Time and tide

At the end of the beach the light was so beautiful, the stone so sculpted by time, tide and weather, that I walked back to the van to get my phone to take photos so that I could share.

I was walking to find words. I was walking to feel better. I was walking to breathe.


The sand has moved, and bare rock is now exposed that often lies beneath the beach. Sculpted and cleaved and hollowed by wind and water. Barnacles mark the place where the sand usually begins.

sculpted ivyrock2 carved

My favourite hollow bowl is a mirror for rock trolls today. Sometimes you can stand on the sand and look down into it. Today I had to climb up the sea smoothed rocks to take the photograph.

rockmirror beachdog We hunted, me and Ivy, she for odd things to eat on the tideline, me for words that sing.

lines rockdog darkstone Dark rocks, light on rippled water. No words needed. Peace and beauty. Water, air, light.rockstone In places the rocks are mountain ranges in miniature.

mountainous ivines whsn drowningpoolAnd in this week I have received wren words from Robert MacFarlane, and a beautiful picture from James Mayhew who is illustrating Mrs Noah’s Pockets for me. Such a wonder to see my words through another’s eyes again. What luck I have to work with two such brilliant people.

Home, to tidying up.

First, owls.



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The Space Between the Fox and the Hare; or, a Curious Love Story

curiouslovers1Momentarily, in between books, a painting escaped, requested by Patrick Rothfuss to add to his range of things on the World Builders website.

The Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s fear are a wonderful epic tale. I wait patiently to read more. And meanwhile I paint the space between the hare and the fox and it sings in different ways to different people and sometimes not at all.

I’ve only just sent the scan across. Waiting to hear if he likes it. I’ll put all info and links up when the card comes up for sale, but I think it will be at some speed if it does, because it’s a Valentine. Valentine’s Day is Book Giving Day. As part of Book Giving Day Quarto, my publishers, sent a box of books out to the children in the Dunkirk refugee camp, which makes me very proud of them. You can donate too, via Marilyn Brocklehurst’s shop in Norfolk. I phoned and paid for a copy of Tell Me a Dragon to be added to their library. A strange thing to do but I hope they can escape for a while from the grim place they find themselves in and  fly with dragons. Children everywhere love dragons.



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The End.


Endpapers are my favourite part of any book. They are the theatre curtains that rise as you open the book and close at the end of reading. They are free from type, and they can make the space in a book work right out to the very edges.

So, today I just finished One Cheetah, One Cherry.

I need to learn about numbers and the language of numbers, because although I was taught addition, subtraction, division, multiplication the beautiful language of maths didn’t play any part in my education.

The front endpapers are a jumble of chaos, because there is a time when none of us know about counting and numbers and values and the symbols of counting.


backendpapersThe back endpapers link the numerics with the words, via the symbols, or creatures, so you can go back and find the two dogs or the nine mice. And in the meantime the tigers have taught the pandas pat-a-cake.

It’s late, dark and cold and I don’t feel well. But I have finished another book. So, this evening I may just sit by the fire with a cat or two on my knees and read. But then again……



….I may just play with some balanced graphite.



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The Black Pearl.

Yesterday Ffion drove me to Swansea to collect new van.

She’s Pearl Black ( at the moment).

This morning I sat at the beach after walking, and wrote in her.


I think she looks like a builder’s funeral chariot.

rockqueen beechqueenIvy says she is quiet comfy.


And she already has a small dragon, which crept up on her unawares. It’s Welsh.

carstickerOn the way to collect I talked with Rachel from Quarto/Frances Lincoln about a new edition of Tell Me a Dragon, with added pages and dragons. Exciting times.

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Financial advice from an artist.

When you go to the bank to agree a loan for purchase of new vehicle, always be sure to wear;

  1. Bear’s ears from Spirit Hoods. Because bears are wise.bearsears
  2.  A silver hare from Maria at Little feathers Gallery, for courage.haresilver3. A dress like a Japanese painting.dress4. Socks knitted by your sister for Christmas ( in a colour called holly, because she knows the importance of names)socksAnd take with you a rhinoceros beetle, which will work like a charm, and the bone of a seal, which you carry everywhere anyway. beetleOh, and don’t forget the paperwork that proves you have an income, despite being an artist. Or maybe because of being an artist.


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Nine Years

It’s not that I didn’t love her. We travelled so far together. It’s just that there comes a time when things change, one or other moves on.

We met some time ago when she was with someone else. I still love the fact that Ffion T-cut her to sparkling cleanliness, even though I was wrapping her in dragons. When I bought her she was red. But not for long.

van1 van2 van4 van5

Together we travelled the roads, from St Davids, to Aldeborough, from Cornwall to Edinburgh, via Suffolk. We were banned from London by Boris Johnson and Transport For London, which was ok with me.

withjuneShe journeyed to Ennerdale where we met June and worked with children there andI learned about Arctic Chard and met a man who was still grieving for his flock after foot and mouth decimated his life.

We went to Suffolk where I heard nightingales sing and learned of the Black Shook and saw a wonderful rocking horse in Walberswick.

All The Bears in the World went on tour from Cornwall to Scotland. Wonderful memories, have a look at the blog posting from then.

Mr Stenham was beside me much of the time, sharing the driving. At these times I would rest. Sometimes it was better not to see where I was going. But for the most part the countryside was beautiful. Have a look at the Bears’ tour no 2: with Quakers and bears and silver swans, and this is where Little P was given his hat by Cecelia, who spins and knits.



Norfolk and Suffolk were wonderful, working with Aldeborough Bookshop and Marilyn Brocklehurst from the NCBC.     We travelled together from the edges of the UK.

suffolk holkham2 holkham  suffolk2

And we met people, like Jane Johnson and Robin Hobb and we met horses and wolves and cats.


wolvfs investigated meeting rhAnd we camped in the woods in the teepee of dragons, which will soon have a sister teepee.

tipi trellyn

And we ate fish and chips at Portgain, in the van, watching shearwaters far out at sea, and the sun going down.

Mary and Little P and the leopards loved to come too, singing along as we travelled the long roads of Britain. ( They are creatures from Celestine and the Hare, who also made All the Bears in the World.)


I wrote books in the van.

But, well, the wrap of dragons around the van began to flake and peel. It lasted about 7 years before it began to look tatty. The roof rusted. And i began to think about a new van.

So, the van was stripped of her dragons and sold.


12487262_10154380431549338_150514692894475114_o 12473919_10154380431914338_8221831171452042142_o

She has sticky tape around her rusty windscreen, and has gone to live with Nick, who cleaned her, and discovered where much of the soil erosion in Pembrokeshire had gone…..

And Nick knows how to fix cars and vans, so she will have a more comfortable old age with him.

And I, fickle creature that I am, have a new van, having thought long and hard about vans and cars…..

So, a new adventure begins……. but so many fond memories, friends met, roads travelled. She still has dragon eggs on her hub caps. And I am talking to Sigma in Haverfordwest about new ideas for decorating the van……so, what’s it to be this time?


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Walking. It has rained so much that I have lost the habit, spending time trying to get to my desk. I have to write. I need to think. One more painting to do then another book finished. But the land is waterlogged. Today we walked a small circuit, away from the beach, into the field where the cows have made mud.

verymuddy moos

Further along the lane the land patterns of mud, water, earth, light and work mirror the sky.waterlogged

On Treleddyd Common the road becomes a river. Ivy stops to drink.wetstuff

drinkingAround us everywhere we can hear running water. Snipe call but none rise. It is the weather for otters. But owls will be hungry.

splash The moorland home is running with streams, soil washing away.


On the irrigation pond, made silver by mid afternoon clouds that promise yet more rain, two swans swim.2swans

Back home and the village well overflows. The spring that flows in the road all winter is fast becoming a small stream. Each year it refuses to accept any diversion attempted by neighbours. Water flows. I love this spring for its stubbornness.

well spring And the path to the house is a swamp. But it is always good to be home.


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More about time

The 2016 calendar from Graffeg has almost sold out but it is still possible to get hold of one.

In the time before Christmas, when I could only pick away at an hour here, an hour there I found myself working on the 2017 calendar. It was an experience akin to time travel as I trawled back through the past to find images for the future. So, this year’s calendar looks like this: calendar1calendar3calendar2

I have one to give away, so if you want to ‘win’ one leave a comment on this posting, maybe stating a wish for the new year, or a ‘resolution’ if you have one. Share if you wish, on blogs, twitter, facebook, etc, but don’t feel obliged. If you already have one I can always gift this one to a friend if you wish. You can still get the calendar from good indie bookshops, Solva Woollen Mill (if it says out of stock email them, they will be able to get hold of one for you I think), Graffeg.

Still trying to decide on the cover for next year’s (2017). I think the hare and fox are winning, though Eliza is so much more striking.

Here is a sneak preview.


calendarcover1 jan feb

I will do the draw for the calendar win in a couple of weeks and will throw in a card or two also. Look forward to hearing from you.



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How to make a happy new year.

A conversation with a friend made me realise something. He asked how things were going and I said I was frustrated because life was getting in the way of painting. He said, “You are lucky. Some people work to live. You live to work.” Well, yes.

So, with Christmas and New Year and other expectations out of the way I have found time to get back to work.

Last year I painted, but also, for the first time ever worked on a book without first securing a publisher for it.  One Cheetah, One Cherry; a book of beautiful numbers. Now, with the book almost finished I have secured a publisher for it and am pleased to say it will be my first new book with Otter-Barry Books. Hopefully the book will be published in autumn 2016. And in the meantime I have been having fun with the front endpapers. Hidden in the gold are seven keys ( I think. There might be eight. I was tired, lost count.)


oncherry1 onecheetah1

The book is a simple 1-10 counting book. Lots of colour, pattern.

pandapainting thankyouSo, back to work. Thinking. Writing. Changes.

Nicola Davies and I are running a writing course in October at Ty Newydd, Rooted in Nature. Places are limited. There is a 10% discount if you book in January. It is booking up fast. It will be hard work for everyone, but we hope it will be good. I certainly hope to learn  a lot, although I am supposed to be teaching, but that seems to be how it works.

I have 4 or 5 books coming out next year. More on that later.

For now, I need to go and write. For now I need to go and paint. And yes, I live to work, and my work is so very tangled in my life.

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Away from work for too long, and not sure why, but now I strive to return to normality.

So, first, a walk to the beach, with time to think. I have been indoors too much. It has rained and rained. Along the fields you can hear the water draining towards the lowest point, moving towards the sea.

path In between rain, the sky is blue and clear and the path to the beach runs through the green.

greenland There are flocks. First, sheep, who do not welcome Ivy to their field. She is not good with sheep and needs always to be watched so that sheep stay safe.

flock2 Then flocks of herring gulls caught the sunlight on their wings.

flock1 Behind us the sky was deep dark with rain.


Beauty. landseasky



On the beach an alien creature had washed ashore. Goose barnacles on a bouy.

barnacles strangealien As we left the beach the light was deep golden. latelight

Home now. A new year. A book to finish, two books to begin. Time to work.

Happy New Year.

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