Monday, 31 January 2011


A big thank you to Louise a lovely proffessional photographer from Sussex. She sent me a cd today full of pictures of our time as gypsies at Goodwood revival. Her brother Paul has a company called . Louise takes the photos for his website and business cards. I've used one of her pictures to update my profile, ...more flattering than my last one!

Did you know that Shepherds huts on wheels date back to at least the 16th century.

A few years ago there was a gorgeous one in a small market garden. On the Friday I asked if they would sell it but they needed to think about it over the weekend. It had been used locally for many years and they had owned it for 40 years. Well unfortunately for me over the weekend a company was advertising their shepherd hut company and the local owner rang them up. By the time I went to see them on the Monday the newspaper chap had been up and shook on it offering a £1000....boy was I fed up...not only had he sold it for less than I thought it was worth it had also left the Cotswold's for good. I bet it was tarted up and for sale a few months later for at least £5000. Oh well, not too many sour grapes !I'm not too sure where I would have put it anyway. I must say at this point that Paul from round hill shepherdhuts was NOT the chap I'm talking about. Paul is a very nice bloke and would be a very good and decent man to deal with-if you are ever thinking of buying or hiring one.

Our Woods and Forests

Just a quick note. In 48 hours the Government decides what it is going to do with OUR forests. The website has a sample letter that you can customise to send to your local MP. It has a search so that you can find out who they are and a letter that you can either just add your own name and your Mps or you can add more. Please give it ago, every letter helps.

I personally have spent many happy days walking , cycling and picnicking in various woodlands and Forests, especially The Forest of Dean. I can't imagine not being able to walk through

them just because someone with wealth has decided to own it just for themselves...or big companies owning them to balance their carbon emissions. We are lucky to have these wild spaces and I'd like us to be able to keep having pleasure from them and help with the care of them.

Sunday, 30 January 2011


Hello, I've had a few friends asking me what I think of 'My big fat gypsy wedding' well apart from not liking the title, it's not really for me to judge, but of course this is the sort of programme that lots of people will watch and discuss. I think that producers focus on certain parts to make 'good telly' without giving the full story. Of course the full story wouldn't be of interest to a lot of viewers, but I am more interested in what they don't say as opposed to what they do say. Every family everywhere is different and they all have a story to tell. Personally I don't like seeing little girls dressing and dancing the way they do on the programme, but it isn't just traveller girls, its everywhere. I think it's up to each individual to take responsibility for their own actions and perhaps we should celebrate our differences...but theres a little bit in all of us that likes being a fly on the wall . Anyway I'm getting off my little soap box .

I've a busy week ahead of me, finishing clock dials and painting boards with samples of woodgraining and stoneblocking. I'm also finishing the roughs of a set of cartoons for a new exhibition at Sudeley Castle. Years ago Lady Ashcombe and her family owned an orphaned badger. They looked after it at their home in Kensington and at the castle before Brock disappeared back into the wild. The cartoons follow Brocks Story.

Now that I have Broadband I'm enjoying being able to easily upload new blogs etc. Although I don't have huge quantities of readers I am finding it amazing to be able to view statistics. There have been people from Russia, Alaska, Norway, Slovenia as well as GB ,America and New Zealand. If anyone would like to I'd love anyone to contact me. If you don't want your comments to be shown to everyone then that is fine, just say and I won't press the publish button.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


The other evening I found myself watching a programme about Terry Wogan in Ireland. It was one of those easy to watch programmes with lovely scenery..but not madly exciting. It reminded me about a dancing puppet I made of Terry Wogan. It was commissioned by Pebble Mill as a birthday present. At that time I made a good few dolls ...unfortunately I can't find any photographs. They were basically a wooden jointed puppet about twelve inches high with a stick or length of dowling coming at right angles out of their back. You then needed a piece of thin ply about ten inches by two foot. You'd then sit on a stool with the end of the board under your left cheek. The puppet would be held in the right hand with it's feet touching the board...when the music starts you would bang the board with the left hand causing the puppet to dance. Perhaps I'll make some more one day.

My Mums family ,The Phelans originally came from Ireland. Years ago I was asked to paint some 'old' signs for an Irish theme pub. I got on and painted them...see photos of a couple above....while the designer set off to Ireland to buy props. He rang in a panic saying that he had found a good amount all from the same shop, so could I use the name Phelan on the signs....he was quite surprised when I told him that I already had!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Wassail !

Here's to thee, old apple tree,
Long may you bear.
Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
And a little heap under the stairs.

This afternoon I went out with friends to Hayles Fruit Farm to join in with the Wassail. Lots of people were there, including our local Morris team Happenstance and a local Community choir. The children were given cup cakes, two of which had a coin inside them...the cupcakes not the children!. One for the girls red wrapped cakes and one in the boys green wrapped cakes. Whoever found the coins were crowned The Wassail King and Queen. They then led a procession to the oldest part of the orchards. Everyone circled a beautiful old Blenheim Orange. The Wassail Bowl was filled with 'Badgers Bottom' Cider, and everyone could take a piece of toast dip it into the cider and place it into the branches of the old tree. After The Gloucestershire Wassail was sung a gun was fired into the tree.The gun shot is to wake the tree and the toast is to promote a good harvest .

The procession then reformed by us all parading around the tree with lit lanterns. We were all offered hot apple punch...non alcoholic...,there was more dancing with the crowd joining in and more cheers. The event is organised jointly by 'Marking the Year' and Hayles Fruit Farm.

The songs were handed out on printed sheets so that we could all join in. I appreciated the mention on the sheet that I had painted their signs...If the event carries on getting bigger I expect they will need some more signs !

The afternoon was a great communal event and a new revival of a very old traditional festival. Of late the people of Winchcombe seem to be really getting together. Shopkeepers are working on special opening events such as the recent Art and Antiques weekend. Our Country Fair is getting bigger and bigger each year, and more community events such as The Arts and Music Festival in May are being organised. It's good seeing a good local community get even better. and

Friday, 14 January 2011


Hello, A very quick message to say that the Wassail at Hayles Fruit Farm, starts at around 2 o'clock on Saturday 15th. There will be some dancing, singing and the crowning of the Wassail King and Queen.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Gypsies in The Forest of Dean

This lovely painting by Bernard Ninnes is for sale locally. .It's called ' The Severn near Lydney' and was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1936. It is oil on canvas measuring 30'' x 40''. Bernard Ninnes studied at The Slade before settling at St Ives. I've never been to St Ives but I'm hoping to have a trip this year down to see The Eden Project and St Ives so it will be great to see for myself why so many artists moved there. Lydney is on the main road between Gloucester and Chepstow alongside The Forest of Dean.

'The King of the Gypsies' Xavier Petulengro is buried at Viney Hill in The Forest of Dean. The church there has always been known as the Gypsies Church.He was a horse trader, violinist, writer, broadcaster and an astrologer. His paternal Grandfather was Jasper Petulengro, immortalised in George Borrows books 'Lavengro' and 'The Romany Rye'. I have to admit I have a few copies of these books but haven't managed to read them yet.The name Petulengro means Blacksmith. In 1935 he wrote a little book called 'The open road to health'. I have some copies of a reprinted version of 'The Road To Health', Reprinted by his son Paul Petulengro. They are £2.50 each . Have a look at them on my website shop page. Please call me on 07787904421 if you would like to buy one or if interested in price of the oil painting.. He died at Littlehampton in Sussex but wanted to be buried at Viney Hill. His best friend lived there and he had visited the area many times.

A lot of gypsies camped in the Forest especially over the winter. A favourite place was the woods behind Crump Meadow Colliery. My Dad remembers three families, the Tingles, Tippins and Tingles. He knows a good bit of Romany from playing with the children.

Another very interesting person who spent time with the travellers in the forest in the early 1930's was Juliette de Bairacli Levy. She was born into a rich Jewish family living in Manchester in 1912. She must have learnt a lot about herbal medicine from the travellers living there because after leaving the forest she set up a herbal distemper clinic in London. She was also known for curing foot and mouth and other animal ailments using herbal medicine. Juliette wrote many books and spent over 60 years travelling with gypsies in many countries..A website in memory of her is

On a Sad and awful note the government are in the process of trying to sell off a large proportion of our forests including The Forest of Dean !.The thought of private owners putting up fences and keep out notices is just horrible. If you would like to know more then please go to HOOF -Hands off our forest. and to sign the petition
I've opened a shop on Etsy selling postcards of my paintings of gypsy scenes.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Gathering Fuel

Link to postcards for sale of the above design, Gathering Fuel
Thankyou for all the lovely comments on my Christmas Card this year. The view is from the Old Brockhampton Road looking down towards St Peter's Church in Winchcombe. The lurcher is my lovely dog Megan . She died at a great age a few years ago but I still think of her often. I am selling limited edition ,signed prints for £85. The image size is 43x34cm. I can send them in a roll or mounted and flat.The wagon is based on a 1923 Fred Hill .Swinefleet Bow Top. It was the last horse drawn wagon built by Hill for Lias Winter.It is now owned by John Barker. Apparently when it was being restored John found a panel that had been signed by Fred and Rowland Hill and all the staff that had worked on it.
Fred Hill was born in 1869 in Hagnaby, Lincolnshire. In 1894 he set up his own business at 74 High Street, Swinefleet, near Goole. 'His method of painting and decorating his vehicles was so attractive and well known that at one time it was considered that you were very unlucky if you didn't see a Fred Hill cart go by at any crossroads in rural Yorkshire.'
In 1910 Rowland Hill became an apprentice to his father and also became a great decorator. The information about he wagon was taken from 'Romany Relics, The Wagon Album' by John Barker and Peter Ingram. Unfortunately there are no books left to sell at the moment and apparently they are already occasionally seen on eBay for over two hundred pounds . I'm hoping that there will be a reprint. A few people commented on spelling mistakes and the like in the book,which is unfortunate because it was professionally proof read before publication. It is a lovely book with beautiful pictures.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Years Day

On New Years Day I decided to walk up through Woolaston and up the hill. Although I didn't walk far I did spend time sketching. Here are a few scanned from my sketch book.. It was really lovely to be out and about and the weather to be mild enough to draw. This year I am setting up some 'Sketch,walk and Talk ' days. The day will be a mornings walk ,sketching on route,a lunch at a local Cafe followed by another walk in the afternoon. I'm hoping to take bookings and hopefully encourage people to try sketching. It won't matter how competent you are, I just want everyone to have a great day and be inspired. I will carry various types of paper , pens, paint and pastels so that everyone can try some new techniques out. I'll let you know what the dates are soon! I actually have broadband now ! At last ! It's great to be off dial up, but now I'm finding myself wanting a lap top and a big screen so that I can watch all the programmes on BBC i player!..It's never ending isn't it!


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