MY SO-CALLED meadow area at the end of the garden isn’t all that I’d like it to be
but, going down there after a day trimming the hedge and clearing the path, it works
perfectly as a way of turning my back on everyday tasks and escaping to a patch of
Docks are threatening to take over; their broad leaves are effective at shading out
the competition but I’m glad to see cow parsley alongside the hedge and spreading
into the little meadow. A bit of selective cutting back should help me strike a balance.
I treat creeping buttercup as a weed when it appears in the veg beds a yard away,
yet here in the ‘meadow’ I can appreciate the glossy freshness of its broad flowers.
My brother-in-law led his young grandson on a dandelion hunt in our garden the other
week but despite their zero-tolerance cull I’m not short of its flowers and buds
to draw. I don’t mind having a few of them, here in my mini-nature reserve.
The Draughtsman’s Compact
After drawing Charlotte Brontë’s watercolour box last week, I couldn’t resist making
a quick sketch of this exquisite case of drawing instruments which has been on loan
for an exhibition (which is now over, I’m sorry to say). The name ‘JOHN CARR’ is
engraved on a silver plaque on the hinged lid and I like to imagine this celebrated
Georgian architect (1723-1807) touring England, staying as a guest at the kind of
country house you see in adaptions of Jane Austen novels and clicking open this case
to draw up plans for Palladian buildings such as Harewood House, the grandstand at
York races, the Crescent at Buxton and - his largest but unfinished project - St
Antonio Hospital in Oporto, Portugal.
The set includes beautifully made ruling pens, drawing compass (with separate extender?),
dividers, a tiny pencil, a scalpel, scale ruler (or is it some kind of early slide
rule for calculations), protractor and a kind of double parallel ruler, articulated
with two brass swivels.
The rulers are made of ivory, the case covered with green shagrine, which may be
ray skin or possibly shark skin.
Carr was born in Horbury where he started work as a stone-mason. His later career
as architect also included a spell as mayor of York. He is buried in the crypt of
Horbury St Peter’s Church, another of his buildings, his gift to the village of his