A chance chain of events…..

Posted on January 15th, 2013

The original idea

I love it when a plan comes to fruition. I had an idea for Coombe Mill, I have a few, but I was clueless on how to bring this one to life. You know those seaside boards where you stick your face through and take a silly photo? I dreamed of a Coombe Mill version, but my drawing is woeful and as much as I tried, I couldn’t get a decent animal photo to do this:


 Faces Board from Marwell Zoo

So the plan festered until:

A Chance e-mail

November last year, sitting in my inbox was an interesting email from Stead Illustrations, who had found my blog via the MADS web site asking if I would review his new self published children’s book. I am quite selective over reviews but as the book was aimed at the young children and so a good match with Coombe Mill and I rather fancied a copy in reception for our holiday guests to borrow, I agreed. Furthermore I suddenly saw an artist who might just be able to bring my festering plan to life.  The review became a competition to win a signed copy of the lovely Ted Needs Some Space story together with a signed wall poster from the book and in return Tim Stead created this design for me.

1st Drawing from Tim Stead Illustrations for Coombe Mill


I was over the moon; it was just what I wanted. Next I had to find someone who could turn a sketch into a waterproof sturdy outdoor board.


I do love Twitter

Anyone who tweets will know I spend too much time there, however it is not all wasted! I remembered that    specialized in signage; Jason was only too happy to take on the challenge and thought he could source a durable printable plastic board to do the job. 

Problems Ahead

What none of us had really thought through was how big the head hole needed to be when the drawing scaled up. It just wasn’t going to work with Tim’s lovely design. I couldn’t allow this to be the end of the line; I was on a roll with this plan now and determined to make it work.  I did the maths on the head hole size and approached Tim again with a revised brief to simplify the design and increase the head sizes. Farmer Nick with some animals hanging onto him was the idea. In just a couple of days Tim came back with this:

 2nd Drawing from Stead Illustratins for Coombe Mill Holidays

Having never met Nick I think he did a brilliant job. 

Over to Mr Giraffe

By now Tim and Jason from Giraffe Banners were in contact and the design was e-mailed across. Jason was equally efficient and kept me up to speed via tweeter and e-mail at every stage. Within a couple of weeks a special delivery turned up at Coombe Mill and we all excitedly peeled off the packaging and balanced the heavy board up on a small table to have a go!


Testing out our newly unpacked board


A bespoke mount was needed

I knew just the person to make a stand for my lovely new board, our very own Farmer Nick! A week in the shed sawing and drilling to his own special design with help from our eldest Ally and we were ready to go.

Farmer Nick's Bespoke Mount Design


Building a bespoke mount in Farmer Nick's Shed


The Final Reveal

After our trampoline loss I wasn’t risking this baby being carried away in a storm and insisted Nick built a concrete platform to screw the stand into and also to enable little people to reach Farmer Nick! 

 The Finished Funny Faces Board


‘Et voila’ – It is now being used by our holiday makers as a fun snap of their farm holiday!

What about the original illustrations?

Tim filled in the faces for me and posted the original water colours which I have framed and proudly hung in my kitchen, though I have another place in mind for them in the future, yes another plan on the back burner!


Pictures in the Kitchen


I had the initial line drawings e-mailed which make perfect colouring in printable downloads as part of my kids education pages on the Coombe Mill web site.

 Line drawing of Coombe Mill2nd Line drawing

My kids have already enjoyed testing them out! Who would have thought so much would have come from a few tweets and a cold call to blog a book review? 


Clio colouring in a Coombe Mill printable drawing


As for the “Fabulous Four” aka Tim Stead, Jason Giraffe, Farmer Nick and Me, perhaps we should give Dragons Den a whirl with our new bespoke funny face boards! 


I paid to have the original water colours from Stead Illustrations and the board produced by Giraffe Banners, this is not a sponsored post I am just sharing the work they have done for me and I would totally recommend both businesses to anyone requiring illustrative work or signage.