brushes...not keen on the smell of white spirit.  It gives me headaches.  I'll have to get on the net and find an alternative.

Here is my studio shelf with my mac showing one of my paintings that I wanted to check the style of...high enough not to be splashed with anything.  The top of the painting I'm working on rests on a worktop and comes to the top of the shelf. I burned my easel earlier this year because it had twisted over a period of 25 years.  It's a good job they don't do that with everything that becomes twisted otherwise all my good friends will be charcoal by now.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The starting line...

This is my last working day of the week in front of a PC and I feel on top of the world.

I find myself at the starting line at last.

Tomorrow and each subsequent Thursday and Friday I'll be in front of a canvas or board with the goal of creating something someone would want to buy somewhere in the world.  This is in preparation for when I'm a full-time artist again... in France.

I don't need to sell at the moment but I do need to build up my stock for the future and have everything in position and functioning. If I'm to achieve this particular goal I need to make things happen and see steady progress, not sit on my backside dreaming. Dreaming is okay but it never becomes reality unless you actually do something.

I hope to convince visitors to my blog journal that to be a professional artist requires considerably more than applying paint.  It is not a romantic pursuit that is forever pleasurable or rewarding. You'll have my thought processes, frustrations, tears, fears and feelings along with how everything is achieved.  Well, that's the plan anyway!

Many a hobbyist who paints for pleasure and paints well has my admiration but I'll be walking a different path, one which doesn't guarantee pleasure or remuneration although I sincerely hope both will be in evidence. This will be my profession, warts and all! It's what I want to do with my working life.  It's what I need to be doing.

Each Friday I will post my efforts...even if the painting is unfinished.

On your marks, get set...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sitting comfortably?

My chair went AWOL last week.  The carpets had been cleaned overnight and they just pushed all the chairs into one area. I ended up with a really old and uncomfortable one that doesn't wheel very well and stands at an angle. 

They should know me better than one who would take this lying down so to speak.  I searched the entire floor for mine which has a thread pulled specifically for identification purposes.  If I caught sight of the thread, I would then oust the occupant and turn it upside down (the chair) to reveal my name in tippex.

I had no luck whatsoever so the only available option was to nick someone elses while they were at lunch...they are all company chairs are they not?  I know I'm a Christian but when it comes to my chair the lines could be blurred! 

Imagine my surprise when I caught sight of my chair yesterday...located right behind me!

I became full Christian again by returning the one I borrowed and placed the wobbly one at the desk of the culprit who was due to start work later.

I'm continually finding out things about myself and my supposed honesty.  Incidentally, it's a little known fact that our beloved Queen Elizabeth carries with her on EVERY engagement her own toilet seat. M'am enjoys her comfort too and is even more fussy than me it seems. I can't recall ever seeing it hanging round her neck but next time you see her be sure to look closely.

I saw a cool toilet seat some time ago that had the image of barbed wire on it.  Another was in a bathroom the floor of which was an image of no floor at all and some twenty stories high. It really did look like you would step to certain death.  The best by far was a public toilet in France which was totally private if viewed from outside, but from inside you can sit and watch everyone walking by and perceive them as looking straight at you.

How did I get onto this?

It was so cold yesterday (and today) that my face was numb as I walked across the field.  To think that just a few weeks ago I was walking with short sleeves and no coat at all. I wouldn't go out without coat and scarf now.

I swapped my work seat tonight with a car seat as I drove to pick up the last of the blue bricks from Tom over at Harston.  I found him sitting comfortably on the settee in front of a roaring fire with a cat stretched luxuriously across him.  I enjoyed chatting for half an hour or so before loading the bricks then listened to Ralph McTell on the way home.  And here I am again...sitting down.

We spend an awful lot of time sitting down don't we...especially on cold and dreary winter evenings like this?