Vehicles & holidays – 12 October 2016

Waiting in China Town and sketching delivery bikes. You can’t finish them because they keep racing off at the standard speed for ‘L’ plate food deliveries: flat out.


Faster: a turntable ladder at Crewe Toll fire station. This is the highlight of Fraser’s trip with the Beavers.


I’m here because he’s been a bit ill, so I’m checking he’s alright.

fire-station-1-11-october-2016They do an entertaining routine, the fireman. “Kids, the more yellow helmets at a fire, the more chance everyone gets out alive. The more white helmets, the more chance it all burns to the ground”. The bosses wear the white helmets.

tube-12-october-2016On the tube,  absentmindedly sketching the guy who happens to be opposite when I realise he’s wrapped his hands in a scarf so I can’t see his big tattoos. Didn’t mean to make it awkward, wish I knew what they said.


Back in Edinburgh we are moving office. I find myself in kids soft play parties looking at how they’ve done the services install. Time for a break.

donald-campbell-17-october-2016On the Windermere ferry sketching a Mazda MX5 and a Renault. Imagining (well copying) Donald Campbell’s celebrated K7. We went and had a look at Coniston Water where Campbell was killed on 4th January ’67 in an attempt to break his own world water speed record.

borrowdale-16-october-2016The holiday had begun in Borrowdale Youth Hostel. I love youth hostels: we all get in one room, the foods good, the people are friendly and the prices and locations are great. Citizen Rambler.

islas-bike-19-october-2016Next stop, Center Parcs. It shows how you can make the world around you much nicer just by replacing cars with bikes. Everyone seems to go for it.

fi-15-october-2016The boys on the tablet, though most of the action was in the ‘subtropical swimming paradise’. hut-19-october-2016This is the ‘hut’. J & I got ill here. Being ill at Center Parcs is about as expensive as checking in to a BUPA hospital, so we didn’t make a big deal of it.

HTA Paris 2016

To Paris with the office, partners and kids. About 170 of us.


I love Paris, and looking out from our hotel bedroom window, you’d think nothing ever changes here.

paris-hotel-october-2016But it does and we are here to learn. Two ‘Fondations’. The first is the Fondation Le Corbusier in the stripped back austerity of the beautiful Maison La Roche.

le-corbusierThe second, by way of contrast, is the Fondation Louis Vuitton. As excessively opulent as Versaille but anyone can come in and enjoy the spectacular roof terrace views back to Paris, for a few Euros.

louis-vuitton-2-october-2016These are the exceptions. The character comes largely from the distinctive eight storey blocks that line the Haussmann boulevards.

hausman-elevations-3-october-2016Paris might have a bit of catching up to do as a cycle friendly city, but we still did almost all of it by bike. 30 miles and two days of interesting places and buildings.

pompidou-3-october-2016None the less, I’m as happy watching the characters of Paris life as I am looking at the buildings.

cheminade-3-october-2016Two highlights: talking to a smoking portrait artist in brown cord jacket and burgundy roll neck, outside the Pompidou. A Presidential candidate canvassing the Sunday morning Metro goers at Place d’Italie. Street life.

RESI 2016

resi-1-13-september-2016Resi 2016 launched into the bad news about the economy and the affordability of housing. If governments and voters are heavily indebted then why would you raise interest rates and if you don’t raise interest rates then how do people save for their old age? Some people alive now will live to 150 I was told. But I didn’t believe it.

resi-2-13-september-2016Far more reliable stats came from the entertaining Lucian Cook.

Interesting contributions from many others.

resi-3-13-september-2016resi-4-13-september-2016resi-9-13-september-2016resi-6-13-september-2016resi-5-13-september-2016I think the next couple of years will be about combining our off site manufacturing expertise with our Build to Rent knowledge. resi-8-13-september-2016At the end of the day I was well looked after by the Property Week team, so many thanks to them.

Second Home – 20 August 2016

This is Second Home, in my second home.

second home - 25 August 2016

It describes it’s self as a  ‘carefully curated community’, and a ‘creative accelerator’. It’s certainly an interesting environment to do some sketching in.

leaving do - 18 August 2016

A leaving do for Andrew, Massimo and Cheng, all returning to further their education. This is Massimo’s third leaving do. I pretend to be upset but I’m mostly glad they want to come back.

Alice Fraser - 20 August 2016

“Any story told long enough becomes a tragedy” said Alice Fraser at the start of her emotional ‘comedy’ The Resistance.

LEXI - 17 August 2018Back home, we’ve been sharing with a cat.F&I - 20 August 2016 Isla drawing a (mechanical) dog.


Staycation – 3 August 2016

One of my ancestors used to work in Stockbridge Market (1823 – 1906). It’s a very attractive little part of a very attractive place.  I’m here with our sketchclub looking at how buildings hit the ground. This ground floor is related to the upper floors, but not the same.

Stockbridge Market - 4 August 2016This isn’t related at all.

expectation of weight - 3 August 2016


the house - 8 August 2016gardening,

bubble man - 11 August 2016festival shows,

star wars - 11 August 2016films,

Dreams - 6 August 2016new school haircuts.

And eating out. Innes got so bored waiting in Zizzi’s for a pizza that I let him draw in the sketchbook. “I’ll draw Lewis Hamilton”, he promised.Lewis Hamilton - 9 August 2016

“Dad, it was going to be Lewis Hamilton but instead it’s a sheep.”


Sommer Hus – July 2016

In Kulhuse, near Copenhagen, for a summerhouse party in Allan & Elgi’s garden.

Summer House PartyFraser’s on the swing, that’s the sail from Allan’s old boat keeping the sun off some times, the rain off other times. Great Day meeting the Danes.

Allan Gray -  2 July 2016It’s a relaxed place to be: many thanks to our hosts.

In the car - 1 July 2016

The kids sleeping in the car on the way there.

Fraser - shark - 4 July 2016

We spent most of the week in Allan & Elgi’s Copenhagen flat. This is Fraser and I out on the balcony talking about sharks. The most cycle friendly city.

Henrik - Jana - 3 July 2016Day trip to Malmo to see Henrik and Jaana. It’s always interesting to catch up with people when we are on holiday and they aren’t. I like see what normal life is like in different places, as opposed to tourist life.

innes by Isla  - 30 June 2016

Isla’s detailed sketch of Innes on the flight home.

Football - 27 June 2016Just before we left: sitting outside a bar in Kings Cross watching people watching England lose to Iceland.

Sketch068Not long after we got back: looking at Bankside’s latest landmark with HTA Sketch Club.

Perth Races – 22 April 2016

There are so many variables in horse racing I’m amazed anyone can pick a winner.

Perth Races 160422

After a sunny afternoon at Perth Races with engineer TUV SUD I came out ahead on the strength of a horse that hadn’t won for about a year picking up a win. My system was ‘bet on the jockey wearing black and white’ so it was all about luck rather than insight. I reckon this was true for almost everyone there.

ULI Sketch-getliving - street

Over the last few months when I wasn’t putting sketches on the blog I produced some illustrations for the ULI (Urban Land Institute) guide to the professionally managed residential sector. Here’s one of East Village (formerly the Olympic Village), Stratford.

Restart – 20 April 2016

I’ve fallen out of the habit of keeping the sketch diary up to date, the online version anyway. I’ve kept the sketch books just the same but painting the six portraits I did recently used up all my spare time. Then I cycled across France.

Housing Forum Leeds - 23 March 2016I had an idea that I’d go back and colour up the old sketches and up load them all here: do a catch up blog. But of course I won’t. The thing about a diary is that the keeper is only interested in recording today, not writing up the past.

Drumsynie - 28 March 2016So here are the sketches from the current book.

Bute - 28 March 2016There’s another sketch book that’s almost entirely missing.

HTA 3rd Birthday - 6 April 2016So getting back up to date there’s lot’s about HTA, which is about right. This includes celebration dinners…

The Bitter Taste of Victory - 12 April 2016

… and fascinating presentations: this one by Lara Feigel on her book ‘The Bitter Taste of Victory’…

WIA @ HTA - 19 April 2016…and this one on Women in Architecture and women in HTA. In the non architectural areas of our business: planning, graphics, sustainability and landscape design the genders are balanced throughout the grades. In architecture they aren’t. Something to sort.

Coram Portraits – 16 February 2016

As noted a couple of blogs ago, I’m cycling from London to Cannes as part of a 100 strong fundraising peloton. I’m raising some of the money by painting the clients, collaborators and influencers who shape my working life.

The funds are for children’s charity Coram.

Harry Downes and Peter Murray were kind enough to accept my offer to tackle their portrait, for charity.

160216 - Peter MurrayPeter is the chair of New London Architecture.

IMG_8466Harry is Managing Director of Fizzy Living.

Excellent organisations both. Many thanks to them for their generous donations to Coram.

My fundraising page is here and I would be delighted if you were able to donate. Either way, I hope that you enjoy the portraits and please accept my apologies that, what with all the painting and training for a 900 mile cycling event, there isn’t much sketching going on!


No More Boom Bust – 25 January 2016

In the Lighthouse in Glasgow sitting in on Architecture & Design Scotland’s review of planning guidance for Port Dundas, by others.

a&ds - 22 janUARY 2016They’d like more emphasis on the vision.

I spent the next day with HTA looking at what the future might hold, from a marketing perspective. It’s eight years since the last recession started and, crudely, it’s an eight year cycle, so I worry about what might be next.

Gordon Brown - 25 January 2016Former PM Gordon Brown, famous for ‘No more boom bust’  was on the plane home so maybe I should have asked him?