Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Presentation


My friend Diane Sutherland invited me to a prize giving afternoon last Sunday. The occasion was the inauguration of the Peter Sutherland Medal. Diane's late husband Peter was the founder and president of the Upper Thames Rowing Club. When I arrived at Bird Place I was surprised to see only two cars parked in front of the house so I parked between them. And as I walked around to the garden I noticed that one of the cars (a very fast looking beast) had its engine running and was facing outwards. I soon realised who it belonged to when I joined the spectators assembled in the garden. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was giving a speech prior to handing out the medal. The car must have belonged to one of her bodyguards, and ready to move at a moments notice.

This the medal. Leander Club won the race, beating Upper Thames by half a length.

And here is Diane talking to the Prime Minister.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous and Theresa May's speech so interesting - she knew Peter well.

My my boat has finally arrived. My young friend and I have now had four trips on it in the last ten days. Luckily the sunshine has been very kind to us.

Here it is moored at a friend's house

We are both very pleased with the new Marsh Mundy. It's so easy to steer, moor and handle. Last Saturday we took it up to Phyllis Court. At the visitors mooring there was just enough room to glide it between the two boats moored there - about 12 inches either end. Another lovely day so we sat on the verandah and had lunch. I bought a Phyllis Court burgee to fit to the bow when I've made a little mast for it.
On we went up to Hambleden and back where we moored near Temple Island.

There's a very interesting exhibition being held in London later in the spring. It's called the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize. 3 or 4 years ago I made this small self portrait which is my reflection in a silver cup. Then coupled it up with one I painted in 1974 while I was living in Singapore. So as a double self-portrait I'll be entering the small paintings in the exhibition.

I've entitled it 'Then and Now'. Wish me luck.
All the paintings I've been working on lately - from a series of miniatures of children for a top London jeweller to a couple of large oil portraits for an Indian family can't really be shown on my blog unless they give me permission. Right now I'm painting a large oil of a friend of mine against a background of a country cottage scene.

Last Sunday we spent the day working on my young friend's garden. She did most of the work - I did what I could. We are disappointed with the current state of the lawn as it looks quite threadbare. After tough digging holes with a special tool to aeriate it we completely covered the lawn with lawn soil, then sprinkled seed all over it before giving it a good rake and water. Hope the birds or squirrels don't eat too many seeds.

My physio, Victoria, managed to get sight of the x-ray taken of my hip the other day. (It takes weeks to make an appointment with my doctor these days so he won't see the x-ray till next Thursday - the earlies I can see him). Because of the way I've been walking while my left knee recovers from the operation, the right hip has taken a lot of the strain. But apart from that the x-ray shows that I have advanced and severe osteoarthritis in that hip. It may be possible to have a steroid injection to temporarily relieve the pain but this will depend on my doctor. There's no way I'm going to let this spoil our summer or our little holiday in June so I expect I'll have to have a hip replacement in late autumn.

I had some sad news the other day. Jayanti, one of my oldest friends from my early Singapore days suddenly died of a massive heart attack. We'd only been talking on WhatsApp ten days ago. I met Jay in 1960 when she joined my studio in the advertising agency for artistic experience - and on her very first day she spilled a pot of paint all over me! When I moved to Hong Kong in 1964 I lived with her family for about six months when her father was the manager of Air India. We've always met when I visited Singapore over the years. Here are two pictures - the first at a fancy dress party in the sixties. The second taken about ten years ago.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Spring has sprung

My cousin Jill scolds me if I'm late in writing my blog. We were out for dinner with her brother Paul last night so I promised I'd get down to it today. My excuse is that I've been so busy with commissions lately. After quite a barren time now I'm working on five miniature portraits and three oil portraits. I just love being busy and after spending 8 or 9 hours a day painting I relax in other ways rather than writing blogs.
My knee is still swollen but at least I can drive again and only use a stick if walking more than half a mile or so. I needed it on Sunday as my young friend and I decided to pay a visit to Kew Gardens. It happened to be the perfect time to see the magnolias - a few days later and the cold nights would have turned the petals black. This tree, for example, is at its peak.

There is a whole grove of many types of magnolias.

I'm sure some of the trees in Kew Gardens could tell a story. This one looks as if it's come right out of a Harry Potter film.

Sunday was a very cold day so it was a relief to go into the Palm House and feel the warmth and humidity there.

Nearly twenty years ago a good friend of mine died at a young age in early April. So to commemorate the occasion I planted a magnolia stellata tree in my garden. It's thrived over the years and is one of the first sights of spring I see from my garden balcony. This is it today.

My young friend bought me a really good machine the other day. Victoria, the physio, recommended I use an excerise bike to improve the muscles and give my knee a better chance of reaching a better angle of bend.

I can use this any time. While I'm listening to The Archers I can normally manage about 500 revolutions. I aim to do at least 1,000 revolutions every day. Although my knee is almost free of pain now, even though it is still very swollen, my opposite hip is giving me the most trouble.

I hadn't realised it's been such a long time since my last blog - nearly a month. I can't believe it's that long. We've seen some good films - amongst them The Viceroy's House, and last week Beauty and the Beast. Amazing effects.
Well, that's all for now. Here's a view of our garden as of half an hour ago.