30 April 2009

Happy Birthday Julie !

May 1st is our younger daughter's 25th birthday!! We hope you have a wonderful day - wish we could be with you to celebrate your quarter century, but sadly Sydney is just a tad too far!! As you can see below your 'beloved' Tia cat wishes you a very happy birthday too - she thought the pink ribbons were fun for 30 seconds and after 20 minutes of chasing her around the house and garden to get a good pic, I gave up!

As you can as she basically only wanted to blow a (Happy Birthday) raspberry at you!!!! Lots of love Mum and Dad and Tia xxxx

29 April 2009

Out and about in Malaysia - Melaka

Here are a few photos from a short trip we've just made to Melaka.

The historic centre of Melaka with its old Dutch buildings.

This is Phyllanthus emblica or Melaka tree after which the city is named. A Sumatran Prince, by the name of Parameswara, is credited with the founding of Melaka around 1400. According to a legend he chose this location when sitting under a Melaka tree and watching a small mouse deer chase his hunting dogs into the water. The Prince was impressed, concluding that a place where the weak can triumph over the strong would be very suitable for a settlement and he named Melaka (or Malacca) after the tree he was sitting under.

These are the fruits of the tree Phyllanthus emblica. They look like gooseberries and are extremely sour (believe me - I tried one)! It is claimed that the highly acid, fresh, raw fruit, is full of Vitamin C and when followed by water, produces a sweet and refreshing aftertaste (I didn't get that far!).

The colourful trishaws are decorated to the hilt with artificial flowers, tinsel, flags and fairy lights, you name it, they've got it!! Taking a trip in one of these is a bit of a squash for two people, but a good way to see the city!

An old ox cart at the museum.

Beautiful carved bird's head on old wooden fishing boat. Click the pic to enlarge - the detail is wonderful.

The Melaka riverside is being developed. A pedestrian walkway has recently been constructed, and it's pleasant to stroll along here and stop for a drink at one of the cafes overlooking the river. We took a boat trip along the river one evening - everywhere is very brightly lit with fairy lights and we passed by some lovely traditional kampung (village) houses - unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me :(

Finally, I leave you with some pics of some wildlife! Sorry, the quality of the Lemur pics is not great, but I couldn't resist posting this cute little fellow!

28 April 2009

Illustration Friday - Theatre II

Here's another illustration for this week's IF theme 'Theatre'- a Punch and Judy puppet theatre. I wonder how many of you have seen one of these? In Britain they used to be a part of the traditional seaside holiday. The little theatres would be erected on the beach at coastal resorts and children and their parents would be entertained by the outrageous antics of Punch, along with his wife Judy, the baby, dog and a host of characters. Although few and far between on the beaches these day, apparently Punch and Judy shows are enjoying a revival! By the way, if you're thinking the baby looks worried, you're quite right! You can find out why by reading this article about the shows.

Illustration Friday - Theatre

This week's theme is Theatre (I'm using the English spelling!) - Japanese Kabuki theatre. I'm very fond of old Japanese wood block prints and this illustration was inspired by one made by Sharaku of the Kabuki actor Morita Kanya. For my version I've experimented with some new oil pastels which are quite a departure from the controllable coloured pencils, ink and watercolour I'm used to! These are so thick there's no way I can achieve any fine detail! After blocking in the colours and applying a further layer of black pastel over the whole image, I used the sgraffito technique ( scratching and scraping into layers with a craft knife) to reveal the colours beneath whilst bringing some texture to the piece. You can view a print of the original woodblock here and read more about Kubuki here.

15 April 2009

Illustration Friday - Fleeting

This week's IF theme is 'fleeting'. I've posted a page from my sketchbook with a couple of illustrations of dragonflies. I'm a big fan of these creatures - so beautiful, but for such a fleeting time. Their adult life lasts around two months only.

Now, here's one that's lasted a while longer! This is a favourite dragonfly image of mine. A fabulous art nouveau, plique a jour brooch created for the actress Sarah Bernhardt by Renee Lalique. Lalique designed many pieces for her during the period 1891-94 .

Finally, here's a photo of a fabulous Hibiscus flower in my garden. This dramatic bloom is also very fleeting - it lasts only 24 hours!

14 April 2009

Blog awards - updated

I've been really lucky this week as I've received not just one, but two super blog awards!!

The little girl popping out of the acorn is from Ces at Ces and her Dishes - thank you Ces - I'm delighted to have received the Renee Award which was originally made to honour our lovely friend and blogger extraordinaire Renee of Circling My Head. Ces herself is a very talented artist and story teller - her blog is not to be missed - it'll keep you amused for hours!

And this one is from the lovely Bella at Bella Sinclair Doodlespot - thank you so much Bella - you're a star! Bella's blog is one of my favourite places to visit - it's so inspirational! Bella's wonderful illustrations and amusing banter are a delight!

The Renee acorn is a seed to spread far and wide to those similar to Renee - I'm sending it now to someone who has much in common with Renee, the generous, creative and eloquent Laurel at Studio Lolo

Now, for the Life's a Breeze award I'm following these guidelines from Peter Breese the very talented artist who originally created the award:

'The coveted Breese Award is to be given to six inspirational individuals; since most blog awards cater to odd numbers, this particular award was designed for the more even keeled folk. These six should be a collection of bloggers that have helped you, either directly or indirectly, to stay creative.'

The following six are some of my favourite bloggers! Thank you all for sharing your art/photography/ writing and being such an inspiration!

Laurel Studio Lolo
Margaret Water Blossoms
Cathy One Pink Goose
Robyn Art Propelled
Kathy Life,Earth, Sky
Danielle Notes from the Rookery

10 April 2009

Illustration Friday - Talisman

Posting this at the 11th hour for this week's IF! The theme is Talisman. This is a pencil (with a touch of colour) drawing of an silver Omani necklace called a kirsh kitab (coin or disc with writing) which was worn by women throughout Northern Oman. Such necklaces were worn not only to offer protection, but also to bring gladness and cheerfulness to life. This necklace is part of a small collection of Omani silver I gathered whilst living in Muscat in the 1980's. I'm going to make a post about that soon!

2 April 2009

Singapore revisited

Here we are in Singapore circa 1986!! I'm showing this family photo (check out my dodgy perm!) as we've just been back for a visit. We met up with our daughter Louisa (right) who was there on holiday from Dubai with her partner Matt. We spent a day at Singapore zoo which was where this photo was taken. Lou fondly remembered that day as we were allowed to cuddle the lion cubs! She was rather hoping that we'd be able to do the same this time round!
No such luck - look who's all grown up now!!

We all agreed that the White Tigers stole the show this time. Aren't they magnificent?

Love these striped pyjamas!

And this majestic tree.

What a beauty!

We paid a visit to the famous Raffles Hotel for a refreshing Singapore Sling! The hotel has been revamped since we were there 20 years ago, but the Slings were just the same!



Did a bit of shopping - found a large art store and a huge book shop, so I was happy for a few hours!! We also found the very cool Chocolate Research Facility - great name, don't you think?

Just look at all those drawers full of chocolate!

We did some research of our own of course - the Cardamon and Almond was my favourite, I think - there were just so many delicious flavours to choose from! Take a look at their website here and you'll see why I couldn't make up my mind.


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