A friend at work had an idea to write a children’s book about a short sighted hippo…tonight I thought I’d sketch him. I’m still warming up (so to speak) and have yet to sit in front of the computer to scan and ink. It’s been nearly 8 months since I’ve felt remotely inclined to draw. Instead, I’ve been putting all my energy into photography. But a couple of weeks ago I did a small job for the English Speaking Cancer Association and their annual Paddle for Cancer dragon boat race! I suppose this gave me the boost I needed to open the pencil case!
I’ve recently come to learn that octopuses are AWESOME! During our holiday in Greece we bumped into an octopus on three separate occasions. The waters around Kefalonia are crystal clear and bursting with interesting marine life; perfect for snorkeling. So, on one bright, warm day we headed out on an excursion with Jamie, a marine biologist, whose main area of study was octopuses, hence my sudden interest in them.
Our transportation for the day was a traditional Greek working boat or Kaiki which sailed us around the coast, stopping along the way to drop anchor so we could learn about urchins, starfish, eels, sea cucumbers and octopuses. Jamie, kept us rapt with tales of Greek mythology, mafia and marine life in between our snorkeling adventures when were left to explore the bays and mingle with the fish.
Within moments of taking our first dip into the water I stumbled upon an octopus gliding across the seabed – what luck! I squealed with excitement through my snorkel and called for Jamie who swiftly caught it, but not before it squirted us with ink and wowed us with its ability to change a variety of colours in a matter of seconds.
Back on board the boat, we stood over the little guy who eyeballed intently before trying to climb out of the temporary aquarium using its suckers. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity, I couldn’t help touching it. It probably goes without saying that feeling an octopus’s tentacles wrap around your hand is weird and slightly alarming – for a moment I thought it might never let go. After a few interesting octopus anecdotes we put him back in the water and watched him swim away.
Here are some things I learnt:
- An octopus can get through a hole the size of a ten pence piece (if you don’t believe me, I found a video on YouTube. Essentially, if its eyes can get through a hole, then so can the rest of it
- Their tentacles will grow back should they accidentally lose one in a fight or to prey
- They make little nests that look like miniature fortresses
- They live about two years
- They can survive out of the water for 3-5 minutes (possibly more?)
- After mating, the male dies
- Greek people love to eat them 😦
Below: A photo I took from the end of the pier near our apartment in Fiscardo – this chap was happily minding his own business.
Below: our transportation for the day.
Last weekend we headed down to Shropshire for a change of scenery and a spot of camping. We’ve been camping every year for nearly 15 years and every year I’m filled with excitement at the ‘idea’ of communing with nature, cooking over an open stove and exploring my surroundings. Somehow, the reality never quite lives up to the ‘idea’. But, in a masochistic sort of way, I enjoy the uncomfortable sleeping, the 5am dawn chorus, the rain showers and leaky tents, the midges, the toilets located 5 minutes from your pitch and the cold nights etc.
This year was particularly cold after we forgot to bring some vital equipment, namely the sleeping bags (amongst other things). Before you judge, I recently spoke to a friend who forgot the family tent on one trip, so my incompetency levels haven’t quite hit rock bottom.
This year our destination was The Buzzards a delightful little campsite (listed in Tiny Campsites, by Dixie Wills) on an organic smallholding. Elaine, the owner, is full of beans and more than happy to help you with anything you may need (including sleeping bags!). She handily sits on the tourism board for the area so can supply you with a leaflet or map for every nook and cranny worth visiting in the area. If you fancy exploring some quintessentially English villages, taste testing cider, tromping around medieval ruins and beautiful countryside, then Shropshire is a good choice.
Now to the cartoon. Yes this did happen. We did get chased by a large herd of cows (approximately 22 of them) across two fields and over a fence. I have video footage though it is mainly of the ground whizzing past as I run for safety – accompanied by a soundtrack of “wait for me” and “oh my God!” and lots of heavy breathing. On reflection, I think the cows were more intent on getting a closer look at us, but having read numerous stories of people being trampled to death, I didn’t want to take any chances by facing up to them. Except of course to film it!
The last few days I’ve had a stonking headache and terrible pains in my shoulder. I may as well have been walking around with someone driving nails into my muscles and bashing the side of my head with a hammer. Thankfully it has subsided as the bank holiday weekend approaches. Although, I’m not sure camping is the best remedy for already aching shoulders.
I’ve been playing with Adobe Illustrator again. Whilst making the most of my last few weeks in part-time employment (back to full time in September), I’ve been trying to pick up a few more Adobe tips and tricks. I’ve been wading through tutorials on Youtube including this one on how to draw a vector pirate skull. This is actually much more comprehensive than the previous tutorial I posted although there a few bits you might want to fast forward to avoid boredom and the incessant pirate music.
The result is a revamp of a cartoon I drew 20+ years ago! I should really post the original so you can compare, but I think it’s hidden in a drawer somewhere at my parents house.