WORKING IN THE COTTAGE | Tuesday 26th June 2018

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On Tuesday 26th June I had my second working visit to the cottage. I had planned to do some more work on my ‘Arctic Exploration’ resource sheet that I have been drawing – so far mostly whales, narwhals and other arctic animals that were hunted by the whaling industry at the time of Sir John Barrow (more to come on this is a separate, slightly bleak ‘Whaling’ blog post.) I also intended to start some more illustrations for the book I’m creating, to be added to the recent ‘White-clawed Crayfish’ drawing.

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However, it being the middle of a heatwave the weather was glorious, so after sitting inside and looking longingly out of the window for a bit I decided to pile up all my belongings and head out in to the garden.

The cottage garden is a really lovely space filled with all sorts of flowers, bees, beetles and other tiny insects. After seeing a pretty yellow and black butterfly I decided to try to identify it using the books I had brought. I failed completely at this, but it then turned in to an hour of looking at insects and identifying them. My guides were perhaps a bit simple as I couldn’t find a few and resorted to taking blurry photos and writing highly scientific notes such as ‘green shield (like) bug with long pointy nose’ (I now think these were probably nettle weevils).

Photographer extraordinaire Lindsay Ward took this photo of me looking the part of a ‘Victorian entomologist meets i-phone’ due to my comical oversized charity shop hat (note – no planning went into this whatsoever, it just stops me from getting a burnt head).

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There was also a nice little cairn of broken snail shells, which we guessed had been left by a song thrush. They are known for using a specific hard stone as their ‘anvil’ – they hold the snails with their beak and smash them against the hard stone so they can eat them. Obviously bad if you are the snail but overall so clever!

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After a bit we (mostly me) began to get a bit too hot outside, so we went in again and it gave me the opportunity to take another look at the books on display in the cottage. I’d like my own book to take some inspiration from these, and am planning to run a short drop-in ‘Print your own book plate’ workshop later in the summer, so I took some photos to use in my own designs.

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As we walked away from the cottage Lindsay and I stopped at the beck and discovered some surprise fish swimming in the shallow water. I’m hoping to go back with a better camera soon as there was so much more life there then you would initially think – I just had to stay still for a few minutes to see it!

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Eleanor Chaney