Having just spend a week in Ireland, I am very glad to have broadband again. It's shocking how much I've come to depend on it, but even just for stuff like checking the times of the buses back to the airport, or the Christmas opening hours of the local restaurants, it was very awkward trying to manage with a copy of the Yellow Pages and a telephone. How I managed in ye olden days (i.e. pre-2003) I have no idea. We brought my netbook everywhere with us and tried to find an unsecured wireless connection. It became an obsession. And we never did manage to find one.

Anyway, Christmas was good. Ate too much, slept a lot, caught up with friends, played pool in the pub (a thing I rarely get to do in London) and sat for two hours sorting out my cousin's PC after he and his twin girls filled it up with rubbish software, spyware and general crap. You could literally turn it on and go off and make a cup of tea before it finished booting. And what antivirus software does to the speed of a PC is just horrific. God bless the Macbook.

One thing that always happens in Ireland is that I spend too much money. It's as if rent and bills suddenly stop existing the minute I arrive in an airport and I start spending as if my life depended on it. So I ended up with clothes and new boots and a very nice coat from A-Wear (although my parents paid for that as a Christmas present), not to mention the set of Daler Rowney brushes in a nice little travel case that will be just perfect for bringing to class, or the Frank Clarke's Paintbox 2 book, or the set of oil pastels. The latter is my new favourite thing, they're just so much fun to use. I've never used 'normal' pastels but I imagine they're quite different. Here's a little sketch I did of our catdog Elvis. I used yellow ochre, purple and orange. Most of it is from my imagination, as I drew a very rough outline and then the little bugger ran away to chase something.

Annoyingly, I can't get our scanner to cope with white space around an image, it completely screws it up. I did a painting while we were away from the Frank Clarke book but can't get it to scan at all - I'll have to try and photograph it when there's daylight.

And here's a bit of art that isn't mine - it's a little oil painting (about 7" x 5") that my dad did in 1985, and he varnished it up for me so I could bring it home. I've got to find a frame for it so it can go in the bedroom. I've always loved this - I remember him painting it when I was only five years old and thinking my daddy was the cleverest man in the world. (And I still do.)

I'm back to work tomorrow. I can think of at least a million things I would rather be doing.


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