Take 10…

If preparations (or the mere thought of them if, like me, you are already woefully behind the curve when it comes to such seasonal pursuits as card-writing and present-buying…) for Christmas are all getting a little too much, this one’s for you:

Now, I understand that – far from being a realm of solace – the Antarctic seas are a hunting ground, and one fraught with such perils as the dastardly leopard seal (as noted in Monday’s post…) and killer whale, etc. However, I like to think (for the purposes of this little penguin-themed improvisation) that the chaps pictured here are enacting a time-honoured tradition familiar, I am sure, from many of our lives: the house is full of festively-frenzied womenfolk, all frantically attempting to conjure The Perfect Christmas Day/Dinner from the (patently inadequate) components to hand, and dad has fled to the pub – where he can slip into the cool, bubbly sanctuary of a Christmas pint. (I imagine it translates equally well to mums/lady-folk – and I probably invite merciless castigation from feminist-leaning types for not setting this out as an equally likely scenario from the outset – but, from my own narrow observation, the above-mentioned Christmas-kitchen-evacuation technique would seem ever so slightly more prevalent in the opposite sex… However, a twist on this – it should be noted – sees husband/boyfriend/partner charged with the responsibility of herding his father-in-law/equivalent off down the pub for the duration, thereby mitigating [or entirely reversing, depending on the amicability of in-law relations…] the original effect.)

Ahhhh... Sweet release!

Ahhhh… Sweet release!

I would just mention at this juncture that the quality of postings is likely to take a bit of a nose-dive (even from its current rather sub-standard level… Yikes!) over the next few days as there is the small matter of Final Crit for the MA (tomorrow…), followed by frenzied house-readying (I am an open book, as today’s illustration clearly demonstrates…) for our annual CrimboCon event this coming weekend. I am determined, however, to post something every day, so please avert your eyes (if you, as may quite easily be the case, you can’t stomach the awful drivel & scribble that appears here over the next few days) until normal service resumes (hopefully by Sunday…).

Happy Wednesday, y’all!

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Novelty Knitwear… ’tis the season!

I realise that Christmas Jumper Day was last Friday, but it takes a little time for such fixtures to filter their way through to the Antarctic regions, so I hope you’ll allow this rather belated festive-knits celebration a few days late…


To his colleagues’ delight, Bernard had fallen for the ‘Yeah, it’s Excruciatingly Awful Christmas Jumper Day at the office tomorrow’. Again.


The above scenario might also function as a little cautionary reminder – now that we’re fully immersed in festive party season – to those contemplating attending any type of fancy dress/novelty-themed function: check all the facts before committing to, e.g., a multi-part Rudolf costume for a corporate party on the other side of town. Date, time and location have to be pretty high up there on list of important party information, but – depending whom your friends are – perhaps also that it definitely a fancy-dress occasion, i.e. that there will be people other than yourself kitted out in seasonal/comedy/themed garb… (Although, to be honest, this is probably [well, I’d err on the side of actual Christmas Day/New Year’s Eve, being a bit of a wimp…] the time of year when you could get away with extreme festive costuming, even if you are a bit short of seasonal sass…).

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Frozen fakery…

Not so much as a single flake of the white stuff here in Staines to promote Christmassy feeling – much less build any sort of sculpture – but this chap is turning perennially snowy conditions at the pole (I hope I have that right… *hastily consults primary school geography books*) to his advantage and adding the finishing touches (by which I mean ‘head’…) to an ingenious predator-decoy. With any luck, those dastardly leopard seals are entirely colour-blind and will be completely fooled by this icy version of a lost pup…

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14 December

It might seem like a smart strategy, buying and wrapping Christmas gifts months in advance, but such practise is not without its perils (as ably demonstrated by these two…):14-Dec

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Playing with one’s food…

I imagine that there must be some sort of Brussels-sprout-equivalent amidst the penguins’ Christmas dinner – perhaps some particularly noxious-looking species of fish…? And, of course, the only use for such a maligned seasonal ingredient is some sort of precariously-towering food-sculpture (potentially a live one, as in the below-demonstrated case…):13-Dec

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A seasonal business…

With the proliferation of extraordinarily inventive and über-talented artists, illustrators, designers and crafts-people in modern society – making their wondrous wares available through a whole array of online (and otherwise – the local coffee-morning trestle-table stall is still very much a valid outlet for some of us…!) marketplaces, such as the brilliant Etsy and Society6, among many others – there really is no excuse for rubbish Christmas gifts of the order of novelty socks/reindeer-pooing-chocolate-beans/ribbon-tied stilton & port gift-box (although, for the record, I am most certainly not averse to the latter…). However, I imagine that gift-giving options betwixt Antarctic penguins (humour me…) may be pretty limited: I’m thinking a brace of ‘pre-deaded’ fish, a small pile of nest-building rocks, or a week’s worth of chick-sitting/killer whale-lookout work might be about the size of it…

The resourceful and enterprising young penguin pictured below on the right, though, has spotted an opportunity to corner the ‘exotic and unusual Christmas gifts’ market by hawking a selection of foreign objets, probably originating with a scientific expedition/BBC Frozen Planet crew (whether he came across these items as abandoned detritus ‘midst the snow drifts, or acquired them by rather more nefarious/bullying means, is not clear…) and thereby injecting a bit of variety, not to mention an element of intrigued bafflement, into his community’s present-buying practises this year. A pop-up Christmas shop, if you will, for the more discerning and experimental penguin:


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Holding page…

Sheesh! By the very skin of my teeth, here is today’s penguin advent calendar contribution – with profuse and humble apologies for the fact that it is a.) a bit crap and b.) has no discernible festive flavour… I am so tired after this week’s course-related endeavours that I can barely see (hence the rather scrappy and inexpert colouring effort), so I would be very grateful if you would excuse the below image’s arbitrariness, allowing me to swiftly gloss over it and redeem the crime of its appearance by a (hopefully…) far superior offering tomorrow. I will try to think of something clever and entertaining by way of caption for tomorrow’s post. Meanwhile, suggestions of similar for today’s Pied-Piper-esque post would be most welcome (but are not obligatory…):


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Sounds like Christmas…

“I thought we agreed no presents before lunch…? He’s got you wrapped around his little flipper, Terry!”


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No photo is immune…

In tribute to what has been decreed by persons unknown – OK, the folk at Collins (thems wot makes the dictionaries…) – as “Word of the Year” for 2014, today’s penguins celebratorily enact the mot du jour, “photobomb” (although, if you ask the Chambers dictionary gang, the word “overshare” should’ve dictated the action… Any illustrators/photographers/visual artists among you may be able to hazard a guess as to why I plumped for the former…):


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And…they’re off!!

Yes. It’s Monday, people (sorry about that…). It feels like there’s a veritable mountain to climb this week, so I thought we could all do with a bit of a (super-fast, downhill) run-up to the start 🙂 (Apparently, there was snow forecast for the night last night, but I suspect perilously icy  conditions will be far more likely the order of the day [you can still build up some speed on ice, but it takes rather more control to keep a handle on your centre of gravity, so I won’t be recommending ice-sledding… ‘elf an safety, and all that]):



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