R and I brightened a dreary morning by taking a trip to Compton Verney, where the exhibitions of John Nash’s and Grinling Gibbons’ work will be closing very shortly. Having already seen the Gibbons we were especially keen to take a look at Nash’s work, but we weren’t the only people to have had this idea today: the rooms were absolutely rammed, and I ended up feeling quite stressed, and slightly faint. I’ve never been a fan of crowds, and the pandemic certainly hasn’t made me enjoy them any more.
Nonetheless I’m glad we went, because I didn’t know much about John Nash, and he was an impressive and versatile artist who produced an enormous body of art across a range of media. In particular I found his drawings and woodcuts (and some of his watercolours) charming, and they spoke to both R and me of a style of illustration we remembered fondly from our youth. If you’re in the area this weekend, I recommend seeing this exhibition before it closes – but you’ll need to be happy picking your way through a crowd of people, and I think booking is pretty much essential.
When we left Compton Verney we still felt under-exercised and under-caffeined, so we went on into Stratford for a river walk and some coffee. Since I was there on Wednesday, and R yesterday, the tufted duck count has risen to five, which was good to see. I assume that the four new arrivals came in overnight, because they were very nervous and skittish and were sticking close together, while the male that arrived a few days ago was much more confident and would leave the group quite readily to dive for food. I expect that they’ll all be moving northwards together pretty soon.
The light at Compton Verney had been execrable, and it wasn’t much better on the Avon even though it was now past midday, so I was struggling to get any photos I liked. But as I walked past the Bancroft Basin I saw that the surface was still half-frozen, with the gulls standing up to their “ankles” in melt water in a way I thought was quite amusing, so I quickly looked around for a composition and spotted this quartet in the reflection of a narrow boat. Photographic wisdom would have it that there should have been an odd number of birds for the image to be truly pleasing, but it works for me, and I hope for you as well.