September 2019


In July and August I showed you the technique for physically making a couple of very simple books. This month, I’m looking at the process I go through when designing the content of a book.

For me, it all starts with the storyboard. I map out the number of pages in the book and draw them as double page spreads as it’s important that the pages seen together work together. This is a very rough process with little more than simple sketches at this stage. I may work through several versions of the layout before I refine the drawings in the storyboard, as in the image at the top.

This may involve working on individual pages within the overall storyboard.

Although the book might work within the storyboard, it isn’t until you produce a mock-up of the book that you can see how it will work on the actual page and if the design works as a whole.

Looking at these two pages, I didn’t feel the text was sitting comfortable with the images and so changed it for the next version of the book. It was quite a simple change, but it brought the images together within the design.

The mock-up also revealed that the text dominated the images in the final double-page spread and so I was able to adjust the relationship between the two to bring about a better balance between image and text.

These are pages from another book where the design initially focussed on the composition within each double-page spread, but then looked at how the layout and design worked as a whole.

Although much of the design is confined within the format of the double-page spread, it is a useful technique to have an element within the design spread over to the next page as the eye then leads the reader on to the next page.

This simple technique for planning the layout of an artist’s book is fundamental to the design process and can be as simple or as complicated as the final book you wish to produce.


I’m a keen wildlife gardener and 2019 has been a fantastic year for butterflies. I took part in the Big Butterfly Count that was organised by Butterfly Conservation. The results of this citizens’ survey are now available on their website – which is a fantastic resource for lovers of butterflies and moths.

I also took the step of signing up to become a member. My membership pack arrived a couple of days ago and I was delighted to received a magazine full of outstanding photographs, plus lots of other guides on how to improve my garden for even more butterflies and moths.

I’m already looking forward to next year when I can take part in butterfly and moth related activities with my local branch here in Norfolk.

In the meantime, my annual order of bulbs have arrived from Clare Bulbs. I’ve already planted the snowdrops and the snakeshead fritillary – I’ll provide more details on my bulb planting in October’s blog.


Courgette Cake is my favourite cake of all time – so don’t be put off by the thought of using vegetables in a cake. Instead, think ‘carrot cake’ but even more delicious! It’s super easy to make, dairy free (always useful to have in your repertoire) and probably one of the healthiest cakes going – plus it’s absolutely delicious.

This cake couldn’t be easier to make. Just put the ingredients into a bowl and stir well to mix.

Pour the contents into a lined 2lb loaf tin.

And bake in the oven.

Courgette Cake

(makes 8-10 slices)

175g plain wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g caster sugar
175g coarsely grated courgettes
75g walnut pieces, chopped
75g sultanas
175ml sunflower oil
2 medium eggs

You will need
a 2lb / 900g loaf tin
non-stick liner or butter and greaseproof paper
a wooden or metal skewer


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.
  2. Lightly grease and line the loaf tin, or pop in a liner.
  3. Measure all the ingredients into a bowl, sifting the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in together.  Tip the bran remaining in the sieve into the bowl.  Stir with a large spoon until well mixed.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.  Bake for 60-70 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove and place on a cooling rack.
  6. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Like many cakes, this is best made the day before you plan to eat it. It also freezes beautifully. Indeed, I often cut it into slices and, carefully wrapped, freeze the individual slices so that I’ve got a couple of slices for afternoon tea whenever I want.

Until October….

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