Tag Archives: Oystermouth castle

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.

The Scruffy Little Model

9 Apr

Scruffy cat

It was a really nice day today, not too warm, dry and perfect to get down to the allotment to make an early start on the Spring clearance and planting. The same thing happens every year, I say I’ll break myself in and do an hour at a time and work my way up but no, I did four and a half hours of digging, weeding, planting and hedge trimming straight off. And then got home and crashed on the settee. And didn’t do any art. So I grabbed my sketchbook and scribbled Little Ming who is asleep on the pouffé. She’s getting on a bit, she’s sixteen now but she’s always been a scruffy little thing.

Oystermouth Castle 2

As we walked across the park by the Castle to the allotment site, I noticed a swathe of bright yellow celandine and gleaming white wild garlic (Ramsons) tumbling down the grassy bank. I love the Spring.


I have put my series of drawings en plein air of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to see more, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page. This one is the legendary grave of Saint Elfys (Elvis) in Pembrokeshire, not for from the Presceli Mountains. Elfys? Presceli? Elvis Presley? Coincidence? hhhmmmm

St Elvis

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.

Another Dark Room

3 Sep


I carried on drawing in a darkened room with my Samsung Galaxy Tablet Note 8 this evening. I liked what I did yesterday, so I kept to drawing on top of a dark ground with white and touches of other colours.

Husb and I have been making the most of the good weather to work on our allotment in the evenings after work. Tonight, I dug over a raised bed, I like digging, and then planted some late kale, chard and radish. We left as the bats were swooping out of Oystermouth Castle across the park.

Alien And The Castle

1 Sep


Back to work today after a couple of weeks off, so Husb and I fitted in a visit to our allotment after work. I enjoy digging and it was a lovely evening after a terrible start to the day, it was pouring down this morning. Our allotment is behind Oystermouth Castle in Mumbles and this is the view we saw as we left this evening. We live in such a lovely part of the world.


I did a quick sketch when we got back home, using a photograph. I chose to draw a baby because they have such weird proportions that it’s a challenge. They look like little aliens with big heads and tiny scrunchy faces. Drawn with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen size S into my leather Steampunk sketchbook.

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.

The Castle Cat

9 Jun

09 castle cat

There’s a lovely cat down by our allotment site, beneath Oystermouth Castle. He’s big and fluffy, white and ginger, cuddly and chatty and we’ve often seen him wandering around the Castle but this evening for the first time he came up for a cuddle as we left the allotment. He and Husb sat on the steps and shared a moment. Husb’s wearing his allotment hat, it was still sunny at 8.30 pm and the gnats were vicious.

Sometimes you only have seconds to do a drawing, especially with animals, who don’t appreciate how important it is to hold a pose. I tried a few sketches of him before he settled down for a bit of a cwtch, but even then I only had about a minute before he wandered off. Drawn into my pink recycled sari silk sketchbook, size A5, with faber Castell Pitt drawing pen size S in sepia.

Veg Under The Castle

18 May

Husb and I spent most of the afternoon and evening down at the allotment, because it’s dry and sunny and we are making the most of it. Our allotment is below a Norman Castle, which is really quite a spectacular setting for growing some fruit and veg. Here’s a drawing I did of it a while back, during an evening outdoor performance of Shakespeare.

oystermouth castle

Birthday Books And French Breasts.

18 Apr

Ink sketch: Oystermouth Castle.

Another birthday! Woohoo! Husb gave me three excellent books first thing and then took me this evening for a gorgeous meal at PAs wine bar in Mumbles, one of our favourite restaurants. While we were waiting I sketched the Norman Oystermouth Castle, currently being renovated in the distance behind some of the little Victorian cottages tottering down one of the many Mumbles hills. It’s a funny name, Mumbles. Legend has it that French sailors, upon seeing the two small islands offshore, shouted “Mamelles” which means breasts. Trust the French, eh? The word could also come from Celtic, Latin or Nordic roots but I think I prefer the French story. Drawn into my little A6 cat-themed sketchbook.

The books: Rob Brydon – ‘Small Man In A Book‘ / Philip Pullman – ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’ / Martin Gayford – ‘A Bigger Message: Conversations With David Hockney‘ . Plenty of reading for weeks to come – lovely 🙂


An Ancient Castle, Shakespeare and a Secret Garden.

3 Aug

The Merchant of Venice at Oystermouth Castle

Every year our council puts on some outdoor performances of Shakespeare plays in front of Oystermouth Castle in Mumbles. It’s one of those semi-ruined Norman castles and is a spectacular backdrop to the plays. We went to see The Merchant of Venice. I’d done it in school but back then I’d never really understood how racist and anti-semitic it is. Shocking, but also a very well written play and an insight into the past. Here’s an ink drawing I did at the performance.

Next to the castle is a secret walled garden where our allotment is. It’s lovely going down there in the day and spending a few hours gardening with that huge castle looming above us. We’ve got a shed there with a table and chairs – Melvyn made a little patio area from slate chippings and we take ice-cold elderflower cordial in the summer. There are lovely views down the wooded valley to the city in the distance and a fab coffee shop that does home-made shortbread around the corner.

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