Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Cherry wood pins and pendants

Posted on: July 24th, 2018 by samdrawsthings No Comments

It’s been an exciting day – I’ve designed some cherry wood pins and pendants which have arrived and I’ve been busy sticking them together and taking lots of photos!

We started with a drawing of a pair of Great Tits, and with lots of help from my partner Josh and Steve at Clear Cut Creation, I developed a design that Steve laser etched onto 35mm disks of cherry wood.

The pins and pendants are part of the #titsoutcollective, a brilliant fundraising initiative by Countess Ablaze that you can find out more about here.

I’m fundraising for Together Rising, an inspiring charity responding very fast to humanitarian issues around the world.  £2 per pin and 20% of each print sale goes to them.   You can discover more about their work here.

And you can find all of these goodies in the Sam Draws Things online shop here.

Happy Hellebores

Posted on: February 14th, 2018 by samdrawsthings No Comments

Flower Power Fund logo by illustrator Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.com

The latest print and yarn for the fabulous Flower Power Fund are live now, and they are SO pretty.

There is a new knitting yarn launched every month inspired by a different flower, and I’m creating a limited edition print to match.  All of the sales are helping to raise funds for Marie Curie.  This awesome fundraising idea is all happening over on Instagram and its so lovely to be part of.

This is Hellebore, February’s hand-dyed yarn from Down Sheepy Lane in all its yumminess (available from their shop here):

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It’s live!!!

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And this is my matching print (available in my shop here):

And they look fab together 😀

My Curious Eyes

Posted on: August 8th, 2017 by samdrawsthings No Comments

I’m taking part this week in a really lovely photo challenge run by Karen Ward.  We are set a different theme every day and challenged to snap something inspired by it… The first prompt was ‘interesting’…

Tristan meets a tree

Posted on: March 14th, 2017 by samdrawsthings No Comments

Drawing Inspiration: Here Be Dragons…

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

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.com

 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*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.

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Drawing Inspiration: Bluebell hunting

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

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.com

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 - www.samdrawsthings.com may queen by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.combluebells by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.com

Drawing Inspiration: Cherry Blossom Hunt Part 4

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

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.com

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 1

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by samdrawsthings 1 Comment

drawing inspiration by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.com

Well, it all happened rather last minute, but I am currently in Japan!  I had been looking for a while at getting out here on a cherry blossom spotting trip.  I should have read these 10 Rookie Mistakes to avoid earlier – leaving it until the last minute isn’t all that easy.  Having kept an eye on forecasts and things to make sure that I went at the right time for the blossom before booking anything meant that nearly the whole of Japan was full on the dates I wanted to go.  The only option at one point looked like the Ritz in Osaka for £1,000 a night…so, er….not an option then.

However, I was lucky enough to find space in a hotel in Nikkō, to the north of Tokyo last week and here I am.

Nikkō is really interesting.  Home to a complex of Buddhist and Shinto shrines, it’s in the foothills of the mountains and the forested slopes remind me so much of scenes from anime films like My Neighbour Tortoro and Wolf Children.  It’s breathtaking and very inspiring.

shrine in Nikko by Sam Goodlet Mountain view in Nikko - Sam Goodlet IMG_4390 IMG_4387

The cherry blossom is in full bloom in Tokyo at the moment (it will be a bit later here in Nikkō), and I got the train in yesterday to explore.  There were signalling problems which meant this was much more of an epic mission than it should have been – 4 hours journey in and 5 hours back, rather than the 2ish it normally is.  Nevertheless, it was awesome and exciting and I can’t wait to go on the hunt for more sakura while I’m here.

I started in Ueno park, which was SO crowded! It was rather wonderful though to see so many people just out to look at beautiful trees… Then I headed to the Sensō-ji temple at Asakusa, which was much quieter, and finished up at the river at Sumida Park with a view of the trees and the super tall Tokyo Skytree building opposite (appropriately illuminated in pretty pink).

 

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The effects of jetlag are proving rather useful for creativity… It feels a bit like I’m having a wonderful dream…and am doodling lots of ideas and scenes as I go…

 

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Drawing Inspiration: A Wild Audience with…

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014 by samdrawsthings No Comments

drawing inspiration by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

Imagine.  A bustling theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue packed with sharks, sloths, whales, birdsong and the roar of leopards…

That sort of summarises ‘A Wild Audience with…’ last week at the Lyric Theatre – an evening hosted by TV vet Steve Leonard with TV wildlife celebrities camera man Doug Allan, Lucy Cooke, Martin Hughes-Games and Steve Backshall talking about some of their favourite animals, sharing films and sounds and stories their close encounters.

It was rather wonderful, particularly as the place was packed with excited kids – I’ve been to so many events talking about the need to get more children passionate about nature where there has not been a single person under 25; Steve Backshall certainly seems to be a bit of a pied piper and a massive draw for kids…

It was a slightly dark for drawing in the auditorium, but I attempted to do some doodling during the talks.  Doug mostly spoke about his Artic and Antartic adventures filming for David Attenborough’s ‘Life‘ series.  Lucy focussed on the weird and wonderful lives of sloths.  Martin introduced the work of some incredible female rangers working with big cats in India, and Steve wrapped up the night with a passionate talk about the need to better understand sharks.  As someone who has (pretty much) beaten a phobia of these amazing fish, I was with him – the numbers being killed every year are just shocking and there is so much more to them than the ‘Jaws‘ stereotype.  You can find out more about Shark Conservation (for whom Steve is a Patron) here.  All the speakers sparkled with enthusiasm for their subject, with lots of humour and some strong conservation messages too.

A Wild Audience with poster

The line up for the evening

doodle by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

Quick doodle of Steve Leonard, Lucy Cooke, Martin Hughes-Games and Steve Backshall

Sloth doodle by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

Learning about sloths

Martin Hughes-Games by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

Martin Hughes-Games

Doug Allan by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

Doug Allan

Lucy Cooke by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

Lucy Cooke

Drawing Inspiration: Off to the farm

Posted on: July 4th, 2014 by samdrawsthings 1 Comment

drawing inspiration by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

In my mission to get out and about visiting people and drawing things, I went to visit a friend of a friend who lives in the most amazing place!  Commutable to Kings Cross, Sebastien and his housemates share an old farm house in Essex.  The countryside runs right up to their back door, and you can walk out into hills and fields and trees.  They each have a veg patch in the garden.  It’s pretty idyllic.

We went for a pic nic and to talk about bees.  Through the [nature’s footnote] podcast and thanks to a present of a bee pack from Friends of the Earth , I’ve become a little bit obsessed by bees.  It’s amazing how The Bee Cause has really become mainstream and part of public consciousness.  On the podcast, we pondered if this was related to bees being cute and fluffy (for invertebrates) or the fact that a very strong link has been made between their fate and ours…

Sebastien is into honey bees and we chatted about how amazing they are, what a weird thing honey is (bee vomit anyone?), and spotted some honey bees collecting pollen in the hedgerows behind the house.  I finally found one bee (I think) that I can confidently identify!

bee illustration by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

We also, while sitting having a pic nic and walking through long grass, got bitten and stung by quite a few different things.  I was thinking about how a lot of my work and drawing is about connecting with nature, and how sometimes, it wants to connect with you too… and it hurts…

connect with nature illustration by Sam Taylor  - www.samdrawsthings.com

 

sky photo by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.comdead tree photo by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

honey photo by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.comhoney bee photo by Sam Taylor - www.samdrawsthings.com

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