Sketches from Cerne Abbas Open Gardens 2015

An iris (left); lavender (right); and some other flower-type thing (centre).

On Sunday I visited the little village of Cerne Abbas, in Dorset, for their annual Open Gardens weekend. Every year, the more horticulturally-minded of the village’s residents (who are probably in the majority) open their gardens to the public; and if I can, I go along and take my sketchbook. This year, I decided to try my hand at adding some watercolour to the mix.

Lupin; leaves with flowers; flower with leaves. There are gardens filled with fragrant roses in every shade you can think of; beautifully manicured lawns; tangly moss-covered fruit trees; and some interesting improvised water features.

A flower arrangement in the church hall. And a pink flower what I do not know what it is called.

There is also tea and cake, served in the village church, to revive you after the tiring work of looking at pretty flowers.

Rose that looks like it was spattered with paint. It wasn't my fault. The image above, on the far left, is a rose that looks like it has been spattered with bright pink paint. Of course I had to draw it. Even though the resulting sketch slightly resembles the kind of tissue you might have on hand during a mild nosebleed.

Captain Sid


This was a Christmas gift for my sister: a painting of the late Sid the cat, in his favourite jacket with the nifty shoulder pads. Inspired by portraits like these ones; and also by this portrait of (strangely enough) Bill Murray – painted by Steve Payne, after George Dawe – for which I used the non-Bill Murray parts as jacket-reference.

There’s a lot that could be improved in this, if I had more time; but fortunately the frame is quite forgiving.


Books Illustrated: Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie


I have always loved mysteries but it took me a while to start reading Agatha Christie novels. This one is probably not one of her best – and in fact I suspect that I haven’t read her best books, since the Bournemouth library system seems primarily to hold her less popular and later titles.

The book is set in the late 1960s, and features Hercule Poirot and the mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver (who Christie wrote as a parody of herself and her writing); as well as a couple of minor characters who are described as wearing colourful velvet bell-bottoms, and who were judiciously written out of the recent television adaptation. The title, and the slight supernatural aura of the plot, is of course what drew me to purchase my copy – that, and the lovely orange pumpkin on the cover. It is one of the Harper Collins editions which all seem to be excitingly designed, thus to lure the innocent book shop browser to buy an entire colourful set.

I’m intrigued by the foreign language alternative titles of this book, as listed on the Wikipedia page – such as ‘Kurpitsajuhla’ (Finnish, meaning ‘The Pumpkin Party’); ‘Schneewittchen Party’ (German, ‘Snow White Party’); and ‘Festen for de døde’ (Danish – Wikipedia has this as meaning ‘The Eve of All Saint’s Party’ but to me it looks like the literal translation is ‘feast for the dead’ or similar; doubtless they are the same thing). I feel like these could be the inspiration for entirely new books; they conjure up completely different images in my head. Perhaps I’ll use them in a future project.