Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Out and about

Once upon a time I went on the train to London.  
I sat near a man in a nice stripy shirt. 
Mr. Busy, he had lots of important papers and a cheese sandwich.

This boy looked a bit thoughtful, 
as though his jumper was flecked by a skein of melancholy.

On the way home, a hairdresser embarked carrying a toolbox rattling with combs and scissors. 
He also had a large McDonald’s bag. 
He didn’t notice I was sketching him while he ate three burgers, fries and ice cream. 
He must have had an exhausting day!

So, watch out if you ever sit opposite me on the train.

….especially if you're having forty winks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

101 practical ways with an airing cupboard

Winter-weather and women’s thoughts often change. English proverb

February, such an unpredictable month but Valentine’s day is, weather depending, often my trigger to fall back in love with the soil. 
A few days ago it was warm enough to garden in a thin jumper and eat soup on a sunny bench. I heaped fresh compost onto the rhubarb crowns, dug out barrow loads of unwelcome self-seeded Brunnera plants and thought about replacing a crumbling fence with a Rosa rugosa hedge. 

The previous week I hadn’t been the slightest bit tempted to even set foot outside. After a particularly turbulent afternoon I did check that the netting swaddling my broccoli was intact and that my autumn sown broad beans had not been uprooted but then only tarried just long enough to prise a few frozen sprouts off their stalks and grab a bunch of snowdrops for the kitchen windowsill. 

Whatever the weather, it’s time to start sowing some early seeds, tomato, pepper, cucumber and salad, which means time to reorganise the airing cupboard. 
The airing cupboard? 
Now that sounds like a nice, warm activity for the time of year! 

I now have one shelf reserved as a propagator, another for proving my sourdough, the cat has commandeered the blankets and if we're lucky there might be room for damp towels! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Hint of Romance

As we coast along towards Valentine’s day here’s a couple of recent sketches. 

Spot the romantic details! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


“As long as this exists, how can I be sad.” Anne Frank

A diary entry about a single chestnut tree that Anne could see from an attic window while she was in hiding.

I haven’t counted the numbers of trees I can see from my studio window but I appreciate every unique twig and even more so when I think about Anne Frank’s unreservedly thankful attitude.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Morning treat

This morning at breakfast I celebrated the fact that Doris has started to lay again! 

Winter can be lean time for eggs.
Doris had taken some time out over Christmas to reorganise her feathers.
Hulanicki is still too busy fussing over her spring wardrobe to even think about resuming production. 
Peggy MBE, my rescue chicken, however has a tremendous work ethic and has been laying all winter. 
So, two eggs a day now and I’m hoping that will soon increase to four.

I don’t think you’ve met my youngest. She’s a Vorwerk hen; a breed that originates in Germany (and coincidentally shares its name with a company that produces vacuum cleaners!).

Her given name is ‘Berlin-da’ to remind me of a memorable trip to the city last year. 
And of all my fowl I think she is the one, like dog owners who resemble their dogs, that I have an affinity with. She’s a neat brown bird with a black head and tail... and we converse in German. Take note, regularly speaking more than one language can apparently delay the onset of Alzheimers by up to five years. There is method in my madness!

Back to my egg... which features in the current Waitrose magazine. Over the last few months I’ve enjoyed illustrating some cooking themed snippets, like making dried apple rings and almond milk and, shhhh, how to spatchcock a chicken. 

Luckily for Berlin-da I don’t know the german for ‘spatchcock’!

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Guided Tour

I thought the new year would be a good time to take you for an unhurried stroll around my local market town. The impressive church dates from 1470, there’s a “butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker”, fish on Fridays and early closing on Tuesdays! 

It’s a wibbly-wobbly kind of place with many of its ancient and creaking buildings testament to the fifteenth century when East Anglia was, second to London, the wealthiest and most densely populated area of England! 

The narrow streets are a medley of tilting lintels and lopsided gables. Tipping facades are painted in elephant, caramel, turkish delight, turmeric, vellum, and candy floss.

When we arrived ten years ago cappuccino had not been added to the Suffolk dictionary. Now we have a heady choice of four locations to enjoy a decent coffee, and even better, if you’re around for the Wednesday morning market you can buy locally roasted beans that make the best coffee ever. 

Well, in 2015 it's a far cry from London and that’s the way we like it!

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Phew, that was a narrow escape. Mrs Mallard and I dread the festive season. 
All that roast turkey, stuffed goose and potted pheasant. Even Mary’s cats were dining on moorhen yesterday!

So with great relief and on behalf of Mary, we’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!