Thursday, 24 March 2011

It's Spring!

Spring has most definitely sprung here in North Norfolk.  My guess is we must be a good few weeks ahead of last year, with a number of herbaceous plants well into growth. Only hope they're not in for a nasty shock in April!

In the gallery, it's MIKE BERNARD who is in favour - though ironically it's the London pictures that are grabbing the attention. We even had a visitor who enjoys the same view from his London pad as Mike's Butlers Wharf picture portrays and was somewhat surprised to find it in a Norfolk gallery.

On the food front, sounds like The Duck Inn has found it's feet again, with a couple of good reports - so time for a new look I think. As an avid fan of the wonderful BRAY'S pork pies, I was somewhat disconcerted to find an advert for 70% discount on burgers on their blog.  Having contacted the wonderful Sarah, it seems like they can't see it -  highlighting the hidden hazards of blogging!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A good friend

Last weekend saw an unexpected and untimely trip to Lympstone in Devon, to celebrate the life of a good friend, Carol Tolson, tragically cut short in an accident.

Many of my exploratory visits to artists in the west country in the early days of the Grapevine were based around our friendship with Carol and Robin, and business and pleasure became pleasingly intertwined. How many of our Devon artists realised my visits coincided with our vain endeavours at Exeter School Quiz Nights, I wonder?

Saturday's memorial service was a deeply moving tribute to Carol and the packed church bore eloquent witness to a life filled with music, love - and a little bit of chaos - that contributed so much to the lives of her family, her community and her friends.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


In the words of the great Michael Flanders, "Welcome March with wintry wind, Would thou wert not so unkind!" Clearly the weather has not changed much in the fifty plus years since he penned these words, the first days of March being dominated by an extremely chilly breeze from the North East. Overall, though we seem to have to got away fairly lightly after such a snowy start to the winter.  In fact the last weekend of February sort of sums it up. Saturday saw my reader and her friends getting throughly soaked on Brancaster Beach, whilst the following day saw glorious sunshine and clear blue skies for much of the day. Monday, unsurprisingly we were back in the world of the gramp. That's grey and damp to those who have yet to visit The Boathouse at Overy Staithe.

These contrasts have been evident on my close season travels to artists old and new.  Renewing my acquaintance with Shopshire (almost as good as Norfolk) saw a hoar frost followed by glorious afternoon sunshine, topped off with one of the biggest moon's I can ever remember hanging over that strangest of hills, Clee Hill above Ludlow.  Importantly this trip finally brought the wonderful of work of SUE CAMPION to the gallery. You can find more about Sue on the other Grapevine blog,

My first trip west of the year included staying with my very good friend GEOFFREY ROBINSON to select work for his new exhibition with us in Norwich. Again, contrasts. The intense colours and clear outlines of his work couldn't have been more different than the grey swirling mist of the Hampshire coast.

Heading on west, I am never sure how to deal with Bournemouth. Whichever way you go, it does seem to go a long time, but eventually you find yourself in that other miraculous county, Dorset. The bare, high land of Thomas Hardy west of Dorchester - and onwards towards Devon.  Astoundingly wet, but still wonderful. My final visit on this trip was the studio of MIKE BERNARD on the north coast.  Mike has still to return to Norfolk, but he has found his old sketchbooks, and we have just a taste of what is to come.

And just to complete the saga, leaving the wet of the south and west behind, I returned to North Norfolk on one of those truly remarkable days when the light just makes you glad to be alive.