Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hampstead - Flask Walk, Burgh House and John Constable

40 Well Walk, Hampstead (former home of John Constable)
pencil and coloured pencils in Daler Rowney sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On Friday, I was out sketching with the Drawing London Group. This month we were in Hampstead as one of the members of the group, Bill Aldridge, has an exhibition on at Burgh House - closing today. Burgh House is also the home of the Hampstead Museum.

We started off at Simply Scrumptious in Flask Walk which is a one minute stroll from Hampstead Tube. Having sat down to have a cappuccino I decided I rather liked the idea of sketching the delightful plants which were being laid on the pavement in front of the shop next door. (I went back later and bought three of them!)

The front of Judy Green's Garden Store
pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

We had an absolutely delightful lunch in the garden of Burgh House. The Buttery Cafe, based in the basement of Burgh House does amazing food and also has great seating arrangements both inside and out in the garden. I had a wonderful crayfish salad which was scrummy! I'll be very happy to return to try out the rest of the menu.

In the afternoon, having armed myself with some details about local history from the shop on the ground floor, I walked east to Well Walk and located the house at 40 Well Walk (streetview) which John Constable (1776 - 1837) used to live in. There's a raised pavement on the other side of the road and I perched on my stool up there just above the steps up from the road to the raised pavement.

I hadn't realised John Constable lived in Hampstead at all until I went to the the Constable Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery back in March of this year (see my exhibition review of Constable Portraits: The Painter and his Circle.) However one of the things I loved about the exhibition were the family portraits he painted in Hampstead and some of the landscape paintings he did of and from Hampstead Heath. There's a very good overview exhibition about John Constable in Hampstead at Burgh House at the moment. Constable rented various summer lodgings around Hampstead village from 1819. He leased 40 Well Walk in 1827 and this is the only address in Hampstead with an official English Heritage Blue Plaque.
Included in the exhibition are paintings of where he used to live (eg at 2 Lower Terrace, Hampstead.) It's clear to see that he faced a problem many artists have when looking for somewhere to paint when they have a number of small children and also love cats!
I have sundry small works going on - for which purpose I have cleared a small shed in the garden which held coals, mops and brooms that is literally a coal-hole and have made it into a workshop and place of refuge.
Subsequently I came across The Museum of London's virtual website "Creative Quarters - the art world 1700 - 2000" which was developed to support an exhibition of the same name which ran at the Museum of London from March to June in 2001. It explores eight areas in London which have been associated with different artists over the years. Hampstead 1800-1830 - or the "northern heights" used to be where artists such as John Constable, George Romney and William Blake lived. You can read more about artists living in London by following the link at the end.

Sketchercise: Rather fewer steps on Friday - 5,916 steps and 2.9 miles - but lots of scope for more when I visit Hampstead again


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lunch in the National Cafe #2

This is another in my series of sketches drawn while havling lunch. This one is the second sketch of Lunch at the National Cafe. You can see the first one here Lunch at the National Cafe

Lunch at The National Cafe #2
10" x 8", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I visited the National Cafe for a light lunch after the press preview of the exhibition for the BP Portrait Awards. As I was planning a hike around the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition as the next thing on the agenda for the day I needed a sit down and a bit of time out. The National Cafe does very nicely and is very convenient for anybody wanting a bite to eat in the area of Traflagar Square at any time of day! This is the menu.

You can also have a classic afternoon tea - although I've personally 'delisted' cream teas those from my choice of food items while I try to achieve my goal to lose weight and generally embrace Sketchercise!

You can see more sketches like this - but at different venues in Interior landscapes with food - a Sketchbook

My Sketchercise total for that day was 10,094 steps and 4.78 miles


Making a Mark reviews......

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sketching at the RA - The Friends Room #4 and #5

This is the fifth in my mini series of sketches of the Friends' Room at the Royal Academy of Art.

Sketching at the RA - Friends Room #5
8" x 11.5" pencil and coloured pencils in A4 Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is the first sketch in my brand new A4 size Moleskine Sketchbook. The paper is similar - but slightly different. I seemed to have difficulty getting depth of colour using coloured pencils - but only had a basic set of pencils with me so I'm open to a different interpretation. I've tweaked this sketch in Photoshop to show to the effect I was after - and would have got with my other (smaller) Moleskine as opposed to the one I got which was somewhat lighter

This sketch is one which I did in February last year. For some reason it never got posted on this blog!

Sketching at the RA - Friends Room #4
pencil and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

You can see the other sketches in this series on my website - Interior Landscapes - Drawings by Katherine Tyrrell

Alternatively you can see them in the following posts on this blog:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Developing a view of the East Lake

East Lake, Victoria Park
8" x 10", pen and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

My favourite long walk wends its way between various watery places - the Regents Canal, the Ecology Park Pond, the Hertford Union Canal, the West Lake and the East Lake in Victoria Park. I don't think the conventional view of the East End of London includes lots of green space and water - but that's what I've got!

This is a sketch I did on Tuesday this week. This is a view I really like and I'm feeling my way into it - trying to stick to bigger shapes at the moment. I was sat on my new sketching stool - still liking it - on one of the platforms built into the lake for the anglers.

The combination of a long walk and going to the BP Portrait Awards in the evening meant that my Sketchercise total for Tuesday was quite respectable - 11,432 steps and 5.413 miles.

Making a Mark reviews......

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beschorneria yuccoides

Beschorneria yuccoides and a Yucca
11.5" x 17", pencil and coloured pencils

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Do you know how long it took me to identify this plant? Do you know how completely unhelpful the RHS website is at identifying and providing images of plants in its own gardens? Can you tell I got more than a bit frustrated while trying to identify this plant? That will teach me to forget to photograph the name plate of the plant I'm drawing!!!

After nearly an hour of searching on the web and trying out various search terms and plant directories, Ifinally came up with Beschorneria yuccoides - confirmed by the Cambridge Botanic Garden and this site - Cool Tropical Plants which was the most helpful in terms of telling me what it is and how to look after it in layman's terms.

Anyway - it's a very spectacular plant and I found it on Weather Hill at Wisley, just near the top entrance to the Vegetable Garden. They've got about 3 or 4 growing up there and it was very spectacular at the end of May when we visited Wisley on that hot bank holiday weekend.

I'm toying with doing this one as a formal drawing for next years botanical artists exhibition. You may see it again!

Sketchercise and gardens - I find that visiting large gardens is a really great way to combine walking with sketching - and the bigger the garden the more walking gets done. RHS Wisley is a fabulous garden from this perspective. However I wasn't too keen on the bit where I couldn't get reception on my mobile phone so I could ring "he who must not bored while I sketch" who was having a very nice time sat next to the lake with the Sunday papers. I had to scoot all the way down the hill and across the stream and across seven acres to tell him that we needed to reschedule the planned meet-up....and then had to scoot all the way back up the hill again to get back to my spot for drawing these plants. But I just kept thinking about how it was probably doing me the world of good!

Sketchercise on 31st May 2009: 7,409 steps and 3.5 miles

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's a watercolour.........

Willow Pond 14th June 2009 5.00pm
watercolour and coloured pencil in Conté à Paris sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

.....but it's got coloured pencil on top as I'm not great at watercolour!

I was trying out a new sketching kit during a late afternoon sketch of a weed covered Willow Pond while sat on my new sketching stool on Heron Bridge. (See Ecology Park Pond series)
  • set of 12 large pans of Schminke watercolours
  • enormous brush - specifically chosen so I wasn't tempted to get detail oriented
  • Conté à Paris sketchbook - an old favourite, great paper for watercolour sketches
  • 2 pill tubs for water - haven't tried these before but they work fine
  • a few coloured pencils
  • pentel HB mechanical pencil - for initial layout
The big brush worked in terms of avoiding detail. Mixing watercolours was much faster as well plus it was great for working round edges and softening them up when used with clean water, however I think it'll take a bit of practice before I can use it really effectively.

The most difficult bit was trying to work out the mix for the very dark water. I was mixing complementary colours for quite a while before I hit on the perfect mixture which of course I now can't remember as I didn't write it down!

I did write a blog post A few tips about watercolour last year - such a pity I can't always remember them. It was originally written as much as a reminder for me as anybody else! I think I might need to print it out before I have another go.

Sketchercise: 5,509 steps 2.608 miles

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Horse Guards Parade and the Lake in St James Park

Every evening in St James Park in London, round about 6.00pm, a very small lady arrives next to the Inn in Park to feed the birds which live in and around the lake. She brings her trolley and lots of bread and the pigeons and ducks and coots and geese all love her.

The Bird Lady and the St James Park (with Horse Guards in the background)
8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is a sketch I did about 6.00pm yesterday after the pastels workshop with Felicity House at the Mall Galleries and a stroll around the park.

It's a rather nice view with the buildings of Horse Guards Parade peeping out inbetween the trees at the end of the park which flanks Horse Guards Road.

A very long time ago, the Parade ground used to be a tilt yard where jousting festivals were held in the time of King Henry VIII.
Horse Guards Parade is a large parade ground off Whitehall in central London, at grid reference TQ299800. It was formerly the site of the Palace of Whitehall's tiltyard, where tournaments were held in the time of Henry VIII. It was also the scene of the annual celebrations of the birthday of Queen Elizabeth I.
Wikipedia - Horse Guards Parade
Today Horse Guards Parade is being used for Trooping the Colour - here's the BBC news page. They were getting ready for it yesterday - huge Union Jack flags lined The Mall and banks of seats surround the parade ground - which has got a very nice top surface of pea shingle at the moment - which I know because I walked across if on my way home to Embankment tube station!

You can read more about Horse Guards Parade, the buildings and Trooping the Colour on this website.

I came across an interesting picture on Wikipedia which shows you the view I was sketching from a slightly different perspective.

The Prospect of Whitehall from the Park of St James, by John Stow, published under licence dated 1755. This picture is problematic as it shows only the central block of Horse Guards, and even that is not the final design as built. It may have been prepared a few years before publication and based on preliminary designs seen by Stow. Despite the title Horse Guards is the focus of the picture, rather than the main section of the park, which is behind the artist, or the street Whitehall, which is behind the buildings.
The RWS Friends Sketching Group are going to be sketching in the Trafalgar Square/St James Park area next Sunday - so I'll be back sketching here again on the 21st. If you're interested contact Libby Tomlinson - details in the link.

Sketchercise: yesterday I did 8194 steps and walked 3.88 miles

[UPDATE: here's a slideshow from the BBC of Trooping the Colour on 13th June 2009]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sketching the Pastel Society's Private View

People at Pastels Today - 110th Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society, Mall Galleries
9th June 2009 5.30pm
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

One of the less well known ways of getting exercise is walking around exhibitions. Yesterday I went into town to the Mall Galleries to pick up an artwork for a friend and to go to the Private View of The Pastel Society 110th Annual Exhibition.

You can read more about this in Exhibition review: The Pastel Society's 110th Annual Exhibition

For this sketch I adopted my usual approach as outlined in 10 Tips for How to Sketch People. With this particular sketch I started by sketching in the outlines of the frames behind the people. That gave me both scale and context for the sketch. I was able to use them to find how people of different height fitted into the picture. I then sketched the couple of ladies who are seated in the bottom right quadrant. They also served to provide a different sort of scale - for people sitting down. Then came the couple of chaps standing up and after that I fitted people in as they came and went. One particular lady was actually standing in a quite different part of the gallery but because I'd got enough information by then about relative scale I was able to fit her in quite easily. Having said that - I'm still not sure I got the lady in the left foreground right in terms of scale - as I actually sketched her after she left!

One of the things I see people doing sometimes when sketching people is to fit EVERYTHING inside the four lines of the picture frame. Personally I don't find crops which isolate the subject inside the four lines to be very persuasive of real life. By way of contrast I'm always trying to find ways of explaining why this is a slice of life that I'm sitting in the middle of - and I have no problem whatsoever in slicing people in half or only showing part of one shoulder - while of course trying to avoid ending up with a really weird unexplained shape! This post explains a bit more about this subject Making a Mark: Composition - the four most important lines

Sketchercise: This outing and trip around the Mall Galleries created a total of 4,907 steps or 2.323 miles (264 calories) for the day - but I was also good and resisted having a muffin with my cup of tea in the gallery! It would have been a lot more but for the tube strike which meant I had get home sooner than I'd planned.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A second group - Sketchercise on Flickr

It's obvious quite a few of you like the idea of Sketchercise!

However it was very sad yesterday to have to turn down about half the people who applied for membership of Sketchercise yesterday. This is because while our Ning community is still very new and getting off the ground we're limiting new members to people who are already active in terms of sketching combined with some form of activity. What that means is that I take a look at your website or blog to find evidence of what you've achieved so far - in terms of combining sketching and exercising.

Some people were engaged in only one - but not the other activity.

Bert on Heron Bridge 4th June 10.30am
8.5" x 11.5", pencils and coloured pencils in Daler Rowney sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
(see sketches from the same walk in Herons, coots and goslings - grooming, housekeeping and babysitting)

A second Sketchercise Group

As a result, I've decided (a bit like Urban Sketchers) that's there's going to be a need for a place where people can join in while they develop their sketchercise habit.

So I've set up a new group on Flickr - called Sketchercise on Flickr! See This is the description of how it works.
Sketchercise is for people who enjoy sketching AND taking exercise to maintain or improve their health outside a gym!

Sketchercise is a new community with two groups

SKETCHERCISE ON NING All you need to do to join the Sketchercise on Ning group is to enjoy sketching from life (no photos!), have already developed the sketching habit AND have found ways of getting out and about - with a sketchbook. You can walk or cycle or paddle your own canoe - so long as it involves activity and sketching! This group is for people who've already got the Sketchercise habit and we review your nominated website for evidence of this before new memberships are approved.

SKETCHERCISE ON FLICKR If you like the idea of Sketchercise and want to have a go at Sketchercise and develop a Sketcercise habit then this NEW FLICKR GROUP is the place to post your sketches and show us how you're getting on. Post all your sketchercise sketches in this group and tag them all with 'sketchercise' and that makes them easy to find.
So Sketchercise on Flickr will be the group which in future I will refer people to if they apply to join Ning but have very little demonstrable evidence of sketching and exercising at the same time.

It has a few rules which are detailed below. The emphasis is on the process rather than the output - we're not expecting drawings or paintings which are exhibition ready!
The focus of this group is the process of sketching and exercising and the Group rules are very simple
  1. Upload up to 3 sketches each day - in any media
  2. The sketch must be done from life and ideally done plein air (no sketching from photos at home!)
  3. The sketch must be done while taking exercise
  4. Say where you went and how you got there
  5. Tell us what you noticed while out exercising and sketching
Sketchercise on Flickr
If you are by any chance writing about Sketchercise on your blog, would you mind linking to this post and highlighting the difference between the two groups - thanks! :)

Note: My sketch is another one for the Ecology Park pond series and is of Willow Pond and was done while on my walk last Thursday morning. You can see Bert the Heron sat on Heron Bridge in the foreground!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sketchercise - plus sketching stools and chairs

Visit Sketchercise

Today I launched the semi-public version of Sketchercise over on Making A Mark (Sketchercise!). I'm not going to repeat what it says over here.

However I will reiterate the introduction to Sketchercise so you know what it's all about.
Activity to maintain your health or become healthier doesn't need to be done in a gym. All you need to do to join this group is enjoy sketching from life (no photos!), have developed the sketching habit and have found ways of getting out and about - with a sketchbook. You can walk or cycle or paddle your own canoe - so long as it involves activity and sketching!

We review the websites you nominate for evidence of the above before new memberships are approved.
The important issue is about how the walking (or whatever) combines with the sketching to give you a whole new perspective on yourself, your environment. One of our members Martin Stankewitz put it very well.
I think that the combination of drawing and walking leads to a more intense experience and perception of space and place or landscape, which would not be achieved by drawing or walking alone.
Martin Stankewitz
I'll be writing more about Sketchercise on this blog in the future.

In the meantime, for those considering taking up sketching, here are a couple of reviews of some essential kit:

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Herons, coots and goslings - grooming, housekeeping and babysitting

Coot Nest in Victoria Park
pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On Thursday I decided to take my sketchercise in the early morning and headed out for the walk up the Regents Canal to the Ecology Park Ponds and Victoria Park.

I was waylaid by some very demanding red poppies in the meadow grass of the Art Park but arrived at the Ecology Pavilion Roof at the same time as the heron arrived at Heron Bridge. Below you can see my photo of the heron coming into land on the bridge - he never gives me much warning and I was lucky to get this!

Bert comes into land on Heron Bridge
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm afraid I have a habit of giving names to animals and birds that I see often. This Grey Heron has been named Herbert the Heron - or "Bert" for short. I think it's the same heron I see each time but I could be wrong.

He then proceeded to give himself an all over groom - all the time standing on one leg!

Bert takes personal grooming very seriously pencil in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

It took a couple of minutes for me to realise that this was going to take some time and that I could try sketching him as he changed posture - so I did - and you can see the results on the right.

I found when watching him that he had a number of standard moves - and a lot of it depended on how he held his neck and whether or not it was folded or in twisting mode

Tomorrow I'll post the drawing I did inbetween his changes of posture.

The second drawing (top) is of the coot nest which is right next to the Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park. I can sit with my cup of tea on one of the outside benches and sketch this little family which are only about ten feet away. The most difficult bit was trying to work out how the ripples worked as the Mum and Dad busied themselves with housework and looking after the nest - which was of course now needs an extension as their kids are growing up fast and now need more room.

I love the way coots seem to find the largest things to put between their beaks so they can add it to their nest on the water. They are the soldier ants of the water birds!

Greylag Geese Goslings with Mum and Dad
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Finally, a photo of the other group of birds which I've grown very fond of in the last few weeks and that's the greylag geese families which live in Victoria Park. The Mums and Dads are most attentive and are often found standing around their brood on one leg, while the babes have a quiet snooze. I think this brood outgrew their nest a while ago!

My Sketchercise totals for Thursday were 7,548 steps or 3.57 miles

Links: Ecology Park Pond project plus RSPB links to each bird

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Formans and Fish island

Talking Exhibitions
8.5" x 11.5", pencil and coloured pencils

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Our final stop on the Drawing London Group outing to East london last Friday was to Formans on Fish Island.

Fish Island

Fish Island is an area which is a real backwater in East London - east of the Old Ford area of Bow and north of Old Ford Lock on the canalised River Lea.
Fish Island is bounded by the River Lea, the Hertford Union canal and the East Cross Route, and is so-called because of its street names (Roach Road, Bream Street, etc).
Hidden london - Fish Island

We were visiting Formans which is a brand new restaurant and part of a family of companies all dedicated to smoking and selling fish. How apt therefore to find that it's located on Fish Island!

We had the pleasure of visiting their new building last Friday. It's absolutely amazing. The whole building has been constructed on the principle of it being the shape and structure of a slice out of a salmon - and it's a very vivid pink on the outside!

What's interesting about Formans is that their previous home used to be situated right in the middle of what is now the new Olympic stadium. They were the very last company to leave the site and Lance Foreman the Chairman conducted a very long battle to stay as long as they could so that the business would survive and relocate into the new building which was specially built very close to their original site. The process was recently the subject of a BBC2 programme and has also been the subject of a number of newspaper articles such as this one from back in 2005 Up in smoke: The firm that lost out in the Olympics.

I guess, at the end of the day, due to the fight they put up they probably didn't lose out. Although apparently at the end, the construction people started building on the site before the firm had left and all the Forman's employees had to be escorted in and out of the ground - in hardhats!

H Forman's is Forman's Smokery. It's the oldest established smokery in the UK. It also smokes the salmon differently from the way it's done elsewhere. They use a very traditional London Cure which many think is the best there is. We could see down into the commercial kitchen area where they were prepping fish.

We were given a guided tour of the operation by Lloyd Hardwick, the restaurant's Executive Chef. and learned that there are three other companies - the restaurant which is new, a venue facility (also new and attracting much interest as it's the nearest one to the Games site!) and an online food delivery for its gourmet food products which has been going for a little while (check out the smoked fish!).

So what you may say. Well I would do too - until I recognised a packet of their salmon - which I'd last seen on display in Fortnum and Masons in Piccadilly and they only stock the very best. It turns out that Formans also ship their smoked salmon to top class hotels all around the world all round the world from Bangkok's Oriental to Sandy Lanes in Barbados. So if you've ever been fortunate to eat any this is where it comes from!
This is the legacy we are getting in advance. Formans is a shrine to smoked salmon
Boris Johnson,London Mayor

Lunch was simply wonderful - as you can see from the photo. These were the starters and they were followed by a Gourmet Fish Stew with mustard mash for my main course. For which I have one word - Yummy!

Having eaten a simply splendid lunch I wasn't at all surprised to learn, when I looked at the website later, that Lloyd had learned his craft from the Roux Brothers and subsequently became the first Executive Chef of The Tate Modern.

It was great to see a photographic exhibition in the restaurant - photographs of all the industries and companies which were displaced when the Olympics moved in.

The restaurant is very interesting as it's just a javelin's throw from the new Olympic Stadium - which is very visible from floor to ceiling windows. They also have a very good fish-eye (what else?!) webcam on the roof of the building from which you can see the Olympic Stadium. We just made do with the view from the balcony where we sat to sketch after lunch

At the top and below you can see a couple of my quick "after lunch" sketches - when everything suddenly seemed to simplify much more easily into large shapes!

Drawing on the Balcony at Foremans
8.5" x 11.5", pencil and coloured pencils

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

All in all it was a splendid day out sketching, walking and eating.

...and at the end of the day out, all that was left to do was for me to walk home - down the very peaceful and almost rural Hertford Union Canal.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Old Ford Lock - and some ancient tales

Old Ford Lock, River Lea, East London
8.5" x 11.5", pencil and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is a really ancient spot. There's evidence of both Bronze and Iron Age settlements along the River Lea as early as 2400 BC and also of a late Roman settlement around about Old Ford.

Old Ford
is an area in Bow in East London and it takes its name from the place where there was a natural ford. In Roman times this was the most downstream crossing point of the River Lee. It was very important because at this time the Lee was a wide, fast flowing river which flowed into the River Thames and the extent of tidal estuary stretched this far up river. There are in fact a lot of rivers in this area and the Olympic site sits in the middle of them.
The Bow Back Rivers are a mass of river channels which is said to have formed when King Alfred dammed the River Lea in order to trap the invading Vikings upstream.
Old Ford is also where a pre-Roman track crossed the river. This track went all the way from modern day Oxford Street in the centre of London all the way to Colchester in Essex which is 56 miles north east of London and is also the oldest recorded town in Britain and used to be the capital of Roman Britain for a time.

The River Lee was used to deliver agricultural products and pottery from Hertsfordshire and places further north to Roman London. At Old Ford the goods were transferred so that they could to continue their journey into London along the paved road by wagon.

In other words "Old Ford" is just about as old as it gets round here!

It gets better. The story goes that in 1110, Queen Matilda, wife of King Henry I, fell while crossing the ford while on her way to to Barking Abbey - more or less at this spot.

As a result she ordered that distinctive bow-shaped, three-arched bridge should be built over the River Lee - but a mile south of the area where she fell which meant that the roman road now turned south to go to the new bridge. The new bridge was a huge innovation and was described as The like of which had not been seen before.

around 1100, Queen Maud, wife of Henry I, commissioned the construction of Bow Bridge – which landed on the western, or London side of the River Lea at Stratford-atte-Bow (now Bow) and on the eastern side at Stratford Langthorne (now Stratford). One of the first arched bridges built in England since the Roman occupation, this bridge was a technological wonder for the period. The original bridge was demolished in 1835, at which time the great Roman Road from Colchester to London was diverted through Stratford.
In medieval times, "Stratford" means 'paved street over ford' - thus the 'bowed' design of the bridge led to the area where the bridge stood becoming known variously as Stradford of the Bow, Stratford of the Bow, Stratford the Bow, Stratforde the Bowe, and Stratford-atte-Bow' (at the Bow). It's now simply known as Bow but forms the eastern edge of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

For those of you who know Chaucer's Canterbury tales, you'll remember that Geoffrey Chaucer immortalised Stratford atte Bowe in the Canterbury Tales
Ther was also a nonne, a prioresse,
That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Hire gretteste ooth was but by seinte loy;
And she was cleped madame eglentyne.
Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne,
Entuned in hir nose ful semely,
And frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole of stratford atte bowe,
For frenssh of parys was to hire unknowe.
Basically this means that the local priory had nuns who spoke French with a local accent. I suppose this could have been the forerunner of Cockney!

Old Ford Lock

Old Ford Lock is a paired lock and weir. It separates the River Lee Navigation (beyond the lock) which is the canalised river from the old River Lea (foreground). It's sited more or less where the ancient Ford used to be.

(Confusingly, there are also a whole series of locks on the Hertford Union canal which are also called Old Ford Locks - but more of those on another day as I walked home that way and I think I'll be going back to the sketch them!)

More prosaically, for those who can remember, it's also where The Big Breakfast House was located where The Big Breakfast was filmed. It was subsequently sold.
The show's greatest novelty was it's setting; a former terrace of 3 cottages in East London, once lived in by the lock keepers of the Old Ford Lock on the Lees Navigation Canal.
You can just see its roof above the trees on the right hand side - and you can see more in this slideshow which I found on the Internet. As the final slide says - just imagine Deep Purple played in that garden!

This is the second of the sketches from my outing last Friday with the Drawing London group. I did it sat at the end of The Greenway - looking north. Hackney Cut (currently closed because of the Olympic Park development) is off to the right.

The first one was about Sketching the Olympic Park. The next one is about a property just past the trees and bang opposite the Olympic Stadium where we had lunch.

Sketchercise count: 29th May - 10,061 steps!