Unaccustomed leisure time (I)

I had some time off recently which is fairly unusual for me. I find it quite hard not to work; the problem is that now what I do all day is what used to be what I did in my spare time. I’m not sure what to do if I’m not making art work…..Anyway a friend suggested a few days away so we decided to go to Edinburgh (not actually that far away from where I live!). It’s a huge treat now to spend time in a city as I live quite a way from the usual amenities – it’s so nice to be able to walk out of the door and find lots of great places to eat and drink. I was really keen to go back to the Modern Art Gallery in Edinburgh – I visited years ago and had fond memories of the cafe (!) It’s situated in a couple of elegant buildings a bit out of the city centre; the first thing that strikes you though is the enormous text “Everything Is Going to be Alright” by Martin Creed. everything

which I found quite reassuring. There’s a wonderful reconstruction of Paolozzi’s studio – teetering piles of books, games, papers, shelves and shelves of maquettes; such an antidote to all the super-tidy studios that get featured on blogs and make me feel guilty for working in, frankly, a chaotic mess. Modern Art Gallery Edinburgh - Studio reconstructionI do wonder sometimes if, when I’m very poor and old, I shall be living in my studio with all my stuff piled around me in laundry bags; that I’ll have to climb over everything to get to my narrow unmade bed and wage a constant battle with mice. Speaking of which I caught three yesterday – field mice are setting up home amongst my paper supplies and are living on packets of galaxy hot chocolate drink which I (ahem) brought home with me from a hotel. They seem fearless – running along my desk as I sit at the computer. I thought there was only one; managed to trap it in a cardboard tube and took it to the field across the road. After a while, a little nose poked out from behind the printer. I suppose it could have been the same mouse returning very quickly…But I digress. Getting back to the art gallery, they are having a series of exhibitions on the Scottish colourists and it was Samuel Peploe’s turn when I went. I didn’t know his work at all but I loved seeing the way it progressed throughout his life and his dedication and focus on certain objects – returning to paint the same still life props again and again. Because it’s never quite what one wants – I think you can never be completely happy with something you’ve done but always want to do it better. At least, that’s how I feel. His colours were glorious – the sort you can bathe in and a welcome antidote to the gloomy skies outside. S J Peploe

We stayed in a lovely flat right in the city centre which was decorated in Victorian bordello style – all red velvet drapes, black walls and panelling, gilt mirrors and massive beds. One night we dined at Michelin-starred 21212 and another night at a chip shop in the Grassmarket. Luxury!

I’ve always wanted to visit the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and we were lucky with a bright sunny day, perfect for walking. The glasshouses reminded me of Kew – they are on a similar scale and beautifully laid out.Edinburgh Botanical Gardensgreenhouse1 Royal Botanic Garden