Small Pleasures

costa coffee‘If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.’

John Cage

ficus leavesLife has been such a series of unfortunate events recently but I’ve so enjoyed a short pause drawing whatever object came to hand.

With no chance of getting out to draw the autumn colours, I settled for the evergreen branch of an artificial ficus mugbenjamina in a waiting room.

But I find it a fun to just draw my cup. Even the disposable cups in the hospital cafe have a certain charm when you stop to look at the them for John Cage’s suggested eight or sixteen minutes.

In a Nutshell

I’m getting better with the nutcrackers. The walnuts are from one of Clive Simms’ trees, from his orchard near Peterborough and they break open more easily than the rock-solid walnuts that I remember attempting before.

Clive, who I remember from school days, is something of an authority on growing fruit and nuts trees and he modelled his Nutshell guides (no longer in print) on my little local booklets and the bestselling Grandma’s Guide to the Internet which my sister and I put together inspired by my mum’s attempts to get online in the late 1990s (no longer in print either).

The ‘Squirrel-proof’ Nut Tree

walnuts‘I’m currently having my annual battle with the grey squirrels as to who gets the lion’s share of the walnuts from the tree in our garden.’ Clive tells me, ‘I ‘squirrel proofed’ the tree with old litho plates on the trunk (see Nutshell Guide for details) last week before leaving for a short holiday inYorkshire just as the nuts began to fall. I returned to a scene of carnage with broken shells and husks everywhere… the squirrels were certainly enjoying themselves and had even recruited the local crows to add to the mayhem.

‘Fortunately a neighbour who looks after the place when we’re away collected a lot of the fallen nuts and I’ve collected as many as I can since I returned. The recent stormy weather brings down most of the crop in one huge deluge of nuts and after collection I dry them on newspaper spread over the floor of the house. Having under-floor heating helps a lot!’

‘Fresh ‘wet’ walnuts taste very different to the more mature dried ones, being much lighter in colour and sweeter in taste. However, eating them too early, almost as they fall, isn’t always appreciated by everyone as they can be a little astringent.’

Fruit Bowl Sketches

bananas lemonA ballpoint pen wouldn’t be my first choice for a drawing but, as I’ve explained before, I’ve struggled to find something that doesn’t go through the absorbent paper of my current sketchbook.

orangeCataloging my old sketchbooks, I’ve been reminded that in the early 1980s, when I did a lot of travelling and commuting, I found a particular make of black ballpoint pen useful.

Link; Clive Simms, talks and courses

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