Saturday 28 December 2013


On the way back from Suffolk I treated my architect, Trevor, to a bag of chips from the 'The Cod Father' fish and chip shop 'The Cod Father' in Silver End.

This small village in Essex sits in the flat farmland between Braintree and Witham. 

All the houses are the work of Scottish architect Thomas S. Tait

In the 1920's the industrialist Frank Crittall built Silver End as model village, to serve the Crittall Windows Ltd factory here. In just over six years Frank, from Chicago, created a village that boasted a Hall with a first class dance floor, cinema, library, snooker room and health clinic. In 1928, a large department store was opened. The Cod Father is the next shop along although the store now appears to be a public hall.

To Trevor's delight, as much as his chips were examples of Modernist architecture we saw. We walked down Silver Street; all the houses are the work of Scottish architect Thomas S. Tait, a leading exponent of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne.

An exciting menu 
In 2006 Crittall’s factory output ceased and most of the factory area raised to the ground including to important building in what was/is a conservation area, a developer's slight of hand at the controls of the bulldozer.

The Cod Father's impressive exterior.
The writer making his choice inside
We placed our chip papers in the bin and headed home.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Christmas Morning Walk

Christmas morning, a bright sunny morning, no wind, not even a breeze.
The occasional dark cloud moves in from the west and scurries across the skyline,
I look up to the high ridge opposite,
So familiar and down below on the playing field
the dog walkers taking exercise.

All is precisely as it should be,
On Christmas Morn.

Monday 23 December 2013


A trip with Trevor to Ipswich to collect a sail turns into a jaunt.

Out of Ipswich town and we are under the Orwell Bridge, a huge concrete span across Orwell’s estuary. A better view is afforded just along the road in the posh Suffolk Food Hall coffee shop.
Further along the Shotley peninsular, flat lands run up to the Orwell estuary’s edge, plundered by Curlew, Oystercatchers and cackling gulls. Boats rest up for the winter.

Shotley was once home of HMS Ganges. Now the village is barely awake.
All is down at heel; old sailing dinghies nestle up to one another, their shrouds flapping. An old cassette player lays disembowelled on the shoreline.

Looking out across the water, two ports for the price of one view: Felixstowe and Harwich, Suffolk and Essex.  Along the waterfronts ships with Asiatic names bearing impossibly large numbers of containers on deck.

Pale autumn sun turns cloud to a citrus yellow and suddenly deep dark grey rain clouds; drawing materials and cameras are hastily packed away and we retreat westwards to fight the Friday M25.

Part 2 in the series 
Travelling with my Architect 

From Shotley to Harwich

Cranes and Containers  Felixstowe

The Orwell Bridge

Thursday 19 December 2013


I grasp any colour in this continuously grey time of year.

And colour that is not neon deserves attention.

This wonderful sixties (?) tower block,
Now home to the Premier Inn
Horizontal blue with red, yellow and orange panels, 

Adjacent (left in picture) an Art Deco treasure in pale, skin-coloured brick,
Now a shoe shop,

Well, it is Leicester after all.

Created during the trip Catwalk Show early December 2013

Monday 16 December 2013


Through the north door, 
a dim light from the choir vestry,

Quietly across and along the south aisle, 
a slight genuflection in the Lady Chapel

I slip into 'my' place in the choir stalls.

Almost dark but light from somewhere.

Organ loft, now lit, 
David at practise,
'Oh come redeemer of the earth'

I scratch away in the half light, making marks on paper.

The north door bolt moves again.

Debra, now at the Chancel steps, her music stand placed precise, ready,

We wait.

Veni, redemptor gentium


On a Saturday morning there is a delightful bike ride along the lanes just to the south of Beaconsfield, bordering Hall Barn Estate.

I cycle along Green Common Lane, past Odds Farm, with its rare breeds. This faux farm is a magnet for kid-laden SUVs at half term.

Hedgerows punctuated by gates, all of which I have been meaning to draw as I have so often cycle past them.

Last Saturday, dry and bright I packed my drawing book for the ride and captured these four gates. All of different character;

Posh gate shut fast, the ornamental guard at one way into the Hall Barn estate,
Green gate, entrance to a long drive with its stile for walkers
Wooden gate that leads to a genteel flint and red brick farm house

Black gate, its right-hand portion askew, leading to nowhere apparent.