Right royal days

Right royal days

There are times when my life ticks over nicely with a comfortable balance of busy and relaxed. Then there are times when my diary is filled with plans, hopefully the sort I love. That’s exactly how it’s been for the last week or so. It’s time to catch up then, with a few things I’d like to remember.


A few of our favourite things happen in October, including the Cheltenham Literature Festival which usually sees us getting together with friends and filling one or two days with lively presentations in the town. This year was different though - for a variety of reasons we went to just a couple of events, one of which was our favourite Levison Wood, talking about his adventures. I noted on my FB page the somewhat younger than average audience in the Town Hall that afternoon.


I had what some would call a gig on Saturday afternoon, with friends in Oxfordshire on the theme of “Showcasing your WI”. I was sharing a few visual promotion ideas, hoping to inspire and enable the audience to put together a tabletop or shop window display. I frequently drive along the A420 and since Mollies Motel and Diner opened a year or so ago, I’ve wanted to give it a try. In the event, it was looking way too busy on Saturday but as I passed by that same spot on Monday on my way to a meeting, I got my chance.


I ordered from the drive through because it was raining and I was too lazy to get out of the car! Though it was on the pricey side, the food was actually very good and the milkshake pretty standard for somewhere of this kind. I was happy with my choice and enjoyed my lunch. However, I’m not sure I’d have ordered the chicken sandwich using the name on the sticker!


I had a few ideas up my sleeve for Tuesday, but nothing set in stone and so the day took shape gradually. I was meeting my artist friend Sue at Cheltenham station and as I stood waiting for her train, I noted the advertising across the platform. Hits the spot in so many respects, doesn’t it?


Sue and I have known one another for years from an online textile art group though she lives in Melbourne, Australia. I suggested that perhaps she’d enjoy a visit to Sudeley Castle and an hour or two later, we found ourselves with a group of visitors standing in the shadow of the original tudor structure listening to a great storyteller.


Had you told me I’d have had a brief encounter with Catherine Parr that morning, I’d have been surprised! But such unexpected delights are the bonus of days like this and it was a real treat to spend the day with a like minded friend. A pity we can’t do it more often.


Strangely, I might have been in the company of royalty again on Wednesday, when I was working in Gloucester Cathedral, helping with the exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the WI in Gloucestershire. Though the tomb of Edward II is there, my Hero tells me that whether or not it’s really him in there is doubtful. Shame!


My Avening WI friends put together a great display, highlighting our recent triumph at the county quiz final last week, too.


A break for coffee in the Parliament Room also reminded me of the wonderful treasure in there too. It’s a few years since we used to have county council work meetings in there and I’d forgotten those magnificent wall paintings. I’ve looked for a link to this room, which I understood to be historically significant but this is the best I could get. It seems like I was following in the footsteps of royalty, rather than being in their company.


The closest I got yesterday was on a bus along the outskirts of the Buckingham Palace grounds, on my way to the final judging session for this year’s UK Bus Awards. Our decisions taken and the winners found, I made my way back via the Royal Academy where I hoped to find time to see the Anthony Gormley exhibition.


I was not disappointed! I have always enjoyed his work but have never before seen so many pieces in the same place. Just as I was questioning my urge to get out my camera and take photos (rather than simply standing and staring) I realised that these “building bricks” were actually human forms too…and from then on, I looked that bit more closely and paid a bit more attention.


Those who know me won’t be surprised to find that I could have spent all day just looking at the sketchbooks. Sorry about the reflections - this case more than the others resonated with me, since it was filled with the same small notebooks I use myself.


But there were more.


And some which depicted the origins of some very familiar work. I loved every one of them and above all, appreciated how the artist always went for the same format sketchbook as well. Find something that works and stick to it!


Rather than share every single aspect of the show, I’ll simply say that the whole exhibition was breathtaking in its originality of concept. Most surprising was this room, entitled Host. It’s a room filled with clay and seawater. Have I ever seen anything like it in a nineteenth century gallery? Not in the slightest, and yet in a strange way, it reminded me of Gormley’s earlier work Field in terms of scale and intent. Wow.

Had I missed anything? I had better check before leaving.


Actually, yes I had.

When I arrived at the RA earlier, the courtyard had been full of people; groups of students and others collecting in this wide open space. Even if I’d known that Iron Baby was here, I doubt that I would have spotted it. I didn’t miss it on the way out, though!


What a week.

Today, I am collecting my thoughts and doing all the things I didn’t have time to do when I was out having fun. Tomorrow, it starts again and will continue for a few more days yet. Keep up at the back, won’t you?

Here we are

Here we are

For the record

For the record