Monday, 26 October 2015

Czech Trek

Destination Litomyšl!  My husband spent this weekend in the Czech Republic, staying in a UNESCO world heritage site, for a conference.  This is for him.

The route was:  London, Amsterdam (one night), Vienna, Litomyšl (three nights), Vienna (one night), Amsterdam, London (one night).

Donderdag to Dinsdag:  three countries in a very long weekend.

Highlights reported thus far include:
Amsterdam:  the mini-Rijksmuseum in Schiphol Airport and lots of Edam
Vienna:  the Esperanto Museum
Litomyšl:  the sgraffito façade of the castle.

Here we have a collage of all three places, with their national flowers, the national, regional and city flags and arms and a few prominent or relevant sites.  The jazzy-before-jazz roof of Stephansdom is irresistible and Schiphol's control tower makes great aesthetic sense, jabbing heavenward in a Dutch landscape.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Plotting The Plot

The crop of 2016.
Fifteen minutes away by bicycle, the allotment is almost completely cleared and covered for winter (the last thing to prune down will be the raspberry canes).

That means that it's time to plan:  what to grow; how to arrange it; crop rotation; a steady stream of produce; what worked and didn't; what I would rather not grow anymore.

What that really means is combing through the tins of seed packets and flicking through the catalogues.

Now I have a plan of the plot, all verified by lengthy pacing-about on site.  Next is to work out what to plant when, and what to start off on the windowsill at home.  Then comes procurement.  It's the onions, shallots and garlic that may need to start before the end of the year.

That gives me time to dig manure in, tidy and weed the messy edges and get my sheds in order.

Planning like this is addictive.  I broke away to translate the excitement into a page of drawings.

Oh, and here is my haul of squashes, now mostly lining my kitchen windowsill.

I look into my near future and I see a lot of soup - but only after a lot of diligent peeling of those fiddly pattypans on the left.

For now, that's shallot!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Autumn Foxtrot

The arrival of Autumn always needs celebrating, so here is a little piece to meet the moment.

I'm the kind of person who, on the first hazy day of September, can't help internally reciting "SEASON OF MISTS AND MELLOW FRUITFULNESS" in a fruity, sing-song (but still crucially internal) bellow.
Blue sloes and red rosehips peppering the banks and hedgerows.
Walking along a tunnel-like path on Warsash Common recently, I started to pick out the bright berries in clusters and sprays.  The pattern became a dance that I had to do something with.  I worked it into a little seasonal paean for the flashes of colour in the hedgerows.

Now that I've got going, I have some words left over - tart, crisp, ripening, rusty, juice-fattened, button-bright and fulgent.  I could spend all day leafing through the autumnal lexicon but I'll stop there.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Two Day Tour

I'm back from two days of driving to see family and friends.  I've thrown an image together (and not coloured it for now) to sum it all up.

In the past few months I've got about in the car a great deal - often on a grander scale and further afield than East Anglia.  This trip, though, was a sharp and strange fling, leaving at 6.30 am on Friday and getting home around 8 pm on Saturday.

I've been everywhere!

I could tell you more stories but none of them are thrilling.  It was a trip of small experiences and you can guess at a few from the drawing!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Vegetable Challenge

Here's an update on the vegetable situation, after a lot of time spent mixing watercolours into shades of green.

Chomp your way through my vegetable array!

What you see here is the highlights from pages and pages of healthy produce - all the basic types that I could think of, including everyone's favourites and enemies.

Your task, dear reader, is to use them all in the kitchen.  Mind the truffle.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Sketchbook Pages From A British Tour

In the past week I took my little pot of dipping ink around the country, in a big figure of eight from southern England to southern Scotland and back (the crossing point was just outside Thirsk).  There were fells and fens, busy marketplaces, mighty frontages and romantic ruins.  A few took some finding; others were brief stops off the road.  Here are a few sketches.

Not in geographical order:  sketches from a tour of Great Britain

A row-by-row explanation:

Greyfriars, Worcester
All Saints Church, Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire
Kelso Abbey, Scottish Borders

The Bass Rock, the Isle of May and Tantallon Castle, Firth of Forth
The clouded summit of Cross Fell, Cumbria

Lichfield Cathedral shop garden, Staffordshire
Malmesbury market cross, Wiltshire
Aydon Castle, Northumberland

Buxton Pavilion, Derbyshire
Spofforth Castle, North Yorkshire

Ullswater, near Pooley Bridge, Cumbria
Peterborough Cathedral, Cambridgeshire
The iron bridge, Cragside, Northumberland

Oakham Buttercross, Rutland
Whittlesey Buttercross, Cambridgeshire

Glossop Market, Derbyshire
The gate house, Wallington, Northumberland

Melrose Abbey (seen from outside the wall of the close)
Malmesbury Abbey south door, Wiltshire
Penrith Castle, Cumbria

There I am, sitting on a grassy bank and squinting at the Bass Rock.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Quick Vegetable Sketches

Just a note to say that today I started a vegetable-drawing project.  There will be a few more pages like this before long - the purple, orange and yellow produce has yet to be represented.

Fun with acrylic inks.

These are not my vegetables, although my first potatoes have been harvested, the raspberries are fruiting happily and courgette flowers are turning into courgette courgettes.

Elsewhere in Southampton, the rose garden in Andrews Park is at its best and the Common has impressive pockets of elderflower.

Here is the ebullient introduction to the June chapter of Ambrose Heath's "Good Food" (of 1932 and recently reprinted in all its Edward Bawden illustrated glory):

June for jubilation!  For now Mother Earth almost embarrasses us with her riches, and the gastronomic year enters upon its most glorious stage.  With what profusion she flings out the plenitude of garden and field, and with what cunning she sets her offerings before us, so that every mood is suited:- and most of all her triumphs, tender peas and new potatoes, luscious lettuces, rosy cherries nodding on the bough, strawberries blushing on their fresh-strown bed, red and ivory spilth of raspberries sheltering under the dewy leaves.  It is easy to be lyrical about June. Let us emulate our greedy childhood days, and rob her orchards and kitchen-gardens for all we are worth.

UPDATE:  Here are some of the later, more developed drawings!