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berneyinn-4aSituated somewhere between Great Yarmouth and Reedham, Berney Arms is about as splendidly isolated as it gets. If you’re not approaching by boat, the only vehicular alternative is getting off at the dedicated train station. The stop was erected in 1844 – the landowner, one Thomas Berney, agreed to the railway’s construction only on the condition that a station was placed on the way.

It at least affords greater access to the drainage mill. Berney Arms High Mill stands beside the River Yare, now bereft of almost all the dwellings that stood in the vicinity and dominating the skyline by itself.

But I suspect that, for many, even the glorious windmill couldn’t overshadow the other pillar of this unique area: the eighteenth century public house, the Berney Arms itself. The establishment lasted long after the aforementioned community disappeared; sold on its quirkiness alone, business was consistently strong – indeed, pints were still being pulled until October 2015, when closure came with the departure of its landlord. At some point since it has suffered at the hands of vandals and arsonists. A shameful desecration and a sad end of an era. Hopefully, it will one day reopen its doors.

The area is reachable on foot – if you’re prepared to make the five mile treck from Great Yarmouth across the marshes – along the Wherryman’s Way footpath. I suppose it was a handy option for walking off that pub lunch. Enchanted as I am with the place, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. One day, when the weather is just right!

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broadside-1-captionedThe heat, am I right folks?

As sweltering as it’s been, the week has been less than productive. I’ve barely been able to function, never mind sit in front of a computer and make stuff – and it looks to be continuing for a little while yet. At least it means time in the garden, the whiff of nearby barbecues, and ice lollies a-plenty!

After much desperate fumbling, look what came out. What a surprise! It’s like they’re instinctive; I never tire of them! The foremost windpump is based on an old reference from Ludham, and I believe has since been demolished. I wish it were still here. I improvised the rest to try and give a quintessentially Norfolk picture-postcard image – in composition, at least. Of course, where else would one rather be in this weather? I did attempt to add colour and gradients and goodness knows what else, but felt it stronger without the adjustments.

The postcard concept came to me after a hugely important item on the local news, highlighting how few of them are sent these days. As if the windmill weren’t a natural subject before that: like most five-year olds, I indulged in deltiology and put together – and filled – an album of windmill postcards which I could marvel at, draw from, or both. I called it a ‘Walbum’, and no day out was complete without a new one to add to the collection. I wonder if my parents still have it…

Oh, and just for luck: here’s a piece several months old, somehow overlooked back when I was playing with brisk settings (something I really ought to get back into, as it was a heap of fun). It’s rather stormy – might we get a rumble of thunder soon? Fingers crossed.

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baronofhell-c2We’re back in the hellish world of Doom with another of its cast of devilish demons – this time, the Baron of Hell. Known as ‘The Brusier Brothers’ for reasons that quickly become apparent on introduction, a pair of these minotaur-esque clients pose the final challenge of Doom‘s first episode, set on Phobos. If ill-equipped of ammunition or experience, they make a lethal adversary and can easily thrash you with their razor claws and green fireballs.

It was these who gave me surely the scariest moment of my Doom-ing, as I alluded to in my previous Spider Mastermind post. The level is eerily simple – at least on easier difficulties – to an extent that even a six-year old should have sensed that something dreadful was going to happen any moment. Going up a lift, you are taken to a huge star-shaped arena, immediately before a staircase and two large doors. Leave it to me to run happily up to said doors and be greeted with the wonderful consequences.

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I’M OUTTA HERE!

The doors open and the beasts behind yell like some sort of murderous bull. That was quite enough for me; off I ran, terrified, missing their putting me out of my misery. I don’t think I’ve ever been so frightened by a video game before or since (and that includes running into the much larger Doom characters). But hey, I beat them in the next round, which was a very satisfying revenge. After that, I was happy to call it even and move on. I’m not sure the Barons feel the same way, however, as they seem to continue to attempt murder on every encounter, but I’m sure it’s just a game we play. They’re cool.

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Just when you thought it was safe, here we go again! Another whirl of wittering as I hop over to Reddit Gets Drawn and insult the handsome volunteers of the site with time-tested (and sometimes patience-testing) drawings. This week, I was granted 55 minutes for such a pleasure.

With a powerful expression, striking facial features and wicked goatee, this photograph was hard to pass over. Mindful of trying to capture said features, I found myself spending longer on the outlines than I would normally have with a time limit so relatively short as this; the eyes took a particularly long time to get to the level you see. Consequently, these blunders impacted the time I had available for shading (I got to the shirt with about a minute left, so didn’t have time to complete it) so it didn’t turn out perhaps as well as I’d have liked – I think the dip in confidence is visible, compared to some of my other similar efforts. I think it’s a similar story to my 60 minute piece, which would make sense given the mere five-minute difference; happy likeness, not so ecstatic shading… but it was a fun exercise.

Be sure to give the comment thread a gander, as there are some particular beauties in there, far superior to this.

It’s getting close to Christmas, so I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do one of these next week. We’ll have to see! There’s suspenders for you.

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Another Saturday spin, and after last week getting excited at the prospect of doing some super-quick sketches, my big round overlord for these challenges, the Wheel of Time, decided to be cruel and only very nearly granted me my wish. It landed on 30 MINUTES. I’m thinking of altering the spaces on the wheel as the weeks go on in a bid to ensure variety, but I’m unsure; perhaps doing several exercises of the same duration would be even better?

For a change and a slightly easier ride, I moved away from people this week, but didn’t move away from Reddit Gets Drawn. There’s often a healthy glut of cute animal pictures to choose from, and yet again I wasn’t disappointed. I initially was to draw two cats, but then I happened upon this character; an adorable dog indeed, topped off by the suitable look of ‘really?’ to the birthday hat.

Considering I didn’t start shading until around nine minutes in (I now have a stopwatch with an alarm in front of me and everything… I take this extremely seriously!) I think it came out quite well! It’s probably my favourite of these challenges so far. I would have liked to have worked on and around the eyes a bit more, and the nose is a bit off, because, as you do, I completely forgot to even begin shading it… it was still white with about six or seven minutes left, and I panicked like mad with it. It was the same with the hat… I was sitting there touching bits of shading up as time was reaching its end and then scrolled up and realised I hadn’t even touched it! It’s much more snazzy and festive in the photograph.

This was such a ridiculous amount of fun to draw. I shall endeavour to do more animals, timed or not – as both character and subject, they put us to shame!

I wonder what time limit we’ll be dealt by the nasty spinning wheel next week? Isn’t it exciting – I bet you’re all on tenterhooks all week wondering, aren’t you? Wheel have to see what happens! (Have I done that one in a previous post? Probably have. Oh well.)

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This is, I believe, the first drawing I’ve uploaded to this space which hasn’t relied on a photograph or reference image in any way. This was created completely by the mind… there were supposedly limitless possibilities, and this is what came of it! I don’t know what that says to you about my imagination. Well, I guess it begins to illustrate the thoughts of eeriness I mentioned a while ago when drawing Norton Marsh Drainage Mill, with what appears to be a hazy summer sky moving aside for a big-arse storm, just to make things extra scary… you don’t want to be out on the broads when a lightning storm hits, let me tell you from experience!

As it happens, I used to dream up scenes much like this as a child, often inspired by Sundays out with my family, which invariably saw us out on the broadland somewhere (These were the days when, being Sunday, it meant there was little else to do!). Using only a pen and whatever paper I could get my hands on, my mother knew it kept me out of mischief, so she would buy me no end of sketch pads, old diaries, anything… I wasn’t much fussed… I’d be out of her hair for a few hours. She would do that a lot.

I wonder if this ‘full circle’ of sorts has been spurred in any way by my recent return to walking. I’ve been out and about a lot over the past few months, indeed every single day since the start of August, as it’s widely reputed to be good for depression. It’ll do me the world of good, they all say. (And then I scream at hearing that tiresome bloody phrase on endless repeat.) I can’t say it’s had a massive impact in that respect – I probably got desperate and overestimated the effect it’d have – but I have found myself forcing myself to do it every day, so it must be doing something positive in there. I’m trying to increase my mileage with each week… maybe one day I’ll outstretch and bend time backward, to the pathways I explored as a youngster, which look a little like this one.

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The cat and the box… what an amusing, curiously perfect pairing.

I particularly love how pleased they invariably look when they find their new home, snubbing all the expensive, luxurious beds and even their owner’s lap for this veritable des-res. I would ask what the appeal is, but I rather like playing in boxes myself – that’s another story, though… Here, my Oscar looks rather protective of his pad as he peers over the top, ready to ward off any potential intruders. I think back to when Oscar was a kitten – he’s seventeen now – he took such a shine to a leftover shoe box that I even decorated it for him, adding a blanket and inscribing ‘Oscar’s bed’ on the side. He insisted on using it even when he’d become far too big for it, and the side collapsed under his hefty weight. Hilarious. He’s always been a comedian.