Back in the Saddle

It’s not that I’ve been idle in the past couple of weeks. Far from it. But as my strength increases and the pain diminishes – even though over 30 pills a day are rattling around inside of me – it’s time to get back to blogging.. There’s still at least a month to go before I’m allowed to drive again, but every day things get a bit easier. And it’s so good to be painting again – even though I can only manage about seven hours a day before I fall asleep. Especially as the next time I go back to London to see the surgeon who performed my operation I wanted to paint his miniature and to give it to him as a present. He’s not aware that I’m doing this so if anyone reading my blog knows who he is, please don’t let on! His secretary sent me a (not very clear) image to work from and here is the result.

Last week the Swan Uppers launched their exhibition at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley. It’s really good, and extremely informative. Well worth visiting. Five of my paintings are included – two painted only last month. You learn something new every day I find. For example did you know that the collective noun for swans while on the ground is a ‘bevy’ whereas when in the air they are called a ‘wedge’.

It took two ‘sit-downs’ before my young friend and I reached home after leaving the museum and walking along the towpath. On the way the ‘New Orleans’ glided by looking lovely in the warm spring sunshine.

And this little collection of water birds seemed to have found a handy raft to float on.

Last Saturday my young friend drove me over to Suffolk where we stayed with her family for the night. In the morning we walked along the seafront past row upon row of colourful beach huts.  

Wooden jigsaws of my painting ‘When the Queen came to Henley’ have just been published. It really is an exciting puzzle to do, and as the publishers, Wentworth, include what they call whimsy’ pieces, they really are unique. For example, because this particular painting depicts all sorts of river life these pieces are cut into the shapes of boats, frogs, herons, fish, etc. I took one of the puzzles over to Wallingford on Saturday afternoon for a lady who loves the river – and it seems, wooden jigsaw puzzles. 

Yesterday, after a marathon shop at John Lewis in High Wycombe with my young friend where she’s beginning to get ready for the move to her new house, Jane joined us, and in the afternoon we looked around the almshouses and church in Ewelme. 

These cloisters are the original thirteen almshouses, and were completed in 1455. Built around a quiet central quadrangle, and immediately adjacent to the church, they were modified internally in the 1970’s into eight self-contained flats. It was blowing a gale yesterday (Hey, when is summer a’coming in?) as we walked up to the church via a very steep track. But it was well worth it. This is St. Mary the Virgin in Ewelme.

In the St John’s Chapel, built on the south side of the existing church contains the Duchess of Sussex’s remarkable tomb. This is a very rare example of a cadaver tomb, and the only one in existence of a woman.

If you lay on the floor in the chapel and look up under the tomb you suddenly become aware of a painting somewhere above you. I wasn’t able to do this yesterday but Jane managed to. Also all around the tomb are a series of little carvings like this one.

At the far end of the chapel is a golden mural with several exquisite figures painted against a holly berried background, and as we left the church we walked past a number of brass figures buried in large slabs of stone.

I think I’ll have a little snooze now as I can hardly keep my eyes from cloing!