stories and illustration

The Moonwuzo Painting

The Moonwuzo

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Art, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Shadow of the Geranium


shadow of the geranium 2

“Shadow of the Geranium” feels like the title of a South American magical realist novel. Maybe I should have it as the title of a book I mean to write some time with Brighton in the 60s as its setting, though I am not quite sure how I will weave in the geranium. The scent of the leaves reminds me of the terrace outside my Granny’s house in Chailey, Sussex. These geraniums are in the window-boxes outside out kitchen window, and sometimes the afternoon sun strikes the net curtains in a particular way.

shadow of the geranium



August 24, 2016 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Evening Primrose


These flowers grew in an untended corner of the vegetable garden in my Grandmother’s house in Steeple Aston, a patch which backed on to Iris Murdoch’s garden, where everyone else trespassed except me, who went another route and was the only one who was caught and told off.  We used to make jumps down the path between the vegetables and pretend to be show-jumpers.  I had long lists of horses’ names in a notebook. Another world, another time.  I have always liked these plants, but have seen them rarely growing wild, so enjoy them each year when they flower, high up above the Tweed, a few hundred yards from the border between Scotland and England, which for the next six days at least will be part of the same Kingdom.

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Running Hare: All That Was


A hare painting for an exhibition entitled “Running With The Hare” at Harestanes Country Visitor Centre, painted two months ago but just finished now as it needs to be sent off to be framed. The mixed exhibition will be on from April 1st until May 26th, and will include painting, prints, sculpture, drawings, photography, 17th Dutch and new tiles, and textiles.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Poem from “Old Merlaine”

Fish King's Daughter

This is a poem from a book of poems that were published by William Heinemann many years ago.  This has been a grey, wet, light-starved day, so I thought a watery poem and a black and white illustration would be appropriate, while I search through the somewhat bleak, rain- spotted photographs I took today, looking for some colour in the almost monochrome landscape of the Scottish Borders.

October 16, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk by the Tweed: Berries, Birds, Broken Boxes


The gulls have flocked inland, and are standing where Tweed water is shallow. There are no boats on the river round here, so I am the only person disturbing the birds. I like their white wings against the dark maroon of the ploughed earth, where the phacelia grew in high summer. There are boats left tied up here and there all along the river, and I photograph one of them, with its eddy of scum. I try and photograph little boats, as they often come into my illustrations (it was once remarked that the spindly oars I had drawn wouldn’t get anyone anywhere fast):


The barley has all gone, but the stubble is still left in this field, beside the grass alongside the river which is thick and wet this afternoon, with red clover sprung up since I last walked this way:


Swans as well as gulls stand in the shallows:


But one swan is swimming near the edge of the opposite bank with its brood:

swans and brood

As I turn up the lane towards the little wood that leads back into Coldstream, I see the blackberries in a transitional state, and the elderberries ripening:



And then come across something more unexpected, standing amidst the cleared clods of earth at the edge of the field:


Some rage here, perhaps. When in Sunderland my friend Fred told me of a friend of his who, seeing Mrs Thatch once more upon the screen, picked up the television and hurled it through the window: the house was rented, the television was rented, maybe not such a good idea.  My father told my youngest brother, one sunny day: “If you go on sitting there all day watching the television, I’ll pick it up and throw it out of the window.”  My brother: “Go on then.” So the television got hurled out of the upstairs window. However… the next day the Test Match was starting, which my father had not taken into account, so we had to trail into Carlisle and buy a new television, which actually worked much better than the old one. All the same, television reception wasn’t that good in the Liddel Valley, I can remember that at one time we would take turns to stand with the aerial held out of the window to stop the picture going jagged.

Coming back through the wood, I see the rowan berries, a fine crop this year, which is reputed to mean a cold winter:


Coming out through the wood, I see theseat with its shreds of green, where I have never seen anyone sitting.


It’s still a dim day, there is no-one around.  On the way back  I saw howdy to the horse, in the field  once in habited by the two shetland ponies.  The horse no longer has his hood on, as most of the flies have gone too.  The horse  has a melancholy expression.  It always comes up to the fence, then after a moment or so ambles off again. It does not strike me as particularly joyous:


Its purple horse-blanket is torn. It would be happier with a donkey, maybe, to keep it company:


I loved horses when I was young, I went from ballerinas to horses, and since I drew a lot even then, I was found drawing ballerinas with horses legs.  Not surrealist, just absent-minded. I can’t imagine any worlds I would fit in less: The World of Ballet, The World of Horses. But I still think horses are the most beautiful things, even if when I tried to sit upon them I spent most of my life sliding sideways or even down the neck on one occasion when the horse started to graze. I was a bit hopless. We went to Madame Tussauds and I threw a fit because we weren’t allowed to go into the Chamber of Horrors – the reason I threw a fit was because I thought it said Chamber of Horses.

I come back down past the cat in the window, who was in an earlier post, but instead is going to finish this one instead:

This Cat is Not for Sale

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments



When my son was young, more than twenty years ago, I remember passing a heap of dusty earth outside a farm gate and seeing a bunch of poppies growing there, and thinking that was some sight, as poppies had almost completely disappeared from the fields of the North. A week or so ago, my husband, who walks about six miles a day,  told me that on his walk he had come across a field full of poppies which had been left to grow amongst the rape, and that maybe it was something I would like to see.  So on a hot day last week I went out on a longer trek to search out this field.  I walked out into this field through the first gate, and waded into the grass beneath an enormous, humming pylon, and started to photograph the poppies there:




Then I heard, above the noise of the pylon and the hum of the summer’s day, my voice being called, and saw across the field my husband, in his straw hat and mauve walking jacket, who in the course of his normal walk had caught sight of my head above the rape and poppies and grass.  He told me that if we went on down the lane and round the corner there was a good view of the poppies as they stretched away towards the horizon of the field.  I followed his advice, and when I got to the spot, leant across the fence and photographed the poppies from there:



Then I walked on furthedown the road which leads to Lennel, and thence to Coldstream, still following the poppies, until I got to a gate right at the edge, which I could get over.  There I took some pictures of the poppies close-up, including them waving against the sky, and being blown almost inside-out by the wind:



Since looking at the poppies, I have been painting a boat in a bright poppy colour.  Maybe after I have finished the paintings for an exhibition coming up shortly, I might might paint some poppies.  Although I may not, because I would not  capture their life, their silkiness, their delicacy.  Maybe they will find their way into the illustrations for “The Midnight Hare”, not all of which takes place at midnight.  Whatever comes of my experience of the poppyfield, I went home feeling good.

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poppies 1


July 8, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Field in the Wind


Along a field beside River Tweed the wind was ruffling the young wheat, blowing it across as if it was an acre of silk.  I took some close-up pictures of the wheat, they were very green, the greenest pictures I have ever taken, dark green between the stalks, then pale ears and the green sprays, and the surface of the field very pale. Green is a colour I have difficulty with in painting, I hardly use it except that deep fir green, or a very dark viridian with blue and maybe sienna added to it, to muddy it up. There was something about the wind moving across the wheatfield that harked back to an earlier time.  Maybe it was the memory of the field of corn that we had opposite the house where we lived near Ardingly in Sussex, when I was a child.  I must be haunted by this field, as I sometimes find I have put it in paintings (and then gold-brown, not green); though it has now become intertwined with images of the fields above Oxenrig, those places of hawk and hare, where I like best to walk.  In that field of long ago, I remember harvesters putting the crop into stooks, in the late summer evening. The field is still there, I Google-earthed it, and the lane beside it, and the farm in the dip at the end of the lane, with its pond – though if I went back, perhaps it would be completely changed, even if from far up it looks the same.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Little Path of Flowers


I was told that at the top of the path that runs from Lennel up to the little cemetary there was an abundance of wild flowers, and since I am on the trail of this abundance this year especially, I took the  walk through the lower wood, across the steep lane, then into the far wood, where in the spring the rooks have their nest in the trees by the river, and make the most stupendous noise.  Today there are only a few desultory caw-caws. The path winds upward quite steeply and comes out beyond the trees, there is a clear spot where you can look down on to the Tweed, and there is the trail of the small path almost vanishing beneath the flowers (I dont think many people can walk this way):




I don’t know how long this lusciousness of wild flowers will last.  I have noticed that at this time of year the paths are strimmed, so that whilst there is a lining of plants, this lush delicate growth is cut back to the margins.  Of course, if the land was left untended, then nettles and docks and sorrel would take over, as has taken place just beyond the river on the other side of Coldstream Bridge, in Another Country.

I have been trying this year to capture these fleeting moments while I can.  I have also taken pictures of individual plants, so that later in the year I can go through my photographs and recognise the individual species, so as to try and emulate, over a couple of years, the more than 150 different species I had written down as having seen when I must have been about ten years old.  I can’t remember going out looking at flowers at all: if it wasn’t for a list at the back of a book I would hardly, consciously, recall this search at all, though I know it was my grandfather who took me out on Chailey Common in Sussex when I was very young, looking all round, and especially keeping an eye open for autumn gentians, that used to grow there – maybe still do.

I stopped by this bench, with its touching inscription:



And looked down over the Tweed, and the fields beyond, with the young wheat growing:


If I sit on the bench where Esme loved to sit I would have problems seeing the water, as the foliage is so dense.  But it would be a lovely spot to sit anyway.  I continue up the path, looking at the flowers on the way:




Until I come to the cemetary at the top of the path:



It is very peaceful up here. Some of the gravestones are too sad to photograph, so I took a picture of one celebrating the life of a couple who seemed to have had long lives, for their time, and a handsome gravestone to commemorate it, deep within the long grass:


And on the way back down the high road, to end on a cheerful note, I see this rose in the hedgerow, starting to fade at the edges here and there, as roses do, but a splash of lovely colour amid the green:


June 26, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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