Friday, 28 January 2011

West Hampstead: 28 January 2011

West Hampstead has three stations. Three in walking distance of each other! I suppose if the train network was being designed now instead of roughly 150 years ago the engineers would have devised one large railway hub which would extend north, south, east and west.

Today I pitched up at the one in the middle of the three. It was very cold, really too cold to draw outside. I headed out of the station looking for a lunch stop and ended up at a small café called Bon Café and enjoyed an egg mayo sandwich and gazed out of the window wondering where to go to draw. When I wasn't staring out of the window I watched the lunchtime news on the tv which was broadcasting the rioting going on in Cairo which I found quite disturbing.

When I couldn't find any excuse for staying put I left the warmth behind and went exploring. Fortunately there was a lot more going on in the area than there had been at Finchley Road. The general views were a lot more interesting and if it had been warmer I would have enjoyed taking more time over my drawing. As it was I tossed this picture off and developed it a bit more when I got home and my hands had thawed out.

So I have decided to mothball this drawing project until the weather has warmed up. I'll keep an eye on the weather forecasts over the next few weeks before I set out again.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Finchley Road & Frognal: 14 January 2011

Wire mesh fences running the length of the platform
At last, after a six week break I've been able today to get back to trekking my way round north London.

As anyone who has ever been outside their house knows many journeys are beset with unexpected delays and diversions. My life was suddenly diverted in December by falling over in the street and earning myself a celebrity fracture made famous by David Beckham. I broke my fifth metatarsal on my left foot and although I've been able to walk I've pretty much avoided going anywhere I didn't have to and that includes leisurely train journeys.

Then we were clobbered with unusual amounts of snow. They are used to snow up in Northumberland where my mother-in-law lives. It falls in vast quantities every year but down south, here in the capital, we usually only see snow on Christmas cards. For the time being all that has melted away, the temperatures have risen so now is the time to get out and about.

Oh, and did I also mention that every journey has sections that are very tedious. Today's outing was one of those. I always take the view that there is always something interesting to draw if you only look for it. I looked in the station. I looked as I walked along the high road. I looked again as I walked back towards the station. I wondered if this would be the stop with no drawing.

I walked back down to the platform to wait for a train home and drew what was in front of me. This was one of the wire mesh fences used to separate passengers from the building works going on along the length of the platform and in the background you can see a quick outline of a train that moved before I could add any detail.

When I got home I had a chat with my friend David who began to reminisce about Finchley Road because he had lived near there in the '70s when he was a schoolboy. He remembered when he'd had a job as a road sweeper and the perils of driving his little cart over a busy four lane highway. He recalled an obscure lane he was scared to walk down in case he got beaten up by skin heads. He talked about a café that only sold freshly ground coffee and that a pub opposite it had been blown up by the IRA. He was at home when he heard the explosion.

This just showed me that it is possible to live a very rich and interesting life in a very dull looking place so perhaps I shouldn't have been so judgmental.