Lyme Regis visit

Lyme Regis was home to fossil hunter Mary Anning, and on my visit last weekend I spotted a copy of her fragile Commonplace Book in the local museum.  Lyme Regis Museum is built by the sea on the site of where Mary lived with her family in poverty in the early nineteenth century.  Her book includes this page about astronomy.

 Mary also made copies of published poems and thoughts about love and loneliness, an insight into the mind of this extraordinary woman who, driven by curiosity about the world, made ground-breaking paleontological discoveries.   I’ve included a homage to the young Mary in The Hand Book of hopes and dreams, to be published by Design For Today in November this year.  My photograph is an early morning view from Lyme Regis taken from near the cliffs Mary loved to explore, with a view of Golden Cap in the distance.



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Nottingham visit

Caught the train to Nottingham from St Pancras last week, happy to see my photograph of railwayman Roland Hoggard in the station. From Nottingham station en route to find the bus to a friend’s house, heading up to the Castle I passed this plaque by the canal.  The river Leen joins the canal here.  Some years ago there was a canal museum in one of the converted warehouses, where you could view water running underneath the building.

Walking up towards the Castle, presently closed for a refurb, I called in at the Trip to Jerusalem pub built into the sandstone of the castle rock.  I was told as child that this was where soldiers called in for their last pint before setting out to the Crusades.I stayed a couple of nights with my friend J.  In the morning I found one of her childhood toys outside my bedroom door.

We travelled to Leicestershire to see an Arts and Crafts cottage at Stonewall.  A very helpful guide called Tony Curtis showed us round the gardens.

We went on to explore a bit of Charnwood Forest, mysterious and very Grimm like.

 My niece and her family live in Nottingham. I spent a happy time with the children watching butterflies being born – Painted Ladies, delivered by post in caterpillar form. I sat with the children, watching the butterflies’ trembling emergence and gentle fluttering as they tried out their new wings before being released into the wild the following day.  The butterflies that is. What delight!

Have you been to Nottingham? What are your favourite things there?

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Celebrating 150 years of St Pancras station – my photo on display

In 2010 I interviewed railwayman Roland Hoggard.  When workmen dropped the huge clock inside St Pancras, Roland H collected the pieces, put them into cardboard boxes and over time tool them back to his Nottinghamshire home, where he reconstructed the clock face on his barn wall. The clock you see today inside the station is a copy of the original. One of the photographs I took of Roland H at that time is now on a display board at St Pancras, celebrating 150 years of the station and the people connected to it.  So pleased, as he was a charming man.

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The Hand Book of hopes and dreams – preparations

Preparations last week for the publication by Design For Today of my leporello Hand Book of hopes and dreams.  You’ll be able to meet all sorts of characters, and draw your own hopes and dreams at my workshop on 23rd September at the Bouncing Off The Wall  event.

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Penzance and St Ives visit

It was 32 degrees in London recently, pollution levels were high and  I began to croak and wheeze.  I just had to get away and breathe some sea air.  That’s my excuse anyway.  I checked the weather forecast, packed a small suitcase with wet weather gear just in case – British holiday habits die hard – and set off for the south west.  My Penzance B&B room was tiny, more like a ship’s cabin, but that suited me because I could lie on my narrow bed and immerse myself in the blue dazzle of sea and sky.

It just happened to be Unicorn Derby Day at the nearby Art Deco Jubilee  Pool (of seawater).  I counted at least 31 unicorns racing to the sound of the Ride of the Valkyries blasting out on the PA system.

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More about the The Hand Book

Just finished the last pages for The Hand Book of hopes and dreams, published by Design For Today, coming soon!  Unfold the pages of this leporello book and meet a sailor, an Arctic explorer, a conjuror, a fossil hunter, a detective and many more … What are your hopes and dreams?

Some of the small images included in The Hand Book …Due to be published in September 2018.

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Stop Trump March

On friday I joined the start of the Stop Trump march, to show solidarity with thousands of others protesting about the visit and actions of this racist, misogynistic, mendacious and shameless President.  In the words of the characters above, ‘Cluck off, Trump!’

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Visit to Krakow

When I first decided to visit Krakow, partly because I’d heard about the Teraz Komiks! exhibition from comics guru Paul Gravett, I chose my hotel because of its name – the Copernicus. The sixteenth century Polish astronomer, famous for his heliocentric view of the universe, appears in my and Tracey Turner’s The Comic Strip History of Space.  

Copernicus stayed in a building here on Kanonicza street – the site is now a hotel , and I was hooked. My bedroom was up in the roof, with a huge bed like a box pew, and a skylight.  Could I watch the stars at night?  Sadly these days there’s too much light pollution from the city. But I could dream …

Krakow had always intrigued me.  It seemed like a magical place, as well as resonating with a turbulent and complicated history. I could look down from my tiny bedroom window onto the ancient street below, its shining cobbles leading up towards Wawel Castle.

Opposite was the Bishop Erazm Ciolek Palace , filled with ecclesiastical treasures from the 12th to the 18th century, including funeral accoutrements in a darkened room echoing with melancholy music.

I went on a tour of the Collegium Maius where Copernicus studied,  lunched on delicious soup made from pears, parsley and mustard at Wierzynek, one of Krakow’s oldest restaurants.

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At Krakow’s Teraz Komiks! exhibition

So excited to visit Teraz Komiks! (Comics Now!) at Krakow’s National Museum last week, and to meet curators Artur Wabik and Tomasz Trzaskalik, who kindly showed me around the exhibition, and some of the delightful city of Krakow as well. Sitting here on the creative couch with curator/editor Artur and a character called Ink Blot, aka Szarlota Pawel’s Kleks.  The fantastic comic selection of over 600 items, dating from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, is part of a private collection belonging to Wojciech Jama, 

This character may look familiar, but it’s not Homer Simpson, it’s mid-twentieth century Swedish cartoonist Oskar Jacobson’s character Adamson, who found his way into Poland and other European countries, the USA, Japan and China.

I loved this exhibition, not just for its original and rare artwork, books, toys and other merchandise but the cutouts and 3D installations – the nineteenth century ‘cafe’ where one could sit quietly and read comics from that time, and the crazy studio of Papcio Chmiel, creator of the little monkey Tytus and others,  seen above with curator/architect/exhibition designer Tomasz Trzaskalik.

Here I’m sitting next to Zbigniew Lengren’s Professor Filutek from the 1960s.  You can also meet Dennis Wojda and Krzysztof Gawronkiewitcz’s strange inhabitants of Mikropolis, and many more before Teraz Komiks! closes on 22nd July.  Don’t miss it!

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The Hand Book – putting together a dummy

Still a few more characters (and folded pages) to go before it’s published by Design For Today later this year.



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