Time spent in the Middle East is visually exciting: Glorious sunshine, hazy filtered curtains of light, the space and scale an invigorating contrast to our usual landscape. John’s atmospheric watercolours eloquently express his awe at the natural forces of the area.

No surprise then, that Dubai /Oman came top of his winter escape list this year. Add in the bonus of showing some old Kenya pals around: a recipe for a great holiday! Pleased to impress them with the exciting new developments (every year!) in Dubai. We covered some tourist spots with them, mosques and souks and beaches, enjoyed travelling on the driverless metro – upfront, whizzing silently between glittering skyscrapers, looking down on busy highways, honking traffic. See the hotshots play the Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Up the sunny Creek in an abra, taking in the sights and sounds as we chug past the old dhow wharf where cargo is still loaded onto the massive wooden vessels, bound for India, maybe Mombasa, Zanzibar. At the heart of old Dubai, the peace of our magical ‘Majlis Gallery’, its quiet courtyard and shady henna tree.

A long drive into Oman but the roads are wonderful. Ten days, only enough to skim the surface of all that’s to be enjoyed in this friendly country. Rugged mountain tracks, remote villages perched high and inaccessible. Deep green wadis gushing water through palm groves with sturdy old watch-towers standing guard. Massive forts, busy souks, a dhow building yard and beautiful blue sea. A great unwind after a busy 2013.

Despite changes, including golf commitments(!) and the closure of some galleries, John continued to work hard for various shows, including a major exhibition of his ‘giant’ (5’x3’) Oman paintings at The Majlis Gallery, several of them already privately commissioned. Commissions took John to many unexpected places in UK too, sketching fresh views – always a welcome task!

The week of our Annual Inkberrow Exhibition makes us appreciate the hard work that the galleries put in. Enjoyable though, as it brought friends from near and far to enjoy an impromptu reunion, and we welcomed many of John’s ‘fans’ old and new, aspiring artists, even students from his art teaching days, with fond reminiscences. Always a fun week and an opportunity to show John’s work in our village.