Ludham artist changing gear in her career

A former Metropolitan police sergeant is now changing gear in her second career as an art teacher - by offering sketching holidays by bike.

Linda Matthews, 46, who has been teaching and painting in Norfolk since retiring from the police through ill health 10 years ago, has been encouraged by the early response she has had to her new venture which she is launching in time for the coming holiday season.

'I am always trying to think of new ways of marketing and decided to target more active people who wanted to paint. I also wanted to tap into the growing market for green holidays on the Broads,' she said.

Linda, who has teamed up with Peter Howe's Broadland Cycle Hire, will be taking students on 10-mile rides from her Ludham Bridge studio, stopping off to paint classic broadland scenes of reedbeds and wind pumps.

'We will be cycling on tracks as well as roads and going as far afield as Neatishead, Horning, Ranworth, Stalham and Sutton,' she said. 'For people who want to go at a slower pace I will be offering a walking alternative.'

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Linda, who teaches all types of art from watercolour to oil painting, had never seriously picked up a brush until she came to Norfolk to convalesce from two major operations in 1999.

She quickly developed her talent through a number of short art courses, and when it became clear she would be unable to return to police work, she enrolled for a small business management course at Easton College.

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'Within a few months, I was selling handmade greetings cards at a Blickling craft fair; that generated commissions and my art career grew from there,' she said.

Linda, who lives in Mill Road, Sutton, where she is chairman of the parish council, has no regrets swapping her life in the Met, at one stage attached to the vice squad at King's Cross, for a more peaceful existence in Norfolk - even though her husband Paul is still a PC in London.

After first working out of Cromer, her passion for the Broads and its constantly changing light has developed during her five years at Ludham Bridge.

Linda, who also runs painting trips to France and Italy, said her Broads business had benefited from the staycation phenomenon and in recent years students had come from as far afield as Sweden and the US.

Catering for all abilities, her painting and cycling holidays will be run over five days - four days painting and a day free for sight-seeing in the middle.

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