Things to do with an A4 sketchbook

Holiday meals sm

At October half-term I was lucky enough to be able to get away on holiday for a week.

Rather than my usual foodie sketches of whole meals on a single page I instead decided to devote an A4 double spread to all my meals across the week.

The funniest of all the sketches to do, was the outgoing trip on the airline; trying to balance an open A4 book whilst I tried to eat and draw! Blimey!


Lost in amongst the hubbub of the food on show – was a welcome return visit to Sykaminia Cafe up in the old town of Paphos; it was pretty cool catching up with owner again, who remembered my visit from a couple of 05 - Sykaminia Cafe - Pork Kebab Pitta smyears ago. I had the Pork Kebab Pitta again – just as delicious as I remembered from my first visit. The old town has been hit pretty hard by the building of a spiffy-looking new shopping centre/mall; which many high-end shops have migrated to leaving the old town as pretty much of a ghost town, where it had once been a popular tourist shopping area for clothes and other trinkets.

Why bother travelling all the way up there when the shopping mall is closer, covered, air-conditioned and has all our favourite eating places?

I hope the cafe’s there the next time I get a chance to visit.

It amused that many of the people who spotted me drawing and chatted with me about it, seemed rather bemused/amused/mystified why I was doing it ‘just for my own amusement’. Well, either I’m crazy, or they are!

I enjoyed drawing my whole-week food diary – but I have to admit I didn’t half miss jotting my notes down next to my meals.



Betty’s Tea rooms II

Bettys A2 smI’ve posted this picture before. 

Well … sort of .

Hit the link above to see my original posting.

Any changes? Well, I’ve tinkered with the text a little. Just a bit here and there, just to tidy it up.

A bed and breakfast in York has requested a print of the sketch for one of there themed rooms, so I’ve polished the writing up a bit so it’s a bit more A2 print-worthy! Yes, you heard it here first … A2! Blimey! I’m used to seeing my little sketches in teeny tiny A5 sketchbooks.

Anyway, back to the story …

When I originally posted the sketch I can’t believe that I missed out the best bit!


As usual before I started sketching I took a quick photo – using my iPad for a change.

Sketched my Fat Rascal and cup of tea – then enjoyed them.

By which time Caroline had finished her meeting and had come to join me for a second round of refreshing tea.

and then we headed back to the car ….

Reaching for iPad … I found that was super hot and the battery was down to a low percentage.

Somehow it had been taking photos the whole time! From the point when my tea and cake arrived – through my sketching and relaxing, then sitting with Caroline chatting and the walk back to the car!


I had about 3500 photos to delete on the way home!

And all of the inside of my bag

Each of the following photographs had several hundred examples. And while I can appreciate their, quite outstanding photographic excellence, it was a bit tedious scrolling down through hundreds of them!

And deleting them too!

Now, I love my drawing bag as much as the next person but 3500 photos from the inside seemed a little extreme!




Season of Mists (and all that)

Baskets of fruit smI reckon that Autumn is my favourite season of the year; what with all the misty mornings and the ripening fruits and that little beginning of a nip in the air to herald Winter’s grip.

Now is the time of year when we can pick our own berries and fruits to turn our kitchens into little cottage jam-making facilities and take lazy walks along the canal-side, collecting blackberries along the way to cook blackberry crumble when we get home.


Why, oh, why, oh, why!

IMG_1559Rather than illustrate each days meals on a single page of a pocket moleskin, I opted this holiday to go for a larger A4 book – and illustrate my meals across the whole week across the double spread.

I thought it would make for an arresting double spread image.

What I hadn’t counted on was the difficulty of juggling food, paints and sketchbook whilst sat in a cramped airplane seat!

My Problem with Ice Cream

Ice-cream smI would love to be able to start this little post by saying, loud and proud, that I love ice-cream, but I’m afraid that it just isn’t the case.

I certainly don’t mind ice-cream, but I wouldn’t say that I always feel the need to have some when it is offered.

As such I don’t run the whole gamut of flavours when I choose to have an ice-cream, instead I tend to always plump for a favourite flavour: banana. This seems to be my current favourite.

Fruit Scone with jam and cream sm

Drawing Exhibit A

Isn’t actually ice cream, but a delicious Fruit Scone that I tried to enjoy at a Summer fair. But perfectly sums up my problem with ice cream.

A sunny Summer fair.

Now, bear in mind this was in the early days of my drawing my meals out (And yes, I realise that a fruit scone barely counts as a meal out, but they’re my drawings, so I guess it’s my rules as to what counts as a meal.)

As soon as I started to draw the cream was melting – obviously. Sometimes it amazes me how dreadfully thick I seem to be. Drawing cream in blazing sunshine! Although I suppose it must have acted as some kind of perverse count down – completing drawing before the cream and the scone was a puddle of scone-mush. It certainly gets the adrenaline pumping!

Ben and Jerrys smSo, instead I have to fill in the blanks;

1. Quick outline

2. Snap a few photos

3. Eat

4. Complete later

It’s the only way to capture the ice-cream in my hatching and sloppy-painting way that I can figure out to do.



Building my own burger again

We popped out for lunch just before we were to send Lucy off on a residential school trip to the Lake District.High Park Burger sm

High Park Burger B smThere seems to be a real trend towards Sweet Potato Fries at the moment. They’re everywhere. I guess it’s a sweeting-tasting alternative to the blander, regular fries.

They’re quite moorish already, but I wonder what they would be like with a sprinkling of paprika on them?






High Park Burger A smI had to go for my favourite Build-Your-Own-Burger option from the menu.

(I actually added in a Black Pudding too, but that didn’t really work out for me, so i took it out)

It’s been a while since I’ve used biro in my drawing as well as my regular uni-pin. It’s really useful for getting in the finer shades of grey into a sketch, but most definitely not to be used for anything work that’s going to be displayed in light; as the biro fades over time.



The Charms of Halloumi

Halloumi smThe mozzarella-like Halloumi cheese originates from Cyprus, but is now pretty much available all over the place. It is made with goat’s and sheep milk and has a high melting point so is perfect for grilling and frying and barbecue. It has a very slight salty flavour.

I’m still, however, looking for a good UK outlet of Lountza Ham. Again from Cyprus; pork loin is soaked in brine and then marinated in red wine. Then it is dried and smoked. Delicious!

Here I present a Halloumi Salad; with salad leaves, tomato, olives and grated parmesan.Halloumi Salad

Foraging Around

Whilst we were up in Skipton the other day I got to try an interesting salad dish and an equally interesting serving of it.

Forager salads smWell, actually it was three different ones.

At the Forage Cafe and Deli they offer a selection of home made salads which, if one picks from their Forager’s Board, you can select three (or more) different salads to try together.

I opted for a Beetroot, Goats Cheese, Walnut and Bean – this salad was bright and zingy

Greek-Style Pearl Barley with Feta and Tomato – nice combinations of textures and flavours (But then, they all did)


Wild Rice with Coconut, Carrot, Spring Onion and Almond – The coconut flavours were subtle and light.

They were all super-delicious, freshly made and bursting with flavours.

If only we could be assured of having interesting and flavoursome salads on more restaurants. In far too many eateries Salad means a small handful of wet lettuce leaves with some carrots julienne plonked on top. Uninteresting and unexciting.

More people would try and enjoy salad if they were as stimulating as the ones at Forage.


Something Fishy

Smoked haddock smFor my first (hearty) breakfast at Beck Hall, Malham, I had a full English breakfast and thought I’d branch off into other areas of the breakfast menu today.

One of the really cool things about staying over at hotels and guest houses – or bed and breakfasts is that someone prepare’s your breakfast for you, yes. That is so cool when the sleep is still getting rubbed from your eyes.


Even better when there are items listed on the breakfast menu that you wouldn’t dream of trying to tackle usually at home for breakfast.

So I’m treating myself to Smoked Haddock with a poached egg this morning.

I’m not sure how I stand on the whole ‘teaching fish to smoke’ issue. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware that it was a problem.

And I think I also feel rather uncomfortable about the egg, too. Couldn’t they have just bought one from a shop?

Buttering up

Kippers smFinal morning of our short visit to Malham and Settle up in the Yorkshire Dales.

I opt for an invigorating breakfast of grilled kipper.

It was served on a huge hunk of granary bread and I managed to snaffle a bit of Caroline’s scrambled egg to add to it.