Summer Solstice Elf

This elf has been inspired by a post from Jannaswhimsies which you can find here. I love Janna’s poetically beautiful prose and today she talked about celebrating the summer and fixing flowers in her hair. Pop over and have a look. you won’t be disappointed.

This little elf has taken Janna’s advice.

Happy Summer Solstice.


Summer Soltice Elf

Summer Soltice Elf

Ziggy and the King of the Rook Elves

Mischa SkinnyDog and I went for our usual walk; through the houses, onto the moor and up into the woods. As we made our way between the trees such a racket began above our heads.

“Look,” said Mischa “crows.”

“Ah my skinny friend” said I “if you see a rook on its own it’s a crow. If you see a lot of crows, then they are rooks.”

Mischa was contemplating this when the rooks swooped down and took hold of us. There were dozens of them grasping at us with their sharp talons and beaks. They lifted us from the ground and took us high above the tree tops until we came to an old oak whose trunk had a gaping hole. From our vantage point it appeared like a wooden chimney. Down flew the rooks taking us with them into the depths of the tree.

Like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole we fell further and further and deeper and deeper under the ground. All at once the rooks loosened their grip and we were dropped unceremoniously on to leaf littered earth. Considering how far we had fallen it was surprisingly light and I could see that Mischa and I were in a vast cavern tangled with tree roots suspended from its roof. The rooks circled around us cawing loudly but as the settled amongst the roots they took on their true guise; Rook Elves. These are particularly clever, yet mischievous creatures who excel in thievery.Each one had about their shoulders a cloak of glistening jet black feathers but only one wore a crown made from a rook. He leapt down from the roof top roots and stood before me and spoke.

“Now I’m the King of the Rook Elves, a Pixie VIP. I’ve reached the top and had to stop and that’s what’s bothering me. I want to draw like Ziggy Shortcrust and doodle round the town. Give me the dibs on your inky nibs, I’m tired of elfing around.”

“Goodness me!” I said, “I’d be happy to help in fact it would be an honour but I’m afraid I don’t have my pens with me.”

“Now don’t try and kid me Shortcrust,” he said, “Clue me what to do. Give me the gen on your fine liner pen so I can be like you.”

Then all the elves gathered around Mischa and I and started chanting, “Oh oobee doo, we want to be like you, we want to draw like you, sketch like you too. You’ll see it’s true, Elves like us can learn to be doodlers too.”

I could see these creatures weren’t going to take no for an answer but I had no pens. What could I do? Then it struck me….quills. We could make pens from feathers. So I set Mischa to work nibbling away on the rook feathers until we had enough for everyone. I can’t tell you what we did for ink, but it was a scary process getting it. Silver birch bark served as paper and off we went. I conducted my very first Elf Doodling class. We were only there for a couple of hours but on our release it turned out we had been gone two whole months. You may remember from my last visit to the OtherWorld that the elves sent out a Ziggy Changeling in my stead. It would appear this happened again as nobody missed me at all. But she appears to have an aversion to blogging so that’s why I haven’t posted anything for a while.

Fact or fiction?

You decide.


King of the Rook Elves drawn with a quill.

King of the Rook Elves drawn with a quill.

A Final Farewell to Honey the Skinnydog

For me a home is not complete without a dog or two lounging around it. Over the years I’ve had some fabulous canine companions to sprawl across the sofas with. They’ve always been rescued dogs who have enjoyed a second bite of the cherry and the most recent hound to join us has been Honey the Skinny Dog.

Hunny on the Moor

taking the occasional rest

A dog of very little brain but a huge heart who has given us so much love since bursting into our lives back in September 2010. I have not met a creature who fizzed with energy like Honey. For her, every day was an adventure that had to be attacked at 100 miles an hour. But sadly, last Saturday morning Honey suffered an embolism in her spine leaving her back legs totally paralysed and her front legs partially so. 48 hours in the vet’s care saw no improvement. Honey was not a dog to lay still for the rest of her days watching the world go by, so, we had to make the heartbreaking decision to say a final farewell to this beautiful dog.


Honey had springs for legs


A great pal for Mischa the Skinnydog

But I don’t do sad or regrets. Yes, sure, I bawled my eyes out holding her head in my hands, feeling it grow heavy as her  life ebbed away. And heaven knows what her world was like before us; she was found as an emaciated stray. But we had two and a half fabulous years together. My regret would’ve been not to have given her a home and not to have known her.

Tattoo Honey

Honey inked up

So raise a glass to all those pets who bring so much love and companionship to us feeble human beings. Tip your head back and give a howl of happiness.

When is it Okay to Stare at Someone?

Answer; when you are trying to “elf” them.

I haven’t elfed anyone up for ages but I got a request a little while ago from Elle Bewsell who is the creator of the blog Our Beauty Philosophy. Like George Clooney eyeballing a goat I stared and stared at Elle’s photo and tried to elf her. But the results were very poor. So I went away, had a pork and apple sausage sandwich (with extra apple sauce) came back and hey presto! Why it was so difficult I don’t know. Maybe because Elle is already elfin like? Although I couldn’t see her ears in the photo I’m willing to bet they are just a little bit pointy. She also has the most delightful Mona Lisa smile going on which, although real elves don’t smile, Elle’s “elfter ego” certainly had to.

Not only has Elle been elfed she also conducted an online interview with me for her blog. What an honour. You can read it here.


Did I capture Elle’s inner elf? The real Elle is here.

Another Batch of Letter Elves Hatched

My quest to rekindle the art of the hand written letter continues. Another six letters have set off on their journey around the world; Boston USA, Tasmania Australia, Victoria Australia, Newcastle UK and two have headed to British Columbia Canada.

I can’t show the illustrations inside the letters, it would spoil the surprise for those receiving, but I have illustrated the envelopes.

Letter number 12 has set off to Jen Ross the creator of Winter Owls a delightful blog full of thrifty creations and of course Owls. Not surprisingly Jen gets an owl.

illustrated letter 12

Letter 13 is full of good luck and is off to Jade in Canada. Her Dad is the creator of Drawings for Jade. Each morning before he sets of to work he makes a drawing for Jade…how cool is that. Jade loves her ladybug boots so I thought a little spotty insect or two wouldn’t go amiss.

illustrated letter 13

Letter 14 is for Harini who is the creator of The Madras Designery. Harini, like me, uses fine liner pens for many of her drawings but takes the art to a whole different level.

illustrated letter 14

Letter 15 hasn’t gone very far at all, it’s stayed in Newcastle. It is for Erin who works alongside me at Seven Stories. Erin has given a home to some ex-battery hens who produce the most delicious eggs. So it had to be chickens.

illustrated letter 15

Number 16 is for Owlissa who is also doing a letter writing challenge. She has been far more sensible and is sending off one a week. Check out her blog Mum in the Woods   The little elf on the envelope is an homage to Owlissa who has a very cool hairstyle.

illustrated letter 16

And finally letter 17 has gone all the way to Canada to Shelley who lives in Honeymoon Bay. I hope that is as romantic as it sounds. Shelly popped by my blog and offered to help me out with my challenge by asking me to send her a letter.

illustrated letter 17

If I am to complete my challenge of sending a letter a day through 2013 I really need some help. I need 365 people to send to. If you would like to receive a Letter Elf from me you’ll find all the details here.

Elves Like Trucking and They Like to Truck

Last week Tall Man and I were waiting our turn in a queue of vehicles at a roundabout when an articulated lorry approached from the right. It was a driver training truck with the driver under instruction. The roundabout in question is notorious as an accident black spot and it always makes me anxious. But the driver manoeuvred his gigantic vehicle around the lanes with ease. We were both very impressed and I wondered what it would be like to drive an HGV. “Probably easier than the campervan”, was Tall Man’s reply. Then, just yesterday, I was walking home with the Skinny Dogs and we had to wait on the pavement while a trucker reversed his petrol tanker across the path and into the station forecourt. It was such a tight spot and he had to avoid parked cars and pedestrians. But he completed the task without a scratch or a bump. On closer inspection of the driver I was surprised to see it was in fact an elf in the cab. I had no idea that they enjoyed life on the road. I also noted that he enjoyed chomping on a Yorkie.


trucker elf

I fear the Elf Trucker may have been a little confused as to which kind of Yorkie he should pop in his mouth.

A fine example of trucking life can be found courtesy of Not the Nine O’ Clock News

(Please note, no Yorkshire Terriers were harmed in the making of this post)

Would You Turn Away a Giraffe?

You have Sharon at A Number of Things and Katherine at Photobooth Journal to thank for today’s post. They really wanted evidence of my weekend at work dressed as a giraffe in honour of the thirtieth anniversary of Dear Zoo. However, much like an elf a Ziggy is tricky to capture on film. But it did get me thinking about the Giraffe so here are some factoids;

  • Its favourite food is Acacia leaves which it eats with an 18 inch purple/black prehensile tongue
  • They are born with horns called Ossicones
  • The poor females have to endure 15 months of pregnancy and the baby or calf is born head first and has a terrifying fall of six feet before hitting the ground. This wakes him up! He’s wandering around unaided after an hour.
  • It was believed that giraffes were mute but in fact they grunt and snort at each other, presumably very quietly. Interestingly they also communicate on an ultrasound level
  • Their latin name, Giraffa camelopardalis, roughly translated means  ‘one who walks swiftly, a camel marked like a leopard’.
  • They are only found naturally in Africa
  • They generally sleep standing up as it would be too difficult for the poor things to get up quickly should a predator happen to amble along. Consequently they snooze for a mere 5 or 10 minutes at a time.
  • Little birds called Oxpickers hitch a ride on the back of giraffes and keep their coat free of bugs and ticks
  • Their hearts are 2 feet long
  • They have no tear ducts and yet have been seen to cry
  •  Their necks, although incredibly long, have only have 7 vertebrae…..the same as us.
  • And just as no two humans have the same finger prints, so no two giraffes have the same pattern

In the book, Dear Zoo, the little boy doesn’t want the giraffe as a pet as “he was too tall”. So he sends him back to the zoo. Ungrateful child. But if he’d been in full possession of the facts would he have been so churlish? How could you turn away a big-hearted creature that has been dropped on his head as a baby, makes barely a sound, has simple food requirements and is desperate for a solid nights kip? So I ask you dear reader; would you send the giraffe back?

But enough of this fantasy. Here is a creature I saw wandering around the neighbourhood the other night. A Giraffelf.



Fact or fiction? You decide.


Dear Elf Children

Goodness me, but what a busy weekend it has been at work. We had well over a thousand visitors to the museum and I think I spoke to all of them. Our theme was animals as we were celebrating 30 years of the picture book Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. We had animal inspired crafts and story times and the front of house team dressed up. I was a giraffe. I’ll leave you to ponder on that one.

Of course with so many visitors it’s very easy for elves to slip through reception without being noticed. But they can’t get past Ziggy. I took a few minutes rest to sketch a couple of elf children that were in the Attic.  Nice to see elves taking an interest in reading though.



Fact or fiction? You decide.



Time Travel

Tall Man and I went to see the film Looper. The fact that I had spent two hours sitting on a seat soaked in pee and left smelling like a tramp, is a whole other story.

The film was great, and if you like sci-fi I would recommend it. It delved into that mind-blowing phenomenon of time travel, a subject that usually leaves me totally confused. I mean, if you could go back in time, would you change your future?

I’ve also been tidying out my studio (the spare room) and came across this drawing. It is dated 10.5.83, that’s 29 YEARS AGO!!! At that time I was a fashion student and for some reason had to chronicle what I was wearing that day. Nice to see I was already wielding a fine liner pen. Basically, I have come face to face with my 20-year-old self. I should probably say, “Take off those ridiculous clothes and stop walking around like a starfish”.


If you met your twenty year old self, what would you say?



29 Faces in September; Doodle Man

I doodle, I sketch, I draw and out come faces. I can’t help myself. So a scrap of paper ended up on my desk at work today and from the end of my wandering pen out came this guy. I wasn’t thinking of balding, tubby men so I can’t explain him away. And there is no story to accompany him, although I think he deserves one. He’s not even an elf! What he is, is Face Number 26 in the 29 Faces in September challenge.


Can you give him a story?