Dragon Trainer

Back in the Spring I discovered a nest of dragon eggs in my garden, you can find out about it here and I was a little concerned by this. You see, there was no sign of the parents and I didn’t relish the responsibility of hand rearing baby dragons. Fortunately the adults returned, possibly because I had disturbed the nest, and removed the eggs elsewhere.


I know this will disappoint a good many of you who were hoping to see the hatchlings. So I thought I would share with you a dragon related adventure from a couple of years ago. We were lucky to have at work an exhibition all about Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon books and this included some of the dragons that inhabit her stories. For the most part they were quite well behaved, with the occasional visitor suffering only minor injuries. The staff took it in turns to take the dragons for “walkies” around the Ouseburn Valley where our museum is situated. I took the opportunity to draw the dragons, but they kept eating my pencils and setting fire to my sketch books.


Toothless, a Common or Garden dragon, in our cave.



He liked being tickled under the chin….sometimes.



Trying to capture a dragon’s likeness isn’t easy.

I had with me; Toothless, a Common or Garden dragon,  Stormfly a Mood Dragon and Fireworm a red Monstrous Nightmare dragon. Stormfly was my favourite because, as the name suggests, she changes colour according to her mood. Unlike the other dragons she speaks Norse rather than Dragonese and as I am married to a viking, I understood some of the things she was saying. However, she was a pathological liar (and turned purple when uttering untruths) so I paid her mutterings little attention.


Picnic’s were popular.



I soon found out that dragons and sheep don’t mix.

If you ever get the chance to take a dragon for a walk and a picnic I suggest you jump at it. You might lose a finger in the process, but it will be an adventure you’ll never forget.

Fact or fiction? You decide.

A Clutch of Easter Eggs

The Mid-Spring sun has been kind enough to shine throughout the Easter Weekend. So I decided that it seemed like a good idea to get out into the garden and give it a bit of a tidy up. The ivy in particular was in need of a trim and as I set to work with my secateurs I made quite an unusual discovery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHiding beneath an old rattan chair, which itself has been devoured by the ivy, was a clutch of eggs. Not birds eggs, not even chocolate eggs but Dragon Eggs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not sure what species of dragon is responsible for laying them. But I’m hoping Pygmy or Dwarf Dragon because anything bigger will make a terrible mess of the garden.


Dragons have the magpie tendency to be drawn to shiny objects and this nest has been woven with metallic ribbon. I have had some experience of living with a baby dragon and it’s not easy I can tell you, so I really don’t think we could manage another three. Perhaps now I’ve disturbed the nest the mother will move the eggs. Only time will tell.

Has anything been nesting in your garden this spring? I’d love to hear about it.


Fact or fiction? You decide.



Elves, Penguins and Howler Monkeys

I am attempting to revive the lost art of letter writing and have set myself the ridiculous challenge of a letter a day through 2013. I am absolutely loving it and the response has been fantastic. My little letter elves are flying all over the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has requested a letter. You WILL get one.

I thought you might like to know to whom and where the latest batch have gone to. I can’t show the contents, it would spoil the surprise for the receiver, so I have illustrated the envelope.

Letter 29 is going to Claire Litherland who is creator of Little Red Monkey and Co a fabulous place full of crafty ideas. Her letter elf is staying in the UK and setting off for Sheffield. Obvious I know, but Claire gets a monkey, of the howling variety.

Illustrated letter 29

Number 30 is for Jennie Sisler and is going to Sunderland. No not Wearside UK, but Massachusetts, USA. And Jennie is a seasoned letter writer. Her most recent blog post is all about saving the town’s Post Office. Something we are all too familiar with here in the UK. Check out Jennie’s blog; Jen’s Rambling Thoughts. Why has she got a penguin? Because it is one of the unusual things to be found in her handbag (purse).

Illustrated letter 30

Number 31 is very special. Almost 10 years ago my very best friend lost her battle with a brain tumour and left a huge hole in my life. We’d been friends since we were 6 years old and I never once imagined that we wouldn’t make it into old age together. Although she didn’t have children herself she was Godmother to many, and spoilt them rotten. I also have the privilege to be a Godmother, but to just one person, Lucy. After my friend died I decided to commemorate her birthday, the 2nd February, as Goddaughters Day. And every 2nd February I send Lucy a handwritten letter. This is hers for 2013.

Illustrated letter 31

On to number 32, and this is for Deb Court, my writing buddy. If any of you are wading through the treacle of novel writing you’ll know how good it is to have someone to bounce ideas around with and be a shoulder to cry on. Deb has a very damp shoulder. She is also on the search for dragons.

Illustrated letter 32

And finally in this batch, letter 33 is going across the channel to The Netherlands and to artist Saskia. Now, I actually find thinking of something to draw on the envelope harder than coming up with ideas for letter elves. And as I sat in my studio hoping for inspiration I stared out of the window and gazed at the bare branches of my beautiful silver birch. Hey presto, a tree elf. This wasn’t initially going to be for Saskia, but when I went to check out her deviantART site, Finnguala, what did I find but an awesome drawing of a girl growing branches from her head. Spooky eh?

Illustrated letter 33

Of course sending a letter every day for a year means there have to be 365 of them. So I still need people to send to. If you want to join in with my challenge and would like to receive an original Ziggy Elf take a look here.

How to Train Your Baby Dragon

It’s always a busy and exciting time at work as we say goodbye to one exhibition and welcome in a new one. Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books, has just bid a fond farewell to “Daydreams and Diaries; The Story of Jacqueline Wilson” which has proved a huge success over the past year and I loved the Nick Sharratt illustrations, as you’ll know from a previous post here.

Well, the new exhibition is entitled “A Vikings Guide to Deadly Dragons with Cressida Cowell.” The main focus is on Cowell’s How to Train your Dragon series, with lots of original artwork and manuscripts but there is also going to be items on dragons in general and their place in myth and legend. You can get a taster here.

The other day I was chatting to a friend and colleague about the exhibition and my fondness for dragons and how much fun it would be to have my very own pet dragon. Imagine my surprise when she came to work the next day with this little chap.

He had just hatched and needed adopting. Did I want to take him on, she asked. I was overwhelmed. Of course I would take him. I’ve named him “Sedgwick” after my favourite author Marcus Sedgwick and he will need quite a bit of training.

He is very small.

Tries to camouflage himself against my laptop. And is very inquisitive.

I thought he would be meat eater but he has a strange fascination with vegetables.

(I grew that pumpkin)

He has also made friends with the skinny dogs…..sort of.


Poor little Sedgwick! He was understandably rather frightened and flew off to the vegetables and hid in a cabbage.

Where eventually he went to sleep.

I think that part of his training should be to avoid cabbages as it would seem, given this video, Brassica can be fatal for dragons.

 Hopefully, Sedgwick will be well enough trained to leave the house in order to see the opening of the new exhibition at the end of October. I’ll keep you posted.

29 Faces in September; Wolf Wyrm

At last! Number 29 in the 29 Faces in September challenge. It was also the most challenging of the challenge because he exists  as a character I’ve been working on for a while.

Working in a museum of children’s literature, meeting authors and reading tons of YA fiction is having its effect and I’ve been writing my own story. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to jabber on about it here.)  But this little sweetie plays a pivotal role as a shape shifting, maiden munching bad guy. Or maybe he’s just misunderstood. He’s described as a wolf headed Wyrm, which is a kind of dragon that roams about these ‘ere parts, The Lambton Wyrm being the most famous.


Thank you so much to everyone who’s popped by, “liked” or left comments during the 29 Faces in September challenge. And well done to everyone else who has been taking part.

A Clan of Dragons

In yesterday’s post I revealed my favourite animal was a dragon. I illustrated this with a pirate dragon and thought you might like to meet the rest of his family.

I call them a “clan” of dragons because I know them to be related. But does anyone know what the collective noun for dragons is? Or better still, what name would you create as a collective noun?

There is one more member of the family to meet. A female dragon in fact. If you can guess what era she hails from I’ll dedicate her to you and link back to your blog.