Friday, February 27, 2009

Bodleian Library, Oxford

The Bodleian library
I had a lovely day out yesterday having lunch with my friend, Jenny, in Oxford, shopping and followed by us taking my daughter Flo out for afternoon tea at the Randolph hotel. The maître d very kindly provided a student’s doggy bag for the huge quantity of scones and cakes that we couldn’t manage to eat. While my bibliophile friend spent half an hour in one of the bookshops I took a bit of time to sketch a view of the wonderful Bodleian library. Oxford is so gorgeous it really doesn’t matter which street you’re on, there’s always some lovely bit of architecture to delight you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Slouched teenagers

I think I could make a complete picture book with the title of this post.

Swimming pool people

Another Monday watching my six year old son having swimming lessons. Afterwards he said ‘I’m rubbish at swimming, I want to give up’. My response was ‘Imagine if you had said “I’m rubbish at crawling, I want to give up”, or “I can’t manage this walking lark, I want to give up”, do you think I would have said “Of course darling, don’t worry about it, you don’t have to learn how to do that”’. Anyway at least I made him giggle at the thought of a baby demanding to give up crawling. Oh and Xavier isn’t rubbish at swimming either.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hands behind head

Pencil in sketchbook

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Drinking coffee

An exhausting couple of days, so a very quick scribble.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Family fun day at the paper mill

Another free family fun day (actually it’ll be two days). This time it was at Apsley paper mill. We made Artists’ Trading Cards, and tried out paper-weaving, drawing, and racing paper boats made to our own design. In snatched moments I quickly sketched some of the other participants who seemed to be either a parent or grandparent with one or two children in tow. I’ve always thought that grandparents could be much more patient than a parent when in charge of a child, but there was one grandmother
(not shown here) who disproved that theory. While I happily watched as Xavier created exactly what he wanted and made rather a hash of his Artist Trading Cards, a rather determined little girl was exasperating her grandmother because she wasn't compliantly producing the kind of cards her granny wanted her to.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Golf game

This is the only way that Xavier is going to get to play golf. The sporty members of the family despise the game and the less sporty members can’t play the game. I used to have a college art tutor who provided free golf lessons at lunch breaks as he reckoned golf was an essential skill for being a successful freelance designer. Maybe I should have taken up the offer…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A day at Trestle Arts Base

It’s half term holiday and Xavier and I spent most of the day at the Trestle Arts Base (which is housed in a 100 year old converted church). They’d put on a wonderful free activity day for children, so there was story telling, shadow puppet-making, trying on costumes and make-up, drawing, feltmaking and mask-making.



Friday, February 13, 2009

Family lunch in Oxford

oxfordlunch tom xavier robin
oxfordlunch hugo and flo
We celebrated Hugo’s birthday early with a family meal out. Despite the special offer vouchers I found here it still cost an arm and a leg – but I suppose that’s the downside of having four children with healthy appetites. As usual the sketch of Flo looks nothing like her.
Pen and ink in sketchbook

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Credit crunch tips

Looks as though I’m not going to have to rush out to buy new swimming trunks for some time yet. Obviously there’s the potential downside of the child being dragged to the bottom of the pool by the voluminous clothing.
Pencil in sketchbook

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Portrait Party

I felt duty bound to produce a more up-to the minute portrait after Rama Hughes used a portrait I’d drawn from a thirty year old photo of me. Of course the reality of the fifty year old woman looking back at me in the mirror is very difficult to reconcile with the mental image I have of me being about twenty-seven. So the results are confused to say the least. If you’re interested in tackling these conundrums yourself Rama is holding a month-long self-portrait party here, and everyone is welcome.
Pencil in tiny sketchbook

Saturday, February 07, 2009

No school

A memory-sketch of Thursday

Friday, February 06, 2009

Ben Goldacre – my hero!

Jeni Barnett's exchange with an MD caller to her LBC phone in programme.

As someone who went to a convent boarding school where the nuns thought that deportment badges and a fancy uniform were more important than an education, I was completely deprived of any kind of science education as a child. We wrote odes to autumn in biology classes and physics and chemistry were not taught at all. So science is something I’m thoroughly enjoying learning about late in life. Anyway as part of this self-education one of my regular reads is Dr Ben Goldacre’s hilarious irreverent blog where he writes about bad science journalism and science-related frauds.

In the UK we have had very poor take-up of the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccination, entirely down to a now discredited scare relating MMR jabs to autism. As a consequence the herd immunity to measles, mumps and rubella is now as low as 60% in parts of London. Ben recently posted about a London radio phone-in where the ill-informed, but nonetheless loudly opinionated, presenter Jeni Barnett once again brought up this old chestnut. By posting a twenty minute clip of the three hour programme he has brought down the ire of the broadcaster, LBC and they've sent their legal department after him for breach of copyright. How silly, with the viral power of the internet we can all broadcast snippets of the programme and really embarrass the company.

As a mother of four children, I mind quite a bit when someone, through ignorant prejudice refuses to vaccinate their children and thus endangers the health of other children. However, what really makes me hopping mad is when someone uses their position as a broadcaster to influence an even greater number to do so.

Anyway if you're interested, Ben’s blog is here.
And the broadcast can be heard here.
The comments section of Ben's latest post provides lots of useful links if you wish to complain about the programme or learn more about the subject.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

How to keep them entertained after yet another day off school


The many faces of Hugo

You wouldn’t think this was all the same boy. I blame the parents, so busy pursuing their own individuality, they don’t have time to observe their children properly.
Pen and watercolour, composed digitally

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Create your own handwriting font


Monday, February 02, 2009

Xavier on the laptop

I hardly ever allowed my older children to play on the computer when they were little. I think it was because it was my tool of work and I didn’t want to find it difficult to get access to it, but now, like many families we have older work cast-off computers so I can leave Xavier to it. I think he ought to be giving his Grandad some lessons, it amuses me that Xavier knows the verb to ‘google’ and I know that none of his grandparents would know what he was talking about.
Pen in sketchbook

Sunday, February 01, 2009

St Albans market

Fruit and vegetables
I ventured out in the freezing cold to sketch at our Saturday market. This is the stall I usually buy my fruit and vegetables from. By the afternoon they put all the produce in bowls and sell them off at a pound a bowl (although I don’t think it’s necessarily any cheaper than the morning prices).
Meat Van
Further down the road there’s a big refrigerated van that sells meat. I never buy meat if I’m unsure of the provenance, so this van never gets my custom, though I love the red stripey apron the stall-holder wears. In the backgound you can see the old town hall.
Cold Smokers
The ground floor of the old town hall is a café and these smokers are having to sit outside behind the plant stall to drink their coffee as it is now illegal to smoke inside in the UK. When I see the little huddled groups of smokers outside most restaurants, pubs and offices I’m so grateful I kicked the habit.