Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Lost painting

I'm restoring a 1930's fairground waltzer at the moment for a lovely chap called David Littleboy. Today he sent me an interesting email about a lost painting by Sir Edward John Poynter that had been sold this year. The surprise was that it was the same as the Waltzer front!
The painting called The Ionian Dance, was bought by Robert English and was in his private collection until 1915 when it was sold. It has always been in private hands until it was auctioned by Bonhams on the 10th July 2013 ,selling for £301,250.

The chances are that Edwin Hall only saw the etching, but it shows his love of art and paintings to have been influenced by it. His lady isn't quite so revealing,and there are some extras but it's fascinating to see. To think that no one had seen the original colours since 1914 but there it was bold as brass in a field in a fairground. I also only had scraps of colour and a black and white photo to work from. I might have to alter the ladies face on the far right now!

 Ionian Dance Detail


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

And all because the lady loves....

I've just watched a great programme called Life is Sweets...Nigel Slater....not only was it fascinating but it was very funny too, especially when he said about his Dad buying his step mother a Flake...and liked watching her eat it....oooh er!....and that his Father bought his Mother Milk Tray but his stepmother only had Dairy Milk.

It brought back memories of my Granny giving us a Frys chocolate Creme bar on a Saturday night in her caravan....and eating a Babycham chocolate when I was too young to drink alcohol.....and yes ,I wanted to be the flake girl disappearing off up the lane on a gypsy wagon.

The sweet adverts used to be brilliant....everyone of a certain age can remember the Cadbury Fruit and nut song and the Milky Bar kid. I was interested to find that Gary Myers. the dark haired 'Bond' like character did all of his own stunts and appeared in the adds for 20 years....I was too young to fancy him!
Unfortunately Milk Tray isn't what it was but there's still lots of lovely chocolate on the shelves...thank goodness it's past 11pm or I'd be very tempted to pop up to the Coop and buy a plain chocolate Bounty, or a mint Aero...or a finger of fudge...or perhaps a Freddo Frog.....

Monday, 23 September 2013

Hall of Mirrors

Today my Mum rang me to tell me that she thought she saw some of my fairground painting on a Littlewoods TV advert. I looked at their site on the internet just to see ...and there it was...'The Hall of Mirrors'.  I haven't seen it for quite a few years, but it looks as though it is wearing well..
I initially painted it for Andrew Harris, who at the time travelled with Carters Steam Fair .  He asked me to paint it with an Art Nouveau theme.... which I did , painting four ladies representing the four seasons. Hidden on the front is a Trompe l'oeil Robin and a ' Painted lady' butterfly.  At the time my workshop was the upstairs of an old barn near Stanway, Glos. The front came apart to get it up the stairs ,so I didn't see it all together until Andrew came to collect it.I remember being very relieved to see that all the pictures did actually fit together !
To see the advert please click on the following link.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

New Look

Hello, After having a lovely couple of weeks away I decided to revamp my website and blog post...both not quite as easy as I first thought. My blog is almost fine but it doesn't appear to have taken my friends with please make friends again !
My website although redesigned doesn't want to appear at it's either taking a few days to think about it , or I must have to delete previous design to allow the new one!...I might just have to add a Map page onto the old one in the meantime....ho hum....anyway I must now go and load the car up with paint....back to work...always difficult when the sun is shinig and I'm still in holiday mode !
Ps a big thanks to Ann Hyde who helped me with how to alter the look of my blog.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Champagne....Invented by a Lad from Winchcombe !

Looking through Twitter this morning I came across this article relating to Champagne...'Champagnes Bubbles were a happy accidentt, written by Mark Wilson. ..
Sorry to say something different, but following Jean Brays Interview on Radio Winchcombe ...It was Winchcombes own Christopher Merret !  Christopher Merret, a Naturalist and Physician who was born here in February, 1614. In 1642 he gained an M.D. degree from Oriel-Oxford and then moved to London. He wrote several books including
'A collection of acts of Parliament, Charters,Trials at Law, and Judges' Opinians' 1660 and
'A short view of the Frauds and Abuses committed by Apothecaries, in relation to Patients and Physicians '.
Pinax Rerum Naturalium Brittani-earum,continens Vegetabilia, Animalia et Fossilia in hac Insula Reperta' London 1667 , 8 Volumes. This book was the first of its kind relating to British natural history...I thought that all the bollards in Winchcombe....we have lots ! could all be shrink wrapped with old and new pictures of our immediate local history. Christopher Merret employed a well known Herbalist called Thomas Willisel to travel with him throughout Britain for five summers...sounds great..I'd love to spend five summers outside drawing pictures...perhaps I might on day. He also wrote several papers,...experiments on vegetation, the art of refining, tin mines in Cornwall..I still have my share in a tin mine ( available when there was a loophole around Poll Tax ), and bizarrely..some curious observations relative to the fens of Lincolnshire !

In December 1662, He presented The Royal Society of London with a paper called ' Some observations concerning the ordering of wines'. He described creating a second fermentation process in the bottle by adding molasses and sugar, thus making the win 'drink brisk and sparkling'. This was six years before Dom Perignon became the cellar master at the Abbey of Hautvillers. Merret added sugar not for taste but purely to add fizz and increase the alcohol content. In the 1670's wine from Champagne in France was shipped in barrels to England to be bottled with English Glass because it was strong enough to not blow up.
In 1998 in the Consumers digest it writes about English Wine growers trying to put the story right.
Well next year is 2014 , a good excuse to toast his health with a 2008 Sussex Cavendish Cuvee Merret Ridgeway....anyone got a bottle ?
By the way, apparently on the 22 January, 1666, Christopher Merret got drunk with his friend, the Diarist Samuel Pepys !

The latest news is that Jean Bray and myself applied and have got permission for a blue Winchcombe in Gloucestershire is now going to have it's first Blue plaque celebrating the birthplace of Christopher Merret.

Monday, 5 August 2013

New Book

Hello, It's been a while but I've been restoring an old fairground Waltzer.
..well still restoring....and woodgraining an old diesel cab.
The start of you can see Thomas was in the engine shed with me !
The waggon that I am restoring has been rubbed down, filled and undercoated and is now having it's top coats done. Unfortunately my little camera went missing last weekend so no photos until I buy a new one....but I can tell you about a new book.
Its called 'Gypsy wagon painters' and is by John Mc Kale.
As well as history and old painters it has chapters about painters now, including myself. I had sent John a few photos but wasn't sure if any would be used at all. It is a limited edition and costs £40 /from Waterstones. and has lots of inspiring photographs of different styles of waggon painting and over twenty waggon painters.

The lovely Peter Ingram is noticeable by his absence but I mentioned him in my chapter. He doesn't paint waggons anymore but his painting has a great flow about it...not fussy but beautiful flowing scrolls and ribbon work.
John Pockett has a good chapter with lots of photographs, he does beautiful waggon ceilings. Although all the waggon work has a basic tradition it is usually easy to recognise who painted what and new ideas get used and swapped. Well I haven't managed to read the book myself yet, just looked at photos, but when I get the chance I'll add more information about this lovely new book.

Midsummer Madness

Hello, I'm back blogging the bug on my computer has been cleared!

Earlier in the year Jane and myself were chatting about 'interiors' and the trend for pale washed out shabby chic...often very pleasant but we love colour! Sometimes it seems that people are afraid of using colour in their homes, children's bedrooms sing out with mad walls and bedding but it soon disappears into 'magnolia'. Bathrooms may have a little bit of seaside inspiration holding memories of happy holidays in beautiful aqua glass jars, a kitchen might have a touch of yellow and green vintage kitchen utensils and garden sheds might flutter with some Cath Kidson bunting ....but that's where it ends.

Both Jane and myself love colour....and lots of it. Jane mounted an Exhibition called 'Midsummer Madness' at her Winds of Change Gallery in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.. The Exhibition finishes on the 13th August but Jane and myself will continue selling and offering Interior Design advice via future Exhibitions and on the Internet. We do have pale shabby chic pieces but everything has an added touch, such as some painted lines and hand painted decorations.

Jane has a natural instinct for Interiors, being able to use colour in the home but still keep it looking beautiful. I on the other hand, create my own colourful lampshades and furniture but can go overboard on colour, mixing lots of colours and patterns together! So we make a happy team.
Jane has searched out some of our best colourful artists and craftspeople. I can't mention them all in this blog but I will sing the praises of my personal favourite...Mary Rose Young'  Her pottery ,like herself, is a rainbow of smiles and vitality. Even if you only own one of her mugs it will instantly make you smile every time you sit down with a cuppa. The colours give you summer abundance all year round. Featured in Jane's Gallery is a fantastic chandelier...a true one off that will never go out of fashion....The centre is a large teapot with large baubled arms holding teacups....fully wired up it lights up a room both 'on' and 'off ;

The private view was a lovely 'do', everyone wearing bright colours,drinks decorated with fruit and umbrellas and the most colourful and tasty cakes that you have ever seen. Hayley brought over buckets of her Hotch Potch Organic flowers, which was the' icing on the cake'.

Although the Exhibition finishes soon Jane and myself can be contacted at any time if you would like us to brighten up your home, office ,garden summer house, Shepherds hut or party!

Saturday, 29 June 2013


I've recently had a spell of designing posters and maps...all good fun . The first has already been and gone but was advertising The Winchcombe Day of Dance, hosted by our very own local mixed morris team Happenstance.

 The latest are two events happening soon. The first is for Caroline Philips who is kindly opening her garden to the public all in aid of the Winchcombe Day Care Centre....a very good cause....we all might need it one day. Sat. 13th July at Abbey Old House, Winchcombe. 1-4.30 pm.

The second is for St. Kenelm Miracle Play....yes it's come around again. A really enjoyable day out at no cost to yourselves, just bring a picnic and comfortable shoes. Sunday 21st July, at St Kenelms Well, Winchcombe 3.00pm.
For some bizarre reason it won't let me remove this faded picture!.I'm always learning.

Fingers crossed the weather will be great....Hope to see you in Winchcombe soon !

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Wool Bandits wrap up Winchcombe

Notes about town ....
' Sudeley the sheep' later lost due to sheep rustling....Little Bo Peep is still looking....
Spinning Yarns........Spin -Artists at it again....
Outside The Ba-ba Shop
Woolen 'Stocks' holding  Kid Crochet , Wild Ball Two Ply and Mary Double Rib.
Ewe-nique knitted mice
Purls of Wisdom

Waltzer on TV

Update ...September 2017...Just a note to say this beautiful Waltzer isnt finished yet...NOT because I'm slow but because David Littleboy Restorations have had lots of other projects so I havent had any of the Waltzer to paint for almost two years. Fingers crossed I will be back painting it next year.

 The wonderful Lakins Waltzer that Bill Treen and myself are working on has just been on telly. Bill organised it....I tend to shy away from that sort of thing but it was fine. The workshop was freezing...(If you look closely at the film you might just catch sight of my little occasional heater ) .Bill was great ,so calm collected and knowledgeable. Somehow I gained a very posh BBC old fashioned accent! ..After 'The Worlds Fair newspaper commenting on 'my love of classical music '...well myself and friends ' had a jolly good chuckle " !
For my next interview I will be talking about  the Sea Lines (lions) at London Zoo .

Monday, 22 April 2013

Jet...our new Dog

This week is my son's 13th Birthday !....How time flies when you are having fun...He had been wanting a dog for his Birthday, well really ever since our lovely old dog Megan passed away a few years ago.
So after many weeks, and just in time He/We are now the owners of a new Dog....Jet....a lovely Aberdeen/ cross/ Cairn Terrier. We had been keeping an eye out for a Scottie or Schnauzer for ages but hadn't found one until I called into the Blue Cross at Burford....and there he was...

They said he was lovely but not house trained and had already lived with two families....and he was only two.

My son was so pleased , he had been wanting a Scottie so Jet was perfect....a real character.
We have only had him a month but he does a few tricks, is obedient and house trained...his only vice is escaping but we are working on that...time and patience!

I started to read up about his breed and although he is mixed he is known as a Bushland Terrier.
The Cairn is one of Scotland's oldest terriers and was bred to get into 'cairns' after rats and mice, etc. Terry the dog who played Toto in the Wizard of Oz was a Cairn. they were originally called short haired Skye terriers but their name was changed to Cairn when they were first shown in 1909.

He appears to be left pawed which is common for Cairns and after research is thought to relate to being good at picking up scent...he certainly sniffs the air and wants to rush to certain trees to lift his...left leg....funnily enough just like those cast iron door stops that you can buy!
Apparently it can take years before they establish their final coat colour. We have only had Jet for a short time and already is coat colour has changed...he'd be a good dog for a hair dresser! Touch wood we are lucky, he doesn't chase cats only flies, doesn't bark..much, is really friendly with other dogs and is very very  cuddly a bit like a small bear....and obedient in our home and while on a lead.
We already can't imagine our home without him.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Festival of Colours !
I don't know if you are the same as me...I've seen quite a few adverts on Television with people throwing coloured powder over each other....Looks fun but I have to admit I didn't know what it was about.
Thank goodness for the Internet......Its the Holi Festival, an ancient Indian festival celebrating Spring and the last full moon day of the month Phalguna in the lunar calendar (which usually falls between February and March). I wish we celebrated it in Winchcombe....all this cold weather..we could all do with cheering up!...

Holi Festival India 4 The Colorful Festival of Holi, India
There are different legends associated with the festival but it generally celebrates the start of Spring and the colours of new growth.
One first is about the love between Radha and Lord Krishna who was reincarnated from Vishnu. The Hindus smear powdered paint onto their faces because it is said that Lord Krishna was jealous of Radha's darker complexion, so his mother told him to paint colours on his face to change his appearance.
The second is....

The Legend of Prahalad and Holika

This is the main Holi legend. Holika was a female demon, and the sister of Hiranyakashyap, the demon king. Hiranyakashyap considered himself ruler of the Universe, and higher than all the gods.
Prahalad was the king's son. His father hated him because Prahalad was a faithful devotee of the god Vishnu.
One day the king asked him "Who is the greatest, God or I?"
"God is," said the son, "you are only a king."
The king was furious and decided to murder his son.
But the king's attempts at murder didn't work too well. Prahalad survived being thrown over a cliff, being trampled by elephants, bitten by snakes, and attacked by soldiers.
So the king asked his sister, Holika, to kill the boy.
Holika seized Prahalad and sat in the middle of a fire with the boy on her lap.
Holika had been given a magic power by the gods that made her immune to fire, so she thought this was a pretty good plan, and Prahalad would burn to death while she remained cool.
But it's never wise to take gods' gifts for granted! Because Holika was using her gift to do something evil, her power vanished and she was burned to ashes. Prahalad stayed true to his God, Vishnu, and sat praying in the lap of his demon aunt. Vishnu protected him, and Prahalad survived.
Shortly afterwards, Vishnu killed King Hiranyakashyap and Prahad ruled as a wise king in his father's place.
The moral of the story is that good always wins over evil, and those who seek to torment the faithful will be destroyed.
To celebrate the story, large bonfires are burned during Holi. In many parts of India, a dummy of Holika is burned on the fireTaken from
Worth clicking on to get more information
Winchcombe is now celebrating 'Wool in Winchcombe'...That's pretty bright too!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What is Pancake Day and lent ?

After trying to be careful about puddings after Christmas I now find myself stuffing pancakes !...oh well. ....but I also found myself thinking what is lent and why ? here goes.....well it's what I found out....
Lent and Easter has strong associations with the christian calender but it is also linked with the moon phases. The Pagan Ostara, March 21 and  Eostar ,The spring Equinox( March 20th-23rd depending on moon cycle) The hours of the day and night are Equal and Wiccans and Celts celebrate the start of Spring.Fertility of the land is given by the Goddess and the God brings the land growing to maturity. The god and Goddess are thanked and celebrated for the start of happier days to come.
The Romans celebrated Lupercalia, a circus like festival, probably very similar to the present day  Mardi Gras. Lupercus was a Roman God associated with faunus or the satyr. When Christianity arrived in Rome they incorporated this festival into the day before Lent which mirrored the 40 days of abstinence which ended at Easter.

The Easter feast was another Roman festival in honour of the resurrection of
Attis called Hilaria.  History of the Mardi Gras

The month of Lent also has the Lentern Moon, the first full moon of Spring. It is the time of the Aries Equinox, when the sun appears to cross the Celestial Equator. This time has been celebrated all over the world since pre-historic times. Easter happens on the first Sunday following the full moon. This full moon is also known as an Easter or Paschal Moon.

Now Pancake day is strongly linked to the Christian calendar as it signals the last day before the period of Lent. The traditional name of Shrove Tuesday dates back to the Middle Ages when Christians used to confess their sins before the start of Lent, with ‘shrove’ having come from an old word for confession, ‘shrive’.It  always falls on a Tuesday and is exactly 47 days before Easter Day.

Traditionally, Lent is a time of giving things up. So eating pancakes is a way of enjoying some of the rich foods – such as butter and eggs – that Christians have traditionally done without during Lent. In some countries Pancake day is known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras.    History of the Mardi Gras
but what if you are not religious, but still want to use it as an excuse to give something up.
..Perhaps the diet so you will be looking trim in the Summer when you can't hide under big jumpers, or smoking, drinking,etc

 In The Artist's Julia Cameron she writes about giving up reading for a week...and giving up radio and TV...just relying on talking and thinking... “Reading deprivations casts us into our inner silence,” a place where we can “hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist's inspiration.”.....sounds easy enough  but I bet it's not. 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Painting a Gypsy Wagon -Part One

There is a traditional way of painting a waggon with scrolls, lining, fruit, horses, horse shoes and lots of gold leaf...but in the past not all waggons were decorated by artists...they often painted their own. A bit like today when we choose what colour front door we want or what type of curtains or bedspreads....its all a matter of personal choice....and of course what materials and money is to hand.
I remember a lovely friend of mine telling me that her Mothers waggon had large daisies painted on the front....years before the hippy 1960's.
Different painters had different styles, painters such as Jimmy Berry...regarded as The master was painterly, you could see the flow of the brush. He was even known to have used grass dipped in paint to line with. He lived in a waggon and often painted on the side of the road. There are many wonderful waggon painters I could mention but I'll write about them in their own individual blog.
Looking through Google images I came across a couple of great pictures, really displaying the hand painted originality of past waggons. The Museum of English Life.
The first picture is from 1920, it has very simple scrolls in one colour but fitting each panel.

The second is a close up of the canvas on two waggons from a photograph in their collection. It is great to see the canvas decorated too, something that I haven't seen done on any modern waggons.....

I rather like it and I think I will do something similar on my waggon.
Here are a few blogs by artists who stray from the traditional decoration and add their own flair and imagination to the decoration....I have to admit that my own style is very traditional but that doesn't stop me enjoying other artists work.
DebHunt Very bright and patterned horses..and she is out there living in her waggon.
Brad and Dave Builders of waggons in America...also have a clip of our English painter John Pockett painting.
Gypsy trailors usa
Ps...I'm not sure if wagon is written with one or two g's...I prefer one but spell check says two...Do you know ?

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New Year New Blog

...Happy New Year....and well I've been trying to update the look of my page but I've Gremlins ! Its getting slow to won't let me add pictures from my computer....I can't work out how to answer comments on the same page.....oh dear my lack of computer knowledge is finally catching up with me !
After looking at the 'help with uploading images' I know realise that I don't have a clue where the 'pop up blocker' is....and as to plugins, cache and cookies....absolutely no idea!
Well its Saturday morning, in bed with a cup of tea and I should try and learn about it...but hey I'd rather go and check out Pinterest !
Fingers crossed I'll work it all out by February.....note I didn't say which year !
One trick I do know is defragment and clean disc...good for a spring computer clean. Press on left all programmes, look up accessories, click system tools, then click defragment or disc clean up....then let it work while you have another cuppa ! ..that's what I'm going to do.
If I find anything out I'll add it on to this post.
1. Web history....apparently your whole web history is kept, mine went back to 2011 so I've deleted it all, It does say that it helps with searching but it's gone now...not sure if it makes anything quicker but I went to go to settings then delete all...that's if you want to ..decluttering with a couple of button presses..if only everything in life was so simple !
2. Click on bottom left look up Control on uninstall programmes...its amazing how many are idle and not will especially find this if you have children in the house.
3. Uninstall daft toolbars....I had one called webfetti, I thought I had uninstalled it but no...found it still through my control panel....annoyingly when you try to uninstall it it gives you a blooming survey to do. Daftly I fill it in thinking I had to to complete uninstalling, only find it offering a free page to create your own surveys !
Another day and its still not letting me upload pictures from my computer....any ideas ? This is a new thing and I've not had any problems before....Thank you.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Old London street carvings.

My sister bought a fab book from TK Max, looking through it I found three fantastic old places in London that no longer exist, but all had one thing in common, ...beautiful carving.
The first was the Dog and Bowl sign, 196 Blackfriars Road in Shoreditch.It was originally an ironmongers sign (1793), but stayed in place until the building that it was attached to was bombed. It is now in Cumings Museum. Charles Dickens used to walk by the shop when he was a boy and mentioned it in his autobiography...
'My usual way home was over Blackfriars Bridge, and down that turning in the Blackfriars Road which has Rowlands Hill's chapel on one side, and the likeness of a golden dog licking a golden pot over a shop door on the other'.
The second is a wonderful cockerel, very similar to the fairground roundabout  cockerels. 
Archive photo
The gilded cockerel was once above The Cock pub in Fleet Street. This pub, once visited by Thackeray, Dickens, Pepys and Tennyson was demolished in 1887. The cockerel was moved to an alcove above Edward Maunds joinery shop at 336 Old Street, Shoreditch.....I wonder where it is now ?
Tennyson wrote:
The cock was of a larger egg
Than modern poultry drop,
Stept forward on a firmer legg,
And cramm'd a plumper crop.

Image from Watford Observer
View out of yard to a ships timber wagon
 The last but not least is the wonderful yard of Henry Castle & Son,      Ship breakers....I would have loved to see this ! I suppose years ago when I stayed at Brillscote Farm for the Relic Antique auction was the closest I got to a similar atmosphere.. Grierson Gower and Malcolm Gliksten had barns full of old shops and contents, fairground rides, waggon's...signs...even one of  the cockpits of Concorde! Henry Castle had a big business dismantling old wooden ships and had an eye for the beautiful ships figureheads that had great affection from the crews of the old wooden ships.Legend has it that Turner's 'Fighting Temeraire being towed to Castle yard in his famous painting. Henry Castle also recycled the ships timbers into garden furniture that could be designed and produced for the customer on the same day. 
The fighting Temeraire


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