Monthly Archives: March 2019

Diary of a lone litter-picker: things found on a Solent beach clean

~ A remote section of the Solent shoreline: photo Michael Wells ~

When I first visited this shoreline fifteen years ago it was multi-coloured. Tiny pieces of plastic, bottle tops and PVC ropes littered the coast. There were huge pieces of refuse that were difficult to shift. Most of it had been washed up, rather than left by visitors. I would take a black plastic bag down to fill with rubbish but give up in despair. Slowly, volunteers have cleared it. I try to go down every day to keep it clear of #plasticpollution. Although it looks clean at first glance, I usually fill a large bucket for every mile of Solent shoreline. This will normally contain about 250 items. Most are small ‘micro-plastics’. It involves a lot of bending-down. I sometimes return home weighed down by large items such as ten-gallon plastic drums. I then Tweet photos of my finds on #Solentbeachclean

The usual things I find related to fishing:

Fishing net and PVC rope – often small pieces of green PVC cord, sometimes embedded in the mud.

Fishing line – one length extracted from the mouth of a wild pony.

Plastic grating and discs from crab traps.

Polystyrene in different stages of decay. Some pieces are huge.

Disposable rubber gloves and undisposable protective gloves.

Old buoys of all colours. One is too heavy for me to remove.

Plastic crate. It made a good umbrella when a storm blew in as I walked home.

The usual things I find relating to sewage:

Plentiful cotton-bud stalks and other lengths of plastic.

Tampon applicators and the back of panty liners.

Wet wipes and floss sticks.

The usual things I find left by visitors to the shore or washed up:

Hundreds of spent shotgun cartridges including the insides of paper cartridges.

Old underpants, socks, gloves, caps and other clothing.

Crisp wrappers – the sell-by date of one declared it to be more than 12 years old.

Broken glass – always collected for fear it will cut dogs’ paws or wild ponies.

Glass bottles and jars, recycled by my husband who used to manufacture cut glass crystal.

Hundreds of plastic bottles of all shapes and sizes, along with plastic drums. Many of these are washed up rather than dropped.

The usual things I find that come in on the tide:

Old cigarette lighters of every colour and hue – about one a day.

Old flip-flops and shoes.

Plastic bags of every description, many buried in the mud.

Bottle tops of every shape and colour, usually plastic.

Plastic straws – about one a day – and cellophane covers to straws.

Plastic cups sometimes colonised by seaweed.

Sweet wrappers, wrappers for packets of biscuits or other food.

Plastic hooks and tags of every kind including six-pack plastic.

Toothbrushes, nail files, make-up holders, syringes, Ear plugs, protective masks.

Helium balloons – one or two a day, usually with the string attached.

Flower pots of different sizes.

Plastic funnels.

Little plastic fish, which once contained soy sauce.

Bubble wrap, other packaging and lumps of insulation material.

Brushes of all description, mainly for cleaning boats.

Heavy duty plastic bottles that once contained teak oil or engine oil, including 5 gallon containers.

Sponges and scourers of different types.

Micro-plastics: usually small pieces of blue, red, white or black plastic.

Party poppers.

Aerosol cans and drink tins of all kinds.

Dairylea spread cartons and other plastic tubs

Old pens of all description and various plastic sticks.

Half-empty bottle of turpentine, disposed of responsibly..

Pieces of gaffer tape and insulation tape.

Plastic cable ties – originally manufactured by my father.

Broken toys including a purple revolver and old balls.

Sophie Neville on a #Solentbeachclean (photo: Octavia Pollock)

People ask if I wear gloves: I don’t. They ask if I take a grabber: I do not. They want to know if I am addicted: possibly. I spend about 90 minutes a day or 30 hours a month on my #Solentbeachclean but it keeps me fit, exercises the dog and gets us out while doing something useful. We walk with a purpose. The wind can be brisk but I never get cold. I sometimes take friends but it suits me to work alone. I can fit litter-picking in with my work, taking advantage of good weather. My only worry is getting stuck in the mud. I have to admit that my back gets sore if there is a big haul to lug home but my hunter-gatherer instincts have been awakened. There is treasure to be found:

The unusual things I find:

2 x long fluorescent light bulbs – fully intact. They contain mercury. Both were washed up in the same place, years apart.

Intact domestic light bulb – haven’t had the guts to test it.

Star Wars mask

Rusty welding cylinder – I though it was an unexploded bomb and reported it to the police. Bit embarrassing.

Rusted depth charge – I was told this is a metal buoy but it has been identified as a WWII depth charge.

Old pair of binoculars.

~ Solent mudflats looking towards the Needles: photo Michael Wells ~

 

Useful things I have found:

2 x feed buckets, one pink, one orange, used to collect rubbish henceforth

Brand new rubber-inflatable ring, which made a good Christmas present for someone I know.

Lens cap, that was washed 800 yards down the coast – returned to grateful owner

A brand new carpenter’s saw.

Yellow whistles from life jackets.

Yachting caps x 5. One was labelled and returned to its owner.

Neoprene sun-glass holder – bit grotty

New rope and cord.

Elastic boom-holder for a Scow dinghy

A pencil

The number 5

A paddle

Paintbrush

One tent peg

2 x children’s plastic beach spades

Beach toys

New garden hose attachment

Tennis balls

Wheels from two different dinghy launch trailers

A dinghy cushion akin to a garden kneeler

Sailing kit bag – unclaimed.

Can of WD40 still operable.

Large fenders – some in pristine condition. I gather they cost about £60 each to buy new.

Turn the Tide on Plastic

Would you volunteer for the Great British Spring Clean organised by Keep Britain Tidy from Friday 22nd March to 23rd April? you can pledge your support here.

Great British Spring Clean Help Clear up our Beaches

I have officially volunteered 195 minutes of my time to clean the banks of the Lymington River, where litter gets chucked before being washed into the sea. This nature reserve belongs to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust of which I am a member. I expect it will take me 1,950 minutes – about 33 hours, which is my average for a month.

Great British Beach Clean 2019

Or, think of joining the Marine conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean 20th to 23rd September

There can be rewards to Wombling, as my friend calls it. I was once filmed trudging along a beach for a Chanel 4 ident. We were given a fee, in cash. This is my black dog, my nephew and me on a beach in Wales: Sophie and the old buoys.

 

 

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Swallows and Amazons maps now available on useful items

The maps I drew, depicting locations mentioned in Arthur Ransome’s book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and the 1974 film, are now available on a number of products. I though they might make good gifts.

Windemere spiral notepad

There is this cover for any type of  iphone

as well as one that fits different Samsung models

 

You’ll see cards, notebooks and prints available if you click around the site.

They have travel mugs,

Forgive me, different maps seem to fit the dimensions of each item in different ways. Rather a prescriptive machine has dictated what is possible. They offer a ceramic mug although the map doesn’t fit it well.

 

All the items with a decorative map of Windermere can be found on Redbubble here

The map of Derwentwater is probably a better shape for an iphone cover.

Derwentwater Iphone

 

Items with a map of Derwentwater can be found here

This small tote bag measures 33cm x 33cm 

Click here for details of the 40cm x 40cm cushion + cover

 

Items with the map of Coniston Water can be found on Redbubble here.

 

They have the phone covers, travel mug and a selection of prints

 

They offer three different styles of T-shirts with this map, so you won’t get lost.

The company offer secure payments, worldwide shipping and free returns but I fear they are quite expensive. Click here for this drawstring bag

Drawstring bag with map of Coniston Water

My other designs have worked better than maps.  You can see some of them here.

Here is an ipad case, below

Coniston Ipad case

 

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Speaking at the Essex Book Festival

Secret Water 1939

Each year, at Christmas time, my father, who was born in 1929, would look forward to receiving a copy of the latest Arthur Ransome novel. 2019 marks the 80th anniversary of the publication of ‘Secret Water’, the only book in the Swallows and Amazons series to be set in Essex. While my father’s Jonathan Cape hard-backs were sadly lost to life’s chaos, I was lucky enough to find a first edition given to another little boy for Christmas 1939. This March, I took it with me to Harwich, near to the Walton Backwaters where the story is set, to help celebrate the 20th Essex Book Festival, whose theme for 2019 is Uncharted Waters.

Peter Willis, Neil D'Arcy-Jones and Sophie Neville at the Essex Book Festival 2019~Author Peter Willis, Neil D’Arcy-Jones and Sophie Neville~

“Here we are, intrepid explorers, making the first ever voyage into uncharted waters. What mysteries will they hold for us? What dark secrets shall be revealed?” Titty Walker in the 1974 feature film ‘Swallows and Amazons’.

 

essex book festival-2019

I had been invited to speak on a panel led by journalist Neil D’Arcy-Jones with Peter Willis, President of The Nancy Blackett Trust and Julia Jones, author of The Strong Winds series who owns Arthur Ransome’s yacht, Peter Duck. The discussion was introduced by Seona Ford, Chairman of the Essex Book Festival, and supported by Ros Green, the festival director and Brian Key, chairman of TARS EAST – The Arthur Ransome Society’s eastern branch. The event was sold out with members of the audience travelling from as far a field as Durham.

Buoy in Harwich

~A buoy akin to those featured in Ransome’s novels outside the 1912 Centre~

A huge variety of activities had been laid on that day. AL Kennedy, winner of the Costa Book of the Year, read from the tale of The Little Snake deep in the bowels of the Harwich Redoubt, a circular fort built in 1808, where a display illustrated the Kindertransport of 1938 when two hundred children were temporarily housed nearby.

AL Kennedy

~Award-winning author AL Kennedy reading from her new book The Little Snake~

Although I had sailed past in the Nancy Blackett, I hadn’t been to Harwich since I worked on the BBC TV series One by One, a drama about the adventures of a vet starring James Ellis and an elephant with tummy trouble. Instead of a film crew, we found an offshore pirate radio revival was being celebrated with the help of a shanty band in Harwich harbour, the final berth of Radio Caroline’s The Boat That Rocked.

Light vessel 18

~LightVessel 18 moored on The Quay to host nautical storytelling and poems~

Arthur Ransome enthusiasts met for lunch at a hostelry named after Samuel Pepys, MP for the historic port that was home to Christopher Jones, Captain of The Mayflower. Marine artist Claudia Myatt arrived from a workshop she hosted on nautical flags and knots, using activity books she wrote and illustrated for the Royal Yachting Association.

Claudia Myatt in Harwich

~Artist and book illustrator Claudia Myatt with one of her RYA books~

The literary events were covered by a number of Essex newspapers with interviews on BBC Radio Essex.

~Claudia Myatt’s sketchbook~

For other exciting talks and events held this month by the Essex Book Festival in Colchester,  Chelmsford, Harwich, Baintree, Southend-on-Sea, Brentwood, Epping and other venues around the county, please click here.

~Claudia Myatt’s sketches of Pin Mill on the River Orwell~

Claudia Myatt's sketch of a yacht at Pin Mill

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