Thursday, 14 August 2014


I did this sketch of the abbey ruins in Glastonbury. Unfortunately, I made a bit of a hash of the windows of Abbey House in the background, but I was quite pleased with it overall. Since my Trafalgar Square sketch I'd gotten into the habit of sketching directly in ink with no preliminary pencil drawings. This probably came about due to having short snatches of time in which to do my sketches. This particular sketch was the first I'd done while standing up. It had been raining up until this point and when the sun came out I made my move, but the grass was too wet to sit on. I was surprised how easy it was get comfortable while standing. I simply didn't get time to paint my sketches, and days later when I did get time, I felt reluctant to tamper with them.

Glastonbury was our last port of call and it is where we attended a spiritual retreat at Abbey House (the gorgeous house you can see in the background in the above photo and close up in the one below). The retreat was facilitated by the very profound and very entertaining Tim Freke. We had a wonderful time and met amazing people- all in an otherworldly beautiful setting.

This is the view from the backyard of Abbey House, as guests we had access to the ruins.

Glastonbury itself is a very pretty town of which my pictures don't do enough justice. It is a very alternative town which makes it extra interesting.

One of the several fabled ancient thorn trees(above). Lush environs of Chalice Well (below).

One of the common rooms at Abbey House above and below are two sketches I did - again with no preliminary pencil work. My two lovely subjects, Denise and Christine are much lovelier in the flesh than my unflattering scribbles show, but they were generous in their praise nonetheless!

After all this excitement it was back to Heathrow and the next day we flew off in our torture chamber (aka plane) arriving home over twenty hours later. I hope someone will invent a teleporter between now and my next long haul trip.
Now I am in the process of readjusting to normal life again!

Our Final Weeks

We are home again and all but over the jet lag. It was hard to keep up with regular blogposts while away as we wanted to soak up every sight and every sound while we had the opportunity.
We ended up going on a couple more day trips out of London after visiting the Midsomer village. One such outing was to Cambridge which lived up to our high expectations.

We also visited Brighton.

There were endless antique jewellery shops and other shops of interest in the winding, characterful streets of the old part of town.


In between the day trips we explored more of London. For many months I had been savouring the moment when I would be able to lay my eyes on the gorgeous "Lady of Shalott" painting by John William Waterhouse - painted in 1888. The day finally arrived, and after admiring Big Ben and all things Westminstery, we trotted down to the Tate Britain.

 It is wonderful to bask in the energy that is generated by an original painting - particularly an original that has long been admired only via reproductions, which was the case for me with "the Lady of Shalott". Alas, the very day that we had earmarked to visit the Tate Gallery was also the very day they had earmarked for dismantling and rearranging the wing in which "the Lady of Shalott" resided.

I was aghast and couldn't really believe I wouldn't end up being able to view her at close quarters, which is why I didn't give up easily. I pleaded with three different staff members on three different occasions to let me tiptoe in with them for a quick look, all to no avail. But I wasn't alone in trying to suck up to the staff. On the third occasion an outraged American woman was already pleading her case for seeing the very same painting. "But I've made a 13 hour journey to see it!" she cried (she confided to me afterwards that she'd added in her Chunnel crossing for extra effect). My tale of woe trumped hers of course with my 26 hour journey to Ireland (which didn't include the ferry crossing to Wales, or the time spent looking for the missing gangplank - or the 3 hour train journey to London!) but all our bleating was to no avail as the staff were very professional and knew if they let us in they would be deluged with other bleaters within minutes.
So we had to be satisfied with glimpsing her from a distance, at least she had yet to be removed from the wall. This shot was taken through one of the glass doors with my zoom.

Despite my disappointment, I was still able to thoroughly enjoy the visit as there was a wealth of other stunning works to admire. It is wonderful how all the famous museums and galleries in London are free to visit - with the suggestion of a small donation.

I feel this post is long enough so I will endeavor to post the final photos and sketch in the next day or so.