Saturday, 29 June 2013

Crazy London

my tuba is on fire
© Teresa Newham 2013
Was the walk from Blackfriars Station along Bankside to my office ever as interesting as it has been this year?  or am I simply noticing things more, now that I'm officially leaving my company at the end of August?  almost as soon as my leaving date was agreed I started seeing the oddest sights; perhaps they were discouraged from coming out to play last year because of the Olympics!

extreme window-cleaning
© Teresa Newham 2013
Even the dullest job can be turned into some kind of challenge these days, as the window-cleaners in the photo above testify;  I probably shouldn't have been standing where I did to take the picture, either, but they didn't seem worried, they had other things on their mind . . .

a cow on the Millennium Bridge
© Teresa Newham 2013
. . .  and barely a week later I found myself taking a detour onto the Millennium Bridge because it's not every day you see a cow there -  I think it must have been for a promotion.  Even the most hardened of commuters stopped to take a look.

blowing bubbles outside the Tate Modern . . .
© Teresa Newham 2013
This enterprising team have set up their pitch right outside the Tate Modern.  Beats one of those little bubble-making kits we used to buy in the toyshop (do they still sell those?) This is bubble-blowing on a grand scale, effectively letting the wind do the work - and delighting commuters and tourists alike!

. . .  which fly far and wide
© Teresa Newham 2013
And finally (for now) there's the sheer incongruity of spotting folk like the chap below, who was putting up flyers outside the Tate Modern.  I guess he didn't want to be noticed . . .

doesn't everyone dress like this when they're fly-posting?
© Teresa Newham 2013

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Come rain, come shine

Saturday morning - the first set-up (wind)
© Teresa Newham 2013
 My first experience of Art on the Common was a blazing hot Saturday afternoon in June five years ago, wandering among the gazebos admiring the art and thinking what fun it would be to do. The following year I roped in Sue with promises of glorious sunshine and loads of visitors - my husband spent the Saturday afternoon hanging on to our new gazebo in gale force winds, to stop it blowing away.  The year after, the Saturday (which Sue couldn't do) was lovely but Sunday a total washout.  And last year I couldn't make it, so Sue and Hillary shared a pitch; the gazebo was blown over and broken by a huge gust of wind, and a lot of their display got soaked.

Saturday morning - visitors enjoying Art on the Common
© Teresa Newham 2013
 Surely, we thought, the weather couldn't let us down for the fourth year running? well, it could, of course . . . the forecast was for strong winds and rain, but Hillary reckoned her gazebo would stay up regardless.  We laid our work out flat to stop it blowing over, put our cards in boxes, wrapped ourselves up in fleeces, scarves and gloves and hoped for the best.  And for a while, everything was fine - plenty of people making their way across the common to the Discovery Day stopped to admire our pictures and buy a few cards.

Saturday morning - visitors enjoying Harpenden Common Discovery Day
© Teresa Newham 2013
A couple of light showers prompted us to bring in the tables and browsers from out front; eventually we thought it best to have everything under cover so we amended our display slightly, congratulating ourselves on coping so well with the changing conditions.  Even some slightly heavier rain - blown into the gazebo by the strengthening winds -  didn't faze us;  we had towels, rugs and plastic sheeting ready to throw over it all in a matter of seconds. 

Saturday morning - the second set-up (light rain, wind)
© Teresa Newham 2013
 Soon after lunch, however, the heavy rain set in for a longer spell.  We huddled miserably under the gazebo in the howling winds for an hour while everything - the rugs, towels, plastic sheeting, and us - got wetter and wetter;  and we had to empty large pools of water off the roof.  At one point we heard a peal of thunder; at which I started to laugh and couldn't stop.  Well, you either laugh or you cry . . . !


Saturday afternoon - the third set-up (rain stopped play)
© Teresa Newham 2013
All around us, visitors making their way back into town from the Discovery Day were taking shelter in the gazebos but nobody was in the mood to buy, and we weren't going to uncover anything in any case.  Finally we braved the rain to pack up; as soon as all the exhibits were safely stashed away the sun came out. Well, at least it dried the gazebo, and we didn't have to dismantle that in the wet - and  when I got home I was able to hang out two tablecloths, a sheet and a rug to dry in my garden.  Oh, the irony . . .

Saturday afternoon - visitors not enjoying Art on the Common
© Teresa Newham 2013
Miraculously, Sunday dawned dry and bright, with a gentle breeze, so we were able to stand our pictures upright and use the card racks - we set up our chairs around a picnic table so that visitors could sit and join us for a chat if they wanted to.  Plenty of people came out to see the exhibition - we had a lot of interest and some excellent sales, even taking some light rain around lunchtime in our stride - after all, it was nothing compared to the deluge of the day before!

Sunday morning - the fourth set up (light winds)
© Teresa Newham 2013
The sun came out and the fleeces came off,  we sat around our picnic table with a cup of tea, and suddenly the whole event seemed extremely civilized.  Every year at least one of us swears at some point during the proceedings that they won't do Art on the Common again.  But I bet we do.  After all, we can't have five years' bad weather on the trot!

Can we?

Sunday morning - the visitors' lounge
© Teresa Newham 2013