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MAY 2022 Sunday 1.5.22 Henrietta sends a beautiful photograph of Isaac jet washing the marble tiles on their terrace it somehow seem quite magical to see him now as tall as his Dad (supervising) who is also in the picture and both wearing black. Where did that little boy and his younger brother Samuel (who is almost as tall) go? Monday 2.5.22 E-mail from my sister Gill who is also sponsoring two Ukrainian refugees a mother and her 14 year old daughter who will arrive in June. Tuesday 3.5.22 Busy on commissions. Wednesday 4.5.22 A lot is happening today as we have the gas service of the boiler and cooker in my studio house to check for safety for the refugee family who will take up residence. The young man who is servicing the boiler although he struggled to try and find new parts for it, says that some are now redundant. He apologises but says he will have to write it off. But the cooker is in perfect working condition, perhaps because it is only used for the mince pies for my Christmas event whereas the boiler was in the house when I decided it would be a good purchase as a studio. All this is happening when I receive a call from Dr David Price of the Rotarians who ‘phones to apologise for not getting back to me on Monday when I sent the image as they were away with their grandchildren. He says the little painting is lovely and picks up that the little shepherdess and sheep seem seem to be coming out of the woods into the light - a metaphor for eradicating polio. He will be up for putting a bid on it, to go with the last one I painted in 2013. Thursday 5.5.22 Henrietta e mailed yesterday to say that they were very happy as Isaac had got a very good mark in his GCSE English Literature coursework. Friday 6.5.22 Call from New Jersey from Lindsey whose parents in Pennsylvania are looking to downsize so are needing to sell their four paintings. Finishing off sides tops and bottom on the two commissions and the painting for the Rotarians so that I can varnish them tomorrow Saturday 7.5.22 It’s a beautiful day again so I’m able to sit in the garden to have my brunch and to do a bit of picking up sticks and debris and pulling the odd weed up. I’m working in the studio in the warm glow of the sun when the ‘phone rings - it’s dear Nancy. Such a joy to hear her lovely American accented voice. We chat about her forthcoming trip to America for her grandson Jordan’s marriage to Eliza and taking the little painting that John and Heather have commissioned from me as a wedding gift for them. Sunday 8.5.22 Tracey, a journalist friend of many years, who came here originally to interview Nathan whilst he was a schoolboy when he’d won an art prize and later came and did a feature on the house. Has come with her mother Gill who used to be teacher. They are here to collect a tiny painting that Tracey had commissioned. She has often written pieces about my work during her journalistic career and did an especially nice feature on my Mum and her time on Tiree when my Dad flew for the RAF out over the Atlantic Ocean collecting the weather conditions. She regales us with tales of her rescue cat, Ruby, who both she and her husband Neil adore (they also feed a couple of stray cats). Monday 9.5.22 Busy refining The Owl as we are going to deliver it on Wednesday. Young man comes to fit new efficient boiler into studio in readiness for our Ukrainian refugees. Tuesday 10.5.22 Varnish The Owl Wednesday 11.5.22 Today Isaac sits his first GCSE exam so thinking about him and willing him to do well. In the afternoon we set out in the Cirencester direction to Paul and Viv’s. Their garden is looking truly beautiful with its winding river and little footbridge across into their woodland. They are such good company seem very pleased with their painting. Thursday 12.5.22 Working on two or three of the smaller commissions whilst Richard’s busy moving various artworks over to the house from the studio in preparation for turning it into a home for the Ukrainian refugee family. Friday 13.5.22 Glorious warm sunny day. I sit out in the garden to have my brunch. I’ve so enjoyed the lilac which I see through the bedroom window each day and the wisteria and honeysuckle which I catch a glimpse of through the higher windows of the studio in this house. And now the beautiful hawthorns in deep cerise pink and white are also out as are the exquisite white candles on the horse chestnut that are tinged with pink and before them the fruit trees were wearing their blossoms. Richard is busy laying a floor covering in the bathroom of the studio Saturday 14.5.22 Between us Richard and I have gradually sorted through and catalogued the pile of papers and periodicals etc that had grown on top of the toybox in the ante room. Many of the magazines had articles press etc so he needed to remove all of those before we could dispose of the rest. We’ve saved some Cotswold Lifes as think they may be a good source of local information on the region for our Ukrainian refugee family even though the children probably don’t read English the photography in it is always excellent. I then wash and scrub up the toys so that they will be suitable for the two boys and their baby sister whilst Richard does the heavy stuff. Sunday 15.5.22 Monday 16.5.22 Tuesday 17.5.22 Nancy and Peter arrive at about 1.50. It’s such a joy to see them both, Nancy looks very well and as bright as ever. They had come in particular to collect the little painting I had made for John and Heather to present to Jordan, their youngest son, and his fiancee Eliza to celebrate their wedding early next month. I’m very pleased as they both think the painting looks even better in reality than it did in the photographs and that it also looks like Jordan and Eliza who had come over to do a visit while dear Ken was still alive, so he got to meet her too which was wonderful. It’s always so good to catch up with them although the time flies by very quickly. When we see them off we are able to admire the electric car that Nancy bought (although she always gets Peter, her youngest son, to drive it). Later in the evening we receive an e mail from Peter saying that he and Claire thought it would be much nicer to donate their two tan leather armchairs and footstool to the studio in readiness for our Ukrainian refugee family than to sell them. Wednesday 18.5.22 Working on two of the still outstanding commissions Thursday 19.5.22 To Laurence’s private view in Cirencester, an exhibition of his paintings and drawings. It’s a beautiful evening and we can see people standing outside in the sunshine as we drive p. The first people we see are the beautiful Candia and Tony who make up Inkubus Succubus though they’re not performing abroad at the moment as Candia became editor of Cotswold Life a year ago. Then Jackie comes out and gives me a big hug, checking to see that we will still be going back to their house for supper afterwards. She looks lovely in a bright green floral summer dress; I comment on how sun-kissed she looks and she says she has jus come back from Cyprus. I’m so touched as she has remembered we don’t eat meat. Laurence is surrounded by guests all asking questions about the paintings and drawings which are brilliant - beautiful colours in the paintings and exquisite line work in the drawings which are full of follies, classical architecture and Arcadian landscapes peopled by cherubs, nymphs and the occasional satyr. The drawings are often surrounded by little sketches or notes which make them all the more fascinating. Laurence is looking his usual dashing flamboyant self and whilst we are complimenting him Lady B rushes up and nabs me and after giving me a hug says she wants to take to me outside. Laurence being a gentleman says that is fine. She wants to tell me about a new charity she has founded, discovering the need for it during her year as High Sheriff; it’s to help pay for the keep of and protect retired service animals particularly horses and dogs. She seems to think I have a lot to do with the police ( perhaps because of the wonderful Aston Project?) she’s hoping I might spread the word and wants me to look at her website. We go back and look at the drawings and paintings discussing them with Candia , Tony and the Cotswold Life photographer and I chat to him commenting how learned Laurence is on art and architecture etc. and that I’ve often heard him on programmes talking about Aubrey Beardsley when he was the guest on Great Lives. I have likewise heard him present radio talks on Dandies and Architecture which is quite apart from his television career which includes Changing Rooms. I think he also had a show on Classic FM. When it’s time for the galley to close we give Laurence and another of the guests, Caroline, a lift back to the house as Jackie had returned a little earlier to greet guests and oversee the food etc. Such a picturesque scene at their beautiful home in the glorious garden, a very long table dressed in white looked so elegant in the garden with a superb buffet laid out in the house with a wide and beautifully presented array of delicious dishes. The conversations were witty and entertaining. I had a particularly interesting chat with Drew who is married to their lovely daughter Hermione - they are expecting their first baby in a few weeks time. Friday 20.20.22 R goes to Beaconsfield to collect the furniture from Peter. whilst I continue in the studio Saturday 21.5.22 Spend some time working on the white table in my studio cleaning the paint of ages off and I’m rather pleased after an hour or so , with the help of one of my Mum’s old kitchen knives, to have achieved it. Even though I’ve bought a nice black and white table cloth I had wanted what was underneath to look inviting. Sunday 22.5.22 I start on the sink again using my Mum’s old knife as my paint has adhered to it exceedingly well over 22 years. Meanwhile Richard puts together a new shelf unit together and lays vinyl in the bathroom over the bare wooden boards. Monday 23.5.22 Working on a rather colourful square commission. Tuesday 24.5.22 Our Ukrainian family have enquired whether there will be summer schools available for their two boys to learn English; so make the relevant enquiries . Wednesday 25.5.22 Karen from Cotswold Contemporary delivers Laurence’s drawing. Spend a lot of the day trying to decide where to hang it- third time lucky where it looks great. Thursday 26.5.22 In the studio working on the commissions. Friday 27.5.22 Into Cheltenham firstly to the Bank then to the Library for them to verify my identity for becoming a sponsor and giving a home to the family of refugees from Ukraine, then onto the garden of St James’ Church for Sophia’s retirement party. It’s hard to believe she’s been at the Museum for thirty two years. It’s wonderful to see so many people some of whom we haven’t seen for a long time including Paul who moved on to teaching art on cruise ships and lovely Faye who used to be the outreach and Education Officer whom I got to know when she contacted me about my painting Portrait Of The Artist Watching Her Children Grow which being part of the Museum's collection she used to use in her presentations to school children. Saturday 28.5.22 Into Cheltenham again this time to Montpelier Gardens where the Rotarians are holding their ‘make a mile of coins’ for the eradication of polio ‘mile’itis. It’s a lovely informal gathering of member and heads of the four Cheltenham Rotary groups but it is Dr David Price who has organised this and who contacted me to ask if I would paint and donate a painting for them to auction. He is the owner of the last one I did for them, nine years ago. The new Mayor Sandra, is present - only her second week in office so she has written down everything she wants to say. They are concerned that Alex Chalk (MP and solicitor general) hasn’t arrived and I remind them that he will be coming on his bike and may have got held up in the traffic - he then cycles up and is obviously known to a lot of the Rotarians as one of their main purposes is to raise funds to make positive changes in the world and I am amazed when Dr David is speaking to learn that over forty years they have raised over a billion pounds for the eradication of polio worldwide campaign and that last year there were only five cases anywhere (in Afghanistan and Pakistan). They have negotiated with the Taliban who will now allow vaccination of all babies and infants. I keep my little speech quite brief as I feel that David and the Mayor have probably covered most important aspects. Sunday 29.5.22 Still working on the commissions etc. Monday 30.5.22 ditto Tuesday 31.5.22 ditto
MAY