02 December 2013


So... here we all are, rumours and old toffee abound (there's a phrase that has been in my head since I saw it on the sleeve of a John Martyn album in 1977...).

First of all, thanks to those who wrote/emailed/spoke to me about the blog over the last few weeks, you've been very kind and very helpful...I've been mulling things over and I've a germ of an idea.


On 21 November, I went out with my camera on the morning walk in the usual suburban haunts: the field, the park, the garden. I took photos at particular vantage points. And I hope to do the same over the coming twelve months on the 21st of each month. Those of you who know me well will realise that the choice of date isn't entirely random -- it'll rather nicely pull in the solstices and the equinoxes, as well as provide a record of the changes over the year.

As well as garden news and views, goings-on in the immediate environment and the drawings, I'll also pull in other serendipitous bits and bobs: music, writing, whatever ... I hope you'll stay with me for this small homage to changing seasons, what's to wonder at and what's to wonder about.

21 November

And to start, here are the November images. It's a dark start; I have an imagination deficit at this time of the year when I just can't visualise how these places look in a different season ... Maybe this blog will help in the coming twelve months.

The field

One of the nice things about winter mornings is the moon

The park

Lamplight and a glimpse of the not-yet-risen-sun-light in the distance
We have oaks, horse chestnuts and ash in the park; on 21 November a lot of leaves were still on the trees providing
lovely colour but in the dawn light all were looking a bit grey

It's dark under the trees in the early winter mornings. This is a spot-the-schnauzer pic too.

The garden

Coming home from the walk, we come into the garden,
which looks distressingly grey and drab here in the poor light. Ah winter!

In winter, the pool does its task of reflecting the sky light very well,
even when it has gathered lots of falling leaves

In other news

I finished the Alphabet Yew! I handed it in on 30 November. Handing in was a lovely time - there was a wonderful array of paintings, all sorts of styles and approaches, all bound by their letter, the paper and the dimensions (30cmx30cm). Adjudication begins at some point in the new year: there'll be a painter, a curator and a botanist doing the assessing and I think they'll be spoilt for choice.

Doing the yew was quite the process for me: it was something I enjoyed immensely though there were many moments when I wondered what on earth did I think I was doing!? Learning as I went meant that any idea that came into my head had to be tried out as I didn't know what I could do with the medium (coloured pencil). Which meant that the final work had been through a few iterations on other pieces of, by now, smudged, creased and much-loved paper. I'd say BvG and LB in particular are delighted it's done - thanks so much both of you for your helpful words along the way! Thanks too to fellow-alphabetisers SD and JS. Here are some pics of the work in progress. All the final works will be on display in the Bots in May 2014: a treat in store!

It's some tree... I worked from sketches and photos

Nearly finished with the berries

Yew twig on the go

Everyone who has seen the drawing loved the moss on the twig so I thought I'd include it here;
mind you most people said "Ooh I love the lichen..." so I may need to draw it better the next time

It feels a bit strange now to have finished the yew. I'll have to find something else to try to draw. Look what I discovered in the local park - what a beauty, such a contrast in textures! There are still some grand old trees in the park, left over from its days as part of a demesne or estate of some sort, it most likely belonged to a house called Runnymede (at one point used by the Yeats sisters to run Dun Emer, later Cuala, Press in the early 20th Century). This tree alas, fell prey to the health and safety 'police', but there's still a Giant Sequoia in the park starting to tower above the Scots Pines. Izzy chases squirrels in vain some mornings and they have been known to dash to the Sequoia and, as usual, confound her completely.

This must have such as astonishing tree in its day...

...but it still provides wonder...

... and then some!

There was a squirrel here a second ago ... Giant Sequoia and Miniature Schnauzer
And speaking of things spotted in or near the park. Turns out we've a better class of graffiti than the usual run-of-the-mill 'tagging' (which I think is akin to dogs and lamp-posts to be honest); here's some that made me pause. I had to check what a divergent series was with my resident mathematician.

Divergent Series: refreshing Dublin graffiti

And to finish where I started, with John Martyn. Here's 'May You Never'; this one especially for my two lovely sons and their dad, who lost their grandpapa and father this week.

It's for all of us too:  "please won't you bear it in mind, love is a lesson to learn in our time..."

Go well.


  1. Lovely post Erica,love the idea of every 21st throughout the year,capturing the seasonal changes. I cannot wait to see all the alphabet paintings too and the moss and berries look perfect. Xx

    1. Thanks Claire for your kind remarks. And more especially for swapping the orchid and yew! It was so great to see the lovely work you did with the orchid. Looking forward to seeing the real thing at some stage!

  2. The glimpses of the Yew artwork look marvelous! I hope you can share the finished piece eventually. I am looking forward to seeing the seasons in your world throughout the year.

    1. Thanks Janene! such kind remarks again. By the time I'd finished the yew all I could see was what I could have done better, but I enjoyed the whole process.