A week in Carrbridge
With HTA sketch club looking at one of Edinburgh’s successful incidental spaces.
The biggest on the sail to Arran.
Most of our time was spent on Islay, which is a much softer variety of the Hebridean harshness I’m familiar with from time on North Uist, and mixed with an astounding world class whisky industry.
It’s a short cycle between Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Time to look out for the wildlife. Buzzards, stags, golden eagles. And geese.
Islay came up with this and a few islands further north they invented Harris Tweed. A tiny number of people producing products that are renowned the world over. In beautiful surroundings.
In Derby for work, but holiday habits are hard to kick so I popped in to have a look at Ayrton Senna’s ’93 McLaren at Donnington Park, scene of it’s finest hour.
Before that Christmas holidays and birthday parties.
For three year old Ellan…
… and my 89 year old dad. He’s forgotten a lot but we all sang songs together.
Christmas Day: mum showing her grandchildren photos of the old days.
…and talking planes with Fraser.
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.
They 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.
On 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.
On 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.
The boys on the tablet, though most of the action was in the ‘subtropical swimming paradise’. This 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.
The last event of the break, my dad’s 88th birthday.
New years day, a brass band in the livingroom.
Angus visited from France.
Catching up with old school pals in Dunfermline. The same as we were, a little more tired but a little better at communication.
Innes hid behind the sofa for the Queen’s speech.
Fun box was fun.
The only person on a plane to London City the week before Christmas.
Actually these are the things I did in between riding the bike and painting portraits, in preparation for cycling from London to Cannes in March. I’ll show you the portraits next time.
In amongst the boxes, waiting for the removal men to turn up and take us out of Fettes Rise. “Will we take the windows?” asked Innes.
Sketching interesting people on the train.
A beautiful day in Dundee, listening to suited men discussing where the city is going, whilst watching people walking along the route to the new V&A. Kengo Kuma’s spectacular building, and the exhibits the V&A will bring, will transform this part of town. Other waterfront developments to follow. It’s the sunniest city in Scotland, they tell me.
Chatting to Tara the train driver about what it’s like to drive the East Coast Main line trains up and down to London. From my middle aged perspective she seems barely old enough to drive the trolley, but was happy enough with 140mph trains. The old diesel 125s are like classic cars, the electric 225 more like a modern. You can’t go at 140mph because the signals are too close together.
Going places in the generational sense. With my mum at her eightieth birthday in Glenfarg, a place she knows well from her childhood. I’m trying to work out the generational steps that got the family got from living in the station master’s house here, in 1890, to coming back for a visit in 2015.
Didn’t quite work it out.
A surprisingly sunny September so I have to sit outside for my coffee, draw what ever is in front of me…
The next day it’s still so sunny: out in London looking at tall residential towers. Research for some we are looking at.
Naimh and Ali leaving to go to college. “Another opportunity for dodgy drawings of the staff” says Tom. Festival over, I’ve seen my stand up comics for the year. Jason Byrne was funnier than Reginald D Hunter, but not as interesting. I did learn not to try drawing in the dark though.
Watching Sylvain Chomet’s Belleville Rendez-Vous in Bicycle Outfitters Ronde in Stockbridge. An appropriately stylish location for this beautiful animation, I think. It’s a cycling theme as this is our last fundraising event before our team of twelve ride 100 miles (each) this weekend. Through incredibly kind donations, we’ve raised over £15,000 for homelessness charity Shelter. Many thanks to everyone who has helped through donations, gifting raffle prizes, baking cakes or offering free use of venues.
It’s been great fun. Now to ride the 100 miles…