My young friend and I took a comfortable ride to Windsor by taxi yesterday evening rather than battle our way from the car park with a big easel. It was the evening of the big dinner where the Duke of Edinburgh was retiring from his position as Chairman of the Prince Philip Trust. The initial reception was held in several rooms – Ours seemed to be populated by a galaxy of Mayors. (What is the collective noun for mayors and ex-Mayors – surely not a ‘Stable’ as one of them suggested). At least ten Mayors of Windsor were there. Soon Prince Philip arrived and chatted to several of us for a while before we proceeded to the magnificent dining room where over 200 of us were due to have dinner. And what a spectacular feast it was. Six courses served so efficiently and speedily. We were on the nearest table to the top table – right next to where my painting was displayed (covered by it’s blue and gold cover). Here it is - partly obscured by the cover before it left my home.
The guests on our table included Lady Joanna Palmer - my friend from many years ago when her husband was the Constable Governor of Windsor Castle, one of the Windsor Mayors and the Headmaster of Eton College. When it became time for my speech, after a very flattering introduction by Trustee Kevin McGarry MVO, I must admit a little frog had decided to lodge itself in my throat, but I’m told all went well. Here are a couple of pictures taken at the time – a bit blurry I’m afraid
I did a silly thing the other day. When I arrived home with the Duke’s painting, after having the cover made, I took it upstairs to my flat, leaving the rear door of my car open. When I came down I got into the car closed the door and panicked because the steering wheel had disappeared! Yes, I w,as sitting on the back seat.
What have I been doing the rest of the week? Mainly drawing a pencil portrait of my second cousin, Derek, as a surprise present for his widow, Joyce. I took it to the frame maker in Reading this morning, together with the painting of Shirley, the saxophone player, which I also am having framed
About this time every year, Sarah Booth puts on a big display of her beautiful hand-made jewellery. This year she booked the Thames Room at Phyllis Court, so I popped in there in on Wednesday morning. It seemed I was the ‘token male’, but I bought seven or eight great Christmas presents while there.
My friends Joanna Dalston and her daughter Nicola – visiting from the USA – came over for lunch at Val’s on Thursday, and On Friday, Mollie, Jackie and Tony Hobbs invited us to dinner in the Orangery at Phyllis Court. Sunday was another brilliant and sunny day so I helped my young friend clear all the leaves from her lawns and became the anchorman at the bottom of her ladder while she cut away all the stray fronds from the Virginia creeper that had entwined itself around her house.
The autumn leaves are really hanging on this year in the mild weather. Here are a couple of scenes in the woods at Nettlebed on the outskirts of Henley.
Now I’m going to get back to the big painting I’ve just started of a Spitfire flying over Henley, and this evening, after a game of ‘Colours’ at the snooker club, I might put in an hour or so doing a bit more to my model Spitfire.