At last, the spring equinox. I like the dark, but on balance, we’re now in the better half of the year.
Sunnier, brighter and a bit more colourful: we’re all quite excited. F & I have a birthday…
… and I have a talk to do:
Just in case you’d like to talk about drawing in Camden on a Tuesday evening.
In Cannes for MIPIM. It’s our market, condensed. When I headed out I thought it might be about pitching, but it’s not. It’s a chance to talk to the people who’s needs will shape our business. But we can’t do everything for everyone so the trick, I think, is to work out who to listen most closely to amongst the 20,000 voices. Getting to do this on a beach in the south of France is nice, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Some of this information gets delivered quite formally.
Statistics on places: design, value, people, quality, crisis etc. I imagined I might be sketching the beach and the boats, but there isn’t any time.
Most of the time it’s less formal discussion: breakfasts, lunches, afternoon beers, dinners, late night pints. I’m not sure copious coffee and alcohol consumption helps with clarity but it was my first time, so I went along with it.On the plane home, I see I’m not alone in finding it exhausting.
F&I engrossed by the family’s toy tablet.
They can work it effectively, better than their dad on his new Microsoft Surface. The Surface is a classic compromise: unimpressive as a tablet, not that great as a laptop, handier than carrying both around on a push bike.
Some waiting room fish.
Sitting in the lobby of Manchester’s Beetham Tower talking PRS with the nice guys who manage the residential half of the building. The Beetham is a little short of 50 storeys, and half an hour later we concluded our tour on the windy roof. I’d have done a sketch but I needed both hands to hold on and my eyes were shut.
When the ‘quine’ wobbled through reception at 5.00pm, belly hanging out over her pyjama bottoms, leather bomber jacket, no shoes, trailing a toilet roll, I sensed this was going to be a little different from my normal night in a Travelodge.
The next morning, checking out, I mentioned to reception that I couldn’t hear the rowdy night in the street outside for the party going on in the corridor. “Aberdeen at the weekend sir, I can only apologise.”
We spent the day recovering in a beautiful, if unfinished, family house on a farm.
“Which way’s the countryside?” said Innes (he’s a city boy, like me) so we went for a walk to show him.
The next day was back to normal life between London and Edinburgh.
For one and a half hours I had a shot at being a nursery school teacher. They knew I was coming so made it like the day job: we drew what we wanted, then we built it.
Two castles and a treasure map, then some dragons. Then, like actual lunchtime CPD, they watched a programme about bricks: grow you’re own clients. Great fun, and thanks to the kids who chose not to bully me at all.
For the first time this year, the sun has made it over the horizon in time for my morning commute. The number of cyclists seems appreciably up from the dark winter months.
In the evening I popped passed Grosvenor’s smart consultation event and had a chat with a fellow user about annual Brompton mileage: 1,300 for me, 2,000 for our local green councillor. Better try harder.
With my colleagues for breakfast at Duck & Waffle 40 storeys up the Heron Tower. Planning the future of our business. Impressive neighbours peer in the window.
Work is busy. The weather is cold and grey. Sketching will remain an indoor activity for the next month or so. This limits any outdoor views to what’s right in front of the coffee shop window as I eat breakfast. I think this is called a TX4, from the London Taxi Company.
The weirdest way to travel remains the sleeper. In the bar at the start of the journey you can just glimpse the romance of rail travel from bygone days. Seven hours later you join the rest who’ve hardly slept to queue for a shower in Euston station.
At the Edinburgh Urban Design panel in the City Chambers. Former Provosts watch over the group to remind us to do the best for this amazing city. I’m a back seat driver on this one, so I watch David H doing his professional presentations in Edinburgh… …and on Grosvenor Street in London.
Alan Hamilton in Hemma at lunchtime.
Our HTA Sketch Club joined forces with the London Society for a trip to the Royal Festival Hall. I was inspired by some 1951 illustrations of the design, and by the characters who came along to draw and chat about it afterwards.
It was a great pleasure to meet octogenarian former architecture tutor Maggie, who set me straight on a few things.
Earlier, I felt among friends with oldest pals Scott, Pete and Dougal…
…and alone hogging a big empty table in an otherwise packed west London restaurant.
Back home with Isla and Fraser.
One of the good things about travelling to the same places is getting to know the best places to eat and drink: I’d recommend Caravan on Exmouth Market, if you’re ever in the area.
I’d recommend a Porsche too, but not one like this, sitting in an airport departure lounge.
A Saturday morning eating cake and ice cream at soft play, just after breakfast? My kids would definitely recommend that.
Coffee, sketching and enjoyable chat for me, so I’d recommend it too. Not enough time to finish the drawing though. I’m sure there will be other parties.
In the Stand with Jane, Keith & Julie after supper at the Malt Whisky Society. Their pal, the amusingly unconventional Jojo, is compere.
From my limited Festival experience there can only be two stars of these multi comic stand up nights: the compere and the headline, like tonight.
I need to earn my nights of comedy and whisky, so in the morning I ran around a snowy Arthur’s Seat.