“Phil the dog” and The Game!
Walking along the beach with your dog is a pleasure so many of us love, and to walk along the beach of the Northumbrian coastline is especially enjoyable. One of my favourite walks was along Alnmouth beach and estuary, with its stunning views and rugged beauty.
Phil, my beloved Bearded Collie and I took that walk many hundreds of times and he just loved it, from the smell of the sea wafted into the car, he would be jiggling about the boot frantically washing the windows with his tongue like they had been smeared with treacle! On arrival he would race out of the boot like a greyhound out of his box and the off we would stride, the pair of us loving every moment, taking in the wonder of it all. Every walk on the beach was a different experience, be it from the tides, the colours, the estuaries meandering track to the sea, the sea birds or other passing walkers with their dogs.
Once Phil had got over the fact he was in his most favourite place on gods earth (apart from sound asleep on the sofa, where was supposed to be a total ban!) he would just love to explore, bounding around the beach all while keeping a beady eye on me. A sniff here, there, over there and back here again. If he caught a glimpse of me picking something up it was obvious to him it was yet another gift of true love from me to him!
Bark, Bark ~ “Give it to me”
He would jump and run along side me in frantic anticipation. Then run backwards in front of me, staring up in excitement.
And on and on it would be, until I inevitably gave in, well you do have to, because there can be only one winner and all of this annoying barking is spoiling my day, and he knows it!
So ok, ‘here is this amazing piece of driftwood I managed to find, that looks like a bird, fish or seal, worn by the tides into this wonderful form. Oh well, have it…’
So throw it for him I would, watching him chase after it, then off he would trot at a fare pace, tail up with pride with the spoils of his efforts securely between his jaws. Not that this would last long! Soon it was spat out, dropping down onto the sand and he would just wait, wait for it to be thrown, once again. After all this was the true joy of The Game.
I would be thinking ‘I actually would really like that amazing piece of driftwood back‘ as he dropped it onto the wet sand again. Maybe I could just sneak up and get it before him? Oh, too late! As he ran off with it between his teeth once more. Ah, such games, such entertainment for him as I tried in vein to prize it from his mouth.
Ok you have it! And off he would run once more, further up the beach. Patiently I would wait as we walked along the sand, taking in the beauty of the wild and rugged sea.
Finally my chance would come as Phil got distracted plodging in the sea. I sneaked nearer and nearer as we frolicked in the water without a care in the world. As I got close my hopes would be dashed as I suddenly saw all the teeth marks, cracks, splinters and nibbled edges. ‘Oh well, maybe next time?’. Not that I really minded, the rugged beauty, amazing company and wonder of this stunning coastline was reward enough. A truly amazing place and great for the soul.
This Game, like all games must sadly have to come to an end as it was time to leave the beautiful coastline and head for home.
Sadly when Phil died a few years ago I could not bring myself to go back to the beach for a long time. Without my constant companion Phil by my side I was just too sad for the coast, even despite its beautiful beaches and stunning estuary. A paradise, just too full of memories.
Months passed and then years but I could not bring myself to return.
Then one day, encouraged by my family I took my little granddaughter down there. I took a deep breath and told her we were going to collect shells but to my amazement, by the time we returned to the car, our bucket was not just overflowing with the usual limpet shells, but also a handful of beautiful driftwood Phil would have adored!
But what was I to do with these colourful, twisted and time-worn pieces? Too beautiful to simply throw away my mind was awash with ideas and inspiration. I had seen and long admired the use of driftwood creatively to decorate mirrors and picture frames so I took the plunge and gave it a try myself. One became two, two became more and a few trips to the beach later my home was filled with driftwood picture frames, mirrors and lamp stands! I began giving them as gifts, then friends and family began to ask if I would make some for them, asking for different styles and colours. Before I knew it I was making bespoke pieces for clients across the country from driftwood, old fisherman’s rope and shells. I’ve always loved interiors and putting styles together, but I never imagined my love of the coast would lead me to discover a talent I never knew I had.
As my creations grew more popular I began showing in shops and galleries, teaching driftwood art at schools and sending them far and wide. To keep up with my passion for driftwood art and the coast I decided to take the plunge and start this website. I do hope you enjoy.