Saturday, 30 April 2016


This is my 250th blog so I've decided to start with my latest portrait of Jimmy.  It's drawn in museum pencils on mi-teintes paper.  This photo was on my mother's day card and it was quite hard to capture his cheeky smile.  I've got lots more photos now to play with so watch this space!

Our first weekend in England was spent with Jo and the 2 Jameses in Whitstable. The weather was rather cold but at least it was dry and sunny enough to sit in the garden on Sunday afternoon with a glass of Prosecco before our roast beef dinner.  I drew the corner of the garden which has a lot more light now thanks to a radical pruning of the willow tree.

On the Saturday we walked into town for a pub lunch and a look round the fascinating shops, many of which are independent and very individual.  On our return home we all sat down to watch a movie while we warmed up with a cup of tea.

A quick scribble of James senior while he was cooking the dinner and kept popping out to the garden for a swig of his drink!

Not far from Whitstable is Reculver, the location of an ancient Roman camp.  There are some ruins of an old abbey as well as a more recent reconstruction of a church which now acts a navigational mark, standing out on top of the hill.  There is a wonderful children's playground just to the right of those red flags where James and Jimmy played for ages before we ate our picnic lunch.
After a week visiting Mum we finished off our trip at Justine's for the long-awaited garden party.
As usual I had plenty of customers, some of whom were old faithfuls and some brand new, coming to the party for the first time.  I would like to thank you all for making the effort to come and support Woking Hospices, our good cause, for whom we raised £481.


Wednesday, 27 April 2016


We're back home now from our latest trip to England where we stayed on our favourite camp site, Alderstead Heath, which is very close to the M23 and M25 motorways.  We managed to get onto the best pitch, no 13, with it's lovely view of the trees and fields.

The weather was far too cold to sit outdoors to draw so I had the windscreen as a frame for my sketches.  The sun set behind the trees in the distance here tinting the sky pale pinks and oranges after I had finished this sketch.

We visited Mum most days to cook her lunch and spend some time together.  One afternoon she went to her community tea party to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday, something Mum herself will be doing later in the year.

The afternoons were quiet and relaxed, Bob snoozed while Mum read the paper and I sketched them both!

Back at the campsite I collected a bunch of wild flowers to draw in my Museum watercolour pencils.

There were lots of cowslips under the silver birches between the pitches as well as wood anenomes in the woods but I ran out of time to draw them.
This silver birch was just next to our parking place and I spent a couple of hours one evening drawing it while the squirrels foraged for food in the grass.
I'll be back in a couple of days with our visit to Jo and James, à bientot!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


Having celebrated 10 years of camping I thought you might like to see where we went for our first outing in our mobile home.
We decided to go down the west coast of France and into Spain, hoping to get as far as Galicia, the most westerly part of northern Spain.  This little sketch was done in Derwent drawing pencils near La Rochelle in the Marais Poitevin, a reclaimed marsh area, which is very flat so the buildings like this pretty village and church stand out and can be seen for miles. 

At La Rochelle we crossed the bridge to Ile de Ré and spent a few days at St Martin, the capital, in a campsite just inside the city walls. I used Derwent Graphitint watersoluble pencils for this one and I think the colour has changed over the last 10 years.  While we were there the weather was rather damp, I think we had hoped it might be better but early March isn't renowned for hot sun is it!

We carried on heading south and our next stop was at Arcachon for a night and in the morning we stopped at the dune de Pyla.  I climbed to the top of this, the largest sand dune in Europe and was rewarded with a fantastic view out to sea and over the nearby islands.

After a long drive through the pine forests of Les Landes we came to Bayonne, a beautiful town on the river Nive. We had our lunch in a café by the riverside and I stood to draw this on one of the bridges afterwards.
We crossed into Spain and found a lovely hilltop campsite at Zarautz with fabulous views over the bay and town.  As our pitch was right near the edge we could look straight out to sea through the windscreen and this is the side view from the dining table.  The walk into town was pretty arduous but we went down several times to explore and shop.

One of our reasons for visiting this part of Spain was to see San Sebastian where my parents had holidayed in the 1960s, leaving us children at home with Granny.  I wanted to take photos of the same places they had been and we were pretty lucky to find most of them.  I only had time for a sketch while we waited for the funicular to go to the top of mount Igeldo which stands at the edge of the beautiful shell shaped beach.

Soon it was time to move on and our next destination was Santillana del Mar, a very pretty historical village on the route de Compostella.  This is the view through the door of the camping car, looking towards the Picos d'Europa.  While we were there we discovered a wonderful museum depicting the caves of Altamira which had been perfectly reproduced as the originals were not open to visitors in order to protect the cave paintings over 16,500 years old.

The Picos in the distance were covered in snow and we were glad we had brought some warm clothes.  We debated whether to go any further west and decided to start heading back and save the rest of the north coast for another day.  It took us another 9 years before we completed our original plan to visit Galicia which we did last summer.
We're off again tomorrow to visit the family in England, everything is packed and stowed ready for an early start in the morning so I'll say 'au revoir' and see you again in a couple of weeks with lots more sketches.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


We have had our camping car for 10 years now and are still in love with the freedom it gives us to travel and have all our home comforts with us, not to mention all the space to carry our bikes and bring home plenty of wine from the vineyards we visit!  I've searched my sketchbooks and only found a few drawings of our extra home so I thought I would put them together in this post. 
This first picture was drawn on the Mediterranean coast a few kilometres west of Sète.  The main road had been diverted from the coast so the old road became a camping car park where you could spend a night or three as long as you were self sufficient in electricity and water etc. as there were no facilities.

On our journey to the south of France we usually stop in the geographical centre of the country at St Amand Montrand, where Bob used to work as a repair engineer about 40 plus years ago.  There is a camp site but it's not always open and the camping car aire is very convenient being just off the road into town and next to an attractive canal.

We park at the water's edge for the night to recover from the 8 hours of driving it takes to get there and walk into the town for a meal in La Rotonde, the bar bistro where Bob and his colleagues used to gather all those years ago.

I've drawn Bob here in the morning studying his Kindle while I sit in bed with my cup of tea.  There is only room for one of us at a time to move about in the camper so in the morning I stay put until he goes off to shower, then I get up to make the breakfast.  It's a nice life being relaxed and not in a hurry and I had plenty of time to draw.

This is copied from a photo taken from a bridge over the river Tarn at Millau, another of our favourite stopovers on the route south.  The campsite is right next to the river and if we arrive early enough we get this lovely pitch on the bank.
This little sketch is in the trip to Sweden book and drawn on one of the rainy days when we were stuck inside on the camp unable to do anything but relax and drink a glass or two of wine!

When we go to England to visit Mum we always stay at Alderstead Heath caravan club site and here we also have a preferred pitch next to the bluebell woods.  I've drawn these silver birches several times now as you can see in this view through the windscreen.

In May the bluebells are fabulous with their scent and the colour, irrestible to try and capture in watercolour.

There are rabbits too who pop up here and there but I've only managed to draw them once.
We are off again to England again next week so hopefully I'll be back with more sketches of Alderstead as well as some of the family.