Monday, September 15, 2014

Dapdune scribbles

Ah, canals! These days more of a set of linear leisure centres than a type of transportation.  Back in the day though, big loads of heavy stuff were pushed and pulled along by boat for hundreds of years, at least until the railways steamed in. This is why Dapdune Wharf in Guildford is now obsolete, and so in the hands of the National Trust (Britain's de facto Ministry of Teashops, Country Carparks and Quaint Things). This is where we learn that the last commercial load went up to London as recently as 1978, and that it's 19 miles to Weybridge (and the Thames). Also that barges would take 30 tons of gunpowder per load from Surrey's mills. Strange to think of the force of Empire being projected by a docile horse at 3 mph along a leafy towpath. 

I was here with Surrey Scribblers, a Meetup group for artistic dabblers in the County. This time we had 5 scribblers, so a very manageable group. Having convened, we ambled the towpath in a southerly direction. Plan was to have several sketching stops and then pub lunch. I think we managed 2!  

Guildford Rowing Cub was a good one, as the crews sat relatively statically whilst being instructed on technique. After a spell we continued, and were distracted by a tour - it was Heritage Open Day weekend - of the Guildford branch of the Freemasons. Oh OK then. We were shown the Temple, various side rooms, drawings of the Rituals in ages gone by, and regalia, regalia, regalia. Nice braid! Any questions?  Yeah, Why??  I think this interlude bemused, intrigued and appalled us in various proportions. Artists tend to the non-hierarchical, solitary and revolutionary. So I doubt there's much overlap with the worldview of the masons. Though I do need to find a nostalgia-inducing snake belt, as once sold in Woolies (the various Masonic aprons had a undoubtedly symbolic serpent as the clasp). 

Onwards to St Catherine's. Lunch at Ye Olde Shippe Inne. No really, that's its name. Nice pizza.

More drawing at the old priory, and checking out the views to the North and West. 

So that was our circular walk, no it was there and back argh. I'm definitely going back to sketch at the rowing clubhouse and the Wharf, as well as various other spots along the river. Watch this space for further reports, and if not too shabby, uploads. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

Time's Anvil

This was a welcome Christmas gift, in response to my vague request for "Books of all sorts, e.g. travel, technology, science, natural world, art, design, history, language, culture". It was a bit hard to tell what it was exactly, on opening it, but after a few sniffs I got the idea. A very literate and sensitive yet scientific tour of the land. All lands in principle, but with an emphasis on England. The author is/was a professional archeologist (and explains the modern methodology excellently), but he doesn't rest there. He digs around in climateology, biology, technology, industry, religion, poetry and personal history. Sometimes his topics seem obscure (Saints?) but invariably the logic and fascination of the ideas comes through.

It reminded me in scope of what James Burke was trying to achieve in Connections, and also the main thrust of Peter Ackroyd's psychogeographical tours of London. Namely (the connectionist angle) that everything depends on nearly everything else, and secondly the sheer depth of human activity associated with the most seemingly mundane of places.

I found it absolutely fascinating, and have been outwardly unproductive for several days in the course of reading it. Meanwhile, I'm filled with more questions about how we got here, and where we might go next.