Thursday, 27 February 2014

Folly at Midwinter

A long time ago it seems now, we went on a winter's walk, looking for a seashell house in some woods not far away.

On the way we passed a small house, freshly and mysteriously made from branches. Only a little further on from there, we came to an old stone bath built into a stream.

Even looking at it in the fleeting-light, frost-in-shadows December woods, this bath is inviting. All it needs is a little cleaning with a rake, doors to trap the water inside, and a nice sunny day in green summer to warm the water. How lovely it would be to bathe in the four-in-the-morning sun, with the woods all empty.

Over the stream, past a tower of mushrooms and moss, and just beyond a huge stone wall, stands the shell house, a low bench, and in the ground between them, a small, perfectly round, reflecting pool.

The outer part of the house is made of moss-covered stone, but at the doorway shells start to spill out from within. And inside, every bit of space is covered in shells of different kinds, arranged into faces and patterns and crests.

On mid-winter days of heavy skies and weak light, it is too dark to photograph the interior of the house without a flash. But that only adds to the sunken-treasure feel of the place.

Crows sit in the branches and talk in wooden voices, and the trees run with accumulations of misty rain. Sometimes a dog passes, followed by a lone, raincoatted person. In winter the sun scrapes and drags itself across the sky just above the horizon. The air is still or whips through the branches overhead. And that is the shell house.


  1. Don't you just love the fact that someone decided to do something really creative with their shell collection*!*

  2. you have such a careful eye and poetic voice, it's a real pleasure to see one of your posts. the wooden voices of the crows and the sun scraping across the sky...those will stick with me :)
    thank you!

  3. I love follies! Have you ever been to the Shell Grotto in Margate? That's a special place, several shell-covered rooms in the basement of a house by an industrial estate... The shells are dirty from candles though -- these ones are prettier.

    I *think* the stone bath might have been a sheep dip -- I remember seeing one like that when I was a kid.

    1. Hi modoagogo,
      Sorry, I know I am terribly late writing you back, so you probably won't see this. But just in case.... no, I haven't been to the Shell Grotto in Margate. I looked it up though and it seems interesting and mysterious! Thanks for letting me know!!

  4. This is lovely. I wonder where you are walking now...

  5. Someone had a lovely time on their own in the woods, arranging those shells and pebbles. I really love the wonderful atmosphere and colour in your photos, particularly the red leaves on the ground around the folly and the shells above the metal gate. Thanks! More photos please...