Waiting Room Sketches

watch and fasteningshandWe’ve got an appointment at the doctors’ this morning. As a change from drawing my hand, I start drawing the clasps and fastenings on my art bag and the back of my watch, which is the type that recharges its battery kinetically.

We’re back again in the afternoon. This time I revert to drawing my hand. I prefer drawing something organic to something mechanical.

Serpentine Birds

grebe diving

Twelve ring-necked parakeets join a wood pigeon pecking on the turf by Rotten Row in Hyde Park. A great-crested grebe dives on the Serpentine, a lake created for Queen Caroline in the 1730s. At the lake’s edge, a coot pecks at a bedraggled scrap of fabric that it has retrieved from deeper water, seeing off a rival that soon appears.


A moorhen stands breast deep, scrutinising the film of algae on the stonework at its feet, pecking down at some morsel. A flotilla of grey geese sail by in single file, heading up the lake.

carnationKings Cross to Wakefield

We get caught in a downpour after walking through Regent’s Park so head for a bus shelter at Great Portland Street and take the number 30 bus to Kings Cross. After lunch at Leon and a browse around Hatchard’s, I draw this carnation at a cafe table in front of the bookstore.

This ramp in a concrete building at Kings Cross reminded me of the false perspective in a de Chiricco painting.
This ramp in a concrete building at Kings Cross reminds me of the false perspective in a de Chirico painting.

There are almost as many people queuing up to be photographed pushing a shopping trolley into Platform 9¾ as there were waiting for trains.

Passengers at Kings Cross
Passengers at Kings Cross

On this overcast afternoon the greens of the trees have a late summer heaviness.

train sketchestrain sketchesAfter Hadley Wood station we plunge into a tunnel and then, before the next tunnel, there’s a short section, a shallow ‘hidden’ valley, with nothing but trees, hedges and slopes of ochre grasses. It’s a welcome relief after three days in the city, much as I like it.

Buddleia has colonised the ballast alongside the track on the approach to Peterborough. There are yellow daisy-like flowers on fleabane and pinkish trumpet flowers on the lesser bindweed.

Land of the Lions

bearded piglangurLondon Zoo: The bearded pigs, Sus barbatus, are native to Borneo, Sumatra, Malaysia and the Philippines. This morning they’re pushing around chunky plastic feeders, a little larger than a football, which are dispensing food amongst the wood chip of the enclosure. This gives the pigs a lot more entertainment than gathering around a trough. Occasionally one of the feeders will pass from one pig to another with, presumably, the pig which is higher in the pecking order winning the prize.langur

In the evocatively designed Land of Lions, a langur monkey relaxes in the top of dead tree in a convincing replica of  the dry scrubby Gir Forest Reserve in India.

The vegetable samosas from the street food vendor in the zoo’s colourful version of Sasan Gir village are equally convincing.

pelicanspelicanWhite pelicans are sitting together resting but they spring to life when a keeper appears with a bucket of fish. They each save several fish for later consumption in their pouches. Two herons have been hanging around and they’re also successful in grabbing a fish each. I think of herons as being one of our largest birds but compared to the pelicans they’re lightweights.

tigertigerThe Sumatran tigers have two small cubs. One tiger – the male I guess – checks out the perimeter while the other stays with the cubs in a shrubby corner of the Tiger Territory enclosure.

Link: Land of the Lions, Zoological Society of London. For my Royal College of Art degree show in June 1975 I produced a hand-coloured print of the Victorian Lion House at the London Zoo which was then scheduled for demolition. At the suggestion of my tutor John Norris Wood, I sold the print in aid of the conservation of Asiatic lions at the Gir Forest Reserve. I remember thinking that some day I might get to the Gir Forest with my sketchbook. Visiting Land of the Lions has been the next best thing!