Sunday, 17 May 2015


As a Taurean, I love to share my birthday month with like minded people and my granddaughter Kirsty has hers on the 3rd of May.  Every year I make a special card for each of my family, trying to choose a picture appropriate to their likes and personality.  This is Kirsty's card for this year.  She had told me about a visit to the Tate gallery where she had seen her favourite painting, the Lady of Shallott by J W Waterhouse.  Of course out came my book of his paintings and a copy was made in coloured pencil.

Like me she loves the Pre-Raphaelites and this watercoloured one was done for her in 2010, Ophelia by J W Waterhouse again.

Kirsty is now a classics student at Exeter university and when she showed me a poem she had written about Pandora when she was at school, I had to find an appropriate picture for her card in 2011.

In 2012 I moved on to Mucha and his wonderful posters from the art nouveau era.  I chose a different range of complementary colours to draw them in as the originals were rather monochromatic.

Kirsty loved this one too in 2013, more complementary colours.
This painting by Dante Gabriel Rosetti has always been one of my favourites and as I kept the first one I drew for myself I had to draw it again for Kirsty.
I wonder if you are beginning to see a theme running here?  They all have red hair just like my gorgeous granddaughter!

Here we are together only 3 weeks ago at the garden party, how amazed we were that we had even chosen to wear the same colour!
Well, that's it for now, we're off on our travels in the morning so I'll see you again in about 6 weeks time. Have fun in the sun!!

Friday, 15 May 2015


I had a birthday last week and as part of the tradition to celebrate we went to our favourite restaurant at Trebeurden which is in a lovely hotel overlooking the bay.  We had a delicious meal and afterwards took a siesta by the beach.
here is a link to the hotel so you can see what an amazing place it is.

While Bob snoozed I got out my sketchbook and did a couple of sketches of the rocks and pine trees.  We've been coming to Trebeurden for 20 years now, first on our boat for our summer holidays and now that we live only 20 minutes drive away we can come as often as we want.

My darling sister Juliet gave me some fat squares of patchwork fabrics as a gift and I was inspired to use them as covers for a couple of Moleskine sketchbooks I've had for a while waiting to be decorated.

I chose the autumn leaf fabric for the landscape watercolour book and appliquéd the green trees  onto the sky for the portrait one.

For the inner pieces I chose another scrap of autumn leaves fabric for the first one and appliquéd the green trees on top of the silver birch trunks for the second.

Here you can see what a simple way this is to decorate an ordinary sketchbook.  They are just like a normal paper slip cover but stitched along the top and bottom to fit the book.  I transferred the elastic from the original to the inside of the cover for the closure.

This week it was time for a visit to 'Virtuelle Coiffure' for a haircut and once again I arranged it so that my friend Stephanie (la Boulangère) was there at the same time.  I sketched Sylvie's beautiful bouquet of arum lilies while I awaited my turn and then Stephanie as she had her roots coloured. 

After I had been coiffed I had a while to wait for Stephanie to be finished off so while we chatted and gossiped I had a chance to draw her Boulangerie, just across the road.  One day I'll have to stand in her doorway and draw the hairdresser's salon. We finished off the afternoon with some tea at Lionel's bar just along the road.
 I do so love living in a village like this where everyone knows everybody else and there's always someone to say 'bonjour' to and pass the time of day.

Monday, 11 May 2015


After Justine's garden party we set off to Whitstable in Kent to stay with my other daughter Jo and her partner James.  He had cooked us a delicious meal and it was lovely to catch up with him and put our feet up after a very long and busy day.  They had organised a lunch out for the Sunday with James's parents at a local pub and afterwards we went home to relax with a cup of tea.  I sketched Jo with Jim and Joan as they watched TV and fiddled with their phones.

On Monday morning we set off to Broadstairs to spend some time on the beach which was lovely with clean golden sand and some rock pools.  The weather looked lovely but the wind was freezing and we were all well wrapped up.  Jimmy had a great time jumping the waves and collecting treasures which you can see in the sketches at the end of the post.

We found several different sizes of crabs as well as a lovely orange starfish.  There were only a few pebbles as the cliffs were chalk and those that we did find had peculiar holes in them, some going all the way through.

Eventually we went to an Italian restaurant overlooking the harbour for some lunch. 

Jimmy behaves himself very well in restaurants and he always eats up his meal with no complaints.

I brought the treasures home to sketch as there wasn't time to draw them while we were there and anyway it was more important to spend time with my family!

Finally on Tuesday morning it was time to go home and we set off to Folkestone to take the train through the tunnel to Calais.  We were lucky enough to catch an earlier one, being the very last car to embark and were back home only 9 hours after leaving Jo and James's house.
Now we are busy getting ready for our next trip to Spain in the camping car.

Saturday, 9 May 2015


We had a lovely week at Tilford with Mum and here is one of the trees I could see from our veranda.  I've drawn it in the new Derwent line painters in a pointillist style.  It took ages but was great fun to do, especially as I've had a lot of trouble with the pens blobbing before, but this time they behaved perfectly.

On Saturday morning we set off to Justine's house near Guildford for her annual garden party in aid of the Woking Hospice.
Here is my table laid out ready with all the books and cards I had made over the last few months.

Here I am a couple of hours later counting the money and with very little left to sell on the table.
I donated £70 of my takings to the final total of £400 that was taken during the afternoon.

My brother Chris and sister Juliet came to the party as well as lots of other extended family members and friends of Justine and her daughters.

Here is Kirsty, my eldest granddaughter, setting out the delicious cakes she and her sisters had been busy baking in the previous couple of days.  Stephanie, the middle granddaughter, took lots more photos but as she's very pre-occupied with her A levels at the moment she hasn't had time yet to download them.

I'll finish with another little sketch from our stay at Tilford, a pretty wild flower I have always called 'milkmaid.'
Next stop on the journey, a visit to Joanna, my youngest daughter, at her new home in Whitstable which I'll post in a couple of days.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


We spent a lovely time with Bob's side of the family enjoying a tasty lunch in a pub at Reigate before taking Mum to Tilford for her holiday.  The log cabin we rented had a beautiful fire surround with carved grapes around the edge.  This is the first sketch I drew on Sunday evening while we relaxed after our busy day.

The painted tiles were very attractive with wild roses growing up each side.  We had a large veranda where every afternoon we sat out there to soak up a bit of the warm sunshine and while Mum and Bob snoozed I was able to get on with my sketchbook drawings.

On the Tuesday we decided to go out for the day to the seaside and decided on West Wittering as we had never been there before.  The beach there is on a private estate owned by the residents and access is only via the huge car park which costs £4 per day regardless of how long you stay.  There is only a basic café for refreshments so we had a sandwich and a cup of tea for our lunch.  It is a very pleasant, unspoiled place and if we had known we could have brought our own picnic. 

The next day we decided to explore a bit closer to home and went to Frensham ponds, only a few miles from Tilford. As I sat on a wall to do my sketch I was joined by a young Polish girl curious to see what I was drawing. We had a very nice conversation and she told me she was a graphic arts student and was very interested to see what I was using, even photographing my tin of odd pencils on her phone for future reference! 

Thursday came and this time we had arranged to have lunch at the local pub with Bob's brother and his wife.  We drove to the pretty village green and while we sat in the sun under a huge old oak tree I was able to draw this view of the village hall.  I would have drawn the pub too but Ivor arrived and it was time to eat.  Tilford's green has been used for several film sets and advertisements as it's very typically 'Olde English' and still has cricket matches in the summer months.

On the complex at Tilford lodges there was a pond where several families of ducks lived and every day we were visited by proud parents with their tiny ducklings, in search of food.  They seemed to smell bread or biscuits from 100 yards away and were so tame that if we left our gate and door open they came right inside the lodge!

I found a few feathers while we were out walking and I'm not sure what birds they belonged to although the middle one is probably from a female duck.
Our time here was all too short and on Saturday it was time to pack up and leave to go to Justine's annual charity garden party which I'll tell you about in the next episode.

Saturday, 2 May 2015


We're home at last from our spring family visit to England and we managed to see all of our family during the 12 days we were there.
The trip started with the ferry from St Malo to Portsmouth which takes all day and is a very relaxing way to cross the channel.  This is a sketch I drew just before the boat set off but I didn't do any more drawing, can't think why although I was engrossed in a rather good book I was reading on my Kindle!

After a day of shopping at Marks and Spencer for our annual top up of new clothes and shoes we spent the night at a hotel in Winchester.  On Saturday morning we went to Bournemouth to the Russell Cotes museum to see an exhibition of Alphonse Mucha's posters and sketches. 

 If you don't know his work here are a couple of copies of his posters I have done in coloured pencil.  He was famous for his Art Nouveau posters and it was wonderful to see them for real, they are over 6 feet tall and printed in quite muted colours. There were also some of his paintings and sketches on display as well as some of his designs for household items like spoons.

We sat and watched a biographical film of Mucha's life and were amazed at the amount of other work he did, in particular a series of 20 enormous paintings of the history of his home country, Czechoslovakia, which he donated to the national museum before he died in 1939.  If you live in England it's well worth the visit to see this exhibition and the museum it is being held in is equally fascinating being a Victorian house on the cliffs overlooking the sea and filled with amazing collections of art and artefacts from all over the world. 

Our next rendezvous was on Sunday morning with all of Bob's family for his Mum's 'Christmas' get together which usually happens in the spring as we don't go to England in December.  We met all the brothers and sisters in law at a local pub restaurant for a delicious lunch after which we took Mum back with us to the log cabin at Tilford we had booked for a week's holiday.

Tilford is only about 45 minutes drive from Mum's home so it wasn't too much of a strain for her and we had organised a bedroom with ensuite bathroom for her to make everything as easy as possible. 
Farnham town was only a short distance and we went in several times to shop and enjoy a coffee in the sunshine.  We were very lucky with the weather, sunshine every day all the time we were there so we were able to sit on our veranda in the afternoons and I managed a few more sketches which I'll show you on the next post in a few days.