Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Illustrating for Children.

I was chatting to laura about illustration the other day, and about how it's regarded as a poor relation by "real" artists. How is it that you are paid hundreds of thousands for a splodge of white paint on white canvas, or a pickled corpse or even a urinal made in a factory, but the imaginative and talented artwork designed to inspire our next generation is only worth a few hundred at most. We seem to be happy to give the most important jobs of all, like teaching, to someone paid peanuts. Is this how little we value our children?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Not 56!

We should have been setting off at 4.30 tomorrow morning to try the Three Peaks, for those of you out there sensible enough not to know about it, you have to do Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within 24 hours. A tall order, almost impossible if like us you're using a minibus limited to 62mph.The weather forecast is for 65mph winds and sleet on B Nevis, so it was called off. People regularly die up there from losing the path along a  narrow stretch with fatal drops on one side, near fatal on the other. OK if you have a compass and some visibility, but in the dark with gales not so good. We might try again.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Les Arcs: flowers

Here's a small selection of the wonderful flowers we found. Sorry if I slowed everyone by taking photos, but I couldn't ignore them all. It's taken ages to identify them, not convinced they're all right.

Parnassia palustris, marsh grass of Parnassus, so beautiful you really have to get on your knees in the bogs to see it properly, or is that just me? It's named for Orpheus' mountain home.

Linaria alpina, Alpine toadflax looks unreal in its colour mix, but no photoshop was used in the making of this post.

a ranunculus, not sure which one.


Edelweiss, Leontopodium alpinum, more small lion's paw than white, clean or bright! 

Brilliant colour combination, Bavarian-Gentian Gentiana bavarica, with a buttercup.

Round Headed Orchid, Traunsteinera globosa, the first of several new-to-me ones. The 'hairy' appearance is striking, from a distance mimics scabeous.

No idea, didn't fit any of the photos or descriptions in my books. any ideas anyone?

Common Twayblade, Neottia ovata, is very widespread but small, camouflaged and shy.

Burnt Orchid, another new one, Neotinea ustulata. It's quite similar to the endangered Lady orchid, but lip narrower and smooth.

Epipactis atrorubens, the Dark Red Helleborine, yet another new-to-me.

Not-very-Common not-always-Spotted, an old favourite,Dactylorrhyza fuchsii.

Nigritella nigra, Black Vanilla and Nigritella rubra  Rosy Vanilla Orchids (another new one). Although variably dark the Little-Black black isn't really, not very vanilla-ish either (although the books say it has a strong vanilla scent) ...

unlike the Fragrant orchid, Gymnadea conopsea, with a strong-when-warm scent of sweetness, vanilla, spice and generic flowers: wonderful!

Frog orchid, Coeloglossum viride, I suspect it's not as rare as its reputation, just small and camouflaged. This one was lurking under a shrubby willow, so found by chance.

Strange hairy mushroom with a smiley ace!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Les Arcs: creatures...small

Alpine marmot, Marmota marmota, one of the better rodents, living in burrows in the rocks. They're well camouflaged but give themselves away by their curious whistling call.

Too many beetles to identify this chap, but always good for photos.

A harvestman, no idea which, related to spiders but just one pair of eyes and joined abdomen and thorax.

Les Arcs: walks

A walking holiday, so that's what we did. Day One: Les Cinq Lacs, up 1,200m  hard work when we'd just                           arrived at altitude. At the top the lakes were brilliant, well worth the struggle.

Alpine ibex, Capra ibex, not very clear but at the limit of my zoom.

Next good walk, up and over to an isolated church near Bourg-Saint-Maurice

Lavishly decorated inside, recently renovated. Very unlike our more subtle colours, a fine depiction of John the Baptist losing his head over a lady but ne'er a gargoyle.

Back up to the top and home

      past extraordinary rock formations, including the Clocherai, pretending to be a church with bell-tower

Les Arcs

Just back from a walking week in Les Arcs, as expected in mountains the weather was unpredictable, some                                                                             perfect days

                                                                 and a terrible one

                                                        leaving the world wet and beautiful.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


You might have gathered from the previous post, and long gap that I've been gadding around again, walking in the Alps. R seems to have missed me!

Friday, 1 August 2014


1. Fresh baguettes at any time of day.
2. People, including small children, saying "bonjour" and "Au revoir" on getting in and out of a lift.
3. "Mer de nuage" meaning clouds in the valleys with a clear top, preferably below your height.