Thursday 28 January 2010

Mersea beachware

Being decidedly credit-crunched at the end of last year, the children and I agreed with the lucky [?] recipients that as many Christmas presents as possible for family members and friends would be home-made.

Some of us got busy in the kitchen, making chutney and other preserves, truffles and chocolate-dipped crystallised fruit, and snowman-shaped meringues (unfortunately not as snowy-white as they might have been, and some were mistaken for owls, but they tasted OK!). Others made wooden tree decorations, sprayed gold, and multimedia beachscape paintings incorporating sand, shells and pebbles gathered from the beach.

The most popular product line devised by my ingenious offspring was a range of mirrors made from sea glass, driftwood and other beach-combings. Here are some (rather poor) pics of those that remain in my house (I made sure that I was one of the luckiest recipients of all!)


Thursday 21 January 2010

The inspiration of Mersea

(Shame the presenter insists on calling the place 'Mercy' when it should be pronounced 'Merzee', but . . .never mind - it's a sweet little film that captures some of the many reasons why we all love our island so.)

Wednesday 20 January 2010


Over the last couple of years I've noticed on my Statcounter that a lot of visitors to Musings have landed here as a result of searching for Mersea artist Leafy Dumas, whose lovely cards and other artwork I've featured from time to time (see, eg, here, here and here).

Well now - hurrah! - Leafy has recently launched herself into the blogosphere with Leafy's Art Blog.

One of Leafy's recent projects has been illustrating a picture book for children, The Christmas Seal, written by fellow islander, Veronique Eckstein. You can view some pages from the book and read lots more about it on the Mersea Island Tales website .

Tuesday 19 January 2010

London Boat Show 2010

How does an essentially unboaty Muser spend her time at the London Boat Show? (What is she doing there at all? one might legitimately ask.) It was in fact a fantastic day out - just as it was last year - spent in excellent and highly knowledgeable company.

And there was plenty to keep even the likes of me happily occupied. Especially on the Classic Boat stand, where Fred Beckett - a Member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists was busy demonstrating his art and happily chatting to anyone who stopped to watch. He's based in Buckinghamshire but had some lovely studies of East Coast views (Aldeburgh, Maldon, Tollesbury) in his sketchbook.
I was even more fascinated watching and talking to sculptor Glyn Foulkes as he carved a figurehead of Lord Nelson, which has inspired me to do a little research on the history and symbolism of ships' figureheads (of which more someday soon, I hope).

I also particularly admired some beautifully crafted oak chests by shipwright Ben Jefferies.
The famous Black and White Bar was ideally positioned - one could contrive without difficulty to return at regular intervals - it just seemed miraculously to appear at the end of every aisle!

I paid several visits to the excellent RNLI stand, where, along with various small gifts for my offspring (two of whom, you may remember, valiantly plunged into the icy sea on Boxing Day to raise funds for the vital work of the RNLI), in a most uncharacteristic fit of super-organisation, I purchased next year's Christmas cards from the sale bargain bin!

Browsing through some yummy clothing stands - Musto, Joules and Edwards Heavies among them - took up a significant amount of time, but I was terrifically restrained in my lamentable post-Christmas impecuniosity. One day, one day . . .

Even more fanciful was my acquisition of a whole pile of enticing-looking brochures for watery holidays around Greece, Guernsey, Orkney, Shetland . . . (gosh, all islands, well fancy that). Plenty of fodder for idle and wishful dreaming. One day, one day . . .

So the hours fairly flew by in a very pleasant fashion. But I confess that there came a point late into the afternoon - during roughly the 24th minute of an earnest, in-depth discussion concerning spinnaker chutes with a nice chap from the Royal Burnham Yacht Club - at which my attention wavered (nay, vanished entirely) and, surveying the main exhibition hall from a slightly elevated position, I thought - hmmm, this is all rather pretty in an abstract way. So I went off and took a few random photos. I preferred last year's rope pictures (scroll down) to this year's batch, which didn't leave many to post here, but here's a small selection anyway.

Finally, I know that many of my erstwhile regular readers are keen knitting enthusiasts - well here's something that really tickled my fancy on the SailScotland stand - a hand-knitted fair isle fender cover! Whatever next?

Some charming Scots gentlemen of a certain age tried in vain to press the knitting pattern on me so that I could manufacture my own set of a winter's evening, but I politely declined, preferring merely to take a snap for my Album of Improbable Items. (Before writing this paragraph, I quickly Googled 'fair isle knitted fender cover' just in case my mild bewilderment was misplaced, and anyone who's anyone in Scottish sailing circles has at least two sets of bespoke woolly socks for their fenders, darling - but no, Google could find nothing of the sort, so next time someone searches, this blog post will come up tops!)

Isn't it gorgeous? If it's on display there again next year, I shall definitely get hold of the pattern!

Friday 8 January 2010

Today's Snow Pictures

Yesterday's Snow Pictures

I'm sure there's as much snow overload in the blogosphere as there is in the UK in general , but here's a bit more for anyone who can bear it.

I confess that, despite having taken a couple of tumbles on the icy island pavements in recent days, I'm still utterly enchanted by our Mersea snow/beach/sunshine combo.

Monday 4 January 2010

New Year's Day

A mighty fine way to start 2010.