Tag Archives: Books

Waldeinsamkeit : The feeling of being alone in the woods


The hills are brown velvet and dirty lace, with their dusting of half hearted snow melting fast and adding to the frothy beer coloured streams and puddles. I don’t think it is possible for things to be any wetter. Everything is either green, grey or brown as if somebody has applied some new Instagram filter to the view. I’ve been looking after my neighbour’s farm this weekend and as I walked back after skating around in 50 shades of mud for an hour I thought what a shock to my eyes it would be if I were suddenly transported to somewhere hot and bright and vibrant…Mexico maybe.


Last week I treated myself to books. One was full of photographs of owls and the other was “Sculptor’s Daughter” by Tove Jansson which is wonderful. In one chapter she describes the correct way to draw forests and mentions John Bauer who is probably one of my very favourite artists…I knew exactly which pictures she was describing and when I couldn’t sleep last night I spent an hour or two reading about him and looking at the mossy stones and dark woods filled with bears and trolls and tiny golden haired princesses. It’s easier to live in a world of make believe because in the real one logs piles run low and phone companies mess you about and cars break down and cost so much to fix that it doesn’t even matter if you spent all your money on books because that was just a drop in the ocean anyway.


I’ve been doing lots of drawing and pattern making and getting excited that Spring Fair is next week and the fact that my cards are going to be there as part of “Natural Partners” collection makes me feel like a “real” artist. It would be fantastic if some shops chose to stock them. (If you happen to be a buyer for  Anthropologie or Paperchase or a gorgeous independent gallery shop then the stand number is 4J21!)


Well, I am itching to get some more designs on Spoonflower so I’m going to throw another log on the stove, get some coffee ground and draw some more owls. I think a cake needs to be baked too; January is definitely a time for indulging and lying low until the first bright colours arrive.


Listening to: ” Sunset “Kate Bush Reading: “Sculptor’s Daughter” Tove Jansson

This is England

And still the fabled Summer didn’t arrive, everything got greener and greener and all anyone could talk about was the rain and the the irony of hosepipe bans and the possibility of Ark building. Nevermind; in the odd moments when the sun breaks through, the startling light reveals a lush and verdant land where you can almost hear the grass growing and the water seeping into wet earth and the slugs getting fatter. At the weekend I danced in a field in the pouring rain, visited a stuffed dog in a railway museum ( I had known it as a child when it stood on Wimbledon Station) and was given a beautifully hand embroidered Bavarian tablecloth that may or may not have once belonged to Himmler (I do hope not). You can’t say life is dull.

A few times recently I have ventured down from Witchmountain and been to shops which all seem to have a lots of orange and day-glo pink things.My work never seems to fit the current trends as dictated by the textile and fashion industry but at the moment I seem to be accidentally fashionable. Perhaps orange is just a really good antidote to the gloomy weather? Anyway, it would be nice if somebody at WGSN or Trend Bible would notice and send the orders/job offers flying in!

I had a lovely time making this design one evening, it was just a quick experiment (measured by eye so it doesn’t quite repeat properly) and it got me wishing I was still designing for an agent or at least had access to an affordable digital printer. Anyway, for more uplifting orange there is no better place to look than How About Orange….

This week has also involved a lot of worry and decisions about possessions …while not a hoarder I would admit that I find it hard to part with anything that has any sentimental attachment, from a train ticket to an old moth eaten t-shirt to a child’s drawing. Trying to make space and organise the chaos, my daughter and I began to sort book shelves; by the end of which we still had most of my pony stories from the 70s (but written in the 1940s!) and some random titles such as “How to be a Detective”( I loved Sherlock Holmes when I was 10), Sara had managed to give away most of her childhood favorites such as Jacqueline Wilson’s books, with very little persuasion. No one is likely to read “Jill has two Ponies” again in this house but its a book, its my childhood! What on earth do we do with all this “stuff” we acquire over the years- sentimental, aesthetically pleasing or just plain weird  (see above mention of “Himmler’s Tablecloth” ) ? I’m torn between running away from it all to do yoga up a tree for the next 25 years or building more shelves.

Well, it is late and time I was tucked up in bed reading about Mervyn Peake and dreaming of book shelves. Before I go I need to share this event with you because it’s being organised by a very lovely, talented and inspirational designer who is trying to raise money for a cause close to his heart.Find out more by visiting Baron Bizarre on Facebook or Twitter. Until we meet again x

Reading:- ” Moving Towards Balance” Rodney Yee ” Mervyn Peake-Two Lives” Sebastian Peake and Maeve Gilmore

Listening To:- Anything with Bill Nighy in it (!) and The Best of Neil Young.

“Up The Hill Backwards”

I’m thinking of changing the name of this blog to “Which Mountain” as I seem to be spending as much time going on about my days in the hills as my days in the studio ( * for studio read kitchen table ). I hope you don’t mind? Anyway, I have finally found a good use for Twitter; the ability to find out from locals whether it is worth the drive from East to West. A good weather report on Friday evening turned us in to a fast response team, dashing over to Keswick for breakfast,then to Rannerdale to climb Whiteless Pike.

Oh, I wasn’t feeling at my best and it felt like the hardest yet but goodness, its always worth it when you reach the top! My photography skills let me down though; its impossible to capture on a mobile phone camera, the amazing beauty  that unfolded on all sides.We ate chocolate cake on the summit and almost lost the flask, like a Morris pattern missile, hurtling down the steep ice slope. As Rupert fitted crampons to his boots I began to fear I may go the same way as the flask, despite the ice axe I was given to use as a miniature walking stick!Wearing 80’s style legwarmers and some secondhand boots, I still behave like a toddler tackling the stairs and prefer to go on all fours, sitting down occasionally.

A beautiful, beautiful place and I would love to return in the Spring when Rannerdale is full of bluebells- preferably with a wicker hamper full of picnic , a tartan rug and sketch book! I shall wear something floaty and totally unsuitable shoes…

Talking of sketchbooks, mine is off to New York tomorrow.I’m spending the rest of today making prints, photographing and generally getting ready to part with it.I’ve really enjoyed this year’s book and while it is sad to know I may never see it again I do hope we will meet again in London at the end of the year.

These prints have been made on Khadi paper and stitched together on the sewing machine. They will be a limited edition available in my Etsy shop soon. I’ve also made a miniature version of the book, for myself, which I wish I’d done last year. I love books and feel inspired to do another very soon; I’ve also been looking into finding a way into freelance illustration…

So, don’t forget the giveaway competition ends on Wednesday. Thank you so much for all the lovely comments and new followers. Have a good week where ever you are. Just one more thing,if you live in the United Kingdom and have fond memories of school trips, enjoying the outdoors, building shelters, falling in water, getting muddy and having midnight feasts you may be interested in signing this petition to save Outdoor Education Centres  . Joking aside, the emphasis here is on education and the vital work these places do, inspiring children’s learning through interaction with the world around them;encouraging self awareness and building self esteem. Saddly,I missed my school trip…where did you go?


I was supposed to wait until tomorrow, my new writing day, but I just couldn’t wait to show you these photographs. Anyway, routine is dull and I refuse to start behaving with any self restraint just because it’s January. Look at the blue of that sky, I promise it was really that blue and the air smelled clean and crispy, not a breath of wind, everything sparkling with diamond frost.

The expedition began at the ungodly hour of 7am, when I was prised from my nest and transported from East to West through a magical landscape of sunrise and ghostly frosted hedgerows. Breakfasted with sausage ciabattas ( vegetarian ) in the Lakeland Peddlar and armed with sandwiches wrapped in paper,along with a flask of hot Marmite ,we began our ascent of Hindscarth. I have to tell you now, I was tricked. The hill you can see here ( Scope End) cleverly hides the actual summit, a million miles further up.I just assumed it was a gentler walk due to shorter days and post holiday unfitness, but no, it was a big trick to stop me wingeing ,clever.I’m only annoyed with myself for being too slow to make it back to Keswick in time for a visit to my favorite tea and cake place, Temporary Measure, home of big bears, pearly buttons and sticky,gingery cakes.

This is the view from the top, it looks like Mars.But as Rob Ryan says “Other planets cannot be as beautiful as this one” and its true; just looking at these pictures again makes me feel so ALIVE ,lifting the heavy lid of winter for a while and chasing away those nasty black dogs.

Back in the warmth of a Sunday kitchen I’m listening to Guy Garvey and planning what to do tomorrow when Lindsey  comes up for a day of coffee and creativity. I must focus, because in the middle of my lino print frenzy I was distracted by making tiny books with that bag of leather off cuts I told you about.I’m still on with the lino printing, stitching into the prints and trying to get a more consistent result; perhaps the beauty of it is that each one is so different though?

In other news, this exhibition has opened in New York with work by William Tillyer (Daddy, my Daddy!) and Robert Motherwell , amongst others. I’d love to go but I think I’d better stay and keep practicing with the mangle…

Listening To:- “Paper Tiger” Beck .Reading:- “IQ84 part3” Haruki Murakami ( and as I write Mr. Garvey is playing “Paper Moon” Ella Fitzgerald which will mean something to you if you’ve read this book….)

Red Shoes

The Red Shoes

Day Three of my new leaf thing finds me up and about EARLY IN THE MORNING and already I’ve been for a walk! A sparkling October morning, dotted with berry jewels and gauzy spider webs.Finding my neighbour’s postbox too small to fit the egg box in, I had to go right down to the house and take the track through the fields ,immediately cursing that I’d decided not to bring my phone and therefore had no camera. Oh, and when I had to do a spot of impromptu bouldering , clinging to a drystone wall, I wished I’d brought my wellies and could just trudge through the muddy slurry that was threatening to be my morning bath!

Sneaking up on Basil

So, I must admit I’m feeling much more positive than I was on Monday and not a drop of butter has crossed my lips! My kitchen table is set out with the components of several new wallets, ready to be sewn up and printed as soon as I’ve stopped waffling on to you. Three small canvasses with cyanotype prints and stitch are drying on the windowsill and the coffee pot is beckoning.

Owl Box and Reflected Light

Yesterday I ordered some chemicals to make cyanotypes on fabric and I’m really excited about trying out the process when the package arrives. At the moment I’m collaging the paper prints I’ve made using Sun Print Paper but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use the chemicals not only on fabric but directly on to canvasses.

Hedgerow Flowers, Shadows and Reflections

At the risk of sounding like a compulsive shopper I’m also waiting excitedly for the postman to bring my copy of the shiny new Haruki Murakami novel “1Q84”.Murakami famously gets up at 4am, writes until 9am and then spends the rest of the day relaxing and training for marathons! Obviously he is my new role model!

Now I have to confess, I spent ages writing this, this morning, only for WordPress to go a bit crazy and refuse to recognise me or let me publish it. I’ve also ruined my best and favorite shirt and got in a bad mood with the sewing machine….oh dear, sometimes I think you can start the day TOO positive.

I hope Autumn is good where you are and you have a good book to read?

Reading: “Moomin Papa at Sea” Tove Jansson   Listening to: Radio4 and a very loud buzzing coming from this computer……


“…You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

The record breaking Indian Summer of last week has given way to some sensible October weather and I’m back in my element;in a kitchen fuggy with bread smells, while the wind tries to knock over the last sunflowers and the stove hungrily burns its way through £100 worth of logs.Sitting in the garden late on Saturday night, with red wine and candles, it felt like Summer should have felt, like you always imagine it will, when you buy the citronella candles and set out the garden furniture in May.

So, October. The end of this month will be time to fill in the self employed tax return and say goodbye to the Walled Garden. I can honestly say its the nicest place I’ve ever worked, lovely people, beautiful surroundings and delicious food.Over the summer ,recipes sold in aid of Medecins Sans Frontieres have raised over £300 and there is a final fundraising event at the beginning of November ( details to follow).

So, I’ve spent ages today and yesterday making books on Blurb and wishing my broadband was faster. I wanted to make a book of this blog but it was going to be 2050 by the time the pictures uploaded and would have so many pages that I would never be able to afford to get it printed. Looks like I might have to be more selective. In the end I ordered a simple notebook which has lots of photographs as well as blank pages to write or draw in. Let me know what you think….

As well as dreaming of writing and illustrating a best seller I’m busily making things for Designer’s Marketplace and feeling hugely jealous but very,very excited for its founder, and my college tutor, Helen Stevens who has just had her new range of wallpapers bought by Liberty’s ! This must be every designer’s dream and in Helen’s case richly deserved;I think I’ve said it before but it is so good to see a college tutor who is actually practicing what they preach and being truly inspirational.

Meanwhile, these are some painted wooden boxes, looking for new homes in Newcastle next Saturday and I’m just about to start stitching a little pair of red shoes with some wool I dyed last week. Time to top up the coffee and switch off the Mac, which reminds me to say, Thank you Steve Jobs for making life on Witchmountain a little less isolating and for keeping my knees warm with this wonderful machine; RIP.

Reading : ” 1Q84: Books 1and 2″  Haruki Murakami ~ well I will be when it arrives, I’ve pre-ordered it and I can’t wait. Its been a long wait so far as I never did get around to learning Japanese and Its only just been published here.

I finished “One Day” David Nicholls , and felt very depressed and not very impressed, although it did make me cry.

Pipe Dreams

This week I’m working on re-stocking after the Rural Arts event and was woken this morning by a delivery of flat-pack card stands; hopefully these will make it easier to ask some places to stock my cards.The moose commission has been posted and listening to a serial on the radio about elephants ( “The Elephant Keeper” Christopher Nicolson) , I think I might have a go at some elephant drawing this afternoon! I’m also really inspired by the two books I treated myself to after making the big sale to The Golden Lion last week ( The Lapwing will be hanging in one of the bedrooms and I’ve been promised a bit of publicity on the website…)

Anyway, the books are “Plants and Places” Angie Lewin and “The True and The Questions” Sabrina Ward Harrison . Both are real treats but the Angie Lewin one is gorgeous, with sketchbook pages, images of the wood blocks being carved and photographs of the landscapes that inspire her work. I should be sitting outside drawing pebbles and plants..

On Sunday I visited another inspiring place, The Dutch House, near Easingwold. Cecile and Sjaak began this eco-garden/cafe/shop and art studio only a couple of years ago and the gardens are still a work in progress… willow house,wild flower meadow and sculptures.

The willow house puts mine to shame as it is about twice the size ( and doesn’t have moles living in it)! The lovely cafe is full of handmade crafts for sale and specialises in  TINY Dutch pancakes and Edam sandwiches; we came home with a box of windmill shaped , spice biscuits called “Speculaas” which Rupert remembers from his childhood.

I would love to have a place like this, it is my dream…well, one of them… along with a woodland “glamping” site, a feature in Country Living Magazine, a cafe in the mountains, an ice-cream shop in a converted vw camper…..!

Now, none of this will happen unless I crack on! Lots of love to you all for reading. x