Saturday, December 8, 2012

Inspirations at Lewtrenchard Manor

I just returned from two nights spent at Lewtrenchard Manor at Lewdown. I decided to treat myself to a couple of days away from Brian, who has been struggling away in his studio, coming out occasionally with a small, black cloud over his head. I just wanted to have a place to write and gather inspiration for a book I’m working on, without Brian’s cloud hovering in the corner like an unwanted guest. Lewtrenchard is only about forty minutes away from our house and has been a favorite retreat of Brian’s and mine for the past twenty-five years or so. I may have written about it before (sorry - I can’t remember) but it is always such an interesting place to spend some time. It was originally built in (approx) 1600 and heavily restored by Sabine Baring Gould (best known for writing the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers”) in 1872. Baring Gould knew Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who may have based Baskerville Hall in The Hound of The Baskervilles, on Lewtrenchard Manor (although there are other candidates for this as well). True or not - it is a wonderfully atmospheric country house hotel! 

I decided to bring a little faery creature with me, reasoning that there is a real connection to Faery at Lewtrenchard because not only did Baring Gould write many books about the myths and legends of Dartmoor but Conan Doyle was also a believer in faeries. So - Brian dropped me off and I spent the next two days and nights soaking up the atmosphere and eating fabulous food! Mid week, the house was practically empty so I had it mostly to myself, which was great fun. Very easy to pretend that one is Lady of The Manor when you’re the only one sitting for dinner! I looked out for the ghosts that are supposed to haunt (benignly) the house and grounds but failed to see any. When I downloaded the photos I had taken, I did however see one that looks suspiciously like the ghost of “Old Madame” beginning to materialize by the piano just across the hall from my room! 

Anyway - I came back refreshed and ready to ignore Brian’s little, black cloud (which had also benefitted from my absence and gotten much smaller!). 

I recommend an overnight stay here to anyone who wants wonderful atmosphere, fantastic food and beautiful surroundings and perhaps a touch of magic. Check their website - they have great deals on this winter! 

Here are a few photos of the little faery’s adventure as I followed it (I’m not sure if it is a “her’ or a “him”) around the house and grounds. 

1. Lewtrenchard Manor. 

2. at the window 

3. Old Madame materializing? 

4. the curio cabinet - full of butterflies. The little faery wouldn’t go near it! 

5. in the moss 

6. under the goddess 

7. the source of the spring.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Resting in the Fruit Bowl

We’ve had so much rain that today was the first day I was able to take Elfie out for a walk along the lane without the fear of disappearing into a bottomless puddle.   As I walked along I spotted this little fellow standing on a gatepost, looking at the sheep in the neighboring field.  

He seemed to be enjoying the view but a few minutes later I found that he was following us along the lane, exploring the hedgerow as he rushed to keep up with us.  

The leaves are off of the trees and bushes now except for moss and ivy.   He looked like he was having a wonderful time climbing among the bare twigs and moss-covered rocks.   

He’s a house faery really and I was surprised to see him outside.   He was obviously content with a short adventure because he came home with us but insisted on sitting on the bird table for a few minutes, communing with the bluetits.

I think they must be very gossipy birds -but I may be doing them an injustice.   Anyway, the little fellow is back indoors, resting in the fruit bowl with the plums before he joins his companions again.   At least he’ll have something to tell them.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Month Long Adventure in the States

Well we are finally home from our month in the states - and what an adventure it turned out to be. 

I expect that most of you have seen the photos of our time in New York over the past month – a wonderful opening of the “Trolls” exhibition and other events around the city. What you may not have seen or known about are the two tiny trolls who came with us and shared some of our adventures. They usually spend their time in the garden, taking care of the flowers that need tending in the Spring and Autumn. I’ve caught them at their work before and you may remember them uncovering (and then quickly covering again) the primroses this past Spring. 

They decided that they wanted to see more of the world and knew that the best way would be to accompany us on our trip to New York. I had my doubts about the wisdom of this adventure - after all, they are very small and not as worldly as some of the other trolls, but they persuaded me to let them come along and as it turned out, they had a very exciting time. 

We took them to a restaurant where they were intrigued by the packets of sugar. They ate far too much of it and had to rest for a day before they were ready to come out again. (I DID warn them). 

We (Brian, Toby and I) were invited to join a reunion of students from our Belcastel workshop weeks, along with Heidi and her daughter Cat, at a great Chinese restaurant, just before the opening of the exhibition. The tiny trolls definitely wanted to come along, since they had enjoyed their previous restaurant experience so much. They felt quite at home using chopsticks (I think they were comfortable with them because they were wood) and we had to stop them from spending the whole meal riding on the turntable. 

They joined us for the gallery opening and luckily stayed away from the wine. 

The next weekend they joined us again at the Abrams Books booth at Comic Con. They were very proud to be representing the Trolls book and had their photos taken with a great many fans and book buyers as well as the lovely people working at the Abrams booth. I’m not sure that any of us were expecting quite so many people crowded into one space. Comic Con was quite overwhelming - but we did enjoy our panel discussion, hosted by the wonderful Ellen Kushner, who guided us through it with ease and wit and grace! 

The tiny trolls were quite exhausted by this time and decided to hibernate in our friend Guy’s apartment until it was time to return home. 

Returning home proved to be far more exciting than anticipated because we were on one of the last planes out of JFK on Sunday night before the storm hit. 

We were SO lucky and we are SO grateful to be home safely again. We truly feel that the faeries were with us. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the monster storm. Please know that we are thinking of you all and will continue to send healing energy to everyone over there. 

Yesterday the tiny trolls hopped downstairs and on to the table for a last photo before they headed back out into the garden to resume their duties as keepers of the flowers. I expect I’ll see them out there some time soon, covering up the tender plants and bedding them down for the Winter. They are very excited because of course - now they too have tales to tell.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Forgot to Mention

I forgot to mention in my last blog about a wonderful app that was recently produced by a group of artists in Chagford– well -an artist, a writer and a fabulous technician -Steve Dooley, Sam North and Bobby Gilbert. It is a retelling of The Wind In The Willows, especially for the brave new world of electronic devices. The website is:  It is just enchanting! Please take a look at it if you get the chance.

Here’s a photo I just took of Elfie having a little nap with a troll who is coming to New York with us. I think the troll is trying to reserve his strength for the journey. I haven’t told him that he’ll be able to sleep on the plane (or that he’ll be in this position for the next week or so). He looks a bit like “Lindow Man” the preserved bog person when he’s all curled up like that. I always feel a bit guilty curling them up so tightly for travel but it really is the safest way. He’ll have a good stretch when we get there. Elfie just seems to like the company. Buster isn’t always so accommodating!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Celebrations of Trolls

It’s been a fantastic week here! Brian and I are SO excited about the Trolls book and all of the events that are happening around it. 

We just returned on Friday from a great book signing at Forbidden Planet in London and then an amazing launch party and signing for Trolls that was organized by the wonderful James Elphick at the Islington Ironworks. Everyone came in costume (and there were a few hundred people there) and we talked and signed books for hours while bands played and much was eaten and imbibed. Mother Leap attended as well (in her own basket) and enjoyed the attention very much indeed. I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to her that she’s just too big to come to New York with us. I’d have to buy her her own seat on the plane and that’s just not going to happen. She IS coming to Plymouth University book festival with us next Friday the 21st when we’re signing again and speaking after a screening of Dark Crystal. I’m also bringing her to the sculpting and fabricating demonstration I’ll be giving in Chagford at the Globe as part of their Chagford Film Festival on Wednesday the 26th. It’s a busy time here! 

We are also very excited about the meditation app -Pathways to Faery, which will be coming out in October as well. That, combined with the Animazing Gallery exhibition AND New York Comic Con means an even busier October for us. But it’s all fun and wonderful. We are getting such a great response to Trolls (thank you for good reviews on Amazon - it means a lot to us!). 

Brian and I are already beginning to develop some new projects. We haven’t shared our thoughts with anyone yet but hopefully will be able to soon. 

I have a few photos to share with you - nothing magical at the moment. The last time I was out on the moor, my camera battery ran out just as I was about to shoot a fantastic image of a unicorn in conversation with a troll. Perhaps it was just not meant to be recorded. I WILL try again this week. We’re having (I’m almost afraid to mention) an Indian summer here right now. It’s sunny most days and very pleasant. Perfect weather for hunting the hedgerows and grassy pathways for signs of the otherworld. 

Anyway - back to the photos. 
This is one from the Trolls launch party. It’s Toby if he had never left the Labyrinth. I was NOT temped to rescue THIS child! 

Brian and I signing at the launch (with Mother Leap in her basket). We were on a sort of raised platform holding court at one end of a room (one of many - the food and bands were in other rooms and we missed them all!). 

We also went to a fantastic (as only Chagford can do) circus party for our dear friend Elizabeth Jane’s birthday. It was held in her magical woods with everyone flitting amongst the trees dressed in what can only be described as “circus/bordello” costumes -apart from the rather scary clowns. An Absinth tent and a wonderful contact juggler and slack- rope walker (I believe that’s the term) added even more magic to the evening. The Green Fairy was much in evidence as people this morning will certainly be able to attest to, I’m sure. 

Lastly, here is a photo of a troll witch that I’m just finishing up for the Animazing Gallery show. She is in the Trolls book but I’ve restored her to her troll world persona – she appears in the urban section of the book.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back Home

We’re back on Dartmoor now. Beloved grey skies, familiar energies - home. 

Belcastel was an amazing experience. Heidi and Nick, our fantastic hosts, and their daughter Cat, helpers, interns and associates alike were all so kind and fun and helpful. Brian came into his own as a teacher and now knows that he has the ability to pass on his knowledge, his unique “take” on creativity and his endless store of funny and wise stories. I also enjoyed so very much, teaching in this loveliest of settings and although gifted with fewer stories, I did share my one-eyed hamster story with my classes. The castle itself became such a part of our lives and I find that now that I’m home, I dream about it almost every night. And - an added benefit is the fact that we are much more fit now due to the endless number of stone stairs we climbed every day. For the last week we were joined by our very own faery musician, Maxence Bervoet, who played to us every day on his incredible collection of flutes. To hear music echoing through the castle, some of it very much like the music that would have been heard there hundreds of years ago, was enchanting indeed. And troll music! Maxence played troll music!

The weather was punishingly hot at times, especially during the final week, but Brian’s little beehive hut and my workroom in the castle were quite airy and cool most of the time. We did however truly appreciate the air conditioning in our lovely gite that greeted us every evening. 

The Templars and Mary Magdalene are the all- pervasive energies in the castle and the village of Belcastel and indeed in this whole region of France. Very powerful and not something that we’ve experienced anywhere else. Everyone there has their own unique experiences to remember.

Now that we’re home again, we’re going to be very busy for the month of September. We have book signings in London and Plymouth, a “Trolls” launch party in London and I’m giving a sculpting and model making demonstration in Chagford as well. We’ll pass on more information about all of the upcoming events a little later. 

October sees us in New York again with the opening of the Trolls exhibition at Animazing Fine Art Gallery, where Brian, Toby and I will all have work from the Trolls book or work based on the images in the book. It’s going to be so much fun.

We are also appearing at ComicCon New York with our publisher Abrams Books and will be at their booth as well as on a panel discussion chaired by Ellen Kushner. We are also giving a talk at the Society of Illustrators during our time in New York.  We are also launching a new iPad, iPhone meditation app titled “Froud Meditations - Pathways to Faerie”.  For more details coming soon at Big-Ben-Parliament Creations So - a busy month, with a bit of time in the middle to visit family in Michigan and hopefully catch up on some well needed rest! 

Lots to do - but right now, we’re going to go out on to the moor and just see if it has changed in the past month. I’m truly hoping that is hasn't. 

A few more photos for you.
These are of course roof tiles but I’m sure trolls use them when ever they can find them! 

Some castle scenes

Belcastel village 

An amazing site - millions of just hatched flying insects ( Cadis or Mayflies flies perhaps) 

Here are links to some of the things I mentioned. I’ll have more next time. - faery piper and flautist - this is the site for the gite we stayed in
WWW.CHATEAUBELCASTEL.COM - this is the castle itself Chateau Belcastel, 12390 Belcastel (Aveyron) 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Writing from Belcastel

Here we are, writing from Belcastel. I thought we lived in an ancient place, and of course, we do - but - Becastel, both the village and the chateau Belcastel are even older and stranger and just so beautiful. We hadn’t found out much about it before we arrived so it was quite wonderful to discover that the chateau has an ancient chapel devoted to Mary Magdalene and that the church in the village as well is devoted to her. The chateau is a Templar stronghold and the combination of Magdalene and Templar energy is quite amazing. We need to digest all of this before we write about it. Interesting experiences everywhere here! 

The workshops are wonderful. Brian has been having a fascinating time with his groups and I do hope that mine have enjoyed the experience as well. I think they have although I’m making them work quite hard! Some how, working very hard in a castle is easier than working quite hard in the middle of a city! Well - it’s a different experience certainly! 

There are faeries and spirits here -someone took photos with orbs in almost all of them -all hovering over Brian (and a few over me as well). We can’t remember who took them so if you are reading this please get in touch! There are also tiny lizards and bees and all sorts of wildlife and blue skies and sometimes thunder and lightening. Very dramatic. 

I’m finding it hard to write while I’m experiencing all of this. I’ll catch up when we get home next week and try to sort out something coherent to tell you. 

Until then -We’re living a medieval life and eating and drinking far too much but enjoying it all enormously!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Busy Week

We've had a very Busy week or so - AND sunny, warm weather, which makes everything so very much easier. Well -except having to stay indoors and work when being outside would be so much nicer. We have been out enough to get a good dose of sunshine though and it’s blissful! 

We've sent boxes and boxes of supplies for our workshops at Belcastel off to France and hopefully, we haven’t forgotten anything important. I’m not really going to know until I unpack at the other end. This time next week, we’ll be at the Chateau, no doubt wishing we spoke more French! It IS all very exciting. 

We received the first advance copies of Trolls a few days ago. It’s just wonderful to actually see the book looking like a book - and looking just as we hoped it would. We hope all of you who eventually get a copy will enjoy it as much as we do. We couldn’t be happier with it!  It is available for pre-order through Amazon or Signed Copies can be pre-ordered through AFA NYC

We attended Brian’s sister Carol’s wedding in Cornwall last weekend. It was a lovely event with music and costumes and again, glorious weather. Congratulations Carol and Alan! 

I really want to tell you all about the Step Out Walk for Diabetes that is going to take place on September 22nd. Toby and Sarah are going to walk for it and Toby is going to try walking three miles on stilts. I can’t imagine doing something like that but I’m personally amazingly grateful that he and Sarah want to support this. I have a personal reason for this. I’m type one diabetic - that’s the kind you usually get as a child or young person – totally dependant on insulin. I got this at a very late age - only four years ago - and I’ve been on a very steep learning curve since then, trying to adjust to an insulin routine and still carrying on working as much as I do. Actually, it’s working out really well. I’ve had absolutely wonderful care and support from my family and friends and the whole medical team who look after me. And the faeries. I know that they keep a close eye on me as well. So - that’s why this fundraising event is close to my heart. We would love any support you can give to Toby and Sarah’s team. Come and walk with them - and wear your wings! They’re called the Blood Sugar Plum Faeires and you’ll be able to purchase a tee shirt with a Brian Froud faery on it to show your support soon. I’m going to be a virtual walker.  There’s more information here 

And finally -Sneezle wanted me to show you something he’s very proud of. He says he grew these toadstools all by himself. I have my doubts about that, but I wouldn’t want to say that to him. He looks so proud and happy! 

That’s all for now. The next time I write, it hopefully will be from Belcastel!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Found Sneezle in the Garden

It’s sunny today! Hard to believe after the weather we’ve been having but today we have summer. I take that back. I just looked out of the window and it’s starting to raid. 

Be that as it may - I went out into the garden this morning and came across a rather frightening sight. Sneezle was being menaced by a group of strange looking little aliens! They had him backed up against the stone obelisk and he looked terrified. I took a photo and waited to see what would happen (I know -not very nice of me but I knew I’d have time to intervene if things got serious). 

They started jumping around and it was obvious that they were trying to tell him something. All of a sudden, one of them jumped into his arms and then of course it was obvious - they could be played like bagpipes! Sneezle is luckily quite proficient on the bagpipes and soon they were happily dancing to the traditional tunes of Old Oak Wood. I don’t know where they came from, and I have the feeling that they won’t stay for very long, but I expect there will be some pretty interesting music making until they decide to leave. They are just in time for the Chagstock music festival, which starts tomorrow outside our village. They’re too small for the big stage there, but in a smaller venue (a tree stump perhaps) I think they would do very well indeed. 

Now - you may think they look like sprouting potatoes, but I assure you, they are SO much more than that! 

Our friend Todd and his son David have been doing us a great favour by taking ivy off of the barn wall, which has been covered up since about 1982. It’s a massive job and they are heroically battling insects, spiders and irate birds to get back to the granite surface.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Exploring with Elfie

I took advantage of the fact that we had a moment (literally) of sun today and Elfie and I drove (well, I drove –he panted) on to the moor just to see if it was still there. It was. We explored Hound Tor and got tangled in bracken and found crystals to bring home and chased a squirrel. I took these photos of hound tor and a small troll tor to show those of you who haven’t seen them before (and that’s probably quite a few of you). And if you have, well, that’s fine too. They are always worth another look! Now that we’ve finished the “Trolls” book, I can’t see these without thinking about the trolls that live on or in them, especially the little tor with the stone wall winding up to it. I’m sure if I watched for long enough, the troll would become completely visible. As it is, I certainly can see that he’s sleeping under a blanket of grass.

After the excitement of the squirrel and the tors, we drove on and took very winding roads that I really wasn't familiar with at all. Dartmoor can seem very big at times! Needless to say, I was soon totally lost -in fact I thought I’d ended up in Peru when I saw the llamas in the field but luckily I hadn't gone quite that far astray. Elfie says he knew exactly where we were at all times. I’d like to believe him but somehow I just can’t.

Here’s a photo of Mother Leap obviously telling her friend something quite exciting. I have no idea of what they are talking about. Trolls can be quite secretive.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Sunshine! We haven’t seen it in what feels like forever, but we have it today. Glorious sun, light breeze, quite warm … hmmmm …feels like summer. It also feels like it should come with an announcement saying “appearing for one day only…”  

Fearing that it actually might be for one day only, Brian, Elfie and I went for a walk in Gidleigh Wood - a beautiful nature reserve near us. Huge oak and beech trees, moss covered boulders and wildflowers everywhere. This truly seems like a troll wood. It certainly is home to all sorts of creatures of Faerie, but the combination of grand old trees and rocks makes it especially perfect for trolls. We didn’t see any today but it was enough to walk in the woods and enjoy the sun on the water and shining through the trees. Elfie was so excited, I’m sure he frightened them all away, especially when he fell in the river. 

Part two of the Around The Table with Brian and Wendy is up on the John Barleycorn Must Die blogspot. Have a look (or read). It’s really fun and an interesting insight into how artists think (or don’t think at times!). I wish we had dinners with interesting conversation like this all the time - but we don’t. We’re so tired at the end of a working day that we just sit around and watch TV. I’m telling you this just in case you thought we did REALLY interesting things all the time. Hah! 

Well - I’m finishing this the next day and yes - I was right. It’s raining again. No sun -no summer. The faeries have all gone to Italy or somewhere else where the sun is shining. So - if you are reading this in a place where the sun is out, have a look around you - you may just see some Dartmoor faeries having a little holiday away! 

Just in case you think I just sit around all day complaining about the rain, I thought I'd show you the troll I'm working on for the New York exhibition in October. see? I can work AND complain at the same time!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mother Leap's Day Out

Over the past weekend, Brian and I attended Karen Kay’s Three Wishes Faery Festival in Cornwall. We knew that we were going to be talking in a tent (since it’s an outdoor festival with no place to project images) so we decided that we needed to bring someone along who could help us explain what we do and how we do it, and especially help us talk about the “Trolls” book. I looked around and asked various trolls how they felt about coming out for the weekend. Most of them (very wisely) decided to stay home. Mother Leap on the other hand, was delighted to have a nice day out (as she put it). Little did she know (and I didn’t want to tell her) that the weather forecast was particularly forbidding for Saturday. And so it proved. Galeforce winds, driving rain, mud. Not a fun time in Faeryland I’ll tell you. Mother Leap spent most of her time in a black plastic rubbish bag. But - although our bodies were damp and wind battered, our spirits were high. We had a great time with all of the wonderful faeries that came out to play at the festival. Mother Leap came out of her plastic bag for the lecture and loved the attention as well. 
At the Lecture

Sunday was SO much better! Sun and no wind. Mother Leap once again came with us but she was able to be out in the open in her own basket, making the rounds of the attendees and stall holders and once again participating in the talk we gave. She thoroughly enjoyed it all! Here are a few pictures of the event. 

Wendy with Mother Leap

Brian and the toadstools
I seem to spend my time at the back of crowds so I never really get many good photos of what’s actually happening. Our friend Emily Carding was taking part in the world record -breaking event of fairies gathered together in one place – all with (as stipulated in the Guiness book of records) wands, wings and tutus. You’ll have to imagine the rest of them – all 200 and something.
Emily Carding 

 Anyway - wind, rain or not, it was a truly fun event. Thanks SO much Karen for inviting us to be a part of it! Mother Leap thanks you too. She can’t wait to get out again. There’ll be no stopping her now!
Karen, Wendy, and Mother Leap