Saturday, 22 October 2016


On a wet Friday afternoon I looked through my studio window down onto the garden and saw something white shining in the rain so I put on a mac and went to have a look.  This is what I found, a fabulous parasol mushroom with a couple of others already growing through the undergrowth.  I brought it indoors and placed it in a tall glass to draw.  I later added the sunrise colours that appeared the next morning.

I love fir cones and the challenge of drawing them with their complicated design based on the Fibonacci spiral.

I spent a few days collecting and drawing some fruit and nuts found in my garden and down our lane.

The mushroom lasted several days indoors slowly drying out and dropping it's spores on a piece of paper I had fortunately laid underneath the glass to prevent them soiling my tablecloth.  The skies for most of the week remained bright and sunny so I  added a delicate background again.

The next few days were very busy as I had decided to bind several books to take to England with me next week for Justine to sell at her Christmas fair.

I only sat down to draw in the evenings and I amused myself drawing the view from the sofa.

The Staedtler Triplus pens worked very well washed with a little water to tint this set of sketches.

Sunday, 16 October 2016


I have decided to take part in Inktober this year, it's an annual challenge to sketchers who want to draw something every day in pen without preparatory drawing in pencil.  I decided to draw the objects I see around me at home and here is the plant on the coffee table at the moment, a cyclamen bought for only 1.50euros at Lidl.

This bunch of lilies came in from the garden so we could appreciate them without getting our feet wet walking across a rather long lawn.  At the same time I decided to try and capture the October skies as a background.  Luckily the weather is fabulous this month so it was a joy to use my blue and pinky mauve pencils here!

The scallop season started on the 3rd of October so I marked the occasion with a shell and a description of the lovely young woman we buy our seafood from down at the port.  The scallops I cooked in a light coconut curry sauce were delicious too!

On Wednesday we were invited to lunch at a friend's house deep in the countryside.  We eventually found  his haven of peace with it's tumbling stream and pretty cottage after negociating winding lanes and smelly farmyards!

We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the terrace with this view towards the pine trees and weeping willows as well as the little interesting vignettes he had created next to the path with barrels and old logs.  I found the mushrooms hiding in the grass unnoticed by their owner!

Before we left to go home, Daniel-Alain picked me a bag full of cider apples to draw as unfortunately they turned out to be too small to do anything else with .  Now I know why they are used for cider, far too small to bother peeling and coring for stew or chutney.
All these sketches were drawn in Staedler triplus nature colour pens which are water soluble,  and coloured with pencils. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016


We found a lovely campsite at Arradon on the Bay of Morbihan where the shore was only 200 metres from the back gate of the site.  We walked around the bay several times while we were there and this is one of the interesting buildings we saw along the way.

The weather was very warm and it was a pleasure to walk under the old pine trees and feel the refreshing breezes blowing off the sea.

We ate most of our meals outside, accompanied by a robin who appeared as soon as we sat down but he soon decided he preferred our cheese to our wholemeal bread!

One day we cycled to Vannes, a beautiful old walled city about 10 kilometres away.  The road along the country lanes was a delight and then there were cycle paths for the rest of the trip when we arrived at the edge of town.  We had a good look around and then stopped for a beer on the edge of the market place which was beginning to pack up after a hectic morning's trade.  We were very surprised later when we walked along the quayside, to see our boat, Chardonnay moored there.  Obviously the new owners had decided to do a tour of Brittany after taking her to the Azores last year.

This is another view across the Bay with the oyster beds at the low water mark.

After a few days it was time to move on to Rochefort-en-Terre where we had arranged to meet up with our caravanning friends from England.  We had a wonderful weekend together walking, talking and eating and drinking outside in the lovely warm evenings.

Their adorable Labradoodle, Florrie, spent most of her time curled up on her master's lap or under the table.

Some dried fruit pods from an interesting tree on the site which I haven't been able to identify yet.  The green fruit grow together in a sort of pyramid shape and the leaves are velvety on the underside, so if anyone has an idea I would love to know.
Well, that's it for now; see you again soon with something completely different!

Saturday, 1 October 2016


During our time at l'Aberwrach we cycled to Lannilis, a few kilometres away, to visit the market and have a look around.  It was very busy  and we bought honey and garlic from the friendly street vendors. After a beer in a café we decided to cycle back to our home port for another lunch at Captain Crepe where we were warmly welcomed by the owner who remembered us from our last visit a few days ago.
A few hours later I was sitting on the beach drawing the view with a variety of different water sports passing in front of me in the late afternoon sun.  The strangest thing I saw was this group of wave walkers in wetsuits following an instructor, really working hard to keep up and tripping over the rocks hidden beneath the waves.  There were at least 20 or more but I couldn't fit them all on the page!

The next day was our 44th wedding anniversary and we celebrated by moving the camper car into the carpark at the port so that we could take a special meal at the Vioben restaurant, only a few metres walk from our spot.  We had a delicious lunch of oysters, fish and a nectarine dessert.  Later in the evening we took a bottle of champagne and sat overlooking the river and reminisced about our sailing days there.
The next morning it was time to move on and we decided to go to the other side of the river where there was another campsite overlooking the light house.  We chose this fabulous spot with a perfect view that I drew while Bob took his afternoon siesta. 

The weather that day was drizzly and getting damper as evening came.  I sat and drew the view through the front of the car while the light changed and the lighthouse disappeared in the mist.  The tide was rising and splashing against the rocks that only half an hour earlier had been surrounded by sand.

In the morning it was all change with lovely sunshine and we set off on our bikes in search of coffee and then to get as near as possible to this amazing lighthouse.  I sat on the rocks at the tiny harbour used by the lighthouse men when it was manned to make this sketch, reflecting on the fact that we had now seen it from all sides but never yet gone inside, maybe you have to leave something to the imagination!  I doubt if either of us could climb the 365 steps to the top now!  Afterwards we ate a delicious lunch of oysters and Muscadet at the café owned by the 'ostreiculteurs' (the growers in English).

Later on we started to make plans for our next move to the bay of Morbihan on Sunday morning.  Bob got out the GPS and worked out the route ready for the morning.

It was a stormy evening and we were being buffeted by the gusty winds as I drew this plant I picked from the bank next to our pitch.
Next time we'll be at Arradon on the beautiful bay of Morbihan so I look forward to seeing you then!

Saturday, 24 September 2016


At the end of August we were ready for a holiday as we hadn't actually had more than a few days away from home since February.  We didn't want to go very far and as the weather was fine we drove only 2 hours to the west to L'Aberwrach at the far end of Finisterre.

We stayed on a campsite at Sainte Marguerite we had seen when we used to come here on the boat. On the first evening we walked along the dunes to see the lighthouse and identify the channels we used to use when we were sailing.  The last time we came along here we were being towed in by the lifeboat after midnight when our engine had broken down and there was no wind to sail by.

The next day we cycled a bit further along the coast path and I drew a few more of the channel markers essential for safety to avoid all the rocks in this part of Brittany. I've stuck in a bit of the map to show where the campsite is, right by the sea.

We finally arrived at the port and had a delicious lunch at Captain Crepe, a friendly creperie we've been going to for many years.  We sat on the quayside and reminisced about our sailing years and how much we used to love coming here.

That white buoy on the right is probably one that we tied our boat to and spent many happy days relaxing in the sun and rowing ashore to shop and eat in the many restaurants along the waterfront.

We cycled a lot while we were here this time and found some new places we hadn't seen before.  Here's another pile of rocks mostly covered by the tide as it came in.

I'm always interested in the wild flowers I find growing in the different places we visit and pick one example of each to take back to camp to draw later.  This sea-holly was very prickly and I was glad I had a plastic bag to put it in to carry it.  I love the delicate pale green of the leaves with their whitish edges.

Another day and another long cycle ride and lunch in a different place we found ourselves sitting at the fishing boat end of the port watching the boats unloading.  To start with many bags of nets were craned ashore and we wondered "why no fish?"

We soon saw the answer, the fish came out last!  An enormous refrigerated lorry backed along the quayside right up to the crane and many crates of fish started to come up to be emptied into fridges in the lorry, then sent back into the boat to be reloaded.  At the same time a queue of people arrived carrying bowls and bags to buy their fish directly from the boat.  There were 3 fishing boats lined up all awaiting their turn to unload while the tide was high and they could moor against the wall.

Friday, 26 August 2016


In the spring I bought a bag of oriental lily bulbs and planted them in a few pots to put on the patio for the summer.

The first ones to open were the pinky red ones which grew very tall and gave a wonderful display for a fortnight till they started to change colour.

The white ones were a couple of weeks behind but they did give me a succession of gorgeous blooms to draw in my sketchbooks.

As you can see I've used several different media to depict these fragrant flowers.

I found out this week that the local Mr Bricolage store stocks the Derwent line painters and took the opportunity to buy a white one which works quite well on this tinted paper.

The museum watercolour pencils were good too in this, one of the first drawings I did.

As I got used to the shapes and curves of the petals the pictures began to give me an idea for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday card.

This final sketch was drawn on one of the end papers in my maps sketchbook no 37 as I had run out of pages!
This week when the doors were finished I finally found the time to get started on my new picture.  I found a pretty piece of lacy fabric to use as a background and then built up the image using scraps of different colours for the leaves and flower petals.

It took three afternoons to machine embroider my lily for the birthday card.  I mounted it on a piece of green card and folded the edges over and then stuck it onto a bright pink folded card ready to be finished with a message on the inside. 
After a couple of days of looking at the picture on my desk I realised that it needed a little something extra in the bottom left corner so I made a drawing of a Red Admiral I have in my nature stash.  I traced the image onto a piece of stiffened fabric and coloured it with inktense pencils and acrylic paints, then sewed a body in black wool to give three dimensions.  I stuck the butterfly in place using fabric glue and stitched the feelers to complete the picture.  I think it looks pretty realistic, don't you?
Fortunately mum has no access to the internet so hopefully she won't see this till her birthday party in September and if any of my readers know her please don't show it! 
We're off for a couple of weeks camping at the weekend so I'll see you later with hopefully another batch of new drawings from our travels.

Saturday, 20 August 2016


We have been very busy here for the last three weeks painting our internal doors downstairs.  We've lived in the house now for thirteen and a half years and this is the continuation of long held dreams to complete the decoration of a house bought unfinished all those years ago. There is only the entry hall and the stairwell to plaster and paint now which we have plans for later this year.

There are 7 doors to various rooms like the storerooms, bedroom and loo including 2 glazed ones to the lounge.  They all had to be taken down to be sanded by Bob outdoors as we didn't want the house filled with dust, then handed to me for painting.  We decided to work with them flat on trestles so that there was no risk of getting paint on the hinges and catches which had been removed.

Fortunately the glazing bars were removable so that I could paint them without having to mask off the glass but it still was quite a job doing all the criss crosses.  Each door was given a layer of undercoat and then a gloss topcoat so it wasn't a quick job!
The entire downstairs became a workshop with everything moved to make room and blankets on the bedroom carpet to protect it as I painted in there too.  There were also three frames to be painted which Bob took on when he had finished his preparations.  He changed all the handles when he re-hung the doors as the old ones were well past their best.
Here is one of the lounge doors finished, doesn't it look smart!  We're very pleased with our efforts but pretty tired after such intensive work in hot summer weather!

My friend Luba has her Canadian granddaughters to stay every summer and I love to have them here for an afternoon of crafting, usually when it's raining as they would be on the beach otherwise.  They came three times this year and I had some varied activities planned.  The first time we made bound books which had to be finished off the next time they came.  Esther was very keen to make more lavender wands as she had learned the process last year.

Renata really hates the smell of lavender but loves to knit and crochet so we soon found something for her to make.  The last time we made fabric collage pictures but I forgot to photograph theirs before they went home.

We had a lot of fun rummaging through my fabric stash, most of which came from Luba's collection of design samples from when she ran a dress company in Belarus.  Then deciding what image to copy using old magazine photos and books.  Renata made a lovely cactus picture and Esther did a butterfly on a mixed sky background.  Here is my effort, copied from a handpainted birthday card from my sister Juliet.  It's not as easy as it looks, the glue sticks everything to your fingers before you can get it to the paper!

Every year when Esther and Renata come to stay with their Russian granny and French granddad I make a gift for them and this year I decided to make cosmetics bags using some of my fabric offcuts and trimmings. Inside I enclosed a pretty glass heart I bought for each of them when we were in Tenerife.

Luba was jealous so I had to make her one too, especially as she found another pile of gorgeous fabrics for me to add to my collection!

And here's another project in the making, I read a recent blog about this book and sent off for it straight away as I've got stacks of maps to play with in the cupboard.  I had a lot of fun making this basket from a sheet map cut into strips and there are lots of other ideas for using different sorts of maps. livingtowork-workingtolive.blogspot is where I found it as well as another book about Textile Nature which is on top of the pile now for inspiration. 
I've been drawing lilies in my sketchbook for the last couple of weeks while they are blooming in pots on the terrace so watch out for my next blog coming soon full of drawings of these fragrant flowers.