Tag Archives: castles

Concrete And Astroturf??!!

16 Jul

loganberry cordial

Husb and I are keen gardeners, well, no, that’s not true. I’m a keen gardener and Husb would happily fill the garden with concrete and Astroturf! Our garden is small but we also have an allotment and grow a lot of fruit and some veg. At this time of year, we’re picking our produce which means spending time cleaning and preserving it. Today we made 6 jars of gooseberry and elderflower jam and 6 bottles of loganberry cordial and picked about 4 kilos of jostaberries (a cross between gooseberries and blackcurrants), a kilo of rhubarb and a load of rainbow chard. Not much chance of doing anything arty with all this going on, but I did this drawing a while back of our local castle which overlooks the allotments. It’s an idyllic place, we’re very lucky.

Tomorrow, I’ll be jamming all those jostaberries and making rhubarb chutney.

Rhubarb At The Castle

8 May

Rhubarb in pen and graphite

Too warm for me today, temperature around 21 Celsius, so Husb and I didn’t get down to the allotment until about 4pm, when it was staring to cool off a bit and I could do a load of digging without flaking out. Our allotment is on a site sandwiched between two woodland glades and right behind the 12th century Oystermouth Castle in Mumbles. It’s an idyllic setting but the soil is poor, a heavy clay and very hard to cultivate. But it’s good exercise and we generally harvest a good crop of fruits. Most veg need a lighter soil so we’ve built some raised beds and we’ve had moderate success with leeks, chard, rocket, potatoes, runner beans and broad beans. I’m trying out some beetroot and peas this year. Brassicas are a non-starter; as well as the poor soil, everything eats them.

oystermouth castle

Oystermouth Castle at twilight


If you would like to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

The Vastness Of Time

19 Feb

Carreg Jack

I was out and about with archaeologist Dewi Bowen (left) and film maker Melvyn Williams (middle) yesterday, following a Bronze Age route to visit 4 sites of ancient stones. I was planning on drawing them all but this one turned out to be a bit on the short side and I couldn’t get any inspiration from it, to be honest and as it was so cold I didn’t want to stick around and draw it. Sometimes you just don’t find a connection with the subject matter.

Carreg Jack 2

Then I turned round and saw this! The spectacular Llansteffan Castle at the top of the hill. Glorious. So then I started thinking about combining the two images sometime. But not in the cold on the beach in the wind. It’s a sofa job with Adobe Photoshop.

This standing stone is ‘Carreg Fawr Nant Jack‘, which translates from the Welsh as ‘The Big Stone at Jack’s Ford’. Although it looks small now, there’s a lot of it under the sand and in the past it stood on pasture land where it would have been much taller. There’s a huge timescale captured in these two photos. The castle is almost a thousand years old, but was built on the site of a much older Iron Age fort, about another thousand years earlier, and the Bronze Age ‘Carreg Fawr Nant Jack’ could be a couple of thousand years older again.

Allotment Scribblers

5 Dec

05 allotment

Husb and I have an allotment and we went to the site’s annual general meeting last night and I was really surprised to see two other scribblers there. So I pulled out my sketchbook and scribbled them scribbling others. We have been growing lots of fruit on our plot, but the soil is heavy clay and we have struggled to grow veg. We’ve been building raised beds but they need a lot of filling, which is why we’re often going off to farmyards and stables, shovelling up sacks of manure to enrich our soil. It’s really hard work and I appreciate farmers much more since we’ve had it.

Our plot is behind Oystermouth Castle, built in the twelfth century. We are so used to castles littering our landscape (Swansea has two) that we take them for granted, but they’re quite spectacular really and Oystermouth is a particularly lovely one. Swansea City Council has done a lot of renovations in recent years, including an art gallery and it gets a lot of visitors. At this time of year, when there are no leaves on the trees, the castle is visible from the plot and it’s a great place to spend a few hours.

Carew, an Ancient Place of Celts, Castle, Carvings and an Amazing Tidal Mill

10 Sep

Ink drawing: The Tidal Mill at Carew.


I don’t often draw landscapes, I prefer people or occasionally cityscapes as my subject but as we live in such a beautiful part of the world we often stop for a long walk while we’re out driving and find new places to explore and draw.  We found Carew on one of our impromptu drives to West Wales. It’s in Pembrokeshire and the ruined Medieval castle and tidal mill are on the site of an ancient Iron Age fort. An eleventh century intricately carved Celtic Cross stands outside the castle entrance.


The tidal mill is opposite the castle ruins, across a substantial mill pond and one has been on this site since the 1500’s, although the current one dates from the early 19th century.  It’s a very quiet and atmospheric place. The day we visited had some very dramatic weather conditions with huge clouds and eerie early evening Autumnal sunlight which made it all seem very spooky.


Part of the Celtic Cross.


The drawing is done in Faber Castell Pitt pens into a Cotman Watercolour sketchbook and the photograph has been digitally altered in Adobe Photoshop. I had to lean over the top of a rickety bridge to scribble and it was challenging drawing moving water with pens. The water flowed quickly as it’s tidal and so the subject was constantly changing.

Cwtching computer cat

4 Sep

Ink drawing: Little Ming computer cat.

It’s funny how cats choose their people. All the cats that have lived with us have preferred one more than the other. Little Ming has been Melvyn’s cat from the start; she follows him around and she’s especially clingy when he’s using his computer. She rolls about on his PC keyboard and pushes in between him and the screen [just like the new Simon’s Cat cartoon] and he can’t sit on his own with his laptop; it’s obviously been made as a cwtch for a small fluffy cat. She twists herself into all sorts of daft positions so she can squeeze herself around his computer.

Here they are this evening relaxing in our living room. It’s dark outside; Autumn has come very quickly and the nights are drawing in but we’re very cosy here and Little Ming is making the most of the combined heat of Melvyn’s lap AND laptop while we’re listening to the Planet Rock ‘Amps Off’ show and doing Internet stuff.  This afternoon we went to Dynefor Park near Llandeilo for a walk with old friends, from the Gothic Victorian castle through silent woods and up to the old medieval castle ruins in the soft rain. Nice end to a difficult week. These quiet moments make you appreciate what’s really important.


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