Sooty’s Big Adventure

My name is Sooty. I am an Experienced Senior Poodle. I know this because that is the position I applied for and the lady said I was the perfect poodle for her and she hired me at once.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

14 years ago I was a very clever puppy who went to live in a house with people. I had a nice life, everything was fine.

Me as a puppy

Then one day my human said he had to go away and he could not take me with him.

I did not understand what he meant.

He asked me to jump in the car with him just like he usually does so I thought “he has changed his mind, he is taking me with him.”

When we arrived, I heard a lot of dogs barking. We got out of the car, he handed me to a lady and drove away……just like that. I thought he made a mistake and he would come back, but no, he drove away.

He just drove away

I waited for him, and I waited and the car did not come back. Then the lady led me gently inside.

The people were very kind. I had a bed and food and made some great friends but I could not understand why my person left me there and went away.

Some of the other dogs knew where we were. They said it was a safe place but that we were there because nobody wanted us. I was shocked. What did he mean? I did not sleep very well that night.

Nobody wanted us

One day, one of the nice ladies who looked after us came to see me with some news. She said someone had advertised for an Experienced Senior Poodle. It was a job for life, with a comfy bed indoors, a fireside, friends, nice dinners and walks. The only snag was I had to travel Far Far Away Across the Sea. I thought about it. “Will my person here come back looking for me?” I was still hopeful he might. “No”, replied the lady sadly, “he has gone away”. I thought some more and then I remembered that poodles are brave and resourceful and never say no to a challenge…..so I said YES.

So then we began the preparations. I had to visit the doctor for a checkup and injections (yuk) and then I had to wait for my passport. When it arrived it was lovely. It was blue, shiny and new, with a photograph of me (very handsome), official writing and stamps and everything. I felt very important all of a sudden and I was very proud of it.

I studied my passport very carefully.

When the bus going to Far Far Away and Over the Sea arrived, I said goodbye to the nice people . I had become very fond of them, but my job was waiting for me so I climbed onto the bus with my new passport and into my compartment .

everyone waved me off when I got on the bus

There were quite a few of us on the bus. All heading for new lives and new adventures. We chatted for a bit and then settled down to sleep.

We travelled a long way. Every so often we stopped for a stretch legs and a snack. I was just in a nice sleep when the bus stopped again.

This time it was different. Suddenly there was loud shouting, flashing lights and a big commotion. The bus door opened and a lot of very cross people looked at us. We were scared. They pulled us out of our beds and took us into a strange place with more lights. We were poked and prodded and stared at, not in a friendly way at all. Then they took us to another place and locked us in.

Everybody out of the bus!

I asked a dog who was already there what was going on. “Oh”, he replied. “We are all in prison.”

Prison? I could not believe my ears. I had done nothing wrong. I had always been a very good dog, a loyal dog, a loving dog. Why were we all in prison? Nobody seemed to know why.

Two of my friends in prison

The days passed slowly in prison, one after the other. I was comfortable enough, but nobody seemed to like us. I heard words like dirty and foreign. What is foreign? I am POODLE. I might need a bit of a bath and a haircut but that is no reason to be in jail. Life is not fun when nobody likes you and you are all alone. The food was hard and hurt my teeth so I didn’t eat it much.

The one day I heard whispers. The bus had come back for us. Oh such excitement! I was so happy. I watched lots of my friends being led out to the bus, but nobody came for me. The door shut and the bus went away.

The bus went away without me.

I cannot tell you how I felt that day. I tried to tell the humans that I am on my way to a very responsible job. The lady is waiting for me and I was supposed to take up my duties a week ago. Please why did the bus go without me?

“No Passport”, said the stern lady, and shut the door.

No Passport? I couldn’t believe it. My new passport with its stamps and writing and my photograph……I had seen it. What did she mean “no passport”?

please let me out of prison

Perhaps the lady in Far Far Away and Over the Sea would think I changed my mind and give the job to another poodle. I was close to despair that night. I wanted to tell the lady “Help I am stuck” but I didn’t know how to.

Help I am suck in prison

In the middle of the night, I woke up and remembered something I heard in the hotel. They said “she really really wants him” Then I thought….”she will wait for me if she wants me ” Then I thought I heard a whisper, although nobody was there. I heard, “I will get you and bring you home Sooty” and as well as the whisper I thought I heard a sound like wings, but then it was all quiet again.

More days and nights came and went . The bus did not come back.

Sometimes I remembered the whisper in the night and felt hopeful. Other days I thought I would be in prison for ever and everyone had forgotten about me. It was not a nice feeling. I began to feel tired and not very well

Perhaps they forgot about me and I will be here for ever

One day I heard people talking excitedly about Christmas and holidays. I remembered Christmas from my old home. This did not seem anything like that sort of Christmas when everyone was happy and there was fun and laughter and extra food in my bowl.

On Christmas day it was very quiet in the prison. Most of the humans had gone home. Suddenly I heard voices and my name being spoken. I heard someone say “Here is his passport, now you must let him out!” and then my door opened, and a lady with a kind face picked me up and carried me out into the sunshine and to her car. Oh my word that was the best Christmas present I ever had!

The Kind Lady took me into her house.

There was a soft bed and water to drink and delicious food At first I was too tired to be hungry, but I did eat some dinner and have a very big drink of water and then I think all that worrying in prison must have made me tired because I fell fast asleep .

Oh my word, what a lovely comfortable place this is! I think it must be a 5 stars hotel. There is everything a chap could possible want.

The next morning I went to see the doctor because I caught a nasty cough in prison. He gave me some cough syrup and some medicine to make all better.Then we went back to the hotel and I had a bath in warm water, more delicious food and slept in a pile of soft fluffy towels beside a warm thing she calls a radiator. I slept and slept and slept.

I do like it here. The Kind Lady calls me Grandpa and she massages my sore legs and back. I wonder if I could get a job here. It is not Over the Sea but it is Quite Far Away and really lovely. Every day I feel stronger and happier. The Kind Lady’s name is Lady Ingeborg. I love her.

As I got stronger I began to remember about the job in Far Far Away and Over the Sea. I asked Lady Ingeborg if I was still expected. I told her I would be very happy to stay here and help her instead. She smiled a very Big Heart smile and said “your job is still waiting Sooty, if you would like to go. The bus will come back for you if you want”.

I thought about it.

It was very hard to decide.

I do not want to say goodbye because I really really love her

But then I remembered that I am POODLE. A poodle’s word is his bond. I cannot let everybody down. So I tried to stand up very straight and brave and I said “Yes, I will go because I did promise. But before the bus comes I will help you in the garden, and sleep in my soft bed and eat delicious dinners”. Really I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could because love makes you feel like that.

I remembered I am POODLE

Lady Ingeborg gave me my very own polar bear to cuddle called Frankenstein and my very own coat covered in stars. Oh my word I felt so special.

The day the bus came for me I was all ready. Lady Ingeborg had packed my belongings in a blue suitcase. I checked that my passport was there, my polar bear called Frankenstein, and my special coat with sparkly stars. I looked at the suitcase and I looked at the Lady Ingeborg and I had to swallow hard because I could feel a big lump of sadness in my chest. I nearly said “I changed my mind”. She gave me a very big hug, so big I could feel all the sparkles in her heart. I looked away in case I cried. Then I climbed onto the bus.

I can tell you that Far Far Away and Over the Sea is a long time on a bus! Every time the bus stopped I worried that the police would arrest us again. But no, when we did stop it was for dinner and stretch legs. Are we there yet? I asked the driver. “Oh no Sooty”, she replied. It is still quite far away and we are about to cross the sea now. I got back into my compartment and fell sound asleep so I didn’t even see the sea.

The next day when the bus stopped some of my fellow passengers got off the bus. Their new person was waiting for them. By the time almost all the other passengers had got off I was beginning to wonder if they forgot about me. But then I heard my name……”Sooty you are next, get ready and don’t forget your suitcase”. I was too tired to be excited but I held on tight to my suitcase and the bus stopped. The driver helped me out and there was my very own new human waiting for me. She picked me up and gave me a big hug. I could feel her cheeks were wet so I knew she loved me.

“I’m ever so sorry for being late”, I said to her. “Please don’t cry!”

“Oh Sooty”, she said, “you aren’t late at all. You are just in time for dinner”.

Everything was going to be all right after all. I was home at last.

THE END

Mr Murphy and the Stream

One fine day Mr Murphy was walking in the Enchanted Forest with his red ball. He was thinking about nothing in particular when he thought he heard a sound. It was a tinkling giggling splashing sort of sound. He stopped to listen more carefully. Then he heard “Hello Mr Murphy” Well, Murphy was so astonished that he dropped his ball. “Would you like to come and play?” asked the tinkly voice. Mr Murphy picked up his ball and went to look for the voice.

He walked through the long green grass and then he saw it…….a little stream. The water was tinkling, gurgling and giggling as it splashed over stones. This made Mr Murphy very happy…..a new friend who wanted to play.

He walked right to the edge of the stream and stared. The stream seemed to be having so much fun, but he didn’t know how to join in the game. “Drop the ball in”, tinkled the stream

Mr Murphy opened his mouth, and his ball rolled right down the grassy bank and into the water.

The stream giggled and splashed as the ball bobbed and rushed off with the current. Murphy was shocked. The stream had run off with his ball. He didn’t think that was fair at all. He tried ever so hard to reach it, but he couldn’t.

He watched as his ball bobbed away with the stream, which was still giggling.

He sat down to think. His brain always worked better when he was sitting down. But he began to feel a bit sad. Then the stream called out to him…..”aren’t you coming to play Murphy? You have to get your feet wet to join in.” Murphy hadn’t considered that, but it did seem quite a brave sort of idea. He remembered that he was a brave boy and cautiously paddled into the water. All of a sudden the water felt tickley and lovely and he could reach his ball easily. He felt ever so proud! AND he had found a new friend and a new game. “I’m going home for tea”, he told the stream….”but I will certainly be back to play again”

And he ran all the way home to tell his friends about his BIG ADVENTURE.

THE END

The Tail of Mr Murphy and the Black Hole

Once upon a time there was a dog called Mr Murphy.

He had a red ball which he loved very much.

He always took it with him when he went for a walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day when he was out walking in the Enchanted Forest he saw a strange hole in the ground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He wondered what it could be so he stopped to have a good look…..and a good sniff.

But that did not tell him what it was……………..and then he wondered………….what might happen if he dropped his red ball into it………….so he did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But then he could not see his ball any more. So he tried to find where it had gone. He pushed his nose in, then his head, then his body……but he could not reach it at all.         Mr Murphy wondered if it had gone into one of those black holes that they talk about on science programmes, which made him sad because he thought maybe he would never see it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile Mrs Rabbit had just put the babies to bed and was having a nice cup of tea, when a huge red ball came rattling down her hallway and burst into her nice tidy sitting room.

Oh my goodness what can that be? she said nervously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile Mr Murphy was feeling glum. He had run out of ideas about how to get his ball back and it was beginning to get dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs Rabbit  did not want a big red ball in her sitting room and decided to push it back up the hall and out of the front door. The trouble was that her hall was uphill and quite steep.  Her babies had all woken up and come to see what was happening. They all got one behind the other and pushed and pushed and pushed. It was very hard work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Murphy heard a funny sound coming from the black hole. A scratching puffing and panting sort of sound. Then, all of a sudden the ball popped right out of it and rolled over to him.

He was ever so happy. He picked it up and ran all the way home

 

 

But Mr Murphy had made an important discovery. Things can come back from inside black holes…..but only if all the rabbits push.

 

 

 

 

 

The End

Chapter 4 Teddy goes for a walk in the Forest and hears a story from the Speaking Tree

Everybody walked down the little path from the house, so many teddies, all chattering and laughing. The Old Lady took Teddy by the hand and they all walked along the path that led deep into the forest.  Lots of animals peeped out to say hello. Bunnies popped out of their burrows to see where the teddies were going, one or two decided to join in the walk. Crow followed too, hopping from branch to branch, trying to guess where the Old Lady was taking them. Teddy was looking everywhere….since he got his new eye, he was just amazed to see that everything in the forest sparkled…..and everything seemed to be dancing. He was looking round so much that he almost tripped over….but the Old Lady had his paw in a strong reassuring grip and he didn’t fall over.

Soon they arrived at a clearing where there was lovely soft grass to sit on. The Old Lady found a tree stump and sat down, taking Teddy on her knee. A big  tree looked down at them all approvingly.  They hadn’t really walked very far but Teddy was puffed out and he was really glad to be cuddled because hi felt a bit empty in his middle and although the world was lovely and sparkly through his new eye, he thought he might be starting to feel sad again. 

I think we all need a story, said the old lady, and the big tree rustled it green leaves and cleared it’s throat.  Everyone sat down in a circle to listen.  I know a story about a tree that grew sideways, he said…….

 

 

Once Upon a Time, the big tree whispered softly, in the upper world that the human people call the real world, there was a place by the sea where there were no trees.  He paused for effect, since to a forest, that is a shocking idea.   There were no trees, because the wind from the sea blew so hard and so strong that it blew the trees away whenever they tried to grow.  The wind danced and roared and shouted and whistled so hard that everybody was scared of it.  The ocean encouraged this bad behaviour by making big waves and shouting “faster faster”.  Every new tree that tried to grow there blew away, until one day, a seed sprouted into a tiny tree, and that tiny tree wound his roots round a big rock. When the wind started to blow, it teased the little tree, saying how it was going to blow it away. But the baby tree held on and the rock held onto the tree……and it didn’t blow away even though the wind blew its very hardest.  The wind bent the little tree though, and it found that it was growing close to the earth instead of high up in the sky.  At first it worried that it was not a proper big grown up tree because it did not stand tall. But the earth whispered to it….you can be a tree that stays close to me. That makes you a very special sort of tree. And the earth gave the tree’s branches a kiss every time they brushed close.  Soon lots of small creatures who found the wind a bit of a bully discovered that they could make a safe nest on the ground under the tree…..and so the tree was very special, because it could help everyone who needed a safe place to hide……..and then the tree knew he was indeed a proper tree. He just happened to grow sideways, which is unusual but just perfect when you live beside the wind on the sea shore.

The big tree in the forest sighed, and his leaves shivered……which is what he always did when a story was finished.   Teddy liked the story, it made him feel a bit better though he wasn’t quite sure why.  He  touched the place in his tummy where some of his stuffing had fallen out when he was in the bin. We worried in case more might fallout now. The Old Lady had been watching Teddy. “Don’t worry”, she said, “everyone feels a bit fragile when they have lost some stuffing. I know a way to make that all better”, and gently she hugged him a bit closer.   Thank you Grandfather Tree,she said, and now let’s all have some lemonade before we walk home.”   So they did.

 

Chapter 3

CHAPTER 3

Teffi was so happy to wake up in such a lovely bed all warm and cosy. But then he remembered that his Boy was not there, and a dark shadow slid over his cosy happy feeling. He felt a kind hand stroke his head and gently wipe away the tear that had started to well up in his eye.  “It’s going to be alright little bear”, she said softly.  But she did not explain how it was going to be all right.  Teddy became aware of a heavy and sort of broken feeling in his chest.  He wondered if some of his stuffing might be coming out.  He knew that he had a few holes in his fur as well as only one eye.  It had not seemed to matter before, but now he wondered.   His life had changed so much so suddenly that he felt scared to get out of bed in case it changed any more.  Grandpa Teddy Bear touched him with an old, but very reassuring paw and looked at him with a look that made him think that maybe Grandpa Teddy Bear understood  exactly how he was feeling.  The uncomfortable feeling in his chest got a little bit better.

Just at that moment, the cups and saucers and plates in the kitchen started to clatter and jingle. “Time to get up”, said the old lady. It sounds like breakfast is waiting for us. At the word “breakfast”,  several more teddy bears appeared from under the blankets and everybody rushed and tumbled downstairs.

On the table was a big plate piled high with biscuits and a big jug of lemonade. A big heart shaped pink biscuit with sparkly icing jumped off the plate and flew straight into Teddy’s paw and the jug of lemonade poured itself into a tall glass for him. “This is certainly not like breakfast at home”, he thought.  He started to nibble his biscuit but  he noticed that his arm seemed to be a bit loose, and it was hard to hold the biscuit.  “Don’t worry Teddy”, said the Old Lady.  “After breakfast we’ll do some mending”.  So Teddy ate his sparkly biscuit and felt a lot more cheerful.

Just as Teddy was finishing his last drop of lemonade and licking the bubbles off his nose there was a loud tapping sound at the cottage window.  The Old Lady got up from the table and opened the window and in flew a great big magpie.  “Perfect timing” , said the Old Lady.  Something was shining and glittering in Magpie’s beak. Then with a clatter, he dropped it onto the table. Teddy stared. He had once seen something that glittered like that on a ring on a lady’s hand. But this was bigger and brighter and it seemed to flash the purest brightest light.

“That is just the job “ said the Old Lady, picking it up carefully and inspecting it.  Magpie preened and tutted in satisfaction.  Then he went to see if there were any biscuits left and picked a big blue sparkly one off the plate.  He took it to the window ledge and started to break it into sparkly crumbs and eat them.

Teddy wondered what such a magical thing could be just the job for.  The Old Lady showed him the glittering diamond.  This, Teddy, is your new eye.

Teddy almost dropped his glass in astonishment. He looked at the diamond and he looked at the Old Lady who smiled.  He was just about to ask “how?” when with one quick movement she popped the diamond into the place where his eye used to be.  He blinked….the world suddenly seemed to have so many colours and reach so far.  “It is a special eye Teddy” , she said. You have earned it by being such a brave bear. He gulped and found tears were wetting his face, but even the tears seemed to sparkle.  This eye will let you see all sorts of things……you will be able to see through things and round things and into people’s hearts if you need to.  Oh, and it looks pretty special too.  Magpie had been watching all this and puffed himself up with pleasure. I won’t ask where it came …..said the Old Lady.  “Oh just an old thing I happened to have in my nest” , replied Magpie. I thought it might fit. And with that he was off in a flurry of feathers and biscuit crumbs before anyone could ask any more questions.  The Old Lady smiled knowingly.  Well Teddy, she said, I think we should all go for a little walk in the forest now so that you can get used to your new eye.”  “ Please clear up now dishes” she said and the dishes all jumped off the table and giggled and tumbled over one another in their rush to the sink where they jumped into the bowl of soapy water.  The teddies and the Old Lady opened the front door and stepped outside.

Chapter Two

The animals in the forest were waiting. They knew she would appear soon, but they never quite knew where. Owl was the chief look out and he floated silently among the branches of the big dark trees.

DSCF2707

The old lady sneezed….purple mist will always make you sneeze….and surprised them all by emerging from underneath a big clump of bracken. Teddy snuggled deeper into the folds of her coat. Now that he felt safe, he was too tired to wonder what was going on or where he was. He let the slow steady beat of her heart and the gentle motion of her walk lull him into a deep dreamless sleep.

The old lady stepped onto the winding but direct path to her house in the forest; winding in order to keep it secret, direct because your heart’s true home is never more than a step away. Deer walked just in front, glowing gently to guide her as by now it was quite dark.

 

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She walked slowly, partly because Teddy was asleep and partly because she loved to say hello to everyone in the forest. Everyone means the animals, the plants, the trees, the elves…well, just everyone.

Owl flew ahead to tell the house she would be home any minute. The cups and saucers and plates all chattered and rattled with excitement. The cushions rearranged themselves to look their most comfy and welcoming. Only the pot bellied stove grumbled…..”I was almost out”, hc complained to the armchair, who took no notice at all. The stove was always moaning. He did it to hide the fact that he loved her so much and he missed her when she went out.
The old lady sighed with pleasure as she reached the blue gate to her house. The fireflies all jumped into their lanterns….which were really jam jars hanging above the garden path…..and lit the path to the front door.

 

 

 

“Did you find him?”, asked Grandpa Teddy Bear anxiously from his chair beside the stove. The old lady did not reply, but instead she reached into her coat and very gently brought out a sleepy bewildered and distinctly bedraggled Teddy.DSCF2753

 

 

“Please bring some warm milk with spices” said the old lady quietly. Immediately there was a noisy rattling and chirping of bowls in the kitchen. All the bowls wanted to take Teddy his milk. Soon a big blue bowl came running into the room followed by a spoon shouting “wait for me”.

The next thing Teddy knew, he was sipping the most delicious sweet milk, watched by what seemed to him like a room full of anxious teddy bear faces. It was nowhere he had ever been in his life, but he felt like he had come home.

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After a few spoons of milk Teddy yawned.  “Time for bed”, said the Old Lady. “It has been a very long day”.  She picked him up and carried him up the winding wooden stairs to the bedroom. Teddy opened his eye to see the biggest softest bed you could ever imagine. He felt himself being tucked in, and the very next thing he knew, he was fast asleep.

 

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The very first draft of the very first chapter of the very first book I ever tried to write…….

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CHAPTER ONE

The funny old lady shuffled down the pavement, one foot in the gutter, speaking to herself. People stepped round her, not really looking at her. She paid no attention, she was used to that. She shuffled because her boots were 3 sizes too big. She moved slowly because she was watching the ground and listening very carefully.

Teddy in the bin meanwhile had no idea what had happened to him. One moment life was normal. He had been out for a walk with his little boy. The next moment an impatient cross grown up voice said….”Big boys do not need to carry teddy bears everywhere”. He was grabbed roughly by the arm and went flying through the air to land in a cold hard dark metal bin.

He was shocked. He had no idea what had happened. He was so stunned that when he opened his mouth to shout, no sound came out. He could hear his little boy crying, but Boy’s voice already seemed far away. That made things even worse. A Teddy’s job is to be there when his Boy cries. That is when he is needed the most. But Boy’s voice got further and further away until he could not hear it any more. Then it was completely quiet and Teddy was all alone in the dark damp cold bin.

A tear rolled down Teddy’s face from his one eye. He felt very frightened and alone. He so wanted to be tucked up with Boy. In the dark they snuggled close, Boy smelling of soap and clean pyjamas, Bear tucked under his chin. This place was not at all like that. Bear started to cry again and sobbing quietly he fell asleep.

The old lady knew it was long past time to go home. It was quite dark and rain was now falling in cold splats. But she thought she had heard something. She was sure she had heard a snuffling sobbing sort of sound. She knew that sound and she was not going home until she found where it was coming from. Two big rats were scarring about beside her checking here and checking there. Then all three would stop and listen again. But now everything was quiet apart for the wet swish of an occasional passing car.

Then, very faintly, she heard….sniff…..sob…..and a faint rustle. She put down her 2 carrier bags and waited. There it was again…..sob.

Teddy woke up because he thought he heard something too. What he heard was a sort of rustling scratching sort of noise. He tried to move. He discovered that he seemed to be upside down and wedged between something hard and something squidgy. He opened his eye and saw……..2 bright beady eyes staring at him. Then with another rustle and a flick of whiskers and tail, the rat was gone. Teddy was scared. He wondered if rats ate teddies.

The rat jumped out of the bin and rushed to the old lady who was still standing with one boot in the gutter, head cocked to one side, listening. The rat scampered up to her squeaking urgently. Then he turned round and ran back to the bin. The next thing Teddy knew,a big warm dry hand was wrapped around him and ever so gently the hand gripped him firmly and lifted him out.

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“Oh, you poor dear boy”, she whispered. She stroked his cold wet fur and with great tenderness she tucked him deep into the folds of her big wooly overcoat, so close to her heart that he could hear it beating. All Teddy knew was that now he was safe. He would not have to try to be brave any more and he cried and cried and cried from relief.

The old lady’s heart started to glow. She quickly picked up her two carrier bags and whispered the magic word. If anybody had been there to watch, they would have seen a shower of sparks and a puff of strange purple mist as she disappeared down a crack between two paving stones. At precisely the same moment, she appeared out of a wisp of purple mist in the Enchanted Forest.

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So there it is. Some of the illustrations are just drafts too. A real work in progress with empasis on progress. Chapter 2 is bubbling up………:-)

Hello and welcome!

Title hereMy name is Fi Knox. I’m a retired doctor and I make art. If it was up to me that would be the end of the blog but my web designer says maybe I should try to write a bit more than that.

Being retired is great. I get to draw every day. There is so much to learn, so much to practise, so many unexpected marks to discover…… and there is magic in the connection that drawing something generates.

So I feel like I am on a journey and I want to share bits of it here over time.

Meanwhile, please have a look at the galleries. Contact me if there is anything you might be interested in. Thanks for dropping by.

– Fi