Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep.....

To market, to market to buy a fat pig.
Home again, home again, jiggerty jig.
To market, to market to buy a fat hog.
Home again, home again, jiggerty jog.

Tom, he was a piper's son.
He learned to play when he was young.
But the only tune that he could play,
Was Over the Hills and Far Away.

In the background someone is looking for her sheep.

In the absence of snow ice must suffice.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Inside out 2

Inside, fire kindled from the ashes of yesterday. Outside, ice, on the beach and in the garden.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


In the summer the tree hangs heavy with honeysuckle, in the winter, birds. Today, sparrows, bluetits, greatits, starlings, speckled bright, blackbirds, beaks dipped in bright gold, chaffinch, greenfinch, rook, jackdaw and magpie, pied wagtails, dunnock, robins. And outside on the bright privet a glorious bullfinch.
They come not long after dawn and all day the garden is busy with wings. An hour before the light fades, but after the sun has gone down they settle into warm places to wait until the coming of the new light again.
Walking up the hill I could hear lapwings call and small snipe in the bracken.
It has been a day of birds.

Inside out

Friday, November 26, 2010

A moment

Yesterday a woodcock flew, fast and low across the road infront of me, against a dark sky heavy with snow. It must be winter.

Outside, sheep and rain, inside, pigs and pipers....

...and cheetahs.

Over the hills and far away

On the beach today, light. The moon in the blue morning sky. Scattered broken kelp from undersea forest stroms, like the tangle hair of mermaids. A balancing happy dog.
In my head, pigs, pipes and Little Bo Peep, blue cats, blue hens, blue eggs.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Wish List

Thinking about sheep, painting a new cheetah.
On Amazon, wish lists make me think. 
A wish spoken is a wish broken, so I have written my list on a type writer, and taken a picture of it. 

Wishes can be added as comments.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Perhaps, a selkie.

On the beach this morning sand. The sea, calm, wrinkled only slightly by the wind. Stone, carved by the sea, sand, wind. Light washing all and then with the rain came a rainbow, at first feint, then clearer in the darkening of the light. The bow seemed to hold back the curve of dark cloud.
Like so much magic the colours grew from sea to sky and echoed in the mirrored light reflecting from the sand, until the rainstorm passed and only a smur of light fell down and struck the north end of the beach, light kissing sand.

If you look with care you can see the rainbow touch the beach in the bottom right corner.

And on the beach this evening; again sand, sea, stone, but this time all stripped bare of colour by the moonlight. Stars reflected in the mirrored surface of the wet beach and we walked as if suspended between heaven and earth. Stars above, and infinite space and stars beneath and all the while the moon threw a shawl of silvered clouds to roof our heads.

Once, when I walked in the twilight morning, just as the world was coming to light I saw a shape beside the sea. 
A rock? 
It was dark. 
But no, a movement. Perhaps a trick of the half-light, but no, there again the darkness moved. I stood, alone in the morning world and watched. A seal?
It moved up the silvered beach and then raised itself, stood tall and straight beside the foam edge of waves, still dark. It stretched up tall and elegant with grace, looked around.
I held my breath. 
I watched. 
And it must have sensed the watching for it dropped, elegant, back to the sand and then moved swiflty back to the sea. A wild thing. Until now I have kept it secret. Perhaps a selkie?

Monday, November 22, 2010

The best this year.

Yesterday I listened to a radio pragram about books for 'young adults'. What I missed in the program was the voices of 'young adults' speaking for themselves. What are they reading? Not what books are people buying for them to read.
With Christmas coming up I had hoped that the program would give some ideas about new titles that are out but while the program did talk about how it seemed that books for young adults is a growing market ( partly because so many grown ups read them too) it went little further than that in half an hour.
So I decided to ask my children what their favorite books of the year were. The hope is that if we post ours then all those who read this can add theirs in the form of comments and with luck we can get something going that isn't just a bland article that follows a marketing trend, but a true word of mouth reflection of what people are reading and what they love. Ask your kids too, if you have them, both big and small. And flag up this blog posting to friends and fellow bloggers to get them to join in. The more the merrier.
Hannah ( aged 16).
1. Collection of poems by Seamus Heaney from school.

Tom ( aged 18)
1. A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin and all of the books that come after that one.
We found this book when I asked our editor at Harper Collins who could replace Robin Hobb now that we had read all of her books.

Me ( aged 49)
4. There are No Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz. I heard her read this at the Starlit Festival in Hackney and she was great. Lovely book for  really young children because it is just fun.
5. The Arrival special edition by Shaun Tan.   Couldn't find it on Amazon, but it is an amazing box set with hardback book and a hardback sketchbook included, sort of like dvd extras. Beautiful set for anyone who loves illustrated books and likes to see the working out behind them.
6. The Firebird by Saviour Pirotta and Catherine Hyde. Beautiful. Also The Princess's Blankets by Catherine and Carol Ann Dufy, a love story. These are picture books for all ages. I have the hardback with the slip case which is a very beautiful object. Templar are just the best at the moment when it comes to book design.
7. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. I read this afterlistening to a radio program about the book with Meg Rosoff talking about it. You can see when you read it why its fame has been so long lived. A wonderful piece of gripping writing that is such an incredible observation of children, relationships.

And this year again my book has been included in Mr. B's roundup of books for Christmas. Their catalogue, available online, by post or from the shop in Bath, is a wonderful guide for the best books of the year, all chosen by the staff rather than a list paid for by publishers. So much in it and every time I look I see more that I want. If you follow the link to their page you can download their catalogue, and get 10% off anything on it. I love the look of Atlas of Remote Islands, which they claim is the 'most beautiful book of the year'.


On Friday I sat infront of my drawing board. I wanted to put Little Bo Peep into the painting for Baa Baa Black Sheep. There are pages through the book that I want to link up with characters appearing in teh background for other rhymes. I had already drawn out the woman walking the sheep, with her knitting. Try as I could nothing would come to mind so on Saturday I decided to just get one with the painting. Only then did I realize that she was already there. As I continued to paint her I realized that I not only had painted Little Bo Peep, but Little BoHo Peep.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Working on Baa Baa Blacksheep and having a book launch at Solva Woollen Mill and this week has been National Wool Week, so I have been thinking about wool.
But I have spent the day running around in circles and getting nowhere. Some days are like that.
So, I have posted things to my accountant and a couple of things to a couple of other people. I have tried to tidy up and in so doing found things that I was supposed to post to my accountant. Oops. I have found something in the freezer, some of it cow and some of it venison, I think, and can now smell it cooking in beer and thyme and bayleaf and onions. I have made the bed with clean sheets, put the washing in the machine and forgotten about it, made the fire, chopped wood, thought a lot but not with any focus. But I have not really made any marks on paper.
But I have taken photos of my knitting in the hope that this will spur me on to make it grow a little. And I have found my scarf in the hope that I can weave it in to my painting.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

On the beach this morning.

A curlew, lone and calling across the sea.
Sand patterns drawn by the water.
Sun splintered light, fractured by wind and wave.
A pied oystercatcher with a clown bright beak.
Mirror water showing the sky her beautiful face.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Early morning start. Too many blank pages to fill, still, so trying to paint as the light falls into the day. It is peaceful then. No phone calls or demands from a sleeping world. Just peace and this morning the steady drumming of rain on the roof.
Already decisions have had to be made.
1. What colour to paint a lion's wings.
2. To wait for the rain to stop to walk the dogs.
3. What to wish for.

Later, after hours spent painting, listening to music, radio, dvd, looking out of the window at times ( and the weather vane looked glorious with the moon behind it, sailing over the house)....


...the painting was almost finished and I was almost at the point of crossing off another blank page.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Elegant measures

I have measured out my time.
Hours spent painting.
With a kitchen timer shaped like a chicken, sitting ticking away minutes until the bell rings.
With a pomodoro timer on my phone, a tick and a whir and a measure.
With an hour glass where a line of sand falls from one sphere of glass to another. One glass diminishes while the other glass fills and another hour passes.
At night, when I wake, the time passing is spent watching the movement of stars across the sky as the earth tips.
And now with music as I have been introduced to Spotify. And I have discovered Sigur Ros. One hour playlists of wonderful music.
The most elegant is the hour glass. Silent poetry of passing time. And the movement of stars.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the beach today, then home to work.

On the beach, a fall of flowers. The unwanted gift from a casual lover? A funeral tribute? A curious sea spray of carnations? 
Back home, working through time marked by a line of falling sand.


And meanwhile the house stands against the wind, dreaming of summer, while birds flit through the garden and rosehips wait for the coming of redwings.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Rhyme in Time cover mock up.

The type will be in gold foil. Looks just like one you might buy in a shop.

On the beach today

Early morning clouds, sun and wind, and a seal's child, washed up by the storm. Holding on to life, for now. Beautiful. Its cry rips your heart.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


A day of wild weather and now the wind is lashing the side of the house, slamming itself in a fury at the walls. It is very dark, although stars shine. I am glad that I finished Dark Matter by Michelle Paver before the dark descended. ( This was my book from Mr B's this month and when I opened it I was a little worried as I did not read The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. But right from teh first I found it compulsive)
I tried to work in peace. A whole day strectch ahead full of hope this morning. Parcels dropped off where they should be, children at school then away for the evening. But fate had other ideas and anger and frustration set in and some work was done, but nowhere near enough. Nowhere near enough.
Tomorrow is another day. Will try again. And will also try to tackle the mess monster around what I hope this time will be serious hours of working steadily.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How I paint.

The thing that roars?
The dark?
The wild?
The thing that lies beneath?
Being lost? 
Heights, and lows?

The unending tyranny of the blank page.
So, I will seek out the moments of stillness. I will find the peace of mind, the courage required. I will interrogate the silence. Now.

( This blog post was inspired by Meg Rossof, who wrote a 'How I write" posting.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A very special offer.

On November 27th, from 5pm, Solva Woollen Mill, Middlemill, Pembrokeshire will be having a book launch for The Ice Bear. I will be there signing books, hopefully with feathers in my hair and pen in hand. During the evening each book bought will have a raffle ticket with it and at the end of the evening a ticket will be pulled out of a box or a hat and the winner will get the drawing seen above. To make this fair for people who live a long long way from Pembrokeshire this will also apply to all books bought from the mill's online shop. All books at the mill are signed, with best wishes. The drawing is an original sketch in pencil of the Ice Bear Mother, on board. The image above is an 'almost finished' as I will probably fiddle a bit with it over the next few days. The offer applies to all of my books at Solva Woollen Mill, not just The Ice Bear and they have most titles there.

On Friday I heard that Tell Me a Dragon had been nominated for the CILIP Kate  Greenaway Medal. All the dragons in the book have their claws crossed that they make it through to the shortlist to be announced in April of next year.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Christmas is coming

Things that are for sale, and might be useful for Christmas.
1. Red winged angel card for Shalom House Hospice Trust. Entitled "Red wings and a crown of hares", 5 cards per pack, £3.00. Inside the words say Seasons Greetings/ Cyfarchion y Tymor. Available from Rachel Davis ( email  llancoed@btinternet.com )
The original painting is also available for sale from The House of Golden Dreams

2.  Mugs and cards available from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, and at last the online shop is up and running.

3. Books. The best place to buy these is from local independent bookshops, which are always a joy to visit. Signed copies are available online from Solva Woollen Mill, and I will be doing a book signing at the mill on 27th November from 5 pm. I am also working on a drawing of a polar bear and every book bought from the mill, either online or from the mill comes with a raffle ticket. At the end of the evening the winning ticket will be drawn from a hat and the winner gets the drawing.

4. A new painting, Two Cheetahs, Two Cherries. £850, unframed. Available from The House of Golden Dreams.