Phew! Nearly four months locked up in a basement and not one of you one noticed. No computer and only cabbage soup for sustenance (quite tasty actually). Don’t feel guilty; I know you were all really busy. Anyway, it gave me time to consider things. Mainly how to get out of this small dank room with no light. 

Well, it might have been true!

Internet Silence: 

I was wondering whether I would ever blog again. I just got into the habit of not doing it; I was making so little art over these dark cold winter months and I made a pact with myself only to blog about my art and anything related. Well, the world didn?t grind to a halt and here I am out of my hibernation and ready to go again. 

The cold empty months of silence:

So should I leave December 2005 – March 2006 as not written about? Keep these months enigmatic and secret? I should really. But I am crap at keeping secrets so here goes: 

December 2005

After my mammoth stint of painting which paid off with a decent amount of sales and the purchase of a nice new iPod and Power Book, the end of term (Semester actually) at Brookes eventually came and I was a spent force. My good friend Claire in Oxford was kind enough to lend me her wee Ford Ka so I could have transport over Christmas. I went down to spend Christmas with Claire and David, Mae and Harper in Hastings. It was great to be back and it was a lovely Christmas. There was a fair bit of me being ?Uncle Robbie? and ?Mac Support Guy?. I even made one of my film epics with Mae and Harper, but I have not got round to editing that yet.

I was meant to complete a website for the studios I am in Oxford, but that got lost in the mire of the holidays. We even got two nights of thick snow!! It was beautiful and I had never seen it like that on the south coast ? More like Aberdeen. I went to visit Suzie and Erin in Emsworth either just before or after new year ? it is all abit of a haze now. New year itself was very low key, but I had a lovely evening with dinner and friends at Claire and Richard’s in Oxford. I do tend to get a little maudlin and melancholic around New Year. It is so dark, cold and we are meant to enjoy ourselves!!! Oh well, I got through it.

January 2006

Back to work at Brookes; this started with the Field Trip on a coach through Belgium and Holland. This marked the first anniversary of my working in Oxford. I still don’t love the place, but I am coming to terms with it and now have a few wonderful people around. People help a lot in these circumstances. Anyway, I digress! I had organised this year’s trip and was a bit stressed out for a lot of it. It meant a very early start from Oxford, and without giving you a blow by blow (Roblog fans will know my obsession with travel details) account, the basic itinerary was this: 

60 students, four staff and four ex students without whom, the trip would have imploded? Thank you.

Oxford to Dover. Ferry from Dover to Calais. Coach to Gent to visit museum. Gent to Brussels. Four nights in dodgy hostel which had blocked drains and toilet issues. Lots of food, drink and museums. Night club in basement and I did dance on occasions. Coach driver (whose name escapes me) was a decent fellow. Students well behaved. Day-trip to Antwerp ? Liked it better than Brussels, which is a bit like a middle-aged fairy cake. Coach from Brussels to Amsterdam: we were meant to stop off at Eindhoven and somewhere else. But we got stopped by police on route due to our double-decker coach wobbling along the motorway. We had to stop and go for service station pizza and then sit in garage eating vending machine food. Coach got fixed ? We got to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam was great! Three nights in a great Hostel. Lots more art and culture obviously. Could not find nice Brown Bar? I knew for food after walking for hours. Lots more walking. Over indulged? on last night and vowed on coach home (Euro tunnel) that I had better get a bit more healthy on return! Which we did intact. Well done Robbie.

So, ok a bit blow by blow! (sorry).

The rest of January, I spent back at work, swimming, trying to paint, eating healthily and trying to lose a bit of weight. Also still spending too much time playing with my new Power Book. (but it is fantastic)

February 2006

Ah February. Excellent month and full of life changing stuff. And big decisions. Here goes; 

So the first thing was that I had an invitation to work out in Cyprus College of Art for a whole year. From Sept 2006 – August 2007 to be exact. Teaching mornings, getting accommodation and studio thrown in ? Not much money. Well, lots to consider and my gut was saying to go for it. This winter has been the coldest, wettest and darkest in living memory (or at least since I left Aberdeen in 1999). The idea of having a whole year on a Mediterranean island with all that light and time and space to paint sounding great. Or Oxford with all its funny ways?? I had virtually made up my mind when a something even more extraordinary happened. But more of that in moment.

In mid Feb, I went up to Scotland for a long weekend. This was mainly to celebrate my Mum?s 70th birthday and she was going to be at my brother’s in Edinburgh to celebrate it. I booked a cheap flight to Edinburgh early one Friday, but I made things very complicated when I decided to also visit Aberdeen for one night, as I discovered that Joe Fan was having an exhibition on that Friday. So after my flight (more travel coming up Roblog junkies) I hopped on a Megabus to Aberdeen and my good friend Ashley met me and I had a great afternoon with him down at the Inversneckie Cafe at the beach. Went to visit Joe in his studio and then on to his house to meet Fiona and Maisy and then I popped up to see Bary McGlashan and his wife Wendy who lived just up the road from where Joe?s show was. This was at the Rendezvous Gallery, an idiosyncratic place which looks more like an antique shop. Anyway I got to catch up with plenty of old friends including Joyce, Michael, and Clare. Joe’s show was great and it was marvellous to catch up with these wonderful people who always make me feel so welcome when I return.

I stayed with Ashley and we already had a plan for him to drive me down to Edinburgh in his Mum?s car; the deal was we were to take his mum to St Andrews so she could visit her Aunt. So that is indeed what we did. It was lovely spending time with Ashley. He is going through a bit of a tough time, but we were able to have a great laugh and good chat on the way down. We were speeding down to Edinburgh so we could make it to Jane Hyslop?s exhibition opening at the Open Eye Gallery. Oh yes another one ? just a coincidence. Again this was a great chance to catch up some dear old friends I see too seldom. Ashley was staying with Dave so he went off with him while I eventually got to my brother Chris? house. My mum and my aunt Elsie spent a great night dining and playing cards with Chris’ family. I had to stay in a B&B as there was no room at the inn. Sunday brought a coffee and cakes with Ashley and Dave at the Portrait Gallery and then the Museum of Modern Art. Lots more coffee and cakes. Then Ashley went back to Aberdeen and my Mum returned to Stranraer.

I was not due to fly back south until late Monday night so I spent the day with my nephew Lyle and niece Erin making one of my now infamous motion picture epics with a camcorder and iMovie. (Lord of the Rings inspired). I think Chris had to finish it off the next day).

Flew home.

Ok, the even more extraordinary thing? Well what I have not said is that someone was beginning to come into my life during this amazing February. People often tell me that love finds you when you are not looking for it; always told them to shut up. Here I was mentally off to Cyprus and I was sorted. Well I had not counted on meeting Catharine. But am so delighted that I did. 

Catharine is an artist in Reading and she also teaches part time in a local school. Right from the start it has felt so right. I had just about given up on having real romantic love in my life. She is wonderful and she feels like the person I have been waiting all my life for. I did not start this blog to reveal all my intimate secrets. My students read this you know but I could not let the events of the last month pass without shouting it from the rooftops. Therefore, I am not going to go to Cyprus and I declined their offer. There you have it.

Well, hopefully this blog will be back to normal now that I have got all this out. As things stand, I am going to stay at Brookes for the time being. I have work to complete for the Sarah Wiseman Gallery for June. Spring should be here soon and with it better light which is important for my paintings. 

So, I am very happy there is a tomorrow and a day after that.