Pens,Ink & Watercolour

20th Nov. 2016

The Ballpoint and the Keyboard killed handwriting.

I love to write with a fountain pen. To see the shape of the neat and tidy letters flowing onto the paper is immensely satisfying.
My everyday writing is not at all refined, but on picking up a real pen everything seems to change.

In primary school we first learned to write with chalk on lined slates in a simple script from of letter with blocky capitals . I think it would have been 3 years later that steel nibbed dip pens and joined-up writing began. Back then the neatness of your writing gained you a high proportion of your marks. As I recall my penmanship was above average, but far from calligraphic .

We were taught to hold pen in a relaxed light but firm grip so that consistent flowing script glided across the page . When I see folks of the later ” biro ” generation holding a writing implement, with fingers engaged in as in a death grip determined to strangle the life out of the thing and the inconsistent, undisciplined handwriting that results, I am forced to question what transpires in the writing classes of early education today. Since it results in such illegible writing, surely if it is not legible, then it is clearly not writing .

In my late teens I took pleasure doing pen and ink drawings of old buildings and country scenes, some which were given a gentle watercolour wash. Upon leaving School at 15 I briefly considered a position as a graphic artist for a local agricultural business, SCATS, but my father wisely guided me instead, toward an engineering apprenticeship. As part of my apprenticeship I attended tech. college where it was necessary to take notes in haste and over the next 4 years my handwriting deteriorated to ungainly ugly scribble .

The end product of my Engineering apprenticeship was graduating into the drawing office, where a consistently neat blocky script is demanded .  Being required to retrain my hand led to simple calligraphy and using italic nibbed pens.  This in turn prompted a return to occasionally sketching for pleasure.

Taking pleasure in art reentered my life again when I set up a picture framing business in the ’80’s and now that I am retired and less mobile I have again returned to sketching and watercolours . Fistly attracted by a 3 day travel sketching event on Quadra Island –

My my recent recommencement was prompted with the arrival of our wet season in October, and reflecting on the beautiful watercolour paintings produced by my sister Kate, until her death in January.  As a tribute of thanks to her I hope to collect as many photos of her work as possible and present them in a slide show.

On a recent visit to Qualicum I browsed the pen box in the antique shop and found two fine gold nibbed Sheaffer fountain pens from the late 30’s for $10 one needed a new bladder which I obtained from Pensacs USA for $3 each 🙂 . Thus if you are so inclined there are beautiful pens to be had for very little and there is no need to spend the high prices that collectors have created for a fine writing pen . There is real pleasure to be had in simple things and pride to be taken from a letter in a neat and tidy script style that is yours and yours alone – Get a fountain pen and get writing for Christmas 🙂

My Christmas Cards this year will be carrying a message written with ink and one of these pens in a distinctive neat hand and with love !


Door Knocker for my Farrier Friend

20th Nov 2016

A House Warming Gift

For Steph & Jeramy

Made from Island grown Old Growth Fir

A young couple asked me to make them a door knocker for their new home on a their 5 acre rural property. She being a farrier gave me a horseshoe as a starting point . The farriers driving hammer was found on eBay . The anvil is a scaled down version of the one she uses every day in her business .

It is so good to know these enterprising kids !


Dead Man’s Plack – Harewood Forest Hants

2nd Nov 2016

Deadmans Plack Harewood Forest
Anglo Saxon Kings

This story is over 1000 years old and rarely found in our history books .

Tucked away in what remains of an ancient forest in the Test Valley near Andover, is stone obelisk commemorating a  treacherous affair and a murder in 925 AD. I want to bring this to light because few people know if the legendary event or that the place was marked in this splendid way in recent times ( 1835 ).

I have fond recollection of lovely walks in this forest with my children in Autumn when the leaves are heaped deep on the forest floor and the kids tumbling through them..


 Deadman’s Plack a memorial to Anglo Saxon tales of murder and deceit.

One of the later Saxon kings, Edgar, is remembered in Harewood Forest, close to the village of Longparish in Hampshire, by a monument called Deadman’s Plack.
The monument itself is a C19th cross was erected in 1825 by Lieutenant Colonel William Iremonger whose wish it was to commemorate an event that supposedly took place in Harewood Forest in 963 AD.
The inscription on the cross tells of a betrayal and two murders but the story that led to the erection of the cross is a much more detailed and sordid one.


Deadmans Plack Harewood Forest


Edgar a king weakened by the charms of a pretty woman

Edgar was a womaniser and many tales tell of his amorous encounters with women, including a nun, by whom he had a child. When St Dunstan heard of this affair he admonished the king and made him take a vow of repentence. Edgar alledgedly set aside his crown and fasted for several years.
Edgar had already been married twice when rumour of the Duke of Devonshire’s daughter Elfrida reached his ears. Was she as beautiful and charming as described? Edgar was keen to find out and sent his Earldorman, Ethelwold to find out and return her to court, if the rumours were true.
Ethelwold did indeed find her to be charming and promptly married her himself and settled down for a life in Devon, sending back word to the king that the woman was unattractive and therefore not to be brought before the king.
Edgar however heard that Ethelwold had married a beautiful lady and ordered them both to appear before him, a frightened Ethelwold begged his wife to appear unattractive before the king but she had other plans. Elfrida dressed finely and set out to look as alluring as possible before the king.


The Weathered Inscription
The Weathered Inscription


The king will have his revenge
Edgar’s anger at the duplicity of his earldorman resulted in the latter being drawn into Harewood Forest under the pretext of a hunting party and there Edgar murdered him with a javelin.
The duplicitous Elfrida
Elfrida must have given tacit consent to the murder of her husband as she quickly marries the king but her scheming nature does not end there. When Edgar died in AD 975 she had her step-son Edward murdered at Corfe Castle so that her own son Ethelred could become king.
She must have grown tired of her deceitful and murderous ways for she retired from the world to found the nunnery at Wherwell, where she clothed herself in hair cloth and slept upon the open ground, undertaking every kind of penance, in order to expiate her crimes.

Thus the monument of Deadman’s Plack stands to remind us all of the events that took place over 950 years ago

Without the monument probably few of us would know of the stories that surrounded one of the Saxon kings.

What was reign of King Edgar like?

He was the younger son of Edmund I and King of all England from AD 959. Known as King Edgar the Peaceful.  He strove to unite the English and the Danes and by a show of strength both on land and at sea, persuaded the northern kings to submit to his lordship. He made St Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury and Dunstan became the king’s personal adviser. The reign seems to have been a peaceful and prosperous one and under him the English church was nurtured and thrived. It seems his weakness for women was the fault that drew him towards murder, if of course the tales are true?


The New Minster Charter Winchester, showing King Edgar holding aloft the charter in the presence of the Virgin Mary, St Peter, Christ and angels
The New Minster Charter Winchester, showing King Edgar holding aloft the charter in the presence of the Virgin Mary, St Peter, Christ and angels

Here is a link to one account :

I hope if you live in Hampshire or near this site you will enjoy a walk there.