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Land Rover R.I.P. -The End of an Era
Land Rover, the world's longest-serving vehicle, is to roll off the production line for the last time after a continuous run of 67 years.
After all these years that famous work horse of the countryside is to disappear.Having started life in 1947 as a farming vehicle, painted in colours that were decided due to the availability of WW2 military surplus paint supplies it has over the years stood as a symbol for English engineering all over the world.
(Above) The Old Landy - Open Edition Print-See Print Gallery
Seen Better Days - Land Rover Series I
Signed Limited Edition Print from a painting originally done to celebrate 50 years of The Land Rover.
Available in the Print Gallery
'That is not The Old Man of the Moors' I was told by a farming customer one day as he read the title of my picture of Old George on South Moor
'That's the King of the Moors.'
A few years ago most folk round here that ever drove to Baltonsborough across South Moor will remember getting stuck behind old George on his bike as he wobbled his way along the road in front of them.
Anyone careless enough to cut him up too close with their car ran the risk of him attacking their vehicle with his trusty walking stick as he made his way to his lonely little red brick cottage on the moor: where he had no power or running water and I am told that some of the Meals on Wheels ladies were quite terrified of him.
The local farmers used to pay George to keep an eye on their cattle grazing on the surrounding pastures. Which may account for his home being known as on the OSmaps as Watchwell House, possibly the home of generations of cattle watchers.
I have heard that up North they refer to such characters as 'The Looker' and that when any cattle they 'look' over are sold they get a share of the price.
As the buying up of old run down country cottages became more popular, more than one townie thinking George's place was a deserted and derelict ruin ripe for modernization had a hell of a shock as they tried clean a window with their hand to peer in, only to see a weather beaten old face peering back at them,shaking a fist and telling them to 'b....r off'
Legend has it that one dear lady having made him swerve into the rhyne (Ditch or dyke, elsewhere in the country) had a real shock when she got hold of his leg to help him and his prosthesis came off in her hand.
However they weren't too far from the old Butleigh Cottage hostpital and they say she needed more reatment more than old George.
As a habitué of the Greyhound at Baltonsborough or The Rose and Portculis at Butleigh George, I am also told, was even known to adjust his limb with binder twine in the bar.
On finding him lying in the road one day having taken liberally of Somerset's own amber liquid another farmer shoved him in the back of his Land Rover and took him off to the care of his niece, who promptly administered more cider in an effort to bring him round.
Obviously I have no substantial proof of the stories of the 'King of the Moors' they are just what various customers have told me over the years and I trust that any descendants of George will take this in good humour as a tribute to a local legend
My picture'George Counting Cows' no longer in print I'm afraid, was not taken from life,it's just a memory image of George as he leant over the gates alongthe Baltonsborough Road watching over the herds.
Artist's Proofs tucked away in the shelves
Now it's over two years since we moved to Ashcott, I have almost got my studio sorted out and came across some artists proofs of Marcus Barn and The Old Field-Marshall ( only eleven of these) see the print gallery for details.
Fame at Last
My wife and I were driving back from Wells one day when we had to stop for an elderly farmer and his herd of cows.
He popped his head in the car side window saying "I should av stopped they others- but oi let em thro- but oi ad to stop you zur."
He then asked when we came from and recognising the address he said " Oi know you, you'r wottsis name arn't you. You'r Mr.. you know Mr.. tut tut Mr?"
In the end my wife helped him out of his memory lapse "Cooper" she prompted.
"That's it Mr Cooper. Oi thort you werr dead!"
Dead artist come back to life
Despite the rumours listened to by the old gentleman from Polsham above I am still working.
My recent exhibitions of paintings and prints at The Strode Theatre in Street and Somerset Crafts Gallery at The Avalon Marshes Centre,Westhay, included some recent works as well as the largest display of originals for some time.
Cooper's on the Menu
Years ago William Wordsworth attended a wedding breakfast at the Pipers Inn on the Taunton Road/Bridgwater fork at Ashcott and Pricess Isabella of Spain stopped there on her way to London. If they had waited until 2013 for their visits then they could have had a good look at all the pictures that now hang on the restaurant walls as well, all by some local artist by the name of Cooper.
☎ 01458 210030 http://pipers-inn.com/
Other Local Eating Places
Gigis - Italian Restaurant Opposite the town hall in Glastonbury,we have been eating there as a family for many many years,need I say anything else?
☎ 01458 834612
The Quarry - Keinton Mandeville- Really good pub food , never had a bad meal there
☎ 01458 223367 http://www.thequarryinn-keintonmandeville.co.uk/
The Natterjack - On the A 371 Shepton Mallet toCastle Cary road near Royal Bath and West Showground. Used to go there years ago when we lived nearer, went again recently,still very good.
☎ 01749 860253 http://thenatterjackinn.co.uk/
The Retreat - On the main road in the middle of Ashcott a few yards from our house this old in has been transformed by an organisation that provides a safe environment for medically discharged and serving personnel.
We have had lunch there and it was jolly good,would certainly go again,it has a very smart restaurant area now, car park always seems busy, a good sign.
☎ 01458 210033 http://www.thesomersetretreat.org.uk/
Vintage Delage captured in watercolour
This painting was a commission for the owner of this amazing car, one that had been in his familly since new possibly.It certainly still looks like new, not bad for for a vehicle built before before I was born..
SOMERSET CRAFTS at The Avalon Marshes Centre
Every other Thursday I am doing a turn as steward at the Somerset Craft Centre which is part of the Avalon Marshes Centre. The base for English Nature and the RSPB on the nature reserves there.
The gallery has a large display of work from various craftsmen and women . Pottery, wood turning, glass, fabrics, stone sculpture, jewellery, silver, ironwork, wildlife photos, and exotic soaps and of course paintings. Lots of goodies for Christmas presents .
Parking is free and refreshments are available at 'The Eco Friendly Bites' till 4pm
BIRDWATCHING On the Avalon Marshes - Somerset Levels
The gallery is only a few minutes away from the entrance to the Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve riverside walk, Noahs, Decoy and Canada Farm Lakes where one can sit in the hides to watch the birdlife, butterflies and sometimes if you are lucky the otters.
A walk down alongside the canal for about 15 or 20 minutes takes you past the bridge on the left, with a path through the woods to another hide, or to your right, another path through woods to the hide (up steps) at Noahs Lake. Noahs is where an Osprey or two generally call in for a while twice a year on their way north and back.
Continuing straight on along the path will bring you to a road, a pub and a small car park.Then straight across it will bring you to the RSPB Ham Wall Reserve also very well worth a visit.
Ten minutes away by car there are two other Somerset Wildlife Trust Reserves-
What's wrong ? I asked,'I thought it looked all soft and furry'.
'Yes it does,'said Sue 'but it is not Joanna's cat, it's the next door neighbours!'
Print details for this picture in Giclée Prints
Check us out on FACEBOOK
In an attempt to keep up with the times I do have a Facebook Site and a Facebook Page, it is very easy to go from one to the other and follow some of my not so profound utterences and make you own views know as well.
© Michael Cooper
All images on this site are copyright the artist, Michael Cooper. The purchase of original paintings does not include the purchase of the copyright. All rights remain the property of the artist and will remain the property of his estate or heirs for 70 years after death