Friday, July 10, 2015

Day 25 - London start

As I sit here in a very frustrated state at an Airbnb that is not going so well, I'll reminisce about my first real day in London on this trip and how much better it was.

Our friends' house was a far cry better than the one I wrote this post from!

I started out at Lori and Gideon's house, taking in a visit with their son Noah, who is a 15 year old I relate to. He's very direct, with a funny sense of humor, and I feel like I would have connected with him at school had I met him then. I took off that morning for the center of town, taking in a bit of their charming neighborhood, called Haggerston or De Beauvoir, which is park like and suburban. The first night there they put me up in a luxurious guest room with down comforter and a lovely garden view, but then a cousin came to town and I was put into a closet (seriously) on an inflatable mattress! And loved it! For one thing, the closet has windows on two sides and was big enough to put a queen size mattress in it, and then just being able to hang out with them was a treat. Plus it was an easy base of operations once I got the trains sussed, which didn't take long. London's public transport is phenomenal, even if it is a bit pricey. It can take you just about anywhere in the city, and it's generally comfortable. I never waited more than 5 minutes for trains during the whole trip. 

Some of the recent London building additions have some pretty questionable design!

One of the first things that struck me was the number of construction cranes visible from anywhere in London. Seems like the building boom is going strong here. Wish I could say I loved all the additions to the city, but it is good to see the economy is alive and kicking. 
Soane Museum, on Lincoln's Inn Fields.

I had a big list of things to see in London from all my online research, and I wasted no time to get in to the Soane museum, built around John Soane's house on Lincoln's Inn Fields in the middle of town. Soane was a classical architect who designed his own house, those for clients, and some major works such as the Bank of England headquarters. He also collected all kinds of Roman, Greek, and other bits of architectural and ornamental items for his teaching practice, much of which is on display as it was left in the house in the early 1800s. The house is a crazy rabbit den of passages filled with shelves and pedestals, innovative and unusual rooms with things like tinted skylights and a central heating system that rises up from the basement, and a very cool picture gallery with swinging doors that increase the hanging area by fourfold. Only bummer was a ban on photography, so I was sneaky Sam with my phone cam, which puts a damper on the experience. Nevertheless, it's a great spot I highly recommend, and it's FREE!

Sneaky Pete photo of the interior of Soane Museum showing his packrat tendencies.

After that I walked over to the nearby British Museum, also FREE, and spent several hours wandering the immense halls and snapping freely. The collections here leave the Met's collections far behind, with hall after hall of just the Greek things, including of course the hotly contested Elgin Marbles, taken off the Parthenon in the early 19th century and shipped to London for "safekeeping".  

"What did you bring home as a souvenir, my dear?"
 "Not much, a few statues and a temple or two."
Wandered around a bit longer in the center of town, trying to see something I might recognize from 35 years ago, but things are so much more commercial today (just like in NYC) that I really couldn't get anything that felt at all familiar. Took the train back and enjoyed a bite with friends.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day whatever- it's all over!!

What an epic trip this has been! I've been on the road for over 7 weeks, and now am sitting on the plane back home, trying to make some sense of it all before we get home and the details of trying to catch up with everything overwhelm me. I never believed Marianne when she first said I should stay out until July 8th, and yet here it is and here I am, still alive and writing too. 

Marianne and our friend's daughter Xanthe on the first day of the trip in Rome.

Beginning in Italy to stay with our friends in Rome, then down to Lecce for the Salon Conference of Decorative Painters, staying a week or so afterwards while Marianne went home to finish up the school year (she's the school nurse at our local junior high), meeting back up with her in London, going out to Bath area for a reunion of old friends, splitting up again while she and her friend Heather went off to explore ancient stone circles and wells while I had a good dose of London and a good dose of friends I stayed with, traveling up to Leeds to see a couple grand houses, then flying to Ireland to meet M. once again, staying in Dublin with her family connection, driving around the southwestern end of the country up to Galway area, then finally flying back to London for a wrap up week of museums, houses, and another great friend reunion. 

Old friends in Froome.

So many new experiences and places; I hadn't been to London in 35 years, and Ireland in 42 years! Southern Italy was unexpectedly different, Caserta was jaw dropping, London was unrecognizable, same for Dublin, Leeds was unexpectedly pleasant (other than driving!) and rural Ireland was a whole new cup of fresh tea (ditto for driving there-- Yikes!!) 
Stacks of peat drying in Western Ireland

I could definitely keep going like this for a while if I had the budget, but responsibilities call, and of course I look forward to seeing the family, and dogs, and cats, and bike, and surfboard, and getting back into the studio to try to assemble and react to all the amazing input I've had over the past 52 days! 
Superfast one day mural done with a couple of scenic painters in London. Each panel is 10'x10'!

I can see from this how celebrities must need to take lots of photos and keep diaries- it does tend to blur and the distances of time seem immense- the Salon experience seems like a year ago already. Definitely had our trials on this trip, as probably always happens and will happen, especially when one is traveling on the cheap, But it makes for such a great time, and some of the most random moments end up being the most memorable. I will continue to post the chronological diary entries of the trip as I go back through the photos and remember the days, but I wanted to try to catch the moment while it is still fresh. 

Bubbles in Trafalgar Square

Hello "real life"!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 24 - To London, to London, to buy a fat pig!

[from two weeks ago- still playing catchup]

Finally got in touch with our friends Lori and Gideon, who had been down at the reunion in Frome, and they reiterated their invite to come stay with them in London, which I happily accepted. I uneventfully got myself to the Brighton station and took the train to London, which was mercifully less expensive than the cross country adventure I had taken a few days earlier. I arrived at the Victoria station and couldn't contact Lori for a while, so I went straight away to the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham, which I knew I wanted to see, and was only a short walk from the station. As a bonus, they had a coat check that could take my travel bags (a lot of them don't, as I learned later) The funny part was that they had to do a security check like you'd get at the airport, seeing as how close to the Palace they are, and the girl there was quite thorough in her inspection of my dirty socks etc, to the only slightly stifled annoyance of a couple of blue hairs waiting in the queue. Mostly I had come to see the architecture and the statues by Sandy Stoddart, who had been at the Classical Traditions Conference last year. I was not disappointed by those, though the collection was a bit thin, despite a nice Rembrandt biblical painting.

Queen's Gallery at Buckingham, architecture by John Simpson, sculptures by Alexander Stoddart.

After that I went down the street and saw the bear hat guards out in front of the Palace, sat by the fountain, then walked down to try to see Apsley House, which would not allow my bags (or photography- so forget them!) Went to the Hyde Park rose garden, which was hitting its stride and had a number of unusually beautiful flowers and combos, then heard from Lori and got on the tube to follow her directions to their house, on a lovely little park called de Beauvoir in NE London. 

Flowers in the rose garden at Hyde Park

Next day got up and went in to see the Soane Museum, where Sir John Soane had assembled a packrat's collection of ancient architectural fragments and molds, paintings by Hogarth, a Canaletto,  and amazing watercolor renderings of his projects by his compatriot Joseph Gandy. The house is a fun glimpse into the kind of accumulative mentality of the early 19th century, with items piled and hung one on top of the other in dusty profusion. The pictures gallery has giant swinging doors that allow pictures to be hung on both sides, thereby maximizing the amount of art that could be hung. Many of the rooms seem larger than they are by virtue of their designs, and the whole house has light channels that flood the interiors with amber light through tinted skylights all the way to the subterranean level. The library is of course very enviable, with notebooks of thousands of original Adam brothers drawings from their Grand Tour of Europe (what I'd give for a week or two to look through those!) I hear I just missed the reopening  of some of his personal rooms by a day or two, so if I make it back to London, it might be worth another visit. Especially since they also ban photos (boooo!!) so i could take another shot on sneaking a few more.

John Soane's museum, a packrat's delight!
After a quick lunch I walked over to the nearby British Museum, where I was pleased to learn that it's FREE, and they do NOT prohibit photos. Featuring a cornucopia of artistic gleanings from around the world, including the Elgin Marbles taken from the Parthenon, the museum is an encyclopedic look at the world's physical cultures. Despite my four hours of intensive scrutiny there, I need to go back again, as I entirely missed the prints and drawings collection, and a bunch of other things I'm interested in. This is not a one day museum! It's all housed in a great building too, with polychrome neoclassical Greek ornaments, designed by Robert Smirke in the early 19th century. Hall after hall opens up, with bits you'll recognize and many you won't. And then there's the recently glassed over central court, by Norman Foster, which allows a nice amble in climate control, but appears to be aging rather badly after just 15 years.

Ceiling of the BM addition looks pretty cool- until you look closely at the pigeon debris!

After they dragged me out of there (kicking and screaming "no!!") I walked about for a bit in central London, trying to get any semblance of familiarity from the last time I was here, in 1978. I couldn't. It all seems so much more commercial than my memories of it, with so much street level activity everywhere. Restaurants, shops, adverts, kiosks, walkstreets, and general crowds seem so much thicker than I remember. I'm sure the same thing would be true of New York or even LA if I hadn't been there in the intervening years, but it's strange to be somewhere you know you've been before and not recognize a single thing.

Not quite sure what they were thinking with this modern addition to town. Total disharmony.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 23- Brighton Beach Memoirs

Woke up with a knife in my throat, which is apparently an indicator of strep, but I needed to see the Royal Pavilion, so I had a bit of coffee (ouch! too hot!) and walked on down to the little park that fronts it and the old stables, which is now the Brighton Museum. I like the character of Brighton, which is kind of touristy, mostly British, with loads of food offerings and reasonable lodgings. My walkup single, on a nice square just a block from the beach, was only £30 ($45). There are all kinds of shops in the winding alleys known as The Lanes.

Local boys adding some atmosphere to the park in front of the Pavilion
I entered the Royal Pavilion and was sad to find out that photography is not allowed there! It is a marvelous interior (exterior too), based on an amalgam of Indian and Chinese architectures. The exterior is mostly the work of John Nash, and was done around 1820, while the interiors are mostly the work of Frederick Crace. It was used by King George IV as a getaway from London, and it has a very festive party look, with an outrageously ornate banqueting room that features a one ton chandelier and very fine decorative work all over.

Model of the Pavilion shows the Indo-Saracenic influence of the exteriors. By John Nash, ca 1820

As the rooms went on, it became easier to sneak a shot here and there, and I almost thought about going back into the banquet hall, but opted instead to do a small drawing of a piece of wall paper in the music room. I later found out that I have friends who know the chief of restoration there (now retired) and I might have gotten a more intimate tour, but as it was I was very impressed with the quality and extent.

Ceiling of the Music Room in the Pavilion gives a taste of the more Chinoise decor of the interiors

After some Thai soup that helped my throat a bit, I crossed over the garden, which has been restored to its original configuration recently, and went to see the Brighton Museum, housed in the old stables building. It's a nice museum, with a mix of design, history, archeology, and science. There were some tasty bits of early 20th century furniture and art, the requisite Turners, a good clothing display, and some Egyptian mummies and crocodile skulls just to round things out.

Early 20th century bathing suits in the Brighton Museum

All in all, a very good day, despite hacking fits and a throat that still feels like someone poured lye down it. Went back to the hotel, spent some web time in the lobby, and turned in early (only to find out that the cough syrup I'd bought had pseudoephedrine in it, which kept me up all night!)

Fun vernacular style of architecture has brick surrounds with beach cobble infills

Day 21-22 Down to the Sea!

Goodness- I'm getting way behind! That's what happens when you stay with friends rather than in a boring old hotel where there's nothing better to do at night than write stuff about your day. Instead I'm having a great time meeting peoples' kids, spending time with spouses and generally enjoying life without electronics! Who knew? But I vow to carry on with my reports, if for no other reason than getting to look back at them some time in the future when I'm knee deep in details and need a reminder that this is what it's all for!

Robert in the garden at Stourhead

So, back to my last day in Wiltshire, almost 10 days ago now. Said goodbye to Andrew and thanks for all the hospitality, then set off with Robert to go see Stourhead, another house with a Capability Brown landscape, just about a 20 minute drive away from their house. (I have a Home Depot and a Costco about 20 minutes from my house.) (OK, I also have the Pacific Ocean within a 20 minute walk, so there's that.)

First glimpse of a couple of the follies in the garden, designed by Henry Flitcroft

Got there just as they opened, and walked down the paths to the lake, on a brisk but sunny morning. The rhododendrons here were in their perfection, and some of them are huge- 30 feet tall - covered in pink or purple or white blossoms. We cruised the pathways around the lake, passing several architectural follies (not by Brown) that had nice interiors with statues and painting, and one particularly chatty guard. The guards and and security in most of the English museums I've been in on this trip have been talkative and enthusiastic, and (mostly) very well informed. Nice to see that they care and value their jobs.
The Temple of Apollo, also by Flitcroft.

We were almost ready for lunch by then, but decided to first tackle the house, which is not as large as some, and was completely refurbished after a disastrous fire in 1902. It is still charming, and had another one of those libraries that I could spend quite a bit of time in, with large antique print books that really turn my wheels. The decoration was somewhat plainer than others, but it was still charming and really felt like a home you could live in. The exterior was designed by Colen Campbell, (1676 – 1729) who was instrumental in bringing Palladian style to England mostly through his book, Vitruvius Britannicus, published in the early 1700s.

The portico at Stourhead was a later addition, but was done to Colen Campbell's design.

Left the house and had a bit of lunch, then Robert drove me down to the train station at Gillingham, where I caught a train to Woking (£35 for a 1- 1/2, ouch!) and then rented a car to get down to a hamlet called Chiddingfold, where I'd stayed in an inn with my mother some 42 years ago! I'd located the inn online and booked a night there just for the memories, and (once I found it- without GPS!) I was not disappointed to find it looked unchanged. The low, dark entry was charming and reflected its long history as an inn. The Crown Inn was built around 1250, and is recorded as a place for traveling monks to stay in the mid 1300s. It is a half-timbered house with wonky floors and a beautiful old dining room. My only disappointment was learning that my room was in a recently built annex, though it was still nice and reflected a moderate price that is probably not the case with the old room where my mom and I stayed in the 70's. 

Crown Inn in Chiddingfold, Surrey, built in the mid 1200s
The next day I got up and had my first proper English breakfast in the dining room, then drove down to Petworth, another fabulous house with gardens by Capability Brown again. For the past couple of days, I'd had a bad sore throat coming on, and as I walked the grounds before the house opened, I was feeling pretty light headed. The house was pretty fabulous, with a very nice kitchen and servants area, and an early example of a private gallery in the house that included numerous Turners and William Blakes, and carved wood ornaments by Grinling Gibbons in a great room that lived up to its name. 

Delicate and intricate carvings by Grinling Gibbons at Petworth

By this time the illness was coming on strong, and I barely made the drive down to Brighton, where I turned the car in and got dropped off at my little hotel on Regency Square. The place was fine, though I almost passed out from the effort of lugging my bags up to the 4th floor on the narrow stairs. After a short nap, I got up and out to find something for my throat, then I walked on a bit to take a look at where the Royal Pavilion was (for my visit the next day) and then went down to the beach to see what that was like.

"Put on your boots and let's go down to the beach!"

As a beach boy myself, this was hilarious! First of all, everyone is fully dressed. Maybe a few shirts off here and there, but loads of people (including me!) in jackets, shoes, and pants. It's a bit easier in that regard than it would be in LA, as the beach here is covered in cobbles, not sand, so you stay pretty clean on it. You are also free to smoke and drink alcohol on it, and the locals certainly do. There were no bathers in the water, and a few brave souls were on kayaks, and I saw one lonely paddler on a surfboard. Not quite as lonely as Quadrophenia, but certainly not Redondo Beach either!

Nothing says "beach" quite like stretching out in your suit and talking on your phone as the gulls circle overhead, taking aim
Straggled on back to the hotel, spent a few minutes on the WiFi in the "lobby", and then crashed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Day 18-19- 20 Off to the Bath and a Longleat

Maynard and Marianne check out Robert's studio

Our first day of reunion was a joy of old friends hanging out, laughing, making fun of each other and the world, exploring the house and the yard, and eventually piling onto a bus and making our way into the old town of Bath for a bit of meandering and exploration. It was blustery and cool, which was just fine, with sun bursts that felt great and gave good lighting on the buildings. The yellow Bath stone that many of the buildings are made of reminded me a lot of the Lecce stone we experienced a couple weeks ago in Italy. It was nice to be in a crowd of English speakers again, but still feeling like a foreigner.

Clip Clop!

Bath is pretty commercialized, but there are still corners where you can imagine the sound of horses hooves and carriage wheels, and there was a vegetable vendor whose spiel sounded like something from the 18th century. Took in the pretty Bath Abbey- the first gothic interior I've been into on this trip. 

Gothic revival chandelier in Bath Abbey
Returned to the house for a fine round of croquet on the lawn, naps, and some drawing time. Very relaxing! Whipped up a delicious dinner between several of us, and went to bed entirely satisfied. 

A little tree hugging in the park

Next day brought glorious weather, just lounging about the house, more croquet, visiting the tiny 13th century church next door to the house, stopping in to say hi to the cows (poor fellows- I think their days were numbered!) and doing a bit more drawing. Some of the group took off that afternoon, with hugs and vows of keeping in touch (we all know how that goes!) Repeat of dinner, and satisfaction for a day well done!


Next day I decided to visit Longleat House, which is just 5 miles away from the house, and I got dropped there by Marianne and Heather, who were splitting off to do their own mini tour of sacred sites, starting in Cornwall. 

Longleat from the front side

Longleat is an Elizabethan country house, seat of the Marquess of Bath, set in a 1,000 acre park designed by famous landscape architect Lancelot "Capability" Brown. It also has a wild animal park on the premises since the 1960's, made to create some income for the upkeep of the place. 

Longleat from the back yard

I am so glad I got there in time to take the tour of the private apartments, which have been extravagantly and eccentrically decorated by Alexander Thynn, the 7th Marquess of Bath, who took it upon himself to invent a colorful version of a naive figurative style that encompasses all kinds of thematic elements, from history and politics to erotica, all attached to the walls and ceilings of the paneled interiors of most of one side of the building. I'm sure there are many who object to the non-traditional style of the work, but I found it fascinating and deeply personal. I felt a great affinity for the Marquess, and had to resist the urge to call out to him, as he lives on the top floors still. From his pictures, he looks like he was quite a colorful character, though he is now getting on and is apparently infirm. His son has taken over running the house, and he has removed at least one room's decor (they are all done on panels, so the underneath is still intact, and the work can be preserved as well.) I suspect that in a short time the value of his work will be recognized as a very age appropriate and unique addition to the house. 

The billiard room at Longleat, decorated by Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath. (not my photo- it comes from the souvenir book)

After that introduction, the rest of the house was a pleasant tour of more traditional works, with a dense Renaissance Revival interior mostly done in the 19th century, but incorporating older bits of Italian paintings that were bought by the 4th Marquess and installed by John Crace, interior designer who worked on the Royal Pavilion at Bath and numerous other major projects around England.

Decor of the grand rooms incorporates bits of Italian Renaissance art, such as the frieze and the inset panels in the ceiling, with 19th century surroundings. Has a very Venetian feeling overall. 

There were numerous bedrooms and parlors, each with very fine decorations, including a Chinese wallpapered bedroom, and there are over 40,000 books in the library, spread around the house, that included all kinds of droolinducing "elephant" folio (approx 22" x 28") books about architecture and art, which I had to use all my self control not to leap upon and peruse. 

Chinese export wallpaper in a bedroom

After satisfying myself that I had shot about as much as I could possibly shoot there, I made my way outside again and set off to explore part of the garden. "Capability" Brown (1716-1783) was known for designing sweeping gardens at country houses around England that are characterized by their pastoral, naturalistic look, despite being quite artificial. They often include man-made lakes and brooks, meadows, large specimen trees planted for their shape and color, and architectural follies.

 The part I chose to explore was called the "Pleasure Walk" and consisted of large trees, flowers and shrubs chosen for their exotic characteristics, color or scent. It took me up the side of the very large approach to the house, and also to the end of my camera's batteries. Thus I strolled back along several long lakes ringed by fishermen and populated by swans and geese, and was picked up from the animal park by Robert, who listened to me babble excitedly about the house on the way back to his.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Day 17- Hallo England!

I'm getting way behind in my reportage, but rather than skip a bunch of days to where I am now, I think I'll just continue sequentially, since it helps me to remember what I did on each day. I've actually now been in England for a week, but this one's about getting here.

Awoke at dawn to catch a taxi to the train to the airport, where the usual confusion and stress of being in transit mode set in. For someone who loves traveling, i really don't much enjoy the in transit part. The watchfulness, stressing over time frames, and standing in lines are not my idea of fun. Once I'm in my seat and moving it's ok, but the preamble part, not so much. I also stress on finding myself in a new place where I have no orientation, looking at maps and trying to figure out where to go. The computer is great when you have WiFi, and the maps supposedly were going to work on my phone (but have not) so I sometimes get a good map from internet and leave the page open on the laptop, and will get it out for reference when needed. That's worked pretty well, with the exception of Venice, where the addresses are not always correctly entered in the database.

In the Rome airport a noisy groom's party (with him in a bridal gown) looked like they'd been going all night1

Anyways, made it through all the airport hoopla and got on the plane, a cheapie hopper from Rome to London. There are now a whole bunch of smaller airlines competing for business ferrying people from point to point in Europe, which means there are really low fares (especially if you book in advance!) on planes that are bare bones, but who cares if it's only a two hour flight. Vueling, Easy Air, Ryanair, you can find a bunch of them online. 

Not sure what that's all about. Kinky Brits!
As we were approaching Gatwick airport, I was struck by the difference between the rural landscape below and that of the U.S. From the East Coast to the Rockies, the landscape is a grid of roads and field divisions that is very regulated on a North East South West pattern, and you can easily see that it stretches for miles that way. In England (and most of Europe) that grid is nonexistent, with fields and roads that are built to accommodate for natural features, rather than the other way around. 

English countryside has none of the mechanical gridding that dominates the US

Touched down at Gatwick and did the usual passport stuff, noticing how many closed circuit cameras there were everywhere. England is supposed to be the most monitored country in the world for video, and you do see it everywhere- little notices that tell you you're being watched by big brother. Somewhat reassuring, but somewhat disturbing too. Got on the bus to transfer to Heathrow, where Marianne was coming back to meet me after going home for a week to wrap up the school year at her job (she's a school nurse at a middle school.) Didn't have to wait too long before she came in, and we made our way to the car rental place, which is what we'd decided to use to get down to our friend Robert's place in Wiltshire, near Bath. We were rather put off by the rental price jump for insurance; Marianne thought she'd found a car for $20 a day, but then they hit you with "Oh, the insurance fee is $60!" We almost decided to blow it off and take a train, but after some foot stamping and negotiation, we got a decent car for a decent price (around $50/ day all told) and set out. 

Traffic jam on the A3- feels just like home!

I was amazed at how shifting on the left side didn't really feel all that strange (we got a manual- they're cheaper) but the left side of the road thing is definitely a challenge, and more than once I found myself on the wrong side, especially when making a right turn. English roads are funny- they seem so rural everywhere- even the big motorways are surrounded by trees, and they don't have billboards, so it almost seems like you're in a green tunnel. Once you're on the smaller roads, they are very narrow and hemmed by greenery, and people park in places that make the road only one car's width, so you take turns coming through. Traffic accidents here must be real show stoppers, as there's frequently no alternative route, and if it's only one lane and that's blocked, well….

Stonehenge, taken from the window of the car as we passed by- it's that close!

We were also really happy to have gotten a car with SatNav (GPS), since Marianne is not much of a map reader, and I was doing the driving. In England, the little postal codes in the address is actually a unique coordinate for any building, so the computer can tell you exactly where you need to go- including the tiny country lanes. On our way down to Robert's, we were surprised to see Stonehenge just off the road we were on, looking rather small (as in Spinal Tap!) We passed by and soon made it to Frome (rhymes with "broom"), squeezed through the streets there and found Robert's country hideaway out in the middle of fields, next to a dairy farm. Robert and Andrew (they're a couple) live there in very peaceful surroundings, much of which Andrew has built up over time. They just recently added a lake (we'd call it a pond, but it's his lake!) and the house is a delightful little farmhouse that's been made very cozy for the two of them. 

The approach to Robert and Andrews house. Without the SatNav we never would have found it!
The whole reunion thing was kind of a last minute idea, borne of us traveling to England, but bringing together some far flung pals who had a tight knit group that centered around the punk music scene in LA during the late 70's and early 80's. There were 10 of us altogether, most of whom had known each other for over 30 years. Two of us, Robert and Alan, had moved to the UK a number of years ago, and our reunions are few and far between, so it was a real joy to get together and share stories and memories. We all settled in and Andrew showed me some of his art collection around the house- very nice pieces that included watercolors of the area, and some really good portraits and landscapes by a great-aunt of his.

Andrew showing us the lake he had put in. Not too shabby!

Ate a yummy dinner prepared by Robert (with help), and talked until one AM.