The past few days

This week I have walked dogs over wonderful pathways, on cliffs, along roads, over moorland, where ragged robin grows and skylarks sing and peregrines hunt and cuckoos still fly. I’ve walked alone, with friends, but always with dogs. I’ve seen butterflies. I walked past a house where a ghostly child watched from a window. She never moves. She’s waiting. For someone.

butterfly house

 

I have sat in a garden with a friend and drunk tea, eaten toast.

loveinthe anns

I have written the first draft of a new book, first in a notebook, sitting in sunshine on St Davids Head, and typed it up and then with great courage pressed the send button. Waiting now. It’s a story based on truth, about a white fox. I found it in Seattle.

fox21

manuscThen I tried to get back into painting, forgot how, remembered again and began what I hope is an acorn that will grow into a great oak of a book.

acorn23 acorniconAnd in between I painted feathers for part of an ongoing project that is being pushed back in time. And to relax I doodled a small cheetah, because it may seem that writing a book in a week is rather quick, but it took 2 years, and a week and also 53 years in order to make the words come out, and it’s not Game of Thrones, it’s only 5 200 words.He is proud of the cherry he carries so high.

cherrymycherrybantamLuckily I also found the rough for the Help Musicians card, which is so late for delivery. This is what I will be working on next week.

helpm

It has a red squirrel in it, because when I was in Abergavenny Emma Corfield-Walters showed me the tomb of a girl,Eva de Braose,  who had a pet squirrel she kept on a fine chain and took everywhere with her. It seems that at one time it was quite fashionable to have a pet squirrel on a fine chain.

So, that was my week.

Hard work. And all the while I read The Rainwilds Chronicles searching for new cover images. How was your week?

 

 

 

 

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A good year for the roses.

Because a fire was in my head I went in search of roses.

whhites The day was grey, but warm and calm, unlike my mind.

pompom I first found these small wild roses years ago when out walking on St Davids Head with Bella when she was young. A scent filled the air, like something from another world, and there at my feet, tiny white roses. Wild. Beautiful. And this year it is a good year for the roses.

rse Honeysuckle too, heady scent.

hs2 hs On the trees small clutches of moth caterpillars promising havoc for blackthorn trees.pillars Looking towards home there are small islands of fresh heather. Soon they will turn the hill purple.

eh homewards sky2 And roses, everywhere, tiny, low to the ground.

roses2 roses1 As I walked the cloud rolled away, the sky went blue, and the sea.

bl I stopped for a while, chasing words. Rosie flumped down on a rock softened by lichen, patient, while Ivy wandered, looking for mischief and mice.

rs Sometimes it is good to move, away from the fire, get your feet on the earth, find perspective, a way forward that is manageable, healthy.

f t

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Thinking, and playing with the shape of a hare.

Too many ideas, not enough time, too much work to do to play, but best avoid the most important work after a very hard week of wrestling the monster of self doubt by relaxing in to meditating on the shape of a hare. I would love the luxury to draw every weekend. Perhaps I will try to make that happen.

r4 r3Meanwhile a sad story begins to unfold…over time….

one

And I have learned how to make a chocolate pudding using;

One avacado

One frozen banana

Some lime juice and a little zest

Two tablespoons of honey

Three tablespoons of cacao powder

A couple or three tablespoons cold water

( and an optional shot of vodka, orange liqueur, grand marnier, whatever)

And a pinch of salt

All put in a nutribullet or something like and whizzed to gorgeous silky loveliness.

Yum.

yum

Fetching some mint from Glyn’s garden, for new Pembrokeshire potatoes I walked past Tamsin Abbott’s beautiful glass in my garden. One detail show Genji, angel cat, made beautiful by light and dark as I move past him. I love Tamsin’s work. She knows the shape and the heart and the soul of the hare.

angel2 angel1

 

 

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Snail days;walking to work

 

Awake early. Restless. Reading in bed with a curl of ginger cat and a cup of coffee. I remember that there was a time when I would drive to Whitesands Beach and walk to work. But the sky is grey and in the night it rained, and perhaps it rains still and for some reason ( I left it in Edinburgh) I do not have a coat.

But the dogs did not get a walk yesterday, and the worst that can happen is that I can get wet. So we go.

daisies And there are daisies and sheep’s bit scabious.

sca sb And I find a bank where the wild thyme grows.

thyme It is a day for snails, but we move over the hill, Ivy running wild on the scent of wild things, Rosie by my side, and my head away with a white fox and a lonely child.

snail cinqfoil? I find what I think is cinquefoil, a small carpet of it over the green.

flowers Further into the valley where Ivy now goes wild on the scent of foxes and creatures there are banks of wild honeysuckle and between me and the rock a blush of pink ragged robin.

wh rr And I still find beauty in the spider-silk weavings that capture the rain in silver patterns.

webs Here and there are roses. I first found these years ago, when their heaven scent rose up from the ground, calling me to see them.

rose1 rose And orchids, everywhere.

orchids Ivy found some choughs, or rather some choughs found her and chased her, dive-bombing her from on high and shouting abuse at the thing that could run fast but has no wings. I have always found that the best way to see choughs is to walk with dogs as they seem to love harassing them.

choughss ss lowgorse Then we walked on, past stone walls where weasels live and the low growing rare gorse. This is one of my favourite walls, so old, so softened by lichens.

sw2 stones2 stonewall wetdogs On the track home, over the hill the foxgloves grew so thickly. We found two white flowers.

fgs fg2 fgBack home we found we had been lucky with the weather. The rain had held off. It was good to walk in the grey, see the world sparkling in fresh water pearls that dripped. The dogs were soaked from running through the heather and bracken and long grass. Soaked but happy, and now curled sleeping.

For the first time in years I have walked the old path to work, and it was beautiful.

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This week…

ngoksketch sketch1This week I have been tangled up in self doubt. Working on a wonderful project for Because I am a Girl. They asked if I would produce a full page illustration for a story by Joanne Harris called River Song, and I didn’t have time, but I couldn’t say no. But then doubt gnawed away at my soul.

Eventually I finished it and sent first to Joanne to see if she recognized her story and her reaction came back with such warmth that the doubt fell away.

ngok

 

Next I had to produce a new image for the reissue of The Seal Children which will be published in hardback by Otter Barry Books in May 2016.

sealsx2Almost finished, not quite.

And over the weekend I need to work on a drawing of a running hare and some work toward a book with Robert MacFarlane, for which he has written a most wonderful proposal. Just waiting for my images now and then we take it out in the world to find a publisher with a wild heart.

And I need to reacquaint myself with a small white fox, whose story needs to be told, who I met in Seattle. For this is what happens when you go to Seattle. You meet a white fox, who has a story to tell. ( to be published by Barrington Stoke)

whitefox

 

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A Short Walk with Cats and Cows.

The day began bright blue then cloud dappled and now is dark with thoughts of rain, so a short walk to the top of the hill was all that would happen, then to work. The White Cat was waiting eager to walk again after yesterday’s ramble and Leopard decided that he would come too.

up fxgvs Along the way Leopard and The White Cat tumbled and fought and hid and ambushed.

cf stc walking2 A short turn, past the ponies and down to where the cows were waiting. And The White Cat found the cows very interesting.

wccows whitecatscows cows

campion Then home, past the campion and now the cows found the cats very interesting too.

cowNow, to work.

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Snake days. ( For Bonnie Ann)

Out early, while people are sleeping. Past Glyn’s house and into the green lane that leads to the high hill and there we found the White Cat waiting. Did he know we would walk this way?

there So together we walk as swallows skim the hedges and bees move in and out of foxgloves.

 

beef Spider silk stretches across the narrow path, and at the hill’s top there are small pools of spider silk catching the sunlight.

spiders The day is all corvids, with a small flock of seven choughs and later raven and crow. As we walk across the ridge a kestrel flies leisurely over our heads, terracotta against blue sky.

choughs The White Cat rested in a pool of shade.

rockcat Rosie found a rock, green with lichen.

rosies lichen The White Cat walked and in the distance St Davids was waking to a new, bright day.

whitecatwalking Across the top of the ridge heather was beginning to bloom. Soon the hill will change to a deep rich purple and the air will fill with the honeyed scent of low creeping honeysuckle and purple heathers.

heatherland Rosie and The White Cat talked for a while. Then The White Cat went to see Ivy.

rw catanddog3 On the horizon Grasholm glowed white with thousands of gannets. If you look up from Ivy’s back to the sea behind Ramsey Island you can just see it glowing.

today And we found more spider silk pools with tiny beads of glitter dew glimmering in the sunshine. Wild magic.

spidersilk The day was too beautiful. A short walk became longer. We walked through Maes y Mynydd, where one of the trees I have had the privilege to meet grows out of the side of the ruined house where Glyn’s ashes are scattered. We said hello, to the tree, to the ghosts, to the memories,  and walked on.

hawthorne Fox gloves lined the lane. I have walked here so many times with the ginger cats.

foxesgloves Then we walked on Maurice’s favourite pathway, made by badgers and wild foxes, at times so narrow it was only as wide as The White Cat.

wide chat Beside the sea we found a family of fresh fledged raven.

babyraven catdog2 Here, perhaps, the memory of walking with ginger cats was strongest.

absence And I think back to other walks, with other cats and smile.

wildmauriceonwallsignpost4And this is what I was doing in 2007, so little has changed.

twocd Back over the hill, The White Cat tired from a long walk, and me walking slower as I don’t want to paint, but need to finish something so I can work on the next piece.

whitec greenlightAnd in the green lane The White Cat becomes very excited and when I go to see what he is batting with his paws I find it is an adder, so I rescue the two of the from each other and wonder, how many adders have I walked past today in the speckled sunshine? Snake days. They are the best kind of beautiful days. Over the stones, beside the sea, walking where The White Cat walks.

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The long commute to work

Today on the long commute to work I enjoyed severe delays brought on by beauty.

Shadows made the lime kilns curiously sculptural.

kiln2 kiln

There was a shocking excess of blue.

cot prussian bluesea imp arch rsie clearw sheepsbit stonecrop bellbSometimes it takes a long time to make that journey to work, even though my studio is upstairs in my house.

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Not knowing what to say.

qofs

It has taken me a while to think what to say about Hay Festival.

It is always wonderful to be invited to Hay, and this year for the first time I was there with Graffeg, in the adult part of the festival. Although not in the program, as I was unsure because of work commitments as to whether Ffion would be with me, I was on stage with Ffi. We tell the story so much better together. And we went up a day early and on the way Ffi was flicking through the program and spotted that helen MacDonald was on. So we booked tickets and went to see both Helen and Robert MacFarlane.

Both were astonishing speakers. I’ve never heard anyone read so well from their book, and Helen spoke so movingly about her crazy wild madness of grief. And Robert announced to the world that he and I are beginning a book together. What a place to do this. His talk was astonishing, over too soon. There’s a magic in his words I love.

After hearing them both Ffi and I decided that we had best just go home really.

hayf warm

And we saw Cathy Cassidy who had been on stage singing the praises of the lovely Erin Keen, who is behind the art on Cathy’s latest books. My Erin, my best friend from school’s daughter. I’m not sure it was wise to say, “ah, Erin, I knew her when she was a foetus. Infact I introduced her mum to her dad.” But I did say that, yes, in the bookshop and the festival.

erins

cathyc Ffi had her eye on The Bloody Oyster.

bloodyoAnyway, having stayed with the wonderful Tamsin Abbott, sitting in the garden listening to owls hoot, watching flames dance in a firepit we both woke and decided we had best go home and I apologised to Ffion for dragging her into Hay Festival and we had breakfast and then tried to behave like grownups.

First I went to Booths to sign books. An amazing shop, soon I hope to have an exhibition there, maybe do an event, or just sit quietly painting in the shop.

At the festival we found friends, including Karin (Celestine and the Hare) and Matthew (Graffeg) who were busy discussing weasels in the green room.

kandm

 

And we did our event. To about 200 or so people. And I loved the way afterwards people came up to congratulate Ffi on what she had done with the falcon. So wonderful. So proud of her, again.

perched

11336961_857175204354885_3273084967877652856_o 1500927_857175234354882_1364449939328814675_oThen back home and back to reality. Work to catch up with. 3 more library cards to do.

goldf jayacorn

Going away has been hard of late. I have a 16 year old dog and had a 16 year old cat who was very ill.

Max. Beautiful Max, who I got as a kitten when I thought my husband was having an affair, because sometimes we do strange things in difficult circumstances. Max, who never really liked kittens apart from Pixie who he was a little in love with so much so that he caught her a rat who was bigger than her. Max, stripy tabby who kept himself to himself but if he chose to sit on you then you stayed where you were and stroked him and felt lucky. Max, camera shy, slightly aloof.

He had been so sick and gone from a big Easter egg shaped cat to skin and bone and wasted muscle. He couldn’t keep his food down, sometimes wouldn’t eat and still would be sick.

So, yesterday the sun shone and Max was sat in the garden and I called Kath and she came to the house and we sat together and talked and I held him while she checked him over and then we decided it was time, because to see him starve to death was too painful. And so I held him while Kath shaved his paw and gave him the injection that put him to sleep. And then I sat with him curled dead in my lap in the sunshine. And eventually I remembered where the spade was and dug a hole, and Tom helped me make it deeper and we put his body to rest in the earth. And some days are like this. Some days.

max12 11415452_10152982351206314_1417293005011183199_oSome days.

It is difficult to find words and best to lose yourself in paint, and the beauty of trees, and thought.

trees leaves kingfI never spend enough time drawing the cats who share my days, but I did remember one time, drawing Max.

velvetIndeed, Max did have ears like velvet. Dark.

 

 

 

 

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Library cards again

Home from Hay Festival and still reeling a little. So much work to do, many things that need to be done.

First finishing library cards. I have 3 more designs to do.

3 more birds.

Goldfinches. A small charm.

CGhCSsDUcAELi7x goldfinches

A jay, with an acorn.

ondesk jay

With luck the final one will be a kingfisher. I had asked Robert MacFarlane what he would like to see on a card, then while waiting for an answer had decided it must be a kingfisher. So relieved when this is what he asked for. One of the ‘lost words’, kingfisher. A creature so bright, so beautiful they seem not to be from this world. A creature people once believed made a floating nest in a sea and had powers to calm a storm.

Also working on roughs for other projects including a new cover design for The Seal Children, due out in hardback next May.

CGjo9ibW0AA4G6K

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