Four roaming peacocks who became a source of entertainment for locked down households have become the stars of a children's book.
Rebecca Murphy, 51, of High Street, Deal was painting in her front room when the colourful creatures wandered past her door and on to Griffin Street.
It proved to be the beginning of a fantastic adventure for both her and the birds, resulting in a illustrated tale which is raising funds for a mental health charity.
She said: “I was completely enchanted by them and it has always been my dream to illustrate a children’s book.
“They flew onto a gabled roof and fanned out their tail feathers. It was a beautiful sight and slightly surreal to see these flamboyant peacocks so out of context at such a strange time for us all.”
The foursome, owned by Paul Louis, hail from Sholden. Prior to the pandemic, they had not ventured out of the village but the quieter roads piqued their curiosity, leading them to parts of Deal, Walmer and Kingsdown.
A dedicated Facebook page was set up to follow their movements, with more than 4,000 members - some from as far as Australia. This was until they were captured for a health check and returned home in early May.
Ms Murphy, who is also a private tutor for primary age children, followed their journey on Facebook and began to paint and draw the birds in different settings.
Her partner, Joe Harris, also known as Joe Bangles and editor of the satirical magazine, the East Kent Mockery, decided to write a story about the four friends trying to find the missing people of Deal.
He said: “Before we knew it, we realised we had the makings of a book.
"Then we became quite obsessed. I don’t think either of us have ever worked so hard, but we loved every single minute of it.”
The couple took advantage of the quiet times to create 'Four Peacocks go to town'. It took one month from the first picture being painted to the book being published and they sold out in two days.
“We were astounded”, said Ms Murphy, who has a Fine Art degree from Canterbury University.
“We printed 200 hardback copies and they literally flew out of the door. The feedback has been fabulous.”
An added bonus is that £1 from the sale of every copy was donated to local mental health group, Talk it Out.
The couple have both had to manage their own mental health problems and now help out with the group.
Mr Harris, an ex-psychiatric nurse and care home consultant, said: “The lockdown was a very difficult and lonely time for many people and the peacocks were a ray of light in dark times.
"We hope our book can be a reminder of some of the good that emerged from the lockdown.”
They have now started their own publishing company and have published a paperback edition of Four Peacocks go to town available in selected stores and online at www.fourpeacockspublishing.com for £12.99 (plus P&P).
The couple have also started work on a Christmas story about the peacocks and are looking to support other budding writers and illustrators who want to produce a book.