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Little Souls

Myrtle was the first chicken I lost. I felt helpless as the vet couldn’t diagnose. She couldn’t breathe and I read every book I could, but everything led to the same diagnosis, which I now know is not always right. It was supposed to signify gape worm, but I honestly now believe it was sadly… Continue reading Little Souls

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Tapestry at Aubusson

I have lived in France for quite a few years now and although I managed to visit the memorable tapestry manufacturing museum at Aubusson – St Jean – I had not entered the Unesco Cite Internationale de la Tapisserie. But today on a bright November Sunday afternoon I made the half hour drive and yes… Continue reading Tapestry at Aubusson

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Three French Hens

Sometimes you get a commission that’s a little extra special and such a joy to work on. In this case a lovely bedcover for a two year old to be an heirloom piece. The little girl has three hens, one white feathered and two with black and copper. Her mum says she’s mad about them… Continue reading Three French Hens

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I am a hen

Back a few months ago, Mollie became broody, she often does, but this time I decided to leave her with a few eggs, including three duck eggs from our Indian Runners and Pekins. The ducks had been vigilantly sitting for a month, but the eggs went bad and after I checked by candling, shining a… Continue reading I am a hen

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Bird October

Autumn has arrived here in France, the air is still humid and heavy rains fall. Its cow country snd pasture appears never to cease growing here, but after September it slows, the leaves start to turn their autumnal colours and we have a couple if beautiful months of bedding down for winter. I have a… Continue reading Bird October

All Posts · Brocantes and reclaimation · Fabrics and Ceramics · Making and crafting · Thistle Cottage Studio

Fragments

I have always loved fabrics, often walking round fabric stores with my thumb and forefinger primed to rub and feel the weight, grain, texture and weaves. You can tell alot by simply doing this, mainly if the fabric is a natural fibre or man-made and its density of weave. I woukd swiftly skim through bolts… Continue reading Fragments

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Feathered friends

During molting season, just finishing now, the poultry garden is full of feathers, sometimes like a soft snow fall over night. Meticulously I gather them, long, strong flight feathers and tail feathers from the geese, pure white ones from the pekin ducks and pretty patterned, spotty ones from Bovril, our guinea. The gingers, coffee, clotted… Continue reading Feathered friends

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Nagging your boyfriend

Heff was adopted. A big cuddly duck who was rather a stud muffin. Penquin was the lucky survivor of a pine Martin attack, loosing both her sisters, Daisy and Darcey. Left alone, Penquin hooked up with Heff. Heff wasn’t so keen, as he adored Daisy, but when you have an insistent girlfriend and your a… Continue reading Nagging your boyfriend

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Rooster Booster

Ronnie rooster…gentle, caring, last to bed and liked by all the hens. Since Pipi passed, Bovril our guinea has befriended Ronnie and since Ronnie has got more wobbly on his feet, won’t go to bed till his sideways crowing friend has gone in the coop. We adopted Ronnie a few years back. He was being… Continue reading Rooster Booster

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Muscovy moment

A couple of weeks ago I visited a new friend. Creuse can get lonely, its very rural, and much of the French cafe scene is non-existent here. But there are a lot of talented artists and caftspeople around and although we won’t change the world, alot of us are connecting, promoting and even setting up… Continue reading Muscovy moment

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The babies arrived

Owning over fifty birds, you get eggs, lots of them and this year I wanted to try for babies now that we have a more organized set-up. The cous-nous flock with Rudi needed a few additions and I so wanted more Pekin ducks. Poor Heff, our big six year old has arthritis badly and lost… Continue reading The babies arrived

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French Expo

The last few years have been very tied up with renovations, Covid, starting my illustration business and struggling with migraines…some things on the agenda had to postponed, but this year I refused to postpone the summer Expo at Crocq, a pretty medieval town near Aubusson, famous for The Black Prince invading and partially destroying during… Continue reading French Expo

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Paul McCartney

In this world there are musician that’s stand the test of time and there are two that seem to have been around since the dawn of modern music…Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger. The decades pass and come hell or high water, these two perform still, enthusiastically, and professionally, with an energy I can rarely muster… Continue reading Paul McCartney

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The Giant Pea

Sometimes you have a dream and it stays with you when you wake. Mine was of a Giant Pea. I sometimes think I do spend too much time with my ducks and geese and when they fill your dreams too, we’ll maybe therapy is needed. Mine is illustrating, so I decided to draw this Pea.… Continue reading The Giant Pea

Childrens Book Illustrating · Making and crafting · Thistle Cottage Studio · Writing and Illustrating

1001 Reflections

Every year, just south of us in Crocq, an exhibition for art is run, featuring both professional or amateur painters, ceramics, sculptures. The exhibition is themed and your given space of upto 2 x 2.5×1.75 metres to display work and sell prints etc. It’s quite a big deal in such a rural area and thus… Continue reading 1001 Reflections

All Posts · Renovation work · The farm

Pretty poultry wardrobe

After a tonne of elbow grease, or as one friend put it better, a tonne of elbow geese (te he), polishing the wax coating to a soft sheen, the wardrobe is finished! I added couple of sweet little poultry hangers to the keys and at last the brown elephant in the room has vanished.

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

Country Colourful Bedroom

We have lived at The Farmhouse for over three years now, in a pre-renovation mess of undecorated rooms, boxes and drab creams and browns. The building was a good size, but had funny qwerks like no access to the rear, a kitchen next to a bedroom, a tiny bathroom, and for a house that could… Continue reading Country Colourful Bedroom

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Commission Children’s Book

As you know I started illustrating last year and its been a fun year creating characters like Pipi Pintade and Naughty Goose. I always loved children’s books,classics like Winnie The Pooh, Peter Pan, The Wizard Of Oz, Dragon In Danger, The Mouse and his Child to name a few,and pop-up books. The French have bookshops… Continue reading Commission Children’s Book

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Snug in a snug

The lower room in our farmhouse is a little dark, so why not go a little darker and create a cosy snug? Inspired by my Scottish ancestry and the collection of tartans and tweeds I have in my fabric stash and using the lovely Aubusson Blue chalk paint, which is funny given Aubusson, the tapestry… Continue reading Snug in a snug

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Thistle Cottage Studio

Drum roll please!!!!!Apart from painting the walls, and making curtains, my studio is finished. A lot of chalk painting and waxing brocante finds, and suffering from cracked skin on my fingers, a sore back and bruises from I don’t know where….I love it! Somehow it seems to have manifested a French red, white and blue… Continue reading Thistle Cottage Studio

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100 days of fishes

I don’t normally attempt to follow trends on Instagram due to limited time, but back in February, after working for sometime on my shop, my Pipi Guineas and Naughty Geese designs, plus alot of fabrics, and having a wonderful time communicating to happy customers, I decided I would try #the100dayproject2022. I wanted a subject that… Continue reading 100 days of fishes

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Getting to grips with the goose

I have been very tied up with new projects involving fishes, a book commission for a lady in America and big plan changes re our future home. Therefore I cheated a little and I am reposting about my Naughty Goose, as very soon I will be working on adding more and given we added Louis… Continue reading Getting to grips with the goose

All Posts · Fabrics and Ceramics · French Life · Guinea fowl · Making and crafting · Thistle Cottage Studio

Fateful Fabrics

From way, way back as a child I loved fabrics. My mother’s wooden chest in the hallway provided hours of fun for me exploring the Colefax and Fowler, Laura Ashley, Cole &Son and Liberty prints, feeling their textures, weight and mesmerised by the pattern repeats and complex layers of colours. My mother rarely sewed but… Continue reading Fateful Fabrics

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Pastoral Poultry Prints

As you know I am mad about my feathered gang, they supply endless joy, inspiration and muddy boots! After a tentative year setting up my new business, illustrating and designing fabrics and mug designs, I was asked if I made greetings cards? Well why not I thought. Certainly affordable if you love many designs and… Continue reading Pastoral Poultry Prints

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Winter wordless

Every morning is a surprise here…some are misty, the coops slowly becoming visable as the sun rises and evaporates the damp air; others are cold, chilled with a tough layer of frost, buckets of water frozen solid and perfect to create ice scultures, the garden filling with little ice discs or the sound of torrential… Continue reading Winter wordless

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New Cous Nous

A few years ago now, pottering about the old chicken coop, there was a strange sight…a sort of chicken shaped bird but with a long red neck, featherless and topped by a head with a huge beak and a topnot of ginger like hair! The bird was trying to enter our coop, excited by the… Continue reading New Cous Nous

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Busy Country Bees

I adore bees, their characters, their hard work ethic and over the years I have studied beekeeping, imported raw honey from Germany and Transylvania and can tell a good honey from a false honey.. a sly mix of sugars added to many sourced honey’s. Pure unadulterated, raw honey is amazing. You should be able to… Continue reading Busy Country Bees

All Posts · Animal tales · Animal welfare · Chickens · Ducks · French Life · Geese · Guinea fowl · The farm · Thistle Cottage Studio

Pipi found me

I haven’t posted for a while and wanted to catch up with a few updates. It’s a longish post but bare with me…I promise over the next few weeks they will be shorter and very varied. A lot has been going on and I have exciting things happening. But it had to start somewhere….. In… Continue reading Pipi found me

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Social Upset

I haven’t posted in a while. I have been working on my residence in France, setting up my new shop and wrapping up the garden for winter ensuring the poultry are warm and cosy with extra hay, minerals for their feather molt (what bad timing in winter!) and clearing the autumn leaves into composters. The… Continue reading Social Upset

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Gates

Over the last couple of years the feathered gang has increased. From two flocks of chickens with a couple of rescue roosters, we have now nine boisterous Tolouse geese including our new rescue Louis ( was on the food menu, bought for meat and luckily the buyer regretted and asked for rehoming!), two guineas, seven… Continue reading Gates

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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