Tuesday, 14 April 2020


St Peter's its plan reflects the shape of a boat

Curious Coast Small Gems: It was another blessed jaunt between Romney and Hythe on the Kent coast. We quite the beach of Greatstone for The Parade, a curious road of houses that runs parallel to the sea.

 And discovered St Peter's Church first built 1953 as a wooden hall situated a little further up Baldwin Road than the present church. At this time Greatstone was little more than shingle and sand dunes, with only a few houses, a railway station, and a holiday camp that had started just after World War 2.

The present church as opened April 1962 by Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury. The shape of the church reflect the shape of a boat. The disciple Peter was a fisherman. The east end is rounded to be like the bow, and the west end tapers, and squared off to represent the stern.
We quite the beach of Greatstone for The Parade

With all our churches shut and locked the reflection of a discovery like St Peter’s is precious beyond measure.

Curious Coast Small Gems www.curiouscoast.co.uk
Now with time to reflect and revisit our 2000 photos, 5000 words and 70 drawings across 17 jaunts we’ve discovered some small places that deserve their own shout! This is one.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020



Roosevelt Island is now the place of high rises and expensive private housing schemes. As a location it is very popular with folk who work at the UN, which is just across the East River on Manhattan.

Through the 19th century, the island housed several hospitals and a prison, which at one point held 1,700 inmates, twice its designed capacity. One eminent resident was Dutch Schultz.  Born Arthur Simon Flegenheimer, ‘Dutch’ was a New York mobster of the 1920s and 1930s. Dutch made his fortune in organized crime-related activities, including bootlegging and the numbers racket. Poor thing, he was weakened by two tax evasion trials that led to his rackets being threatened by competitor Lucky Luciano. However Dutch’s net worth was $7m, pretty impressive; he doubtless could have afforded one of today’s fancy-schmancy apartments on Roosevelt Island.

Oh, and another visitor was Charles Dickens. He described conditions at the Octagon, an asylum for the mentally ill then located on the northern part of the island and really part of the prison complex, in his American Notes (1842). 

The Octagon, now posh housing, was built in 1834. It served as the main entrance to the New York City Mental Health Hospital which opened in 1841.

Again this piece is inspired by the photography of PJ Lehrer who took the photo from the back or a cab. https://www.instagram.com/pjlehrer/

The writer is indebted to Wikipedia, ‘the people who keep knowledge free’, and he contributes to their cause. 

Monday, 6 April 2020


Again inspired by the photography of PJ Lehrer who lives on 2nd Avenue,  here is another NYC piece for the pot.  I am forever rummaging though her Instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/pjlehrer/ for pictures of a favourite city.

It must have been a real estate deal of Trumpian proportions when the Dutch bought the island from the Native Americans and called it New Amsterdam. Then the English took it over and changed the name to New York. 

The name Manhattan comes from the Munsi language spoke by Lenni Lenape people meaning ‘island of many hills’

Another notion suggests that that the name originates from one of three Munsi words. ‘Manahactanienk’ meaning ‘place of inebriation’*. 

However it is an exciting part of the world and the city must be now coping with lock down, shortages. However the Governor of New York, Democrat, is taking charge and setting hearts a flutter…
‘Hot for governor! Women confess they are developing 'MAJOR crushes' on Andrew Cuomo, 62, as the New York Democrat takes charge during COVID-19 pandemic’ 

I love New York. 

*Little change there then

Saturday, 4 April 2020



We were on a Curious Coast jaunt on the way back from Harwich in Essex, we discovered this wonderful confection. 

We parked at Wrabness Station and walked round the corner and down a lane at there it was, on the end of a field full of Wild Flowers. A House For Essex.

Designed by ‘national treasure’ Grayson Perry with help from the FAT architecture firm. Completed in 2015, the two-room bit of architectural flight of fancy. It is a bit of a challenge to draw; triangular tiles of alternating green and white leading up to a cascade of peaked roofs that look like they might collapse in on each other like a nesting doll. However once started you quickly see the repeats and rhythms of this remarkable place.
September 2019

Curious Coast Small Gems www.curiouscoast.co.uk
Now with time to reflect and revisit our 2000 photos, 5000 words and 70 drawings across 17 jaunts we’ve discovered some small places that deserve their own shout! This is one.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020


DRAWING ON THE SPOT: Lower Town Harbour

Lower Town Harbour Detail. Acrylic on  50 x 35 cm

February 19th.

We sat, sipping our beers, Sian and I, glad to be out of the rain. We’d been to the Royal Oak before a welcoming place in Fishguard’s town centre. 

What we did not know was that this public house was the site of the signing of surrender after the Battle of Fishguard. This brief campaign lasted from the 22nd until 24th February 1797. One thousand four hundred French soldiers landed near Fishguard yet surrendered two days later. 

It almost stopped raining so we popped down Lower Town, which is the old port of Fishguard situated at the mouth of the Gwaun River. This charming setting (in better weather) has been used as a location for many films, including ‘Under Milk Wood’ starring Richard Burton. 
Lower Town Harbour Quick Colour Preparatory:  Acrylic on  21 x 21 cm 
This coastline was the place of many bust ups and invasions. I began wondering why the French were so roundly defeated. I guessed that locals must have got their eye in eighteen years earlier. Lower Fishguard was held to ransom by the privateer Black Prince in 1779, the port was bombarded the town when the payment of a £1,000 ransom was refused. ‘Quite right lads, you can go now’ probably said a representative from the Town Council…

Friday, 27 March 2020


The Road to Carreg Cennen is paved with good intent
We drove to Carreg Cennen Castle NE of Carmarthen town. Its strong walls stare down from the hill. 

It started to rain. By the time we’d parked and paid our entrance and were walking to the battlements it poured with rain.

We turned back, and I slipped lost my footing and slithered five yards on the muddy slope*. 

So it will be for another day to explore towered square court and six towers, all of different shapes and gatehouse.

Many a slip...

This wondrous place in the 11th century, doubtless inspired by the Norman occupation.

One visitor who did not turn back was Owain Glynd┼Ár, together with 800 mates, attacked Carreg Cennen, but, although wreaking severe damage to the walls, failed to take the castle in early July 1403.

I thought the Wars of the Roses were purely a northern England thing however it appears that Carreg Cennen was a Lancastrian stronghold.

Across the years, ownership of the castle passed to the Vaughan and Cawdor families. From the 18th century it started to attract artists, Turner, led the way, sketched the castle in 1798.

*my only trousers were completely covered in mud so I repaired to Aldi for something to wear instead of, they only had running trousers. I did not let the name put me off and they have served me well.  See previous Post.

Monday, 23 March 2020


Again looking back to February when things were so different.

Three days down in south Wales and the weather there was less than kind.

However in spite of the wind and rain we managed to get out and see some wonderful castles, coastlines, villages, and fields. 

And when the Sun did break through it was absolutely gorgeous. It was remarkable in its transformatory power: turning the oil refinery in Pembroke Dock into a horizon of minarets and cupolas. 

I felt I came back with material (drawings and photographs) for at least seven paintings.

Probably the most exciting drawing was one made on  West Beach, Angle. I took three minutes as a storm blew across the beach. 

I got absolutely soaked and almost blown away. However the feeling of making marks in a force eight gale was priceless. 

Ffynon Chape,  Llanddewi Velfrey
Castle in the air
Towards Carreg Cennen
Angle, West Beach in a force 8 
Lower Town Fishguard