I’ve just completed an illustrated map of Scotland. And I’m puggled.*

But awfully pleased. I have prints in two colourways, hot-off-the-press on gorgeous, textured paper. Ready to sign and deliver to my delightful (and hopefully delighted) customers.

And they come complete with a key to 152 items. Which is more than I’d intended. This was going to be a speedy affair – a few castles, an otter or two, the odd standing stone, some swirly bits. Bosh! Done.

But, as so many illustrators can tell you, a project without a deadline will grow legs if you allow it.

PONIES AND PALACES AND PINE MARTENS – OH MY!
It started with research on the Western Isles. They have eagles! And lots of seabirds! And the Callanish Stones and dolphins and corncrakes and machair and glorious beaches. And their history! I must mention the Lewis Chessmen, oh, and of course the shipwreck that inspired Whisky Galore…

And so it went on. For every region. Dozens of marvellous things ripe for illustration and much hand wringing over which to choose. And people kept telling me about new and amazing stuff! Andy Goldsworthy’s Striding Arches. Yep, they’re in. The rare great yellow bumblebee? Had to find a space, even if it’s a little south of his coastal habitat.

SARDINES IN SCOTLAND?
So the map is crammed with many things. Wedged in like sardines – or, since we’re in Scotland, herring. And drawing them in swirly ink was so much fun. But I shall be forever haunted by my failure to include Billy Connolly. Or the Falkirk Wheel, or the Edinburgh pandas…

*Scots for blooming exhausted.