Bitter weather, the breeze cuts like a razor. In the afternoon to Stonehenge. Certainly miraculous how pre-historic people could have put those stones there. I was astonished at their colossal size, showing again how useless are illustrations and descriptions of places to those who have not seen them. No experience can be got vicariously.
Snowed all last night and today. They have educational classes and route marches on alternate days, so that either the morning or afternoon of each day is free. But in the evening, by going to what appeared to be a magic lantern lecture, proved to be an illustrated hymn recital, so had to sit for an hour singing “when the roll is called up yonder” etc.
Larkhill Camp, a few miles from Sling – a most dreary spot.
[Image: Lark Hill, Wiltshire, England, 1917-02. Snow covers the ground and the roofs of a long row of corrugated iron huts occupied by the 3rd Australian Training Battalion at its camp on Salisbury Plain. The hut in the foreground (left) is the Quartermaster’s Office and Store. Standing in front of it is an officer who is well rugged up against the cold. Australian War Memorial, Accession No. P02321.059]
After endless vacillations J. and I made a decision to come down to London, so as to have two whole days here before our leave expires. Set out sight-seeing, visiting first the British Museum, to look at the Elgin Marbles. Thence to the Tate Gallery to find after a long meander that it is still closed. Tried the Royal Academy – doesn’t open till the end of the week. Found an exhibition of watercolours, but doesn’t open until Monday. So we had many rebuffs.
On Sunday morning we paid a visit to Petticoat Lane, where the Jew cheap-jacks hold their Sunday babel. The noise, the press, and the language were astonishing. We partook of a ‘tout suite’ meal – cook and waiter in one – skewers your sausage and dabs your vegetables, slabs a hunk of meat on the top, and there you are.
After a look round the embankment, we went off to a concert at the Queen’s Hall, which was splendid. Reached Stretton, where J’s cousins live, and passed a very pleasant evening: regaled with a variety of good things, and the true hospitality of English ladies, of whom his three maiden aunts are charming examples.
On Monday we again sought out the watercolour exhibition – “soldiers admission free”. Spent over two hours there – the pictures representing all the best known watercolour artists of the day.
Last night, being given a buckshee ticket, I went to a play at the New Theatre, called “The Chinese Puzzle”, which I liked very well. The plot was clever, and the acting very good.
[Image: Photograph of Lincoln Lee, no date and location unknown – appears to be outside a bookshop]
Yesterday we started to sketch at Babbacombe, but the rain came on and smudged them. An old lady who insisted on looking at my puddled mess said “Yes, but it would have been lovely”. She was an optimist.
[Image: ‘Oddicombe’, Lincoln Lee, March 1919. Note Oddicombe lies immediately adjacent to Babbacombe – perhaps Lincoln had a chance to sketch unimpeded by the rain later that day, or another. Oddicombe today has a similar structure to the cliff-face as Lincoln captures, but with greater tree-cover above the cliffs. Thanks again to Google Earth.]
M. has in her charge a number of electrifying flower paintings by a local man named Mercer. He handles flowers in a manner altogether original and daring. M. thinks he will one day be hailed as a master; probably when he is dead. He destroys the majority of his paintings as not good enough. All watercolours.
[Image: ‘Torquay’, by Lincoln Lee, c. March 1919. Painting potentially done from Victoria Parade, with its distinctive view up towards the St John the Apostle church, which seems accurately portrayed with its prominent square steeple, and also the boat-ramp into the harbour. Note also the pen sketch posted on 6 March by Lincoln’s sister, Myrtle Lee, ‘Interior of the Blue Bird’. This shows an interior view of the shop with an external view to what appears to be a crane and harbour area, with ascending hills in the background – Lincoln could have sketched his own from outside or near her shop. Research done through Google Earth!].
Yesterday we got a boat and rowed around the coast to a tiny inlet above which nestles a charming little hamlet with the chaste name of Maidencoombe. There we found sunny tea-gardens, and had a light meal at a rustic table. This morning we went to a museum where Tom Mostyn, of whose works you may have seen reproductions, has a studio. He kindly let us in to see his work, and proved a most interesting man, simple and direct.
He discussed his pictures and their difficulties, even making certain experimental alterations for our consideration.
[Image: ‘Low tide, Torquay’, G.L. Lee, March 1919]