and the seasons they go round and round

bikebarn from bainer (yet again)

I draw this scene every six months, once in winter, once in summer. Each scene looks slightly different, and for more than just the changing seasons. This more than any other Davis scene is my ‘Mont St. Victoire’. (Incidentally I’ve actually climbed Mont St. Victoire, twice) I started drawing it one lunchtime a couple of weeks back, but ran out of time; then it rained solidly for a fortnight. So yesterday we had a day of sunshine, cold cold sunshine, and I got back out to finish it off. You’ll see it again in six months or so.

Anyway, here are the other ones. I can’t help myself:

Summer 2007:

uc davis trees encore
Winter 2008:

no leaves for you

Summer 2008:
smoky and the bikebarn

Winter 2009:
lunchtime sketch by the hog barnrainy rainy day

Summer 2009:
bike barn from bainer

cake that

half-eaten 2nd birthday cake

It was my son’s birthday; I made the cake. Here it is, half-eaten (or is it half-uneaten, whichever is the more positive sounding…) It was very nice cake. I thought this wasn’t going to become a food-blog? I haven’t baked a cake in years, I mean years. I was all for doing a nice Victoria sponge with jam and buttercream in it, but for some reason couldn’t pluck up the courage. Besides, ingredients here always seem to have different names from their British recipe counterparts when I get to the store.

It’s what first frustrated me when I moved here. I remember back then, I forget what I was making, but I couldn’t find double cream anywhere, had no idea what Americans called it. Out went half my recipes. No coriander? Well I’ll use cilantro instead. Biscuits are a type of bready thing you get at KFC, not something you dip in your tea. Even now I’m still not sure if America has any swede in any of its grocery stores (I’ve had mashed-swede-&-carrot-free roasts for over four years now), it may be disguised as something else. The perils of being a Brit abroad. 

But cake, on the other hand, is surely cake! So I used a cake mix, from a box, Betty Crocker, just add eggs, oil and water. Kind of cheating I know. But it was bloody good, I will say, and my son (who had been looking forward to this much-hyped birthday cake for days) was super impressed, and that’s the main thing.

Drawn in the moleskine diary.

mail on friday

my desk on an airmail envelope

Another rainy lunchtime, another envelope sketch, this time of my busy busy desk. I had been outside in the rain to find food, so only had fifteen minutes or so to get a drawing in. These are some big big storms California is getting.

long to rain over us

rainy rainy

The massive rainstorms this week have confined me to the inside world. I feel like a hermit. But you’re from London, they protest, you must be used to the rain. Yeah, it got me just as wet there too. So anyway, I’m still using bits of cut up enelopes to make my drawing look a little different. I had a few minutes over lunch to draw out of rain-soaked window, in poor visibility, in brown micron on an envelope that came from London, funny enough.

i’ve got a lot of songs but they’re all in my head

a corner of musicWhen massive storms are swirling outside, you need to stay in, and draw your home. This corner of the apartment is where we keep the music. Why is it that no matter how many CDs I have I only ever listen to the same few ones? I used to listen to a lot more music than I do now, years ago, or at least it feels like that. Maybe it’s because I don’t spend my weekends jumping about to the crackle of records as I did when I was a teenager, or fall asleep to the repeats of a CD, or commute for an hour plus to the hiss of a tape deck, as I did for too many years in London. I have an mp3 player now, everything on random shuffle. My two-year-old likes music. When we get up together on early weekend mornings we put on some top tunes and rock out with air guitar to our breakfast. He likes ‘Formed a Band’. And ‘Yellow Submarine’. He’s a budding little artist too – that’s one of his finger-paintings on the wall there.

When I was a teenager, it was all about the records, Never Mind The Bollocks, full blast. Not really any feeling quite like it. It’s what teenagers do. If I listen to it now, I swear I can still hear my mum or dad shouting my name up the stairs (not usually to turn it down, funny enough, more often just to come down and make a cup of tea). I guess I have all that to look forward to.

when saturday comes

Last time I drew this bar I mis-spelled the name as Froggies, so I felt I had to draw in there again to rectify my error. It’s actually ‘Froggy’s’.  This was the corner of the bar that you couldn’t see in that drawing too.


People were gathered for the American football, the play-offs so I understand. There was ice-hockey going on as well. This is how they spend their Saturdays, and I can certainly understand. I popped into the Soccer shirt shop down the road to watch some Premier League as well; Chelsea were thrashing Sunderland (my own Spurs manged a 0-0 with Hull). This is what Saturday’s are all about, isn’t it? For us men. For so many years, my Saturday’s were about getting what I needed to do done by about 3pm so I could listen to the footy on the radio and watch the scores come in at 4:45 on the BBC videprinter (is that what it was called?). And then late in the evening, Match of the Day, my favourite show.  These days, I get my football results as I wake up, via live internet updates on the BBC (and their updater is far more sarky than the man who reads the results at final score). So nowadays my Saturday begins with the footy, and I don’t really care about the other sports (nor the MLS, which is frankly rubbish). So, sometimes, I go sketching instead.

cyclepathic tendencies

red bike on campus

If you didn’t know, Davis is a cycling capital. There are bikes everywhere, and I mean everywhere – especially just before and after classes on the UC Davis campus. they come from left and right and behind and probably from above and below too. They’ll cut you up, whizz through stop lights, pay no attention to other cyclists turning, and occasionally mash each other up around the roundabouts (which can be entertaining). Just this morning a guy cycling behind me flew off his bike at speed while turning a puddle-riddled corner. I noticed he had headphones in both ears (oooh, that’s against the law). You see a lot of people texting while cycling too. WTF? There is a bike cop on campus who gives cyclists the odd telling-off for riding in no-cycling zones, and occasionally cops will stop cyclists who actually do follow the rules of the road, and give them a reward for their good behaviour. It’s true, I read it in the paper.

Sometimes, with all these bikes, there is just nowhere to park. The owner of this red bike just chained their road-bike to a lamp-post. That was nice of them. It gave me something to draw at lunchtime.

osh-kosh shoe

#13: osh-kosh shoe

#13 in the ever-expanding series. These are the Osh-Kosh shoes, hand-me-downs from a friend’s older child, which are in fact my son’s first lace-ups (not that he can tie his laces or anything yet, of course, though I wouldn’t put it past him).

Copic 0.1 in a Moleskine cahier.