How to make a Shark (BTT sand-sculpture)

Ok,  so if you haven’t read my other blogs on sand sculpture I need to explain the BTT (Between The Tides) As in – you are working with sea sand ( not the best – sand grains roll off each other as they dry so not as strong in sculpture) plus you have all the randoms (shells and bits of shell, seaweed, stones, rubbish) that may get into your sculpture sand, plus there is not time to stack and pack as the ‘professionals’ do as you only have the time between tides to work in (or less).

So there you are at the seaside with good sand and a collection of items to help you. A shovel or two, a knife and a spoon are pretty useful, a couple of brushes (cheap decorators paint brushes – one large one small – (about four inches and an inch) and at least one bucket.

On this day I looked at the tide, it was coming in, but I thought I had time for a shark. [click on the pictures if you need to see details or the whole picture as the thumbnail size trims it down]

1, Mark out shark shape on the sand with the corner of the shovel – give it a bit of a wiggle to suggest movement, 2,  Go round this line again, digging the shovel in deeper, 3, Dig all round the shape up to the line and tossing the waste in to the shape.

4, Continue doing this, digging from the outside towards the line and throwing the waste into the shape centre – consciously building up higher where it is needed. 5, Using your fingers knead the lumps of sand and using your hands roughly shape the mound into the approximate outline. 6, Pat it firmly into shape – using the back of a shovel to firm up the larger areas and hands for smaller areas like the tail. (Do not worry about the fin yet – but leave the fin areas rough – do not pat smooth)






7,  Start to build up the dorsal fin, it will be about six inches wide where it leaves the back of the shark, use loose damp sand that has come from the shaping and squeeze it up between your hands always leaving the top edge rough to take the next layer. 8, Work on a large wide curve, bringing the sand up thinner nearer the top. Using both hands, one to steady the fin, pat the sides to gently firm it. 9,  Do the same for the tail (caudal) fin.(just about visible on this pic)  Then leave both to ‘settle in’.

10, While the dorsal fins ‘settle in’ turn to the side (pectoral) fins, sweep away loose sand. 11,  Use the knife and trim to shape – again removing loose sand. 12, Cut angles on the fins and slightly undercut both front and back to make them look thinner.

13, Gently pat and brush down the whole body of the shark until you are happy that it looks smooth enough. 14, Find a some suitable shells or pebbles to use for the shark’s eyes. Mussel shells, smooth clam shells or flat round grey pebbles are best. With a little rotational movement, site these either side of the head – taking care to have them even and 15, using the knife or tip of the spoon carve the nostrils.

16, Now return to the dorsal and caudal fins. For both of the fins start by marking out the curve that will make the characteristic shark fin look – draw it gently and evenly on  both sides. 17, Do the caudal fin on the tail first – it will give you practice. 18, 19, 20  start to shave the sand away, cutting at an angle from one side then the other. 21, Thin out the top of the fin a little by shaving gently with the knife – brush down to remove loose sand. (most pictures show working on large dorsal fin)

22, Below the nose of the shark draw a line for the mouth, then draw another line just below that one – carefully cut out the wedge in between. Add some broken shells to make white teeth. 23,  Draw the gills on either side of the head – again by making two cuts. 24, brush the cuts smooth to finish.

25,  Tidy the area, pulling loose sand out to make an edge to frame the sculpture . 26, There is always something red in the flotsam on the beach – here a broken piece of plastic makes a good raw-meat look-alike for the shark to get its teeth into, 27, Final picture of the shark,  28, silhouette against the incoming tide.

Hope you have enjoyed watching me make a sand shark 🙂

and thanks to my friend Krissi for the shots where I am in them! And – it’s true – I must be a little mad – taking time to make such things that last such a short time before the tide takes them away. However, as we packed up and returned to our car, ours weren’t the only photographs that were taken of the shark – so it gave some pleasure to others too.

Latest info for my FWT cheerleaders is – a half pound down and I’m giving a talk on weight loss by using the method my sons and I worked out, at my WI on Wednesday – so that should be fun.

And I am still gearing up for the poetry workshop I am running at the Landulph Festival on Tuesday of next week – more about poetry then!

What do you like to do on the beach? Lie in the sun or do something active? Do share – I love to hear from you.


As September draws to a close – Nature notes

I’m not sure where September went – it seems to have gone so quickly. I know I spent a week away (that turned into 10 days because of the Brittany Ferries strike) but the end of this month still seems to have arrived at a gallop. I’ve created lines of photos this month – by way of a change.

Earlier in the month we had a few days of warm sun, some of the border flowers had a burst of colour and the butterflies (peacock and tortoiseshell) and bumble bees were out in force.  There was even a dragonfly laying late eggs into the moss hanging over the edge into the pond.

The billy goat has come into season and is making himself fragrant for the ladies ( nanny goats) Do you want to know how he does this? If you have a low ‘YUK’ threshold look away now…. ok? Apart from the scent glands on his head he also contorts himself to aim a stream of urine right at his beard. This will soon acquire a strong odour (which, apparently, the nanny goats consider a great attraction in a male) Considering the good scenting abilities of a dog I’m amazed that the dog is happy to sit so companionably close to the big feller at this time of year!

And talking about scenting – the squirrels have taken just about every cob nut from the tree – most before they were even ripe. Their trail leads across the lawn and up the beech tree – and where the scent trail follows the dog tries to go too. It’s just not fair that dogs don’t climb trees, is it?

Having got over the ‘scent’ of the billy goat I thought I’d add a little fragrance with this scented  late flowering ‘oranges and lemons’ rose – so pretty.

And a cucumber twin found growing in the greenhouse – making interesting figure 8 slices when cut.

Finally, a series of photos taken of a garden seat belonging to friends of ours, a wonderful example of a good lichen habitat – the whole seat has been covered by a range of different types of lichens – quite wonderful! Front view, side view and close up of a couple of slats. These really deserve to be clicked and viewed as enlargements!

The FWT results (for the information of my cheerleaders)  this week are a half pound down! So we are back on track – YAY!   (after the hiccup caused by the ferry-strike-imposed inaction and junk food)

At the moment I am also thinking about Food for the poetry workshop I am leading on the 16th of October at the Landulph Festival of Music and Art where I shall be encouraging poets to use foody metaphors and experiment with new ways of describing their experiences. Then, later the same day, I’ll be reading with the Liskeard Poets  – if any of you are close enough to come along I’d love to meet you there!

How was your September – did you see anything interesting in the world of nature? I love to her from you – please do share 🙂


Port Eliot Festival – Another World

What do I love about the Port Eliot Festival?

Well, since you ask – feeling like I am in another world.

One where wearing floaty and shimmery fabrics and jingly bright coin belts with bells at your ankles to ring at every step is – normal. Or wearing a bunch of flowers attached to a head band, or a huge paper fan taped to your waist, or a gold lamé dress with wellington boots and a cowboy hat is – normal.  (Actually, wellies were only needed the first day and then only on some paths, didn’t stop some people wearing them all weekend though – must be from the city, us country folk get fed up having to wear them feeding the animals and such as it is) Where you can go from a serious talk on the life of Edward Thomas (the poet who wrote Adlestrop) by Matthew Holis author of Now All Roads Lead to France  to a mad and manic music performance by Mik Artistik’s ego trip — in the space of three hundred yards and ten minutes and all against the wonderful back-drop of the Port Eliot Estate. Here’s a view from near the Round Room tower, looking towards the entrance to the festival. 

Not sure about other festivals – but this one is about as mixed as I can imagine.  You may have guessed by now (if you’ve flicked through my past posts and topics) that I am interested in all sorts of things and this place offers all sorts to interest.

Let’s start with the fact that the festival is in Cornwall and this year there was a group of performers informing all and sundry of the history of Cornwall – through the greatest men and women of Cornwall, by performing various tableaux and singing along, with a rousing chorus of ‘Shall Trelawney live or shall Trelawney die? as a finalé .   Add in a small folk band called The Butter Thieves turning up on the green infront of the house to sing Cornish folk songs like Lamorna – soon joined by locals who knew the words. And, from ‘over the water’ (Devon) Vocal Harem – a huge choir of mainly women who sang at the Bowling Green venue on Saturday afternoon.

Tracy Chevalier (author of  The Girl with the Pearl Earring  and many more) chatted to Dovegreyreader (the reader’s blogger)  in her patchwork and knitting adorned tent, showing her patchwork that she made as part of her research for her latest book ‘The Last Runaway’ set amongst Quakers, and taking questions from the enchanted audience (many knitting while they listened). And knitting appeared all over the place this year!  The Graffiti Grannies wonderful Knitted Tree at the cross roads of the paths to the Bowling Green, and Knit & Share – where you could drop in to learn to knit or crochet – or just pick up where someone else had left off and continue a piece of knitting, and in knitting bombing – where knitted ‘brooches’ would appear to decorate suitable items, to knitted sculptures called ‘Twisted Knits’ in Anthropologie ( a new venue this year)

The Flower Show was magnificent again this year (and how many of this sort of festival have a floral section just for the WI?) I’ve brought y0u a couple of colourful characters I spotted hanging round outside the flower show 🙂

Two of the scarecrow entries

Amongst my favourites (again) this year was Luke Wright – a performance poet , a balladeer for today. Poems fast, furious, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, pour unaided by notes from this young man and newly inventive every year.

A beautiful stroll through wooded areas brings you past The Idlers Academy and to the river – where I came across rather late wild swimmers (the majority of whom had swum whilst the tide was in) these appeared to be enjoying slip-sliding down the mud banks into the water!  On my way back, over the hill this time, I came across a secluded tea room with sunny slopes and up behind them a lively choir singing  an impromptu set. Back down to the green before the castle and more stalls – as are dotted all around the site – selling wonderful selections of foods, crafts and the weird and wonderful – from garish clothes to wild hats – with flower hair-garlands galore this year.  Mine (seen wearing in the ‘wellie’ photo) made by my friend Christine from CornishCreams – handmade organic skin care products who was at the festival selling her creams but also making garlands with wooden roses!

She also kindly took these photos from the poetry reading of the Liskeard Poets  – unfortunately the performance area was right in front of the windows, but I am there mid-speech and in the group photo which is included so you can admire me some of the wonderful painting, which covers the wall of the Round Room, by Robert Lenkiewicz. Click on the photo to get a better look.

And so home – across the decorated temporary  bridge over the haha   – leaving around nine – still long before the end of the festival which had been running from Thursday lunch time and finished after midnight on Sunday – the golden light illuminating the trees as I left Port Eliot.  Sad that next year they are taking a rest and so we have to wait until 2014 to escape into another world as easily again.

Don’t forget – if you entered my Win a Kindle draw (drawn on 10th July 2012 – results here) you are welcome to claim your consolation prize of an ecopy of ‘Leave to Appeal – a novella’ – details of how to claim HERE  As a novella this is short enough to read easily on your computer if you do not have an ereader – just opt for the book in pdf. I look forward to hearing from you!

Do you go to festivals? Do you have a favourite – what makes a good festival for you?  I’d love to hear from you!


What’s not to Lichen?

Yeah. I know – it depends on how you say it – more of which below.
So it was Christine that started me off on this particular blog by sending me a rather nice photo of a lichen, with fruiting bodies, growing on her fence. Here it is:-
Now, somehow, I know not how, she had guessed I’d know something about these plants, though she didn’t know that I really like them and have done since learning about them at A level. Talking of which, it was my A level Botany lecturer that insisted the pronunciation of the word lichen should be ‘liken’ (I have vague memories of her saying that the ‘ch’ was the hard ‘k’ sound because the origin of the work was Greek – as in the word Character) and indeed she was right, though I note the OED also accepts the soft ch sound that many people use. Not that it should be a problem – except when it comes to poetry and there the difference can change a rhyme sequence if the reader is not of the same persuasion in pronunciation as the writer *speaking from experience*.

So back to the lichens, as the leaves fall the lichens become more noticeable, and here in Cornwall we are blessed with many of these wonderful plants. Where I came from we were lucky to see even a close-growing leafy (foliose) lichen, most were the tight colour-patches (crustose) type.
One in particular appears as yellow patches often on stones and walls, (xanthoria) is one of the most tolerant of polluted air and was the main one to be found in the South East of England where I grew up. Lichens derive most of their nutrients from the atmosphere, as they do not have roots, and so most need unpolluted air to thrive.

Photos: Stone Wall showing two different types of Crustose lichen – the grey/white and the yellow.
And one Leprose (powdery) type of lichen (the green coloured one)

So imagine my delight when I came to live in Cornwall where these plants flourish, with not only the crustose and the foliose type but also the branching, bush-like fruticose group of lichens. Lichens are generally slow growing, but these trees were only planted 25 years ago and even the newer wood has the beginnings of lichen invasion.

Photos, Trees showing fruticose and foliose types of lichen. Do click on these images to see them better!

Tree – showing crustose (grey and flecked black) lichen.

I keep just saying ‘these plants’ but of course Lichens are not just any plant, they are actually two plants in a symbiotic relationship, an algae and a fungi , living together to make the most of the resources available and of each others skills in accessing them. The pairing of algae and fungi vary and create the differing types and forms with their strengths and weaknesses.

It is part of what makes Lichens successful in that they are found from the edge of the sea to the highest mountain top and from humid jungles to frozen tundra.
The little branching ones (the fruticose) used to be collected and dried for making model-railway trees and shrubs at one time. Some lichens have been used historically for dying and has even been used a food stuff in very hard times.
Lesson over, but I hope I have piqued your interest in these plants if you’d never considered them before – there is an awful lot more to know if you want to seek it out.


More Port Eliot Festival …..

Wow! What a great festival… the weather gave showers for the Friday but they soon cleared, and I ended up leaving my wellies in the car and favouring sandals all day.  So, if you’ve never been to Port Eliot Festival you have to know that most recently it was a Literary Festival with a wild past (known as Elephant Fayre in the 80s) that has now matured into a brilliant all round, family friendly festival, something for everyone, everyone pretty laid back and in such beautiful surroundings.

There is plenty of the literary festival still there with readings, discussions, interviews etc but is combined with music, to suit many tastes, wild swimming, cinema both in the house and at night down by the river, fashion, flower arranging, poetry, food from small Cornish frozen yoghurt business to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, cookery demonstrations, bars, comedy, cabaret, stalls, a whole area just for children to enter into a fantasy land of making  playing play acting, dressing up and doing wonderful stuff, wandering musicians, jugglers and dancers. Dovegreyreader (blog-site) even had a tent where you could sit while she did interviews and you could knit, should you wish to.

What did I notice… well people always dress a little differently when at Port Eliot (especially if they’ve visited the Fashion tent) and the stalls selling weird and wonderful hats, (vintage and modern) and the same in clothes attract a lot of people who obviously arrived and only then realised people treat the place like a big fancy dress event. Me? Well I went wearing one of my belly dance coin belts, over layered skirt and wrap and jingled my way about…. part of my reading included words describing a belly dance and so it was also a prop! Secondly… as I said the weather really didn’t need wellies…yet all through so many people were wearing their wellies (all sorts – multi-coloured to standard green or black)… even on the stage, as did Kate Winslet when she read to the children from Mr Gum … perhaps they didn’t bring any other footwear … it being a festival and all.

Our reading in the round room went well with nearly a capacity audience – everyone in bare or stockinged feet in there as have  to take your boots off at the door …. can’t wait for next year!


Port Eliot Festival and Poetry

I’ve wanted to write a page on Poetry, but you know it has a funny effect on people. I suppose it is from forced poetry at school or something, but to me poetry has a life of its own. I know it has pursued me from about the age of nine when I realised that you could not only learn poems but you could also write stuff that had rhythm and rhyme. I blame my mother… though that should be praise, she could, and would, recite ‘The Lady of Shallot’, or great swathes of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ off by heart. I learnt large sections of these two and Cargoes and my long time favourite GK Chesterton’s Rolling English Road.

Poetry has got me a free weekend ticket to the Port Eliot festival these last 3 years.. that’s amazing enough. What is even better this is because we perform at this festival and people who are not related to us, nor are our friends, come and listen! How magic is that!

This year we took as our theme Elephants, from the crest of the Lords of St Germans (who own the Port Eliot estate) and Castles.

We perform in the Round room, an acoustic gem where if you stand under the central chandelier there is no need of amplification, and which is painted all round by the late Robert Lenkiewicz in a weird and wonderful montage.


Welcome to my Blog

I decided it was about time I started a blog… after all I’ve been writing one in my head for ages.

I didn’t realise how tricky finding a title for my blog was going to be, I considered many pithy and wise sounding names, only to find others had the same idea before me. I considered a list, ‘my blog on writing novels, keeping chickens and goats, sand sculpting, body-boarding, slate-ware, belly-dancing , cake-decorating, poetry and life….’ Too long winded I thought, but that’s what its going to be about. My life and my passions within in it…. so welcome to

Ann Foweraker – Publishing my novels and other Passions


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