Thursday, 4 April 2019

Colour Artworks

I know, I know... I have been sadly lax in publishing articles here for the last few months. Well lots of other stuff has been getting in the way. We moved house for one. So I'm now no longer a Blackpool resident but am living in a place called Poulton-le-Fylde just a couple of miles away from my old house. Miss Franny and I have spent several months stressing over it all (oh my God that is not over-egging the past few months in any way, shape or form!) But now we are here, 6 or so weeks in and having found (I hope) most of the things that needed fixing in the short term.

So with this belated catch-up entry I'm going back to look at various bits of art (you know... - my doodling!) that has been produced since I last mentioned it. You should have seen a few pencil sketches from holidays - and if not then I hope you're going to do some catching up of your own! Tsk! At one point I showed the old sepia postcard that I was considering doing a painting of. Not that long ago, not even two years - it was on the 11th April 2017 to be precise... Anyway, having never attempted to draw a horse before I cut the number of them down by a half and did this A2 size oil pastel over the ten days following that blog article.

This was also from an old black and white postcard and is another A2 sized oil pastel. I overcame my usual nerves at adding figures and put a workman clipping the hedges on the right. I'm not the best at drawing humans but in this case he was actually an early 20th century robot in blue dungarees (how do you spell that???) so it was alright!

My uncle and aunt bought me an A4 spiral-bound sketchbook for Christmas in 2016 and this was my first sketch in it. For some reason I thought I'd start at the back instead of the front of the book thinking any finished works wouldn't get smudged by flipping the pages over. Totally never thought about how they might get moved as I did more art on pages resting on top of them... duh. This is a street market in Rhodes, Greece and is done with my best set of kids' pencil crayons.

My mate David is not only mad enough to trust me to back up his singing but he watches football. Which is probably why he's a singer and not a musician as I spent all my Saturday afternoons from age 12 learning to play guitar and keyboards. After 50-odd years you'd think I'd have got the hang of it by now... Anyway he asked me to have a bash at the Etihad stadium of his team, Manchester something or other. A3 done in pastel pencils.

I found a photo of this Venice scene on the Internet and it prompted me to try an oil pastel of the Grand Canal at twilight. A2 in size, it's become a sort of favourite and now hangs in my dining room. A bit of a waste as we sit in the living room most nights watching Pointless as we eat our tea...

I was admiring some portraits painted by a friend and said how I'd never dare to have a go. He poo-poohed this and said I should try it so I dug out a photo I took of actress Ingrid Pitt in the late 1990s and set to with a set of oil paints given to me by my son-in-law. So my first portrait and my first real painting done with brushes and paint. I used a grid to get the likeness and there's a good four unsuccessful layers underneath this final layer, which I'm quite chuffed with. A2 size. I'm so sad that I was unable to show it to her as she passed on a few years ago, but she did have a pencil sketch I did of her which she was graciously enthusiastic about at the time.

A bit closer to home, this is the Bridge House at Ambleside in the Lake District. Another night scene and done on A2 paper with pencil crayons. They are watercolour pencils but I couldn't screw up my courage enough to get this wet...

"Phew, I might take up art if I can have someone like this stretching over my settee..." said one of my FaceBook friends. No such luck for me though as this was done from a photo. Another pencil crayon sketch in the A4 sketchbook. If any young damsel would like to be sketched from life, my email address is to the left...

Ever looking for new challenges, this is a watercolour. I have another friend on FaceBook (yes two of them, who'd have thought...) who keeps posting scenes of picturesque... er... scenes... So this was done from one of those. The colours, lighting and some content were changed to protect the innocent. A2 on cartridge paper, which stretched and warped a bit from the watercolour. I've taken it to be framed and the chap in the shop was a bit worried. I don't like to be the only one with a challenge, now do I?

This was done in January this year to take my mind off the fact that the people buying our house had pratted about for so long that the house we wanted to buy ourselves had been put back up for sale. We did get it in the end and I'm sitting in it now but we had a few months where life was a sort of pressure cooker existence. This is another scenic scene from the afore mentioned friend on FaceBook and is another part of England's Lake District. Pastel pencils in the A4 sketchbook.

And bringing us up-to-date, this is my first artwork done in the new house. I went back to the sepia Edwardian postcards again for this view of the mill at Guy's Cliffe in Warwickshire. Oil pastels on A2 paper with (thankfully) no humans, horses or any other species waiting for me to mess up the picture by attempting them.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Creeping Bentgrass in Southport

Saturday 26 January 2019. Our first gig of the year took us on a stormy journey to Ainsdale near Southport to play at a 70th birthday party.

The venue was Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club where we found the best "can do" staff and an enthusiastic audience who kept the dance floor occupied throughout the evening. We kept the dancers busy and were asked to do our version of the Moody Blues' Nights in White Satin which earned us a standing ovation. Thanks to all concerned - we had just as fabulous a night as we hoped you did!

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Creeping Bentgrass Car Club Performance

Saturday 8 December saw us out at Fleetwood Cricket Club playing for a Christmas event for a local classic car club. They were joined for the event by members of the Lancashire Morris Minors Club and a good night was had by all!

Early Christmas Gig in Blackpool for Creeping Bentgrass

Friday, 30 November 2018 was an early Christmas date for us as we played following a luncheon for a pensioners' group if ex-British Gas staff.

Many thanks for the booking and for the invitation to join in the meal which was hosted by the Sheraton Hotel, Blackpool. Loved the venue, but breaking down took a while as I kept trying to pick up the white cables...!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Venetian Vistas Cruise, Marella Celebration 20-27 September 2018

Join us for a week's cruise on the Marella Celebration, starting and ending at Dubrovnik. We'll be sailing up the Adriatic Sea to take in six ports in Montenegro, Croatia and Italy.

Each day is shown on its own separate entry, reached by clicking/tapping the seven photos below. A link on each page will bring you back here.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Venetian Vistas Cruise Final Night

Wednesday 26 September 2018. It is the final night of our cruise and, having come on an early flight, our return flight is also early. We have to be off the ship by 07:15.

We have a full evening planned - dinner with Tomas and Maris and then singing in Horizons, so the afternoon is spent packing as (sob!). Off the ship for 07:15...? Yikes, will we have got to bed by then?

But we are packed apart from the clothes we are wearing (and a few for tomorrow!) when it comes time to head to the Kora La speciality restaurant for our celebration dinner with Tomas and Maris.

This restaurant provides both Indian and Chinese styles of cooking and we are in for a treat.

A small pot of tiny cubed melon and pineapple serves as a mouth freshener.

Miss Franny nods off for a while... I think she was just in ecstasy at the food, of course!

Ah yes... I was there too! Some exotic flavours and a lovely meal to celebrate Maris's birthday and our friendship which has so far spanned nine years.

Then there's a few last songs to sing - tonight's repertoire includes Billy Fury's Wondrous Place and my sing-a-long for the evening is Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.

Then a late night catch up with King in the Lido as we have to say goodbye until our next cruise with these talented people. King gives Miss Franny a hug, "Goodbye Mommy!" he jokes. Bye for now folks. Catch you again as soon as we can!

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Krka National Park, Croatia

Wednesday 26 September 2018. Our final day before flying home tomorrow. Our port for the day is Split in Croatia. We have been here a few times so have booked our only organised trip of the week for today.

We are taken by coach to Krka National Park near the border of Croatia with Serbia. A feast of waterfalls that I have seen described as both "spectacular" and "boring". Make your own minds up as you go through these very selective photos. I took well over a hundred during the day. What a good job we didn't have my good friend David the clicky monster with us - we'd have had to have dunked his camera in the water to stop it smoking...

Our guide told us the usual bits of history and culture on the way here and mentioned the park's wildlife. It has, we are told, bears, wolves and Croatia's most venomous snake, the antidote to which must be administered within forty minutes or death will overtake the ambulance...

"However they tend to keep to the higher ground and all we are likely to see will be ducks and fish..." And breathe... Once at the park we have a quick comfort break and then we are given a map and choose to walk through it on our own, having made sure we know where and when to meet up again. The boats on the river far below will be another part of the tour as we will meet up with the bus somewhere else following a short river trip on one of these boats.

The route around the park was by following a raised walkway made from wood. It was easy to follow and we could make our own pace. In fact despite us setting off first, the rest of the party overtook us at one point and were then overtaken by ourselves once again.

There were large waterfalls and small waterfalls. Some tall, some short. Some wide and others narrow. Some fast and some slow. It was most certainly not boring. There were quite a lot of people walking the wooden trail in both directions and several languages to be heard.

There were plenty of fish to be spotted in pools and streams. From tiny fry to foot-long adults they swam in shoals amongst the lily pads.

And the ducks. That's alright, we don't need to see the wolves, bears and poisonous snakes thank you...!

There's a spell of smaller falls, cascading over short drops.

And then a long drop into a large pool below.

Each rush of airborne water accompanied and set off by luxurious greenery.

The faster moving falls create their own foam even after a relatively short drop.

At this point water flowed in numerous streams under the walkway. There was a large party of young people in these blue sweatshirts. They are from Heidelberg University.

At every large fall there are people standing with their backs to it taking selfies with an outstretched phone in hand. "This is a picture of me obscuring X. And this is me hiding a lovely view of Y. This one is me with a dog's nose and ears..." If anyone is miffed at there being so few pictures of me, please let me know... Well? No? Thought not! ☺

We are getting to the end of the trail and the most spectacular view of all. At this point it is permitted to swim. Our guide had warned that it would be cold but it didn't prevent quite a few people from stripping off and getting into the water.

We are near the meeting point for this last view of the falls. A bridge takes people for a closer look but apart from me and a Japanese girl taking a photo of her friend who hadn't noticed and was busy picking her nose, everyone else on the bridge was staring at their phone!

It was lunchtime. "Fancy a sandwich?" asked Fran. It was crammed full of ham and cheese. We ate 1/3 of it each and admitted defeat at that! On a nearby table a little girl from Nottingham, either two or three years old, was singing "Let It Go! Let It Go!" over and over. The cold never bothers me anyway...

Our meeting point was a pole with a solar panel on top. "You won't miss it..." our guide had said!

From here we make our way to the boats for our river cruise back to where the bus will be waiting.

Even having left the waterfalls behind, there is still some spectacular scenery!

The boat takes us to this small village whose name I failed to hear, see, ask for.

"Follow me, straight to the coach!" said our guide loudly. However... "I've lost my husband!" comes a voice. Had he mistakenly gone off with another group, wondering where his wife might be? No... he had just decided he wanted a drink and thought he was more important than everyone else. The mind boggles! He hadn't even taken his wife!

On the way back in the coach we are coming down the mountain road towards Split and in the middle distance pass a fortified hill - Kaštel Gomilic - which is the location for the city of Meereen in TV's Game of Thrones.

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