Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister

Left to our own Dervizes..

The town of Dervizes, located in Wiltshire, U.K., is as is so many in Britain, a historical market town that has a great many sites to explore and enjoy – one of the notables is the Wadworth Brewery, a relatively “new” company that has only been producing a line of brewed potables since 1875.   One touch of class is that they deliver to pubs in a 5 mile radius of the brewery in their own horse drawn wagons, powered by a couple of their Shire draft horses, Monty, Max and Archie and Sam.   When not on the beer delivery route, the horses serve as sometime taxis, are entered in shows and as you would suppose, as well known in England as the Busch Clydesdales are in the U.S.BYX7Tf8s

Wadworth provides tours and tutored tastings of their product line, which we will be availing ourselves of on our next visit.

This trip, we were making a flying stop on our way to Heathrow, to see the famous locks.  For those born in areas without meaningfully navigable waters and after the advent of video games, this type of lock is not something to secure a place, nor something placed on someone else’s lips, but a series of doors in the water that will lower or raise a boat to the level of the water found up or downstream of the lock.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the case of the Dervizes “flight” of locks, 16 in number descending Caen Hill, dropping, (or raising) a total of 247 feet, are all powered by….humans.   As seen each lock has two doors.   The boatman, or more likely, his wife, climb out of the narrow boats usually seen in this area, places the largest muscle in the body against the white beams and leans back against the boom,  moving it in a 90 degree arc to parallel the water, which opens the door to enter.   Once the boat is inside the lock, the outgoing door is opened, after water is let in or out, to raise or lower the boat to the next level.   There are some Olympic quality backsides and legs in the area!

These locks, 29 in all, were completed in 1810 and are still in daily use, many, many times.    The area is beautiful and well worth a visit, even by the video driven souls…


Feed the swans – tuppence!

The native narrowboats are often to hire, by the day or for even extended stays and can be used to get from one side of England to the other via the various rivers and purpose dug canals.

Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister

An ode to the unknown Master fisherman

George Edward the 10th, (more commonly known as Buddy), and I went for our last fishing outing in England this morning as tomorrow this time, we will be at the Gate at Heathrow just about to board our flight back to the U.S.  And of course, we are flying Economy Delight on Virgin Atlantic, my dear!

So, we arrived at the lakes fed by Sweatsford Water, a tributary of the Avon in Hampshire, around 8 a.m.   The lake’s visibility was marginal, but it was a terrific morning, cool at first, steadily warming as the sun rose higher in the sky and we could see ocasional trout rising to take a snack from the surface here and there.   We waved our 9′ rods to and fro with little result – a few “follows” and no takers.   As we were changing flies, and leaders, an older gentleman came along on his way to go chill his fish..which he had four of.  (Somewhat embarrassing).   Noting his patch that said, “British Masters Champion – 2014”, with all the good will and politeness I could muster, asked, “Might I know what sort of fly you were using?”  He showed me a dark blue damsel.   Before I could ask anything else, he dug into his well-worn fishing vest and handed me a fly clearly tied at Hollywood & Vine, or on Time’s Square, or somewhere else you would find the epitome of tackiness.   It was large and gaudy with a black body, wrapped and with tail “feathers’ made from golden mylar that twinkled in the sun.  “Now, young man”, he said, “you just cast that out, particularly if you see a trout rising, throw it right at ’em, and let it sink for 10 seconds or so.   Then, just you strip it back in like this.” (Making short, jerky motions with his hand, miming retrieving line from the water by hand).  “you do that, me friend and you’ll catchem!”   Acknowledging my thanks and disregarding my offer to pay for the Imperial Gaudy Fly, he wondered off.

The Master Fisherman, with his 5th of the day.

The short version of the rest of the story is this – I did exactly as he instructed, just so, and caught this very chunky 2-1/2lb Blue Trout.


My thanks to the unknown Master Champion, your Kung Fu is formidable!

I’ve been fishing, sometimes daily, for over 55 years, this day will stand out as one to be kept right in the front hall closet of my memory palace!

For those who may be unsure of the suitability of keeping the fish we caught, the waters we fished this trip are NOT catch and release, but are declared No Release waters.  This is to ensure that no fish are returned to the waters in an injured state to die a slow death and bring possible contagion to the pristine waters.   And, we eat them!

Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister

The lions and loins of Longleat..

You’re paying good money to go see history while in England.   You might go to any of the dozens, or even hundreds of sites maintained by the English Heritage organization…they even, for we Yanks and other “furriners”, have an “Overseas Visitor Pass”, pay one price and gain entry to over 100 historical sites – about $40 USD.  Or, you can pay the same cost and gain entrance to a place that sounds like part history, part Disneyland, and the remaining portion of a road side zoo.    And yuou would be right  to do so, ..and wrong

Longleat is a fine example of an Elizabethan grand country home purchased for the Marquesses of Bath in 1541, formerly a Chapter House for the Augustinian Priory – (holy DaVinci Code!).   Burnt badly enough to be razed and rebuilt to its current splendor in about 1580.  The eighth Marquess still lives there, now in his eighties and in poor health.  He is surrounded in old luxury and a 10,000 acre game park inhabited by lions, tigers, bears, (oh my), wolves and various African species…including a very large troop of monkeys that could get employment in any auto wrecking yard in the U.S.  When you drive, foolishly, into the monkey enclosure, after immediately and completely ignoring all advice for folks in the know, and the very pointed warning signs at the entrance, the first thing you see are the trophies taken in the park.  Not lion’s heads, nor Cape Buffalo horns and skulls, but fenders, countless window wipers, hubcaps, bumpers and various other car parts.   We got off very easy indeed – (rest easy Budget Car Rental agents)..kF9NvRDi (1)

A single, rather than dozens, female monkey hopped on our car, scrambled onto the roof and only ate small chunks of the rear mounted radio antenna.  After a few gentle, sort of, pumpings of the brakes, she was off and watching for her next victim.  The rest lay in the tall grasses, huddled together to ward off the chill of the brisk wind.

The house should be seen -The details are too numerous and detailed to mention, but for those who have not seen it, think Biltmore House on steroids.   This is the sort of grandeur that Vanderbilt had in mind, but did not match, when he had Biltmore constructed.

longliet house   Something else that old George V couldn’t match, and undoubtedly wouldn’t want to, was the reputation of the current Lord of the Manor,  Alexander Thynne, the seventh to inherit the place and the title,  now past his former glory, or lack thereof.  But during his heyday he was the very epitome of  the artistic hippie, techno beatnik, right down to the whole rap he espoused, which included incidentally, to have the traditional wife and offspring to inherit, but also upto 75 “wifelets” to address his other interests and outlets.\

Bhj8FcyW  Alexander Thynne, 7th Marquess of Bath then

Xu3XhJTZ    and now……….

Lest I dwell overmuch on the eccentricities and lasciviousness of this artful dodger, let me say this – Longleat is well worth visiting, with its animal park, the Great House, the adventure park, the boat rides into a freshwater lake inhabited by seals and gorillas on an island and many other features.   It should feel like a tacky,  State Highway attraction, but still manages to come off with the class that only the passage of centuries can bring.

Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister

“Be an opener of doors”

“Be an opener of doors” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, a man I’ve always thought of as someone really smart, who cast about looking for something to latch onto and, sadly, never really found it.  That said, at some point of my dimly remembered youth, I read those words and

Port Isaac

they stuck with me.   In my youth, I boldly rushed in, whipped the door open without consideration of consequence and took some nasty falls.   I still open doors when presented with the opportunity, but I “count the cost….” first – most of the time..<g>  Here’s a collection of doors, with their real and imagined stories behind, seen in the last few days.

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury (several following)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA




And for those who prefer their entrances a little more pretentious, nay, grandiose…


To close this one out, and even though I don’t espouse all that he has to say, it may be interesting to consider the words of Mark Rice, a Scottish rocker with Metallic Dreams.  Mark speaks of a, or the, definitive moment in his youth……

“I was ten when I heard the music that ended the first phase of my life and cast me hurtling into a new horizon. Drenched to the skin, I stood on Dunoon’s pier peering seawards through diagonal rain, looking for the ferry that would take me home. There, on the everwet west coast of Scotland, I heard it: like sonic scalpels, the sounds of electric guitars sliced through the dreich weather. My body hairs pricked up.  To my young ears, the sound of these amplified guitars was angelic (although, with hindsight, I don’t suppose angels play Gibson guitars at ear-bleeding volume). A voice that suggested vocal chords of polished silver soared alongside razor-sharp overdriven riffs. I knew that I was hearing the future.”

And, of Isaac Asimov:  “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”

May you find the essential door, or someone who appears at your own, to change your future for the better –


Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister

The Art of the Stay

I’ve written many times about our preferences about where and “how” we generally lodge when we are centrally located to the sites we want to visit.   Though we don’t mind staying in hotels for short stays, once we exceed four or five nights, we much prefer staying in a rented home.  And we have had some excellent side benefits from doing so.  Since we not infrequently travel with friends or family, a home stay, or in the cases of our last two visits to the U.K., a renovated barn stay, gives us the space and sense of sharing that very few hotels ever could.   And further, we’ve made some good friends with some of our “landlords”, Simon and Claire in Pewsey, Wiltshire and now Tonya and Chris in Horsington, Somerset.    Si and Claire aren’t currently taking short term renters, but Chris and Tonya of Lois Barns, still accept qualified short leases.   And their rental space is first class and genuinely, a “home away”.    For more information, including contact details, go to this website:

I knew when we first booked for this trip, last December, and after pouring over the photos on the web, that I would like to paint one or more views of the property.   So here’s the piece of the back of the renovated barn.


The reality………


The impression



8X10″ acrylic on canvas board

Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister · Uncategorized

Doc Martin and I…er, We

So let me start out with some gratuitously cute photos I took this morning of the sheep in the pasture immediately behind the barn we’re staying in.  These weren’t taken with a zoom – I put a patio chair out in the pasture to sit in while I worked on a painting of the barn from the rear and the sheep came up and encircled me…………….very peaceful!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, particularly if you are an American and you haven’t watched the Brit TV series, “Doc Martin”, you’ve missed out on a pleasure.   We drove the two hours from our lodging right outside Wincanton, Somerset, through Devon to Cornwall to visit Port Isaac.  The village, perched directly between two headlands jutting into the sea, stands in as Port Wenn on the Doc Martin series.   Carrolle began watching  the production first and I watched all seven series with her just to be companionable.   Then to prove how great a companion I am, I watched the entire seven seasons a second time…then eventually, a third time.  The series features great acting, spectacular scenery and some insight to a part of the U.K. that remains pretty fiercely independent.   Most of the directional and informational signs were printed in both English and Gaelic..   except for these, which were pretty much executed by different age groups in the Graphic style..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Apparently, all the tourists who brought their dogs, and there were a bunch of them, have been something less than discriminating about the collection of their dog’s “poo”.

Before we actually got to Port Isaac, we stopped at the Cornish Arms in Pendoggett, Cornwall, for lunch.  We suspected, and rightly so, that the prices for the fare would be meaningfully less expensive than eight miles down the road at Port Isaac.  Besides the really good food – and I cannot highly enough recommend the Fish and Chips enough – big, meaty pieces of Cod, battered in snowflake light beer mix.   Besides the food, the real treasure was “the Maid” of the bar, Gemma.   Gemma was not only really personable, but entertaining as well.  She’s appeared as an extra on Doc Martin and has lived, so far, her entire life in Cornwall – where the appropriate greetings are, “Alright, me lover”, and “‘Ello there, me ‘andsome”.    If you are going to visit, practice, practice, practice.   There are videos on YouTube – according to Gemma, the one of the biggest thorns to the side of locals are the really bad, fake, Cornwall accents!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   The Cornish Arms – Pendoggett, Cornwall

Besides the obligatory photos once we arrived in Port Isaac, Cb at Doc Martin’s Surgery, etc.   There are a lot of very interesting doorways, alleys and narrow streets – all of which I’m especially attracted to photographing..


The above and below are “streets” in Port Isaac 



And now for obligatory Doc Martin type shots……..

Port Isaac from the headland above the house that is the location of Doc Martin’s House.  Louisa’s “school” is visible directly across the harbor..large white building that looks like a church building.
Carrolle entering “Doc Martin’s Surgery”

And later in the day, we drove over to Tintagel, which is the mythic place of conception of King Arthur, or more accurately of soon to be Baby Arthur, but actually was a rocky outcropping sticking high and deep into the sea that has been inhabited since about 600 A.D.   In about the year 1230, the Earl of Cornwall, wanted to get a little swagger on and connected the building of castle at Tintagel with Arthur’s legend and the place has been popular, especially with authors of Arthur legend, conceivers of conspiracy theories and promoters of legend-plagiarized art ever since.   In any case, it is very cool and if you’re one of those folks who is trying to get in 10,000 steps a day, this is the place to do – wear your comfortable and rugged hiking shoes – its just a little bit of up and down!

view from top of Tintagel
Above and Below – Ruins of the 1230 castle


In short, there is a whole world of exploration to do in England’s Southwest coast.



Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister · Uncategorized

A Tale of two trains…..

Dateline: Saturday, 12 May –  We had taken the train from Templecombe, Somerset to London for a surprise experience primarily for  Carrolle, of riding the London Eye.  As a quick note, the Eye (extremely prominently promoted by Coca-Cola), is a 443ft tall, very slow moving ferris wheel, in which the captives, er, riders, are contained, 12 at a time, in a large spaceship shaped gondola.   The Eye takes just about 1/2 hr to make a complete rotation and only actually stops if someone that is wheelchair bound is getting on.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAP5110160.JPG          The Eye has it!                                                            The Bird’s Eye View

Like so many things in life, the anticipation was as good as, or even better than the actuality.  You can see most of London, so much so, that even if you’re familiar with the locations, it gets confusing.  All in all, it was enjoyable, especially since the rain held off until after we boarded.

Then the fun started.

We disembarked, took the Tube from Waterloo Train station to one of the stations near to the British Museum.  My amazement, when we arrived to find every other tourist, looking for an attraction out of the rain, cannot be overstated.  The line was approximately 2 hrs long, so we nixed that idea and headed for a bus station to get back to Waterloo.   We bought bus tickets, found that no fewer than six routes went to Waterloo .  We chose Route 188.  Because, why?  Because the 188 bus was on the way to the stop when we got there.  We boarded.  I asked the driver, a broadly smiling young man from a Balkan country,  “Does this route go to Waterloo?”   Mirov answers immediately, “Yes, yes, Waterloo, yes!”  Another very broad smile.  We wind our way around St. James Square (a nice park actually), and on the second circumnavigation, the bus pulls up to a stop and shuts off.  The driver announces that all passengers must exit and wait for next bus.  I asked the driver, just conversationally, “Is the bus broken down?”  “No, just break time – next bus in 14 minutes, you board and go to Waterloo – Route 188!”  Ok, so not a big deal.  Mirov then hand rolls a cigarette and walks around the outside of the bus, occasionally darting in to answer a radio call from his supervisor.  Exactly 14 minutes later, he enters the bus, starts it and pulls up to us, from 30 feet away, opens the door and announces, “Route 188 to Waterloo and points east!”   We arrive Waterloo, a little soggy, about 8 minutes and two stops later.   Our spirits having been dampened, just a little, but now it was beginning to be a little funny and warm food and drink were inside.

We board our return train, Waterloo to Templecombe, promptly and found a table seat where the four of us could face each other eat some cheese and crackers we picked up at Waterloo in a very nice little boutique grocery store right in the station.  train seating 2   Good seating for a two hour tour

Even though the itinerary included four more stops than on the outbound trip, the schedule showed us arriving back at Templecombe Station only four minutes longer than the trip time inbound into London – so not bad.  We met some nice folks, had some laughs about our American accents (I told them we were all Cockneys but we were practicing our American accents).  Every single person we met told us we were spot on!   Things were good as we rolled in Templecombe.  I led our foursome to the back of the car, pressed the button that allowed us out into the vestibule between cars, stepped through and pressed the button that actually opened the outside doors and…nothing!  Pressed again, no open doors.  I looked around for the attendant, saw him the next car back and was about to call him when the train started moving.   We were about to experience being “over-carried”.   We rode to the next stop and purely by chance, there was another train headed back to London coming into the station in 90 seconds.  We gathered up our stuff, ran up the stairs to the cross-over bridge, back down and as promised the eastbound train pulled in.  Back to Templecombe at last.

Today was another sort of train experience in every way.   An afternoon Cream Tea on the East Somerset Railway, departing from Cranmore, Shepton Mallet, Somerset station.  The engine is steam driven, the speed is slow – it takes 45 minutes to travel the 2.5 miles down and the same back and the experience was a step back  to a more genteel age.P5120164.JPGOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                        A perfect afternoon on a great day!

I highly recommend that if you find yourself in the area, wend your way to Cranmore and book your own Tea!   The experience is made even more memorable by some of the more esoteric sights to take in –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Sign inside the men’s urinal closet


The British have an overseer for every occasion and activity….sign seen outside the WC.