So how did it all begin?

 


Russell’s Story

The beginning - according to Rob

  I was riding my bike through a field in Rutland, near to where I live, playing my usual game of ‘Dodge the Woolly thing’, when it occurred to me, again, that there must surely be a story to be gleaned from this flock of woolly critters staring disdainfully at my progress. Then I dismissed the idea...again. After all, who wants to read a story about a flock of sheep? They eat, they stare, they eat. Great material for a story - Not! Then I saw a peculiar thing, a bunch of sheep sheltering from the sun in the shadow of a tree. That looked pretty funny and I sat for a while and watched to see if the sheep followed the tree’s shadow as the sun moved overhead. Know what? they did and I got to thinking...:Maybe there’s an idea amongst all that wool. Nah! I thought on. A flock of sheep would be pretty dull...Anyway they’d have to have a playful name and what would I...worryingly, that’s when the words ‘Frogsbottom Sheep’ leapt out of nowhere and slapped me around the head. 

    Frogsbottom Sheep? Why not? It sounds silly...but in a good way! There’s bound to be a frog or two in the field, maybe a whole pondful of the little guys. A frog would be a good visual contrast to a big woolly Sheep, and the kids would certainly giggle at the ‘bottom’ part. Well, you have to play to your audience. 


Hmm! I began to ponder...I would also need a single sheep to stand out from the flock... a star... a hero, a character of depth, intensity and spirit who could single hoof-edly, bear the weight of a story on broad and strong shoulders. 

                                        But who could…wait! Maybe... just maybe...I had another thought. (it was a good day!)

     Perspiration and inspiration on one bike ride. This was too much. I cycled home and rifled through a bunch of my old greetings card designs until I found the card I was looking for, a simple sheep character on an Easter Greetings card that I had painted in a previous life. Using that as a starting point I began to doodle. Before long a boggle-eyed character was staring back from my screen. He was a simple, uncomplicated soul and so ridiculous - a name instantly came to mind - ‘Russell the Sheep’. I cringed at the awful pun but thought that at least it would serve as a working title. However, as the weeks passed no other name sounded as right. Russell the Sheep it was, and Russell the Sheep it stayed. 

    Well, I had my hero character, Russell the Sheep. I had found a home for him in Frogsbottom Field, there was a supporting cast - the other sheep and even a little frog. Now there was just one thing missing…a story.

     For this I needed a tale, rich in substance, awash with humour and a plot of subtle, devious construction, with impossibly woven twists and unforeseen diversions. I needed a story that would send our woolly hero on a rollercoaster of emotional extremes, with us, the readers, sat right there beside him. So that when Russell ultimately wins through, as he must, we will applaud his efforts and still be cheering for him long after the final page is turned.   

     Hmmmm...Not an easy brief...but then...what if...

                    

          ... Russell could not fall asleep, no matter how hard he tried. “Maybe if I count things”...                                                         

                     By Granny Oldwool’s beard, I think I’ve got it!    

                                                Oh, and of course, there was also a little frog...and an ant.

                                                                                                 Job done!

 

 

...the original Frogsbottom Sheep that Rob came across as he cycled through a field in Rutland, England. Read on.

Stop griping Fleecy and tell us a story. And it’d better include me.

Well, o.k. little frog...and ant dude,  It all started with these guys...

What’s a sheep to do?
and me.