The lift at Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

Broadstairs is at the far end of Kent.

Location of Broadstairs, Kent. Map from openstreetmap

It is a Victorian seaside resort, with a sandy beach, and parks and a bandstand. The beach is below chalk cliffs, and those earnest Victorians provided their citizens with a fine lift to bring people between the sandy beach and the cliff top attractions. I was delighted, and surprised, to find this lift in full working order. While I made the drawing, the lift was used by a continuous stream of people.

The lift at Viking Bay, 17th September 2021, 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

The whole time I was drawing, music floated down from above, a series of 1950s and 1960s classics, including Elvis’ rendering of “You were always on my mind”. This seemed somehow very poignant as I sat there in the sun on the sand.

When I finished the drawing, I used those sculptural stairs on the right of the lift to climb up to the top. A young family were waiting at the bottom. One of their number, a lad of about 8, came rolling along the boardwalk in his bright green wheelchair. He expertly negotiated the narrow door to the lift and shot inside. I reached the top as they all emerged, and the lad zoomed off along the smooth tarmac into the labyrinth of parks and bandstands at the higher level.

Access Thanet has protested against the closures of the Viking Bay lift since 2019 (Image Access Thanet)

The citizens of Broadstairs have fought hard to keep their lift open. The lift was declared “permanently closed” earlier this year (2021), and only re-opened after a sustained campaign by local people, notably “Access Thanet” (pictured)

It reopened in July 2021, according to an article in the “Isle of Thanet News”

Margate Wastewater pumping Station

I walked from Margate Railway station to Botany Bay. Out on a headland, I encountered this extraordinary building. Later, I went back to draw it.

Margate Waste Water Pumping Station 16th September 2021 18:30, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

You can see – I hope – that my viewpoint was low. I was sitting on the ground by the side of the road. The road is frequented by dog-walkers. I learned something from this low viewpoint: civilised dogs are not used to people sitting on the ground. Many of the dogs were loose, and came rushing up to me, barking in admonition, or alarm, or delight. The owner hurried after, calling in vain after their hound. The dog sat next to me, barking in alarm, or pride, depending on the breed. Either “Danger! Danger! There’s someone sitting on the ground!!” or, if an ancestral hunting dog, “Look, revered owner, what I have cleverly found here on the ground. You must have shot it. It’s my job, I think, to bring it to you?” The owners argued in vain against these inbuilt instincts, and eventually had to drag the dog away from its enemy, or its prey, depending on outlook and breeding.

I went on drawing. A man came by, without a dog. He looked at me, and looked at the building, and looked at my picture. Then he gave a kind of shrug which said “OK, right, I get it, you are drawing the sewage station.”

I replied to this implied comment by saying that it was an interesting building, or rather, I found it interesting. His response was, “1960s Soviet Brutalism without the politics” and I said yes, that put it well.

He said, without breaking his step, “I am good with words”. He said it as a matter of established fact, not a brag, not a hope, nothing sheepish or apologetic, just a description. I silently wondered if I should have recognised him: was this a well-known playwright, a poet, a newspaper columnist? He stopped for a moment. “But just with words,” he continued, with a gesture towards my painting equipment, “Not with a paintbrush.” He paused, to make sure I’d heard. Once his words had reached me across the still air of the road between us, he declared, “I’ll leave you to it!” and he strode off, leaving me puzzling. I think I’d just heard a compliment, but I wasn’t quite sure.

When I walked along this road in the daytime, I saw that there were a large number (about 8) of contractors’ vans and lorries parked outside the pumping station. The blue/grey rectangle in front of the pumping station is some kind of portakabin or works area.

I found out later that this pumping station had failed during the summer (2021), and let sewage into the sea, rendering local beaches useable. Southern Water issued an apology which said, amongst other things:

“Wastewater releases at times of heavy rainfall happen across the UK to protect properties from flooding. The release that happened overnight on 16 June was caused by a combination of heavy rainfall and lightning strike during the storms which caused a short power failure and affected systems on site at our Margate Water Pumping Station. Back-up generators are in place. As part of our preparations for the predicted thunderstorms and heavy rainfall we also had a team standing by in the area. These additional precautionary measures meant we were able to immediately begin work restoring the site to full operation. Unfortunately, we had to make this emergency release to protect local homes and businesses from internal flooding.”

A big notice on the pumping station said: “Margate and Broadstairs Resilience Phase 2, upgrade and improvements”. It seems as though improvements are much needed. I can start to understand how local people might have been a bit surprised that I was drawing this pumping station, cause of a recent local disaster.

Orkney sketches

Here are some sketches of Orkney, made during a visit earlier this month.

This is Stromness:

The seascapes and light were magnificent.

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall is awe-inspiring.

These drawings are in two sketchbooks:

  • PrintUrchin Sketchbook 3, with Arches Aquarelle paper, 10″ x 8″ (landscape)
  • A long thin sketchbook with Khadi Paper, 12″ x 5″ (landscape)

Sketching on the journey to Orkney

We travelled to Orkney by train via Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

I carried a long thin sketchbook and made drawings along the way.

Here is my very long sketchbook, 12″ x 5″ made by Khadi Paper, and bought at Atlantis in Hackney, London.

Burrastow and the bay

Here’s a view of Burrastow House, Walls, Shetland, as you enter the drive.

Burrastow and the bay, Picture 1, July 7th 2021

There was a lively wind. Those clouds looked like that, and kept changing. The small island on the right is the Holm of Burrastow. The hills behind it are the island of Vaila. Here is work in progress.

Then I drew another view, from higher up, on a mound above the road.

Burrastow and the bay, Picture 2, July 8th 2021 [SOLD]

Here is work in progress and a view of my sketching location for picture 2: a chair perched on a hill.

Both pictures on a block of Saunders Waterford 300gsm watercolour paper, “hot pressed”, 12 inches by 9inches. The yellow edging you see on the work-in-progress is masking tape. I put it round the edges for several reasons:

  • It enables me to hold the picture safely without leaving thumb-marks
  • I can write annotation on it, specifically “eye-line” and the heights of things.
  • When the picture is complete, I peel it off and it leaves a nice white border, which makes the picture easier to frame.

To see the comparison between the pen-and-ink and the colour, use the slider in the image below:

Compare the “before” and “after” on Picture 1

Lerwick Lodberries

Here is a view of houses in Lerwick known as “lodberries”. They are built into the sea. Lerwick is one of the few capital cities in the world that has a beach. The other I know is Sydney Australia. The beach in Lerwick is somewhat smaller than Bondi beach, and is over the wall to the right of my picture.

I drew this picture sitting on a bench next to the aptly named “Water Lane”. I was just thinking how peaceful it was, how few people, and how unlike London, when a car came and parked directly in my line of sight, blocking my view of the part I had yet to draw. A small family emerged out of the car. Children ran around with buckets and spades, a woman corralled them down the steps and onto the beach. A man got out of the driver’s seat and saw me. He smiled. It was a sunny day. I smiled a mixed smile. Suddenly he saw that I was drawing. “Oh!” he said, “Shall I move the car?” I said yes, that would be very kind. Without any hesitation he jumped back into the driver’s seat, fired up the engine and parked in a space up the road. He waved to me as he walked to join his family down on the beach. I waved back.

Commercial Street, Lerwick. Lodberries. July 24th 2021, in Sketchbook P1 double spread: 14″ x 10″ approx. 1½ hours on location

Here is work in progress:

Here are some maps to show the location. I have also included maps showing where Shetland is, since people have asked. It is about 100 miles off the north coast of Scotland. From Aberdeen it is some 250 miles (400km) and takes 13 hours by ferry. Shetland is at a more Northerly latitude than Oslo and Stavanger, nearer Bergen than Aberdeen and nearer Copenhagen (590 miles) than London (600 miles).

Here is a view of the North Sea approaching Aberdeen. See the wind turbines.

Shetland 2021 -scenes from a run

I came back from a run with my head full of images. I put them into pictures.

Scenes from a run, 27th June 2021, in Sketchbook P1

I enjoyed using a new colour: Lunar Blue from Daniel Smith. This is a highly granulating blue. You can see its effect here in the sky:

And here is Lunar Blue the sea:

Patch of light on the sea

A feature of the landscape round Littleure is the inland lakes, high up on the cliffs, as shown here on the right. On the sea, the sun shines through the clouds like a spotlight, which enchants me. In that picture you also see the granulating colour in the land: this is Green Apatite Genuine.

It was a misty day.

Over the brow of a hill, I see islands. It’s the end of the run. Time for a dip, and breakfast.

Shetland 2021 – Fish farm debris

On the coast near a place called Breiwick, The Quilse, there is a heap of strange tubes. These are from the local salmon farm.

Fish farm debris. 18th July 2021 in Sketchbook P1

They make huge loops in landscape.

These black tubes seem to be indestructible. People find all sorts of uses for them: fence posts, cattle grids, boat slipways. I imagine they would make rather fine musical instruments. I have never heard of anyone using them for this.

But their primary use is to create the salmon cages that float out on the shallow seas in the area.

Picture from “Scottish Salmon Think Tank” website. See how big the structures are!

I saw these tubes on a walk from the Historic Site. I’ve drawn in this location before. In this sketch, you see the black tubes as the small scratchy lines in the centre distance.

Fish farm debris, 13th August 2019

Shetland 2021 – Burrastow House

Here is Burrastow House near Walls on the West side of Shetland. It was built in 1759.

Burrastow House, from the garden. 20 July 2021. 10″ x 8 “

One of the delights of the house is that it has been adapted over the years. Here is a view from the vegetable garden. You see the different roof levels.

Burrastow House from the vegetable garden. 13th July 2021. 10″ x 8″

The white curved area on the left is a segment of the polytunnel. The grey circular item is the oil tank. Above that, the small circle is the satellite dish. I like the way you can see right through two windows, in the room on the top right of the picture.

Here is a view from the garden near the driveway.

Burrastow House, from the garden near the entrance. July 14th 2021

While I was drawing this, a Jaguar E-type throbbed up the drive. I put it in the picture. This was a misty day. I had to pause the work on the picture as the mist turned to rain, and then I resumed as the rain turned to mist again.

You see the front conservatory in the centre and the extension to the left. The extension dates from 1995, according to a small notice in the conservatory.

“This extension

was officially opened

by Canon Lewis Smith

Convener S.I.C

15th September 1995″

All these sketches are in PrintUrchin Sketchbook number 1, on Arches paper, 300gsm, Cold-pressed.

Here are pictures of work-in-progress:

I have sketched Burrastow House on previous visits:

Shetland 2021 – Coastal rocks

The rocks on the Shetland west side cleave at a very specific angle.

Skerries of Easter Paill, 15th July 2021 on Amatruda paper.

I picked up a pebble on the beach. Many of the pebbles show this pointed regular shape. It gave me great pleasure to find that the angle matched my drawing. It is approximately 70 degrees.

The angle is visible even in the large cliffs.

Rocks at the entrance to the Seal Lagoon, 15th July 2021

Here is this sketch in progress:

The strange object in the top right of the drawing is not a drone, a cormorant, a flying fish or a small airship. It is a mistake. When I closed the sketchbook to continue my walk, some wet paint transferred itself from the left hand page to the right.