Hello from Sunday night

July 27, 2015

Oh my goodness life is flying by here in OXON.

Robert and I were just saying that we really haven’t had a day off since I got here late June, so we took all Sunday off and did very little apart from sleeping in, watching a very exciting F1 race and roasting a chicken for supper.

But last week, we drove down to Somerset to visit Catherine, and I wanted to show you some lovely photos from the few days down there before I post the remaining practical classes. Are enjoying the practical classes? I hope you are and I hope there’s some inspiration for you to try some new art there. I’ll get Chloe to post then into the tutorials page in a day or two, so you can have them for quick reference in case you wanted to try something new (or at least find out how something is done.)

So our visit South-West:

Catherine has moved to a lovely village here called Shepton Mallet, (Doomsday book 1086: scoep tun, meaning sheep farm, and Mallet, after a family from 1100), into a beautiful Georgian house built in 1740.

outside inside

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We had a beautiful four day visit, and helped Catherine “move” in. You know what I mean? Those pesky and unexpected things that need doing when one moves house, but are so much easier when family and friends come to help. But we had a lovely time catching up and watching Jet, Sable and little Lynx running around claiming the neighbourhood as their own.

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One of the most amazing things about England is that history is built up on history, and Catherine’s beautiful home is built over incredible vaults.

The entrance to the vaults is via this double set of iron bars. One has a long iron pin to keep it open, but the other doesn’t, so we used our creativity. Catherine managed to drop a key down into the vaults and I really wanted to go explore so we happily got a ladder, a torch, and went exploring, (oh, we retrieved the key as well 😀 ).

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I know! Amazing, right?
We think that the vaults used to serve as a wine cellar, or cold store, because there are some Roman numerals above some of the arches.The space goes on and on under the footprint of the whole house and under the front courtyard.

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There’s no cell phone reception in there and plenty of frogs and silt and puddles.

Also a lot of modern day builder’s rubble as the house has been propped up and reinforced, and also loads of old bottles and gardening pots…I even found a blue enamelled tea kettle.

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Oh to have a month to sift thru the rubble for possible Edwardian or Victorian finds. I’m positive there’s a treasure in there somewhere…like a little gold hair pin or something.

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We went to the pub for supper one night and met this beautiful boy. He’s a young Akita cross with something, and all bark and then total mush-face. I forgot his name but it was something like Tyson, so let’s just call him that.

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We sat there chatting and waiting for our food, tired from the long drive, but happy to be with Catherine in the warm atmosphere of that traditional British institution…

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…and in trots Tyson the small bear, nudges the bar door with his nose and heads straight for the kitchen.

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This was met with general shouts of “Oi…out!” and out he trots with the waitress hot on his heals.

This happened over and over, providing us with lovely entertainment.

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Catherine and I went for a couple of walks. One thru the little town and down the main street, and we poked out noses into the parish church; whose bells ring out on the quarter hour all day and night.

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We also went on a longer walk around and thru the town and I got a wonderful idea of the area.

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We climbed above the town, past a cider factory, and circumnavigated a large estate and found ourselves in a beautiful meadow looking down into the town. I got the impression that I wasn’t in Britain any more. The town and the buildings took on a distinctive Bohemian look and I felt like I could have been home in any of the familiar villages of my childhood in the Czech Republic.

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kings and queens

I was emailing Chloe some photos here and there from Catherine’s but I couldn’t get a photo of Lynxie at all. She was too busy being the neighbourhood terror of all small squeaky things that go crunch, and only really showed up for meals. I wrote to Chloe telling her that I was sorry not to see Lynx very much, and then Catherine sent along a bunch of photos including this lovely one of the party girl. 😀 Thank you so much Catherine.


Back home in Oxfordshire now and back to work this week.


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Practical class: Realistic botanical illustration in watercolour

I think that I can just about draw myself anything, (this statement is open to debate…lol), so when I decided to take this practical class on realistic botanical illustration, I hoped it wouldn’t be a waste of my time, (I’m such a cynic!) What…

July 25, 2015
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Practical class: Egg Tempera painting

Ah, the richness of raw pigments. Are you like me, an alchemist at heart? I’m not talking about turning lead into gold…well, not exactly…although one could argue that that’s exactly what we can do here. Do you see all these beautiful golden yellow pigments?…

July 24, 2015
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Practical class: Willow basket weaving 101

Hello everybody, I’m just back from a few days in Somerset and ready to begin our practical classes. I will give you all the information I have so you can try a few new art forms, and I will link you to teachers and…

July 23, 2015
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The king’s kitchens and my birthday supper

At RBG Kew, one of the most charming areas for me are the King’s kitchens and the kitchen’s garden. On the second floor is a small room with chairs and some lovely reproduction books and menus from King George’s era. One book I was…

July 14, 2015
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My birthday and RBG Kew

First I wanted to say thank you so much to everyone, over 100 of my friends, for wishing me a Happy Birthday yesterday on my Facebook. I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the outpouring of love. Thank you my friends. I treasure each and every one…

July 14, 2015
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Chickens and eggs and omelettes

Down at the other side of the meadow… around a little summer cottage… is our neighbour’s hen house and six hens. The hens are usually left inside their run, but sometimes get to wander out onto the meadow. Most days the hens are left…

July 10, 2015
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A walk in the fields

We live on the outskirts of our village and there are several farmed fields around us. There is a foot path leading thru five fields and a small copse which ends up at the Thames. I love to walk out to the Thames in…

July 7, 2015