Work on, and fundraising for, the Pershore Cemetery Chapel window which John designed, progresses. The unveiling is planned to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the end of the Great War.

Having completed the 35th Annual Inkberrow Exhibition in November, and fulfilled several commissions, we left a gloomy UK in January. Pleased to return a month later to longer days. What a difference that makes! No matter what the weather, increasing daylight lifts the spirits and readies us for ‘back to work’.

John prefers to call our winter breaks ‘working holidays’ and though friends laugh about it – a fair bit of socializing is involved – he does use his sketchbook constantly.

In Kenya, our pals took us on an amazing safari to the Mathews Mountain Range where, in the forest we camped beneath a tremendous canopy of trees teeming with birdlife. Our walks and swims were guarded by three colourfully-beaded Samburu natives, carrying an old rifle and spears. Beside the river we watched as dusk fell, the game quietly emerge. An unspoilt, magical world.

It wasn’t until we journeyed further, into Samburu Game Reserve that we actually saw elephant. JH spent much time studying their strange proportions, practicing and measuring trunk to tail. No wonder the early explorers, seeing them for the first time, brought home cartoon-like drawings. Then much more: rhino giraffe lion zebra et al, with a fabulous backdrop of distant mountains, hills, rocky outcrops and every variety of acacia tree. And time to absorb the atmosphere!

Many people, having passed through the airport, dismiss Dubai as too glitzy for their taste in travel. We were very lucky to be introduced to Dubai pre-glitz and for John’s work to be welcomed at the first fine art gallery to be established there.

The Majlis Gallery is in the Al Fahedi Historic Neighbourhood, close to the Old Fort Museum, and has recently become something of a tourist attraction – a mixed blessing in ‘our’ quiet quarter of the city: Ship-loads of selfie-snappers posing amongst the narrow alleys and courtyards of the wind-tower houses beside the Creek!

Elsewhere in Dubai the amazing new buildings and tremendous installations of infrastructure that magically appear every year don’t go unnoticed – the vitality of the place is infectious. But it is the atmosphere of the mountains and wadis that draw the artist back.

From there, an easy journey (in complete contrast to the roads of Africa!) took us on broad clean ten-laned highways teeming with gleaming high-end cars to The Musandam. A separate chunk of Oman, North of Dubai, sometimes described as the fjords of Arabia. There we spent a few delightful days sailing around the coast. A wonderful opportunity for JH to sketch distant mountains, islands, caves and great rock slopes to the blue blue sea.

So with plenty of reference, and a one-man show at the Majlis in February 2018 to work towards, John is happy to be back in his studio, remembering special effects created by sand storms, slanting light, African sunsets et al. Not forgetting of course, the commitments he has made here, for less exotic but equally atmospheric paintings of our green and pleasant land!