Sunday, 24 August 2008

Business Time

We like these chaps...conditions are perfect!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Blanches Café

Blanches Café ~ Builders Pencil

I can remember when I was a child sometimes stopping along the beach here with my mum and being served a 'Walls' ice cream (the rectangular yellow block pressed into a cornet type) by a lady from an open hatch/window to the right of the doorway. I now wonder if she was Blanch? On the rear weatherboarding now almost completely faded away was sign-written 'Blanches Cafe, Oysters & Teas'. My Dad used to drive an 'Eastern National' bus and this (the end of Kingsland Road) was a scheduled stop in those days. I've been told that this destination was so popular that these buses were full to bursting point with day trippers from the Colchester 'metropolis'. The 'Mersea Milk Bar' was just a few paces up the road. I now realise I'm using an (awful) lot of brackets/inverted commas and 'slashes' in my posts.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

What you've got there is a 'Chalet' mate.

I know I ought to like these (after all I've spent so very many hours drawing and painting beach huts the last ten years), but after some consideration I realise I actually don't. Why ever not? after all they are brand new shining examples resplendent in pastel shades complete with verandas and fretwork fascias facing south across the Blackwater estuary towards the horizon. They're also beautifully made and are perfectly level on their foundation blocks. There's the rub you see, they're beautifully made and straight, but beautifully made is certainly not the same as beautiful.

When I saw the first handful of these new huts being built I became quite excited, the prospect of some new designs and shades to incorporate into future works was quite appealing, then more appeared, as the old weather beaten, shed-style, wonky ones were routinely demolished. Now a couple of years on they stretch almost as far as the eye can see.

On reflection these chalets could easily have been designed by a committee of estate agents equipped with little more than the latest Laura Ashley colour chart and I'm not convinced that a couple of years worth of salt laden north-easterlies is really going to add much character. It's no surprise at all the big high street stores are queueing up to get a shot of them into their advertising brochures and you probably wont get much change from your twenty five grand if you're looking to lease one.

I don't think you can homogonise something as quirky, personal and British as the beach hut in this way and be left with anything vaguely resembling the original. Beach huts simply have to have numbers missing, dodgy repairs, odd hinges, odd occupants and a smell of parafin/calor gas. I just can't imagine anyone enjoying their sandy corned beef sarnies and warm Tizer in one of these.

I nicked these definitions from wikipedia...being a complete blog novice it may be naughty, wrong even, I'm sure someone will clarify.

'The term chalet is also used in the hospitality industry to describe detached buildings.(semi-detached are called duplex or triplex) in other settings, including seaside resorts and as an adjunct to motel accommodation. These chalets can be similar to studio apartments with self-contained cooking facilities and/or bathroom and toilet facilities'.

'A beach hut is a small, usually wooden and often brightly coloured, building above the high tide mark on popular bathing beaches. They are generally used for changing into and out of swimming costumes and to provide a base for informal family recreation'.

Beach Hut ~ Pencil

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

An East Anglian Boy

This made us chuckle, I'm an East Anglian boy you see.

Skiffs at the end of the beach ~ pencil

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A Man Needs a Shed!

View from the studio this morning.

When painting I quite often find myself listening to The Penguin Café Orchestra, I find their minimalist repetitive themes really seem to help the work flow...Lemon Jelly (the group not the dessert!) seem to provide a similar background, it works for me anyway.

Monday, 11 August 2008

A Nice Lady From The BBC

A very nice lady from the BBC dropped by the Artcafé the other day and the result of her interview is here...

Sunday, 3 August 2008

A Couple of Days in Orford

Having just returned from a couple of day's away just up the coast in Orford, a very welcome birthday treat to me from the tartist I felt another post to be well overdue. We stayed at the Crown & Castle, our third visit now. It's owned and run by Ruth & David Watson (she of t.v.'s 'The Hotel Inspector') and as one might expect the quality of food and accomodation is very good.

Their restaurant is called 'The Trinity' and often features dishes from one of Ruth's three recipe books 'Fat Girl Slim', 'The Really Helpful Cookbook' and 'Something for the Weekend' all of which we have at home and use from time to time. Apart from containing interesting recipes they are also very nicely designed. The tartist made me probably the finest Lemon Meringue Pie I've ever tasted the other day from one of Ruth's recipes!

On our second day we took a stroll across the square to The Kings Head (also run by the Watsons we understand) and took our lunch there. Maggie having a better than average traditional ploughman's and I had what I can only describe as a fantastic slab of 'Gloucester Old Spot' pork pie with Courgette Pickles.

The Riverside Tearoom

The 'Tartist' in The Riveerside Tearoom

Orford Castle

Orford really is a very unspoilt piece of East Anglia with abundant good walks, an imposing and well preserved castle, a large forest nearby at Rendlesham and not very far up the road is Snape Maltings with it's shops, galleries, cafe and concert hall. We went to Snape on our first day and were rather taken with the work of artist Melanie Wickham who makes these chunky linocuts of animals. We had to have one...

'Beaks of the World' by Melanie Wickham

I'm aware now that this all sounds a bit like a tourist office press release, apologies for that, suffice to say we had another lovely couple of days here in this rather quaint Suffolk village and probably will again soon, when time will allow.