Fraser is learning to play tennis. I drew Isla watching him, then she drew him, and titled it.
At an office CPD, on lighting. Not a bad one. You learn more, obviously, from seeing the things skilled designers (and their visionary clients) have actually built than you do from watching Powerpoint.
Edinburgh has an extensive stock of ageing bungalows with big back gardens and they’re gradually being bought up by young families. A roster of talented local architects can transform them by taking a bit of back garden and building the kind of bright and open living space people are after these days. Few are as lofty and light as friends Asa & Daniel’s one, by David Blaikie.
Innes (and me), learning to be gardeners.
Lotus founder and all round genius Colin Chapman designed the Lotus Seven in 1957. By the early seventies it no longer fitted the more luxurious aspirations of Lotus, so Caterham bought the rights and carried on building it. Almost 60 years after it was first designed you can still buy more or less the same car.It’s simplicity itself. I love that it makes up for not having much power by not having much of anything at all. It’s tiny: you can walk around it in a parking space. ‘Just add lightness’ was the Chapman design philosophy and we enjoyed the thrilling results on a sunny day in Fife.In Soho in London. A little extra space on the corner of Berwick Street and Broadwick Street makes for a busy spot. People using their phones to text, talk and find their way to their next meeting. This corner gives them room to pause without being in the way and lets me watch urban life in narrow streets with lowish buildings. Lots of activity in not a lot of space.
When the London office moved to Kentish Town there weren’t many cafes selling fancy and expensive coffee. There are now. Places change and something gets lost. Off to the board meeting to discuss the ethics of working in Uganda, and London.
Start! F & I are off to school.
We went for a visit with HTA’s London Sketch Club and the London Society. The ‘kids’ weren’t that impressed, which certainly ups the ante next time I’m reviewing their work.
It’s a bit windy and not that warm but this could well be summer, so the real kids and I played outside whilst Julie did some shopping.
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.
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’.
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.
F&I engrossed by the family’s toy tablet.
They can work it effectively, better than their dad on his new Microsoft Surface. The Surface is a classic compromise: unimpressive as a tablet, not that great as a laptop, handier than carrying both around on a push bike.
Some waiting room fish.
Sitting in the lobby of Manchester’s Beetham Tower talking PRS with the nice guys who manage the residential half of the building. The Beetham is a little short of 50 storeys, and half an hour later we concluded our tour on the windy roof. I’d have done a sketch but I needed both hands to hold on and my eyes were shut.
When the ‘quine’ wobbled through reception at 5.00pm, belly hanging out over her pyjama bottoms, leather bomber jacket, no shoes, trailing a toilet roll, I sensed this was going to be a little different from my normal night in a Travelodge.
The next morning, checking out, I mentioned to reception that I couldn’t hear the rowdy night in the street outside for the party going on in the corridor. “Aberdeen at the weekend sir, I can only apologise.”
We spent the day recovering in a beautiful, if unfinished, family house on a farm.
“Which way’s the countryside?” said Innes (he’s a city boy, like me) so we went for a walk to show him.
The next day was back to normal life between London and Edinburgh.
Our HTA Sketch Club joined forces with the London Society for a trip to the Royal Festival Hall. I was inspired by some 1951 illustrations of the design, and by the characters who came along to draw and chat about it afterwards.
It was a great pleasure to meet octogenarian former architecture tutor Maggie, who set me straight on a few things.
Earlier, I felt among friends with oldest pals Scott, Pete and Dougal…
…and alone hogging a big empty table in an otherwise packed west London restaurant.
Back home with Isla and Fraser.
On the first day of the Christmas break I read an article about how the Romans had used the Twelve Days of Christmas to predict the weather for the coming year, so I thought I’d take a look. Starting after Christmas Day (above), watch what the weather does each day and extrapolate that to the relevant month. Now I’m sure that the Augurs had a system to make it seem much more complex than that but that’s what I did. January isn’t looking great but March will be nice. Trouble is, it’s hard to keep track even of something as simple as that. Stuff happens: this is Fraser in the Sick Kids (he’s alright now). So I missed a couple of months through spending too much time inside. I’d recommend that if you’re planning to take a holiday in July you go abroad as it’s going to be very wet here, and if you’re going to visit Edinburgh for the Festival, go for the second half of August. September should be lovely.Thinking about it, it seems surprising that the Romans would have had Twelve Days of Christmas. Perhaps two weeks of parties, family illness and little exercise have left me a bit confused.
Time to get back to work.