I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘potterer’, but I’m pottering now like I’ve done it all my life. Little ideas get into my head, or give me itchy hands, and before long I’m giving my attention to a totally unplanned and un-predicted task.
I think that living by the sea has an influence: it throws up not only firewood, but useful treasures too (the plastics pollution of the sea is, of course, a sad thing, but being the kind of person that I seem to be – essentially ‘Womble’ – it gives me some excitement to see what I might find).
My latest venture, after ‘Post-Buoy’ and a new toilet seat, is to find materials to convert our most honoured stroller into a dinghy trolley/launcher. It’s alright when all the family are here, but I can’t carry the dinghy on my own to the water, hence the need for the trolley.
Being on the beach, though, immediately attracts me to seaweed, and to trying to satisfy my continued obsession with finding caragheenan (those varieties of weed that produce gel). At the last spring tide (just meaning ‘spring-up’/‘spring-down’ as-it-were, when each lunar cycle tides go out and come in further than usual), I thought I’d collected two types: Chondrus Crispus (Irish Moss), and Grape-Pip Weed – only the latter turned out not be Grape-Pip weed at all judging by the lack of gel from it. The small amount of Chondrus Crispus, however, made a thick gel when I warmed it in water. I diluted it out of greed to get enough jelly, so my pudding (from dried strawberries, brown sugar and seaweed gel) didn’t set completely.
The silk stocking that I boiled, then used to strain the gel, is now hanging by the kitchen window. When you squeeze it you get instant softening hand gel. One of my potterings, I’m sure, will involve concocting a more elaborate hand cream from it (probably using the resins running down the trunk of one of the pine trees by the house).
It’s been very hot weather at times – good for slow meandering outside, and for drying strawberries and seaweed. I’ve had to replenish the dried Dulse because it is so delicious to chew (very savoury, like bacon).
But the rain and the wind has also battered me at times, pushing me back indoors, which has at least encouraged me to get things done. So I changed a tap washer, for instance, and mended it’s broken handle. But then I had another flight of fancy regarding the taps in the kitchen. The handles didn’t match, which annoyed me, so now thanks to Quicksteel one of them is a ‘dolphin’.
When I go anywhere near the kitchen sink I’m spotted by the cockerel, who legs it over to the house for the crumbs that he knows are in here. So even on an island, alone, I still have to share my lunch (manufacturing crumbs out of perfectly good flatbreads!).