Sunday, 20 March 2011

Golden Days

At last I’m managing to do a full day’s painting without falling asleep over my desk! Although I was only able to paint for a few hours at a time last week - due to the amount and strength of the painkillers I’m on – now that I’ve reduced the dosage I’m back to my usual 8 hours or so. I must say it’s a strange feeling when I’m happily painting away to suddenly find that my brush has stopped moving and I’m jerked awake from a momentary slumber. Luckily most of the little splodges I made were easily washed off. If I were painting a miniature it would be a different story I’m sure. As it is this is the progress to date on the painting commemorating the fire at Windsor Castle.

Still not being allowed to drive I’m indebted to friends who’ve taken me out for lunch or to other functions. Last Tuesday, for example, Gordon and Olive Bond picked me up on a gloriously sunny day for a meal at Luscombes ‘Golden Ball’, where I came across this old clock on the way to our lavish luncheon.

Every route into Henley has its attractions – and all are completely different. The Golden Ball is reached by driving along the Fair Mile. On the wide verges on that day the daffodils, which line the road, were just beginning to come out.

Talking of golden balls, several years ago I was awarded the most prestigious prize in the world for miniature painting - The Gold Bowl. Made of solid 18 carat gold, it is given by the Royal Society of Miniature Painters for the best miniature painting of the year. Recipients are also presented with a very handsome silver gilt replica. Over the years mine had become quite tarnished, and try as I might I couldn’t bring it back to its pristine glory. However having met the English sculptor and goldsmith, Paul Eaton, in Florida earlier this year, he offered to professionally clean it for me. I took it down to him in Cranleigh about a month ago and on Thursday Paul and his wife Jacqui paid us a visit. We had a superb lunch at my favourite restaurant – The Villa Marina – next to the bridge at Henley. And here is the glittering result.

Catherine, a friend from California, came over to Henley yesterday. She always brings such interesting goodies. Last time she came to England I was given a full size chocolate shoe! The white chocolate button had the most interesting taste. This time she brought a very smart box of colourful Ladurée biscuits. We went for lunch at La Bodegas in a very crowded Henley. The weather was perfect so later we walked up to the River and Rowing Museum. On the way we spied this black swan. It must be the only one of its kind on this stretch of the river.

I like this museum – apart from housing some of the most comprehensive rowing memorabilia and racing boats in the country – it has a wonderful section on Henley and its history, centred on the Royal Regatta. Here are a few examples.

On the way back to town I photographed this view upstream where you can just see my flat in the distance – it’s the brick building framed by the willow tree on the towpath. As part of my recuperation I have to walk a mile or two every day so can be found somewhere along this towpath most days.


Gail Hayton said...

Was just taking a break from painting and saw your post. Have been thinking about you and wondering how you are doing. So glad you are up and around. Your latest painting is spectacular. We should all be so lucky to be able to paint so well while half asleep!

Mona said...

Hi Bill, it looks like Mr. Eaton actually gold-plated your bowl replica for you, am I correct, or is it just warm light?

So glad you are getting in full days at the easel and excerising too; your commission is looking quite beautiful!

RG9 said...

Glad to read that you are still making progress.

Seeing your photo of the Henley stage coach memorabilia reminded me that the original Henley to London road runs parallel to the modern A4130 through the beech woods of Culham Court Estate.

Recently the new billionaire owners have laid tarmac over its entire length so they now have a new drive - which they promptly swept last autumn when the beech leaves fell, laying a glorious russet carpet.

Sad really as the old rough surface was so much more attractive and the sons of a previous family used to race their go-karts along what used to be a very risky route frequented by highwaymen.