It feels like January slipped in through the gap in the window that was left by the piece of old and crumbling putty that fell out in October.  A driving rain, goaded on by a particularly vicious westerly, managed to dig its fingernails along the edge of one of the old panes of glass above the staircase that winds down to the kitchen. This window has needed replacing for a while, but until we get around to it, it’ll just have to keep on whistling with the westerlies.

Last year was a quite a fearsome one for adventures, some fabulous and some a little scary, even more so than the paragliding.

So I thought it might be timely to have a brief and visual flick through just some of the lovely projects I got to work on, as an aide memoir, and also because its easier looking at those bits than recalling the scary bits.

There were some wonderful commissions including a man with such a passion for signal crayfish that he actually bought the models from Billingsgate and drove them to my front door. He arrived so early in the morning, that I was able to greet him in my husband’s dressing gown, a pair of wellies, and little else apart from a new puppy draped across my shoulders like a living, breathing stole. Always pushing the boundaries of professionalism, me.


There were other creatures from the sea, too, including Garfish, Mackerel and a huge Turbot in egg tempera.


Then Spring arrived, heralded by a series of joyful commissions that to me, embody all that is good and hopeful about the season…

Summer eventually sashayed across to centre stage, bringing with her a delicious season of bountiful colours and textures, both in the field and vegetable garden. A walk among the long grasses and wild mallow, to dig, weed and gather from the veg beds always brings endless inspiration, and so it was quite timely to be working on a brilliant new cook book by the Queen of Persian food, Sabrina Ghayour. Feast was a joy to work on. As I read each recipe it was as easy as breathing to visualise the illustrations to marry to the words and menus. Gorgeous recipes too… I’ve never felt quite so hungry while working on a cook book!

Another beauty that ambled in with the summer was a complete gem of a story written by Rosamund Young: The Secret Life of Cows.

Reading this gentle, and wholly relevant story was both revelatory and life affirming. We had raised our own pigs the previous year and the whole experience from their arrival to actually butchering and eating them was incredibly humbling, a complete honour. At that moment, her words felt like they were written for me. And so to be asked by Faber to illustrate her story was a delight.



As the Summer began to retreat, Autumn brought with her an ‘R’ in the month, and so there were mussels and oysters to illustrate (and eat).



Finally, as Winter crept in and all the autumn colours faded back into the soil,  the skies became flushed with some of the most memorable sunrises and sunsets I’ve been lucky enough to witness. With her arrival came an almost manic need to keep busy, lest she catch up and render me petrified. I holed up in my studio, sharing the space with the new pup and the old terrier who’d intermittently befoul the air with their occasional, somnolent farting. To be honest it’s a miracle that I managed to draw anything… challenged with the unenviable choice of passing out from either the cold, or asphyxiation!

Here are some of the last things I drew before the year teetered over to draw the curtain on 2017.

I’m trying to avoid coming out with a seemingly stale and much hackneyed way of saying this. But the truth of the matter is I’m so grateful to you all for your incredible support, enthusiasm and humour throughout 2017. Without it, the scary bits might have been a little too much to avoid lingering over… a bit like looking at a the edge of a steep rock face, that you ‘just’ managed to convince your feet from falling down. We all know we almost fell. But we don’t need to hang around the rim of the precipice, mithering over what could’ve happened. It feels better to marvel at how we managed control our disco knees and keep going.

Here’s to 2018, where we all climb stronger, look up more and enjoy the skies.

With love, and thanks,





October, and the daily ritual and rhythm of a walk through the field is calling.

There’s the added boon of a new pup, Billie, to enjoy this time with me. She’s all legs, oversized feet and a mass of brindled fluff, and she reminds me of the easily overlooked joy of just being in this sea of green.

The field is beginning to hunker and huddle for Winter’s approach, and much rain has tramped down even the sturdiest and most stalwart of grassy outcrops.

The acrobatic ‘hoppers have left the stage, but in their place many spiders have been busy weaving huge trampolines between the hollowed husks of the once blowsy petticoats of mallow. Their silken skeins are taught with the anticipation of a meal; the master builders waiting at the edge, one foot poised to feel the slightest ripple of the foolish and fallen.

Billie is completely oblivious to these small but definitive set changes; her head is down and her nose is full to brimming with the unruly and chaotic torrent of new scents that are clambering for her attention as she snorkels through the dewy grass. There’s rabbit (so many), deer and fox (damn that beautiful fox) and also the freshly dug, blackberry-blue of a badger latrine. As a youngster she hasn’t quite mastered the skill of self application, but I can tell that to her it’s like raiding the shelves of a perfume counter… Penhaligons-for-pups. Her eyes are slightly crazed and showing a lot of white!

Onwards to the veg patch. It’s not looking its best, but even in this state of semi-decay there are elements that never fail to make my heart happy.

The empty hulls of forgotten and spent marrow lie stranded in their earthy bed like washed-up shipwrecks unceremoniously dumped by the careless hand of a storm.

The overwintering broccoli are all wearing peppered leafy overcoats,  morse-coded with the little of dots and dashes… ‘the coast is clear stop come dine here stop’. Evidence of a successful assault by the late army of Cabbage Whites.

And then there are the beautiful slow-nodding pompoms of overgrown leek. With a good friend’s encouragement, I decided to leave them and so they’re now approaching their third year. I’m dearly hoping for a huge crop of scapes to roast and roll in a thick balsamic vinegar; they go so well with a soft and creamy goat’s cheese. But even if this dreamy promise doesn’t come to fruition, their evolution has been a visual feast, like watching fireworks in very slow motion.

A visit to the greenhouse, to pick some late tomatoes and sort through some drying borlotti beans.

A couple of Winters ago I sent my mum some dried beans. Come the following Spring she sowed them and grew a sprawl of beautiful splatter-patterned, purple pods. And when Autumn arrived she sent me a generous handful from her borlotti harvest. From these I grew my own tangle, and enjoyed some happy, noisy meals with my family, particularly this one, by the very brilliant and wonderful Rachel Roddy. I’ve saved and dried a few dozen and now it’s time to send these new colourful little worlds back down to Mum, for the following Spring.

I love this very much. and I dearly wish we’d started it way back when… when I realised that growing things was destined to be one of the most pleasurable and enduring pursuits, rather than ‘just something your mother does’, along with listening to radio 4.  This particular pastime has taken me on quite a ramble both personally, and in terms of the choices I made when I decided to have a go at drawing stuff for a living.


It has the ability to buoy me up when I’m flailing and all at sea, and if ever I get a little too smug it’s smartingly quick to deliver an earthy slap of reality. The simple and physical hard graft of growing vegetables… it’s perhaps the most honest and direct friendship one can have with the land. It’s both humbling and inspiring. And for me the rewards are beyond those that I bring home to the kitchen.

Heading back now, a bundle of kale under my arm, and I’m thinking of a warming soup with a perhaps a poached egg on top, and a dollop of fresh pesto.

September... always the one in a hurry



The beginnings of a bitter-sweet commission… a mistle thrush’s egg, heralding a brief but very welcome return to Spring. This year has been in such a hurry, at times almost tripping over itself in its keenness to reach Autumn.

Outside my studio the bracken has once again grown beyond its ability to support its elaborate flounce of green, and so, much of it now stands stooped like a gathering of arthritic peacocks, awaiting their inevitable demise.

Throughout the Summer months, the two male blackbirds were far too busy (and no doubt exhausted) raising brood. But they’re back now, like sentries guarding their indistinguishable curtilage of berried elder, hornbeam and hazel.

There’s a magpie rasping through his limited repertoire of swear words. But as a gentle counter a wood pigeon has begun a soft and mellow correspondence with another, further away among the jaw of pine teeth that edge the forest.

This little egg would’ve been laid anywhere between the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer. An exciting time to be alive. As autumn races ahead all mistle thrush should be filling their stippled bellies with the bountiful supply of slugs and snails, the majority of which seem to have gathered in their multitude along the edges of my brassica bed, a silent army of slayers awaiting nightfall. And of course there’s now the chaotic cavort of barely airborne crane-flies to tempt any bird looking for an easy snack. The avian larder is brimming.

The transition between seasons can be breathtaking, pregnant as they are with the promise of such a treasure trove of colours. There’s also the undeniable comfort of continuity to appease the quiet creep of seasonal melancholy. Season follows season; Spring (then Summer) will be back.

But perhaps the most visually splendid and genuinely heartwarming tapestry is the one that unfurls as Summer passes the baton to Autumn.

If we could just slow them down a little.


Three square miles




May, June, July…

The same busy little colony, gathering from the same 3 square miles.

From the crying, thermal-riding Buzzard’s view it would appear as just a tiny pocket in the rolling patchwork of textures and oft repeating patterns that weave together the dips and curves of rural Sussex. But from our bees’ perspective it perhaps represents their equivalent of a supermarket aisle, and hopefully a fully stocked one.

In the month of May, a farmer decided to grow a twelve acre carpet of oilseed rape, the bees’ quick-fix equivalent of Macky D’s…and our crabby tree was also a popular meeting place in late April. Each bee met the apple blossom of her eye, becoming almost incapable of leaving the floral feast for overloading her luggage rack with pollen and her tummy with nectar. The field began to fill with cow parsley, and the occasional cowslip, while the hedges became lined with white clouds of Blackthorn. The rich sweet honey they made has set like concrete, and wherever it’s spread it stays put, resolutely immovable until in the mouth where it melts with the texture of grainy tablet fudge.

As May slipped into the blowsy pocket of June, pink pillows of field mallow called out to passing bees to perch, rest a while and feast. In the vegetable garden pea and broad bean plants offered up their their bounty barely hidden amongst the pastel folds, and the nearby dappled cool of forest paths became lined with parades of trumpeting foxgloves. But the overwhelming flood of temptation came from the huge outcrop of Broom that offered up it sunny flanks at the top of the field… It became such a go to place that eventually all three hives made this their restaurant de jour and a daily tide of bees would rope their way to and fro, across the field. We learned to duck and dive beneath this visible highway, marvelling at their enthusiasm, and mithering at possibility of an occasional collision with an unaware human. The honey they conjured tastes like a holiday in the tropics, a gentle sea breeze, the soft fleshy fruit of a cocoa pod laid open, almost toffee…

Then came July and the honey turned the colour of straw. With the field a Jackson Pollock canvas of cheerful splashes, walking through was no longer a quiet affair. Competing with the raspy chirping of grasshoppers, the bees could be heard happy-humming from all corners, with white and pink Clover and Birds Foot Trefoil being the most popular hangouts. In the vegetable garden late flowering courgettes and pumpkins enticed scouting bees to change their dance on returning to the hive, and the hedges became rammed with bramble flower. July’s honey pours like unpastuerised cream, and tastes like a summer pudding… intensely, deeply floral.

Each jar is like a window into another time… it holds the unadulterated essence of a month of flowers. And of course, these aren’t calendar months… because flowers don’t dance to our tune and our need for organising and scheduling every minute, hour, day and month of the year. They don’t bloom for us, they bloom for the bees, gardeners in the truest sense. For the last four years I’ve been lucky enough to observe this extraordinary relationship close up. And the more I see the more I realise how fluid this alliance is, but how vulnerable too. Since caring for bees our rhythm of cutting, pruning, sowing, protecting and harvesting has changed dramatically. Everything is done with the bees’ welfare in mind. What would make the bees (and by extension all pollinators) happy.

I suppose taking a little of their honey could be seen as just rewards for ensuring they’ve a full and varied aisle to gather from. But in truth it still feels a little like robbery. As such we only take enough to enjoy for ourselves… and if there’s any spare I give it away. I’m often asked if I sell my honey to ‘the public’. I don’t think I could. Honey should be seen as unique and of inestimable value. The minute it has a price tag, it makes the work of the bees a commodity. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were rated as highly as oil or gas, but sadly for all the newsworthy rallying that goes on in efforts to ‘save the bee’ we’re still a long way from that. I would rather it didn’t have a commercial value… to give it to friends feels good though… the lady with hay fever at the post office, the phlobotemist who patiently waited while I did star jumps to get the blood pumping, the friend who’s three little boys value their pots as we might in possession of the winning lottery ticket, the dear friend who grows things to find peace and joy and understands the rhythm of such things.

These moments sit well in my heart.

As August gathers pace and Summer begins to fade, the bees are now gathering up the last of the nectar and pollen to store in their larders and sustain them through the cooler, darker months. The 3 square miles of foraging becomes a little emptier, but the flowers have been pollinated and with a fair winter, the larder will be full again, come Spring.

The Broad Bean

Most lunch breaks I take a walk down through our field. The grasses are measurably taller against my legs, and the new families of hoppers are now big and bouncy enough to spring board into the backs of my wellies, and even the turn-ups on my shorts. There are daubs of Clover and Birdsfoot Trefoil; rambling outbreaks of Lesser Stitchwort have spread like earthbound constellations. Large shifting islands of Yellow Rattle have appeared, and I’m easily distracted by the swelling patches of Mallow leaf that promise plump cushions of pink. Short spears of Bugle are beginning to draw the eye of Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns, while spiders can be seen with one foot always resting on the edge of their trampoline larders, poised for the vibrations of an unlucky prey. For the first time ever, this year there’s the joyful cascade of bubbling chatter from skylarks! Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we’d be blessed with such a glorious choir.

Since planting out this year’s young and vulnerable seedlings, I’ve been making regular trips to my veg garden. I’m jangly with the anticipation of the new, the taller, the flowering and the almost fruiting. There’s also a palpable edge of dread. Often I find signs of visitors… the odd pheasant feather amongst the broadbeans, a silvered and neatly scalloped edge of a courgette leaf. But more recently I’ve been finding the occasional, oversized ‘mulberry’ of deer poo. We’ve done as much as is possible to at least guarantee some harvest, but it seems that over the last decade, each new generation of veg plot reveller has been gifted the genetic imprint of a map of this ‘free and full’ larder, and so my planting and protecting has had to become more strategic. Corn (a favourite) is bedded in beneath the cloak of a nut tree and the broad beans will be netted. Onions and garlic will always be the crops nearest the field side fencing as deer (and pretty much every other prospective diner) don’t much care for aliums.

Regardless of this, each visit is a routine and a rhythm that gives great comfort… a little check on my fledgling beans, the resecuring of a wayward pea tendril, a hoe between the sturdy shoulders of the onions to disturb the roots of any weedy interlopers, and a quick chat with the newly planted out purple sprouting broccoli, so small and vulnerable in their earthy corral. The potatoes need little encouragement, and besides they can’t hear me at this point, with their heads buried deep below. (Tell me I’m not the only one who talks to their vegetables.)

I’m writing this in the month of June, and am now fully engaged in the annual Battle of The Broad Beans. Having observed my daily routing, my stealthy opponents only seem to strike when I’m working or sleeping. Already the earth is becoming littered with disemboweled pods. It’s too late to sow more, but now I’ve netted what little remains and hope that the small crowd of beleaguered plants will manage to grow some more pods…

I love broad beans… they make me smile.  They’re such a generous vegetable, giving pleasure throughout the whole process from the twist, twist n pick of the plump and green torpedo, to the slip of the thumb and the slow reveal of the soft velveteen nursery within; a row of smooth skinned cherubs, tiny umbilical cords slowly plumping up these happy beans. The choice of whether to peel once cooked: I love them both ways… that kidney-bitter skin is a rewarding contrast to the butter rich green of the bean within… I love them in a risotto, and adore them with a crumble of cheese and some wild rocket (perhaps some fried off pancetta stirred through).

Over the years, I’ve illustrated many podded vegetables, but have never felt entirely able to capture that freshness on paper. So having learnt to work with egg tempera, I decided that this might be the way to go, to mirror their depth of plush colour and form, and that undeniable sense of treasure revealed.

Of all the powdered pigments that nestle in the dark recesses of my studio drawers, Oxide of Chromium and Genuine Naples Yellow are the very essence of Summer. Dipping a licked-to-a-point brush into egg, then into powder, stirring on white porcelain to blend, then stroking across thick cartridge. There’s a deep and rich melody that plays out in my heart as I work the layers of tempera to create the shape and shadow of the split pod.

The studio window is open most of the time now, any loose papers are anchored with a ball of flint or a slab of slate. The parenting blackbirds are too busy, too tired no doubt, to argue over curtilage rights, so for once there’s just the sound of a breeze cuffing at the sea of bracken outside.





And then, inevitably, came the pea pod…


If you’d like to know about my work, then do get in touch. I’m always happy to have a chat.

And for those of you who’d like to have a go at painting in egg tempera, then I’m delighted to say that I’m running a couple of courses in September! One is due to be held at the gorgeous Otter Farm, and the other at the very beautiful Thyme. If you’re interested, then do get in touch with them to find out more. They’re truly inspiring places and it would be very lovely to see you there! Meanwhile, for more egg tempera illustrations in amongst other work, head over to instagram.

Anna x





How Terence Happened

This isn’t really a how-to paint-in-egg-tempera story, because for that I think we’d be better off sitting side by side, drinking tea (or wine) and playing with ground pigments, brushes and egg. I’d show you a few tricks, we’d crack an egg, sip some tea (or wine) and have a go. It’s very much a doing kind of thing.

But suffice to say, it’s been a very forgiving medium to learn, with results that have left me stroking paper and marvelling at the depth of colours you can build up, and just how much paint I’ve managed to ladle on without the paper buckling under the weight!

For illustrating food it’s the most inspiring medium I’ve ever played with. It allows me to build up gossamer thin layers and subtle details that lend the painting a living and visceral quality that photographers managed to capture in a click, and yet has truly evaded me up until now.

So I thought I’d simply post a few photos of how one particular painting progressed, from the first tentative and rather ill proportioned comedy sketch (where I pretend to know what I’m doing), to finding Terence, the perfect model (with huge thanks to Dan, my local fishmongers, for his boundless enthusiasm), to at last standing up straight (phew!) and feeling properly happy with the result.

This study took 7 eggs, some 18 layers of colour and detail, and many mugs of tea and kitkat breaks, and it’s been a complete joy.






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Oh by the way, if you’d like to have a go, I’ve been asked by the wonderful Otter Farm and Thyme to hold workshops in September. It would be lovely to see you there; we could sip tea (or wine) and I’d be delighted to help you produce something beautiful!

Strange fruit

Listening to the Jackson Five, pinning down a skiddy, dry skinned cricket ball of a shell whilst jabbing at it with a teaspoon, is my first memory of a pomegranate.

And to be honest, I thought it was messy and all rather pointless (not exactly as easy as ‘a b c‘.). So I put down the teaspoon and the stubborn fruit, wiped my hands on the front of my favourite nylon dress, and lifting the Dansette’s needle back to the beginning of the ’45  I trotted off miming the words “as simple as do re mi…” I wasn’t exactly charmed. In my mind I likened it to the same disappointment that the Two Bad Mice in Beatrix Potter must’ve felt, on discovering that all of the luscious and promising food in the dolls’ house was made of plaster: utterly duped.

It was the age when ‘exotic’ fruits were beginning to appear at the local greengrocer, and mum perhaps felt more obliged rather than inspired to buy these strange fruit.

Visually I was utterly beguiled… the treasure trove appeal was not lost on a 5 year old’s magpie-like penchant for shiny brightly coloured jewels. But the seeds were dry, bitter even. Give me tinned peaches any day… so little effort for a sweet and easy kick. And at the time we had rather a lot of tinned peaches as a result of Dad ‘finding’ a large quantity of industrial sized tins from a lorry that had slipped its load on a narrow bridge at night. We worked our way through the tins of the syrupy sweet slugs for weeks, and rather sadly I now can’t even look at them in the aisle at the supermarket.

As a grown up their visual appeal never left me, but it seemed that no matter how many times I tried to find a liking for their flavour and texture, they would disappoint. I really couldn’t understand why you would want to eat them, let alone ruin a perfectly good salad with them!

Yet the bizarre thing is that regardless of my lack of taste for them, I found myself constantly drawn to paint them. It was perhaps my way of compensating for that elusive element.


Pomegranate oil

Oil on canvas



Egg tempera on cartridge


But then it happened, when I least expected it…

Last year I visited a market in Barcelona, nothing spectularly life changing there you might think. But it was here that someone casually thrust into my hand a plastic cup brimming with pomegranate seeds, and so I tried them, one more time.  The mouth explosion that occurred must be one that’s familiar to all those in ‘the know’. But for me it was a multi layered sensorial shock of the most undeniably sensuous kind. I was encouraged to spoon them into my mouth. But I somehow misplaced the spoon in my wanton, slightly untethered state of nirvana, and with eyes closed I ended up just simply pouring them into my mouth, red juice trickling as I bit and burst seemingly hundreds of these exquisite little ruby red grenades of flavour.

There are many theories on the best technique to cut, peel, and empty the contents of a pomegranate, and I think that I’ve tried every which way possible, but by far the most satisfying way is this one… no spoon required either!

I shall never see a pomegranate the same way again.

And I suspect I shall never paint them quite the same way either.

After some surprisingly early nudges and a few cups of tea...

Hello to you all!

It’s been a while since I wrote anything, and I should say that this is not going to be an essay, but simply a quick note to say that, yes, I’ll be offering prints for anyone who may be thinking of what to buy their nearest and dearest for (sorry about this) Christmas.

Here are my particular favourites… and some of them are also available as originals (of which of course, there’s only one!). These won’t be going up on my website as regulars prints at this stage, so do get in touch by email if you’d like to know prices and availability.

And of course, if there’s a particular image you’ve seen on my website that you had in mind, then do drop me a line.

Wishing you all the best of  luck with the almighty skid and slide towards the big day…. I confess that I’ve only bought one present so far, but then I’m pretty rubbish at forward planning.

Anna X






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If memories could be stored in boxes, this summer would have filled the multitude that still sit in our attic from our move here, 16 years ago. Except memories should never be allowed to be stored, sealed, and mothballed. This summer I watched and mentally ‘clicked’ on as many moments as I possibly could fit in my head.

Our children are growing up and it’s taken me until now to acknowledge just how fast it’s happening.

Spring always seems to be so busy amongst the veg beds (dig, sow, plant, water, weed, repeat) that often I forget to look over my shoulder and see what the fruit trees are doing. If I do, I’m lucky to be greeted by a riot of blossom; the trees become petticoated in layer upon layer of froth and flounce. It’s a sight that sends me right back to my grandpa’s orchard in Cornwall. As a child I used to spend hours lying on my back in the grass, surrounded by fresh goslings, gazing up through the gnarly bows of his ancient apple trees.

As Spring slips into Summer, the flowers wilt and their petals pool as confetti beneath our young trees. And miraculously, tiny embryonic fruit begin to emerge.

This year, for the first year ever, both of our young pear trees have decided to push on past the bloom, and braving ridicule from the more productive apple and plum, they’ve produced a total of five Williams, and two Conference. And I almost missed them. Yet there they are, dangling enticingly amongst the curtain of shiny, ovate leaves, ‘almost’ within my grasp… and definitely within a beak’s bite of a keen-eyed bird.

But now I know where they are I’ve been watching them closely, giving the lowest one a tentative squeeze. The second it yields under the pressure of a thumb, I’ll fetch the ladder.

To me, a pear, ripened on a tree, (or a windowsill, if the birds are queueing along the branches) is perhaps the most perfect fruit to eat as is, unfluffed or adulterated with any pastry or pomp. Straight from the tree, there are really only two ways to eat a pear. You can cup it’s round and plumptious bottom, and with the briefest of crunches you’re straight through and into the flesh… or you can use a knife. I have a penknife that I found while climbing in France. It’s a beautiful old thing… simple, elegant and with just one blade. To pierce the skin at the tip, and slip the blade down as the pear widens to it’s fulsome rump, and open out a perfect twin of creamy white, is a joy… and just as messy. That sweet burst of heady, perfumed juice, followed by an unconscious knuckle-wipe of a wet chin.

Autumn has arrived and I’m sitting in my little studio, and I’m finishing these conference pears, in egg tempera. And of course it’s difficult not to draw a parallel with my sweet children, who, like the pear trees, have blossomed and now fruited into young adults…. and I almost missed it. So I’m stashing away these precious moments in my head and heart, to the point where there’s a more than slim chance that I could just burst… this driving sense of urgency that I now feel, like trying to stuff the feathers into a pillowcase, before they float off, out of my reach.

But I won’t forget this Summer.

The plum


I can’t remember the first plum I ate… though I suspect it was perhaps more of a tinned, rehydrated prune, the kind you’re offered in a pudding bowl with others, forming little shrivelled islands in a thick yellow sea of Bird’s Eye custard (which I love). I do recall the heated debates that would ensue, if either my brother or I got the ‘right’ number of prunes that would henceforth have the undisputable POWER to predict a future. In fairness, it was blatantly geared towards girls, and the assumption that they would aspire to marry, and marry a ‘rich man’ at that. The list of potential suitors could perhaps do with an update, to include, among others, ‘Angelina Jolie lookeelikee, yoga guru, ecowarrior, Tom Hollander, bearded person, heaven forbid:Donald Trump’…

Come Summertime, plums would appear in a bowl on the kitchen table, nestled amongst Cox’s Pippin apples and Conference pears. But I rarely reached for them, preferring the convenience of an apple that didn’t leak and make hands awkwardly sticky.

If only I’d known…

Now a ‘grownup’, with a family and a bit of land, we’ve planted apple, pear and plum. They hunker down in a little orchard that we’ve fenced off from the deer, who would strip the young trees within minutes, given the chance. In July it is one of the greatest pleasures, to slip down, alone, to the orchard, and pick a sun ripened plum.  Standing beneath the little tree, with the sun on my back, a warm and voluptuous plum in my hand… the wave of delicate perfume radiating from the blush and bloom of this Rubenesque jewel; a flavour bomb waiting to happen: utterly beguiling.

And then there’s that first bite… the lick-of-the-lips smooth skin as tongue guides teeth to the plump ‘give’ point… the give to the gave, as teeth pierce to flesh; it’s messy. Juice will always roll down from palm to wrist, and if unchecked, will trickle to the bony tip of an elbow as, throwing all caution to the wind, you go in for a second bite. It’s perhaps one of the most sensuous fruits, second only to a ripened fig. Summer love, in all it’s fresh and sweet abandon. And no one wants it to end… so you reach for another plum.

As I write this, I’m working my way through the left over ‘models’ from the egg tempera illustration above… “tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor…” I feel as if I’ve cheated a little, enwrapped as I am in this deliciously sweet moment before time… it is only May.

But it was worth it.