Last week this time we were coming to the end of a fabulous long weekend with fellow Washing Girl, Olivia Quintin, her husband Alain and their 14 year old daughter, Elyse. I recognised Elyse instantly from having seen Olivia’s portraits of her.
For those of my blog readers who don’t know the history, the term ‘Washing Girls’ was first coined by Olivia and refers to the seven artists who took part in the 100 Wash Challenge, an online project to get each of us posting 100 watercolour washes online with notes. We had a year in which to achieve this. It was both an amazing learning experience, and a great way to make friends with other artists.
Almost exactly a year ago, we travelled to Vannes to meet Olivia. At the time, I had no idea whether we would like each other, but we had spent so much time having virtual chats over the 100 washes, that I wanted to meet her. I said at the time that I wanted to meet all of the other artists but so far, life has got in a way a bit and I’ve only managed to get together to Olivia. (So, who is next, girls? Maggie, Theresa, Christy, Suzanne, Jane?)
I get a bit over-excited when we have visitors who have never seen Cambridge. I love the richness of the history in this place so I am always happy to play unofficial tour guide and take them on a walking tour of the city. That was Friday’s focus. We did the classic Cambridge sites (and sights): The Backs, the whale at the University Zoology Museum, a wander down Old School Lane and then Trinity Street to have a look at the colleges. The Eagle pub and Kings College Chapel, and finally, a punt down the Cam to see the back views of all colleges while our young punter, Sam, told us all the snippets and anecdotes about the buildings as we glided past on the water.
And then of course for the rest of the weekend we ate and we painted (and ate and painted, and ate and painted) – not necessarily at the same time. There were English meals (Roast lamb with mint, and full English breakfast), and a slap up South African braai (has to be done in our house). And there was painting in the garden and then down at the river. Our house is at the edge of the village and we are lucky to have a footpath that goes virtually from our back garden, alongside the churchyard, down through the trees, across the field and to the river. It’s a great place to take a short walk, and Alain and Olivia spent some time working on paintings down there. They found the bench at the riverside and painted the view: that electricity housing has never looked quite so charming as it does now.
Olivia painted up a storm for Running With Brushes. She created 10 paintings for the charity while she was with us, helping us get closer to the first 100 mark which should happen today. It’s brilliant to have such support and enthusiasm for the project from friends. We loved having time with Alain, Olivia and Elyse (who is a fantastic assistant in the kitchen).
Et maintenant, nous pratiquons parler français. Parce que Septembre prochain, nous allons visiter Belle-Ile avec Olivia et Alain pour une semaine de peinture.