The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

After collecting my two paintings on Saturday morning which had been on exhibition at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery in London (where they told me that my pencil drawing entitled ‘Le Derriere de Joceline’ attracted many admirers, and had it been named ‘Pippa’s Bottom’ it could have sold many times over!) my young friend and I threaded our way through innumerable road-works and heavy traffic back over the river to the Park Lane underground car park. We were hoping to meet a friendly guy who calls himself ‘Eveready’ in view of the fact that he is always there ready to drive us anywhere in central London. But he was nowhere to be seen, so after a long walk through a menacing tunnel we eventually emerged at Marble Arch to be confronted by an unexpected shower of rain. It got heavier so I ducked into a shop in Oxford Street to buy (yet another) umbrella. By the time we had walked the length of Oxford Street to the Palladium I discovered that a hole in my shoe had landed me with a completely wet foot!

I soon forgot about it when the show started. We both really enjoyed it – especially the marvellous sets and magical effects. As the original film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was the very first I ever saw as a child, the music brought back many happy memories.

After the show we hired a modern day rickshaw to take us to Covent Garden where I‘d booked a table at Sarastro’s Restaurant for an early dinner. Weaving our way through the London traffic on a busy Saturday afternoon was not exactly a tranquil experience, but it was great fun. At least it was for us – not sure about the energetic cyclist. My young friend was in for quite a surprise when we arrived at the restaurant.

As you can see the whole place is lavishly over decorated (and if any of my readers ever go there pay a trip to the loos – you ‘ll be very surprised by the décor). A bevy of rather large Hungarian musicians entertained us during our meal.

We travelled to London again yesterday. I had to be there early in the morning as it was the selection day for the Royal Society of Miniaturists. Nearly one thousand miniatures had been submitted this year, which we eventually whittled down to about six hundred for final exhibition in October. There were several good portraits for me to select the recipient of 'The Mundy Sovereign Award' from. (Worth a lot more now with the dramatic rise in the value of gold). Incidentally the exhibition this year will be enhanced by a special addition. Richard Chadwick, a leading historian and researcher of antique portrait miniatures, will be curating an exhibition of a collection of Royal Portrait Miniatures, some of which have never before been seen in public. They include a striking image of King Charles 1 by John Hoskins and one of Queen Victoria, commissioned by the Queen herself for presentation to the explorer, Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

It being a lovely sunny evening we decided on our return from London to pick up Val and take her to the Swan at Streatley for a supper alfresco by the river. You can see how balmy the evening was by the sight of this little launch gliding towards the hotel moorings at the open air restaurant.

‘Red sky at night - shepherds delight’ goes the old saying. So this view from our table towards the decorated barge as the evening shadows fall and the reflection of the red wisps of the sky above hints of a nice day today. Hope so as I’m due to bowl in the handicap second round this evening (which I won’t win as I’m due to play one of the best county players).

My working week saw the completion of the second in a pair of drawings of a client’s grandchildren. I also started a new miniature portrait for the upcoming exhibition in Florida. And I heard last week that I’ve been awarded the Stewart Bailey Award at the Society of Limners 2011 Exhibition for my portrait of the comedian, Jimmy Tarbuck. The award itself is an engraved glass goblet.