Monday, 13 August 2007


Living by the sea seems to have sparked a compulsion to pick up things noticed on the beach and bring them home. After just nine months here, this is becoming something of a problem – there simply isn’t room for everything. More importantly, it raises the question: why on earth do we do it?

In my son’s case, the answer is fairly straightforward: he brings home driftwood so he can work on it with his tools and turn it into guns. Naturally. He is 10. He has also made model ships and is currently working on a ‘garden sculpture’ as a wedding present for his aunt. My 5-year-old daughter brings home shells and interesting pebbles. They are very pretty, and this is justification enough in her eyes. For my own part, I pick up shards of blue and white patterned china – and, most greedily, seaglass.

But . . . what on earth to do with it all? That is the question. Well, a lot of the pebbles and shells get, sort of . . . erm, ‘recycled’ in the garden, I have to admit. The china shards and the seaglass are piling up on the chest in the hall.

(The hand-coloured etching, '"2 oz Prawns" , incidentally, is by Karen Fardell.)

Some odd bits of wood and rope and oyster shells have ended up on top of a bookcase.

Larger bits have been arranged 'artlessly' in the garden, for that insouciant coastal-living look. So far, so good. But this represents less than a year’s worth of beachcombing. My big worry is . . . what will it be like after half a decade – or longer? At what point, precisely, will one be forced to call a halt to all this scavenging?

One of those lazy/busy weekends – making jam (what a year it is for plums – they are everywhere – people are giving them away, and I never say ‘no’!); walking the dog; an island boot-sale (books, my hopeless weakness – came home with a dozen or more); a quick foray inland to get some bits and pieces from Poplar Nurseries; buying plants from stalls outside people’s houses on the way back (so much more satisfactory – and FAR cheaper! – than visiting a chain garden centre – I picked up some absolutely amazing, and enormous, fuchsias for £3 a go from nice lady in Copford, which would have rendered little change from £20 in Wyevale, and I just know that they’ll be stronger and thrive better than the hot-housed, imported kind).

Lots of garden tidying up; lunch on Sunday at the Courtyard Cafe, at the Mersea Island Vineyard; and rounded off the daylight hours on Sunday with a quick run down to the Hard with son and dog, to burn off all that jam and catch the end of the sunset.

Have just availed myself of this great offer on train tickets to book a short break on the Scottish east coast in October, so I can stay with Rachel Sharp and visit some galleries in Edinburgh and catch the Richard Long exhibition, with any luck. Yippee, can't wait!

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