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…
A plane, manufactured in Scotland.
This one’s in East Fortune. We were there to watch a Spitfire and a Eurofighter Typhoon, amongst others. The last Spitfire was produced in 1948 and 46 years later technology had advanced so incredibly we were able to build the first Eurofighter. It’s the most extraordinary man made thing I have ever seen.
A couple of good speakers:
I looked after the kids for the day, to give their mum some time to commit shopping. Innes ended up in a pond in a public park, momentarily submerged.
A man on the North London line.
At New London Architecture’s Thomas Heatherwick lecture: an inspiring experience. He clearly inhabits the same world of difficult sites, demanding briefs and tight budgets as the rest of us, but he manages to conjure something completely extraordinary from the same ingredients. The lecture slides are straightforward: it’s the ideas that shine through, and how they solve relevant problems.
Contemplating his amazing work and optimistic office the next morning, I wanted to draw something simple and utilitarian, to get back in touch with my own ‘reality’: a truck making deliveries at St Pancras. After breakfast I headed for Hackney, expecting I’d seen enough inspiring characters for one trip, and it was time to do some real work (the protestant work ethic is never far away). Instead, I ran into Gavin Turk and talked about how you might make space for creative free thinkers in the overheated, investment focused, London property market.
Well he talked, I sketched and noted the presence of paintbrush in the hand of a YBA. I was pleased he signed my sketchbook. It says:
did not draw this”.
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.