Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sun and glass in Rissen

The sun is shining but it is cool outside. These houses with glass walls facing south are perfect for days like this.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hamburg Late September

Later late summer. Every time the wind blows chestnusts rain down from the talls trees above. 'Clunk, clunk' they go as they land on cars below. 'Ow ow', you say as they land on your head.
Among the autumn leaves the occassional mushroom.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Cedric is asleep at my feet. Cedric is an old dog and blind and his owners did not expect him to see last year out. He is still alive though and livelier this year than last. Cedric just keeps on keeping on.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wechselwetter ...rain and sunshine

Hamburg again: one minute pouring, the next minute sunshine. It feels like spring but squirrels scamper across the streets carrying chestnuts so it must be autumn. The wind blows and the clouds scurry acrosws the sky.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Views from the train

In Austria the mountains south of Salzburg are high and craggy.As you travel north past the Chiemsee lake near Munich you can still see the Alps, but further north ....
just south of Fulda the hills are rolling.
South of Hamburg the highest things on the horizon are windmills.
PS Click on the images to make them bigger.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Graz Fashion

The shops in Graz inner city lanes are full of interesting stuff.... rings made of red leather and silver, ... bags made of thick wool patchwork
...classy clothes ...... like the clothes worn in the Hamburg rail station when I arrived late at night.

A Beer in Graz

In a tiny place just around the corner from the tourist restaurants I sip my beer, wait for my schnitzel and sketch the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How many angels?

How many angels and other figures can you fit above an alter? In Graz at least, a great many.It would be hard to fit any more ornamentation in the Graz church I stumbled upon today. It has gold, statues, carved wood, eight chandeliers and a stunning marble floor. Wilting white roses were pinned to the pews, probably remnants of a wedding on Saturday.

No cars, no noise, what a pleasure

The wonderful thing about European cities is that the centers are car free. Instead of noise and pollution you have peace and tranquillity, open spaces where people can gather and outdoor cafes where you don't suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.I am in Graz and it is a different city in the sun. The side-walk cafes are buzzing and the shops full of innovative and quirky fashion items.

"This is a city I could live in", I thought to myself as I walked the narrow inner city lanes, stumbling upon old churches and wide car-less streets full of outdoor restaurants.

Playing history

There is always someting on in Maribor's market square. The other day it was historical enactments.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Post festival blues

Alas the Maribor festival is over. This evening's concert in the packed Maribor Cathedral was Rachmaninov then Mozart's Requeim.
The Orchestra and Choir of London singers got a standing ovation and now the players and singers are celebrating the end of festival in the KGB Club down by the river from whence I have just come. I came home early as the club is in a basement down a very steep flight of stairs and I decided it would be too easy to drink a glass too much and have difficulty getting to street level again.

The Slovenian Philharmonic leave after the party for Ljubliana and everyone else seems to be catching early trains out tomorrow. There is no commercial airport in Maribor so people train to Graz, Vienna or Ljubliana. I head off to Graz tomorrow then 12 hours on to Hamburg the next day. Twelves hours, but I'll have music in my ears and a head full of paintings.

PS The sketch is of cellist Jan-Erik Gustafsson.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Puppets in barrows

The autumn market in Maribor... features the same puppets in wheelbarrows that you find in the museum in the Ptuj Castle. They seem a happy lot.


In the Maribor town square is a big round dark sculpture made to honour war heros. The faces on it are made by imprinting thick then thin lines into the metal surface.


Eva-Nina: Sixteen and an exceptional flautist...

Coffee with green cushions

The sun has come out again in Maribor. Down by the river is a cafe with bright green cushions that serves excellent coffee. I went there this afternoon before rehearsals and sat thinking just how idyllic this place and this festival is.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Music, music, everywhere.

In the markets, in the concert halls ... there is music everywhere in Maribor.


I have been sitting up on stage today sketching the cellists. The players are used to me by now so are not disturbed.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sketching musicians

It is wet here in Maribor, wet and miserable, but I hardly notice as I sit in concert halls all day sketching musicians ...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Doves through the window

I like my attic window. The doves come and walk along it, looking in quizzically the the occupant below.

Anja's Café

Anja is opening a café in Maribor. It was meant to be ready by September for the Maribor Festival and my 2009 drawings of festival musicians were to hang on the walls. However, a city bureaucrat went on holiday for the month of August and neglected to pass the paperwork on to a colleague. So the café will be finished in October instead.

Anja is using all natural materials and the café will serve local food. She will cook and her husband will serve. I wish I was going to be here to support her. Maybe next year!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Remarkable canvases

The walls of the Ptuj Castle are covered with painted canvases. They are nailed to the walls along the edges, floor to ceiling. I decided when I saw them that I could do something similar in my new abode ... where ever that may be!

Hasty drivers

There are pedestrian crossing here in Maribor, but you have to look the drivers in the eye to make sure they are going to stop. Generally they don't. Apparently they don't stop for other cars either. These cars came to grief directly outside the hostel .... at a pedestrian crossing.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Percusion Players in Ptuj

Ptuj and the Scots

Several centuries ago the Leslie Clan from Scotland bought the Ptuj Castle and married into the local aristocracy. The castle remains the most well known castle in Slovenia. The red horse and rider in the courtyard reminds that the Scots wore red and rode red horses. Many of the 17th Century paintings in Ptuj Castle feature the Leslie family. Others are of Turkish overlords/ladies as the Turks occupied Slovenia on their way to Vienna. Churches remained as churches though and were not converted to mosques.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Maribor Interiors

Maribor shops have cosy interiors. The pizza shop (above) and the tea shop (below).

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Posters with children

There are flags and posters all over town promoting the Maribor Festival .... and posters on the pavement, like this one in the town square. Richard Tognetti is a household name here.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Irish and the Attic

There is a big football game on in Maribor tomorrow night. The hostel I was in was booked out for the 2nd/3rd and the owner (a native Liverpudlian who has managed to live here for 3 years without learning the language) asked me to move out for the two nights. She appeared with a towel-wrapped head yesterday when I handed back the key and was apologetic about keeping me waiting. She had just peroxided her hair. In the meantime the town is filling with football fans. I can't understand their lingo but their shirts are bright green. Even the Irish couldn't get greener shirts.

Oh, what's that? It is the Irish? Right, that would explain not understanding the lingo.

My new abode is a cute little attic room in the Uni Hotel on the town square. It is a real pleasure having a space (and bathroom) for myself instead of sharing with ten others and I have decide to stay here for the duration.

The new Slovenia

“When the wall fell we poured millions and millions into East Germany," The German woman in my hostel commented. "Here the people did it by themselves, and look what they have created. This place is amazing and East Germany is still the place everyone wants to leave.

Come on Vodafone!

For all its vaunted global roaming, Vodafone doesn't have coverage here in Slovenia. Come on Vodafone, come across the border!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Wine on the River Drava

Maribor is in the center of a wine district. The hills behind the town are planted with grapes and wine is served in many eateries for a Euro a glass. This wine bar on the river must be one of the nicest places to drink a glass.

Maribor metal door and shutters

Maribor is a rich mix of old and new. Here is someof the old ... metal doors and window shutters.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sunflowers from the Mayor of Maribor

Maribor. It is nice to arrive in a town that feels familiar. Nothing has changed since last year, except the hostel has become much busier... all credit to June from England whose home it is.
Yesterday sunflowers were being given to the passers by. A present from the major of Maribor I was told.