the lamb and flag and the brown bear

Lamb and Flag London 2022

Here are a couple more drawings I did last summer, not on location but from photos I took while in London. I always want to draw as many old London pubs as I can, so I drew these two on big pieces of paper, and in fact the top one sold at the Pence Gallery’s Art Auction in September. It’s the Lamb and Flag, a popular old pub near Covent Garden off Garrick Street. I’ve been there a few times myself, though more often I pass it by when slipping through that alleyway on the right (Lazenby Court) to get up to Long Acre (via Floral St and another alley) when I’m on my way to Stanford’s map shop (which has now moved around the corner). There’s been a pub on this site since at least the 1770s, and it took the name Lamb and Flag in 1833, although the brickwork is from the 1950s, replacing an older building from 1638. This is what their website says, although the sign outside says ‘Circa 1628’ so who knows. Actually to confuse things further the sign actually says ‘Circa 1623’ but my eyesight is circa 1976 and therefore prone to get things wrong from time to time. The 3 looks like an 8. See also, whatever the hell is going on with those window panes. Whichever date is correct, doesn’t really matter, it’s a nice pub to stop into for a quick pint while out walking about London. The one below, the Brown Bear in the East End of the City, on Leman Street. It is one I’ve never actually been to, but I passed by it while walking from Aldwych to St. Katharine’s Dock back in the summertime, and I thought, I’d like to draw this, but I’m on my way somewhere else right now, and it looks like it might rain. So I filed it under ‘draw larger when I get home’. I definitely prefer drawing on site though, for some reason my eyesight works better outside in normal (preferably overcast) light than it does sat at my desk with the artificial desk-lamp light. This east-end drinker dates back to Victorian times and even from across the street it kind of looks like what my dad would call a ‘villain’s pub’. It’s probably nothing of the sort, but it does have a bit of local villainy in its history, allegedly being where George Cornell had a punch-up with Ronnie Kray. This is also Jack the Ripper land, and those murders were investigated by the cops at the nearby police station on Leman St. There was another pub a little further down the street I would like to draw sometime, the Sir Sydney Smith. London has been losing so many of its great historic pubs in recent years, especially lately, for one reason or other, mostly because property is so expensive in London that many old places can’t afford to stay in existence, and with beer being so expensive these days and the cost of living being so high, people can’t afford the pubs like they used to. I always try to make sure I spend some good time in old pubs whenever I’m back home; use them or lose them. Many are historically so important to the local area. I heard recently that The Tipperary on Fleet Street was closed for good; that was the first place in London to sell Guinness (first place outside Ireland I think) and the pub dates from 1700. History rapidly vanishing, being replaced with vapid gourmet burger joints and chain coffee shops and expensive apartments.

Brown Bear London 2022

Thames Time

London panorama (pool of London)

Now this is an atmospheric river. Back in July, the day before we left for France, the family and I took a walk down the Thames. A few days before we had been dealing with unbelievable record temperatures in London, making it nigh on impossible to do much other than hide inside listening to the news of how this was the Hottest Day Of All Time. My wife flew into London on that Hottest Day Ever (having stayed behind in California a few more days to look after our sick cat), transport was down all over the place as the English train tracks could not handle the heat. They famously can’t handle any slight change in weather, for those of us who remember leaves on the line, etc. Now the average temperature back in Davis is much higher at this time of year as a matter of course, but it feels a lot worse in London where the humidity is much higher, nobody has air conditioning, and well we just love a moan about the weather. A few days later, it had cooled off considerably, and was now a nice, humid, overcast London summers day. There was even a touch of rain to freshen us up. Still slightly sensitive from the previous night out in Camden, I braved the nice weather and took the tube down to the river, and we walked down past Tower Bridge towards Bermondsey along Shad Thames. I’d never actually walked very far down that way before, it was pretty interesting. A week before my son and I had taken a boat trip down the river all the way to Greenwich and listened to the stories of the riverman, that was a fun little history trip. Although our guide insisted telling us that the word ‘wharf’ is an acronym for ‘warehouse at river front’, which sounds nice but isn’t true. It comes from the Old English hwearf, which stands for ‘house where even alligators read French’. Shad London is an interesting street flanked by old warehouses at the river front and criss-crossed several storeys above by old metal walkways from the Victorian era, definitely a street I would go back and sketch another time. Instead, we turned back towards Tower Bridge and walked down the South Bank. I did stop to draw the panorama above, the view from the Tower of London on the right westwards toward the City with its expanding bouquet of steel and glass towers, all different shapes and funny names. This is where London has changed the most for me since I left, seventeen years ago. Seventeen years! Back in those days the small group of towers in the Square Mile were dominated by the Nat West Tower (I mean, ‘Tower 42’) and the Gherkin (I mean the Swiss Re) (sorry no it’s called 30 St Mary Axe) (look it’s the bloody Erotic Gherkin, that’s what we called it when it was being built in the 2000s). Neither of those can even be made out in the cluster above now. I don’t even know all the names of the funny looking skyscrapers now. There’s the Cheesegrater and the Walkie-Talkie, the Heron, maybe the Dark Crystal, the Skeksis Finger, the Great Conjunction and the Gelfling’s Flute. Those cranes tell me that they are not done building just yet. I drew them again from a different angle when we had sat down to eat. The shapes are fascinating to draw.

London skyscrapers 072222

You’ll notice that there is a red Urban Sketchers stamp on that last sketch. While we were walking down the Thames, we started seeing other sketchers dotted around the riverbank. Then I remembered that Urban Sketchers London were having a three-day celebration to mark ten years of USk London, and that there would be some sketching going on down the Thames. Due to our trip to France I wasn’t able to take part in this so I never signed up for the workshops and talks, and had forgotten that there would be loads of fellow sketchers around. Just as my wife said “maybe you’ll bump into someone you know!” I spotted someone I definitely knew – Gabi Campanario! Urban Sketchers founder and my sketching friend since about 2007/8. I think he was as surprised to see me as I was him. My wife had never met him though she knew who he was from all those years back. I first met Gabi in person back at the first symposium in Portland, and several others since, and his daughter was there in London with him. On top of this nice surprise, I bumped into another of the original London urban sketchers, James Hobbs, who I’ve known since USk London started in 2012. I have a nice photo of the three of us from Amsterdam in 2019, and now a nice one of us in London 2022. As one of the leaders of USk London James was very busy and showed me the new book that came out to mark the tenth anniversary of USk London, “London By Urban Sketchers” (an excellent book by the way and I recommend you get it, if you love London, follow that link to buy it). I have two drawings in there, plus a shout-out in the intro to that first sketchcrawl in 2012 that kicked off USk London, called it “Let’s Draw London“. Urban Sketchers London is a really strong chapter of USk and have some great sketchcrawls all over the city each month. So, excited by all the sketch chat and activity all around, I had to do some more drawing. My wife and son took a rest on a bench while I went and drew the view of the city which includes St. Paul’s, as well as a mudlarker down on the sands. I bumped into another old sketching friend Joe Bean, who I’ve met at a few of the symposia since Manchester, as well as some in London, and who has been doing some great sketching up in Leeds. The sky was grey and that’s the way I liked it.

Thames shore

I always want to be down by the Thames. Even looking at these sketches I just want to jump on a plane and get back there, explore and draw, see it as it keeps on changing. Some day I’ll put together a post of all my Thames-side sketches. Actually a lot of them are here: https://petescully.com/tag/thames/

 

take me down to the river

Here’s one for you. An old one, from around fifteen years before the one above, from almost the same spot. 2007…

at the black heart

Black Heart, Camden Town

One evening in London, after a busy day helping my brother move my dad into a new place, I met up with a couple of my old London mates down in our old haunt of Camden Town. We met at the excellent rock pub The Black Heart; I got there a little early so I could attempt a sketch, though I didn’t get very far, but I enjoyed adding the paint in like that. I do miss these types of pubs, good music and good vibes, and great company. We went for dinner at the Italian place on Parkway, and on to spend the rest of the night at the Dublin Castle, where else. That place has not changed since I first started going there in the 90s. Camden has changed, quite a lot, but in some ways not at all. The streets are still in the same place, which helps, even if some of the places aren’t. Beer costs more nowadays though (didn’t let that stop us though).

I did draw a quick and shaky sketch on the tube down to Camden from Burnt Oak, the Northern Line (I didn’t sketch on the way home, I was too busy eating my greasy bag of chips I always get from the chip shop next to Camden tube, on the last train back). I do miss London…

Northern Line 072122 sm

the other side of Denmark Street

Denmark Street London 072022 sm

Back to London last July. After a day’s touristing with the family – we went to the Churchill War Rooms, then wandered about central London until my feet hurt – I stopped off at one of my favourite old streets, the centre of guitar shops and music people, Denmark Street. Just off Charing Cross Road, round the back of the recently redeveloped Tottenham Court Road station, this was the center of the British music industry for a long time. Tin Pan Alley. As London has been pricing anything good out of existence for a long while now, but of it have been falling away and I was worried to finally come back and find it all gone down the pan. There’s a few old places no longer there, but I was pleased to still find a lot of places to mooch about looking at instruments, the character still exists. So I drew the street looking southwards, across from Wunjo and Regent sounds, and stood drawing until my feet hurt. This was intended as a sister piece to a panorama I drew of Denmark Street back in 2014 (see below) looking northwards, before major redevelopment started in the area. The 12 Bar club was still there, and Macari’s; I was saddened to see Macari’s on Charing Cross Road had closed recently, that’s where I got my beloved acoustic guitar that I still have. After drawing that picture years ago I learned about “Save Tin Pan Alley” – http://savetpa.tk/– which is devoted to preserving this historic and culturally significant London lane. As a guitar-obsessed teen I was often too shy to go into these stores, fearing that I would suddenly be found out and laughed at. They soon became my favourite places, though I still won’t get down an electric guitar and plug it in unless I know nobody is there to listen. They have different guitars than you see in a lot of guitar shops in the States as well. This past year I have finally rekindled my love of the guitar, having abandoned it for well over a decade, and got myself a new guitar, the Lake Placid Blue Squier Telecaster, as well as a Fender electro-acoustic for my son who is learning. Just last month I finally got myself a bass, for the first time in my life, and I of course got the Hofner violin. I should have been playing bass all these years, I love it, and the Hofner is nice and light, especially with the Flatwound strings. I need to fix the fret buzz though. Apparently I should adjust the truss rod, but I’m a bit nervous about that. I also need to fix up my old electric guitar in London and bring it back out here, the one my brother got me when I was 14, the Westone Concord II. I re-strung it and cleaned it up, but the third fret is pretty worn down where the B string hits it, making it hard to play an open D. Teenage Pete played that chord so much it filed away the fret. Maybe on my next visit I’ll take it down to Denmark Street and see if someone there can fix it. I’m still pretty basic with my guitar playing, and I don’t mind that, but it is nice to be back messing about with guitars again.

Denmark St panorama

more of the convent

Orange Hill pano July2022 sm

Still in Burnt Oak, this is up Orange Hill Road, around the corner from my mum’s house. It’s part of the old St. Roses’s Convent (I drew the main building of that a few years ago, see “the-convent-at-the-top-of-orange-hill/“), which was next to the long-since-moved St. James’s Catholic School, and also next to the Watling Community Center, which is where my mum and dad had their wedding party back in 1991. I used to walk past here most days as a kid. Well, some days. If I was walking to Edgware I would usually cut down Boston and up Littlefields to get into that side of Deansbrook. I used to walk past this way if I was heading up Deans Lane to the newsagents Eric and Mavis up by the Green Man, because they had a better selection of magazines and comics there, or to the Golden Fry chip shop. It was Golden Fry wasn’t it? No wait, Golden Fry was halfway up the Watling. I have forgotten the name of the chip shop; it’s called King Neptune now I think, but it used to be something else when I was a kid, I’m sure of it. There used to be a small police station across the street from that chippy, the Cop Shop. Anyway all that is on a different road. I would also pass this when I would go on my run, which would be all uphill, up Orange Hill, Deans Lane, past the Green Man (the junction with Hale Lane where there used to be a pub of that name, long since turned into a Harvester), up Selvage Lane to Apex Corner, where I would stop for a rest, before running back downhill again. That’s what I did in the early mornings while I was back in London (until my foot started hurting), and I thought to myself right, I should draw the rest of the convent. So I went out there in the morning and drew about half of this, adding in the rest of the details when I was sat down (resting that dodgy foot). It’s worth colouring in, but I couldn’t be bothered this time. Maybe I should make a Burnt Oak Colouring-In Book. There’s an idea.

If you want to see the previous one I drew, on another early morning walk, here it is. It’s funny, my memories of this particular building are usually after dark, this looming many-chimneyed building against a rainy purple-grey sky, an occasional light from a window, but here it is on a nice bright summer morning. 

Orange Hill Convent

an early start

norwich walk 071722sm

Back again. The view from my old bedroom in Norwich Walk, in our little Burnt Oak corner of London, drawn after waking up very early on a hot July day. On these days when I’m jetlagged and the middle-of-summer sun comes up way way earlier in London than in California (where the sun has a nice lie-in but definitely works a lot harder during the day), I like to try and start the day with a sketch, especially if I’m probably not going to be sketching as much due to doing family things. I miss seeing my London family, it’s always nice to be back, even at times when things are a bit stressful, it makes me feel nice to be Home, you know. I was lucky as a kid that we never moved house during my childhood, because it means I have definite sense of where ‘Home’ is in my mind. There are times even here in Davis in my forties that I wake up and I’m not immediately sure if I’m in my old bedroom or in California, with the window behind me, the shelf to my left, cars starting outside, a cat pawing at the door. Burnt Oak is quite different to Davis though. This is looking westwards, towards Orange Hill Road. Lot of stories up this street. I remember that house on the corner which has the little green food truck parked on the drive now, that was Mrs. Philpin’s house for a very long time (she passed away many years back), my mum was friends with her daughter since they were little girls, I went to school with her grandkids. I don’t know many other people in the street now, so many have moved on, passed away, although my old neighbour Matthew still lives across the road and I always stop and have a chat in the street when I’m back, usually about Spurs. This was an awkward looking sketch; the way the bed and side table gets in the way makes it harder to lean out the window than it used to be, although my mum now has much nicer windows installed. The morning sunlight kept changing the colours of everything subtly, but it’s pretty much how it felt; this was soon going to be the hottest summer of all time in London, and this day was going in that direction. My son had been up since about 3 or 4 as well, so we got a very early start and after breakfast with my mum we headed into central London for some sightseeing, taking our jetlagged selves onto a two-hour boat trip down the Thames, before getting the tube back up to Burnt Oak. We were still shattered from the two-day journey from California, but happy to be in London again. 

We each managed one sketch while down in central London, a quick drawing of Horseguards (below). 

whitehall 071522 sm

afternoon at the arms

London Southampton Arms 2022 sm

The last sketches from my first trip back to Europe this summer. I’d be back in a month and a bit, with the family, for more London and France. On the Friday, following a Thursday of staying in Burnt Oak and then working remotely in the evening (I say evening, I didn’t actually stop until almost 4am…that’s late even on California time, but there was a deadline), I went to Hampstead and met up with my friend Roshan. We walked about the village and over the Heath, it was a nice day and the views across London were amazing. I really miss London, and this is what I miss. We stopped off at a couple of places to have a cold drink and a sit down, these forty-something-year-old legs need resting more often, and ended up at a pub we’d never been to before, the Southampton Arms, down Parliament Hill / Tufnell Park. It’s a small place, with great music and a good choice of beers. This is the sort of place to spend a warm afternoon. I had to draw it, to catch a bit of the light and the mood. I used to live not too far from this part of London, up in the Highgate area, before moving to America. I often daydream of whether we would still live around there had we stayed in London; it’s so expensive to live there, and we could never earn enough with the sort of jobs we were doing, but you never know. I’ll always be a Londoner, but we will probably never live there again; I guess I’m Californian now. Still it’s nice to visit and see friends and family, while we can. I went back home for dinner with my mum, and that evening also met up with another friend James down in the Angel for an overdue catch-up (and lots of Beatles chat).

I flew back on the 12th, on the day when the COVID testing requirement to re-enter the States was officially dropped (I still had to do a proctored video test the day before, but by the time I had to enter my results into the system there was no need). We had a small family gathering the evening before at my mum’s, which ended in a lot of singing and dancing in the back yard, many Irish songs. I found it hard to sleep through the night though, as there was a big punch-up in the street between some of my mum’s Romanian neighbours, and I mean it was a proper fist fight between three blokes, you could hear the ‘thwack!’ and ‘pow!’ noises as the blows landed, even over the loud exclamations of a woman right below my window. It went on for quite some time, I wanted to tell them to take it down the park please, but given how loud we were playing the Wolfe Tones just a few hours before I couldn’t really tell them to pipe down. So I just kept my window closed and thought well, at least this will be a story. Usually I’m kept awake in Burnt Oak by the sound of foxes fighting in the bins and bushes, those things are loud. I made my plane in good time though, and I had an odd seat, in that there was no seat in front of me, giving me loads of lovely legroom. Also no screen to watch, but then I was going to be watching that Sex Pistols show on my iPad anyway, and listening to more Beatles podcasts. The guy next to me was a bit jealous of my legroom I think. He was chatty and kept trying to have a conversation with me at first, but beyond a few pleasantries I wasn’t really interested in listening to this guy for ten hours so put the headphones on and started drawing, because I just can’t stop drawing can I.

LHR to SFO 061222 sm

what we have said will always remain

BurntOak - Watling Ave - 2022 Before I flew back to the States, a couple more sketches of Burnt Oak, the hometown. After all the sketches from France and Belgium I needed a couple of drawings from up the Watling to be getting on with. I’ve had a lot of Burnt Oakers get in touch over the years, people who have moved away, sometimes pretty far (like I did), to say they like my drawings of the old manor, the place is a shared memory, and one that is always changing. I stood at the top of Watling Avenue and looked downhill. Those chimneystacks stepping downwards towards the station are iconic to me. I drew the other side of the street looking downwards way back in 2008, and then again looking upwards back in 2012, a decade ago. This time I added colour, and also a lot more of the people that passed by, because it was quite busy. We are a very multicultural area. The Romanian foodshop across the street (Food 4 Less) is where Pennywise used to be (I drew that in 2013), and next door you can make out a place called Bella. When I was growing up Bella, which was run by an Indian family if I remember, was a place where you could get all sorts of stuff. Household products, kitchen items, cleaning gear, cups (I have that mug that says “I’m a Mug from Burnt Oak” which comes from Bella), batteries, toys, you would come here to get your keys cut, oh and it was also a video rental store, this is where I would come with my uncle on a Saturday morning to pick out what films we would watch at his flat that afternoon. It seems that it’s just a cafe now. There is a clothes shop just out of view to the right that is called ‘Respect Men’, but has prominently displayed in the window what can can only be described as the illegitimate offspring of a tuxedo and a cardigan, white on the top half and black on the bottom, divided by an ugly carpet pattern going across the middle. Respect Men. I should have drawn it. Instead, I walked down the hill to the corner of Orange Hill, outside the library, and drew Woodcraft Hall. I’ve never been in there (never really wanted to either), but it’s one of those buildings I’ve known all my life that is just there, and long may it be just there. This crossroads was pretty much junction number one in my life. I lived up one arm of it, Orange Hill. Up Gervase Road, my mate Terry lived, and it was the way to Montrose and then on to Asda, where I had my first proper job (but not my first work). Left up the Watling towards Woodcroft Avenue, that was the way to my junior school, and on the corner opposite Woodcroft Hall is our local doctor’s, where my mum works. And then right is up Watling Avenue itself, you have the library, the shops, and of course the tube station which for me was the key to going everywhere else in the world, which I couldn’t wait to do. It started raining as I was drawing this, though I was sheltered in the doorway of the library, but I went home for dinner, and coloured it in later.

BurntOak - Woodcroft Hall - 2022

her majesty’s a pretty nice girl

London Jubilee Traf Sq 2022 sm

So anyway, the Queen had yet another Jubilee, this time for being Queen for 70 years, which is a record for an English monarch. British monarch too I think. It’s a long time. I think that is to do with modern medicine, but then Victoria was around for ages and she lived in the Victorian age. Elizabeth I also went on for what seemed like ages, and that was in the Elizabethan age, which was probably disgusting. In terms of the all-time world monarch list, Queen Liz Two is actually second only to Louis XIV, the French ‘Sun King’, who is one of only two monarchs on that list to get a song on the Beatles album Abbey Road (the Queen was the other, making an unnamed appearance in Her Majesty). She recently overtook Rama IX of Thailand and Johan II of Liechtenstein (both kings in the 70 year club), though the latter uses the same theme song as our Queen Bess. In two years Elizabeth II will take the crown from Louis Quatorze, assuming she is still with us and we haven’t started the Short Reign Of Charles III yet. Then again, there is another king who was king for 82 years, Sobhuza II of Swaziland, who was king of the country when they became independent from British rule in 1968, so I guess the records are like, well before that date doesn’t count. Well they do count, and Lillibet is going to have to stick around cutting ribbons and watching horses run fast for another 12 years to beat his record. Nevertheless, there was a lot of celebration for Her Majesty’s Platinum album, 70 Greatest Hits. It’s a little strange to think that she was the Queen when the Beatles were still at school. She was the Queen when England won the World Cup. She was the Queen the last time Wales played at a World Cup. She was the Queen when the M1 motorway opened. She was the Queen when the band Queen was formed (will they have to change their name to King when she dies?) The Platinum Jubilee celebrations were scheduled to take place while I was back in London (no, I didn’t go back there for that), though I was leaving for France in the middle of it. My mum loves all that, and she decorated the house in union flags, the most in our street. There was no street party this time, unlike for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 (and the Silver Jubilee in 1977, though I was only a baby), but not the Golden Jubilee in 2002. It’s like we alternate when we have them. Maybe we will have one for the 75th Jubilee, which is confusingly also called the Diamond Jubilee, or the 80th, which is disappointingly called the Oak Jubilee. Imagine that, the Oak Jubilee.

On the Thursday that the celebrations were to begin in London and elsewhere, I went with my mum down into central London to watch the flyover and walk about in the crowds. We went to Trafalgar Square to await the Red Arrows and all the other planes from the RAF (I do love seeing the planes, I must admit, I’m a sucker for a Spitfire). It was busy alright. We were outside Charing Cross Station, and I sketched the crowds a bit (above), while my mum went into the little Sainsbury’s to see if she could get some wine and a sandwich. That was not an easy prospect, the place was packed. So I said I would go in there for her, and I braved the squashed throng, and while there were no sandwiches left, I did get her a bottle of prosecco and the last plastic cups in the shop. I needed some time to recover after that, I don’t like crowds in small places, so we sat on the step and drank the wine, and eventually the planes flew over and everyone got excited. You couldn’t get anywhere near the Mall. We walked down to the Ship and Shovell pub to use the loos, and then just wandered about towards St. James, up Pall Mall and down Piccadilly. There were people from all over the country, all over the world actually, maybe the universe for all I know. It was a historic occasion, but I was glad to not be around for even more crowds and pageantry, and TV shows about the Queen, and so I went to France to do some sketching.

chasing clouds on the banks of the thames

London battersea ps 2022 sm

On the first day of June, which is always a good day in the calendar, I took the tube down to Battersea to meet up with friend Simon, who was flying over from Dublin that morning for a few days. I say I took the tube down, well this being classic London, I left in good time only to find the Northern Line was down, so I had to get a bus to Queensbury to jump on the Jubilee Line. Can’t escape the Jubilee. Incidentally that Jubilee Line was named for the Queen’s 25th (Silver) Jubilee, which is why it is coloured in grey. This year it was the 70th (Platinum) Jubilee, and they named the new Crossrail after her, the Elizabeth Line (that was actually her mum’s name, Elizabeth Lines-Bowen) (I think they missed a trick by not renaming Crossrail as “we-are-not-amused-rail”, ok maybe not). Anyway silly jokes aside, I was hoping to see the new London underground station on the Northern Line, Battersea Power Station Station. That is actually its name. It is the tube station for Battersea Power Station, so therefore it is Battersea Power Station Station. However, once me and Simon met up, at Vauxhall Bridge, we never found it, as we were catching up on three years of silly jokes. It was a fun day out we had along the river, and then up into Chelsea, and the clouds were incredible. He’s a pro photographer and got some great shots – follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/naderissimo/ – and I started some sketches, very much in the ‘finish these later’ category. I had not drawn Battersea Power Station before, I do want to draw it from the other side of the river sometime, but it has all been redeveloped in recent years and is all a bit fancy now. I notice that the Urban Sketchers London had a sketching event down there recently, part of the ten year anniversary, as many Battersea Power Station sketches kept popping up on my feed, making me want to go back down that way. I haven’t really explored there before, so it was an eye opener.

London Albert Bridge 2022 sm

We walked down through Battersea Park, where I have not been for many years, until we took a rest by the Albert Bridge (above). I drew this bridge as an illustration for a book years ago, the “London Walks, London Stories” book in about 2008 or 2009, so I was keep to draw it in person. Not super easy, so I drew the main bits, the main outlines, and drew in the rest of the details later. We were busy chatting. Albert Bridge is named after Queen Victoria’s dead husband Prince Albert (I mean they are all dead now aren’t they, the Victorians), and is one of the best and most charming bridges in London. Lots of things are named after Prince Albert, you’ve got the Albert Embankment, the Albert Hall, the Albert Bridge, the Albert Memorial, Albert Square, and of course the Prince Albert, which I won’t elaborate on further. We crossed Albert Bridge and wandered about Chelsea, looking for one specific pub that Simon knew about, and I can definitely say I got my ten thousand steps in that day a couple of times over. Still at least we got to look at some cool shops and see loads more colourful Jubilee displays, including this union-jack-themed mini. Simon used to have a very beloved mini, so I just had to draw this, though now he lives in Dublin he probably wouldn’t drive this particular one about. There were so many interesting floral displays along the Kings Road, we spent a lot of time taking photos (and being silly of course) before resting with a pint in the old pub he was looking for, and then heading over to Harrods (I got some delicious cannoli). One thing about this trip, I did explore a fair bit of London I either hadn’t been to before, or not been to in years. It’s like a book you can keep coming back to and learning something new, but because it’s the city where I’m from there’s always a connection.

London UK Mini 2022 sm