Wednesday 29 April 2020


Curious Coast Small Gems
Now with more than enough time to reflect and revisit our 2000 photos, 5000 words and 70 drawings we’ve discovered some small places that deserve their own shout!

It was an Autumnal trip with Trevor to Ipswich to collect a sail for his boat that turns into another coastal jaunt to Shotley, a forsaken headland in south Suffolk. 

On the way back we were ravenous!   Keen to share a bit of Essex on the way home we took a side road to Silver End

Silver End is a village in Braintree, Essex, in England. The industrialist Francis Henry Crittall established the Crittall factory and developed Silver End as a model village. 

My grandfather managed one of the Lord Crittall farms; my father delivered the milk around Silver End.
The village includes some noteworthy early examples of Modernist architecture, the work of influential Scottish architect Thomas S. Tait, a leading exponent of Art Deco.

We found the best possible Fish and Chip shop called the Cod Father. Marvellous food and just what was needed to fortify us to tackle the M25. To be thoroughly recommended

Curious Coast is discovered at

Saturday 25 April 2020


Another Curious Coast side story for with time to reflect and revisit our 2000 photos, 5000 words and 70 drawings we’ve discovered some small places that deserve their own shout!

Harty Church on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent is like many a lovely church close to water. The marshes of Sheppey are readily enjoyed from the Church Yard. Sheppey was historically known as the Isles of Sheppey comprising were Sheppey itself, the Isle of Harty and the Isle of Elmley.  Over time the channels between the isles have silted up to make one continuous island.

We explored the pretty church St. Thomas the Apostle, it has stood in this place for over nine hundred years. There is much to admire inside and the Victorian restoration was not overwrought. As visitors we were in good company for John Betjeman after his visit to Harty Church. 

 “Alas I shall have to console myself with memories of the Church in its splendid isolation, with sea birds wheeling by and the Thames so wide as to be open sea.

The full church guide is available here and makes absorbing reading. and a lively Facebook page maintained by the community is here

Curious Coast is discovered at

Tuesday 21 April 2020


One of the wonderful benefits of armchair travel to New York, courtesy of my good friend Prof. PJ Lehrer’s photography, is the discovery of new buildings.

This painting is based on a photograph is of a breath taking view across Roosevelt Island across into Queens.
A breathtaking view from the new MSK building
The photo was taken from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK)

Another photo this exciting MSK building, taken from the York Avenue and East 74th Street intersection of this exciting building.

The tale of the construction of remarkable building which delivers vital care to outpatients is told in American Builders Quarterly LINK

The MSK's building seen from York Avenue and East 74th Street intersection

Saturday 18 April 2020


I recently read a brilliant piece in The New York Times Magazine by Sam Anderson about blind contour drawing - drawing without looking at the paper. I have given it a try and find the results curious and exhilarating.

With bits of the woodland floor added 
Walking Rosie in Hogback Wood a wonderful place five minutes from the house has provided opportunities to try this out.  it is becoming a creative habit!

By Sam Anderson May 15, 2015 © 2020 The New York Times Company

The open arms of Hogback Wood

Looking down into the Heffalump Trap in Hogback Wood

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
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.

Friday 10 April 2020


Splendid peace by the edge of the North Sea

All ready for God's service
South Essex: The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea sits alone on the edge of farmland, as it becomes marshland. Looking out across the North Sea towards Holland.

Trevor and I had come here on the way home from Canvey Island. This oldest essentially intact Christian churches in England and still in regular use. It dates from between 660–662.

According to the Venerable Bede*, a 'city' named Ythanceaster existed nearby. 

Bishop Cedd originally built this lonely, delightful place in 654. It was an Anglo-Celtic church for the East Saxons, set astride the ruins of the abandoned Roman fort of Othona, so a well ordered bit of up cycling by the Saxons. Inside is all plain and tidy, ready for service.

A delightful digression if you are in the area.

*The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written in around AD 731.

Curious Coast Small Gems

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.

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 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
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…