Again the weather gods smiled on us and delivered a dry sunny day in the middle of an overcast week. It was pretty chilly but the plein air group know how to dress for warmth. I saw several pairs of woolly gloves with the finger tips cut off, nice examples of artistic invention.
This location is still quite new for us and the basic organising of the three essentials (coffee, shelter and loos) was tricky but everyone mucked in beautifully. We had a surprisingly large turnout – 16 of us in all – and the charming little cafe by Temple Station was rather over-whelmed with the ten o’clock arrival of our weather-proofed bodies. And our kit – there was a wonderful array of pochade boxes, French easels and all kinds of Heath Robinson plein air contraptions.
Armed with detailed maps, we set off to find our pitches in the alleyways, courtyards and squares dotted around the beautifully historic law buildings of the Temple grounds. There is a lot to choose from, especially in the bright spring sunlight. Enthusiastic work was started quickly in all sorts of media. Although the main gardens are only open to the public from 12:30pm each day for a short two and a half hours, our painters and sketchers found lots of other locations such as the spaces around Temple Church where the Master’s garden was bright with blossom.
We took a gamble and booked a table inside for lunch in Ye Olde Cock Tavern on Fleet Street. They were very welcoming and we were glad of the chance to recharge ourselves with simple but good pub food and drinks. Great fun, too, to share all sorts of tips and gossip with so many of our members.
The afternoon gave some of us the chance to venture through the now-opened gates of the Inner and Middle Temple Gardens, still quite spare with the trees bare of leaves, but offering wider vistas and views across the river. Other artists were working very successfully on the very edge of the Temple embankment, tackling the Thames and its bridges in the dancing light. Three others of our party were so busy with their masterpieces that they missed the closing of the gates and had to rely on a friendly barrister to work the lock and allow escape from the Inner Temple garden. Just in time for tea!