Lane lights in the Cotswolds and plot flowers.

A green lane in the Cotswolds

Anyone polite enough to follow this blog, and read it, will know that I’m a keen plotter. I’ve just given up my old allotment as I’ve moved house away from the area and it seemed daft to drive to it. But I have another. I’ve been given a transfer, and have now joined the Premier league of plot areas. A smaller plot than the last but enough for me. The other plotters there, are by the evidence of a good look around, the top team. I feel like a third division player dropped into the Manchester United team. A clogger amongst artists.

We shall see, when the rain stops. It’s been wet, wet, wet. I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my bones.

Reminder of sunnier days, I’d like to say these were mine
but they were on another allotment.

Man goes shopping…

You’ve probably seen a few of these in the last couple of days, looking for inspiration and not finding it.

Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year to anyone who bothers to drop in here, and a special thanks to those who voice encouragement.

House 5. A French neighbour, the Flying Scotsman and pastry.

Another French house in the same location as the previous two posted here. What to make of this? Looks like a rather elegant French birthday Cake with the max security disguised as rather elaborate over wrought iron. Again this house looks out over the Atlantic and the beach.

I’ve lived in loads of houses, none like this, and am endlessly fascinated by them. The longest I’ve ever lived in one house is 14 years and that was when the offspring were young and was in the middle of lush green Cotswold countryside. My parents lived in loads of houses all over Lancashire, my father was a policeman and he got promoted which was quite often. Early days we lived for a while in industrial Wigan in the North West of England. The housing was provided by the police force so was never ours. The one in Wigan overlooked waste ground and had a rag and bone man’s yard opposite the kitchen window with terrace housing nearby.

The man who owned this rag and bone enterprise was a kindly stooped tallish man who was never without his gaberdine macintosh, even on the hottest summer days, but those were not that frequent up there. His wife was known locally as “Destiny” and was, as one used to say in those days “not all there”. She enjoyed going to local funerals, hence the name I suspect. If she missed one she made a point of asking how they were buried, that is if it was a classy affair or not. “Were he buried with ham?” was the initial question. If the deceased was buried and ham sandwiches were on offer at the pub later this was considered a “Good do”.

I recall that Destiny used to hail my mother when she was cooking in our kitchen. “What you cooking then?” she would ask. Pastry replied my mother. “Oooh lovely” replied Destiny ” I like making pastry, gets me nails clean”

My brother and I loved the location as it was criss crossed by railway lines and we frequently would run down to the nearby railway bridge to watch the Flying Scotsman steaming at full speed towards us and then enveloping us in smoke as it steamed under us and on towards Scotland. The writing was of course on the wall for these steam trains, and we knew it was when we were told that Deltic, a new diesel locomotive was in nearby siding. We went to look at this enormous blue beast right there, it looked like the future. Before many years were out it too would end up in a Museum, the next time I saw it was in the Science Museum in my first years in London in the 1970s.


All this when I intended to write about an odd house facing a beach in France. I got sidetracked.

Derbyshire dry stone wall, usually very damp.

Its a sort of contradiction really as a dry stone is very rarely dry in Derbyshire, especially recently. We have a fair few dry stone walls here in Gloucestershire but this drawing of one in Derbyshire just illustrates how much I like them. It’s early days with this drawing and unlike some I think this one will benefit from colour.There are times when I ruin a perfectly alright drawing by fannying about with the colour and I’m determined that it won’t happen with this one.

It is lovely to see these things being built and I suspect it is very therapeutic building them. The idea is of course, not to use any concrete whatsoever, so a wall with a capping of concrete is a cop out. The angle of the stones is also key to good construction, the rain water should run off efficiently, any frost or ice forming within the stones might well bring on cracking.

The frost has got to this Gloucestershire Wall, I blame the concrete cap.
This is the same wall further along with lichen running rampant. Makes me think of those Children’s illustrated books with names like Brambly Bottom and I half expected a small mouse dressed in a check overcoat to come along huffing and puffing against the cold.

I speak of dry stone walling as if I’ve had a go at it, I’ve not, but have seen them being built. There’s one on the high road out of Stroud going towards Bisley in the Cotswolds that I watched being built ( not every day! ) where the two men building the wall had a tent to keep them dry or out of the sun as they made their very gentle way along. It must have taken them a year or so to complete and the final version is nothing short of magnificent.I’ll try and get a picture of it sometime to prove my point.

South Downs, avoiding the runners.

I’d never been to the South Downs until earlier in this year when we went down there for a couple of days walking and then strip to Southsea for a birthday party. Good time had by all and the walking was great. We chose a day when there were a fair number of runners on the route. It was hard enough for us to walk it but to run it seemed to take it to another level.

It was a bright sunny day, but some of the runners looked anything but bright and sunny. Some had that look in their eyes ( they were all coming up the hills toward us ) that just said ” what possessed me to volunteer for this torture”. Reminded me a little of the cross country runs at school many years ago. Those three words filled me with dread. I have no idea quite how I managed to avoid doing it even once, but I did. I probably hid in the Art Room.

I recall on one particular day of a big race, when only the selected few would run, the rest of us non runners congregated at a small bridge across a small but quite deep little stream. Seeing our least favourite prefect huffing and puffing towards us in the distance, and knowing that he would be running without his very thick and necessary glasses, we made a funnel of spectators just 10 yards away from the bridge where the stream was a little deeper and muddy. We shouted encouragement to him as he approached and launched himself at the non existent bridge and ran straight into the mud and water.

He ran out of the other side soaked in stream and mud and shouting with the only words he had left, gurgling: “Bastards!”

A far cry from our gentle walk along the South Downs. Happy Days, with the addition that he could not only not see where he had gone wrong but he was also unable to identify any of us in any subsequent line up.

House 4. French Modern

This lovely looking modern place overlooks the beach on the West Coast of France in the Charente area. There are a huge number off places in the area that are used just a for few weeks in Summer. I really hope that this is not one of them. This is in a row of rather grand houses of an older style but exudes confidence and I suspect is a little more efficient than the draughty looking neighbours.

I suspect whoever lives here has stylish furniture in a minimalist surrounding with white walls and plain floors with perhaps the odd piece of ‘art’ on the wall here and there. Nothing will be out of place in the ultra modern kitchen and even the toaster will be put away after use and any crumbs will not be evident. There will be no evidence of any cooking whatsoever, apart from in the back garden where there may be one of those gas barbecues.

Any lifestyle magazines will be lined up neatly on the coffee table with ‘coffee table books’ on the shelf underneath. These will be large and in full colour and will never be opened.

Real people would never want to live there.

Robin and the Cotswold Way

I’m undecided about this drawing, wether to re-work it or to plough on and see what happens with the colour. Robin, my sometime walking companion was checking his phone making sure, no doubt, that we were not lost out there on the Cotswold Way, some months ago. That band of white behind him is a field of oil seed rape. I’m reticent about showing you the original photo as you’d probably prefer it to the drawing.

The location here is on the way from Chipping Campden to Broadway, two places that are popular with tourists wanting to see some typical Cotswold cottages and how the British live. It’s now a bit of a fiction as both places are generally inhabited by merchant bankers who pop down at the weekend. Small cottages change hands for huge sums and are done up to the nines in Farrow and Ball tastefulness that is starting to get a bit sickly. A bit like a cream tea, good tasting but can leave you feeling a little nauseous.

House 6. Another French neighbour

This place is just a few doors down from the previous ones that face the Atlantic on the west coast of France, but light years away in feel.

Well looked after, I suspect that it’s full of books, perhaps even has a library room. I suspect the owners take as much care of the interior as they have the outside area. I hope they have some lovely paintings on the walls and perhaps the odd family photograph on the grand piano in the sitting room.

I doubt they ever have a take away meal and probably dine out regularly at the local ‘well thought of’ restaurant where they have a table that is ‘theirs’

On the other hand I may be completely wrong.