The third trio of colours in the Island Song collection remain in the blue-green part of the spectrum. They are Squill, Llyn and Breakwater.
Powder blue, nestled in grass; shimmering stars like fallen flecks of sky.
Spring at the coast is fresh and full of delicate colour. In the height of the summer, the air seems thick with the compellingly whiffy tang of rotting seaweed and the wiry grasses seemed flattened and baked dry by sun and endless feet. But Spring washes everything clean after the winter storms and in April and May the grass is alive with flecks and sparkles of wild flowers.
I really love the scattering of Spring Squill (Scilla verna) across the headlands. Our holidays as children were only ever in late summer or early autumn – I know if I’d been here at Easter or other spring holidays I would have been trying to gather these miniature lilies to make tiny bouquets for mice and elves…
Azure pool, light refracted; icy depths suck the warmth from sunlit air.
I don’t know if journeys with young children are easier these days with all the in-car entertainment available to distract them, but with nothing more hi-tech than multiple rounds of “I Spy” and stopping to let out car-sick kids who’d tried to read, the long road trips to go on holiday must have been something of a chore for poor parents.
We lived just off the old A5 and so barely deviated from it all the way up through Wales. It was a good 3 hours drive plus though and I’m sure my parents hearts must have sunk after a few minutes to hear me piping from the back seat “are we nearly there yet Daddy?”
As I grew older I think I understood that to reach heaven a certain amount of traffic induced hell had to be endured. Nevertheless I would be caught out every trip in Snowdonia, still some hour away from our ETA. As we would pass Llyn Ogwen (llyn being the Welsh word for lake) at the base of craggy Tryfan I would be convinced we’d reached the sea (having a child’s hazy grasp on altitude and sea level) and probably took some pinning down by my brothers as I freaked out with excitement (by the way, I still freak out with excitement when I see the sea now more than 30 years later). That lake; it got me every time…
So I wanted to include a llyn/lake-inspired blue in this collection and there are beautiful lakes on Anglesey too one of which I may include in due course as a extra complimentary shade. However for colour contrast I’ve taken poetic licence here and chosen to represent the turquoise of the quarry lake in Bethesda just a little further up the road from Llyn Ogwen. The sediments and minerals in quarry lakes reflect and absorb different ends of the spectrum of light which gives their spooky brilliant blue appearance. Despite their tropical appearance, quarry lakes are actually bone-chillingly cold and can be very dangerous to swim in. Quite a few people get into difficulties swimming in these beautiful but deadly places – much better to admire them from a safe distance instead.
Restless seas roiling ever in; the sea wall soothes and calms the anchored ships.
I couldn’t not include a sea-green. Without the sea, an island doesn’t exist. Without the colour sea-green in my life, I curl up and die! Not really of course! But it is one of my most favourite shades.
It’s almost impossible to capture the depth of colour or the variety of shades the sea can turn as the light plays on it and the weather systems change it’s nature. I chose to name this shade “breakwater” because the sheltered side of that kind of sea wall captures the shade best to my mind. Deep sea water but relatively calm without the surface wave action to cut up the light and change it’s colour.
The Holyhead Breakwater is an incredible piece of building work. At 1.7 miles in length, this huge 19th century sea wall runs out into the ocean like a crooked arm protecting the harbour from the rolling Atlantic crashing in almost unchecked (well apart from Ireland conveniently taking the brunt of course!). At the end stands a small square lighthouse.
Years ago I spent two nights floating within the nestled arm of this breakwater moored to a floating pontoon, rocked to sleep by the relatively calm motion of the sea interspersed with the quiet surging swell as yet another ferry passed the end of the sea wall on its way to Dun Laoghaire or Dublin Port. I also spent a very miserable drizzly day learning to manoeuvre a sailboat under power and MOB drill for my Competent Crew; think reverse parking and three point turns with added drift and wet sheets (ropes) whilst wearing by-then very smelly oilskins…
Outside the wall, the grey waves smack into it on their long journey in. Inside the wall on calmer days, like the one I visited recently, the sea is a smooth rippled blue-green colour that shifts in hue with the scudding clouds.
I know the colours are now quite blue-green heavy – I suppose that’s mostly because they’re my favourite shades! But hopefully there is a shade for everyone amongst them.
And tomorrow you can see the final three shades to complete the set and how they all work together.