Sunset Yellow

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A discarded bucket caught my eye when it was lit up in the light of the setting sun this evening; a yellow plastic counterpoint to the warmth of the sun against my exposed face and hands. For the first time in weeks of wet and windy weather, I felt I could take off my heavy coat.

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Flood Tide

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The moon became full at midnight last night as the Environment Agency issued 24 severe flood warnings across the country. A high tide of 3.5m was predicted for 22.30 (it stays high for about three hours here). However, river levels were much higher because of the continuing heavy rain and a 50mph gale from the south west. The embankment to which the Egg is moored submerged and the outer bank was well underwater. The whole scene would have inspired my namesake JMW Turner to tie himself to the WIFI arial to better observe the power of nature.

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Three Stats of the Flood Tide. Individual frames from monitor 'Brinno2' 14.2.14

Three States of the Flood Tide. Individual frames from time-lapse monitor ‘Beadle2’ 14.2.14

Ice Lines

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The upper limit of the tide was defined by a rippling line of thin clear ice, where the saline water, fingering the same flat marshy river bank for three hours of slack water, froze at its extremities. A weak morning sun was enough to melt the evidence quickly away.

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Orion

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On January 23rd, I glimpsed Orion in the southern sky above the Isle of Wight, maybe hunting with an owl who was calling from somewhere close by. Since then however, he has mostly been hidden from sight above a succession of storms driven in off the Atlantic.

Orion’s mother was a great Queen of the Amazons, but he was a son of Neptune too, who reputedly walked on water and built up the sea defences of Sicily against an encroaching sea.  I wonder about his perspective on our own rising waters and on going recent floods.

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Orris Root

IMG_1117Following on from my previous posting, I can report that the search for orris root (an ingredient in the purification of Exbury Sea salt in the eighteenth century) has quickly proved fruitful. On a walk today with friends and with my neighbour’s dogs, I found the Iris Garden (in Exbury Gardens bordering my parish). However, I will remain on the look out for less cultivated evidence closer to home.

I realise I have encountered it already as a flavouring and aromatic in gin, and it is used mainly today in perfume. Its scent prevails over those of others in ‘Tumulte’ for example, a scent by Christian Lacroix or more obviously in ‘Infusion d’iris’ from Prada*. I may distill it as part of a unique essence of place for the Egg.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orris_root

Molly Exploring the Iris Garden

Molly Exploring the Iris Garden

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Salt

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I am living on the edge of an eighteenth century salt making landscape.  Its many parallel banks and channels are like the teeth of a marshy comb, protected by the curving contours of the Outer Bank which was raised by hand to help retain sun reduced brine, before it was drawn off for boiling into salt. Sluice gate timbers at either end, completely refurbished in 1815, now stand rotten and ruined.

In homage to this land use of yesterday, I made salt by boiling ten litres of Beaulieu River water until it began to form crystals and placed the concentrated solution in an oven for 72 hours at 11o degrees, until salt formed. My 251 gms of yellowish crystals would have originally been whitened by adding egg white, alum, white lead, wheaten flour, butter and orrisroot* to the boiling process.

*The fragrant rootstock of the Iris Germanica. I will keep an eye out for the flowers this summer in case they still appear near the river, as living evidence of past industry. 

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The former salt making landscape of Exbury Farm and Stephen Turner's 'personal parish'.

The former salt making landscape of Exbury Farm and Stephen Turner’s ‘personal parish’.

Mouldy Egg

photo: Nick Dawe

photo: Nick Dawe

Mould is becoming a problem. The riverside location, almost daily heavy rain for a month and a lack of ventilation are all contributing to the creation of the humid conditions required. It crept up on me somewhat, by taking over two dark cupboards in the bow and also inhabiting the food cupboard.

All of my clothing has succumbed to green furry mould and I spent the morning cleaning it as best as I could. I moved my drawings out of the Egg before Christmas in anticipation of the problem as well as supplies of canvas, paper and books.

The rest of the day will be spent washing the walls and kitchen surfaces with a weak solution of bleach. Sharing ones home with spiders is one thing but near invisible spores quite another.

One of a packet of oatcakes in  the food locker.

One of a packet of oatcakes in the food locker.

Mould beginning on the inner egg wall.

Mould beginning on the inner egg wall.