Sunday, 10 May 2009

By the pool

I've never found it so easy to sit by a pool for too long - some of the people staying at the same holiday village as us in northern Cyprus seemed able to nurture their tans from straight after breakfast until dinner, gradually shifting their sun beds over the day so they were in line with the sun, like human sun dials.

If I'm packing for travel, the essentials are a passport, ticket, money, insurance, sketchbook and pens, a novel or two and a penknife. I could manage without a camera now, except it's good to have photographs of everyone having a good time, and being able to record the children growing up. The drawings can never do that. I'd sooner be without a novel than a sketchbook. The clock is ticking every day in terms of drawing. We may be out to relax, but coming home without drawings is too awful to contemplate.

So we sit by the pool for a bit, and the sun's not too hot, and the pool is quite cold, except we all go in, the kids particularly keenly. And then I have to draw, whatever is in front of me. I'm not sure it really matters at all what I do draw. If I had to spend time in solitary confinement I think I'd still manage to keep going. And then I read a bit, until it's time to draw a bit more, with a slightly uneasy feeling that the sun is drying out the pens, even though they are in the shade under the sunbed. But it's best to use them before they do dry out. Pencils are so much better in this respect.

By this time, we're about 90 minutes into the day. The world beyond beckons. How do people keep going by the pool all day? Some are evidently happy to lie low all day, on their own, with a thick novel and time on their hands. Perhaps it is because there is no extradition treaty between northern Cyprus and Britain, and the weeks spread before them. But don't quote me on that.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Slowing down

As part of Slow Down London, a festival that aims to help us all take things more calmly and perhaps appreciate life better for it, the Skylark Galleries on the South Bank are spilling out on to the Thames riverside walk to extol the relaxing benefits of the work of its artists. People will be around from 2-6pm this bank holiday weekend, from Saturday 2 May to Monday 4 May, in the gardens next to the Oxo Tower. See you there.