SCRAPING AND SWEEPING powdery snow from the driveway puts me in a Christmassy mood,
as do the snow-shaker flakes drifting down as we shop in the suitably Dickensian
village of Horbury.
At the Horticentre, up the hill in Overton, the resident speckly grey cockerel ambles
behind us as we study the spare fairy-light bulbs. Its contented soft clucking -
as if it is talking to itself - is so soothing!
There’s not much in our vegetable garden at the moment. The leeks on the left are
looking and tasting good but the Brussels sprouts are too loose, probably because
the soil in our raised beds isn’t hard enough for them. As usual at this time of
year the greenhouse is still full of old tomato vines. We always have a late season
with tomatoes and I ate the very last one only a week or two ago. Other than that,
there are parsnips and a few winter lettuces in the cold frame.
Richard Bell’s America
Here’s me on my next big trip (left). Thirty years ago I was halfway through my tour
of the country for my Richard Bell’s Britain wildlife sketchbook for Collins. Last
summer I attempted to get a publisher interested in commissioning Britain Revisited,
drawing at all the same places 30 years later. I failed to find a sponsor so I’m
hoping to continue revisiting the locations as and when I can fit them in. Barbara
and I have visited 13 of the places so far - only 57 more to go!
But wider horizons beckon - at least that the suggestion of my tutor from my graphic
design days at Leeds College of Art, Derek H (surname omitted to protect him from
the omnipotent Google), who has sketched out this itinerary for me on the front of
I look forward to setting off down Route 66 at 120 mph to draw in 39 states in 365
days! That’s if, as he points out, I can find a sponsor!
‘Read what Audubon took with him to tour America,’ Derek writes, helpfully, ‘Setting
off from CINCINNATI & the OHIO RIVER.
PEN, PENCIL & GUN
TO COLLECT - SPECIMENS - for the great FOLIO “BIRDS OF AMERICA” AQUATINTS’
When Barbara says ‘There’s a robin over there!’ I assume she’s referring to some
kind of Christmas decoration but it’s a real robin that has come in and is hopping
around in the little forest of artificial Christmas trees.