Waverley Paddle Steamer Trip

For my mum’s birthday I booked a day trip on the Waverley Paddle Steamer, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world! We left mid-afternoon from the end of Southend Pier, arriving at Tower Bridge in London just after sunset.

Photo: © Waverley Excursions Ltd

The Waverley was built on the Clyde in Scotland and was launched in 1947. After a long career she was bought for £1 in 1975 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. She now makes regular pleasure trips around the UK throughout the year, which includes trips along the Thames.

It was fascinating to see the coastline and famous landmarks from a fresh perspective.

Tilbury Docks unloading a container ship…


The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge…

QE2 Bridge

A view of the Docklands skyline in the distance…


The Thames Barrier…


The Millenium Dome…


Our first glimpse of the Shard and the City skyline at sunset…


Behind us was this stunning view of Canary Wharf, all lit up…


The Thames has many twists and turns on the approach to Tower Bridge, which can be very disorientating! Around the final bend we approached Tower Bridge, which opened to enable us to pass through…


…and under…


Wow! What a view!

Thank you Waverley. Until next year…

Mid-century sideboard

In our design studio we’ve been looking to replace a rather large storage unit with something smaller. The room doubles up as a work space and a guest bedroom but space is of a premium. The old piece of furniture we wanted to replace, although useful, did take up too much space and was a good excuse to hoard ‘stuff’ that didn’t really need to be there. So we wanted to find something smaller, that was cheap and we could ‘do up’.

In the local area, there are a large number of secondhand, house-clearance shops that I regularly browse around. We visited one of these shops that has a huge amount of furniture stacked floor to ceiling. And it’s here where we found our mid-century sideboard.


The top section had two shelves (which I took off to paint). The bottom sliding cupboard had shelves on the left and three drawers on the right.


I began by mixing a chalk paint solution using plaster of paris and grey emulsion. I lightly sanded down the furniture and applied the paint to the back and sides.

Once that had dried I pasted wallpaper on to the top section and front cupboard door. The back cupboard door and drawer fronts were also painted in a chalk paint solution using colours to compliment the wallpaper.

As we’ll put the printers on the bottom shelf we drilled a large hole in the back to feed the cables through.

This is the finished piece…


…and the drawers…


…and in situ…


We love it!

Village Green Festival 2016

The Village Green Festival, organised by Metal Southend, took place this year on Saturday 16th July. I’ve been attending a sketchbook group for a couple of years now, run by local artist Heidi Wigmore. Once again the group were given the fabulous opportunity to exhibit our sketchbooks in the Metal Art School.


With a core group of about 10 regular ‘sketchbookers’ we have built up an impressive collection of sketchbooks. When the books are all displayed together they make an impressive spectacle.


The people in the group took it in turns to invigilate the exhibition during the day. My slot was 12-2pm and by then the park was starting to fill up with festival-goers and the exhibition began to draw people in.



Here is a selection of the sketchbooks I included.