You know what makes me grumpy? All the Grumpy Old Men who appeared on the BBC TV series were younger than me, that's what makes me grumpy. Mutter, mutter....

The Grumpy Old Artist

The Grumpy Old Artist
Would YOU pose for this man???

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster
Catterline Event, 2011

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Helford River, Cornwall

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Full-riggers "Georg Stage" and "Danmark"

Other Recent Works

Other Recent Works
Fordyce Castle and Village

Hay's Dock, Lerwick

Shetland-model Boats at Burravoe, Yell

Tall Ships Seascape

The Tour Boat "Dunter III", with Gannets, off Noss

The "Karen Ann II" entering Fraserburgh harbour

Summer Evening, Boyndie Bay

1930s Lerwick Harbour

Johnshaven Harbour

"Seabourn Legend"

Greeting Cards!

Greeting Cards!
Now Available in Packs of Five or in Assorted Sets of Four

Sunday, 28 November 2010


The white stuff has arrived, as it has been threatening to do since late on Tuesday, but the real drifting, dangerous, road-blocking snow held off until Friday evening. The predicted heavy snowfall hasn't really materialised, at least here in Lerwick, where a couple of inches have settled, but it's still a nuisance, and my sister Mary, who has been out investigating the private road up to our mother's house at Whiteness, tells me that there's about six inches to a foot of it there. Mother returns from her regular fortnight's respite care tomorrow afternoon, and the road will have to be cleared, as it was on two occasions last winter, before Graham Robinson's minibus can climb the "Brugarth Brae". A shovelling squad of sisters, brother-in-law, nephews and nieces has been organised for tomorrow morning, and I'm looking forward to the event, which will be fun.

My second pre-Christmas Toll Clock Centre stall took place on Thursday, after much dithering on my part as to whether I ought to set out for there, in the freezing conditions, with my six holdalls of goodies. In the end, I was glad I did, as I had a highly successful few hours there. Prints, both A3 and A4, packs of greeting cards and postcards were all flying off my table, and there seemed to be quite a bit of interest in my work, which was most gratifying. I also bagged a commission for another painting (a seascape) which I've subsequently begun work on.

I've done a little more work on the two "stock" works, mentioned in previous posts, although bad light and other matters have interfered with my easel time on these. Why is my painting operation like a cricket test match? Because both are often stopped by bad light, of course!

The new greeting cards arrived on Thursday while I was out at the stall, and they are excellent. I look forward to having some of these on display at next Thursday's effort, and I'll have to get them up on the website too (

Almost on the spur of the moment, my sister Mary decided to make a quick trip out to Walls early on Tuesday evening , before the onset of the forecast wintry weather. She offered me the chance to come along, which I readily accepted, and our mother was surprised and pleased to see us walking through the foyer of the Wastview Centre just as she and the other residents were finishing their tea. It was a beautiful evening, and a near-full moon was lighting up the surface of Gruting, Bixter and Weisdale voes as we made our way back to Lerwick.

There were no problems with frost that evening (there was too much wind, for a start), but the council gritting squads are now working flat out to keep the highways open. And the cold spell looks set to continue, possibly until Christmas, although I really hope it doesn't. When I was a youngster, I used to love the snow, but my sledging days on the Houlland Hill at Sandwick are more than half-a-century into the past, and now I see the white stuff only as a menacing, slippery nuisance. It can't go soon enough for me. Enjoy your winter sports this week!

Sunday, 21 November 2010


The weather, along with its consequences, has once again been a main topic of conversation in the bars, restaurants and speakeasies of Lerwick. The south-easterly gales kept the Northlink ferries (which provide the lifeline service to and from Shetland) in port for two days, and then, just when the weather had eased a bit, the "Hrossey" took a knock from an oil supply boat in Aberdeen harbour, which caused enough hull damage to keep her in port for another two days, while repairs were effected. This meant that the first incoming passenger ferry since Wednesday arrived this morning, although the freight boat "Clare" did make it in yesterday. Shelves were getting a bit bare of foodstuffs in the shops and supermarkets (all two of them!) of Lerwick, as they tend to do when our lifeline service is disrupted - whether by wind, wave or wayward political administration trying to save a bob or two from a cash-strapping budget.

My work has also suffered from the atmospheric conditions. In particular the light, which has been my friend during the summer months, has become a glowering oppressor now that winter has arrived. My artistic output has become occasional and spasmodic, and progress on my paintings has been negligible. The sun becomes an enemy at this time of year. On the days when it makes an appearance, it is low in the sky, blinding people who find themselves at the wheel of south-bound cars, and causing me to make use of the blind in my studio window.

I had my first pre-Christmas stall at the Toll Clock Centre on Thursday, when the gale was still blowing, and few people were about. Those who did were showing little interest in my new greeting card line, although I did sell a couple of prints, which made the exercise worthwhile, and a couple of people expressed an interest in commissioning work from me - nothing definite though. I'll be there again this coming Thursday, but the long-term weather prognosis is for snow to low levels by then, so I'm not holding my breath as to the day's success as a sales drive.

As a matter of fact, the prospects for another winter like the last one are looking quite realistic, according to my reading of the Met Office's weather prognosis. What happened to that friendly jetstream, which used to drive a succession of Atlantic depressions across us during the winter months? Each low meant a day of southerly or south-easterly gales and rain, clearing to another day of north-westerly gales and showers, then a quieter colder day, by the end of which the wind was beginning to rise from the south-east again, with high cloud heralding the arrival of the next weather system. For most of last winter, this just didn't happen - we seemed to be under the influence of high pressure over and to the north of us all the time. This produced a mixture of sleet and snow, the night-time temperatures being low enough to ensure that the porridgy mess, which had formed on the roads and pavements during the day, solidified into a kind of slippery concrete, which a pick could scarcely penetrate. And the surface pressure charts, produced by the weatherpeople, are starting to look ominously similar to those of last year. Brrrrrugh!

Have a nice week!


Once again I find myself in apologetic mode, this time for not posting to this blog last weekend. This was due to the fact that my computer and I had spent an unscheduled five days apart, from Thursday 11th to Tuesday 16th November. I missed it dreadfully. The ready availability of my email inbox, my website, my Ship AIS, Ships Nostalgia, Met Office and suppliers sites have become a crutch on which I lean far too often, and being without them is painful, I have to admit.

The reason for our separation was my Kaspersky internet protection package. I downloaded the new version (having paid £40 for the privilege, including the back-up CD) after being prompted to do so by email from the suppliers. Having done so, I discovered that none of my USB devices were working. In effect, I had no mouse, no camera and no printer, to mention only three, and, although the computer was still responsive to instructions from the keyboard, I am not proficient enough in its use to run my system from it. So the thing needed to be repaired - urgently!

I phoned my local fixer of such things, he took the thing away, and eventually solved the problem, which was due to my anti-nasty not downloading properly (there's an irony in there somewhere!). He anticipated many more calls from Kaspersky users. I was the first, simply because I had responded promptly to the email from the providers, and didn't leave it until the last minute, as perhaps I should have done. One lives and learns, doesn't one?

Since being reunited with my computer on Tuesday, I have been enjoying the renewal of our passionate, intimate and fruitful relationship. Let's face it, it's the nearest I'm going to get to one nowadays. Come, electronic device, and get a cuddle!

Sunday, 7 November 2010


It has been occasionally (and justifiably) said that I don't know my arse from my elbow, and the association between the two metaphorically-linked body parts has been more than usually close during the last few days. A cyst, which had been quietly developing in the folds of skin covering my elbow, became infected a few weeks ago, and, my own homespun treatments having failed to solve the problem, I decided to seek the help of the experts located in the Lerwick Doctor's Practice. As a result of my consultation with the doctor and the practice nurses, I am now on a course of flucloxacillin tablets, which are having a predictable effect on my digestive system. They seem to be having the desired effects on the infection, and I am more than halfway through the course, so I'll endure the side-effects, with as good grace as I can muster, for the next few days.

It has provided me with an excuse for a week of little achievement in the artwork field, although I did send my latest commissioned painting to the West Midlands on Monday morning, and my client seems pleased with it ( painting shown above). There are now no more commissions in hand, although a couple more may be in the offing. For the next few weeks (assuming no commissions), in the failing winter light conditions, I'll be concentrating on exhibition "stock" works, and the stalls at the the Toll Clock Centre here in Lerwick, which start a week on Thursday (18th). There I hope to do a roaring trade with my new product line of greeting cards, as well as selling a few prints and postcards, which are more established items.

I'll be advertising in the Press & Journal and the Royal Yachting Association magazine in the weeks leading up to Christmas, hoping to drum up a little more interest through exposure in the mainland print media. It's still the best way, in partnership with the website of letting people know I'm still here.

Please permit me the indulgence of using this blog post to plug my greeting cards. They are really of exceptionally high quality, and are unusually large for notelets, which, in effect, with their blank insides without any felicitation whatsoever, is what they are. They have plenty of space for a short letter. And I didn't plan them thus! I believed the cards to be A5 unfolded when I ordered them. I'll be uploading four more front page images during the coming week, so take a look and let me know what you think - I need feedback!

I hope to be back in rude health by the time I write next week's post. I have just returned from a trip out to Whiteness with my sister Thelma to visit our mother, who is also well, as is my sister's Toyota, which is now repaired after it's power-steering breakdown at the filling station this time last week. I hope you stay fit during the coming seven days - see that your body parts remain in a well-distinguishable state!