House 12. It’s one of those animated places.

The top floor windows are the eyes and the steps are the open mouth of this modest Californian house in Los Angeles. Standard blue sky helps LA houses look good. I’d have liked to have seen it with the blinds half closed on the top floor to make lazy eyelids, but you can’t have everything, contrary to popular opinion in California, where they seem to think anything is possible. An uplifting but unrealistic view.

Wonder what this place is like inside and if it has one of those cheery “doorbells” which says “Hi there! How are you today?”, in that cheery Californian manner. You are expected always to respond: “I’m good”, which means “I am feeling fine thanks” and not what it does say “I’m a worthy person”.

On second thoughts, replying to a cheery doorbell recording might be considered odd.

A Yorkshire diversion

Raining in Sheffield

Just meandering off the subject of houses and a trip to Yorkshire. Some good stuff first: two hours on a train from Cheltenham, brilliant. Apparently it takes longer than that to travel short distances up here, where they still have diesel trains, so getting south quicker always seems to have been the priority. Move the House of Lords to Sheffield not York, they have enough old tourists in York and Sheffield needs the money. It’s a great place, young and possibly vibrant.

First stop off the train, the art gallery. A short walk from the station, and over the main library. It’s up a few floors but worth the trip. There is a lift. Peeling paint on the stairwell and a general feeling of neglect, with no recent investment, plus a notice that the cafe is no longer does not help. In a fine city like this, this place should be busy with people looking around. It’s free, which may not help. They are proud of it being free, in a typical Yorkshire way. Put a cafe back in, get it down a few floors, get some events there: artists demos, talks, kids drawing places areas make it free for kids but a nominal price for adults. Open it on a Sunday. You can pay 2.80 for artisan hand brewed coffee around here so a couple of quid for a gallery might work. But most of all, get some government money up there first. The arts gets people into places and this place needs people and a big clean up.

When I got into the place there was a big exhibition of the work of Lorna May Wadsworth. I was told she was from Sheffield, but see that she now operates from east London. How depressing for the locals who now proudly display her work. There’s a massive portrait of Margaret Thatcher in this exhibition, the gallery have fitted a plastic screen in front of this painting. Wisely, the memories of Thatcher around here are painful. They wisely also, did not use it on publicity posters. I hope it may explain why the place was almost deserted, or is that normal for Sheffield?

For me, Wadsworth’s work is more like very accomplished illustration. She gets the likeness but not the soul. The one that really did work well for me was one of David Blunkett, a famous son of Sheffield, who never let his blindness get in the way of a reputable career in politics. Shame he will never see it. It’s her best work in there. I’m sure the rest earn her a brilliant living in the East London diaspora, she is massively talented but not my cup of Yorkshire tea.

There are lots of other paintings in the gallery. Take a look at this gem from Gwen John, and this stunning portrait by Frank Auerbach

A charming little painting by Gwen John
An energetic portrait by Frank Auerbach, looks like he trod on a few tubes of paint and then rearranged the result, cleverly.
I really took to this painting which seemed to catch industrial Sheffield to the tee,
though from some years ago. Even pre Thatcher.
This lively abstract is on the stairs going up to the gallery, it’s actually the paint peeling off the gallery wall. For crying out loud give them some funding and get some
real painting on the wall and not bits hanging off.
David Blunkett
By far the best piece in the Lorna May Wadworth collection for my money

Let’s end this on a positive. The exhibition is well worth a visit. Sheffield is well worth a visit. I declare an interest as my son and family live here. He has a coffee shop up in Walkley, drop in there sometime, he makes the best coffee around. But don’t ask for a discount by saying you’ve read this, he doesn’t even give me a discount. This is Yorkshire after all.

House 11. With shop attached.

This is actually what was the Gloucester Folk Museum at the bottom of Westgate Street in Gloucester City Centre. It might be something else now as this was taken some years ago.

Wonderful building. Just up the road is a completely wooden fronted house but you can’t see it from the street. You have to know the location of the narrow alleyway where it is to find it and hope they have left the door to the alleyway open.

Gloucester is chock full of history, and there are times when we just take it for granted.

House 10. Regency view

This place overlooks a park and hence the shot. Taken a couple of years ago in the winter sunshine. Lovely round ended house, which was empty when I passed it by and took this.

I like to know the history of houses, but doubt I’ll ever know this one. One can never tell a house by the ‘cover’. I recall going to visit a house with a view to buying many years ago, and it looked great in the picture, great when we got there, but once inside neither of us could get out quick enough. Bad vibes was our description when we reported back to the agent. Not the sort of feedback he could give to anyone. On the other hand we’ve been to others and fallen for them within the first few minutes ignoring any obvious and possibly expensive works that would need to be done. All part of the fun.

As you can gather we’ve moved a few times, possibly a throwback to my mother and father who moved frequently with his job. My mother had the knack of getting a house fit to live in within about three days of the removal men leaving us to it.

Youngest Wassailer?

This little person is probably the youngest wassailer at the Stroud Wassail on Saturday and seemed to be enjoying it, closing her eyes to fully appreciate the dancing and music. Brilliant day out on a damp and cold January day, a superb tonic for the winter. You can see more images of what went on right here and there will be more added there in the coming week.

A day out in “The Capital of Bread” with the Wassailers.

Looking forward to a day out in Stroud tomorrow to take a look at the Wassailing. It’s a brilliant excuse for a fun day out with the addition of dancers and music throughout the day, it helps that it’s the same day as the famous Farmer’s Market where one can buy some brilliant locally produced food and goodies, as well as an excuse to buy locally baked bread from the Sunshine bakery in the Shambles. I call Stroud the “Capital of Bread” as it has several bread shops where locally baked excellent bread can be bought, and a Greggs! Sunshine is my own personal favourite.

For more information on the dozens of performers going over there and be sporting themselves just click here, it’s really quite impressive.

House 9. Orkney, an awkward commute.

The term ‘far out’ would be more than adequate description for this place which is on the route to the Old Man of Hoy. It’s situated just after you get off the ferry to the island. People climb up the Old Man of Hoy which is a tower of Rock in the sea just on the edge of this very far flung part of Orkney. People who climb the Old Man must have no sense of self preservation.

Follow that sign

This is above Tideswell in Derbyshire where we went for a walk last year, bright and bracing walk in a lovely part of the world.

There’s a plan at the back of my head to finish all these drawings in colour in the future but I get more pleasure out of the drawing part than the colour. So it may be a while. The other obstacle to the finals in colour is a change of mind, and my constant predilection to never finish….

I’ll get back to this later.