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Monday 1.4.13 Henrietta, Kev and the boys leave for a few days in Devon and Nathan goes back to London on the train in the afternoon. After I’d put a few things away and more logs on the fire I start work in the studio. Nice e mail from Rick Rumrell who’s back home in St Augustine, Florida after a successful week in London Tuesday 2.4.13 Finishing off two little paintings for the Fosse. Wednesday 3.4.13 Richard delivers the two paintings to and fro to Stow twice as the transparencies the Darkroom has made were too light so he had to take them back. Thursday 4.4.13 Trying to continue with a couple of the works I started a month or so ago in my flurry of activity. In the evening we watch Salley Rowley Williams (who owns one of my horses and a couple of paintings) in Celebrity “Come Dine with Me” she is such a good sport Friday 5.4.13 ditto Saturday 6.4.13 So thrilled for Sally that her horse Special Tiara ran a stunning race at Aintree today to win. She so loves that horse. It was lovely to have met the trainer Henry de Bromhead’s wife too when she visited the studio with Women in Racing during Gold Cup week. And in the Grand National we got 3rd, Teaforthree using my usual logic that I had made a painting of that title some time ago. Sunday 7.4.13 Continue working on the group of canvases started earlier in the year as at the moment I’m surrounded by half finished paintings, works in progress!!! Monday 8.4.13 Call from Toronto from Valerie who’s been wanting to commission me to do a painting for some time using newspapers, particularly to celebrate the birth of her son who is now six. Reply from John at the bookshop confirming he has received the piece that Richard has written on me for the Street Fair (programme) which I’m having the great honour of opening in June. Tuesday 9.4.13 Oh no! its the same date on which Julia is asking me to open the sensory garden in Gloucester, for which she has worked very hard to raise funding. It wouldn’t have mattered quite so much if it had been in Cheltenham, there would probably have been time to get from one event to the other - is it serendipity or just me that this often seems to happen to; Julia had approached me a few weeks ago saying it would be in June but being an optimist I thought it would be on one of the other twenty nine day. Wednesday 10.4.13 Richard drives my Mum up to London to Henrietta’s to stay for a few days. Henrietta and Kev are always so kind to her and take her to do nice things..... Thursday 11.4.13 ....Richard is going to stay overnight and drive her over to Hornsey to visit her brother, my Uncle Les and Vera. He says they are all very pleased to see each other and are on good form. He’s such a hero as when he takes her back he then helps Samuel paint an egg cup that he’d had for Easter from Tammy, so that he wasn’t be too aware of Isaac going to a friends for a sleep-over. He arrives back about 11.30 and I’m still working in the studio where I have been for most of the time whilst he was away. Friday 12.4.13 R goes to look at the newly extended and renovated Tithe Barn as I have also been asked if I would exhibit there (8&9 June) to coincide with the Street Fair that I will have the great pleasure of opening on the 9th - it will also link in with Cheltenham Open Studios which I have the honour of launching on the 7th June. Its happened again! An invitation to Linc’s AGM which I would love to have attended as it would have been my first as a Patron, it falls not only on the same day but exactly the same hour as I will be chairing the AGM of the Friends of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum. And since Mark Hurrell has kindly (at my request) agreed to be our speaker, I wouldn’t want to miss it especially as we are taking he and Julia out to supper afterwards. The day seems to be full of a lot of exchanges. Also an invitation from Panter & Hall to exhibit in their ‘Artists of Fame and Promise’ in June, as is the art fair at Olympia. Also in dialogue with another of my dealers who has approached me about a possible project. Saturday 13.4.13 Working as normal but hatching an idea or two. Sunday 14.4.13 Didn’t make it over to the Cathedral for the installation of new High Sheriff due to family commitments. In the evening I put together an idea for an exhibition I’m organising to find an artist who will create an image for Bishop Michael’s Christmas card this year. I had the idea of using Mantegna’s beautiful painting ( painted at the age of 24! ) and that of his brother in law Bellini who made a similar version some years later when he was 34. It is thought that one of the figures is Bellini’s sister (extreme left) and that a figure in the right is Mantegna and that it might have been painted as a celebration of their marriage. Having got the idea I describe it to Richard who miraculously puts it together brilliantly for an advertisement in the Cheltenham Open Studios (of which I am Patron) programme. Monday 15.4.13 Finishing off painting for Rob to show at art fair whilst Richard is collecting my Mum from Henrietta’s, to bring her home. Tuesday 16.4.13 Continue with the painting for Rob Wednesday 17.4.13 ditto. Thursday 18.4.13 R goes to London to speak to Rupert about my next show at the Alpha in Cork Street. I am busily trying to complete the painting for him to take to the photographers tomorrow.... Friday 19.4.13 ...which he does first thing this morning. On its return I continue, particularly on the sides top and bottom of the frame. Whilst he was out R picks me up a copy of Tatler as he had noticed on the cover a picture of Emma McQuiston who we met when she was about four years old hiding under the table at a lunch party at Longleat, with her mother Suzanna. We were the guests of Alexander, Lord Bath (who has a big collection of my work and Richard’s), whose son Caelwin’s 21st birthday party we also went to. Emma and Caelwin have just announced their engagement and on the cover of the Tatler she is looking very beautiful in a red Vivienne Westwood ball gown standing outside Longleat. And inside for the feature on her it says she will be the first black Marchioness. Interestingly I notice that one of the writers who has written an interesting piece on Nick Fidian the sculptor, is Violet Hudson, daughter of Cressida Connolly and Charles (Hudson). She has one of my paintings that Cressida and Charles bought for her for her 21st; a very clever girl who went to Oxford. It doesn’t seem many years ago when as a teenager she was photographed in Tatler with her sister Nell and brother Gabriel in a feature they did on Cressida. Saturday 20.4.13 We drive up to Bedford to visit my sister Gill and Howell (twenty years her senior), who is now unable to walk unaided as he’s suffering from Lewy body disease (similar to Parkinsons) where the sufferer can have periods of being lucid and articulate whilst at other times become agitated and suffer from delusions, not recognising day from night sleep patterns so poor Gill is looking very dark under the eyes and worn down. Even though she has employed a full time carer she still does every other night herself. We’ve brought the lunch with us, mainly things that can be eaten with the fingers as Howell can no longer use a knife and fork - Richard and Gill prepare it whilst I sit holding Howell’s hand and talking to him. Gill says he’s more lucid today, as he usually is when he sees me, than he has been all week. Its a lovely sunny day and I accompany Gill and one of her very caring neighbours on a walk with their dogs, which is of course a good time to talk. We arrive back home at half past midnight but I still need to do another four hours on the painting for Richard to deliver in London at lunchtime..... Sunday 21.4.13 ....which he does! Monday 22.4.13 Trying to rekindle relationship with painting started earlier in March of leaping hare. Tuesday 23.4.13 Suddenly realise I haven’t written my short piece as patron for the Cheltenham Open Studios programme, so set to work on that whilst sitting in the garden eating my breakfast. Wednesday 24.4.13 In the afternoon Richard and I walk down to the Tithe Barn to meet Cllr Peter Richmond who is a Trustee, as it was he who asked if I would open the Street Fair in June and do an exhibition in the Tithe Barn to coincide. Fortuitously it coincide with Cheltenham Open Studios . We are looking today at the space and how best the works could be hung. Thursday 25.4.13 Working on a two of different pieces at the moment. Friday 26.4.13Friday 26.4.13 ditto. Saturday 27.4.13 Off to London using our new Sat Nav which takes us on a rather interesting course through the City. When we arrive in Greenwich Henrietta and Samuel are standing on the doorstep in the sunshine to greet us. Isaac’s playing at a friend’s while Henrietta and Samuel are making jam tarts with the rather novel idea of rolling small balls of pastry to put into each tart mold using what Henrietta called a dibber and a dabber to press the pastry in to each ...... An hour or so later after Henrietta has collected Isaac we go to Clarkes have the boys feet measured on their machine. I marvel at how decisive the two boys are when they spot the style of shoe they want, only to discover when they try them on that there is a small toy planted under the insole of each shoe. We then go into Next where they seem to gravitate to the shoe section although on the way Samuel has pointed to a rather nice green Hawian type shirt which I say I will buy for him. Isaac is toying with the idea of some Angry Bird crocs whereas Samuel ends up with some rather nice black and white plimsoles. Then the spot some Angry Bird onesies! which seem to delight them both. Isaac already has an Angry Bird cap so chooses a pair of Angry Bird slippers to complete the outfit. They both look very striking when they go to bed that night, Isaac with his slippers on too! But more of a dilemma was when we had returned home we discovered that Isaac’s old shoes (which he hadn’t worn to the shoe shop) were size 131/2 and the new ones were only 121/2 so we decided we would have to go back to the shop again to sort out the problem - surely his feet couldn’t ave gone down a couple of sizes!?! The mystery was solved next day when Henrietta received a phone call from his friend Jack’s Mum who said that Jack had come home from Beavers wearing the wrong shoes! Sunday 28.4.13 We set off to take te boys to see Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum but en route they decide it would be even better to go to London Zoo in Regents Park for which we do have to queue rather a long time and its not quite as warm when standing in the shade. It also seems rather expensive for a couple of hours stay at £25 per adult and £18 each child. First of all we go through the aquarium, beautiful and exotic fish, turtles and a sting ray here; we then have an ice cream stop then Isaac follows the map and guides us to the tigers’ enclosure, an exceedingly beautiful beast is lying along a ridge of rock dozing though does turn his large exquisite head towards us from time to time. Then we’re off via a camel and lamas to the children's area with sheep and rabbits etc. where the children can mingle with and touch. We’re just making our exit from here when we get a call from Henrietta who is acting head of department and has been sorting out problems not made by her over BTEC accreditation's where the assessor has said that although the work was really good a number of the work samples that had been sent as fine art were really more like media. So she with the help of two of her colleagues has been working late into the night often 1.30 am to put together a set of new work samples. 240 students at her school have their accreditation's at risk if they get it wrong. She feels this huge responsibility towards them and luckily as she is a good communicator and has been in dialogue with the assessor over the past two or three weeks who is full of admiration for Henrietta’s huge efforts particularly as these modules have been incorrectly set by somebody else. So when we receive this jubilant phone call to say she has just heard from the assessor to say she is very pleased with the new samples which is an even greater relief as their department had been awarded a crate of wine for being the best department in the school. This really makes our day. Then its onwards to the Bug House which has some fascinatingly exotic creepies and crawlies but is very appropriate as Isaac is doing bugs at school this week. On to the butterfly house a wonderfully warm and humid inflatable tunnel where you make your way through exotic butterflies flying to and fro the green and succulent tropical fauna; a particularly fascinating almost black winged variety seem to have the wing span of a small bird it is quite disconcerting! But we are very aware that we have lost Richard as we come through the exit. Isaac who now reads really well reads the sign that says Exit Only so the three of us run round to the entry and go through again but still no sign of him. I ring him and discover he too has been through twice but is now waiting for us by the penguins. After the penguins we decide the time is getting on so we head towards the exit until Samuel spots a rather wonderful roundabout with wild animals instead of horses to sit on though they decide to both be seated together inside one of the carriages. So we have fun waving each time they go past to the sound of the steam organ. The Zoo are very good at making money as they send you through the gift shop to the exit although I have to admit Isaac had negotiated this with us early on. So have the wandering from stand to stand loving so many things - they end up with a roaring tiger mug with straw each and Isaac has a soft bat and Samuel a tiger. We drive around the corner to the London Business School for Richard to deliver six of his signed prints there, each in its own tube which the School presents each year to some of their alumni. Back to Greenwich where Kev waits to greet us on the doorstep as he's just come back from a weekend walking with his father and his bother in law. Hnerietta’s looking very happy, relieved and refreshed after her celebratory swim. We have a nice supper with Henrietta and Kev after the boys are in bed. We arrive home at about 1.30 am. Monday 29.4.13 Fedex deliver box containing newspapers and a letter from Valerie in Toronto for the newspaper painting commission to celebrate the birth of their son Nikolai six years ago. It is interesting to be reminded of what was happening then. The first payment has also arrived in my account this morning so R orders a stretcher frame and cuts some of the timber (fifty metres of which I have recently had turned to my design and delivered ) for John to make the Frame. We go to the Museum for 4.30 where we and five of the Patrons are being shown around the new development. So its hard hats goggles gloves hi viz jackets and stout shoes affair! Its all looking very good, lots more clean angular spaces. Jane Lillystone explains what each gallery, study space etc. will be for. It has a magnificent view of St Mary’s church the oldest building in Cheltenham and I think is the only medieval church in Cheltenham. It looks glorious bathed in sunlight through the huge panoramic windows at the rear of the building. It all looks very impressive and will hugely increased the Museum’s potential for travelling exhibitions as well giving more space for it’s as its own collection in the new Friends Gallery which the Friends have raised £250,000 towards. It also has a students study facilities room and even one for young creatives, a space that they will be able to use independently in the evenings as well as it has its own entrance. Afterwards we have supper with Mark at the Thai restaurant just around the corner. Tuesday 30.4.13 R delivers the timber to John my wonderful frame maker who is going to make it up for me dear John also calls in with a new corrugated piece he has just put together - such a kind and clever man who generously fits it in between his work for the theatre and his family.