Island Song – v.2

The next three colours in the collection are Beaumaris, Marram and Seaglass.

Beaumaris

Unyielding,                                                                                                                                               impassive stone;                                                                                                                                            cool olive waters guard the flinty face.

I didn’t visit Beaumaris as a child – at least not that I remember. We would hop onto Anglesey via the Menai Bridge and speed north to our beloved holiday without deviating. Beaumaris is only a few minutes drive further east and although day trips out did take us to the south of the island, Beaumaris isn’t one of them that I recollect.

I did however visit it for the first time on one of my first holidays away with my own friends. Rather inevitably I dragged a couple of them back to Anglesey and we stayed in a B&B in the centre of the island and went to various places including my old stomping grounds and had the lovely surprise of finding some of my extended family staying there at the same time. They treated my young friends and me to afternoon tea with Barabrith. It was the last time I saw my lovely and talented great aunt who had inspired me so much more than I ever realised with her crafts and kindness to my family. She was 98 years old and I’m glad my last memory of her is on holiday sitting smiling in her chair at the cottage she’d lovingly decorated with handmade things over the years and shared so generously with many members of her family and friends.

The next day my friends and I did a little driving tour around the east side of the island and visited Beaumaris Castle. I have photos of the three of us smiling through the stiff sea breeze up on the battlements and being photobombed by tame seagulls hopeful that tourists might have food scraps they could scavenge!

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Beaumaris Castle was built by Edward I as a means to finally quash the Welsh who were causing him so much trouble by their refusal to be tamed and pay homage (or at least pay homage without their fingers crossed behind their backs!).

Started towards the end of the 13th century it was in fact never finished. Nevertheless it is a beautiful castle and has a very green (!) moat surrounding part of the castle walls and this moat is the inspiration of the green shade – an olive-y, mossy hue I am becoming increasing fond of apparently when I glance into my wardrobe!

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Beaumaris is corrupted from the French “beau/beaux marais” meaning beautiful marsh/es – the marsh on which the Norman castle was built and which originally meant it could be reached directly by ship on one side. Now the marshes are drained (I think it’s the car park actually!) but the incomplete ruin is still a fascinating place to visit. Because I had Marley with me on this trip I didn’t pay to go in again, we just peered through the railings to take photos but I want to go back again for another visit.

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Marram

Whip dry grass                                                                                                                                           halts shifting dunes;                                                                                                                               quick fingers bend it to the weaver’s will.

Marram is the papery silver green grass that grows along sand dunes in coastal areas everywhere. It has very long roots which anchor the dunes and stop them shifting with the weather and coastal erosion. Thus anchored, other species can establish themselves on the dunes amongst the marram grass – natures very own gabion boxes.

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Sand dunes with marram on were never that appealing to me; the dry fronds would tickle my bare legs as I ran along the coastal paths and every child knows the best kind of sand is the damp sort on the beach that you can build sandcastles out of or half-bury your long suffering daddy in…

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Marram Grass is far more interesting to me as an adult because of my interest in textiles. Marram has been used extensively by coastal dwelling and island people to weave into mats, baskets or creels and even nets and lobster pots. This is especially true of Newborough which is further south from where we stayed which had a thriving industry based on marram weaving. In the 14th century the new borough was partially buried by the dunes and in the 16th c the Elizabethan government ordered more planting of marram to stabilise the dunes and it was illegal to uproot the plants themselves.

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Marram grass weaving continued up until the 20th century. I don’t know if anyone still knows how to weave with it now – I would love to find that out! I did find this picture online of one marram weaver Ellen Williams of Newborough making mats (although to me it looks a little more like braiding). Finding out more about the marram weaving industry is on my very long list of things I want to do!

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Seaglass

Shattered shards                                                                                                                                 tumbled through waves;                                                                                                                       embedded frosty jewels in salty sands.

Beachcombing is still one of my favourite pastimes. I love hunting for interesting treasures washed up along the shoreline. Driftwood, mermaids purses and sea foam tossed from the sea. Unfortunately in the past four decades I’ve been beach combing, the stuff the sea churns up increasing includes vast quantities of plastic and a walk now along a beach after winter storms is a heart breaking lesson in what destructive and filthy creatures we humans are and how we soil our own environment.

Sandy beaches are great for playing on but the most interesting ones to me are pebbly ones. Delicate shells and interesting colours stones grab your attention if you keep your eyes peeled. My most favourite of all is searching for sea glass – there is just something wonderful about the frosty smooth finish of the sea, the thrill of hunting for different colours and wondering where it comes from.

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It will be no surprise to my spinning and knitting online friends that my favourite shade of sea glass is the pale aqua colour that looks like a Fox’s Glacier Mint. Each time I walk on a beach I keep an eye out for sea glass and on my favourite sea glass hunting beach it’s rare that I won’t find just one tiny fragment nestling amongst the stones…

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So you now know half the colours. Do you have a favourite yet? Can you guess what other shades might follow? How might you combine the ones you’ve seen so far!

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Stay in touch for the next three shades coming soon…

 

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3 thoughts on “Island Song – v.2

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