In the bleak midwinter.

The last few weeks have been very challenging, elderly parents have needed our support and freezing weather conditions have made life difficult and traveling hazardous. Still, whenever possible I have been enjoying working in my studio, radio playing, heating turned up high.

Ted seems to like the snow and the landscape does look very pretty wearing its winter cloak. Walks have been cut short as the cold wind has been biting, enough to skin a rabbit.

It has been a time for slow cooked stews, warming drinks, sitting by the fire, sewing and taking one day at a time.


Happy days and reasons to be cheerful, part one.

It has been a very busy time here; lots of lovely projects and illustration commissions have kept me busy, so please forgive me if I have not visited your blog. I will endeavour to catch up soon.

I started work on the dream commission mentioned in my last blog post. I have checked with the publisher and have permission to tell you about it, although it is a work in progress and a million things could go wrong. “There is many a slip twixt cup and lip” but so far so good. The publisher will be Long Barn Books, which is owned by Susan Hill, It is a dream commission for lots of reasons, firstly because I have greatly admired Susan's work for many years now and am thrilled to bits to be working with her. Secondly, she tells me to take as much time as I need, how amazing is that? Time is something I will need plenty of because I am working on what seems like an enormous piece of paper and I want to cover the sheet with lots of details. As you may guess from the photo, I am illustrating “The Owl and the Pussycat” and the result will hopefully be available as a limited edition poster if all goes well. I am touching wood and crossing my fingers as I type this.

At the weekend I went along to my bookbinding group and took part in a workshop run by Mark Walmsley , we had a whole day of play - sheer bliss. The workshop was on Suminigashi sometimes called “cloud art” or “ghost art” and paste papers. We all made a great deal of mess and came home with an array of decorated papers for future projects.

I’ve also been looking for ideas for Christmas presents and once again I have raided this shop run by a very busy town mouse. Continuing on the handmade theme I have been covering little diaries with bits of decorated papers that I have accumulated over the years. Marbled paper, Tyvek recycled from Fed Ex envelopes, bits of mono print and a lovely new material called “stone leaf” sent to me to try by this company.

And, last but not least, we have finally got our children’s book application - "The Bird with the Rainbow Tail" which I have mentioned before here, into the iPad/iTunes store. You can see it here, if you are lucky enough to own an iPad, sadly I don’t have one but I know a man who does.

I hope your weeks are happy and busy too.


Grand days out.

I thought I would share with you some images from Shrewsbury, we went there recently to look for an art shop. I needed some large sheets of water colour paper for a dream commission which I am very excited about, (I hope to share more details about this soon). Sadly the art shop that I remembered has closed; this seems to be something of a theme, bookshops and art shops are disappearing from our high streets at an alarming rate. We did however have a lovely day out and took some photographs before my battery gave up the ghost.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Shrewsbury, with its black and white timbered buildings, some of which lean at impossible angles. If you click on the picture you will make out Grope Lane, I will leave you to decide how that one got its name!

Counteracting the tendency to rid the world of smaller independent traders are farmers markets. One such event is held monthly here at Rode Hall. When we visited on Sunday morning the gardens and parkland were bathed in glorious golden light. There was local produce and crafts in abundance, we even spotted some of my fabric from "Buttercup Farm Collection" sewn into lavender bags. After chatting with friends and neighbours and sampling this and that, we eventually came away with some very posh nosh indeed; two of Neil Broomfield’s hand made individual pies from “The Great Northern Pie Company” made from cheese, cauliflower, caramelized onions, star anise, nutmeg and carnaroli rice…. Delish!