On the tube, I sat opposite this chap with his one legged glasses. He was reading Oliver Twist and making hurried notes. In his black tie and black suit I imagined he was off to a funeral, to give an address.
Eugene has told me a story or two. He’s on the streets and he’s had what I think you a call a chequered past.
Talton House in the Cotswolds with my mum, my three sisters and all our families. Busy, but 2018’s weather meant life was mostly lived outside in the garden.
Gardens were the theme of the week. Hidcote.
And we started a competition to design some accommodation for a school in Malawi. Without safe accommodation many of the kids, particularly the girls, don’t make it through school. Education is a route out of poverty so we’d like to help. Deadline mid October, winner goes to Malawi to help build it.
Athens is a brilliant city. The government let villa owners develop their plots with six storey apartments and the resulting streets, built to a consistent height on lots of small land parcels, looks great I think.
To get up to the Acropolis, you queue for a ticket in the raging heat and chat to your fellow queue-ers, including sketcher Geoff. I’ve been randomly sketching for seven years and this is the first time I’d come across someone sketching me.
The wedding was as different as these things always are when you travel abroad for ritual you think you’ll recognise. A different culture with a different emphasis on a familiar ceremony. A lovely, friendly, welcoming experience. We love Europe, we thought.
The wedding wasn’t the only cultural shift we had to get used to: we’re too noisy at the pool…
…in the afternoon.
Here are some drawings mostly done whilst working.
Lunch at the Scottish Property Awards with Dr John Boyle and Hazel Sharp Webb of Rettie. Rettie were award winners on the day.
Alan Caldwell, our client for Studio Dundee, sitting in the garden of the Whin House he built with Makar.
And making lunch for my family: very kind, and not an easy crowd to please. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – my Dad is the best human in the entire world” tweeted Alan’s daughter recently. Isla certainly reckons he does a great pasta sauce.
The stylish hall in the school.
These two are by the inspiring Dualchas.
An uplifting community centre with a nice cafe, a cracking view and great hall. By Will Tunell. I love what a community development trust can achieve: remove the profit motive and make something great.
The highlight of the trip is the Glenfinan viaduct. It looks out towards the memorial to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Arrived 22nd June 1745. Made it to Derby. Routed 16th April 1746. Back to Europe 20th September 1746.
Back in February: at the beautiful (and somewhat hidden) Ardclach Bell Tower. We stayed in Nairn. I loved running on the beach in the dark and the snow, then retreating back to this cosy flat to warm up.
Culloden Battlefield. The line of the Red Coats and the line of the Jacobites, in the snow. The bothy on the left was a field hospital, the battle was over in an hour. There’s not much in the sketch, but standing here and looking gave me the time to consider what had happened.
The aftermath: the impressive Fort George. The Victorian splendour of Nairn.
Back amongst the sculptural shapes of the city.Chatting to the architects of EH4 and listening to a theory about how the spaces we make and the patterns of ownership contributes to the loneliness that afflicts society.
At the Devil’s Cut to celebrate Craig Jone’s Rowley’s 50th. Craig is trying out fifty a wee bit before me. I’ll check how he gets on, if he doesn’t like it maybe I’ll not bother.
Some folk on the tube. I used to be shy about drawing people on the tube but now I realise we are so close together that everyone is pretending there is nobody else here.
Sketching the three beautiful bridges while listening to three good speeches. Family weddings are so much easier than when I last turned up at them twenty five years ago. This is mostly because I’ve decided how many cheeks to kiss and nobody asks me if it will be my turn next.
At the lovely ceremony in Dalmeny Church. The four guys in front of me are Andreas, Ruari, Marc and Douglas: three boys and their dad. As the register was signed they played a brass medley that ranged from Wild Mountain Thyme to Star Wars. It was amusing for everyone and moving for some of us, a memory of my dad. A very special event.
That was undoubtedly the main event of the last wee while, but here are a few other sketches of recent events. Above is Fraser at World of Wings. We learnt about how the vulture is really a good thing, despite the reputation. He cleans up after animals have already died and gets disease out of the eco system. I liked the red tailed buzzard as he was happy to pose for a sketch.
Watching a film about the housing crisis: dispossession. We need more subsidised housing, across the country.
At a talk about the excellent work of architects Reiach & Hall.
Staying at the Culpeper. A London pub with five bedrooms.
A small businesses being creative and making the most of every inch of space in our cities. The opposite of bland hotels with long corridors and a smell concocted by an expert in user experience. Loved it.
I rode to Cannes in aid of children’s charity Coram. Our team of 4 raised £20,000 through very generous donations from friends and colleagues. Many thanks to everyone who donated. It’s a good cause: you can still donate here.
This is the rider briefing on the morning we left. After that I hardly managed anything. Everything moves too fast and actually requires a fair bit of concentration; there’s no time left to think about sketching.
Some people eating snacks on the bus inside the train that transfers you through the tunnel. Cycle to MIPIM is a bit like I imagine the army might be: you have a job to do and people shout at you when you don’t do it, and even when you do (though there was less of that this year).
And some ride captains.
After six days and nine hundred miles I arrived in Cannes for a good round of interesting lunches and meetings, and some parties. I enjoyed the chat and learned a fair bit, but at the back of my mind was the feeling that I need to go back, concentrate harder, cycle less, and draw the whole route.
Maybe next year.
The Build to Rent Forum is the place where the main industry characters come together and discuss how they’re getting on. I spent a day drawing the discussions. The drawings were in aid of excellent children’s charity Coram who I’m raising money for by cycling from London to Cannes. Please donate here if you can.
I spent nine hours drawing: here they are:
Where’s the land? Getting the day started with a bit of debate and some interesting questions.
The Collective have convincingly imbued their business with a social purpose.
I used to be confused by investors because they talked in jargon but now they just talk about how to make nice places for folk to live in. I can understand that.
This might make you wonder what the people focused people will talk about? They’re wondering what lessons to learn from the huge amounts of data that are being generated by all these new residents in new buildings. What’s really going to work for people?
To talk about this, we went for lunch.
Iain Murray’s passionately expressed views are just the thing to beat the post lunch slump.
The Scots are in London learning from the folk who’ve built more than we have, but there’s quite a bit in the pipeline north of the border.
Quite refreshing view of the potential of Build to Rent to meet housing need, from Councillor Darren Rodwell.
Finally, James Murray calmly set out the policy framework that we’ll all be working within, and why it is the way is.
I do go outside, you just wouldn’t know it from the drawings. New Year’s Day with the family.
Beautiful old cars…
…and the process by which they make them. And some racing cars, Ferrari’s only form of advertising.
Isla waiting for gymnastics to start, and me waiting for Isla.
Listening to a planning committee.
Sketching is quite popular these days and the nice guys from Meinhardt invited me along to their thriving sketch club at the British Library. It was great,, but I’m looking forward to drawing outdoors again.