AirToob Lightning
(Original post: February 13th, 2009)

Norman Thelwell, who died in February 2004, was one of Britain's finest cartoonists. If you were a girl who loved ponies, or the parent (like me) or relative of such a girl, then you would have known every one of his books of pony cartoons intimately!

Thelwell's cartoons and landscape paintings went far beyond ponies though. He was known as the "unofficial artist of the British countryside", and with good reason. His cartoons and his paintings revealed a deep knowledge of, and affection for, the things that he loved best.


A long time ago I walked into a small second-hand bookshop in deepest Sussex, looking for one of Thelwell's cartoon books which (unbelievably) were all out of print. The owner (and complete staff) of the bookshop regretted that he didn't have one, but explained that he, and many such bookshops all over the world, did a lot of trade through a Canadian-based online organization called the Advanced Book Exchange.

When I got home I investigated this amazing site and found well over a thousand of Thelwell's books in shops all over the world. I felt like I had wandered into Terry Pratchett's L-Space, in which all libraries are connected!

Among these books I discovered a wonderful autobiography by Thelwell, "A Plank Bridge By A Pool".

A description of this book reads: "A portrait in words and pictures of a garden in rural England that has become a wild life sanctuary. It is also the story of how one man realized a boyhood dream. Norman Thelwell, whose riding cartoons are published worldwide, describes in words and pictures how he landscaped his cottage garden and attracted wildlife of all kinds."

I don't know if this painting belongs to the places described in the book, but it well might.