The Eiffel Tower – It’s all getting a bit too meta!

A couple of years ago, whilst in Paris, I sketched the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel View 01 - sml

This was all done while Lucy and Caroline took a trip up the tower.

I first draw this, about halfway across the Parc du Champs de Mars (Just beside the road, if you must know)

I then wandered across the road and settled down beside a piece of shrubbery to draw another view of the tower.


Eiffel View 02 - smlNot realising that Lucy and Caroline, now having ascended the tower, were taking photographs of the view.

Including me, albeit inadvertently!



Can’t see me, yet?


P1000881cHere I am.

Sat slightly to the right of the cone-shaped shrub.


P1000881eSo, in fact, while Lucy and Caroline were photographing me, I was unknowingly sketching them on my tower sketch.



Chambers – Toasted currant teacake

Chambers toasted teacake smThere was once a time, not so long ago, when I couldn’t resist the comforting delights of the toasted teacake on any trip out.

Can I just add in there that the teacake had to be a currant teacake (and current teacake)

Is toast the ultimate comfort food?

I know it comforts me to think that Caroline ISN’T sticking a knife into the toaster !

Many tears ago I wandered downstairs to find Caroline trying to extricate something from the toaster with a knife! Whilst it was still plugged in !!

“STOP!” I shouted!

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!” I continued!


Did Caroline thank me for saving her life? Saving her from being electrocuted at the hands of … her own hands?


“Don’t you shout at me!” I received for saving my wife’s life! (okay, potentially saving her life. Well I would argue that there would be a significant risk in sticking a knife into a plugged-in toaster!)

Ah, well!

(I’m sure Grace Darling and Mary Seacole received similar congratulations in their ministrative work)

Anyway, as I said. I think toast is the greatest comfort food

Although I’m not entirely convinced that I’ve given a suitable example today of the calming and soothing effects of taste products.


Blackett’s of Bamburgh – Our evening meal

Blacketts - pork belly smOur final evening in Bamburgh.

I always adore the luxury of being on holiday when one can stroll down the road for a delicious meal at a local restaurant. Being able to walk down the road in the evening twilight and not worrying about parking the car or about missing a connecting train or bus.

Bamburgh is such a lovely Northumberland village. Castle, local history museum, shops selling local produce, village green. And not much else (Hey, I don’t want to make too much of it, or else, you’ll all want to come!) But, then, we love Northumberland as a county. It seems to tick all the boxes for what you expect of the English countryside; wide sandy beaches, little villages, quaint cafes, fabulous castles.

We’ve had a lovely few days here – so much fun breakfasting on local produce and wandering the castle walls.

My starter here was particularly tasty; Black pudding topped with mushroom and a dollop of goats cheese. Swimming in a sweet, rum sauce. Wow!

High Park burger – number 5

High Park 5 smAh me! Another day, another burger.

(You do realise that these burgers aren’t all eaten in quick succession, don’t you?)

The beef burger is my achilles heel, I suspect. As a food form I feel it’s got so much more to offer than we presently see. I think it’s still trapped in the stereotype of the fast-food franchise. Some restaurants are trying to change that, but it must be difficult to alter the public’ perception when it so deeply ingrained. The fast-food chain White Castle started in the early 1920’s!

There’s nearly a hundred years of this form of food being served in the this specific way. It’s really only in the last fifteen years, or so, that we’ve started to see a change in the on-street presentation of the beef burger.

I relish the idea of it evolving into something greater.

After all.

It is only a hot meat sandwich.

“Art Before Breakfast” by Danny Gregory

Art Before Breakfast smDanny Gregory’s new book has more in common with “The Creative Licence”, one of his first books about creative freedom.

It isn’t really divided up into chapters or sections. Instead each page, or double-spread, offers of suggested drawing subject, or idea, to get your inspiration flowing.

It starts with a handful of very loose drawing lessons. Well, short drawing activities, really. Danny isn’t concerned with teaching the technicalities of drawing. But he is concerned with illustrating to you how easy it is to draw. How easy it is to find something to draw.

The rest of the book is a series of short prompts and thoughts on different subjects; from water-soluble pens to drawing unsuspecting people,  drawing what you eat (Yey!) to drawing top tens.

Untitled-1Untitled-2The cover reveals that this book is for busy people and it certainly is written for those too busy to pore over a long-winded art manual. Danny’s short prompts are brief and succinct, but  still powerful. his message is clear; draw little and often. No matter what skill level you feel you are at. That doesn’t really matter. Starting that daily habit of drawing, even for just ten minutes a day, can have a profound, positive effect – can lead to a richer, more fulfilling life.

This book would be a welcome addition to anyone who draws or who is thinking about drawing, at any level of proficiency. It is always welcome to be guided by skilled practitioners and to have so many bite-sized guides accompanied by Danny’s illustrations (demonstrating his economy of line and bravura colours) is a handy, pocket-sized guide.

159 pages

A Glazed Raspberry Doughnut

Glazed raspberry smI’ve been thinking lately of trying to make something more commercial with my illustration work. Something saleable, something Etsy-able.

Some people advocate the do-it-yourself approach; it is, after all, perfectly possible to set up a Paypal button on this blog and sell things directly through this space.

But sites like Etsy offer, just like a real marketplace, a passing trade. Or at least customers who are making a search.

The problems I come up against are;

What to sell, what to sell and what to sell

What to sell

I’m leaning towards gift cards and notebooks, I think.

I particularly enjoy drawing food and drink, so it seems an obvious choice to focus on those areas for card designs, certainly initially. I’ve had a couple of friends make suggestions about subjects that they would like illustrated in my style. And a couple of friends have suggested that I illustrate recipes for people, which is an interesting idea.

It would be lovely to have the time and space to experiment.

Time – Hey, I’m just trying to make way in the world. I’ve got bills too y’know. And if it means I have to spend some time in my other life, making a few pounds here and there, then so be it. But, it sure would be nice to devote time to sales.

Space – My studio isn’t really that big (in fact some might describe it as a little office in the loft-space of a semi-detached house on the outskirts of a fairly large Northern town in Yorkshire … because it is!)

In his book “Steal Like an Artist”, Austin Kleon writes about being creative with limitations, using those limitations to your advantage. In the equally good book by Hugh Macleod, “Ignore Everybody”, Hugh reminds us that [No.23] nobody else cares about your passions, so you have to be the one to drive it forward. But reminds us [No.13] that the difficulties in creating will all be worth it in the end.

Hence the glazed, raspberry doughnut illustration. Is this the way I should go with cards and notebooks for merchandise?

I actually quite like the half-eaten-ness of the doughnut – it sure looks tempting.

(Pssst … in reality, the reason this doughnut was half-eaten was that nobody at the party actually liked it! It looks like a couple of bites have been taken out of it, when in fact, it was lots of little bites. Nobody like the sickly, raspberry frosting! My illustration is what was left, after everyone had had enough of it!)

Do-It-Yourself Tomato Ketchup / Catsup

Why make your own ketchup, when you can buy it everywhere?

Because this recipe is sugar free!

Now, don’t go thinking that it loses any flavour because of that. This sugar-free ketchup is just as delicious as the regular sugar-full versions that we buy in the shops. But you can eat this safe in the knowledge that your not taking on board too much sugar.

I have to admit, I’m not a great ketchup fan! But, I do love mixing up different sauces; which ketchup is very useful to use as a base to add other ingredients to.Ketchup Recipe sm


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