Christmas Greetings

As it’s getting a bit near Christmas I thought I’d send all of my blog readers - who aren’t on my Christmas card list – this year’s card

I based my painting on a 12th Century illuminated manuscript commissioned by the Duc du Berry, and added the signs of the zodiac around the edge, and downloaded the starry black sky from the internet, then married the two together to form the inside double-fold of the card. Happy Christmas all.

So what have I been doing this week, apart from buying, ordering and wrapping Christmas presents? Most of the time – about 8 or 9 hours a day – has been spent painting a small portrait of a lovely man I met at our quarterly game of ‘Colours’ in the snooker room at Phyllis Court Club. Fred has a white beard and eyebrows that almost talk, so it’s going to be an intriguing little portrait. Being the intellectual type he’s asked me to paint a bookcase full of books in the background. I’m really enjoying myself, and with a bit of luck will finish it and have it framed by Christmas.

Here’s my tree, by the way. My young friend and I decorated it yesterday evening.

‘The Hobbit’ movie opens in our local cinema this week, and as I’ve never really understood Tolkien stories (it’s the names I find hard to remember. For example characters called Bilbo Baggins, Smauf, Gollum, Gandalf, Thorin Oakenshield, Radagast, etc!) I’m having coaching by my young friend as we‘ve been watching DVD’s lately of previous films in the series. She’s an expert on the subject, so hopefully, when we see ‘The Hobbit’ I’ll know something about it.

The temperature this morning was minus 6 degrees. Brrrrr! This was the view from my studio window.

And the spiders have been busy around the railings

My good friend Annie Coury treated me to a lovely lunch the other day. Annie’s daughter, Sarah, makes exquisite jewellery and as I ‘d forgotten to pick up one of the pieces I’d bought the other day, Annie brought it with her. We went to The Villa Marina which I think serves the best food in Henley. And they are the only restaurant in the area that brings round a sweet trolley.

We’ve had a really ‘pongy’ problem this last week or so. Our sewerage plant stopped working about 10 days ago and last week an ominous pool of water crept out from under a paving stone in out courtyard, Soon it became a lake. Eventually Keith came to our rescue on Monday and brought a new timer and a telescopic arrangement of long rods which he managed to free what was a major underground obstruction. Phew! If the water which was immediately outside the front door had still been there this very icy morning it would have frozen solid.

I took Val, my sister-in-law, to visit Katie Boyle in London on Sunday morning. Katie’s sister Margherita and her fiancée – a charming Italian man called Gianni – were there.

But poor Katie is not in the best of health. Once the face of Camay on television, and for many years, the multi-lingual hostess of the Eurovision Song Contest, I’ve known Katie since she came out to Singapore in the mid-seventies to write her autobiography. A truly lovely lady.This is the cover of her book.

A while ago my most tenacious blog follower – RG9 – wondered if my mantelpiece was filling up with art prizes. Just for him, and as I don’t have a mantelpiece, I photographed most of my awards at the weekend. Here they are, RG9.