When we go to England, we enjoy exploring the country together. But always during these visits there are those days when My Beloved Brit loves to take off sailing with his mates in one of the many regattas on the east coast of England. He sailed for years with close friends when he lived in London BP (Before Pat), and relishes the thought of being tossed around on grey seas for hours trying to find the right bit of wind and win the race. Not my cup of tea, so to speak, but it gives me time to explore the local countryside on my own looking for art inspiration.
On just such an occasion a few years ago we went to West Mersea on the east coast of England so he could participate in the Dabchicks Sailing Club’s Sail East Regatta. We had been living in the caribbean, so, as you can see, he avoided shorts (unlike those sturdier souls still living in “the grey country”) in favor of several layers of clothing.
He headed out to sea, and on his advice I searched out Cudmore Grove Country Park on the east end of Mersea Island. This time I had my sketchbook with me and a #05 pilot V ball pen as I dove into the mist to see what I could find.
Parking the car and heading out across the open fields on foot, it was the wildness of the sky that really caught my attention. I just tried to capture the energy of the environment with a few quick strokes.
Wandering down towards the edge of the park, I came across this tidal area with posts in odd rows. I found out later that they were oyster beds.
Sorry the sketch is so faint. I was working in a sketchbook that had varied colored pages, which was interesting, but is now harder to reproduce.
I continued along the shore…
… and saw these few boats clinging to the mud waiting for the tide to come back in.
Further along, a lone shed watched over the masts. This is such a typical east coast scene with the inlets and the mud. I never get tired of it.
Back up through the fields, the blackberries filled the hedgerows.
The skies had finally cleared, so I put my sketchbook away and took out my trusted camera for a few shots of the swans heading up stream. I drove back to the west side of the island to meet my sailor, home from the sea, and join the crew for a few pints and to hear the day’s tales of glory.
Art and sailing…we were both totally satisfied with our day.
Back home in my studio, I relived the adventure in a singular painting called “The Clearing”.
Gwen Myers said:
Your eschewing a day sailing the chilly seas for a day of tramping along the coast, sketching and taking photographs reminded me of a quote from Eudora Welty’s book, One Writer’s Beginnings. (I have a cousin who loves this quote so much that she signs off each email with it): “As you have seen, I am a writer of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be daring as well. For all serious daring starts from within”.
It would probably be hard to say who had the more exciting day, the sailors or yourself. As we have no documentation of the day from the sailors—except for that group photograph on the dock, I’m going to vote your day the more adventurous one! I learned several things from your sketch book as I had no idea that oyster beds were sometimes “posted”, that the tidal change was so big on the English coast (like Beaufort—makes sense now that I think it over as we are on opposite sides of the same body of water), and that the sailors of the boats on the mud flats are obviously at the mercy of the tide for access to their ships. Thanks for sharing your sketchbook! I feel like an armchair traveler. Hmmm, I guess that makes me two degrees removed from the sailing adventure, if I count your experience as one degree removed from the sailing adventure. But, there can still be daring in living even at two degrees removed from the action. Here I am, commenting on a day spent sailing and not sailing from a chair in my study–taking the risk that you will not think me a complete idiot. That’s daring!
I love your comments. It is so rewarding to see that someone appreciates this journey.