Saturday, 6 September 2008

Rain stops play

The wet weather sketchbook: I nearly started one of these again this summer. I had one about 18 years ago when I was in the Lake District for only a few days. The rain was incessant then, too, and rather than take a perfect, dry, empty sketchbook home, I took a battered, stained, warped, torn, and yet full one home instead. Even a pencil doesn't get a firm grip on wet paper, unless you're using about a 16B, so the results were less than great. A coat pocket with a sketchbook sticking out of it becomes a funnel in a downpour, which only added to the problem.

I cycled through part of the Lake District this summer with brother and brother-in-law, going from Whitehaven to Newcastle, from west coast to east coast, which would be impressive if it was the United States or Australia we were talking about, but it's only about 140 miles in this rather thin part of the UK. Thirty-odd miles on the first day in relentless rain meant the sketchbook stayed in the bag — we wanted to get to the B&B to dry off rather than have me sit around like some pretentious idiot pretending to be like Turner strapped to the mast of some ship in a storm, or whatever it was he did. I bet the crew weren't too impressed with what he was up to.

Camping with the family in August wasn't meteorologically ideal either. The ground became a little soft for trifling things such as tent pegs, which had interesting consequences. But we stuck it out, because camping is still just so great, even in the wet. I didn't resort to a wet weather sketchbook then, either, not least because the marker pens I use now would take to damp paper in an even less successful way than pencil. But it didn't rain as much as all that. It sounds bad from inside a tent, but it's not, if you're outside.

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