Tag Archives: Hampton Court Palace

Approaching Christmas with childlike, wide eyed wonder……..

Yesterday I was on the bus returning home from Kingston upon Thames.     Most people were carrying large shopping bags and looking pretty exhausted and fed up…..and then quite spontaneously three little children began to sing Christmas carols….and everyone smiled and began to talk to one another.   Everyone’s mood changed…………

watercolour/gouache29872646_10156236175455396_8857424718959096304_oIt”s so easy to get caught up in all the adult stuff.       I remember very well when my own children were young and being responsible for putting on Christmas celebrations with all the trimmings.     Quite often, the real meaning and essence of the celebration was lost,

It would seem that for the most part we humans insist on making life complicated and in doing so forget the pure joy of simple pleasures.

Millie visiting my studio and being caught up in all the colour and magic. P1110644Capucine – a little girl I painted in France this year.    Her eyes were filled with wonder and curiosity  20-11-15 - 1 (1449)

Look at the amazement and curiosity in the eyes of these little Amish boys who had come across a field camera his week in Pennsylvania.      They had no idea what it was or what the flashing light indicated….but were clearly amazed and filled with wonder.    (My son sent me this picture from a friend’s farm). 1397175_10200103094498419_1961274517_oAs adults we don’t have to give up our childlike ways – in fact I believe that a fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child.    The child-like wonder that still lives within us is what keeps us filled with the promise of the unexpected, the spontaneous.

dancing hummingbirds – symbolising the unseen magic in our world……watercolour10841985_10152900246405396_684849903434205677_oIt would seem that it is the simple elements of life that give us all great pleasure.     Singing, dancing, giving to those in need, being part of a community and laughter….and of course a simple smile can change the day for so many people.  

Christmas decorations at Hampton Court Palace. trees hcp I hope that everyone enjoys a Christmas with elements of spontaneity and joy and of course some really good food:)

I will spend the holidays with friends and then my daughter Christie arrives from the USA on the 27th December and will be here with me to celebrate the new years.    What a gift.

May magical hummingbirds surround us all.    26758187_10155992367365396_6811764365978108756_o

A bientot





The Wheel of the Year – with not beginning and no end.

‘The cycle of light and dark, of planting and harvest, of leaves budding, opening and falling, is an ever-turning wheel that has no beginning and no end.   It rolls through the seasons, changing the landscape, and influencing the things that we do and the way that we feel.    Each time of the year is special, with its own particular feelings, smells and atmospheres – and, if we allow it, it’s effect on our lives……’   From the introduction of  – Gail Duff’s book – The Wheel of the Wiccan Year. 

The winter tradition of ice skating at Hampton Court Palace. hampton-court-panorama

I enjoyed a very special and lovely holiday season.   I spent it with my friends, Gail and Mick in their home in Kent.      A home set in the middle of countryside in a place where one can still believe that life hasn’t changed too much.

We have known one another since starting school together at five years old….Mick and Gail married and have just celebrated their 50th anniversary.

We are all artists.      Gail a writer, singer, song-writer – to name a few of her attributes and Mick a photographer, musician.

Gail Duff – Watercolour1094709_10151869967675396_22212606_oMick Duff – photographer, musician

1048835_10151869969370396_914185022_oI was invited to their annual Yule celebration on the 21st December – celebrating the winter solstice.       A lovely event, considered to be one of the most joyful celebrations of the year.     

In the evening, friends arrived bearing food and gifts.    In their sitting room with the Christmas tree sparkling and candles ablaze there was a wonderfully festive feeling.

From Gail’s book – The Wheel of the Wican Year, we learn that Yule is the festival most rich in remembered tradition and ritual.    In the early days of Christianity people were reluctant to give up their Pagan path and the Midwinter celebrations.    It was therefore decided that the birth of Christ should be celebrated at the same time.    This enabled the ritual dramas, songs and decorations to be be continued with Christian meaning.

rapid watercolour of their daughter Lucy with violin.     20-11-15 - 1 (1134)For the first time in many years,  I enjoyed carol singing.    We went from house to house  in one of the local villages and it was wonderful.    I had forgotten how joyful an experience it is.

For Christmas day we enjoyed a Goose with all the trimmings – plus of course plum pudding and Christmas Cake – and it seems to me numerous mince pies and chocolate……This was followed by games and much laughter.

On Boxing Day (for the uninitiated the day after Christmas) we went to Leeds Castle, where we walked, communed with the swans, ducks and other birds, and enjoyed the beautiful Christmas trees throughout the castle.

Ducks in the moat diving for the seeds. 20-11-15 - 1 (1372)Leeds Castle – during the Solstice – The mid winter atmosphere was perfect. 20-11-15 - 1 (1356)Geese in a row – Leeds Castle Kent20-11-15 - 1 (1361)During this period, I realised that in so many ways we have lost touch with the rhythms and magic of each season.

From a commercial stand point, the large corporations remind us constantly of the next holiday – prompting us to purchase all sorts of unnecessary stuff – which brings me to the big question.      Our we still in touch with the emotional and physical effects on our lives that the different seasons bring?     

A musical celebration in a local pub.    A lovely way to spend a mid winter’s afternoon. 20-11-15 - 1 (1411)Given the way we shop and live, we have come to believe that all fruits and vegetables are available at any time during the year.

In out techno charged world, there are many who have lost touch with the rhythms of our 24 hour day, let alone the seasons.

Our cities are flooded with artificial light, which disturbs our body clocks causing for many a lack of sleep and feelings of well being.

How different a place the world would have been for the people  in this photograph which was hanging in the pub – and it wasn’t that long ago!20-11-15 - 1 (1387)  All of this has brought to mind, the rapid and dramatic changes that have occurred for all of us during recent years.

For anyone interested in learning more about the natural rhythms and seasons of the year, I highly recommend Gail’s book ‘The Wheel of the Wiccan’.      Through the book we can learn about the ancient traditions that brought us to the holidays we have today…..

There are some that might say ancient traditions are gone – and that we need to focus on the future.

These ancient traditions were put in place to protect our natural world and how we live in it and relate to it.       I think it is of vital importance that we respect them.

Of course, I must close with magical hummingbirds…..a little bird that adheres to the ever changing seasons.


A BIentot









Chance or Fate?

“There is no such thing as chance; and what seems to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.”    Frederick von Schiller.

My cousin introducing me to Crickhowell (The Magical Town of Crickadoon) in 1993 – a place I had never heard of before…..was that chance or fate?…….Certainly living and working in Crickhowell for twelve years constitutes a very important chapter of my life, and indeed will always be part of who I am.

large self portrait – Crickhowell Wales 2000 – rapid watercolour/gouache20-11-15 - 1 (955)Yesterday I visited my good friends Greta and Martin.     We met 12 years ago shortly after I moved to London from Wales.     It was a Sunday afternoon and I was giving a portrait demonstration for Artslink – a group I had recently connected with.       After the demonstration, Greta and Martin introduced themselves and asked if I would be interested in giving a workshop for SOFAP (Fulham/Hammersmith Arts Society) to which I said yes.      They also asked if I was related to Carol Weight, who it turned out was one of the early founders of the Society.     In fact, Carel was my Father’s cousin.

From Carel’s Memorial Service at The Royal Academy. 

20-11-15 - 1 (956)I will always remember that first workshop….because I knew in every fibre of  my mind and body that I was in the right place at that moment in time.     Subsequently, during the past 12 years, so much of the work I have done and people I have met in London can be traced back to that Sunday afternoon when I met Greta and Martin.   Chance or fate?

My first portrait workshop with SOFAP – Fulham/Hammersmith Arts – eleven years ago20-11-15 - 1 (954)Recently, I have been experiencing a glut of ‘coincidences’ – or are they?     Six Degrees of Separation is the term we use to describe such happenings when we meet others for the first time who we find are in some way connected to our lives.

When in Portugal, some of the group were scrolling through my work on a pad and came across this painting – which is a ‘symbolic self portrait’ large oil on canvas – painted in my West Chester studio, Pennsylvania 1990.      They asked what the different objects in the painting represented.     I told them that the little egg cup in the front and centre of the composition represented my birth.     That it was given to me, and other babies born in England on 21st January 1946.    The silver egg cup has the inscription –  News Chronicle Centenary – 21st January 1946 – Janet Weight. 

At this point one of the group said that their family had owned the News Chronicle….for me a significant moment.    Chance or fate ?      The egg cup has been a Talisman for me throughout my life….and as I write this, it sits on a shelf in my book case.


Claudia Nottale came into my life when she was 17 years old.   Introduced through a friend, she came from Paris to live with me and my young family.     I knew from the moment I met her that she would play a significant part in my life…and indeed she has and continues to do so.

I have painted and sketched Claudia many times over the years…. charcoal when Claudia was visiting Crickhowell in 1995. 

20-11-15 - 1 (951)

It has been suggested to me that I write a book about the numerous  ‘coincidences’ that have occurred throughout my life….and indeed they will be a part of my book.  With the luxury of hindsight I can now look back and pin point how these events have shaped my life.

Like a tightly woven tapestry – our lives are intertwined.        When we look at a tapestry, like this magnificent piece from Hampton Court Palace, we tend to see the main features….but every thread is key to the whole….all of life is interconnected. P1120664I am quite clear that when these ‘coincidences’ occur in a glut…that the hummingbirds are indeed weaving their magic…..20-11-15 - 1 (788)

A Bientôt



Meeting Stephanie at Hampton Court Palace.

I am fortunate enough to live about ten minutes away from Hampton Court Palace, and so when I have visitors, it’s a great place to visit.

This was the case yesterday, when I met up with Stephanie, an American friend I haven’t seen for 24 years!     As is so often the case it was as if no time had past at all…..

Stephanie with two of the Hampton Court Palace guides.    


It was a glorious day….with evidence of spring everywhere.   Crocus, daffodils and much more blooming all over the place – no wonder everyone is smiling:)

The gardens are open every day of the year and they are a wonderful place to walk in or indeed sit with a book during the early spring and summer days.

This shows a small part of the Palace behind Stephanie, with the unique Tudor chimney stacks.   The long shadows talk of a late early spring afternoon.


Behind the Palace are these sculpted trees and much more….Henry VIII was apparently very impressed with The Palace of Versailles and wanted the gardens at Hampton Court to have a similar feel…..and I think this was achieved.


I will write a separate post one of these days with more of the history surrounding the Palace and the magnificent tapestries that hang in the Great Hall.     

This is a photograph I took of a detail from one of the tapestries. 


A Bientôt

Sailboat – Sailing Through the Ocean of Life

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to meet Ratka Bogdan, author of the book Sailboat – Sailing Through the Ocean of Life.


Ratka and I met on line through Axlepin Publishing, a platform for writers/poets, painters and photographers from around the world.

Ratka and her husband were travelling from their home in Florida, and only had a few days in London, and so it was fortunate that we were able to meet for coffee at the Hampton Court Palace gardens cafe, which is very close to where i live. 

Although we only had one hour together before Ratka, her husband and brother went on to visit Stone Henge, we immediately connected.     Ratka gave me a copy of her book which is filled with beautiful and very moving poems    

Today, Ratka and her husband fly to Macedonia to see family.   

I am quite sure we will be seeing one another again. 

A Bientôt

Tapestries at Hampton Court Palace

For the past week, I have had a close friend visiting from Paris and so we did some local sight seeing.    Hampton Court Palace, one of the homes of King Henry VIII, is very close to where I live.

In this post, I will show some details from the ten tapestries in the Great Hall, where King Henry VIII held sumptuous dinners, filled with music, dancing and jest.

The Great Hall, Hampton Court Palace where the tapestries telling the story of Abraham, are housed. 

ImageI am interested in the tapestries as beautiful works of art, and also as possible information for the series of paintings I have been working on for nearly 30 years on the subject of ‘interconnectedness’.

The tapestries were commissioned by King Henry VIII to celebrate the birth of his son, Edward, to his third wife, Jane Seymour in 1537.  Tapestries were the most highly valued art form of the 16th century.   Henry VIII had collected more than 2000 by his death.    They were in fact a display of great wealth.

One of my favourite details from one of the ten tapestries 

ImageNote the movement in the horse.

ImageImageIt is often assumed that tapestries are made by women, but in fact during the 16th century this was the work of highly skilled men who had been trained from a very young age. 

The work began with a small painting known as the ‘Petit Patron’ – This is enlarged by the designer into a full scale cartoon.


The value of a tapestry was determined by the artistic quality of the cartoon, skill of the weavers and the density of weave. 

The tapestries in the Great Hall, are interwoven with sliver and gold thread….


I am always aware of the interconnection when viewing work from previous centuries…..

As we walked around the Palace we bumped into one of the courtiers.    Claudia and courtier.


Claudia returned home yesterday after what was a very special week together.


A Bientôt


Bushy Park London

I am very fortunate to live in a lovely part of London…I might add in a modest, one bedroom flat, however the area is fabulous allowing for the best of all worlds.   

This photograph (not mine) was taken in Bushy Park this past week….



I mentioned in yesterday’s post that Hampton Court Palace was just five minutes from where I live.   Bushy Park, sits immediately north of the Palace andy in the 16th century it was King Henry VIII’s deer hunting ground.    

The roaming herds of Red and Fallow deer that populate the park today are ancestors of the deer that Henry hunted.



Bushy Park is the second largest of London’s eight Royal Parks, and I for one am so grateful for these beautiful places that are protected by the Crown.     

Living in London, or visiting the Capital can sometimes be overwhelming, and so to enjoy and visit these Parks is indeed a respite.



Covering 1,099 acres, Bushy Park can be accessed from Kingston, Teddington and Hampton….On the Hampton side, there is a heated swim pool that is open 12 months of the year, and the park has lakes, a river water gardens, meadows and so much more. 



For visitors to London, you can take the train from London Waterloo to Kingston, Teddington or Hampton.   There are also plenty of buses from Kingston to Hampton Court Palace, and it’s all good walking country. 

I wish everyone a beautiful weekend.     

A Bientôt


Hampton Court Palace with Tristan

It’s always enjoyable to spend time with an inquisitive, almost two year old:)     Yesterday I met up with Tristan, who will be two on 23rd December and his mother, Charlotte at Hampton Court Palace.

I am fortunate to live just five minutes from Hampton Court Palace and so it’s a great place to meet up with friends any time of the year, and especially now when the ice rink is set up in front of the Palace.    

This photograph was taken on a much brighter day.




Yesterday, had a more ethereal feel to it….and as this was taken earlier in the day, there were fewer skaters.


When I am with a very young child…I try to imagine what the world must look like through their eyes….Quite big, I think!



The beautiful gardens at Hampton Court which are open all year round need constant attention, and yesterday there were lots of gardeners preparing for next Spring.     How wonderful for Tristan to find one of their little tractors……



Eating chocolate cake takes on a whole different dimension for a two year old:)



And it’s always lovely to meet another person who is the same size…..



I love the mistletoe on this tree.



Tristan with a palace guard. 



All in all a very lovely day. 

A Bientôt