Just over thirty years ago on 4th July we, (the Duley family), piled ourselves into our VW campervan and boarded the ferry from Stavanger, Norway back to the UK, landing at Newcastle. We had lived in that lovely country for over four years and were going home to Woking in Surrey.

We lived near Randaberg and my daughter Ellie was born in Rogaland Sykehuset and I had painted a lot of watercolours. Mostly landscapes, notable towers and landmarks, scenes of the old town, Gamle Stavanger and some of the new landmarks such as The three swords, Ullandhaug, and oil rigs – during the day and lit up like Christmas trees at night. There was a rusting old boat in Tasta harbour that was a real gem. I really learnt a lot about painting with watercolour.

By way of commissions, I did farewell gifts – the view from a persons window. They were often spectacular. I created paintings of scenes that were turned into greetings and Christmas cards. And Linda Jackson asked me to do a portrait of her newborn baby boy. As seen above. Looking at it again now, it is like another person did it. But I can admire it and am pleased it is my work.

I created the ink and wash likeness from a photo and packed it up to take on the train to St Andrews where I was going to stay with Stephanie Wright (her parents lived there) – my closest friend – she still lived in Stavanger and would take the portrait back with her. Unfortunetly in a flurry of children and baggage, excitement at meeting up with Stef and all, I left the picture on the train and it was never seen by me again.

So I did another. Which I sent by post. It was well recieved and I then was asked to do a pencil sketch of Linda’s father as well.

All this so long ago. Maybe would have been more likely forgotten – had it not been for the train travel tale and the lost work.

Two weeks ago I recieved an email, out of the blue, from Linda. Would I consider doing a portrait of her new grandson, Dylan, newborn to the wife of the wee toot I had drawn all those years ago. It was such a lovely request I could not refuse even though I really prefer not to do commissions any more. (They can be so tricky… ) But this turned out to be an uncommon and most gratifying task. It has been now created, sent, recieved and glad to say, has given satisfaction. Relief and pleasure for me.


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