Thursday, 12 December 2013


Three months ago we made an outdoor Museum in a Day from flotsam and jetsam, displayed on the beach in an upended packing crate that had floated in. It contains, inevitably, much plastic marine litter that the tides deposit daily on the shoreline.

It still stands there, with its back to the sea and a handsome bleached sheep's skull on top. Curious walkers on the Cumbria Coastal Way peer in, perplexed at rusty cigarette lighters - unlikely bedfellows alongside a baby's dummy, a cartridge case and an old lipstick.

In his book of literary mysticism PUPPET - an essay on uncanny life, Kenneth Gross writes about the shadow boxes of visual artist Joseph Cornell, with their tiny objects set one against another:
'Each object keeps a certain solitude and secrecy......  long lost companions who speak in silence ...... a fragile but necessary community'. 



Monday, 9 December 2013

Storm Surge at the Beach House

   Exhilarating day last Thursday as 9.81 tide came in at midday with massive waves and white horses. The westerly wind in gusts was blowing the spray backwards as they broke. Came up higher than we have seen it for years, breaking against the low limestone cliffs and scouring the shoreline. Then a high 1 am tide, but by then the wind had dropped and it was a millpond.

The Beach House was OK - high and dry on its  stilts. Some flooding on the beach below us, around the fireplace and museum, which soon drained away. The poles for John's whirlygigs and weathervanes stood the test. All credit to Jamie Proud and Andy Mortimer who sweated and helped dig really deep holes to instal them in the summer.

Next morning all was revealed. So much had changed on the foreshore. Massive timbers lying for years all relocated and twirled around. Reed beds trashed. The previously cobbly foreshore smoothed with swathes of shingle and transformed into 'proper' beach.

Half a mile south along the peninsula is Bean Well where 18th century schooners would visit to fill up with sweet drinking water. A constant vigorous stream runs down towards the sea, and is host to a huge crop of wild watercress. There has always been an ancient stone slab acting as a bridge over the stream for walkers to cross. Today all the watercress is gone and that slab is slewed like a frisbee, only just doing its job. Maybe a work party with massive crowbars might just be able to reposition it?

The biggest talking point between early morning walkers is the Wishing Tree. It's gone!! Lost in the storm, floated out towards the Irish Sea ......   A hawthorn which, seven years ago after incessant winter rains, slipped 30 feet down the soft bank, roots and all. Since then we have nurtured it and decorated it with flotsam and jetsam, delivered daily by the tide. Public art by stealth. A rumour trace and point of interest for walkers on the Cumbria Coastal Way, who would pause for a picnic, take a photograph and frequently add their own creations. Was this a place of pilgrimage or an aberration?

And where can it be now? If it is washed up near you, please give it our best wishes and add some of your own.

STOP PRESS  The good news is that, within 48 hours, someone has already started a new one. A polished leather boot - albeit a bit rusty around the lace holes - has appeared dangling from the lower branches of a collapsing ash tree and already several coloured plastic bottles and bits and pieces have been added. Wishing Tree/ Rag Tree/ Cloutie Tree - call it what you will - these places are important and, as we have observed over 7 years,  seem to have meaning for us.

Booting up the 2nd Wishing Tree on the west shore of Morecambe Bay


Sunday, 1 December 2013


Winter Droving Procession Penrith

Hannah Fox created this magnificent Ram's Head lantern to complement the agricultural theme. 
Thanks to Duncan Copley, Simon Hanson and Bob Fisher. She also dressed the square with a couple of dozen new silk flags, burning the midnight sewing machines with Naomi Edwards and Donna - who is more at home with the industrial sewing machine from her fantastic yurt holiday company on the shores of Windermere