There’s no school today.
We can’t go out darling because I’m not well.
That means we have to stay in just in case, to make sure we don’t make anyone else ill.
It will be ok, Mam is just a bit sick and I’ll be better soon.
And you will be ok too. We have to make sure no one else gets ill so the shops may be shut for a bit.
It will be ok.
They see me rollin.
But what they don’t know
Is that the virus is not in your
It’s in your chesticles.
I wanted to
but the only
with it is
And that’s a bit shit.
So that’s it.
I did wash my hands!
But there we are. I’m sweating one minute, cold the next. Throat is swollen, glands are sore and head feels full of cotton wool.
And I’m so very, very grumpy.
So we’re washing our hands at every opportunity as we’ve been told to.
Shops have been stripped of painkillers, soap and bog roll.
Just come off the phone to my elderly 90 year old neighbour.
I was asking if she needed anything from the shops as you do.
Imagine if we all did that? All of us picked one elderly neighbour who was on their own and asked if they needed anything. Because it’s going to matter a whole lot more in the next few months when they cant get to the shops because they’re too ill to or because they have no bog roll or paracetamol because someones’ bought it all.
So I’m appealing to you, the person who filled up your trolley with toilet roll and pasta in the supermarket. I want you to redeem yourself and pop round to Bob at no 42 and see if he needs anything. Take a few rolls of your precious bog roll with you and see him alright.
That is what will make a difference rather than this utter selfishness I’ve seen over the last week. Do better, please.
“I have something for you mum” are words that every parent knows are laced with a few meanings.
The first is innocent and lovely, probably a little handful of daisies or a hug.
The second, however, is something unwanted, sinister and must be approached with extreme caution and cynicism.
“Oh yes?” comes my reply (raised eyebrow). I am the master after years of being tricked, poker face is on and braced for impact,
And there they are in my hand, a scrunched up pile of months and months of school letters, casually handed over without a single drop of sweat shed.
Months of letters.
Suppose it could have been a slug or a dead spider.
Puberty one end, menopuase the other. Both made better by hugs.
I don’t want my children to have the same experience I had, we talk and we laugh about things and how rubbish hormones are. We slam doors and shout and cry. It’s good to.
I can’t protect them from the outside world though and it stinks that my daughter is constantly questioned over her decision to have short hair.
She’s twelve and she’s having to already fend off questions about appearance.
I tell her sometimes people just aren’t ready for fabulous but to carry on anyway and to be just so.
If you have a stroppy teen in your house, remember how much it hurt to be that age, it sucks majorly and you as mum are there to keep them going until they are ready to be a big person.
Until then, hold fast and try not to think about the hormonal plughole that you’ve become.
Had a very loud thunderstorm last night. Ended up with a shivering 30kg wreck on me for the rest of the night…
So to continue from my recent post about the starlings in my road, may I introduce our next individual.
This fearless ball of feathers can normally be heard most of the year round.
But come January the showing off starts. My current robin redbreast has inflated himself to the size a tennis ball and is rampaging from wooden post to branch, telling everyone this is his garden. His bright red chest breaking up any happy gathering of sparrows or blue tits.
He’s not quite worked out the new streetlight we have either and can be heard singing at midnight on a late night sing off with another street robin. I’m not sure that’s any good burning the candle at both ends.
Don’t cramp the robin’s style, that little bird is a born show off.
What I tell my little ones as they drag themselves into Monday.
Anything else can wait.
Anything else is just that.
I’m dedicating January to the birds that come to my garden. I have no exotic varieties, just your average Joes of the bird world but to me they are wonderful and they think I’m great right now as I’ve hung three brand new feeders from my studio in an attempt to encourage more into my little urban garden.
My house is part of a Victorian terrace built by the miners and their families 150 years ago. A descendent lives a few doors up and says that they were built to house the families who kept chickens and grew their food here.
Fast forward a century or so and the city has grown around these houses and the mines have gone. But the wildlife is still here, hanging on and adapting to the pace of life and the endless rain.
Today’s post is in salute to the starlings that frequent my garden. Sleek and noisy little birds. Starlings are wonderful mimics of sound. They will copy what they hear and repeat it back with relish. Well you can imagine that Swansea is a feast for these little flocks of sound machines. From car alarms, mopeds to mobile phones it is never ever quiet around here and these little birds congregate on the telephone lines in the winter and belt out their whistle and chirps.
In deepest January they are most welcome to strip my feeders, tease my chickens and entertain me in my studio to a Swansea mega mix of noise. Demolishing fat balls within ten minutes and then entertaining me with their sound effects.
One summer morning you could hear the noise of a single alarm clock coming from an open window, within seconds, the voices of twenty alarm clocks were ringing out over the rooftops and telephone wires.
There’s magic in drawing. Not sure how it works but it’s made me stop in my tracks today.
I painted this about 15 years ago, long before Gruff was born.
We were tidying up his room today, so we dusted it down and cleaned it up.
We were laughing as he asked me did I paint this for him (as it looks exactly like him right now).
It has always been in his room on his shelf.
I said well how could I?
I loved the idea of a gangly, little boy with messy hair, running so fast like a cheetah. I like to draw animals, I always have.
Here he is in my house, today. My little running bean who loves to run.
A little mix of my best bits at Christmas.
I wish you all a peaceful time and remember kindness is always better than a plateful of sprouts.
Been laid up ill with flu. That was fun. Somehow it’s now Christmas and I’m in headless chicken panic mode.
A poem I made.
I had some wine,
It went to my head,
And off I went,
early to bed.
Cwtch is a Welsh word. It means cuddle.
And cats all over the world know exactly what it means when it’s cold and there is a warm lap waiting to sleep in.
I think the girls out did themselves this year. Evie’s wig was spectacular and Renee worked that Halloween cat vibe like the sassy puss she is. Millie ever resplendent as a 1920’s flapper girl.
(Wondering how long that feather will last with two cats in the house though).
Organised? I laugh in the face of organised and bring you morning anarchy!
I’ve just been looking through all my drawings on Doodlemum. There’s so many now. (2285 posts so at least that many drawings so far). It’s really made me quite proud I’ve kept going.
Anyhow, Evie has now turned twelve so here’s an Evie montage of my beautiful, sassy, fiery book monster!
Enjoy this selection of drawings of her over the years.
Angie bakes six layers of different coloured sponge cake and leaves them to cool on the kitchen counter.
Renee cat comes along and takes a nibble out of EACH layer.
A) The level of swearing from Angie at the discovery of nibbled cake.
B) The exact percentage of remaining cake.
C) The exact amount of extra buttercream needed to cover the nibbled cake.
D) The amount of tea needed to calm Angie down.
In comes the herd of arms, legs. noise, bags and school letters. Remove shoes with a lovely hands free manoeuvre only children can do with carefully bought school shoes.
Some days are longer than others. Some days have seen homework disasters and others brilliantly funny things involving a protractor, a frog and a how so and so from the other class thinks something that is so stupid.
And hit the sofa with a biscuit of triumph.
And Mum’s head spins.
There are morning people and there are people who shouldn’t see morning at all.
It’s autumn, it’s lashing down with rain outside. Curl up with a good book and get lost somewhere.
Yes I have the knitting pattern right here. Use for your cats, use for yourself, knit millions and take over the planet with little woollen puffs. Knit kitty puffs, knit chickie puffs, knit lion puffs, raid your wool stash and get knitting.
The pattern is very easy and quick so great for beginners.
You don’t need much materials, a small amount of wool, if you have to change colour half-way through, great, your puff will look even better.
Get an old pillow and take out the stuffing, stuff with some cat-nip for very happy pusses.
Cast on 18 stitches.
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: Knit
Row 4 : Purl
Rows 5-20 (repeat rows 1 and 2 8 times)
Row 21 : [K2TOG] across row – 18 stitches
Row 22 : Purl
Row 23 : [K2TOG] across row – 9 stitches
Cut your wool leaving a very long end. Thread the end into a needle and go back through the last 9 stiches left. Pull tight. Face the right sides of your puff together and sew up the seam until you reach the original cast on stitches.
Turn back out so the right sides are facing back out.
Stuff your puff.
Sew up the cast on edge with a running stitch so it creates a flat edge. You can get creative here and try and pull up little ears if you want. Doesn’t matter if your puff looks strange. You cat will still adore it.
Sew on a nose with a different colour wool and a mouth.
Sew on eyes.
Leave somewhere for your cat to stare at it for days until four am in the morning when you will hear the happy yowling of a cat with it’s puff.
Just so I’ve kept you in the loop. Renee was adopted by us last year shortly after saying goodbye to her kittens who had also gone off to loving homes.
Renee had just been spayed and was calling for her babies for a few nights before she settled down and enjoyed the life of a pampered, happy puss.
One night, we heard an almighty yowling (similar to an air raid claxon). In she marched with one of Evie’s *kitty puffs in her mouth, gently placed it on the floor and went back to find another one. At this point, we all came to the same conclusion.
We gave her all the puffs we had.
Last nights puff activity was off the chart. Howling galore from Renee. We woke to puffs outside our door, on the stairs, in the sink, in Bonnie’s crate, one even found it’s way inside a wellington boot.
Renee, is now busy sleeping off her antics ready for tonight’s mass movement of puffs.
*Kitty puffs, for your information, are little balls of knitted wool, stuffed with stuffing and have sown on eyes and a nose. They are my idea in response of Evie asking me to knit something fluffy and cute. They come in various colours (whatever is in my stash of wool) and I think I’ve knitted at least over a hundred over the years for various children as they are very cute and totally squidge-able…anyway…I’m digressing….
Evie has a box.
Not just any old box.
It’s a box of happy things.
So when things get bad or sad.
She pulls the box down off the shelf and looks through it.
The box changes throughout the year.
(I think there’s a few conkers in there right now).
Sometimes mum sneaks in some chocolate…
There’s a bar of soap too as it smells lovely.
There’s fluffy and shiny things.
Small things of wonder that when picked up, replace sadness or worry with smiles.
What would be in your box?
So Renee and Miya have decided to “allow” Bonnie upstairs.
We didn’t know this was happening as Bonnie would slink off downstairs as we were stirring.
It was a 2am trip to the toilet that they were all rumbled, happily snoozing on the landing.
So my mornings now look like this. I really don’t need an alarm clock and there’s one animal per child to wake up with purrs or licks.
Millie and Evie joined millions of children across the world today to send a message that it is time for a change.
They made their own sign and took an alarm clock to ring out at one o’ clock.
The turnout was wonderful, so many school children came to make their stand for our beautiful planet.
Well done to all the children who protested today.
I hope the world is listening.
A drawing a day keeps the cobwebs flowing in my house.
Your inboxes have been a bit empty recently.
Expect it to get very, very busy.
I’ve knitted little round cats for my guys to play with but Renee has officially moved in and adopted them as her surrogate “kittens”. I’ve never seen a cat do this before. She’ll call to them, pick them up and distribute them randomly around the house. Some have even found their way in this fine weather, out in the garden.(But they are always brought in for night time). Her favourite is the largest, knitted with a very fluffy wool and with blue eyes.
Evie started her transition week for high school today. I remember drawing about her first adventures in school when I first started the blog.
And now there she is off to new ones.
And I’m reaching for the higher strength glasses to draw about it.
Animals find humans who will help them. I’ve had many over the years. From a little sparrow up to a horse and her foal. (I don’t know what I’d do with anything bigger so if there are any elephants reading this, please consider, I live in quite a small house ok?)
Some I’ve saved and some have passed on.
Last night was brief and brutal.
A soggy, trembling wreck slipping away but in a terrible state.
She purred as I picked her up, warmed her up and dried her off.
She’d come to die and we knew it.
Later on the that evening, I went to bed and turned off the lights. One of my cats brushed softly against my legs at the foot of my bed. She had sneaked in (as she does most nights) so I gently laughed and asked her how she’d got in.
I switched on my light to see where she was only to find an empty room.
I think I was being thanked.
Once upon a time, there was a magic laundry basket.
Whatever you put in it, would multiply ten fold overnight.
Until a wicked witch stuffed it with Semtex and detonated it.
And then everyone celebrated with gin.
Renee figured out the cat flap today.
It’s taken her ten months.
I think she’s enjoying the garden and the sun very much.
We all get there in the end.
Spent most of it trying to remove a pair of knickers that got rammed down the vacuum cleaner.
I’ve decided that being the looney, grinning, woman I am is quite enough for planet earth to deal with. Be your own person and like yourself for all it’s weirdness and goofiness as that’s what keeps the world interesting and colourful. So massive bollocks to ordinary and hurray to extraordinary. Now go get your shine on (or tea on). Never be afraid to be different, I tell my daughters every day how fabtastic they are for just being themselves and to never apologise for that
Doodlemum book is six years old now!
Six years ago, a wonderful, extraordinary thing happened. Doodlemum got published in a book. Here you can see my grinning face as I signed my very first book for a friend. It felt wonderful.
So why was it extraordinary? Good question and if you have ever had the time to trawl your way back through the 2250 posts that I had placed drawings onto, you can see my journey from a shell shocked mum who just wanted to tell someone about how boring mopping the floor was.
I started Doodlemum as a way to cope with lots of things, and I still do use it as a means to talk about my funny, ordinary world in my way.
You see, when you write about things in your way, it becomes special. It grows arms and legs, pictures appear and stories happen. You stop caring about what others think and you run with your imagination and your pen.
Not only did my progress as an artist develop but my abilities and confidence did too. At the time I started the blog, I was quite depressed and very sleep deprived, there wasn’t much confidence there.
Today is a very different picture I am drawing, I have confidence in my own abilities but that doesn’t mean I go around shouting about it, I sit down and draw and write (and sometimes I do other extraordinary stuff but that will be a whole other blog that will be coming soon).
So happy book anniversary and please, whatever you do, always grab onto your dreams and if you can, run with them with all that you have because you never know where they will take you and it is always worth the risk.
Gumball decided she was off to bigger pastures this morning. Never nice when they go.
When the sun returns and warms the earth, there is nothing better to do than to feel the new air move through your fur and whiskers. Both black dog and black cat know there is nothing better than sun on warm fur. The other little one is busy half way up a tree, chasing flies.
I left some jaffa cakes in my gym bag. Guess who discovered my jaffa cakes?
Music playing in the background is on Spotify (to which I subscribe). It’s called Howl by Jake Houlsby.
Miya was allowed out for the first time today She took approximately twenty seconds to decipher the cat flap and flew out all guns blazing.
She then flew back in again, and out again, and in again. I have been listening to the sound of my spinning cat flap all afternoon.
Big giant clucky birds are amazing, just, amazing.
Enjoy these videos, my hens were clucking so much I went out and filmed afterwards as I thought you might enjoy meeting Miya.
Oh and by the way, I’ve spoiled us and paid to remove the advertising. Enjoy.
There was room for one more and boy have we got a little spitfire for you to meet. This is beautiful Miya. She is only just one year old and has been reared from a very young age due to her leaving her mother too young.
Despite that she is a curious, beautiful cuddle monster and given time, will be bumping along with Renee and Bonnie just fine.
Until then, there’s masses of catnip around!
New cat, how will this one fare with a nice, sparkly tree?
Answers on a postcard…
Here’s to all struggling with winter spew virus. Those who’s washing load just tripled over night because sheets and clothes need incineration. I share your pain and frequent need to scrub your hands in bleach.
May the soothing kitty of purriness ease your woes and may the spew cloud of misery pass soon.
I wake up in the morning and he’s visibly taller.
Installing Gruff, version 9.0 complete with sword upgrade.
Happy birthday bigger dude, you make me ridiculously proud to be your mum.
This one’s for the mums. We are all bonkers and amazing. Love to all mums doing their best to just get through the day in the hope that tomorrow they will find the floor free of toys and lego. Hold fast.
How on earth did Evie get to be eleven? Time has galloped at breakneck speed and I now have a beautiful, passionate, blue eyed artist with a love of books, drawing and cake.
Happy birthday Evie. Stay fluffy, always.
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.
Evie is writing a list of things she might like for her birthday.
Gruff is making helpful suggestions.
Wondering if shell get a nice, shiny sword is something Gruff might wait a long time to see…
Explosive start to Monday with a vacuum rammed washing basket. You can imagine my sheer joy at working through that. Isn’t this fun? Bet Snow White held those animals at gunpoint to get them to tidy up her bloody cottage.
It’s just glorious. Low, warm sun to warm the bones and the heart.
Walking up the garden is a bit of a dance to avoid the dewy spider webs that have been ambitiously spun overnight. I’ll leave the lying down to you Bonnie as I’ve had my fair share of garden spiders in my hair today
I love walking barefoot, it’s a simple pleasure but there’s something about letting your feet feel the earth that soothes me. (Maybe I was a tree in a past life or something).
The ivy in our garden is now flowering profusely and it’s perfume leaves a heady scent in the air.The droning from the hundreds of bees on it is wonderful. I’m glad I didn’t cut it back, it’s an autumnal feast for insects.
Go find some and enjoy the show.
I suppose Evie is right. Technically it is on her body, therefore she is wearing her coat.
I am not happy.
Yeah it’s autumn. I give up. Heater’s on chasing all chills out of my studio. Dog is in heaven. Don’t like Autumn much, back to school misery and school runs turn me into a right grumpy cow.
But for now, Northern Soul is blasting, sketchbook is open, tea is steaming and my head is elsewhere.
Didn’t think our new kitty was a lap cat. She just decided I’d do for now until I vacated her chair.
Our new puss has quite a penchant for little toys. She has already amassed an impressive collection of little fabric mice, stars and patchwork, catnip hearts.
They are stored in a little plastic tub every night and every night, when everyone is asleep, Renee starts her fun.
One by one, each little toy is carefully removed and starts it’s journey through the kitchen, into the lounge and up the stairs…so that in the morning we are greeted by a scattering of little soggy presents on the landing.
Even Bonnie is not forgotten, she normally gets a nice feather in her water bowl
And so, every morning, I bring down the little collection back to its box so Renee can do it all again.
I’m back. Took a break while camping.
Always get nervous with a break as the last one lasted years but I’m on such a stronger footing this time. I know that but I always worry that I’ll slip and things will slide again. I suppose that is recovery, knowing you must always be aware and ready.
I suppose we all need a break but art is such an integral part of my personality. It’s something that becomes me but even so, a break from yourself is sometimes a good thing, a time to just recalibrate and even change direction.
Stagnation is my greatest fear and something that always propels me onwards. That nagging voice that brings you back again and again. Regardless of whether you’ll get paid.
So yes, here I am again. Let’s go forward and let’s look forward to more drawing and fun and I’ll put my silly hat back on now.
Stretching out forever. Summer holidays have arrived for my lot. No school for six weeks and the sun is shining.
Breathe the free air Evie. Breathe it in.
First summer in decades. Yellow grass, blue skies and screaming swifts in the sky. It’s utterly wonderful. Feel like an ice cube thawing out.
I’ve found solace in my sketchbook throughout my life. In my childhood a means of play and expression. In my teens, a bolt hole from reality into which I would have most readily jumped in feet first and not looked back.
I rekindled my sketchbook habit back in 2010 when I was in my familiar black hole and needed to escape.
This comfort and silence. A non judging welcoming page, the smell and touch of crisp paoer. The sound of pen gently scratching lines that fill and dance through endless space.
I draw through line, space filled with cluttered thoughts and ideas. I am a drawer.
Be brave, come dream and make marks.
Lovely to see Gruff with his newest playmate outside together chasing grass blades and toy mice.
To think she was unwanted when you see her play with such joy.
Two gentle friends enjoying just being free.
Evie loves fluffy and Evie loves all things cute. She also loves animals, Roman history stories and dinosaurs.
Her new love is writing horror stories and illustrating them. I’ve bought her a book so she can keep her creepy collection together.
I’m busy. Filling up the paddling pool and various inflatable animals for the after school paddle club.
Think there may be other little paws wanting to cool down today.
Anyone who’s ever brought home a rescue cat knows that they will have their peculiarities. Renee is no different to the collective. So far she has insisted that she sleeps in my utility room sink. She has however, taken a preference to sleeping under the bath by squeezing through a small hole but she comes out for her grub so there is no stuck kitty.
She has learnt already that the sound of the fridge door opening means there’s food on the menu.
Bonnie is still too much for her but she has shown her inner panther by roaring with that mighty pair of lungs she has. Bonnie is being very patient and an utter angel with her new kitty friend when I know all she secretly wants is a sniff at that swishing tail. Good luck there Bonnie with that.
So far so good.