We are sitting in the Weston Library in Oxford and do the latest updates on the blog to load tose blog entries that have been written some time ago, but could not yet be put online because again the Internet is too slow or not available.
Now we have a free Internet access in the cool and cold feeling auditorium of the library.
What we’ve seen from Oxford, was rather disappointing. The city cannot decide if it puts its emphasis on its historical buildings in the center or wants to be very modern. The modern influences are rather bare and inappropriate.
Perhaps we are spoiled by Cambridge, this city lives from its overall impression as a historical city.
but we Nevertheless we were very fond of Old Marston where we may park for 2 days at the Red Lion pub.
Old Marston, a suburb of Oxford, is half an hour’s walk from Oxford centre. Good that we decided to take the “Scenic Way” through the parks, which led us directly to the city in glorious weather.
Imagine how we have frozen a few days ago. Oxford people appear more relaxed than the people in Cambridge. There, we noticed how serious they met us on the streets. Many hurried pedestrians, runners and cyclists we have seen with their driven and hasty faces. Or maybe they just wanted to run away from the weather. Wind and rain have accompanied us in Cambridge, bright sunshine and “Greece weather” as called by a walker heated the minds of Oxford as well as the thousands of tourists.
We let ourselves drift with the flow of tourists and students and ended up in the covered market of Oxford. On Greek souvlaki stand we talked to the owner who knows his business well. With charm and commitment, but also with a lot of empathy he listened to our project Face Europe. He would have liked to be a sitting model, but due to a working time of 7 days a week he has no time left. He promised to forward the information about Face Europe to all the stall owners. The market people are under enormous time pressure though. Nevertheless he was happy and in a very good mood which impressed us very much. Too bad that Wilfried could not paint him.
For this, we found two amiable artists who had an exhibition in the Quakerchurch who are willing to model for Face Europe. We look forward to Monday and Wednesday to paint Michele and Karima.
If these will are already be the last two models for this time in the UK?
Who still wants to be be part of face Europe, please contact us as soon as possible!
We are now on the Thames bank in the forest of Cumnor, it is quiet and we are hoping for a quiet night.
The walk along the Thames to the Farmoor reservoir was very relaxing. The other side of the river is lined with fixed mobile homes, at the river bank in front motorboats witness of not quite poor English people, who spend their free time there, or live there in the first place. We can only guess, becausewe cannot cross the river here. The ferry is only by theory and also the ferry house on the other side of the river has probably just got the name.
On Thursday, 20 September we said goodbye to Mark, who had helped us to find camping gas and brought us to an art supplies shop.
We then turned our attention to the things that had cost nerves while driving: the first one is the still just poorly repaired door mirror and the second is the broken gas springs at the rear garage door.
The gas springs are replaced at Metrol in Northampton and cost a fraction of what we had previously found on the Internet. Happy and satisfied, we returned to our Iveco friends in Waterbeach that we had besieged almost a week involuntarily at the beginning of our trip. We picked up the mirror which we had ordered weeks ago. Of course no-one else had picked it up in the meantime. Who would need a mirror for a 20 year old car! We stayed in a beautiful, quiet street parking place on the promenade of the research center just around the corner from Iveco. The storm wobbled again so violently in our Big Fredi that we already thought we were on a ship.
Cambridge, hailed as a beautiful city, this time we wanted not to be missed and dared to park next to the quay wall. A „death march“ into the city along the banks of the River Cam led us directly
into the center. The visit of the Kettle’s Yard Museum was exciting. A house by its owners – Jim and Helen Ede – given to the State under the requirement that nothing is changed. The furniture, the pictures, the whole interior must always be designed the way it has beendone by the owners.
Even the fresh flowers and the real lemon must be replaced weekly and for this a lot of employees are responsible. The architecture of the house as well as the arrangement of the pictures on the walls testified the good taste of the owners.
From the tour of the house, although a little tired, we marched on passing many colleges through magnificent rows of houses that may have already served many generations of students as living space. On the market it was lively and nutritious. We popped in a Chinese Street Market stand and afterwards Wilfried enjoyed a grilled potatoe pancake in a bun, which isusually used for hamburgers. A strange combination, but with the cream based on sour cream it tasted very good. Lisbeth satisfied their sweet taste with a homemade coffee cake piece of a Brazilian lady.
We walked back along the river back to the car, slept there in the car in the parking lot and wanted to visit London the next day. Lisbeth was not feeling well and so the London visit was postponed one day and planning was improved. 40 £ for online tickets for two persons tour-retour Cambridge-London were bought and even picked up on Saturday from the station. So we could start early on Sunday into the metropolis.
We were amazed to see many rowing boats in the pouring rain. Ourselves in full rain gear, we met some hard-nosed Englishmen in shorts and T-shirts.
London: What a hustle and a bustle! And even on a Sunday. We made it to see the BP Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery on the last day of its exhibition. Our audience vote was not strictly the same as the opinion of the jury.
Wilfried could have spend days there. He drew a portrait of a man that Lisbeth liked because it was an old man with a lot of charm and a positive look into the future.
Good thing we had homemade sandwiches with us, so we do not weaken from hunger.
In the National Gallery, a special exhibition of the Impressionists was to be seen briefly.
Past the bustle of Picasilly Circus we strolled towards the river Thames and together with millions of tourists we crossed a pedestrian bridge towards London Eye. Of course, no attraction for us.
Although prognoses were all day rain, the sun flashed out in the afternoon and it is now supposed to be a week of fine weather to come.
Along the South Banks we strolled until at Waterloo we came back to a train station and hopped into the Northern train. One last effort, one more train station to walk to Kings Cross where the train to Cambridge already waited for us.
Wilfried’s idea to walk through the city of Cambridge in the evening back to the car, could only be seen as a joke. We were happy to wait 25 minutes to sit in the bus. Our feet hurt, our backs are in pain, but we come back safely to the Fredis. Little Fredi has dutifully taken care of the big Fredi.
On Monday – the free parking is over now – we go to Highfield Farm Touring Park in Comberton. It’s time to do laundry and Lisbeth’s hair needs to be washed again. Not that the hair washing in Fredi would not be possible. No, unexpectatly is goes very well. But you have to be sparing with the water. Theoretically 400 liters go into the water tank, but we never fill it up to the top. That would be too heavy for Fredi. And besides, we go anyway economical with the water. You never know where you get water the next time.
Shortly after we have arrived the beautiful and quiet campsite Wilfried installed the new mirror. Now we are well prepared for the onward journey.
Although a second day at the campsite costs 23 £ including electricity, we decide to stay a second day. Wilfried can make movies again. The laptop needs a lot of power. With full batteries, we can independently stand up to 5 days. The refrigerator and the light do not need much. However, we can recharge the laptop a maximum of two times. Then it is already tight with electricity.
We will therefore benefit the autumn stay in Nussdorf to mount solar panels on the roof to be independent from expensive campsites.
On Monday, 17 September, we were awakened by loud falling acorns that popped on Big Fredi’s roof from the storm.
Until it was a quiet night, no noise-making youths. Just pleasant and quiet.
We now had all day Monday available to come to Kettering and to have a look at the city.
On the way there, only a few miles away, we come to a side road and experienced the following scenario:
Who can tell us whether this is a hawk, a falcon or a completely different animal. If you look very closely – you can see how brutal nature is. The victim that was dismantled here was still alive.
We spent a few pounds on the municipality, to stand in the parking lot and Wilfried used the library to load Caroline’s film up to YouTube using free Wi-Fire. In the meantime, Lisbeth was browsing through old views of Kettering and maps that showed a great scale.
In the Italian restaurant in the city, called “Wildwood” we enjoyed an excellent three course meal. We were so tired and it tasted so delicious. We could not imagine being able to eat something within the next 3 days.
At Vodafone we complained the consumption of gigabytes unused by us and after many e-mails with the headquarters a credit of 6 gigabytes was transferred to our SIM card. We shall continue to monitor whether it happens again that credit disappears, although the router is switched off.
When it came towards the end of business hours and we insisted not to go before the problem would be solved, all went very quickly and when we asked on the way out if they are already closing, the answer was: “7 Minutes ago“!
Actually we wanted to stay in the parking lot in Kettering. It appeared calm and we made ourselves comfortable, when suddenly another rude guy appeared with his „bowl“ in the parking lot, widely open doors and turned up his music in full volume. That was enough reason for us to us disappear again.
To find another place in the dark is far more difficult than it is in daylight. So we went straight to Desborough, parked on the first best place on a side road and were able to sleep very well. The wind whipped the soft branches of the weeping willows on the Big Fredi’s beautiful skin, but I hope he has forgiven us not to find a belter.
We had an appointment at 10 am at Lesley and Mark and Lisbeth was allowed to wash her hair and take a shower. The gas reserves in Big Fredi are close to zero and the risk of having no hot water in the middle of shampooing, was just too big.
Mark was kind enough to bring us to a garden store to organize a new English loaning gas bottle. The only one that fit on our adapter, was filled with only 4.5 kg, but would be reserved till Friday for us if we can not find a bigger one in the meantime.
At 1:00 pm Liz was then ready to be painted by Wilfried. Fine that always people came in and discussed with Liz and us.
The efforts of the 3.5 hour painting and subsequent cleanup were rewarded by a delicious Indian dinner to which Mark and Lesley had invited us.
After starter and main course we were so pleasantly full and it had the correct spiciness, which we both like so much.
The next day a portrait workshop was held, in which we all very well comfortable.
Thank you Mark and Lesley, what have you done for us: to find Liz, who was painted, to give us a parking space and power, to organize a workshop in your “Desborough Men’s Shed” for a day for four participants.
Even a radio interview you had organized! Wow! Really great! Thanks Mark!
Also thank you for all your help to drive us to the camping shop and the art store before we left on Thursday.
This is your last chance in UK to get painted and be part of the outstanding project „Face Europe“!
We will be in the Oxford area on 26. September till 3. or 4. Oktober and move on to the New Forest before we head back to Dover moving along the south coast.
If you know of somebody who has a place to paint or wants to be painted please react ASAP and get in contact with us. We will be most glad to make a little detour to come and visit you!
We are looking forward to meeting you.
On a rainy day, we have said goodbye to the Peak District. It was Saturday afternoon and we were barely out of Peak District, it soon got warmer temperatures and it was quite sunny.
We arrived in the afternoon and Nantwich and walked first around the ‘Nantwich Lake “and then into the city. What a sight for sore eyes! Parts of the city are half-timbered houses that have survived a terrible fire in 1583. In the house where the town library is housed, you think the house could collapse at any moment.
Our “death march” through the old town finally ended in the supermarket. Hiking does not only make one adventurous but also hungry. Only the fact that we have to carry everything saved us from a hamster buying.
We spent half a night with and half a night without music from the neighbouring radio from the car at the parking lot of Nantwich Lakes.
On Sunday, we made our way toward our next stay in Pinsley Corner farm at Oly, Sarah and Lily Lowes campsite.
We had investigated on the internet that there must be a channel in the area. At the first sign, which pointed to a channel, we turned off and landed – in the the middle of a horse show, a dog beauty contest and a fundraising event for the water rescue. And – we finally found the true, the real Stuart! What a joy! He wanted to be actually painted and all was genuine and real. Also an artist – it should be a great honor and a pleasure for him and for us.
The next night we spent truly on a wide spot on the road. A strip of meadow, level and flat invited you to park for the night. The tiny village should not invite young people to have a rendezvous with rock music.
And suddenly a car stopped in front of us and with a big grin a farmer climbed out and fed his calves. When I asked if we could stay here overnight, he said, „I see no reason why you should not“. He was not only friendly and outgoing, but told us of his stays in Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. And finally he asked if we needed a toilet or a shower. His son lives right on the next road to the left. There we should go if we need something. We were stunned by such a friendly gesture.
This parking site gets top marks from us.
The next morning we were on our way to Oly and his family and his great campsite. The meadow, certified for 5 vehicles had except us already three vehicles. A camper was just about to pack up, another was waiting for his place. We should put our car left from the remaining caravan as Sarah described to us. When we turned the engine off our Big Fredi, the neighbour came out of his trailer and walked off the distance between his vehicle and us. He had measured that we were too close. At least so and so many feet. Immediately our neighbor got a nickname: the “pacemaker”. He then showed up to be generous and allowed us to stay though we were at a small distance.
Quite different people we met were Pat and Mel. They were extremely interested in Face Europe and even visited us the next day in Sound Methodist Chapel where Wilfried finally could paint the correct Stuart. Mel had accurately studied the photo book of Wilfrieds portraits and gave us his personal comments! Thanks again for that. Mel, you were the one who had been studying the images the most careful.
In the evening, the family Lowe, so Oly, Sarah and Lily hosted us a trip to Nantwich. Lily is very interested in the history of the city with her 9 years and could provide us together with her parents a great insight of the city. We were asked if Wilfried would possiblylike todraw Lily’s art teacher during her art class. That would be very special and immediately the Lowes were active and organized everything for Wednesday.
On Tuesday, therefore Stuart was painted and on Wednesday Charlotte was drawn. Everything soon to be watched on YouTube! Do not miss it! We kindly ask for your „thumbs up“ and please don’t forget to subscribe!
Stuart was a fine storyteller, very relaxed and comfortable. Thank you Stuart for your openness and your time!
The afternoon in Lily’s school was very special. Charlotte offers children very child-important tips and could keep the children’s interest for the portrait painting all the time. The children drew each other and she pointed out things that have to be considered also by an artist. The children were very curious and were allowed to watch the process of drawing their teacher.
Thanks to the discipline of the class and Charlotte who leads the 36 children super in the class no camera and nothing else broke during the drawing session.
We were really also pleased that Lily wanted to be painted. This then happened on Thursday after school. Lily is a very sweet girl and we liked to chat to her as if she was an adult. She showed quite a stamina and it was not only for us but also for her lots of fun.
In the evening after Lily’s portrait painting, we were invited to a delicious “Toad-in-the-hole” with fried potatoes and vegetables and a dessert of apple pie with vanilla ice cream. All that Sarah had prepared for us after a long day’s work for us. Thank you Sarah!
On Friday we had to say goodbye to the Lowes. But we could not go before Oly took us to the store in Nantwich and helped us buy the right parts for a drain tap in the gray water tank. Thank you, Oly!
We are very grateful for the special week with such amiable people who always behave sustainably and so pay attention to their own health as well as the health of nature.
The loving and always attentive contact with Lily has also impressed us very much.
We are now on the way to Mark in Desborough. We had already met him during the first Face Europe portrait as a spectator and we know that he also has great interest in portrait painting, since he himself is an artist.
Friday night the problem of a quiet parking space has arisen again. We had to leave the first on Blithfield reservoir very quickly. Young people with open car doors with loud music playing show no good behavior, and a discussion seems pretty hopeless. So we pack everything together in the dark and go to the next place. There, the noise is at least further away and it is a bit quieter.
On Saturday we went to the beer museum in Burton upon Trent, as Oly recommended. After a few rounds around the block we finally found the hidden entry into the parking lot of the beer museum and a 90 minute tour topped with a beer test in the museum gave us a good overview why Burton upon Trent was once the biggest brewing city of the world.
An Aldi-stop for the most necessary to eat and then we went on through farmland to the Rutland Water reservoir lake.
For the surfing competition we were not signed in and also for the running race around the lake we were too late. Bad luck. So we just did a walk along the shore, in the morning in one direction and in the afternoon in the other direction.In order to not rust completely.
In the evening we drive a few kilometers further and stand at the side of a less frequented street.
Tomorrow it has been two weeks now that we have parked Big Fredi in front of „thegreenmangallery“ and I have to admit we have really fallen in love with this wonderful town, the gallery and its welcoming people.
It was such a warm welcome and great understanding and support of Face Europe all the way through. We are so thankful for this kick off in UK.
The Bank Holiday weekend was full of work for us.
Thanks to the gallery we could go inside and warm our models as well as ourselves. It was nasty cold and wet outside.
Wilfried drew and painted 6 people and all of them can be watched on YouTube.
The speed version is finished of all of them, yet the long version still has to come step by step. The range in age was really fabulous. The youngest model was 3 months old and her mother talked in her name. The oldest person is 89 years old.
If you watch the movies on YouTube, please give us your comments, thumbs up and subscribe our channel. What fun it will be for you to get the newest movies!
From the exit from the camp in New Mills until the beginning of Face Europe weekend in Buxton there really is not much to report.
A low bridge blocked Big Fredi from travelling to Miller’s Dale and we had to turn back. So there was a wide spot on the road near Tunstead as parking lot for 2 days and nights. The storm rattled on Fredi. You felt like on a ship. A cold front with rain and storm that hit throughout Europe did not stop in front of the island.How fortunate that we have a heating, water and enough power on board.
On Friday, 24 August, we finally rode into Buxton and got into the parking lot of Greenmangallery, as agreed.
Caroline – our good spirit and supporter of Face Europe helped us immediately. Because of the low temperatures it makes sense to work in the workshop space of the gallery. Outside, it gets more and more uncomfortable and wet.
You have to slowly move from summer mode to the autumn mode. However, it feels almost like winter when the temperature drops like this.
Nevertheless, once inside it’s cozy and the first Buxtoner to be drawn is Caroline’s mother.
The next days Wilfried produced one or two pictures a day and we learn a lot about the life and history of the people.
Today it is especially exciting again, as the youngest participant at the tender age of 3 months is portrayed while we will lead a conversation with her mother.