Fleetville, where I live, is commonly known as St Albans’ East End’. At its further most point, it had an old toll gate, where the pub, The Rats Castle now stands. Hatfield road is filled with an extraordinary shops selling every type of food, clothes, barbers, (at least 3 ),my hairdresser, two churches, two mosques, two parks and a enormous Morrisons, where I draw every Monday morning. Where else would an artist want to be?

‘Jim of Andrews”oil on board, 20 x 30 cm.

This wonderful shop, owned originally Jims parents, now by Jim, is a local institution. I have never had so many people, stop and talk to me about their own memories. ‘Going to buy sweets there after school or going in as a group to buy the ingredients for a domestic science class, when Fleetville Juniors was a Girls school.’

Painting on the busy Hatfield road requires patience. I really wanted to catch Jim, sitting outside his shop in the sunshine. In front of the shop are short time parking bays. So it was a case of painting quickly, in between each change of car.

‘Hicham of Al Barka Mini Market, oil on board, 20 x 30 cm.

I had my eye on, and have wanted to paint this extraordinary shop for a long time. Every morning Hicham opens the canopy and moves all the fruit and veg from inside the shop, to the outside stalls. As he goes, he creates a feast of colour and texture and no two daily displays are the same. It has been an absolute joy to paint this.

Towards the end of painting, a new canopy with large side panels arrived. I was grateful to him for not using the panels until I finished. Now renamed Oasis Mini Market.