British supporters were due to arrive in Auckland for the end of the Rugby World Cup and my travel agent had a very attractive package deal on a returning aircraft, so I quickly decided to provide some ballast. Escaping the local hype and watching the rugby finals over an English breakfast at The Blackbird in Earls Court had real appeal.
It was time for me to refresh my sketches of London and its environs. With limited time I went underground and then walked my feet to stumps for six balmy London days. As I rested on the Thames Embankment I concurred with Samuel Johnson’s view – when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.
I steeled myself to battle the motorways in my little rental and armed with sketchpad I headed for ancient Sarum country. I reflected on Constable’s famous ‘Salisbury Cathedral’ landscape, but the encroachment of a Tesco supermarket spoilt my view from the same spot.
I then set my sights on Bath to the west with its fascinating Georgian architecture different from any other city in Britain. Whilst sketching I pondered the Romans indulging the luxurious spas in these beautiful surroundings.
I was running low on time so I headed towards my old favourite, Oxford. Seemingly carefree students on cycles slalom around the tourists whilst others chat before hurrying to these wondrous halls of learning which echo centuries of scholarship.
Reluctantly I took my leave after an intensely satisfying painting tour. These watercolours are the result of my brief visit to England.
- Paul Hanrahan