(It is now exactly one year since I started this blog. I am still not sure why I am doing it or who it is for. I meant it to be a place to put information about my work in progress, but it has perhaps become more like a personal diary and from time to time I have written stuff on here I have regretted; especially when I have been down. So, perhaps I should try to stick to art and art related stuff…)

Another day another bed!

I am now back in Oxford after my week in Scotland. I had a fantastic time, but one in which involved much travelling and staying with a number of great friends.

On Tuesday night, my mum came over from Stranraer to stay with my brother Chris to help look after his kids while he painted for his next show in Glasgow and his partner Jeffy was at work. It is the first time I have seen her since last August (see blog from august 2004). It was lovely to all sit around a big table with my family and catch up. My eca summer school class continued all week and my students worked extremely hard and it was also a very demanding but enjoyable week for me.

I had to move out of my brother’s on Wednesday as my sister Claire and her whole family had also come up from Hastings to stay as they were going to go up to Lumsden for the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, which my dad set up all those years ago. There simply was not enough room for me to stay and I had other options.

I was delighted to be invited to stay my old college chum Jane’s house in Bonnyrigg (just south of Edinburgh) with her husband Gordon and their two children Rosie and Francis. It was wonderful catching up with them. Jane is a printmaking lecturer at eca and was also teaching on the summer school and Gordon is a sculptor who runs the Edinburgh Sculpture workshop. Lots of great food, drink and catching up.

On Thursday, all the summer school groups were invited by Summer School Director, Geraldine Prince to go around all the other classes studios and see the work. I was slightly put to shame as some of the other classes work was outstanding. Geraldine invited me out with two seasoned summer school students to her house in North Berwick where I stayed the night. Another great evening of good food, wine and chat (with guided tour of Geraldine’s art collection).

Last day of class on Friday and my energy levels were teetering, but all my students ended up with fine finished paintings which were shown along with all the other classes works in a wee exhibition with wine and a finger buffet. There was a great atmosphere with an award ceremony and prizes.

Met up with my old Edinburgh pals Donald and Dave along with Ashley who had come down from Aberdeen on Friday night. Donald and I had gone along to an opening at some new studios in Leith first and then we met the others in Black Bo’s Diner, a favourite haunt of Dave’s. Again it was great to see and catch up with all, but Black Bo’s eventually filled up with very unpleasant ‘neds’ so we made a swift exit to the Waverley bar on the High Street.

I stayed at Donalds fantastic flat in Leith and then I was picked up by Claire and family in their car to drive up to Lumsden over Glenshee and through Royal Deeside. A visual feast of a journey! Harper and Mae were so delighted to see me again and were holding onto me for much of the time. I do miss them very much.

We arrived at my Dad’s house to find Fred in his usual postilion in the very cramped living room. The same position he has sat in for many years and the one I painted him in for a portrait in 1994. (see Scottish Gallery 1994). He is looking a bit like Gandolf from Lord of the Rings with his long grey hair and beard. Despite being unwell, Dad was in good form and it was lovely to see him. It was also nice to see my sister Anna whom I had not seen for over 4 years. She has just graduated in sport science from Glasgow university. Fred was not up to going to the workshop party so some of the workshop sculptors walked along the road (about 50 metres) with a large tray of cuts from the suckling pig which had been roasted up at the workshop. It was a very touching and moving moment. Dad’s memory is not what it was but he was visibly moved by the gesture.

We all went along to the workshop for the feast and there were around 150 people having a good time tucking into pig and other delights. I even met a fine art lecturer from Oxford Brookes; Rhona, which was utterly bizarre as we both had no clue of the connection. I met some old faces and one or two of my old students from my time teaching at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen.

Then it was all along to the local hall for a Ceildh with a live Scottish band. It was marvelous! I had a wee dance with my niece Mae, but we all had to leave about ten as Claire and family had booked into a hotel in Aberdeen (about 40 miles away). I got a lift into Aberdeen too and I stayed with my good friends Joe (Fan)and Fiona and their daughter Maisy, whom I had seen in Cyprus. I was shattered (but still managed to wolf down some of Joe’s noodles before bed.

On Sunday Joe and I walked down to his newly converted studio where we met up my Barry (McGlashan) and Allan (Watson). So, all of us met up with Claire and family and went for a Dim Sum feast at the Yankse River (the oldest and finest chinese restaurant in Aberdeen). So yet another great time of catching up, eating and drinking.

Back on the road again to Edinburgh on Sunday night. We all stayed once again at my brother Chris’s. So it was another big food night with 9 of us around the table.

Monday morning Claire, David, Harper, Mae and myself set off to drive back home (to Hastings for them). It was a long tiring day as they dropped me off at Cambridge where I could get a very slow (but cheap) bus back to Oxford. Of course I am still homeless so I had arranged to stay with my Oxford friends Claire and Richard and their family this week while I try to get a place.

So here I am back in my office at Brookes getting ready for the new academic year and trying to get a room. It has been a wonderful summer for me and now I am determined to make my time in Oxford just as rewarding this year. I have paintings to do for John Martin Gallery Christmas show and I also am going to try to show my work somewhere locally.