Saltash Regatta

Potential Energy

IMG_0192Saltash Regatta weekend.

A bustling brightly coloured celebration of river and community based pleasure. I always like to get to the waterfront at dusk on the Friday or dawn on the Saturday to catch the hardware of the event in preparation. The symmetry and stillness of the gigs and pilot boats belies the ferociousness of the events later in the day

IMG_0197These weighty oars have the delicacy of ballerinas feet as they rest peaceably together on the green. In a few hours they will be battling for prime position, one on one contact is not unheard of.

IMG_0196I love the laced-on leather handgrips, resting here, they have an erotic quality, suggesting laces on corsets passively waiting to be undone. In reality, the leather provides grip but the combination of endeavour, leather and salty water is punishing to the flesh. Soft palms and finger tips can be shredded to bloody remnants of their former selves.

IMG_0195Gigs, resting neatly in the water, delivered overnight from all over the West Country await their teams to give them energy and purpose.

IMG_0190Their skeletal insides waiting for race-ready muscles to give them power.

IMG_0193Blades, polished to cleave the water whilst the rowers cleave together, rhythm and energy effectively brought together.

IMG_0191Flashboats announcing every rowers hoped-for outcome. Just a few hours peace before the rowing begins.

The Old Mortuary Story Part 1

IMG_0974.JPGThe Old Mortuary is in many ways an accidental project. The old Co-op mortuary had housed nothing more exciting than headstones for many years. Rarely visited by Co Op staff it was in a decaying and damp state of repair . The ingress of water through its leaking roof had caused Hannah an immense amount of damp problems in her adjoining cottage. Vast amounts of money were spent trying to remedy the situation from within the cottage . Communication with the Co-op Undertakers Department asking them to fix their building was difficult and always fruitless  because buildings were the responsibility of the Co-op Headquarters in Manchester. Locally negotiations were thwarted by what seemed like constant boundary reorganisation moving the responsibility for Saltash around various bigger branches in the area.

An unexpected breakthrough came when we once again started the process of asking them to fix the roof. After hours on the phone listening to soothing undertaker music I was put through to a man who didn’t particularly want to fix the roof but who did want to sell us the building.  If only it had been that simple , but two years later after curious transactions with an organisation that buries all its usual clients we were the proud owners of a locked up and unseen, inside, building.

I must admit that buying something you have only ever seen from outside is a risk but we were desperate to banish the damp in the existing cottage so we really didn’t care. Buying and negotiating something you’ve not ever seen over a two year period also creates a certain level of fantasy.  By the time the keys were in our possession and our cash was in the hands of the Co-op I had convinced myself we had bought a gothic masterpiece. Nothing could be further from the truth. We had bought a between the wars utilitarian mash up with fake panelling and an old chest of drawers topped by an old door , draped in faded velvet, that served as the viewing platform for the ‘Loved One’. Beyond that was about a ton of rat poo and very little else. The showroom for the Monumental Masonry was monumentally fake.  White fibreboard and white grave gravel created the illusion of heavenly calm. In truth the whole thing was so soaked in rat urine it smelled a lot closer to purgatory.

to be continuedIMG_0974.JPG

Searching for the past

Hannah was born in Hong Kong, whenever we are there we search for businesses and places that have remained essentially unchanged since the 70’s. A tough ask in such a changing city. She is also a coffee addict and grecophile so Olympia Graeco Egyptian Coffee is a perfect match. No added authenticity or design needed. They’ve been grinding their beans since the 1930’s.

At 24, Old Bailey Street, Central. HK

Private View, Breaking Through, PCAD

IMG_0052.JPGEarly June is the perfect time to hunt for contemporary art. Art Schools and Universities showcase the best that their art students have to offer. Usually held over a week or so the Graduation exhibitions are vibrant , eclectic events. Last night I went to Plymouth College of Art and Designs Graduation Showcase, Breaking Through.,  Plymouth is one of the few remaining independent art schools. It teaches an eye watering number of creative courses and the end of year show reflects the huge diversity of subjects. The standard of these shows is always high . Proud parents, tutors and graduates rub shoulders with interested art lovers and talent scouts from the creative industries. Bargains can also be found and I’ve bought some lovely pieces from Degree shows around the country. One or two pieces have turned out to be a great investment as their creators become well respected and successful as their careers progress.

The following black and white images are a snippet of my experience last night.  The show closes on 22nd June. There is ample time to see these lovely things in full colour and in their entirety before the show closes. Go to the PCAD website for times and details.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

VW Kombi and a map

IMG_9978This monoprint has been knocking around in my head for ages. It’s taken a while to pull together the various strains of thought and to find the products that would give me the feel I wanted.

I wanted to depict the unique sensation of travelling in unknown territory looking for holiday destinations using paper maps. That curious mix of anticipatory pleasure and stress. The Combi is depicted by translucent glaze and glitter because it is a memory and is for many of us only representational as we may have been travelling in a Mini, Ford Capri, Hillman Imp or any other car that was iconic in the 60’s 70’s or 80’s.

Each monoprint is unique and is printed on an old map. A3 size, mounted ,each print costs £65. Other destinations and vehicles are possible , please contact me either via this blog or if interested


IMG_9963In our home we have to find space for ‘stuff’. The belongings or memorabilia from two sets of parents, now dead, and two previous individual homes. That’s a big ask of a small cottage. The sensible answer to this is that you can’t keep everything : recycling out to charity shops is not only the answer , it is also the right thing to do. If we don’t need it then a much better use is to generate money for a charity while getting it into the hands of someone else who can make use of it.

To achieve a  balance and have a home that is organically styled rather than superficially beautiful with no depth of character we have curated some collections.

Casually placed in a couple of rooms are small collections of old vinyl records. Pre dating bespoke covers they have cardboard sleeves advertising the shops that sold them. They take up very little space but give a big warm hug of remembrance every time they catch your eye.

Real Interior Design

I’ve given you an extra serving of tissues with your coffee.

9BB38BA8-C91E-4978-B03F-762EDA799358-6471-000006471DE03962In writing a style and arts blog, I consider I’ve dodged the awkward ball of having to write a critical review. If somewhere isn’t stylish, I can easily choose not to write about it and when reviewing creative subjects, there is nearly always something positive to pull out of the experience. I’m grateful this is not a foodie blog because I don’t know enough about the subject to be interesting. However, I am very aware that style/ decor/ ambience is something that is very important to most people, particularly when considering repeat visits. Style is also about how things are served.

Before I go any further, I will say the food at this establishment was lovely.

While on the rural eastern edge of Plymouth, we went to a Farm Shop that is well-considered locally but appears to have recently changed its name; it charges premium prices. We ordered lunch and coffee, to be accurate a flat white. Our drinks were slow to arrive and the flat white arrived not with the usual almond biscotti, but with an extra serving of tissues. The waitress explained that she had slopped so much of the coffee in the saucer that we would need extra tissues!

She hadn’t actually slopped a flat white, because that was not what was being served. She’d slopped, at best a latte, and at worst the sort of white coffee elderly relatives give you.

Premium prices should go hand in hand with quality, expertise, pride and a good knowledge of your subject. Without that, customers are unlikely to return. Nationally, the bar is set pretty high for these types of establishment. Daylesford comes to mind and somewhat unexpectedly the motorway services at Gloucester. Perhaps I’m being picky but I don’t see a side serving of extra tissues as a reason to come back.

Thankfully that was the worst experience of the day. Onto more positive things soon…