Wednesday 31 July 2019



This was a day out at the country’s most hush-hush WW2 code-breaking station,  . - . . - -  . - . . -  Bletchley Park in north Buckinghamshire.

At its height of activity, ‘BP’ had 12,000 people working here, over 75% of whom were women. Receiving, cracking and interpreting intercepted material from Nazi Germany, across all fronts of the conflict including the Far East and Japan.

This is a remarkable place with an extraordinary story, one that was almost bulldozed to the ground in 1990 and saved to flourish with a outstanding army of volunteers. - In 1990 the site was at risk of being sold for housing development. However, Milton Keynes Council made it into a conservation area. Bletchley Park Trust was set up in 1991

Visitors now have access to all areas, you can mooch around the buildings and the rooms were ciphers were deciphered; amazing feats of code breaking were commonplace and where the computer was invented. Everywhere there is this sense that everyone working there, then, has just upped and left, leaving their desks, and their caps, jackets, coats and gas masks, as if it was only yesterday. 

So much to see, absorb and understand. Bletchley Park is on my ‘can’t-wait-to-go’ again list. This place is a treasured and thoughtfully curated story of ingenuity, huge brainpower and tenacity.

It is as if

Monday 29 July 2019



This is the time of years for new potatoes. Coming thick and fast from Sian’s allotment is a variety call Linzer Delikatesse.

This variety was my father’s allotment favourite and now every year, his colleague Francis Nichols, sends us some seed. Sian dutifully plants them for a bumper summer crop.

Linzers are easy to clean when harvested, cook brilliantly and are delicious hot or cold and keep in the fridge for a good while.

A triumph of edible starch!

For the fuller picture on this variety go to the European Potato Database, to know what your grow.

Hopefully the impending ‘NO DEAL’ Brexit will not mar our access to this important databank,

Saturday 27 July 2019


Burry Port

There is always a new discovery when we go to Laugharne in Carmarthenshire, a town in welsh Wales. 

Halfway between Carmarthen and Llanelli is Burry Port, a harbour, marina, and on the other side of its lighthouse, a broad peaceful beach 

There is and a great cup of tea the Harbour Light Tea Room and B&B, Tel: 01554 830071  

The full, fascinating story on Burry is here reading it makes a return visit essential.

In Laugharne we also connected with familiar places, The Castle View Fish and Chip Restaurantowned by super-lovely Caroline, and the round-the-corner view of the boathouse where Dylan Thomas composed his later writings, perched high above the sleepy estuary.

 . . . And the view, across the town rooftops, from outside The Portreeve Tafarn, looking into the sun falling behind the town’s Rookery listening to Stan, the owner’s latest mix tape.

Pendine Sands
Pendine Sands, four miles west of Laugharne, a six-mile long beach, well six miles when the MOD is not testing munitions. In the sea, immediately opposite the village’s front, are often a flock of youngsters in wet suits bobbing like seals fifty metres out in the sea. What a way to spend your school day afternoons!

Across Laugharne at sunset
Dylan's writing room

Wednesday 24 July 2019


Inspired by Jo Beale's workshop
A morning of lively lectures
From the top of Whiteleaf Hill looking west

It is wonderful to hear a group of enthusiastic experts talk about what they love most. It is infectious! This happened on a fab Saturday at the end of June - the event was called Get creative along the Ridgewayand held at St Dunstan’s Church, Monks Risborough. 

The morning kicked off with a warm welcome from Ridgeway National Trail Officer Sarah Wright. (leading the brilliant organising team). We heard of poems and historic route ways by poet James Crowden, Painting The Ridgeway and the Nash brothersa great talk from artist Anna Dillon. Do see Anna’s work

Then we learnt about writer and naturalist Richard Jefferies and the Richard Jefferies Museum a wonderful talk by Mike Pringle. The morning ended with considering the future of The Ridgeway with Simon Kearey, Ridgeway Partnership Chair.  Heads up! HS2 and the Cambridge Oxford Corridor development! ... ‘Lay on MacDuff’ *

The afternoon was doing rather than listening and I was part of Jo Beale’s workshop on inspiring journaling and drawing in sketchbooks! Brilliant! 

She guided us up to the top of Whiteleaf Hill, pausing along the way (thank goodness) to make notes and drawings in our books. The whole session has me thinking about new ways of using my Moleskine books… more lettering more printed ephemera to tell stories on the page.

Jo Beale runs workshops!   Full details are here

There’s lots going on along The Ridgeway and you can hear all about it in a free newsletter email to join the mailing list and do visit
Twitter and Instagram: Follow it all @TheRidgeway1972 or  pick up the phone the National Trails Team is on 01865 810224


*Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 8

Tuesday 16 July 2019


A reredos that rises up and embraces one.

Nothing can quite prepare one for the impact on entering this wonderful church.  In front of you the reredos shimmers and the whole place feels as if it is hovering off its Mayfair plot.

After Catholic emancipation in 1829, when the position of Catholics in England became easier, a plan was conceived on a bold and imaginative scale for a permanent Jesuit church in London. 

Jenkins describes The Church of Immaculate Conception as ‘Gothic Revival at its most sumptuous, not an inch of wall surface is without decoration, the climax is reredos of gilded stone by A.W.N. Pugin. 

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was the English architect, designer, artist, and critic, on of the leaders the Gothic Revival style of architecture. 

More about Farm Street here

Sunday 14 July 2019


The fields of wheat were looking beautiful waving in the wind - other sea.


The other Saturday I was pleased to be driven round the fields and small woodland areas by retired farmer John Seabrook.  This was a real treat and the weather was glorious! 

John was one of my father’s greatest friends. Dad would often drive over to John’s farm and working alongside each other, they would tend to and nurture these woodlands, put up as havens for wild life. Trees were planted and undergrowth was brought under control. This was early conservation work by two enthusiasts!

Tollesbury, on the Essex coast, has been farmed to grow crops for thousands of years. 
The dominant crop is wheat for bread, animal feed and biscuits. 

We toured the land in John’s old Mitsubishi pick-up, the fields of wheat were looking beautiful and waving in the wind - other sea, and like the sea just yards behind us. The winter barley was about to turn pale gold.

I came back with a haul of pictures and have started to use them as the basis for paintings.

This land and sea is described with guides, walks and information here

Friday 12 July 2019



The garden and allotment continues to yield great things, thanks to Sian’s industry. We have harvested the first courgette an there are pots of chillies on fruit all over the garden, except for the pot I accidentally steps on when deadheading some roses. Ooops.

And you can put these two things together in Katie Gillingham’s
Spiced Courgette Soup Recipe.

Katie says this is easy to make and freezes well especially in empty plastic milk containers (clever recycling tip). It sounds delicious, served with a sprinkling of Lemon Pepper and crusty bread

HERE WE GO… (Serves 4)
25g/1oz butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
350g/12oz sliced courgettes
140g/5oz potato sliced, old or new
425ml/¾ pint chicken or vegetable stock
300ml/½ pint milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Method for Spiced Courgette Soup:

Melt butter in pan, add onions and garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes
Add cumin and coriander, stirring for a few minutes.
Add courgettes, potato, stock and milk. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 15mins or until soft.
Leave to cool, then liquidise until preferred consistency


Dawnie Cheeks commented on Katie’s receipe:
‘Delicious! Really simple but really tasty. Made a huge batch and will freeze some.
What a great site. Wish I’d found it last year rather than throwing loads of stuff away that I didn’t know what to do with. Thanks.’

Tuesday 9 July 2019


It is good to be working with Fallon's Angler magazine again. 
This set of pictures was commissioned to illustrate a story by Christopher Lewis II about pike fishing in County Meath circa 1980.
Captions for these three pieces are taken from Christopher's text.

'The summer holidays are glorious , three months of tomfoolery in the outlander of rural Ireland'
'How long did you fight it it for?
Five to 10 minutes maybe more'
'There is a small stretch where the canal....'

Saturday 6 July 2019


Avro Vulcan
In July of last year, 2018, I visited Hendon Air Museum. Somewhere I must have put down and misplaced my Moleskine. My chums and I searched in vain so did the team at the museum, to no avail.

Imagine my amazement and delight when I received this email a few weeks back:
Hi Tim

It’s taken me a while to trace you but I believe that my 10-year-old son has found one of your sketchbooks on a trip to the RAF museum in London. The book contains sketches of Margate, Oxford, a t-Rex, trumpets and drums as well as a few sketches from the museum. Could this be yours? The only problem is that Toby was so inspired by the sketches of aircraft and service men that he’s added some of his sketches on the blank pages. 

Please let me know if this is yours and we will see if we can reunite you with it!

Long range British Bomber
Kind regards, Lucy

In due course with exchange of addresses and such the Moleskine arrived back home, with the precious addition of Toby’s five drawings.  (Subsequently I reciprocated with a cache of colouring pencils and a copy of the Observer’s Book of Aircraft. 

Lucy’s footnote is the only way one could finish this chapter, for the story will continue in some way, shape or form.

He has been very excited to share his news with his class at school and looks forward to seeing his sketches on-line. You’re very kind to do that as it’s really boosted his self-confidence. From our point of view, it has also given Toby an insight into morality and how the decisions you make affects other people because as explained previously he felt very protective of your little sketch book and took great care of it and was so pleased to find you. So sincerely, thank you for making a little fuss of him and reinforcing that notion. 

B17 Flying Fortress

F22 Raptor
WW1 Battle Ground 

Friday 5 July 2019



Another City of London church, All Hallows By The Tower, is wedged in between nasty office blocks and a stream of traffic passing Tower Hill. Once you could stroll down from the church to the Thames’ edge, however now glass and concrete impedes the view.

In 1941 a German bomber reduced the church to rubble. By 1951 plans were underway to rebuild it.  Job done, although the exterior is in dull Gothic, likewise the Nave. 

However, spend time here; we did, for two hours. Treasures are dotted about the place and are yours to savour. Ships hanging from the ceilings and other monuments point to the church's  maritime and trading connections. Across the street is the Merchant Seamen’s War Memorial. 

Treats include
Elizabethan memorial to an Italian trader North wall
Canopied altar tomb just up a bit from the memorial
Flemish altarpiece 1500
Font cover by Grindling Gibbons (now at the back of the church, but do seek it out!

 Many riches actually stored in the church’s crypt, and undershaft.  This is collection of alcoves that display prizes from Roman and Saxon times right up to the last century.
You actually enter this area across a tessellated Roman floor! And further down and in there is a chapel built of the stone from a Crusader Castle!

Do go!


Wednesday 3 July 2019


Don't miss this wonderful show of frocks and fancies at the V&A. The Dior exhibition runs until mid September and is worth every penny. Extensive beyond one's imagining. His work and all though that worked with him and in the House of Dior.  So much colour, style and fabric in one place.

The website proclaims sold out however I think they do release some tickets from time to time.



Forever Friends   29 x 42 cm      Crayon on Paper
Let's take the dog too     Oil Pastel on Paper 29 x 43 cm 
'Well I said to her, you'd better get the money side sorted my girl!'   Gouache on Paper  29 x 42 cms

So let's enjoy this sunshine whilst we can!
More from Mungo Jerry and his hit single 1970

In the Summertime 

We're not bad people
We're not dirty, we're not mean
We love everybody but we do as we please
When the weather's fine
We go fishin' or go swimmin' in the sea
We're always happy
Life's for livin' yeah, that's our philosophy

Monday 1 July 2019


'Oh, well I think they only arrived yesterday'  Gouache on Paper 29 x 43 cm
'Yes, but I can't see her staying with him'    Gouache on Paper 29 x 43 cm
Well with all this lovely weather last weekend at least thoughts at last turn to going to the sea side. Dig out the cozi, bucket, spade and windbreak, pack the lunch and off we jolly-go!

No one expresses it better than Mungo Jerry

In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather's fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find.

Artist: Mungo Jerry
Album: In the Summertime
Released: 1970