Saturday, 19 January 2013


Chaps enjoy a goodly pint 

Of the great pleasures hereabouts is a good pint at The Royal Standard Wooburn Common near High Wycombe. They keep their ales in great nick and always have a good selection from the local Rebellion Brewery.

The pub’s website proclaims, with justification, “In recent years the Royal Standard is increasingly being described as a destination pub for the real ale connoisseur”.

My chums, Dave the jet pilot and Mike the fishmonger of Borough Market and I assemble here to imbibe but modestly. 


Everyone remembers their first time in front of St Mark's Square in Venice
St Marks Square  Lino Cut: Artist's Proof  14 x 21 cms 
I have painted this wonderful facade so many times and never tire of trying to get it down on paper! I have worked on a lino cut over the Christmas break and taken one proof on my dear friend Patricia's press the other weekend.

Just before Megan was born we made that Venice trip.

My diary 2nd March 1996:

Hotel small but well appointed swapped rooms with some old biddy who'd been given a room with a flight of stairs (and she could hardly walk).

Tea (two cups each for £5.00) at Florians - has to be one experience not to be missed.

Walking back from a trattoria near the Rialto I tried to cross St Marks and found the water deeper than the average puddle!
Spring tide it appears!
Retreated back to the edge (of the square)
lost balance
wet foot - trousers - gloves

Saturday, 12 January 2013

LAS VEGAS: A scream and a woop-woop

A scream and woop-woop rings out from across the floor of the Casino. 
From somewhere amongst the acres of slot machines, somebody has won.
I continue to stand in line for arguably the most expensive Americano in the world.


The Venetian, molto italiano and ever so slightly camp 
It is Sunday morning, day three, I arrive at Jean Philippe Patisserie (the lobby coffee shop), the casino slot machines appeared to be lying in for a Sunday, a few guys wandering aimlessly across the casino floor.

Yesterday another day of work and work related chores for the sales convention, from room to beige room, beige carpets and the occasional sliver of blue sky through a high glass ceiling. From the Aria Hotel we walk across the Bellagio to check our rooms for the next day, we are sluggish after too large a lunch at the Aria’s eating-place.

A little late for my evening rehearsal, it is fatal to go back to the room and rest up for 30 minutes! Clawed my credibility back by 21:15.

A large amount of Texans wearing hats

Sunday morning and at 06:50 the sun is coming up and lighting up the faux Italianate architecture around the Bellagio’s pool with its sentinel cypress trees, a little bit of Tuscany in southern Nevada.

Sunday comes and goes in a whirr of assignments around the conference and peaks in my co-moderating a group of five hundred sales people, very exciting and we achieve our outcomes.

Shipping out: Monday morning I go down to the lobby and buy my last expensive Americano. The server, Mandi, confirms my order before I have given it, I have arrived.

Back in my room, now packed and ready I look out on ‘The strip’ and contemplate a walk along Las Vegas Boulevard before the long flight home. 

I walk some of the strip and treat myself to a Big Mac Breakfast
The sun hits the glass of the adjacent building; everything is orange for a brief moment. All hail Las Vegas.

Sunday, 6 January 2013


Cathedral in the fields 
Written in the Autumn and just found languished in the drafts folder!

The first Saturday of September is a great time to go cycling in any county in England for whether sponsored or no you participate in the Historic Churches Ride and fund-raiser for the fabric of our wonderful churches.

Cycling chum Judge Richard and I often unwittingly get caught up these velo-festivals having been cycling in Norfolk one year and Suffolk the next. Most churches are open for investigation and delight. The big bonus is that a good number of churches have people stationed in the doorway or porch dispensing all sorts of cordials, sometimes cups of teas and always biscuits.

Where there is no one on duty the food and drink is place just inside in on a small table as one enters the church.

Such it was at Hillesden Church one of those north Buckinghamshire village churches situated on the broad plain between Buckingham and Aylesbury.
This year our participation was premeditated and we had visited several churches and enjoyed flapjacks and lemonade in several of the Lord’s Houses before here.

Hillingdon. Nothing quite prepares you for the grace and lightness of this church. An early signal is that the village is situated at the end of a long road the only ways in and out of the village. Cut off and quite perfect. The church is located on a shallow rise with fields immediately beyond.  It reaches up to the sky and is a testament to the gothic craftsman of the 14th and 15th century.  The windows and tracery let in so much light that the place does appear to float. This wonder was, four hundred years later to inspire George Gilbert Scott who lived only two parishes away.

Richard took many pictures and I made a drawing, determined to return one day to do more. We had a drink of lemon squash on the way out and examined the north door to see the shot marks still there from Cromwell’s army who besieged the church, a Royalist stronghold.

We peddled out along a small track agreeing that we have seen something really special.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


1st January 2010
Rose early it was a lovely sunny day with no wind and no rain. Perfect. Went on a bike ride.

It was two years ago I did the same thing and went on the same ride, took this photograph. 

Full of hope and happy new year! 
1st January 2013