Totleigh Barton – First home of the Arvon Foundation

I have stayed at Totleigh Barton a couple of times whilst on Avon creative writing courses.Its a delightful place, a real joy to live in for a little while. The courses are great too.

My drawing below is only 16cms wide, made with a 0.05 Staedler pen. I drew it to send to a friend from Japan whom I met during a writing week in Totleigh Barton.


Freddie Darke (illustrator) – Boz and the Boy

Boz and the Boy

It is March 1837. A young, heavily mortgaged Charles Dickens has newfound fame to nurture, and a family to feed. One ill-fated day, a chance encounter and a single act of kindness together leave ‘Boz’ bereft of his precious ‘mems’ – his author’s notes for a new novel, entitled Oliver Twist.
A nano-novel written by Kevin Millicheap and illustrated by  Freddie Darke, is now published and available for Kindle.

This is an interesting way to read a story, akin to wandering around Dickensian London in the bustling half-dark, taking turnings at random and coming upon unexpected scenes. The notion of reading a story from two points of view at the same time is cleverly set up, and the illustrations are a delight. Freddie’s black and white drawings are filled with detail and touches of accent colour. To quote Proving House Digital‘s press release “Freddie Darke’s perfectly judged illustrations. . .  born out of shadowy caricature, yet subtly communicating the  ambiguity of human emotions … transport the reader to the secret passageways, louche inns and tricksy nooks and crannies of Dickensian London

Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download the free software to read the book on your computer.
Go on – buy a copy – you know you want to see and read more.

Boz and the Boy

The Chops
The Chops and Gin

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon


For the first time I braved the challenge of walking down Snowdon, I had taken the train up but walked down via the Pyg track. It was a scorching day in late July, I was with four friends, all probably fitter than I. It started off well enough, the views were spectacular, I had plenty of water and the route was well known to our leader, I was enjoying it immensely. But after a long tiring struggle – downwards walking is so hard on the knees – I was enjoying it a lot less.  Using the last of my energy I pushed on a bit faster, to end the seemingly interminable descent a little quicker. I lost sight of the others but sensibly stopped and waited. The sun was behind Snowdon and the light was falling across the ridge, I hoped I might just be able to take a good photograph as one or other of them appeared over the intermediate horizon.

I was pleased when the first one to appear was wearing a wide-brimmed hat, silhouetted against the light. Just seconds later the composition might have been spoiled by the appearance of two other walkers following behind, in fact the tops of their heads are just visible, catching the sunlight to the right.

The rest of the descent took another hour, nearly five in all but well worth it for the exhilaration, the views and that one photograph.

Roger Knight : Historian and Author – Britain against Napoleon

Roger and I have collaborated on the creation of a web presence for him to coincide with the publication of his latest book Britain against Napoleon. Roger Knight

His highly acclaimed book on Pursuit of Victory – the life and achievement of Horatio Nelson has won several awards and become a seminal work. I feel sure this book will follow a similar path.

The majority of websites I have designed have been for people in creative métiers, hence their sites are intensely visual, a site about Maritime History was a step away from that. The imagery is necessarily somewhat restricted but the inclusion of book covers, photographs from Roger’s long career and most importantly a video of him talking about is latest book brings life to what might seem a very text orientated subject.

Roger Knight - Home page

The Beehive

“The lady in front has done her hair in a beehive especially for you” I whispered to my friend. He raised an eyebrow, smirked and nodded. The woman in question was taller than most, her head filling much of the space between my friend and the screen. The up-do had been carefully prepared, an exemplar of plaiting, twisting, pinning and backcombing and finished off with half a can of hairspray, the surface glistening with minuscule crystallised droplets.

We marvelled in unison as the film show began, filling the auditorium with blazing light and turning the beehive into a silhouette framed by the most perfect glowing pink ears.