That Was The Summer That Was

That was the summer that was, it’s over let it go to paraphrase the sixties satirical TV series. But I can’t let it go without a final salute;

First there were animals to wrangle.

Petting a python

Petting a python

Meeting a meercat

Meeting a meercat

Story Book dogs to entertain.

Timmy the Dog from Enid Blyton's Famous Five series

Timmy the Dog from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series

George from Oh No George by Chris Haughton

George from Oh No George by Chris Haughton

Hot Rods to admire

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Seriously shiny

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richly rusted

 

Campervans to cook in

 

camper capers

camper capers

 

Knights to nuzzle

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What can I say!

 

And costumes to cavort in

 

Training Dragons

Dances with dragons

 

Taming a tiger

Tea with a Tiger

 

So, what did you do this summer?

 

 

 

 

 

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Frogs, Trolls and Amigurumi

My challenge to revive the lost art of the handwritten letter continues to be, well, challenging. I am writing a letter a day, but also illustrating each one with an original Ziggy Elf. I wanted to post up what I was doing, but quickly realized that I couldn’t show the contents of the letters. That would spoil the surprise for the recipient. So, ingeniously, I decided to illustrate the envelopes. So far I’ve come up with something that has meaning to each person, but it’s taxing my drawing skills. Just check out the latest batch.

Number 34 is going all the way to CHINA! I was so excited to hear from Chenchen who is creator of Pure Sketch and Comics. This is a young man who is so talented. His ink sketches are fabulous. He lives in Nanjing which is famous for its salted duck….nom nom.

illustrated letter 34

Letter 35 is going to somewhere equally exciting…Hawaii. Well it’s exciting to someone who lives in the North of England. It is for Paul who is a ceramicist and is the creator of Paper, Mud and Me. Like the letter that went to Hansi in California, this one is adorned with Sunny the Campervan. How wonderful to tootle around Hawaii in a VDub bus.

illustrated letter 35

Letter 36 goes to Virginia who hails from Eldersburg, Maryland, USA. She is another 3D artist, a sculptor and you can find out more about her at Muse-ings. Virginia made some lovely frogs, so I thought I’d have a go too.

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Letter 37 is staying in the UK and heading south to Dorset. Now this may not be the exotica of Hawaii but I can tell you this is one of England’s most beautiful counties, and pretty cool for a campervan adventure. The coast is known as the Jurassic Coast and is a World Heritage Site. Ha! Who needs palm trees now? It is home to Joanna who is creator of Pippin Run Wild, a veritable feast of all things vintage and crafty. Joanna made a beautiful bluebird pin cushion that inspired her envelope illustration.

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Letter 38 is the first to go to Sweden and is for Janna. She is the creator of Janna’s Whimsies. This blog is packed with lovely images and creative stories. The envelope illustration is inspired by a post about an ancient forest and it’s trolls.

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Letter 39 is going just up the coast to Amble in Northumberland, another breath- takingly beautiful county. It is for Jean Rafferty, an award winning journalist and author. You can find out more about this very talented lady at her website here. One of my favourite walks with the Skinny Dogs is from Warkworth, along the beach to Amble and back up by the estuary. You can always spot a magnificent heron or two, and here’s mine.

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The penultimate letter in this batch is going to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I actually have relatives in Vancouver going back two generations. I would love to visit. Maybe one day. This is for Caroline who is the creator of the very stylish blog The Girl in the Yellow Dress. The subtitle is Yellow Bird Dreams, so it had to be a little Tweetie Pie.

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And finally, letter 41 is going to the Illustrated Letter projects favourite destination; Australia. In particular Melbourne. This envelope is adorned with the strangest thing I have ever dreamt up and it is especially for Sharon at Gentle Stiches. She is all about the stitchery and the “gentle art of repair.” But Sharon is particularly fond of amigurumi, the Japanese art of knitting cute mini animals. So I’ve had a go at an Amigurumi Elf. What do you think?

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Phew! Around the world in eight illustrations.

Well, I still need help if I am to complete my challenge of a letter a day. I need 365 people to send letters to. Would you like to recieve an original Ziggy Elf? If so you’ll find all the details here.

Illustrated Letters 8 and 9; off to Germany and California

I have embarked on a challenge to revive the art of letter writing by composing one a day for the year. But not just the written word, each one is illustrated with a Ziggy elf.

Here are letters 8 and 9 for two lovely people who agreed to join in. Firstly a little elf is off to Germany to live with Geralin, creator of The Colourful Sketchbook. She deftly produces with simple lines delightful images. Take a look. I can’t show the contents of the letter, it’ll spoil the surprise for Geralin, but I’ve illustrated the envelope. Somebody had to get a Skinny Dog and Geralin is the first.

Letter number 9 is going all the way to Southern California. I wish I could squeeze into the envelope and bask in some of that lovely sunshine. But I don’t think Hansi would be too keen. He is the recipient of the latest letter and creator of Hansi’s Hallucinations. How can I describe his blog? Do you know, I don’t think I could find the words to adequately do it justice. His tag line is “The Drawings and Rants of a Mad Man” which does it nicely. Head on over and say hello. Hansi gets a VDub Splitty ‘cos campervans and California go hand in hand.

 

Illustrated letter 8 Geralin

 

Illustrated letter 9

But if I am to complete 365 I require some help. I need more people to send them to. If you would like an Illustrated Letter you’ll find the details here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SkinnyDogs; Most Popular in 2012

Mischa and Honey Skinny Dog are little Miss Popular. Who knew? The WordPress helper-monkeys that’s who. According to their annual number crunching stats report my post The Skinny Dogs Sketched and Tattooed received the most views of the year. I haven’t told them, it would just go to their heads. But it just goes to show, dogs trump elves in the blog world.

The top search term to find me was skinny dog, Nick Sharratt, Nick Sharratt drawings, illustrations for Jaqueline Wilson (they are by Nick Sharratt) and My Sister Jodie (illustrated by Nick Sharratt). Probably because I wrote this piece about my admiration for….Nick Sharratt. So if I draw the skinny dogs Nick Sharratt style I wonder what will happen. Hmmmmm…..I feel a blog post coming on.

All the best to everyone in 2013 and especially all those who have taken the time to view, like, or pass comment on the quite frankly ridiculous blog posts here at Ziggy Shortcrust. I leave you with the very popular Skinny Dogs.

 

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Hey Honey, prick up your ears. We were the most popular thing on Ziggy’s blog.

 

 

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Whoop! I could just jump for joy.

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Stop jumping and head for the sofa to pose.
Ok, just as soon as I’ve unstuck my tongue from my nose.

 

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Hello! Anybody out there admiring me?

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I laugh in the face of elves. Hahahaha!

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Campervan Skinny Dogs

Are Skinny Dogs more popular than elves? You decide.

Mist, Mint and a Mini Cooper S

The weather up North has been fantastic this weekend and I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy it with friends in Northumberland.

It started with early morning mist in the Coquet Valley.

Ready chilled mint growing wild in the hedgerow

Autumn colours.

Local wildlife.

Hoare frost on the car roof.

The stunning Cheviot Hills.

Some jolly fine classic vehicles.

including my mate’s newly restored Mini Cooper S

And finished off with a beautiful sunset.

But even though I was out in the growing gloom, I still didn’t meet the Simonside Duargar

How did you spend your weekend?

29 Faces in September; Campervan faces

Blogging in a campervan isn’t easy. I had no access to WI-FI at Busfest or on the campsite at Stratford upon Avon Racecourse, so couldn’t post up any faces. Now I’m back at the fabulous Mason’s Campsite and modern communication technology is back.

I haven’t done any Five Minute Faces for a while so here are a fab four to keep me up to speed with the 29 Faces in September challenge…..and not an elf in sight.

 

And they are all people that I met on my campervan tootle to Busfest.

Fact or fiction?

You decide.

 

29 Faces in September #7 and #8; Inky Lovelies

These are faces 7 and 8 in the 29 Faces in September challenge.

Firstly a massive thank you for all the likes and comments for the previous 6. It’s proving to be a challenge in more ways than one given that I am camping in Sunny the Splitty while trying to blog.

We are about to set off to the Three Counties Showground in Malvern for Busfest; the biggest festival in Europe that is just VW campervans. It’s the first time for us and I’m assuming I won’t have WI-FI or much else come to that so here are two faces to keep me up to speed.

They were drawn in biro in a notebook that I found in Sunny yesterday. It had gone mouldy with condensation and I liked the effects.

 

29 Faces in September #5 Medusa by Gaslight

Well, if this works I’ll be amazed. I am on a Campervan Tootle to Busfest in Malvern via The Yorkshire Dales. For the next couple of days we are at Appletreewick (pronounced Apt’wick by the locals) and have spent the evening supping fine ale and cider in The Craven Arms. After a sumptuous graze I doodled this little creature under flickering gas light. Yes the pub is lit by gas.
Now I’ve got to see if I can upload this all via my phone while snuggled down in Sunny. If you are looking at a snaky face….it worked!

 

Sadly, the phone would only upload text not image. But lovely Mason’s Campsite has WI-FI. So here is Medusa Elf, caught on camera last night in torchlight.

Campervan Tootle; The Scarborough Stitchers

I recently took a campervan tootle to North Yorkshire, primarily to spend the weekend with my Mum. But it also gave me the chance to have a look at an exhibition of embroidered work, The Scarborough Stitchers, of which my Mum is a member.

This was the first journey I have embarked upon with Sunny the Campervan where speed became an issue. As you know, campervan tootling is all about taking it easy; life via the B roads. But not when the speedometer cable has snapped. It wasn’t that I was afraid of breaking the speed limit, Sunny is happiest trundling along at 50mph, but if I went over 55mph I ran the risk of blowing up the engine! It was like a low-budget version of “Speed”. However, being the top-notch tootler that I am I arrived safely at St Hilda’s church, Ravenscar, engine intact.

The Scarborough Stitchers are a group of ladies who….. stitch! They create beautiful pieces in a diverse array of embroidery techniques, from stump work to gold work and everything  in between.

St Hilda’s Church

View from St Hilda’s toward Robin Hoods Bay

 

Considering how far off the beaten track the exhibition was the little church was full to brimming with curious visitors examining each and every piece. The  work wasn’t for sale, because if it was I would have had one of those little bags, it was a showcase of extraordinary talent from a group of extremely friendly Yorkshire ladies. Who, incidentally, bake the most delicious banana cake and brew the best pot of tea.

 

Dub Lovin’ at Druridge Bay

Today was my first VW event of the summer (I use the word summer loosely). It’s the third annual Mighty Dub Fest held at the very beautiful Druridge Bay in Northumberland. Not surprisingly it was very muddy under foot but I was wearing my knee-length Doc Martin’s and was invincible.

The very first stand we approached sold rustic wrought ironwork, but we had to scarper as Skinny Dog#1 ate the roast vegetables on the wrought iron kebab display. A few stalls along and Skinny Dog#2 squatted down in front of the pie and pickle stand causing a lot of “eews” and “urghs” from passers-by. So we high tailed out of the festival grounds to have a look at the vans in the camping area beside the lake.

We then felt brave enough to re-enter the festival as the dogs had by now shared a Northumbrian pie, snaffled scraps of food out of black bin liners and pooped for England around the lake. (please note we do collect the poo and dispose of it responsibly).

Probably because of the appalling weather not as many vans had turned up this year. So, the following photos are a mix from today and last years event. See if you can spot the difference.

This is Lulabelle, a van full of cakes…..scrummy!

A time for reflection.

Festival boots and paws.

 I talked about herbs in my van in a previous post……so here are todays fresh bunch; oregano, chives and thyme. Not that we did any cooking today.

And finally, the test of a British summer festival; mud proof footwear.