Dinosaurs, dragons and guinea pigs

Entertainment in the form of conversation with a two and four year old is hard to beat.  I spent the weekend with my brother’s family and was immersed in a world of dragons, dinosaurs, strange children’s stories about moles with poo on their head, growing crystals, modelling chocolate, kings and princesses, train rides to Africa and much, much more.

It was my nephew’s fourth birthday and 95% of his presents were dinosaur based, right down his birthday cake and dinosaur tattoos.  He told me that dinosaur means terrible lizard and that a t-rex and a pterodactyl merged to form a terrifying flying menace which flies around Edinburgh. To kill a T-rex, you must stab it in the stomach with a sword and run between its legs. I think the first bit is true at least.

My two year old niece on the other hand, is happy making pretend tea and moving beans from one pot to another whilst chattering away in pidgin English.  When she is out and about, she is permanently attached to a toy buggy which she pushes everywhere with great determination regardless of whether it is occupied.  She loves her guinea pig and insists on stuffing carrots in its mouth while it dangles desperately off her tiny knee.  My world seems positively bleak now that I’m back at home.
Guineapig

Hippos

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!

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A word or two about cats

bad cat habitsWhat is it about cats? Aloof, independent, marathon sleepers, expert hunters, master climbers and your friend, but only on their terms. They are fascinating and well-loved pets to some, yet despised and put into dustbins by others.  They rival dogs as our favourite pets and were once considered sacred deities by the ancient Egyptians.  They are featured in calendars, novels, their own diaries,  films, cartoons, haiku and of course, on YouTube!

I have to admit I’ve spent many an hour browsing through endless compilations of cats doing crazy things.  It’s pure entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, I spend equal amounts of time browsing ‘dogs to the craziest things’ videos, but today, it’s all about the cats.  Take for instance, Maru who enjoys trying to insert himself into boxes that were clearly never intended for cat habitation.    Or perhaps a strange Japanese show where cats climb into bowls…?!

Quite recently, a friend of mine announced that she was opening a luxury 5 star cat hotel.  I was fascinated to learn that the franchise offers four poster beds with silk sheets, music piped into the rooms, trout breakfasts, cat massage, a dedicated cat entertainer and the option to have your cat send you a postcard whilst you are away.    Wow, what more is there to say?   Perhaps I should leave you with the cartoon…it brings cats down a peg or two.

I’ve been away

A combination of lack of inspiration, a new job, holidays and general laziness have been conspiring against me over the past few months.  I’ve hardly put pen to paper except to doodle in the margins of my notepad during exceptionally boring meetings.

I envy those comic artists and illustrators who manage to pour their creativity onto paper  week in and week out; keeping the masses entertained with unwavering dedication.

I recently took time out to holiday in Greece. Kefalonia to be precise.  Despite my love of crisp autumnal mornings and streets scattered with crunchy brown and yellow leaves (if we’re lucky – usually it’s soggy, wet, mouldy leaf litter and unpredictable weather), I think a short stint in warmer climes is good for the soul.

Every day for a week, I tentatively opened the curtains (as I would do in the UK) wondering whether the skies would be dark and foreboding, and every day I was delighted by clear blue skies and golden sunrise.

During the first couple of days, two things stood out.  The first, which I’ve drawn in this post, was the extraordinary number of ferrel cats.  Unbeknownst to me, Kefalonia is often referred to as the Island of Cats.   They are everywhere, lurking in alleyways, behind walls, under cars, in supermarkets, beneath bushes and in restaurants.  Always watching.  If you feel something brush against your leg or catch some movement out of the corner of your eye, it’s likely to be a cat slinking past you.  Not one meal was consumed without a handful of cats watching us put every forkful of food to our mouths.  This was the first thing that made me put pen to paper in weeks.

Cats

A little excerpt from my sketch pad! catsMy second observation (amongst others) will be covered in my next post or posts (depending on my mood) so stay tuned!

Holiday UK #9 – Aerial Crime

seagullExcerpt from holiday diary 1st July:

“Parked at the National Trust Car Park at Frogmore (157516) and made our way down to the coast at Lantivet Bay.  The sun was out and the sea was a beautiful turquoise, you could almost imagine you were in the Mediterranean.  On arrival at Polruan, we hopped on a water taxi to Fowey to join the throngs of German tourists and to tuck into a delicious smoked Mackerel and Beetroot Bagel from the delightful Lifebuoy Cafe.  We tried to take our usual “lunch with a view” photo (we have a series of these taken on various walks around the country) when a seagull swooped down from nowhere to grab my bagel.”  

Driving CornwallExcerpt from holiday diary 2nd July:

Windy and drizzling today – what a contrast to yesterday.  After a few false starts we end up on the way to the North Coast.  First stop, Rock. Well, the Rock pier car park for a loo stop.  Rock is a rather posh village on the other side of the estuary to Padstow (you can cross from Rock to Padstow on a foot ferry). The village is dotted with high end clothing stores, restaurants, bistros and cafes… 

…I was unimpressed by the drive to Polzeath – we didn’t really have a destination in mind.  The Bee Centre? Vineyards? Cider Farm?  We finally decide on Lanhydrock where we’ve been before, but in the dark on an impromptu ghost hunt with mum and dad.”

Holiday UK #5 – National Marine Aquarium

NMA_plymouthHoliday diary excerpt 27th June:

“…We caught the Park and Ride from Coypool into Plymouth to explore the ‘Ocean City’.  First impressions: grimy, durgy, unattractive.  We walked to the Plymouth Hoe, down to the lido and past the crumbling features of what I think are the remains of concrete Victorian beach huts built into the cliff face (see picture below to illustrate…).

…We spent the remainder of the afternoon in the National Marine Aquarium gawping at moray eels, upside down and moon jellyfish, baby sharks wriggling in their egg cases and frog fish that look exactly like pieces of coral. I loved it”

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Holiday UK #1 – The Hole Incident

windy walkExcerpt from the holiday diary 23rd June:

“We’re sitting in the Pilchard Inn, a tiny pub perched on the edge of Burgh Island, home to a posh hotel where you can stay for a mere £400-600 per night.  If you want to come by helicopter, there is a convenient helipad in the grounds.  The ‘Rif Raf’ are welcome on the island but only if they walk across the sand bar when the tide is out or catch the giant sea tractor…

We walked from Ringmore along the SW coastal path dotted with flowers and pretty grasses.  The winds were high but they blew the forecast showers over our heads and inland.  L has become adept at simultaneously pointing out wildlife and dangerous obstacles…”

We recently returned from a great holiday in Devon and Cornwall.  Not usually ones for taking a summer holiday in the UK (due to unpredictable weather) we decided to risk it this year and it paid off.  Clear skies, turquoise seas, belting sunshine, rolling moorland, white beaches – If you could always guarantee weather like this, who needs to go abroad, there is so much to see right here?

As always we kept a running commentary of the holiday by way of a diary and this year I aimed to draw a cartoon a day to supplement the entries.  For the next few days I’m going to share a few short extracts from the diary and a quick cartoon.  Don’t expect beautifully penned, Wordsworth-esq, descriptions of the holiday.  Sadly, I lack the vocabulary to paint a picture, instead, I draw cartoons.