Sox steals the Show

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
Thursday, 29th May, 2008

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THE KEY TO a successful book launch is to be sure you don’t have to share the limelight with animals or children, so you can see where I went wrong in this photograph of the launch for my book Drawing on Reserves earlier this month at the Rickaro Bookshop, Horbury. Sox, the bookshop’s resident border collie, was my model as I demonstrated the pen and watercolour techniques that I describe in the book.

Drawing on Reserves, available from Willow Island Editions
Richard, Sox and two young readers at Rickaro Bookshop
Sox the border collie
Sox, a border collie
Sox the border collie

For more details about the book, and to order it online, see my www.willowisland. web site.

The nice thing about the launch, apart from drawing Sox, was the opportunity to meet some of my readers. One woman told me that the previous day she’d visited Bempton Cliffs, an RSPB reserve which appears in my book. She had better luck with the puffins, she’d seen hundreds of them, whereas when I was there a couple of weeks ago I saw only one.

An Otter in Wakefield?

She told me that recently while on a bus into Wakefield, she’d looked down into Westgate Beck and seen what she took to be an otter:

‘It had a cute, round face.’ She told me.


‘Are you sure it wasn’t a mink?’ I suggested  ‘They can look cute too.’  I took a field guide off the shelf and showed her a photograph. She was certain that what she saw looked more like the otter.


Otters are making a comeback to Yorkshire rivers and they can travel for miles. Westgate Beck, which lies alongside the main road into the city from the west, would be the route an otter would take if it was making its way from the Calder to the quieter headwaters of the beck.

Local Readers

At the launch I was pleased to meet a Horbury man who told me that he’s a regular reader of this diary. I get e-mails from far afield so it’s a pleasant surprise to know that local people read and appreciate the diary too. He explained that he was originally from New Zealand and that he’s lived in the village for only twelve months so my walk books, local guides and web site have been a way for him to get to know some of the hidden corners of the locality.

Dancing with Dogs

One couple told me about their work with dogs from rescue centres. One abandoned border collie has found a new life with them and has gone on to win prizes in the dog & handler dancing section of canine competitions. Dancing is a new trick that Sox, at 13 (91 years in human terms, if you believe the 7 year rule) is unlikely to learn! Although she is happy to shake hands/paws with visitors to the bookshop.


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