Andalucian Sketchbook

Here are my sketches from our visit to Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, Spain, 2nd-9th March 2017.

Drawn fom outside the Castle. It rained a little. Fuengirola is ahead, and you see its new bridge. There was a lot of construction work near the bridge.
From the flat, the view towards the sea. When the building we were staying in was built, it had a view to the sea. Then those tall flats went up.
Drawn in the amazing and unexpected Alcazaba in Malaga.
Very windy and cold in the high fort above the Alcazaba, but I did a picture. You see the shipping port of Malaga, its dry dock and shelters for vessels. There were tall chimneys, like those of tin mines. We did not discover what they were.
We drove to Ronda, an hour and 45 minutes. We had a meal in a restaurant near this bridge. After we walked around, we encountered a carnival, with children dressed up as superheroes.
From the terrace restaurant on Paseo de los Tristas. The view of the Alhambra was magnificent. The food was mediocre. We stayed at the Casa Morisca.
A quick sketch during the 15 minute pause in the tour of the Alhambra. The guide said 15 “English” minutes, not Spanish ones. And when he gave the french version he said the minutes were ” Swiss”.
A longer sketch from a similiar position, but looking the other way. I did this when we were on our own, after the tour.
Note the time. The castle closed at “14:30” according to the leaflet. But as I drew this, John went for a walk around, and found we had been locked in.
I drew this by the castle gate, while we waited for them to come and let us out. This was after John has explained in approximate but emphatic Spanish and English, on the mobile phone,  that we were inside the castle, yes, inside. Good thing we had a mobile phone.
Lounging on the beach, after release from the castle.


Various sketches IMG_9891in Malaga airport. There was a strike of French air traffic controllers. So there were long queues.John thought he recognised someone in the queue. He mentally blackened the white hair, flattened the large stomach, and smoothed out the wrinkles, and saw an old school friend. But he couldn’t be sure. The airport was full of English types.

Crossrail site from Moorgate


I wanted to draw this view before it disappeared. Today, Moorgate was closed completely to motor traffic, so it was calm to draw, though windy and cold. It rained, as you see from the droplets on City Point.

 The Globe Pub, 19th Century, is on the left. The small square notice says:

“In a House on this site
the Swan and Hoop
John Keats
was born 1795″

The City Point tower is in the background. This was built in 1967, and refurbished in 2000, when the curved projection at the top was added. The designer for the refurbishment was Sheppard Robson. Here’s what the Citypoint website says. 

“The building’s spectacular entrance canopy is approached through the public square, leading to two dramatic twelve storey cathedral-like galleria, offering an inviting and exhilarating experience for both occupiers and visitors alike. The two gallerias allow natural daylight to penetrate into the heart of the development, creating a feeling of scale and corporate arrival.” –

The building next to the Globe pub is propped up with steel girders. The “Jones Bootmakers” sign hangs on. Cables pour out of one of the windows.

This took about 1½ hours, pen and ink on location. I coloured it later, at home. On the way back the wind blew. Outside the Barbican Centre, the wind caught the hair of a woman on a mobile phone and blew it straight upright. She had very long blonde hair, so she looked amazing, like someone in a cartoon dropping down a lift shaft.

Here’s the black and white sketch:


Gilded Bronze Gerfalcon


Woodcut, after a statue seen in the British Museum “Sicily Culture and Conquest” exhibition, 24 April 2016. He stood about 12 inches high and dates from 1200AD or so.

This woodcut is done in Shminke Prussian blue AquaLino relief ink, on the marvellous Albion press at East London Printmakers. Fabriano Unica Cream paper from Great Art. Woodcut block 16cm by 11cm from Intaglio Printmaker.

Hide Tower from Vincent Square


This 1961 tower block contrasts with the 19th Century buildings of Vincent Square. It is in SW1, Westminster, near Tate Modern.

An “early use” of pre-cast concrete according to Pevsner(1), who also tells me that the architect was Stillman and Eastwick Field for Westminster City Council. I went and looked through the “long bands of fenestration” at the “Brutalist exposed staircase”.

The Hide Tower Resident Management Board is composed of, and run by, residents, according to their website.
They say:

We are responsible for providing the residents of Hide Tower with these services

day-to-day repairs
letting flats
mutual exchanges
tenancy checks
management transfers
admitting or denying right to buy applications
general enquiries

CityWest Homes is responsible for

collecting rent from tenants
taking legal action against residents, if necessary

From “A letter from Pimlco”  (sic) website, written by people who live in the tower, I learned that:

Approximately a quarter of the accommodation is privately rented; the other half is rented from Westminster City Council and the remainder is owner occupied.

I thought it was interesting that the residents themselves, via their Board, are responsible for “admitting or denying right-to-buy” applications. I wonder what their criteria are.

While I drew this picture, there was continual drilling coming from the basement of the house to the right of the picture. They were evidently excavating the basement. Piles of rubble were in the front garden. As I walked past, I smelt pine sawdust.

Behind me were cheers and shouts of encouragement to players of a team game on the grass of Vincent Square. Young people in purple and grey uniforms walked past. One young man with a rucksack said to me, “It’s really great, what you are drawing, really great”. That was encouraging.

An older man stopped, and said “You need a stall”. I thought that’s what he said. I wondered if he meant I should set up a stall, selling pictures from the railings of Vincent Square, as they do along the railings of Kensington Gardens. I said nothing, and must have looked baffled. He repeated his assertion, and then I realised he had said “stool”, “you need a stool to sit on”. I have in fact wondered about a stool. And I do have my suitcase, which I can sit on, though it is very low. I pointed out that if I sat down, the parked car would obstruct my view. “Trust a woman’s logic!” pronounced the man. I thought that was anyone’s logic. No-one, man or woman, could see through the very opaque Citroen. But I said nothing.  He waved and took off with a grin, as though he had got the better of me, which perhaps he had. I was puzzling that, for several minutes.

Then I went and had a mug of tea in the Regency Café, 90p.

(1) Nikolaus Pevsner and Simon Bradley, “The Buildings of England: London 6, Westmenster”

The new Bridge across Wood Street


The London Wall Place newsletter of 5th January 2017 said:

img_9675“We wish to advise that the operation to install the new footbridge across Wood Street was aborted on Wednesday 21st December due to technical issues with the alignment of the Macalloy suspension bars that connect the bridge deck structure to the pylon.

We are in the process of rectifying these issues and have agreed a new road closure with the City of London for the bridge installation, week commencing 6th February with a back up closure the following week.

The install of the stainless steel pylon on the 19th December was a success and this is ready to receive the bridge.”

“Macalloy” is the name of the manufacturer of the steel bars. They are based in Sheffield.

Macalloy 460 Tension bar – image from

The bridge was successfully installed on the 6th February.

I drew the picture sitting on my suitcase near the vehicle entrance to the St Giles area. A man came to open the nearby garage, which was crammed with builder’s equipment and paint pots. Later, a succession of well dressed middle-aged people came by, as though leaving a large event. They were all of a type, and spoke distantly with each other.

Afterwards, I walked underneath the bridge and looked at the junction between the bridge and the sloping walkway, on the right of the picture. This joint is interesting because the walkway slopes down, so, to join it perfectly, the bridge cannot be horizontal at this point. It looks as though the bridge twists slightly to accommodate this geometry, but it’s difficult to see at the moment. I have drawn the bridge as slightly rainbow-shaped, as that’s what it looked like, but the architect’s pictures in the newsletters show it as flat: