Saturday 30 May 2020

Meet my new friend, the BiC Biro

Draw with a biro? Me? I should think so (not)!

Meet my new friend, the Bic Medium Black.

When Linnette my tutor suggested we draw with a biro the other week I was horrified. 

The ballpoint is my least favourite writing instrument. 
I gave it a go the other evening when trying to work out a composition.

In these days of new habits I confess to a complete turnaround.

Its cheap, 

does not need sharpening, 
always works, 
and you can leave the cap off 
and it never goes blunt! 

Thank you Linnette!!

Thursday 28 May 2020


More tree talk.
Many gardens at this time feature the ‘golden rain’ of the laburnum tree, which around here has only just ended it shower of colour.
It is actually a native of area that stretches from France to the Balkans. The tree’s wood has been a favourite with cabinetmakers and those creating musical instruments: recorders and the bagpipes. 

As I made this drawing of the laburnum tree in our garden it was alive with the huge sound of bees busy about their business.

Wednesday 27 May 2020


Cock Marsh again available for lovely walks

Redding's Orchard

Cookham is a celebrated village on the River Thames. It is notable as the home of the artist Stanley Spencer. 

Three miles north of Maidenhead, on the county boundary with Buckinghamshire on the Thames north bank.

 The highest part of Cookham is Cookham Dean, and a separate village and is served by two pubs, Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Jolly Farmer. 

It is lovely spot at this time of year. 

Some years ago friends of ours, with local neighbours banded together and bought Redding’s Orchard that sits in the centre of the village. The group all now tend to forty different varieties of apple trees!

Dropping down to the Thames there are several prehistoric burial mounds on Cock Marsh, which were excavated in the 19th century. The largest stone axe ever found in Britain was one of 10,000 that have been dug up in nearby Furze Platt. 

The National Trust now manages Cock Marsh and with the easing of restrictions we can now begin again enjoy the lovely open countryside here, who’s chalk grasslands are home a huge community of plant species. 

Do consider if for a lovely, details are here  jaunt 

Monday 25 May 2020


Left: Two construction workers at work on the Upper East Side

The six miles of goodness on the East side of Manhattan, which takes us from Houston Street all the way up to 126th Street in East Harlem. First Avenue is lovingly maintained by the NYCDOT

Its Upper East Side sections are becoming well known to me as they are so often featured in the work of photographer PJ Lehrer, and so the 1st av. features in my recent New York pieces.

The ‘heck lets’ build this’ decision was taken in 1811. Today it passes through a mixture of neighbourhoods, including the East Village, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Onwards and upwards, where it becomes quite wide in the 23rdStreet area and past the UN building. Keep going north and you’re in Spanish Harlem around 1st and 96th.

Yes, one road out of many in Manhattan, full of rich history, it snakes through cultures and communities, major medical centres and the seat of world government. 

And I discovered a couple of blocks away from where Professor Lehrer lives, on First and 77th was filmed the opening scene of Ghostbusters II.

‘Who you gonna call?’…

Friday 22 May 2020


Certainly one of my favourite buildings, anywhere, Sian bought me a print of it when we were in New York one summer, years back.  My New York  correspondent Prof. P J Lehrer has taken several good shots of this iconic piece, one of which inspired this drawing!

The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, is a triangular 22-story 285-foot tall steel-framed lovely. You can find it at 175 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District neighbourhood. It was created by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Dunkelberg and when completed in 1902 it was one of the tallest buildings in the city. 

The history of this triangular marvel is long and varied, features in films and TV (Murder she wrote) home to art shows (Edward Hopper) and its distinctive ‘cow catcher’* lower floor was used as a US Navy recruiting station in WW1.

There is a wealth of pictures and facts about the place here 10 Ten Secrets

*Not part of Burnham or Dinkelberg's design, but was added at the insistence of owner and developer Harry Black, in order to exploit the use of the building's lot and produce some retail income.

Flatiron Building  -  Typical Floor Plan

Tuesday 19 May 2020


The Birch next door. Usefully in a sauna.

Many of us, in spite of the crisis, have been enjoying the weather, the trees, gardens, parks and land around us.  

The other week my painting tutor gave me an exercise. I was to paint some trees. I cast around for some subjects and found these four on my doorstep. Remarkably I had been walking past them each day for twenty-eight years and never really appreciated their beauty.

And each tree has a back-story.

Weeping Cherry. My thanks to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens with their piece eight things you probably did not know about weeping cherry trees. These include 
Their blossoms change colours; many are dark pink when in bud, lighter pink when they first blossom, and then eventually pale pink or white. 
They make fruit. Though these trees were bred for flowers, not fruit, some do produce small cherries, which appear during the summer. They’re too sour for us to eat, but birds love them.
Next door but one.

Wisteria which is growing next door; this species is native to China, Korea, Japan, and the Eastern United States. The Wisteria has been widely used in Japan art throughout the centuries and was a popular symbol on family crests and heraldry. There is a popular dance in kabuki, the Fuji Musume or The Wisteria Maiden
Japanese Maple, acer palmatum has been cultivated in Japan for centuries, the first specimen of this tree reached Britain in 1820. Japanese horticulturalists have long developed cultivars from maples found in Japan and nearby Korea and China. They are a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts. 

The good old Birch tree; birch-tar or Russian oil extracted from birch bark is thermoplastic and waterproof; it was used as glue in making arrows. Fragrant twigs of birches are used in saunas to relax the muscles – enough of that!

Friday 8 May 2020


Either 1. Taking the FDR to the BQE  Or 2. Going onto the Brooklyn Bridge. 

I saw a marvellous picture on PJ’s Instagram feed of roads, steel, girders, concrete and cars moving along roads. A remarkable shot, which I had to draw. Not having a clue as to where it might be in NYC. 

So where is this I asked. I was informed that it was either 1. Taking the FDR to the BQE
Or 2. Going onto the Brooklyn Bridge

Response 2 had a more attraction for me.

BQE is the abbreviation for the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway (BQE). This is a road that runs across northern Brooklyn and Queens It is part of Interstate 278 (I-278) is an auxiliary Interstate Highway in New Jersey and New York. Look for the 278b badge symbols on the map to get some idea of how this vital and often jammed route weaves it weary way!  

So with that TLA safely decoded we can turn to the FDR. 

This is the acronym for Franklin D. Roosevelt drive. It is a just short of ten-mile parkway running along on the east side of the New York City borough of Manhattan running along side the East River.  It starts the southern tip of Manhattan at South and Whitehall Streets in the Financial District and ends around 125th street. 

In the course of researching these vital facts I came across this
‘This’ being the Taxi & Limousine Commission Practice Exam – English: What an excellent way to test one’s knowledge of New York and surrounding area. Don’t panic the answers are in the last pages of this handy downloadable PDF.

For you next Lockdown online quiz with family and friends why not include some questions from this exam.
Question: Fort Tryon Park is in what borough?
a. Queens
b. Brooklyn
c. The Bronx
d. Manhattan 
Answer: d

Wednesday 6 May 2020


Chinatown inspired by a photograph by PJ Lehrer 
New York Chinatown 
On my first visit to New York in 1986, Chinatown one the first points of exploration. I remember the street signs had Chinese names as well. As they do today.  

This district of Manhattan is home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. 

Since that time the area has accepted waves Cantonese-speaking people from across China and Hong Kong. From the late 1980s through the 1990s, a large influx of people came from Fuzhou, in southeastern China and with them the speaking of Mandarin. 

More recently real estate pricing and gentrification have put pressure on living in Chinatown for the original population.

Said to be the first person to have permanently immigrated to Chinatown, Ah Ken is said to have arrived in the area during the 1850s. He was Cantonese businessman and founded a successful cigar store on Park Row to the SW of the district. No doubt he was selling his wares to high rolling businessmen.

Districts of Manhattan Map: Copyright and its usage permissible by Civitatis Tours S.L., based in Madrid.  THANK YOU

Saturday 2 May 2020


The other evening I was with chums, on a Zoom call (where else!) and we were talking about when one of our numbers would reschedule his major tour of Japan. October came up, question being would it still be nice at that time of year?  
Yes I declared I went to Nikko Park in October, years ago”.
“Well, said H Nikko was on our list”.
OK, said I, I will just check into when I did go. 

I found the notebook and it was October 2005 when I made the trip to Nikko a wonderful national park in Japan.  Excitedly, I rescanned the drawings and found the maps and my train ticket.

Thinking further I thought I had written the trip up somewhere. 

Next morning it occurred to me that I had, in an old blog that I keep from 2004 through 2009. Long neglected, it was originally on a platform called MSN Spaces (their attempted to be funky in the blogger-sphere. The eventually go bore with it (MS) often did then with initiatives in the social media space and sold it to WordPress.  

And my blog, Tim Baynes Artist Traveller is still up there! I wrote up most of my Microsoft business trips across 2004 - 2009


A gauche piece of writing, however it serves to bring the adventure back into sharp focus.