Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Weekend Break from Clearing

Aldeburgh beach
It’s all feeling a bit gloomy with a sense of anti climax as we wind down towards the end of Clearing.  After the adrenalin rush of constant phone calls, the deafening background noise of 50 people taking calls from desperate people looking for places on courses.  By the end of last week I was feeling exhausted after battling the Clearing Lurgy all week.  I missed the Friday Clearing team party to get home to bed.  We then left on Saturday morning for a lovely weekend away with him- at –home’s family in Aldeburgh in Suffolk.  We stayed in a room overlooking the sea; so blissful going to sleep listening to the rhythmical sound of the waves breaking on the pebbly beach and waking to wide unobstructed sea and sky.  The light changes constantly so that every time you look the sea and the sky have changed colour.  It can get very windy so a walk along the pebbly beach is usually quite a bracing affair with clouds scudding along overhead.  With their frequently changing shapes, one can waste a lot of time simply sitting on the sea wall watching them!  How blissful is that after a busy few weeks in Clearing?

Every time I visit Aldeburgh I make a beeline for a very special sculpture.  Scallop is a 12 foot high polished steel interpretation of two entwined shells.  It was designed by local sculptor Maggie Hambling as a tribute to Benjamin Britten, the composer, who lived nearly and loved to walk along this beach.
The words I hear those voices that will not be drowned are from Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes
Since its installation in 2004, there has been pretty constant controversy over its siting and design. Locals are fiercely divided in their opinions with detractors comparing it to a collapsed Nissan hut while others, me included, absolutely love it.
Maybe this is the view that reminds people of the collapsed Nissan Hut!
It has been vandalised numerous times by having paint thrown over it, and graffiti daubed across it but still it stands proudly silhouetted against the sky.  I love watching people scrambling over and under I while others just sit quietly or shelter from the elements against it.  It is very tactile. Maggie designed it to be a conversation with the sea as she said:
"An important part of my concept is that at the centre of the sculpture, where the sound of the waves and the winds are focused, a visitor may sit and contemplate the mysterious power of the sea".
Scallop viewed from the sea
Fishing boats head out daily and there is always fresh fish to be purchased from the huts along the shore.  Before we left we bought dressed crab and prawns to have a lovely fishy meal when we arrived back in London. Lobsters are very plentiful and scarily delicious but at £10 per kilo I either need to be earning a lot more or settle for cheaper varieties of seafood! 
We spent a very relaxing Sunday along the coast at Southwold.  There is a lovely pier stretching into the sea which has been recently renovated.  There is a wonderful ly mad moving mechanical sculpture by Tim Hunkin an engineer, cartoonist and artist.  It provides great amusement for those of a scatalogical nature!

Southwold is also famous for its lines of beach huts along the foreshore and it is quite a status symbol to own one at a cost of £30,000 plus.  That is pretty expensive for what looks remarkably like a garden shed that you can get from B&Q for about £150!  You can also rent them but I can’t imagine just how unrelaxing it must be to sit in your beach hut while all the tourists (including me!) wander past in droves peering in to see how you have decorated it.
View of beach huts from Southwold pier
...and finally, I had to enclose this wonderful pic of banners I found outside the art gallery in Aldeburgh.  I am always on the lookout for good ideas and these made a lovely display in quite a boring little passageway.
We came back to London on bank holiday Monday to gloomy overcast Autumnal weather with the prospect of one more week in Clearing until pack up time.  It felt wonderfully rejuventating being able to escape for two days.  Now we are busily ‘theming our team’ ready for judging on Friday.  Our theme is cloaked in strict secrecy to avoid the spying eyes of our rivals so watch this space for pics and results!!....

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