The Twelve Pigs of Christmas

Twelve piggies drumming

Eleven piggies piping

Ten piggies a-leaping

Nine piggies dancing

Eight piggies a-milking

Seven piggies a-swimming

Six piggies a-laying

F-i-v-e g-o-l-d p-i-g-s

Four calling piggies

Three french pigs

Two turtle pigs

And a piggy in a pear tree!

Day 5: Lhasa

Urban sketching in Tibet.

Jokhang temple

Potala Palace

When I show this drawing to one of our Tibetan drivers, he puts his thumb over the Chinese flag.

Day 3: Kathmandu to Yumbulagang

Urban sketching in Nepal and Tibet.

Kathmandu airport, waiting for the flight across the Himalayas. A monk buys Tolberone and Pringles. 

In Tibet: Yumbulagang monastery. Prayer flags cover the hills around.

Day 2: Kathmandu

Urban sketching in Nepal. Second stage of the journey gets us a far as Kathmandu. Lunch at a restaurant overlooking the dome of the Boudhanath Stupa (behind the umbrellas).

Day 1: Heathrow to Doha

Urban sketching in Qatar.

Heathrow airport

 First stage of the journey takes us to Doha, with its L-shaped city views. Old, low-rise buildings stretch along the coast toward a very modern development of skyscrapers and cranes.


You walk out of the airport into a wall of heat. It's too hot to walk anywhere, so I took the lift to the top floor of the hotel and drew the view back along the peninsula.

Venice: Day 4

Rio dei Frari

Urban sketching in Venice: The problem with painting in Venice is that whichever way you turn, there is another stunning view of a canal crossed a quaint bridge, and lined by crumbling Renaissance palaces.

(It's not really a problem.)

Rio del Frescede

Another canal, another picturesque bridge, and more beautiful buildings.

Piazza Roma

A quick sketch while waiting for the bus back to the airport.

Marco Polo airport

Venice: Day 3

Rio dell Erimete

Urban sketching in Venice: In spite of the hordes of tourists that suffocate St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, you don’t have to go far to find somewhere quiet, where you can paint undisturbed.


The entrance to the Venetian dockyards. The gateway, built by Antonio Gambello in 1460, and the first structure in Venice to use the classical properties of Renaissance architecture, is behind the tree trunk.

Venice: Day 2

Urban sketching in Venice: Early morning in Piazza San Marco, before the cruise crowds arrive. View from the Palazzo Ducale of the column with the statue of St Theodore, and a corner of the Libreria Sansoviniana.

After visiting the John Singer Sargent exhibition at the Museo Correr, we tracked down some of the sites where he painted. This is the Campo San Canziano.

Sortie de l’église, de l’église, Campo San Canciano, Venice
John Singer Sargent,1882

Little has changed in 125 years: the buildings, the windows and the doorways are the same. Even that white paint on building on the extreme right is still there. The only thing that seems to have changed is the colour of the main building.

Venice: Day 1

Urban sketching in Venice: The view south down the Grand Canal, from a corner of the Rialto Bridge, inches from the water. I’m using the Grand Canal as a water supply, and to wash my brushes in.

Cuba: Day 8

Urban sketching in Cuba.

A tree in the Botanic Gardens near Cienfuegos. The tree generates seedlings around it, which grow up and merge with the parent.

King palms, traveller’s palm and jurassic palms.


Cienfuegos is another UNESCO World Heritage city. Here are two of the buildings around the main square: the Teatro Tomás Terry and the Colegio San Lorenzo.

A roundabout

View of Cienfuegos from the top floor of the Hotel Jagua. You can’t miss the Royal Poinciana trees, also known as “Flamboyant trees” and “Flame of the Forest”. Look also for the chimneys of the oil refinery, and the baseball stadium.

Houses on the Punta Gorda

Palacio de Valle

A Moorish style palace built 1917, now a restaurant.