The origins of Dutch courage

In the 15th century a drink known as Jenever, which we now know as gin, was invented as a diuretic. During the 30 Years War (1618-1648) the English troops fighting in the Low Countries took to drinking this local tipple which soon became known as Dutch Courage. To this day Dutch Courage is associated with a drink or two before embarking on an activity that requires a bit of an extra boost to self-confidence. Gin became more and more popular in England and particularly so when William of Orange took the English throne.

In 1793 Coates & Co., Plymouth, opened a gin factory selling Plymouth Gin. By 1850 they were supplying over 1000 barrels a year of navy strength (57%) gin to the Royal Navy alone. The factory still stands and here it is:


My next picture gives few clues except that there is a boat in the foreground named Richard and Ann, Plymouth. I think, looking at the background,that this boat was in the Barbican district of Plymouth which is a lively, attractive part of Plymouth which not only houses the gin factory but an attractive marina as well. Here is a photo:


There is a completely illegible signature on the back of this print but it only cost 99p and it is very atmospheric. Here it is:




The story goes that the artist Claude Monet was travelling by train through the northern part of France when he saw the house and land at Giverny and decided then and there to buy it. In 1890 he did precisely that and went on to design and create the gardens and water gardens. His famous series of paintings of waterlillies number 250 and are some of the most recognisable in the world. During much of this time he suffered from cataracts. Here is a photograph of the gardens:


And here is a painting by Monet:


My next painting is by an artist called Brent Heighton and simply entitled Giverny. I think it is a print of a watercolour but it is signed by the artist. Brent is an interesting man and has been painting for over 30 years. He is Canadian and winters in Mexico and spends much of the rest of the year travelling. From his website his paintings appear to be very bright and vibrant so I think this one may have faded over the years.


Back to the grindstone!

Now all the success, excitement and, yes, hard work connected to the Bath Fringe Festival is over, it’s back to business. Although we had 25 red dots on pictures we exhibited we only managed to re-home 9 at the end of the day. Meanwhile we are collecting again and start with a beautiful print of a watercolour of Aylesford in Kent.

Aylesford is a village on the River Medway. Since Neolithic times there have been settlements there. The church is of Norman origin and the bridge was one of the earliest to be built across the Medway. Here it is looking beautiful in the sunshine:


The picture itself is by Martin Goode and numbered 1153. Martin has his own website at:</




At the last count, 24 red dots had been placed on pictures in out Charity Shop Art exhibition, currently in its final week at Fringe Arts Bath. We are absolutely thrilled that so many people have taken an interest and are willing to re home some original art and we really hope that everyone will turn up on the 8th June to collect their chosen pieces. We will definitely be there at 4 p.m. and probably a bit earlier.

On the subject of red dots…..the first ones appeared on cave walls in France about 30,000 years ago.


Could the rest of the art in the cave been for sale? When did red dots become associated with a piece of art work that has been sold and why? A few questions to ponder.