Welcome to my blog, random stuff about me and where I live, plus some bits about my jewellery.

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Sunday 16 October 2011

Holiday on the Jurassic Coast

Just got back from a week in Lyme Regis, gorgeous little town with that scary sea defence The Cobb, (of French Lieutenant's Woman fame!) I managed to walk all the way to the end and back, (chickened out last time we visited and climbed down half way along). I really don't like high places and this is not just high, it slopes towards the sea too!  we stayed in a part of Coram Tower, named for Thomas Coram who started the Foundling Hospital, walked a lot and learned about the famous and historical figures associated with the town.
'Granny's Teeth' old steps leading to the high part of the Cobb

This shot was taken in 2009 in December. High and sloping!

This part of the coast is famous for the archaeological finds along it, there are hundreds and thousands of fossils, along the beaches and some  significant finds have been dug up here over the years.

We finally gave in and bought a rock hammer and went along the beach cracking pebbles open, mostly didn't find anything until we got right to the end of Monmouth Beach. There's a large area of limestone pavement here and sections of it have so many fossils it's astonishing, you can't step without treading on an ammonite.

These three photos show part of the pavement, every circular bump is another ammonite fossil!

Lovely bivalve shell fossil which forms a heart.

Fossil of a chambered shell.

We managed to chip a couple of fossil shells out of the smaller rocks and part of a crystal filled ammonite. I was really pleased to manage to chip two small sections of crinoid from one rock, this is also called sea lily and is related to modern star fish.

These two pictures show Crinoids, the top is a boulder covered in fossilised Crinoid remains, the star shape fascinates me, and this lovely clear single section is great.

some of the ammonites are huge and I wouldn't fancy running into one in the sea.

Four ammonites or fragments of ammonites.

Some of them have been covered with iron pyrites, or fool's gold, as the fossilising process has occurred, we found a large section with fool's gold on it, but the light was a bit rubbish for my little camera to take a good picture unfortunately. a lot of these fossil shells end up with quartz crystals in the chambers, very pretty.

When we weren't on the beaches or the harbour we spent a fair bit of time in the Town Mill area, a lovely redeveloped area with a working flour mill, a gallery, cheese monger, little craft galleries and individual designers shops. Among the cafes and restaurants is the Town Mill Bakery, this is a fabulous place, the cafe is a help yourself affair, two long tables with benches either side, the food is laid out on a third table and the plates are flat wooden boards. Bowls of butter and jam are left on the tables to be passed between the customers, along with jugs of milk and bowls of sugar.
 Behind the food table is the working bakery with busy people kneading, rolling and baking. All the food is either eat in or takeaway.
 Loaves to buy are laid out on a side table, regular sized loaves in a lovely variety, and giant loaves that can be bought whole or in halves or quarters.
They also sell jams and pickles and the jugs and egg cups, which I believe have come from the pottery in the Town Mill Square, are also for sale.  We bought a quarter of a turmeric, carrot and fennel loaf, delicious with some cheese from around the corner. A wonderful friendly place, customers almost have to talk to each other, to get sugar or jam passed along, music is loudish and funky and it's definitely not the place for quiet reflection, but the staff chat and make you welcome, a very jolly place and a great concept.

We had a great week and I even found some little bits of sea glass among the fossils and bought a length of old lace from a great little vintage clothes shop. 
I thoroughly recommend Lyme Regis as a place to visit, we had intended to go  along the coast a bit more, but had such a nice time in the town we only managed to go to West Bay for an afternoon, Forde Abbey near Chard for a day (needs a whole blog to itself) and  Charmouth on our way home. We also had a nice bonus in the shape of a Baroque music concert with Ensemble Amaranthos at the Marine Theatre.

as a post scriptI was surprised how many idiots think that chipping away at a very fragile cliff face is a sensible thing to do, I saw a family with a child of eight or nine perched on a heap of slate under a rock overhang chipping busily away, obviously some people think the warnings don't apply to them! Their dogs however stayed sensibly down on the beach and barked constantly up at them, perhaps they should have taken notice !

This is what the cliffs above the beach are like, I'm amazed they stay up as long as they do, there was a major rock slide between Lyme and Charmouth in 2008, completely blocking the beach, and still they chip away merrily..........

Wednesday 5 October 2011

vintage beadery: Day out at Westward Ho!

vintage beadery: Day out at Westward Ho!: Bit of a grotty day after all that lovely unexpected sun recently, we had decided to go to Westward Ho! , well known as the only place with ...

Day out at Westward Ho!

Bit of a grotty day after all that lovely unexpected sun recently, we had decided to go to Westward Ho!, well known as the only place with punctuation as part of it's name. We realised that we'd never been there, despite living here for 7 years and having visited the West Country loads of times on holiday.
It's a nice Victorian village, with a broad sandy beach, it has a pebble ridge behind the beach which is probably part of the sea defences. There are plans to 'do up' the village a bit with a nice revamped green behind the beach, nice modern seating and lots of glamorous sea front apartments.
Being awkward types we walked along the pebbly, rather' bouldery', bit on the left hand side of the beach,

Wonderful row of wooden posts on the Westward Ho! beach.

 which becomes ridges of slatey rocks leading out to sea. There's a nice tidal swimming pool in the rocks, where we watched a black Labrador having a lovely swim!
After lunch in a nice little cafe we walked along the prom towards Abbotsham Cliffs, very windy but rather a nice walk. We didn't make it as far as the cliffs themselves, perhaps we'll go back one day and walk a bit further.
At the end of the village, standing alone on the edge of the cliffs, is a terribly sad old house, it looks Edwardian or late Victorian, and is completely neglected and falling to bits, lots of lovely stained glass all getting vandalised by stone throwers. It's all marked as private keep out and there appears to be a camera in one of the windows! What a waste of a lovely building, there's rusty scaffolding on it in places so maybe someone is trying to bring it back to life. ( After some research turns out this is Seafield House)

Walking back along a concrete covered pipe I discovered that this is a fabulous source of Anomia Cepa shells, otherwise known as Jingle shells, they are a variety of small clam which live attached to the shells of other sea creatures or to rocks, even to each other if no other surface presents! This means that their shapes vary considerably,so much so that they were called Anomia, meaning nameless, as they look so different from each other. I've found a few on my local beach at Ilfracombe but we found loads at Westward Ho!, they seem to have a thicker shell than the ones I've found before but they have great colours and are really iridescent both on the outside and inside.

Here's today's hoard soaking in soapy water to get the sea off them! Aren't they pretty!

I have two pieces of jewellery made with these shells so far.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Very low tide

The other day, Tuesday I think, we had an incredibly low tide, the previous high tide must have been pretty high too as the line of seaweed and junk was right up by the sea wall. I've never seen such a low tide here in Ilfracombe. Apparently these huge variations between low and high tide are called spring tides, nothing to do with the season obviously but has to do with the sun adding it's influence to that of the moon, Check out the Wikipedia article.
Anyway the effect of this amazing low tide is to make stuff that is normally covered by water available to explore. I took loads of pictures:

This is a bed of kelp with the sea breaking over it, I've never seen it actually growing before, obviously it's usually well below the water.

These three are an amazing undercut slab of rock usually not accessible even at low tide unless you're a rock climber.
Normally you can't access the left side of Ilfracombe's Wilder beach, as it has lots of ribs of rock which are hard to climb over, there's a stream, the Wilder stream, which runs down the beach between the main part of the beach and this left hand side too. If I could have been bothered to take my shoes off I could have got further, the heavy rain in the previous week made the stream very fast and full.

I've wandered into some bits of this half of the beach occasionally at low tide, but I never find much in the way of sea glass there so I don't bother much.

Lovely clear pool with water trickling into it, there are several springs all over the beach so water runs down it at several points. Apologies for the annoying dates on the pics. I had to take some shots for an Ebay claim recently and forgot to switch the date off again.

After admiring our local beach we went to Woolacombe to visit a little beach called Barricane, this is a strange phenomenon, it's tucked into some sharp dramatic rocks towards Mortehoe and the beach is made up of shell fragments and shingle. Either side are broad sandy beaches, Woolacombe on the left and Coombesgate on the right. As the tide was so low it was possible to walk out of the end of Barricane and round into Coombesgate, trouble is we stayed too long and couldn't get back! This wasn't really a problem as obviously there's a perfectly good way to get off Coombesgate beach, only trouble is it's a whole lot of very high steps
oh well, good exercise!

Here's some pictures of the weird rock formations on these beaches.

View out of the end of Barricane

An atmospheric channel between Coombesgate beach and Barricane

A cathedral of rocks surrounding a deep pool.

I suspect most of these things are inaccessible in a normal tide.

Since these are supposed to be blogs about my craft stuff, here's some stuff I picked up that day, waiting to be turned into something nice. The little shiny black one at the front is a stone, I'd love to know what it is, it comes off the beach just like this, shiny and smooth.
There's at least one piece of genuine black glass, and the little pale blue piece, sort of squared off at the bottom of the picture, is the only piece I've ever found on Barricane.

These are some pieces I'm working on at the moment, I've been doing a lot of starting and not much finishing !

top is a piece of brown sea glass, I have very definite plans for the finishing of that one, next round clockwise is a piece of fossil coral, not sure where that's going yet, and last is a lovely piece of ceramic, I feel that a piece of lace is needed for this one, just haven't decided how or what kind yet.

Apologies for the uncropped images, still trying to getPphotoshop CS3 to work on my new computer. can't afford the newest one, who can!

Sunday 11 September 2011


This is an exciting idea that Creative Connections has come up with, come along and join us at the weekend.

See you all there I hope.

Monday 15 August 2011

Barnstaple Pedal Car and Lawn Mower Grand Prix

A mad event that took place along the strand in Barnstaple today. Raising money for the North Devon Children's Hospice and organised by the local college, Petroc, and the local ship building firm, Babcock.

There were a handful of mad pedal cars and a gang of souped up lawn mowers, along with lots of music and fun for kids.

I think the photos probably say it all:

 Piggy's Peddlers in the fun fur pedal car with a curly tail.

 Dick's Dastardly machine from the wacky races series
 The Dastardly machine taking advntage of a lost chain on the Babcock pedal car
 Piggy wizzes (almost) past
 This orange creation was seriously fast!

Muttley takes over on the Dastardly car

And then there were they lawnmowers....................

A hairy cornering moment!

Getting near the end and a few more chances being taken..
The winner

Lap of honour

A little bit of the sound and fury.......

There was a lot of fun and some great live music, whole families and all ages

The live stage in the square outside the museum.

I took loads of photos and I'll load the rest on Flikr

Great fun day and the weather behaved itself too!

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Latest Stuff

Seems like a long time since I posted anything. So here goes. Recently the national sandcastle competition took place in Woolacombe Bay. This is an annual event to raise money for the local Hospice.

This picture shows an attempt on the world record for the most sandcastles built in an hour, unfortunately the attempt fell a few short but there are plans to try again.

Building teams hard at work on their entries for the main competition

Finished entries

 The winner 
 second prize, can you spot the flames in his nostrils?
 Another view of the winning entry
 That flaming dragon again
 Third prize from Ilfracombe Round Table
 Smiley turtle

As you can see there were some amazing entries and lots of hard work.

Well done everyone and it was a glorious hot sunny day too!

The weekend before this, Ilfracombe held it's first ever arts festival, part of the North Devon Arts Festival, it was an amazing success and I took part in the craft fair in The Lantern, a lovely converted Methodist chapel in the High Street. I didn't make many sales but made a contact with a lady who runs a gallery at Instow, where I now have a few pieces on display.

This is a recent piece I'm quite pleased with, which is now at the Waterside Gallery Instow

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