January visit to my Essex Island

By Sally Pudney on 17th January 2022

On a beautiful sunny day last week I decided that it was time to get my new painting project Twelve Months on an Essex Island underway.

The Essex Island is, of course, Mersea Island. I packed up my rucksack with sketchbook, pencils and graphite sticks, camera and binoculars and set off.

I had planned to go right down to the Hard at West Mersea and walk along the sea wall, with views across the Strood to the mainland at Great Wigborough. The Strood, for those who are not local, is the causeway across to the island, which is often covered in water at high tide. I walked right down there, past all the houseboats, and the boat yard, and the oyster sheds. But I found that the road was completely blocked off, even to pedestrians, by Men At Work. I think it might be something to do with flood prevention.

So, Plan B. Down the steps onto the Monkey Beach.

It was the most perfect winter’s day. The sky a deep cobalt blue overhead. On the horizon, looking out to Bradwell it was hazy, misty. The sea glittered dazzlingly in the sun. It was so calm that only the smallest rippling waves stirred the surface.

There were a number of smacks and smaller boats at anchor. Far down the Besom Fleet, near the Hard, I could see clouds of gulls, and heard their distant screaming. I think one of the small fishing boats must have been unloading. After a while the gulls began to move up the channel towards where I stood, along with oystercatchers warbling their lovely cry. I saw groups of cormorants flying out to sea, and a group of Brent geese flew in and landed on the water close to the shore. They appeared as dark silhouettes against the brightness. It had been high tide around 8.30 that morning, and the tide was dropping now quite fast leaving the shingle wet and glistening in the sun.

I sat on the remains of the old pill-box on the beach, and did some drawing, and picked up various interesting shells and stones for my Findings drawing for this month.

I am looking forward to starting my January painting – I started priming up the board yesterday – and I shall be drawing the shells in the next day of two.

In other news: I have finished painting the first set of my PAINT 7 pictures and will be framing them later today!! 🙂


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