Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Cycling along the Northumberland coast to Scotland

From the National Cycle Network Route 1 along the Northumberland coast

As it happens, I did use quite a bit of the kit I took on my recent cycling trip, urged on by a tweet sent by Gabi Campanario: "We all need freedom from the tyranny of our most common sketching tools." I usually take a pen and a sketchbook and find that this is more than enough, but I squeezed a few more things into the panniers last week, and this had a liberating effect. Sometimes things can seem more complicated than they really are.

The view from room 2 at the Linton Hotel, East Linton, Scotland

The National Cycle Network Route 1 between Newcastle and Edinburgh is great, with sections off-road and never too far from the sea. Around the Druridge Bay Country Park, with the sun shining, it was spectacular. The only "traffic" and sense of urgency came from birdspotters — on foot — who were on their way to see a great reed warbler that had been blown off course and spotted nearby. The Northumberland coastline is fantastically unspoilt and free from major inclines. The wind turning around to blow from the north didn't help — pedalling downhill isn't what you expect to have to do — but the rain held off, and the pub lunches and the occasional pit-stop in a cafe en route helped keep us going.

The Shoreline cafe, Craster, Northumberland

There was even time before the train home from Edinburgh for a quick whiz around the David Batchelor exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery (until 14 July). It's titled "Flatlands", a name to gladden this cyclist's heart.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Packing it in

I'm about to leave for a few days of cycling, and although there's not too much space in the panniers, what do I need to take apart from a few bits of clothes and some things to draw with?

I make a small pile of equipment to take - except I have this sneaking feeling that I'll end up using what I usually do: a thick black pen and a sketchbook. I like how pared down and simple these two are: black on white has an enduring appeal for me. The pile I intend to take is hardly extravagant — look at it. Taking a waterbrush and watercolour set is hardly going overboard, but how much will I actually use?