so long sofa

the old Couch
This is our old sofa. Or couch, settee, whatever, They don’t say settee as much over here as in we said growing up in England, but sofa and couch are pretty interchangeable in everyday speech. That isn’t by the way an invitation to school me on correct terminology for furniture, this is just What People Say. When we moved to Davis in 2005, what feels like a million years ago now, we needed something to sit on in our apartment living room, as you do, so we found this little couch (someone called it a ‘loveseat’ but come on, that’s just another euphemism for the bottom, I’m not falling for that one) at Cost Plus World Market (“Cost Plus”, why would you call your shop that? It’s like calling your shop “Value Free” or “Save Less”). It wasn’t expensive but it was very comfy. This very comfy couch stayed very comfy for almost eleven years, but we have outgrown it (especially with our ever-growing son), plus it had started to smell, and we wanted something that would make our living room feel more comfy. We went to Ikea one Saturday afternoon, bought a big L-shaped sectional sofa, which came next day and they took this one away. Au revoir couch. “We’ve come sofa.” So on its last night in Davis I sketched it, giving it all the old #couchexit and #sofexit nonsense, pointing out that I’m glad when we voted to get rid of the old couch we at least had a plan in place for its replacement, that we wouldn’t be sitting around on the floor for weeks while we decided what couch to get, etc and so on. Our new couch, an Ektorp if you must know, is very nice and I love it. I don’t miss the old couch one little bit.

We kept the cushions though. They are lovely aren’t they.

christmas every day

christmas living room dec2015 sm
Happy New Year! I’ve been away these past couple of weeks or so, not blogging over the Christmas period, instead gorging on Quality Street and mince pies. I was in London for Christmas, flying back on New Year’s Eve, and am still getting through the jetlag even now. Our decorations are staying up for a couple more days yet, and there is still festive seasonal beer in the fridge. 2016 is going to be busy, very busy. To bring you right back into the spirit of Christmas however here are the first three sketches from the new Watercolour Moleskine (#14), all of a certain festive theme. Above, our living room here in Davis. We dragged out the fake tree this year, sketched a few times before (years ago). On the TV, Stewart Lee on DVD. On the shelves to the right you can make out my son’s advent calendar, made by me – I make him one every year. This year was pirate-ship themed. I tried to sketch this same scene last Christmas, on Christmas Eve, but not long into sketching it our electric went out, not to return for almost a week, which was an adventure. This year at least I finished my sketch!

lois's living room xmas 2015 sm

Second up, this is my mother-in-law’s living room in Santa Rosa. Click on the image for a closer view. We had an early Christmas with our U.S. family before our trip to London, and I sketched this while my two-year-old nephew was napping and the house was still relatively quiet, before all the presents were unwrapped. Everybody’s stockings were nicely placed above the fireplace, and dogs were asleep on their blankets. They are in this image, but you can barely see them, and they don’t look as much like dogs as they might (I don’t really draw dogs too well). This was a nice day, but we had to go home in the evening to pack for London…

xmas mum's living room sm

Finally, across the ocean to England! This is my Mum’s living room in Burnt Oak, north London, (again click on the image for a closer view) which I started sketching on the first jetlagged morning there, up early with my son, but finished off over a couple more night-time sessions on the trip. This is the living room that I had all of my childhood Christmases in, beside that very fireplace. The Christmas parties my family had in this room, many years of memories. This year as in many others we had all the family over for Christmas dinner, with two long tables going the length of the room.  On the TV there, we were watching Return of the Jedi, because this was December the 18th and we had tickets for the morning show of a film called The Force Awakens (which you might have heard about). We had a lovely Christmas in London, and the weather was warmer than in Davis. I hope you had a lovely merry time too.

Happy new 2016!

green is the colour

watching ireland v poland
Did you see it? Did you see Ireland beating Germany? I missed it! But it did happen. I’m talking about the football now. I’ve been proudly parading my various Ireland shirts from the past twenty-one years, but it’s not just the Republic. Northern Ireland may not have beaten the world champions, but they did win their group and will be going to Euro 2016 in France! I’ve not seen them play in a tournament since Mexico 86, the first World Cup that really did mean the world to me (not for Northern Ireland, but for Panini stickers, Gary Lineker and Diego Maradona. I can still hum the “Aztec Gold” TV theme tune used by ITV, at least I think it was ITV). I was ten. I don’t have a Northern Ireland shirt, despite my family connections (my grandad was from Belfast, my other grandparents all came from the Republic) but I might get one now. Wales also made it to the Euros, and I’m super happy about that, though I’ve never been to Wales and have no Welsh family, I do like Gareth Bale, and their manager. England made it too by winning all their games, whatever. But the Republic of Ireland, despite beating Germany and going a point behind them in the qualifying table, were not quite there yet. They had to go to Poland, and either win or get (specifically) a 2-2 draw. Not easy against Poland and their striker Lewandowski, who has scored about four hundred goals in the past couple of weeks alone. (American readers: I am joking, it was more like two hundred). It was on TV. It was Sunday. I wasn’t going anywhere. While my son played on the floor, I watched the game and sketched, naturally in green. Remember, we needed a 2-2 draw. Unfortunately, Ireland lost 2-1. So near, and yet so far. And so Ireland go into the play-offs to see who will get the final few spots at Euro 2016. There is still hope yet! However, poor old Scotland didn’t make it this time, so the almost-there prospect of a tournament with England, both Irelands, Wales and Scotland all in it was just a distant dream (what, there already is one? Oh right, in Rugby…)

moving, keep on moving

our new house
One of the other reasons I’ve been so busy lately is because we just moved house. Still in Davis, not even far from our old place but moving al the same. I love every single aspect of moving. The boxing up of every single thing no matter how miscellaneous, carrying heavy boxes of books, moving furniture, going through all of your things and saying, do I need this, do I need that, and then saying yes I do, remember the last time we moved? All the cleaning, taking down the curtains, filling in the holes where the pictures hung, figuring out if the furniture you have will fit in the shape of new place, all of the stress thinking about it which makes you really ill for a week before the move, I love it, it’s my favourite thing ever, even better than airports. Not really. Two weeks after the move we’re still unpacking, fitting into the new space, getting used to the quirks, but it’s a nicer place and I like it. Before we left our old place I decided to sketch it. So now we live in our fourth place in Davis since 2005. A new chapter!
our old house

the armchair view

watching spurs beat swansea

This was sketched last week, while watching Spurs beating Swansea City. I am SO GLAD the football is back. Now, we lost today against the south London nomads Arsenal (grrrrr), fair result, at least we didn’t lose 5-2 like the past couple of seasons. Spurs then formally announced the sale of Gareth Bale for a hundred million Euro, a ridiculous world record (someone hasn’t told Real Madrid Spain are in recession). Good luck Gareth, six years at the Lane and a Spurs legend. This is our living room sketched on a Sunday morning in the Seawhite sketchbook, with a dark blue uni-ball signo um-151 pen. We then watched the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Boys club morning.

go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on

when i blew up the kettle
This is a true story about when I blew up the kettle (accidentally) when I was nine. Probably long forgotten by everyone else, but something I remember every time I plug the kettle in. I drew this, my kettle and tea-making equipment, here in my kitchen in Davis, and it is part of the Pence Gallery’s ‘Teapot’ show, being displayed until the end of December upstairs at the Pence (D st, Davis: visit for details). I do love a good cuppa tea. I don’t use a teapot (no point unless there’s a few of you) and I don’t do none of your fancy nonsense, just a working class cup of tea, thank you, lovely. Fortunately I can get my normal teabags here in America, so I can have my typical four or five cups a day. I would not have lasted long here otherwise. I remember being nonplussed when my American mother-in-law first came to England and remarked at how cute our little ‘tea station’ was (it was the kettle and jar of teabags), now I live here I know it’s not actually typical to have an electric kettle in every single household- in Britain and Ireland it’s so essential, we get a kettle before we get a bed or a roof or anything. A cuppa tea back home is a language we all understand. I won’t drink anyone else’s tea here in California either, not even in cafes, I only drink my own tea, made at home, perfect and unbeatable in every way. And when I discovered you can get chocolate Hobnobs here in Davis, well my cuppa tea experience moved a little closer to perfection. Now I’m just waiting for my son to get old enough, and that’ll be his job, just as it was mine. Hopefully, of course, he won’t blow up the kettle.

‘ark now ‘ear…

watching spurs lose to arsenal sm

Still more to scan and post from Portland, still more NaNoDrawMo pieces to post…but here is a sketch from this morning while watching the football. IT was the North London Derby, Spurs v Arsenal, a game we (Spurs) had to win, a game we lost last year 5-2. Never again. Er, except today, when we lost 5-2. Not a great way to start the weekend!

Drawn in Uniball Signo um-151 (brown) in Moleskine #11. Outside, a big storm rolls over Davis, inside I have a cold.