One Swallow doesn't make a Summer We've reached May and the fifth blogpost about the illustrations I did last summer for Lia Leendertz's 2019 edition of The Almanac - a seasonal guide... when out for walks this month I've been looking out deer and swallows to photograph for this blog, without success; so with the month of May drawing to a close I'll have to do without them.

The opening spread is of a glorious sunny late morning in May. in the illustration the Apple trees are in full blossom and the 'May' ... Hawthorn blossom has transformed the hedgerows to a frothy creaminess. Swallows newly arrived from Africa are enthusiastically wheeling around the sky. In the shadows of the hedge a newly born fawn has been left safely by its mother who is grazing the fresh grass nearby.

Here's my workings for the linocut for this spread ... and as this is a warts and all account, you can spot the deliberate mistake! Yes, I got my Elder muddled up with my May bloss…


Spring flowers but no April showers I'm continuing my posts about the illustrations I did last summer for Lia Leendertz's 2019 edition of The Almanac - a seasonal guide... it's great to know that the book is encouraging people to look for and enjoy the seasonal changes in their gardens and the countryside.

Here in the south-west corner of Suffolk there has been no rain since early March and in the past week with the temperatures around 23˙C it feels more like mid-summer than spring.

The opening page of the April chapter in The Almanac is a close-up of a Blackbirds nest.
We have blackbirds nesting in and around our garden, this year they have been very secretive about exactly where the nest is, I think that the young have now fledged and are hiding in the undergrowth waiting for their parents to bring food. We see them searching out food on the lawn and the male Blackbird sits on a tall branch to sing a glorious song in the evening.
For the illustration I placed the nest i…


"In like a lion and out like a lamb" The old saying proved true this year, March began with storms Freya and Gareth, in SW Suffolk we didn't get much rain but the wind was harsh and continuous for two weeks interrupted by occasional short sharp hail showers. The spring flowers that had begun to open in February's false-spring held off until this last week of the month now that warmth and sunshine has arrived with the Spring Equinox.  I'm continuing my posts about the illustrations I did last summer for Lia Leendertz's 2019 edition of The Almanac - a seasonal guide... a book which nudges us to be aware of the natural seasons.

The inspiration for the opening illustration for March came from my local walk along the Stour Brook that I wrote about in January, the Blackthorn is just coming into bloom as are the 'Pussy Willow' catkins. On the grassy banks the Wood Anemone flowers are like patches of stars in the grass. A squally shower sends the fox hurryin…


It's nearly Spring! Continuing my posts about the illustrations I did last summer for Lia Leendertz's 2019 edition of The Almanac - a seasonal guide. For the inspiration for February I used memories of my own garden as it comes to life after the winter months.

The opening spread for February includes Hazel catkins, Winter Aconites and Crocuses; Bluetits doing a mating display and a Blackbird pecking at moss ... feeding on grubs underneath or maybe collecting some to start nest building. Look out for the Blackbird appearing again in the illustrations in the coming months.

You can see the sun shining in the illustration, low in the sky in the early morning. The January illustration is set at dawn and the next one for March will be late morning ... the illustrations take you not only on a journey through the year but through the day from dawn to dusk.

Here are my notes of what could be included in the illustration, my original quick sketch, tracing for transfer to the lino, the …

Old Hall Marshes

A walk around Old Hall Marshes (7.8 miles)Saturday 16 February 2019
Weather: mild, 14˚C, south-westerly breeze, cloudy
Parked opposite Salcott-cum-Virley church.
(please click on the photos to enlarge them)

The marshes are an area of rare unimproved grazing pasture and creeks protected from the sea by earth banks; outside the sea walls are salt marsh and the mud flats of the creeks along the Blackwater estuary which are exposed and re-flooded with the ebb and flow of the tides. This precious mix of habitats provide a rich food source for numerous bird species and make up the Blackwater Estuary Nature Reserve.

A cloudy day and a flat bleak landscape ... but plenty to see.

The tide was out so the salt marsh has been drained of water and the mud exposed.

You can see the narrow channel that winds through the mud banks ... at high tide sailing these waters needs careful navigation.

 The mud may look uninteresting but for wading birds, especially those that visit the Essex coast in winter, th…