Saturday, 16 January 2010


Despite a couple of false starts because of the snow and airport closures, we eventually managed to fly to our home in Fuerteventura (Canaries) on Saturday evening. It was bliss to escape the snow (much as I love looking at it, the practicalities get a bit boring after a few days).

This is a working holiday and I´m pleased at the progress we´ve made so far. One bedroom has been totally repainted and new lampshades/bedding installed. The lounge is 95% repainted so a few more hours tomorrow should see it finished. We plan to redecorate one more bedroom and the outside porch area ... then we´ll pay a professional to tile the walls in our back garden/pool area. They are currently painted but, because of the weird plaster mix used by the Fuerteventurian builders, the plaster on all exterior walls continuously bubbles and ´blows´. Every year, I rub the walls down and repaint them and its becoming a boring, expensive task. So we´ll bite the bullet and pay someone to fix the problem permanently (we hope)!!

Then I hope we can enjoy the next two weeks just relaxing and recharging the batteries. I´ve got a lot of work lined up when we get back and I´m already missing my pencils and can´t wait to make a start. I´ve got some graphite pencils here with me and made a start on a double ´people´portrait which is required for end March .... I should have that finished by end next week if the decorating schedule goes to plan.

Hope everyone at home is coping well with the snow :0) .... thankfully we have none of that here - although it isn´t quite as sunny as expected. It has been cloudy for the last few days but the temperature is still mid to high 70s (in the shade) so I´m definitely not complaining.

Friday, 8 January 2010


I'm really making this one up as I go along.  He is actually a tabby  but I thought I'd make him sandy/ginger coloured.  Who knows, he may end up tortoiseshell colour at this rate.    I'm really just killing time till we know what is happening at the airport tomorrow.      Will we be celebrating at 'Sirena' our favourite beach bar in Corralejo, Fuerteventura tomorrow evening or will we be back in frozen Tankerton warming up the fatballs in the bird feeders?  I've just finished reading an article on the BBC website which suggests that this harsh Winter will be a killer for many UK wildlife animals and birds - I do hope not  :o(

Anyway, here he is ... I've been trying to think of a title for the picture.  Originally it was going to be 'Peeping Tom' but I ended up drawing more body than intended - he's crawling out from under my fleecy top which is hanging on a chair back.   'Undercover Cat' maybe? Any ideas?

08/01: IF YOU CAN'T BEAT THEM ......

We've had another heavy snowfall in the early hours today so we decided to walk down to the beach and watch the fun as kids (of all ages) took advantage of the icy Tankerton Slopes to test their tobogganing skills. No matter if they didn't own a 'traditional' toboggan - a lot of imagination and initiative had been used .... some worked better than others:

Being towed on the 'baby slopes - fun for all the family

If you can't find anything else - try using a sheet of polythene or plastic:

The milk crate wasn't very successful

But the Lilo worked very well - fastest thing on the slopes I think.

Specially adapted road signs - Diversion and Men at Work!! Don't think that will go down well with the authorities though!

and even the roof from a Wendy Play House - they managed to pack 5 lads into this and it worked pretty well for them

and it wasn't just the two legged 'children' having fun today:

Thursday, 7 January 2010

07/01: STILL HERE!

The title applies to us, and the snow.

We didn't get away as planned yesterday as Gatwick airport remained closed for most of the day. 400 flights were cancelled yesterday and 136 today - so we aren't alone in having our travel plans overthrown.

We have booked new flights for Saturday morning - this time leaving from Stansted airport.  Sooooo fingers crossed we'll have more success then.

With our cases packed and sitting in the hallway, I haven't felt motivated to start any of the commission work as I keep getting sidetracked checking weather forecasts etc., I have been working on a coloured pencil cat picture which is easy to pick up and put down as the mood takes me.   I haven't been keeping track of the time spent on the drawing so far but would guesstimate it to be about 5 hours at this stage - that's to sketch out the image and work on the folds in the material etc.   I have spent another 3 hours on the drawing today but haven't photographed the latest version yet.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


I no longer want snow .... send it away pleeeeeease!!! We should be flying to our house on Fuerteventura (Canaries) today but the runway at Gatwick has been shut since last night because of heavy snowfall. The snow at home in Whitstable has stopped now but more is forecast for this afternoon and evening.

Gatwick's website advises all travellers to check with their respective airlines re. flight delays/cancellations etc. Great!! Our airline, Viking, has an answerphone system. I've left two messages now and nobody has returned my calls ... so do we set out and brave the snowy roads on the offchance our flight will take off as scheduled? We should be flying at 1645 hours so there's a chance the runway may be cleared by then but of course we don't know if the plane will have arrived on its inwards journey.

To rub salt in the wounds - I'm listening to HOTFM.CANARY radio station on my computer - its the local radio station in Corralejo and we know all the DJs as friends. Although they had a rain shower this morning, they have just announced the news and weather and local temperatures are still 24degrees warmer in Corralejo than in Kent ... can't wait to see the sun again.

This is going to be a working holiday (albeit in the sun). We plan to paint all the downstairs rooms in the house and I am taking my graphite pencils with me to work on a double 'people' portrait. It is too complicated to take pastels or coloured pencils with me so my coloured commissions will be priority when I get home. Next up are two beautiful spaniels (separate portraits), a young boy and a grey horse. I'm still awaiting contact from the recipients of two gift vouchers so I shall be busy through February/March. I really hope to find time to work on a coloured pencil piece for entry to this year's UK Coloured Pencil Society's exhibition in the Spring.

Anyway .... assuming we do fly off sometime in the next day or so, I won't be posting much on my blog whilst away as internet access is limited. but I'll be back :o)

Monday, 4 January 2010


I finally downloaded my Disney pictures from the camera. Because of the wet/snowy/cold weather I found myself photographing my fellow visitors rather than the Disney stars. Uncle Walt kindly positions a handy shop every 100 yards or so ... and he was doing an amazing trade in furry hats and minnie mouse ears, and of course the traditional wet weather plastic macs (condoms as we preferred to call them). Most of my photos seem to feature people dressed in outfits they'd never dream of wearing outside the Disney set up :o) but I've saved those pictures for another day. Here are some of the more boring ones ...


The next two photos are from a selection showing the illuminated Parade. For some reason most of our fellow tourists stayed at ground level and had to battle to get a view of the wonderful floats. We found a relatively empty verandah on the second storey of the train station which gave us a great aerial viewing point of the procession.

Don't ask!!! We sampled a lot of the rides but this started out as a joke ride and ended up being one of the fastest! The cars are kind of dodgems but are 'choreographed' and they spin round narrowly avoiding each other. The ride is really meant for 'little people' but somehow we squeezed ourselves into the seats but it seemed that our car reacted badly to the additional weight ... it carried on spinning round and round after all the others had stopped. I had visions of clambering out of the car and falling flat on my face in front of hundreds of children !! We all got out safely though. David didn't join us for this one - he took the photos!

As the 'magic hour' approached everybody was jostling for pole position on the 'main strip' towards the Magic Castle, where the fireworks were to be let off. But we had a cunning plan .... my friend Jenni had spotted a deserted childrens playground, disguised as a pirate ship on a lake. We headed for that and climbed the rope ladder to the upper decks where we had a brilliant view of the fireworks and we had the whole place to ourselves. I'm not good at photographing fireworks but have shown a couple of pictures just to give a very poor idea of how brilliant the display was. From our vantage point the fireworks were reflected in the water of 'our lake' so the effect was even better.


At last ... we've had enough snow to cover the grass! I realise this probably looks a very 'girlie' coverage compared to snowfall in the rest of the country - but I'm excited anyway!

Here's one of the fruit trees in our back garden (which still has some apples attached despite all the windy weather last month and the frost/snow now - frozen apple lollies? perhaps I should try one later). I've just thrown out some bread for the blackbirds and replenished all the fat ball holders and the blue tits and sparrows have been having a party this morning :o)

This is the driveway from our house - complete with wheelie bin tracks. Our drive is too narrow/winding for the dustcart to negotiate so we have to drag the bin down to the main lane each week - bit of a pain when the weather is bad, but I do like the fact that our house is tucked away and very private

This is the 'business end' of the house with 'his and her' rooms - my art room/studio on the left of the picture and his office on the right - in fact you can just make out David's silhouette through the blinds - huddled over his computer!

Sunday, 3 January 2010


Can't believe its 2010 ... We saw in the New Year with friends, Ian and Jenni at Euro Disney, and spent New Years Day wandering around Paris - we just got home last night. 15 hour days at DisneyWorld in the rain/snow freezing wind did test the stamina a bit - but we found plenty of 'watering holes' along the way! The fireworks at midnight on New Years Eve were just fantastic (who'd expect anything else of 'Uncle Walt' though). We found a perfect vantage point, away from all the crowds - by climbing into the 'crows nest' of a pirate ship in the deserted children's playground. Despite having a combined age of 225 (!!!) we managed to scramble up the rigging without injury :o) I didn't take many photos, and haven't downloaded them yet but I don't expect to have any 'gems' there as the cold weather made it preferable to keep hands firmly in pockets for warmth rather than fiddling with camera settings.

Anyway, Here's a picture I believe its safe to post now as it should have been presented for Christmas. I've drawn this client's beautiful Boxer recently, and his daughter's terrier. These are his Grandchildren drawn in graphite. I have another couple of 'human portraits' completed at the end of last year but not sure whether its 'safe' to show them yet as one was a birthday and one an anniversary present: