Wednesday, 30 June 2010

An unexpected friend

Suddenly, at the front of the house rose the most enormous, most gorgeous and splendid poppy I had ever seen. Its virulent vermillion hue looked as if it had been painted with black india ink using a soft, wide watercolour brush. I can't wait to paint these little numbers, and how brilliant would they look blown up huge and cropped and hung on the wall.

So much inspiration from one, albeit perfect plant.

Time to grill some stuff...

A few weeks ago and a warm Sunday evening was the perfect setting for an impromptu BBQ using our little portable number. Nick perfected his BBQ-ed garlic pitta breads and we scoffed delicious char-grilled salmon and new potatoes from the garden with gorgeous green coriander.

Lovely Lilac

All the blossom seemed to come at once this year but I always manage to forget about the late-comers - the heady, scented lilac with small buds so vibrant and tactile up close they look almost plasticy.

And the Horse Chestnut whose blooms this year seemed to tower up higher than ever especially in contrast with the dark lushness of the leaves and the bright blue of the sky.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

It's divine to come home after a long weekend away; I let myself in the side gate and smelled the sweetness of the overhanging branc hof blossom, simlutaneously a ? begins its shrill, melodious call which sings out into the evening air. Yes, the question mark. By now I should know what it is that I have heard - but I don't. Ah, but now I hear a blackbird's warning call in the bushes, that strange evocative chuckle. I have finally identified the mystery caller of the evening 'neep'; again, the blackbird. He is without doubt now my favourite bird; so simple in design with his fluid form and bright beak. His 3 calls are all wonderful; the fluting song, neither an encore nor a melody, his trademark chuckle and now the evening 'neep' - his alarm call, apparently.

A few weeks ago around May Bank Holiday time I was up at 4am to go on a bird call walk in Pensthorpe in Norfolk. I dont know that I can identify as many as I would like but I did get a chiff chaff, robin, wren and blackbird right, and the wonderful wooden-piped coo of a cuckoo skirting sleeky overhead was a dead giveaway. Amongst all the wetland it was unsurprising to hear alot of reed and willow warblers with their strange buzz and whistle. Probably not something Iwould hear down here in Surrey.

One of my favourite calls is the cack cack of a jackdaw, but those, heard in great throngs remind me of Yorkshire more than anything else where they used to swirl en masse around the great oak tree.

This evening the garden was lush and green after the weekend rain and smelt characteristically fresh, especially when mixed with the ongoing sweet smells of spring. Entering, the kitchen was cosy and clean as ever and the living room smelled of warmed wood and old, beloved textiles, ancient glass windows and drying papers and petals.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The sweet smell of Spring

First come the snowdrops, then the pretty primroses, the carpet of crocii and then bright, jolly Daffs; everywhere the trees are now luminous with the young green of Spring or weighed down with fluffy pink or white blossom against the perfect clear blue sky untainted by vapour trials or glimmering aircraft. Thursday morning and the sky was so quiet the clouds themselves could almost be heard to move and for once I really observed the quiet all-encompassing movement of these giant masses in the sky, swirling in their natural dance through the air, blown by the winds and the high pressure.

Here are some more shots from around the garden as it suddenly bursts into life after the long, cold Winter.

And this year the blossom is spectacular. I read a piece about Blackthorn in The Independent and since then have been spying it's wonderful spindly branches with their look of hoarfrost everywhere. And the cherry blossoms bursting their blooms out on the trees by roadsides in the village and in practically every road and street I look. I feel like Spring has never looked this good.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Holly's Houses Custom Made House stamps

A bit of self PR here I'm afraid.

For the past few months I have been working on my new project Holly's Houses - my house portrait and illustration service.
I hit on the idea a while back of making my drawing of my house into a rubber stamp (I'll feature this in a day or so).
I was so pleased with the result I thought I'd see if other people would be interested so I started making some of my drawings into custom made rubber stamps.
I'm very happy to say that people seem to really like it - I was also over the moon when the fabulous design blog design*sponge decided to feature them as one of their news stories. Here's a couple of pics - and a pic of the view from my studio (er..bedroom) whilst taking the pics - very postmodern!

Thanks to all my lovely customers so far.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Bird Stamps

This stamp is made from a drawing I did of a little bird like the ones I often see from the windows of the house hopping about on the plantpots and walls around the garden.

I used it on my Christmas and New Year cards, each one utterly unique, coloured in watercolour.

They looked very apt in festive colours; gold and claret coloured wings, ivy-green undersides and a bright red flick for the tail.