The Bivouac – Venison burger

This was our first meal at The Bivouac. We’d travelled up, on the Friday evening, after work, . Collecting Lucy from school en route.

It only took us an hour or two to get there, which was cool.

The Bivouac - Venison burger 1 smOnce we’d been shown wooden shack and unpacked, we trooped down to the on-site cafe, which was lovely.

Everything well-thought out and beautifully presented.

And I’m not just talking about our meal – the cafe was on two levels, with the lower one acting as a family room with a slew of things to entertain toddlers and above. Lucy particularly enjoyed the sticker books.

The Cooking School Cafe – Club Sandwich

Cooks school - club sandwich sm

The Cooking School at Dean Clough , in Halifax, is a wonderful place; it trains chefs in the cookery school and gives them practical experience in different roles within the attached cafe.

The cookery school is also a school for leisure cooks and offers a year long range of cooking courses on a wide range of themes.

It also runs junior cookery events too; which is where I’ve dropped Lucy off to.

This club sandwich was erred warm; although it cooled somewhat by the time I got to it! I’ll pop in again and have it warm, sometime.


The Sketchbook Project 2015

Sletchbook Project 2015 smI’m nothing if not persistent.

My little sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project 2015 arrived today.

And how delighted am I?

This year!

This year I going to finally complete the darned thing and be able to send it back so it can go on a darned tour!

You see, this is the fourth year in a row that I’ve received a Sketchbook Project sketchbook  and for three of those years the sketchbook has sat, unfulfilled.

Well, that’s not actually, entirely true …

The Sketchbook Project

This fascinating project is run out of the Brooklyn Art Library. Since 2006 thousands of artists from all over the world have joined in, submitting little sketchbooks for an annual world tour.

Little sketchbooks full of all manner of illustration, painting, collage and what not.

sketchbook projectAll apart from mine, which have sat on my bookshelf.

I came across this exciting project in 2011 and joined the upcoming 2012 Sketchbook Project.

I even wrote about it on this here blog – all excited-like.

My overly ambitious project was to sketch places in Yorkshire of significance to myself and write a little about them.

Ambitious because Yorkshire is one of the biggest counties in England. Okay, okay, I know it’s not like driving across Texas, or the Russian Steppes, but it can sometimes be tricky to fit county tours in with work and visiting relatives.

So I failed to complete my little book.

Sketchbook Project 2012 smI did get close to completing several of the pictures, but when it began to be obvious that I wouldn’t be able to complete them all in time for the deadline I kind of lost heart.

One of the things I noticed about the project was the sense of letting go.

Quite often our sketchbooks are very precious things. Now, I’m not so precious that people have to wear silk gloves when handling them, nor do they have to wash their hands before turning the page. but I do draw the line at licking the pages.

Anyway, I digress. A couple of years ago I bought Keri Smith’s wonderful book “Wreck this Journal”; which is all about ‘letting go’. Sketching and drawing and creating art … and then destroying and/or damaging it as you go along. Very counter-intuitive, but a wonderful, freeing lesson.

Sketchbook Project 2012 brighouse sm

Brighouse – which is a little market town close to where I live.

I think I’m in a much better position to work on and complete my Sketchbook Project book this time.

(Either that or I can epically fail once again!)



“Urban Watercolor Sketching” by Felix Scheinberger

This book is such a treat!

Urban Watercolor Sketching smAlex Scheinberger approaches sketching with such energy and vibrancy that it’s hard not to get carried along on a journey through rediscovering drawing and painting in an exhilarating and refreshing way.

Essentially the book is Alex’s take on various aspects of water colouring. While it doesn’t particular cover anything groundbreaking, the way Alex approaches the various ideas are exciting and fresh.

It is a delightful book, packed with all manner of dazzlingly coloured sketches.

The book is divided into sections which consist of about ten or so chapters


Intro – Looks at the basics of paint; what it is

First attempts – Covers various techniques with paints and inks

Excursion in colour theory – Looks at where colours come from and how the watercolorist can manipulate them in various ways

Your own style – How to find your own style

Basics/tools – Looks at the various tools needed to Urban Sketch

Out and about – How to Urban Sketch in different atmospheric and weather conditions

Tips and tricks – A whole slew of practical tips. from how to ‘Undo’ mistakes, to ‘How much is your picture worth?’, to ‘Working with colored paper’

Urban Watercolor Sketching 01 Urban Watercolor Sketching 02

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in sketching and painting from life.

154 pages

The Bivouac – Sticky Toffee Pudding

You know,when you see it on the menu, that it’s going to set your mouth watering even before the starters have finished being ordered.

You know that it is going to be the fulfilment  of your evening meal.


The Bivouac - Sticky toffee pudding smYou complete your main course, safe in the knowledge that there is nothing now between you and your own slice of eden.

You wait.

And you wait.

And then, in a flurry, it arrives.

For the briefest of moments you gaze it it, glistening on the plate before you. You glance up and see envy the eyes of the forgotten companions at the table. you have only one companion now.

And the then the warm scent of toffee envelopes you. Your tastebuds gasp.

With slightly trembling fingers you reach for the fork and, touching it against the soft sponge, press down.

The sponge gives slightly as the fork plunges down.

Hitting into the plate you push the soft sponge over to bathe in the cool cream, then nudging it into the warm and sticky pool of toffee sauce.

Then you edge it onto your fork.

It is time.

You have waited the whole meal for this.

All eyes at the table are devouring this delicate morsel as it is raised to your mouth. For this piece of deliciousness is for you alone.

You open your mouth and draw it in.

Your senses are exploded by the long-cherished sweet; the softness of the sponge, the sticky toffee sauce dribbling warmly down your throat, the counter notes of the cream.

And the flavours.

The flavours.

For those briefest of moments you are swept away and table, and companions are lost to as you give in to the dark mother.

A Fistful of Kebabs

A set of five kebab illustrations for a local take away menu.Chicken sm

Daal sm Mutton sm Paneer sm Seek sm

The Bivouac – Falafel Burger

The Bivouac - Falafel Burger smWe recently stayed at The Bivouac a fantastic retreat in North Yorkshire. We stayed in one of the 7-berth woodland shacks. No electricity and the only heat was from a wood-burning stove in our one-room shack.

Fantastic weekend.

Our first day we spent kicking back and relaxing – to the point where we even visited the on-site cafe for a splendid lunch.

I tried the vegetarian Falafel Burger with Red Pepper Marmalade


Red Pepper Marmalade


150ml 1 cup bell pepper, finely diced (no stem and seeds)

120ml /1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

120ml / 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried chili flakes


Place all the ingredients in a pan on medium/high heat.

Once it starts boiling, bring the heat down to low – stirring regularly.

Cook for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates and becomes a thick syrup.



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