Archive for the ‘Drawing Inspiration’ Category

Drawing Inspiration: Bump and Boo Winchester

Posted on: January 28th, 2019 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet -

It’s been a little while since I’ve gone out and about purely with the purpose of sketching.  So it was exciting to get back into it on Sunday at the Bump and Boo event at Winchester Guildhall.

Aimed at parents and parents-to-be, it was a busy day packed with stalls and talks with activities and play spaces for little ones too.  It was great reminder of all the organisations that are in the local area ready to help families.   The Guildhall is also such a pretty venue, it makes a lovely back drop 🙂

It took me a little while to find my sketching vibe again; when I was a student I had no qualms about drawing everyone all the time and simply sitting in a corner doodling but this time I felt quite self-conscious!  And of course when you’re drawing people out and about they move, which is part of the challenge and can lead to some lovely quick marks.

But looking back at the sketches, I think I caught some of the friendly and buzzy atmosphere…

Drawing from Bump and Boo event by illustrator Sam Goodlet -

It was like entering a bit of a magical treasure trove for families.

Drawing from Bump and Boo event by illustrator Sam Goodlet -

This was only Bump and Boo’s second event so far, and it was so buzzing and vibrant.

Nicky and The Caterpillar Music stand were really fun to draw!

Drawing from Bump and Boo event by illustrator Sam Goodlet -

And after buying a gorgeous pair of leggings from Equally Awesome for my purple-obsessed little boy, I had a big chat with Rachel who makes everything about how hard it is to find fun boys clothes, especially as they get bigger.  Baby stuff can be cute, but a lot of the bigger boy’s clothes are just mini versions of boring men’s clothes.  Also, not enough unicorns (or enough purple) for our family’s tastes.  I stood for a while to do a longer sketch of Rachel’s colourful stall:

Drawing from Bump and Boo event by illustrator Sam Goodlet -

Thanks and well done Bump and Boo!  Not only was it a fabulous event, it was also such a lovely opportunity to get back into some quick drawing.  They will also now have some cute sketches to us in their promotional material, hopefully helping the next event to be even bigger and better!

If you’d like me to come and sketch at your event, do get in touch.  You can see some of my other Drawing Inspiration sketches here.

A little Cornish escape

Posted on: October 3rd, 2017 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet -




Happy Lammas

Posted on: August 1st, 2017 by samdrawsthings No Comments

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Ripening apples with baby bee gardener 🐝 blimey it's been a funny old parenting day today. From feeling smug that we had a spare cuddly doggy when Tris freaked out seeing his favourite toy going round in the washing machine, to the clean cuddly doggy getting dunked in a bucket of water so NO cuddly doggies. Then we just couldn't get him to sleep tonight, maybe doggy related but we also realised he has a molar coming through. A 30 minute plus panicky search for the calpol ended in the wardrobe, where a certain baby bee had hidden it. He eventually crashed out snuggled with the real doggy (who hates snuggles) on the sofa at like 10pm. Here's hoping that means a lie in tomorrow… it means a lie in, right?! #stopcensoringmotherhood #thisisparenting #teething #andawonderweektoo #leap9 #weneedmorebiscuits #parenting #breathe

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Drawing Inspiration: Baby summer adventures

Posted on: May 27th, 2017 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet -

It’s been a hectic few weeks (mostly because of a poorly/teething baby) but there have been moments of fun in between.

We managed to get away for a one night glamping holiday to Glastonbury – 1 night, 1 baby, 1 fiat 500 full of soooo much stuff.  But it was magical and so worth it, and it boosted my confidence in us having more trips further afield.   Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m the same person who went cherry blossom spotting in Japan on my own…

For our mini adventure, we stayed in The Love Shack at Redlake Farm.  It’s basically a very pretty shed next to a big pond on a tranquil campsite just outside Glastonbury.  I saw a badger running about in the middle of the night 🙂 It was gorgeous and we managed to stay warm and cosy.  Plus, there was a very friendly peacock.  Look at it’s crazy dinosaur feet!  It was amazing to see one so close.  Tristan is a bit obsessed with birds at the moment, but I’m not sure he saw the connection between this beastie and the blackbirds in our garden yet.

We went to a party with some wonderfully creative friends, and I decorated Josh’s shoes to pixie them up a bit.

I’ve got a few projects on the go at the moment, and am really looking forward to the launch of PIG/PORK by Pia Spry Marques – a new book from Bloomsbury Sigma featuring my illustrations which comes out in July.    And of course, we are all really looking forward to the end of teething…






Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by samdrawsthings No Comments

Drawing Inspiration: Here Be Dragons…

Posted on: March 1st, 2017 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet -

 Dragons?  Living in London…?  And not just the Kimodos in the zoo?

Well, yes.  Kind of.  There are a whole cast of cute* little dragon-y characters living in parks, gardens, nature reserves and weird scraps of land, and they very much need our help.  Last Friday I went to a very special event hosted by the Garden Wildlife Health Project at ZSL London Zoo to hear more about them (not a Kimodo in sight unfortunately).

Froglife’s London Dragon Finder Project has been running in all boroughs of the City for the last 4.5 years, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (with extra support from a range of other funders).  The premise is that amphibians and reptiles are our Dragons – bright eyed, scaly and warty little creatures hiding in ponds, log piles, woods and long grass and undetected by many of us.

Technically, amphibians and reptiles collectively are known as Herpetofauna.

You can see why they were a little in need of rebranding, right?  It always sounds a little… yeah.

And the animals themselves are SO amazing; magical and mythical weird species with wonderful life cycles.  They deserve a name that captures that better, and being so in need of our help they really need a collective name that draws people in rather than repels them.

Dragon Finder holds a special place in my heart as its one I helped to develop, and it was wonderful to hear how things had gone.  HLF funding is brilliant for not only supporting practical things that need doing to conserve our heritage (and the my favourite thing is that they don’t define ‘heritage’ for you but leave it open for applicants to convince them), they also put a huge emphasis on involving people in that work in the deepest way possible.

At the Celebration Event for the project, Alan from Froglife went over the highlights of what the staff and volunteers on the project had achieved with a real sense of pride and love for the areas they’d worked in and the wildlife they had benefited.  I doodled during all the talks as a way of taking notes.




The project also involved the creation of a Dragon Finder app to help you identify and then record your sightings of amphibians and reptiles anywhere in the UK.  There is a real need for more data on where these dragons are found, the sites that are important to them, and how they are doing.  Although most of them, with a couple of exceptions, are widespread, numbers are dropping.  Froglife’s latest research shows a whopping 68% decline in Common Toad numbers in the last 30 years.

Becki Lawson introduced another project using citizen science to help nature – the Wildlife Garden Health Project, based at ZSL and involving vets and researchers there working with the British Trust for Ornithology, Froglife and the RSPB.  This is another project mapping animals – this time with regular recorders letting the project know what wildlife they see  in their gardens, with an added slightly gruesome (but really important) element.  You can also use the GWH website to record any sightings of dead or dying birds, hedgehogs, amphibians and reptiles to help map disease outbreaks and figure out what is contributing to the declines in many species.  If they want your specimen for a post mortem, the team will contact you to arrange it to be sent and let you know what happened to the poor animal you found.  With hedgehog numbers really plummeting, bird disease outbreaks leading to some big population drops and diseases being the biggest threat to amphibians on the global scale, this is really crucial stuff.



Laurie Parma from the University of Cambridge filled us in on another area of research relating to humans and nature, and how good it is for our wellbeing.  She cited the well known study that simply being able to see some greenery from your hospital window increased recovery speed by 1.5 to 2 days, as well as sharing lots of other researching showing just how good nature is for our health.




Froglife’s co-patron Jules Howard wrapped up the event with a heartfelt talk about toads.  He used a site near his home as a great example of one of the issues facing these noble and magical animals.  Over 10 years a pond that had been full of toads was surrounded by development –  destroying winter hiding places and summer foraging land, and cutting through spring migration routes at breeding time.  The toads are gone.  “Death by a thousand cuts” was how he described the toads’ decline, but ended on a positive note by saying how much of a difference projects like Dragon Finder can make: by improving and creating habitats, and crucially charging up local volunteers to fight for the areas toads (and other wildlife) call home.  2017 is Froglife’s Year of the Toad, to raise awareness and funds to help save these charismatic, beautiful, strange little animals. You can find out more here.




*Yes, adders can be cute.  Not cuddly (PLEASE DON’T TRY), but beautiful and very keen to stay out of our way as much as possible.









Drawing Inspiration: Bluebell hunting

Posted on: May 13th, 2015 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet -

After some profound experiences in Japan on my cherry blossom hunt, I’ve been having an equally gorgeous time wandering about in English woods enjoying the bluebells this spring.

My dad found a perfect spot for bluebell spotting earlier in the year in Parnholt Wood near Farley Mount, and I’ve been back a few times.  The trees there are pretty much all beech, with bright green new leaves contrasting beautifully with the magical carpet of the bluebells underneath.

I think it’s the effect of the profusion of one type of flower in such large numbers that makes the blossom and the bluebells similarly moving.  The impact of the colours and the scent on my senses is almost overwhelming. I feel transported by it, and in the bluebell wood my mind is immediately filled with images of fairies having wild parties at dawn or Guinevere and Lancelot meeting for a tryst under a beech tree… the perfect setting for the mythical and magical.

I realised last year while reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane that one of my favourite nature writers is Neil Gaiman – his love of the English landscape and wildlife is imbued with a touch of the fantastical, and it resonates with how I feel when I’m out and about exploring.  I wouldn’t be surprised to come across a nymph enjoying a cool Hampshire woodland pool or a mermaid sunning herself amongst the seals on the Cornish coast…

But my rapturous words, photos and sketches simply can’t do justice to the beauty of the woods.  Bluebell season is just starting to come to an end here in Hampshire now, but the colours are still vibrant enough to make a trip worthwhile.  The National Trust has a useful website to help find your nearest bluebells here.

There is more information about the difference between the English and Spanish bluebell on the PlantLife website here.  If you are adding this lovely flower to your garden or land, it is recommended that you source the English variety to help boost the population and stop the spread of the Spanish variety to local woodlands.

Up close, the flowers are also gorgeous.  If I was a fairy, I would definitely wear one as a hat…

Bluebell wood by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.comShadow in the bluebells by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.comBluebells by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.comBluebell by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.comfairies by Sam Goodlet - may queen by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.combluebells by Sam Goodlet -

Drawing Inspiration: Cherry Blossom Hunt Part 4

Posted on: April 11th, 2015 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet -

I got back from my holiday on Tuesday, and after downloading all my pictures and unpacking, I thought I would do one final blog entry to share my last couple of days in Japan.

I had hoped to catch the cherry blossom in Nikkō (where I was staying to the north of Tokyo) but I left just before it really started with only a few trees starting to bloom.  My last day there was a misty, rainy one, with the clouds almost coming down the mountains to swallow the town whole.  It was very beautiful and added an extra sense of mystery to the shrines and temples.

Nikko in the mist by Sam Goodlet


Nikko in the mist illustration by Sam Goodlet

Nikko shrine in the mist by Sam Goodlet

The next day was the final one of my trip, and a late flight meant the opportunity for a last bit of cherry blossom spotting in Tokyo.  It was sunny and lovely and after my getting lost a lot on my second mission, I decided to brave Shinjuku again and head for Shinjuku Gyoen via Sedayaga – a station that’s right next door to this large park, hopefully making things easier on my terrible navigation skills.  And my luck was in!

The Sendayaga entrance to the park took me straight into a grove of different types of cherry trees, some that were losing their petals and some that were just coming into bloom.

The falling petals drifted like snow in the sunshine and people were walking in and around the trees in a state of wonder, sitting underneath them and posing for photos.  The atmosphere was really relaxed and friendly.  I sat under a tree for a while with petals falling on me and pretty much felt like I was in heaven…

Shinjuku Gyoen by Sam Goodlet DSC_0432

I explored the rest of the park, which was much busier in some areas – but even then it was so big it never felt crowded.  It has to be one of the most lovely spots in Tokyo to see the blossom.  There’s lots of space, and plenty of opportunities to get up close, sit under a tree and relax.  It was also the first time on the trip I really could smell the sakura.  I guess all the petals on the ground brought it closer – it’s a very subtle scent, but pretty well captured in the Sakura ball ballistic from Lush!

The different types of trees also meant that there was plenty to see, despite coming to the end of peak blossom time in Tokyo (I guess the park will have been busier the week before, during peak blossom).

The day was a perfect and gorgeous end to my trip.

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Quite a few people have said that going to Japan for the cherry blossom is something that they have always wanted to do, and I can’t recommend it highly enough as a completely amazing and wonderful experience.  It really was beyond what I expected, and the blossom in the big parks and areas with thousands of trees was spectacular.

For those planning a similar adventure, I here are a few tips and things that I learnt along the way…

Sam’s cherry blossom spotting tips:

  • Here’s the 10 rookies mistakes to avoid link again.
  • It is possible to wing it and go at the last minute to see the sakura in Japan, but it did limit where I could stay and made planning things a bit chaotic!  I kept an eye on the cherry blossom forecast website, and when I saw that it looked like it would happen in Tokyo on the predicted dates, I just tried whatever I could to get there.  However, there was no availability by then on organised tours, and finding hotel rooms in any of the big cities was pretty much impossible.  When I saw that the blossom had started to open, I looked again and found a package to Nikkō with Low Cost Holidays  – but the hotel I had wanted was full, so this ended up just being a flight with them and accomodation that I found myself through TripAdvisor.
  • Nikkō worked pretty well as a base.  It’s relaxing and a gorgeous place in its own right with some lovely areas to explore.  Getting to Tokyo takes a couple of hours on the train (all being well!).  If I was to do it again, I would perhaps either stay a bit longer in Nikkō so that I could enjoy the blossom up there, or move around more as Nikko isn’t all that big – the last minute booking made looking for more than one room a bit tricky, but I’m sure it would have been possible to find a couple of other interesting places to stay.
  • Staying in Tokyo would probably have been a more sensible option if I had been able to find a room there, and Asakusa would be a great base in Tokyo I think – it’s easily accessible by train from Narita airport, feels pretty chilled and has some great sights including Sensoji temple and a lot of cherry blossom around the river.  You can also do some really cool boat trips from there to see the trees.  You can easily get out to explore places like Nikkō, Tochigi and Mashiko (see my last blog post) from Asakusa on the train.
  • If you do end up being a bit late and catching the tail end of the blossom, it can still be spectacular – as the pics above from Shinjuku Gyoen show, the falling petals are an amazing sight.  With blossom happening at different times all over the country, you have a good chance of catching it somewhere if you are able to move around and explore.
  • You can find links and things for tours and package ideas on my Escape Dreams Pinterest Board here.  There are loads of websites giving hints and tips on where and when to go – it’s certainly not all about Tokyo, there are some other really wonderful looking places to go and explore.

Cherry Blossom Tea by Sam Goodlet

Some great places to see blossom in Tokyo include:

  • Ueno Park – follow the crowds from the station to a busy park packed with people enjoying the blossom.  Kind of a must see I think for how busy it is.
  • Asakusa – There are trees on both sides of the river, and if you cross over from the side that the station is on, there is a nice little park that’s pretty quiet where you can sit on a bench and contemplate the blossom in relative tranquility.
  • Chiyoda – You can get there on a nice walk via the Imperial palace gardens, through Kitanamaru park to the spectacular Chidorigafuchi moat with weeping willow trees.  Join the crowds of people walking along the side of the water taking it all in.  You can also hire a boat to row under the blossom and get lost in the petals…  There’s then a market with a great festival atmosphere on the other side of the road on the walk up to the beautiful Yasukuni shrine, where you can see more trees.
  • Rippongi – Visit the trees around the super slick Tokyo Midtown mall at night for a stunning spectacle of glowing pink illuminated trees.  Quite a few of the cherry blossom sites are lit at night, but I don’t think they do it quite as well as this -with each tree lit individually from below to glow like a pink firework display.
  • Shinjuku Gyoen – I recommend getting off at Sendayaga to access this huge and wonderful park, where you can easily spend a few hours getting rained on by petals whilst relaxing under a tree.

And finally, here’s a really interesting article from The Smithsonian covering some of the science behind cherry blossom and the Japanese trees in Washington, DC.  Hmmm…maybe a trip to the states next spring then…?

Cherry blossom words by Sam Goodlet


Drawing Inspiration: Cherry Blossom Hunt Part 3

Posted on: April 8th, 2015 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet -

To take a break and be a bit more rural in my blossom spotting after my last two ventures into Tokyo, I decided to explore the area around Nikkō a bit more.

On the recommendation of the tourist information office, I pottered off on the train to Tochigi, a small-ish town on the line between Nikkō and Tokyo.  There were a few trees to spot, including some in and around the shrine area in a gorgeous little garden.

shrine sakura by Sam Goodlet

The most exciting thing about Tochigi though was the fish! The river is full of large, dark carp and above one stretch of it are strung hundreds of multi-coloured fish windsocks/flags.  The effect is really arresting and was a really lovely thing to come across.

tochigi by Sam Goodlet Tochigi fish by Sam Goodlet

I also went on a little mission on the bus and train to Mashiko, a town home to a pottery museum and more shops selling wabi sabi/rustic folk style pottery than you could possibly imagine.  There were a few cherry trees around and on the way, and quite a few of the pottery pieces featured gorgeous sakura flowers or petals designs.

Wabi sabi cup by Sam Goodlet

Having recharged my batteries a bit, I headed back to Tokyo for more of the big parks and the more spectacular cherry blossom sites.

This turned into one of the most incredible days of the trip (and quite possibly my life…)  and I really can’t find enough words to express how completely beautiful it all was…. so many trees!  Petals everywhere…

I started at the Imperial Palace gardens, which had quite a few trees and some lovely wide open spaces for playing and pic nics. It was pretty quiet and felt very relaxed.

Imperial gardens by Sam Goodlet

I then walked through another park to the super busy Chiyoda area, where there are hundreds of trees along the river and a huge festival on the way to the Yasukuni Shrine, where there was also a grove of cherry trees.  The petals were just starting to fall, and the river in some areas was a sea of pink, as people rowed under the trees…

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To wrap up the day, I then went to Roppongi to see the Midtown Blossom.  This very slick and modern area was transformed into a magical sight as evening fell and the blossoming trees were each individually illuminated with pink light….

Midtown blossom by Sam Goodlet

I was so excited on the train into Tokyo in the morning my inner labrador dog was very much in action!  And after such a stunningly wonderful day I was in something of a post cherry blossom glow on the way back… The day exceeded my dreams.

Tokyo exploring by Sam Goodlet Sakura labrador by Sam Goodlet

I keep trying to find ways to explain or capture how the blossom looked (and failing miserably) but that day they made me think of soft pink explosions…

IMG_5536 IMG_5552

Drawing Inspiration: Cherry Blossom Hunt Part 2

Posted on: April 2nd, 2015 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet -

On a slightly cloudy day yesterday, I headed back into into Tokyo from Nikkō on my second cherry blossom hunt.  I had all sorts of plans and a list of places to find, starting in Shinjuku.  This is one of the more built up, crazy busy areas of the city – the kind of Lost in Translation/Blade Runner type bit – all huge buildings and neon signs.  There are (allegedly) some parks and places for sakura spotting there but…  I got spectacularly lost around (and at one point IN) the huge station (yeah, I know, don’t laugh…).  I asked directions a few times, and some very sweet people stopped to help me when they saw my puzzled face and massive map…. Bless them all, it was to no avail and after a couple of hours of feeling like a bit of an idiot, I surrendered.

As I plodded about, I’d been thinking about what I really wanted from my cherry blossom spotting – having been to the very busy Ueno park on my first mission, I suspected that opportunities to actually sit on my own under a cherry tree and contemplate the blossom would be few and far between at the big parks on my list.

On the train on the way in, I had caught glimpses of smaller parks and streets where there were loads of trees and less people.  Places that weren’t official hanami (cherry blossom watching) spots, but looked really appealing.  I decided to head back towards Asakusa and a place I’d seen from the train.

I had to change at Ueno anyway, so on my way back I braved the crowds and headed for the park again.  I’m so pleased I did – it started to gently rain and the combination of multicoloured umbrellas, pink cherry blossom, falling petals and grey skies was completely hypnotic…

sakura and umbrellas - sam goodlet

After taking far too many photos, I got back to Asakusa and crossed the river to find a quiet little park to sit under a bench under the trees.  It was magical, peaceful and just really lovely.  One of the bridges across the river takes you over at cherry tree height, and it’s a great view.

Sakura in Tokyo - Sam Goodlet

My illustrations and sketches are never really about just physically representing things (that’s what photos are for), but even bearing that in mind, I’m struggling to do any kind of justice to these beautiful trees.  Instead I’ve been focussing a bit on how they make me feel…

cherry trees - Sam Goodlet

sakura haiku - Sam Goodlet

Sakura self portrait - Sam Goodlet


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