Sunday, 27 June 2010

Bottoms Up!

 Bottoms Up!

I can hardly share this image for laughing.The ducklings are learning how to go under water so at the moment I see this view of them almost more than their cute faces!

And again!

Luckily they do come up for air at times!

 So adorable and I am spending far too much time watching them each day but it is so much fun!


Saturday, 26 June 2010

The Cygnets Are Back! June 2010

 This mornings visit, how they have grown!

 This morning was so exciting because very beautiful  visitors brought their young back. 

 The last time they were here, so tiny!

A short while ago a pair of swans brought six cute little cygnets to the cottage. I was enthralled by how sweet they were but I hadn't seen them since. Because so many young do not survive I began to imagine  the worst as another pair of swans have been visiting minus any youngsters.

But this morning after I had fed the ducks and ducklings along glided the swan family. Regally moving towards me with such pride and grace.

The young eagerly devoured the duck and swan food I now keep at hand. Sitting with my camera poised and just enjoying their antics has been bliss. In any family it seems there is ALWAYS one child who will show off to the camera and here he is............

The Show Off!  This one poses non stop for the camera!

And now getting really carried away with himself.........

So cute, I am thrilled with this shot!

Mum watched and then  a second cygnet  had to follow and shake too.........I love the expression on "Mums" face!

 I could sit here for hours just watching the family

They really are simply adorable.


Friday, 25 June 2010

Ducklings in June

The ducklings are growing so quickly now and seeing  away any  mature ducks  who dare try to steal their food. It is amazing how fast time has flown since these were just cute little tiny things. The ducks along the waters edge are so used to being fed from passers by they seem far too tame in many ways but their parents seem to have the intelligence to know where their young are safest.

This family live at the foot of our garden by a pond which they often stay on.

This has been a joy to witness and I know I have enough information to paint these little ducklings soon now. That is when I stop watching them!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Moorhen Chicks.

 "What big feet you have!"

The seven moorhen chicks have survived the magpie attacks thanks toa very watchful Mother who  still feeds them individually although they definitely look big enough to feed themselves now. I wonder if she will feel sad when they leave the nest or relieved?


Friday, 18 June 2010

Ducklings Galore

This afternoon I was thrilled to  observe and photograph the ducklings in our garden whilst feeding them quietly in sunshine. The Mother stands proudly by guarding her young from the other mature ducks who wait patiently for her offspring to finish feeding. Only three ducklings have survived from this group of six that have been such a treat to enjoy watching as they grow. Magpies seem to be the biggest threat  to their safety.

I sat quietly with my camera and placed food around me. They happily took soft bread and duck food  allowing me time to catch them  in these images to share with you.

Side by Side.
A painting just waiting to happen!

All alone, so feed me first!
This little one is far too brave for his own good.

Tucking in!

Being a little greedy!

 Lunch is served!

I am so blessed to see such gorgeous wildlife and be able to enjoy it daily. What a privilege and a joy to share also.


Wednesday, 16 June 2010


This mornings greeting!

I have been away filming a DVD to go with my first book " How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour" which comes out in July this year. This morning I was thrilled to recieve a rather noisy welcome home from my  feathered family who seemed to have genuinely missed me. They hurriedly raced to greet me  whilst quacking loudly and wagging their tails. I now feed the ducks on the lawn and  watch while they gather around me to greedily tuck into their meals.

I have easily discovered where the term "Pecking order" comes from as it is obvious there is a priority of who in the group is allowed to eat first. Anyone who dares to step out of line is quikly pecked back into  their place!


Monday, 14 June 2010

Moorhen Heaven

Brave Moorhen Chick!

I start and end each day by feeding our feathered family which grows daily in number.

So far we seem to have only lost one duckling as all the others have survived. The mother moorhen is fantastic feeding her young with tidbits throughout the day. Even though they are growing at such a rapid rate they look almost ready to feed themselves. They often walk in lines like small soldiers but one is a rebel and constantly wanders off alone  which drives his poor Mum nuts! Here he is on his own again trying to see what I am doing with my camera. I was taking photographs of flowers at the time!


Beautiful flowers are now shining  in the flower beds and tempting me to paint non stop which is wonderful. I have so much choice I don't know where to start first but these stunning white cosmos in strong morning light are really delightful. No cottage garden should be without them!

Friday, 11 June 2010

More Ducklings!

 A second  batch of six ducklings have just arrived at the cottage. The Mum of this little group is loud and making sure the " previous tenants" know she wants her young to eat first.

We now have eighteen young altogether  living  on the water and in the garden here!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

An Ever Growing Family

Every morning I have hungry mouths to feed!

The six new cute ducklings are growing and becoming far more confident by the day. It is so comical to see them literally race to reach their breakfast. They seem to almost come to a  skidding halt as they  eagerly speed along the waters surface to reach their goal of food.

They now  come right  up to me and seem to know each will get a fair share.

I have been  really impressed with how the adults seem to sit back and allow the young to feed quietly before they too join in. Now however the drakes seem to follow me around the garden expecting food all through the day.

The minute I appear they waddle towards me and wait. As their number continually increases I am convinced they must be spreading the word that there is a new restaurant in town!


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Blue Haven

This morning we have heavy rain. Instead of my heart sinking I am thrilled because all of the new plants in the garden need moisture. I am really thankful that someone else has taken over the responsibility of keeping them all alive. I will paint in my studio and from all around me I have a million subjects to choose from today.

I often think about wild flowers. How they grow naturally year after year without anyone caring for them. They survive summer droughts and long cold winters. Year after year they multiply and give spectacular shows. Without any human intervention.

And yet keen gardeners can give  too much attention. Pulling out beautiful seedlings by mistaking them for weeds. Or they can often over water or forget to water enough.

Nature is a miracle when you come to think about it. A true mother caring for her charges. Creating colour throughout the seasons in a way that is not designed. Just natural and free with no restrictions on what is right or wrong. Plants just grow where they want to grow.

I have just described how I work in watercolour. Freely allowing the pigments to  flow into each other minus restrictions enjoying all that can happen as if by a miracle.

"Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings."

Monday, 7 June 2010

Patience is a Virtue

At the end of our garden near the woodland is a collection of neglected shrubs that looked so sad when we first moved in. There were a few rumbling suggestions at the time that maybe digging them up and starting again might be a wise move. Instead I chose to simply prune a few and see how they came along with some tender loving care. Removing all the weeds around them and allowing them to see light by taking away overhanging branches and dead wood from above has really  paid off.

This morning I was thrilled to find the air scented with the sweet perfume of  mock orange blossom which now covers the plant that could have been so easily discarded.

"Not everything in life is  instantly beautiful" 

It takes time, patience and care to gain a lovely sight sometimes. Just like  learning how to paint. Taking time and having patience really does have its rewards. 

Not throwing away anything too early helps too!

"Patience is a virtue, possess it when you can"

There's Always One!

 The poor parents of the  young moorhens in our garden are having a task keeping a watchful eye on their chicks. One this morning has been playing up by being very brave.

Luckily Mum came to the rescue to help them into the water!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Poppy Heaven

No cottage garden should be without poppies. I was delighted to find clumps of oriental poppies growing in an existing flower bed but had no idea what colour they would  turn out to be. I have wished and wished for birght red ones to paint and this morning I was greeted with  gorgeous flowers standing proud and shining  in sunlight.

As an artist I am thrilled! I wonder how many of my friends will be painting these for years to come on visits here but for now I am  not alone as the poppy has attracted other admirers!

Thank you for following my blog. I really just wanted to share the beauty of my surroundings as it is so pretty here.


My Stalker

During the first week we moved to the cottage a swan appeared that looked in such a sorry state. I couldn't help but offer it food and it soon became a regular visitor on a daily basis. In fact he almost moved in. Casually throwing bread or whatever was at hand to "Sydney" as he came to be called fell into the daily routine. He would wait patiently while the ducks had their meals and he ate far more. 

As thedays  passed by things started changing. Trust was growing on both sides. It was obvious Sydney was lonely and looking for company. He was possibly a young male from last year  now looking for his own mate. He became very attached to us and the minute the doors opened in the morning he would be there waiting.

With two dogs  and having heard stories of how aggressive swans can be I was very wary of this new "guest".

Bailey our younger Bearded Collie has a habit of happily running along the  waters edge. Before long Sydney started to follow him up and down , back and forth. This becoming a game and form of communication between them. If Bailey ventured into the water to cool down Sydney would circle him and almost protect him minus any of the usual hissing.

The pair often sat looking out over the water.  Whenever Sydney appeared I would always keep watch because my own instincts tell me clearly dogs and swans cannot be friends but these two seemed to be.

Bailey came back from the groomers on one occasion and his whites were brilliantly gleaming. At this stage Sydney became decidedly more fascinated in Bailey following him absolutely everywhere which made me wonder if he was looking for a mate. If Sydney was Bailey definitely was not "it"!

One afternoon I was gardening and separating oriental poppies in a long flower bed well away from the water. I was so engrossed in my task. So much so that when I looked up from a kneeling position to see Sydney had waddled up from the bank and was happily stood right next to me watching my every move I was more than a little shocked. Literally face to face with him and in awe of  exactly how large he was. Feeling intimidated I softly talked to him and moved through the flower bed back to the cottage. I wondered if my white dress had attracted him. He seemed to be drawn to anything and anyone in white!

The only time Sydey has over stepped his mark was when he  waddled onto the patio near to the kitchen   when he couldn't wait for the normal feeding time. Both Beardies fell into full sheepdog mode and herded him back into the water. They as always were protecting me.  Sydney seemed to understand this. There was a little hissing but he went calmly as if he knew this was not good etiquette!

Fully recovered Sydney has left us and I hope he finds a mate. He desperately needs company that is more suitable than the four legged and two legged family he found here. What a sheer joy to have experienced his company  and enjoy his beauty during his stay though.

We never know what tomorrow may bring.

Here it always seems to be something wonderful.


More Young!

Young Moorhens

Yesterday morning I found myself racing out of the cottage to chase a magpie away who was determined to harm the young of a family of moorhens. The group had been sunning themselves on the lawn. Curious  of their surroundings the babies had ventured onto the bank and were running here and there looking at everything in sight . Sadly this activity was making them perfect open targets.

As the magpie swooped repeatedly the parents of their young fiercely guarded their territory whilst the babies hurriedly made their way back to their hide in the reeds on the waters edge.

Watching nature is such a learning curve and so fascinating. The parents would not give up and with my help on a few occasions the magpie left having lost the " battle".

I spent time watching the little ones explore throughout the day. Their quick movements are so comical. They literally dart here and there like my brush when I am  painting to fast music. I thought how could I capture them in watercolour because their fluffy forms make interesting subjects. I see a painting from the above scene and I know I am going to need 48 hour days to  paint everything I see whilst living here!


Saturday, 5 June 2010

Heavenly Iris

Bearded Iris
"Blue Shimmer"

I adore Iris. They make beautiful subjects to paint and add a sense of majesty to a garden. This variety  carries a sweet perfume and when hit by the morning light just begs to be painted.

I have a feeling my  floral artist friends will be eager to join me on fine days to paint in the garden.

At the moment I am planning the landscape and planting very much with years of painting ahead in mind. Each plant will serve a purpose of adding colour and shape to the kaleidoscope of patterns in beautiful flower beds and give many hours of pleasure to all who see them.

This beauty surely is a painting waiting to happen.


Cottage Life : The First Ducklings

Welcome to my cottage blog which I have opened purely to share my joy at living in such peaceful surroundings. I adore wildlife, gardening and painting in watercolour. Living here I have subjects galore to  capture with my brush but I  never once imagined how blissful life could be. It is far too gorgeous not to share so wherever you are in the world please feel free to take time out to relax here whenever you wish.

Mother and Young, Our first duckling family.

 When we first moved in  we heard six ducklings had been taken by a magpie and only one survived.  This duckling has grown and now become a family favourite.  I have been feeding  all of the ducks daily. They now come when called. If I am late with their food they are  eager to call me so I am now not sure who has trained who exactly!  But we have become firm friends and so my journey into having ducks around me begins. Amazingly my Bearded Collies sit next to the ducks and act  as though they are all one big family. The ducks seem to not mind being herded from time to time and my younger dog feels that is his daily chore. However he has sensed with young around a certain respect is entitled so for now he leaves the family very much alone which is quite sweet.

The excitement this week of  a female duck bringing her young to proudly show me was such a touching moment. Without invading her space I took a few photographs. And I will be watching eagerly to try to make sure the magpie does them no harm.

 Our first duckling family,
Really cute and  very time wasting as it is impossible not to watch them and just love them for  their fluffy forms.