Art in the Algarve 2017 – Overview –

Amazing light and shade and everyone looks so happy.

My Life as an Artist (2)

Another beautiful stay at the School in Alhao Portugal –         One week of sketching and writing on my own and a second week of tutoring a lovely group.

The group numbered fifteen and represented several different countries, UK, Canada, Cyprus, France and Ireland.

Here we are about to enjoy one of Margarida’s wonderful freshly cooked meals. 20-11-15 - 1 (972)I have written several blogs about the School and how conducive it is to the creative process.     David Clarke, founder of the School clearly understood what was needed.   He was a man of vision, and I for one will always be grateful for his gift to artists.

Three of the group working in one of the internal courtyards. 20-11-15 - 1 (981)Somewhat like the Tardis the outside doesn’t give away its many different levels, rooms, studio, and courtyards.

There is much to observe within the boundaries of the…

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Frequently television amazes with its panoramic views of the beautiful world that we live in: the fields and hedges, rivers and coastline, beautiful buildings photographed from a helicopter by a cameraman with a precisian made camera. I find these precise and vividly coloured moving pictures both familiar and unfamiliar, I can see more of this beautiful England than I would be able to see if I were standing on my own two feet on a pathway leading through green fields and walking towards magnificent trees stretching up into the blue sky so high above me.

To be strictly accurate I don’t walk very far nowadays, my bones are arthritic and my joints telling me its time to be motorised. I want to imagine that I’m still part of this awesome, amazing world. It would probably be true to say I’m a slow learner, in earlier years I experienced life through books, looked at rationally this would seem to  be to be the wrong way round. I should have been out experiencing life face to face, but a book was much more under my control, I could shut it whenever I felt like it.

On Saturday night it gave me a thrill of recognition to see my own district featured in a television programme. The programme was called Saints and Sinners: Britain’s Millennium of Monasteries, Dr Janina Ramirez linked the stories of the first Roman monasteries in England. In the North-east in the seventh century Egfrid, King of Northumbria gave land to set up monasteries based on the Roman traditions separate from the Celtic traditions of Lindisfarne. The first monastery was established at St. Peter’s, Monkwearmouth  on the north bank of the River Wear in 674 by Benedict Biscop.  This was so successful that in 682  a second monastery, St Paul’s was established on the river Tyne  at Jarrow. Benedict made  clear that the two sites should function as one monastery in two places. The most striking remains are in the name of the parish and in St Peter’s church which is one of the oldest churches in Great Britain. In Jarrow the ruins of the monastery is marked out with stone slabs, the Saxon chancel survives with the oldest stained glass window in the world.

   Benedict created a great library in the monastery and made it the cradle of not only English art but also of English literature. A great bible was written in the monastery by a monk encouraged by Abbot Ceolfrith, his name was Bede. Bede established himself as England’s leading scriptural and historical authority. Bede’s writings, most importantly his “Historia-ecclesiastica  gentis Anglorum” became so popular in the 8th century, not only assured the reputation of the monastery, but influenced the development of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow’s distinctive insular minuscule script, developed to increase the speed of book production.

Monkwearmouth- Jarrow was attacked by the Vikings  at the end of the 8th century and was destroyed by the Danes in about 860 and finally abandoned in the late 9th century.


Some institutions; churches, schools, shops and offices have always been there.  In the place where I live, a very imposing,  grand, stone  building, a church called because of its importance a cathedral, has been there for nine hundred years. Around Palace Green are some buildings which have been there one to two hundred years, the university began two hundred and fourteen years ago. The houses and shops are much more recent. A small medieval city has become a busy metropolis, limited only by the meandering river and the surrounding hills.

   Every day  some buildings are torn down and others quickly built. Roads are packed with cars, buses and lorries.   Today the hospital car park was overflowing with cars, I walked in and thankfully walked out again a little later. The thing that unsettles me the most is the BBC is changing by the hour. The BBC has always been part of my life, in the early years it was entirely the radio. If I remember rightly it was the Home Service and the Light Programme, voices enunciating clearly and authoritatively informed me what was interesting, what I should think and brought me my favourite programme, Children’s  Hour. The voices were very different from anything I heard around me, they spoke properly whereas I spoke quite differently- wrongly. The people around me spoke what I later discovered was a north-eastern dialect , not Geordie but Wear- side. It was the language of comedians, doesn’t this sound funny?  The strange thing was in my head I sounded exactly like Jean Metcalfe absolutely correct BBC English. Today in fact I still have the same illusion.

    But my BBC has changed, no more the voice of authority, now all kinds of dialects are heard. More scarily now they ask me to send in my news, I’ve thought about it, going to Sainsbury’s hardly sounds like News. I can email or text or phone and they will read out my words. I’m tempted, I really am but who wants to know we’re having bacon and beans for tea? Of course if they wanted my views on the election I would have plenty to say. Who can I rely on now?

Then of course there are reams and reams of television stations taking up several pages of the Radio Times, the television day begins at 6.0 am and ends in the early hours of the following day. It is a continuous miscellany of flickering images, some which date back almost 50 years and they are the comedy programmes! Do I watch television, of course I do, the world brought into my living room, sometimes I switch it off. For awhile I enjoy a blissfully quiet room, sometimes I even pick up a book but a printed book is so last century, my kindle contains a whole library of books. Yes, its not possible to riffle through the pages and the printing is very small but its digital technology, very twenty-first century as my doctor said when I told him I have an email address. My mind still functions, well some of the time!


Glasses on face, missing teeth, hair a mixture of shades and stick in hand.

Not an appealing picture

Yet walking and talking

Sometimes even making sense.

Helping out a younger generation, giving to charities

Always willing to talk about days long gone

Many of them were not good

Until the Welfare State arrived

Care from ‘cradle to grave’

Free at the point of need.

The reason why so many of my generation

Are still around.

Too expensive!!!

Let the rich keep their taxes

And young families return to

Depression era lives

Just like in the USA

We’ll Trump it.


On the 8th June there will be a General Election, you are probably already sick of hearing about it. Everyone is predicting a huge vote for the Conservatives, if like me you think this would be a disaster for the country, please vote.


According to my long ago schooling the word democracy comes from two Greek words; demos, the people and kratia, power, rule, therefore the rule of the people.  The Classical Age of Greece, two thousand five hundred years ago, regarded as the foundation of European civilisation.  Greece along with most of Europe is again facing turbulent times.  What are the dangers that face democratic systems in the twenty-first century?  Do the people we vote for actually rule as our representatives or is there some powerful force hidden behind closed doors?

Democracy is not something which arrived fully formed like an eighteen year old walking into the polling station.   No it was born after an extremely protracted struggle lasting in the United Kingdom some eight hundred years, Magna Carta and all that.  The one  who was ruling, King John had every intention of keeping it like that, even after he put…

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DANCE +++ !

An afternoon visit to the theatre, watching real live men and women of the Birmingham Royal Ballet company moving with speed, grace, agility and strength, flesh and blood moving in amazing ways.   These young men and women are athletes with the ability to convey mood and feelings with the face, shoulders, arms , hands, legs including a pointed toe or a stamping heel. Most of us spend a great deal of time controlling our emotions; toning down our affection or anger, turning an expressionless face to the people we meet, fitting in. The members of this  company can converse without ever using words. Myself I am fascinated, thrilled and delighted by words but the expressiveness of the human body is a wonderful panoply of moveable parts to delight, have fun, respond or convey, an awesome power. One man dressed as a naval officer ‘ordered’ his men to line up, to march, to stand to attention.  Their female partners went weak at the knees at the sight of this epitome of masculinity and fell at his feet. I had the same feeling myself !

The show was made up of excerpts from ballets which featured a large chorus of equal numbers of men and women. They were full of fun and thrilling leaps and pirouettes. Finally we came to Pineapple Poll, sailors and their girl friends plus the previously mentioned Captain what could be more romantic. Thank you Birmingham Royal Ballet for a delightful afternoon.