House 21. Reflective View

Something to contemplate on a cold and wet day. This is the view from a ferry in the Greek Islands and if my memory serves me right this is where Leonard Cohen found his muse. The man was very popular with the women I went to college with back in the 60s and I could never quite understand it. Always struck me as a bit of a miserable sod, and I could not quite get why someone so miserable could be so liked by these women. It seemed there was no advantage to being cheerful. What the hell had he got to be miserable about, he was in Greece with beautiful women hanging on every word, I was in Manchester just hanging about.

He had to bonus of views like this. Where the light bounced everywhere and when I took this picture I found it hard to believe somewhere could be so bright and reflective. Or was that what was Len was doing, being brighter than me and reflective at the same time.

I’m reminded of a health and safety tale. When I worked at the factory, that’s the print works not the cool night club, our health and safety man had a habit of sticking notices everywhere. On the day that he posted a note on the mirror in the gents that read: BEWARE:VERY HOT WATER! within minutes of his posting someone else had posted BEWARE: VERY REFLECTIVE MIRROR!

Whilst we are in the reflective mood, here’s a picture from the North. It’s the biggest plughole I’ve seen for a long time. It’s one of two such things at the Ladybower Reservoir just a short drive out of Sheffield into Derbyshire where we went just a few days ago. Gives an impression of just how wet it has been over here in the last few days. Gushing! Like those girls back in the 60s if you so much as mentioned bloody Leonard Cohen.

You’ve got to be in it to win it.

There are times in a cartoonist’s career where there’s the opportunity to win the lottery ticket job where you get paid an inordinate amount of money for the rights to a drawing. These moments are as rare as hen’s teeth and I can’t really say that I’ve ever been there. I’ve had my moments but not the big ticket.

There was a time when someone asked my to do some work for them and that I’d get a royalty for every image that was used. So there’s the carrot and now the schtick! To be fair they did not promise riches beyond dreams but they had lit the blue touch paper of possibilities. Not a lot came of it but I put a lot of effort into the drawings.

Last year I saw one of the drawings on the side of a decorators van as I plodded along back from Sainsbury’s. I said to the decorator who was there: “I did that drawing”. He looked at me as if I’d wandered into Wetherspoons for the afternoon on the journey back from Sainsbury’s. He muttered something like ” Gorrit of the internet” and got on with his undercoating.

Fast forward to today, a rainy day and a time to rifle through old stuff, and I came across one of the drawings. I chuckled, yes one is allowed to find one’s own work amusing at times, not all day long, that would be unnatural, but every now and again. The drawing that touched my chuckle muscle was not the painter, but another in the series.

So here it is, my lottery ticket. Shame the numbers didn’t match.

House 16. If you go down to the woods today…

Not in England but in the mountains of Montenegro. A walking trip a couple of years ago now, where we explored the area with a couple of brilliant Serbian guides. I almost expected a red coated young girl to emerge from this place to collect firewood.

In another spot I thought we heard birds on a small lake, but they were frogs. No doubt that after midnight they would turn into handsome princes.

The School in the Woods

Off for a walk into the Chedworth area of Gloucestershire and it promises to be sunny. My friend Robin and I have done this walk before starting from the Roman Villa and roaming through some of the finest countryside this area has to offer. Last time it was in the middle of Summer, this time it’s a cold but sunny start.

Perfect day for walking and we were headed for Fossebridge and the pub for lunch, then back across the Vestey estate to our starting point at Chedworth. There’s a steep climb after the pub sojourn up the field and into the woods.

We’d noticed the last time we were here that there were a number of what looked like abandoned buildings within the wood. Brick foundations are still visible and concrete paths interlaced the woods, though now covered in wood detritus they were still intact beneath the wood and leaf mould. This was a substantial settlement and we mused on what it could be. Our view was that it was certainly from the last war, there was still one smallish nissan hut still standing in a corner, now used by a farmer to store stuff. Complete with asbestos roof it had all the look of a World War 2 building.

The biggest building was the the left of this image just inside the woods and stretched for hundreds of yards.

The largest building was just in from these trees on the left
Here it is. You can see the brick foundations

We determined to find out more when we got back near the internet, and it turns out this was an American Hospital, built for casualties from the war. Hidden away in the woods in this lovely part of Gloucestershire in the middle of Lord Vestey’s estate. Information about if it was ever used is sketchy so far, but it seems not. It then converted to a school for Polish girls, other victims of the war. Take a quick look at the link here.

It seems that these refugees of the war travelled the world and ended up arriving in the Cotswolds, allowed to come here as they had ‘fiances’ in the Polish forces stationed here. This was a bit of a ruse as there was no intention for them to marry these strangers to them, in fact they signed something to the effect that they would not. It’s all a little sketchy but great good came from it. Settled in this camp they were educated by fellow Polish teachers. I understand that many of them went back to Poland or to other countries in later years.

Take a left out of the Fossebridge Inn, walk along a hairy bit of road ( a lot of fast traffic here but it’s not far ) over the bridge and immediately right into the large field after going through a big green gate. You are then on Lord Vestey’s land but we have a right to roam in this country, which must piss off the gentry no end but is excellent for the rest of us. Walk up to the edge of the wood from here, a steep climb.You then get into the woods and you are there within the woods, within what was a military hospital area and later this school for Polish girls.

Once out of the woods at the far end ( this is not a guide to the walk so take a look at the official footpath ) you get a view of Stowell House, up on the right, overlooking this wonderful valley of the River Coln. It’s where the gentry can look down on us.

This is on the last lap of the walk as it was yesterday
This is the same place in the summer
This is the River Coln meandering through on the last lap of this walk.
Reminds me of the sort of subject for a French Impressionists painting

If anyone out there has more information about the Hospital and the School in the Woods, then I’d love to know.

House 15. Taken from a child’s drawing?

This pretty little house is not far from the River Severn in Gloucestershire, east of the A38 in an area that is generally not bothered by tourists, or anyone much for that matter. It reminds me of how children draw houses with a four window and a door in the middle and a pretty little garden in the front. It seems undisturbed by modern life and has no new fangled anything to disturb the peace that emanates from it. It’s painted green not crushed avocado and they probably still have the tin in a shed ,somewhere. Happy little place.

House 14. OTT in Carpinteria

This place is North of Los Angeles and I took the photograph on a trip a couple of years ago. The small town of Carpinteria has a few houses and a large wide high street off the main freeway up the L A coast. This is a private house and looks like something out of a film set. I’m not sure if the outside tiles have any function other than decoration but the whole place looked like a brilliantly choreographed production number.

Carpinteria with a few shops and a super little museum prided over by some ladies of great respectability. They seem surprised that we wanted to see inside and had all sorts of local history bits and bobs inside, which they were rightly proud of. This area used to be known for tar digging, I kid you not. Digging tar for roads and other construction must have been the toughest work around. The tar spades which they had at the museum were unbelievably heavy, without the addition of tar. Rather them than me, no ta!

I imagine that whoever lives here wears a lot of pink and looks a little liker Barbara Cartland used to look in her later years. All fluffy and a bit over the top.

Apologies for the mis spelling of the name on the first posting of this, it’s Carpinteria take a trip over there.

House 13. Dead centre of the village.

Superbly located in a small village that is almost entirely owned by one family, this place has a fine view over the previous village occupants. It’s right next to the typical English church grounds. There are a few of these almost feudal villages in this area, where the houses are entirely controlled by the local landowner. This particular landlord is quite enlightened having brought very high speed broadband to the village for all to enjoy as well as a central heating works, or should that be a heating works that’s in the centre of the village that works. It’s for everyone and uses wood waste to power it. Not all landlords are quite so enlightened.

It is also surrounded by some of the most stunning countryside that this area has to offer, but you need a car to live there. Buses are not to be seen in the village.

It’s quite near to Whiteway that is in many ways quite the opposite. The other place, was apparently a socialist experiment back in the 1890s but failed due to the idleness of the residents. Or so it was claimed. It was a Tolstoyan community, it seems there was a certain amount of war but not a lot of peace after it was set up.

The houses in Whiteway are not as solidly built, being constructed in some cases out of wood, unlike the one above which is lovely cotswold stone. Fine material but notoriously damp. These places must have been tough to live in without proper heating and insulation, and being on top of the wolds they catch the wind. Which no doubt helped the body count in the next door field. There’s no connection between this and the fact that this is House number 13.