In and out of the garden.

It has been a busy time here, family visits from afar being the main focus of our bank holiday weekend, so not much time for work or updates. We have had some sunny days and a little rain and everything in the garden is growing at an alarming pace, weeds included. Some plants seem happy to be left to their own devices and are therefore more than welcome, one such resident is what I call “London Pride”, a small, rather old-fashioned little plant with rosettes of glossy leaves which has established itself around the base of an old chimney pot in my tiny front garden. The lovely thing about it, apart from its very pretty little flowers, is the fact that it is very hardy and makes good ground cover. The clusters can be easily separated and planted in new areas or given way to gardening friends. (I think that is how I came by mine!)

Now, if you will forgive me I will get back to tidying away the toys, I am so glad I hung onto this box of treasures, which have provided many happy and constructive hours of fun for my children and now are being enjoyed by the next generation. "Billy and his Barrels" are still more or less intact but are missing the smallest barrel containing Billy, the culprit is pictured below.


Do you like butter?

I have spent the morning walking my dog and taking lots of photographs of buttercups in the meadow so I will have lots of reference material at the ready when the occasion demands. I hope to incorporate some of these yellow beauties in my ongoing illustration project.

There is something very innocent and child like about this flower. When you were a child did you ever hold a buttercup flower under your chin? If the petals reflected yellow onto your chin that meant that you liked butter. I never met anyone who answered no, did you?

I tried very hard to photograph some bumblebees, to no avail but they did seem to be quite a few around. Having said that I am never too sure what is a bumblebee and what is a solitary bee, according to the Bumblee Conservation Trust “there are 250 species of bee in the UK. This is made up of only one species of honey bee, 25 species of bumblebee and 225 solitary bees species which rarely get a mention.” The trust are looking for volunteers at the moment to record bees and to give talks etc. If you want to learn more you can follow this link.

Everyone knows that buttercups are yellow so imagine my surprise when I saw a red colourway of my buttercup design! It seems that it made more sense economically to switch the screens around from yellow to red rather than print a similar poppy design in the “Buttercup Farm” series by Makower.


One for sorrow, two for joy.

Work has started on my new book project I spoke about earlier, or perhaps I should say our new book project. It is in fact going to be a family project and something very new and experimental for all of us. I had a vague idea I wanted to write about and my husband Tony (an English teacher) helped me to shape the idea into a story. Gradually he added bits, new ideas, this interchange of ideas went back and forth, back and forth until it was difficult to remember how we arrived at the final version!

We submitted the completed text (without illustration) to a couple of publishers who very politely said “no thanks”. The text then languished in a drawer for months until our son James took it out and made it into an audio book as part of his final years studies in music technology. The addition of music and sound effects really brought the story to life and we were all very pleased with the result.

Fast forward another twelve months and we are on the threshold of our new venture, the work will be published as a multi-media children’s book application for the Apple iPod, iPhone, iPad, and other audio platforms. It will have fourteen illustrations, a scrolling text, music and sound effects and narration which can be overwritten by another voice, for example a parent or child can choose to record themselves reading the story. It is going to be available in English and German. The book also has a title “The bird with the rainbow tail”

The very sad magpie drawing is work in progress; all the illustrations start as pen and ink drawings in black and white with colour added digitally so it will be a mixture of old and new technologies. I hope the world will always be full of traditional children’s books, they played an important role in my life, my children’s life and now my grandchild’s life but we see this as an addition, the sort of thing that you can take on a journey without then need to carry heavy books around. I hope to explain more later; in the meantime I will leave you with one very sad magpie in the making.


Bluebells and Barthomley

It is so hard to stay indoors when the bluebells are in bloom. For a brief spell, before the leaf canopy gets too dense, sunlight dances on the woodland floor and the bluebells take center stage.

This little woodland is only a mile or so away from our home but as yet, remains an area of great tranquility and natural beauty, despite being so close to the town. As you can see we took Ted for a walk over the May Bank Holiday, as usual he chose his walking stick with great care and attention. (Click for a closer look.)

The weather was bright but cold and before too long the rain started in earnest, there was only one thing for it, we headed for the pub where a roaring fire awaited us. You can see more of this old inn in Barthomley which dates back to 1614 here. It is the sort of pub where dogs are welcome but we decided to take Ted home first as he had got rather wet in the rain, he did not seem to mind too much as he snuggled into his new blanket.

The water colour illustration above is taken from “A Book of Days” which sadly is now out of print.