Tuesday, 30 April 2013



“We have gone from the Spring to the Summer” says Petra on the front desk as I check in late on a Wednesday evening.

Everywhere is scrubbed clean by sunlight, a dusty white.

Dust from construction because everywhere there is evidence of industry and construction.

The train lines cross the city, mechanical-electrical cables overhead are green rusted, substantiation of great engineering – a character of this land

Sitting on the dusty kerb I make this drawing

Close by the gleaming white office in which we are working is a line of new apartments each one with its distinctive colours and shape. Sitting on the kerb I make this drawing and then walk back to the office for the taxi to the airport.

We have a lovely meal  - italienisch


Friday, 26 April 2013


It was a warm afternoon. Although tired from a twelve hour flight from Sao Paulo I was still determined to see a little of Madrid. Two churches in particular caught my eye, both quite close to one another in the Opera district of the city.

Madrid’s subway system is easy to master and I was soon in the Opera district.
Both churches were shut firm. So I guessed all churches were forbidden me on a Sunday afternoon.

I without a plan I wandered through the streets, warm and full of people. 

 April 7

I sat down to draw at one café and took an espresso. The waitress admired my scribbling. People chatted; two young guys faced each other earnestly over their beers, one giving the other advice on his relationship to some girl (not present at their table). 

Conversations always drift over me when I am drawing yet seem to be captured in the lines on my book. I walked on to Plaza de San Andres, full of people and again sat down to draw.

A lovely lovely afternoon, made easy by a great transport system. Made memorable through the crowds at every café on every corner, city that can still enjoy itself.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Thursday morning April 4 2013

It was nice to be somewhere warm, warm at 05:20 in the morning. I stepped out of Sao Paulo airport and crossed the car park and into the arms of the hotel’s car. It was still just dark, and then it became lighter and the traffic heavier as we drove the twenty-five kilometres into the city along the expressway by side the Pinheiros River.

I am here to run a workshop, which was starting in seven hours, I was returning to one of my favourite cities. Again I sense the familiar of the city: of long lines of traffic, tall buildings and green trees. There were several new bridges across the river.

Rodeio Restaurant in the Jardin district
I was working in the Brooklyn area of the city, posh and full of energy. This area of town has a new bridge too, since I was here in 2008. From the office, thirty-two floors up I looked down onto the Octavio Frias de Oliveira. A road way suspended by wires. It consists of two constantly busy traffic lanes in wired independent curves of 60 º crossing the river. It is the only cable-stayed bridge in the world with two curved tracks connected to a same mast.  I counted another twelve or so lanes of traffic humming along close by.

I looked down onto the Octavio Frias de Oliveira. A road way suspended by wires.

Day one of the workshop completed there was a moment to freshen up before being ferried to the Rodeio Restaurant in the Jardin district. The place was empty but filling fast. This is the home of traditional Brazilian BBQ fare for the moneyed. The décor simple with walls adorned with lassos’, tethers and other rodeo paraphernalia. Exquisite steaks perfectly cooked were placed reverently in front of us and eaten with respect! Wonderful.

Saturday and we were heading back to Europe. Madrid.

Parish church of São João de Brito
An email brought me news of the death of my friend and printmaking tutor Christine Lock after a heroic battle against cancer. News that was not unexpected and demanded a visit to church. The Hotel concierge directed me to the Parish church of São João de Brito. It was a hard twenty-five minute walk to find it but worth every footstep.  The church looked like a yellow aircraft hanger from the street. Inside it was light and airy with a marble reredos that sweeps across the entire with of the church like a great curved wing (continuing the aeronautical theme).

Off the nave I found a small office-shop and someone who spoke a little English. And I explained about Christine, and leaving her name on a slip of paper they undertook to mention her in the Mass in the afternoon.
Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetuae luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.

Friday, 5 April 2013


March 24 - 26 2012

1. Sunday evening is a tense time of the week to travel anywhere - knowing one is going to arrive in darkness in some city that is quiet and sombre.  My Alitalia flight was delayed by two hours one of which was spent in the plane on the tarmac.

2. ‘Magnificent Majestic’ is what I say: The Sheraton Diana Majestic is a hotel of about one hundred years old; similar, funnily enough, to the Intercontinental in Roma. It is full of Empire-style dark furniture and gilt, large mirrors and huge doorways abound. I arrived there on Monday at one in the morning and tumbled into my lovely bed.

3. Miracles in Milano or rather fifteen kilometres outside Milano: The restaurant was in Cernusco sul Naviglio where local colleagues entertained us to a wonderful meal at the Ristorante Due Spade link here I enjoyed a memorable meal of squid on a bed of potato and broccoli, an exceptional seared sirloin steak that hard barely seen the grill, and the ice cream was made especially for us. Heaven was completed by chocolates and espresso. All accompanied by Chardonnay from Gorizia (Vipava Valley) and a lovely red from the Naples area. Awoke feeling refreshed. 
Ristorante Due Spade 
4. Moleskine has a shop in Linate Airport. Another feast.

5. More delays on the flight home, a mere thirty minutes, and a new Alitalia tactic: instead of spending time on the plane spend time on the airport bus with a special tour of the tarmac to your plane.

The madness and miracles of short-haul. 


Over dinner Paolo explains how Milano was build out in belts or rings of which there are three centering on the Duomo