Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Ascot Racecourse


Thanks for dropping by.

Ascot Racecourse was a great venue for a Christmas Fayre, especially as it enables non-race goers the chance for a look behind the façade on the High Street, not inside the main building but round the back!

The front of the racecourse, rebuilt in 2007, looks very grand.

Some of the older buildings
To the right of the pavilion building on the High Street is the entrance to a tunnel which takes you under the course to  Ascot Heath, the circular area within the white fences of the racecourse.

This is the back on the grandstand, you might be able to make out the Royal Box where members of the Royal Family watch the races, The Queen is especially keen to see her horses race.

Looking towards the finishing line. 
There were, of course, no horses or ticket holders about but I could just imagine the excitement on race days with horses thundering along the turf, glamorous glitterati cheering on their favourites, bookmakers calling out the odds and picnickers drinking bottles of bubbly and clunking their glasses together.

Today, only dog walkers were pootling about enjoying the cool air as the sun struggled out from beneath the cloud.  We decided to walk the course and I regretted not bringing a plastic horse with me to recreate the buzz of raceday in an amusing perspective-altering photo.

Walking round we passed a couple of lakes/reservoirs in amongst the Autumn-leaved trees. Luckily there were no adders about as signs were up warning that a woman had been bitten by one in the Summer who could well have died. Three-quarters of the way round, near fence 6, a great chunk of the course was cut out to allow access to the road. Poor horses, what a dilemma.  Did they have to jump over the gap?

On the road were two wide tracks scoured in the concrete.

Turning to follow them in the opposite direction, we were surprised to see a great chunk of grass on wheels which must be pulled in position to fill the gap! Fancy that.

Back up by the grandstand with another glimpse of the Royal Box, we found the tunnel and followed it back to the High Street, our bag of cakes from the Fayre calling to us.

The Heath is open daily for the public to use.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Christmas Fayre


Thanks for popping in. 

Aren't there a lot of Christmas Fayres around at the moment.  They conjure up the feeling of festive spirit before you go but in reality they are a bit of a squash.  You are carried on a tide of eager people past all the colourful stalls crammed full with tempting goods. Royal Ascot Racecourse was no exception. Packed to the rafters but with small areas of calm, a few things caught my eye especially in the food section.

A delicious Christmas scent wafted over from Scented Floral Creations

A tree decorated with rolled up magazines at Papa Razzi, whatever next!

A few other ideas for trees from Stonecrop Nurseries

A sparkly one

Hampers full of tasty snacks from The Truckle Cheese Company

Couldn't resist these yummy cakes from Farmhouse Direct Ltd.

How about a bird box?

Or a carefully cut out card from Cardology

Some twinkly lights

Or some wobbly ornaments.
 These cakes had to come home with us - summer fruits frangipane tart, coconut tart and an orange chocolate nut shortbread. Yum!

After the battle, a spot of fresh air was most welcome as we headed to the tunnel to Ascot Heath in the centre of the racecourse. More to follow.


Monday, 28 November 2016

James Ensor and the Belgian Avant-Garde


Thanks for joining me today. I've been to the last of this year's art talks which was about Belgian Artist James Ensor. I must admit that I didn't know about his work although a couple of pictures did look familiar. The Royal Academy exhibition is currently on and the place to visit to see more. Here are my notes.

James Ensor was born in 1866 and spent most of his life in Ostend in Belgium with only a few trips to London and Paris. His father was an alcoholic whereas his mother and grandmother, who ran souvenir shops, were strong women and firmly in charge. As a small child he was sensitive and delicate and had a phobia of spiders. The love of his life was Augusta Boogaerts but he was stopped from marrying her however she remained a good companion, helping to mix his paints when older. He studied at the Royal Academy in Brussels.  There was a lot of unrest in Belgium during his life.

Self portrait with a flowered hat 1883-88 with similarities to Rubens
The exhibition relates to work during his best period of the 1880/90s. His work wasn't appreciated at the time with many complaints that it was too dark and only admired when his talents were already beginning to wane later in life. He was made a Baron and became a widespread influence for the German Expressionists, Surrealists, Jackson Pollack, Marc Chagall and was a member of the international movement Les Vingts which included many famous artists.

Beach Hut 1876
His work was based on the experience of his life, local, everyday subjects, satire and his use of light. A lot of his work features carnivals, skeletons and masks, which he would have come across in his family curiosity shops. He experimented with various styles and painting methods like palette knife, scumble as well as with a brush and although he hated post impressionism, some of his work has elements of it.

The Intrigue 1890 - masks symbolise hypocrisy, reveal a lack of brains, are menacing, paintings often have a skeleton to indicate death is ever present.
The entry of Christ into Brussels 1889 - this huge painting was considered his masterpiece. There are lots of masks/skeleton in a hat/carnival with Christ a small figure in the centre.  It was a very difficult time in Ensor's personal life/non-acceptance of his art/the art world in general/times in Belgium that he painted this satire mocking politicians and their hypocrisy. He saw himself as the forgotten Christ figure with people just blindly following the wrong leaders/style of art.
Skeletons Warming Themselves 1889 - again a satire showing his feelings that art in general was remaining static/freezing.
Ensor died in Ostend in 1949.

All the pictures here are from the internet and as always there is much more information about Ensor to be found there.

Let's hope there are a few more talks next year as it's been very interesting finding out more about the artists and the hidden meanings within their work in the context of the artists' lives.

I'm linking this post to Barbara's Paint Monthly link-up.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Simple Things


Thanks for calling in.

Taking a stroll on a sunny day with a camera has produced the following snaps.

Seeing all the shadows stretch out in the late Autumn sun was just glorious.  I could have watched the tractor whooshing the dry crispy leaves in the air for ages.  Up and down the grass it went enveloped in a swirling cloud, like bees round a honey jar. It's the simple things in life!


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Sweeping up the Leaves

Good morning! Or is it afternoon?

Thanks for popping in.

Leaves, leaves, leaves don't you love them! The secret is not to get all hot and bothered when they fall from the trees but to just enjoy the spectacle of your garden transformed.

Eventually you'll have to clear them up as it all gets a bit slippy, much easier to do it when they are wet.


Friday, 25 November 2016

What's in the Bag?


Thanks for calling in.

You've just caught me, I've just got back from the shops.  Would you like to see what I bought?

I couldn't resist picking up a few of these pretty leaves whooshed down in the wind.  Passing the park, in the cold and wet, an exercise class was hard at it on the grass again. They must be keen.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, time to write a few cards for overseas.  I liked the look of these woolly stockings. My fairlisle knitting gets too tight, there wouldn't be enough room for the presents!

I'm collecting a few food items ready to make the ice cream mountain. Yum!

This pretty tissue paper was irresistible!

Last year I forgot to get a few chocolate baubles for the tree, so these were snapped up in case I do it again.

Here's a pretty festive scarf which will make a nice change.

A quick visit to the library resulted in a few leaflets on activities nearby. It seems a public consultation is being held with regards to the use of libraries in the area.  Here's a link to the consultation process, let's hope we don't lose our library.

Walking back from the shops, this colourful sign caught my eye.

It's all a bit gloomy weather-wise so all this pre Christmas cheer was very welcome.

Lovely to see you.

Bye for now

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Potatoes Part II


Thanks for visiting, always great to have you along.

Since my last potato post, I expect you have been waiting with bated breath to see the produce of the second compost bag that had a potato planted in it in the Spring. I know I have!

A teeny bit disappointing on numbers but still a few meals' worth.  I've included the very last of the peppers for a bit of added glamour and those little green things at the other end of the line are actually potato apples that are produced on the stem near the leaves of the potato plant.  These are highly poisonous and should not be eaten as potatoes are related to deadly nightshade so after the photo they were placed in the refuse bin.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Paul Nash


Thanks for calling in.

This week's art talk was about the paintings of Paul Nash relating to the exhibition at Tate Britain. I'm really enjoying these talks and have one more left to look forward to. Here are a few notes I made.

Paul Nash, born 1886 in London, came from a supportive middle class background, destined for the Navy to follow in his Grandfather's footsteps but found this didn't work out and left. He started with black and white pen and ink illustrations attending Chelsea College. His mother fell mentally ill which affected him deeply and he developed a concern with death throughout his life. His family moved to Buckinghamshire to aid her health so he commuted and while cycling used to have visions.

The Wood on the Hill 1912

He started exhibiting his work in 1912, mainly landscapes as he hated life drawing. He met critic Gordon Bottomly and Sir William Blake Richardson who encouraged him. He went to the Slade where he met Ben Nicholson. He married Margaret Odeh before the war but was a philanderer however his wife was a pillar of strength throughout his life.

Wire 1918
During WW1 he was in the TA, was called up and sent to Ypres at a relatively quiet time, he appreciated the arrival of Spring on the desolate landscape but fell in a trench and was sent back to London with a broken rib. While invalided, the majority of his unit were killed. He exhibited work from sketches in the trenches and became an official war artist in 1917 on his return to the trenches where he was supposed to portray the heroism of war but became disillusioned by the unspeakable conditions and showed the devastation and was dropped. He first started using oil paints in 1918.

The Menin Road 1918-19
Between-wars, he was ill, had financial difficulties, travelled looking for sources of inspiration and experimented with surrealism. He loved the South of France for the fabulous colours and thought Giorgio de Chiroco a visionary as he created metaphysical, impossible settings.

Blue House on the Shore 1930-1

In WW2 he became a war artist attached to the Air Ministry in order to paint the machines (monsters). His health got worse and he started to take photos to aid his work. He had a different attitude to the previous war.

Totes Meer 1940-1 note the owl showing nature prevails despite the undulating sea of wreckage

Circle of Monoliths 1937-8
After the war his paintings revert to places he enjoyed before like Wittenham Clumps. He died in 1946.

Landscape of the Summer Solstice 1943
The exhibition is divided into his recurring themes - trees/war - changing world/places/room and book/unit 1/unanimated objects/surrealist exhibition of 1936/aerial/equinox. Nash was influenced by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Blake and Samuel Palmer.  He references the sun, moon and seasons, trees as living beings, saw water as the enemy of man as he nearly drowned when young and he always wanted to fly.

All photos have come from the internet and there's a lot more detailed information available.

I'm linking this post to Barbara's Paint Monthly link-up.