Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas is coming...and the SOSF have dropped by

I can hardly believe its nearly christmas. I have been spending so much time in the studio that I've neglected to put up any christmas decorations. Until today that is. A real tree for a change, carted home with the help of my six-year-old son.

And what could be better than the smell of fresh needles gently shedding from your nordic pine?

The smell of homemade gingerbread biscuit stars to hang on the tree.

Thank you so much my SOSF Christmas Fairy Emma. They are so beautifully made and absolutely delicious (of course I had to test one) and I am having a job keeping them on the tree and out of little hands. I wonder how many will be left by christmas day?

Please let me have the recipe.....I may be in need of more very soon. Yum.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Been burning midnight studio oil..

At last. Thanks to Arianna at IHelm Enterprises I am now the proud owner of a very smart looking site. We've organised the paintings into galleries and made it easier to navigate. I hope you like it.

There is a special offer to celebrate the new site too. Order any painting and get a second canvas at half price. I have had a few takers for this, especially for childrens' commissions so book now and reserve your studio time before the offer ends.

And remember the poppy I was progressing earlier? Its finished. Here it is.

I have also been painting a very large red poppy and rather than show you photos, I am in the process of stitching together dozens and dozens of jpegs to make a movie of the painting as it appears on the canvas before your eyes. Hmm maybe I could set it to music, put it on a plasma screen and maybe hang 'that' on the wall.....somehow I get the feeling it may have been done already. Neat idea though.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Something new to share

I've started accepting commissions for paintings especially for childrens' rooms.....inspired by nursery rhymes, favourite toys, beloved teddy bears and even patchwork quilts.

This is a sketch I did for a painting inspired by a nursery quilt.

And here is how it developed............

The new website is now complete and I can add some more work to the galleries very soon. This being one of them. There is something extra special in producing work inspired by something that is treasured and the whole experience never fails to put a spring in my brush.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Paintings Progress

I can only read on in amazement at fellow bloggers who post a painting a day....clearly they have more studio time and no three year old to contend with...but I'm not complaining. It DID set me thinking though, and I have decided to blog the progess of a painting from start to finish.

When I get a brief for some work, the initial stage is to discuss the concept and come up with some ideas. The better ideas get made into miniature paintings on canvas paper which I send for approval. These 'paintlets' as I like to call them are matched to fabric swatches and other samples I've borrowed, and help set the stage for the actual is one ......its going to be a big canvas....30 x 40 inches....I adore painting on big canvases.

The next stage is to sketch out on canvas. When its this big, I divide the paintlet image into grids and draw into corresponding grids on the canvas...this ensures that I keep the composition in proportion. Its painstaking work but I put some music on and the hours just fly by.

I drew this one out listening to Citizen Cope Clarence Greenwood Recordings. .....twice over.

This canvas is now ready for painting.
I always start off by covering the entire canvas in paint...roughly matched in colour and tone..and that way I can build structure into these poppies. First is the background.....pale pink to start with. I used process magenta, great brushfuls of titanium white and mixed them on the canvas.
I am going to be making big sweeping brush strokes on the petals so I need to preserve centre of the flower as this is the bit which will be painted last and will have all the detail. Keeping it simple, I paint it in with phthalo green and crimson, with some cerulean blue. This way, I shouldn't lose it while I'm filling in the petals.
Time to turn to the petals (and change the listening to an old Santana album)....and get bold with the brush. I loaded some magenta, permanent rose, crimson and ultramarine onto my palette, draped the fabric sample over the side and turned the music up. Two Santana albums later, voila.
Next stage will be to start focusing on each petal one by one.......(and also remember to take photos!!)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some pictures and some news

I took some pictures of my work thats for sale in Flowers Talk at the Eynsham Emporium. I persuaded my son to come along so I didn't feel quite so self concious taking photos in a busy shop on a Saturday afternoon.

There are seven pieces in total, two of which are triptychs.

Other new website is very nearly ready to go live and there will be some limited but very special opening offers available so watch this space ........

Monday, November 13, 2006

Busy busy busy

Today is a milestone day for me.

I am going to be exhibiting - and selling - some work at a beautiful boutique style shop in our village. The shop, Flowers-talk at Eynsham Emporium, is housed in a cotswold stone barn which was latterly used as the village bank and the shop today still has the old bank vault door.

I always get excited at the prospect of seeing my work up on walls.
I took the chance to paint an experimental piece based on the skin of a zebra which I produced as a triptych. The painting looks black and white in the photo but after I spent all week studying pictures of zebra hides, I actually used cream and reds and greens. If you look closely at zebra skin, its impossibly dark brown.

After spending all weekend painting I'm now clean out of cadmium red, vermillion and my size 12 filbert has curled up its filaments and consigned to the 'knackered- brushes-but-I-just-can't-throw-them-out' box that I keep under the table in the studio. I am hoping for inspiration one day for what I could do with them...I have got a Blue Peter badge after all.....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Virtual vs Real Galleries...some interesting reading

A writer acquaintance of mine kindly sent me an article this makes for very interesting reading, especially if you're interested in online art, so I've reproduced it here to share.......


In an age of do-it-yourself savvy, artists are increasingly taking their careers into their own hands. The question is what might that mean for the future of the gallery and its role in the food chain of artist, media and audience?

Many talented young artists feeling passed over or just plain grumpy about the lack of gallery representation are turning their backs on exhibiting their work in the material world. And according to high profile as well as emerging artists, the virtual world has not been found wanting.

  • The virtual online gallery is always open and sells your work 24/7.

  • The virtual online gallery doesn’t sideline you for "top names".

  • The virtual online gallery does not store your work in the broom closet.

  • The online gallery is administered from home and takes no commission.

How good is that? Very good, as young Australian painter Hazel Dooney recently discovered. According to Dooney, her relationships with collectors are maintained largely online; and in 2005-2006, she generated $130,000 in commissions and gallery advances. For the coming year she is predicting something like a 40-60 percent increase in her income.

Dooney says, "I've worked very hard to acquire contacts both within and outside the art world. Many subscribe …having found their way to my site…(or)… after seeing one of my shows. I now have a mailing list of over 3,500 individuals, galleries, institutions, and press." This represents an impressive achievement in any field let alone the fickle world of art.

But Dooney is equally quick to point out that having a site is no magic pill. "Site development should be constant … if you're not updating your site regularly and seeking to connect it to as many places as possible around the web, then it won't work for you. I upload new images, change the home-page, add news items and features, about twice a week … recently, I offered an "unlimited" edition print that could be downloaded and printed for free…I even offering to sign it if the collector paid the postage!" Dooney is certainly at the entrepreneurial cutting edge of arts practice. And almost every time you access her site, there is evidence of change.

Some art world commentators have suggested that this quiet Internet revolution is beginning to make itself felt as a ground swell in the art world. The phenomenon of sidestepping the material gallery world has already begun to be felt in the UK, Europe and America. Visual Arts pundits have described it as the work of "the ultimate Do-It-Yourself Generation" hell bent on its free-range thing. Where once the shy and retiring artistic-type needed a gallery to promote their work, write their media releases and guard them from the onslaught of press and public - the New Artist has been raised on a solid diet of self-promotion. The new artist seeks autonomy and sees herself as both producer and promoter of her art. And whilst there will always be artists who prefer and flourish within galleries, there will also be those who go about their own business extremely well.

Surprisingly, when asked about the prevalence of Internet know-how amongst her peers, Dooney says; "All young artists, and not a few older ones, use the net, and many have web sites, but the number that really understand and trust its power to dis-inter-mediate the traditional gallery-based art business, and are really exploiting it, are just a handful."

Prior to her show at Mars Gallery in Melbourne last month, Dooney’s previous gallery show was in 2004. "A show that convinced me that the value of a gallery, even a good one, for a young artist, was declining." Dooney's impatience with the argument proffered by galleries of ensuring "exclusivity" is clear. She argues that such notions are obsolete and run "…counter to the paradigm of the web's so-called new economy, in which ubiquity NOT rarity drives value. Warhol understood this even before there was such a thing as the web."

What then led her to this exhibition? "It's very simple: I had new work to show, work that was radically different to my old work, and I wanted as many as people as possible to have the chance to examine it up close…The virtual and the "real"… serve different functions for the artist, and are, in nearly every way, complementary."

The internet, of course, also opens up the potential of a huge world audience. "Using the internet, I could live anywhere I like and I have control over my work," Dooney states. "I have got inquiries from Mongolia and Russia. There are no boundaries with it."

Interestingly the web has also enabled Dooney to get much closer to her audience. "Yes. Absolutely. If only because… (they)…can choose when and how they connect with you, and as long as your site is rich in content, they can explore your work – and you – in much more detail than they could at a gallery…this can also be very valuable."

Typically, and in the absolute vanguard self-promotion is the launch of Your Gallery, the new Gallery Saatchi website in the UK. The website was set up in April 2006 by the British Mega-Arts-Patron and artist King Maker himself, Charles Saatchi: And with all things Saatchi, it too is constantly evolving.

Historically, Charles Saatchi will always be linked to the infamous "enfant terribles" of the 1990’s London Art World: Damien Hirst and the Formaldehyde Shark, Tracey Emin’s equally frightening Bed and Gillian Wearing’s photography to name just three artists who changed the face of the contemporary arts forever. Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Baltic and a host of other public and private galleries have since shared in the British contemporary arts boom.

The Saatchi online gallery allows artists from all over the world to post images of their work and to sell their works. The site does not charge a commission on the sales generated, and as such it has proven extremely popular with young artists as well as collectors and curators seeking emerging talent. It is reputedly receiving over a million hits per day.

Many of the world’s leading art dealers are regular site visitors and are buying up works from young and as yet unknown artists. Shock waves have apparently rippled through the London Arts world about online purchases of up to $300,000 being made without the artwork "even being seen" (except of course as an emailed jpeg)! As some trend-spotters have noted, this could well be heralding the future of "Mix and Mash" as the do-it-yourself generation calls it. No longer relying on the arbiters of taste, more and more art buyers are simply buying what they like and straight "off the rack" because they can.

There are no curators or restrictions on posting work to the site. This can mean that the quality of work varies. However, an online gallery presence and the popularity of the site could well assist young, emerging and established artists to access new audiences. Artists in the early stages of their career (who are finding it most difficult to secure exhibition space) may well benefit the most from new initiatives of this nature.

The site encourages visitors to discuss and curate the featured artworks as well as pointing them towards new artists. Some contributors to the web log have already begun to curate their own "best of" shows from the available online collection. These personalized "Curatorial Me" shows can be accessed by clicking to the right of the artist’s name and image.

At its best a site like this provides a global platform that enables artists to exhibit their work to a vast international art audience whilst using the world-wide-web in the funkiest way possible. Art is all about exposure and as artists are able to post their own images, resumes and contact details for viewing by dealers, exhibition curators and collectors; their careers may well get that long-awaited boost. The Saatchi site now also accepts video media and children’s artwork.
No one is seriously arguing that the Day of The Gallery is over, any more than the very-long-awaited Day of The Book! Seeing art is an experiential, almost sensual experience. Hazel Dooney is very clear on this, "Galleries are of value because they bring the viewer into physical contact with the work, and that remains very important."

Used in this way the Internet takes on the role of a "Fairy Godmother." As the infamous tool of "the instant hit" it also has the potential to link - the maker and the buyer. Rather than the thief, the stockbroker, his wife, her dealer and numerous agents on commission! In the nicest possible way, there is something almost quaint about it.

The long-term success and vitality of such sites may well make a direct and lasting impact upon access to art and sale practices within the art world. The successful London artist Stella Vine, when asked about the launch of the Saatchi online gallery, said, "I wish this had been available to me when I first started. The Internet has helped the art world to break open… and initiatives like this make it a little less precious and exclusive."

Closer to home artists such as Patricia Piccinini and Hazel Dooney have effectively held "online court" for some years now. Their sites have been comprehensively designed to maximize the viewer’s experience. Highly polished and consummately designed with text and images, sites such as these have a similar feel to stepping inside an exclusive designer boutique.

However, although artists function in a world dominated by the visual they have been slow to take up what the internet offers. Dooney agrees, "It's crazy, really: Artists should be the one's who really "get" this visual medium." One only has to visit the site of a Damien Hirst, Stella Vine or James Sutton to see the how and why of websites as career trailblazers.

Passionate about the rewards of self-management, Dooney reflects, "I am in control of every aspect of what is, after all, my life's work … From a practical point-of-view, freedom from the traditional system has given me, for the first time in my life, a very good living from my art – which, in turn, has encouraged me to become bolder and more experimental in the work itself."
Asked if she has any advice for emerging artists, Dooney does not mince words. "If you really believe in your work… you are probably the best placed person to promote and sell it. The business of art is interconnected with the creating of it, but too often in the past the business…has undermined the artist's creative vision."

So without any further ado, power up that world wide website.

Katerina Kokkinos-Kennedy

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'm back on poppies again....and other studio updates

I don't normally get too excited about frames, or framing companies. But take a look at this.

I have just taken delivery of this gorgeous gold frame from PictureLizard and I absolutely love it.

I recently completed this painting of a poppyfield which I wanted to give an iconic feel by adding gold leaf to the edges and parts of the picture. Gold leaf is extremely fiddly to do. You have to paint size where you want the leaf to go and then get the gold leaf and brush it over. Sounds straightforward enough..hmm....unless you have a draught in your studio.

I had searched everywhere for a customised frame to set it all off and stumbled across the PictureLizard website and I would definitely recommend them.

This represents the latest work I've completed and there are loads more still to do before I launch my new website later this month. I have a lot of projects on the go at the moment. Very exciting.

I recently took a few orders for childrens' paintings....for nurseries and bedrooms. These are very different to do from my usual big florals and in their own way, a real joy to paint. Here are some examples.

They are all based on briefs which originated from the prospective owners' favourite nursery rhymes and songs. I've got this thing about turning fields into patchwork quilts....

This is the latest childrens' work in progress. This is a coloured sketch/paintlet about A4 size. I spent this evening painting in the dusk sky onto the canvas which is twice the sketch size.

A break away from florals and another work in progress is.....bamboo. I love the structure and order of bamboo. This one also is a 'paintlet' which is going to become a triptych. A big one. As you know I love painting big.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

I was busy carving pumpkins today. Did you know that they are technically a berry? Didn't feel like it whilst I was hacking away with what is now a blunt bread knife trying to get the tops off.....anyway I digress......

The doorbell rang and the postie delivered a mysterious parcel...all the way from Illinois. I should explain that I have joined the Society of Secret Fairies or SOSF for their Autumn Gift exchange.
Its a lovely idea. You are matched with a fellow blogger and the idea is to gather lots of unusual and tempting goodies to make up a surprise box to send.

My Secret Fairy is Sarah. And my secret box was a cornucopia of Halloween goodies. What a lovely treat.

There were stickers (which Maddy immediately swept off with), skeletons (now adorning James' bedroom), notelets, pen, notebook, incense, smellies, special halloween socks and a fine pair of halloween oven gloves, and some very exotic looking chocolate (chillie flavoured no less...I shall be enjoying some of that when the kids are in bed later). And a lovely card.

Thank you so much Sarah. Your parcel brought a real smile to my day...and watch out for that postman.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The other weekend, I took my children, my face paints, and my sketchbook to a huge rambling manor house to meet up with 20 odd like minded adults and goodness knows how many children for a weekend of mayhem, mud and roughing it in the dorms. The kids loved it. So did I. Albeit chaotic. Quite a few times I found myself creeping off to the TV lounge where the children were entranced with the likes of Bottletop Bill and The Sound of Music and attempted to get their for once still expressions before they shifted to the kitchen for more chocolate biscuits.

I don't usually 'do' many portraits. Although I did paint Maddy one time when she had shorter hair....

Portraits are (in my mind) the hardest to paint. Not only do they have to look like the person you are painting, but they have to look like the person they think they look like....self-image is a complicated animal.

My new friend and fellow artspace winner Ilona is a master at painting portraits, you should check out her work..

Monday, October 09, 2006

Been busy with the Red

Hello. Its been a while. I've been busy in the studio these past few weeks preparing some new work.

I thought I'd share some with you.

This one is a triptych variation of the Old Tulip. I love this red. Its one of my favourite colours. Colours affect my mood and this particular blend of red always lifts my spirits.

And here is a little adventure into Cubism. These are 'paintlets' as I call them. When I have a commission, I paint out ideas in miniature (well, about 20 cm x 20 cm) and these two are hot off the easel.

Both are after the style of the Cubist masters: Picasso and Braque. What do you think?

They are going to be on big canvases when completed.

I adore painting huge canvases, there is something very liberating about the whole process. It must be the sense of freedom you have with big brush strokes. I can recommend it to anyone - fabulous for clearing the cobwebs.

I am really looking forward to working on these.........

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Man Who Measures Clouds

And here he is. A work by the Belgian artist-playwright-stage director-sculptor-choreographer-designer Jan Fabre.

When in France (am I boring you with this trip yet?) we were given the warmest of welcomes by the owners of the Galerie Guy Pieters in St Paul-de-Vence, Levin and Dorathee De Buck.

In fact, they treated us to champagne, and let us wander amongst some of the most amazing sculptures in bronze I've yet to come across.

For instance, this is a sculpture which pays homage to Fabre's late brother who was a "dreamer". Fabre says "It expresses the feeling of planning the impossible, which is actually what the artist does".

"The ornithologist Robert Stroud has strongly influenced me. In the 'Birdman of Alcatraz', when he is finally released from prison, Stroud states: 'I am going to measure the clouds', with the full understanding that its an impossible mission."

Fabre is impressive. I read up on him when I got back. Did you know amongst his many accomplishments, he once covered the Tivoli Castle in Mechelen in paper and then scribbled all over it in blue ball-point pen?

Enough...let me show you some of his bronzes. They are stunning and immaculate and certainly reflect the artist's fixation with things that no longer have life. In fact I think Fabre is obsessed with all things deceased. Here is a man who is used to being surrounded by dead things.

The casting and skill in these pieces was remarkable. Look at this:

This is a full size sculpture/cast in bronze. The whole piece involves at least 7 bathtubs but only this one has the artist sitting in it fully clothed. And yes. Its real water in that bath. The sitting figure is meant to represent Fabre.

And how about this for cute (I'm sure Fabre would roll his eyes in disgust)..but using vertebrae
to represent little sea turtles marching across a sand of ground bones.

Now *this* is a sea turtle..........

This has to be the biggest bronze turtle I am ever to see in my life. And I want to ride it? Its off to the stars in the outer atmosphere and thats where *I* want to be.

And here lies a bronze lamb on a sacrificial bed of ground-up human bones.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Well here you are as promised...

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (YouTube) and thanks also to Central News I can now share my TV appearances with you. Don't laugh. Central sent a car to pick up me and my children and as many canvases as I could carry, and take us to the Central News studio in Abingdon. Wow. Everyone was really lovely and James and Maddy were (for once) speechless in amazement at all the equipment and paraphanalia. What fun!! Alex who interviewed me was especially friendly and so professional!! How they manage it??- all that split second timing with looking at camera 3 with 10 seconds to go - is quite beyond me.

Later on the same day, a reporter (Ally) and cameraman arrived at my studio to carry on the story....including the story behind the story with my grandfather. Right up until the last minute, Maddy had insisted on wearing a viking helmet which is cleverly out of shot.

I wanted to share them with you...even if they do make me cringe in self-concious embarrassment.But a big thank you to everyone at Central for making myself and my kids so welcome and being such decent folk.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Out and about....

There is a museum in Nice which is pure Matisse. Its a mixture of modern and 18th Century villa.

I looked him up.

Henri Matisse was born in 1869, the year the Cutty Sark was launched. The year he died, 1954, the first hydrogen bomb exploded at Bikini Atoll. Not only did he live on, literally, from one world into another; he lived through some of the most traumatic political events in recorded history, the worst wars, the greatest slaughters, the most demented rivalries of ideology, without, it seems, turning a hair. Matisse never made a didactic painting or signed a manifesto, and there is scarcely one reference to a political event - let alone an expression of political opinion - to be found anywhere in his writings. Perhaps Matisse did suffer from fear and loathing like the rest of us, but there is no trace of them in his work. "His studio was a world within the world: a place of equilibrium that, for sixty continuous years, produced images of comfort, refuge, and balanced satisfaction. Nowhere in Matisse's work does one feel a trace of the alienation and conflict which modernism, the mirror of our century, has so often reflected. His paintings are the equivalent to that ideal place, scaled away from the assaults and erosions of history. "

In 1917 he moved, more or less permanently, to the South of France. "In order to paint my pictures," he remarked, "I need to remain for several days in the same state of mind, and I do not find this in any atmosphere but that of the Côte d'Azur." He found a vast apartment in a white Edwardian wedding cake above Nice, the Hótel Regina. This was the Great Indoors, whose elements appear in painting after painting: the wrought-iron balcony, the strip of blue Mediterranean sky, the palm, the shutters. Matisse once said that he wanted his art to have the effect of a good armchair on a tired businessman. In the 1960s, when we all believed art could still change the world, this seemed a limited aim, but in fact one can only admire Matisse's common sense. He, at least, was under no illusions about his audience. He knew that an educated bourgeoisie was the only audience advanced art could claim, and history has shown him right..."
("The Shock of the New", by Robert Hughes)

If you're interested in reading further about Matisse and looking at some of his work, a good place to start is the art encyclopedia online.

There is also a musuem dedicated to Chagall.
The Marc Chagall Biblical Museum nestles on the ancient hill of Cimiez in Nice, almost hidden by a garden of Mediterranean trees and plants. We gazed at the largest collection of Chagall’s works in any permanent collection, thanks to the artist himself, and his wife Valentina, who donated a large number of works to the State, including 17 large paintings on Biblical subjects, which gave the museum its name.
The museum also has two works specially created by Chagall to fit into the building: the stained glass windows in the concert room and the mosaic above the pond. Amazing.

There was a dear little self-portrait that caught my eye.

Quite un-pretentious and somehow sweet. It reminded me of my grandfather's drawing.

Of course, no trip to Nice would have been complete without what ended up being a whistle-stop tour of the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art.

This is one hell of a building. Everywhere you looked there were amazing scuptures, installations and staggering architecture.

This is a Calder.

Surrounded by art, you feel compelled to attempt 'arty' with your photography. I'm not sure I can pull it off so I'll stick to straightforward snapshots.....

This is an Arman. He fills spaces with chairs. You have to squint a bit to see them in this photo.

The staircase inside led all the way to the roof where you could step across walkways from one side of the building to the next. And you were treated to a fantastic view of Nice.

And just look at this....

Do you see the incongruous looking grey block on the left hand side? Its a library. Three sides are solid concrete and the fourth side hidden from view is glass.

I want to go back to this place.....we ran out of time and the security guards were kicking us out. I barely had time to go "oooh look, a Warhol" and "hey, isn't that a Klein?" and never mind the bits in between. I shall return one day I hope.

Well. Thats the culture bit done then. Now for shopping. And no ordinary shopping. We spent an afternoon being one of those that shopped in Cannes. Which in itself is a kind of art form since it appears to involve much sunglasses wearing, designer handbag toting, customised mercedes dodging, trying to look like someone famous-posturing scramble for something outrageously priced.

Ilona, Anya and myself headed off for the cheapy boutiques in the side streets. Many bargains to be found.

The french have such effortless style. Even the cheap shops were chic. Dunno how they manage it. Us Brits can't, thats for sure.

I love mooching about places like this. The side-alleys and unexpected little squares surrounded by intriguing little boutiques and bathed in sunshine.

Trying to find our way to the waterfront we stumbled across this: my attempts at photography don't really do this justice, but the side of the building is flat. The trees are very realistic don't you think? (Wink wink)

Back to Nice again on the way back from Cannes. Apparently, THE place to stay is the Negresco.

The Negresco is quite literally a palace. The owner has amassed an exceptional collection of paintings, antique furniture and rare object d’art that you can admire in the public rooms, guestrooms and corridors of the hotel. Five centuries of art and history rub shoulders: from the classical and historical paintings of the royal portraits in the Salon Louis XIV and Salon Royal to such contemporary artists as Moretti, Dali, and Nike de Saint-Phalle…

I liked the statue on the front lawn. I had to take this photo from across two pavements, a boardwalk, a cycle-cum-kamikaze roller-blading pathway and six lanes of very fast-moving french traffic.

Of course, no trip to the Cote d'Azur can be complete without the obligatory beach photos so here you are......

The time had come to rest some extremely weary feet. We found a little street, still in sunshine, and kicked off dusty flip-flops, sipped some ice-cold vin blanc and contemplated the hustle bustle passing us by. Thats better.