Friday, December 30, 2005

Blind stew for blind contour friday

We had a lovely Christmas break and had wonderful meals at so many friends and relatives. On Boxing Day we visited Robin’s mother and her husband Ralph. I was raving about my latest read, Nigel Slater’s book ‘Toast’ (an autobiography of his childhood and adolescence told through the food that he ate).
Ralph then told us a story that amused me. When he was a child in Ireland, strict Catholicism meant that no one dared to break the friday fasting rules which meant you couldn’t eat meat. He came from a large family with not much money and so on a friday his mother cooked what she called ‘blind stew’ which meant gathering up all the spare left over bits of food and vegetables and cooking them for few hours in a big pot with a couple of stock cubes. I asked Ralph what it tasted like – expecting some blarney about how it was cooked with love and that they were poor but happy, however his instant reply was ‘bloody awful!’

Illustration Friday - HOLIDAY

No time this week for a new illustration, so this is a painting I produced several years ago of the layers of shipping labels that had accreted over the years on the huge green trunks of my childhood which you can see over here.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Flo watching TV

Mouse over to see the black and white version. Karen Winters very kindly showed me how to do it. I love how you can see an alternative version of a picture or the preliminary sketches so I’ll probably be doing it to death in the future.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Draw your bed EDM challenge

Our bed is one of those big old ugly pieces of furniture that isn’t to one’s taste, but that is gratefully accepted from a relative because you can’t afford to buy everything new for your home. It has a big wooden headboard and I'm sure has done service as the marriage bed for a few generations – it’s about seventy or eighty years old. The bas relief decoration at the corners of the headboard has always amused me – the symbolism of the fruiting flowering fecundity like some kind of voodoo fetish. Anyway four children later it seems to have done the job!
This is my first drawing with my wonderful new Namiki Falcon pen – a Christmas present from my star of a husband.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


A quick sketch of Sally. I’d promised Daddy and Sally printouts of the drawings I’d done of them when they came to lunch, but the one of Sally really was too bad to be allowed to see the light of day. I'm much happier with this one and I hope they will be when we have lunch with them tomorrow. Looks like she borrowed my striped cardigan that day.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Illustration Friday - IMAGINE

This was my brother Patrick's explanation of what happened to the tiger skin rug.
He was four and every day he went off to kindergarten and had the most amazing adventures. Most days he went off in a helicopter driven by either Pilot Flat, Pilot Small, Pilot Tall or Pilot Wallysuvamechanic (pronounced wally-soover-mecker-nick). Once during one of his many adventures, they caught and killed a tiger. They skinned it and filled the stomach cavity with curry and soup. They then sewed it up and roasted it over a fire and then ate it all up, tiger, soup and curry.
When my mother heard this tale she asked if she could have the tiger skin as she thought it would look lovely on the floor of our sitting room. My brother proudly said of course she could and that he would bring the skin home. Each day he came home, and each day she asked him for the rug but each day there was another reason why it could not be brought home just yet. Finally he said that he would bring it home just as soon as they had taken it to the Korotari river and given it a good wash on the rocks.
Finally Patrick came home rather jauntily one day after kindergarten (and before my mother had a chance to ask after her tiger skin yet again) explained that very sadly they had taken the tiger skin to the river and a freak wave had come down the river and whipped the tiger skin out of their hands never to be seen again!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The protesting boys

Click to see the full story

Robin took the boys out on a bit of direct action demonstrating outside the NatWest bank in the nearby town of Hatfield. Xavier really seemed to enjoy it but I think the other two may have been a tad embarrassed at being dragooned into one of Dad’s publicity stunts. The reason for the stunt (and all the press releases to all the local papers) was the complete heartlessness by Diane Rollinson, the manageress of the bank.

The story goes, yesterday Robin went to take some cash out of the NatWest hole-in-the-wall machine, because there was a queue at his own bank across the road (due to them teaching an old lady how to use their machine). However, his cash card got stuck in the NatWest machine. So he went inside to get help. They said that the machine had been faulty all day but they would try to retrieve the card from inside the bank. To Robin’s relief they managed to do this, however to his horror they refused to give it back to him, saying that it wasn’t bank policy to do so, despite the fact that it was patently obvious that he was the owner of the card.

He was desperate for his card due to all the Christmas shopping he needed to do, so he rushed over to his own Lloyds bank to see if they could help. A senior member of staff went over to vouch for Robin, to say that he was who he said he was and to plead with the manageress. However at no point would she come out of her office to speak to them, she just sent her minions out to refuse point blank.

I don’t know how she’s going to react when the customers go in saying ‘Isn’t it a shame those poor little lads – no Christmas presents and no Christmas dinner for them!’
Don’t worry – you don’t really need to send us food parcels, but if any of you want to complain to the bank about their behaviour do feel free to do so. The bank (for obvious reasons) make it impossible to make it easy to complain via email, but we've finlly got it, it's

Or if you have your own tales of woe about NatWest go to Robin’s web page where he tells the tale in further detail, with more interesting pictures, and he might include your tales too.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

BCF - Combined with nude-self-portrait-with-a pet-Thursday

I know that on previous postings I may have lead you to believe I have a brown dog, but in reality I have a black cat and spend most of my time lounging on silk cushions having flowers from admirers delivered to me.
You don’t believe me?
Well until we get ourselves a pet elephant for me to pose behind there ain’t no way you’re gonna get a nude self portrait out of me.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Our 2006 calendar

My son Tom has done such a good job with his Illustration Friday pictures on his
blog, I decided to make a calendar using all his pictures (apart from the cover, which is my portrait of him).
If my second son Hugo continues with his good start I’ll be spoiled for choice next year!
I’ve made a set in Flickr that everyone is welcome to print off, but if you do, please show your appreciation on Tom’s blog.
Any immediate family members lurking here (including the HK contingent) please don’t look at the set as I’ll be sending you personalised high resolution hard copies in the post!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Illustration Friday - SURPRISE or Midwich cuckoo

He moved before I could draw his eyes. The sweetness of the mouth and those empty unfinished irises gave the drawing a creepy sci-fi look which reminded me of John Wyndham’s novel. Come to think of it I’m an elderly mother like many of the mothers in the book and he was the biggest surprise of my life…

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bruges sketch

When we were in Bruges last month I found this place very beautiful.
A ‘Begijnhof’ or Béguinage comprises a courtyard or green surrounded by small dwellings. It is often encircled by a wall and secluded from the town proper by one or two gates. In Bruges you cross a bridge to enter the gate of the Béguinage so it feels as though it is on an island. The béguines were single women that lived communally supporting each other and doing good works, similar to nuns but allowed to marry and leave the Béguinage. The movement was started due to a surplus of women occasioned by violence, war, military and semi-military operations, which took the lives of many men.

Bye-bye November masthead

Monday, December 12, 2005

Woken up at six

We live six miles away from the oil depot explosion and this was the view this morning at eight when we went to church. Thank goodness there was no loss of life. The schools are closed tomorrow which seems to me like a ludicrous over-reaction. This black pall of smoke is going to be with us for a while so in my view we should just get on with normal life.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Choir sketches

Flo has been a bit of a performer this week – Puck in a modern day musical extravaganza of Midsummer Night’s Dream at her school and a few days later in the County Youth Choir performance. I presume the boys’ school finds putting on dramatic performances more difficult because they can’t get the volunteers to play the female parts.

Illustration Friday - BLUE

As I walk with Rufus in these woods almost every day I feel quite proprietal about them. So when the hordes of people come to the woods in April, to delight in the glorious colour and heady scent of the bluebells, I feel – quite unreasonably – that as they haven’t been there through the cold, dark, wet, wintry months, they shouldn’t be there disturbing the beauty and tranquility of my woods.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My son, the architect!

Xavier piled up this huge pile of wooden bricks, wedges, columns, arches and sections with great enthusiasm and little regard to whether they fitted together.

And these are some other kindergarten sketches.

Mr Pyre

Apropos of my earlier post about
Vitriolica’s great idea of a blogger book,
Clare Sudbery has started with a wonderful opening chapter, which I’ve been lucky enough to illustrate. This is a little taster but go over to the the blogstory site to read the chapter and see the whole picture.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Blind Contour Friday - Condiments

Despite having a reputation for being terrible cooks, there are some foods that we English are pretty good at. I tend to buy the cheapest own brands, but these are three English branded condiments that I always have in the food cupboard. The salt really is the best table salt you can buy anywhere in the world and luckily isn’t too expensive for us here in England. You have to have Colmans when French or German doesn’t cut the mustard and Mr Lea & Mr Perrins invented Worcestershire Sauce, so any other brands are a pale imitation.

For further blind contour madness (in case you don't know it’s drawing without looking at the paper) take a look at the other entries listed by Inkfinger who came up with this ridiculous weekly drawing challenge.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Illustration Friday - SMALL

I've had four babies and with each one I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a few days in hospital after the birth. It was wonderful – just me and the baby – no housework, no cooking. And I spent so much time staring into their tiny little faces that when I came home it was a shock to wake up to what seemed to be my husband’s HUGE face on the pillow next to mine.