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‘We’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.’ Jerry Garcia.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I blame Megan.  Seriously.  I hadn’t thought about licorice in years.  I don’t remember the last time I even ate a piece of licorice.  But just after Halloween, while we were discussing the perils and pitfalls of buying the right ‘type’ of Halloween sweeties for children, Megan (our newest staff member at the college) related a story about how some kiddies had come to her home trick-or-treating and all she had to left to offer them was licorice. The children were less than impressed ( . . . ran screaming from the building . . . )  That was it.  Just a short funny little story about licorice.  But the weird thing is,  since then it’s all I’ve been able to think about.   I have developed a real craving for licorice . . .

I know licorice is not for everyone.  There seems to be no grey areapeople either love it, or they hate it.  I love it.  All sorts (see what I did there?) but sadly, these days, when it comes to confectionery at least, it has become harder and harder to find real licorice that hasn’t been drastically tampered with.  Although I still love the idea of licorice straps, licorice jelly beans, chocolate covered licorice, and coloured licorice, many of these products don’t actually contain much (if any) real licorice.  Instead, they contain anise oil  which has the smell and taste of black licorice but it’s not actually the real deal.

Mmmmmblack licorice.  Makes my mouth water to think of it.   And, of course, once I had the notion in my head (definitely your fault, Megan!) I had to have some (and I had to have it NOW!) so I went in search of my very favourite licoricethe Pontefract cake.

Now if you are not a fan of licorice you may never have heard of Pontefract cakes (also called Pomfret cakes).  They are small roughly circular black sweets made of licorice, and were originally manufactured in England in the Yorkshire town of Pontefract (hence the name) although I am guessing they were not then in the same form they are now.  It has apparently only been since the 19th century that licorice was used extensively for confectionery, before that it was used for medicinal tonics for both humans and horses . . .

Well one man’s medicine is another girl’s candy.  I have very fond memories of receiving a little pack of Pontefract cakes tucked into the toe of my Christmas stocking every year ( . . .  and as neither of my sisters liked them I didn’t have to share . . . ) and that is the licorice I was craving now.  Soft and chewy.  Not too salty and not too sweet.  So I went searching . . .  and searching . . . and searching.  Could I find any of my most favourite licorice in the local area?   Of course not.  That would have been far too easy.  (When I asked at a couple of local stores and supermarkets if they carried Pontefract cakes, I was met with blank stares or sent to the the bakery section.  Sigh. )

Never mind.  If that is my biggest disappointment this week I have little to complain about.  I found I can still buy my favourite licorice on-line but until that arrives I did manage to find myself a very tasty alternative to subdue the immediate cravings and  ‘tide me over’ and, as an added bonus, the pretty black and gold packet it came in also gave me something fun to sketch.

Soa win-win all around really . . .

The ancient Egyptians believed licorice aided in vitality and longevity.
Large quantities of it were found with in King Tutankamun’s tomb — perhaps he was hoping to live longer in his
 next life?

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.’ Anatole France.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I have never met this wee dog but I loved him as soon as I saw him.  I guess my soul is good to go . . .

Original photo by Australian photographer Alex Cearns
(I love her photo books of animal portraits and they’re also great as photo references for me to practise new techniques and try out new art materials.
Although, having said that, here I am back to using my trusty old blue biro . . . )

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Orchids were not made by an ideal engineer; they are jury-rigged from a limited set of available components.’ Stephen Jay Gould.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

The girls and I found a little fairy glen when we were out walking this week.  While taking a not-often-used shortcut through a little bush track, amongst the usual undergrowth of scrub, discarded gumtree bark, fallen acacia pods, roo-poo and other general bush detritus, was a clump of little white orchids.  (At least I think they were some kind of orchid. For all I know about plants they could have just as easily been some type of daisy, but for this post let’s just assume they were orchids . . . )

Orchids, I later discovered, are the largest family of plants in the world. There are apparently 25,00030,000 different species of which at least 10,000 can be found in the tropics alone.  They come in extreme variations of size, weight and colour.  Some orchids are only the size of a small coin when in bloom, while others can weigh up to one ton with petals as long as 30 inches, and sprays of flowers 1214 feet long. Orchid blossoms also appear in almost every colour imaginable, except for true black.

I think this sketch originally started off as being that of an orchid (although not the same species I saw in the bush I hasten to add) but as I was also playing around with colour and texture at the time I am not sure the finished product would ever be recognised as such.  My little wannabe-orchid seemed to become ever more triffid-like as the drawing progressed . . .

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If loving shoes is a crime . . . I’m looking at life without parole.’ Brian Atwood.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

You know what I was thinking about most of yesterday?   My feet.  Seriously.  I was thinking about how much of my life I must have spent dealing with tired, aching, sore feet.  I mean—supposing it were even possible to calculate such a thing—what would that equate to in hours . . . days . . .  months . . . years?

It’s not as if I were even wearing horribly uncomfortable shoesthey were, in fact, one of my oldest and most comfy pairs—but at some point yesterday I became suddenly aware that all I was thinking about (seriously—nothing else going on in my brain at all) was how I could not wait to get in my own front door and kick my shoes off ( . . . and my bra too actually but that’s probably TMI for this particular post . . . ) 

Sadly it seems, no matter how much I might wish otherwise, gone are the days when I could don my high heels at 7.00am, run around in them all day (literally), pop into the supermarket on the way home to do a bit of grocery shopping and still feel able to stand around and gossip with one of my neighbours for half an hour at the end of the day.  These days I barely make it to lunchtime before I become increasingly aware (as my old dad used to say )my dogs are barking‘ . . .

But the thing is—I love my heels.  I really do.  I have always owned flat shoes of course (who doesn’t?) but no matter how cute they are, for me flats have always been for schleping around at home, or going to the movies (navigating all those steps in heels in the dark—I don’t think so), or walking the dogs.   They’ve never been ‘proper’ shoes.  Heels make me feel taller and slimmer and . . . dressed.  That’s it I think.  I have never considered myself properly dressed unless I’m wearing a fabulous pair of heels.  

What to do, what to do?  I know what you’re going to sayI should stop wearing my heels right now and give myself a break, right?

Well, I think we all know that’s not going to happen.  (I mean, seriously?) 

But I do think a compromise might be in order.  I think I might just be able to convince myself to buy a couple (or three or four) more pairs of extra-cute flats that might nicely complement the heels I already have.  Then I could wear my beloved heels for part of the day and surreptitiously swap them out for a similar (flatter) pair when I feel the need to give my aching tootsies a rest.  What do you reckon?

Sounds like a fine plan to me . . .

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If our mushrooms make you hallucinate, please inform us immediately so we can overcharge you.’ Scott Adams.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I would never describe myself as a mushroom aficianado (although, for some inexplicable reason, I do seem to think the word ‘fungi’ is a pretty cool word . . . )

In fact, now that I think about it, I know very little about the different types of mushrooms at all.  I rarely cook with them (well, of course if you have followed my blog for any length of time you will know that I rarely ‘cook’ anything at all) but my interest was piqued recently when I read an article that stated that the species of mushrooms we do know about is probably only a third to a fifth of what is actually out there still waiting to be discovered.  That’s an awful lot of undiscovered mushrooms!

Apart from being an interesting tidbit, this snippet of information would normally have little impact on my life (still not planning on doing much cooking) . . . . except that alongside that article were photos of some of the most spectacular looking growths of fungi (such a cool word!) I have ever seen.

Suffice to say that, although I may not be enticed to do much cooking with them in the future, they may just be well on their way to becoming one of my new favourite things to draw . . .

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘No water, no life. No blue, no green.’ Sylvia Earle.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

No words either.  Just another sketch . . .

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘How luscious lies the pea within the pod.’ Emily Dickinson.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

Perhaps not quite the ‘pod’ that Emily had in mind when she wrote those lines but nevertheless . . .

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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