A Cup of Tea and a Biscuit

cup of tea and a biscuit smSat having a nice cup of tea and a biscuit in the late afternoon (or is it early evening, already?) sunshine in the garden.

Above the distant thrum of the motorway, way off in the distance, i can hear the trill of birds marking their territory.

There’s something relaxing and fundamentally essential about cups of tea and biscuits.

I don’t think a mug of tea with a cookie would have quite the same cache about it.

On the Cover of a Magazine

This month’s Camping and Caravanning Club Magazine boasts my illustrations splashed across the cover.

Well, actually, not just splashed across the cover, but the magazine title too. I guess it seems quite fitting when the magazine is a Food Special

Some of these illustrations are from the inside of the magazine – this month’s Eat Local article is about cafes.

But most of them were commissioned for cover. All cakes and tarts and puddings and a barbecue.

Completed cover sm

50 Shades of Grape



Finally, I ‘ve unleashed my ’50 Shades of Grape’ card on the world.

Check it out at my Etsy site. (Or click on the Shop on the right)

50 grapes in … yes, yes, I know there aren’t exactly fifty shades … but it was too funny a gag to let go of!

50 grapes in various (!) shades.

Perfect for the wine connoisseur, or the wino, in your life.

Ooh, and, coming soon! ’50 Shades of Grape’ the tea towel – perfect for rubbing down and soaking up those spills.

Going to work on an egg

egg smThis is probably the closest I’ll ever get to joining the army – dunking toasty soldiers into my boiled egg.

Nearly every morning I start my day with some kind of egg-based breakfast. My favourite being fried, should you ask.



“Pitch Up, Eat Local” by Ali Ray

IMG_7590 copyWell, May the 1st is finally here!

And with it a book is now available to buy. A book with my drawings in it!

How cool is that!

Now, before you all rush out to buy yourselves a copy – you need to know that it’s a fairy hefty book at 380pages and my drawings are quite wee, little things. Well, in the book they are! I drew at about A5 size.

Basically it’s a gazetteer of England, Scotland and Wales. A gazetteer of the best bits of local produce. So there are sections on Cornish Clotted Cream and the Rhubarb triangle in Yorkshire.

It is divided up into 50 regions of the country

Then, each section focusses on a specific regional food

Local farm shops

and then a recipe or two.

All the recipes can be prepared on a BBQ, or on a portable gas stove.

IMG_7591 IMG_7593 IMG_7594It’s been a real roller-coaster of an experience, from my point of view, too.

From initial phone calls last summer, to meeting up with the lovely people at The AA, to receiving a list of fifty things to draw and then powering through them.

Fab, fab, fab.

If you have a major cookery book in the pipeline and you’d like a friendly illustrator to work on adding a little quirk to the drawings … erm … here I am.

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.

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