Sunday, 4 February 2018


I took this photograph of the ironmongery store at Milestones a couple of years ago.

The other day I thought I’d make a large painting based on on some of the many interesting things displayed there. So yesterday my young friend and I took a trip to Basingstoke to have another look and to take a number of really sharp photographs of the store and possibly to make sketches of some of the more interesting items. But although the store was still there all the lovely things hanging on the outside were missing! It seems it will be back as it was in a few weeks - so we’ll have to go back sometime. (I want to include a few surprises in the painting). It’s still great to walk around Milestones. It’s a really special place. Most of the buildings are based on real ones. For several years the curator’s team collected and stored an amazing variety of materials. These included roofing slates, granite setts, wooden flooring blocks and myriad items of street furniture such as lamp posts, pillar boxes and railings. The result is a network of Victorian and 1930’s streets, complete with shops, factories and houses. There are over 20,000 objects ranging from gigantic steam engines to pen nibs. There’s also a second World War ‘Make and Mend’ display.

Here are some of the sights we saw there

And in the section showing household items through the ages we came across a number of mangles - which reminded me of wartime days when I was a boy because it was my job to put the wet clothes through it as I pushed the handle.

Last week we went to the pantomime by the Wargrave Theatre Workshop at the Woodcliffe Hall. What a rollicking affair it was. They were performing Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Great costumes as well. All the men had curled up Arabian shoes. Although the players are all amateurs I must say they sang beautifully.

I’m busily painting miniatures at the moment - not commissions unfortunately - but new portraits to submit to the three art societies I belong to. Here’s one of them. I call it Rope Man - I saw him last year ar the Henley Boat Festival demonstrating the art of rope making.

I’m getting more strength back into my legs now after the hip operation. At long last I’ve given up altogether on sticks and crutches and am walking about 4,000 steps a day. Still can’t put my socks on without the aid of “ The Sock Machine”, and my “ Picker-upper” performs a few useful functions too.

We like to do jigsaw puzzles - especially in the winter. At present we are working on a big 2,000 piece puzzle showing an illustrated painting of the world.

Beautifully painted it’s great fun to do. So far myf’s been doing the Asian and Australian side while I’ve been concntrating on the Americas and Europe. This is how far we’ve got.

Another great film we saw last week was ‘The Post’ with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.

It’s all about the Watergate affair and the Washington Post’s role in it. Steven Speilberg is the director and the tension throughout the film will hold you spellbound I’m sure.

This is one of my favourite paintings of all time.

It was painted by Willuam Waterhouse - one of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood artists. This is the man.

William Waterhouse has painted so many wonderful pictures, so I was really annoyed to see that the curator of the Manchester Art Gallery decided to remove the painting “Hylas and the Nymphs” from the gallery last week.

It’s a beautiful painting and just because she may not like the look of naked women it seems totally arrogant of her to dictate to others in this way. Did she have complaints about the painting? No. So what is her motive? Is it a pornographic painting? Of course not. Anyway I was glad to hear that it has now been returned to its rightful place.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Catching up with the Year

A film you must see is Darkest Hour. We went to the Regal in Henley on thursday evening. Abdolutely fantastic. Gary Oldmwn as Winston Churchill gave an amazing performance.

Depicting the period just before Churchill was elected Prime Minister up to the evacuation of 300,000 allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in June 1940 the film dramatically tells the story of that remarkable and dangerous time in our history. A really thrilling film.
While in Suffolk at the end of the year we visited Lavenham. What I like best about Lavenham are the houses. Many are half-timbered and kept in really good condition. Here are some of my favourites.

Last September, when we knew Debbie was to appear in Strictly Come Dancing we applied to the BBC for tickets to the show. But as myf thought, with a five million to one chance of getting any, our chances were much too slim. So, unknown to me she bought two tickets for the Strictly Tour at Wembley Arena in February as a birthday present for me in October. But when, against all the odds, we did win tickets for the actual show, she kept hold of the tour tickets till Christmas when they became one of my presents. Another present will be a visit to the Warner Brothers Studio tour of the Harry Potter studios. We’ve been before and I found it really exciting, so can’t wait to go again, especially as the Forbidden Forest has been added.

I know I’ll experience another magical day, and a walk through the Forbidden Forest.
We both had a new experience yesterday - a visit to Ikea! Orginally we went to B&Q to look for a new blind for my recently repainted bathroom. But their selection was sparse. So having never visited an Ikea store before we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Once you are in that’s it. You have no choice but to follow the floor arrows all the way through over twenty-four very comprehensively stocked sections. I made the mistake of leaving my walking stick in the car, so after about an hour or so of feeling trapped in a one way Disney attraction we finally (at section 23) found the curtain and blind section. Luckily they had just what I wanted. Must say I liked the idea of an Ikea layout but will only go back again when I need something only they can supply or when I have a whole day to spare! But as we left I bought two large packets of my favourite food - Swedish meatballs.
I should hear soon whether any of my portraits have been accepted for the BP Portrait Award and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition. In the meantime I’m painting a couple of miniatures for the RMS autumn exhibition.

An old primary school friend has just sent me these old photographs he’s unearthed and taken when, together with two friends I cycled to Paris and back. I was 18 at the time. Here we are setting off - I’m the one on the right.

We cycled about 80 miles towards Kent then camped by the roadside for the night so as not to be late for the flight from Lydd to LeTouquet in the morning.

I remember our fares were £5 each plus half-a-crown for our bikes. After about six days we reached Paris and camped next to the Seine.

On top of the Arc de Triomphe

And a final picure as we camped on the beach when we returned to Le Touquet after our two week holiday in France.

So back to the present - sixty years later. How time flies!