Queen Elizabeth the second died last Friday.
She’s currently lying in state in London. The queue to see her coffin is currently a couple of miles long. I don’t think you can go twice or perhaps you can (if you forgot to say something the first time around or if you left your coat I suppose). Her state funeral is on Monday and everything is closing for the day. A national bank holiday. No school, no work, nothing will be open.
My kids tell me it feels like lockdown is coming. It’s only for a day I say, it’s ok, the world will continue at breakneck speed the next day.
Books of condolence have been opened around the United Kingdom and online to write in.
I’d rather draw a picture. But then, I always did.
Even through lockdown and beyond.
Find me a phrase that drives up emotions in you like this one does, go on, have a try.
Then add in that you are young, with those said emotions.
A backpack, new shoes, and a dread so deep that it still wakes you up twenty years or so later in a cold sweat and a racing heart.
Now we are talking the stuff of nightmares. But then we realise, it was all a dream and we laugh at how it used to be. The relief is wonderful.
I don’t have to go to school any more!
And then we drop our own children off as the leaves gather colour.
I see you brave ones who hate school. Draw pictures in every exercise book. Day dream in maths lessons of better days. Draw on your arms in biro, draw on your rulers, on your rubbers, (stick holes in it too). Draw of robots and lasers, draw that evil student that hates you with a big asteroid plummeting towards them. Draw that teacher that shouted at you in the classroom being chased by a hungry minotaur. Draw of superheroes and villains and gather stories that make you snort aloud in the middle of French because it contained farting noises (and something awful in the dinner queue with a cheese and onion sandwich).
Draw it all and hold fast.
Disclaimer…..no pigeons were harmed in the drawing and the writing of this factual happening. Frannie has great recall now unless I give her permission to run (and on a long line) as she is so fast
The pigeons have launched a petition to attach mini cymbals to Frannie’s paws to announce that turbo mode has been engaged.
Bob the Dog Get’s a Job by Tracey Hammet and illustrated by myself is published today!
It’s a gorgeous picture book story for young children about Bob the Dog and Pat the Cat who are the best of friends. Bob is a super busy dog, Pat is Pat, a cat, who does just that.
It’s an adventure in ice cream with all sorts of interesting people who they meet along the way.
I’ve had a great time developing the characters, I hope you enjoy it. It’s available through Graffeg or in all good independent book shops and online book sellers. If you are outside the United Kingdom, I would suggest you try Book Depository for world wide shipping.
Have you any idea how much two little characters can absolutely take over ?
Bob the dog and Pat the cat.
Oh you really, really don’t.
Pat is obsessed with my paint box, I had to redraw so much of the book because she could not keep still. Bob isn’t really that much better and being constantly watched in case I pull out a nice biscuit is most distracting.
It’s very, very hard working around this chaos.
To make things worse, while I was drawing, they climbed out of the window. Tracey is going to kill me, I was meant to be keeping an eye on them. I’m in big trouble.
I wanted my nice quiet space back but I think that may be a thing of the past now these two are on the loose.
They were last seen sprinting down a side road near to me after the ice cream van so they could be anywhere by now.
Send help, (and ice cream) because Bob is on the way and will be hitting the shops very soon and will hopefully be out of my studio so I can tidy up. If you do see them, please send me photos so I can track their whereabouts.
I thought you’d like to have a peak inside the book…
Bob and Pat live in a big, busy city but there’s lovely parks to run and sniff in.
I wanted to create a busy, city landscape.
The park is based on Brockwell Park in London, there are amazing views of the city of London from here and I wanted to draw that tree lined city scape. I started with the brush pens I use for Doodlemum initially but the finished drawings are in watercolour and pen.
To Bob, everything is big too, she’s not a huge dog but if there is a problem, she’ll find a way….not the obvious way….Bob’s way!
One of Renee’s many sleeping places is a little wicker basket on the landing. She likes it here very much as she can place all her knitted kitty puffs in one basket before a days screeching (carrying them all around the house and leaving them in random places).
This was a fine plan.
Until we got Frannie.
Stair gate is up but skinny necked pilferers do find a way.
Kitty Puff numbers have declined rapidly since the introduction / invasion of this blonde, dog tornado.
Renee is not impressed.
I need to knit more.
Little short of how I draw Bob and her friend Pat the cat.*
I can’t wait for you all to see! If you’ve followed me for a while you can see that dogs and cats are a big part of my life.
I have a lot of inspiration around me that’s for sure!
Creating these two characters was a lot of fun to do. I think they will going on a lot of adventures…
*The picture book is called Bob the Dog gets a job. It’s going to be out in June through Graffeg publishing.
It was bound to happen wasn’t it. A matter of probability that the little blighter of a virus was going to show it’s face.
And it hasn’t disappointed. Tiny but mighty in flooring us all like a mini slayer of giants.
Gone through us like a spring breeze, we have all dropped to it’s charms.
Chills, thrills, coughing, runny noses and more coughing.
Starts with a little line on a lateral flow test, then the sore throat, then comes the fatigue and the fun.
Welcome covid to our house. Please close the door on your way out. We really would like you to leave now.
(we are ok though, just fed up of feeling rubbish).
Wet cat alert. Racing through the garden, scaling up the side of the house in sideways wind and rain and screeching at the window.
Now happily purring and drying off in a pile of clean, (was dry, is now not), laundry.
Mud in the veins, mud in the soul.
Mud in the hallway and over the door.
Mud on my shoes, mud on the dog.
Hello January, you’re very muddy this year.
I felt a watercolour touch was apt as I haven’t actually dried out from walking in the rain for over a month.
Had to paint the window for Christmas, other windows in the house have had a makeover too. Beats cleaning them.
We got a tree!
Millie and myself chopped it down ourselves too and carried it off the hill.
Talking, laughing, wiping pine needles from our hair, our car filled to the brim with prickly branches and laughter.
I care not for mess, I care not for resentment, I care not for mistakes. I care about my children, growing up and becoming free.
And it is the most liberating experience watching them fly.
I am proud.
Job done good Mam.
No not quite there with the coming back to me. In fact it’s a hilarious game of catch me if you can. Being a sight reactive dog is a tricky one to navigate as Frannie is very fast and there is no way I can catch her. Poor Bonnie is too old to join in and too busy sniffing out crisps to eat.
We get sneaky and cunning. We use sausages and chicken, we throw fluffy toys.
Today was a new tactic.
Keeping still and lying flat on the ground.
Click, back on the lead.
Here’s the highlight of the season, hunting for my dog’s “gift” in the beautiful autumn leaves.
Autumn is a quiet time of year. I am a bit quiet on here after the chaos of last year.
Life has needed to slow down, and enjoying the winter months is something I look forward to each year.
So hello soggy leaves and drenched, muddy clothes.
No really they’re not allowed up.
Not at all.
There is no dog here, I have no idea what you are talking about. It is simply a messy pile of cushions admiring the autumn sun streaming through very wonky blinds.
No dog here at all.
Yes Autumn is most definitely here. After a period of denial and a few weeks of early morning school starts, we can safely say we are on the downward slope of darker, wetter evenings.
But do not doubt the resilience of the people of Swansea to get their washing loads out on their scaffolding pole lines in between the showers and lob a beach ball over the back gardens while doing it.
You are just not living unless you are.
Come at us Autumn, we’ll get the bedding dried and folded in between your deluges.
I hate socks right now. Who invented socks? Please show yourself and pair all these please.
That is all.
There’s a dog on the other side.
We must make contact.
We must let them know we are here.
And then tell them that we’re bigger than them and their mum.
Humidity and thirty degree heat means one thing. Ice lollies, shade and fan on.
Frannie is being kept in as she has only one fast speed setting and Bonnie is setting a lovely example of a dead dog and sprawling her long bones wherever I seem to step.
Everything is sticky.
Swansea is baking hot today and our old stone terrace house has heated up lovely and is roasting us slowly.
It’s a bit hard seeing a whole stadium full of football fans shouting for their teams on the television yet you can’t leave the house because there’s been a positive Covid case in your year at school.
Last week of school before the summer and it’s back to online learning with the cats.
Lots of creepy crawling flowering plants grow in little places on the old stone walls. They always have thrived and grow on everyone’s walls. Brightest of purples this time of year with the happy drone of busy bees.
I’ve added lots of pots this year with herbs and trailing flowers. It’s plant chaos and I love the mess.
The lavender is enormous this year so the bee party is going to be lovely. I’m hoping to see a return of the hummingbird hawkmoth I saw one year, it really looks like a little hummingbird.
No chemicals, no weedkiller, just a pair of hands and a cat interested in digging.
Miya likes to come in through the roof window this time of year. Obviously as late as possible and normally making quite a racket as she plops onto the floor of the loft, startling Millie.
How does she climb up?
Well, she scales a stone garden wall and then leaps vertically up the side of our house to access the roof. Terrifying.
Both agree the swift show is wonderful and are very happy the sun is warmer and the clouds are bubbling high into the long, light evenings.
There are drop in clinics running this weekend for currently the youngest portion of the national Covid vaccination program, the eighteen year olds.
Millie had her text through a few days ago notifying her she could attend one of these clinics.
She had to take a photographic identification so we dug out her passport.
I drove down with her to the enormous film studios on the outskirts of the city, it was quite something driving into it, lots of run down industrial units colonised by flocks of noisy seagulls.
We parked up and she put a mask on and joined the queue with lots of other young people. Red stripy tape and orange bollards, they all stood apart without being asked. Some on their own, some with mates, some with parents, most on their phones probably checking in with a nice selfie and a hashtag #gotstabbed
Our children have had many vaccines in their lives already, this one felt different. Probably because of it’s newness and it’s immediacy. The other vaccines as babies you knew there was a slim chance of them getting the said diseases. This one is different isn’t it?
I waited an hour in the car watching other parents in their cars, watching the shuttle bus pull up bringing more young people. It was busy.
Millie texted me while inside, in her words:
There was no daylight inside, the building was really big but the ceilings were low and everywhere was white..
Corridors were white too with small windows in where I could see people sat inside. Lots nurses and doctors walking around in their uniforms often wheeling trolleys with large computers on and stacked up carts with the medical supplies on.
I sat in a waiting area next to another girl (well 2 metres next to her) and we chatted about stuff. When it was my turn, I was taken through to a station and they asked me some questions about if I was well. Then I received the injection and waited for a few minutes to make sure I was feeling fine.
And then out she came, clutching an information sheet and asking for lunch.
Where’s the cat?
What do you mean you haven’t seen her?
Walks fifty times past the studio window.
Well I’ve called her. She’s not coming, she’s probably on her rounds.
She’ll be back soon.
She is still not speaking to me.
This post is not about today.
This is about tomorrow.
Because tomorrow my children are going out on their own for the first time in over nine weeks.
They will meet with friends and do kids stuff.
While remaining two metres apart.
It’s your eyebrow raising, not mine…
But it’s time.
I have too any words tonight to write. Too many emotions.
The end of May is here.
The trees are full of leaves, the breeze is cold today.
The nights are so light now, that dawn chorus is so early. Can’t be morning yet?
The news is full of outrage and retribution today.
Social media is the same.
It’s draining and pointless. There is no solution, not yet. There is talk of a vaccine and trials and an antibody test to be rolled out soon but nothing concrete.
I just want more of that mint chocolate from the cupboard but I’ve eaten the last square.
There’s a robin singing, I think it’s been singing all night under that new LED streetlamp.
Fill me with coffee.
Keep it going.
Right to the top.
The dry weather we have had since the middle of March has no sign of letting up. We are no strangers to rain in Swansea, I have often joked that a day without rain is indeed a drought around these parts.
Spring has unfolded itself, pretty much rain free and the longer days and warm sunshine have made this lock-down feel most surreal.
The dry streets, now littered with plastic don’t feel like Wales. There are few puddles. The grass is growing, the trees have leaves again and there is blossom.
The birdsong is easier to hear with less cars on the road and the jackdaws flock on the rooftops in full nesting fever. There isn’t a chimney around here without a battle of black wings and chattering.
Just the humans, locked up, safe from the world.
Myles attached an old plant pot with an old viking shield to make a basket ball hoop onto the side of my studio today.
Gruff has not stopped all afternoon. Evie and Millie have played with it too.
Within the course of the afternoon various toys experienced the joy of being hurled through the hoop and being fished out of the compost heap (which is to the side of my studio).
Gruff is now filthy from fishing things out of the compost heap and his feet are black from being barefoot all day.
The laughter and cackles were wonderful to hear.
We go way back the moon and me. I’ve walked many times in the dark over the years when the moon has been high and bright in the sky.
One night, I walked up the garden in my pyjamas, clutching a howling newborn. The moonlight was a welcome distraction whilst I soothed my little bundle of noise.
Some nights, the sky has been filled with the noise of drunks singing, some nights have been filled with barking dogs and other nights, there was simply the whisper of trees and wind.
One full moon, I heard the shrieks of a tawny owl over a floodlit valley.
I’ve huddled under a bridge while the moon shone, hoping my problems would melt away but it just shone as close as it could to my crouching figure in the shadows.
And one time, I walked in despair, neither caring nor looking and the moon continued to shine.
Last night I walked in the cold, solstice, moonshine and it shone right through me and dog for our whole walk.
I was taking a walk with an old friend you see.
I’m sure there are many people taking a walk tonight to escape this time of year and I hope they find their answers under the moon or at least know they are not alone.
Wishing you all a peaceful time at mid winter. To moonlit nights.
I’ve been looking at all my drawings of Bonnie and thought you might enjoy this little selection of her best moments.
Bonnie, the hurricane, the bottomless pit, the legend, my girl. Still ever the wiggle machine and all round stinkpot of love.
Tomorrow is a big day. We are missing Arnie terribly and although no cat could ever fill his paws, we have a home that’s missing a certain something. That something is a cat.
I’m happy to say that a cat answered our job application and interviewed flawlessly.
Renee is three years old and was found abandoned in an empty house, pregnant and very dirty. She was rescued by the Friends of Animals Wales who cared for her when she had her two kittens. Please have a look at the amazing work they do and if you’re looking for a animal to re-home, please think of them.
She has been in foster care with a very lovely lady and is now ready for her new beginning so she will be coming home tomorrow to meet everybody.
And yes she currently rules over a dog so Bonnie will be happy about that I’m sure.
Just look at that tail!
She draws, she loves jaffa cakes and has the biggest heart going. Happy birthday Millie, I think we need more room for all our sketchbooks.
Can’t be shown, won’t be shown. Has to learn it himself. Can’t think who on earth he gets that from.
Brought Arnie’s ashes home today. We’re going to buy a plant and put him in the garden where he liked to sit in the sun and watch the sparrows chirp.
Spring is coming.
Here is a life lived in washing piles and fluffy toys. A life that padded out gently last week but never ever will be forgotten. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed drawing them. Break the internet with cat drawings and purry love.
Evie has been asking me for a while now that she would like to donate her very long hair to the Little Princess Trust a charity that takes donated hair and transforms them into wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment.
On Saturday she had all her locks chopped off and has been guarding her precious plaits ready for me to post them off.
I’m very proud of her for wanting to donate her hair, it’s a lovely, kind thing to do. She’s looking very grown up with her new hair do. I thinks it looks lovely.
Ninja is sitting on some eggs and they’re not hers, in fact they’re not from any of my hens. They’ve been brought in from our local community farm.
It takes twenty one days for fertile chicken eggs to incubate and we’re almost there. This time next week, we may hear cheeping again in our nursery coop.
She rarely leaves her nest, only coming out once a day to stuff her face with corn. The other hens have been cordoned off for now until we see what’s hatched.
Brand new headphones this year to plug the world and its many memes straight into your head, graphic novels with zombies in and a tonne of drawing stuff.
She’s doing great.
Evie has a set of story books based in Roman times. I think they’re quite realistic. She says she loves reading them. As long as I don’t get any requests for a pet lion I’ll be happy…
It’s my annual
glace cherry cull, bake a Christmas cake time.
I’ve bought enough glace cherries to cherrify cakes for the next year. Problem is I’ve still got last year’s ones in the cupboard…
Here’s this year’s advent calendar for you to print out and colour in instead of doing all those dreadfully important Christmas things like rescuing last years lights from the loft. Get the kettle on, crack open a mince pie, get out your felt tips and enjoy.
Oh and thanks for all your continued support this year, it always means more than I can ever put into words or pictures.
Here’s the link for you to follow to print out an A3 copy.
This is the link for an A4 copy.
This year’s hat selection includes a gothic black knitted beanie, a sparkly unicorn and a Pokemon Pikachu to keep their heads happy and warm.
When on earth did Evie turn nine? I’m missing time I’m sure I am. Oh hang on, here’s a few thousand drawings here telling me…
There is a particular way of getting into a conker. Leg up, heel aimed at the spikey little sphere and smash down with full force revealing your shiny prize inside.
A nice big bit of antler. Bit of skill there jamming into your mouth sideways like that Bonnie.
So good to have understanding neighbours, especially when your son decides to invent a new form of golf (involving a jedi sword and a giant inflatable ball….)
The moment when you realise your teenage daughter is perfectly capable of watching television and being on her phone all at the same time.
Evie has taken on the task of letting the hens out in the morning.
Today I noticed that the keys to the hen pen were missing. After scouring the house I gave up and decided to collect the eggs…
…and found a lovely warm set of keys under one of our hens.
Evie has been on her Brownie pack holiday this weekend and has been sorely missed by everyone. (Especially Gruff).
I love to walk in the rain, my dog does not. Two dripping wet, soggy creatures.
No children with me, all in school, all busy. Just me and the hound.
I remember the struggles with a pram. Wellies and raincoats, puddles and wet socks.
Roasted over a fire and eaten with both hands. Can you get any stickier than this?
You know that last bit of pudding? That last bit of strawberry pavlova sitting there on the table?
The one piece that everyone is looking at but is far too polite to ask for. The one that makes everyone pull a face like Christmas is over…
Well tough because whilst we were all yearning, Evie has just leaned over and scoffed it.
I’m off out drawing again to Pontardawe Arts Centre this morning looking for more willing subjects.
I’ve left Arnie in charge.
I’m going to be doing more drawing over the next week at the Pontardawe Arts Centre. If you fancy becoming a drawing in my sketchbook why not come down?
I’ll be there from 10-2 Monday the 13th to Friday the 17th of June.
I’ll be tweeting more drawings over the course of the week as and when!
It’s a very muggy evening here in Swansea tonight with heavy downpours and a few good rumbles of thunder.
Nothing better than counting between the flashes of lightning waitng for the rumble to catch up. Had to rescue a few soggy teddies from Gruff’s room.
Evie and Bonnie eneted our local dog show today in the “Young Handler” catagory and only went and won it!
We’ve got to eleven so far without them being toppled by shaky hands, sneaky sisters or curious cat.
Thought it would be a good day to touch up the chicken house with a lick of paint. Even put a lovely chicken painting on the side.
Not sure why some of my ladies are now walking around with flecks of bright blue on their feathers…
Psst…if your in Swansea tomorrow and you fancy popping into Creative Bubble on Craddock Street I’m going to be looking for people to tell me a story and I will be tweeting them throughout the afternoon (in between bouts of cake eating).
I will be wearing a purple hat with pom poms on(don’t tell Evie, it’s her hat). Why? It’s a purple hat with pom poms on. Enough said.
Our beach trip started with the best intentions but it was a little too cold for Evie today.
Meet our two latest additions to our chicken family, Bluebell and Gumball. They’re very young and won’t be laying for probably another month or so. They are very tame and don’t seem phased by all the commotion the other other chickens are raging at them through their mesh partition.