Wishing all my blog friends a very Happy New Year

That was the scene last night in London. We weren’t there as we celebrated the arrival of 2013 at Jilly Adam’s house, together with friends Brian, Jane, and Peter. Jill lives in Wattle Cottage – a truly bijou residence right next to the river in Henley. This is us last night. (My young friend took the picture).

I mentioned last week that I’d ordered a set of stamps featuring my paintings. This is the latest – it’s entitled ‘When the Queen came to Henley’.

And I was very surprised to see that tour local newspaper ‘The Henley Standard’ featured the painting across six columns on the front page last Friday. Quite an accolade. 

I’ll be producing limited editions about 24 inches wide as soon as I find a good printer, as the quality must be first class. (BBC Radio Berkshire rang me for a ten- minute interview about it on Sunday and as I was away from Henley it was conducted by telephone.)
On Christmas morning I briefly called in to Tony and Gloria Mays. They live by Hennerton Backwater, and like everywhere else around here, are flooded. At least their garden is.

After a sip or two of champagne, and an even briefer visit to see Diane Sutherland at Bird Place, I picked up Val to take her to her daughter Louisa’s house in Marlow, where we would be spending Christmas day with her, Guy, and their two children, Max and Kate. I love being with children on Christmas day – especially as Kate still believes in Santa Claus.

This is a picture of the fireplace. 

If you are wondering why a large toy animal is protruding from the chimney, it’s because Kate’s cat, Muppet, likes to clamber up there and cover itself in soot. But here is a nice clean Muppet.

Louisa cooked the most delicious turkey. We had a lovely day and left just before midnight.

I’ve never been to Suffolk before so was in for a treat, as my young friend’s parents, Richard and Janet, had invited me to stay with them for a few days at their home in Needham Market.
I was even chauffeured all the way by ‘myf’. It rained all the way. Will it never stop? On Friday, after lunch at the Alex in Felixstowe - where we had a great view of the blustery sea from our table - Richard took us for a tour of the area. This is a part of the container port. I think Felixstowe is the largest in Britain.

It was Janet’s birthday on Saturday and we were treated to a family party at the Highwayman. There were eight of us. But before going there we braved the very cold wind and rain to look at a couple of mills. Here are Hawks and Woodbridge mills.

At last – on Sunday, the day we left for home - the rain stopped and the sun came out. Blue skies and a pale pink cottage. (Not quite the same dark pink as so many of the Suffolk houses are coloured)

And as we were in ‘Constable Country’ we couldn’t resist making our way to Flatford Mill – where John Constable painted ‘The Haywain’

The landscape in the background is no longer visible, and we didn’t see a haywain while we were there, but this was the view on Sunday from the same vantage point Constable must have painted his masterpiece from.

We walked around the various cottages there (Thank goodness cars are not allowed in the valley). This is Bridge Cottage.

Then on to the most beautiful old mediaeval town I’ve ever been to – Lavenham. It was originally the centre of the wool trade in Suffolk. We had a light lunch there.  Just look at some of the lovely half-timbered houses we came across - including a crooked one.

It’s now the first day of January 2013 so let’s hope that the New Year is peaceful, happy and prosperous. Best wishes to you all.