Camping at Brilley near Hay-on-Wye

tent

After a disappointing summer of wind and mediocre sunshine we decided to take a chance on the weather and go camping! Hey-on-Wye is a place we have been to a few times because it has so much to offer for a few days break. The campsite is small and quiet, with a toilet and shower block and no entertainment but for the pleasure of being there. When I say camping it’s more like ‘glamping’, the teapot comes as does a tablecloth and a vase for some hedgerow flowers! It really is fun and very comfortable on our kingsize airbed snuggled beneath our quilt.

cafe2

But despite having some wonderful food at our tent it’s nice to go out and visit some of the local coffee shops and indulge in lunch at the amazing Water gardens at Pembridge. It’s thanks to a very helpful lady at the Old Chapel Gallery just a mile from here that we went for lunch, and very good it was too. This place is hidden away down a track, so easily missed. 

water garden cafe

But there is so much more to see here than this exceptional cafe because it is just the prelude to one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen, and all created from the imagination of one man. The garden has been nurtured and developed by a Hydro Geo Engineer, and holds many fascinating constructions incorporated into about half of it’s 3 1/2 acres.  Upon entering the garden just left of the cafe one gets a first glance of what’s to come.

watergardens

When going over a small bridge, the home of the owner of this enchanting place greets you. A slow running stream meanders past their patio, somewhere I could envisage myself sitting on summer days. Then into the garden, where a dovecote tower stands with gargoyles spurting water from their mouths.

tower

Richard Pim the designer of this folly and the garden is truly talented and skilled. He carved the stone heads and gargoyles himself and provided a unique home for doves.

dove:pigeon

 

doves

You can sit inside the tower where a fresco painting adorns the walls, such attention to detail!

inside tower

Moving on from the folly there are vividly colourful moisture-loving plants everywhere you look. Walking through and around a tangle of streams and ponds, partly shaded by a backdrop of mature trees, there is a dome built from glass bottles. Kevin McCloud would love this place!

glass dome

Light streams through this dome like colourful jewels casting gem like strands of beauty around this circular building .

bottles 

There is a pool which cleverly reflexes more light.

jetty 

Standing on the jetty you get your first glimpse of the largest cuckoo clock in the country! A folly of true excentric proportions and technical ambition.  It’s creator is a talented man with an imagination for some quirky buildings surrounded by an outstanding selection of plants. 

cuckoo house

We sat and waited till 4 o’clock until the cuckoo sang, and as it did we watched the incredible mechanism responsible, wood and metal singing out her tune. It’s wonderful that there are still people out there prepared to build such wonderful fantasies for us to enjoy as in the gardens of old estates.

hut watergardens

Theres so much to see in this relatively small garden, and each surprise greets you from ingenious planting schemes as you follow paths leading you to each delight. The hut appears towards the top of the garden just before the wild flower meadow, offering views of the neighbouring farmland and distant hills.

hut watergardens

And just when you think it’s time to make your way back and perhaps have a cup of tea……and cake, there is a bizarre miniature mound, well not that small, certainly worth walking to the top of, just for funmound

This garden is playful and fun, but there is no doubting the skill involved in its creation and the sheer delight on the visitors faces is proof of its success. As we made our way back to the cafe, there, parked up as if from another time, was an old car, so fitting in this setting.

vintage car

Sorry I don’t know what the car was, couldn’t find a name on it! 

 

 

 

 

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Sculpting and designing Art Dolls

Painting and illustration has always been my passion but when I discovered paperclay a whole new world opened up to me. Portraiture is something I have always wanted to do but felt nervous about it because it is in my nature to want to achieve a good likeness and my attempts never seemed good enough. Paperclay offered me the opportunity to sculpt faces in a very different way to how I had worked before. It offers more freedom of creativity and thus giving me the chance to let my imagination roam and create a more surreal sculpture.

doll blue close I wanted to make a doll that has expression, an ethereal look, neither a human or a doll. She is my first part clay part cloth articulated sculpture. Her head moves and has a cloth back and neck, so the face is almost like a mask. Her face is painted with watercolours and her expression is crucial to the character that emerges from the brush. The wrong shaped eyebrows or curve of eyes will easily spoil her expression, so this is the time you hope the phone doesn’t ring or you sneeze! Choosing her hair is fun and I get to play with different colours and textures. Fine mohair is the right scale for hair, but it takes a lot of work to make it look right, sometimes it is straight or crinkly.

doll full

Her body is made from a tight weave vintage sheet, the type of which you can no longer buy, crisp but slightly textured, and a natural white which doesn’t glare at you like the over processed ones of today. The perfect surface to paint a tint of flesh colour on to match the painted clay body sculpts.

I decide to stick with the natural theme and joined the arms and legs with a fine waxed linen thread. I love this stuff and I’m pleased I have found a use for this lovely tactile thread! String is also a passion of mine and I am always buying natural or coloured string or threads in the hope I will find a use for it and I invariable do, I love the feel of it and it’s so useful!

doll face copy

When I get to the clothes making and designing I can barley contain myself because this is where she starts to come alive. I can choose her personality right down to the shoes she wears. For this latest creation I decided the delicacy of muslin was the perfect weight for such a fragile creature. Shades of blue suited her perfectly, dyed by myself so the tones are the same but in different intensities. She wears bloomers and a dress with linen thread embroidery and hand dyed silk ribbon. For years I have collected small bits of leather and this pale pink soft leather is perfect for her slip on shoes.

doll blue sitting

She has no name yet, but I have to live with her a while before I decide. Sometimes I don’t name them because it defines the character somehow, so I leave it up to whoever buys her as we all see different things in art.

sketch doll

I recently painted one of my sculptures on brown paper in watercolour. It’s strange painting a doll and lace is funny to paint, especially on brown paper! But she’s emerged very much like an illustration, no surprise there! It was fun to paint and I tried hard not to spend too much time on it but it’s so tempting to put in detail. I struggle with loosening up which is why I have been doing quick sketches of Alfred!

THE NOBLE TULIP AND THE JOYS OF BREAD MAKING!

tulips 2

It seems like ages since I have written a blog post…and it is! You know how sometimes events overtake the plans you have in life, well the last 2 weeks have been one of those occasions. But I have been keen to share with you some of the more interesting snippets of the last fortnight. My garden is blooming in all its glory with spring flowers, particularly tulips. Now I have never been a fan of the noble tulip but was tempted by Sarah Ravens wonderful collections last year and and decided to give them a try. Our garden at the front of the house is only small so I chose varieties petite in stature.

tulipssm tulips

A wonderful orange tinged with a sage green, a deep but subtle red and a dark almost black beauty. The former has shot up larger than I expected and the orange shorter! I like the effect but may have to jiggle them round for next year as the orange needs to come forward in the bed. None the less, I’m very happy with the result. I would say, I rather love tulips now!

open tulips

About ten days ago I was invited to a mornings bread making at a wonderful spot called the Heron Corn Mill. There is a Shepherds Hut on site specifically for the baking group which compliments the mills production of flours… such a sensible idea. Once a month these lovely people get together to bake bread! What a joy, a morning taking in the delicious aromas in the company of enthusiasic friendly bread makers. It was heaven, an opportunity to pick up some tips on the humble art of making bread.

baking 1

 

Although I have ‘dabbled’ in making bread my successes have been variable and more recently gluten free bread has been my obsession. But I could not miss the chance for some good company whist needing, chatting and drinking cups of tea! Shame we had to wait till we had baked something to eat – next time bake some cake before I go! The whole process of bread making is time consuming so whilst waiting for our creations to rise we made chelsea buns, sticky and full of tasty little currents, I was in heaven…..

chelsea bunsconcentration

All the hard work was worth it and everyone produced a loaf worthy of plenty of butter and some homemade marmalade. I hope to go again, but I was a guest and the sessions are very popular, and I’m not surprised. It would be amazing if there were more places like this to share bread making sessions, it’s relaxing and you produce something useful at the end, but most of all its fun!

hut

The Shepherds Hut at The Heron Corn Mill

The beauty of dying roses, wonderful fabric and re-visiting my first dolls!

crow & flowers

You know I have always loved the way some flowers go as they shrivel and die! These are some roses my daughter bought me and I was about to throw them out but decided to keep them a while longer as they still looked pretty in a state of decay. They have dried well now and look good with what was left of the wax flowers and a few snippets of cats tails. The wire crow is one I made at a workshop at the RSPB Leighton Moss with a lady called Ceilia Smith, she’s worth a look, her work is incredible!  celia-smith.co.uk/

This week seems to be passing so quickly and it won’t be long before May is upon us, and with the suggestion of warmer weather I have ordered some fabric from a wonderful shop called Merchant & Mills based in Rye, Sussex. I await in anticipation on its arrival so I can sew my spring/summer wardrobe. They sell the type of fabric I love, cottons, linens and wool, fabric with texture and a feel of naturalness. It’s getting difficult to find good dressmaking fabric these days but there is plenty for craft, patchwork, or furnishing fabric. So finding this gem of a shop has filled me with a joy I can’t describe! My machine is going to be red-hot in a few days!

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Alas, I have to wait a few days for the arrival of these scrumptuous fabrics so in the meantime I have been busy finishing a doll I have been working on. Paperclay is relatively new to me and I am still experimenting with it. I have worked with polymer clay before to make dolls but stopped some years ago. I enjoyed making children from photographs, some of them commissions. The whole process was fun from beginning to end and my head would be busing during the whole process. I made everything myself, no moulds involved. The head, arms and legs were sculpted and joined together with a wire armature which was covered with batting, then a cloth skin sewn over it. The faces are painted with watercolour and then I make a mohair wig, which takes a while to decide which colour suits the personality that has emerged from the clay.

rachel & bearmaise

The most exciting part of doll making is developing the personality whilst choosing an outfit and accessorizing. I often make a bear or a doll, some shoes or a bag, what ever seems right for the character. I like to try to keep the scale of everything correct, even knitted or crocheted items and often split wool to make it fine enough. These two are Rachel and Masie. Rachel was one of twins I sculpted as a commission and Maise has a front tooth missing.

lucycharlotte

Lucy is ready for bed with her rabbit and felted embroidered slippers, I loved her pyjamas! Charlotte is solemn in her pretty dress holding her bear. I later made her some felted shoes as requested by the lady who bought her. It seems a long time since I made these dolls and my new dolls are very different. I may go back to more realistic dolls sometime, but for now I am enjoying experimenting with paperclay which brings out different ideas in me. I’ve been reminiscing so much I think I will leave my recent doll for my next post as it’s much later than I thought, but she’s very different from these ‘wee’ children!

From the mist comes the sunshine!

mist on hollins lane

The Easter weekend is over and Silverdale is emerging from the mist! It seems we were one of the few places in the country shrouded in mist for the whole three days. But just four miles away in Arnside the sun was shining, but it didn’t stop the walkers arriving on mass. It has been like a scene from Brigadoon, an old movie I remember from childhood about a mysterious Village which appears from the mist once every hundred years and is discovered by Gene Kelly, who falls in love with a local, great stuff except for the singing.

island arnside

Must have looked a little like this – except for the water of course, just use your imagination. This is an island across from Arnside looking suitably creepy in the morning mist over the weekend. I love the way the weather doesn’t seem to bother the British, they get out there whatever the weather! We had a lovely walk from Arnside along the shore and back to Silverdale, calling for coffee and cake at the Bobbin Cafe on the way. It must be one of the best views in the country to sit and enjoy whilst eating cake!

arnside mist

Admittedly the view was a little obscured by the weather, but still very beautiful. When the horizon disappears it looks like the edge of the worlds has melted away, no difference between earth and sky.

viaduct arnside

Alfred enjoying his walk and a bit of cake of course!

alfred walk

All these pictures look cold but it wasn’t, just damp. The sun did shine whilst we sat outside with our coffee, but we continued on through the woods, which were full of daffodils and wood anemones.

daffodils

Thankfully the mist has gone now and this morning sunshine welcomed us for the day. I love the mist but it’s nice to feel the sun on your face and view the world with a warm glow, spring in full bloom and people smiling, long may it continue!

meadow

Here’s to the summer!

Easter, cards, paintings and cake!

The Easter break has started as it often does with a slow constant drizzle. It’s mild but damp and people occasionally walk past the window carrying big umbrellas and kitted out in waterproofs and rucksacks. We live in an area which is very popular with walkers and on days like today I feel a bit sorry for them whilst I’m inside in the warmth. Alfred is curled up in his blanket and I’m here writing. There is a play on radio 4 which suits the weather well, a dull story of admission set in Yorkshire. I always find radio plays more poignant than television, allows your imagination to picture the visuals to match the words.

But since it’s Easter and rabbits always appear this time of year I thought I would show you a picture I did for a friend who asked me for an Easter card. I decided to draw their dog called Fern looking at a rabbit offering her an easter egg. I know this is fantasy as Fern being a lurcher would not be sitting looking kindly at the rabbit, but this is art and you can do what ever you want!

fern & rabbit

It’s a simple sketch in pencil crayon and ink on brown paper and it worked well on a card. And Fern really is that cute! Keeping with the rabbit theme, a couple of years ago our daughter went to work in Dubai for a year and had her birthday there, so I set about making her a present. She has always loved rabbits, so I made her one with 3 little outfits, a day dress, a nightdress and a ballet dress, which I wrapped individually in tissue. She’s called Verity and is only 4″ tall. Verity went everywhere with Sophie, even to work in her bag!

rabbit in lavender

Verity in her Ballet dress, her whiskers are bits of string with knots on the end and the dress bodice is crocheted.

dress rabbitrabbit night

Sophie was pleased with Verity and still treasures her. But thankfully she’s back home, I missed her too much! Rabbits often seem to come up, whether there in drawings, paintings or one’s I make to accompany my dolls or ones just to cuddle.

hare andy

This is a linocut my husband did, his first try, I rather like it! He did a pair, but the other one is of doves and I love them both. Lino cutting isn’t something I have had much success with, I would prefer to paint or work in 3 D. But I hope he does some more, as it’s not easy and I think he could really develop his own style quite quickly. This year I did our Christmas card of a hare in the snow in watercolour, they keep popping up don’t they!

hare xmas

Changing the subject a bit, although I’m sure there will be plenty of eating going on over the Easter break, especially chocolate and cake! Yesterday I visited a friend for coffee and took some cake with me. I must say, I was pleased with the way it turned out. It was moist and brimming with flavours and thankfully my friend thought so too. Very easy to make and if you don’t like orange, change it for lemons or even lime, just make sure you think about equivalent quantities to 2 oranges. It’s gluten-free and fat-free, but you can’t tell.

cake

Orange cake with mascarpone and lime topping

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Scrub the oranges, put them whole in a saucepan with enough water to cover, put the lid on. Simmer for about 2 hrs until tender. Change the water a couple of times to get rid of bitterness during simmering.

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.

Brush the cake tin with a little melted butter.  Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

Halve the oranges, remove pips and puree the flesh and peel in a blender. Beat the eggs and sugar till pale and light and soft. Combine the baking powder with the ground almonds then fold gently int the eggs. Fold in the oranges.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about an 1 hour. I put a double layer of parchment gently over the top when I place it in the oven as it browns before it cooks otherwise. If after about 45 min it’s brown enough turn your oven down and cook for 10-15 min longer. Check with a skewer  inserted in the centre, it should come out clean. But this is a very moist cake and sometimes difficult to tell.

Cool on a wire rack and gently remove paper.

To make the topping mix the sugar with the mascapone, lime rind and juice. Go carefully with the lime juice if you want to spread the topping on the top of the cake, but add it all for a cream consistency.

I hope you enjoy it, and HAPPY EASTER!

Pottering about on the canal, great fun!

ducks 7boat

Last week we went to see some friends who have a narrow boat. They decided a year ago to buy a boat and live on it, and 1 year on their still enjoying a life on the water. So we drove down to Stafford to meet them, a County I have never been to before, but I have to say it is beautiful! Lovely lanes twisting and turning around the canals and the most wonderful houses nestled in what seems a very rural area. It is a challenge to find places to park close to moorings but after several wrong turns we found them waiting for us to arrive and thankfully the kettle was on. I had made some gluten-free sticky date cake which went down a treat and our friends had made some really rich chocolate brownie. Their boat is amazing, a home from home, and they certainly weren’t eager to get back on dry land.

two boat:bridge

Before lunch we went down the canal for a couple of miles, leaving our car behind to collect later. It’s like being in another world, calm and quiet, no hurrying, just the slight rumble of the engine ticking along. We were lucky with the weather, a bit cool but the sun shone and people were smiling. We soon stopped and moored up for lunch. Walking around on a narrow boat is strange to begin with, it’s hard to be in the kitchen together and there’s a lot of squeezing past each other!

canal boats

But it’s all worth it because you see the countryside from a different perspective. There are lots of interesting buildings, amazing architecture and you see the gardens of people’s houses that back onto the canal. Some people live on their boats and have permanent moorings where they have greenhouses, sheds and gardens. It’s a really intriguing world to observe as you chug along.

bridge:lift

One of the added bonuses of being on the water are the reflections that change throughout the day. Whether it be sunny or dull, each has its own merits, even when the rain falls it adds a new dimension to the view. We wouldn’t have nearly so many bridges without the canals criss crossing the countryside, some of which are amazing feats of engineering.

bridge2

This one had a telegraph pole in the middle of it! None of us could work out why you would put one there but it makes an interesting addition to the bridge. The time seem to pass quickly and soon it was time to consider parking up for the night. Once the boat gets warm it’s very cosy and after a tasty supper of fish pie we settled in for a good chat by the fire and some  homemade damson gin. I have never slept on a narrow boat before even though my Dad had one for several years. I had spent many a day on it but always needed to go home in the evening so I was looking forward to spending the night on the water. So after much juggling around the bathroom arrangements we all went to bed.

mist canal 2

In the morning the mist was heavy, and as you can see, more reflections, even when visibility is limited the water casts such beautiful colours. It was still dull and the air was chilly but I was eager to get out and take some photos before breakfast. This one is my favourite, the red of the hull is vibrant, pushing its brightness through the mist.

alan&janes boat

This is our friends boat just as the mist is lifting. The one’s on the other side are permanent moorings. We had a quiet nights sleep and breakfast would be ready soon, just time for some more pictures!

me&boat

Drinking a cup of tea on the canal side on a misty morning is bliss! A bit chilly, but it’s worth it. I’m not one for having my picture taken, I much prefer to be behind the camera, but a certain someone insisted.

me canal2

Still warming my hands! People are very friendly on the canal, everyone says hello or stops for a chat. This man is off to get some bread and taking the dog a walk whilst riding his bike.

bike canal

The last of my misty photos, there are lots because I love the atmosphere and how a scene can change so much with natures natural soft focus. The air feels different and smells have a dampness to them in the spring which changes to humid as the temperature rises come the summer time.

mist:building

 We had walked to get our car the previous afternoon and parked it nearby to where we spent the night. But now it was time to move on as we had to go home later that day and there was lots more to see. The next stretch of canal was very still and enchanting, trees hanging heavy over the water, the perfect place to see a kingfisher and later that day we saw one. Like a streak of iridescent blue they follow you up the canal, just keeping a safe distance, ducking low across the water.

boat reflections

When a boat passes you there is a slight rocking depending on how close they get to you! But this bit of the canal is wide and straight and easy to navigate.

canal encampment

This group of boats were really interesting. There was three boats together, two in pretty bad repair but the central one had a fire going. On the river bank there was a van, a vintage car, several outbuildings, a motorbike and what looked like some sort of business going on. It seemed rude to stare as there were a couple of people busying themselves, but I would have loved to have a look round.

boat close

We then came upon this boat and it was my favourite so far. There was lots of wood on the roof and a fire burning steadily. It was the most romantic boat and obviously a full-time home, very pretty.

canoe

We pulled up at a picnic spot for lunch when this man arrived in his canoe, got out and sat and had his lunch by us. We offered him cake but he declined! Very soon we were joined by two beautiful deerhounds, their eyes are so sad and endearing and remind me of the lurchers we used to have.

deer hound2deerhound

It was time to collect our car and go home. But just as we started to set of we were joined by a man out with his grandson and dog called Arthur. So we all walked along together for a while and chatted. It took a while to get Arthur’s picture as he never kept still!  We found out that Robin owned a Lavender Farm called Shropshire Lavender Farm   Robin told us about the bird boxes he had made with Sam, his grandson and about the lavender chocolate eggs they make which sounded amazing and all the different types of lavender they sell. I imagine the aroma is incredible when harvesting, they must be permanently chilled out!

arthur

It was time to go. It’s hard to pull yourself away from the tranquility of this environment, but we had to head home and I was missing Alfred, especially as you meet so many dogs on the canal. But we have had a great time and we will be back, so there’s only one thing last to say, a BIG thank you to our dear friends, Alan and Jane for their hospitality…..I’ll bring more cake next time!

Alan,Jane&Andy

Who’s that in the background?

Life, death and the beauty it can create

trees curch

On thursday morning last week I found myself in a beautiful Cemetary in Kendal. It was early morning and the light was wonderful, dark shadows and a touch of lingering mist. Often it has been suggested I go to see the crocuses at this time of year, I was not disappointed. The timing of my visit was strangely poignant as the previous day had been one of great upset and the coming of this fresh spring morning was tinged with sadness. Archie, our dog we got as company for our older dachshund had to be put to sleep. He was four and had developed eye problems, the start of a condition called Lafora. It took us all by surprise as we had only had him for 4 months, but in that short time we all loved him dearly. He was a handsome boy with a gently quirky nature and he very quickly crept into all our hearts including Alfreds, who loved cuddling up to him. So my thoughts for the last few days have been a little somber. A dog can so easily get to a part of you no human can. They love you unconditionally and if you love them back the rewards are immeasurable.

church:crocus

But life moves on and sunny spring days enable us to turn our thoughts away from sadness. It felt calm walking down the paths between the graves and vast swathes of crocuses, the silence broken only by the bustling of the birds, so happy in the morning sunlight. This was their place, I was just a visitor and in being so felt I should tread quietly. Their morning routine was searching for breakfast, rustling through leaves and singing such notes you find hard to believe can come from the throats of such small birds! I even saw a tree creeper winding its way up the yew trees, picking off the insects as it went. The crematorium fits into the setting with discretion and dignity, complimenting the lines of the graveyard. There is no harshness here, just a gently respect for those who have departed.

gravestones

I don’t generally find graveyards depressing, and certainly this one has an unregimented beauty some don’t. There are lots of old graves covered in lichen and speckled by the ravages of time. So many lives and tales we will never know, but all of them representing a life lived whatever that may have been like. We all like to romanticise the life and death of our ancestors but I’m sure their lives were not so very different from our own, they just had a different setting to sort out their problems in. I believe every generation thinks their problems are worse than the people who came before them, perhaps they’re just different problems.

crocus kendal

There are always interesting trees in graveyards, Yews are synonymous with the places we lay our departed to rest.  The Weeping Ash in the background is reminiscent of creepy trees in children’s fairy tales and looks as if it could become animated on a dark moonless night. I have never seen so many crocuses, they encircle the trees and flow gently down the through the grass.

crocus3

There is so much space for contemplation as you walk down the winding paths leaving the graves behind to admire the colour peeping up from amongst the grass. Someone has really put some thought into making this place beautiful. I imagine those who are burried here would be pleased if only they could see the glorious spectacle above where they lie. I saw only one person as I wondered around, camera in hand, and that was a man in the distance near the crematorium. He was working in the early morning sunshine collecting leaves and tidying so all who came here could feel the peace that this place exudeds by the nature of its purpose.

crocus:statue2

This statue stood alone amongst thousands of daffodils and crocuses, so numerous I would have had trouble getting close enough to read the inscription. But sometimes meanings are clear without words.  I have enjoyed my visit despite the circumstances that led me here, a need for tranquility amongst those who have gone before us. Our rituals surrounding death are for the living, it’s the way we try to comfort ourselves in times of grief, trying to make sense of the this world, this life and where we fit into it all.

squirrel

Certainly this little fellow was enjoy the morning, collecting the bounty he had hidden to keep him through the winter months. There were lots of squirrels scurrying about, jumping through the dried leaves, darting between the gravestones. I just missed one sat happily on top of a rather grand gravestone sorting out his tail, grooming and washing his face, but he was off before I could take his picture! If Archie had been with me he would have chased this little creature given the chance, but today I was alone, but he was in my thoughts, and that’s what this place is for, to give yourself a quiet moment to reflect about the ones we love, even dogs.

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Archie, a grand little dog xx

A dull day, a walk and some simple sketches.

Sometimes when the weather is grey and the sky holds no light to warm the soul and no colour to lift your spirits, it’s hard to be creative and one can spend a lot of time-wasting time! Today was one of those days. Somehow the light never quite made it through the clouds to wake me up. It was a sleepy sort of day….and a Monday! Not my most favourite day of the week and was worsened by the dullness of it. But I did go for a walk, the air was still and natures colours were all on hold till the sun shone again. There was nothing shouting at me to be seen but despite this the birds were still singing oblivious to the ruminations of my thoughts as to the blandness of the day.

Walk over, I returned home and decided to bake some caramel shortbread and tackle the household chores. The dull day was demanding boring jobs to be done. Why spoil a sunny day! Carmel shortbread seems to take forever, lots of waiting for things to cool down. This was fine, I could fit other jobs around the waiting. I still managed to fit in a couple of 5 min sketches of my four-legged friends. They seemed equally uninspired by the day, preferring to sleep most of the time.

alfie sketch lying

Although Alfred is our dog and we love him, he is without doubt a very peculiar shape! If he was fatter he would make the perfect foot stool. He is a wirehaired dachshund and at 9 years old-looking very grey and scraggy. He loves the fire, blankets, toast and tea.

alfie lying sketch

He looks a little strange on this one, his nose is a bit pointy, but sometimes it looks like a mouse. We have to trim his beard because he has bad teeth and the hair irritates his gums.

I did another sketch from my imagination of a lurcher. We had lurchers for about 20 years so their shape is etched in my mind. They are beautiful creatures and I miss them dearly. They are graceful and elegant with wonderful gentle natures.

Fern sketch

I sketched this as a rough idea for an easter card requested by a friend. The friends in question have a lurcher called Fern. She’s blond with a rough coat very similar to one of our dogs called Martha.

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Martha stole our hearts as did all our lurchers.

al&fin

This is Alfred when he was only a ‘wee’ baby cuddled up with Finley, another of our lurchers. Alfred loved to cuddle our lurchers whether they liked it or not! He would climb on top of them when they were sleeping and make himself comfy amongst their fur. Alfred was black and tan then, the same colour as Archie is now. I’m digressing now from sketching and the dullness of the day, to reminiscing about the wonderful dogs that have shared my life, but that’s ok, it took my mind of the housework for a bit. I will show you the results of my Easter card design closer to Easter…..just in case someone who shouldn’t see it does. It’s looking very cute!