All Posts · Animal tales · Brocantes and reclaimation · Chickens · Thistle Cottage Studio · Writing and Illustrating

Sharing support

As you probably know by now, I am crazy about poultry. Not only do these guys bring me daily joy and a sense of worth, but they have been the catalyst in finally finding my new vocation in life, illustrating and story writing. They are the source of my inspiration, the bedrock of my day… Continue reading Sharing support

All Posts · Animal tales · Writing and Illustrating

Operation vet

Poultry in France get a raw deal. Seen more as food and less as pets, finding an Avian vet isn’t easy. Foi gras, goose liver is still on the menu and guineas and ducks are slaughtered for gastronomic appetites. I can’t agree, I am absolutely not happy to see these poor birds have such short… Continue reading Operation vet

All Posts · My Company Projects · Writing and Illustrating

Helping Afghanistan

I was very privileged this week to be able to assist an ex-marine artist, Amanda Shomber, in pulling together a set of 21 colouring sheets for her art packs, over a thousand, to be distributed to a North Carolina Refugee camp. Having arrived suddenly with little or no belongings, there is a need for children… Continue reading Helping Afghanistan

All Posts · Animal tales · Geese

Bumble trouble

Spent some quality time with Bumble today. We had him at just a few weeks, he was yellow, fluffy and cute and he was extremely playful and curious. His favorite toy was a squeaky pig and we would chase each other round the garden with this silly pig, him tackling me and visa versa for… Continue reading Bumble trouble

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens · French Life · Garden in the meadow · Recipes and allotment

Factory House to Apple Puree

I have hurt my back again. Mowers with pull cords are absolutely dangerous! I have a lot of grass and land weeds to contend with and petrol mowers are a necessity. But they do not make them suitable for women. I am not a feminist but I do expect manufacturers to know our upper body… Continue reading Factory House to Apple Puree

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens · guinea fowl · The farm

Please perch

A recent post on Facebook perches prompted me to do a quick post on my perches. . There are a lot of different types and views on perches and after keeping chickens now for three years, I realized the old fashioned idea of round perches, like a thick broom handle, were wrong. The girls suffer… Continue reading Please perch

All Posts · French Life · Garden in the meadow · Landscapes and trees · Renovation work · Thistle Cottage Studio

Front of house

Finally the front of the Farmhouse looks respectable. It’s taken over a year to renovate my studio externally, repair the well and install the ancient well winding gear and repoint the wall. We put in the picket fence, pruned the roses and removed layers of plastic bags in the flower bed, supposedly put there to… Continue reading Front of house

All Posts · Animal tales · Animal welfare · Cats and dogs · Chickens

Food for fur and feathered friends

Yes they are spoilt. We hate the commercial dog foods. Too strong, too much protein, too much cost and no wonder dogs end up with health problems and eating special dietary food that happens to be supplied by vets. My mother-in-law fed her dogs on bread soaked in meat juices, chicken legs and scraps. They… Continue reading Food for fur and feathered friends

All Posts · Animal tales · guinea fowl · Making and crafting · My Company Projects · Thistle Cottage Studio · Writing and Illustrating

From sketch to tea mug

A few posts back I mentioned my dream of drawing and designing fabrics, characters and products. As an accountant, very embedded in my toils of tax and statutory accounts, I still scribbled in sketch books and jotted stories on ever growing bundles of lined and plain paper. Over the years I had completed half a… Continue reading From sketch to tea mug

All Posts · Brocantes and reclaimation · Making and crafting · My Company Projects · Renovation work

Make do and mend

Moving crates and boxes of fabrics into the Factory sewing rooms, found these wonderful old linen sacks and strips. Not only are the textures wonderful, but so too the painstaking work to repatch and darn the holes or tears. The patches to me create a new design. I don’t see them as repairs of damage,… Continue reading Make do and mend

All Posts · Thistle Cottage Studio · Writing and Illustrating

The bee suite

A couple of years ago I begun sketching characters for a book about a pig and a goose. The quandary was that the book would probably take years to write and the illustrations even longer. After a few jaunts to London to see traditional publishing  houses, I knew self- publishing was the new route to… Continue reading The bee suite

All Posts · Animal tales · Garden in the meadow · Making and crafting · Writing and Illustrating

Bee and bug time once more

This post is a little long but it contains a few thoughts about the insects world that I would really appreciate if you could read. It’s an important revelation to me and has changed my life…literally. Bees. I think most of us have a huge respect and soft spot for these busy guys, who work… Continue reading Bee and bug time once more

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens · French Life · Geese

Geese in the grass

I have been absolutely useless in posting recently but I do have a few genuine excuses. The weather in France has been one long spring of rain, and although it is exactly what creates this beautiful scenery, meadows and cow pasture, it’s almost June for goodness sake and should at least allow me to remove… Continue reading Geese in the grass

All Posts · Geese · guinea fowl · Making and crafting · Thistle Cottage Studio

Tapestry time

I am very lucky to live near Aubusson, https://www.cite-tapisserie.fr/ the famous tapestry town in France. Felletin is just another twenty minutes further south and our brocantes are full of notions, wools and tapestries to snap up as bargains. I collect pre-loved tapestries too, always birds as they are my passion. Thistle Cottage studio will eventually… Continue reading Tapestry time

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens · Geese · guinea fowl · The farm · Thistle Cottage Studio

Pipi Pintade

Last year I was given a box of baby guineafowl. They were supposed to be banthams. Billy Bantham my adopted, feisty cockerel needed girls. He had adopted the role of deputy to Ronnie roosters flock of Rhode Island hens as Ronnie had an amputated toe and found rounding up the girls at sunset difficult. But… Continue reading Pipi Pintade

All Posts · French Life · Making and crafting · Thistle Cottage Studio

Crafting and shipping

This week, after a quite stressful start from loosing a little guinea fowl, to finding French postage is way more than UK postage, I felt I needed to go into print. I have successfully printed all my mugs, toiling with the foibles of sublimation heat and time settings, ink ICC colour management codes and a… Continue reading Crafting and shipping

Commercial Photography · Feathered photography · guinea fowl

Feathered gang

Finally the Canon Mark III came out in the sun. Long overdue, I wanted to take pictures of my feathered friends. We have lost a few this year and sadly I had few photos of them and I feel bad about this and need to resolve. Every day is precious and no time is the… Continue reading Feathered gang

All Posts · Animal tales · Cats and dogs · Renovation work · The farm

In the dog house

Dogs need a dog house. It can get -23 degrees here and upto 46 degrees in the height of summer. Dogs need to be spoilt sometimes and dogs need a quiet, calm down when your hot over excited space too. Dogs need to share their house with cats. A two tier system with a cat… Continue reading In the dog house

All Posts · Making and crafting · Photography thoughts · Writing and Illustrating

Finding the flowers

Sometimes I forget why I started my blog way way back in London. I took a trip down memory lane and it was good to feel that I still had my love of all things natural and wild flowers and more than that, the tentative start with a camera, as before 2012, I didn’t own… Continue reading Finding the flowers

All Posts · Animal tales · Writing and Illustrating

Fables in France

I am am an absolute sucker for traditional illustration and the brocantes here in France provide an absolute treasure trove of pre-loved books for children. Fables are a favorite and books like this are filled with many classic tales and fine art illustrators who also painted as an aside, for childrens publishers. This volume is… Continue reading Fables in France

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens · Making and crafting · Writing and Illustrating

Egg song

I love my Cou-nous naked neck chickens. Sadly of my original six, only Doobie, Sweetie and Ruby remain but are a source of daily happiness. We have had a few moments of crisis with them too…Ruby suffered from respiratory issues and upto a year ago was constantly blue looking. Doobie had a nasty prolapse due… Continue reading Egg song

All Posts · Animal tales · Geese · Making and crafting

Naughty Goose

Very excited to have at last designed my first fabric for children, and honestly for a great group of poultry loving homesteaders and keepers I connect with on social media. Getting great feedback. I have for a very long time had a passion for fabrics, especially retro, folk and pre-1920’s designs, plus the ubiquitous English… Continue reading Naughty Goose

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens

Perch perfect

The new perches gave proved a huge success. For over a year I have been dealing with a temporary set up while we built the coop. Thats not completed yet but in a moment of clarity I realized that what we were probably going to build wasnt going to be practical. The traditional perches have… Continue reading Perch perfect

All Posts · Making and crafting · Writing and Illustrating

Taking perspective

I studied One Point, Two Point and Three but never Multi or Curvilinear. Finally a book that really gets into how to do these. I remember I took technical drawing at 11 years old. I was top in my class and my teacher was really excited, as most people found draughting boring. But I was… Continue reading Taking perspective

All Posts · Animal tales · guinea fowl

The gang

Toots, Pipi and Fifi hiding from the rain. They share a small coop with three other adopted chickens and Mr Chicken, our huge Cou-Nou rooster. The little coop sits along side the huge main coop as the Guineas like to go to bed earlier and can be very disruptive with their 98db screaming. I really… Continue reading The gang

All Posts · Links I Love · Making and crafting · Writing and Illustrating

Shine brightly

My husband is fascinated by lighting design. It’s a project he has long wanted to work on but the French rules on health and safety will make this tricky for a while and ideas will need to be simply created from existing wired models. I too adore lighting. An interior with the lighting that brings… Continue reading Shine brightly

All Posts · Making and crafting

Golden Hands

When I was just 5 years old I used to dream about owning these knotted and crocheted dresses and glam silver shoes. The dresses looked sexy even to my young head but I wa very creative even back then. I collected cigarette adverts, fascinated by Silk Cut and cosmetic brands. The dresses came from the… Continue reading Golden Hands

All Posts · French Life · Landscapes and trees · The farm

Ice maiden

Well I am not so sure about maiden, I am too long in the tooth for that olde title but today the frosty snap produced a wealth of chilly bucket ice disks and panes that this ‘young at heart’ enthusiast had to install around the goose field. Bonnie the head goose watched me with his… Continue reading Ice maiden

All Posts · French Life · Making and crafting · Travels in Europe · Writing and Illustrating

Sketch Avergne

Back in 2006 I visited the volcanic area of the Avergne. Little did I know then that in just ten years I would be permanently settling just about hour North in Creuse. I always adored France and vacationers there every other year, with Scotland and the North of England as my walking holidays in between.… Continue reading Sketch Avergne

All Posts · Writing and Illustrating

Bumble Goose

As you may know from my previous posts, I am finally back to art. Hurrah. I completed my pintade portraits and a few on grumpy Bumble goose but hadn’t tackled a full illustration as practise for my future story book projects. Keeping with Bumble I hoped to achieve a colourful and friendly illustration. I am… Continue reading Bumble Goose

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens · Ducks · The farm

Cooped up

Everyone was full of beans yesterday…not literally but the extra ration of meal worms in the meal worm hunt had resulted in a group of feisty ducks and chickens. Mr Chicken led the hunt and as per usual showed off for the benefit of the camera and the girls. Now for clarity these girls are… Continue reading Cooped up

All Posts · Brocantes and reclaimation · French Life · Making and crafting · Renovation work · The farm

From cattle stall to Scottish snug

In a previous post I wrote about my journey to finding a home.  Buying property in France was the best decision I had ever made. Having now an open slate to work on I wanted the French dream.  I wanted to bring together everything I had learnt and wanted for so long – the comfy… Continue reading From cattle stall to Scottish snug

All Posts · Brocantes and reclaimation · French Life · Making and crafting · Mountain house · Renovation work · The Barn · The Factory · The farm

Property dreams

For as long as I can remember I wanted a home.  Not merely a house you decorate and live in between work and socializing outside, but a real home, full of homely noise like dogs barking, cockerels crowing, the sound of my husband chopping wood for the fire, the kettle whistling.  I suspect I have… Continue reading Property dreams

All Posts · Animal tales · Making and crafting · Writing and Illustrating

Being a mug!

Not the best title for a post but had to put that pun in somewhere! Finally we hauled the extremely heavisome ceramic mug printing machine to the farmhouse. Our factory in nearby Gouzon was too cold and we still have a tonne of work to insulate the printing studio. Choosing what project to prioritize and… Continue reading Being a mug!

All Posts · The farm

Morning light

This morning was a sharp, crisp take your breath away chill, but the sun was peeping dramatically between the thunder clouds and that meant camera time. Saturated greens and greys and white frost crystals made the shots relatively simple. I went wide angle to stretch the perspectives more and gave a minor contrast tweak in… Continue reading Morning light

All Posts · Animal tales · Writing and Illustrating

Getting to grips with the goose

I started my new project last week, drawing a set of illustrations of my goose Bumble. About two years ago I started writing a book, a collection if stories with the hope that I would somehow illustrate it too. How I would do that was rather beyond me at the time. I hadn’t drawn much… Continue reading Getting to grips with the goose

All Posts · Animal tales · Writing and Illustrating

It’s an art start

A couple of weeks ago I posted about finding coloured pencils. A lightbulb moment after a very long time stressing about what medium and what subjects to paint, lit up. Paint. That was the problematic word. Actually the whole acrylic and watercolour thing had turned me off art and although I dabbled a little back… Continue reading It’s an art start

All Posts · Animal tales · Cats and dogs

Cats about the house

Evenings at the farmhouse this time of year involve an en-mass tumble of cats and dogs heading for chairs, sewing bags and laps. The woodburner is crackling merrily away and the dogs are dreaming in their basket, feet twitching and the occasional growl breaking the snoozy snuffles. I dreamt of a home full of pets.… Continue reading Cats about the house

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens · Ducks · Geese · guinea fowl · Writing and Illustrating

Boys will be boys

Freezing today but luckily Penquin my Pekin duck had laid an egg. It was still warm and I held it in my pocket between feeding all the feathery family.  My girls are now three years old and egg laying is sporadic. With the winter chill all the hens have slowed and from twenty hens I… Continue reading Boys will be boys

All Posts · Animal tales · Cats and dogs

Snug as a bug

It’s been warm in France, on average eighteen degrees. For November it seems too good to be true. Back in England November is a chill, drab grey sort of month where the rain drops sneak persistently down the back of your neck or the stiff winds make umbrellas a health hazard. But yesterday the fields… Continue reading Snug as a bug

All Posts · Brocantes and reclaimation · Making and crafting

Button up

If I had to say my third obsessions after fabric and ceramic tiles, its buttons. I have many boxes from brocantes and what seems a jumbled lot of buttons that have little to love about now, once sorted a few gems appear. Some buttons are damned ugly and have to go, but others are a… Continue reading Button up

All Posts · Animal tales · Links I Love · Writing and Illustrating

Finding my pencils

Note these are not my drawings, but come from a great book called The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Kevin Cornwell. For a long time I have struggled to find an art medium I love. Watercolour I find restricting with the layers and colour build up of washes and control. I… Continue reading Finding my pencils

All Posts · Animal tales · Chickens · Garden in the meadow · Geese · guinea fowl · Landscapes and trees · The farm

Fallen leaves

As a child my walk to school took me through a rambling footpath between mighty oaks and horse chestnuts.  The latter supplied conkers that resulted in many bruised fingers from conker fights.  Now this childhood right of passage has been banned. Shame, but it was actually rather dangerous.  But also rolling around in leaves could… Continue reading Fallen leaves

All Posts · Animal tales · French Life · Writing and Illustrating

Mad about the birds

From previous posts you probably gather I am starting out on a new journey to get back into art that I abandoned as a teenager. Part of that journey over the past year has been sourcing inspirational art, studying art techniques and amassing what’s beginning to be quite an extensive library of books dedicated to… Continue reading Mad about the birds

All Posts · Floral Photography · French Life · Garden in the meadow · Making and crafting · The farm

Bucket list at lockdown

With the French lockdown coming into affect tomorrow and the generally pathetic display of judgement by the powers that be, re Covid-19, I am arming myself with an eclectic library of reading, from science fiction, fashion, tapestry renovations, to bohemian souls, poultry farming, no-dig gardening and French decorators. I wont get bored. My latest delivery… Continue reading Bucket list at lockdown

All Posts · Animal tales · French Life

Wild deer

Today we stopped to help a lady filming a trapped deer. Probably a Fallow deer. Why she wasnt untangling him, I have no idea. The deer was a young male, probably just under two years old. Likely lost his mother from the French mafia for Sunday hunting and as many, grown up a little vague… Continue reading Wild deer