buzzardButterflies and Buzzards

Wild West Yorkshire, Thursday 7 October 2010

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camperAT FIRST I thought it was a heron flying slowly over roofs across the road as you often see them setting off on their rounds at this time of the morning, but it was brown; a buzzard. In silhouette it doesn't have the tucked in long neck of the heron. I hope they'll become as frequent as herons in the valley. Seeing a buzzard against a clear blue sky is a great way to start the day; a reminder that wild landscapes aren't so far away. Approached from Wakefield, our village of Middlestown seems tagged on to a sprawling conurbation but coming down Hostingley Lane from Thornhill, you realise that isn't really the case; it's set amongst fields, woods and hedges at the edge of the Calder Valley with its river and wetlands. For birds it links in with other, wilder habitats.

On today's book run, we take a lunch break at a supermarket cafe where I draw this VW camper van. It's such a classic and for me it conjures up images of the freedom. In summer last year I was keen to buy one and set off on a drawing trip but we opted for a few stays in country cottages instead. This VW belongs to one of the staff at the supermarket.

'It's lovely in summer but it gets very cold if you're in one in winter!' we're warned but on a day like today, it still seems tempting..

This afternoon there are four different species of butterfly on the michaelmas daisies; several small tortoiseshells, two peacocks, a red admiral and a comma. This morning a speckled wood was feeding on the flowers.

sycamorebutterfliesCamper Van Bread

By the time we get home after another mum's hospital appointment, I don't feel like starting work again and instead I get creative - and messy - in the kitchen. To go with the soup Barbara made this morning I make a Soda Bread Farl, which you bake in a frying pan,. I was inspired to try it by seeing Peter Sidwell make some in a VW camper van in the television series Lakes on a Plate.

Mine turned out doughy in the middle so I might try making it a bit thinner next time, but I'll keep experimenting. It's all very well being creative in the kitchen but I'm aware that I'm not making any progress with my own creative work on the book I'm writing.

Roald Dahl used to go down his garden and hide in his shed to write, he'd sit in an old chair, wrapped in a blanket if it was cold. Hmmm. No, there isn't room in our shed for me to do that.

But on a crisp, sunny autumn day like today, surrounded by butterflies and with the odd buzzard flying over, it would be the next best thing to setting off in a camper van on a book project.

Link: Peter Sidwell's soda bread farl. Hint; if yours turns out doughy in the middle like ours did, cut it in half and fry the innner surface. It was nice cu

Richard Bell, illustrator

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