It’s very cold outside today - the snow has just started – look at the view from my studio

The snow has been falling thick and fast, and the road outside my flat resembles an ice rink. So I think I’ll stay inside today. This is what it’s like in my back garden – and that covering only took about an hour or so.

One of my first tasks this morning was to solve a knotty problem. My young friend - having bought a new hairbrush – had somehow got it caught up really tight in her hair. Apart from cutting off great big chunks, the only solution was to untangle it, hair by hair. The whole exercise took over 45 minutes. We now have one full head of hair between us!

On Monday afternoon I had an appointment with the oncologist in Reading following the CT scan last week. Having wondered lately why my stomach had increased somewhat in girth (no, not jam doughnuts or crunchy bars) he informed me that I had developed a hernia. Apart from that it seems the scan result necessitates a further scan – this time a CT - PET scan, whatever that means. So I have to go to the Churchill Hospital in Oxford next Tuesday to have it – I’m told it will take about 3 hours. Fingers crossed!

Much of the past fortnight has been spent painting a miniature portrait of my New York friend’s five-year –old daughter. This is the third miniature I’ve painted of this little girl – the previous two were as a baby and at the age of two. As always a computer image never truly shows what the actual painting is like. You need to see all the colours and the fine brush-strokes to really appreciate the work. I never like giving my overseas clients a preview if at all possible.

And I’m intending to finish my ‘Les Tres Heures’ painting before Christmas. However I wish I’d checked the paper before I’d got too far in the painting as it’s virtually impossible to paint a wash or to get a smooth finish as the watercolour is absorbed instantly into this strange surface. I’ll never use this ‘line and wash’ board again, that’s for sure. Just a bit more work on the left and in the shadows, then I’ll attempt to stipple the dark brown background. Here it is to date.

I’ve been to a few Christmas parties this week – one at friend Stan and Fee’s at Broadplat House on Friday, and another put on by The Henley Standard newspaper in the King’s Barn – a lovely old building right in the middle of town – I even spied some wattle and daub around the half-timbering there. On Saturday evening Paul, my cousin took Jo, Val and me out to celebrate his 65th birthday at Phyllis Court. (I missed the actual date and party as I was still in Singapore) And at the beginning of the week another ‘Colours’ evening at Phyllis Court where I won the first match but lost in the final. One day I’ll come away with the trophy. This is the winner.

Now with the heavy fall of snow today I don’t think we will venture out this evening – maybe we’ll toast crumpets by the fire.