Glorious boating weather

Can't believe it's been two weeks since I last wrote my blog. But time's gone by so fast what with painting, sculpting, boating and DIY (yes, I'm into assembling flat packs - and enjoying it). However as the weather's been so hot lately the river has beckoned. Brian and Jane invited my young friend and me to lunch at Phyllis Court Club last Tuesday by boat. (Sadly myf has to work so she couldn't join us). It was Brian's birthday. Here we are as we moored outside the club.

As we strolled across the lawns a game of croquet was in progress which we were careful not to intrude upon - as croquet players can be quite vociferous.

Apart from the wasps - which are numerous this year - our lunch on the verandah was delightful. Must have been good as we didn't get back to Jane and Brian's house till nearly six, when my young friend joined us for cocktails on yet another verandah - this one overlooking the swimming pool and old mill house.

Danesfield House, set in 65 acres of parkland at Medmenham overlooking the river Thames, has a very interesting history - especially during World War Two - as it was here that a secret photographic unit, by the use of stereo images, discovered the location of the rockets and doodlebugs used against London towards the end of the war.

We had been given a present of an afternoon cream tea there by Val, so spent a lovely time selecting exotic teas from an extensive menu. (Although as my companion doesn't drink tea she had a gin and tonic). Afterwards we wandered around the gardens in the sunshine. This is the view down towards the river.

I've been busy preparing for my exhibition as well as painting miniatures. This is one of a friend of mine Fred Mardell.

I've always admired artists and designers who create their own playing card designs, so have decided to attempt a pack of my own based on insects and other small creatures. This the first - it's the 5 of spades and you can see the five spades I've included on the beetle's body.

To design all the 52 cards will probably take years, but I hope to do at least ten a year. I'll keep you posted.
Still on the subject of painting, the Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle Company has just produced this painting of mine - The Illuminated Manuscript - as a shaped wooden puzzle. They very rarely make shaped puzzles so this one is quite a rarity. So if anyone is interested in buying a puzzle they cost £26.95. The code is 641503 and you can find them (and six other paintings of mine, if you are interested) by ringing freephone 08007311662 or (I see you can also ring toll free from the USA at 18668085821).

So let's get back to boating. The day before yesterday Julia and Grahame invited Jane, Brian and myself ( my young friend missed out again as she had to work) for a trip up to the Leatherne Bottle for lunch on their beautiful little boat.

Sadly Grahame was struck down with sunstroke that day so had to miss out. However Brian took over the helm - literally - as we made our way upriver in 30 degree sunshine to the restaurant. It certainly was hot. Here are Julia and Jane sheltering under their sunshades.

The African Queen took up the entire mooring outside the Leatherne Bottle but we managed to squeeze in and tied up next to our table.

After a long, leisurely lunch we wended our way home, passing a little bevy of cows cooling off by the bank at Moulsford.

We reached Benson Lock just after it closed at 6 pm which meant we had to work the lock ourselves. No problem, as these days most of the locks on the Thames have made it easy for the average boater by electrifying the gates and sluices. So while Brian captained the boat

I managed the sluices and gates. What a great day. Thank you Julia.

I'm going to end my blog today by reproducing one of Pam Ayers latest poems which I chanced upon the other day on Facebook. I find her poetry really amusing and have seen her several times in Henley at the Literary Festivals. In fact she'll be appearing at our Kenton Theatre very soon. And so to the poem. It's entitled FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (from the husband's point of view).

The missus bought a Paperback,
down Shepton Mallet way,
I had a look inside her bag;
... T'was "Fifty Shades of Grey".
Well I just left her to it,
And at ten I went to bed.
An hour later she appeared;
The sight filled me with dread...
In her left she held a rope;
And in her right a whip!
She threw them down upon the floor,
And then began to strip.
Well fifty years or so ago;
I might have had a peek;
But Mabel hasn't weathered well;
She's eighty four next week!!
Watching Mabel bump and grind;
Could not have been much grimmer.
And things then went from bad to worse;
She toppled off her Zimmer!
She struggled back upon her feet;
A couple minutes later;
She put her teeth back in and said
I am a dominater !!
Now if you knew our Mabel,
You'd see just why I spluttered,
I'd spent two months in traction
For the last complaint I'd uttered.
She stood there nude and naked
Bent forward just a bit
I went to hold her, sensual like
and stood on her left tit!
Mabel screamed, her teeth shot out;
My god what had I done!?
She moaned and groaned then shouted out:
"Step on the other one"!!
Well readers, I can't tell no more;
About what occurred that day.
Suffice to say my jet black hair,
Turned fifty shades of grey