Welcome to the blog of Melanie McDonald ! I'm a professional artist, my life is divided between my home in Newquay, Cornwall and my renovation project - an 18th Century farm - in North Brittany, France. My inspiration comes from the beautiful beaches, skies and seas of Cornwall, Brittany and Scotland. This is where I share my paintings and photographs, I hope it inspires you.
January 25, 2011
Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan, Scotland - waters running clear ....
The use made by crofters of the gifts of the sea merits a book in itself: seaweed for fertilizer and if need be for food; seabirds for their flesh and their eggs; driftwood for fuel and for building with; sand for fertilizer, for cement mixing and infilling and to provide a layer of insulation under bedding in byres; and of course fish. There is always the chance, too, of finding something really interesting or valuable. (For instance, there is the semi-mythical *ambergris, reputedly worth a king's ransom a lump, which all beachcombers hope for but none ever seems to find. Indeed, one wonders how many would recognize it if they did find it; I doubt if I should!) And there is the beauty, mystery and terror of the great ocean to love and to make a lifetime's study of.
The coast of Ardnamurchan is so finely toothed that it might be a topographical permutation designed to increase one's chances of obtaining these gifts; a hundred miles or so of border, were it straight, becomes a jagged thousand. One of the tinier of these inlets, near Sanna, is still called 'the butter creek' because long ago someone found a case of butter there, just drifting ashore. (Still perfectly usable, of course; the sea would keep the butter cool and fresh without penetrating it, though no doubt the outside of the block would have been pretty salty.) And a famous local anecdote concerns the discovery, on Sanna beach during World War One, of a ship's wooden deckhouse, undamaged in any way, complete with interior furnishings and with the key still in the lock.
*Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull gray or blackish color produced in the digestive system of and regurgitated by sperm whales. Ambergris has been mostly known for its use in creating perfume and fragrance much like musk. Wikipedia.
Excerpt from Night Falls On Ardnamurchan - The Twilight of a Crofting Family by Alasdair Maclean. An account of his life and that of his parents who were one of the last remaining families to be born and die in the tiny hamlet of Sanna in western Ardnamurchan, Scotland.
Published by Birlinn Limited. 2001. ISBN 1 84158 159 3
Other posts you might like:
Echoes of Grey.
Reading poetry by Sylvia Plath and thinking of my husband.
Painting featured: Waters running clear, Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan, Scotland.