Last Thursday I went to the Churchill Hospital in Oxford for a pet scan. After spending 90 minutes in a cupboard while two nurses
injected me with radioactive material from a gun-metal canister (it set off a
loud alert on one of them!) I was placed in the centre of a large room with all
sorts of nuclear notices plastered around it. There I had to lie in a big metal
tunnel with my arms above my head for 35 minutes with the noise of the machine
as it whirred around my body as my only companion. When I finally escaped I was
too radioactive to be near children or pregnant women for 6 to 10 hours! As my
young friend was neither, she drove me home.
We’ve just returned from a weekend in Norfolk. I like steam
trains so we took a trip on the North Norfolk Railway between Holt and
We were staying with Christine at her cottage in the hamlet
of Stanfield, and she came with us. Sitting in a very luxurious first-class
compartment at the front of the train it took me back to my younger days (not
that I ever travelled first-class then) when I always went around by train in
corridor coaches. Here comes the ticket collector. Nice to have an
old-fashioned cardboard ticket to be clipped,
When we got back to Holt I clambered up to the driver’s
cabin. It was very hot in there.
Down the lane from Christine’s house lives an old farmer
called Joe. Here he is with a couple of his dogs.
He owns 8 dogs, chickens, lots of noisy geese, and eight or
so shire horses. One of them tried to eat my young friend’s jacket.
Joe ploughs his fields with a team of shire horses, and I
gave him a DVD I’d made of him with his horses on an earlier visit.
We went to nearby Castle Acre Priory the following morning.
This must have been a very impressive collection of
buildings during the Norman conquest. The castle and priory were built in the
early 1070’s by the family of William de Warenne, a Norman knight and was a
combination of fortress and aristocratic residence. Although Castle Acre priory
closed in 1537 it is remarkably preserved, and although abandoned in the middle
ages, remains one of the most comprehensive Norman earthworks in the country.
As we wandered around we took a whole series of photographs.
On the way back home we had to make way for a whole caravan
of tractors on their way to some sort of rustic rally. (Wonder what a
collection of tractors is called?)
Every time I go to Norfolk there’s a cold wind blowing, and
this time was no exception. These two seagulls didn’t seem bothered as they
perched high above the harbour in Wells-next-the-sea.
On Monday we decided to drive the 150 miles home by avoiding
motorways. (The M25 is always congested and very boring.) Our first destination
was Oxburgh Hall in southwest Norfolk. This stately home was built in about
1482 at the height of the War of the Roses,
Beautifully preserved, it’s surrounded by a wide moat. We
entered the house via the gatehouse. Inside I came across this gold relief
We climbed up to the roof via a very precarious spiral
staircase as you can see, and the other photo shows the view from the top.
Right next to the Hall is a small chapel and here is one of
the stained glass windows inside
To break our journey we called in to Woburn Abbey – the home
of the Duke of Bedford. I remember the last time I came to Woburn was in 1963
while on leave from Singapore. Then I photographed my friend’s little blonde,
blue-eyed daughter sitting down and dwarfed amid hundreds of daffodils.
Subsequently the picture won a gold medal in a pan-Asian photographic
competition. I called it ‘Barbie in Wonderland’.
At Woburn in its vast 3,000 acres of parkland they look after
about 8 species of deer. As we drove around in the bright sunshine we took a
few pictures. Here’s a couple.
This morning I finished my miniature of the Past Master of
the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. I won’t be showing it on my blog until
he’s received the painting, but he’s already given permission for it to be
shown there, so probably next week I’ll include it.
Now I’m spending a lot of time on preparations for my
exhibition. My friend, David, has made me a scale model of the exhibition
venue, and today I’ve started working out exactly where the hundred or so
paintings will hang. Should be fun.