Thursday, 11 March 2010
Another one for the 'Coastal Collection'
I am really enjoying making these 'coastal' collages! I suppose that's hardly surprising as I grew up by the sea, in the Isle of Wight, and it's the one thing I miss in Abergavenny. In fact I think I was probably about ten years old before I actually saw a lighthouse but all the same, I feel as if they were part of the backdrop of my life as a child.
'The Island', as it is always known, is quite small (380 sq. kilometers, according to Wikipedia) and diamond shaped and the River Medina runs from North to South, dividing the island in two - the West Wight and 'the rest of it'! The famous Needles lighthouse is on the westerly tip, I lived on the north-east coast and in those days never the twain did meet! In the forties and fifties there were not very many cars in the Island, mostly because of the cost of bringing them over from the 'mainland' so we were heavily dependent on the buses and there were only a couple of buses a week to the 'West Wight'. Even the 'Round the Island' coach tours rarely went west of the River Medina and it was only really much later in my life when I took my car down to the Island for a holiday that I realised how close I had lived all those years to an 'area of outstanding natural beauty' - and, of course, the Needles lighthouse.
But in spite of that, I always felt it was part of my 'heritage' because it featured on postcards, tins of toffees, packets of fudge, tea towels, trays and practically everything in the seaside gift shops! I was reminded of this just last week when a friend of a friend brought back some holiday gifts from the Island and with them a postcard with the Seven Wonders of the Isle of Wight. 'Ryde' (my hometown) where you walk, 'Cowes' you cannot milk, 'Newport' you cannot bottle etc - and of course 'The Needles' you cannot thread'! (I got a bit of a shock when I saw a recent photo of the lighthouse there - it now has a helipad on the top!)
Naturally the Sea Scouts thrived in this location and my parents and some of my older sibling were involved in the organisation, along with another family who seemed to me, as a child, to have countless big brothers! We spent many idyllic (for me!) weekends working on the Sea Scouts' boathouse on a small and usually deserted bay just round the corner from Ryde. One of the 'big brothers' made me a rope swing from a tree in the woods that came right down to the beach. Another sometimes rowed me round to the next little bay, where we would land and I would imagine that I was discovering a desert island. The beach was stony and full of rockpools with crabs and shrimps galore and I had a wonderful time while the adult worked. One day I decided I was going to stay overnight in the Scout Hut. I made up a bed with deckchairs and found flags and bunting for bedclothes so I was most upset when my plan was thwarted and I only agreed to go home when someone reminded me that we might spot some glow-worms on the homeward walk across the golf course!
There was one brother in this family who only appeared occasionally and I was told that he was away, working as a lighthouse keeper, which I thought was mysterious and therefore very exciting. Later I discovered that he was not on a lighthouse, but a 'light-ship' and, as I had no idea what a light-ship was, I was bitterly disappointed. Remembering all this as I worked on my collage, I decided to have a look at some photos of light-ships on Google images. Most of them are not particularly attractive and I don't think I'll be making a 'light-ship' greeting card. But there was one that I liked the look of so you never know....in fact, I'm wondering whether my lighthouse design has perhaps turned out rather too 'pretty' to be included in my 'Cards for Men' and maybe a light-ship would fit the bill better?