Friday, 22 May 2015

This is London

The Royal Horticultural Society's annual flower show held at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is almost over for another year. We didn't go this time, but we enjoyed the coverage on TV. Yesterday one of the presenters remarked on the huge numbers of visitors despite the inclement weather.  I had to smile because earlier in the day I was leafing through "This is London" by M. Sasek and come across this picture; 

This is London

But don't worry, most of the time it looks like this; 

The Tower of London

St. Paul's Cathedral 

The Houses of Parliament

The book features many other famous buildings, but my favourite illustrations are of the people - like this one of The Guards.

or this group of school children

City Gents

A Chelsea Pensioner

I also like the glimpses of 'old London'

like this famous shop ~

and these Elizabethan houses in High Holborn

Covent Garden Market

The New York Times Book Review, October 18, 1959, perfectly sums up this quirky book.

There are not many words in Miroslav Sasek's This is London, but those few are most memorable...

The colour is magnificent and uninhibited, the draughtsmanship brilliant but unobtrusive (one gradually realizes that these bold, stylized drawings are minutely accurate as well as true in general impression). The humour is characteristic and pervasive but always subordinate. The jokes are all pointed. Miroslav Sasek has drawn the visitor's London from foggy arrival to rainy departure. His book is a series of impressions, unrelated, one would think, but they add up to a remarkably complete picture of the modern city. The words and pictures are closely integrated; each has it terse style and humour.

M. Sasek ~ Universe Publishing ~ Originally Published in 1959 ~ New Updated Version 2004 

find it HERE

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Guest post; Nut and Bolt / Bout en Moertje by Nicole de Cock

I was born in Zandvoort, in the Netherlands, at the seaside and from an early age I loved making things. I adored my grandfather who painted a lot and who loved animals, two things which, up until now, are very important in my life. My grandfather invented an oil machine but he also had to raise a family of 5 girls, among them my mother, during the war so he didn't always have the time to paint but there was always a place in his house where he had several projects going on - ceramics, painting, sculpture, etc.. I really learned drawing from him !

I could spend hours on my own, painting and reading. During high school I began working in a bookshop and it was during that period I started making small stories. When things changed dramatically at the bookshop because of the crises in the 90's, I left the shop and tried to turn drawing into making serious illustration-work. The first years I made illustrations for a wildlife magazine and for biology books for children and for years now I am making picture books, although I still love making other thing - miniature books, clocks....

In my books animals and nature are very important. I am very concerned about the earth and I hope that by reading and looking at my drawings children might care a tiny bit more about our planet.

I 'met' Barbara years ago when I was looking for a book (I think it was a ladybird book) and found her wonderful shop on the internet. We became close friends although we never actually met. She has an excellent taste as you all know ! (you mustn't leave this out, dear friend) We both care about nature and we both lost our dogs in the same year which, if you love dogs with all your heart as we do, is quite something to share. We still 'talk' about her Rosie and my Shy. That was 6 years ago and since then I luckily have another wonderful dog, Roet, which means soot !

In my book Bout en Moertje, which is now translated in English, Nut and Bolt, it is all about friendship between a donkey and a mouse - maybe I was inspired ?

and our new animation ! Bout is bang / Bolt is afraid

Lots of love, Nicole

Nicole and Shy

Thank you so much Nicole, I'm very grateful for your friendship. I really enjoyed all the photographs and reading more about your life. Your baby picture is adorable!

If you are interested in purchasing Nut and Bolt or other books by Nicole, you will find them at Amazon

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

I can't go back to yesterday... Alice in Wonderland

It’s hard to believe, but my blog will be four years old on the 6th May 2015. My first tentative post back in 2011 was a short piece about Marjorie Torry and her illustrations for Alice in Wonderland (here). The featured book sold and although I’ve searched high and low, I’ve never found another copy – until now - how fortuitous that one should turn up just in time for my blogiversary. Enjoy!

All the featured images are from Alice in Wonderland, published by Purnell, London in 1964.    Find it HERE

I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”  - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

When I wrote that very first blog post back in 2011  I was convinced it would remain unread forever – I was wrong! Thank you to every single person who takes the time to call in, your visits mean the world.

Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland in 1865, so this year marks the 150th anniversary. Now that makes 4 years seem like a very short time indeed!

Alice: "How long is forever?" White Rabbit: "Sometimes, just one second.”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

How lovely it is to look out of the window and see trees bursting into life. It’s still cold at night and there has been the odd drop of rain, but it’s generally warm and sunny. The words I've used here are from a poem called Today by Billy Collins.  If you would like to find out more about him there is an excellent biography at The Poetry Foundation.  Most of the photographs are from our garden, although the first one was taken at Barrington Court and the last three while walking around the village where we live. The blackbird is a daily visitor and a very welcome one.   

Some of my favourite online destinations are looking very spring like just now – first up Milly & Dottie’s Emporium a vintage treasure house. 

Lots of cute vintage treasures at Crave Cute

Delightful art prints from Winter Moon at Society6 

Once you've visited Milly & Dottie, Crave Cute and Winter Moon don’t forget to come back and visit me at March House Books where you will find all kinds of vintage things, including this sweet little book about Pookie a white rabbit with wings!

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