What to do if you lose your favourite toy

Blue Bear

LOST WHALE storyYou’d think it would be tricky to lose a blue whale, wouldn’t you? But my son Herbie and I managed it.

The whale had been a favourite Christmas present from Herbie’s Auntie Mavis, who had found him at the Natural History Museum Shop in London.  He was furry, blue with whitish spots, had kind eyes, and was a good simple shape to hold. He was called Whaley, and as Herbie was only four and usually needed daily backup at school with a cuddly toy from home, Whaley often did support duties. However, one day in January, we arrived home from school and the whale was gone from the bag he’d been resting in. We retraced our steps back to school, sure we’d find Whaley stranded on the roadside somewhere along the way. But not a whisker. We retraced again back home, squinting under cars, behind garden walls, increasingly desperate. Still no sign of a furry cetacean.

But a whale can’t just disappear. Someone must have retrieved our whale. Maybe some small child had picked him up.  But they’d need to know who to return him to, so we made posters. They looked like this:

LOST WHALE smallWe put our posters up on the streets and in the school, quite hopeful that boy and whale would soon be reunited. But a week went by, and no whales came out of the woodwork. The trail was going cold. We had to start giving up hope.

Then, two weeks after Whaley’s disappearance, there was a muffled whump on the front door.

Whaleys on DoorstepTwo whales, wearing scarves, with a suitcase! In the suitcase were a few pictures. Here they are:

Whales in entrance hallWhales at MuseumWhales at CafeRiding on BusTwo whales at the Natural History Museum. Two whales leaving the museum . . . having some refreshments . . . and riding on the bus back to Oxford.

We had to piece together what must have happened: Whaley, growing a bit restless and needing more whale company, must have travelled back to London, to the Museum where he’d come from. There he’d found a sperm whale friend, wandered round the museum, had the odd snack, and then found the bus back to Oxford with his new chum.


The Sperm Whale was named Sperm Whaley. (Herbie was going through a state-the-obvious phase when inventing names.) And since then, Whaley has been roaming no more…

..that we know about.

P.S.: If you are ever unfortunate/careless enough to lose your whale, it may be helpful to know that the Natural History Museum Shop in London has an extremely efficient online delivery service. . . .

Here are some toys at large in a Natural History Museum at night….

ReptiliabluePS If you like hearing about lost toys, you may like this:

TOYSSome useful advice:


Hoctopize1. Don’t panic.

2. Go back and check all the places you may have left it—e.g., (a) the garden,  (b) the bus,  (c) the moon,  (d) Jupiter.

3. Don’t panic.

4. Put up posters in prominent places. Remember to include identifying features, like number of eyes, legs, and tentacles, like this:

6. Abduct all the toys you can find and see if they’re yours. NO! NO! NO! Don’t you know that stealing toys is WRONG?

7. Panic?

8.  No, don’t panic. It will be in the last place you look. Things always are.





The Great Meat Mystery

spacecatOur Animals Correspondent Bonzetta writes:

There’s been a bit of news this week about the environmental impact of farming animals. So let’s have another look at meat….

…featuring Sketching Weakly’s new Investigative Journalist, Agatha Frizbee. Over to you, Agatha!

Agatha FrisbeeWell, this week, it’s the Meat Special. And we ask the question:

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I’ve been down the supermarket…

chicken trolleychicken in supermarket










and I’ve been having a good hard look at the Meat Aisle. And it seems to me that it’s quite difficult from the packets to see who your meat was. And we all want to know, don’t we? We want to know that they had a nice life before they became meat.

Meat 03Although these packets are all very attractive, I think they could do more to introduce us to who we’re going to eat, and make the invisible visible. Here’s what they could be like:

Meat 04Because if you’re going to eat someone, you’d want to know who you’re eating.

PS: Here’s some farming in the news.

Mollusc Frenzy

It’s been raining and the molluscs are on the move, charging up the garden path, swarming up stalks and flinging themselves acrobatically from leaf to leaf as they circle in on Sketching Weakly’s prize Campanula Pendula. Which is now a sad-looking stalk.

Mollusc FrenzyThe flies have been busy too.

fliesSnails seem to really love tree climbing.

climbing snails

Pie Cycling in Somerset

Sketching Weakly couldn’t help but admire this pie cycling shirt while at large near Exmoor.IMG_3120Here is Tony in a shady gazebo scanning for bird life.

IMG_3113Here’s a bit of the Shady Gazebo. But technically speaking it is probably a Bower.IMG_3121A small gathering in the Shady Bower.




Sweltering on the Paddington train…

…in the carriage where the air-conditioning was broken and the designer hadn’t thought to include any blinds. Trying to draw the reflection of the man in front, he became a hallucinatingly large apparition.


So had a go at some (largely imaginary) trees seen from the window. The train helpfully stopped quite often due to signalling problems near Hayes and Harlington.


In the Lower Cast Gallery

It is quite spooky here. But on some Wednesdays you can get in & sketch battered statues.

cast-gallery-01Here’s a line up of guys – the one on the end is a hermaphrodite.


And here are the lovely ladies.


and some shop dummies on the way home…