Sunday 22 December 2013

Sing with the Lifeboat Crew!

Carol service, 3pm today at West Mersea Lifeboat Station. Come and sing with the lifeboat crew! All are welcome (and there will be mulled wine and minced pies afterwards).

Thursday 12 December 2013

Goodness Me, it's a Giveaway!

I am having a celebratory Christmassy Giveaway over on my Facebook page.  A pile of Leafy illustrated cards and goodies are up for grabs.

You can join in too. Hop over to Facebook and leave a word or two in my Facebook comments box (here) to be entered into a draw.  A winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday.  Good Luck!

If you are not on Facebook, I think you can still go there and look at my page, but you may not be able to comment without signing up and 'liking' my page.  I'm not sure, but do have a try.

I am afraid I cannot include any folk who comment here (on my blog) in the giveaway. Sorry :(

*little postscripty footnote
We've been having a fairly soggy time lately, what with North Sea storm surges and a spate of floody high tides. I hope to post some piccies up here soon.

15th December 2013
***The Winner of my Facebook Giveaway is Marieke Hooker***
Congratulations Marieke!

Saturday 16 November 2013

Lots of Lovely Things

Prepping like crazy for Christmas shows...

I hardly dare mention the C word before December but organised folk might want to know I now have Christmas Cards for sale in my website shop.

All website purchases will help towards a festive donation to the wonderful RNLI.  (10% of the profits from Christmas card sales)

I am badly behind in keeping you updated, so here are some dates:

Right Now;
There is a fabby pop-up gallery/shop open in Maldon (where the salt comes from) featuring my stuff and other nauticalia alongside Den Phillips' black and white photos of the East Coast and classic yacht scene.  Do go along if you are anywhere near;  Maldon is a sweet market town, home to a fleet of Thames sailing barges and the infamous Maldon Mud Race (piccies here and here).  The Salty Dogs shop is a veritable feast of all things boaty and arty.

Salty Dogs 2013 venue is:
11 Market Hill, (top left facing down Market Hill), Maldon, Essex. CM9 4PZ
Shop opens today and runs until Tues Dec 31st.
Open Mon-Sat 10.00am to 5.00pm.
(also open on Sundays in December 10am to 4pm).

Next Weekend;
I will be manning (womaning?) my stall at our local NSPCC Christmas Fair.
"Mersea's answer to the Country Living Fair", this fair is always a smorgasbord of gifty goodness,  come along and say hi if you are hereabouts.
Sat 23rd November 2013, 10am-2pm at Mersea Island School. CO5 8QX.

Also Mersea Island Museum are holding their annual art exhibition (from Friday 22nd - Sun 24th November). You might find more than a stuffed owl and a Roman coin...

Wednesday 30 October 2013

My Stuff (and me).

I ventured off the island today.

I went north, to Suffolk,  where the birds sang and the sky was blue
(everyone knows Suffolk is posher than Essex).

There is a lovely little boatyard on a pretty little river where Claudia Myatt (of RYA Go Sailing! fame) tinkers away.

She's having a bit of a do this weekend to which she has invited my stuff (and me), so if you want to see something Leafish alongside something Claudiaish alongside the pretty Deben, hop along to Waldringfield Boatyard where it's all happening.

Here is a little look into Claudia's world via Youtube, where she talks about her sailing books for children.

Monday 30 September 2013

Two Weekends that Were.

OPEN STUDIOS 2013.  Thankyou everyone for coming.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Open Studios

I am having a bit of a busy time right now getting ready for Open Studios 2013.

Liz Morris, Vinny Stapley and I make up the Mersea contingent of the Colchester and Tendring Open Studios art trail this year.  

We will be opening our doors to visitors on the last two weekends in September.   Crikey! - That's only three days away!

We are all a stone's throw from one another, it's easy to walk from studio to studio, so if you are in or near Mersea and fancy an arty day out by the seaside do pop by and say hello.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Scandalise the Main!

Oyster dredging in the river today.

Monday 19 August 2013

A Tricky Task

It's Mersea Week and I have been given the high honour of judging the regatta children's art competition.  There are so many fabulous entries, choosing a winner is nigh on impossible.  It's a very tricky task indeed.

I am not normally known for my Liberal ways, but I have had to come up with a handful of 'highly commended's to ease my guilt for the equally brilliant children to whom I haven't awarded the winning trophy.

Prizes will be presented on Regatta Saturday at the official prizegiving, 7.30pm outside the Old Lifeboat Station (or in Peter Clarke's shed if it's raining).

For a closer look, all the paintings and drawings will be on display on Regatta Saturday in the Victory marquee, Coast Road (marked by a pint of beer on my map).

Friday 16 August 2013


We have a local heroine (from the 1800's) we all adore, called Mehalah.  Nicknamed Glory, she was strong and beautiful and lived a rugged life amongst smugglers and fishermen on the saltmarshes around Mersea.

She's a fictional character (in a book of the same name) but none-the-less real in our hearts.

If you haven't heard of Mehalah you might have heard of the hymn, Onward, Christian Soldiers.  Both were written by Sabine Baring-Gould who was rector of East Mersea church between 1871 and 1881.

I don't think Baring-Gould much liked his time in Mersea but despite his dislike, I want to add a quote from Mehalah to the bottom of the Coast Road map.  There is a gaping hole to the left of the logos that is crying out to be filled with some good words, and the Reverend Baring-Gould was very good at good words.

He wrote,
'Between the mouths of the Blackwater and the Colne, on the east coast of Essex, lies an extensively marshy tract veined and freckled in every part with water.  It is a wide waste of debatable ground contested by sea and land,  subject to incessant incursions from the former, but stubbornly maintained by the latter.'

He goes on to say,
'A more desolate region can scarce be conceived, and yet it is not without beauty.'

It is still that same flat marshy tidal estuary.  Think Dickens and the wild lands of Great Expectations.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Coast Road, Mersea Island

Here we go, at long last, my coastal map for the Council,  the beginnings of which I wrote about here.

The current plan is for it to be put on a board at the end of St Peter's Road.  I love our creeks and islands, we are riddled with them, lucky us.

*little footnote...  
Watch that space at the bottom... I am hoping I am going to be allowed to put a magical bit of saltmarshy writing in there, more of which later!

Saturday 20 July 2013

The Illustrated Islanders

Alan's lovely mum Jane commissioned a picture for the boys.  I first mentioned them here  (and at risk of boring you all rigid I carried on mentioning them herehere and here).

Here I go again...
Some pictures step by step, followed by the picture.

1.The ocean-going rowing boat  (in Josh's garden not on the ocean,  and that's my Dad in the pink shirt).

2. Sketchbook scribbles.

3. Final sketch.

4. Tracing on the lightbox.

5. Colouring in!

6. More colouring in.

7. Et voila  -tis a patchwork quilt of a picture methinks!

A limited number are being printed (still in discussion exactly how many) if you'd like one send us a message (either to me or to the boys) and we'll see what we can do.

Friday 28 June 2013

Oh my word, they did it!

The Islanders (two Mersea-ites, a Guernseyer and an Irishman) are back. If you are wondering what they're back from, read on or have a look here, and yes, I know Guernseyer isn't a real word but you know what I mean.

THREE ENORMOUS CHEERS FOR THEM; they have broken the world record for rowing unaided and nonstop around the coast of Britain in the fastest time yet. 

Living on freeze dried food and barely any sleep they battled terrible weather, treacherous tides, deadly shipping lanes and military firing ranges to round Britain in just 26 days, 9 hours and 9 minutes. Tower Bridge to Tower Bridge, clockwise. 

Here they are, exhausted, elated, and with tears in their eyes,  just after their finish yesterday afternoon.
photo by GB Row 2013

photo by GB Row 2013

For a closer look at their happy faces click on the BBC news article here.

Keep thinking keep strong thoughts for Savoir Faire, the two man team still in the race and currently facing horrible headwinds as they battle their way down the east coast. See them on the tracker here.
picture from the log of Savoir Faire

If you fancy rowing round Britain in two years time, come on and contact race director Chris Usborne!

Monday 10 June 2013

New Work

Some things are never as straightforward as I first imagine.

Last week I planned to finish off three boatdog pictures, pop them in my shop and Bob's your uncle!  Easy peasy.

The thing is, despite much drawing and re-drawing I still only have one boatdog picture which I am happy with.  Here is that one illustration.

Two more are almost okay but not quite (grrr) which is annoying because I want to send them all to the printers together (now) but I must also get back to the Council boards which are grinding on.  It's high time they were over and done with.  It's high time it was all over and done with.  It's high time I hurried up!

My salty seagirl spent her weekend out on the ocean battling with high winds and huge waves.  She was very brave but her poor boat didn't like the gusts one bit and with a creak and a crack has started to split.  This means I've been glueing (instead of working).

It's only 12 degrees C and I am plagued with the perennial worry that my epoxy may not go off.   I might have to get the hairdryer out.

little footnote on the GB Row.
After 36 hours rest off the Cornish coast (Gavin had hurt his back and the weather was against them) the Islanders are now back on form and powering up the Irish Sea.  If you look at their track (the white boat) you can see the loop-the-loops where they stopped for a while.

Thursday 6 June 2013

On Wednesdays we wear Waders

Waiting for the next fleet to come in...
photo by Rusty Marshall

but they're following the Pied Piper over the edge of the world...

This lot remind me of the squirrels sailing across the lake in Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin.

"They made little rafts out of twigs, and they paddled away over the water to Owl Island to gather nuts.
Each squirrel had a little sack and a large oar, and spread out his tail for a sail."
illustration by Beatrix Potter

Monday 3 June 2013

The Islanders

I've been having a bit of a bumbly time lately,  it's been halfterm.  Here's the garden- this bit's looking fab (don't look round the corner).

Here's some spar rubbing down -I'm onto the next coat now.

But most importantly I have been (and am) glued to the Yellowbrick Tracker.  Have a look (click here), it's live!  The GB row started three days ago.  Two boys from down the road have entered with a couple of their chums from college.  Check out The Islanders,  they're fighting to beat the world record and have been in the lead from the start but have Hallin Marine hot on their heels who are keeping up a cracking pace.

Hailed as the world's toughest rowing race, battling brutal weather, treacherous tides and deadly shipping lanes the crews must row over 2000 miles around Britain totally unaided - no tying up alongside a nice pontoon somewhere, and no coming ashore.  They have to carry everything they need with them.

I know they are superhuman (Alan and Josh swam around Mersea last summer, 22km just for fun) but I am still a little bit worried about how they are going to cope with endless rowing and next-to-no sleep.  I had a lovely chat with Alan's mum, shopping for buckets before they left.  She said they were planning three hours rowing followed by three hours sleeping and eating then back to rowing and on and on for as long as it takes... probably a month (sounds fairly deathly to me, and not totally unlike having a new baby). *

They are doing so well.... from Tower Bridge in London to just off the Isle of Wight in two and a half days.  Read about them here, Wish them luck and spur them on here,  help the Evelina Children's Hospital here....  Follow them on the tracker here...
Go boys!

picture via

Back to work and my little world of colouring in, the logo to go on the info boards I am illustrating is to be a different size than expected.  There have been rumblings and a flurry of comms between the lovely folk at Natural England and the Town Council,  no great brouhaha, just a bit of re-designing to fit it in.

I've also been working on my boat-dog drawings  (spurred on by your lovely positive feedback way back here). Three of them, hopefully off to the printers at the end of the week, and cards and prints for sale shortly after.  I'll show you next time.

* little footnote added 5th June 2013
Hot news on the race;  the Islanders have apologised for lack of blogs and photos (!) having spent all their time either rowing, sleeping or eating.  Now nearing Lands End, still in the lead and ahead of the 2005 world record pace, the crew of four row for two hours and sleep for a further two hours.  One of the rowers is replaced at the rowing seat every hour.

Friday 24 May 2013

Someone Else's Something Brilliant

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Happy Birthday Bob!   72 today!

Some brilliant hand lettering by Leandro Senna in her version of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues.  Watch the clip or go here.

Bob Dylan Subterranean Homesick Blues - A HAND LETTERING EXPERIENCE from Leandro Senna on Vimeo.

Friday 17 May 2013

Mappy Sketch

I am working on the Mersea Island/Coast Road map.

My illustrations often show the world through rosy specs but I must confess to not actually needing my rosy specs on when it came to sketching out this little map.  I'm beginning to think I live in Toy Town!

The list I hankered after in my last post is not forthcoming so I've gone ahead and made it up anyway.  (Click on the picture to see it better.)

Calling everyone who knows the area,  any ideas about anything else to add (or remove)?

All comments gratefully received  (click where it says COMMENTS below or hop over to my facebook illustration page -by clicking here- which is a very chatty place indeed).

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Mersea Island

There is a whole world out there but West Mersea Town Council and Natural England have got me well and truly shackled to my home turf and woe betide me if I cross the Strood* to the other side.
(You mustn't worry- it's quite a nice place to be shackled.)

So this is it; the final artwork for the info board (Natural England logo still to come).

Only this isn't it, because now I have two more to do!

The next board is to be a map of the Coast Road area.   The plan is for the board to be put up opposite St. Peter's Road, looking out to sea, to enable all our lovely visitors to know what they're looking at and what's around the corner.

I have been given an initial working brief,  translated (by me) into this very rough scribble- it's going to be a bit tricky to squeeze it all in.

This is what the area really looks like (the other way up)- via google earth.

View Larger Map

Deciding what to include is a knotty conundrum.  I was given a definitive list of a select few species for the St Peter's Well Meadow board.  This time it's not so clearcut.

Some buildings are deemed to be landmarks, for instance the Victory pub,  but if I include the Victory,  what about the other pubs and cafes? - won't they feel terribly left out?  How do I fairly decide which businesses to include and which not?  Oh help!  I shan't be able to fit everyone in.

I think the carpark, the public loos, and where to get an ice-cream are the main things visiting folk want to know.

I'd prefer to show traditional boats, our fishing fleet (Mersea is a working port), the lifeboat station, the names of the creeks, islands and mudflats (Middle Ooze is a good one!), directions hither and thither (to the village/to the strood) and maybe a shop or two.

If I include the Yacht Club, should I include the Dabchicks?   How about our new red squirrels?  Stacey's boat trips?  the barge Dawn? the Company Shed? the Chandlery? the sailmakers? Fresh Catch? the Art Cafe? our boatyards (Peter Clarke's and the other one)? the Coast Inn? the Blackwater Pearl? the Oyster Bar, shipwrights, accordion players, carpenters, crab-fishers, Uncle Tom Cobley and all?

I'm hoping a magic fairy will devise an agreeable little list for me! -and they will, because what I keep forgetting is it is not my map, it is West Mersea Town Council's map, and so all the decisions (thank goodness) rest with them, not me.  Everyone is mulling it over very hard.

What do you think I need to include?  Speak now (before the next council meeting) or forever hold your peace.

*little footnote for all the non-mersea-ites:
Right at the top of this post I mentioned the Strood. The Strood is the name of the causeway which joins Mersea Island to the mainland. You can usually drive across it, but it's covered for an hour or so at high tides cutting us off from the rest of England and turning us into a real island.

* another little footnote:
This has to be a record breaking post for the number of links I have added (trying to be all-inclusive, but really, have I nothing better to do on a Tuesday morning?)! Feeling super high-techy and clever but if I have missed you out I am sorry (thinking of YOU, Spartan Wetsuits, and a myriad of others).