It’s the start of a new year for the business and time to look back on the last one. A weekend in sunny London spent in Clissold Park and Mike’s back garden. Me and the gang catching up with old friends and colleagues. Back in Edinburgh looking at the hard, but still attractive, Bakehouse Close. A comfortable scale of space with some nice details by Oberlanders.
Catching up with Tom and Ray at the Etape Caledonia. Tom talked me through what to do if you have a bike crash in downtown San Francisco, as he’d just done. I may have over emphasised his beat up look, but not by much. The next day we thrashed round the 81 miles in the wind and the rain. Tough if you like cycling in the sun, perfectly fine if it’s the grit in cycling that you like.
Work is about making things and sketching is about learning from some of the great things others have made. A week spent looking at inspiring and dramatic development. This is O’Donnell & Tuomey’s Saw Swee Hock Building for the London School of Economics, more drama than you’d think would fit on such a tight site.
Victoria Street in Edinburgh, linking the Grass Market with George IV Bridge in spectacular fashion. A six storey pedestrian street sitting on a lower level that climbs from single storey to three storeys whilst looking like a crescent but mostly running straight. Other sketches of these two locations should be here.
Fraser watching a Dusty drama. The next few days will see drama too, as our political parties try to sort out a hung parliament. I’ve just realised that most people don’t realise that Nicola Sturgeon, the undoubted star of the whole process, isn’t actually standing. Dramatic days ahead.
Twenty eight years ago I became friends with Adam, Campbell, Ali and Kev.
I still look forward to any chance to meet up and we enjoyed a lively weekend in Newcastle. It’s fun, as well as a reminder that we are all getting on a bit. You need to exercise so I’m getting out on the bike.
Ali looking worried. His politics is SNP so in Scotland in 2015 I don’t think he has much to worry about.
Facetiming (?) the kids from St Pancras Station, and David Cameron walks into the back of the shot. I say ‘Good morning’, he says it right back. Nice enough chap, but a series of giveaway policies aren’t what we need, I think.
His right to buy policy takes us back to the eighties. Thatcher sorted out manufacturing, but only by wrecking it. We need people who can make things: take materials and add value through creativity, design and manufacture.
I spent a pleasant hour (once everyone had gone home) sketching a workshop in the excellent Smiths of Derby. Their bespoke clock making and restoring business is highly specialist but the skills needed are fantastically diverse, and hence there’s diversity in the people employed too. Smiths would get my vote.
Earlier in the week I ran 10 miles around Edinburgh and watched a motorcyclist with less interesting work to do than either Smiths or Dave are faced with.
The kids being chased round the garden of Grays Court hotel by Henry the resident dog. Our slightly rowdy bunch spent a warm and sunny afternoon in their elegant, calm garden.
Back in Edinburgh we are inside waiting for the hailstones to stop and the icy winds to die down.
Luckily some of the excellent Dr Seuss books are being made into films. We stayed in and watched ‘The Lorax’.
Admiring the Britannia on the last day of the Easter holiday. It’s an interesting tour: a glimpse into a world where hierarchy must be emphasised in everything from crockery to wall panelling to drink, otherwise the illusion might slip.
We’d spent some time in York, having fun and looking at trains.
This might look like boys activities, but we all enjoyed it. Back home, the Stockbridge Arts Club had it’s first meeting. It’s a foil to our partner’s “Book Group” and might take a little while to find it’s core purpose…
Waiting for a train in Dundee, thinking about what the new station might be.
The Cock is a pub designed by HTA about thirty years ago.At that time HTA were specialists in what people called ‘Public Housing’ so when someone called looking for a ‘Public House’, the entrepreneurial partners got right down to it. They did another twenty pubs after that, of which this is one. Just off Portland Place, this one’s a cheap place for a pint in an expensive part of town. I’m across the street for breakfast, reflecting on talking about sketching last night in Camden.
You meet more interesting people on the train.
With youthful energy he told us about building landing strips for Spitfires on Gold Beach after the Normandy landings. He’ll have told the stories before, obviously, but the way he told them made them sound fresh and gripping, none more so than his recollections of listening to Churchill’s ‘We will fight them on the beaches’ speech in a bombed out West Ham. Too young, but filled with hate, he signed up and went to war.
He got off at Berwick, his new home. It all sounds serious but he was mostly a man for joke filled tales of adventures and scrapes. A pleasure and privilege to have met him.
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.