It is hardly the weather for outdoor sketching at present here in Kent so here are three quick Pen and Wash watercolours in and around Canterbury in Kent, all done in a few idle moments over the Christmas holidays from photos in my library.
With them come my Best Wishes for the New Year too!
Regards to all
Continuing with this food drink and place theme this post covers my visits to Venice and the Veneto region, and the most southerly part of Italy, the wonderful, Sicily.
As every region has such great specialities I just can’t cover them all but in these lovely places we have had such great times, drinks and food. And of course that special Italian hospitality and warmth of the people themselves.
First lets stop off in the VENETO and VENICE.
On the coast towards Trieste stands the lovely Miramare Castle. Commissioned by an Austrian Archduke it is resplendent with beutiful gardens and flowers. It is a truly delightful place to visit and then if you can, travel to Trieste and eat in one of the many restaurants or cafes there by the waterfront. There you can taste the local San Danielle Proscuito with some local Veneto wine. Trieste was the main port of the once Austro Hungarian Empire and didn’t become part of Italy until after the end of First World War in 1918.
And so to Venice itself. Oh. what wonderful place, where every corner you turn is a great vista and the back streets and canals are a painters’ paradise.
It has been hard to choose which of my many Venice watercolours to include but the choice of food and drink was easier as one special Restaurant really stood out for me in Venice.
Just off the Riva Degli Schiavoni, in a small side street called Calle del Pestrin, is the excellent Restaurant “Corte Sconta” . Great fresh sea food and a very nice place to eat. The Vongole was superb, well worth the walk along the Riva with the spectacular view above and below. More local Veneto wine too, or Prosecco!
If you plan to stay on The Riva degli Schiavoni then try the “Locanda Vivaldi” with its traditional Venetian rooms and a great location.
This watercolour was painted from a photo taken as we arrived by water taxi to stay there!
In Venice the trip down the Grand Canal is amazing with fine views and if you can visit the Fish Market then do! From there walk back slowly down the side streets until reach the Academia Bridge. All just amazing!
And so to finish this section on Venice here is St Mark’s Square from a Vaporetto, but don’t forget to buy your ticket before you board!
Down South to SICILY
Italy is a Country of so many regions, customs ,food and wine, and the wonderful scenery.
On the Mediterranean’s largest island all of these can be found in abundance.
We have enjoyed Sicily a lot and Taormina is a great place to stay and admire the views and the food and wine. I was first introduced to Pasta Norma there which was and is great! But also the fresh Ocrobus grilled is superb and this I really did enjoy in Taormina. If you can try the wine “La Segreta Nero d’Avola” from the Planeta Winery, very nice indeed and available in the UK
From Taormina the sight of Mount Etna steaming , or even erupting is amazing. Try to take trip up to the top if you can and feel the hot earth beneath your feet!
Here are two more paintings of Sicily too.
There is so much more to say about Italy but I will leave Rome,Puglia and the Amalfi coast till another time
Some of these and many watercolours are for sale or just to see on my site at
Today we remember those whose sacrifices both in that War and since have enabled us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.
We will never forget them.
I am reminded of this in the personal sacrifices of members of my Wife’s family in 1917.
We have visited Ypres twice in recent years following the final days of my Wife’s great Uncles who were killed at Passchendaele in 1917. Visiting there was a remarkable and very moving experience.
We will always remember the great sacrifices made by so many over 100 years ago and since, in too many conflicts.Their sacrifice gives us all the freedoms we enjoy today.
For this post in this series on food and drink and scenery we are heading off to Northern Italy, well a few parts of it anyway. In Part two we will visit the Veneto area and Sicily.
Lago di Como
Our first stop is the beautiful Lake Como, a truly magnificent area of Northern Italy.
The sparkling waters of the Lake , which is surrounded by impressive mountains and then by the shore there are many delightful towns and villages.
We most recently stayed in Cernobbio where the town nestles against the southern end if the lake.
One evening we ate in a really very good and ever so friendly restaurant in the town called “Osteria del Beuc”. Amongst a delightful selection of food we enjoyed some great lake perch,lightly pan fried and really great.
We washed it down with some excellent Gavi di Gavi chilled white Italian wine.
It was a memorable evening enjoyed with great friends and we ended it with a stroll by the lake.
The next day we went in a motor launch along the lake, taking in the sights and lunching at Bellagio, a really lovely town, only rivalled in the area by Varenna.
There are so many great sights along the Lake with many famous gardens and Villas.
Here are some watercolours of Lake Como, a place we look forward to returning to.
Just the word Tuscany brings back wonderful memories of holidays spent in the lovely part of Italy.
Everywhere you turn in Tuscany there are great scens to savour, let alone the food and the stunning wine.
It is a region we love from the treasures of Firenza to the towers of San Gimignano it is all very stunning. Not to mention Pas and Sienna to!
One town I have loved to paint in is Lucca with such an iconic oval Piazza surrounded by cafes and restaurants. I am pleased to say that quite a few people around the world have original watercolours, each one different naturally, of this scene.
Just to sit and enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by is enough there to give you a great sense on calm and pleasure.
The towers of San Gimignano are really quite amazing. Although many have disappeared the are still a lot to admire.
Over 500 years old in many cases they dominate this delightful town with its many restaurants, and even more tourists!
One real food highlight there was a gelato enjoyed in the main Piazza with the towers all around us.
Here are a few more watercolours of Tuscany which i hope you will enjoy.
In Part Two of this post we will visit Venice, and the adriatic coast before travelling down south to beautiful Sicily
i hope you are enjoying this very selective visit to Italy and much as I am
A Place, a Painting, a Drink and a Platter. No 3 The USA
For such a huge Country there is often some similarity in Restaurant menus from California to New Hampshire, or Washington State to Florida.
But thank goodness there are many local specialities and difference too, and in this short post we can look at a few of my favourites plates of food. If I mentioned all my favorite US meals we would be here a long time!
After our last post visit to the Cote d’Azur these are somehow heartier fare, which can mean large and delicious portions!
So let us start in Seattle
1. SEATTLE IN WASHINGTON STATE
Seattle, is a big City and is to me somehow dominated by three things, Mount Rainier, which seems massive even though it is 60 miles away. The Boeing Company, a place I have visited at lot, and Microsoft, maybe its their hardware and software you are using to read this.
Of course Seattle is much much more that these three things and for me my post item is Clam chowder. Whilst more often associated with New England it is also great on the West Coast. Sometimes served in a huge crusty loaf this hearty dish, together with the wonderful local Salmon and Mussels bring back mouthwatering memories of the area.
One favourite place where i enjoyed all these food items was Arnie’s at Mukiteo. A few miles north of Boeing’s huge factory, where I did spend a lot of time some years ago.
After the great Clam Chowder, you can take the short ferry ride across to Whidbey Island and enjoy the Mussels from Penn Cove and explore this unspoilt and delightful place.
Travel north on the island and you can return to the mainland via the bridge at Deception Pass. It is a lovely trip. Oh, and if possible have the the locally brewed beers with your meal, very good!
2. SAVANNAH IN GEORGIA
The quaint streets of Savannah and the strange Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss give Savannah a timeless quality.
We stayed in one of the “Historic Inns ” called “The Gastonian”and enjoyed it a lot and we were made very welcome.
However our food highlight was dinner at a great restaurant called “Elizabeth’s on 37th Street” where all the courses were very good but the first course was outstanding. It was a meat stuffed local Vidalia onion covered in a delicious sauce. It was terrific and an everlasting memory of a great City.
3. New England
The whole area of New England is a wonderful part of the USA to visit.
We have been there quite a few times and enjoyed it every time.
New England seems to abound in great food and wonderful hospitality.
On of our favourite places to stay is Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport which is just great, but maybe my most memorable platter was in the small town of Belfast where I enjoyed the most fantastic Lobster Roll.
Of course this is a common item on menus all over New England but that one does stick in my memory! And naturally washed down with locally brewed beers, of which there are many.
it is an area where I have enjoyed painting and sketching so here are few watercolours to end this post
From Boston to Halifax there is so much to see and do!
Next time lets head to Italy,the home of great food, wine and scenery!
Bosham in West Sussex is really a small and delightful Town. It has a really lovely Harbour and is a great place to spend a few days Walking and also visiting the surrounding area, especially Chichester, which is a lovely Cathedral City and well worth a visit.
This was also a great opportunity to paint some watercolours and to enjoy good food and accommodation at “The Millstream Hotel” in the Town, a few minutes walk from the Quay.
In this flatfish landscape the sea rises quickly to engulf the shore road and the cars parked there! Don’t leave your car for long!
It is painters paradise and we luckily had good weather so the opportunity to paint “en plain air” was very welcome
We also visited the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, where many historic buildings have been gathered together as a village with demonstrations and lovely Sussex Weald Countryside to enjoy.
Here are the watercolours that I managed to paint whilst there, which I hope you will enjoy.
On our visit to Chichester we visited the Cathedral but also the lovely Deanery Gardens and this row of old houses caught my eye in Canon Lane.
We really enjoyed our few days in Bosham and I am sure we will want to return to the area again.
In this the second of the series it is the turn of The Côte d’Azur and Provence in Southern France.
This spectacular part of the world has always been one of our most favourite destinations with the mountains, sea and a wonderful coast. That is before we even start to think of the food and wine.
For an artist it is also a place of wonderful light and clear air, dazzling azure blue seas and marvellous towns , villages and mountains.
I have painted hundreds of watercolours of the region so it is tricky to pick a few but here goes.
- St Tropez
St Tropez has it all, a bustling harbour filled with huge yachts, tiny streets and many boutiques, markets and crowds in the summer. The best way to get there is on the Ferry from Saint Maxime, the journey alone is great!
This first watercolour shows St Tropez with yachts racing off shore
Away from the busy harbour with the vast yachts is the tiny port of La Ponche.
With a group of restaurants at the entrance the harbour and beach has not changed in many years, but alas the fishing fleet is no longer there. We love to have a simple lunch there at a restaurant called La Pasquier et Mazagran of a freshly made omelette and frites, some crusty French baguette and a carafe of lovely local Rosé wine. Inside the Restaurant it is like stepping back in time, or outside on the terrace the shade of the awnings is very welcome.
2. The Perched Villages and Towns
From Eze via Vence, St Paul de Vence, Bar sur Loup, Toutettes sur Loup, Gourdon, Montaroux, Callian, Tourettes, Fayence,S eillans and on toward Bargemon the Perched villages and townsof this area of Provence are wonderful.
House perched on Cliffs, Narrow winding streets, bars and Restaurants in abundance. Small and large Churches and fine views across to Cannes ,Nice, and The Esterel peninsula.
There just isn’t time to explore them all now so here are just three for this Post.
Gourdon perches on a cliff edge with its Chateau and intesting shops ,perfume distillery and restaurants.
The road up is steep but wide and the views across to the Esterel and Nice quite amazing..There is good restaurant , La Taverne Provencal, looking over the view where we have enjoyed nice lunches too, and the panini in a little cafe on the main street are delicious too.
Our favourite restaurant for many years was La Table D’Yves in Fayence but sadly it is now closed.
However Fayence and the area have many nice restaurants and our favourite these days is very good Le Moulin De La Camandoule which is is really terrific and has a lovely oustside Terrace to enjoy . Great menus especially their vast, and slightly wobbly, Cheese trolley and Dessert Souffles are all excellent. The view of Fayence from the terrace is lovely. A great place to stop and enjoy Lunch or Dinner. Or stay as they have rooms too.
Very old, with narrow winding streets. We ate some while ago at a Restaurant called Chez Hugo (chezhugo.fr) where I enjoyed a terrific Squid Bourride. With its flavours of Cumin and Spices, it was a special plate of food.
So much did I enjoy it that I have developed my own recipe for it!
Rather different but I like it!
Here is the method.
Part boil a handful of new potatoes.
In an oven proof casserole fry, in olive oil with a pat of butter, sliced Shallots, about 6, with two sticks of chopped celery, 3 cloves of chopped garlic and a tablespoon of cumin, some chilli flakes, a good pinch of salt and coarse black pepper, about 12 turns of the grinder.
When softened but not too brown add a large glass of white or rose wine and the same about of good stock,chicken or vegetable.
In another pan fry the medium sized squid, or five small ones, which has been chopped in bite sized pieces and dusted with flour until just going slightly brown. Add this and the halved potatoes to the casserole and pop in the oven at around 160C. If is seems too dry add a splash of water. Cook for 25 minutes and serve immediately with crunchy bread and very chilled Rosé Wine. Voila!, Bon Appetit!
With so many great places on the Côte d’Azur to visit I think we may need a return visit later on in this series!
Next time this series will take us to the USA and a few destinations there.
This new occasional series of posts picks out some wonderful places that we have visited in our travels, drinks we have enjoyed there and some memorable meals.
As you know I love to record our travels in watercolour and so this series will feature watercolours painted during those many years of travel.
It will cover a good number of Countries, but we have to start somewhere and so here is the first post in this series , featuring a a few parts of Australia.
- Sydney and Watson’s Bay
Sydney is one of the World’s great destinations. Its location , Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are only a part of the great cultural attractions of this City.
Savour the great wines, enjoy the scene and the food all around the harbour and the City.
However my choice for this first entry is just in the outskirts of Sydney at Watson’s Bay, approached from the Bay on one of the Ferry boats this headland town boasts one of the finest Fish Eateries, Doyles!
Get a balcony table and enjoy the great fish and chips,( we ate Kingfish) enjoy a lovely glass or two of crisp unoaked Australian Chadonnay. The views are great and then reboard the ferry and tour the whole of the Bay.
2. The Barossa Valley
Many years ago on a visit to Adelaide I had the chance to spend some time in the Wine region of The Barossa Valley. A recent article in the newspaper had me looking back at my notes and photos and this led me to produce this watercolour painting , a Pen and Wash sketch.
The wines in the Barossa Valley are great, some legendary, and on that visit I enjoyed some Old Vines Shiraz and a great Australian “Barbie” .
Australian bred beef is terrific and we naturally had some wonderful steak and some Kangaroo too. The visits to the Wineries were very good. The scenery all around the region was lovely. I hope my watercolour captures a small part of this great part of South Australia.
3. The Blue Mountains
Not many hours from Sydney are the beautiful Blue Mountains. A great place to stay and visit with sweeping vistas in all directions. The steepest train ride anywhere too I seem to remember.
We stayed at Katoomba and enjoyed great hospitality and food. One really memorable dinner was in Leura , at a restaurant called Silk’s Brasserie where ate great beef tenderloin and had some of the best food and service possible.
I see it has moved now from Central Leura to Silvermere in Wentworth Falls, it is great to see they are still doing well. And of course our meal was accompanied by a lovely Australian Cabernet Sauvignon!
Next time we will reminisce about the Cote d’Azur in France.
I hope you have enjoyed this first post of this new series.
Here a couple of new Pen and Wash watercolours that I have added to this post
And Bosham on the South Coast of England
Having received some nice comments about my smaller Pen and Wash watercolours I have here collected together a number for the past few year
They are in no particular order but may remind you and I of a number of places that together we have visited!
I hope you will enjoy this reprise