don’t matter what i do

south silo aug 2017

Long hot summer ain’t passing me by, though I’m trying to pass it by. We went over 40 days of 90 degree weather, many of them being in the 100s. I drew this over the course of three lunchtimes, each one where I ate at one of the food trucks at the newly remodeled Silo area. I drew this from the shade of a tree, and you can see the whole area in front of the Bike Barn has been totally renovated and changed, it looks different from the way it did previously (see this post from 2015 which shows sketches back to 2011). Sketching in the heat is something I should be used to in Davis, but more and more it puts me off. Maybe because I have drawn everything in this town and on this campus (maybe not everything, but it feels like it), maybe I have sketched so much this year already that it feels like a chore sometimes (you go through these lulls), maybe I just don’t want to leave the house (I have discovered the joys of creating stop-motion Lego animations, it’s fun). Maybe I have been spending too much time drawing MS Paint illustrations of this year’s football kits (no, NOT ENOUGH time!). Maybe it’s that whole thing where you go to Italy, and nothing else seems quite as interesting afterwards, and you just yearn for more travel, more places. Maybe, I don’t really know. Maybe you’re the same as me, we’ll see things they’ll never see, you and I are gonna live forev-eeeerrrr…

The kit parade (part 2 of 2)

Thanks for joining us for the second part of our presentation of the 2017-18 Premier League kits. Let’s not beat around the bush.

WEST HAM

West Ham 1718The Hammers had a dull time at their new stadium last year, but managed to come in 11th, which isn’t that bad. The bottom half of the table last year was pretty rubbish overall, it has to be said.West Ham, aka the Armie Hammers, aka the Jeremy Irons,  are still with Umbro who are creating some simple kits, including a black away shirt. The home kit has a two-tone claret design that looks like the chevron shape of one of their kits from around 1978 I think it was? Their sponsor ‘Betway’ sounds like it should be in a list with ‘Between’ and ‘Betwixt’. Where will they come this season? Stay up, probably, but not better than 11th. They will have a third kit, which I believe is white with an ancient style West Ham badge.

LEICESTER CITY

Leicester 1718I remember when Leicester won the league. Seems impossible now in the age of multi-billion pound transfers and Pep Guardiola level coaches, but there was a time when teams like Leicester could do the impossible. Innocent times they were. Yes before you say “hang it was only last year”, just think about how different the world was back then in May 2016. Yeah? Now you see what I mean. Leicester managed to stay up after sacking their title-winning manager Ranieri, stopping their slide from Champions League to Championship, and got a respectable 12th place in the end. I think they will be a lot better this year, not champions but challenging for the European places. As long as they can find the net. The kit is ok, sticking with the gold trim again, and staying all blue (I’d like to see white shorts back, personally). Puma have given them decent clean kits again; Leicester never go in for snazzy nonsense.

STOKE CITY

Stoke 1718Probably time for Stoke to get relegated, I think. I just don’t see them staying up. The home kit is ok I suppose, the away kit has League One written all over it. The third kit is really imaginative. At least they are made by Macron, also the leader of Free France. Stoke are probably still too good to get relegated but I just have a feeling they will be down there. Mark Hughes might get sacked, I dunno.

CRYSTAL PALACE

Crystal Palace 1718It’s be great if at the centre of Selhurst Park they actually had a Dark Crystal floating above a shaft of air and fire. I like that Palace are in the Premier League and I hope they stay, I want as many London clubs up there as possible (well maybe not QPR). But the thing about Palace being in the PRemier League is that it’s a bit like being really excited about connecting with an old friend from the 90s again, hallo mate how you goin’ mate, wow you aint changed mate, good to see you mate, then friending them on Facebook, and then just being bored by all of their boring posts about work, that’s kind of who Crystal Palace are. If they were a Game of Thrones house they would be House Mallister. Their kit is still made by Macron, who make pretty good kits, but the new sponsor is a bit of a mess. “ManBetx”??

SWANSEA CITY

Swansea 1718Gylfi is going to leave Swansea again isn’t he. I love Gylfi Sigurdsson. He looks a bit like a younger Kevin Bacon, but with more Icelandic awesomeness. I though Swansea were going to drop like a dead duck last season (hang on, dead ducks float, right?) and they even had an American manager very briefly, Lord Voldemort’s stunt-double Bob Bradley and he didn’t last very long, but in the end they steadied the ship and stayed afloat. Will they go down this year? Maybe. I hope not, as I want to keep a bit of Welsh in the Premier League. Their away kit is quite Welsh, being in the classic red and green worn by the national team, while the third kit is in the also very patriotically Welsh colours of black and yellow, the colours of the flag of St. David. The home kit is classic Swansea white with black trim, made by Joma, who also make the Sampdoria shirt I own (so I can assure you they are quite good quality).

BURNLEY

Burnley 1718Burnley stayed in the Premier League, I am glad because I quite like them, but I wish their shorts were white this season. They are using a Puma template for the home kit, while the away kit has little horizontal pinstripes running along it that actually consists of the word ‘CLARETS’ over and over again. Which is an anagram of ‘SCARLET’. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. Burnley, like Swansea, also have one of those great Icelandic players we fell for last summer, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, who doesn’t look much like Kevin Bacon. Burnley will probably get a third kit, they all do.

WATFORD

Watford 1718Are we nearly there yet? I should have had a gap here around Watford. I like Watford, they are a kind of nearby club to where I am from (it’s actually about as far as Tottenham is but it’s outside London; the 142 bus goes straight there from Burnt Oak but it takes forever. You don”t care, sorry). There were quite a few Watford fans at my school as a kid (and one of my good friends in England, James, is a big Watford fan), I just remember them all singing about how much they hated Luton, oh they really hate Luton. I can’t say I’m a fan of the airport much. One of the greatest names ever associated with Watford (aside from the famous former owner who worked alongside him to make Watford great in the 80s, Elton John, yes my American friends, that Elton John, big lover of Watford) was Graham Taylor. He died in January and I must say I am very sad, I would have loved to have met him. Sure I fell into the whole ‘calling him a turnip’ category back in the day, when I listened to all the tabloids when he was England manager (only because he subbed off my beloved Gary Lineker) but listening to him talk about the game over the years, he was a proper geezer and right gentleman. However he made Watford play in red shorts (which I like) but Watford fans generally prefer them to play in black shorts. This year they are in adidas, and have an all red away kit, using a template similar to Middlesbrough last year, which looks like a car with some paint on its wheel has driven over it. By the way, did you know Watford is twinned with Whoville? Also with Wensleydale, Ware, Hounslow, Ypres, Wearside and Wichita.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Newcastle 1718 copyThey had to come back up didn’t they! Led by the great Benitez, the Toon Army (not affiliated with Cartoon Network or Nicktoons) (or iToons), the Magpies and their black and white stripes are back in the big time. This time next year they will probably be back down in the little time again (no, I don’t think so this time, but lads, it’s Newcastle, they will find a way). I have a good mate Simon who is a long-suffering Newcastle fan. I would love it if they did a Man City and got a super rich owner, just love it. Their away kits are boring this year, has to be said. Not kidding anyone with that sponsir either, ‘Fun88’ but it’s better than their old ‘Wonga’ one. Prediction – top half of the table, knock knock knocking on Everton’s door. If they were a Westerosi house, definitely the Starks. Or maybe the Karstarks.

BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION

Brighton 1718 copyYes folks you read that right – BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION are in the Premier League! They deserved it too, and their boss is one of my favourite former Spurs players, Chris Hughton. Now I am old enough to remember Brighton, aka The Seagulls,  in the top flight back in the 80s, with that big guy Steve Foster who wore the headband, he was a proper Roy of the Rovers style legend (probably because I remember reading about his life story in Roy when I was a kid, remember they used to do that? I never thought I would see Brighton up in among the big boys again but here they are, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Burnley, Watford, Bournemouth, Stoke, Huddersfield, Swansea, and Man City. Their kit is a simple Nike template with the Brighton stripes. I remember when they had stripey shorts too, a long time ago. I think Brighton will stay up, but only just. I stayed up once in Brighton, New Years Eve, all night, went to like seven parties with this group of people, interesting night but I got lost coming back to the place I was kipping over and ended up walking round and round for ages this place called Seven Dials, a roundabout that had seven streets coming off of it. I knew it was one of those streets, but which one, I had no clue. It was very much daylight and 2001 by the time I finally found it. I remember one of the guys living at this house was a Dr Who fan, or a “Brighton Whovian” as a said, instantly thinking that’s a terrible pun as I said it. Like that has ever stopped me saying terrible puns. So anyway, do watch the Seagulls this season, they will really Brighton your day…

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN

Huddersfield 1718 copyI am so thrilled that Huddersfield are finally in the Premier League. I can’t believe it, it doesn’t sound true. That makes three teams with blue and white stripes in the top flight of English football since I don’t even know when (and one of them isn’t even Sheffield Wednesday). Huddersfield, aka The Terriers, are wearing a really interesting design for their maiden Premier League appearance, the stripes appear to be made of tiny circles. The spots of red really go well with the light blue and white, and they also have one of those sponsors with a lot of Chinese writing beneath it. I have to say I enjoy recreating those in MS Paint, not super acuurately but as best as I can do. The away kit, is, yeah but the third kit is oh my good look at that! My MS Paint skills do it no justice but it is based on an away kit they wore back in the 90s, I think, I do remember it. There were some crazy kits back then, craaaazy kits (I fully approve of 90s crazy kits). Huddersfield were great back in the day, that is almost a century ago, winning three league titles in a row back in the 1920s, yes, Huddersfield have more league title trophies than Spurs. Dammit.

And that is it, these are the new kits of the English Premier League season. I predict Man U will win it, though I’m not confident of that, and the following will go down: Stoke, Huddersfield (sorry Terriers), and Swansea. Though I am famously terrible at predictions. Now, I will be posting more kits soon, some of the different ones from around Europe, but in the meantime sit back and enjoy the footy, the urban sketches are coming back next post…

 

the kit parade (part 1 of 2)

Ok folks, that time of year has come upon us again, the start of the new PREMIER LEAGUE season. Am I excited? Totally! Have I missed football this summer? Totally! Am I nervous about the fact Spurs are playing at Wembley and have made no significant signings? Totally! This year marks 25 years since the Premier League began, having been previously the exact same thing but poorer and with fewer games on TV. It was an exciting time, the summer of 1992, and I remember it vividly. I was, you will be surprised to hear, a little bit obsessed with football kits and that was a great time for kits, baggy and colourful with ridiculous goalkeeper shirts and the transition from skimpy 80s style shorts to long baggy 90s style shorts. I will do a run-down of those 1992-93 kits at some point, redesigned in MS Paint, but in the meantime I am presenting to you my annual, long-awaited review of all of the new kits for each Premier League team, in order of appearance in last year’s table. So let’s waste no more time: kits out, socks up, let’s get shirty. Like a reverse Top of the Pops, we will start off with the Top Ten…

CHELSEA:

chelsea 1718 Let’s be honest. Spurs should have been in this spot. In many other seasons what Tottenham did would have been good enough to win the Premier League…but in 16-17, Chelsea were just even better. In fact in all Premier League history (since 92-93) their points total of 93 was the second-best (second only to Chelsea of 2004-05). It helped that they didn’t have a European campaign to distract them, but they also had a new coach, Antonio Conte, and he is pretty awesome. How will his difficult second season be? I don’t know, but they will probably be in the top three. Blah blah blah. They have ditched Adidas though, and now have a simple new kit made by Nike, who use the same template as pretty much every other team they make kits for this season (which is handy for someone making a lot of Nike kits in MS Paint, by the way). The away kit is just a direct reverse of the first. They will have a third kit for sure, as will most of the Nike teams, but since they aren’t released yet I’m not drawing the template (bit hard).

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR:

spurs 1718 My beloved, beloved Spurs left White Hart Lane in May for the last time, and will play all of 2017-18 at Wembley Stadium while the new Tottenham stadium is built on the site of the old Lane. Rainbows and sing-songs and a record points total and the most goals in the Premier League. Now the Lane is rubble, and Spurs have ditched Under Armour for a Nike template. Very very similar to the one Chelsea got. I really like the away shirt, and I like that Nike have just said, you know what, just wear the same navy shorts home and away (unlike last year’s very slightly different navy home and away shorts). In fact I ordered the away kit from the Spurs shop in the UK, best part of a month later, still not here. We will get a third kit, which is a kind of dark purple/black colour that reminds me of a chewy sweet. How will our season go? Kane, loads of goals again please, Erikson, totally amazing. We lost Walker and will probably lose Rose, full-backs who want a ton more cash. Don’t they know we have a stadium to build? Our team is nevertheless growing up strong, and Pocchettino has proven himself to be a remarkable coach. I don’t think we will win the league this year, unfortunately. Then again, I said that last year. (Oh yeah, I suppose I was right…but we were bloody good!) If we do, and I promise you this right now, if Spurs win the League I will put on ALL of my Tottenham shirts, every single one, and run around the streets of north Davis shouting COME ON YOU SPURS!

MANCHESTER CITY:

man city 1718It’s great having untold pots of cash. You can say, oh you want to earn double what you earn, come here then. But good luck selling players you have on those massive wages when they fall out of favour (looking at Samir Nasri, still on City’s books). Pep had a tepid first season, and has spent big this summer so he can have a Pep-tastic second season. It’s what he is best at, being at a club where you can just spend loads rather than actually be any good. They can buy millions of pounds worth of players and win a few games and everyone will call Pep a genius. They will start like lightning , but I don’t see them doing much.  Halfway through the next season, if City start to slump again, he will get glum and start saying he doesn’t like football any more. I don’t mind City though, I always liked their fans who were loyal when City were utterly terrible (just a reminder, just over ten years ago their manager was Stuart Pearce; I’d like to see Pep try to manage that team) and definitely don’t begrudge them their riches, after all those years in Fergie’s Shadow (TM). I like this season’s kit, another unimaginative Nike template, and white shorts is always better for City, but I am especially fond of the colour of the away kit, they’ve had a few nice ones in similar colours.

LIVERPOOL:

liverpool 1718Liverpool’s kits are made by New Balance and the home kit is a pretty sweet one, a throwback to the 80s, the good ol’ days when Liver-poool were grreat. Like, proper grreat. Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Mark Lawrenson. Modern Liverpool haven’t won a title in the Premier League era (in fact, not a single title since Maggie Thatcher left office). They won’t win it this season either, but they have a fun coach in Herr Klopp. So the second kit is interesting, a throwback to a famous green and white quartered kit from the mid-90s, the MacManaman / Redknapp / Collymore / Fowler era. I loved that kit, one of the best they ever had in my opinion. This one is nice but the green bits are pinstripes. The collar is boring. The third kit is orange. Or amber? Either way it should be in the middle so they can look like traffic lights. Eh eh eh.

ARSENAL:

arsenal 1718If you believe the newspapers, Arsenal have apparently stopped winning things under their manager Arsene Wenger (who has been in charge of the Gunners since the Herbert Chapman era). Oh, except for the FA Cup three out of the past four seasons. What is this devilry, do I defend Arsenal? No, not going to happen (those scars run too deep), but I am glad they have stuck with Arsene, and he has doggedly refused to move on. Since he has been at Arsenal, Mourinho has managed seven different clubs, one of them twice. Arsene has been at Arsenal so long, he was there when they were in Woolwich. When he arrived they were still called Dial Square and in fact the club is named after him. He is becoming the Guy Roux of French football managers. He was the Ronaldo to Fergie’s Messi. So now Arsenal find themselves away from the Champions League for the first time since it became the Champions League with an opportunity to fall out of the Europa League early and ‘do a Chelsea’. I have a feeling they just might do it you know, send ol’Arsey off with a final Premier League trophy before he retires on a high to a nice villa near Monaco and oh who are we kidding hey won’t win it and he will stay there forever… Oh the kits, yeah they are ok, Puma, second kit is nice, not too sure about the third kit though. Home socks are decent.

MANCHESTER UNITED:

man utd 1718Ok I hate saying this and I really hope they don’t, but United will win the league this year. I was hoping they would have a Liverpool sized post-Fergie title drought (or Tottenham-sized, even better) but it’s that Mourinho second season (is he still living out of the hotel?), they have spent biiiig (again, spend loads and they will call you a genius, Jose, if you win; try doing it at another club such as, I dunno, Leicester). Jose has more signings to make (stay away from Spurs! No seriously Daniel Levy hates you) and has offloaded aging stars Zlatan (whose book is no longer above mine in the amazon rankings, hooray!) and that fellow Rooney, who went back to boyhood club Everton (he looks younger already!). No I sense something is in the air, I think this is the year Jose will win his United title, and if you thought Trump’s gloats about his f***ing electoral college win were annoying enough, just wait for Jose Mourinho, the Gloaty One. The United kits this year, the home kit is pretty sweeet, I like the simple button-up collar and the short adidas stripes on the shoulder. The second kit is like a black version of their 1991-92 blue and white away kit, the one covered in what look like maple leaves which they won the Rumbelow’s Cup in (am I remembering that right? Normally I do my homework on this stuff but I can’t be bothered looking up who sponsored England’s third-tier trophy 25 years ago) (I’m all about remembering the Premier League 25 years ago though, huh) (now that is the proper definition of an elitist). Anyway United apparently liked that design so brought it back a quarter of a century later. The third kit is grey and has a picture of old United players on it, a statue from outside Old Trafford. I remember that other grey kit they had in the 90s, the one they had to change at half-time vs Southampton. Stop me if I’m boring you.

EVERTON:

everton 1718Everton got Rooney back, and they have a nice new Umbro kit. It is blue. Some bits are darker blue. I like the shorts. They are white. The socks are also white. Ok enough of this Jack and Jill talk. The greying away kit, a reference no doubt to the age of Everton’s tenure in the top flight, actually features a bizarre maze-like pattern running over the whole shirt which was designed to annoy me while trying to recreate it in pixels in MS Paint, like by line. Everton will probably have a third kit which will be in dark blue and purple with fluorescent yellow trim, but they hadn’t released it when I drew this. Everton are going to finish in 7th place this year. They are like the Wall at the North of Westeros, acting as a huge barrier to the between the Wildlings and the Top Six. Occasionally one Wildling will break through, as Leicester did, but in the end they all bend the knee.

SOUTHAMPTON:

southampton 1718If Southampton were a kingdom in Game of Thrones, they would be the Dornish. For literally no other reason than they are in the South. I tell you what though, I really like their new kits, made by Under Armour. The home kit is reminiscent of a famous Southampton kit from the 1980s (teams like doing that don’t they), which I have distant childhood memories of (I vaguely recall Kevin Keegan, big perms, and the words Rank Xerox). The away kit, and this is genius (Pep-level maybe?), but it’s what you would get if you took a Southampton shirt and inverted the colours. Mind. Blown. Southampton have Ronald Koeman as their manager (what? He’s at Everton now? Who replaced him? Claude Puel?) sorry, I mean, Frenchman Claude Puel is Southampton’s manager (sorry what? they sacked him? Who is in charge now? ‘Mauricio Pellegrino’? Really?) Southampton are now coached by their former coach and current Spurs boss Mauricio Pocchettino (what? oh right sorry, mis-heard) former Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini, who (eh? sorry what is it now? Not him either? Well who is this guy then? Are you sure that’s right?) Ok, Southampton, who have a new manager, will be looking to break past the Evertonian wall and into the top six or seven or whatever.

BOURNEMOUTH:

bournemouth 1718Hang on, sorry this must be wrong. It says here Bournemouth came ninth in the Premier League last season. Is that right, does that sound right? Apparently it is true! Wow, what times we live in. They have signed my dude Jermain Defoe, who I hope will keep scoring goals. Bournemouth is a popular south coast summer holiday destination and definitely isn’t known for being a favourite retirement destination for senior citizens who want to live beside the seaside (to quote myself from last season); Jermain definitely isn’t retiring. He spent a little while on loan at the Cherries a million years ago (scoring a bucket load, as he does). Bournemouth have replaced JD Sports with Umbro this year, and it’s a decent enough design, very plain. I think I preferred last season’s actually. Where will they finish this year? Jermain will keep them up! He couldn’t keep up Sunderland last year but he gave it a good go, bless him. I want the south coast teams to all be in the Premier League. We have Southampton, Bournemouth (I still don’t believe it), now Brighton have been promoted too, let’s get Portsmouth back, then we need to work on Exeter and Plymouth, oh and don’t forget Torquay United.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION:

West Brom 1718Okay last one in this segment, West Bromwich Albion, who came a dramatic tenth last season. I remember when Spurs used to come tenth and I’d be like, well, it’s the top half of the table, that’s something. West Bro have gone from mostly white with stripes to mostly blue with stripes. The back of the West Bra shirt is all blue. This is in my opinion just typical of 2017. The West Bruh away kit is an odd choice and I’m sure they will need a third kit. The new sponsor was fun to draw in MS Paint. My prediction for West Bruv is that they will come in mid-table, like between 9th and 13th, which should filled all Baggies fans with boundless optimism. Hey West Bro have the highest stadium in England at the Hawthorns so if this is still like Game of Thrones they are like the Knights of the Vale. Also the WBA Heavyweight boxing belt is named after them, so there’s a little known alternative factoid.

Ok part one is done, it’s late, and there are plenty more to come. Amazingly the Premier League season kicks off in about eleven hours from now (on a Friday? What, are they busy on Saturday or something?) so if you’re so inclined, do enjoy. I will be moaning about kits and making non-committal predictions and weak Game of Thrones comparisons a little while longer (oh and then I will finally show you my Venice sketches too…)

 

my hart will go on

Hart Hall, UC Davis
Felt it was time for a new sketch of Hart Hall. It’s one of the more sketchable buildings on campus. The weather has been very hot lately, hitting at least 90 every day (and well over 100 for many of them), a little unbearable. These long hot Davis summers don’t seem to be getting any shorter or cooler.

Here are a few of my older sketches of this building. This one is from 2008, also sketched in a long hot summer. I was still getting used to the long hot summers then. 2008, feels a lifetime ago now.
hart hall

This one is from March 2014, with a still fairly leafless tree in the foreground.

hart hall, uc davis

And this one is six years old, May 2011, not officially summer yet but still bloody hot, I’ll bet.
hart hall, ucd

on the tracks and in the sky

Roma to Venezia
And so we left Rome on a fast train from Termini station, speeding through the Italian countryside (and what countryside!) on one of the nicest trains we’ve been on. I once spent a summer travelling Europe on the trains and this was nicer than all of those as well (that was in 1998 mind you, and most of them were overnight trains in central Europe). It took us over 3 hours to reach Venice from Rome, stopping in Florence on the way (but not getting out and looking around, we’ll save that for next time). My son was proudly sporting his brand new AS Roma shirt that he bought with money his Nanny in England had given him (it’s by far his favourite souvenir from Italy!) (when I say Nanny I mean my Mum, not a Nanny like in someone who looks after kids for a living) (international translations here). I wore my Sampdoria shirt so we were the Serie A Boys. The Calcio Kids. On our way out of Italy, flying back to London, we were both wearing our Tottenham Hotspur shirts and the border guards immediately called out to us with big smiles, “Eh, Harry Ka-ne! Totten-ham!” We had to wait while they looked up something, it turns out they were just trying to look up the name of Tottenham’s stadium, but were confused to see that it was now Wembley. They were very excited about Spurs.

Speaking of airports, while I am showing you my in-train sketch of Trenitalia Frecciarosso 1000, here are the other transport sketches from our summer trip. First off, Oakland to Gatwick, which started with a 3.5 hour delay, which was fun. On mt left was a woman who when I first got on board hurriedly picked up a bunch of items from my seat before I sat down, I assumed they were her things. Then when she just sat there holding them I asked, are those mine? (Blankets, headphones) “Yes, I picked them up for you,” she said, “and you are lucky, I don’t usually do nice.” Which was an odd thing to say to a complete stranger. She was British. “Ok, thanks,” I said, taking back the blankets in a bit of a puzzle. I’m not really one for conversations with fellow passengers. I noticed as we sat on the runway she was reading through not only the Daily Mail but also the National Enquirer, which I’d never seen people actually read before, so you see something new every day I suppose. We were in Economy Plus – these BA flights from Oakland to the UK are so much cheaper than we usually pay that we upgraded for a bit more legroom – but still it was a long and hard-to-sleep-on flight. I did at least get my sketch in. I had time…
Oakland to Gatwick

We flew Ryanair to Italy, from Stansted to Rome. As you may remember I call Ryanair “Difficultjet”, and this time the difficult bit was that they don’t let passengers from the US (or non-EU at least; good luck Brits, in a few years) use paperless boarding passes, unlike for example Easyjet, who do. Which means if you are travelling and need to print your boarding pass a day ahead (because you have to check in online nowadays, no other choice) and don’t have access to a printer, as we didn’t, you have to pay loads of money to Ryanair for them to print it out for you, at least fifteen quid a ticket. So that’s annoying. In the end we did find someone with a printer, but most travellers wouldn’t necessarily have that option. Otherwise though I don’t mind Ryanair, they fly to a lot of places and are cheap. It was exciting flying over Belgium, Germany, Austria; my son asked if he could check these off and say he’d been there now, but no, flying over is not the same as being somewhere. If it were, then we’ve been to Greenland loads of times.
Stansted to Roma
Venice to Luton was on Easyjet, which was pretty easy. My son’s hair in this sketch looks red like mine, bu it really isn’t, it’s more light brown/blond. However my paints were very much stuck in the Easyjet colour scheme. Boy we were tired after that trip.
Venezia to Luton

And the final flight of the vacation! This was a trip in which we went through SIX different airports (Oakland, Gatwick, Stansted, Roma Ciampino, Venice Marco Polo, Luton) which of course is my favourite thing, I love airports, SOOOOO much. This was a decent flight home. I had no stranger with a Daily Mail next to me (although my son put the brown BA blanket over his head, making him look like a Jedi). This little Miquelrius sketchbook/random notebook, which I’ve had for five years now, has a lot of in-flight travel sketches in now. Lots of Bon-Voyages.
Gatwick to Oakland

wherever i lay my hydrant, that’s my rome

Hydrant in RomeRome Hydrant sm

Almost there with Rome! Rome wasn’t blogged about in a day, but this will be the last one, much shorter and with less complaining. Above are a couple of fire hydrants! I was pleased to discover some in Rome, add them to my collection. Not many, but here they are. Rome is also well known for its fountains, not just the grand ones in the piazzas, but also the smaller ones dotted around the streets with drinking water for anyone who gets thirsty in those heavy, hot Roman afternoons. So I sketched the one below, the man with the barrel and no nose, in Via Lata. Next to that is a very quick perspective sketch just off of that street.

Rome noseless fountain sm

Now one fountain I did not sketch, you will have noticed, was the world-famous Trevi Fountain. It was very crowded there, and the surrounding streets thick with tourist-tack. Beautiful fountain, but not my favourite spot in Rome. We did nevertheless each throw a coin into the fountain, ensuring, as the legends and all the guidebooks say, that we will return to Rome. And I’m sure that we will, and I can’t wait. Arrivederci Roma!

nice one centurion, like it, like it

roman soldier (playmobil)
And so, a couple more Rome posts before moving on to Venice. There is an endless supply of Rome puns and Life of Brian references to draw from yet. Above is a little Playmobil Roman soldier I picked up near the Forum, goes nicely with all our Playmobil knights and pirates. So one of the things we did in Rome was the Gladiator School, which as I’ve mentioned before, was not worth it. It’s listed in  lot of magazines and guides and tourist videos about Rome as a fun activity with the family, but I must say I wasn’t impressed. It’s quite expensive to take part, and I took part with my son so it was twice the cost. On top of that, it’s outside the center of Rome so you have to take a taxi there. Our taxi driver from the Forum fleeced us with a 30 Euro ride (his meter was not running, tellingly). The taxi back on the other hand was 17 Euro, but we had to wait 45 minutes for it to arrive. Now when we got there the place is pretty small, it’s a space for a group that does Roman re-enactments, and they go full on with the costumes and put on shows and things I guess. There were lots of photos of the Roman guy who runs it with various celebrities who had gone there in the past, Arnold Schwarzenegger and so on. The Gladiator School is for kids really but it was like, well it must be good, famous people come here. I was wearing my Sampdoria shirt and the same guy spoke to me, saying that Sampdoria are just a bunch of drug users and miming someone taking an injection. Hmm, okay, I said. We ended up being in a fairly large group of around twenty or so adults and children, and then we were given a history lesson with a whole bunch of Roman helmets and weaponry, which was interesting enough, except it was in a very hot room on a very hot day and went on for an hour. The guy taught us a lot of history, and some got to wear very heavy helmets, but all of the kids were getting quite anxious to get out and learn swordplay. When we finally did get to move into the practical space, the instructor gave us costumes – red tunics for the adults and white robes for the kids. Massive white robes that didn’t fit kids at all, and tiny red tunics that we adults all barely squeezed into. Hmmm. Some of us laughed about it, but at this stage one family had had enough, I’m not sure exactly why but I heard that the instructor had made some comment to their son, a tall lad, which had upset him, so the instructor spent the next 10-15 minutes off talking to the secretary while we waited around wondering what to do next. Finally the instructor reappeared and introduced a small obstacle course which we had to run around five times, while he went off again, distracted. Then he showed us a wooden structure which gladiators had to learn how to put together quickly which was supposedly used in battle, and so everyone took turns, while everyone else watched, because there is only one. We spent a lot of time watching. In the meantime the instructor would wander off, or just chat to the mothers seated on the benches (“Americans and British today,” he said to one, “No Australians thankfully, the Australian women are very rowdy because they are all descended from violent criminals.” He actually said that. Hmmm. When finally we got to learn swordplay, which was with the wooden practice swords, we all lined up and he told us to copy certain moves, then he would go around to each of us and maybe show us how to do that one move, or in the case of my son, just say one dismissive sentence and move on without showing him anything (his only words were, “Too much Jackie Chan,” whatever that is supposed to mean). It seemed like there were far too many in the group for anything more, though he didn’t seem particularly bothered. The sword practice was about ten minutes at most, and then we got to sit and watch while two kids or two parents at a time were able to fight each other. Kids couldn’t fight parents however, which disappointed my son who wanted to battle me. It was only simple gentle battling, and again the instructor barely took any notice, preferring to go and chat to other people instead, or ask that the mothers get up and fight because he “wanted to see two women fight”. And that was it. He gave us all certificates, and then thanked us as a group for funding their Roman re-enactment society, and then he went into a tirade that they get no funding from the Roman city government, who prefer to fund things “for gay people and foreign migrants”, mincing about as he did so. Eh? Stunned confusion from everyone. “Hi, can we have our money back?” I said, knowing that was not a battle worth our time fighting. As we waited for our cab home, a 45 minute wait, I peeked in to see the group after us, which was smaller, and who had a different, more enthusiastic instructor. They seemed to be having a great time. We and the rest of our group however all felt a bit underwhelmed. However. We got back and had a gelato, and still loved Rome, and in the end, you get to see this picture of me squeezed into a very, very tight tunic, fighting a duel. I guess it was worth it for that…

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