10.06 am 22.8.12 : I feel autumn approaching, the garden is looking dry, things have stopped growing and the days are getting shorter.
Today the sun is out but the sky is mottled with alto cummulus clouds and its not as hot as last week. At the end of the day the temperature has been dropping off quickly and the evenings are definitely becomming chilly.
For me, autumn is a time for reflection, when memories come flooding back. When I was a schoolboy I used to hate this time of the year because the summer vacation was about to end and I would have to return to my studies. (as a teacher – no change) ! Growing up 12 miles from the sea meant that summer was largely spent on the coast, roaming the shoreline, sailing, fishing and drawing. From about the age 12 I was allowed to go off cycling with my friends and we would invariably go out into the countryside and remarkably we survived without major incident ! I have fond memories of Suffolk and return as often as possible.
One of my favourite haunts is Felixstowe Ferry, which is a small hamlet on the estuary of the river Deben. Fortunately, it remains fairly unchanged over the the last 50 years and what changes have been made are largely due to the ravages of nature. Suffolk has always suffered from coastal errosion and whilst the “Ferry” has lost a lot of land, the sand and shingle has ended up adding to what is known as “The Bar”, which are a series of shingle banks that stretch from Bawdsey, in a line out into the North Sea. This line of shingle banks are constantly moving and to enter the mouth of the Deben requires up to date local knowledge. In the past there was a harbour master and two Trinity House Pilots – the late, Billy Newson and his brother Ted (Settler) Newson, both of whom were also local fishermen and their knowledge and seamanship was second to none. Billy Newson taught my mother to sail and was responsible for introducing my parents to one another – so I owe him a lot ! He became known as uncle Billy but in actual fact was an honourary uncle. I spent a lot of my summer holidays either in or around Billy’s hut, which was a focal point for all the local fishermen, who came to pass the time of day with Billy and “Settler”. The hut overlooks the entrance to the Deben and was a lookout post for the pilots to train their binnoculars on incomming boats, some of whom ended up in trouble by running aground on the, shifting, shingle banks. It was then the Newson’s job to go and recue the boats by going out to them, in their launch and tow them to safety. The river has a fierce current of about 7 knots and when it’s wind against tide, some very large waves quickly build up and it’s essential to rescue boats quickly before they get swamped and destroyed. The Ferry is a beautiful place but in common with many beauty spots there is danger lurking around every corner.
Back to the autumn, as an artist, I am probably at my most productive during this period and this year will be no exception – I will have to be – as I am going to be artist in residence at Portsmouth Grammar School, added to which I am continuing with my Advanced Life Drawing class, plus another new Life Drawing class at King Edwards School in Southampton. Furthermore, I will be having another two exhibitions – so I’d better shut up and get on with some proper work ! Goodbye for now and keep drawing.
Oh – and enjoy the last vestiges of summer !!!