Gargoyles in Gloucester, a tidy job.

I used to work for a printing company in Gloucester, it was a career break from my former trade which was drawing cartoons for a living. I was hired to sell print, very kind of them to have the faith in me to think that I could do it.

One of my clients at the company was the Cathedral in Gloucester. They proved to be brilliant clients in every respect. Apart from being a joy to work with ( and unlike some clients I always considered that I worked with them rather than for them ) I had the joy of being able to visit the place on many occasions. There’s little to beat the visual splendour of the cloisters in Gloucester early in a sunny morning. They were also happy to let me take photos on any of my visits, which was another bonus.

On one of my visits I was lucky enough to be able to go around the mason’s yard. The Cathedral has a permanent staff of masons where they are constantly repairing or remaking parts of the building. It was here that I took these images of the making of a gargoyle. These sculptures are to replace older gargoyles that have been weathered beyond recognition. The photos taken over a few months of course.

Here you see images of the first drawings of the gargoyle, one of the masons working on the gargoyle, and the resulting final sculpture in place on the roof of the Cathedral.

The drawing
The clay model
Ollie, one of the masons working on the final piece.
The final piece in position on the roof

My thanks to The Master Mason, Pascal Mychalysin, and his team of masons at the Cathedral for allowing me into their shed. Interestingly, Pascal, is a big fan of cartoons and always told me how much he admired the work of Bill Tidy. I am also a big fan of Bill Tidy too.

There’s more information about the masons here, and for more about Bill Tidy, click from here.

Digging up the road… jam tomorrow?

This time Robin and I chose Shab Hill which has superb views over Gloucestershire and is close to the A417 which is due to be diverted soon to solve a log jam of traffic that builds up at the Air Balloon roundabout. A huge new double carriageway is due to cross some outstanding countryside. We took a walk over some of it and then recorded Robin and the song: “Digging up the road”. We just did a couple of the verses, the first one is the original. The original song only had two verses, so I wrote some more for Robin, and the second rather cynical verse is by me.

We hope you enjoy this rendition.

The opening photo in the video is by me and the second one of that super cloud formation is by Robin.

Donkeys and Sharpness

This is the first of hopefully a few little videos, this one done about a week ago down at the area of the Severn here in the UK, where the river meets the start of the sea and where the canal that takes ships from the river up to Gloucester Docks begins. The Docks here at Sharpness are still used but very few freight ships go up the canal to Gloucester, the waterway being used more these days for pleasure craft. It makes for a good walk and has a great mix of industrial and countryside. I particularly like the cranes that used to unload ships on the docks: that’s the image at the start of our little movie ( fine photo taken on the day by Robin )

This area is also a good place for bird spotters, being en route to Slimbridge area. We were treated to a couple of swans landing on the canal like huge flying boats.

It was a blustery fine day when we did the recording but Robin soldiered on like the trouper he is, so apologies for the wind noise on this. We hope you enjoy this, we certainly did.

Photo by Robin Burton, he did all the singing too!

Cows sleep standing up.

This is the title of one of my most popular blogs, very strange. So jumping on the bandwagon and latching on to it’s popularity here are a couple of drawings from a short film I did a couple of years ago to accompany a song called ” Do you want us to win the war?”

Can’t remember the particular lyrics but I suppose it must be about a loyal bovine, so here are the drawings. What will they make of this in Afghanistan? Someone from there dropped into the site just the other day. If it was you: “Hello”.

What did you do in the shutdown Grandad?

I had no excuse. Prevarication is my middle name, actually it’s Edward, but that’s another story I’ll get around to boring you with in due course. To make me feel useful I did a series of drawings about social distance. Then I made some little videos of them. Dual purpose videos, first of all I hope they get the message across about keeping one’s distance. We British are supposed to be stand offish, we it turns out we are not stand offish enough. Second is to bring a modicum of cheer to anyone who’s watching and to illustrate exactly how I draw. For the technically minded there’s nothing technical, just a sheet of layout paper placed on top of the first rough until I get to the final item. Drawing with a Pentel sign pen, my “go to” medium of choice. I’ve used nothing much else to draw with for many years. The added bit’s of half tone in the final are done with a chinagraph pencil. If I were to be a bit arty about it I’d say it gives a fine quality of line.

Here’s one of the videos:

This is the final from the video.

I also wrote a couple of books for my grandchildren, two in Los Angeles and the other one up North in Sheffield. We miss them all. The books are intended to support a local charity, who you can read about right here. They are available in the Longfield shops in Cheltenham and Stroud. All proceeds go to Longfield. I only had 100 of each book printed and they are selling quite well, so don’t leave it too late to buy one and feel better about yourself for giving to such a worthy cause.

To find out more about the books just click here.

Surely the sky is empty by now

One of those incessantly wet days and it looks like the weekend is going to follow suit. We’ve had such brilliant weather in every respect of late that a day like to day comes as a bit of a shock. Too wet to even contemplate a walk. Instead a day to stay in and eat hot food.

To cheer anyone out there here’s a video of my friend Robin singing on the banks of the River Severn some months ago. We plan to do some more of these, but when it’s a least a little drier out there. Look out for them.

It’s to do with the reds…

My walking friend Robin tell me that the stunning light at this time of year is down to dust and the reds in the air. I think that’s what he said but like in my maths lessons at school I was not concentrating enough. My mind has a habit of wandering off, it’s a little like my sense of direction. Rescue is at hand in the form of an App on my phone that tells me where we are, and where we should be. Of course the problem is making sure there’s enough juice in the phone to keep it going, which seems to be a problem more and more as my phone ages. Battery seems to leak power at an alarming rate making me believe that there is built in obsolescence, so that I can easily be persuaded to go and buy another. Perhaps I should blame that on the reds too.

To bear witness to the reds in the air here are some of my recent images of lovely Derbyshire.

Derbyshire in the sunshine

Thought I’d share these images taken over the last few days in rural Derbyshire. The September and late evening sunshine in two of them combined with a brilliant atmospheric light and cloudscape made for a high contrast photos. No photoshop on these at all, this is pure Derbyshire. So glad I took that early evening walk out of Tideswell last night.

These two taken at around 5.00 pm yesterday

Taking lettuce to Derbyshire

We all take odd things on holiday. I recall in my schooldays before airline security was a thing, my school friends and I put a house brick into a fellow schoolboys luggage when he was due to fly to join his parents on their airforce base in Cyprus. We were at a boarding school that had a clientele of boys whose parents were in the forces, mainly the RAF.

So when we started school again we all wondered if he’d taken the brick to Cyprus and indeed he had.

I’m not really that keen on practical jokes, many played on me that I did not like too much, most are cruel, but this was mild enough to be acceptable, and he found it amusing himself. His mum asked him why he’d brought a brick, and he claimed it was a “school project”. He did not bring it back.

So here I am now in Derbyshire, and before we left we thought, what to do about the lettuce plants. We brought them with us. They are doing very well, the sun up here suits them. No doubt they will travel back with us. Food miles may be but they are still growing. Some people take their dogs on holiday, we take out lettuce.

Salad days?

Taps, is this progress?

A proper tap has at least three prongs and one spout for hot, and the other on the other side is for cold. It’s easy to grip with soapy hands and is a classic of its time. It has washers in the right places and it served the nation well, you can still get them but like almost all taps they are probably made in China.

The modern tap can have all sorts of fancy ways to switch it on and can includes a bit that operates the metal plug for the basin. It’s not a proper tap. It has many bits that can go wrong, and if they do go wrong, you are more than likely going to have to replace the whole thing. If you do then think about having two normal taps, you are unlikely ever to need to change theme. Don’t be seduced by so called German engineering, and brands with the word “Von” in them.

Take a lesson from the humble garden tap, they don’t have any truck with fancy items. They put straightfoward utilitarian taps on any allotment site, and so they should.

Then there are the mixer taps. Nothing new there, you can get mixer taps with proper turning handles but beware the modern version with its lift this here and turn that there configuration, especially in the modern shower where you are more than likely to get a downpour of icy water before you’ve worked out exactly how it works. Never a problem with the old ones with the H and the C suitably emblazoned on the top of each tap.

And plugs? Get a rubber one with a chain fitted so you don’t lose it. Nothing else is acceptable.

Share this, it’s really important.

Here’s a picture taken in Derbyshire to cheer you up.

By way of a change…

I’m in Derbyshire and this is a typical Derbyshire dry stone wall. Unusually it’s been very dry here and across the U.K. in the last few weeks. We didn’t get a green and pleasant land by having blue skies and sunshine. We are having a bit of a break before the weather starts to change and winter is upon us, and walls like these return to their normally damp state.

A big thanks to all those lovely people who donated to Longfield in exchange for one or both of my recently published books for children. So far I have sold over 60 books for them, so that’s 300 quid donated to them, for the valuable work they do. To find out more take a look at my website. The books are also available in the Longfield shops in the Bath Road in Cheltenham, and in their shop in King Street, Stroud.

I intend to bang on about the books for the foreseeable future until they all get sold! That may take a while, although there are only 100 of each in existence, so if you have one, you have a limited first edition. This is what they look like.

Who is this monster, is it you?

The final page, perhaps the punchline page is more to the point. The idea is to have read this to your children or grandchildren, and to persuade them that they should stay in bed at night.

I hope you enjoyed this book and my other one. If you would like a copy all the proceeds are going to Longfield. Read all about them here.

You can buy copies of these little tomes either in their shops in Cheltenham and Stroud, where I’m hoping you will part with at least a fiver per copy for them, or you can buy them from here, where the price is £6.50 as long as you can use PayPal. This is to cover postage and packing to you, and for me having to faff about! I’ll send the money for the books to Longfield.

There are only 100 copies of each book available, so they are something of a limited edition.

I hope you have enjoyed my lockdown project, and that you will help me raise funds for this worthy charity.

The Monsters on the Plot

An allotment based tale of bugs and monsters on the plot to be read to young children. Fully illustrated throughout in full colour this small book is 28 pages including the cover. All proceeds will be going to Longfield a charity that looks after people at the other end of life to the target audience. Available in their shops for £5-00 and from here for £6-50 to cover postage and packing. Feel free to pay more knowing you'll be supporting a very worthy cause.

£6.50

Thanks for dropping into my blog and sticking with the two stories to the end. If you have bought a book, then thank you very much indeed. I undertook the project as a way to entertain my grandchildren and both books are dedicated Sidney, Wilfred, Elliot and my brother’s grandson: Laurie. We missed seeing them over the lockdown and hope we will soon be able to see them all again soon.